my boss thinks my salary is too high, bringing a boyfriend to the company picnic, and more

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

1. My boss thinks my salary is high but it’s not

A little less than a year ago, I was promoted from a more technical role in my company to a more management-focused one. Because my new manager works out of a different office than I do, my first performance review happened only recently (so that it could be a face-to-face meeting). The review was quick, but positive; my manager said that I was doing well and had met my goals for the review period. However, he then said that he was going to fund my bonus at a lower rate because my salary was “already so high.”

I just tried Glassdoor’s “Know Your Worth” tool, and it shows me as slightly underpaid for my location and experience. In the interests of science, I even tried discounting my time in previous roles and setting the region to where my manager is based, and it came up with exactly my current salary, before the bonus. LinkedIn’s salary calculator puts me slightly on the high side, but still in the market range. So it doesn’t seem outlandish? I’ve never even negotiated salary during my time at this company; I have had a few pay raises, but they’ve been given during the performance review cycle by previous managers.

I understand that bonus funding is usually at the manager’s discretion, but was I right to be taken aback by the complaint about my salary? It definitely made me feel defensive and made me question whether he wants me on the team. Am I reading too much into things?

Yeah, that comment is problematic. If your salary is high, it’s presumably because your company decided you were worth that, so you shouldn’t be penalized for that when it comes to your bonus. And it sounds like your salary may not be especially high for your field anyway.

You could go back to your manager and say something like, “I was surprised by your comment that I was getting a lower bonus because my salary is so high. After you said that, I did some research, and the data I found indicated that my salary is actually a little below market rate for this location and my experience. Given that, I’d like to ask you to reconsider my bonus. I can send you the info that I found.”

2. Should I bring my boyfriend to my new company’s picnic?

I’m starting a new internship in about a month, and I got invited to a company picnic at a small amusement park happening this weekend. Would it be a good or bad idea to bring my boyfriend as my guest? They allow everybody to bring one optional guest for free.

Right now, my thoughts are … If I do bring him, I can have a “buddy” at the company picnic. If I don’t bring him, I can network and spend extra time with new coworkers. I am completely new and don’t know anybody but my boss. I already RSVP’d with my boyfriend as my guest, but my boyfriend asked me the other day if it would be a good idea. He doesn’t seem to be offended if I do or do not want him there, because he understands my situation as the newbie.

If your sense is that it’s common for other people to bring guests, it’s fine to bring him and you might have a better time than if you’re totally on your own. Just make sure that he’ll be okay with you putting most of your focus on other people while you’re there rather than on him.

Think too about what you know about your own habits and his. If you know that if he’s there, you’ll spend most of your time one-on-one with him, it might be smarter not to take him. Is he good at talking to people he doesn’t know and/or entertaining himself? If he’s not, I’d lean more toward going alone.

3. Our manager doesn’t want us to have working sessions without him present

I’ve recently joined a new team with a new manager, although in the same group as my previous role (that’s to say, I’m familiar with the norms). There are five direct reports (including myself) that report to our manager, Michael. We currently meet twice a month, and the meeting largely consist of pass-downs from Michael about various organizational things. The other four direct reports and I work very closely with one another, and our work requires close collaboration to be effective. One of us scheduled a meeting for just the direct reports as informal working time for us to share in-progress work, pressure test assumptions, etc. before it goes up the management chain for review.

My manager (who requested access to see all event details on calendar), saw this meeting on a coworker’s calendar. He immediately got upset and told us that we shouldn’t be collaborating in the absence of our manager and essentially told us we were not to have working sessions without him present. I was surprised by this reaction — we all have 1:1s with him weekly, and share updates on our work then. I approach it as “here’s my recommendation on how to handle Y – the rest of the team has seen it and is aligned.” (To quickly state that it’s already been pressure tested by other folks). I still provide him the opportunity to weigh in and provide feedback before it goes to the end user, which is not him. Frankly, him attending these working sessions doesn’t seem like a good use of his (limited) time, and that’s why we originally didn’t include him. It feels like he doesn’t trust us to do our work without him there, or that we’re intentionally trying to keep him out of the loop, which isn’t the case.

Is it unreasonable of us to want time for working sessions with one another, without him present? If it’s not, how do you suggest handling this conversation with him to emphasize that we want this meeting to continue?

Nope, it’s not unreasonable and, unless there’s more to this, it sounds like he’s being strangely controlling. Is he a newer manager, or one who isn’t particularly confident in his authority? This is the kind of thing you’re more likely to see from those two categories.

You could try saying this to him: “Our thinking was that our work requires close collaboration, and of course we frequently talk to each other outside of meetings with you — to bounce ideas off each other, test concepts, and so forth. It makes us all better at our jobs. And it’s easier to do that if we have a set time and place to collaborate. But this doesn’t change anything about the things that you still weigh in on and approve. It’s just a way of organizing our time better so that when work comes to you, it’s in good shape. Given that, I’m hoping you’ll reconsider and let us continue these because they’ve been really helpful. You’re of course welcome to attend if you want, but we know you’re busy.” If you have an example of a time one of these meetings paid off in a concrete way, you could add that too.

He may or may not give in, but you’ll learn a ton about him from his response.

4. My mom is pressuring me to fundraise for her nonprofit at work

My mom runs a wonderful nonprofit, and I am so proud of her and all she’s accomplished. But she’s been trying to get me to get my company (a large international corporation) involved with fundraising. I really don’t feel comfortable reaching out to my colleagues here who deal with our giving initiatives. When I even tried just to get volunteers in the city my mom works in, I was basically told I was on my own to source for volunteers. I’ve told her no several times but she always comes back to me with a new angle. I love my mom so much, and she does so much for me, but I just don’t want to mix work with family interests. How can I get her to back off without hurting her feelings?

It’s fine for her to ask, but once you say no, she should accept that. Since she’s not, I’d frame it in terms of it hurting you at work: “Mom, I’ve tried, but my company shut me down pretty quickly. I can’t ask for anything further without really harming my standing here, and I don’t want to jeopardize my relationship with my employer.”

If she continues to push after that: “I love what you do and I’ll support you however I can as long as it’s not connected to my job. Can we make that our deal?”

By the way, you may not be able to tell her no without hurting her feelings, so that shouldn’t be your litmus test here. Sometimes people have unreasonable reactions and get hurt no matter how kind and reasonable you are. So instead, just resolve to set the boundaries you need, to make them clear (so she’s not guessing and getting it wrong because you only hinted), and to talk to her in a kind, loving way (unless she ignores your clearly stated boundaries and you need to deliver them more firmly, at which point she would be forcing your hand).

5. Do I have to tell my boss I applied for an internal job?

My boss, Cersei, was on vacation for almost two weeks, and during those two weeks, I was considering applying for an internal job that was closing while she was gone. I ended up applying and spoke briefly to the head of the department, who asked me if I had told Cersei that I applied for the job. I mentioned that she had been on vacation, and I hadn’t had a chance to discuss it with her yet. She is back now, and I really don’t want to talk to her about it.

Cersei is terrible. There is a 95% chance she is going to be mad that I applied. (She is still mad that a coworker retired early two years ago with “only” a 30 day notice — which is what the organization requires. Also, guess why the employee retired early? She was tired of being bullied.) She is rude, unresponsive, petty, super aggressive, controlling, unreliable, and uncommunicative. I am constantly putting out fires that she causes with her inability to perform her basic job functions. And when something falls through the cracks, even if I was never notified of it, or received any communication about it, I get in trouble. I am not psychic, so this happens fairly regularly, despite all the failsafes I’ve attempted to put in place to catch her mistakes.

Anyway, I’ve searched our HR website and I can’t find anything saying that she was automatically notified when I applied, or that I am required to notify her. I obviously don’t notify her when I am applying for external jobs, so I am having a really hard time finding the motivation to have this conversation with her. Some friends say I need to tell her, others say it’s not necessary. I am conflicted. Additionally, I am a lady who is currently taking a ton of hormones for medical reasons and am basically on the verge of crying at any given time, so I am terrified that if she starts being aggressive, I am going to start crying, which I really don’t want to do. But I did tell the department head that I hadn’t told Cersei “yet” so I feel like I probably should. They are starting formal interviews in two weeks, so I probably need to decide if I am going to tell her now, or just wait to see how the interviews go. What should I do? Do I have to tell her? If I do, how do I say it as easily as possible? Could I just pop into her office and not even sit down and say, “Oh, FYI, just wanted to let you know I applied for that job in production, okay, thanks, bye”? Or just tell her via email? (THAT SHE WILL NEVER READ.)

Most companies will indeed notify your manager that you applied for an internal job, or will expect you to, at least if things get to the interview stage. Most companies aren’t going to agree to an internal transfer without talking to the manager, so she’s going to find out at some point if things progress (and maybe if they don’t).

The easiest way to frame this with an unreasonable boss is, “I love my job with you, but this role looked so perfect that I couldn’t pass it up. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t try, so I’ve thrown my hat in the ring.” In other words, it’s not that you’re trying to escape her; it’s that this other job was just so appealing. She sounds ridiculous so she might react badly anyway, but this is a reasonable way to go.

Normally I’d say to say it face-to-face. It’s tempting to use email with her if you know she’ll never read it (because then at least you can say you told her), but it has the potential to backfire if she’s notified some other way and is blindsided by it, when she really should hear it first from you. So I’d suck it up and have the face-to-face conversation. If you think it will help, feel free to throw in lots of padding about how torn you were because it would be hard to leave your current job — people can be weirdly susceptible to that.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 236 comments… read them below }

  1. LouiseM*

    I really feel for OP #5. Even though the suggestions about padding are good, my hunch is that Cersei will almost definitely react badly and lash out. OP, my suggestion is to think of some game plan for dealing with it in the moment–can you tell her when you’re on your way somewhere so you can go cry privately? Do you have a favorite affirmation mantra or crystal that can give you a little secret strength as you deal with this? Can you make fun plans with a friend for lunch and tell her right before? Basically, plan for the worst and at best, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and at worst, you’ll have a way to support yourself through it.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah; I can’t see Cersei behaving like a normal adult human (since she seems not to behave that way in other contexts). If OP can get away with saying nothing until the interview stage, then I would stay mum in this specific instance. But if that’s not feasible, OP will have to tell Cersei sooner than later and adopt a plan for dealing with Cersei’s crazy/hostile reaction :(

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I wonder whether there’s a way for OP to signal this to the hiring manager — “In the past, Cersei has reacted really badly to people leaving her department, so would it be possible to wait to tell her until after the initial screening process, if it turns out I’m a strong candidate? I’d like not to upset her unless there’s a real chance that I’ll be a good fit for the role.”

        1. Samata*

          I was coming to suggest something similar! I don’t know if I’d straight up say “she’s reacted really badly” but I would say something like “based on past experiences with Cersei I’d like to wait to tell her so that we don’t cause too much unnecessary stress…(what you said).”

        2. myswtghst*

          I think this is an important step to take if OP doesn’t tell Cersei. Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s pretty normal for the hiring manager to reach out to the current manager in some way (email, passing convo in the hall, etc…) just to get a feel for the candidate. Since OP said they hadn’t talked to Cersei “yet”, I could see the hiring manager accidentally being the one to break the news, which seems like it would only make things worse.

    2. Sami*

      Good ideas. Except I would tell her near the end of the day, perhaps even on your way out. Just do a cheerful, “Oh by the way…. {what Alison said}…”.

      1. Seriously?*

        I agree end of the day is best. It is easier to hold it together for a few minutes while going to the car than make it though the entire day if she reacts poorly.

    3. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      OP5 I wouldn’t go overboard in the “I’d hate to leave you” part because Cersei can then use it as leverage to sabotage your chances. She could play it as I’m doing you a favour and when you are out of the running and still in her grip, punish you for the audacity to try to escape.

      1. Adlib*

        Oh gosh, yes. I transferred internally 4 years ago, and my then-boss (who I had never had real issues with) did her best to bad-mouth my new boss to me and drug her feet (by making me train 3 replacements) before I could leave which finally happened 3 months later. People take departures personally sometimes even when they’re not a Cersei.

        1. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

          Solidarity. I’m FINALLY on my last day in my department…after waiting SIX MONTHS to transfer.

          1. Adlib*

            Congrats on your last day! I was told later on that my new boss almost decided to find someone else after the whole fiasco, but I’m glad they waited. Good luck on your new position!

        2. Samata*

          Is your name Rachel Green and is your boss Joanna? I always wondered if that stuff happens in real life – and it apparently does! So sorry!

        3. The Original K.*

          Happened to my former coworker. She told me her old abusive boss “wouldn’t let [her] quit” and I was like, “Huh? ‘Let?'” And she told me this whole story of how her old boss made her jump through all these hoops for months before the transfer happened. It was ridiculous.

        4. AKchic*

          All of this. When I left my last job, I gave 6 weeks notice (I only needed to give 2). My boss was on maternity leave for another two weeks, so I knew they’d need a little time, plus I figured they’d want to restructure a bit considering my role was a haphazard slapdash mix of administrative assistant, catch-all and some director stuff that directors didn’t like doing.

          My supervisor dragged her feet and didn’t even start interviewing for my position until two weeks before I left. They ended up hiring internally and I only had one week to train this person on a job I’d been doing for 8 years.
          Luckily my new job got pushed back another few weeks so I was able to contract on for a few more weeks to stay and train my replacement longer (and the replacement for the person who took my place), but had I started right away, it would have been worse.

    4. Specialk9*

      OP, one thing to be aware of is that your manager may try her hardest to torpedo your move, but other managers likely know her. I had a manager who was just impossible, and I transferred internally — they went out of their way to try to torpedo me (gave me my first ever negative-not-glowing review, and emailed my new manager with this faux positive ‘Specialk9 has been doing a *bit* better lately with this negative thing in her review’ to make sure the new manager saw the bad review).

      I was panicked and tried to damage control with the new manager, who just laughed and said he had worked with me and knew I was fine. (I had the impression that the other unspoken side of that was that he had worked with Torpedo Manager and knew what they were like too.)

      Unreasonable people may not be removed from a position for all kinds of reasons, but people usually know about them. So don’t believe your current manager can definitely destroy your chances because that’s giving her too much power.

      (Though if she does manage that, you need to look, hard, externally because abusers get the worst when you try to escape.)

      1. Nita*

        Or they may not know her from this angle… she may act very differently with other managers.

      2. OP#5*

        This is one of my fears as well, or that the new manager, Sansa, will not want to hire me away to keep the peace with Cersei. (Although, to be fair, Cersei just hired away one of Sansa’s employees which is how this job opened, so….) It is a related department that relies on the work we do, so it is possible that if Sansa hires me, Cersei could make their lives miserable too. Sansa might have more political capital than Cersei though, so it might not matter. I don’t know. I’ve applied for a number of external jobs too – a part of me would like to escape this place completely – but we also have really great benefits, so it’s hard to leave.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It sounds like working for Cersei has started to affect your thinking – sure, maybe all these terrible things will happen, but they may not, and you don’t have enough to extrapolate. Focus on the part you can affect (getting out from under Cersei) and deal with other stuff later.

    5. Tim C.*

      In my experience the culture of your employer will be important. Where I work Cersei’s behavior would not be allowed for very long. Lashing out due to a an employee’s participation in a sponsored function would have consequences. Is it possible to have a witness when the news hits? Maybe ask a college to take notice if your relationship with Cersei changes. It helps to disassociate her reaction and consider it the rope she hangs herself with.

    6. Aaron*

      Hopefully it’s not a company where your current manager can veto your ability to transfer. My prior company (Fortune 500) had this codified as policy in the employee manual, as well as in the transfer process, even though HR would try to insist they didn’t actually enforce it. Ugh.

      1. sunny-dee*

        I encountered this EXACT situation, with the filp-side of HR basically being populated by douchebags.

        OP#1, what I did (first) was talk to the hiring manager casually just to see if it was worth going through the formal process (and they were cool with this because most people realize that you don’t want to tell even sane managers that you’re looking). Assuming it’s looking promising, PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING. Tell your boss in person, but ALSO send a follow up email. And, if you can, download / print / save any performance reviews before you do.

        My manager freaked out when I tried to leave. I put it in email, and he immediately called and spend an hour alternately haranguing me and trying to talk me out of leaving — then immediately went to HR and tried to put me on a PIP (which, in my company, blocks any transfers for the length of the PIP). It took a few weeks to the PIP to go through, during which my manager (in another location) completely ghosted me and I went through the entire interview process and was literally waiting for the hiring paperwork when he got approval for the PIP and tried to block it. The only reason my worthless HR department let the transfer go through was because I had documentation of the exact time I had told him of the transfer — and it was literally minutes before he had contacted HR about the PIP (and had somehow never mentioned it to the HR guy).

        If you have a decent HR person, talk to them FIRST. At the very least, check your company policies on internal transfers, follow it to the letter, and document EVERYTHING.

        1. Samata*

          I am so glad your HR person sided with you on this one. That is what they are there for and I have heard so many stories where they blindly go with management on things like this.

          1. sunny-dee*

            Sadly, he did blindly side with management — he let the PIP stand (cost me two quarters of bonus because it overlapped, and out of 9 years, I’ve gotten a bonus every quarter before and since — still worth it to leave) and first he told me he would block the transfer. When I presented evidence — email and phone logs — that I had properly informed my management of the transfer *before* any PIP AND that they knew I had already completed the 6-round interview process, then he let the transfer proceed but “warned” me that I shouldn’t expect it because he knew from my OldManager that they were planning to trash me in references and revise my performance review for the hiring manager to see. His advice was to “learn how to get along” with ToxicManager and not try to leave until I had “worked out the issues in my PIP.” (Two other people in my role had left that same month, and he wrote absolutely horrible and inaccurate performance reviews to hand-off their performance profiles in our HR system, and HR refused to address it.)

            Thankfully, my new manager knew how messed up my department was and specifically how awful my manager was, and didn’t let that influence him.

      2. Camellia*

        Yeah, in my old company they wouldn’t even interview you without your current manager’s okay. But they didn’t tell you that. After I had applied for two internal positions and had not received one iota of response on anything, I called and asked why I hadn’t at least gotten a ‘rejection’ email. That’s when they told me that they had asked him and he said no, he didn’t want to lose me, so they didn’t pursue it. Blarrghgh!

        1. jb*

          How dumb is that? If that happened to me I’d start an external job search that very second.

    7. A Person*

      I wouldn’t tell her until you have an interview scheduled, and I’d go back to the hiring manager and let them know you are keeping your job search confidential until you reach the interview stage, at which point you will notify your manager.

      That’s how people usually have handled it in internal searches at my toxic jobs. I wouldn’t invite drama with a bad manager if I’m not even being seriously considered.

      I think you do need to tell her before the interview – even if the hiring manager doesn’t tell her, you definitely don’t want anyone spotting you on your way to or from the interview and tipping her off.

      1. CB*

        I was recently in a similar situation with my supervisor, who is very hands off (it’s an odd structure – she works in another building and our work rarely, if every, intersects), when I applied for a an internal position in my large organization. Not knowing her that well I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be.
        I contacted someone high up in HR about it and was told that the company encourages internal transfers and does not alert your supervisor when you applied for a position. He added that it is recommended that you tell them if you pass the initial screening. So it might be worth finding someone in HR to ask (or a colleague who’s made an internal move).
        When I went in for the first interview, I didn’t share that info with my supervisor. I din’t want to cause any issues; like some here, I was a little worried she or someone else she told would try to hurt my chances at the new position. I was later contacted by the hiring manager letting me know I was a top candidate and asking if I had spoken to my manager about it yet. Then I did let my supervisor know, over the phone. It seemed to be important to the hiring manager and right thing to do at that point. And as others recommended here, I tried to be casual and noncommittal. It was weird but not negative. She offered to be a reference and asked questions about the position and timeline. As it was not a done deal – and was still unsure of her real feelings on it – I tried to be as vague as possible.
        I think I’m going to get the job but I am obviously waiting to get official word before discussing it again. While your situation is even more fraught, I totally understand – it puts you in a vulnerable position – no matter what happens. Good luck!

    8. OP#5*

      Having a game plan is a good idea. I am not sure if I can pad anyway. I am a terrible liar. I have a plan to say that I love the work I do in the our department, but I really want the experience of working in New Department because of my career plans. Cersei had a similar career path, so I think she’d at least understand that. Maybe. The other problem here is that her schedule is really erratic. (I didn’t find out about the vacation until 5 minutes before she walked out of the door.) I’ve hyped myself up to have the conversation a couple times and she left early, or never came in, etc.

      1. Clorinda*

        You said you could notify her in an email “which she would never read.” What happens if you do exactly that, and if the transfer goes through, you have documentation that you notified her? After all, it’s not your responsibility to make sure she reads her emails, is it? You can have the actual conversation when the process is farther along. “As you remember from my email a couple of weeks ago …”

        1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          Yeahhhhh… In all honesty, I would probably take this route. I’m not proud of that fact and I know there are definitely situations where I’d need to push myself out of the “comfort zone” so to speak.

          It just seems like such a good way to cover your bases – you documented that you told Cersei at an appropriately early time, and then you can bring it up in person (and deal with poor reaction) if/when it becomes apparent that you’re a strong contender for the role.

        2. Not a Mere Device*

          You could send the email, phrasing it as “I was going to tell you this in person, but you’ve been busy, and I don’t want to wait any longer.” Then, when/if you do catch up with her, don’t even mention the email unless she asks why you didn’t tell her sooner. Then it’s “I’ve been trying to catch up with you for a couple of weeks, but [you’ve been busy/things have been so busy around here]. I sent an email, in case you were checking those while you were on vacation.”

          That assumes she’s not so unreasonable as to take “you might have read your email before I saw you” as insubordinate or a dig against her for not normally using email; you know her better than we do, of course.

    9. Batshua*

      Is it bad that since you mentioned crystals, I immediately thought of using some Boss Fix on Cersei?

    10. Samiratou*

      Yeah, I worked for Cersei once, and had the same dilemma. I told her when I interviewed, and she panicked and said “I can block it!” and then asked why I didn’t tell her earlier. Because I knew you would react exactly how you did! It wasn’t my best move, but she was a bad boss and I really DGAF.

      My perspective–knowing Cersei, what is going to cause you the least aggro in the long run? Can she realistically block the move? If she can, you’re probably best off telling her sooner rather than later, though I’d be tempted to wait until you find out for sure if you’re getting an interview. If she can’t block it, I’d be inclined to ask forgiveness later (knowing she wouldn’t give it in any case) and cross that bridge when you get to it.

    11. Former Hoosier*

      This is a good suggestion. I have a necklace that was my dad’s and I wear it when I am nervous or anxious. It calms me. Also, I sometimes practice conversations with my husband i.e. “what should I say if she says XYZ?” It helps. I am almost always overprepared but it makes me feel better especially when you have a difficult boss. Good luck.

  2. bunniferous*

    I would be tempted to tell her then when she blew up, just say “This sort of thing is exactly why I want the other job….” Do NOT do that, of course.

    The idea to make fun plans afterward sounds excellent. Even better if you make them with someone you can dish a little with regarding the situation….

    1. Artemesia*

      The real issue for the OP is does Cercei have the power to torpedo the job for her and what does she need to do with the hiring manager to prevent that.

      1. Irene Adler*

        Really. I’m surprised HR didn’t bring up this aspect of things. Or, perhaps HR is unaware of Cercei’s bullying?

  3. LouiseM*

    OP#2, this is all about your boyfriend’s personality and your dynamic together. It’s true that company picnics can be great opportunities for networking, but this doesn’t have to be one-on-one. You can build goodwill between you and your coworkers even if you have a guest, and if your boyfriend is particularly outgoing and good at talking to people he may even “wingman” you with your boss and others you don’t know as well. But if you think you’ll be tempted to talk to him the whole time I’d skip it. I was recently at a social work event where a coworker brought her girlfriend (when few others brought dates) and they were attached at the hip and talking to each other the whole time. It definitely read strangely and made me wonder if she is a bit anti-social and not really interested in getting to know the rest of us.

    1. sacados*

      I would also see if it’s possible to casually ask around the office what the dynamic at these events typically is. OP mentioned it’s at an “amusement park” — so if that means the kind with rides, etc., then it’s entirely possible that people tend to stick mostly to their guests rather than wandering around in groups with coworkers. And if that is the case, going solo might wind up a bit lonely.

      1. Frank Doyle*

        She doesn’t start her new position for a month, so she can’t actually ask “around the office.”

      2. Judy (since 2010)*

        Every “company picnic” I’ve attended at an amusement park, you barely saw your co-workers. Sometimes there’s a meal time at an event area, sometimes you just get meal tickets, sometimes you’re on your own for meals. Even the ones where the company bought out the park, that meant the company was large enough so you were seeing lots of people who work for your company, but not necessarily with your division. If you had already started work, you might see more people you know than you usually would on a standard day at an amusement park. Especially if the rule is “You get a ticket for yourself and tickets for any spouse & dependents. If you don’t have a spouse, you get an additional ticket to use for someone else.” Even more so at my current work, with the above rules plus “Any additional tickets you want are $XX, our cost.”

        Take your boyfriend, otherwise you’ll probably be hanging out by yourself all day.

        1. Oilpress*

          Seems reasonable. If there is no structure to the day (most likely the case) then bring a guest.

        2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          I was coming here to say this. I worked at an amusement park as a teen that had company picnics all summer long. Most employers only got the employees coupons for a few items of free food, but there was the option to have the park cater a meal. The catered meal time was open for a couple of hours and that was the only time the employees would get together unless they just found each other in the park and hung out. I’d assume most are going to come with guests/family and not view this as a networking thing but more of a nice perk that they all happen to do on the same day.

        3. Fiennes*

          Agreed—this setting is likely to be far more guest-friendly than the average work event, and I suspect that if OP doesn’t bring someone, she’s going to spend a lot of time standing around awkwardly while her coworkers ride the Ferris wheel with their kids.

        4. OP #2*

          In your experience, is it best to make an active effort to network, or is it better to give people their space, considering they may be with their families or guests? I feel like I may run into this issue. I want to get to know others before I start working with them, but I don’t want to be intrusive at the same time.

          Thanks for the advice!

          1. tangerineRose*

            Maybe networking “lite” by saying something quick like “Hi, I’m . I’ll be working in the .” That seems like it would make it easy for the other person to say something similar in reply and to get into a longer conversation if the person wants to.

      3. essEss*

        If this is my company (it rents out a big amusement park 1 day every 2 years for employees to go to for free), you aren’t doing ANY networking. People are just there riding rides with their friends/family and maybe waving hello to each other as they pass by. You will be very lonely and bored if you go by yourself.

      4. Name Required*

        You said what I was thinking. I was a fairly new employee at a company when they organized a similar summing outing for the entire company and guests at a local amusement/water park. Literally, the only time the employees came together, was when eating at the picnic portion. But because the picnic portion of the event was open for hours, it was a mish-mash of employees. After eating, everyone went off with their guests. If I hadn’t brought anyone, I would have been on my own for most of the day. Instead, people met part of my family and everyone had a great time.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      This. My sister’s husband is her best networking asset, since he’s one of those affable “talk to everybody” kind of guys, and she’s more of an introvert. He’s totally her office wingman. Invite him if you think he’ll be a good wingman and can be sure he won’t do anything to cause a scene (never take a date to an office function with booze before you know how they drink, for instance).

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        OP3: it’s at an amusement park. The nature of the event requires a partner. Most rides need two per car. Would you look/feel more awkward if you weren’t going on rides because you didn’t have a friend? People will be riding, and they will feel awkward if you aren’t. Plus, it’s an easy topic of conversation. “That roller coaster was so crazy.” Oh, we are going on it next.

        1. Penny Lane*

          It sounds like OP has a considerate boyfriend to the fact that he inquired about whether he should go and won’t take offense either way.

        2. Artemesia*

          At an amusement park you want a partner and then to focus on teaming up with other people in your general age group to join with you on rides and such; if that doesn’t work, at least you have your boyfriend to enjoy things with.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’ve had both kinds. In a hypothetical situation where I’d have a choice of past partners to bring to an event, I’d bring my small-business-owner ex everywhere (he is great at talking to people, by nature of his work), and would bring my ex-husband nowhere. I brought him to a holiday party at a new job once, where the owners went all the way out for a dress-up, sit-down dinner at a nice party center (it was the late 90s). He sat through the entire thing looking like everyone he’d known and loved had just died, not talking to anybody, except to ask me if we could leave yet. We scarfed down our dinner and were out of there in 1-2 hours’ time. Come to find out, when I’d picked him up from his work to go to the party, he’d left his car in a parking garage that closed at a ridiculously early hour like nine PM. He didn’t tell me any of that until after we’d left the party, so I had no idea why he’d been wanting to leave since the moment we got there. He and I didn’t go to many work events together after that. He just was never a good fit. But like I said, I did have the SOs who’d connect with my coworkers better than I did. That was extremely helpful. Based on OP’s boyfriend’s reaction so far, I’d say he sounds like someone I would bring to a work event!

        1. OP #2*

          Wow, if your ex-husband had just communicated with your about the parking garage closing early, that would have cleared up so much!! Sorry you had to go through that.
          This is my first time going with my boyfriend to any work-related event, so I’ll soon find out how he will act at the event! Thanks so much for the advice!

    3. OP #2*

      Wow, thank you for all the input! LouiseM, I would say that my boyfriend is very outgoing but since this is my first company event with him, I am not sure how he would interact with my future co-workers. I could see it going both ways.
      After reading all the comments, I can definitely see the benefit of bringing my boyfriend as a guest (even if I would be tempted to talk to him the whole time). I’ll be sure to meet and network with my new co-workers too.

  4. LouiseM*

    OP#3, your boss sounds like a total control freak. My suspicion is that he’s trying to take credit for all your work. If he was at every single brainstorming session, it’s easier to take all the glory that comes with your ideas because he can plausibly claim he was there.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Oh, that’s interesting—I would have never jumped to “stealing credit for your ideas.” He sounds controlling and insecure in a way that new managers often fall into by mistake. I assumed he’s paranoid or has other control issues that he’s not managing very well.

      But I agree with Alison that OP should try to push back. It’ shugely inefficient to have to schedule a core aspect of your job around his availability and interest.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I once had a big boss who insisted on being copied in on all emails (they worked in another office) sent by the department concerning our projects.

        I complied and forwarded an email correspondence and got told off for not writing a summary at the top, which took me longer than reading the emails would have done!

        Funnily enough, said boss then complained that he had too many emails to read.

      2. Kathleen_D*

        One of my supervisors was kind of like this one. She didn’t insist on being in all meetings, but golly, did she like to keep her fingers in many a pie. She truly didn’t try to take credit for our work, though – she just really really really liked to be in control. It offended me originally because it did kind of come across as though she didn’t trust me to do my job, but eh, she’s was like that with everybody, so I decided that’s just the way she is.

        With some supervisors of this type, you can kill them with kindness – start inviting them to every dang thing until they get tired. That does sometimes work, although it wasn’t completely effective with the supervisor I mention above.

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      +1. We had a manager that wanted to be included on brainstorming sessions because patent ideas would come out of them, and he wanted his name on those patents. There’s a bonus associated with them at my company, so it’s a chance to increase your income without doing a ton of extra work.

    3. Lynca*

      I agree that he sounds very controlling. But my experience hasn’t been that when they do this it’s trying to take credit for the work they do. Most of the time with me it’s been that they’re on a massive power trip.

    4. LQ*

      I think we look at it through the lens that we have. I read this and thought of the boss trying to be in the middle of a conflict he was told he had to resolve when he started. (I think that’s unlikely, but it was my initial suspicion based on my lens.)

    5. LBK*

      Yeah, the phrase “shouldn’t be collaborating in the absence of our manager” is really disturbing. Most coworkers collaborate all the time without supervision, otherwise it would be impossible to get the job done.

      That said, I do think it’s a *little* weird to set up a meeting with the whole team except him and not even give him a heads up that it was happening, like putting him on the invite as optional or mentioning it in one of your regular check-ins with him beforehand. If he’s ultimately on the hook for the deliverable, I can see how he might feel as though a formalized meeting like this is something he should be directing or at least arranging since that’s a step beyond normal day-to-day collaboration and falls more into project planning, something that I presume falls under his purview.

      However, he’s wildly overreacting to this, as if you were trying to stage a coup behind his back. He could’ve just said, “I’d prefer if you add me on those – I know I probably won’t be able to attend that often but it would be good to know what’s going on.” And the overreaction makes me wonder if there is more going on here than him just finding it weird that he somehow didn’t know about this.

      1. Eye of Sauron*

        Yeah, I’m not sure where I fall with this one. It’s so entirely open to many interpretations.

        A. New Boss could just be trying to get his arms around the team, what they are doing, and how they work.
        B. New Boss is a micromanager and control freak
        C. New Boss is trying to actively engage in the team’s work
        D. New Boss doesn’t have enough to do and looking to kill time in the day
        E. New Boss genuinely want’s to help and be part of the collaboration.

        It’s all very hard to tell with the details provided, but I guess my answer would be the same for all of the above. Invite boss to the meetings and then go from there. Most likely busy boss will attend a few and then will start not coming.

        1. LBK*

          I like this assessment and I agree that the easiest answer is just to invite him and see what happens.

      2. Enid*

        Agreed, I found it really strange that nobody on the team mentioned to the manager that they were doing these meetings.

      3. OP #3*

        Yeah, that was an oversight on our part. We were chatting on a Weds, figured it’d be good to sync up next week, scheduled the meeting, and then our manager saw it on our calendars the next day. Probably should have him given a heads up then, but figured I would just mention it in our next 1:1 the following week.

    6. Sara without an H*

      I think we’re making this more sinister than it actually has to be. My impression is that this is a new manager who is personally insecure. OK — go ahead and set up your consultation meetings, and invite him to each and every one of them. After a few meetings, he’ll figure out that no, you’re not plotting against him, and that you’re actually doing work. And he’ll get bored and stop coming.

    7. Engineer Woman*

      Agree with Sara without an H:
      Invite your boss to each and every of these working meetings and he’ll soon realize he doesn’t need to be there.

      1. jb*

        I tried that when my current boss’s boss started doing this type of thing. Then she started asking meetings to be moved to when she could make it/canceled if she was too busy.

  5. Jen S. 2.0*

    #1, this is pure conjecture, but I would not be surprised if the root of the issue is your note that your manager is in a different office. Are you in a veryhigh cost of living area and your manager in a much lower one? Someone making $100,000 in Manhattan is practically among the working poor, whereas in, say, Tulsa, $100K goes waaaaaaay further. If your boss is in Tulsa, he really may not be comparing apples to apples. You might want to emphasize that point what you bring this up.

    (Ha, related side note: I just bought a condo in DC, and every time I watch Fixer Upper on HGTV, where people are buying homes in and around Waco, TX, I sigh VERY LOUDLY at how many 4-bedroom houses I could buy in Waco for what I just paid for 628 square feet in DC.)

    1. Music*

      I recognise the point you’re trying to make but can we please not perpetuate that people making six figures in Manhattan are somehow poor? Median income in the borough is $66k, which, yes, is a lot more than some places! But it’s also heavily skewed some some massively high salaries. It is perfectly easy to live here on $100k.

      1. namelesscommentator*

        THANK YOU! I did just fine on 40k a year in NYC while paying back student loans. I had some minor help from my parents (I stayed on their health insurance plan, which saved me $600 for the full year in premiums), and good luck (no emergency expenses), but for the most part it was perfectly fine and I was FAR from poor..

          1. Nita*

            That subsidized housing is a really weird thing! The rent is set so high (30% of pre-tax income), it’s much cheaper to rent a place on one’s own. I’ve seen one-bedrooms listed for $2,500, and two-bedrooms of course go for more. I still have not figured out by how anyone calls it “affordable” with a straight face.

      2. ExcelJedi*

        THANK YOU. I lived very nicely in my own apartment with a 30 minute public transit commute to my SoHo office when I made $45k in NYC, while sending what I could back to help my mom with her medical bills a decade ago. I lived very well when I was making $80k there two years ago.

        Cost of living is HIGH in NYC, but having grown up in a working poor family, the original comment comes off as totally out of touch with reality for me.

        1. M from NY*

          Not sure how long ago you lived in NY but in 2018 having your own apt on $45K is basically working to pay rent. Rent in the city has hit numbers that those that haven’t lived here in years can’t relate to. It is reality that neighborhoods that one could previously live in making $45K now requires twice the salary for the same space. Look up the applications for what is considered “affordable housing”. Your former salary is too low to qualify (you’d need a roommate).

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yeah, here in Boston I’ve never made anything close to the BOTTOM threshold for “affordable housing.” I’m on my own with no kids – no way could I support someone else.

            Not needing a car definitely helps a LOT, though.

      3. Nita*

        Maybe it’s the expenses? I’ve lived on 30K in NYC and felt rich, because I had basically no expenses other than my parents’ utility bills and my student loans. Then, lived on 50K by myself – still felt rich. Then, 100K (that’s two incomes) for a family of four – and did we ever feel poor. After all, when income goes up, so do taxes – and as for our expenses, two day care payments easily ate one of our salaries. We could still afford a studio, but a bigger place… nope. Not for several years, and then only after pay raises and after saving on literally everything that was optional.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Fair, and sorry. I was just grabbing for a VHCOL area, and repeating a comment a friend once made to me (and I added the “practically,” in an effort to buffer). I’ve also never been to Tulsa, so feel free to substitute with whatever moderate COL area tickles your fancy, if Tulsa is inaccurate.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Nah, it’s pretty accurate. $100k in Tulsa is enough for a 3000+ square foot, new house in a really nice neighborhood with trees and excellent schools, new cars, and vacations and shopping without a ton of budgeting. (And I’m actually from Tulsa — you can live 20 miles outside the city and still only have a 30 minute commute.) That’s enough for a family to live very comfortably on a single income. Honestly, $65k a year would be enough for that, and $50k with a little budgeting.

        Not like you’d be on foodstamps or something on $65k a year in NYC, but the quality of life would be wildly different. There’s a huge difference between “I budgeted and made it as a single person with help from my parents” and “I’m raising a family of 4 in the suburbs.”

        1. Dolorous Bread*

          “There’s a huge difference between “I budgeted and made it as a single person with help from my parents” and “I’m raising a family of 4 in the suburbs.””

          YES x1000. You didn’t “make it just fine on your own” if your parents were helping you. I live way deep in Brooklyn in a NOT “hip” area and the rents are climbing here too. I’m lucky to have an apt for a little under 2K a month with an hour commute into the city. But I absolutely wouldn’t be able to afford it, plus my debt payments and bills without sharing the load with my husband, and we collectively brought in 106K gross last year.

    3. Anon for this*

      I live and work in Manhattan, and got to 100K a few years ago. It’s a pretty nice life. You do need to adjust your expectations about apartment living. I’m never going to have the size space my colleagues have in other cities, but I also don’t get stuck in traffic and my commute is a 20 minute walk.

    4. Hills to Die on*

      I noticed your comment about how you think he doesn’t want you on the team. I had a manager who was jealous—yes, jealous—of my pay because it was almost the same as his and wanted to punish me for it. I had another manager who would give me very small bonuses compared to my coworker and I didn’t understand why. Turns out he was really bad at working with women and treated most women really disrespectfully. I just want to lend validity to the possibility that there could be something more there. See what he says about cost of living and proceed from there.

    5. Specialk9*

      Oh yeah, that show makes me sad too. We bought this house in Waco for $80k and fixed it up to be glorious, all for the cost of… A parking space where I am. Le sigh.

      Cost of Living is a real thing!

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        But then I read the horror stories on here of what employers in low-COL areas are generally like, and remember why I live in a place with a good enough job market that even someone with my dismal resume can usually find work with people who aren’t abusive.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Depending on your industry … that’s not really accurate at all. I have lived in very low cost of living areas (Oklahoma, Montana, Texas) and worked remotely for teams in very high cost of living areas (San Francisco, Boston, Raleigh). The most abusive boss I ever had, by far was the one in Raleigh — and there was yearly 40% turnover in my department because people just left. I’ve been treated extremely well by people in Tulsa and Dallas and also in San Fran and Boston. I’ve also seen other teams where the manager treated them like crap in those areas, but because of how expensive everything was, they weren’t able to leave. There is virtually no relationship between COL and having a crappy work environment. (Again, depending on industry. I don’t work in a coal mine or something very dangerous or isolated.)

    6. MLB*

      She did say in the letter that when she researched salaries, she also checked in the area where her boss lives and the salary came back as her current one. So while cost of living and where you’re located is definitely a thing, I don’t think it’s relevant in this case.

      BTW I’m in MD and while not as high as DC I feel your pain. I have a friend who lives in GA, and when they were house hunting he was sending me listings and it was painful. The house they bought was comparable in size to mine, and was about a third of the price.

    7. epi*

      The OP says that she looked up what her salary range would be in the manager’s area, and got the same result.

    8. Observer*

      $100 is practically among the working poor?! Tell that to the actual working poor.

      This really is pretty ridiculous and comes from a really entitled perspective. Yes, housing prices are pretty ridiculous, but at $100k, you’re not close to “poor”.

    9. Faith*

      I know other people have jumped on this, but I grew up *actually* working poor, and now live in NYC on a little less than $70k and do not consider myself anywhere close to working poor. This comment is offensive.

    10. NYC Renter*

      I want to stick up for Jen – maybe “working poor” is extreme, but NYC is stupid expensive and having a typical middle class life (own a home, have a kid or two, save for retirement – not to mention paying off student loans) in NYC would be VERY difficult at $100k.

      1. Doreen*

        I won’t say that doing those things on $100k is easy in NYC – but if $104k is the median income for a family of four , that means half of those families have income below $104K.

        And “having your own apartment on $45k is impossible” might be true in Manhattan , but I think expectations in NYC are different. I am a NYC native and I literally don’t know anyone who grew up here who moved from their parents’ home directly into their own apartment. Not people my age and not people my kids’ age. They all moved in with either a spouse/SO or roommates which can make it much more affordable. ( My son used to rent a 4br apt with three friends for about $525 each. He now rents a 3 br house with 2 friends for $700 each)

        1. sunny-dee*

          That’s … kind of the point though. For large sections of the country, that’s *not* normal — people can be independent and living quite comfortably at a substantially lower salary than $100k would get you in NYC. The quality of life is just insanely different.

          1. doreen*

            I would never say it’s not a completely different lifestyle ( and I do mean completely different- in most of the country people learn to drive before they are in their 20’s) – but $100K for a family of four in NY is not working poor.

            But just for kicks , I looked up what my job would pay in Georgia ( I work for state govt so it’s pretty easy). I’m not sure I would have had a better quality of life in Georgia. The equivalent job in Georgia pays almost exactly half of what I make in NY.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, I think you may have to be more firm with your mom. I suspect she’s asking you to try out different tactics to get engaged with your company’s corporate giving program, and she’s not hearing no because you’ve been offering to at least try to make an ask (even if you don’t think it will succeed). It sounds like you’re now at a point where it’s ok to tell her it’s not going to happen or that you’re not willing to keep asking. If she wants to cultivate a giving relationship with your employer, she’s going to have to put in the work, not you.

    And although it may upset her, it’s worth reestablishing you boundaries. Be warm, direct, and firm. Don’t apologize for being unable to keep making asks for her. Be clear and kind—that’s the most anyone can ask for in this scenario.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. You need to shut it down firmly or she will keep nibbling at you. ‘Mom, I can’t jeopardize my job by continuing to push this after they already clearly said no. I don’t want to have this conversation every again. I cannot mix my job with your fund raising efforts.’ I found with my own mother I had to be that clear; subtle and hints and tact never worked; I suspect your mother sees tact and consideration as weakness and will keep pushing. End it once and for all clearly and firmly. And when she then pushes again, just say ‘Mom, we already discussed this; it is not happening ever.’ And if she pushes leave, or get off the phone ‘oops my doorbell, talk to you later.’ Works best if she can clearly hear there is no doorbell. If you always absent yourself when she pushes on well marked boundaries it will subtly shape her behavior.

    2. Specialk9*

      Yeah, many of us find it hard to navigate that transition from child relationship to adult relationship. But with someone who pushes and pushes, you have to make and defend boundaries. The good news is that (shy of some real pathology) it gets easier – they learn what a real no sounds like and stop pushing earlier. My husband drew hard boundaries as a teen, and his mom (who I adore) respects his boundaries big-time; his brother has no boundaries and is ok with all kinds of things I wouldn’t be.

    3. BadWolf*

      Would it help to start thinking of the non-profit as a MLM (not wishing to insult the non-profit) in order to put up stronger borders (since the pushiness from all corners is starting to remind me of MLM sales techniques). Not that you can’t still interact with the non-profit, but it’s a hard no on having a “party” at work.

    4. Seriously?*

      For an internal transfer, the company needs to determine what is best for the company as a whole. Also, they are going to want to talk to your current manager to get as up to date and honest an evaluation as possible. That conversation will go smoother if the manager already knows you applied. Presumably, although their are bad managers out there, the company trusts the people in management positions or they would not hold those positions.

    5. Smithy*

      As a fundraiser – while I do not condone how your mom is behaving, I’ve also definitely worked for senior leadership in nonprofits who have the idea that “it never hurts to ask”. And can take that thinking to some extremes such as “it never hurts to ask your daughter repeatedly for a fundraising favor/connection.”

      So in additional to re-establishing boundaries, I would also recommend pushing the line that this actively hurts you and your career as well as potentially her organization. While this may well be a case of resetting parent/child boundaries – as a fundraiser, articulating that “this is harmful” may potentially reach her professionally.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Ugh. “It never hurts to ask” is a thing I’m used to hearing from pickup artists.

    6. AKchic*

      I would even go as far as saying “if you want Company involved, you need to talk to them directly. They have told me ‘no’ and I have the impression that I am not to ask again. Keep my name out of it. I can’t risk my job, and you are not to risk my job. Contact them as you would any other company.”

      Something tells me that mom has already *tried* getting this company to donate and they shot her down and now she’s trying the “but we have a *connection*” route.

      If mom is a solicitor, she won’t get her feelings hurt to be told “no”. Its what she hears all the time. Seek out your inner 3 year old for the word ‘no’, resurrect your rebellious teenage self and tell her to stop asking you.

  7. a good mouse*

    Why are the rules for informing a current manager about looking at another job different for internal and external jobs? I recently found myself in a similar position to OP#5 – an internal job was posted that fit me much better than my current department and was looking for someone with my exact qualification. The HR manager asked me if I had told my boss that I was applying and basically said I would have to if I got to the interview stage. But there’s always a good chance you won’t get any job, and it would definitely have effected the projects I’m put on if my manager knew I was looking for a new role (even though I was really looking at this role because of the role, not because I was looking to leave in general – I found out about it because of a mutual friend with the head of the new group).

    I didn’t end up going past informal interviews because they were basically at the end of their final interviews when I threw my hat in, but it did make me wonder.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      While I realise that mine is probably an edge case, in my experience, the internal job application could and *was* blocked by my manager who “just couldn’t release me from my role”. An external application would have meant she had no choice in the matter.

      1. Artemesia*

        Every person blocked like this should do their best to find an external role and let management know why on exit.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          One of my favorite rage quit stories was a very quiet, controlled rage that landed the person, desk cleared out, in HR at 4 pm the day she found out her boss killed the internal transfer, resignation to become effective at 5 pm that day.

        2. SuperAnonToday*

          I am in exactly this position now. My Soon To Be Ex Manager refused to release me for an internal assignment that would have been fantastic for my career and self development, and would also have given me great experience to bring back to our office. I vented my frustration to a former colleague who offered me a position at her new company and I am just waiting to sign the papers this week. I didn’t want to leave but how can I stay somewhere where my achievements are punished?

          1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

            Good luck! I wish I had a former colleague to vent to.
            Interesting side note – manager is kicking back on allowing me to take TWO DAYS to go to an external training course. It’s not a key part of my main role, but something which is *personally* important to me and my skills (think off-site first aid training and I’m an office admin type of thing) and she “isn’t sure she can release me during a very busy period”. She’s taking a two week vacation immediately beforehand, but two days is a bit much.
            *sigh* I mentioned on Friday’s open post I got a pay rise, suddenly it doesn’t feel like nearly enough…

      2. a good mouse*

        I definitely worried about that too. We’re coming up to a very big project which is a mess and already doesn’t have enough resources. I wouldn’t want to lose out on a job I’d like much better to spend over a year on a difficult project before the team gets to a point it might be easier to lose me.

      3. Lora*

        Had a VP who had the highest turnover rate in the company and was getting dinged for too much turnover, and his solution was to block all transfers any way he could – including demoting people and giving them bad reviews. He was eventually fired for other reasons, but I wouldn’t say you’re an edge case per se; there’s plenty of crummy managers.

      4. but why...*

        I used to work for a manager who blocked any internal transfers. Twice we had people actually go find other jobs externally and then end up back at our company within months. (If you returned with 12 months all of your seniority stayed intact including vacation time.) I think it was a little bit shady to bail on a new company so quickly, like the new company was just a pawn, but that’s the corner they were back into.

        1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          Wow… if the hiring manager was aware of blocker manager’s behavior I would try to work something out with them where I would officially resign from blocking manager and then get “hired” a couple of days later by hiring manager.

          Probably not actually a realistic approach for a variety of reasons, but one can dream.

      5. LizB*

        As a manager, I cannot fathom a situation where I needed an employee to stay so badly that it would be worth it to ruin our relationship by refusing an internal transfer they wanted. At most I might try to negotiate for a later transition date or work out a way that the person could be part-time in both roles for a while, but there’s just no way that someone would be so irreplaceable in their role that I’d refuse to let them transfer at all (knowing I would lose them in a month or two anyway when they found an outside position). I’m sure that scenario exists in some industry, but certainly not in mine.

        1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          I wonder if any commenters have actually blocked an internal transfer – if so, I genuinely would be curious as to the reasoning. I just can’t really think of a generous reading of that situation… Like, I’d understand if the transferring employee was problematic and then blocking manager told hiring manager about this, which effectively blocked/torpedoed the transfer.

          However, I just can’t wrap my head around a reason for a manager to say “nope” when everything else is already in place (for the same reason LizB mentions – I’d assume that if I said no to a transfer, the employee would then just immediately start looking for an external role, so I’d be in the exact same position of replacing them, just with less notice and flexibility).

          Or if Alison is reading this, maybe you can chime in with a legitimate reason for blocking (outright) a transfer.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      I think there are 2 main differences between internal vs. external when it comes to this.
      1) Managers want to know you’re leaving because it can help them plan better in running their department. HR has to balance your needs and your manager needs when it’s an internal recruitment process. Basically, there’s a business case for notifying your manager that HR doesn’t care about when they’re dealing with an external candidate since in that situation their allegiance is with you alone.
      2) Office politics. The new hiring manager does not want to burn a bridge with your current manager by “stealing” you away. This kind of move needs to happen with open communication between the two. There’s no way another internal manager would hire you without okaying it with your current manager first. They’re worried about their own skin too.

      1. drpuma*

        There’s also a courtesy element to help your current boss. Especially in a smaller or talkative office, there’s a high likelihood that someone in the interviewing department or HR will ask your boss about your work. Your boss saves face if she already knows you put yourself in for the role.

      2. Naptime Enthusiast*

        Both of these. Also, your new manager may need to reach out to your current manager before an offer is made. You don’t want that to be the first time that your manager hears you’re planning to leave, and that’s an awkward position to put your new boss in.

      3. chomps84*

        Yep, I just received an internal promotion which involved moving to a different department and HR’s policy is that the hiring manager needs to be able to contact your current manager for a reference before giving you an offer. My manager was great and had even asked me if I were going to apply to this particular job before I applied (It’s a much better fit with my career goals and educational background than my previous job was), so it wasn’t a problem. But that’s the reasoning here.

    3. Turquoisecow*

      A few years back, a colleague who has only been with the company a few months decided to start looking at other jobs, externally and internally. This was understandable- our company was not known for generous salaries, and at the time was in the middle of a long wage freeze (no raises, COL or otherwise). She told her boss (and several others) when she applied for an internal position, and was quite frank about her reasons for leaving – she had two small kids and her husband was underemployed.

      We all understood, but the quick proposed change of job made everyone immediately start to see her as a “temporary” employee. The bosses were reluctant to assign her to longer-term projects, thinking she was leaving soon. And while she didn’t get the internal job, we all figured she’d leaving soon enough anyway, and that affected our view of her as a colleague.

      (Ironically, she ended up getting laid off before she could get a new job; the company framed it as a role elimination and wanted her to take a “small” pay cut to move into a new role, which was the same job but a new title. Her boss described the pay cut to me as “not significant,” and she chose to leave instead. The same role was given to me without a pay cut, and then I was “promoted” a few weeks later with a raise, so I wonder she was making more than the company thought she was worth to begin with, or if her talk of job hunting hurt her.)

    4. Susan Sto Helit*

      My sister recently got an internal transfer in her company – that her former manager actively encouraged her to go for. Good managers want to help you advance your career even if it means losing you.

      A good tactic can be to talk to them about it before you apply, and phrase it as asking their advice. “I saw position XX and was thinking about applying for it. I’d love to get some experience in XY, and it could be a good step up for me here. What do you think about it – would you be willing to support me if I applied?”

      Of course, they could say no. But then you’ll have learned something, and have more information to base your decisions on going forward. If they really want to block an internal transfer they probably can anyway, so it’s worth finding out before you invest too much time and energy. At least you’d know that you needed to focus on external roles for the time being instead.

      1. Lynca*

        This. My manager actively encourages advancement- even if it isn’t in this department. We’ve had several people move out to other departments because we’re a small department. It can be 5-10 years before a position in our department opens up that isn’t entry level. It’s generally not a big deal.

        But I think whether it goes well depends on whether management is functional or not.

        1. Calpurrnia*

          Yes! This is something I’ve just experienced for the first time, after 5 years at a company where we had to fight tooth and nail and effectively present a legal case to even get a COL annual raise, and internal moves only ever happened because they needed a backfill for someone leaving the company. (I don’t think my manager would’ve torpedoed my chances specifically; the bureaucracy and red tape did all the work for him on that front… But he definitely would tell me things like “if you were to leave this role it would be difficult to backfill, it would really set the program back, we’d need to keep you part time to help train the new person,” and so on, basically guilt-tripping me into staying because I’m conscientious about my work.)

          I started a new job at a different company (in a completely different industry for that matter) a few months ago, and my new manager has given me effusively positive feedback on everything I’ve been working on, told me what everyone else has been saying about working with me and how much I’ve helped them, etc. Last week, my department head called me into his office and said, “This is really unorthodox since normally you’d need to be here a year to be considered for an internal transfer, but there’s this open position for a dark-chocolate teapot predictive statistician, and after you helped Eddard with the training a couple weeks ago, he passed your name along to the hiring manager who thought your resume looked like a good fit and asked me if you’d be interested. I don’t want you to feel like we’re pushing you out, because we’d love to keep you, but I wanted you to know this opportunity existed that might be up your alley, so you can talk with Manager and decide what’s best for you.” When I met with my manager i was expecting the same guilt-trip about how good I was doing and how the department needed me, but instead she opened with telling me she would never push me either to take it or to stay, that only I could decide what was best for my career, that she’d support me no matter what, and that saying yes or saying no would in no way affect how I was perceived by the department or the company in the long run, what mattered that I was happy because the company wants to keep me, and so on.

          It was almost mind-blowing as I’ve never received even half as much support from management in my entire career. I definitely teared up out of gratitude. I came home thinking “so this is what those mythical ‘good managers’ AAM is always talking about look like!”

          1. Calpurrnia*

            Whoops, that story came out way longer than I meant it to. Sorry about the wall of text.

            1. Adlib*

              No worries; that was great to read! So glad you’re at a place who appreciates you!

          2. Naptime Enthusiast*

            I love hearing stories about good managers on here! It’s so easy to focus on the bad :)

          3. Turquoisecow*

            That’s an awesome story! It’s great to hear something positive on occasion.

            An old boss of mine talked a lot about supporting his reports and helping them grow, but the company was so broken there wasn’t much he could do (and I didn’t want to switch departments) but if I had said I was leaving, internally or not, I would have had his support. He was also good about teaching me new things and leaving me with that task, (as opposed to a subsequent boss who was super reluctant to train anyone on new responsibilities and give up any of his own tasks while simultaneously complaining how swamped he was while I practically begged him for work).

    5. Snowglobe*

      With an internal transfer, if you are in the running by for the position it is absolutely 99.99999% certain that the hiring manager will call your manager to ask about your job performance before offering you the job. You don’t want that to be the first time they are hearing about it.

    6. MLB*

      Because a good and reasonable manager will help you if you’re looking for a new job.

    7. RabbitRabbit*

      I’ve done both and it was totally dependent on the manager in question.

      In the first case (with a manager very much like Cersei), I went to a manager in a different department – who I’d worked on an internal committee with, and asked if she’d be a reference because I had to get out. She was sympathetic and asked if instead I’d consider applying for an open position they had in her department – not directly under her, but in a good workspace. My own Cersei had a very high turnover in the department, and took people leaving very personally, including labeling them as “ineligible for rehire.” In this case, she wasn’t informed until my new manager called Cersei and said I would be transferring departments. (Not exactly the way I wanted to handle it, but the AVP in my new department recommended it.) Cersei was mad but I broke in some angry tears in her office and played it off as frustration over the whole process and ‘I don’t want to leave but I need to grow past this tiny department’ and it softened her a little. Not enough to let the department throw me a going-away party for over a decade of work, but they did it in a ‘sister’ division of the department instead.

      For my last transfer, my manager was great. She was a rockstar at helping people find their interests and career pathways. And when she noticed that my interests were cleaving really close to those under the scope of that previous manager who’d pointed me out of that old bad department – she told me about that other division having a job opening. I applied and was the strongest candidate, and my manager basically told her own boss and the grand-boss that they’d better allow the transfer to happen or they were going to lose me and a lot of institutional knowledge to some other employer.

      So, I’ve been in this latest role for a year and a half, and it’s been a great move. And they get to keep the institutional knowledge in the department (as I frequently advise “across the aisle”) while I get to grow.

      Old department is a total dumpster fire in terms of the position I used to do, though. That’s going to be ugly once they figure out everything that’s gone exactly wrong.

    8. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      At OldJob, you had to have your manager’s permission to apply for an internal role. When I got my last promotion (at that company), my manager told me that I was “lucky” that she let me have it. I actually think she tried to sabotage it and her manager (my grandboss) gave me such a good reference that it didn’t matter.

  8. Jen RO*

    #1 – Your manager may have meant that your salary is above the internal benchmark. In my large company, if your salary is “above market” **, the raise % suggested by the HR tool is lower… His phrasing was unfortunate, but I wouldn’t necessarily assume he is *complaining* about your salary.

    (**Of course, our internal benchmark is crap and nowhere near the actual market, which is why we keep bleeding people. But – at least where I work – this is out of my hands, there are 4 levels of management above me who don’t give a shit. All I can do is play around with the percentages for my team to reward the high performers.)

    1. Becky*

      I agre. This sounds like the OPs comp ratio (ratio of your salary to the midpoint of the internal range) is too high. It’s worth asking your manager or hr if they will share your comp ratio with you or the internal salary range. Some companies share these data points and other companies don’t.

    2. ABK*

      It’s also possible that he’s saying that your salary went up but your bonus as a percentage of your base won’t be going up. That would of course be ridiculous for both the bonus percentage and the base salary to be increasing with each promotion. Is there any transparency about how bonus funding choices are made? There should be guidelines that managers use to make these decisions.

      1. Specialk9*

        Not “of course”! My company directly ties bonus to promotion, it goes up 5% with each level.

    3. Eye of Sauron*

      This is what I was thinking too, but at my company the more you get past the midpoint in your range the more it affects your raises until the point where you max out then you are only eligible for bonuses. I’ve had employees get close to that point before they were promoted* which is what should happen ideally.

      *Why their previous manager didn’t promote them is still beyond my comprehension. But she was a crappy manager and eventually ‘sought opportunities elsewhere’

    4. Sara without an H*

      I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s something OP#1 should probably check. (HR can probably supply the information.)

      I work in higher education, and we use the CUPA-HR salary data as a benchmark. This is OK, except for IT positions. Those come out way below local market rates, so we have an awful time hiring and retaining IT people.

    5. SpaceNovice*

      Internal benchmarks are crap in general, I think. All you need is for the values to not be updated for 5 years and you’ve fallen behind the measures that everyone else uses. I know the biggest raises my family members have gotten have been from smaller companies that didn’t have them. All they do is mean you can’t capture above average workers using salary. (Other means, yes, but not salary.)

      Unrelated but you should check my latest response to you on the open thread for April 27-28 regarding the A/C wars; it may prove useful to you.

  9. Khlovia*

    #3: Malicious compliance. Reasonably good-natured, not-too-malicious malicious compliance. Invite him to everything! “Cancel your lunch plans! We’re all eating together in Conference Room B and hashing out X!” “How soon can you sit down with us about Y? Because if we don’t get that finalized by 5:00 today Z is going to be delayed by a week.” Everybody show up at his office door pushing your chairs, crowding in. “We just realized we needed to have a consult over–”

    He’ll figure it out sooner or later.

      1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

        Having just gotten up to visit the bathroom with two pairs of doggy eyes watching my every move, that one may work.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I would actually do this. The reason you don’t invite your manager to your working meetings is more for their sake than yours. It saves them having to be in all the nitty gritty details and to just get the important points lifted. If this guy wants to be in every meeting then let him be. Invite him to them all and see how long this lasts. It’s not a sustainable meeting load for a manager to have… let him realize that on his own.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Also, he may just want to be aware these meetings are happening and that he’s being kept in the loop. You could just add him to the meetings without paying attention to when he’s really available. Now he knows they’re happening and he will probably decide he needs to be somewhere else instead (unless of course, you have a manager that has a lot of time on his hands… that can happen too).

        1. Calpurrnia*

          Yeah, if this is the case I wonder if you could solve it by putting him as “optional” on the invite, while your teammates are in “required”. (I think the non-Outlook equivalent would be cc’ing the manager while team members are in the To: field.) Then he knows about them happening, but nobody *needs* him to be there.

      2. Adlib*

        Unless he’s the type that humble brags about how busy they are and how overloaded their schedules are because they HAVE to be in every meeting their team sets. I know some like that!

    2. Project Manager*

      This is one of my techniques for handling micromanagers – give them all that information they asked for and then some. It’s more work up front for a while, but in my experience so far, they do eventually get the point.

      The other technique I used very effectively was to give the micromanager “jobs” on my project. One particular supervisor was micromanaging me because he missed project management, and he was good at it, so I would periodically ask him for help/advice on little things even if I didn’t actually need it. The result was that he felt engaged in what I was doing and stayed off my back the rest of the time. Obviously, that approach wouldn’t work in every situation, but it’s worth considering.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Yes, I’ve used that technique myself, and it works very well, especially if the micromanager is just insecure, rather than actively mistrustful.

        “Malicious compliance” is going to be my new favorite expression.

        1. SpaceNovice*

          “Malicious compliance” is one of my favorite phrases, too, and so many other people love it that it has its own subreddit dedicated to it.

      2. Specialk9*

        “You want to know what I’m doing? GREAT!!! Nobody ever wants to know all about what I’m doing, this is wonderful.”(Weekly meeting, slap down 10 pages of update report) Be quietly THRILLED and bury them in data, and requests for input. It always makes them back down.

    3. Boredatwork*

      10/10 this 100% works. I had a new manager who wanted constant status updated, and that’s what she got. about 20 emails a day plus multiple pops-in where I would reference things in emails she hadn’t had time to read. We ended up at either a daily email or pop-in.

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        Just beware… This is totally the best when dealing with micromanagers. I’ve used it multiple times and have worked well with a couple of pretty bad micromanagers.

        And then I met that one manager who blew all micromanagers out of the water. No amount of proactive status updates – emails/check in/whatevers – satisfied her. I swear she wanted me to notify her of every single work movement I made (every email typed, every step of every project, just literally every single thing I did throughout the day) so that she could pre-approve or “correct” it (things that after rounds and rounds of back and forth/explanations she finally realized I was doing correctly after all). I kept saying that it felt like she wanted to wear my skin or have her consciousness uploaded into my brain (like that one Black Mirror episode…)

        So yeah – this is definitely the best tactic, but just know there are some micromanagers out there that you can’t “bury in notifications/updates”. They’re like hungry monsters that just want more and more and more.

        1. Specialk9*

          Whoa. I’ve had dozens of clients and never met that type, thanks for the heads up!

  10. Em too*

    #3 does he expect you to schedule round him? If not then I would just invite him to everything, including very, very detailed discussions of report formatting, until he stops turning up.

  11. Mom MD*

    How much of a bonus are we talking about? If it’s lower by just a few hundred dollars I wouldn’t even mention it.

    And I doubt a boss who thinks your salary is already high is going to respond well to a raise request.

    Unless your bonus is a significant part of your income, and since you feel you earn a good salary, I’d let it go.

    1. Artemesia*

      If you are underpaid for your area you should be looking for other opportunities regardless. A boss who gives you a good review and then tells you you are overpaid? Time to check your options. You don’t have to move but check your options. This boss will never pay you what you think you are worth. Telling an employee they are overpaid is negging designed to get you to accept less. Check your options.

      Think how satisfying it would be when you give your notice to be able to casually say ‘well when you told me I was overpaid, I decided to check that out and have decided to accept a job at Competitor Inc for about 20% than I am getting here.’

      1. selenejmr*

        I agree. I used to work for a accounting/cpa company as an accountant/cpa earning only $13.75/hour after 4+ years. I asked to a raise and was told I made very good money for what I did. So I started looking around and found a job after a few months making $19.23/hour at a church. Yay! No tax seasons any more!

      2. Kittymommy*

        Oh my gosh I would love to do this right now. I’m underpaid (both internally and externally) and the raise that i was pretty sure about is very likely not going to happen. If course everyone else is getting raises…

      3. SpaceNovice*

        +1 definitely look elsewhere. A boss that values their employees would be willing to “overpay” the market rate for someone that’s topnotch. A manager telling an employee they’re overpaid so stupidly offhand like that has no idea what the market is actually doing or hasn’t stopped to consider WHY they might be paid significantly more than most in their field. Very out of touch.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        It’s also very satisfying to tell a boss that you’re leaving for position a hefty raise when they bemoan the fact that you’re deeply, deeply underpaid…..and refuse to do anything about it.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          (though, the “so sorry we don’t pay you enough” was also coupled with “but we make so much more here at this county than [other county that had even less support than we did]”)

      5. Wendy Darling*

        My boss at AwfulJob liked to tell me I was overpaid all the time because I negotiated for 10% higher than the salary they originally offered me, which was almost criminally low.

        I now have a much easier job working for a great boss that pays 20% more than the higher salary I negotiated, so joke’s on them.

      6. Specialk9*

        Yeah it sounds like negging to me too. That insidious way of getting people to accept less and less.

    2. KarenK*

      Just to comment on this. “A few hundred dollars” is not insignificant and I would not let it go.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yeah, if your bonus is $20k or $100k, then a few hundred is pocket change. If your bonus is $50, or $200, or $800, then that’s a whole nother ball park.

        I find bonuses fascinating. In my old job, I got a Starbucks gift card some years, but that’s it. In my current job, we almost never get the bonus but when we do it’s a wild big chunk of our whole annual salary. It’s eye popping to me!

    3. Not Australian*

      Really? ‘A few hundred dollars’ are not worth mentioning? I don’t think that’s universally applicable, alas.

  12. Lynca*

    OP 3- “He immediately got upset and told us that we shouldn’t be collaborating in the absence of our manager and essentially told us we were not to have working sessions without him present.”

    Yeah this is weirdly controlling. In my office, collaborating outside the management chain cuts down on review time when we’re all on the same page about how Z should be handled. It’s a much easier discussion if manager wants Y and we have a coherent thought process and evidence about how X process would work better in this situation. I’d push back on how this is a useful tool for the non-management staff to prepare quality work for management.

    I wouldn’t discount that this is the manager being insecure or maybe weirdly rigid about how work should be done. I’ve found new managers have a lot of ideas about how work should be done (or are weirdly controlling about how work should be done) that don’t match the reality of the situation. That would show up in more areas than just this one issue though.

    1. SpaceNovice*

      Yeah, in my office, the bosses are HAPPY to see collaboration happening independent of them. Knowledge sharing, helping each other with tasks, providing advice, and working together to prepare for common meetings. They know we’ll come to them if approvals are needed and like having something coherent to make decisions on. One of them even gets tail-wagging dog happy when he sees us working together. (The other two are just happy when he’s positively ecstatic.)

    2. essEss*

      The whole point of having employees is so that others can do work instead of you. What’s the point of even having the employees do the work if the manager has to be with them every minute that they work on it?

    3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      This is really weird/controllin to me too. I did calendar management at a previous job. It was unofficial “policy” to do the following: Meeting needs to get scheduled with C-level (head of the department) + 2 sr team members (responsible for subject of the meeting) + 3 jr team members (who actually do the grunt work of the subject for the meeting). So official meeting gets scheduled for all 6 gets scheduled. Then (automatically, basically) I knew to schedule a meeting for the 2 sr team members + the 3 jr team members about 24 hours out, to prep for (and have time to adjust stuff) for c-level meeting. Then, I’d book a third meeting, right before the prep meeting, for the 3 jr. team members to prep their work for the sr. team members.

      This was probably a little overboard, but that would triple the numbers of meeting the dept. head was in if they had this mentality.

      It’s really common to have “prep” meetings before meeting with the boss – either informal or planned. If boss just wants to be “notified” about these prep meetings, then add him to the invite as optional and keep on trucking… I’m guessing this boss would insist on them scheduling the prep meetings around him because he genuinely believe he needs to be involved. All I can say is god speed…

      Ok – one idea – maybe framing these meetings specifically as preparation for the meeting with him will help him understand…

  13. Sled dog mama*

    #5 I would both talk to Cersei face to face and email her (with something like “following up on our earlier conversation…” that way Cersei can’t say you didn’t tell her.

    I’d also be tempted to go to HR and talk to someone about the fact that you’re afraid Cersei will react badly to this news. I would want to see if they’d be open to you not telling her unless they are actually interviewing you. Of course I’m not sure this would be a good idea at all.

    1. Frustrated Optimist*

      That occurred to me, too: Can you ask HR what the norms are for your company, in terms of notifying your current manager when you apply for an internal transfer? And if your HR department seems helpful/trustworthy, maybe you could tactfully say that you’re afraid of what Cersei’s reaction will be.

    2. Oilpress*

      I agree with your post, and I would add that the OP should be actively pursuing other job options outside of her organization. If you really don’t like your boss, don’t stick around. There is no guarantee she will be offered this other job in her organization. I think the OP’s most likely exit plan from her boss is to keep looking outside the organization.

  14. gawaine*

    On OP1 – if I’m reading this correctly, he’s saying that he’s giving the OP a bonus that he doesn’t have to give at all, and that bonus is usually calculated as a percent of salary, but he’s not calculating it that way. If the quote is accurate – your salary is “already so high” – that’s not necessarily saying you’re overpaid for being you, or overpaid for the market, it’s just saying you have a high salary and the math doesn’t work to give you a bigger bonus. It sounded like he didn’t explain it well, but if you go back in to argue that based on a website, you should have gotten a bigger bonus because you’re not really overpaid, I wouldn’t expect that to go over well.

    If you were at a company where the bonus is a large part of your compensation and is essentially guaranteed (the US phone companies used to work this way), it might be different, but as it is, it would be like going to someone who just gave you a Christmas present and telling them that statistically, other people are more generous than they are.

    I read this as the manager saying that the percent calculation is screwy. Most of the time, we have dollar values amounts of bonus we can give out, and we don’t always get more dollars just because we pay people more money. So the choice becomes: Do I tell someone that they don’t get a bonus because I can’t fully fund it, or do I give them less than the guideline?

    Last year, I was able to work around the guidelines and give bonuses to three people, where following them, I would have only given them to one. The people I bonused didn’t know what the guidelines were, and I didn’t stumble over telling them that they were getting more or less than they could have gotten.

    The one place where I’ve seen companies say something about how highly paid people are that gets confusing is on the raise side. Some people got essentially no raise because they were highly paid, something that could be confusing, but basically – we can’t pay people above the 100% percentile for Teapot Engineers, because our customers won’t pay that much. We have to turn them into Senior Teapot Engineers, first.

    I also find self-reported salary survey numbers to be a little crazy. They’re OK within, maybe, 20%, but they’re often high or low, they just don’t have any kind of statistical significance. Generally, when people bring in salary surveys, it’s their passive aggressive way of saying they want a raise without saying it (while pointedly saying to the manager that the manager and HR are apparently not paying attention to the market or doing their job), and it’s usually linked with looking for a job somewhere else. What I tend to see at that point is that managers help them with this process by replacing them and showing them the door.

    1. anathema*

      This is what I came to say – very normal for a lot of mid-size and up orgs in the US.

    2. Oxford Coma*

      Companies will twist themselves into knots justifying that a particular salary survey is wrong and theirs is right. It’s just a shell game to justify poor pay.

      I took an extensive salary database to my hiring negotiation. The data came directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and was organized across employee certifications, zip codes, and NAICS codes. It was clear, relevant data directly from the government about my field’s payscales. The company scoffed and claimed that they only went by some rando database they paid a marketing company for.

      1. epi*

        Everyone in my job classification and a couple above and below us once got a raise because my company was bleeding people so fast it paid for new salary data earlier than usual. Some of us had been two grades below our new rate! Ya think? It was cute seeing them still try to justify the data they bought as “better” though. And yes, many of us were still underpaid after the change.

        Even if you don’t think it is correct, basic due diligence if you set salaries *is* knowing what is out there on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. That is where your employees get a sense of whether their rate is sufficient, with or without your blessing.

      2. Eye of Sauron*

        My favorite salary negotiation story… I was interviewing for an internal job that would require relocation. The manager offered $X and I went and did some cost of living/salary comparisons between the two locations. I countered with $X+$10k. He got very serious and then dismissed my calculations saying “You have to be careful with those comparisons, they all assume you live in a fancy loft downtown” I said “Umm I actually do live in a loft downtown, the fancy may be open to interpretation though. Seriously I want the job and I am wiling to relocate, but I’m not going to go in the hole to do it.” The look on his face was priceless. I got my named salary as he had no where to go from there.

      3. Kittyfish 76*

        This is true. When I tried the research tactics to show that I was underpaid for my qualifications, etc., you can sure bet the company did their own “research” to claim I was not. Glad I am gone.

  15. Naptime Enthusiast*

    OP2, I’d definitely ask your coworkers what the norm is, but I’m team “bring your boyfriend”. My department tries to make outings like that very family friendly so that more people will go, especially if they’re on weekends. I’ve found it beneficial to bring my fiance because he works in a completely different field. People like to ask him questions about what he does rather than talking our own shop the whole time, plus he has a lot of similar interests to my coworkers so I don’t need to constantly check in with him and see if he’s bored.

    1. Specialk9*

      Yeah, an amusement park is often people meeting once or twice, if that, but then wandering off in their own family / friend groups. It’s not like a picnic.

    2. OP #2*

      Thank you for the advice! Being a newbie to the workforce, I’m still getting to understand workplace dynamics. By the sound of it, my company also is trying to make the outing fun and family friendly. I’ll be bringing my boyfriend, especially considering he is in a different industry that I am in. Maybe it’ll start an interesting conversation! Thanks :)

  16. Boo*

    Sorry this is completely OT, but Alison I know you’ve told us to tell you if we’re having problems with the site – for some reason the video ad at the top of the comments freezes my phone whenever I try to scroll through, is there anything I can do? I’m on an up to date Android using Chrome, I’ve checked my settings and made sure pop ups are blocked and tried clearing my cache. It’s been like this for a couple of months or so, so I was just catching up over my lunchbreak on my desktop but I’m on leave now and not being able to read all the comments is driving me batty, I need my fix! :)

      1. Boo*

        Thanks – trouble is my phone freezes before I can scroll that far down, but I’ve solved the issue by using the Samsung browser :)

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Right above the comment box is a link to “report an ad, tech, or typo issue.” I think that’s probably your best bet to get it in front of Alison.

    2. Boo*

      My phone kept freezing before I could scroll down to the ad reporting link, but if anyone else is having problems I’ve solved the issue by using the Samsung browser instead of Chrome for AAM :)

    3. No regular name*

      Same here. Seems particularly bad on the Friday threads for some reason.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh yeah, once the comments get above a certain number, my keyboard stops responding, for some reason.

    4. General Ginger*

      I usually keep my adblocker off for this site, but you could try the Adblock Browser and see if that solves the issue — if it does, it’s definitely the video ad.

  17. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – Our company has done both “company only” and “bring someone” events. Including an awesome one where they invited kids and had free icecream and bouncy castles :)

    They specifically invited guests. It’s Ok to bring a guest!

    If you are wanting to check out what culture is, ask someone who’s been there a while what the norm is :)

    But he’s invited. It’s fine! Just don’t ignore colleagues and it’s all good.

  18. Kate*

    I find it hard to get invested in any other letters, knowing the full HOT MESS that’s coming later this morning.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I feel like I’ve missed something, and I always like to be “in the know”, but somehow that just makes the suspense really awesome. Thank you for that.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yes, today just became 5x easier to get through. I have no idea what’s going on, either. But now have something to look forward to.

    2. Falling Diphthong*


      …. It’s a letter from Cookie Monster, right? About Oscar bringing Wormie to work. Or how there’s this one guy who always stops meetings so he can count stuff.

      1. Cookie Monster*

        No letter from Cookie Monster! (unless there’s another Cookie Monster.) I’m excited though!!

        1. Cookie Monster*

          Oh my god I just realized you meant the actual Sesame Street character and not me. My b.

          1. Specialk9*

            Dammit Cook. Would it be TOO HARD for you to write in about your co-workers complaining about the crumbs you leave everywhere when you smash cookies into your face? Not to mention this “cookies are a sometimes treat” BS. Come on, man.

            1. smoke tree*

              To be fair, it wasn’t Cookie Monster who came up with that “sometimes food” gambit. You can blame Hoots the Owl for that one.

  19. Miles*

    #5 you could talk to someone from your hr department to find out how this is handled, if you know there is someone who’d take the time out of their duties to talk to you about it. That said, your focus here should be on how you can get her to comply with the transfer request because they will almost certainly ask her for permission, and if not she’ll find out when they ask her if there are any projects you are still working on for her.

    #3 Oooh boy, that boss is digging a hole. His presence at those meetings would be disruptive at best but going around him lays the groundwork for future morale issues. I see a lot of “impromptu” meetings in the future where you all find yourselves in the same place at the same time by “pure coincidence” just so the potentially bad ideas have a place to be voiced (and dismissed, if they are indeed not the best) without influencing the boss’s final decision.

  20. eplawyer*

    #3 – could you make the meetings he calls more work focused? You say he just gives directives at his meetings. He sounds like a very top down manager. Your working meetings sound like you want to talk actual projects with your colleagues not just being told company directives by your boss. Can you suggest that to him that the meetings also include a project collaboration component? That way he gets to direct but you get the meetings you need.

  21. Jam Today*

    Oh wow, having some anxiety-filled flashbacks to getting shouted at in front of all my coworkers after I scheduled a casual brainstorming meeting without the manager of my group — because we all happened to be in the same office on the same day (most worked remote) and he was not scheduled to be there. It was just intended as a way for us to talk about what we’d been thinking about, etc. and maybe coalesce those into some real product / feature suggestions. Well, manager *was* there, saw the meeting, and lost his f-ing mind on me, I wound up hiding in the stairwell and crying on the phone to HR for a half an hour. (This was the apotheosis of his abusive behavior towards me, and in retrospect it probably had something to do with my having previously turned down his offer of having an affair.)

    1. Worker Bee*

      OMG, I’m so sorry to hear that. Hopefully u told HR about the request to have an affair.

  22. Anita-ita*

    #5 – you definitely need to have a face to face. It is expected when you apply for an internal position and can look frowned upon by your current manager and the hiring manager of the position you’re applying for. It looks sneaky and that you don’t have the professional demeanor and courtesy to let your current boss know. Additionally, if they don’t hire you, it can cause [more] turmoil with your current boss and could burn a bridge for future references.

  23. Beatrice*

    Re #1 – I wonder if the salary comment was just a poorly worded explanation and wasn’t intended to mean the salary wasn’t deserved.

    For example, if I have a $10K bonus budget to split between 4 managers making $50K each. If their performance is equal, I can give them each $2500, which equates to around 5% of their pay. If one management role goes to a new remote manager in another region making $100K for the same job because that’s the competitive pay rate there, but I still have the same $10K budget for bonuses and their performance is still equal, I can either drop everyone to a 4% bonus rate to keep the percentage even, or I can still split it as an even $2500 bonus all around, and give the 3 managers at $50K a 5% bonus and give the new manager a 2.5% bonus. I could argue either way – the 3 existing managers shouldn’t get a lower bonus because I had to hire a new one at a higher rate, but the new one shouldn’t get a lower bonus % because her salary is higher. What really should happen is that my net bonus budget should go up when my salary budget goes up, but that isn’t necessarily a given.

  24. Blue Cupcake*

    #2. In my experience, picnics at an amusement park (or zoo and places like that) are completely different than picnics on company grounds. At outside attractions, I barely saw anyone from my office.
    Unless it’s the rule for the company to stick together at all times (like school field trips), bring your guest.

    1. Chatterby*

      I completely agree.
      At company events at amusement parks, not much networking is going to happen and trying will be awkward.
      Firstly, since it’s an amusement park, everyone will have brought their families, so they will be in “family vacation mode” not “work mode”. They will hang out with their families, and maybe families theirs is friends with. “Networking” will consist of the Acknowledgement Nod over the crowd when you see someone you know getting on a ride. And that’s it.
      Secondly, in my experience, there will not be a presentation or anything gathering the workers into one spot and demanding their attention for a work thing. If there is, it will be informal, non-mandatory, and under 30 minutes. There might be a pavilion reserved for the general use of your company if anyone wants a spot to rest or have a picnic, or your company might decide to offer free lunch in the pavilion, but other than a very brief window spent eating, you’re going to have the rest of the day to ride rides and enjoy the park. It will be unlikely that you’ll see anyone, and when you do, they’ll be preoccupied and not wanting to talk about work. So bring your friend.
      You might even come across as odd or lonely if you go to an amusement park completely by yourself, unless you have other single work friends you’ve prearranged to form a group with.

  25. Bertha*

    Okay, am I the only one who read #1 and thought of the episode of the Office called “The Negotiation,” where Darryl asks for a raise and Michael realizes that Darryl would get paid more than him if that happened? Admittedly I don’t know how likely that is, but jokes aside, it’s not totally crazy that your boss could potentially be underpaid!

    1. Kat*

      I agree, that was my first thought as well. And with them coming from different offices, it’s not a big leap to think they might have been hired with different salaries and his salary is influencing his perception on what is high or low.

  26. Kat*

    #1, honestly, I think this has more to do with your boss’ salary than yours. If you make more than him, for example, his perception of yours of course would be that it’s high. But ultimately that’s not your problem to solve, just advocate for yourself!

  27. Tricksy Hobbit*

    Op#5 I understand why you don’t want to tell your boss, but you need to. I had an employee, who interviewed in a department adjacent to mine. It was at the end of the semester so I was working on the scheduling for next semester. I found out about it, bc the other manager just happened to pop by my office, with him, to let me know where she was headed. As a joke, I called him a traitor (not my best moment I know.) If he had been honest with me from the get-go I would have been fine. The job was low paying part-time position. I had no issue with him moving on, but I need to know ahead of time so I could plan the schedule for the next semester. When the manager asked me to give him a reference, I said except for that one issue, I’d never had a problem with him. I also recognized that he had limited professional experience, and was applying the same logic as if he was applying externally. This will get back to your boss! Department managers talk to each other!

  28. ragazza*

    I recently transferred to a different department. About five or six months beforehand, I spoke informally to the manager of my new department over a glass of wine (we had a good relationship) and told her of my interest in moving over. They didn’t have a role for me at that time but she said she would definitely keep me in mind. I didn’t tell my manager at the time about it because I was just putting out feelers, and also, like OP#5’s boss, he was a control freak and I feared he would sabotage my chances (I have pretty good evidence that he had lied to me/kept me from opportunities in the past.) Then last December the manager I talked to over wine came to me and said, “We have a position in our department–do you want it?” Usually they make internal employees interview and go through the whole rigmarole, so I was pretty surprised. I also thought maybe they had already talked to my old manager. They didn’t, and I think he was pretty put out–he even said something like “in the future, it’s best to talk to your manager about these things,” but as I say, I did not trust him at all. However, sometimes it’s unavoidable, I suppose. In my case it worked out well for me, and I’m SO much happier. Good luck!

  29. Phideaux*

    #1 – I have had similar responses when it’s come to raise time for me. “I have people who have worked here twice as long as you who don’t make what you make”, and at my current job, “You’re the 5th highest paid employee at the company”, as if what other people make (or don’t make) should somehow be the guide for how much I should be paid. This was quite frustrating for me, until one day it occurred to me that there is a reason why I get paid more, and I should use that to my advantage. When talking to my boss again about a raise, I told him to consider any of his lower paid employees, or someone who has been here longer. Now imagine that me and that person switched positions. Now which of those jobs are you more concerned about not getting done properly? His response was, “Well, we can’t really compare the two. You have an entirely different set of skills, training, and experience.” Thank you for making my point for me. I think he finally got it. We were able to come to an agreement that was fair for both sides.

  30. Amy S*

    OP #4- 99% of effective fundraising is using your connects to build relationships, which is what your mom is doing. Honestly, if you work for a larger company in the area her nonprofit serves it makes perfect sense that she would reach out and try to leverage that connection to build a relationship with that company. Instead of blowing her off or shutting her down why don’t you do an introduction with her and the person in charge of corporate giving? That way she’s connected to the right person and it’s off your plate.

    1. Jill*

      She has already been told that her company is not interested in formally helping, so introducing her mom would make her look bad. She needs to keep reiterating to her mom that her company is not interested and she needs to stop bother her about it.

    2. AsItIs*

      OP #4 needs to figure out why she’s afraid to tell her mother ‘no’ and to back off because it’s not happening. She still sees her mother as an authority figure, for some reason, and defaulting to a ‘child’ state. :(

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