my boss reminds me to do basic tasks, should I stand up when my manager comes to my desk, and more

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

1. My boss keeps reminding me to do basic tasks

My boss constantly reminds me of things I already know how to do. These are VERY basic tasks required of someone in my position. Early on, I would respond to these “helpful” “reminders” with something to the effect of “got it” or “yes, I know.” A few weeks later, it’s the exact same reminder, or something similar, so the fact that I already know how to do X or Y clearly isn’t registering. I’ve taken to just ignoring it every time he does this, but honestly, it sticks in my craw. My reviews have been uniformly excellent, and I’ve been told multiple times that I outperform everyone who held my position before me. I know he doesn’t think I’m incompetent, and he’s a very genial man, but the constant “reminders” feel infantilizing. For what it’s worth, I’m a woman in my mid-30s who’s been in this field for nine years and working under this particular boss for three; my boss is a man in his mid-late 60s. I’m one of two direct reports. The other is a man the same age as him; as far as I know, he doesn’t get the same “reminders.”

Honestly, I don’t think my boss even realizes A) that he does this quite so often or B) that it’s insulting. Is there a polite way to frame “Is there a particular reason you don’t seem to think I can handle my shit?” or should I just grit my teeth and let this one go?

Say something! It’s perfectly reasonable to say something like, “You’ve been reminding me recently to do some of the core tasks of my position, like X and Y. Have I done something to make you worry that I’m not on top of those things?”

There’s a decent chance that that conversation will get this to stop. But if it doesn’t, and he keeps doing it, then sit down with him and say this: “It’s important to me that you’re able to trust that I’m on top of core tasks like X and Y. When you remind me about them, it comes across as if you don’t. Is there a way for us to assume that I’ve got this stuff covered, unless something specific comes up that makes you worry I don’t?”

2. Should you stand up when your boss comes to your desk to talk to you?

Small random question about office etiquette. When you’re sitting at your desk and your boss comes over to talk to you, should you stand up? Obviously it’s better to be on the same level for longer conversations, but you don’t always know how long something is going to last. I do stand usually because its awkward to have somebody hovering over me, but I also worry that I’m acting overly deferential and generally feel awkward either way. I’ve also noticed that some managers will just pull up a free chair if they want to talk about some substantial, but others just seem to loom.

I may be overthinking this, but its one of those things I feel awkward about whatever I do. I’m also one of the most junior people in the office, if that matters.

No need to stand up — and popping up when your boss shows up to ask you a quick question would probably, as you worry, come across as a tad too deferential. It’s fine to remain seated. If the conversation starts going on for a while and you feel weird about it, you could say, “I could pull a chair over here if you’d like.”

3. Can I ask for a retroactive raise after leaving my job?

I have a question where I think the short answer is that I’m a little screwed, but as an avid reader I’d love your take. I recently left my job after about three years. This was partly because I found a great job that I love, but also because my past company hasn’t given raises in years, even for high performers, and didn’t have any plan to start. I left about a month ago.

Since I left, they announced that they’d be giving cost-of-living increases retroactive from the beginning of 2018, and performance raises for 2017 performance. I feel like this is a definite “no,” since the purpose of raises is to retain talent, but do I have any standing to go back and say “hi, I’d like my retroactive raise now?”

To add a smidge of additional context, I have one friend whose last day was the day this policy was announced, and he was told that he would receive his retroactive raise and bonus (the policy also includes bonuses for 2017 performance, along with the raises).

You’re out of luck on this one, unfortunately. You don’t work there anymore, so it would be very, very unusual for them to entertain this request. There’s just no incentive for them to pay additional money to someone who no longer works there. You might be thinking that there wasn’t a real incentive for them to do that for your friend on their last day either — but it’s likely that they’re using an “everyone currently working here is eligible” rule and he got lucky with his timing.

4. My manager wants me to track down past program participants on Facebook

I work with a nonprofit organization that offers services both online and occasionally at in-person events. In the past, we’ve had some people who engaged with us and shared their stories for our website and other materials. At the time, we captured their email addresses and in some cases phone numbers.

Our work does not require ongoing intervention or outreach, but we do occasionally reach out to past participants to get updates and so forth. As time has passed, some of them have clearly changed their contact information, and what we have on file is no longer valid. Our supervisor is disturbed by this and wants us to use Facebook to try to locate these past participants in our programs.

I’m deeply concerned that this crosses a line as far as their privacy, and think that if they wanted to remain in touch with us, they would have updated their contact information with our organization and remained on our email lists. If they have not, and/or they don’t return our messages, I think we need to respect that, especially given that there’s not an urgent need to contact them. But our supervisor insists that it’s not acceptable to have “lost contact” with anyone and that locating them through Facebook and using that to message them is an ethical thing to do.

What do you think? Am I being too sensitive? Is it really okay for organizations to try to locate past clients on social media?

It’s not a horrendous ethical breach, but it’s going to come across as … overzealous. The exception to that is if there’s some specific context that makes it make sense, like “I’m so sorry to track you down this way, but Oprah is interested in producing a movie based on the story you shared on our website and I wanted to gauge your level of interest.” But if it’s anything remotely close to “we want to send you email updates,” you should just let people move on. (Similarly, if you’re doing it for everyone in your database systematically, it’s weird. If you’re just doing it individually when something specific comes up that you want to contact one individual person about, it’s less weird.)

5. Will my old job care that I’m still in the city I said I was leaving?

I got a new job and I am moving from City A to City B. My old boss was two steps above toxic and City B is my hometown where I will rejoin family and friends. I am doing what is best for me.

New Job said I could start off in City A for a month and then transition to City B. This was helpful so I could work out my notice period, take a break, start my new job, and then move. It helped space out the process.

I have been leading people at Old Job to believe I am starting in City B right away. I was doing this so I wouldn’t be pressured to extend my notice period. It was also a way to have less to explain – “Moving to City B, BYE!”

But now I am wondering if this will get back to Old Job. We all work in the same industry. I am indeed ultimately transferring to City B. But I am wondering about what people might say when they find out that I am still in City A. How bad is this? Or is it none of their business? I don’t know what I might say if confronted. I guess I could say this came up later in the process and didn’t feel comfortable sharing details about New Job.

It’s not really any of their business, but if anyone directly asks you about it, you can just say something like, “Yeah, the schedule got changed around a little.” That’s it — you don’t need to get into any detail beyond that.

{ 226 comments… read them below }

      1. Sue*

        OP #5 here. I’m feeling guilty b/c
        I would have been more forthcoming if I liked my Old Job more. But it would be pretty aggressive for them to confront me about not moving right away and it really isn’t their business.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “The schedule was rearranged so I started here for a few months.”

          If you’re encountering good friends who thought you now lived in Chicago, this is weird, but if your plan was to see these people only as your industry lives intersected at conferences there’s nothing to explain.

        2. Artemesia*

          Never JADE Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain. You feel inexplicably guilty so you feel you must defensively blather on; we all do in that situation. But the best approach is always light and non-defensive. ‘Oh, the schedule got re-arranged.’ Nothing more. You owe them no more time — two weeks and you are out — and you owe them no more information.

          1. Oilpress*

            Your suggested line, which I agree with, is still an explanation.

            I don’t agree with the never JADE advice. Sometimes, a quick explanation, like your example, is all that is needed to keep the situation amicable.

            1. Antilles*

              I don’t agree with the never JADE advice. Sometimes, a quick explanation, like your example, is all that is needed to keep the situation amicable.
              The “never JADE” advice is along the same lines as “No is a complete sentence”. It’s decent advice, but it is *not* for everyday interactions, even if they’re slightly awkward or unpleasant. The advice is really intended for dealing with people who are so toxic, so pushy, or so stubborn that you legitimately want to just end the conversation regardless of the consequences to the relationship.
              In this case, “never explain” is way over the top – a former co-worker who runs across you in the grocery store or at a conference or whatever and says “oh, I thought you were in Charlotte now” is almost certainly just reacting out of surprise. Just saying “no, I’m still here” and refusing to explain is going to come off as an extremely weird response to a casual question.

              1. boo bot*

                I think this is true, but in the same vein as “no is a complete sentence,” I think the idea behind it can be useful, even when in practice it’s not always a good idea. To me, “never justify/argue/defend/explain” translates, when dealing with semi-rational people, to, “try to react to this situation as you would if you had nothing to apologize for.”

                OP5, you don’t have anything to apologize for, and any of the suggested scripts are good. If your coworkers make it weird, they are the ones making it weird.

              2. Sketchee*

                “No is a complete sentence” and “Don’t JADE” are most useful as escalation.

                Probably not a great default approach for most situations. Be prepared to escalate to this level when needed. Can be always done with kindness

          2. Specialk9*

            I wish people would stop using the “never JADE” line for interactions with the average person.

            It’s for dealing with a specific, pathological kind of person who is unreasonable and only looking for weak spots to hammer you. Most people are not that way.

            For example I would not be able to work with someone who refused to explain what they were thinking, or why they said X and then did Y. I’m also reasonable, so a short explanation would be enough and I’d go, oh ok, makes sense. (So long as they were being honest.)

            Sometimes you need to defend a position. That can be reasonable and healthy.

            I have to justify lots of things at work and home. “I think we should do X, here’s why.” That’s normal and healthy.

            I argue aplenty, in as respectful a way as I can manage. One of the reasons I picked my husband is because of how respectfully he disagrees, and how well we negotiate together even when we’re having Feelings. Arguing is not bad – bad arguing is bad.

            So please, this “never JADE” thing needs to stay in the narrow lane in which it’s appropriate. It’s not appropriate here.

            1. General Ginger*

              Agreed overall, but I think “never JADE” completely applies in a situation OP describes as having a boss two steps above toxic, and where she was worried about pressure to extend her notice period.

              1. Antilles*

                Even if so, that only applies to the toxic boss himself. For every other former co-worker, it’s worth just providing a vague explanation of “they wanted me to start right away” or “needed a bit of extra time to plan my move” or whatever.

                1. Sketchee*

                  Yes I think you’re right that these can be useful. Perhaps it’s better to say “It’s your choice whether to JADE.”

                  Often those who need this technique most are those who feel obligated or are overreliant on the agreement of others to go forward.

                  Remembering that we don’t *need* others to hear your Justification, Argument, Defense, or Explanation can help keep a more relaxed casual tone.

                  Also this is useful in avoiding a repetitive or argumentative conversation. If you’ve already offered some of your reasoning and the person isn’t buying it, it’s a reminder that you can often respectfully exit the conversation.

                  JADE is often mentioned in the context that after you’ve stated your ideas or reasoning, you don’t have to continue stating them until you’ve reached agreement. It’s can be more productive to switch to active planning mode. “I’m going to move forward by doing X” and then do X

        3. Antilles*

          1.) You don’t need to feel guilty. It’s completely normal to want a couple extra weeks to plan for a move, particularly if it’s in a different city so you can’t just swing back by the old place for another load of boxes.
          2.) It’s unlikely they’ll push any further. Honestly, if all you’re worried about is randomly running across people, a one-sentence explanation about “starting work early” or “wanted extra time to move” or whatever is absolutely plenty.

  1. Catherine*

    LW #4, that was my exact job for a couple years! In my experience small nonprofits can be very aggressive about trying to maintain contact. At the specific one I worked for, we funded participants in continuing their education, so the board was of the opinion that former participants “owed” us continued engagement.

    Depending on the size of your mailing list, if you’re in the US you may be able to invoke some of the legislation about spam mail and mailing list maintenance to push for adopting a general policy of “participants must consent to interact” etc. This didn’t always stop my bosses from web stalking participants but it at least got it off my plate.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I wonder if it might make sense to proactively reach out to past participants 1-2x/year through the conventional route (i.e., call them). I know a lot of nonprofits encourage Facebook mining, but I’d probably be a little low-key creeped out that someone was trying to find my contact info that way.

      But participants definitely don’t owe a provider anything unless it’s an explicit part of a contract for participation (which many nonprofits aren’t allowed to do, depending on the service provided).

      1. Someone else*

        I believe the CAN-SPAM act has an exemption if you have an “established business relationship”, so technically, they could keep on emailing the participants (if the info they had were valid), even without them opting in.
        I’m super against the Facebook approach, but I understand why marketing folk think it’s worth pissing off the people they’ll piss off if it keeps them in touch with whatever target number of people they hope it will.

          1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

            With CAN-SPAM, at least, it’s a longer window for non-profits. And there are different guidelines for things like donation solicitations than there are for messages advertising goods or services. As far as I know, the anti-spam guidelines only apply to the latter, not the former.

        1. Mathilde*

          Marketing person here.
          Actually, a good marketing strategy will not adopt a spam approach and knows that a qualified base which is made of interested people is far more valuable than a out of date database made of contacts who don’t want to receive anything.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think Anywhere Costa Rica had hooked their rare outreach emails to New England weather. I noreaster would be barreling at us, and “Would you like to be on this beach?” would appear in my inbox. One of the rare ones I never unsubscribed.

            1. Lora*

              And here I had chalked it up to, “of course everyone wants to go to the beach in winter!” Then again, for a while we were getting a NorEaster every week.

          2. Mike C.*

            True, but there are a lot of sh!tty marketers out there. Who do you think makes the ads that frequently appear on this very website?

        2. CM*

          In addition to CAN-SPAM, you should check your organization’s own Privacy Policy, if you have one, and Facebook’s Terms of Use to figure out whether you’re allowed to do this.

      2. OP #4*

        We actually do that…try to just casually keep in touch. But some of these people haven’t been in our programs/within the fold for 5-10 years. At some point if they’re not answering phone messages (or have changed their #) and their email is no longer valid, you kind of have to let go…don’t you?

        1. soon 2be former fed*

          Yes…let go! My sister received a box of contribution envelopes from a church for many years after she stopped attending. At best, it is a waste of money and time trying to force relationships that are no longer wanted.

        2. nonymous*

          Depending on your org’s purpose, would a LinkedIn or FB group make more sense earlier in the relationship? I’m part of my scholarship’s LI group and they ask us to periodically update education/employment info for longitudinal tracking (it’s been ~15 years), but it’s a super-quiet group and they don’t spam us with anything or post “newsletters”. The rest of the the time it’s just a way to keep adding fairly good contacts to our online professional network.

          Since the org does work online it does seem odd that the Board wants to follow up by phone, but if you could find a way to make the connection mutually beneficial, it might be more successful? Although attrition is certainly expected at the decade mark..

        3. Anonymoose*

          Well….it depends. I too do this as part of my role (higher ed). That said, we are crystal clear from the beginning that part of participating is having a long term ongoing relationship with us after they leave the program. And generally I will only use Facebook to confirm someone’s location. So, if I can find them on LinkedIn, but there’s a ton of people with the same name, I’ll start doing more trageted searches, including Facebook, to ensure the likelihood of success. I would never contact them through FB though. To me, that is definitely in the ‘personal’ category and I feel it’s off-limits. However, since they opt in to FB, and are keeping their location info public for some reason, I’ll use it.

          Spokeo used to provide a CRAP TON of FB/Myspace info back in the day (for free) including all of your private album photos, and it was a straight up a stalker’s paradise (/shudder/). I was so glad when they went paid and went the way of generic ‘background checks’.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I am 100% team “let it go” on this. Generally if you can’t keep someone in the first 5 years, it becomes almost impossible (and ineffective) to hook them, later, absent some other special relationship.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      It also sounds like the org could start a social media group with past participants in the first place, so they don’t need to hang on to, and try to use, old email addresses and physical addresses. (Not for nothing, I’m sure this is part of the reason I get a lot of “connect with us on Facebook!” and “follow us on Twitter!” messages from various groups with which I am involved.) It’s not foolproof, but it would solve a lot of the LW’s issue, AND make it less weird that the group is using social media to connect with them.

      1. Catherine*

        My org had a couple social media groups on different platforms, but they were relatively new additions. Part of my job was deep-diving after past participants in an effort to get them to join those groups. This did cut my workload after I did the initial invites, although my boss did have me check and update our “lost boys” list every so often in case one of the people we couldn’t find contact info for had resurfaced.

    3. Sanctuary*

      It might be also worth at least checking none of the people involved are EU citizens or have moved to the EU since. Those 20 million EUR fines for processing personal data without consent are quite a stick.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m wondering if their non-profit has its own facebook page. I think if they had a page for business purposes they could reach out to these people with a friend request or an invite to the page, and then if they accept that request I think it wouldn’t be wildly inappropriate to follow up with a message.

      1. OP #4*

        We do have a Facebook page. But you can’t (rightly, I think) message people as your Facebook page unless they have initiated the contact first. And you can’t invite people to like the page unless they have taken an action on your page (such as “liking” or commenting on a piece of content). There’s also the complicating challenge of not necessarily being certain of someone’s identity on Facebook — how do you know which Ann Smith is the right Ann Smith? Or that your past clients aren’t using other names on their profiles?

  2. in a fog*

    OP #4, does your non-profit have an institutional Facebook page? You could try inviting the past participants to “like” the page and/or work on publishing content that would engage the people with whom you’re looking to reconnect.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think this is a better suggestion.
      If an organisation I’d used in the past tracked me down on facebook or other social media I would be deeply unimpressed and would probably block your org. and add it to my “never donate to or support again” list.
      Just, No.

      Do you have any way of taking views from existing supporters? A focus group or similar?
      But as others have said, pointing out that this is something which is likely to be seen as highly invasive and inappropriate, and may well have legal implications, is probably your first line of defence.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        Honestly, I think “I asked a bunch of people, and the general consensus was that doing this would feel unusual at best and invasive at worst” might be enough. Which she did, b/c here we are!

      2. Anon for now*

        Yep. If a donation leads to low level stalking and harassing, I stop donating to them.

    2. Rat in the Sugar*

      Weirdly, being invited to like an organization’s page would bother me waaaay less than getting an actual message from them would. Both of them involve tracking me down on Facebook, but the more passive invitation feels like a flyer on my windshield while the message feels more like a salesman standing on my doorstep.

    3. Laurelma__01!*

      Really like that idea. It might take them facing a penalty for spamming or contacting someone on the Do Not Call Registery.

    4. OP #4*

      OP #4 here. Thanks for the question — yes, we do have a relatively large institutional Facebook page. But if past participants haven’t “liked” the page and their email addresses have changed, we’re not sure exactly how to contact them to get them back into that Facebook fold. I think I’m of the opinion that since the page has existed for many years, if they WANTED to “like” us, they would have, and trying to track them down on Facebook to extend an invitation seems a little creepy. Some of these people haven’t been in contact with us for 5-10 years; not sure how I personally would feel about a past org finding my personal Facebook profile and trying to contact me that way….?

      1. CMart*

        Honestly? I would just assume the Great Facebook Algorithm has struck again and somehow parsed out that I used to be affiliated with your org and suggested me to the institution’s FB page.

        You should definitely push back on doing this at all if you feel uneasy about it! But if it’s insisted that you do, a simple “OP 4’s Org has suggested you like their page” is about the least intrusive, least offensive way to nudge folk. And I bet most of them wouldn’t be unduly creeped out by it because Facebook is inherently creepy.

      2. nonymous*

        FB ads are surprisingly cheap and might help with this. There are options to target the people who are visiting your website but didn’t “like” the FB page yet, or if they have a network that engages with your org. This is in addition to the demographic targeting.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I should have kept reading, that’s exactly what I just posted. A non-invasive request like that first would feel more casual and then if they accept you could take that as a sign that it’s okay to reach out further with a message–they still might not respond of course, but at least it wouldn’t seem so out-of-the-blue.

  3. Competent Commenter*

    OP#2: I have neck problems so in only a minute or two my neck really hurts if someone stands over me and I have to look up at them. Like Nero Wolfe, I like eyes on a level! I gesture for people to take a chair if they seem to be sticking around to talk to me while standing, and if they won’t take it, I do stand up, per the explicit advice of our organizational ergonomics person/physical therapist. I don’t think it has to look deferential at all. I do it kind of casually rather than a popping up at attention kind of thing, and usually rest the back of my legs against my desk and kind of slouch.

    1. Tuesday Next*

      I stay seated if its a short chat but stand and lean against my desk if it’s longer. That’s because we have an open plan office with no extra chairs for my boss or any other visitors to sit. I do it because it’s awkward to have a conversation when you are craning your neck. And I do it for any visitor. I think it would be a very conservative and old fashioned office that expected you to stand for your line manager or anyone else you see regularly. It’s different if the CEO comes past a few times a year – that I would stand up for!

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I think your point about the CEO is a good one. I always stand if I’m being introduced to someone for the first time, or greeting someone who isn’t my day-to-day work-circle, or if I’m talking to more than one person at my desk.

        1. Bea*

          I’m the same way, especially an introduction since shaking hands seated is extra awkward.

          My boss is the CEO, he hovers a ways back when he pops in. So no need to stand. He’ll come in and sit if he wants to. Same with me, I’ll stand in his doorway for quick chats or take a seat if it’s something longer.

          The only time I’ll automatically pop up is for the ownership who visits a few times a year. I’m always shaking hands in that case and it’s more of an idea he’s a visitor than that he’s a VIP.

    2. Thlayli*

      Just make sure there’s a spare chair near you, and if someone comes over offer them it. Simples.

      If you’re in a small room with no spare chairs then ask the office manager if you can have a spare chair for visitors.

      If you’re in a tiny room with no room for spare chairs, then I guess just stand up when your neck gets sore.

      Routinely standing up to talk to someone more senior is for schoolchildren in the last century, not adults in 2018.

      1. Antilles*

        One important caveat to this: Keep your spare chair actually usable. I’d guess at least 50% of the offices I’ve been in (particularly for mid-level and junior staff) have a ‘chair’ which always has binders/papers/etc on it so visitors can’t actually use it.

        1. MamaGanoush*

          You’ve been in my office! I have a spare chair and a small couch (academia, the pay sucks but the amenities are pretty nice) aka work-sorting station #1 and work-sorting station #2.

    3. Mookie*

      That’s what I do and for the same reason (though everybody’s taller than me, so precise eye-level’s a dream deferred ‘til we’re all six feet under). Since I do it with everyone, people more-or-less have come to expect it, and we’ll either stay standing or sit down together. Same procedure when people get too close: I will not crane my neck, so I back up, and since it’s the same for everyone, nobody minds for very long.

      But it depends on the culture. I’m in messy work but it’s often benchstuff or kneeling, and we’re all pretty informal that standing doesn’t read as deferential so much as approachable / collegial, like popping your hat off indoors or removing gloves to indicate a work-related discussion is looming and requires full, mutual attention.

      1. Mookie*

        I also can’t look down for very long, but squatting down to speak to someone seated or at a desk feels weird* to me, so I approach from slightly farther away, so I can either stand comfortably or, after a pause, take an available seat.

        *condescending when some people do it, forelock-tug-y for others. Rowan Atkinson did a car program some years back where he expressed discomfort at the expectation that women working car shows ought to Squat At Attention for male consumers. It stayed with me because the visuals used to illustrate the practice were so icky.

        1. Cassie the First*

          I had a coworker who would get down on bended knee to talk to me (sitting) in my cubicle. It was so awkward, especially since I had a spare stool that the coworker could have sat in. I think for that particular coworker, I would stand up if I saw them coming, just to avoid the situation.

    4. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Like the Nero Wolfe reference!

      Also, if you feel someone is playing power games by looming over you, it might be worth standing up, just to take that element out of it.

      1. OP#2*

        Doesn’t feel like power games (although my boss is tall and does end up looming over me when I don’t stand). It’s just nicer to have a chat at the same eye level, but I don’t want it to look like I’m standing because I’m junior rather than because it’s more comfortable!!

        There aren’t a lot of spare chairs in my office but we have plenty of standing desks, so I might just try to use them more and sidestep the issue entirely.

        1. Anyone up for tennis?*

          Just don’t pop up immediately the instant your boss appears – that would appear obsequious. Let them start the conversation, then stand up casually to address it.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I’m obviously sympathetic to Mr. Wolfe, but in the modern office context, it’s super common in my experience for someone to kind of hang in the office doorway while the other person stays in their seat. It’s like we’re both pretending this will only take a minute. But I also agree that standing or encouraging the other person to sit are both fine!

    6. Courtsey*

      I did once work for someone whose ego was pretty big. If I didn’t stand when she came into the office she took it as my being disrespectful or not acknowledging her. (Just in case you think this is about old fashioned manners, we are both women.)

  4. PNW Jenn*

    LW #2 – I have an office and to stand up when people come to chat. It’s a good excuse to stand up and stretch a bit. Then again, it’s not so frequent that it’s a bother. You can usually tell if it’s going to take a few seconds or a few minutes.

  5. Competent Commenter*

    OP#4, I agree with Alison and also want to add that Facebook isn’t necessarily an effective way to reach people in this situation anyway. I always have to check all Facebook processes since they change frequently and without notice, but as I recall: 1) if you message a person you’re not friends with your message goes into a separate inbox that they may never notice; 2) after just checking it now, I’m not sure if your nonprofit’s page (I assume you run a page) can message someone or if you will end up doing it as yourself, which would not feel right—I can’t tell and don’t want to try it with a stranger to confirm! 3) and while I don’t consider messaging people through Facebook to be some kind of privacy breech, since their information is public, it doesn’t give you their address, phone number or email address so you’re not really netting anything anyway—if this is anything, it’s kind of a mild harassment, which is surely just going to drive people away.

    Maybe telling your supervisor “they won’t see messages from us since we’re not Facebook friends with them” or “they don’t have their email on Facebook so that won’t work” might be enough to make her let go of the idea. I think it’s a tone-deaf idea that is likely to irritate anyone you actually reach.

      1. boo bot*

        Yeah, also given the recent revelations about how invasive data-mining via Facebook has worked in the past, I think this is a bad time to be tracking people down on Facebook when they’ve given no signs of wanting to be tracked down. It’s not a good look.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I would imagine that unless all the clients are named things like Iphigenia Ralph Humperdink, it would be an ineffective way to track them down too?

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        It’s also difficult to track those of us down that don’t use our full/real names.

    2. AliceBD*

      Can confirm that you would have to use your personal account to message them unless they do something like leave a review on your page. If they leave a review and you’re the page admin there is often a message button that lets the page contact them privately (I’m the social media person for a large organization and we do this if someone has an issue so we can get and give contact information privately and their private business isn’t public on the page). If you’re just tracking them down manually not from anything they do on your page you’ll have to message them as yourself.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I don’t use Facebook, but I’m wondering. If you end up having to message them directly (which seems like a bad idea) couldn’t you form a second Facebook account for work purposes only?

        1. Amber T*

          Theoretically i think that’s against Facebook’s rules, unless your job is being a public persona, but even then there are different methods to tie it back to you as an individual. You’re basically allowed one Facebook account as a person.

          I created a second, separate FB account when I was involved with an MLM (I know, I know) and haven’t logged into it in about seven years, even though it uses my real gmail email. When I got locked out of my actual account (which uses my yahoo – I was in high school when I made my account!), I was told I shouldn’t/couldn’t switch to my actual gmail because I could be banned for having two accounts. I don’t know how true that was, but I do know of a non-binary gender person who was locked out of an account for “not having a real name” then “failing to produce ID” to match said name. (This was several years ago so I sincerely hope they fixed this, but Facebook can be real crap sometimes.)

      2. Yorick*

        I had to do this for a job once and my Facebook account got shut down. I guess they thought I was spamming people since I sent so many of the same messages. I did get my FB account back though.

    3. OP #4*

      I agree — we do run a page (I’m in charge of it) and it definitely doesn’t work to message people who have not taken an action on your page. And I think reaching out from a personal account is really icky, especially since it then would require staff to essentially “open up” their personal Facebook use to people they don’t know. Totally agree that it wouldn’t net us anything other than the off chance that they have no idea about our Facebook page, which isn’t super likely given that it’s plastered all over our website and email campaigns and actually has a fair number of followers.

      1. nonegiven*

        If I have to use Facebook for a job, I’m making a new account with my work email and deleting the account when the job ends.

  6. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

    LW #1 – While it’s certainly worth making sure that your boss is genuinely happy with your work, it’s also worth considering that it’s nothing more than him going through his mental checklist. I have both worked with people like that and have been that person (I try to keep it in check since I know how annoying people can find it) and unless the tone is particularly pointed it has never been about the performance of the one being reminded.
    Maybe you could subtly find out for certain if your boss never reminds your colleague. It could be a sexist/ ageist thing, or it could be for some other reason. It could even be that your colleague had a similar conversation with Boss-Man Bing!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I was going to say this, too! OP should certainly follow Alison’s script, but it’s also worth allowing that this could be a tic the manager has as opposed to an effort to insult or condescend. So if it’s about verbalizing the manager’s mental checklist, maybe they can jot it down and track it instead of reminding OP.

      (Of course, the manager could be legit insulting and condescending, but I think throwing out this scenario is a helpful and plausible alternative.)

      1. SWOinRecovery*

        I agree with the “jot it down and track it” point. Here, you might be able to manage your manager…

        When I had my first management position, my boss would regularly ask me the status of something so I’d go and ask my team lead the status. I would cringe internally when I knew that my asking was getting repetitive or when it interrupted their work. 2-3 weeks into the job, my team lead showed me her tracker (“tickler” file) that was on the share drive and regularly updated. I felt relieved and also silly for not asking about one earlier. I’d check it and only give a reminder or ask a status if something was missed.

        I realize that this doesn’t account for issues with gender disparity. But this strategy might help. It’s also great for keeping track of all your accomplishments come review/resume/raise request time!

    2. Myrin*

      I was thinking exactly this because I’m working with not one but two people who are like this!

      Chef boss at my inn/kitchen job will remind me of some thing I’ve been doing since I started three years ago at least once a week. I was super insecure about it at first and then confused when I started answering “yes, I know, did I do it wrong?” and he seemed to basically come out of a daze and say “What? Oh, no, just, you know” and then awkwardly trail off. I honestly feel confident just ignoring it by now (or to acknowledge it with a short nod or a noncommital “mhm”) because it’s very clearly not a reflection of how good I am at the job but rather something akin to a “tick” of his.

      And my senior coworker at my drugstore job came by a few weeks ago and said very earnestly: “Myrin? When it’s quarter past 8 and X happens you need to do Y, we all need to do Y!” And, well, since indeed everyone needs to do Y at quarter past 8, it has been relayed to me on my very first day and I’ve always been doing it. So I went “Oh shit, did I forget?!” which is possible but not likely and she went wide-eyed and said “Oh no, no, I’m just saying. I’ll also be reminding [other, older, and more experienced coworker who certainly always does Y] to do Y!” and then she shuffled away and did indeed remind my experienced coworker, too. I’ve observed similar behaviour by her before and she really seems to have some kind of mental checklist that she goes through periodically and which then gets applied indiscriminately.

      1. Flinty*

        Yeah, that’s what gave me pause in this letter. I think if the OP has a strong relationship with the male coworker, she could maybe mention “hey, does Boss remind you to do X and Y? It’s just funny since it’s not like I would forget lol” in a casual way. Maybe the boss is being sexist, or maybe the coworker will say that the boss always does that to the newest person, or he still does it and she just hasn’t noticed.

      2. Bea*

        The OP has been there a few years. The other report possibly longer.

        So during training, he could have been reminding her. Then it just became habit. Something he didn’t develop until later in life or he’s gotten transitioned out of from his male report.

        Also this sounds like digital reminding…so how do we know if he’s telling Dude Co-worker or not?

    3. Mookie*

      And sometimes it’s not completely personal, but they’ve managed someone who did forget things and they’re projecting this anxiety / checking-compulsion onto a non-offender. And, yeah, it’s often because the current employee “resembles” the previous employee. Still unhelpful, still potentially disruptive, still possibly a generalization borne of bias. I’d address it as Alison says, with a question that contains a polite, but firm critique of this practice. People rarely break this habit spontaneously and on their own after this long of a time.

      1. Mookie*

        It could come across as very undermining if he does this publicly and pointedly never to anyone else. I’d explore, especially during performance reviews, whether or not the boss has a plan for promoting you or increasing your responsibilities, and if he does unreservedly I’d mention this and probe with a bit of detail why he thinks this is still necessary, monitoring you and pre-emptively reminding you of the basics. If I were feeling particularly ornery, I’d ask where those reminders fit into your perfect score or did he forget to document them (and does he need a reminder).

    4. Anne (with an “e”)*

      When I was in high school my thirteen yr old sister had a dog. Every single morning my mother would say to her, “Be sure to feed the dog.” It drove *me* up the wall because my sister always fed the dog, is highly intelligent, and did *not* need to be told every single day to do such a simple, obvious task. Finally, I asked sis why mom’s constant reminders didn’t seem to bother her. She told me that she thought it was an endearing quirk of my mom’s. According to sis, my mom didn’t even realize she was saying it. It was part of my mom’s morning routine. She was sort of doing it on automatic pilot.

      1. A Nickname for AAM*

        Dogs don’t let you forget to feed them, usually.

        Fish, on the other hand…

        1. Anne (with an “e”)*

          Haha…Today, my adult sister manages to feed two dogs and an aquarium of fish without my mom’s assistance.

    5. Strawmeatloaf*

      It’s still annoying as heck though. My own family does it to me and I often have to keep myself from yelling that I know how/what/that I’m already doing it.

    6. Teapot librarian*

      It could also be the boss’s managerial style to think that if he doesn’t affirmatively remind his employees to do their jobs, that he wouldn’t have the back-up he needed to issue a PIP or discipline. Maybe he was burned once before trying to do this? So as long as he does do it to your coworkers as well, it might not be personal or any sort of implication of poor work.

    7. Yorick*

      Maybe the boss had to frequently remind past people in your position, and he’s just so used to it he doesn’t even realize he’s still doing it.

    8. MLB*

      Whether it’s meant to be condescending, or just a habit that he’s having a hard time breaking, it’s unnecessary and it would get under my skin as well. If someone feels the need to “remind me” to do something that is a basic task, that tells me they don’t trust me to remember. I would definitely bring it up as Alison suggests, and make he understands your reasoning behind wanting him to stop.

    9. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Very much this. My boss at OldJob was used to having either fresh from college kids or people transitions from a structured plant-based position into a salaried office-position. He found out early on that he needed to sort of train or retrain the majority of his staff on the expectations of the salaried role vs a hourly one. I was hired in right before the job market went to shit so ended up staying there a lot longer than someone would normally work in that role as well as absorbed some duties of the people who were affected by a layoff that happened not too long after I started. At every one on one meeting we had (once or twice a month) boss would end with a reminder that in these salaried jobs we don’t come in a 9 and leave at 5 but are expected to work at least 45 hours.
      At this point I was getting there at the same time or before him and leaving after him so was well over 50 hours a week plus taking some work home (it was discovered that I really understood the new ERP system we were converting to so I took over as superuser/trainer/go-to person for that but none of my stuff was taken off my plate and given to the person who was supposed to be doing that stuff). When he gave that reminder the day after my son said his first words at daycare and not to me or my husband I blew up at him and told him never to say that to me again. I had been on his team for 3 years, worked more hours than he or anyone else on our team did, and had gotten excellent reviews that highlighted my can-do attitude and willingness to go above and beyond. I told him I was done for the day and would be back in the morning. He was very shell-shocked.
      First words he said to me the next day were an apology. The reminder had become so ingrained in his spiel after 20+ years of dealing with new grads who usually only stayed in that role for 9-12 month that he never took a step back and realized that because of the economy and hiring freezes I had been in that role for 3 years with an ever expanding list of duties and responsibilities. He also reviewed the job description I’d been hired in for and what I was doing and got me a title bump and tiny bonus and raise (not his fault – he asked for a lot more but our industry hadn’t turned the corner yet).
      Great boss who was just stuck in a rut and didn’t realize it. I wonder if OP#1’s boss had a sub-par employee in that role previously and just got in the habit of saying something on a regular basis like my old boss did.

    10. Oilpress*

      In the same way that an employee has core tasks, one of a manager’s core tasks is to keep track of what their staff are doing. I consider checking in on employees (or requiring updates) to be normal, even if it’s about basic stuff. The other option is to assume everything is alright and then manage the problems as they come up. That’s not always a great option, especially in roles where mistakes kill reputations.

      Anyone working without supervision and check-ins probably has a role where no one understands what they are doing (kind of a problem) or a manager who just can’t be bothered (also a problem).

      1. Observer*

        There is a difference between regular check ins and reminding people of basics and / or micromanaging.

        When I was 18 or 19, my mother used to remind me to mind my manners whenever I went out. I finally pointed out to her that if I hadn’t figured this out by now, reminding me before I walked out the door wasn’t going to be much use. This is much the same situation.

    11. That would be a good band name*

      I am not a manager, but if I were, I know I would would most likely send too many reminders. I’m fairly anxious so until I see the thing is done, I’m wondering about if the thing is done or when the thing will be done. Even if I know the thing is always done on time, my brain is going to tell me that this just might be the time it’s forgotten. To stop obsessing, I would remind or check in.

      However, I know this is annoying because I had an amazing manager that also had this tendency. I don’t know if hers was anxiety driven or just checking down a list or what, but she would remind constantly. I took it personally at first, but then I realized that was just her.

    12. Kathleen_A*

      I edit publications. I’ve been editing publications a long time – a very loooooooong time. And I’ve been editing them at my present workplace for a loooong time, too (more than 20 years). In the 20+ years that I’ve been here, I’ve had four bosses, three who are pretty laid-back and low-key people and one who is fairly high maintenance, but they all seemed to appreciate my work ethic, and I got along fine with all of them, too.

      And in that time, I’ve never missed a deadline, never got the thing (newspaper, magazine, newsletter, whatever) out late, never never never never. I’m not bragging, I’m just…well, as those of you who also edit publications know, that’s just how it’s done. The first rule of publications is, “Thou shalt not get them out late.” So I don’t.

      But oddly, it’s the laid-back and low-key bosses who, every time I put in for vacation, would ask me “Does this fit with your publication schedule?”

      I guess…just in case I’d suddenly, after decades in the biz, forgotten that there are these things called “deadlines” that I need to be aware of?

      It is annoying, but yeah, I think those who’ve indicated that these things are usually because some people just have a need to run through a mental checklist. It isn’t anything personal, OP. You almost certainly aren’t doing anything wrong, because this almost certainly has nothing to do with you. It’s just a thing that fulfills a need for this particular boss. And several of my former bosses.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Oh, and I forgot about this part: “The other is a man the same age as him; as far as I know, he doesn’t get the same “reminders.”

        You could be right, but I would pretty surprised if the boss doesn’t remind him of basic tasks from time to time, too. He might do it in a different way, and of course the tasks will be different, too, but he almost certainly does it. Generally speaking, no subordinate is completely insulated from Bosses Who Routinely Provide Reminders.

        1. Observer*

          You could be right. But, it’s also possible that Boss does this because OP is female or young, whether he is conscious of this or not.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            It is possible, of course, Observer. But Bosses Who Routinely Provide Reminders generally aren’t at all fussy about who they provide reminders too – at least not in my experience.

            I mean, there was sexism a-plenty when I was a young woman, and yet none of my bosses – good, bad or middling – felt the need to remind me about something as basic as not missing deadlines back in the days when I was young (or youngish) and relatively callow. It’s only been the last couple of decades – long after I must have either mastered the concept or found another way to make a living – that I’ve had bosses who felt the need to remind me about anything as basic as deadlines.

            I’m pretty sure the main difference is in the personalities and quirks of those individual bosses. Some people really are just *like* that. It is, at least, something for the OP to consider.

    13. MissMonsoon*

      I always thought it was a CYA thing. Or other people bad behavior thing so it’s just a tic to tell you to do something you’ve demonstrated you fully understand because a coworker does. not. get. it.

      Also, kinda hate that coworker.

  7. Kat A.*

    #5: Just a quick “I was given more time to pack up” or “I’m in the process of transitioning over there,” and then walking away, turning your head, something that cuts off the conversation.

  8. KR*

    On number four, can you make a couple social media posts that say something to the effect of “We are updating our mailing list. If you wish to receive periodic updates about {Organization} please fill out our contact form.” Or “We are on the lookout for those who have previously shared their story with us. Update your contact info below!” The people who want to keep up with your page are probably following it online or are in the same circles as people who are.

    1. Positive Reframer*

      I work with our marketing department and it seems like they are able to target people pretty specifically on Facebook and even Google Ads. Paying for ad space might be the way to go, and surely its cheaper than paying an employee to investigate one by one. Could be equal parts lead generation and re-connection.

    2. OP #4*

      That’s a good idea and definitely one I’ll bring up, but it seems like that doesn’t quite go far enough for our supervisor. Will add it to the list, though!

  9. Never Nicky*

    LW #4
    It doesn’t sound like this is the case, but if you or any of the people you are in contact with are in the EU, what your boss is suggesting would be a breach of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) and could come with an unlimited fine.

    Regardless of location, case studies have a “sell by” date anyway – we keep details for 3 years, tops and “retire” people earlier if they have been used widely. It’s probably wiser/easier/more rewarding to concentrate on building relationships with those people who are engaged with you, than to chase people who have not bothered to keep in contact.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Beat me to it :) gdpr also applies to people currently in the EU even if they gave data while outside.

    2. Ermintrude Mulholland*

      I came here to say that. It’s worth considering that what is being suggested would breach the data protection regulations agreed on by an entire continent. If they wanted you to be in contact with them – you’d have their accurate comtact details.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      “Should you stand up when your boss comes to your desk to talk to you?”

      In my opinion – no, that would seem really weird to me.

      If they look like they’re there for a while, see if there’s a spare chair in the area or ask if they’d like to go somewhere else – but chances are they’re fine.

    4. Kathleen_A*

      There are actually rules in the U.S., too. I don’t think (?) those apply to Facebook messages (though I could easily be wrong), but they definitely apply to emails. Non-profits have more freedom than for-profit businesses, but that freedom isn’t without limits. You cannot just keep pestering people.

  10. Software Engineer*

    LW3, you’re not screwed, you got paid what was agreed to do the work! Other people getting money doesn’t take anything away from you. Of course if you loved that job and only changed because of the pay then it feels unfortunate

    They probably did the raise and bonus BECAUSE you and your friend and who knows how many people are leaving. So if you stayed maybe they wouldn’t even have done the raise. Just enjoy your new job and don’t worry about what money you could have gotten

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yup. They budged on the raises only because the loss of people like OP convinced them that their existing policy wasn’t working. Like finally getting rid of a terrible boss who caused people to quit, or unreasonable working conditions that caused people to quit. If the sole reason you left a job was The One Bad Thing That’s Never Changing, and then they change it, of course it stings. But that doesn’t even sound like you–you have a great new job that you love.

      They had to draw a line in the sand–all current employees–and your friend got lucky. This change is about retaining current people and attracting new ones, not some sort of karmic balancing with everyone who ever quit over the lack of raises.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Same thing happened to my sister. They begged her to stay so she said she would if they gave her $X/hour plus the trainer premium, which was what they told her she would be making after 6 months before she was hired in (long story). They said they couldn’t do that so she left. Less than a month later she ran into someone she had been training and they said right after her last day they raised all pay grades across the board to bring it up to where my sister wanted. She had already gotten a new job that paid even more so when they called to tell her about the pay scale change she told them her new pay requirements. She didn’t go back.

    3. whistle*

      Thank you for this comment. I do not understand the mentality that not getting something you weren’t expecting to get is “getting screwed.”

  11. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. Only if you work for royalty!

    Seriously though, there are some people who insist on that sort of deference (and are not royalty). I remember Segolene Royal, a French governant minister who ordered all of her department to stand up whenever she entered the room.

    1. Specialk9*

      I heard of a businessman in an Asian country who used to demand that all his people stand when he entered the room. He’s in prison for corruption now. Apparently he watched too much Godfather.

    2. Gumby*

      I have a co-worker who stands when I enter his office. He’s definitely above me in the office hierarchy though I am not in his department. Since I’m a woman and my very limited research (read: walking down the hall when someone else is talking to him) shows he doesn’t do it for men (the 2 times I caught a glimpse) I chalk it up to him preferring more traditional manners. It’s a little quaint and entirely well-meaning especially within a context of him also respecting my work and abilities.

      I don’t stand when he comes to my office though I do make sure to turn my chair and visibly give him my full attention. Which I do for most visitors, if at all possible, anyway.

  12. Alianora*

    I don’t stand up just for people who come by randomly, but if I know someone is coming for a meeting I’ll either move my desk to a standing position or bring a chair in.

    My team also has regular meetings in our room (a six-person office) and I stand then, since I can’t see anyone if I’m sitting. Some of my coworkers stay seated, though. One of my coworkers keeps typing and looking at his computer screen during the meetings, which I find disrespectful if it’s not directly related to the topic of the meeting. I can understand why he does it, since our boss has a tendency to ramble and bring up topics that are only relevant to a few of us, but it still seems pretty rude.

  13. BePositive*

    #5 no one’s business but yours. There was a colleague who did that when she left and it bugged me when I discovered she didn’t move. She said she was going home to China but found she started a job 10 minutes from us. However she called in sick most of her 2 week notice and I was responsible to take over her work. If she didn’t call in sick I personally wouldn’t care or mind as hey, things changed. Too bad, I really liked her until the last 2 weeks

  14. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

    LW #4, your supervisor needs to drop it. Yes, they may have needed your services in the past. They may have even shared their stories. That being said, they do not owe your program continued contact, especially if it has been a considerable period of time since they used your services. Depending on what kind of outreach you do, they may actually need to move on from that time in their lives for closure. Having your program suddenly pop up on social media might not just be intrusive to them; it could be downright jarring and remind them of a very painful time. Your supervisor needs to make like Elsa and “Let It Go.”

    1. OP #4*

      Thanks — that’s a good point. It’s not likely given our line of work that it would be actively painful, but certainly when we’re talking about people who have not been in touch in 5-10 years it’s more than likely that our work is now irrelevant to them. I tend to think we’ve got a sort of “life span” with people, and if we’ve exceeded that for you, then we need to gracefully fade out.

  15. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    I have to remind myself to not stand up…because I’m about a foot taller than our senior manager and a foot and a half taller than my direct boss! (They’re both kind of short. I’m really tall.)

    I think that unless you’re in the military you should be fine. Standing, to me, actually signifies nerves – part of it is projection on my end, but also it is slightly deferential. If someone stood every time I spoke with them I’d wonder if I was scaring them.

  16. Georgina*

    #1 – that boss sounds so annoying. I wonder if you could try re-programming him by constantly updating him that your are about to complete X basic task, then telling him you have completed X.. I mean constantly for a period of, say, 3 weeks. Maybe by the end he will cotton on that you are okay and get your job.

  17. EmilyT*

    2. In terms of body language, it is always best to be at the same level as the person you are discussing.

    It’s primal and normal to feel awkward if someone is standing over you. That they’re your boss will compound that. I would recommend standing up, or offering to sit down together somewhere. You could stand up while offering to find somewhere to sit down to discuss it and then if they dismiss it, hey you’re already standing!

    1. MLB*

      Meh, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. When I worked in a cube farm, if someone came to my desk (including my manager) and we needed to work on something/I needed to show them something, I’d grab an extra chair. If they came to chat, I’d remain seated. And all of my managers would do the same if I walked into their office. I’d sit if I was staying for longer than a quick question or chat, and sit if needed. I think LW is over thinking this.

  18. Gotham Bus Company*

    LW #1…

    The fact that Boss is reminding you but not reminding Older Male Co-worker tells me that (1) he IS deliberately insulting you, and (2) he won’t take kindly to being asked about it, no matter how diplomatically. Brush off your resume and start job-hunting.

    1. Rat in the Sugar*

      I think job hunting over this would be a drastic response. I also disagree that boss is doing this as a deliberate insult; this seems like a weird way to do that, and since it’s very common for people to have a habit or even a sort of tic of giving reminders that seems more likely to me. It’s also possible that boss actually is giving these reminders to co-worker when LW can’t hear, or that he used to and co-worker has already a convo and asked him to quit. Or maybe it is just LW, but having a talk with the boss will get him to stop. I wouldn’t assume that boss would behave unreasonably over a pretty normal request when LW doesn’t describe him doing so in the past.

      1. fposte*

        I would agree; this is too humanly common and too small to make it likely that this is deliberate, especially with an employee who gets excellent performance reviews otherwise. This is not worth leaving an otherwise good job over.

        It’s also worth noting that another difference between the co-worker and the OP is that the co-worker is the same generation as the boss and the OP is considerably younger. That doesn’t make it a good plan by the boss, but it’s a mannerism people can fall into with their kids or people who feel like analogues regardless of gender, and most people will try to restrain themselves when they realize they’re doing it.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Yeah I’m not sure about that…
      My take is that the previous person in the OP’s role was not great and had to be reminded so boss got “trained” to remind the person in that seat. We also don’t know what the other direct report does or the type of role he fills or what the boss’ prior relationship was with him. Maybe he has been there longer than the boss and helped train boss on a lot of the technical stuff in the company. I know of several instances of that in my current company – a couple people have just been here FOREVER and they are 100% deferred to even though their roles could be considered lower level positions (clerks and processors). They know where all the bodies are buried…

    3. Observer*

      Wow! That’s a real stretch. While I think that there is a high probability that the boss is being either a bit ageist or sexist here, I tend to believe the OP’s description of her boss. Which would indicate that it’s not deliberate or even completely conscious. Which is why Alison’s scripts should work.

      1. LW1*

        LW1 here. Yeah, I definitely think whatever’s going on wrt sexism/ageism is unconscious on his part. (This is an issue that extends beyond the unnecessary reminders, but I’m not going to go into it here.) Which, to be clear, doesn’t excuse it – but I definitely get the sense that the guy’s on autopilot at this point in his career and isn’t really interested in examining/changing the way he does things. (Will definitely follow Alison’s script the next time this happens, though! Hope springs eternal.)

        An issue here is that this is a role that I was overqualified for at the outset. Though I’ve expanded my position and taken on more responsibilities–and gotten a title and pay bump because of it–I think part of him has a hard time letting go of the “boss/protege who’s just out of college and needs professional guidance” dynamic. (FWIW, I know three people who held this job before I did, and they were all women in their late 20s/early 30s, as well.)

        I agree with the other commenters saying it’s more like a him-thing than a me-thing. And, to be fair to him, he’s literally one of the nicest people I know, and this is something other people would be able to shrug off. I can get defensive. I know. I’m working on it. But I’ve been here for three years! Yes, I know how to handle the formatting on [X]! Goddamn!

  19. BananaRama*

    LW4: The quickest way to get me to stop assisting an organization and blocking them is to Google-Fu or Facebook-Fu me. Like you said, if people still wanted to be involved, they would update their contact information.

    1. OP #4*

      That would be my personal reaction, too, but I wasn’t sure if it was the sentiment of others!

  20. Detective Amy Santiago*

    If you don’t want people to find you on Facebook, you shouldn’t have Facebook. Or you should lock down your profile and make yourself unsearchable. I’m utterly baffled by all these people saying they would be ‘creeped out’ if someone contacted them via Facebook. Like, isn’t that the whole point of the platform?

    1. Audiophile*

      Sure, it’s one of the purposes of Facebook, but for many people in their 20s-30s, they’ve been on Facebook more than 10 years now. I just view it differently, I’m connected to people I went to school with and former co-workers.

      This sort of came up in an interview I had recently. I joined Facebook back in college, in 2007, I think.

      I’ve locked down my profile but yes, people can still find me.

    2. hermit crab*

      I’m with you on this – I’m genuinely charmed most of the time when old coworkers or acquaintances track me down, and if not I just ignore the request – but I think OP is right that it’ll come off weird to most people. Perhaps it’s because tracking people down on FB is supposed to be for personal connections and this is really a business transaction.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah–I think getting contacted on FB by someone with whom you once had a personal relationship, versus by a store where you once bought fish food, feel quite different. The whole “You engaged in a business relationship with us, and then you abandoned that email, you abandoned that phone number… but finally we have found you!!!” thing feels like being backed into a corner by an over-enthusiastic sales rep.

        I feel this way about some email contacts from companies, but at least I know why they have my email–I used it when arranging whatever service they provided. If I never provided my email but you tracked it down somehow, that feeling is vastly amplified. And it in no way inspires me to buy more services, or share more website-able stories.

      2. MamaGanoush*

        I wouldn’t be creeped out, but I’d be annoyed. LinkedIn is for work, or you can google me and easily get my work email. Facebook for me is for friends and for groups I’m interested in in my personal life. (That’s why I’m tired of Mark Zuckerberg asking if I want to follow him. No! We are not friends!)

    3. Baby Fishmouth*

      I wouldn’t be ‘creeped out’, but I think most people use Facebook for personal use. Most people I know don’t even use their real full names on Facebook and keep their privacy settings pretty high, so that random people (and random non-profits) can’t find them – Facebook is more of a platform for keeping in touch with personal friends, as opposed to a few other social networking sites that are more meant for business or public use (such as Linkedin and Twitter, respectively).

      OP#4, if you MUST contact people on social networking sites, I think Linkedin would be a much better option for this type of thing.

    4. Ophelie*

      Not as far as I’m concerned, no. It’s for people I know and care about to contact me, not organisations I have no current contact with. If I wanted a nonprofit to be able to contact me I would update my email or phone number with them directly. If I wanted to be in contact with them on FB I would have located their page there and made the connection myself.

      I’m utterly baffled by the idea that it’s acceptable for organisations to bother people who have ended contact with them on platforms they were never given access to. That’s a small step below harrassment to me.

      1. eplawyer*

        That was my thought. How is this not stalking? Sure you might search out a friend’s name and send a request. But to deliberately search out people who have dropped off your mailing list is too intrusive. They have already made it clear they don’t want to hear from this organization by not keeping up dated contact information, or even opting out of any email lists. Leave them alone.

    5. Fuzzy Pickles*

      It’s a difference in mental models of what the platform is used for. Differences between what users envision the platform to be/is for vs dev vs third party vs business is extremely common. It’s not surprising that FB has problems. It’s a social network. Social how? Familial, acquaintance, business, relationship, transactional… all of those are true depending on who is using it. So if someone uses the mental model of social means family and friends contact only, yeah it would be creepy in that case if an org tracked the user down.

      One could argue that the user is wrong and that may evenbe true but it surely doesn’t help to simply be right in cases like these. FB won’t encourage one side or the other because both views serve them. The actual model of FB could be in depth voluntary census through cascading interaction. But the users, personal and business, don’t use it that way by default so they don’t think of it that way. And then come the clashing manners.

    6. MLB*

      I wouldn’t be creeped out but I would be pissed if an organization that I had cut ties with contacted me via social media. It’s inappropriate. It’s a lot different than an old friend finding you and getting in touch.

    7. Annie Moose*

      No, the point of Facebook is not for organizations you have very little contact with to send you messages. It’s to connect with people you actually know and have contact with. There is a very big difference between “fellow volunteer at the animal shelter” or “person I know through church” or “distant cousin” sending me a friend request, and “random organization I haven’t been involved with for several years” sending me messages asking for my contact information.

    8. Pollygrammer*

      Maybe not creepy, but I would say maybe invasive, and definitely unusual. It’s absolutely not the norm–people find you on Facebook, yes, but organizations definitely don’t. And anything outside the norm is going to feel weird to people.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Where I live, it’s common to put your email in the school directory, so that people trying to contact you re your child can do so. (Arranging play dates, sending forms for school activities.) Getting an email promoting someone’s local business that they seem to have gotten via that listing is off-putting.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah, I would put it down there with chatting with your neighbor about what they paid for their house and their long-ago divorce. It’s technically public, but just because you can look it up, doesn’t mean you should.

        1. Annie Moose*

          I think it’s in the same neighborhood as the discussions about Googlestalking people on the letter a few days ago–there’s a big difference between merely looking at publicly accessible information, and actively using it toward a person.

          For example, if an organization quietly looked me up on Facebook to find out if I was still alive or dead, and used that information to update their records, that would be unexpected but not necessarily a big deal; I would likely never find out about it anyway. But that’s very different from an organization looking me up and then sending me unasked-for messages through Facebook.

  21. Baby Fishmouth*

    OP#3, it’s unlikely you’ll get the retroactive raise, but I will say this depends on where you work – I work in a union environment, so when they retroactively changed the pay structure last year (resulting in raises for everybody), they did pay everyone a retroactive lump sum, even those who had retired or otherwise left our place of employment. That was an unusual case because it is a union, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    1. Brett*

      This is also common for public sector even if not unionized.
      (Mostly because they have the same rigidity that union rules might have.)

      Also, if you have _any_ retirement benefits that would be dependent on your final pay, you need to ask as well. It seems unlike if you were only there three years (most benefits like that vest on longer time spans), but the amount of lost compensation in the long run could be huge.

  22. MicroManagered*

    OP2: I think it’s good practice to stop what you’re doing and show your boss you’re giving her your full attention when she comes to your desk, but standing up is way too deferential. Unless you work at the Vatican or something. I usually accomplish this by stopping what I’m doing, and turning in my chair. Plus standing up is awkward if your boss is asking you something that will require using your computer.

    OP3: You’re not “a little screwed” because you’re not due that money. You didn’t work there at the time they announced the raise and bonus. But your friend did (even though it was one day). I know it’d be nice to have an extra windfall of cash, but they never owed you this money.

    OP5: If you’re that worried that it will get back to Old Job that you were in City A slightly longer than you made it sound, take that as a sign that you have just left a Toxic Job. If you gave your two weeks (or whatever is customary in your country/industry), it’s nobody’s business what you did after your last day. The fact that you think it might be tells me you might want to look at some AAM posts about recalibrating your thinking after leaving a toxic job so you don’t carry that with you longer than you have to (and I say that gently, as someone who’s left a toxic boss!).

    1. OP#3*

      That’s fair — would have been nice, though! The general thinking amongst the alums is that since it was a raise/bonus for time we worked there (and excelled), and retroactive to time we worked there, we might be covered.

      Mostly I just wanted Alison to weigh in on a question of mine :) *fangirling*

      1. MicroManagered*

        I would agree with you if the bonus and raises were something you agreed to before you did the work.

        So like, if they told you when you were hired that you’d get a $100 bonus at the end of the quarter for every week met your quota of teapot-production, then yes, you’d be owed that money, even after you quit. That’s a non-discretionary bonus because it was a condition of doing the work that you both agreed to ahead of time.

        Or if they told you when you were hired that everyone got a $1 an hour raise every 6 months, and you just realized that you never got your last one and should’ve gotten paid $1 more for your last two months of work there, then yes, you’d be owed that money after you quit.

        This, unfortunately, is not the same thing. :)

  23. Not even going to give my real name!*

    Toxic, arrogant, hostile bosses…the slow death of all good jobs!

  24. You don't know me*

    The standing question is a good one. The nature of my job is that often people will stop by to discuss an issue. Sometimes its just “did you get blah blah blah?” and I quickly answer and they are gone. Other times it might be that they want to go over 30 entries and that takes some time. Its really awkward for me to be sitting in front of the computer while they hover. I do have an extra chair and I offer it to them but more times than not they just continue to stand over me.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Don’t offer the chair. Pull it up and direct them to sit down. If they brush it off, tell them that your neck is starting to hurt. (“Oh, please sit down! This will take a minute and it makes my neck hurt to look up.”) Make it about you and they’re more likely to sit.

  25. Imaginary Number*

    Referencing #2: Coming from the military, I had to break myself of the habit of getting up when my boss came to talk to me. It still feels weird not to. One thing I really like about standing desks is that it’s really common to raise your desk up when someone comes to talk to you so you can both be “at the desk” without taking the time to pull over another chair.

  26. Didi*

    OP #2: Always stand up if you are being introduced to someone new, whether it’s a senior person or not.

  27. PolicyChick*

    The nonprofit/FB thing reminds me of a peeve of mine.
    I’m an environmental attorney and I want to work in nonprofit wildlife. I apply for a lot of jobs at these type of NGOs and like many applicants, I never hear -squat- back from them. However you know what they DO do? They put me on their fundraising lists. So they don’t bother to tell me I’m not good enough to interview, but they’ll happily solicit donations from me! Which, of course, I can’t give because I am broke and UNEMPLOYED. :)

    1. CBE*

      YES! This has happened to me, too. Also with politicians when I have emailed them about an issue. They don’t bother to answer my email, but HERE COME THE REQUESTS FOR MONEY. Sorry, you don’t listen to me or deign to answer my email, instead you want me to make a “suggested” donation of $1000? Is this asking for a bribe?

      1. nonegiven*

        >Sorry, you don’t listen to me or deign to answer my email, instead you want me to make a “suggested” donation of $1000? Is this asking for a bribe?

        I’d probably reply with that.

  28. Teapot librarian*

    Remember Hoarder Employee from the Friday open threads? If he stood when I went to his office it would totally be a power play on his part. He’s significantly taller than I am and uses his physical presence as a tool in his “I’m better and more important than you” toolbox. So I try to return the favor by making sure I’m standing and he is sitting when we talk. (Other than our one-on-ones, for which we are both seated.)

  29. Workerbee*

    OP #2: I have an opposite anecdote: If someone’s in a smaller cube without room for an extra chair and the boss comes by, instead of pulling over a chair from a larger cube right next to it, he’ll SIT ON THE FLOOR. I think he thinks this shows camaraderie. It does not. It makes everyone intensely uncomfortable. My cube has a chair so he doesn’t do it to me, thank goodness.

    I should tell those cube-dwellers to stand up when he visits. Maybe he’ll take to perching on the file cabinets instead. *evil grin*

    OP #3: I wouldn’t want to be tracked down like that; if I still had ties to the event/program/org, I’d want to be trusted to reach out/find them again on my own. I say this as someone who has worked in Marketing and objected to many of the invasive outreach plots. (I never considered myself a proper marketer.)

    As others have said, if you have an org Facebook page, posting a request for past participants there would be less invasive.

  30. name*

    OP4 Don’t worry too much. At my end we don’t even check Facebook too much (although we are hiring for different jobs and that’s just a background check. ) We don’t use it for marketing at all cos our demographic fled there at least 4 years ago. I know it’s important in some fields but I volunteer on my off hours with homeless and they aren’t on Facebook anymore either mostly. It used to be a go to place but it has been replaced by so many local feeds that are so much more relevant. I get a lot of people still use it and it works for them. I get where you are coming from and I agree it is rubbish but take heart your org is well behind the times so the damage will be limited

  31. Spider*

    LW #1 — I’ve had the same experience with two different bosses (at two different jobs), and I never knew how to react in the moment because I’d always be a little stunned at the assumption that I didn’t know how to do something incredibly easy. But if it ever happens again, I have this response primed in my brain: saying in a gentle, curious tone, “Is there a reason you think I need to be shown how to do this?” and then staying silent while I wait for their response.

    The most recent boss who treated me like this (we’re both women, FWIW, and she’s about 10 years younger than I am) once felt the need to teach me how to pick books off the shelf at random. Like I didn’t know how to…you know…randomly choose a book here and a book there. I remember standing with her at the shelf, watching her earnestly demonstrate this for me, and thinking, “…Is this really happening?” I mean, not only can a 5-year-old randomly pull books off the shelf without help, but I have a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in two social science disciplines, have conducted dozens of surveys, and am intimately acquainted with the necessity and methods of selecting random samples of a population. Nobody needs to say squat to me about how to pick anything at random. But it’s so ingrained in me to be polite at all costs that all I said to my boss was, “Okay,” instead of cutting her off.

    Never again, though! I’m going to remember, “Is there a reason you think I need to be shown how to do this?”

    1. Bea*

      I had someone with extensive schooling and degrees flowing from all ends. So I said “here’s the manifest of what’s on that truck, go count to make sure it’s all there!” and she went utterly apeshit about how she didn’t understand. So I walked her through it, pointed to the tag on the material, found it on the manifest and checked it off. Her mind was blown. It was agony talking to an educated adult about inventory.

      Then the countless people who can’t do data entry because they can’t read an invoice despite swearing they have experience in accounting.

      I’m sorry you were treated that way but I’ve gotten complained about by these idiots, so my training includes every stupid detail until the person proves they don’t need it. So the “you don’t need to show me how to wipe my butt…” kind of remarks are appreciated to shake some of us out of that overkill.

      But yeah, I can’t ever assume a lot of education translates into common sense and real life basics. The biggest morons I’ve dealt with are incredibly booksmart, it’s baffling to me.

      1. Spider*

        Oh yeah, that’s absolutely true, and I cringed after re-reading my post because it does sound like I’m all, “B-bu-but my MASTER’S DEGREE.” I’ve trained volunteers and have been shocked at what I needed to spell out for them because to me it was so obvious, and yet it’s hard for me to start out training by including these basics because I don’t want the person to think I’m treating them like an idiot. It’s a delicate balance!

        In my example, though, this was just one instance out of many where my boss was treating me like an idiot even though I was really good at my job (got promoted, excellent performance reviews, etc). I neglected to mention above that she was a temporary hire and I’d been in my job for four years before she came aboard, so there really was no need for her to explain the most basic of tasks like I was a complete newbie.

      2. Lora*


        I had to explain to someone with a ME in chemical engineering from an Ivy League school how to put water into a tank, using a pump: Open valve A. Open valve B. Turn on the pump. HE SCREWED UP.

        I’ve had to explain gravity to STEM PhDs. As in, if the building foundation collapses, the top floor falls down too. It doesn’t hang in the air all by itself. One of them actually argued this point with me, and he was in Engineering. No, dude, no matter how much you had planned on the second floor hanging in midair so you could continue operations, it simply will not. He insisted I spend weeks building a model of the building to demonstrate the collapse, then demonstrating that it was impossible to magic materials through the wall when the warehouse that normally transfers them to the core of the building (now thin air, because collapse) is gone.

      3. smoke tree*

        I would cut the boss more slack if this were the first time he was showing the LW how to do it, or if it were an obscure task that rarely comes up, but it’s pretty different to do this regularly about key parts of your job. As I’m envisioning it, it’s as if the LW is an editor and boss says, “Remember to check for spelling mistakes!” Maybe it’s not quite that bad but this would annoy and baffle me too.

  32. Straphanger*

    #4 – Have you looked into doing an ECOA (Email Change of Address)? There are companies that will try to track down updated email addresses for folks on your list who are inactive or soft bouncing. Then you can email the new addresses and tell folks they’ve been added back in to receive communication unless they opt-out. Just make sure you’re handling EU constituents properly.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Hmm…I actually think this would be worse. At least I know my Facebook is public. Generally, even if my email is accessible anywhere, it’s only intended to be used for that platform.

      1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        I had that happen to me- I got an email from a mechanic I’d used once while I was pregnant with my (now) 20 year-old reminding me that my Buick LeSabre was due for service. The thing was, I hadn’t had the LeSabre since 2000 and the email address the reminder came to was created a few years later.

    2. fposte*

      If an organization told me I had been subscribed to stuff against my will on an email I never gave them, that would seriously piss me off.

      1. Straphanger*

        Well, then you’d opt out. ECOAs sort of operate under the idea that you signed up once, never opted out and then changed your email but didn’t update it with that org. The org is just giving you the option of continuing to receive communication at your new address. The thinking is that YOU are still opted in, not that that particular email address is opted in. It’s just a way of keeping you in the loop with your updated information. If you had opted out with the old address, the ECOA wouldn’t search for your new address.

        1. MrsCHX*

          Where are you getting this from? No, I did not opt in to whatever e-mail address I may use. I have several…do you really believe ANY company can just find all of the e-mail addresses associated with me and market to me because I signed up with one of the e-mail addresses at some point?

          1. Straphanger*

            I mean, it’s a real service. My org has used it for years. We’re not going to have EVERY email you have in our database . We only look for fresh emails for folks who are soft bouncing or who have been inactive for years who additionally never opted out of receiving communication.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              Maybe inactive means they don’t want your stuff? This is really irritating to me. You’re acting like this is completely okay, just becauase it’s a real service that’s a legit business. It is not.

        2. fposte*

          I understand the mechanism of unsubscription. I’m saying that a nonprofit who seeks to retain people’s good will would be ill-advised to piss off people like this.

            1. Annie Moose*

              I guess it’s great it worked out for you, but how the heck have you not had a lot of angry people responding to you??? If I hadn’t interacted with your organization FOR YEARS and you suddenly found one of my new email addresses and started sending me things again, with ZERO indication from me that I want them, I would be appalled!

              1. xkd*

                Look at what she’s said – this is for her soft bounces, or inactive for a year. That’s not so long in e-mail world. I know a few organizations that will tailor who they send to based on who is opening emails. If you haven’t been viewing communications, then it’s smart to give a break, and then restart.

                1. Annie Moose*

                  We’re not talking about sending emails to someone who gave you their email address but hasn’t interacted with you for over a year. We’re talking about hunting down a different email address for someone who gave you an entirely different email address and hasn’t interacted with you for over a year.

              2. Straphanger*

                After an ECOA, you always start off with an email explaining that you’re going to start sending things to the new address unless you opt out. So you get a fair warning to actually opt out if you don’t want to receive emails at the new address. From the perspective of email marketing, not opening an email doesn’t necessarily indicate that you don’t want to receive the emails – just that you haven’t been enticed by a subject line to actually open. Opting out indicates that you don’t want to receive the emails.

                1. Annie Moose*

                  Not giving an organization an email address is also a pretty darn good sign that I don’t want to receive their emails at that address.

                2. xkd*

                  Oh absolutely! Didn’t mean to muddle the waters, but it is an interesting tool I’m seeing being used more and more. I’m considering testing this out with my list!

                3. Straphanger*

                  A fair amount opt-out of the initial email. The unsubscribe rate on the first few following emails is also usually higher than average. But return on investment is outstanding when it comes to donations from these constituents.

                  It would appear then that there are enough people who just forgot to update their emails and need a reminder to justify the service.

            2. Jennifer Thneed*

              ROI is about money. So you’re saying that the amount you’re spending on this service is paying for itself because … I guess you get donations? You’re tracking money. Are you tracking how many people unsubscribe immediately? Are you tracking how many people are irritated by this practice and mention it to their friends? (ooh, I’m really irritated here, I can tell.)

    3. OP #4*

      This is a really interesting suggestion. Thanks for bringing it up — we will certainly look into whether or not this is a potential solution!

    4. MrsCHX*

      That’s not how GDPR works…If they have people from the EU/donations from the EU/products and/services in the EU…they are subject. You can’t handle people in the US different from the people you have in the EU.

      1. Straphanger*

        My org has just elected to no longer email EU constituents. We have been told legally that that covers us. But we only had about 12 people on file with EU addresses, so YMMV. We do not operate in the EU, we just had a few folks from the EU sign up to receive communication. One should always check with legal counsel, of course.

        1. Specialk9*

          But you guys are encrypting the info for your EU folks, right? And rooting it out from your past files and tape backups, right? And making sure your definition of private data included PII (email, phone, address, religion, medical info, anything potentially embarrassing or compromising) but also GDPR private (online handle, ISP address, browsing history, etc), right?

          Cuz if someone told you “just stop emailing EU folks, you’re good”, that would be startlingly poor advice on GDPR compliance.

    5. xkd*

      I was also thinking this! I wonder if it might also help to look up their physical addresses. I’ve had much better response to mailed pieces as opposed to e-mail or social media. In practice, I’ve found FB to be useful only in confirming who someone is – for example, trying to figure out if which Jane Smith is correct, or if a couple is still together. I would also suggest (if you can) to check into the obituaries. You can pay for this service or have an intern google away. Ideally, you have someone checking the local obits regularly, but I understand the difficulties inherent in keeping clean data.

    6. Jennifer Thneed*

      No. If you use a service like this, you send out an email that offers people a chance to OPT IN. And if you’re really decent, you make it a double-opt-in, so that they have to reply to a confirming email.

      Being added to an email list pisses me off SO BAD. And I don’t care if I signed up 2 years ago, if I haven’t been seeing emails from you recently it feels the same to me. I always scroll to the bottom to find the unsubscribe method, and use it. (And companies that want me to create an account to unsubscribe? They get reported to Google as SPAM.)

  33. Adaline B.*

    #2 omg thank you for asking this question I have been overthinking this for Too Long. :)

    #4 I change my e-mail and delete the old one every few years just to get off all the mailing lists I’ve been added to based on purchases etc. It’s possible this is one of the reasons people aren’t contactable via e-mail. I agree that if they wanted to stay connected, they would update their contact info.

    If a company contacted me via Facebook after I had unsubscribed or changed e-mails, I would just ignore it.

  34. Russian in Texas*

    #4, contact via social media.
    I would be seriously weirded out if some business/charity whatever I had dealings with before, found me on my personal social media.
    If I want to contact you, I will contact you.

  35. Kramerica Industries*

    OP #4, I’ve been contacted as an alumni to a program before via LinkedIn, which I found much more acceptable than if I was to be contacted via Facebook.

  36. Bea*

    I come from a background where I am on a two way street with reminders. I also have to frequently say “hey, is this still getting done?” or “don’t forget that report is due tomorrow.” Then my boss will do the pass by of “remember that wire transfer goes out today.” it’s more of us communicating and staying on the same page. We have all forgotten to do something there routine over the fifteen years I’ve been doing essentially the same thing just different scenery.

    This is most certainly a personal quirk that is just super annoying. My mom has those too. “Are you ready?” “I’m standing here with my purse by the door, of course I’m ready.” every time. Every time.

    I would have the conversation because it’s truly killing your morale it sounds like but it’s one of those things that may get better or may just be that you don’t jive with the boss in that way. I have changed for reports who have asked in some ways but this is one of those things I would still revert to my standard way frequently enough.

  37. Blue_eyes*

    OP #1 – you are not alone! My boss gives me a to do list every Monday, then we usually go over it in person to answer any questions I have and I get to work. Sometimes she’ll send me emails that just say “Push through your to do list!” which I like to joke is the same as her emailing me “Do your job!”. Like, what did you think I was going to do today?

    She will also send me repeated emails about doing one task (that’s not urgent) even though I always follow through on things she’s emailed me without multiple reminders. It’s taken time but I’ve realized that all of this is totally her own anxiety being projected on to me. Whenever she thinks of something, she emails me about it so it can be off her mental to do list. Even if that means she ends up emailing me the same thing 4 times in one week because it pops into her head again.

    I really don’t think it’s anything to do with how she views my performance (I get excellent reviews and just got a raise), but it sure is irritating. I’m fairly sensitive to feeling like other people think I’m not smart, and getting repeated reminders from my boss did make me worry at first that she didn’t think I was smart or competent or something.

    1. LW1*

      LW#1 here. 100% on-board with your last sentence. I get defensive over people thinking I’m not smart/competent–or me THINKING people think I’m not smart/competent–which can lead to some bitterness/potential for arrogance over time. (For me, at least. I don’t want to speak for you.) It’s those damn self-esteem issues. Maybe I should take up meditation at work or something.

      1. Jen*

        I’m in exactly the same situation and I have the same reaction. I’ve tried to push back a few times and it only increased the weird reminders and constant check ins. The whole thing is super frustrating. I wish I had advice for you. I’m working on going back to OldJob. This seemed like, and could have been, a really interesting and technical direction to take my career. But it isn’t worth the aggravation when I can walk right into my old office and have a boss who trusts and values me

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Glad that resonated with you! My husband and love saying to each other the line from Hamilton, “He looked at my like I was stupid, I’m NOT stupid.”

  38. Roscoe*

    For #4, this isn’t really an answer to your question, just an observation. Over the last couple of weeks there have been letters and discussions about looking people up on Facebook or Googling them to find past information. It seemed I was in the minority when I stated that I thought googling, or facebook stalking, was a bit much in a professional sense. It seemed people thought I was being naive since it was public information. But based on the reactions here, it seems people are ok with the actual act of looking up their info, but not contacting them on Facebook. I guess for me, if you look up someone’s facebook page and can find their phone number or email address, I don’t see how its any better/worse than just looking up a co-worker, since as I was told often “Its public information”. I just find it fascinating where people draw lines on what is acceptable and what is unethical or creepy.

    1. CM*

      I think there’s a clear line if you take action based on publicly available information you’ve looked up. (Not the only line, but one that’s easy to draw.) See somebody’s email address, people can debate whether that alone is creepy; but send someone an unsolicited email from an organization, most people would be unhappy to receive that.

    2. nonegiven*

      I can’t do anything to scrub my info from Google.

      My Facebook is not searchable by email or phone and I can only get friend requests from people who are friends of friends. I checked, even ‘firstname lastname state’ gets another woman on Facebook with the same name who lives in another part of my state.

    3. Lasslisa*

      A lot depends on the validity/desirability of the actual contact. Look someone up on Facebook to contact them to return their jacket they left behind? Good of you! Look them up to solicit donations, send advertising emails, or ask for something from them? Less welcome.

  39. Debbie Jellinsky*

    #1 – I have the same problem, but I’ve been in my position for almost 15 years :/ Just the other day, I was going to be out of the office, & my boss came to me and said, “Don’t forget to put your out-of-office on your phone & email.” I’ve always chalked it up to her needing to feel in control. I’m going to try Allison’s suggestion, altho my boss is a bit fickle, so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully it goes well for you!

  40. soon 2be former fed*

    Re: #4
    This site can be so frustrating when it eats comments while they are being written. In any case, for seventeen years now, after moving twice, I still get annual surveys for a medical research study that I stopped participating in, for reasons. The sponsoring organization is obviously stalking me, despite me informing them that I had no intention of resuming participation. It violates my privacy and wastes money since the mailed surveys go directly into the trash. Do not stalk people, it can make them hostile to your cause. Certainly they know how to contact our organization if they want to communicate with you.

  41. Curious Cat*

    #1: My boss occasionally does this. We’ll both be included on an email where I’m specifically tasked to do something, and she’ll email a follow-up separately with me to say, “Will you do this?” Sometimes she’ll see something (that to me is obviously part of my day-to-day), but she’s suddenly reminded of it and that makes her want to check-in that I’m doing it. Talk to your boss if it’s bothering you, but I’ve learned just a simple, “Yep, will do.” or “I’ve actually already done this today!” is easy enough.

    #4: I’m not sure what it is, exactly, but something about contacting people directly through Facebook comes across as more…personal? than just emailing them. I’d definitely be annoyed to get a Facebook message from an organization I volunteered/worked with once years ago and lost touch with on my own accord. If you can talk you boss down from using Facebook to reconnect with past participants, I would do so.

  42. Bee Eye LL*

    OP #1, my boss is a micromanaging busybody with trust issues. He will remind me to do first via email, then call me to see if I got the email, then call someone else in the office to have them remind me in case I forgot. It’s like covers for TPS reports from the movie Office Space. I need to have a sit-down with him because it is insulting. On top of that, we have a work order system for logging and tracking stuff like that, but he won’t use it.

  43. Denise*

    #5 happened to me. I was intent on moving to one city, but pretty immediately found a position in the same city that was a great opportunity. My old supervisor did mention it when I reached back out, but I don’t think it was a big deal.

    1. OP #5*

      Thanks for your reply! I already found the new job so I am for sure moving. I just led Old Job to believe I am moving right away. But the consensus seems to be it’s not their business.

      1. nonegiven*

        Of you run into someone and they ask, all you have to do is say, “Yes I am still moving next month/week, etc.”

  44. C*

    LW#4: I do think it’s valid to do this to update contact information, depending on your a) purpose and b) approach. I do research and evaluation of non-profit programs, and there is value in being able to systematically study and document longitudinal or long-term impact of some programs. But to do that, you need to have as comprehensive as possible list of past participants if you want any hope of minimizing bias. (If you can only reach those who enthusiastically stayed in touch, you may be missing the data that say, “The long-term impact was meh.”) So, I do council newer programs to invest early in mechanisms and man-power to maintain light connections with individuals and a “database” of program alumni over time – letting them know the purpose and that you won’t be spamming them / fundraising from them. If they don’t do this, we are often 10 or 15 years down and having to track people down on LinkedIn and Facebook in the way you’re describing.

    So, my advice would be to try to clarify with your manager the purpose for this updating, maybe with the approach that you think you’ll get better results if you could communicate clearly with your former participants why you’re popping into their life again. I would use the social media accounts to reach out to them directly with the request for them to update their info, and tell them what the purpose is. (Or to “like” your program’s social media page, or whatever mechanism you’re using.) If they ignore a couple of tries or say, “No thanks. Don’t communicate with me,” you have to respect that (and I’d create a “do not contact” field, so the organization respects that over time). If they have their personal contact information already plastered all over the internet that you can access without asking… I’d update the list with it. They made that choice about their privacy. That is publicly available data.

  45. Bones*

    OP1- I have the same problem, but with a coworker who was hired 6 months AFTER me. It takes every ounce of restraint on my part not to strangle her.

  46. GreenDoor*

    OP 4, You say “Our work does not require ongoing intervention or outreach” I think that’s your answer right there. If your client base isn’t one where people are in constant danger of harming themselves/others…or in need of some kind of ongoing care or oversight I don’t see why on earth your boss needs their contact info.

    You don’t say what kind of services you provide…I’m imagining healthcare or social services of some kind. And, if that’s the case, as a client if I got my life to a point where I no longer needed help, I’d be weirded out about why some agency was continuing to contact me…like do I never get a second chance to manage my own life? Can I never get out from under a past struggle/problem? That’s the reaction I’m having reading your question. I’d push back on this. It’s just weird.

  47. AKchic*

    #4 – unless they signed documentation specifically stating that your company could look them up via social media: do not look them up via social media. Only use the methods of contact that they provided. If those methods of contact are no longer valid, you are SOL.
    I’ve been in a similar position. I had to send out a state-mandated survey every year as a part of our grant-funding with my last job. Some clients didn’t have addresses when they left, or their addresses were no longer valid. In the capture cycle, we would have over 1000 names to send to, and then the duplicates for multiple programs. And sometimes they’d have multiple addresses (none valid, or all valid, or hit and miss, but nobody knew what the case was).

    Not knowing the non-profit, or the field, you could be dealing with federal laws prohibiting you from doing that search. Don’t risk it. If it is so important to your boss, let your boss do that search and make contact. Let your boss deal with the fall-out. But don’t you dare do it.
    If you are in the addiction field – 42 CFR Part 2 may be your best friend for this. If you have a compliance or quality assurance or even records assurance officer for your company (or lawyer) – discuss with them. Or better yet; discuss with a boss above your boss.

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