my boss wants a team outing to a gun range, employer wants to discuss my “hot mess” cover letter, and more

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

1. My boss wants to do a team outing at a gun range

My boss keeps suggesting a team outing at a gun range. I feel very uncomfortable about this prospect as I don’t have any interest in handling guns. Is there a way to gracefully bow out of this “team building” activity? He is a bit provocative and I really don’t want to get into a discussion about why I am not interested in going.

What the actual F? Your boss is not thinking this through.

Ideally you’d say: “Many people aren’t comfortable around guns, and given the high emotions around gun issues right now, I think this would do the opposite of team building. I’d like to suggest we pick something else, but if this goes forward, I’d need to opt out of it.” And then if he tried to get into a back-and-forth with you about it, you could say, “It’s not something I’m comfortable discussing at work. I just wanted to register my concern and let you know I wouldn’t be able to participate if you decide to do it.” (Repeat as necessary.)

But if you don’t want to go that route, there’s always (a) discreetly asking HR to intervene (I can’t imagine they’ll love this, at least in most companies, at least in most regions), or (b) finding a reason to be out that day.

2. Employer wants to meet to discuss my “hot mess” cover letter

I screwed up and got overzealous on my cover letter. There were no typos (luckily), but I managed to repeat myself again and again, and managed to go on so long that it was hard to read. Apparently it was bad enough that the recruiting manager wants to meet to review the letter together.

Apparently, they want to help me improve it before it can be sent higher for decisions on interviews. The exact wording they used on the letter was “hot mess” and that they simply cannot send it to the managing partner looking like that. I assume I wasn’t outright denied because I applied through an amazing recommendation by a contact who they are close with.

This is not an interview, though I will prepare as if it was one. How should I approach this in the future? Normally I pride myself in well written cover letters, but I was very excited for the position and really wanted to show that I had the credentials and experience. I have never heard of anything like this happening.

I’d assume that your contact’s recommendation is carrying serious weight here and they want to interview you because of that — but that they can’t make that case with the current cover letter. That said, meeting to review it together is … strange. I could see them saying something like “can you take another stab at the cover letter and make it half the length?” (although even that would be unusual) but an entire meeting to go over it together is really odd. And frankly, if I were that managing partner and found out my hiring staff had coached a candidate this closely to meet my standards, or that they were covering up a relevant piece of someone’s application, I’d be pissed — and would have serious concerns about their trustworthiness and understanding of how the process is supposed to work.

That’s not for you to solve though. All you can really do here is go into the meeting with an open mind and listen to their feedback. And yes, prepare for it as if it’s an interview, because it’s likely to be at least interview-ish, and possibly an actual formal interview. You should also start reworking the letter now, so that you’ve gotten a head start on figuring out where you went wrong and how to fix it. Don’t finalize the new version until you get their input, but it’ll help to have already done some of the work.

(In an ideal world, you’d redo it on your own ahead of time and send it over to them, saying that your enthusiasm got the better of you initially and here’s a more restrained version … but that only works if the new version is excellent. If it’s not great — and you aren’t necessarily well positioned to assess that yourself — then you’ve made the problem worse, so I wouldn’t take that risk.)

3. I’m moving and my company won’t let me work out of the office I want, even though other people have been allowed to

I have been with my employer for four years, straight out of college. I have decided to move an hour away, back to my hometown, to be near family and because I just purchased a home in a community that I like (and could afford). As the closing process was happening, I sat down with my supervisor to let him know that I would be interested in relocating to the office most near my new home, the Teaville office.

I didn’t think this would be problem since two and a half years ago, another colleague who is close to my age, but at that time had also been with the company four years, was moving with her fiance to the opposite coast for a job he has been assigned (he works with a different company). We are located on the east coast. So she was moving from one coast to the other. Also, a year ago, a colleague joined our department from another team and was offered the option of working from the Teaville office or our office, the Earlville office. In both cases, both were able to remain with our department and keep their regular duties.

Now I am asking to relocate to the Teaville office and instead my supervisor proposed moving me to the Potville office.The Potville is about the same distance to my new home as the Teaville office, but significantly more difficult to get to (more traffic) so my commute would be a bit longer. Additionally, I would be moved out of my department to a role where I am doing what I do now but with a smaller scope.

My supervisor said this was because it would be “harder to manage you,” and that we needed to find something that was reasonable for both the company and for me. He also mentioned that he wished that I would have brought this up before I decided to buy my home, which strikes me as odd. All this strikes me as being unfair given that in less than five years, two colleagues were given the opportunity to relocate and keep their roles.

I would like to sit my supervisor down and advocate why this is unfair and cite the two examples above and offer solutions to mitigate their fears, like weekly phone check-ins and driving in to the Earlville office two to three times a month. What do you think?

You can give it a try! But go into it with the understanding that there can be good reasons not to treat everyone exactly the same and your manager might have legitimate reasons for his decision. For example, you might require a different type of management than your colleagues did (like more interaction or more oversight), or your work might be fine but theirs was great (and thus your employer was more motivated to accommodate them), or maybe the two previous moves ended up being more challenging than they’d expected. So your argument shouldn’t center on “it’s unfair” or “other people have been allowed to do this” but rather on how you think you can make it work and address your manager’s concerns.

4. Dealing with grief at work

I’ve been at my current organization for three years. It’s my first job out of college, and for the most part, it’s been a great experience. But during those three years, my mom suffered serious health issues and eventually passed away. It was a really difficult time for my whole family–basically two years of constant stress, followed by the heartbreak of her passing at such a young age. The first anniversary of her death was a week ago.

Over the course of this year, I’ve found navigating grief at work to be tricky. I was able to take three weeks of paid bereavement leave thanks to the generosity of my colleagues, but coming back was still difficult. For one thing, my short term memory really took a hit (I’ve since learned that this is normal for people who are grieving or experiencing a lot of stress). My motivation was also dicey, and I flirted with quitting and just taking some time off. I cried in my manager’s office more than once, and I think she struggled with how to deal with me, though she did her best.

Now, almost a year later, and I’ve found the weeks around her yarzheit to be particularly challenging. I’ve been struggling with a lack of focus and motivation because all I’m thinking about is my mom. I was just promoted a couple months ago to a whole new division and team. One of my immediate supervisors knows about my loss, but not the details. The other two do not. It’s difficult for me to talk about my mom without crying (I’m crying as I write this), so I avoid it at work. But I worry that they see my lack of focus and motivation and judge me for it.

How do I manage this? Should I let my whole team know about what I’m going through and why I’ve been a little out-of-sorts? Or should I just carry on, hope it will pass soon, and avoid calling attention to my less-than-stellar performance the past few weeks? I’d also like to hear from readers about how they’ve managed coming back to work while grieving. People have been telling me to “be kind to yourself,” but I don’t know how to balance that with doing good work and making a good impression on my new supervisors. Any advice?

I’m so sorry. I know this is horrible.

I don’t think you need to make a team-wide announcement, but do talk to your managers and let them know what’s going on. It’s enough to just say something like, “I suspect I haven’t seemed like myself the last couple of weeks, and I didn’t want to leave you with no context for that. It’s the first anniversary of my mom’s death, and it’s been a tough time. I felt like I should mention it in case you’ve noticed me seeming off.”

Once they know what’s going on, decent managers will understand. If they don’t have any context for it, though, they may draw the wrong conclusions about what’s going on — so just let them know.

5. Can I ask for a phone interview before coming in for an in-person interview?

My question might fall under “good problems to have,” but it’s still becoming a problem. I am working at my current job, but looking for a new job outside my company. I have been getting positive responses to my applications with one weird curve — they always want to bring me in to their company right away for an interview, as opposed to doing an introductory phone call first. This has happened several times already. While I am flattered, it means that I am sometimes going in cold to an interview (sometimes not knowing all that much about the company). I have to make excuses to leave my current work early/come in late, which is awkward (I hate lying). I live in a major metropolitan area and commute in, which means there’s sometimes significant time/stress involved in getting to the interview (fighting traffic, finding parking, getting on the right train, etc.) I’ve gotten to an interview to find out about 20 minutes in either that the job is not what I’m looking for, or I’m not what they’re looking for, which is a waste of my time and theirs.

I just got a request on a Friday to come for an in-person interview the following Monday at 10 a.m.! Can I push back and ask for an introductory phone call first, just to get a lay of the land, or would that put them off? I don’t want to lose a great opportunity, but I’m also tired of schlepping into the city on a bust.

They should want to save themselves the time too! I can’t imagine hiring without phone screens first, because you end up weeding out tons of people in 10-15 minutes of talking to them — sometimes even in the first few minutes, depending on the issue. It makes no sense to set up in-person interviews without a shorter phone screen first.

Anyway, if you were coming in from out of town, you absolutely could request a phone interview first. It’s a little trickier when you’re local, because it risks coming across as “I’m not willing to invest time in exploring this yet.” But you could try saying something like, “I’m in a period at work where it’s difficult to get away during the day. I’m really interested in the position and will certainly make that happen if we move forward, but would you be open to doing a phone interview first so we can get an initial sense of how strong the match is on both sides?” You do risk someone bristling at the idea of having to adjust their process, but it’s a reasonable thing to ask for and it sounds like you’re a strong enough candidate to have a lot of interest from employers, so I’d give it a shot a couple of times and see how it goes.

{ 781 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    A note: This isn’t the place to debate about guns or gun policy, and comments doing that will be removed at my discretion. Please keep comments focused on the questions in the letters. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Wellwisher

      OP 4: I am so sorry for your loss. Even more sorry for how trite those words seem and how sick you must be of hearing them.
      I want to congratulate you, not just for coping, but for being considerate of your team by asking for help in how to proceed.
      I’m dealing with a grieving employee from the management side and I’m really struggling to find the balance between compassion and what is required for my department to operate. My biggest frustration is that this employee won’t tell me what they need or provide an estimated timeline (yes, I know, you can’t schedule grief when it’s convenient and I feel horrible even having this expectation, but we’ve given all the flexibility we can reasonably give without a plan in place at this point.). Your willingness to come to your manager with a plan, that’s huge. It is impossible to expect that employees will always be able to be working at full potential. But it is imperative that they communicate just enough so that alternative arrangements can be made and so they can be good team members . Good for you. I wish you well and echo the therapy and memorial ideas from other comments.

      Reply
  2. Sami

    OP 4- I’m so sorry about your Mom. When I was going through a similar situation I found getting into therapy was really helpful. I was able to let my emotions spill out there and learn strategies for how to handle things at work. My sister joined a grief group and she thought that was helpful for her. Good luck.

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      #4 – Definitely talk to your new managers. They need to know. How about writing a short letter and letting them read it instead? That way you don’t have to say as much and risk crying (you may anyway but it will be less).

      I found that even 10 years after the fact that I still get stressed near the anniversary of my Parents deaths. Ironically, I’ve lost 6 family members within a two week time period (different years) but I still react.
      Think about a memorial activity. Mine have been a short road trip (we used to do many together), eating their favorite food, going to an old haunt, reading their favorite scripture verses, etc. It doesn’t have to be on the day of death. A few days earlier might even be better because it will give some release ahead of time. Make it a celebration that you had such an awesome person in your life!! If you are devout you could sing songs of praise for such a gift in your life.

      Work: as much as possible get your sleep. You may need to take time at lunch to go for walks and clear your mind. Don’t expect perfection. Make sure you have less outside of work commitments during that month. Really. Make a month of no external commitments. Spend time with friends. Ask people to check your work if needed.

      The harsh reality is that we miss people for years after the fact. Being self aware really helps. Each year is easier to manage than the last. You never get over it but you do manage it.

      Reply
      1. OP #4

        I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through, Engineer Girl. I can’t even imagine.

        Thank you for all these helpful suggestions. I like the idea of doing memorial activities a few days before the anniversary. I’ll definitely try that next year. And I’ll admit that some of my self-care activities (sleep, exercise, meal-prepping) fell by the wayside during the weeks preceding her yarzheit.

        Work-wise, I seem to be pretty close to back to normal. But I do appreciate now the need to let my managers know what’s going on–they can’t manage me well without seeing the whole picture. I wish I’d spoken up earlier.

        Reply
        1. miss_chevious

          I’ve found it very helpful to do memorial activities that my mom would have nagged be about or wanted to hear about, were she still around, so I do things like get the car maintenance done (she was very into cars) or do my annual health appointments, which she was always on me about, because I feel like I’m taking care of myself the way she would want.

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        2. Edith

          I’ve found that I’m just incapable of working in the period between my mom’s birthday and the anniversary of her death (27th – 29th, only a few days), and just request that time off as PTO. It’s been four years now, I don’t know when or if I’ll get to the point where I can be “normal” on those days. Grief counseling helped a lot, but I’m better spending those days sipping tea and reading.

          I make it quite clear to my management that this is anything but a vacation, and some managers have suggested that this be sick / mental health time. Perhaps that’s an option for you – just to know that you have that day to take care of you, and do whatever is significant/meaningful/calming to you for that day.

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        3. EddieSherbert

          Firstly, I had to look up the word “yarzheit” and I think it’s great. Why the heck doesn’t English have a word for the anniversary of a death?

          I just want to second a lot of EngineerGirl’s suggestion of memorial activities. My brother, Jim (not his actual name) passed away a week after one brother’s birthday AND a week before another brother’s birthday (I have 4 brothers) many years ago – like Joe had his birthday on the 16th, Jim passed away on the 22nd, and Jon’s birthday is the 30th.

          So that is always a weird month for us and we’ve learned that setting aside a specific get-together or event in Jim’s honor helps a lot for us. The first anniversary we actually took a big trip to a fancy destination that Jim always wanted to visit. It felt… weird… while we were planning it, but it was actually a really wonderful and “healing” trip for me.

          Now the “usual event” is hopping the fence and sneaking into his graveyard after dark to release sky lanterns (we use eco-friendly ones, so please no comments on that. I promise I’ve heard them before!).

          Reply
        4. chilled coyote

          My mom died in 2014, and I know I was a disaster. I had a private office so I could cry during the day with no one noticing, but it was incredibly hard just to function. I had some success with really focusing on work and not thinking about anything else for several periods during the day, almost like a pomodoro method, then I would go outside for a walk and cry.

          In the few years since then, I have tried to focus on her birthday and celebrating her then instead of focusing on the anniversary of her death. I needed to take some of the “power” away from the death date, because even after 3 or 4 years, thinking about that anniversary has been so emotionally difficult that it was hard to focus at work. Celebrating her birthday is such a better way to remember her.

          Reply
        5. Jane

          I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad last fall. I suspect it hurts forever. I’ve had my own concerns and fears about letting work slide, especially because I normally pride myself on my ability to do my job well, but hearing from other people who have had to put themselves back together after losing a parent has made me feel so much more normal and less alone — so thank you for submitting this question. No reasonable person will judge you for the ways you need to cope with the loss of your mom, even a year later. Best wishes.

          Reply
          1. Aaron

            I lost my dad last summer and have gone through much the same thing. The hardest thing for me was that, while everyone at work said the right things and seemed to be supportive… after a few weeks, they still expected constant over-performance and intense overdelivery at a time when I just couldn’t perform at the same high level. They were perfectly sympathetic, but when push came to shove, things still had to get done. I ended up taking on even more work throughout the year, rather than being able to let anything go and have time to recenter myself. Sometimes I even felt like I was being gaslit–told to take as much time as I need and that they understood if I wasn’t at the same level, but still being expected to take on new responsibilities regularly. I ended up deliberately letting a lot of less important stuff fall through the cracks just to meet the most important stuff, whereas I really would have rather declined some of the more important projects over the course of the year. I was still able to perform at a high level, but the emotional and mental toll it has taken was extremely severe and I went from being very happy at my job to totally miserable and feeling mistreated because of it.

            No one here seems to get that a loss of this magnitude doesn’t just take weeks to recover from. Whenever I say I’m still dealing with it, they just sort of wave it off, and say I always crush it and do a great job so it will be fine.

            I gave notice last week, the year of the anniversary, and am going to take several months vacation to travel. I’m in the financial position to do that, but good riddance to this place. Even though I do think everyone had the best of intentions at first, no one had the capability to actually help someone who was going through a major loss, rather than just say the right things.
            (Sorry for the rant)

            Reply
    2. Queen Esmerelda

      Ditto the recommendation for grief therapy. It was immensely helpful when my mother died. Best wishes to you; I know how hard this is.

      Reply
    3. BadWolf

      I agree with looking into some grief therapy and it doesn’t matter that a year has passed! It took me about 10 months after my parent passed before I decided “suck it up” wasn’t getting me through life very well (I was crying in the car, while shoveling snow, barely working). I didn’t even go that many times — I want to say 5-7 appointments (and 6 are covered by my EAP) and it really got me over the hump. Not to imply a couple sessions will be magic, but it really helped me get to a better place.

      I really worried about my work product and it was definitely not that great for awhile, but my general good status before floated me on the bad times.

      Reply
    4. OP #4

      Thank you for your kind words and your suggestions. I did do some grief counselling immediately after her death. It was the best decision I made during that time.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      Reply
      1. Remember Me

        My father died in April. I did one session of grief therapy, and it was immensely helpful. I wish I could do more, but I work outside the US and don’t have access to a counselor!

        Reply
    5. BF50

      #4 I am so sorry about your mom.

      Like others have mentioned, I do best if I take PTO for the anniversary of my mother’s death.

      My mother died seven years ago in March. I plan for it and take the day off and I can now actually kind of enjoy the day, both as a break from work, and as a chance to do stuff she loved, even if it’s just read and eat macaroni and cheese. At first, if felt like planning for grieving felt like wallowing in self pity, but I have learned that I feel so much worse if I don’t plan. If I let it sneak up on me, I end up a crying mess hiding in the bathroom at work.

      The anniversary of her death is also my son’s birthday. He’s only 4, so he doesn’t know. I do not want my grief to ruin his birthday so the self care is really important.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        My aunt died just a few months before my cousins wedding. My cousin set up a small table in the church foyer with my aunt’s wedding pictures. We all wore a bit of pink (her absolute favorite color). That way my aunt could be at the wedding too, at least in our memories.

        Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      There’s really not much more to say than this. This seems really poorly thought out, and I hope OP can duck out without their boss making it too big of A Thing.

      I can think of a handful professions where going to a gun range might be appropriate or team-building, but those are in the minority of all jobs. Most folks I know, including those that otherwise enjoy going to the range, would not want to do this as a work activity.

      Reply
      1. Rick Tq

        We have done such events as a company outing but it was a client-centered event and STRICTLY voluntary, to the point employees had to ask to participate AND have a connection with the customers who did attend..

        Not remotely the same thing. OP1, I hope you can get your boss to see reason on why bringing the non-enthusiastic to a gun range is a BAD idea.

        Reply
      2. Wintermute

        I was going to say this. There are some professions where I can see this being a decent idea, but the context would be different than “just for fun”– anyone that works as the support-side to armed staff (security, escort, law enforcement, etc), I could see doing some range time as a way to put yourself in the shoes of your internal clients, but in that case I wouldn’t just go to a range, I’d have them go through, say, an abbreviated version of their range drill, or carry training or something, not just go throw some lead.

        Likewise if you work with firearms manufacturers or products, that’s different, “lets go put our new XM101 through its paces together” or “our vendor sent us a whole crate of widgets, lets try them out!” is very different as well.

        Absent either of those contexts, just not a good idea.

        And I’m not coming at this as someone that’s not very comfortable with firearms, personally I enjoy historical military firearms. My record bill at a rental range was about 600 bucks in one day (they had some outstanding vintage WWI stuff I’d never have a chance to fire or even hold again, and I took full advantage, a French Chauchat, a Lewis, etc), but I wouldn’t take a group of people I didn’t know very, very well and know were all going to enjoy it rather than dread it. It’s just not work-appropriate unless you’re police, law enforcement, gun industry, or the kinds of companies that advertise in the back of Soldier of Fortune.

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        1. EmilyAnn

          I went to a simulated gun range as part of a work event, which was very much appropriate for the context. I can’t see a gun range as a social activity akin to bowling or a picnic though. I like the context you provided.

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        2. RoadsGirl

          I went to one once when I was working for Scouts. We were hanging out at one of the camps for our outing. There was swimming, canoeing, crafts, and yeah, shooting sports like guns and archery.

          I thought that seemed like a fairly natural activity considering the work environment and location.

          I could count on one hand the number of other times I can think of this would be appropriate.

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      3. Observer

        Most folks I know, including those that otherwise enjoy going to the range, would not want to do this as a work activity.

        This is the key, I think. This is totally not about whether guns are good or not. It’s just NOT something a lot of reasonable people would want to do as a recreational work activity.

        I’d be willing to bet that a lot of gun enthusiasts would actually find this activity to be really NOT enjoyable because who wants to be forced into a team building exercise with people who don’t know which way is up and many of whom are probably scared or otherwise deeply uncomfortable with the whole thing?

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Not to mention, gun newbies don’t know how to be safe with guns. Ever had a loaded gun pointed at you, by ignorance? I have. I would say it was a memorable experience.

          I took a 2-week gun safety course, and we talked a lot about always pointing the muzzle at the floor (never ever at people), never leaving a finger on a trigger, never shooting into the air, and about building construction and what kind of walls bullets can still travel through.

          I would not want to be around people whose only knowledge of gun safety comes from Hollywood.

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          1. Dorrie

            Yes, absolutely! Safety is key when handling guns. I would be very nervous bringing a group of my coworkers to a range, especially if the majority had no previous experience. It’s not quite the same as someone’s first time bowling…

            And aside from the safety aspect, which I agree is so important, just the act of shooting a gun can bring up all sorts of emotions. The first time I shot a gun I immediately put it down, stepped away, and tried to suck back in a few tears. It’s a small explosion in your hands – there’s fire, it’s loud, it’s pretty intense. Since then I’ve become much more comfortable and know what to expect, but that takes practice. Thinking back to that first time, I definitely would not have wanted coworkers watching me!

            Reply
          2. aebhel

            YES. Guns are, well, dangerous. You need at least some minimal training in order to handle one safely, and that is NOT something I would want to bank on a bunch of random coworkers who may not have ever handled a gun before having.

            (People who are really immersed in gun culture–as I assume this boss must be–often drastically overestimate how comfortable the average person is with handling guns/how much they know about them, IME)

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          3. HarvestKaleSlaw

            Truer words! I enjoy going to the range (though I am also for much stricter gun-control laws – I’m an enigma!), but there is no way in Hades I would go with a bunch of random coworkers who I can’t trust to be safe. It just takes one jackass who thinks he already knows this stuff and doesn’t need to listen to the gun safety lecture – or one person who is scared of guns, doesn’t really want to be there, and is too nervous and panicky to keep the gun pointed downrange. Guns are deadly serious, not a fun-time team-building outing. People are far too casual about what they are and what they will do to a human body.

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        2. Loud Noises

          Hell, my job includes mandatory range time and I still absolutely hate it. It’s not fun at all for me, and is in fact quite stressful. I can’t imagine having to do it more as someone’s idea of recreation.

          Reply
    2. Zombeyonce

      Ignoring issues with gun policy, personal politics, and even PTSD people might have that could be triggered by this, you have to wear ear protection at a gun range because it’s so loud. How would people even be able to speak with each other?! You’d think a team-building event would include, I don’t know, being able to talk to team members.

      Reply
      1. SamPassingThrough

        +1 to this. Even if coaching is involved, it’d only ensure that the few members with experience with guns gets to do the talking, and also potentially facilitates environment for unpleasant debates / conflicts. It could potentially erode team spirit, instead of buildup team mentality.

        Where I come from, most team building outings involve 1.) something everybody can learn to do on the day without physical exhaustion or danger of exposure, such as mug-making or soap-making; 2.) often comes with a non-controversial good cause that is then published on the company newsletter, such as children’s hospitals; and 3.) ends with a little souvenir to take home, such as the soap/mug they’ve just made.

        It may sound tame and unoriginal, but there’s no liability issue, nobody gets hurt, and nobody gets mad at getting a gift or contributing to a good cause. Plus, since crafts like such often takes lots of waiting time, people can chat and bond!

        Reply
        1. Dopameanie

          1st paragraph: This is not my experience. Ranges have designated instructors who watch you to ensure safety and teach proper form and technique. It’s closer in feel to golf than anything else.

          2nd paragraph: this seems like a good way to do it!

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        2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

          I only comment I could add is that I find very few non controversial good causes. Personally, I’d far rather give my time and effort to an animal rescue than a children’s hospital and there’s no charity around that hasn’t had or doesn’t have an issue. The best thing in charity cases is to have several charities and allow your employee to choose. And make it voluntary! Nothing stinks as much as donating time and effort to a charity you don’t like and are being forced to assist.

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            1. Jadelyn

              Many hospitals are religiously-owned/run/etc., and frequently are specifically Catholic. As an avowed pagan who strongly dislikes the stranglehold various forms of Christianity have on our culture and has had some very bad personal experiences with churches in the past, I don’t want to donate a single second of my time to any organization owned, run by, or connected in any way with a church. So as much as it might be an unobjectionable Good Cause on the surface, if the children’s hospital my company wanted me to donate my time to was a Catholic hospital, I’d be finding ways to duck out ASAP.

              Honestly, this is why I err on the side of “don’t force your employees to do charity work, ever – let people handle their own charitable contributions the way they want to on their own time.” If you really want to support employees volunteering time, give them a certain amount of paid time that doesn’t eat into their PTO that they can use for volunteering or something, but otherwise, let people manage their own involvements with charities. It’s just a very personal thing for a lot of reasons.

              Reply
              1. EOA

                This comes perilously close to its own kind of anti-Catholic bias, which is kind of gross considering you no doubt think you’re super open-minded.

                And before you start, yes, I am Catholic; yes, I am liberal; yes, I am aware of the Crusades, the clergy sexual abuse crisis, and the Church’s regressive stance on reproductive rights. No, I don’t think that it makes sense for religion to be a part of a workplace, unless that workplace is explicitly a religious institution (precisely because people should be allowed to have diversity of belief). But if your reasons for rejecting it are “all religions are bad” and you say that out loud, then yes, I am going to call you out on your own biases.

                Reply
                1. Jadelyn

                  Call me out on whatever you like, but I am entitled to my own feelings around something as personal as religion, even if that is a negative feeling towards a religion that has done me and people I care about harm in the past. Inclusiveness demands that I not interfere with anyone else practicing their beliefs, and I would never do that, because I genuinely do try to be inclusive – but it doesn’t demand I personally love and support every belief out there. Being “open-minded” doesn’t require supporting and being willing to get personally involved in supporting absolutely every possible thing people might believe.

                  You might have a leg to stand on if I were saying that coworkers shouldn’t be *allowed* to spend their volunteering time on Catholic organizations, but all I’m saying is, *I* will not spend my volunteering time on an organization that I want nothing to do with for very personal reasons.

                  And for the record, my reason for rejecting it is not “all religions are bad”, not by a long shot. I’m religious, myself – just not Christian. And certain sects of Christianity have Done Some Things that I’m not okay with, both historically and in the present day. It’s the actions and the organizations that have done those actions that I object to supporting, not the individuals who hold the beliefs that those organizations also hold. And, again, I have nothing against anyone else choosing to volunteer for those organizations. I just offered a line of reasoning for why someone might not want to spend their time volunteering for a certain type of organization.

                2. Zombeyonce

                  Wait, what’s wrong with anti-Catholic bias if it doesn’t affect anyone else? As long as it’s not in the workplace, what does it have to do with anyone else? I was raised Catholic, which gave me a pretty heavy bias against the religion and I don’t think it would be appropriate for a workplace to make me volunteer at a Catholic hospital (or any other place affiliated with any religion). People that are Catholic choose to be Catholic, so it’s not like racism or homophobia.

                3. Redhead

                  Are you aware of Catholic hospitals’ history of inadequate treatment of non-viable pregnancies, leading to very serious consequences including the death of Savita Halappanavar? Supporting any organization that chooses to do that, religious or secular, would violate my own beliefs.

                  Being judged for their actions is not bias. Please educate yourself before accusing others of bias.

                  Note – the links I’ve chosen are SFW, but the Dr. Jen Gunter is a gynecologist, and regularly talks about NSFW stuff, sometimes with educational photos.
                  https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/ectopic-pregnancies-exploding-gifts-from-god-at-some-catholic-hospitals/
                  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/05/hospitals-pregnancy-abortion-reproductive-healthcare-catholic-rules-report

                  Aaaaannnndd that’s why work outings should be chosen carefully. Something that one person considers obviously unobjectionable is deeply problematic to others.

                4. Mobuy

                  Zombeyonce, I’m pretty appalled that you think an anti-Catholic bias is okay. If I have an anti-gay bias but it “didn’t hurt anybody,” I think you’d rightfully call me out. Consider yourself called out.

                5. Junior Dev

                  Catholic hospitals are different from other Catholic charities in that they limit people’s ability to access reproduce health care.

                  Also, there’s a pretty big difference between “not liking the Catholic Church as an institution” and “not liking individuals who are Catholic.” The former is a reasonable response to that institution’s practices, not a form of bigotry.

                6. Zombeyonce

                  Moybuy, people don’t choose to be gay so having a bias is crazy. I think it’s fine to have a bias against something people willingly choose to be.

          1. Chameleon

            I mean, I understand preferring spending time with animals than with children, but I do struggle to understand how a children’s hospital could be controversial (barring it being run by a controversial entity like a church).

            Reply
              1. Separation of church and state

                Yes, I think in most workplaces, religion is inappropriate. If I had to do something “churchy” for a work event I’d be extremely put off.

                Would also not be interested in being forced to help/volunteer with animals or children, neither of which I like.

                Reply
              2. ExcelJedi

                They are if you’re asking someone to participate with one or otherwise give service to one as part of their employment. You would think religious diversity alone would make this obvious.

                Reply
                1. Semi-regular

                  I’m an atheist, but I would give money to a charity that is for example, donating for children’s cancer, even if the charity is run by a religious organization. I guess a work place should try to find something else, but I don’t see anything inherently controversial about a charity run by a church. Individual charities could be controversial for various reasons, but just that it is a church, IMO, is not controversial. YMMV

                2. Jadelyn

                  @Semi-regular, that’s your choice to be okay with giving to a church-owned charity – but not all of us feel the same, and you’re basically saying “Well, if I’m okay with it, why isn’t everyone else?” which is…not a great approach. Your experience, and your feelings on the subject, are not universal.

                  It just being a church absolutely does make it controversial, because you almost certainly have employees in the workplace who are not Christian – whether they’re agnostic, atheists, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, pagan, etc. – and by requiring them to give time or money to an organization that is run by a church, you’re basically forcing them to give of themselves to a faith that isn’t theirs. Do you not see that as problematic?

                3. Semi-regular

                  I mean, I said “IMO” AND “ “YMMV” I was just giving my perspective, no need to get upset. I certainly don’t think employees should be “required” to give to any charity in any case, but IN MY OPINION, having the option of donating to a charity run by a church is not inherently controversial, even at a work place.

                4. pleaset

                  “I’m an atheist, but I would give money to a charity that is for example, donating for children’s cancer, even if the charity is run by a religious organization.”

                  Ditto.

                  And I sent my son to a non-sectarian, non-religious preschool run by a church.

                  “you’re basically forcing them to give of themselves to a faith that isn’t theirs. ”
                  No, it’s giving to the charity. Not the same as giving to the church itself. I accept that people are entitled to their own opinions and misunderstandings, so yes, doing a team event for this sort of charity would be problematic. So I wouldn’t organize it that way. But this problem is based in part on a false premise.

              3. a heather

                Yes. Unless your organization is connected to a church, you can’t be sure that none of your employees don’t have problems with some of the church’s teachings or practices.

                Reply
              4. Chameleon

                I was mostly thinking of church-run hospitals that had policies involving women’s health that were controversial, or that have been affected by scandals over the past decade or so. I can see someone not wanting to support those hospitals.

                Reply
                1. YourEthicsConfuseMe

                  “I only support saving children/animals/humans if they’re being saved by a catholic/pagan/Christian” essentially is what people above are saying

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

              If I choose to give time and money to charity, it’ll be my choice. I strongly dislike most religions and many children’s hospitals are run by them I also , as I stated, prefer animal charities as they get so little support compared to children’s hospitals and charities.

              Reply
            2. B

              Honestly, donation itself is controversial. Some people are very careful picking out where their donations go and/or don’t have the extra room in their budget. Some prefer to donate goods over money. Ideally there would be an activity and an option to donate to a selection of charities, but no need to donate in order to participate (since the main purpose in this scenario is team building after all). If there’s a donation aspect at all.

              But I can think of a couple of reasons someone might not want to donate to children’s hospitals in general, no matter who was running them. Maybe they’re on the extreme end of anti-medicine or they’re strongly anti-hospital. Maybe they’re a Jehovah’s Witness and they’d prefer to be able to say where the money goes so that they aren’t supporting blood transfusions (I don’t know how many feel this way, but I could see it happening). Controversial might not be the right word, since I don’t think it would be very common (especially the first), but whatever my thoughts are on those beliefs it’s not really work’s place to tell them to go against them or be excluded.

              Reply
      2. Antilles

        That’s what I was wondering too. When you’re shooting at a range, you’re physically separated from other humans by dividers and staring downrange at a wall with targets. And when you’re waiting your turn to shoot, you have ear protection so you can’t really chit-chat much.
        Even if the boss really likes the concept of ‘shooting at things to build team spirit’, something like paintball, laser tag, or an arcade would all be better since they allow for much more interaction with other team members.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          My only experience of a shooting range there were no dividers for most of the space -and there was no requirement that anyone had safety training or knew anything about guns.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            I think some of that may be down to the difference between an indoor and an outdoor range. I’ve never seen an indoor range that didn’t have dividers, but I’ve seen outdoor ranges that don’t, so it depends. Some of it is also probably regional.

            Reply
            1. Turtle Candle

              It’s very, very regional, IME. I’ve been to ranges where everyone had to have ear protection and a safety briefing and there was an employee monitoring everything, and to ranges where it was come-as-you-are and almost no oversight (and indeed where even the idea of any kind of oversight was political and fraught). It really depends.

              Reply
      3. Dopameanie

        They actually have special headphones that only block loud, sudden sounds but let through everything below a certain decibel. You can have a regular-loud conversation at a shooting range.

        Reply
      4. LAP

        there’s also the lead exposure

        I’ve been to a gun range several times and I think it’s a very inappropriate team outing for an employer to suggest

        Reply
        1. Starbuck

          Yeah, yikes, I was reminded of the Oregonian’s reporting on toxic levels of lead in National Guard gun ranges (which were sometimes open to the public or rented out).

          Reply
      5. Shamy

        I was thinking along these lines as well, besides no interest, there are so many reasons people may not want to participate, PTSD being a major one. Heck, I am pregnant and would not want to go due to the potential damage to my developing baby’s hearing.

        Reply
        1. RVA Cat

          The one and only range I ever went to, they don’t allow pregnant women due to risks from lead exposure. That right there makes it discriminatory even if no one has disclosed.

          Reply
          1. Shamy

            That is a very good point that I had not even considered or knew about since I have never been to one. And you’re right, it is so discriminatory, people should not be forced to disclose conditions (of any kind) to get out of these “team-building” activities. Unfortunately, I worry that someone who would think this is such a great idea may not be entirely reasonable and that perhaps making mentions of these sorts of issues might be the only way for them to back down. I think just not wanting to should be good enough.

            Reply
      6. Observer

        I just had to laugh reading this.

        But, so true. Absent some fairly specific contexts, why would you do a “team building” exercise that requires ear protection?

        Reply
      7. Plague of frogs

        Team building is often just doing something fun together; talking isn’t a prerequisite.

        That said: one of my coworkers suggested going to a gun range, I said it didn’t sound fun, and that was the end of it.

        Reply
        1. Zombeyonce

          But shooting a gun isn’t a team activity. It’s inherently solo. Unless people like watching other people shoot guns (which seems doubtful), it sounds like there’s no team bonding opportunity here at all.

          Reply
          1. nonegiven

            My husband’s work has a client whose employees used to have a trap range. Every year they had a tournament for the employees of all the companies they did business with. My husband’s upper management pressured anyone that owned a shotgun to participate. Nobody went that didn’t already know how to shoot.

            Reply
        2. Star Nursery

          My work has done a variety of team building activities. Some of them have included instructions from the event venue staff on what to do and/or required wearing safety gear. I could maybe see going to an indoor shooting range if it was the type that gave training and provided all the necessary items (training on safety along with ear protection, eye protection, etc.) Some of the types of shooting ranges are geared towards new people to try it out and run more like a supervised activity with a lot of emphasis of safety side of things. But I can totally see why it would not appeal to everyone. We haven’t done an indoor shooting but here are some of the ideas of team building things that we have done.

          Op, maybe you can suggest something else that would appeal to your boss? Maybe boss is trying to find something new to do instead of same old? (YMMV but I am guessing your boss wants to do something novel for team building? I’m sure not everyone will all agree on mandatory fun though. Here are some of the things my employer has done for team building:

          Escape Rooms
          Painting class parties
          Cooking class parties
          Indoor go kart speed racing around a track
          Day at spa
          Arcade / indoor entertainment (like Dave and Buster’s)
          Topgolf (non-golfer’s said they had fun!)
          Bowling
          Baseball game
          Happy Hours
          Trip to a winery/brewery
          Etc.

          Reply
      8. Kenneth

        “How would people even be able to speak with each other?!”

        You still can. You just have to talk loud while you’re not far from the other person’s ear. Obviously not conducive to a “team building” exercise. And if need be, you can step outside the range area where you can safely remove your hearing protection.

        Reply
    3. I Herd the Cats

      So, I’m curious — is going to a gun range a US thing? A reflection of our access to firearms? I know there are several gun ranges nearby if I wanted one. My brother-in-law has taken my kids a few times, and I’ve gone skeet shooting any number of times (clay pigeons and shotguns). Does this strike people from outside the US as kind of bizarre?

      For the record, I think a gun range for a work outing is a TERRIBLE idea. Lots of people I know have no interest in ever firing a gun.

      Reply
      1. Cordoba

        In my experience, yes, it is primarily a US thing. Other places have them but in far fewer numbers and with generally less accessibility to the average person.

        I have had many work visitors from Europe and Asia ask if they could try shooting while they were in town, and have always had a good time accommodating them. They have fun with it and typically want to go every time I see them, but are open about the fact that it also seems kind of outrageous to them that shooting (and gun ownership generally) is something that anybody can do here just because they want to.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          Thank you, I did wonder. Over the years (decades?) I’ve occasionally been asked questions along the lines of, have you ever owned/fired a gun? From non-US citizens visiting the two tourist cities I’ve lived in. One of those was in an open-carry state where, with a few restrictions, you could buy a gun and take it anywhere you wanted to, as long as it wasn’t concealed.

          Reply
          1. Cordoba

            I travel to Europe frequently for work. One of the most common questions I get from folks who have not traveled to the US is basically “is it really as easy to buy and carry a gun in the US as we hear, or is that an exaggeration?” They seem to sort of assume that their understanding of US gun laws *must* be wrong because it is such an unusual concept to them.

            I typically tell them that it varies by state but that where I live I could absolutely walk into a big box store, buy a rifle or pistol in about 15 minutes, and then carry it around with me loaded for the rest of the day completely legally (if not practically) unless I was going to an airport or similar.

            I find this actually makes for some very interesting conversations if we don’t get into the politics and just stick to the practical side of things.

            Reply
            1. Eurocentric

              You are biased towards Western Europe. In Eastern Europe, gun ranges (“tir”) are quite common. And I have seen kiosks in the former Soviet Union where guns are quite openly sold.

              Reply
      2. France

        Yes, it is primarly a US thing. Or at least, it is not a European thing. I have lives in a major European capital for 12 years, and I reckon there are gun ranges here, but I have no idea where. I have never seen them advertised anywhere.
        I know there is a gun shop near the center, but everyone thinks it is quite odd (it is a historical curiosity, in some ways, it has been there for a while).
        I think if there are gun ranges, there are well hidden and probably outside the city.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          Gun shops in the US can have interesting signage. One near me is GUNS AMMO STAMPS COINS LIONEL TRAINS.

          Reply
          1. embertine

            Lionel needs to get better representation if he’s touting for business at a gun shop. At least make it an antiques place.

            Reply
          2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

            I remember seeing a strip mall once that had a gun shop, a liquor store, and an attorney’s office. One stop shopping!

            Reply
          3. MatKnifeNinja

            The only thing missing from that banner is Beanie Babies (yes they are still a thing around here) and action figures.

            I love odd signage.

            Reply
          4. Zennish

            I lived near one once that advertised “GUNS AMMO PAWN SHOP and BAIL BONDS”. Truly one stop shopping for a certain clientele.

            Reply
          5. Bees Knees

            There’s a famous one in Maine that has had for years:
            GUNS
            WEDDING GOWNS
            COLD BEER
            (google Hussey’s General Store) They have practically anything you would expect in a general store and yes, the second floor has prom and wedding dresses.

            Reply
        2. Les G

          I don’t know which city you are in, but there are certainly gun ranges in the European capital I’ve spent the most time in. Gun ownership? Not so much.

          Reply
          1. France

            Oh I am sure there are. I just don’t know where, they are really not very visible. In 12 years I have not come across one.

            I am in Paris.

            Reply
            1. biobottt

              Gun ranges aren’t necessarily that visible in the US, either. I’ve lived in the US my whole life and never seen a gun range.

              Reply
              1. RoadsGirl

                The only gun range I’ve seen was one set up at a Scout camp.

                My husband goes to one for his hobby and employment. I’ve never seen it.

                Reply
        3. Go Croatia

          At the risk of rehashing the World Cup: France is not the whole of Europe. Shooting ranges is not a WESTERN European thing. Shooting ranges are common in the former Soviet Union. I have personally been to one near Tbilisi, Georgia.

          Reply
      3. Baby Fishmouth

        It’s a thing in Canada too (there was one near my house when I was a kid, a weird side effect of which is that I literally never notice the sound of gunshots now that I’m an adult), but our gun laws are much stricter than in the US so they aren’t so much of a thing.

        Reply
        1. Random Canuck

          I have some friends who are members of gun ranges, and those are for members only, so not like the US where people can walk in and have a weapon for a set period of time. I know a ‘Doors Open’ event (one weekend of the year many public and private institutions invite people in) was at a range which allowed people to fire a few shots with *very* close supervision (I believe the weapons were on the ground so even safer). It was reasonably well attended, in part because I think there was a lot of novelty (I went with a friend who was keen for the experience), but there is little business case for ranges in Canada the way that it appears to be in the US. Same as my friend, I tried firing a gun a couple times when I had the opportunity, but it was no different than my general “Try as many things as possible at least once in life” philosophy which I apply to many things.

          Reply
        2. Middle School Teacher

          There’s a shooting gallery in our biggest mall! (Although the signage is subtle and it’s at one of the quieter ends of the mall… if you weren’t specifically looking for it, you probably wouldn’t see it.)

          Reply
      4. Bagpuss

        I think so.
        I’m in the UK. I work in a rural, farming community, I have clients who shoot (either pheasant/other game and/or clay pigeons) and a couple of colleagues who do so, but you wouldn’t go to a range for that,. I’m sure that there are shooting clubs around here but I wouldn’t know where.

        I think in my area, what you describe as ‘skeet shooting’ – shotguns and either pigeons/pheasant or clay pigeons is something that happens,so it’s not unusual, but it’s probably only normal for a fairly small proportion of the population – for me, the people I know are farmers who do rough shooting as part of their normal land management, and friends and neighbours of those farmers, who enjoy taking a gun out and getting some game for the table.

        Reply
      5. MaryB

        I live in the US in a major metropolitan city, and it strikes me as bizarre. I know there are now ranges somewhere in our suburbs because our bans were struck down, but I’ve never known anyone who has gone to one, and would be very confused if this was suggested as a team building event. To me, gun ranges are for police officers to do their yearly qualification, that’s it. There’s nothing that gives me the chills more than going to one with my offices equivalent of Michael Scott and Dwight Shrute!

        Reply
        1. MatKnifeNinja

          I live in the Metro Detroit area, and I don’t own a gun.

          There are at least 8 indoor gun ranges that are 15 to 20 minutes from me. That’s what Yelp pulled up. It doesn’t include seasonal outdoor ranges, sporting clubs and state/county parks that have ranges.

          Someone is using all these facilities.

          Guns are such a polarizing topic, who’s going to offer up that after work they going to the range to unwind? That maybe why you don’t know anyone.

          I got stuck doing the gun range/team building/bonding thing. The whole group voted. The gun range beat out going out to eat, bowling, obstacle course whatever and hearing a guest speaker.

          Was not thrilled going. Plunked two bullets into a target which was enough to keep my boss off my back. I can not afford to lose my job at the moment. I can’t afford to be *that person*. All my coworkers were on board, so it wasn’t even a 50/50 split.

          It would have done me no good to ask my boss to change it. My only option was to call was to call in sick.

          If you live in an area where guns are hard to get, people don’t really hunt, and you don’t have people stock piling for the zombie apocalypse, you have a change of changing your boss’s mind. I’d say go for it.

          A good half of my coworkers hunt. The next chunk has guns for their own reasons. It was just me and an Expat who were fire arm newbies, and the Expat was all over this “team building” moment.

          I know where I live gun range >out to eat> anyother team building nonsense.

          Reply
          1. MaryB

            I mean, sure, maybe a couple who are secretive about it, but largely, I don’t think so.

            I think perhaps it’s important for general readers to know that there are large swaths of America, with people like myself born and raised in urban areas without access to guns or a hunting culture, where this could be seen as totally nuts. Particularly in the workplace. It’s just a bad idea.

            I feel like sometimes urban residents and our culture/community values aren’t as represented in discussions like this, which is why I thought I’d chime in.

            Reply
      6. Liz

        I realise that I’m quite late, but:

        Gun ranges and shooting clubs are certainly a thing in Australia, at least. I’ve looked into them, because one day I might find myself writing the sort of fiction where it would be valuable to have held and shot a firearm. Suburban/urban gun owners often store their weapons at the club.

        There was an incident just last week where a man shot and killed his two teenage children — the ensuing investigations revealed that he was a member of a shooting club due to an inadequate background check. (So our system of gun control, while quite good, is tragically imperfect.)

        Reply
        1. Rebeck

          But they’re more members only things here. I know where the local outdoor range is, and I know the German-Austrian Club has an indoor range (Air rifles only) because that’s where I trained when I was doing Biathlon. But it’s a little harder to just rock up and say Hi I Want to Shoot Things here. Thankfully.

          Reply
    4. Dopameanie

      May I push back a little? I understand why this should not be mandatory (PTSD, unable to follow firearms’ safety precautions , etc) but saying this is ludicrous or obviously untenable I think is….reactionary? Maybe a little sheltered? If you’ve never handled a firearm and there is no compelling reason you think you CAN’T, then you should do so, while at a shooting range, under the tutelage of a range instructor. One, it’s a safety thing. If you think of guns the same way you do a grenade with the pin pulled, you might accidentally hurt yourself or someone else if you, for example, find one unsecured. If America is going to take the legal stance we have on gun ownership, then it becomes incumbent upon Americans to know what to do when you see one. Two, it’s a cultural thing. I wouldn’t normally run around with bovine in city streets, but to act like it’s an unheard of abberation to do so ignores a boatload of people who enjoy a hobby safely, and comes across a bit pearl-clutchy. Three, it’s actually a really good team building exercise! It serves the same social purpose as golf, but WAY more environmentally friendly, more accommodating to different size groups and skill levels, and less physically challenging for older/less fit people who might have trouble with events like hiking. Lastly, it’s actually super fun you guys.

      Many, many, MANY people enjoy a fun hobby safely. If you’ve never tried it, doing so at a gun range is THE safest way to familiarize yourself with a tool that is over abundant in our society anyway. If you CANT, then you can’t. Lots of people can’t do stuff and that’s fine. But it doesn’t seem like that was the issue. It seems like the LW (and also AAM a little!)has a gut negative reaction to the CONCEPT of guns, and that is no more logical than refusing to swim in the ocean because you saw the movie Jaws too many times.

      Reply
      1. Cordoba

        The fact that many, many people have a “gut negative reaction” to [thing] is enough to make [thing] not a good choice for an official work event.

        Reply
        1. Washi

          “If you think of guns the same way you do a grenade with the pin pulled, you might accidentally hurt yourself or someone else if you, for example, find one unsecured.” This is not really relevant to the workplace. It’s not like people just regularly stumble upon unsecured guns at work (right?) so I don’t see why my employer has a compelling interesting teaching me how to handle that.

          “I wouldn’t normally run around with bovine in city streets, but to act like it’s an unheard of abberation to do so ignores a boatload of people who enjoy a hobby safely, and comes across a bit pearl-clutchy. ” Ummm I also don’t think running with the bulls would be a good team-building event either!

          “It serves the same social purpose as golf, but WAY more environmentally friendly, more accommodating to different size groups and skill levels, and less physically challenging for older/less fit people who might have trouble with events like hiking.” These may all be true, but there are plenty of things that meet this description that would still not be good team-building exercises. Everyone could spend the day learning how to disect frogs, but the fact that a solid chunk of people would be upset by that negates its ability to build teams. It’s clear that you think people shouldn’t be upset by guns, but they are, and therefore shooting guns together is not a good team-building exercise.

          Reply
        2. Dopameanie

          1. It depends on whether those reactions are majority or minority of the workplace. In my neck of the woods, it would be really unusual to feel this way and would come across as a “cultural poor fit”

          2. Negative prejudice is not something I think should get to go unexamined in anyone’s mental landscape. As an example, Feminism gets equivalent treatment at my workplace, and I push back there the same way I am doing here.

          And again, no judgment against people who can’t. Can’t is different.

          Reply
            1. Dopameanie

              It seriously does. I think that’s why I’m willing to speak calmly defending gun ranges here. They spring from the same place of ignorance and prejudice.

              Reply
              1. Vicky Austin

                No, they’re not the same at all. The notion that women are valuable members of society and have just as much worth as men and should be treated as such is not at ALL the same as firing guns.

                Reply
                1. Dopameanie

                  I’m sure it feels that way to you. But I’m asking the same here that I do there:

                  Why is this concept objectively bad? Are you against it because you have considered all the angles and alternate opinions, or do you just have a gut-level reaction? Is your disagreement based on the actions of a few radicals, or the movement as a whole? Is your view motivated by what you see on Facebook?

                  They are the same. It just feels more uncomfortable when it’s you.

                2. Jessie the First (or second)

                  “They are the same” –

                  whether I am deserving of equal human rights is the same as whether people should learn how to handle guns?

                  I think what you are saying is that the reaction of other people to the subjects is the same, therefore you treat it the same but again, because because the actual subjects are so vastly different, it’s not an apt comparison.

                  People can have strong feelings and gut reactions about a variety of things – that does not make every one of those situations similar. The mere fact that some people react strongly to certain subjects does not bind those subjects together somehow and you can’t divorce the subject of the reaction from the reaction in any rational way. That’s just an odd argument to make here.

                3. tusky

                  Dopameanie, guns are lethal weapons first and foremost–that’s not a misconception–so regarding them (or the handling of them, or the places where they are discharged) negatively is logical, even if it is also true that gun ranges can be relatively safe places. Negative reactions to feminism generally stem from sexism/misogyny or gender privilege (i.e. lack of awareness that misogyny is a problem). So, no, they’re not meaningfully comparable.

                4. Totally Minnie

                  @Dopameanie I was almost killed with a gun. I have never been almost killed by feminism. They are not the same. They should not be treated the same. I would like it if you stopped trying to make that comparison.

                1. pleaset

                  I’m actually pretty open to learning to shoot, though I’ve never held a gun.

                  And I have to say, this comparison of shooting guns and women’s rights is really bizarre.

                  “It serves the same social purpose as golf, but WAY more environmentally friendly, more accommodating to different size groups and skill levels, and less physically challenging for older/less fit people who might have trouble with events like hiking.”

                  Cool. Good points. But some people are very disturbed by guns. Less so by golf. I’d rather learn to shoot than learn golf, myself, but the fact that guns disturb a significant number of people is special, and a big difference from golf.

              2. Specialk9

                I’m wondering why you think all of us who think this is a terrible idea DON’T go to gun ranges and/or own guns? It’s kind of a weird assumption.

                (And in my case, dead wrong. Though my political stances are more complicated, but I won’t get into that bc Alison asked us not to.)

                Reply
              3. Observer

                They are not the same. More importantly, most of the people who are pushing back are NOT claiming that gun ranges are bad etc. They are saying that requiring people to go to one is a really bad idea, and that as team building exercise it ranges from useless to a very bad idea. That’s true of a LOT of perfectly morally neutral and even positive activities. Refusing to acknowledge that comes from the “the same place of ignorance and prejudice” that you decry.

                Reply
                1. Zombeyonce

                  +1

                  I have held a gun, shot a gun, been taught to handle it correctly and STILL I feel incredibly uncomfortable around guns. I do not want to be around them and I definitely don’t want to be around people shooting them. Even if I lived in a place where going out to shoot was a common activity, I would still avoid it like the dickens.

                  I don’t think gun ranges are bad, but making people be around guns that don’t want to be is a crazy notion. If your team building idea includes an activity that makes a portion of your team incredibly uncomfortable, why would you even consider it? It’s similar to if the team building activity were bungee-jumping. Some people love it, but many do not and are not interested, and watching someone else bungee jump sounds incredibly boring. Just find something better for the group.

              4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                Dopameanie:

                “They spring from the same place of ignorance and prejudice.”

                I… genuinely don’t know how to respond to that. Equating sexism* with a distrust/dislike of shooting guns is mind-bogglingly offensive.

                (*Yes, being opposed to feminism is inherently sexist.)

                Reply
              5. Zombeyonce

                But they don’t spring from the same place of ignorance and prejudice. People can have plenty of experience with guns/gun ranges and still not want to be around them. I know that guns can be used safely and I’ve been taught how to use them safely and have experience, but I still do not want to be around them.

                You can judge me all you want for that but I am not ignorant about guns at all and yet I would not go on a team-building trip to a gun range. Your argument that opinions on guns are equal to opinions of feminism is a false equivalence.

                Reply
            1. Dopameanie

              Someone demanding nobody get to do something fun because they can’t do it? Yes. Bowing out this time, and showing up for pottery night? No.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                So why not just do pottery night, and let people do controversial hobbies on their own time? I mean, people might think it’d be fun to go to a BDSM dungeon or picket an abortion clinic or go dog fighting or listen to a gospel choir, but I mean… Why not just paint the darn pottery in the first place? There are reasons why professional behavior means staying within a fairly narrow band of lines.

                Reply
                1. France

                  Not to derail but… how is gospel choir in the same category as BDSM, abortion or dog fighting – namely, sex, politically charged issue on personal rights and illegal thing ?!
                  I mean… you can not like choral music, and I don’t think a concert is a very good team-building activity but… this one is not controversial, right ? It is just… at worst, boring and out of tune !

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  @France because gospel music is Christian, and it’s not cool to require employees to engage in religious activity that may or may not be their own.

                  (I’m not Christian and I sing in a gospel choir because I love the music. But I wouldn’t have my team come to a concert as a team-building activity.)

                3. Specialk9

                  @France, what Victoria said – work shouldn’t make people do non-work activities that are religious, political, sexual, uncomfortable, and/or exclusionary. It’s a narrow band of acceptable professional behavior, and all those fall outside the bands.

                  So for that specific example, as a Jewish person, I’d be really uncomfortable having to listen to people sing about Jesus and about being saved from hell by being Christan… even if it were done with good rhythm and tone.

                  (The exception is Lyle Lovett’s “Church”, about a preacher who won’t stop preaching until someone snuck up to the balcony and got the choir to sing about all the good food that was waiting for them.)

                4. France

                  Oh right… I completely forgot about this aspect. I sing in a classical choir, and we sing a lot of religious music because… well, that’s the repertoire : Requiems, Glorias etc… It is just music to me, it’s like singing an opera : I don’t believe Tosca exists, it is just music. It would be like playing a religious person in a play : it is art, not religion.
                  But I can see how it would be not really appropriate for work.

              2. Decima Dewey

                If you can round up enough coworkers to make going to the gun range worthwhile, fine. Do it as an afterwork outing and have fun. What we are objecting to is the notion of *requiring* people to do this as a team building exercise. I’m clumsy and have an impressive array of visual problems. Essentially, nothing is quite where I think it is. I don’t want my coworkers to fall down laughing at my target shooting results.

                For me crossword puzzles and making needlepoint pictures on plastic canvas are fun. I would not recommend either activity for a team building exercise.

                Reply
              3. Inca

                For one I think putting the emphasis on a supposed distinction between “can’t” and “won’t” can be very damaging. Because that line isn’t usually that clear and also puts the burden on people to prove they are somehow ‘defective’ enough to have a valid excuse.

                Second is that with that you disregard that there may be many who have had fearful moments in their lives where guns were involved or suspect, but who do not have PTSD. They can’t prove that their emotional reaction is valid with a doctor’s report, yet it is.

                And third, you are dismissing any genuine concerns (and I can think of many) by assuming they’re uninformed prejudice, rather than actual informed opinion.

                Even though you would allow for people to opt out, the expectation is still that a visit to gun ranges should be seen as normal and acceptable (and also, fun), and it’s the individuals who object to it who are breaking that norm and are to a certain extend wrong or failing.
                (And you then insult them even further by calling them “pearl-clutchy”?)

                Reply
      2. France

        Not really, no. Let’s just put aside the fact that we are talking about guns for a minute.
        You are basically negating the feeling the OP has towards this particular activity, explaining that it is neither logical nor justified and because you think it is fun, she should enjoy it too.
        But your feelings aren’t more logical or justified than hers. She isn’t comfortable doing this particular activity. A team-building exercise is not supposed to be “modern” or “boundary pushing” : it is supposed to be enjoyed (or at least not actively hated) by all.

        But now, let’s put back on the table the fact that we are talking about guns, because although there are a lot of awful team-building exercises, but this one is a doozy. It is difficult to answer your argument without being political, because guns are a major political issue. And that is the problem for a team building activity ! You can feel however you want towards them, but it is not realistic to imagine it will just be a fun work outing for everyone, given the particular political climate towards them.

        I would also add that it is myopic to be so disdainful of people who do not want to touch or interact with guns, given the particular record of gun violence victims, especially in the USA.

        Reply
        1. Dopameanie

          1st paragraph: I think that’s the definition of ANY team building activity.
          2nd paragraph: this is why every team building activity should be not mandatory. With those stipulations I’m still cool with this.

          Reply
          1. Kelsi

            No other team-building activity I’ve ever heard of requires me to utilize a tool that is literally designed to cause injury or death.

            That’s not a judgment on people who enjoy shooting. Nor is it a criticism of proper gun usage. I’m cool with those things.

            But guns are literally designed to injure or kill–whether humans or animals–and it’s unreasonable to say my discomfort handling a tool that is built to be a deadly weapon is equivalent to someone else thinking pottery painting or movie night or three-legged races aren’t fun.

            Reply
            1. Mr. Obvious

              “No other team-building activity I’ve ever heard of requires me to utilize a tool that is literally designed to cause injury or death.”

              Guess cooking classes are out, then.

              Reply
                1. B

                  I think he meant knives. Which can be used to cause injury or death, but were not designed to do so (at least cooking knives weren’t).

          2. Zombeyonce

            Why would you ever design a team-building activity that purposefully ostracized members of your team? Not only do they not get to network with each other, but you then open up the possibility of people having to explain their politics, traumas, or even just discomfort with something. How is that team building?

            Reply
            1. SamPassingThrough

              +1

              It baffles me that this concept is so hard to grasp.

              Team building IS for = encourage maximum participation, facilitate shared positive experience, create opportunities for bonding.

              Team building is NOT for = promotion niche /exclusive ideas of “fun”, fuel political / ideological / religious debates, and condemn those who refuse to participate as “poor cultural fit” just so a few people can get the most out of it.

              Reply
      3. Kat in VA

        I am a firearms enthusiast. I have trained many friends who have never handled a firearm to safely and confidently load, shoot, unload, and handle firearms. I enjoy shooting quite a bit, and so does my entire family.

        That being said, I think this is a terrible idea. Some people are opposed to firearms for personal reasons, general reasons, political reasons, reasons…period. Forcing them to go to a gun range and shoot – and also cloaking it under the guise of “It’s just a hobby, get over it, you *should* learn to do it” – is about as obnoxious as forcing a vegan to go hunting because it’s a skill “everyone should have”.

        Team building events are not supposed to be upsetting, stressful, and/or controversial.

        Reply
        1. Jesca

          Yes, this! I live in a state where hunting is A Thing People Do All The Time. Like as in I am considered “urban” because I have never camped or hunted. I have still shot some guns in my life at shooting ranges. (shooting ranges around here are mostly clubs where people compete in target shooting on weekends to win free ham and there are open ranges set up by the state on game lands – so pretty casual thing). And yet still, I am not and never will be comfortable with handling guns. I just don’t like it. I would have the same reaction if someone told me I needed to walk over hot coals (actual team building suggestion someone had once) or going horse back riding. I do not find these things logical to even suggest in this context. Can’t we all just go bowling? I hate bowling too, but even if I feared it, I can sit it out and watch others in a relatively quiet environment.

          BTW even in this pro-hunting state I have never heard of anyone ever suggesting a gun range as team building. That is an activity meant for social groups. Even when customers ask, it is still done as a more social outing like taking them antique shopping (another thing this area is known for).

          Reply
          1. Dust Bunny

            I’m in Texas and I’m sure this has been done as a team-building but it would only be acceptable in a *very* specific workplace culture. Like, if you worked for a gun company.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              Weirdly, I know someone in urban Massachusetts who went to a gun range (I think attached to a gun company but not sure) as part of an IT networking thing. It was utterly BOGGLING. (They gave everyone mugs with the gun company on it, which is how I learned about it.)

              Reply
            2. Kj

              I don’t know about that. My dad’s company did it (oil company). In Seattle, my husband’s team went to the range for team building as well. Granted, each time, everyone involved was cool with it. I certainly think that this should be activity that opting out is fine and there are some structural problems (for example, I enjoy shooting, but can’t right now as I am pregnant). But this is a thing that is done, and it isn’t that weird in my experience. I’ve seen corperate groups at the range that I go to. I also think that many people are interested in shooting, but don’t know how to get started. I’ve taken many friends shooting for the first time. Women especially can be interested, but don’t feel ok walking into a range alone.

              Reply
            3. Ab_Fab

              I’m a 10+ yr engineer in the oil & gas – shotgun shoots (trap/skeet) are extremely prevalent networking events, on par with golf outings. I’ve worked in both Texas and Pennsylvania and this has been true in both. It’s very common in my industry. Our company sponsors an annual shoot as the primary fundraiser for UW and it involves a few hundred attendees. I think it’s a reflection of the population that works within in the industry – the majority of people shoot/hunt regularly. That being said, I’ve never seen it as a mandatory event.

              Reply
        2. Zennish

          This. A work appropriate team-building event should really steer clear of activities with an obvious likelihood of being politically, religiously, or mentally disturbing for a number of the participants.

          …and on a related note, why does it seem that a certain caliber of manager thinks it doesn’t count as “team-building” without guns, zip lines, whitewater rafting, or other opportunities for death and chaos? Sign me up for the team-building Spa Day.

          Reply
      4. Thursday Next

        This mixes two issues: gun use/gun safety, and shooting as a team-building activity.

        There’s no reason why learning to shoot safely should be a *work* activity for the vast majority of workplaces, whose business has nothing to do with guns. Absolutely none. And for every American who thinks of shooting as a “fun hobby” there is at least one American vehemently opposed to it. For the former to act as if they have no awareness that the latter exists is disingenuous, and in a workplace, it is not incumbent upon non-gun enthusiasts to accommodate gun hobbyists, but the other way around.

        Reply
      5. Falling Diphthong

        People have gut negative reactions to 5K mud runs, forced singing, and dressing as pizzas, too. If your job doesn’t involve eating liver, and you’re hearing people don’t like liver, then the workplace bonding shouldn’t be built around “Eat this liver, you’ll realize it’s really awesome and that I was right all along.”

        Reply
      6. France

        “It seems like the LW (and also AAM a little!)has a gut negative reaction to the CONCEPT of guns, and that is no more logical than refusing to swim in the ocean because you saw the movie Jaws too many times.”

        Yes, that’s the exact same thing.

        Come on.

        Reply
        1. Dopameanie

          Well….actually…at a range with an instructor, it pretty much is. If boss wants to do grab some night train and head to the back 40 of his property and shoot at cans on a fence then you’re probably right. If the pushback you have is due to politics or news, then maybe seeing weapons used correctly in a law abiding fashion isn’t a bad thing? As far as the team building aspect, one thing I’ve learned from this blog is that everyone hates all of them and they should all be voluntary anyway. With those parameters in place, I don’t see why this can’t have a place next to karaoke, cup making, golf, and kayaking.

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            If you hear that many people in your office have a gut negative reaction to polyphonic medieval chant, or deep ocean swimming, or laying out model train track, or eating carbs, or The Beatles, then you should not have a team building activity built around those to show them all just how wrong they are.

            Reply
            1. Dopameanie

              Sure. But there’s no evidence of that in this letter. This letter says the LW only has an issue. Which is fine! Don’t go! These should not be mandatory! But to say the boss is crazy to even suggest it I think is reactionary.

              Reply
              1. France

                Except it is really disingenuous to suggest that this is remotely the same activity as karaoke and that you had no idea that. Of course a huge lot of people would have an objection to go to a gun range ! That is obvious, given the activity, the political charge which comes with it and people’s personal opinion / experiences of guns.

                You could say to Karen from accounting that you had no idea that she hates pottery and that she doesn’t have to come to the teapot building afternoon, but you can’t seriously imagine that going to a gun range is the same type of activity.

                A whole lot of people seem to hate karaoke – to be honest, I don’t know why, I think it is awesome – and therefore it is a bad idea to choose it as a team building activity. Going to a gun range is a HORRENDOUS choice. It is not up to you to convince people that their particular feelings towards an activity are misguided. Especially not with guns.

                And also, please stop suggesting that people who are anti-guns are just “behind the times”.

                Reply
                1. Dopameanie

                  1. Im not sure why you think I am saying you are behind the times? Im sorry for that. Im saying you are ignorant. And that’s not a slam! Ignorance is what happens before you are forced to learn something.

                  2. Your whole lot of people depends on your people. I’ve done plenty of awful team building stuff, but the gun range ones are the most well attended and highest rated in my industry. I feel like this is more an example of differing “cultural bubbles” than anything else.

                2. France

                  First of all, you have no idea what I know and don’t know regarding guns, so your assessment that I am ignorant is a personal attack which is unwarranted, unkind and besides the point.

                  Secondly, the idea that you should force people to learn until they understand your point of view is profondly wrong, arrongant, and frankly, really naive considering how humans work.

                  You seem to wear blinkers and refuse to understand how guns are not a normal activity and that firing them is repugnant to… a lot of people in the USA and most of the population in Western countries (I assume elsewhere also, but I am not up to date to gun laws in all countries) . At the very least, it has NOTHING to do at work, not as an opt-out activity, but just… never.

                3. Specialk9

                  @Dopameanie “1. Im not sure why you think I am saying you are behind the times? Im sorry for that. Im saying you are ignorant. ”

                  Oh FFS.

                4. Erin

                  I hate karaoke with a passion. I’ve actually volunteered repeat offenders at the karaoke bar to sing nursery rhymes. I enjoy target shooting. I think all extracurricular work activities even during work hours should be met with “I’m sorry I can’t attend I have other plans.” Even if those plans are sitting on your ass and watching Netflix.

                5. Mr. Obvious

                  Except it is really disingenuous to suggest that this is remotely the same activity as karaoke and that you had no idea that.

                  That is your opinion. Mine differs.

              2. Ask a Manager Post author

                The point is that it’s a terrible idea to suggest anything that’s highly controversial as a team-building activity — same as attending a political protest, or raising money for reproductive rights, or making signs for an anti-guns campaign. Take the issue you feel most strongly about and ask whether you’d want to be asked to do something directly counter to it as a work event.

                Reply
                1. RoadsGirl

                  This is very well-stated. Lots of things that we feel strongly about one way or the other are hot-button issues. I’m probably morally against things other people on here are morally for, and vice versa.

                  We can agree to disagree and not use it as a team-building activity.

          2. Antilles

            With those parameters in place, I don’t see why this can’t have a place next to karaoke, cup making, golf, and kayaking.
            There’s one key difference between guns and all those other activities: Firearms are a very hot button, politically-charged issue in America with people on both sides of the aisle having strong and differing moral convictions…in a way that kayaking or golf or cup making just aren’t.

            Reply
          3. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

            Do you remember that news story a couple of years back where the 9 year old girl shot the f%^& out of her trained instructor with a semi-automatic weapon? What good, wholesome fun for the whole family! I hope you got as good a laugh out of that story as I did – you’re right, gun ranges are entertaining!

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              Not to mention this kind of firearms instructor. (They all shot themselves or another person by accident.)

              https://www.ricagv.org/concealed-carry/university-instructor-shoots-foot-class/

              http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-02-21/news/os-nra-gun-instructor-shoots-student-022020100220_1_gun-safety-nra-church-s-communications-director

              http://concealednation.org/2016/02/ny-man-shoots-himself-in-foot-while-in-walmart-with-gun-he-shouldnt-have-had-hes-not-one-of-us/ (TW: ads for guns)

              Reply
        2. March Madness

          Guns are not a neutral object. They’re designed to kill living beings and I don’t see why it would be difficult to understand an averse reaction to them. Maybe one of the co-workers has been the victim of a gun crime or has lost family members to gun violence. Maybe they’ve just seen one too many movies where guns are used to blow someone’s brain out. We just have no way of knowing!

          Reply
          1. Dopameanie

            I mean…we got a letter from a lady who had issues around yoga. Make ALL team building exercises voluntary and then go to a shooting range with the people who want to go, same as with kayaking or volunteering with PETA or making clay pots.

            Guns are tools. We give them to law enforcement. They are dangerous, and so should only be handled under supervision. They are controversial in some places, with some accessories, owned by some people, but none of those controversies are present at a range. A range is one of the least controversial and most neutral places to find a gun.

            Reply
              1. Dopameanie

                Guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them is. Guns being too easily available is. Guns purchased legally without training is. Guns at a range are exactly the correct place to have and encounter them. Guns at safe gun ranges are a great, non controversial place for guns to be.

                Reply
                1. Kate

                  It’s weird how you’re focusing on the fact that gun ranges aren’t controversial. It’s not about the range. Guns ARE controversial, and many, many, MANY people don’t want to be around them. Period.

                2. France

                  Gun ranges are neutral, now ? That’s just completely wrong. They are designed to learn to handle guns, fire them and acquire them.

                  It is one thing to argue that gun ranges are designed for guns. But it does not make them neutral, it makes them the very place where someone who would have personal or political issues against firearms would not want to go.

                  Stop trying to make guns cool. It is not going to happen.

                3. Lizzy May

                  Honestly, beyond my tax dollars which in part fund law enforcement and the military, I don’t want to be the cause of giving any money to the gun industry. I cannot divorce the idea of what the gun industry does with that money from the idea of gun ranges being “safe.” For me it’s a moral choice. I don’t want to get into the politics beyond that because Alison asked us not to and fighting about guns on the internet is not fun. You can’t divorce gun ranges from guns and to say that guns are non controversial is wrong for many people.

                4. Artemesia

                  I have been to a shooting range. There was no safety training and I was handed a gun shown how to load it and turned loose with my family in a space where a careless turn while talking with the gun in my hand could have taken out some random stranger 20 feet away as there were no barriers between groups of shooters. This was an indoor range. The only instructions we were given were to clean up our brass when we were finished.

                5. Courageous cat

                  But guns don’t exist in a vacuum, it’s not going to be nearly as easy to detach their use in one safe scenario from the scenario that, say, killed a hundred people. This response just kind of skates around human emotion regarding the issue. Cold logic is not the only factor here – human emotion should be taken into consideration.

                6. Observer

                  That’s such a clearly factually inaccurate statement that it’s hard to believe that you are arguing in good faith.

                7. aebhel

                  They are obviously not noncontroversial, given the number of people who have an issue with it just in the comments section here.

                  ‘I don’t see the problem with it’ is not the same thing as ‘This is a noncontroversial issue.’ You’re conflating two very different things. I don’t have a problem with handling guns or seeing them shot at safe gun ranges, but (1) I do have a problem with the NRA, which most of the gun ranges around me have close ties to and (2) I can recognize that other people are not me, and have very different opinions on whether or not private gun ownership is okay.

              2. Kate

                Seriously. Just because you personally think it’s fine doesn’t mean it’s fine for others – that’s something that reasonable people understand.

                Reply
              3. Dopameanie

                Your argument risks sounding like the gun is spontaneously exploding, which is not the controversy. The controversy is how easily people can find dangerous tools with which to explode. This is a valuable debate to have! I have opinions!! But none are relevant to a legally and morally unobjectionable hobby that many enjoy.

                BUT like all other team building stuff, should not be mandatory.

                Reply
                1. lawyer

                  Let me caveat this by saying that I shoot skeet and enjoy it, come from a family of responsible and trained gun owners, used to have a hunting license, and agree strongly that so long as we’re going to have highly ineffective gun control in this country, everyone would benefit from learning to safely handle guns (at a minimum, so that if they come across an unsecure gun, they know how to safely secure it).

                  That said, for a very large portion of people in this country, guns are not neutral in any context right now. There are a lot of people who would challenge the statement that this is a “legally and morally unobjectionable hobby.” And (incredibly sadly) there are many, many people in this country who have lost a family member to gun violence or who are mass-shooting survivors or parents of mass-shooting survivors. Given that, we decided that it’s not a wise decision for client entertainment or group team-building.

                2. France

                  The idea that guns are morally unobjectionable is just completely laughable.

                  I am not even defending either side, but objectively it is objectionable morally… because it is opposed for moral reasons by a lot of people ! And it is statistically very likely that they are some of these people in a work place of more than 1 person. Moral arguments are a huge part of the political debate against guns. A lot of people just don’t want to handle guns. At all. They don’t wan’t anything to do with them. They have moral objections against their proliferation, their availability and their very existence.

                  This is an activity which can be opposed on practical, physical, legal, political and moral reasons.

              4. Dopameanie

                Ok, sadly I’m gonna have to actually do my job now. Thank you for the (mostly) calm and respectful conversation! I appreciate the thought and effort that goes into formulating intelligent viewpoints on a board like this.

                Reply
              5. RoadsGirl

                Think of it this way:

                (I’m pro-gun rights, I’ll get that out of the way). I think going to a shooting range is a bad idea for 99.999% of workplaces (at least for fun, the husband goes regularly as part of his job and gets paid for it).

                I would think it awful if I were dragged by my workplace to an anti-gun rally.

                Reply
              6. Political consultant

                “Isn’t it disingenuous to ignore that guns are one of the most hot button issues in this country right now?”

                This is wrong. The controversial issue is the degree to which individual citizens ought to have the individualized right to keep and bear arms *in their homes*. I am not aware of any broadbased political movement that says we ought to shut down recreational firing ranges.

                Indeed, most gun control advocates go out of their way to emphasize they do not propose banning hunting or firing ranges.

                Reply
                1. So long and thanks for all the fish

                  I’m not sure why you’re characterizing the gun debate in the US so narrowly. Off the top of my head, the extent we should allow open/concealed carry is controversial, the types of arms we should allow citizens to buy is controversial, the amount of ammunition citizens are allowed to buy at one time is controversial… And at any rate, many people have stronger feelings about guns than almost any other political issue in the US at the moment, which makes Alison’s characterization pretty accurate.

        3. Zennish

          It would be equally ludicrous for a manager to expect employees to participate in open ocean swimming as a “team-building” event, without any concern for their skill or comfort level.

          Reply
        4. Phoenix Programmer

          Actually swimming is a notoriously bad workplace activity too! Just because some people or even majority of people enjoy (thing) does not make (thing) ok at work. Most adults enjoy sex for example but an orgy is not a good team building exercise and suggesting that work activities stay 1. Accessible 2. Work appropriate 3. Far away from politically sensitive or generally infammatory events is not pearl clutchy or inappropriate.

          Reply
          1. France

            “Most adults enjoy sex for example but an orgy is not a good team building exercise”

            There goes my idea for a Chrismas party.

            Reply
                1. SarahKay

                  You can’t equate December holidays with winter; that’s discounting half the world ;-)

      7. Dragoning

        No one has to try every hobby just because other people find it fun. I also don’t want to, say, ever drive a racecar or go skydiving, or take up knitting.

        I do know what to do when I see a gun—and it’s not shoot it.

        Reply
      8. I woke up like this

        FWIW, “swimming in the ocean” as a workplace team building activity is also a terrible idea. And not because of Jaws.

        Reply
      9. March Madness

        I would hate to be forced to handle a gun. I don’t think it’s fun to handle a weapon, I would be afraid of the noise and recoil, I’d be afraid to hurt someone on accident… an outing like that seems like a recipe for unnecessary stress.

        Reply
        1. Washi

          Same. To me it’s a bit like taking everyone to a shelter to volunteer training dogs. Some people would LOVE that. Some people, like me, are afraid of dogs even though they don’t have any real reason to be. Some people are afraid of dogs because they’ve had a bad experience. Some people think they smell bad or don’t like being licked. No one is saying dogs are evil, but there are a lot of good reasons not to do a group outing with dogs, just like there are a lot of good reasons not to do a group outing with guns.

          Reply
          1. peachie

            This is a really good analogy. Going to the gun range is not a good team-building activity, but that does not mean it’s a bad thing to do in general. There are TONS of activities on the neutral-to-good spectrum that you shouldn’t do as a workplace group event.

            Reply
        2. Essess

          Some of us are not physically capable of shooting a gun. I am getting Physical Therapy on my shoulder and worrying about gun recoil is a valid medical argument. What about people in the office with carpal tunnel or other medical conditions that will be exacerbated by this? We’ve already mentioned PTSD in many other comments, as well as the trauma of family members being harmed/killed by guns.

          Reply
          1. Dopameanie

            Right! As I said, can’t is different. No judgement if you can’t. Some people can’t hike. Some can’t groom dogs. Some can’t do yoga. This should not be mandatory. But I think it should be offered as a choice without all this drama.

            Reply
            1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

              Well, the whole point of a team-building activity is to build rapport as a TEAM. Sure, not all things are for all people, but choosing something that a lot of people have a problem with rather than something that only a scattered few have a problem with is dumb. And I think you’re being obtuse to think there’s nothing insulting about calling people “ignorant” for not wanting to touch a firearm.

              Reply
            2. Suarte

              Actually, everyone can do yoga. Yoga is one of the few types of exercise that’s accessible to everyone.

              Imagine that your company was doing volunteering at an abortion clinic as a team building activity. And abortion is so much more justified than guns as a hobby.

              Reply
              1. Dopameanie

                The yoga thing is in reference to a previous LW who could not participate in yoga for personal reasons. Everyone is entitled to personal reasons. There are exactly zero team building exercises that are going to appeal to everyone. (That’s why they should not be mandatory)

                To put gun ranges outside the boundary of optional just seems….needless.

                Reply
                1. Suarte

                  Just to add, I was making a point that everyone *can* participate in yoga. However, not everyone wants to. Also, yoga is not suitable for team building because it’s a very individual thing and you’re supposed to focus on your body and your breath. It’s not a group activity in the slightest.

              2. ThatGirl

                Ehhhh yoga might be designed for wide accessibility but that does NOT mean everyone can do it. Nor does everyone want to do it.

                Reply
                1. Suarte

                  I am aware of that. I was just saying that if desired, yoga can be practiced by anyone who’s not paralyzed. I don’t think it’s a great idea for a team building event whatsoever, even if it’s completely voluntary.

                2. TL -

                  @Suarte: I have tendonitis in my elbows; there are days when I can’t practice. My best friend has an old back injury; she is fully mobile, not at all paralyzed and cannot practice yoga. She tried, and the only position she could do without the bad kind of pain was child’s pose.

                3. Loose Seal

                  @Suarte, paralyzed people count when you’re talking about everyone. It’s not cool to say everyone can do something but then single out a particular group of people with an ‘oh yeah, well of course, *they* can’t.’

            3. Suarte

              I can’t participate in something like this because I am against guns and I think it’s immoral to use one.

              Reply
            4. Kat in VA

              I am *fingers crossed* starting a new job soon, and I hope like hell neither company does physical activities as team building events.

              Why?

              Because I’m 47 and have had 12 surgeries – including three neck fusions and a knee cartilage reshaping. I’m in no condition to do anything extreme physically even though I look fit.

              Can’t we all just decorate some mugs or something? :P

              Reply
      10. Not a Mere Device

        All I would need to know about that hypothetical grenade is that I have never handled grenades, and that if I see one lying around I should back away and call/find someone who knows what they’re doing. I do know the equivalent level of gun safety, which is “it’s loaded unless you’ve just seen proof that it isn’t.”

        Where are you likely to “accidentally find [a gun] unsecured” when there’s nobody qualified nearby to ask for help?

        “Pearl-clutchy” is dismissive, and could equally unfairly be applied to someone who doesn’t want to get drunk with their coworkers, or get into a sauna naked, or literally any hobby that you think they ought to be into. A healthy team is not built by bullying your coworkers into doing things you enjoy and they either know they won’t, or are hesitant about.

        Reply
        1. Dopameanie

          Pearl clutchy is EXACTLY how I’d describe someone who decided that since *HE* didn’t want to get drinks with coworkers, *NOBODY* should. I’m not saying LW should go. I’m saying those who want to should be able to. It’s a good team building exercise that, like every single other team building exercise, is not going to please everyone.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            You seriously think that it’s “pearl clutchy” to object to getting drunk as a *workplace activity*?!

            Reply
            1. nonegiven

              It’s pearl clutchy to object to me getting drinks as a workplace activity. You can drink club soda or not attend.

              Reply
          2. Dragoning

            But people ARE able to go to a gun range if they want to, with coworkers, even! But not as a company-sponsored team building activity.

            Reply
        2. Chameleon

          I actually did find an unsecured gun on a hiking trail as a kid. I threw it into a lake (being very careful not to go anywhere near the trigger).

          Reply
          1. nonegiven

            Just for the record, that is not the correct response. Kids should be taught to not touch and to alert an adult. The adult either knows what to do or how to find someone else who does, like calling the police if nothing else.

            Reply
        3. lawyer

          Yeah, unfortunately, you can have the unsecured-gun problem in all kinds of circumstances, because people are careless. I’ve come across an unsecured gun in a rental house, and know people who’ve found them in the glove boxes of rental cars. I also know someone who had to render first aid to a guy who collapsed on the trail and was carrying a handgun.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            But, really the main thing you need to know is “Do NOT touch! Get a trained person to deal with it.” Sure, there are exceptional cases where but in most of the cases you describe, no one had a need to touch these things.

            Reply
        4. Turquoisecow

          If I found an unsecured gun, I’d call the police, because either somebody lost their gun or it was recently used in a crime nearby. I don’t need to know how to shoot it.

          I don’t foresee any situation in which I would *need* to know how to use a gun, since I don’t own one, don’t spend a lot time with people who own any (and people I know who own them don’t make a point of showing them to me or leaving them unattended around their house), and don’t spend time in places where they’re common. I live in a quiet suburb where guns are not common, in a state where they are highly regulated. I work in a job that does not involve danger to my life, or my coworkers’ or clients’ lives. I don’t have a lot of money so I’m unlikely to be kidnapped or have any need to defend myself.

          Of course, gun violence happens in many places, unexpectedly, and I live near (and regularly travel to) a few major cities where gun violence happens. But knowing how to shoot a gun is not likely to make me any safer, even if I walked down the most dangerous street in the most dangerous urban area.

          If my coworkers want to carry and shoot guns, they are welcome to. I’m not going to. I do not see any way in which doing so would improve my quality of life.

          Reply
          1. Michaela Westen

            Probably from too much TV and movies, I have in mind when things get really bad, and my friends and I gather to help defend each other, I might want to know how to use a gun. Some of my friends are police, ex-military or ex-gang, and they will teach me. :)
            On the principle it’s not a bad thing to know, if I was offered to go to a shooting range in the meantime I probably would.

            Reply
      11. The Cosmic Avenger

        Many, many people also drive, swim, and ride bikes, but teaching people how to do those things isn’t a good team-building activity. A good team-building activity is usually one where everyone has or can easily achieve a basic level of competence, so they can spend their time participating and socializing/interacting.

        Putting all controversy aside (which IMO is still a very valid reason to find an alternative, but other people have covered that aspect quite thoroughly), “people should” is really not the reason to choose a team-building activity for the whole office unless it’s something they’re likely to encounter as part of their job. So yes, swimming and water rescue for staff that work around a pool or body of water, for example (even if they’re not lifeguards, it’s not a bad idea).

        Reply
      12. Nita

        Sure, it can be a fun hobby. But having a gut negative reaction to the idea of guns is not that illogical either, at least in the US. It’s hard to feel good about the fact that what should be a fun hobby or a means of self-defense in extreme circumstances, is also open to known crazies and people with a police record of domestic violence or harassment, and that way too many have died as a result. The government regulates other fun but potentially dangerous hobbies, like shooting fireworks and driving fast, but can’t get it together when it comes to guns. Our culture of gun safety is so poor that it’s possible for a toddler to find a loaded weapon lying around and shoot a parent or sibling – and while there are laws in some states to require safe gun storage around kids, there’s been push-back (Bill Johnson in Michigan is the poster grandpa for that cause). All this while more and more people seem to think five-year-olds are not mature enough to be trusted to hang out in their own yard without a parent, and neighbors clutch their pearls and call CPS if a pre-teen walks home from school alone. None of it makes sense.

        Yeah, under the circumstances some people will not feel good about guns to the point where they don’t even want to touch one, especially in areas where gun use is not common in the first place. It’s understandable. I don’t think the gun range trip is a bad team-building activity, depending on office culture, but OP should not be getting flak from the boss for not wanting to join in.

        Reply
      13. soon 2be former fed

        Nope, nopity-nope. I was married to a LEO and never handled his gun. I don’t like them, am afraid of them, want nothing to do with them, and would look upon my employer forcing his values on me as a severe overstepping of boundaries. No soft language like Alison suggested, just a simple “I can’t do that” is all they would get out of me.

        I do think that people who insist on owning firearms should be required to qualify every year or two, and to show evidence that their guns are properly maintained. My ex was a marksman in the Army. then a LEO, and he was required to qualify once a year. He still did not hit the target 100% of the time. Untrained people all packing heat scares me more than possibly being a crime victim. Guns are heavy, don’t shoot in a straight line, noisy, and inherently dangerous. I try not to think that one could fall out of the pocket of someone while I am grocery shopping and shoot me, albeit accidentally.

        Horrible company idea, maybe OP could pushback as a group, as Alison often suggests.

        Reply
          1. Not A Morning Person

            I couldn’t access this link from work, but I’m curious about whether the information says, “NO, a gun won’t go off if it’s dropped” or “YES, a gun can go off if it’s dropped.” Perhaps someone has a link to the recent (within the past couple of months) article on the FBI agent whose gun fell out while he was dancing in a bar. The gun went off and hit another patron of the bar. That patron was treated and is alright. But, yes, guns can and sometimes to go off when dropped.

            Reply
      14. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

        “If you’ve never handled a firearm and there is no compelling reason you think you CAN’T, then you should do so”

        Can I come up with a list of things that YOU should do too, whether you want to or not?

        Reply
        1. Dopameanie

          So, I realize you didn’t mean this in a constructive way, but it was the last comment I saw before getting to work, and I pondered the question all day. So here is a partial list!

          -learn what matters to you politically so you can:
          -vote accordingly ESPECIALLY in local elections
          -learn CPR and basic first aid
          -eat more vegetables than what you currently do
          -pick up litter when you see it
          -exercise to whatever degree is reasonable for you
          -learn about WW1 and it’s repercussions that continue to this day
          -study argumentation and critical thinking in the face of persuasive speech/writing
          -be indulgent to children
          -be respectful of religious views that contradict your own
          -check your credit history
          -volunteer your time to something in your local community at least once a year
          -periodically check your personal boundaries to ensure they are set up the way you want and deserve to have them
          -tell the people you love that you love them
          -write thank you notes for the gifts you get within 1 month
          -brush your teeth 2x a day
          -keep emergency supplies handy (flashlights, water, radio, etc)

          These are all things all people should do. Most people don’t do plenty of things they should do. Doesn’t change the fact that you should do them.

          Anyway, as unpleasant as you were attempting to be, I appreciate the opportunity for contemplation you gave me!

          Reply
          1. Database Developer Dude

            One of World War 1’s repercussions was World War 2. Would you like to discuss this sometime offline? (well, online, but off the comment threads….) I’m fascinated by history.

            Reply
      15. Anon today

        I’m pro-choice and think that providing an escort service to women entering clinics that perform abortions would be a great team building activity. It would be a charitable service, teach people to rely on each other and how to deal with abuse and (sometimes) threats.

        You know why I wouldn’t suggest it for a business? Because a substantial percentage of Americans find abortion morally repugnant, just as a substantial number find shooting guns morally repugnant…and I say this as someone who grew up with hunters in the family, took a gun safety course as a kid, and have two brothers and a roommate with pistols.

        I believe that most weapons exist to kill people, and have no desire to shoot one as an adult.

        Reply
        1. RoadsGirl

          Love this!

          I guarantee that most businesses wouldn’t also drag their employees to an anti-gun rally.

          Reply
      16. Observer

        then you should do so, while at a shooting range, under the tutelage of a range instructor.

        That’s your opinion, but really not based in anything factual. And you’re reasons for this don’t stand up to scrutiny.

        You’re clearly ignoring what people are saying to push an agenda, although I’m not quite sure what you think you are going to accomplish. The fact is that some of the people who are dead set against this are themselves people who use guns and / or go to gun ranges, totally NOT “pearl clutching.”

        It is totally not the place of an employer to insist that staff learn how to handle guns as a general “civics” push. Nor is it at all likely for people to be able to learn how to handle guns safely as part of a team building activity, especially if there are people of varying levels of knowledge and interest level.

        Reply
      17. Jadelyn

        So, I actually do know how to handle guns – an ex of mine was an NRA-licensed pistol instructor and he taught me to shoot, we owned a number of guns and went to the range regularly – and I enjoy going to the range. I do find it to be a fun hobby.

        However, I’m also sensitive to the fact that the weapons that I find “fun” to use in a controlled environment, for sport, are also potentially deadly. And their original intent, the reason they came into existence, was in order to cause maximum damage to the body of another living being, whether animal or human. There are plenty of people who look at a gun and instead of “fun hobby” they see “killing equipment”, and they’re not wrong. Having a gut negative reaction to the concept of guns is actually a really reasonable stance, seeing as how they are DEADLY WEAPONS. Who are you to decide that they need exposure therapy to change their mind?

        Regardless of where you or I personally stand on guns, it’s enough of a controversial topic and makes enough people deeply uncomfortable that there’s no need to bring it into the workplace, especially when you could just as easily get the team-building benefit of an event without involving guns. If people want to learn to handle guns, they can go to the range on their own time.

        Reply
      18. biobottt

        No one is obligated to handle a firearm just because they haven’t done so before. What a ludicrous statement. I’m sure there are many things you haven’t done in your life. But you’re not obligated to do them just because you haven’t yet.

        And a negative reaction to the concept of something is a fine reason to not do that thing, especially when that thing is specifically designed to be a tool of death.

        Reply
      19. aebhel

        Dude, I own guns, I’ve shot guns, I can handle a gun safely, but some people are VERY UNCOMFORTABLE handling firearms and shouldn’t be hassled into doing it just because it doesn’t happen to bother me personally. Even leaving aside how politically charged the issue is right now, which is, uh. Very.

        So, speaking as a gun owner, this is ludicrous and untenable as a work outing outside of a few very specific contexts.

        Reply
    5. Callietwo....

      As someone that was robbed by having a gun shoved up under my rib cage, I would be RAGING at this so bad. I have major PTSD . I can’t even imagine the non-stop discussion of guns how ingrained into society, and the for/against BS I’d have to listen in an office where this was suggested!

      OP, I hope you and your coworkers find a way to make this not happen. Good luck.

      Reply
    6. Laurelma_01!

      Managers really need to ask HR and/or legal before suggesting these ideas before they make them mandatory, or peer pressure their employees into going. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

      OP — you can always call in sick that day, if you didn’t think that would cause problems.

      Question for other readers: I’ve been reading this blog for a few years. Is it my imagination, but are we hearing more and more about managers & employers wanting to do mandatory or highly suggested activities that they have labeled team building, that cross the line these last two years? or supports an agenda be it political, a cause that not everyone is comfortable with?

      Reply
      1. Nita

        Like that manager with the rock-climbing and parasailing obsession, and the organizer with the mystery charity event? Yeah. Going to a gun range seems like it can backfire in the same ways, unless it’s totally voluntary.

        Reply
        1. Michaela Westen

          “Backfire” Ha!
          Making it voluntary probably wouldn’t help though, because employees would still feel pressured to go to advance their careers, or because they’re afraid it will look bad if they don’t…

          Reply
      2. Lawyer

        “Managers really need to ask HR and/or legal before suggesting these ideas before they make them mandatory, or peer pressure their employees into going. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.”

        Speaking as a lawyer, I would struggle to see how an outing to a firing range would be legally actionable, barring highly idiosyncratic circumstances.

        Reply
        1. Database Developer Dude

          If it were mandatory…or pseudo-mandatory (no, you don’t HAVE to go, and oh by the way, get on my calendar for your review later this week…)

          Reply
    7. JJ

      My old job would take us skeet shooting annually. Not quite as upsetting as a gun range, but as a fellow gun-hater/scared-of-er, it was really not fun at all being required to pretend that killing fake animals with real guns was fun and neato.

      Reply
      1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

        I’ve seen ads for those. Booze and sharp objects – what could possibly go wrong?!? (I really want to try this…)

        Reply
      2. Elemeno P.

        This sounds pretty rad. I have shoulder/neck issues and probably wouldn’t throw one myself, but I do like watching people do it at the Renaissance Faire.

        Reply
      3. BetsCounts

        I love AAM for so many reasons- learning about axe throwing as a hobby is the newest one! Thanks Jaid_Diah!

        Reply
        1. Abelard

          There’s a couple of Axe throwing places near me (one even has the option of spears too!) I think a friend and I might try one sometime this summer. (But not as a work activity.)

          Reply
        2. nonegiven

          There are lumberjack tournaments with competitive axe throwing. My friend and her husband used to attend a big one and lots of smaller ones every year. He would practice axe throwing in the back yard.

          Reply
    8. ITisnotEZ

      My only concern with #1 is that some otherwise valuable employees may be in fact legally prohibited from possessing firearms, making this activity potentially felonious for some.

      Reply
    9. RoadsGirl

      Yeah, bad idea. I have done a team building activity at a gun range. My place of employment? A Scout District office where it was definitely more in the culture. I can think of very few other places where this would be considered a natural idea.

      Reply
    10. A username for this site

      A good amount of my job has involved dealing with safety and risk management.

      I’m positive whoever is in charge of safety and risk management, legal, worker’s comp, etc., will NOT be thrilled with this outing.

      Reply
    11. Occasional Lurker

      This is so funny – I actually experienced this exact same situation recently. I work for a conservative, male-dominated company – I’m a woman – and my boss suggested a team outing at an indoor range. I was the only one on my team who had never even shot a gun before, and presumably the only one who thought the idea was inappropriate. However, being fairly new and not wanting to make waves, I decided not to say anything. Everyone else seemed very excited to go.

      Maybe this is not the answer you’re looking for, but with the culture of my workplace, I felt like I didn’t really have a choice about going. And it was not that bad. I am still very anti-gun, but going and shooting for the first time helped me understand why people shoot for sport. Most of my coworkers have grown up with guns and they were very knowledgable about gun safety – and they’re smart, nice people too. So it was interesting to have people that I like and respect show me something that I do not believe in. If you do end up having to go, I hope that you can avoid categorizing people in your workplace as “pro-gun” and “anti-gun” and judging accordingly. Of course, I still don’t think this is a work-appropriate outing, but if you absolutely have to attend, I hope that it doesn’t change any perceptions of your coworkers unfairly.

      Reply
  3. Artemesia

    Many years ago my immediate family — husband, son and daughter and son’s girlfriend went to a gun range. We were all curious and while my husband had been in the military and had gun training the rest of us had never shot one. I remember standing there with maybe 20 people at stations up and down in either direction from us and realizing that any person there could accidentally or intentionally just swing wide or pivot right or left and empty a clip into whomever. And that I totally unschooled could do something stupid and shoot someone by mistake if I didn’t handle the gun right. I felt mild terror the whole time we were there. I remember my husband describing how he managed the range when he was gun officer and this gun range we visited was nothing like that. Gun ranges if this is any indication are not very safe places to be.

    I’d never want to do this with co-workers. I can’t believe a business would take on the liability. And talk about team building? Ten years ago I can imagine someone thinking this would be okay — but today? You have to know that there will be people terrified or angry about being pushed to do this.

    Reply
    1. Airy

      I read an interesting but troubling article, I think in Mother Jones, in which a gun range employee was interviewed about the job and he said that in the time he’d been there, there had been more than one suicide. The range offered rental guns for people who didn’t own one or who wanted to try out a different type, and he particularly described a time when a woman came in, calmly rented a handgun and bought bullets to go with it, and once he had turned away from the counter, then and there she shot herself in the head. Yikes.

      Reply
      1. Rick Tq

        And that is why the range(s) I’m familiar with will not rent a gun to a single person on their first visit, only if there are two or more in the group… The only exception is if you brought in a gun of your own and wanted to test other models.

        Reply
      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

        But you could have a person commit suicide in the car, using a knife in a store, etc. Yes, guns are more lethal and often used in suicides but so are many things.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          If you aren’t even going to mention the difference in effectiveness, why are you even posting this?

          Reply
          1. Les G

            I think the original argument was total bull, but…how is “more lethal” not mentioning the difference in effectiveness? There’s so much to dispute here but it seems like you just didn’t read the comment closely enough.

            Reply
        2. RabbitRabbit

          The problem is that guns tend to be very, very good at finishing the job. Numerous studies have shown that the carrying out of suicide itself tends to be a very impulsive act, survivors generally report immediate regret at having tried to kill themselves, and that putting barriers in the way of easy access to the very lethal methods reduces the suicide rate. Hence, why ranges should use caution in handing out guns, why tempting bridges should have suicide barriers, etc.

          Reply
          1. loslothluin

            Slitting your wrists or overdosing on medication are just as effective. People who commit suicide are determined to finish it and nothing will stop them. After we took everything out my uncle’s house (guns, knives, etc.) to be on the safe side, he went to Walmart, bought a net, and hanged himself in the closet.

            Guns are nothing more than a tool to accomplish suicide. If they can’t get guns, they’ll get something else.

            Reply
              1. PersephoneUnderground

                I think it’s important to recognize this is a personal experience loslothluin posted. I’m really sorry for your loss, but not all suicidal people are the same as your uncle was. Some can be helped if they can get past the worst crisis moments and get treatment. And reduced availability of the most lethal methods does help that. I’m sorry that those measures and whatever treatment was tried weren’t able to save your uncle.

                Reply
            1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

              OK, so you’re saying you shouldn’t have even bothered with taking the guns out of the house because it didn’t change the end result? Is that your point?

              Reply
            2. Courageous cat

              They are not “just as effective” and you are saying a lot about something you really don’t know that much about. Please stop.

              Reply
              1. Courageous cat

                And to clarify, I understand that this is based on personal experience and I’m truly sorry for that, but that doesn’t change the fact that this experience does not speak for all others, or even most others.

                Reply
            3. RabbitRabbit

              I’m sorry that your uncle was in such pain. However, he was not among the majority of those who try to commit suicide in his sheer determination to end whatever pain he was feeling, and I deeply sympathize with that. That does not mean that we should not make strong efforts to cut out the risk of death for those who would have been able to get past that impulse if given some time. A study of suicide survivors said that a quarter had only thought about it 5 minutes or less before the attempt, while 2/3 had thought about it for an hour or less.

              Britain’s suicide rate dropped by 30% – and did not rebound, even decades later – after they transitioned from coal gas in ovens to natural gas. Coal gas contains significant levels of carbon monoxide and accounted for about half of the suicide deaths before that transition.

              I hope you can agree that not willy-nilly handing out guns to lone gun range visitors might be a tiny safety price to pay.

              Reply
              1. SarahKay

                I understand that the UK legislation reducing the maximum amount of Paracetamol that can be bought in one go was also effective in reducing suicide rates. 25-odd years ago I could buy 2 bottles of 100 tablets over the counter as a single transaction. (In case you’re wondering, no, not for personal use, I’d been asked to stock up my workplace’s medicine cabinet.)
                Now the most that can be bought at once is 32 tablets. Yes, anyone determined can easily buy five times that amount, just by popping into the different supermarkets and pharmacists in a decent-sized town centre, but the change in legislation significantly reduced the amount of tablets in most people’s homes,thus reducing their availability at that point of impulse.

                Reply
                1. AnonForThis

                  They also changed the formulation of anti-depressants and some tranquilisers (and I think maybe some painkillers?) to add a small amount of an emetic element, so they make you throw up if taken in large doses all at once.

                  Unpleasant, but it saved my life once, and also put me off further attempts because I knew it wasn’t an “easy” option, so you could say it’s saved my life more than once

            4. Specialk9

              According to the website I read, slitting wrists is 6% effective, vs shotgun to head 99% effective. Overdose 49.4% vs 99% effective

              So… No.

              (I’m not linking to that site, for obvious reasons.)

              Reply
          2. PersephoneUnderground

            Yes- the availability of effective suicide methods is a big deal. With other ways, suicidal people are more likely to survive their attempt and may go on to get help. I’m so sorry that loslothluin’s uncle completed suicide, and of course there’s no perfect way to save every individual. But the rate of completed suicides does go down in the overall population when guns or other similarly effective methods are harder to get. I have personally known someone who survived a suicide attempt and went on to treatment for his addiction and depression issues. He didn’t have a gun so stole a boat and attempted to drown himself, but luckily slipped and knocked himself out while still on the boat instead. Yes, that’s an elaborate plan, he was drunk at the time so it of course didn’t make much sense. So even if not everyone can be helped, at least some can, and that’s important.

            Reply
            1. nonegiven

              I just saw an ad last night, more deaths per year from smoking than all methods of immediate suicide and murder plus a whole long list of other things, so smoking is more sure, just a lot slower.

              Reply
    2. Bryce

      I can see suggesting it once in some areas/cultures. Suggesting it multiple times after being turned down is a serious disconnect. Two kinds of people to be particularly wary about handling guns: people who don’t want to, and people who want to a bit too much.

      Reply
    3. TL -

      It’s not the safety of the gun range that’s an issue, really – you could walk into a kitchen (especially a professional one) and have similar thoughts about knives and risk of serious cuts/injuries/loss of fingers. Most (hopefully all?) gun ranges are designed for safe usage/target practices – what you’re describing doesn’t sound dangerous to me. You were with an experienced gun user who was providing safety instructions, you were at all times parallel to or behind other shooters, and there were clearly defined shooting areas and targets. (A military range can and should be managed entirely differently, though; different considerations.)

      The issue is guns are a highly contentious political issue with a big safety/danger/usage component that people have all kinds of feelings over. In the same vein, skydiving and political canvassing for a school board candidate would also be inappropriate choices for team building. And the liability – jeez, if something went wrong, even if it was 100% an accident like a brand-new, safety-checked gun malfunctioning – it could be catastrophic. No, thank you.

      Reply
      1. Mystery Bookworm

        Plus, the way the boss is described, it sounds like he might be almost relishing possible debate; this is really not the sort of thing that ‘builds’ teams.

        Reply
      2. Anononon

        I don’t think it’s whether it actually/statistically is safe, but the feeling of safety. I’m afraid of flying even though I know it’s very safe. I would be afraid to be near that many guns.

        Reply
      3. Falling Diphthong

        It’s like someone who really likes liver-n-dumplings, or Nickelback, and has determined that the way to get more people on board with that is to require it at team-building events.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          Honestly, every gun range I’ve ever heard of/been to has been designed and run to prioritize safely. They (probably?) aren’t well regulated, but what is described in the post sounds safe, even if it didn’t feel that way. I’m not advocating for a shooting range outing – it’s a terrible idea. But it’s not terrible because gun ranges, as described, are inherently unsafe places to be.

          The consequences of an unsafe gun range are far graver than an unsafe kitchen, of course. But pretty much everyone I’ve ever known who has worked in a professional kitchen has been burned and cut multiple times, so regulations or not, they’re not the safest working environments. I don’t know anyone who has been hurt at a gun range, and I grew up in gun culture. (I know people who have been shot by BB guns and one guy was hit by birdshot, but never at a gun range.)

          Reply
    4. John Rohan

      But when you are driving on the highway, anyone at anytime could “accidentally or intentionally just swing wide or pivot right or left” and kill someone. The safety issues are not really much different.

      Reply
        1. Strawmeatloaf

          I think people really just feel strongly about guns and need to “defend” them in every situation. Because there is a very big difference of safety depending on how the gun range is done. Anyone remember that gun range where one of the instructors running it gave a high-powered gun to a little kid and the kid accidentally shot it and it ran through the clips and killed the instructor?

          A safely-run gun range can be the difference between life and death.

          Reply
          1. Washi

            Yeah, I think some people feel like their hobby is being attacked. But this is just one of many hobbies that does not make a good team building activity!

            Reply
            1. Baby Fishmouth

              +1 – just because someone enjoys something doesn’t mean it makes a good team activity.

              I enjoy knitting, but my coworkers would really despise me if I suggested a group knitting circle for our next team building activity…

              Reply
              1. SignalLost

                I make corsets. I think a great team-building activity is getting all up in my coworkers’ physical space to measure their torsos and explain that no, they’re not fat, they just buy clothes based on vanity sizing, and also, I’m going to need to handle your breasts to fit this right. If that doesn’t work for anyone, we could do another of my hobbies, making leather BDSM gear. I’m sure this is all fine. /s

                Reply
        2. Dopameanie

          This is actually a pretty good comparison. A lack of safety can cause massive damage. You need to have a license. There are more road casualties than gun casualties. It’s a cultural hobby that some people love to blow money on. It just FEELS different.

          Reply
          1. Jessie the First (or second)

            It does feel different for a lot of people.

            The thing is, that’s not invalid. Lots of people are comfortable around guns and enjoy collecting them, enjoy firing them. Lots of people don’t.

            Because lots of people don’t, it is not a good work team-building exercise. This is incredibly exacerbated by the non-neutral, very hot-button topic that is gun control/gun rights too.

            You seem very invested in proving that it is only logical to to learn to fire guns, that people who have strong feelings against guns are being irrational, and therefore a gun range as a work team-building activity makes sense – but your points do not follow the way you think they do.

            In general, and with few exceptions, work activities that bring up strong emotions in people and/or are connected to very divisive political issues are not good work activities, even when voluntary. Because it is work, not therapy, and not political advocacy, and not safety training.

            Reply
          2. Lizzy May

            There are more road casualties because more people drive than have guns. That’s not a reasonable comparison.

            Reply
          3. Turquoisecow

            It’s not a cultural hobby if I need to drive to get to my job, or to the grocery store, or to literally any other place I need to go.

            You don’t need a gun, unless you literally get all your food from hunting. I need to have a car – or know someone with a car to give me a ride. I went a period of time where I could not drive myself for medical reasons. It was hard. I was unemployed – I couldn’t keep the job I had before that because I couldn’t get there. I have never owned a gun and my life has not been negatively impacted at all.

            Driving is dangerous. I’m afraid to drive. But driving is a necessity, and driving has a purpose other than causing harm to other living things. Guns do not. Guns are made to cause injury and death.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              But even so, how weird would it be to have a team building exercise of a driver’s ed course? Everyone crammed into those high school desks, going out on the road in a car with two brake pedals…

              Reply
          4. Phoenix Programmer

            Except unlike guns cars are highly regulated! You have to get a license to drive not to shoot guns. You have to register your car, I sure your car against accidental damages, and follow road laws. There is a system more itoring driving habits and issueing citation to revoke the privelage of driving if you don’t follow the laws. If you accidently or intentionally harm another driver you are liable, it goes on your driving record, and depending on the severity your license can be revoked. If you are under the influence you can not operate a car but there’s not much an office can do if you are out in the woods drink shooting even if it endangers other.

            So no. Driving and shooting ate nitatall similar with safety regulations.

            Reply
            1. Strawmeatloaf

              Exactly. There are many places where guns aren’t highly regulated and where getting a license to get a gun is so incredibly easy it may as well not be there. At least one needs a driver’s license to be able to drive a car.

              You know what you need here in MO to get a concealed and carry license?
              Step 1. Buy Gun.
              Congratulations! You can now conceal and carry!

              Reply
        3. John Rohan

          How about explaining what is “disingenuous” about it? The point is, many things we do during our day are just as potentially deadly as shooting. Yet they don’t elicit the same fearful reaction because we are so used to them.

          Reply
          1. Lizzy May

            Because driving a car or chopping vegetables or swimming in the ocean all are done for reasons other than to harm someone or something. People drive to get places, people swim for exercise, people chop food to eat fresh meals. People shoot guns to cause harm or to practice causing harm. That’s a gun’s sole purpose. The ocean, a knife or a car all have primary purposes other than harming someone or an animal of some sort. That can’t be said of a gun.

            Reply
            1. John Rohan

              Target shooting is also a hobby, in fact its even an Olympic sport, so that’s not done to “harm something”.

              Reply
              1. Specialk9

                Thank you for illustrating “disingenuous” so perfectly.

                Guns were not invented for targets, they were invented to kill animals and humans. Just because some people use them for another reason does not negate the purpose.

                Seriously folks, you’re giving us gun owners a bad name.

                Reply
                1. Lizzy May

                  Exactly this. People can be hurt by cars but the car wasn’t invented to hurt people. Guns were and target shooting is just about practicing using a weapon until you’re the best at it.

              2. Political consultant

                +1 to John Rohan.

                Incidentally, I am an advocate of sensible gun regulation. Knee-jerk reactions against things like biathlons or recreational shooting ranges or hunting are only going to undermine things like the Brady campaign . They are only going to convince the electorate that “nutty liberals are out to take all your guns.”

                Reply
          2. France

            It is disingenuous because the analogy is absurd.

            Yes you can probably use a rock, or your hands, or a spoon, or a rubber duck to kill someone if you really want it or have really bad luck.

            But they are not designed to kill, the numbers of fatalities is just beyond compare and there is no rock lobby to spend billions of dollars in order to guarantee that Americans can continue to buy, use and arm everyone with them without regulations.

            As for cars, roads and driving licenses are way more regulated than guns. You can’t drive without a licence and insurance. If you do, you get fined or you get your license revoked.
            And when fatalities on the roads are considered a major problem, and political action is taken. When there was a death from a autonomous car some weeks ago, there was no backlash from Tesla saying that “everything can kill is you really want it” or that “you just have to drive more and more in order to learn to handle it”. They stopped the production and tried to get their mess together.

            Reply
            1. John Rohan

              Some countries require gun licenses with training, so then the comparison would be apt in those countries?

              In any case, going to a shooting range qualifies as training. And as far as political action goes, even in the United States, guns are heavily regulated.

              Reply
              1. Jadelyn

                “Going to the shooting range” doesn’t qualify as training any more than “going into a garage” counts as training to be a mechanic. If you go to take a class, or with an instructor, then that’s training. Just going and shooting on your own is not in any way, shape, or form “training”.

                Reply
                1. Strawmeatloaf

                  Yeah, I didn’t really need any training to go and shoot at the gun range on the rented ranch that my family went to. Did they train me in the basics? Yes. But that was optional.

        4. Artemesia

          No kidding. On Sandy Hook day a Chinese man attacked children and teachers in a school stabbing about 30 or them; they all lived. I was totally shocked at the lack of safety procedures at my one foray to a gun range.

          Reply
        5. Suarte

          I don’t get it either. Driving is necessary for transportation and people are looking for ways to make it safer all the time. Guns are not necessary for anything except for someone people enjoying their hobby which is not enough of a reason to put others in danger. The only exception is hunting. I like the Korean system – guns are illegal for everyone and impossible to get. You’re only allowed to own a gun if you’re a hunter and you can only use it during hunting season – the rest of the time the gun must be kept at the police station. Korea is a very safe place, to the point of children walking outside on their own at 10 pm. And also, Koreans have defended their democracy through protests quite a bit, including forcing their previous president to resign. Yes, people whose hobby is guns can’t enjoy it but society as a whole benefits greatly.

          Reply
          1. Mad Baggins

            The country I live in has a similar perspective, and I’m really getting culture shock from some of these comments… It’s anthropologically fascinating.

            Reply
      1. SarahTheEntwife

        And if someone suggested going on a motorcycle ride as a teambuilding activity despite not everyone on the team knowing how to ride one, I would think this was an equally bad idea.

        Reply
      2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

        Well sure, but the point of learning to drive a car is not so that you can point it at someone/something and kill it should it be necessary to your safety. Cars are designed to get you from point A to point B. Guns are designed to put holes in living tissue.

        Reply
      3. Jadelyn

        Yes, which is why we do our best to make sure that every person on that road is properly trained and licensed before they’re allowed to drive. You don’t have to have a damn bit of training to roll up to the gun range, rent a gun, buy some ammo, and go nuts. So a gun range is less like the freeway, and more like a big parking lot where people just wander in, borrow a car, and start driving around.

        Reply
    5. Strawmeatloaf

      It definitely depends on the range. The only time I shot a gun was on a ranch and there was only one shooter shooting at balloons. Usually we took turns. And I only did a few shops and that was enough for me.

      You never know how bad a range is unless you know how to safely run a gun range. There’s a Forensic Files episode of a kid who was keeping score inside of the building of the gun range who was shot through the head because (for some dumb reason) the outside targets were on the back side of the building and somehow the bullet ricochet on the top beams of the building, after the shooter had missed, and it went straight through the teen’s head.

      If you aren’t familiar with gun ranges, you may not know if a gun range is actually safe.

      Reply
    6. Mayati

      SERIOUSLY. Most of us have had coworkers with anger issues, or coworkers who aren’t very thoughtful and careful with important things, or coworkers we just plain haven’t built up much trust with yet. Why would we want to be around people like that when they’re armed with weapons they might not even understand?

      Reply
      1. starsaphire

        THIS right here.

        It doesn’t matter one whit how I feel about guns. Standing anywhere near Creepy Bob from Accounting while he has a loaded gun in his hand is Not. Gonna. Happen.

        Reply
      2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)

        Yes, this. Ignoring all the other problems with it, going to the gun range with people requires a level of trust that frankly, many coworkers don’t deserve. In high school, they did a trust building exercises where the first thing we were supposed to do was a trust fall. Off of bleachers. I refused, because I didn’t trust my fellow students, and sure enough in one group a kid fell and was (thankfully not too seriously) hurt. This is not a good way to build camaraderie.

        (Plus, when I went to a gun range, in addition to all my other discomfort about being there, there were some guys shooting at silhouettes of wolves which I found rather upsetting.) There are just too many unknown variables to make this a good idea.

        Reply
  4. Thursday Next

    OP 1–How big is your company? Are there other layers of management, or is your boss pretty much it? Alison’s script is great if there’s some oversight, but I’m worried it won’t be so straightforward if there’s no HR or if it’s a small organization.

    I feel for you. This is a terrible “team-building” activity, and I’d be wanting to nope out of it so fast and far.

    Reply
  5. Aphrodite

    I’d attend any godawful holiday party that has even been detailed here before I’d go to a gun range.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Right??? Bring on the naked gold Barbies and the Hanukkah Balls and all the drunk colleagues.

      Reply
  6. Screenwriter Mom

    OP-4, I’m so so sorry about your Mom. I was blessed to have my Mom into her ripe old age–and I still grieved like a baby when she passed. The whole first year, I couldn’t think about her without bursting into tears, and the 1st jahrzeit was so painful. Do tell your bosses to explain what you’re going through, and let yourself grieve. It’s so hard! Here are some things that helped me:
    1. On her jahrzeit, I made a little “memorial,” with my favorite picture of her, a few keepsakes (one of her favorite pieces of Ainsley china (she was British and loved her china), a small white porcelain angel, her last birthday card to me, and so forth), around the candle, and it was so strangely comforting! I then kept it there for almost another year… only slowly removing one little keepsake here and there; now it’s just the picture and the card.
    2. I kept reminding myself that the strength of my grief was a reflection of the strength of our love for each other, the strength of our bond, and the eternal powerfulness of her spirit. It helped me so much to think of it that way.
    3. The first year is by FAR the worst, because every occasion is the first you’ve had without her, and you keep getting ambushed unexpectedly (I always sent her little See’s chocolates for every occasion, so when each seasonal catalogue arrived I’d weep again). To my surprise, the second year is also hard–but not as acute. I’m in the third year of missing her now, and the pain has really mellowed, and I can take more simple joy in remembering her.
    4. Most of all–be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself all the time and emotion to grieve that you need. Allow yourself to have a spa day, a massage, a nice walk in a park… think of yourself as soothing your soul, and remember that’s what your beloved Mama would have wanted.
    All my sympathies and hugs to you. Remember, your Mom’s spirit truly lives on in you.

    Reply
    1. MamaCat

      And now I’m crying. Dusty in here, isn’t it?

      But thanks for that comment, this is really good advice.

      Reply
    2. Flash Bristow

      Absolutely this. The first year after my dad died I was still desperately upset. Probably angry without realising it, too. For a few years, I did meaningful things to remember him on the anniversary – he was into fine dining, took me to Gordon Ramsay’s etc, so I would honour him by a meal or activity that I never would have done without him, or something he would have loved and I felt I was doing FOR him – like going up the Shard and appreciating the panoramic view over London.

      But it has been 7 years now (already! It has flown by!) and now although I get sad when I am doing something and suddenly realise “my dad would have loved this…” it passes.

      I really hope – and believe – that it gets easier. It’s never OK, but it’s easier. You won’t always cry when you think of your mum and that’s alright too. Things such as the bluebells blooming – which they did on the day of my dad’s funeral – have stopped being hard to view and become a way to remember with love.

      With best wishes to all who are grieving, I hope this comment helped.

      Reply
    3. Tami Too

      Excellent advice. It’s hard to learn that grief is not linear. It doesn’t follow steps; it’s more like waves that hit you unexpectedly. The year of firsts is often the most difficult. If you can find a grief counselor or a grief group, that can be really helpful, as you will find that all the things that you are experiencing are normal. You will also have people with whom you can talk about your grief who will listen and understand, and not change the subject awkwardly because they don’t know what to say.

      My sympathies to all who are grieving. Hugs.

      Reply
    4. Grieving

      Just wanted to chime in with a slightly different experience. I lost my dad 3 years ago, he was also young, it was completely unexpected and very traumatic.

      People always said the first year was the hardest, so that’s what I expected. In my experience, I was so numb and in shock the first year that I just went through all the motions. I wasn’t prepared for the second year to be harder than the first, and it threw me for a loop.

      Everyone has their own experience with grief. I’m finally really grieving, 3 years in. Just wanted to let you know that it’s okay and perfectly normal for it to be gettin harder, not easier.

      I second the recommendation for therapy and letting go of commitments that are burdensome. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m in a more inward season, and my work and my social life isn’t up to the high standards I had before. It’s a tough place to be but grief is tough, and we don’t have a lot of facility as a culture to understand and recognize that. Peace to you as you mourn your mother’s death.

      Reply
      1. OP #4

        Thank you all for being so open in sharing your experiences and the beautiful ways you honor the people you love.

        I did my best over the last month to give myself time and space to feel whatever I was feeling. I took a couple days/afternoons off to relax and spent some time going through some of her old things. And I was fortunate to have a lot of support from my friends (many of whom are coworkers) and family. As you all know, there’s no easy way to grieve, but I am feeling closer to my usual self–and to my mom.

        Thanks again.

        Reply
        1. Shamy

          It sounds like you are doing quite well given the circumstances. You had two years of terrible stress followed by a profound loss, it is no wonder you are having a hard time. I also lost my mom unexpectedly 2 years ago, and I still feel the loss. It seems the “firsts” without them never stop. I am pregnant, and this will be the first grandchild to never know her. My sister got married a few months and it was the first family wedding without her. It is so so tough. I am so glad to read you are being kind to yourself and letting yourself feel whatever it is you need to feel. I hope going through her things brought some peace along with any sadness. I will say, I have found small ways to try and keep her close to me and that has helped. I got a tattoo in her honor with our family’s little saying for “I love you” in her handwriting, and I still smile and feel her love when I look at it. Maybe for you something like that could be a locket or piece of her clothing.

          Reply
      2. galatea

        this is about where I’m at with my father’s death — it exacerbated a lot of difficult family stuff in a really big way, and between that and the the way he passed (a brutal and painfully short struggle with degenerative illness), I couldn’t even process it emotionally for about six months. Only now am I really getting around to being able to even think about it.

        I hope you and yours are well.

        Reply
  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, your boss’ request for an earlier head’s up isn’t unreasonable. It sounds like you thought transfers were routine and freely given, so you didn’t bring up the issue until the point of no return. But it sounds like other folks may have begun the conversation earlier in their moving process, or as Alison notes, their circumstances are different from yours in your manager’s eyes.

    At any rate, I agree with Alison’s recommended approach. I just wanted to flag that, based on your letter, your boss isn’t necessarily being unreasonable or recalcitrant.

    Reply
    1. Nom Nom

      I agree with all this but would add that OP doesn’t know what those conversations entailed and what concessions coworkers made etc. I was allowed to relocate after an immediate family member had a catastrophic health incident and needed long term assistance but this only came about because I went to resign because I was managing a team at base office and didn’t think my company would go for it. While I got minimum pay rises for the next 2 years, they were far less than I had got previously and it was generally understood that that I had no negotiation power to ask for more even though performance etc was still really high. I also had to take whatever desk I could be squeezed into which meant I was plonked in with the new rotating graduates (who were all really nice people). Really, don’t do the ‘it’s not fair’ thing. They might knock you back on principle if there were other things going on you weren’t aware of.

      Reply
      1. Dragoning

        Oh, this is a good point. They might simply not have the space for OP in Teaville. Or there might be some office politics in play that make it “difficult to manage” someone there.

        Reply
        1. Flash Bristow

          Also, if Teaville is only an hour away from current workplace, I’d be offering to show up for a regular team meeting there once a week, spending a day back there and four in Teaville. Sure its a longer commute those days, but having a regular fixed commitment would probably make it easier on the whole team. It would enable OP to say things like “I’ll give you the quick fix for now, but I’ll take time to explain this properly when I’m in the office on Friday” as well as for the manager to schedule.

          Reply
          1. Dragoning

            Yeah, my commute has stretched upwards of 45 minutes one way before—I never considered that was something that put me into “move to a new office” territory.

            Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Really? I think this OP was naively entitled and made the mistake of boxing the manager into a corner with a surprise fait accompli. I’d be seriously annoyed if I were their manager too.

          There’s all the difference in the world between this situation, and either ‘boss I’m looking at moving, what are my options’ or ‘I’m moving, I understand if there aren’t any options here, but wanted to see if there were’. You don’t spring this on a manager and then rail at how “unfair” it is.

          Also, fyi, OP should never again use “unfair” again at work. It makes one sounds like a sulking teenager, and like one who doesn’t understand how the world works. Jobs have no obligation to be “fair” except in a narrow band of legally protected areas.

          Reply
          1. Sunflower

            I think Mike was replying to Nom Nom’s situation, not the OP. I have to agree with Mike. I understand that transferring offices can certainly mean losing out on some perks(like having to sit wherever they have room for you) but basically taking a pay cut doesn’t sound right unless you were taking on a different, lesser position or your duties changed quite a bit. It does feel a bit like you were taken advantage of- it seems like instead of losing you, they thought they could keep you on for the same job and just pay you less IMO.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              Argh for replying late, the responses get so disconnected! Your interpretation makes sense, and I agree that Nom Nom got shafted.

              Reply
            2. B

              I had the same thought, but it’s possible the new location had different salary ranges based on cost of living in that area, which Nom’s salary was out of line with. (Although why only for two years in that case I’m not sure?)

              Reply
      2. Susan K

        Yeah, I highly doubt the coworker who moved to the opposite coast just came in one day and said, “Oh, BTW, I am moving to the other side of the country next week, so I’ll be transferring to the Kettletown office.” There was probably a lot of discussion/negotiation before that happened. Unless there’s a written company/department policy stating that all employees can work out of whichever office they want (which would be very unusual), these things are going to be decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration your performance, experience, role, work habits, personal circumstances, etc. Also, it’s quite possible that other people have made requests to transfer to a different office and gotten denied.

        It’s not odd that the boss wished you had brought up your plan to transfer to a different office before you relocated. Frankly, it was pretty bold for you to assume that you could just decide to work out of a different office, and if that was something you were counting on happening as part of your decision to move, you definitely should have checked with your boss ahead of time. It actually looks like he would prefer not to let you change offices at all, but he’s trying to be nice and meet you halfway by letting you work out of the Potville office.

        Reply
        1. Essess

          Agreed. We had a coworker who was going to move to another state and wanted to work out of an office there. He had to postpone his move for almost a year because he was not going to be allowed to work out of the other office until there was an opening in that office. He had to wait for someone else to quit or transfer before he could work there. Yes, he could have moved anyway, but he would have lost his job since there wasn’t an opening at the other office for him at that time.

          Reply
        2. Luna

          Exactly this. I also want to add that while a 1 hour commute is not ideal, for many people this is a standard commute time. To assume that you will be transferred to a different office based solely on having a 1 hour commute time is odd IMO.

          Reply
        3. Naomi

          Good point–there could be some selection bias here. The OP knows about two successful transfers, but they have no way of knowing how often transfers are denied. I suspect the boss is saying “I wish you’d told me sooner” partly for OP’s sake, because if OP had spoken up sooner the boss could have told them the transfer to Teaville won’t work, and OP could have made an informed decision about buying the house knowing there would be a longer commute.

          Reply
          1. Chinookwind

            She also doesn’t know how many may be in the works by people who did give their boss a heads up about wanting to move and are quietly waiting until a opening shows up. In some ways, it looks like OP wants to “jump the line” without acknowledging that there is a line.

            Assuming you will get the same end result as others without doing the groundwork leading up to it can definitely bite you in the but. Around here, we have 3 brothers working. 2 of them put in for long vacations a while back and brother #3 mentioned off hand last week that his wife is booking tickets for a trip in a week’s time. Brother #3 assumed that, because #1 and #2 are allowed to go and the manager has never turned down a vacation request ever, he can take off with just a week’s notice. Ummm….no? #1 and 2 gave a heads up months before and the schedule has been modified to cover their work. But #3 has not given the boss time to find such coverage and, because #1 & 2 are already gone, #3 leaving would leave us short handed. On paper, it may seem like #3 being refused is unfair, but there is a whole backstory that shows that he is the one who was making faulty assumptions.

            Reply
          2. Micklak

            I can’t imagine buying a house expecting to transfer offices without ever mentioning it to my boss. That’s a recipe for exactly what happened. You’re certainly not required to divulge that information, but nor are they required to transfer you to a different office.

            Reply
    2. Thursday Next

      +1 If you do decide to approach your boss to advocate for yourself, do so with the understanding that your boss is acting reasonably. That can help you frame your advocacy as coming from a place of optimistic possibility, not combative entitlement. (I’m not suggesting you sound entitled, just saying you want to avoid giving that impression.)

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Yes! The boss is super reasonable, OP is really not.

        May this be a teachable moment to you. We all have them. Work rules are really different from family rules, or school rules.

        Reply
        1. tangerineRose

          Yeah, this isn’t something you should spring on your employer. This is something you should ask about before you make steps like actually buying the house.

          Reply
          1. nonegiven

            If OP had mentioned it, they’d at least have had notice to start job searching closer to the new house or decide to make the commute.

            Reply
    3. Engineer Girl

      I agree with all of this.
      You really can’t judge “fair” because you can’t see all the variables. You don’t know the other people’s work quality, you don’t know the needs at each of the locations, etc.
      This really was something that deserved negotiation at the beginning of the process. There were more alternate solutions available.
      Doing it after the fact forces people’s hands and your boss will be more rigid.

      Reply
    4. Engineer Woman

      Op#3, I don’t see where your boss is being unfair. You can’t possibly know all the details of what happened in your previous examples of the company allowing transfers so it’s best not to compare. It looks like there’s an offer to transfer you to an office near where you’ve bought a home so that’s already a win for you in my view.
      A company has no obligation (although if it is possible, would be a nice-to-do) to transfer people to whatever offices they wish to work out of.

      Reply
      1. HR Here

        This was my thought, too. You only heard the outcomes, not the discussions. I don’t think bosses react well in general to “I expect you’ll acommodate me by doing X” verses, (in advance) “I’d like to do this, what are your thoughts?”
        Sounds like they were pretty accommodating given the circumstances.

        Reply
      2. Ruth

        Very much the same thoughts. Certain things or not your boss’s business, like whether or not you have a baby. Certain things are very much your bosses business, like that you would like to transfer worksites. I wonder how much stress could’ve been forestalled by simply bringing this up a while ago, “boss, I’ve been looking at how affordable things are in my old hometown and thinking about buying a home. It would make so much more sense if I did that to work out of the Pottsville office. What would we need to do to make that happen?“

        As everyone has pointed out, what seems sudden to you about peoples’ moves may have been an extremely long process with negotiation. Buying the house is a huge step loaded with expectation about timelines, too. This is one of those cases where you wouldn’t have had to apologize up front for asking for it, and could even have maybe been confident while understanding it’s not set in writing. But you’re definitely the one who just gave your boss a nasty shock and, since we don’t know how anyone else approach to getting their accommodation, may have been extremely rude compared to everyone else who got this benefit.

        Reply
        1. AdAgencyChick

          Yup. I would definitely not have bought a house on the assumption that I would be approved for a transfer to the office of my choice. So many variables can factor into it:
          * Your performance and whether your boss feels comfortable managing you remotely (even if you and a coworker are both good performers, but one of you has a manager who’s experienced at managing remote workers and the other is not, that could be a reason to say yes to one and not the other)
          * The needs of the office you’d like to transfer to (no agency that I’ve ever worked at would allow you to transfer, even for top performers, unless there’s actually a job opening at the office you want to move to)
          * How well it’s worked out for the remote workers who have already transferred. If there have been any hiccups at all, that will make it harder for OP because you’ll then have to convince higher-ups that you won’t run into the same issues (or that you’re worth getting past those issues).

          Reply
          1. Opting for the Sidelines

            When I asked to transfer because I was going through a divorce, and just wanted to get a fresh start, I got a resounding no for the reason of “your performance here is so vital that we cannot live without you.” I was a senior manager at the time and managing a lot, a lot of projects. So, understood and fair enough.

            So even though you may be a star performer, you still may not get approval to do what you want.

            Reply
        2. Laurelma_01!

          I agree with what you are saying. The discussion should have taken place, an assumption was made on the OP’s part. The employer is not required to grant a transfer just because an employee wants it. It could also be a space issue, at the other locale. Maybe OP could ask about working out of the other office a couple of days a week, to see how it works out, if it’s doable. If her position requires constant interaction with her current co-workers she may never be allowed a permanent relocation. Also, some managers prefer to keep their team under the same roof, except for a few exceptions. If that’s OP’s manager’s preference, you are stuck where you are at. Being granted the privilege to relocate to another office and/or work at home because you want to, isn’t something an employer is required to grant. At present, your manager might feel pushed to the wall by the way you’ve handled this. You manager might feel like you’re bullying them into accommodating you on this, when an in depth discussion should have taken place when you decided you wanted to move, before you bought the house. Would you have bought the house if you were told beforehand, that the relocation isn’t feasible at this time? Or would never happen?

          Reply
          1. Ruth

            Yes, I have had this on my brain all morning because “wow, you bought a house and just expected them to transfer you???” and I think the best route for OP to take (depending on kinds of teapot work) might be to suggest working some days at each office… if the work allows. My employer is all over my state and I could probably make that happen if I were willing to accept that I wouldn’t get an office or even cubicle (at least not guaranteed) at my preferred site and that I needed to spend a % of time in my home office. We’re remarkably flexible when jobs work with every site (just, again, my workspace would be catch as catch can) and I’d still have talked to my boss throughout.

            Also, OP, if I could recommend a form for your apology to your boss, I’d suggest hitting the following points–probably in this order:
            1. Boss, I made a mistake in not talking to you much earlier in this process.
            2. As someone who’s still pretty new to the working world, I’ve been very impressed by how our company accommodated Tina’s move and Fergus’s transfer. But I also made a lot of assumptions about what would be possible without consulting you, and I’m sorry for approaching it this way.
            3. I understand that you don’t owe me a good commute. Is there a way we can work toward eventually transitioning me to Pottsville?

            And then accept you might get a provision that you can work there a few days a week/get preferred status if a Pottsville team spot opens up/not get preferred status but at least get your boss’s support for a transfer…

            This is, well, the kind of screwup people sometimes make in their first jobs. If you apologize without groveling/whining, demonstrate that you understand that you presumed a lot, and accept that it may take some time to get your request honored while still trying to work toward it, you may have a shot.

            (sorry I’m just making up my own names) In Tina’s case, it was pretty much a lose her or keep her deal — coast to coast is not the same as “I’ll have a crappy commute” and in Fergus’s, it was as a new department member…part of bringing someone onto the team. These are very different. As EM says below, “In my culture, buying a house assuming you could move (but without asking) would be considered very entitled” — and my culture is pretty generic white American east coaster work culture on this one…

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              This apology is perfect. It shows growth and a new realization of corporate norms. It may actually reset OP’s relationship with their manager, instead of burning that bridge.

              Reply
            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I hope OP reads this script and takes it up! I was pretty gobsmacked, as well, that someone would buy a house, go into closing, and then expect their employer to transfer them. That’s really not a normal expectation in most jobs, and it’s worth it for OP to know that what they think is routine is uncommon!

              Reply
              1. LeRainDrop

                I totally agree with PCBH, Ruth, Specialk9, etc. Ruth’s script is great. There is an amazing amount of entitlement in the OP’s letter, and OP is the one who really mishandled planning and discussing with the boss ahead of time. OP should have at least broached the idea of a transfer before seriously pursuing the new home. That way, she would have at least gone into the home-buying decision with eyes wide open as to whether the transfer would even be possible. Perhaps with that sort of notice and ongoing discussion, the boss could have worked on making the desired transfer work. But by springing this last-minute expectation on the boss, OP showed a lack of good judgment and backed boss into corner.

                Reply
    5. EM

      Be careful too that you don’t come across as rude. In my culture, buying a house assuming you could move (but without asking) would be considered very entitled and would likely result in you being expected to keep your regular job or quit. Changing offices is, for us, a case by case accomodation that is see as a perk from the employer- not something everyone gets.

      Reply
      1. Julia

        I actually know several people who bought houses close to their offices and then get transferred further away, which really sucks.

        Reply
      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        I got the vibe from the letter that OP assumed the transfer would be approved and I can’t help but wonder if you approached it with your manager as “I’m going to transfer to the Teaville office” instead of “I’m planning to move back to my hometown and I’d like to discuss the possibility of working from the Teaville office.” It’s entirely possible that your boss is irritated by your assumptions more than anything else.

        Reply
        1. Joan

          Yup! I the detective is right on the money.

          When someone makes the decision to move for personal reasons, its not the company’s responsibility to accommodate/transfer them. The person moving is taking a risk that they wont be able to transfer. Most people would have had a conversation with their company to see if a transfer is a possibility and THEN made decisions based on that conversation. If living in your hometown is priority, you have to accept the risk that you wont be able to stay with your same company.

          The fact that you didn’t discuss the possibility of moving before making the decision is a red flag. The tone of your letter is another red flag. And the fact that your boss is worried about you needing close oversight is still another bigger redder flag. Is it possible that you have a history of making decisions on your own that you think are right but are either not in the best interest of the company or are not discussed with your boss? If so, this may be why the boss has these concerns.

          You need to slow your roll and lose the tone of entitlement as you have this conversation.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            I suspect that the person who moved to the other coast was highly valued and had a strong track record and so they were willing to move heaven and earth to keep them. A newish employee early in her career may not have the same value to the organization and so they may not be willing to jump through hoops backwards to keep her.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              I think this is a subtlety the OP missed. Transfers are not guaranteed, should never be an after-the-fact surprise, and are usually only done for really top-notch folks. Frankly OP is lucky the manager didn’t just go ‘hey good luck, hope you find a good job near your new house.’

              Reply
          2. PersonalJeebus

            Exactly. You can never assume you’ll be granted a transfer no matter the reason for your move, and speaking of reasons, voluntarily buying a house in your preferred area is very different from having to move for a partner’s job or for other family-related concerns!

            When I had to move across the country for my spouse’s job, my approach at work was, “I know this isn’t great news for the company, and I hate to leave, but it’s the right move for my family.” I was actually working two part-time jobs at the time, doing similar work for both companies. One company kept me on remotely, and the other considered remote work but ultimately decided to replace me. Here’s the thing: I didn’t even suggest working remotely for either company, even though I knew other employees had done it, because of the nature of my work. No one at either company had ever worked remotely in my role. The company took the initiative to say, “We don’t want to lose you, so would you consider working remotely?”

            That’s how you get work-from-home or a transfer when you want to keep a good reputation: by proceeding as if you anticipate a no, and are merely hoping for a yes. You are never, ever entitled to it.

            Reply
      3. Bea

        The assumption that the transfer would be approved is grinding my gears. I had the same reaction as their manager of “you should have asked if you could transfer before purchasing a home.”

        It’s not a culture thing. It’s just rude and irresponsible to assume you get to choose which office you work from. You have a manager and they have a manager for a reason!!

        Reply
        1. Jules the 3rd

          Well, the ‘you should have asked first’ is a culture thing, but it’s one that out of step of most US professional norms.

          OP#4, take this as a learning opportunity: when you want to change the terms of your employment, your manager has the final say. You will have a better chance of positive outcomes if you ask first.

          Your best shot now is to ask if you can split the week between Teapot (home) and Earlsville (1hr easier commute), and to be CHEERFUL about working from either office. Do not grumble about the commute to Earlsville. If it works out, in 8 – 12mo you can ask about changing again, or look into a job in a different group that’s based in Teapot. If you try to switch jobs now, your recommendation is likely to be less than great – ‘OP4 thought I would move him to Teapot because he bought a house there, but I had concerns A, B, C.’ You need 6+ mo to address those concerns.

          Reply
        2. AdAgencyChick

          Yeah, and I don’t read it as the manager thinking “I need to be consulted when you’re making a home purchase.” I read it as “If you’re going to make a home purchase based on an assumption that you’d be allowed to transfer to the office of your choice, you should find out first whether that transfer will be possible.”

          Reply
          1. Ruth

            Absolutely. Like if I bought a home 20 minutes farther away from work and lengthened my commute, it wouldn’t have anything to do with my manager. If I needed to adjust my working hours, it would be a pretty reasonable ask as long as it were within Teapots Inc normal working hours and I asked reasonable. “hi boss, you may know I bought a new house in Tweesville. After driving my new commute this past week I’ve realized I would have a saner drive if I shifted my hours to come in and leave 30 minutes earlier. Does that sound ok?” Or “hi boss, I bought a new house in Tweesville and am still getting used to the commute. I wanted to let you know I might be a few minutes late some mornings as I learn the traffic patterns and/but I [something about working full hours].” Very different from “and I want to work at a different site.”

            Reply
            1. SoSo

              Yes, this. This is exactly what I did last year when I bought a house and my commute went from 25 minutes one way to 45 min-1 hr (dependent on traffic). My boss was aware we were purchasing a house that was farther away and we discussed the option of trying out new start/end times to help with the traffic delays and how the additional drive time would impact my attendance during days with bad winter weather. I was very open about it from day 1 and we worked together on it, and I never assumed they would be fine with anything.

              Part of buying a house that’s farther away is the assumption that you will either 1) make it work, or 2) find a new job.

              Reply
          2. Jadelyn

            This. The problem isn’t that you bought a house without asking your manager – the problem is that you bought a house, while assuming you could keep your job and transfer to the other office, without asking your manager.

            Reply
      4. Laurlema01!

        I think the rudeness door as been opened & closed in this situation. I’m going make the assumption that this is inexperience and poor judgement versus entitlement.

        Reply
        1. Cat Herder

          +1. OP is only four years out of college, first “real job” — just doesn’t have perspective and experience.

          Reply
      5. [insert witty username here]

        Agreed. There are several things about the way this letter was written that make me think that the way OP#3 went about this, and possibly even the language/tone they used when talking to their boss, may have not been ideal. Focusing on what they think is “unfair,” the assumptions involved, balking at the offer to move them to the Potville office (which sounds like the employer was trying to make a helpful compromise!), even the “I’d like to sit my supervisor down” at the end. I’m not trying to be too harsh on OP#3 – just trying to point out the details where I think they could maybe change their thinking/tone to try to get the outcome they want.

        Reply
        1. Specialk9

          Yes, agreed, I read it the exact same way. Like, wow, you have CHUTZPAH, and somehow still have a job, but now you’re going to go out on that bridge that’s partially burnt and jump up and down while screaming it’s unfair?! (Metaphorically) Well that’s a good way to make that half-burnt rope bridge snap and take you down!

          Reply
    6. Bagpuss

      Yes, I think that your plan to “advocate why this is unfair” is a bad idea. You don’t know the background to the other transfers and fair doesn’t always, or necessarily, mean ‘exactly the same’.
      If you want to speak to your manager, then look at it from a business perspective. What are the benefits to the business of you moving? What are the down sides and how can those be minimised?
      Also, the fact that you went as far as closing on the purchase of a house before you even asked whether you might be able to transfer, dies come across as somewhat entitled – it suggests that you took for granted that the business would do what you wanted and that may t people’s backs up, plus it doesn’t suggest great judgement, unless the offices are close enough together that you can realistically commute to your current workplace from your new home.

      Reply
      1. Les G

        Yeah, I’m scratching my head at this too. The difference between the commute OP was offered and the one she wanted was just “a bit,” but what if her boss didn’t let her move at all?

        Reply
        1. Opting for the Sidelines

          I see this as the boss basically saying: “It’s lovely that you’ve bought a house. I am not going to endorse a transfer. And if you opt to push it, I will create a transfer that is basically a demotion.”

          Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Yeah, this struck me as very misplaced naïveté. I don’t think OP realized that it’s truly unusual to buy a house and then expect your employer to transfer you to your preferred office (and to argue against an equidistant placement because it makes your commute less attractive).

        Advocating for why this is unfair is a losing approach at all jobs in nearly all circumstances. For better or worse, fairness doesn’t matter at work unless there’s a law that prohibits the “unfair” activity. This is a good opportunity for OP to recalibrate their expectations and begin to learn how to make the business case when pushing for a particular accommodation. And with respect to tone, OP should opt for contrite but firm, not righteous or owed.

        Reply
    7. Lemon Bars

      Also the other relocation was when the Fiance was transferred, so it may have been a situation where you co-worker was going to have to quit if they could not accommodate and not a we want to move to a city we like more. This is how I was sent to work from home I spoke with my boss when my husband accepted a position in another state and if they didn’t let me work from home I was going to have to give notice.

      Reply
      1. Washi

        Yeah, I think something like “I’ve decided to move back to my hometown and have bought a house there. I’d love to have the best of both worlds and continue working for the company from the Teasville office, but if not, I’ll unfortunately need to hand in my notice in the next few weeks” might have gone over differently. But if the OP isn’t willing to quit over this, they just don’t have a very strong negotiating position and will have to take whatever they can get. (And I agree with the other commenters that “advocating why this is unfair” will probably not achieve the desired results.)

        Reply
        1. Jules the 3rd

          Wow – yeah differently – if my employee did this, I’d let them go. Immediately. And I’d make sure to mention it in any recommendation. “OP was a good employee, but not good enough that we wanted to keep them when they bought a house an hour away and demanded that we relocate them.’

          There’s a *huge* difference between ‘I have an Urgent Personal Requirement that’s out of my control that requires me to relocate’ and ‘I chose to buy a house far enough away that I want to relocate.’ Upping the pressure on the boss over that choice is unlikely to end well.

          Reply
          1. Washi

            It’s not about upping the pressure, or pretending to quit over it, it’s about owning the choice and the consequences. If OP decided that living away in their hometown is priority #1 and not having an hour commute is priority #2, they are perfectly entitled to make that choice, as long as they are aware that the consequence may be leaving that company, which is not required to make the employee’s priorities their priorities. What would make it entitled is if the employee says “I want to live in my hometown AND not commute an hour AND work from this specific office” and expect the company to hop to it.

            Reply
            1. SoSo

              “It’s about owning the choice and the consequences.”

              You are Spot On. When you a buy a house, especially one that’s farther away from your job but in your ideal location, you have to deal with the choice and the consequences that come with it. I did this last year and had to accept that in order to keep my job but live in my preferred city, my commute would double. Making that choice and owning the decision wasn’t on anyone but me. Would it have been great if my boss would have let me go to remote work? Absolutely, but I’m not entitled to anything. Instead, I approached my boss with the request to adjust my hours to avoid rush hour traffic, work from home on occasion, and have an understanding about delays with my drive time and luckily she was willing to work with me on those concessions- but she could have easily said no to all of them, and it would have been her prerogative. There are no demands in a situation like this.

              Reply
          2. Darren

            Yeah that seems a a little excessive on your part. I am allowed to move (for any number of reasons) and letting my employer know these facts (that I’m going to be moving, that this part is non-negotiable, and I would love to continue working for the company but that after the move working out of this office would no longer be practical and so I would need to have X as my last week in lieu of other alternatives) and discuss the potential options.

            Legitimately the decision might come to that the options don’t work for us (they can’t offer anything I’d want i.e. only a demotion that I’m not interested in, and I can’t come up with a compromise that works for them either) and we just have to part ways. A company immediately saying, “Nope.” letting me go AND trying to impact the quality of the reference they are giving me would not be one that I’d be willing to recommend to any of my friends.

            I had the good experience with this where I went with my company to Hong Kong when they closed their Sydney office, decided that I was going to move back to Sydney and went to discuss it with them, they offered me numerous alternatives (they needed me in Hong Kong for at least half the year, which wasn’t what I was looking for but was tempting) in the end we couldn’t find one we both were okay with and parted ways amicably (and they gave me an awesome reference that got me my role back in Australia many months later).

            Reply
          3. Doreen

            I think the tone matters a lot- because there is a tone where “I’ll unfortunately have to hand in my notice” sounds more like an ultimatum than a simple statement of fact. I actually wouldn’t even mention giving notice – I think saying something like “I’ve decided to move back to Hometown, which is 3 hours from here. Would it be possible for me to work out if Teasville office?” communicates that the new home is not in commuting distance from the current office without explicitly mentioning giving notice.

            Reply
        2. Artemesia

          If someone decided to ‘sit me down’ and ‘explain why this is so unfair’, I would fire them. Being high maintenance and rude and entitled when you are very junior is not a good look. It has a whiff of the interns explaining why the dress code is unfair and should be changed.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Totally agreed. OP really needs to reframe how they’re seeing this interaction and their expectations. Frankly, I think OP’s boss was quite generous by attempting to accommodate them at all. If someone wanted to “sit me down” and give me a lecture on why it’s unfair—actions that come across as immature and tone-deaf—I would likely fire them, as well.

            Reply
    8. Roscoe

      Yep. Totally agree. OP seemed to have assumed it would be fine. If you are going to buy a house an hour away, you shouldn’t assume your job can accomodate a move. Not saying you have to clear it with them before buying the house, but you can’t invest that then act like its their problem.

      Reply
      1. Someone else

        It was also odd to me that the letter initially sounded like the OP thought transfers like this were extremely common…but then they presented two examples. It’s not clear to me if there might be more examples and they only mentioned the two? But there’s a pretty big difference between “this is a common and known thing that’s fine for everyone do it and happens all the time” vs “this happened twice so I assume it’s NBD”. OP sounded like they thought the former, but the actual description makes me think it’s the latter. Like if the company handbook or something has an actual chapter on transfers and the policy for requesting them or if there had been a lot of internal discussions about how they flexible they are for transfers…that’d be one thing, but it seems like OP saw it happen twice and assumed it was easy breezy and that’s not the same thing.

        Reply
        1. Esme Squalor

          It also sounds possible from the details provided that the transfers may have been a request of the employer to the employee and not the other way around. E.g., “Our project management team lead at Teasville just quit; would you be willing to take your project management expertise and relocate to that office to help reorganize and stand up a new team?” That conversation is VERY different from an employee just deciding to “inform” their supervisor that they WILL be moving to a different office. Yikes.

          Reply
    9. Sam.

      Two things, OP: 1) To reiterate what Alison said, it may seem like you’re asking for the same thing as previous employees, but circumstances could make these fundamentally different requests. It’s not black and white. Failing to recognize that and saying the decision was “unfair” without further context will come across as naive at best, so be mindful about your approach.

      2) Working out of a different office isn’t a small ask, and committing to purchase property without doing due diligence on this puts both you and your boss in a difficult position. That was your call, unfortunately, and if you want a productive relationship with him moving forward, you’ll want to be careful not to blame him.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    10. Betty R

      If I were the OPs manager, I would be put off with the entitlement of expecting a transfer to accommodate OPs decision, all after the fact without a heads up or a request or discussion about it. If that’s how OP regularly conducts her professional relationships, perhaps this is what is making the manager be less accommodating that for the other employees. And there were certainly a couple of red flags
      In her letter that could indicate that’s part of the problem! It could just be a matter of the fact that the other employees are “better” or approached differently or are more respectful, etc. I think it would be helpful to the OP, especially fiber her youth and inexperience in the workplace, to assess her overall attitude/behavior/communication style- those things make a BIG difference when making big requests like this.

      Reply
      1. Laurelma_01!

        If I was the OP manager I would question her overall judgement. I agree with what you’re saying Betty R. There are many people that run with things without thinking, and make it their managers and/or co-workers problem when it doesn’t work out the way they expected it to.

        If OP is in the category, If I was the manager I wouldn’t grant a move at all. I would wonder if I could trust her judgement if she was out of my sight in another office.

        Reply
    11. Mrs_Helm

      Yep, Boss may have said that because he could have given her some advice in advance.

      Also, there may be good reasons that you don’t want to be in that other office, but which boss can’t share with you. Like, they are considering closing that office, or the manager over there is horrible. Your boss maybe doing you a favor, but can’t reveal why.

      It was a big assumption, thinking you’d just be able to move offices. I moved states away a few years ago. I already telecommuted full time, and we have people working remotely all over the world, but I STILL asked my boss way before we moved. I was prepared not to move if he’d said no. And I had a backup plan if it wasn’t working out after moving. Thankfully it did, but I wasn’t going to take for granted that it just would.

      Reply
    12. The Other Dawn

      Agreed. It would have made sense to bring up the move and possible relocation earlier. It may not have ultimately swayed OP’s decision to move, but at least she would know going into it what she was getting into (longer commute to a different office). And OP really has no idea what was discussed with the previous employees.

      Reply
    13. Jordan Rae

      I agree with all of this and would like to add that OP’s boss is actually being MORE accommodating than he/she actually has to be in this situation by offering the transfer at all. Where I live, a 1 hour commute is incredibly common. If a person who worked at Earlsville took it upon themselves to move an hour away without formally requesting a transfer, it would be perfectly reasonable to expect them to make the commute.

      My advice to OP is to be incredibly gracious in being accommodated with the Pottsville transfer and apologize for not giving boss more of a heads up. This way if there is ever an opening to transfer to the Teaville location, there’s some goodwill there.

      Reply
    14. iglwif

      +1.

      OP3, you don’t know what conversations and negotiations went on behind the scenes, and how far in advance, before those other transfers. There are dozens of factors potentially differentiating those situations from yours, and none of us know enough to judge.

      As a former manager, I would strongly urge you to take Alison’s good advice and NOT to go in with the attitude that your boss is being unfair. Even if that were true, which I’m not convinced it is, that approach is just going to get your boss’s back up and decrease the odds that anything else you say will be given serious consideration. Your employer doesn’t owe you the short-notice relocation of your choice just because you’ve worked for them for a certain number of years, and behaving as though they do is likely to make them question your judgement about … a lot of stuff.

      Reply
    15. NW Mossy

      I’m in the middle of facilitating a transfer for an employee, and have previously been asked about the possibility by other employees. Others here have touched on several factors your manager is likely considering, but I’ll (bluntly) add another – how replaceable are you?

      Based on your letter, I suspect that you’re probably much more towards the “replaceable” end of the replaceable-to-irreplaceable spectrum. You’ve not been out of college that long, which limits the amount of time you’ve had to develop skills that are hard to find in other candidates. If there’s someone else who can easily slide into your open desk and/or your current team can absorb the work you do, it creates a strong incentive for your manager to say “Sorry to see you go, best of luck finding a good position in Teaville” rather than take the steps necessary to support a transfer.

      Reply
    16. Wren

      Not only are the circumstances of the employees who were allowed to relocate likely different from the OP’s, it’s also possible the OP is unaware of people who have had requests for relocations rejected.

      Reply
    17. Nita

      Yeah, these things are not one size fits all. My office has staff who moved half a country away and were able to keep working remotely, because management wanted to keep them despite the inconveniences of it, and because their work allowed for this. They could sit in whatever office they like and it would not affect the work. However – we also have people whose work is very boots-on-the-ground, and if they wanted to transfer, the offices they could pick are limited by the profile of their work, location of their projects, and/or who they need to work with face to face. And there are others who flat-out cannot transfer because their work is tied into a certain office, and even if they’re brilliant there’s nothing their manager can do if they relocate.

      Reply
    18. Just Stoppin' By To Chat

      Completely agreed with Princess Consuela Banana Hammock, and made a similar comment before reading this one.

      Reply
    19. mh_ccl

      I think it was a bit presumptuous for OP to not only assume an office move would be OK, but to go so far as to buy a house without discussing it.
      I’ve worked for my company for 6 years. Over a year ago, I gave them the heads up that my family and I would be moving at some point because my husband was going to be changing jobs. I was very hopeful that I would be able to keep my job and either telecommute or move to another office. In December, I was able to tell them exactly where we would be moving and our timeline. We were in the middle of a takeover from another company, which added a fun “will I get laid off?” dimension to all of this. I just started in the new office last week, 3,000 miles from my previous office.
      I gave them a lot of advance notice, submitted formal requests for unpaid time off (moving from Alaska is no joke, and we didn’t have daycare for almost a month after arriving here), and kept in communication with my manager throughout. Even with all of that, I had vague fears that they would not accommodate my request to move.

      Reply
    20. Lucille2

      I think OP should also consider whether or not performance is a factor. I had to deny a request to work from home from an employee because I felt that his performance was already struggling while he worked full time in the office, and I couldn’t see a reason that it would improve while he was remote. He also didn’t have any compelling reason why his performance would improve. His reasons were due to a long commute, though he bought his home knowing what the commute would be like. The option to relocate or telecommute and stay in the same position should be viewed as a privilege that is earned by high performers, not a company endowed perk.

      Reply
    21. Esme Squalor

      I am very, very late to this question, but I thought Alison went really easy on this letter-writer. I have a pretty laid-back workplace, but even there, if someone issued this kind of demand to their boss, I could see it leading to termination. It’s just such red-flag behavior to expect your work to rearrange your whole team structure without any advance notice or request to accommodate a move that you made for personal preference reasons.

      Reply
  8. Manders

    OP #4 – My mom is currently dying of a disease that takes a while, so I’ve had some time to get used to working while dealing with grief. You’re totally right that dealing with death can make it hard to remember things and to stay focused on work. Some of the stuff that helps me get through the week:

    * I was up-front with my boss at my current job from the beginning about what was going on, and I asked for concrete solutions (I’d like to take X days off; I’d like some assistance with Y task) instead of expecting him to guess what I needed. Most people are lousy at guessing what to do when it comes to heavy topics like grief, but quick to agree to help you if you can specify what you need.

    * I didn’t preemptively call attention to my “off” weeks but I did figure out some mindless tasks I could do during the really bad times. A funny podcast + that annoying spreadsheet task you’ve been putting off can be just distracting enough to take the edge off.

    * I write every task down. And I mean everything, even the stuff that seems so minor I should be able to remember it. I’m always taking written notes in a Word document in meetings. I also ask my coworkers to proofread certain important documents before I send them. I know my memory sucks right so I try to make sure I’m not relying on it.

    * I try to take care of myself physically and mentally outside work. This is still something I’m not great at, but making time for exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well, etc. really help. I didn’t have great luck with finding a grief therapist who handles the kind of drawn-out dying process I’m dealing with, but I do recommend taking a look at the mental health providers available to you.

    * For crying in the office: try to compartmentalize as much as you can at work, and for when you can’t hold back the tears, go to the bathroom and put a cold wet paper towel over your eyes and nose to keep the redness and swelling down. I tend to get stuck in a loop where I’m embarrassed about being caught crying and that makes me cry harder, so finding a place in your building where you won’t run into a coworker unexpectedly might help.

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      I want to echo the task list. I did that too and it really helped. Mine was in excel.
      I also wrote down tasks for the day. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get to them all.

      Reply
    2. Scubacat

      The last time that I experienced serious loss in my life, I just went to work the next day. At the time, I wanted to keep my routine as normal as possible. Sensible intentions, but not the greatest idea. Though the work was not particularly difficult, I really should have taken a few days off!

      For the OP, it does make sense to give their manager some general context for the lower productivity.

      Reply
    3. MamaCat

      As someone whose mother has dementia, I absolutely agree with your advice. One further bit of advice with crying at your desk: keep your face relaxed if at all possible. Let the tears leak out if they come, but it’s when you start sobbing that it gets harder to hide the fact you’ve been crying. Mind you, it’s can be hard to do, so no shame if you can’t manage it. Drinking water also helps stop tears. Hope this helps!

      Reply
    4. Shoe Ruiner

      I’m really sorry about your mom.

      I agree with your list. I would also add drinking cold water when you feel tears coming. It helps me settle my face back down. Also I have kept a spoon in the fridge to put under my eyes after crying.

      Reply
    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      I’m sorry to hear about your mom, Manders.

      One thing that surprised me about my grief was how quickly I got frustrated or even furious while grieving. Our reserves of f-cks to give can run completely dry, and since I’m normally extremely calm, collected, and even-tempered, I had a little trouble dealing with the overwhelming impulse to rant and rage out loud.

      I’ll second in particular Manders’ self-care recommendation. Prioritize, take a lot of time for yourself, and as much as you can afford to, order in, binge watch, eat ice cream from the tub, whatever gives you comfort. We rightfully don’t like to allow ourselves these indulgences too often in normal times, but grieving the recent loss of a loved one is not a normal time.

      Reply
    6. Nita

      I’m really sorry. Hang in there and keep taking good care of yourself. I find that it’s not a simple road afterwards, either – you go through a short while where all you can feel is relief because your loved one is no longer suffering, because you can finally just crash and not wait for even more bad news, and then the really intense feelings come out and start to hit you at very unpredictable times. The one good thing is, there should be grief therapy out there for the more “conventional” mourning that happens later.

      Reply
    7. gladfe

      When I was working after a miscarriage, I found a cooling eye serum that helped a lot for making it less obvious I’d been crying. The one I used was Rhonda Allison Eye Revitalizer, but I’ve since seen ads for cheaper similar products. I know a skincare product probably sounds trivial in the context of grief, but it reduced my professional stress to know I could cry in the bathroom without it being obvious to everybody.

      Reply
      1. Manders

        It’s not trivial, this is really helpful! My eyes get very puffy when I cry, and sometimes they’re still visibly puffed up in the morning if I had a bad night, so I’m going to give this a try and use MamaCat and Shoe Ruiner’s suggestions too.

        Reply
    8. chilled coyote

      Yes! Exercise! Especially right after my mom died, the best feeling was running because it felt like I was using the energy of the sadness to propel me, and when I was tired, there was a lot less sad energy.

      Reply
  9. Augusta Sugarbean

    Finally a team building event I can get behind! Alison, I know a lot of people here are going to hate going to the range as a team building exercise but what is your advice if the rest of OP’s workplace is a bunch of people like me? (I own guns and shooting is a lot of fun but I will concede that I’m not sure how it strengthens a team.)

    Reply
      1. Fake Eleanor

        Yeah, guns aside, any activity that some people are reluctant to participate in — let alone completely opposed to participating in — is going to be a bad team-building exercise. Skydiving, butchery classes, public speaking, laser tag, distilling classes, offroading, building houses for charity, whatever.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          I admit I chuckled when I read this — aside from laser tag (which I thought was a hoot!) you’ve answered my mental exercise of, what teambuilding exercises would I decline to participate in?

          Reply
          1. Fake Eleanor

            I’d love playing laser tag as a team building exercise, but I’ve definitely worked with people who would hate it. (And there are people who think it’s too close to gun play, regardless, which is valid.)

            Reply
      2. Engineer Girl

        It’s like the person that had a disability and the team lead kept planning extremely physical activities. She was excluded.

        A good team building activity should be something everyone is comfortable participating in and also something everyone can do. Yes, it is a bit of lowest common denominator. But the point is to include everyone.

        Reply
        1. Anonymouse

          We do have the play-dough interview technique from last week that would make an excellent team building exercise.

          Reply
        2. Retail Worker

          The best team building is treating all your employees fairly and well. If you do this you won’t need artificial games.

          Reply
          1. AnonAtAllTimes

            Thank you. I agree. I love the jobs I’ve had that don’t do these ginned-up exercises in the guise of team building. I went to a couple of them at my current job and after that made it a habit to schedule meetings on those days/times or calling in sick in order to avoid them.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              Yeah I’ve noticed a distinct trend: jobs I love not needing to have team building exercises, jobs I disliked often did. It’s like managers want to treat the symptom rather than fix the underlying problem.

              Reply
        3. PB

          Yep. Disability would play a role here, too. I have carpal tunnel. I’d worry about joint pain as a result of recoil.

          Reply
    1. JamieS

      Shared trauma bonds people together and, barring tragedies, I can think of few things more traumatic than an inexperienced co-worker shooting a gun near me.

      Reply
    2. Dragoning

      This is an emotional enough issue that I don’t think even one person should be forced into going, no matter how gung ho everyone else is about it. There are a million less charged ideas.

      Just go bowling like normal workplaces.

      Reply
      1. The Original K.

        The best team-building activity I’ve been a part of was bowling. Low-stakes, didn’t require athleticism, good for the varying ages on the team (20s – 40s) and everyone could participate. This particular team got along really well, which helped. We had a great time.

        Reply
        1. AlexandrinaVictoria

          I actually can’t bowl due to a joint disease, but I was the cheerleader and there was food and drink and it was a hoot!

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            A lot of good team building activities have this element–people who don’t want to directly participate handle cheering, photography + general camaraderie, and bringing/guarding the cupcakes, thus bonding even if there is no way they will participate in a 3 legged race or karaoke. Gun ranges don’t lend themselves to “Wooooo Bob go you! Bob-Bob-Bob! Here have a cupcake!”

            Reply
            1. Spoooons

              A couple of years ago my site did an Egg-and-Spoon relay race to help team spirit within the site. Teams of four, entirely voluntary, fancy dress if you want to. The whole site got an hour-long paid break to attend the event (held in our parking lot) and cheer on whichever team they fancied.
              It was fun, it was safe (can’t go very fast if you’re trying to balance an egg on a spoon), no pressure to race, token prizes for the winning team and runners-up, and an hour off chatting with friends and cheering on your preferred team for everyone else.
              That was fun, and is my idea of a good team-building/morale-building exercise.

              Reply
            2. The Original K.

              Yep – there were a couple of folks who didn’t bowl but ate and drank and took pictures and talked trash when somebody bowled a gutter ball, and that was totally fine! That was as much participation as the actual bowling.

              Reply
          2. CAA

            I’ve also watched at an indoor rock climbing team event because I have an old shoulder injury. It was fine because not everyone was climbing at the same time so there was plenty of socializing and eating.

            It was funny though, because I’m the one who asked our admin to please schedule some outings that weren’t “happy hour at a bar” because I knew I had one person on my team who was in AA and didn’t want to go to those. Unknowingly, the first activity she picked was something I couldn’t do and then she felt bad about that.

            Reply
        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          Bowling is perfect: everyone but the one or two people up at the time are sitting around in a semicircle (without hearing protection), probably chatting, and as AlexandrinaVictoria said, you don’t even have to take a turn, really, to be part of the event. We’ve had people want to be the “scorekeeper” instead of bowling, even when it’s automated, they’ll enter the names and make the occasional correction, prompt people about whose turn it is, or just sit and chat.

          Reply
          1. Jerry Vandesic

            I’ve seen people opt out of participating in bowling events. I didn’t think it was unusual. Also happened with cooking classes, escape rooms, bonsai making, wine tasting, and skeet shooting. I usually come into team events knowing that not everyone will attend. It’s important to make sure that people feel comfortable not attending. I would expect the same at a gun range, but it appears the the OP’s manager might not be making it easy for people to opt out.

            Reply
            1. MatKnifeNinja

              My next team building thingie is going to the museum. We had two people mildly push back on that because of the nudes in the 16th to 19th century art.

              Still going, but won’t be stopping by those particular galleries.

              Who knew?

              Reply
              1. France

                Please tell me you are kidding… people push back on nudes in art ? That is just flabbergasting.

                I live in France, and it would be considered really prude to refuse to show l’Origine du monde by Courbet in schools. It is actually in a lot of school books.

                Reply
                1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

                  No, not at all unusual in the US. Some of it is a religious objection but many people have what I consider to be a strangely uptight view of nudity (and sex). I can’t remember who it was now but a few years ago some prominent politician or other had a classical style statue depicting Justice or Liberty or something draped in fabric while he was giving a speech because he objected to the nudity.

                  We Americans can be weirdly prudish.

        3. MCMonkeyBean

          Yes, I love our bowling outings. Not everyone wants to bowl, but they rent the private section of the bowling alley and set up lots of free food and free alcohol so we’re all still hanging out together even though only some of us are rolling the balls down the lanes.

          Reply
        4. Elemeno P.

          Bowling is great! It’s still fun whether you’re good at it or bad at it.

          My former branch once had a social night at a bowling alley and it was mostly upper-management types and lower level people like me. Some people were really good, and consistently got strikes. I am TERRIBLE at bowling, so I decided to represent my three-person department and loudly shout our name every time I inevitably got a gutter ball. It was a lot of fun.

          Reply
    3. Marzipan

      I think the other thing is, in some contexts people may not want to speak up about being uncomfortable with this. So, if a lot of colleagues were enthusiastic gun owners, that’s even more of a reason to be cautious about it, in many ways, because the voices of anyone who’s unsure are less likely to be raised in the first place.

      Reply
      1. Annab

        And what if someone has a relative or acquaintance who has been threatened or injured in a violent gun incident? This could be a triggering (no pun intended) event for someone with that back story.

        Reply
    4. pcake

      I wouldn’t consider doing a “team building” exercise that is controversial or known to make people fearful. For that matter, shouldn’t a team building exercise have people involved with each other rather than each being alone in a lane. How would that be likely to build team spirit?

      Reply
      1. EPLawyer

        This hits the nail on the head. Team-building exercises should not involve ANYTHING controversial. Regardless of your views on guns, this is not the time for a company to go shooting together. If it were flipped and the boss suggested as a team building exercise everyone makes signs for an immigration protest this weekend, would that be okay? There’s no safety issue there, you’re just making signs. Everyone can participate regardless of ability. But the fact is, it’s taking one side in a hot button issue.

        Team building — if you must do something other than treat your team well and give them as interesting work as you are able — should be as non-controversial as possible. It should be as inclusive as possible. Which means taking into accounts peoples views on the subject.

        Remember the letter a few weeks ago about the manager who was calling a meeting of all the remote offices and wanted to do a charity event while everyone was in one place? But had a history of controversial choices of charities? Same thing here. Don’t force people who work for you into your belief system.

        Reply
        1. Thlayli

          Yup. Whatever your stance on guns and gun ranges, and completely aside from any safety concerns whether you think they are legitimate or not, you can’t disagree that guns are a very controversial and divisive topic in the US at the moment.

          Why not attend a prolife or prochoice rally while you’re at it? No one would think that was a good team building exercise, because it’s such a divisive topic.

          Same thing for guns. Some people love them, some people hate them. That in itself makes it unsuitable for teambuilding, regardless of which side of the debate you are on. You are basically forcing someone to take a stance on a political issue at work.

          Reply
    5. Catherine

      If the majority wants it there has to be a no-questions-asked opt-out policy for the rest of us. I can’t be around guns because my father’s gun-related death as a child left me with PTSD; that’s not something I want to discuss with co-workers who I have to see every day.

      Reply
    6. Les G

      Think about this: everybody eats, but Alison gets umpteen letters from folks who don’t want to eat group meals with their coworkers. See where I’m going with this?

      Reply
    7. Wintermute

      I’m with you, I’d personally enjoy it. But I still recognize that it’s such a polarizing issue there’s a potential for it going wrong. Unless you’re in an industry where it’s relevant and you can make an assumption that people will be 100% okay with it– if your main product is an adapter that lets you fire beer cans from a rifle barrel, then you can reasonably make some assumptions there, for instance– you should go with things that are totally uncontroversial and almost bland as “team building” if you want to go there.

      Reply
      1. DoDscientistnotinfantry

        I work for the army in the medical/scientific field. The first team building exercise we did after I started was to go shoot antique weapons at an outdoor gun range in south Texas. I should have realized then it was not the right fit for me culturally.

        Reply
        1. Wintermute

          While the army doesn’t have the same “every man a rifleman” ethos as the Marines do, I would agree that it’s one of the few “companies” (no pun intended on the dual meaning of the term) that you could assume some level of comfort with, and acceptance of, firearms. After all, even in countries where not even the police carry firearms, the military does, and the entire mission of an Army is putting people with guns in places to protect the nation’s interests interests at home and abroad. And that requires that people working for and with the Army have at least a philosophical acceptance of the role of firearms in society and the necessity of doing violence to uphold a nation’s ideals on occasion.

          But, I would actually go so far as to say just because you might be in the business of war, even that doesn’t mean you should assume your support staff are personally comfortable handling firearms (unless, as I mentioned, it’s a situation like the Marines where everyone from a cook to an IT specialist is expected to be proficient with the doctrine of arms and prepared to use a weapon in anger). It’s one thing to accept that you are doing a job to support people with guns doing things in the name of their country, it’s another to be comfortable holding a weapon in your hands.

          That said, I wouldn’t think it inappropriate for even civilian army contractors to be put through some army training, to develop and understanding of the mission and sympathy for the men downrange in active warzones.

          And a student of military history, though, I sort of understand the idea of doing so with MODERN arms, if you are involved in any sort of research or development especially– the “good idea fairy” which imparts fantastically impractical ideas which are promulgated from the top down tends to strike most frequently people that don’t have to live and die by their newfangled trench shovel/bayonette (yes the US actually made those) or other “good idea”, and unfamiliarity with field conditions and arms handling has lead to many serious defects in military products and arms over the years. Contrasted to, say, the bipod bottle opener, which was born of the hard-won experience that troops trying to open pop bottles with their magazines causes bent feed lips, which leads to guns jamming when they are needed most.

          So, to be honest, even in your situation I don’t think it would be a good idea to use range day as a teambuilding exercise, even though you were working for a military force.

          Reply
          1. Thlayli

            Yeah, I think if you work for the army you can’t really complain about weapons-related activities. If you have a problem with guns, don’t work for the army!

            Reply
            1. Jim

              Even if you are comfortable with the idea of guns and working for/with those who use them professionally, you might not be comfortable firing them or being no a range.

              Reply
              1. Thlayli

                Isn’t that a bit hypocritical though? As an analogy, it would be like working in head office of a chain of slaughterhouses and refusing to go to a restaurant that wasn’t vegan because you aren’t comfortable around meat.

                Reply
                1. Wintermute

                  Not at all, as I said in my original reply on the topic, there is a wide difference between being PHILOSOPHICALLY okay with the idea that men with guns do violent things on behalf of their nation, and not comfortable physically holding a firearm and discharging it.

                  It would be more like someone who doesn’t like the taste of red meat working for a slaughterhouse than someone who was vegan for ethical reasons. Or, a better analogy, you can work for a company that makes rock climbing equipment and still not want to find yourself 40 feet in the air on the side of a rock face.

    8. LGC

      Obviously not directed at me (and she already answered). However, I would still agree that the boss is in the wrong (because REALLY, man?), but there is far less room for LW1 to push back on changing the activity. In that case, they might be better off asking to opt out this one and suggesting a more appropriate event next time.

      The real problem is that the activity itself is highly emotionally charged – like, to use a less political example, it’s a bit like if the boss was insisting on going to an escape room (and if liking escape rooms told LW1 a lot about his political leanings). It’s cool that almost everyone on the team likes escape rooms. But if one person is easily terrified, don’t present it as something that will make EVERYONE on your team closer. (On the flip side, if you’re the only one that hates escape rooms, it might be obvious if there’s a sudden change of plans.)

      Reply
    9. Lemon Bars

      We did this as a team a few years ago, well the going to a gun range but we were there for a self defense class. Since we had quite a few incidents near our office our boss got the team a day off to attend a day long self defense class where you got a few hours in the gun range if you chose or you got to pick other things to do there (more self defense, other gun options how to use effectively (tasers, pepper spray etc). I would check to see if there are other options there that the team can do not everyone is comfortable around guns.

      Reply
  10. Nobody Here by That Name

    Funny story re: OP 1. Didn’t have a work outing at a gun range, but the CEO had a small range of his own at his house. So in a team-building exercise of inviting people to his home for the various other activities there, there was the option to take one of his guns and shoot it.

    Only problem was that on this particular day he didn’t have many bullets, so the people who could take advantage of the offer were limited. I had vaguely expressed interest but then got distracted by other things. Cut to later in the day when the CEO passed by me and said “Don’t worry! I didn’t forget you! There’s still a bullet with your name on it!”

    I assume he was talking about the practice range, but to be fair I didn’t ask him to clarify.

    Reply
    1. Jemima Bond

      Good grief! Is that legal? You can just hand someone an actual gun and live ammunition and go, here you are, have a go, without any training or safety precautions? Isn’t that putting them and everyone else at the function in danger? What if someone had been hurt? Manslaughter by gross negligence springs to mind.

      Reply
      1. Cordoba

        In most states and for most types of gun this would be entirely legal if done on private property, it’s actually more straightforward than letting somebody borrow a car.

        Reply
          1. Cordoba

            What, what?

            If I let somebody borrow my car there is at least some amount of paperwork theoretically involved, as they have to have a driver’s license and have to be covered under my car insurance.

            If I let somebody borrow a gun on private land for use on private land there are no licensing or insurance concerns at all, it’s the same as them borrowing a screwdriver or a jacket. Many people who have large hunting properties keep loaner guns that they will give out to friends etc with whom they are going hunting; there is no paperwork involved.

            An exception *might* be if they were a felon or otherwise prohibited from owning guns, I’m not sure how that would apply to a loaner.

            Reply
              1. Cordoba

                My understanding is that this is actually a complicated question and the answer is “it depends” based on the state, the insurer, the specific policy, the circumstances under which the borrower is driving the car, the nature of the claim, and whether we’re talking about liability or comprehensive insurance.

                That’s why I said “they have to be covered under my insurance” rather than “I have to put them on my insurance”. They may well be covered already, but it’s an extant consideration that would not apply in the situation that “Nobody Here by That Name” described.

                Reply
              2. TL -

                Most insurances cover ‘temporary drivers not otherwise listed’ – so if my best friend drove, covered. But if my brother who lived with me drove frequently, not covered. But in some states/insurance companies, you insure the person, not the car, so if someone else crashed my car, it wouldn’t be covered – or at least, my grandmother had this at one point. She was covered in any car, but I wasn’t covered in her car.

                My flatmate’s insurance (in NZ) doesn’t cover any driver but her. But drivers here don’t have to have insurance and many don’t.

                Reply
              3. Le Sigh

                Not sure about other policies, but I asked my insurance about this a few times since my now-husband used to drive my car sometimes before we were married. I was told that if he’s just borrowing my car (for say, picking up groceries, as opposed to say, using it to drive Uber or something) and there was an accident, as long as I told my insurer he had my permission to use it, it was covered (assuming we hadn’t otherwise violated coverage terms, of course). And his insurance told him the same thing about me using his. I imagine that’s dependent on where you live and the policy, but I think a lot of times in the U.S., car insurance allows you to lend out your car to some extent.

                Reply
                1. Artemesia

                  Usually if you have a car and insurance and if you drive someone else’s car then your own car insurance covers you in that car. Policies generally cover drivers without insurance who are lent your car.

                2. Le Sigh

                  That makes sense. I might even be mixing up the times we both had cars with when only one of us had a car.

                3. SignalLost

                  I specifically had a policy where unmarried men under 27 could not be insured under my policy if I loaned them my car. I was in college at the time, so men in my age range. It lowered my bill substatially and my insurance agent suggested it.

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy

              I’m pretty sure you don’t need insurance or a driver’s license to drive on private property either.

              Also, you don’t hand someone who’s never shot before the bullets and a gun and expect them to just go ahead. They wouldn’t know what to do with it, at least without lots and lots of youtube. How to load the gun, how to get the safety off, how to hold the gun, how to aim properly. So you give them the safety lesson too.

              My dad teaches people to shoot at his little backyard range occasionally. Including a coworker, one time. He has a great little safety lesson, which is pretty similar to the one his dad gave him.

              Reply
        1. MatKnifeNinja

          My BIL goes this all the time when he has get togethers. He takes out his deer rifles and other assort fire arms and lets people give it a whirl.

          Reply
      2. Wintermute

        It’s perfectly legal, but you are very, very right that if something were to happen, it’s his butt on the line, potentially criminally (negligent manslaughter, etc).

        It’s not as rare as you might think, actually, especially among certain social groups. I knew I was fully accepted by my ex girlfriend’s family when me and her brother went out shooting, with his sizeable collection– being fair to him and for context,he’s an armored car driver and ex-military, and lives on his own homestead where he has had to use a firearm against dangerous wildlife, so he has a practical reason to own a collection, not even counting his issued duty weapons.

        The difference there is we all knew what we were doing and were fully proficient. There is no way on heaven or earth I’d ever just let guests go throw some lead without knowing they’re not idiots and know what they’re doing. Even a non-catastrophic and completely non-ballistic firearm accident (holding the weapon wrong and bashing your eye or face due to recoil, holding too high on a pistol and pinching the webbing of your hand in the action, racking a shotgun wrong and slamming your finger in the slide, closing a slide on your fingertip, etc) can be terrifying and bloody, and lead to a trip to the emergency room.

        Reply
        1. Thlayli

          I heard of a case where a man was doing some target practice and his girlfriend who knew nothing about guns took a shot and wildly missed. The bullet went a long distance and killed a random person. The couple were completely unaware of the death at the time. Forensics found the empty shells and tracked down the gun, and the girlfriend was the one who was charged. Personally I think the guy who knew about gun safety should have been the one held responsible.

          Reply
      3. Thlayli

        I live in an EU country where the police are not routinely armed, and getting a gun is much more difficult than the us. As far as I know it’s completely legal to lend someone a gun to shoot on your own private property, so long as you aren’t hunting anything you don’t have a license to hunt.

        Regarding cars, insurance laws are more stringent in the EU than the US. It is illegal to drive on public roads without third party insurance at a minimum. However many people have “driving other cars” on their insurance. So I could borrow someone’s car and drive it without any extra paperwork and would be covered by my own insurance. However when I was younger and insurance was more expensive, I didn’t have that option enabled, so I would not have been able to borrow someone’s car to drive on a public road without them adding my name to their policy as a “named driver”.

        However, on their own private property I could borrow and drive someone’a car without any insurance at all, so long as I didn’t go on the public roads.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          it’s illegal to drive on public roads in the US without insurance in all states but three, which offer a bond/state deposit deal.

          Reply
          1. Thlayli

            Oh that’s interesting. I’d got the impression from another comment previously that it was legal in all states.

            Reply
            1. TL -

              It is very illegal in most states and every time you get pulled over, the cop will check for license, registration, and insurance.
              If you don’t have insurance, it’s a ticket (up to $2000 in some states), and usually your license and registration suspended until you can show proof of insurance, with an additional fee for reinstating, with more severe penalties for repeat offenders. And you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a ticket for whatever you were pulled over for, so you’ll end up with two tickets.

              Reply
        2. Wintermute

          Can confirm, I’ve been hunting in Germany as an American Exchange student. I missed the Rhea but I got an excellent hit on beautiful 12-point treestump.

          Reply
      4. Nobody Here by That Name

        The entire event was a risk manager’s nightmare, really. In addition to the gun range there was tractor driving on steep hills and ATVs through the back woods acres of his house. All that was missing was a barefoot stroll through some rusty nails to make an insurance agent’s nightmares come true.

        Reply
  11. Free Meerkats

    In my office, an outing to the gun range would be perfectly fine. We’re in a very liberal area, but everyone in the office is a gun owner. Most of us served in the military.

    But yeah, most places it wouldn’t be a great idea.

    Reply
    1. CarolynM

      Going to the range made our shortlist for summer office outings this year! We were looking for something interesting to do – I brought up going hatchet throwing and my boss, who has never fired a gun but is interested in learning, suggested a gun range. Nobody objected because of guns (in fact, the 3 who don’t shoot were all pretty psyched to try it) but the only nearby option was a trap range and that would have been a tad advanced for the beginners. We decided to rent a party bus and go out for an extravagant dinner instead! (Though I am still pushing for hatchet throwing for our Holiday party … and I’m making some weekend shooting plans with a few coworkers!)

      Reply
  12. Elena

    For OP1, I’d say brave the discomfort of saying you don’t want to go, don’t engage in politics, don’t rise to the bait, if he tries to get a rise out of you. In general, an honest statement od preferences helps not only yourself get respect and get what you need, but normalizes self-advocacy among your coworkers.

    Also, I would caution LW to ensure that your standard of being provocative is actually baiting or harassing behavior, not just a propensity to disagree with or challenge your opinions.

    Reply
    1. Lara

      Well, if OP’s boss is ‘challenging her opinions’ on the best way to do the TPS report I agree with you. If he’s frequently bringing up controversial topics / politics to be ‘provocative’, that’s not really acceptable.

      Reply
    2. MLB

      Agreed. I actually think Alison’s suggestions for responses are too long. I would just stick to “I won’t be attending” and leave it at that, then if boss pushes the issue, go to HR. There may be companies where this kind of thing is ok, but I think it’s highly inappropriate for work team building regardless of political beliefs.

      Reply
    3. Yorick

      It’s not a boss or coworker’s responsibility (or right) to “challenge your opinions” on social issues that have nothing to do with your work.

      Reply
  13. Uyulala

    I don’t understand the gun range as a team building thing just from a logistic standpoint. It’s loud, so you can’t talk to each other and people are going to be either standing around doing nothing or focused on their own targets. It’s not really a thing you can work together at.

    Reply
    1. Rick Tq

      It is team building in that experienced shooters can (if requested) coach the less skilled and there is frankly some competition on who can shoot the tightest groups, etc.

      Loud, yes but you can communicate on the range when no one is firing.

      Reply
        1. Ladyphoenix

          I am curious on that since you brought it up. You don’t have to answer though.

          1) Do they give you a specialize bow? Or do you have a special position?
          2) Do you use a crossbow?

          Reply
    2. Bart on Film

      You’re taking team building too literally. Simply the act of everyone being in one place and doing the same activity *is* the team building aspect. I’ve seen plays, concerts, and other similar “everyone witness the same thing” team building activities as well as the kinds of things you’re thinking of. They’re not all interactive group activities where everyone has to work together to achieve some goal.

      Reply
    3. Wintermute

      oh lord don’t give that boss ideas, or next thing you know they’ll be stacked up outside a door in a training house waiting on Deb from HR to fire the breaching charges on five, while Kyle from IT throws a grenade on two (he pulled the pin on seven), and on one the sales team sweeps the doorway alternating left and right.

      Reply
      1. NewBoss2016

        You joke, but my office has actually suggested tactical drills/training exercises like these as team-building…

        Reply
        1. Wintermute

          I PERSONALLY would love it. But unless you work for a mercenary company it’s not really appropriate…

          Reply
    4. Cat Herder

      “It’s too loud to talk” doesn’t strike me as a reason for this not to be team-building.
      Same as with any activity that makes it hard to talk, or that requires you to pay close attention to doing the activity: you talk afterwards and perhaps in-between, while you’re standing around and waiting your turn.
      The practical problem as a team-building activity: it seems to me is that it’s mostly individual action — as Rick Tq says, more experienced shooters can help less experienced shooters, but that’s not the same as a group activity.
      I do think that the danger involved in the activity makes it a no-go.

      Reply
  14. Allison

    2 — the in-person meeting is odd, but I’ve definitely counseled recommendees if I think their materials are way off. I wouldnt do it for anyone, and don’t edit things like sample work, but if I know someone is great and would do the job well but is just bad at writing cover letters, I give them my thoughts about making tweaks before passing the materials along. When an application comes with a referral, I see the cover letter more as a formality anyway. It also helps preserve my own reputation with the hiring manager.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      I can see giving some advice about tweaking the letter on the phone but bringing them in for a rework seems off. I’d be ticked if I knew my subordinates were cooking the materials of applicants to give someone with weak material a leg up.

      Reply
  15. Cnon

    OP 4- I’m so sorry about your Mom.

    OP#1 I think that would be so awesome, as along as no stupid play.

    Reply
  16. JamieS

    OP #3, completely put those coworkers’ relocation out of your mind. There could be any number of reasons why they were able to relocate such as they discussed it with management earlier, your supervisor’s ability to effectively manage off-site reports is limited to 2, they have different duties that make off-site management easier, etc. Also, going the route of “No fair! Charlie got to!” doesn’t seem to have a high rate of success so I wouldn’t even get near it.

    Reply
    1. Middle School Teacher

      My colleague likes to say to her students that fair doesn’t mean everyone gets the same thing; fair means everyone gets the right thing. And it has to be right for both OP and the company. I agree with you, JamieS. “No fair” is not going to work as a negotiating tactic.

      Reply
      1. BRR

        My SIL said something similar when her grandfather was planning his estate. He was a farmer and was figuring out how to divide the land between his dozen or so grandchildren. Some grandchildren were very interested in farmed and did a lot of work while some did nothing. He asked my My SIL for advice and she said “do you want to do what’s fair (giving each person an equal share) or what’s right (giving the kids who voluntarily did more a share)?”

        Reply
      2. Mongrel

        I like the pragmatic approach from Babylon 5;
        ” You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.”
        Marcus Cole

        Reply
        1. Damn it, Hardison!

          I would like to cross stitch this and hang it in my cube. (I won’t, but it’s a delightful thought.)

          Reply
        2. Jules the 3rd

          We are showing bab5 to Little Jules again this summer. He doesn’t totally remember it from when he was 6. Such a great show.

          Reply
        3. The Cosmic Avenger

          I can’t believe that quote wasn’t in the IMDB! I just added it…after verifying the exact wording from my own copy of A Late Delivery from Avalon, of course…

          Reply
          1. Mongrel

            Not sure if it’s preaching to the choir, or if they’re easily available but my other “OMG!! You must watch this!!” Sci-fi shows are Farscape (shaky start, settles into awesome pretty quickly) and the BattleStar Galactica remake (Strong start, divided opinion on the ending…).

            But yes, B5 is well worth bingeing, despite some not-as-good episodes. It was the first show I remember that had an arc for the whole thing, until it got messed up by the networks, it was the first consistent use of CGI for visual effects and it’s what made Deep Space Nine (attempt) to up it’s game story wise.

            *Sigh* them were the days :)

            Reply
            1. Mr. Bob Dobalina

              Agree about Farscape and BSG, which I have also seen. And I loved Deep Space Nine. I watched Babylon 5 when it aired originally, and it really hasn’t been in syndication that I know of, so there hasn’t been an easy opportunity to watch it again, until now.

              Reply
    2. BananaTanger

      If I were OP’s manager, the lack of judgement shown in telling me that s/he’d be working from a different office and had already closed on a new home would be enough for me to think they need more direct supervision. Baffling choice.

      Reply
      1. Lara

        Yes. It’s really not that strange that the boss wishes they’d been brought in earlier. Rather than saying ‘Will this work?’ OP has presented them with a fait accompli. I could see a boss being tempted to ask for a resignation rather than accommodating her.

        Reply
      2. AnotherAlison

        Agreed. I think the OP is confused about specific office norms, but also general norms. I know a few people in my office of 1,000 who have special relocation-related exceptions, but it is not typical. I have also been there long enough to know the handful of people who had those exceptions for a couple years, but either had to resign their positions because they were not in our primary office for their job. The OP’s request is so far from being a no-brainer that I am baffled why they thought it would be fine.

        Reply
      3. Falling Diphthong

        I suspect it’s a related to people who move into management and discover the tons of stuff their past boss had been doing that just wasn’t visible from their old position. From the outside it looked like Babette just told the boss she was switching to LA and he made a note of the date on his calendar.

        Reply
    3. AcademiaNut

      Another way to look at is is that in four years, only two people have transferred out of their primary office while keeping the same duties. Unless the business is very tiny, this could mean that this is a rare occurrence that is done in special circumstances, rather than a routine request.

      And if this is the case, going in with the attitude that this is something that is your right, and getting annoyed when it isn’t immediately granted, could really hurt your chances of getting what you want, and possibly your reputation as an employee.

      Reply
      1. Competent Commenter

        Agreed. Also, I would not purchase a house without confirming first that I could change offices, and I can see why the supervisor is annoyed by now having to set a limit that will be a hardship for an employee who put themself in this position. Maybe it’s because I live in a relatively high COL, but I would never make that major of a decision without confirming something as important as where I’m going to work.

        Reply
  17. anon^_^

    What would your advice be for dealing with grief while looking for work? (or would it be different enough for a separate post?)

    I’m coming to the end of a 1 year contract, ending the same week that one of my parents died suddenly last year, so I can’t afford to postpone my job search, as most advice I’m finding recommends. Is letting people know the situation appropriate? I get the feeling it would come off as an ‘excuse’ for any shortcomings, but honestly I have no idea.
    (I’m already seeing a psychologist/therapist, my current employer is very supportive, etc.)

    Thank you to OP4 for asking the question, and I’m sorry.

    Reply
    1. Daria Grace

      Are you able to keep searching but do it less intensely for a few weeks so you have needed time for rest and reflection?

      Reply
    2. Kiwi

      I’m very sorry, but personally I wouldn’t let people know the situation. I’m a manager and it feels like too personal thing to have someone say in an interview.

      All I can think of is to search hard now, so that you’ve hopefully found a new job before that week.

      Reply
    3. Indie

      I had a similar issue so I signed up with a temping agency because a) no spoons to job hunt and b) I could specify that I only wanted to do fairly mindless drone work. It was a departure from my career path but I just tell employers I needed flexibility while dealing with a family matter (no need to go into details as to what). I also found it easier to be around people who were basic civil/ignored me as the temp weirdly enough!

      Reply
  18. Kuododi

    #4…A small suggestion. It might be worth a discussion with your Rabbi to see if they would be able to provide you with some short term grief support congruent with your faith traditions. In the alternative, possibly your Rabbi might be aware of a grief support group in your community. I wish I had words to express my saddness at the loss of your mother. May G-D bless you and keep you and your family all the days of your lives. Grace and peace.

    Reply
  19. Cat P

    OP #4, I’m so sorry. Anniversaries are so hard. I’m about to hit the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s so not fair, isn’t it? I second an earlier poster’s suggestion of therapy. It won’t fix anything, but it will be a place for all your feelings. For me it was one of the few places where no one was trying to tie a horrible, horrible thing into some kind of neat bow. Losing your mother is one of the most lonely-making experiences in the world. You don’t have your mother, and that’s the worst. But please also know you’re not alone.
    Work-wise, it’s ok to have ups and downs. You’ll get through the work part. That will actually get easier. But you won’t adjust to the loss in any kind of linear way. So make room for your feelings. That’s the one part of your life that can’t go on autopilot.

    Reply
  20. Former call centre worker

    #5
    How common are phone interviews in the US? I live in the UK and have never had a single one, or worked anywhere that did them routinely

    Reply
    1. Mystery Bookworm

      They’re very common. And helpful! I remember one where, less than five minutes into the conversation we confirmed some details about the job description that meant it wasn’t one I would have taken. The whole thing ended amicably and saved me taking two hours out of my day to find that out.

      Reply
      1. Luna

        Eh, I disagree that they are helpful. Personally I absolutely detest phone interview. In this modern era of open-office trends plus years of companies trying to save money by shoving as many employees as possible into small spaces, many of us do not have private offices or other private spaces at work to take phone interviews from. Usually I end up having to take time off to stay at home for the call anyway (highly annoying to use that much PTO for a brief screening call), or try to give a good interview while hiding in a stairwell at work and hoping that none of my managers/coworkers/hordes of students happen to walk in on me.

        Reply
        1. Sam.

          Luna, what’s your experience on the other side of a phone interview? As an interviewee, I’ve had some phone screens that were helpful in determining whether I’d be interested in the position and some that really, really weren’t. As an interviewer, I’ve always found them worthwhile.

          Reply
        2. Courageous cat

          I too do not like phone interviews. I get the idea of saving time if the position is not what you want, but in a job search, no one wants to take the time to schedule a phone interview, plan and prepare for it, do it, then *wait* to schedule an in-person interview, then plan and prepare for it, etc… It’s just too many separate steps that each take a good amount of time. And I have never had a phone interviewer set up the in-person interview at the end of the conversation, it always takes many days to hear back.

          Ultimately it’s just more annoying, and planning and preparing for a phone interview sucks all the more when there’s no telling if you’ll actually get an in-person interview or not.

          Reply
    2. SusanIvanova

      They’re very common in software, because usually the on-site interview is a full day of talking to as many of your potential teammates as possible. A phone screen can save a lot of wasted time if it’s a bad match.

      Reply
    3. Akcipitrokulo

      UK here – when was doing call centre/customer support, I tended to get in person first off – but tended to be agencies who would do initial screening. Since I moved to IT 10+ years ago, I’ve never had a job that didn’t start with a phone screening (in addition to chat with agent).

      Reply
    4. missc

      I was going to say the same thing. I’m also in the UK and I’ve never had a phone interview when I’ve applied directly to the company. You just send off your application, and then either get called in for an in-person interview, or rejected (or you hear nothing!) The only times I’ve had some sort of phone conversation have been when I’ve applied via an agency, and even then it’s not really an interview, more talking over my application with the recruitment agent before they submit it on my behalf.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        It’s the same for me, but I’d guess that’s not really relevant to the OP in this case – she either wouldn’t be asking about this in the first place (I had never heard of phone interviews before reading AAM and as such, the situation described in the OP would be completely normal to me and nothing I’d ever question) or she’d have mentioned job searching in a foreign country/culture that isn’t the one she grew up in/is used to.

        Reply
    5. Al who is that Al

      Meant to reply directly to this post, I’ve only twice had a Phone Interview first, for all the other job interviews I’ve had, it has always been a face to face interview. It has to be said that I work in a fairly specialist industry/niche so a phone interview is not really that beneficial, there are not that many people able to do that job so the screening required is much less.

      Reply
    6. A Reader

      I am in the U.S. and currently job searching. Phone interviews are very common here across a number of industries. As others have mentioned, they can be mutually beneficial by saving everyone a lot of time upfront. You still need to prepare for the phone screen almost in the same way that you would prepare for an in-person interview, though, as you might be asked anything (“Tell me about yourself,” “Tell me about a time when you….” etc.).

      Reply
    7. cereal tower

      That really surprises me. I’m in the UK and have worked in hiring and phone interviews have always occurred whether I was the interviewee or interviewer. Is it possible you have had calls that came across as more explanatory in nature, but were in fact informal phone interviews? Often they’re not clearly labelled as such.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Ampersand

        I’m the same, never had a phone interview in the UK, never heard of anyone having them.

        Reply
      2. Former call centre worker

        No, the only times I’ve ever had a call from a prospective employer would be years ago when personal email addresses weren’t quite as universal and some employers would phone purely to set up an interview date/time. I wonder if phone interviews are limited to a few industries in the UK or more common for higher-level staff or something.

        I’ve only worked for large (but not international) companies and I think they like to have quite a standard interview process where everything is scored to be fair to all candidates, and I suspect phone interviews don’t fit in with that very well.

        Reply
    8. ssssssssssssssssssssssss

      Career administrative assistant here and for me, phone screens were quite rare. It was usually “We received your application, it looks good, we’d like to see you for an interview” and that also usually meant juggling schedules, bus routes, etc.

      The last one I did was seven years ago!

      Reply
    9. The Original K.

      Very common, and preferred by me! That way if you discover that you and the job aren’t aligned, you haven’t gone to the trouble of dressing up & going in in person. I had one where we quickly figured out that the job was more junior than I was looking for so we wrapped it up in 10 minutes. It was a time-saver for both of us.

      Reply
      1. a1

        This to me sounds like a phone screen though, not a phone interview. In my experience, I’d say phone screens are really common, but phone interviews (which would be step 2 after the screen) not as much, unless you are out of town.

        Reply
        1. Washi

          Yeah, just to clarify for other readers, I think what most Americans are referencing is a phone screen, which is usually a 10-15 minute chat about the job basics. Good hiring managers often lay out potential deal breakers there, like salary, amount of travel, etc so no one wastes their time doing a full interview. Maybe this is a thing because American workers have so little PTO and there’s an understanding that you don’t want to use it up on something that isn’t at all a viable prospect?

          A phone interview for a local candidate is not common at all though, in my experience.

          Reply
          1. Sam.

            Hmm, I don’t think you can assume that’s true for all the Americans on here. Every application process I know of in my field has started with a genuine phone interview. As far as interviewing locally – I recently had a phone interview with an organization about 5 miles away from me. I was involved in hiring for a position at my last job, and they actually made the internal candidate do a phone interview like everyone else. He decided to walk outside and talk instead of sitting in his office virtually down the hall from the interviewer, but yeah. In my field, it would be considered odd if you didn’t start with a phone (or maybe a skype) interview.

            Reply
          2. Former call centre worker

            I get the impression from AAM that it’s a lot more common in the US to list jobs without a salary range than in the UK. I don’t think I’ve ever applied for a job that didn’t post a salary, I think it’s more of an annoying exception (or limited to specialist jobs perhaps) than the norm. Maybe the issue there is that hiring managers aren’t including enough information up front? I would be pretty annoyed if I wasted time applying for something, and then they told me that it involves travel when that could have gone in the ad!

            Reply
        2. The Original K.

          Oh, you’re right. Typically the process is phone screen, which is no more than half an hour, and then an in-person interview if everyone likes everything and wants to move forward with the process.

          Reply
    10. Wintermute

      The only jobs I’ve ever gotten without a phone interview were “churn and burn” type places like door-to-door sales. Even for temp factory work, which is fairly lax on hiring standards in a lot of cases because they really just need warm bodies and for 12 bucks an hour they’re not expecting a ton of qualifications, I had a phone screening with the basics– they laid out the job requirements, can you lift 25 pounds continuously, can you stand 8 hours, etc and asked some basics.

      Reply
    11. Bea

      Idk…I’ve only ever had one in my experience.

      It depends on the field and industry. We only phone screen for management or department heads currently.

      Reply
    12. Damn it, Hardison!

      I’m in the US and have had phone interviews for all but one of the professional jobs I’ve applied for in the last 18 years. I’ve had them for both local and out of state positions. In some cases I’ve had more than one phone interview – one with the internal recruiter and then one with the hiring manager before being brought in for an in-person interview. I’ve even had a couple of conference calls with the entire team (usually 3-4 people) before the on-site. As others have mentioned, it’s a good opportunity to learn more about the job and the organization – and the people you might work with – without the time investment required of an in-person interview.

      Reply
    13. Artemesia

      We hired nationally which meant expensive travel for finalists. We never reached the final 3 without doing about 6 to 10 phone screens. It as extraordinarily helpful. We could rather easily eliminate about half of the people we screened before making final decisions about whom to invite in. We had the hiring committee do the screen — so there would be 3 of us on the call and we had a loose set of questions to structure the interview and had agreed beforehand which of us would lead and would ask which questions. Then whoever wanted to do so would follow up on questions if we wanted them to elaborate on their response. It worked very well.

      Reply
  21. Jemima Bond

    OP3, it really isn’t odd that your boss wished you’d discussed the move earlier – basically it seems like you’ve chosen your new home assuming you would get the move you want, which doesn’t really look great. I would, like your boss, expect someone to have the office move agreed first because it’s not something you’re entitled to.
    But it’s done now so as Alison says, negotiate the best you can without the “it’s unfair” angle – if you mention those colleagues who have moved at all, perhaps do so in a context of the successful nature of their moves and how things they have put into place could work for you too.

    Reply
    1. MLB

      +1 You made a bad assumption based on limited information. If coming to your current office is a big burden and would have you looking for a new job, then this should have been the clue that you needed to discuss this with your manager before you bought your house. Her statement that you find odd is completely normal. When you meet with her, go in prepared that you won’t get the result you want. If you aren’t willing to leave your job, this is a “suck it up” moment and a lesson for any future major decisions.

      Reply
    2. Hey Karma, Over here.

      I did a search on the comments to see if this point had been offered. I agree completely.
      “He also mentioned that he wished that I would have brought this up before I decided to buy my home, which strikes me as odd.”
      It would have been odd if you were standing by the coffee maker telling a coworker you bought a house and your boss said, I wish you’d told me.
      Instead, OP bought a house and told boss that this decision would require a major decision on his/her part and is surprised that boss wanted more notice?
      I think that OP is being falsely ingenuous, except when coupled with statements like “it’s not fair.”
      Moving offices just doesn’t work that way.

      Reply
      1. Cat Herder

        I don’t think we need to impute bad motives to the OP — rather than “falsely ingenuous,” I’d say this situation arose from inexperience — first job, only four years out of college.

        Reply
      2. Thlayli

        Yeah – if OPs choice of Home location was dependent on getting this move, OP should have asked first and not just assumed. If OP is happy to commute from new home to existing office and is just asking to move offices as a favour, obviously OP would not have to ask first.

        Reply
      3. Leela

        +1! The boss probably isn’t upset LW bought a house without their express permission; LW’s boss is probably upset that LW went “now that I’ve bought a house, you’ll be accommodating me with a move.”

        Of course LW’s boss could be someone who feels (incorrectly) like they should get to weigh in on whether you buy property or not, but even very reasonable managers are going to balk at being told “I’ve done this thing that makes the terms of my employment difficult without asking you and now expect you to fix that”

        Reply
  22. Sue Wilson

    #1: If you don’t think you can just decline or go to HR, it might be worth it as a last ditch effort to see what your boss’s thought process is here. Why does he want to go to a range? Approaching it this way means boss is less likely to be provocative, and you can also feel out problems based on what he’s mentioned himself. The downside is that asking him why he’s doing it can entrench him in his own thinking.

    All this to say, that if the only way out is through your boss, approaching him as if he’s thought this through and you just want more info will probably give you more leverage to make his rethink this.

    Reply
  23. Cordoba

    I enjoy guns and gun ranges, am very comfortable around them, and have even gone shooting with colleagues and work visitors as a strictly voluntary after-hours group activity.

    I still think the boss in #1 is very wrong to consider this as an official company-sanctioned team building event.

    Reply
    1. Annie

      That makes two of us. I learned to shoot when I was three. (We lived remotely in an area with lots of large predators and no law enforcement of animal control for over an hour away). I learned gun safety and the danger of guns even before that.

      I own guns. I am a former LEO.

      I would never go to a range with colleagues, professional contacts, etc. only exception: if I went back to law enforcement.

      This is just wrong. Boss has an agenda or is totally clueless.

      This isn’t a pro or anti gun/gun control issue. I know several card carrying NRA members who have shot down similar ideas she. They were proposed by coworkers.

      Some things should never be fine with coworkers. Strip clubs, gun ranges, religious services, visits to plantations, etc. Anything extremely politically divisive or where someone would feel unsafe or disrespected should be a no go.

      Reply
    2. Kat in VA

      That and the process involved in teaching a non-gun person how to safely handle a firearm is pretty involved. Every time I’ve taught someone how to shoot, it’s been very one-on-one, focused on familiarizing them with the weapon, staying with them through every step, and keeping a very weather eye on them even when they graduate to loading, shooting, and unloading by themselves.

      Guns are not toys, although some folks treat them that way. The rules for using them are very, very simple but they have to be reinforced and drilled over and over again. (How many times I’ve hollered “FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL ON TARGET AND READY TO FIRE”, oof)

      No way would I do this, nor would I want to go if it were mandated – and I’m an enthusiast!

      Reply
      1. Cordoba

        This bring up another good reason that this is a terrible idea for a workplace event – you could easily wind up reversing the normal power dynamics and have somebody experience giving instructions to a new shooter that is their boss or higher.

        Is the (shooting) experienced low-level guy going to be as quick or willing to “holler” at a (shooting) novice VP who is doing something wrong or dangerous? Probably best we never find out.

        I don’t even like people getting firearms instruction from friends or relatives for basically this same reason; better to go to a third-party who is an independent expert and completely separate from any preexisting relationships or expectations.

        Reply
      2. Competent Commenter

        Yeah, I would feel very uncomfortable with this event because I don’t trust myself to handle a gun safely. It can take me a while to learn new things that involve physical motion (such as PT exercises), and I tend to do them okay a few times and then suddenly lose track of them. I assume that firing a gun includes a number of safety steps done in the correct order, remembering not to point at anything you don’t want to shoot, etc., and I have ADHD, get distracted, and am not always aware of where all my body parts are, so I’m clumsy and bump into things. I am absolutely the kind of person who would forget I’m holding the gun for a second and squeeze the trigger at the wrong time. Yikes. Forget why I might not to attend…no one should want to attend with me!

        Reply
  24. Al who is that Al

    #5 – I’ve only twice had a Phone Interview first, for all the other job interviews I’ve had, it has always been a face to face interview. It has to be said that I work in a fairly specialist industry/niche so a phone interview is not really that beneficial, there are not that many people able to do that job so the screening required is much less.

    Reply
    1. Marion Ravenwood

      I’ve never had a phone interview before a face-to-face interview – it’s always been straight from application to in-person interview (or standard rejection email) – and the only people I know who have did so because they were in a different country from the interviewer/hiring organisation at the time. I’m in the UK and have only ever gone for lower-level jobs though, so not sure if it’s a cultural thing or dependent on how high-up the role is.

      Reply
  25. Knitting Cat Lady

    #1: Over here official team building things are covered under work place insurance. Meaning all accidents are covered by work place insurance.

    So, if you trip over an unsecured cable, work place insurance will cover it. And probably duke out who has to pay in the end with whoever was supposed to secure the cable.

    No idea how this works in the US.

    If things are similar, I’m sure your employers insurance would have a lot to say about this!

    I mean, even in the absence of people being stupid, accidents happen.

    Aside from all that, gun ranges would be hell for me.

    I have sensory issues that make every day noises unbearably loud for me…

    Reply
    1. Harper the Other One

      Your last point is a very important one! There are lots of people who would find the sensory aspects of a gun range awful, without taking the activity itself into consideration. I have no problem with ranges or target shooting but I would never want to go to one because of the noise.

      Reply
      1. WS

        Physical issues, too – I have arthritis in both hands, but I suspect hand/wrist injuries are not uncommon in office workers, and the impact of firing a gun would be a bad thing. But I think being thoughtful and inclusive should be a starting point for all work “team building” exercises, and it obviously isn’t here!

        Reply
      2. Cordoba

        Also, anybody who is pregnant or may possibly be pregnant should stay away from indoor ranges. Even with the best ventilation systems there’s still a *lot* of burned powder and lead dust in the air.

        Reply
        1. LAP

          and even if you aren’t pregnant, it’s a good idea to keep the clothes you wear to the range separate from your everyday clothes, clean up afterwards, etc. Especially if you have children

          Reply
        2. Thlayli

          Not to mention damage to the hearing of the baby! From 15 weeks they can hear loud noises and their hearing develops quite fast after that. The periodic gun testing that all police officers have to attend is postponed for pregnant officers for this reason. You can’t put hearing protection on the ears of a foetus!

          Reply
          1. Cordoba

            Interesting, I had never even considered that loud noises could damage hearing in utero but that makes perfect sense. It’s not like our ears just start working the day we’re born.

            I learned something new today, thanks.

            Reply
            1. Thlayli

              Theres actually an awesome video online where some researchers played different types of music to foetuses and used 3D ultrasound to video their facial expressions as they react to the music. It’s pretty funny / fascinating.

              Reply
    2. Legal Rugby

      I think while most work place insurers would cover a work event that happened, at say, a restaurant or a painting place, most insurers draw the line at anything that requires its own waiver, or that carries an inherent risk of life or limb. And make no mistake, as someone who used to teach soldiers how to shoot, this does have that risk, even on a well-controlled range. A risk that goes up exponentially when you have people being taught how to handle firearms.
      Any insurer in the U.S. is going to look at that and deny converge – I tried to take a group of student veterans shooting a few years ago and we were explicitly told insurance wouldn’t cover us, and that we could not do it as a part of an official event. That’s with former military members, some of whom shot skeet on the weekends for fun.

      Reply
  26. Glomarization, Esq.

    I am very, very interested to see what LW#1’s company’s general liability insurance coverage looks like.

    I’d move away from “many people” language and say, straight up, “I’m not comfortable doing this, so it would be the opposite of team building for me.” I’d say the same for quite a few activities with co-workers, honestly: paintball, pub crawls, Habitat for Humanity builds. I might do any one of those things with friends (in fact, I have taken my liberal self to a gun range with a small — keyword small — group of my liberal friends, and we had a good time). But dangerous-y, adventure-y, drink-y, and heavy lifting-y things aren’t activities I want my co-workers seeing me partake in. I’d nope on out, politely, and with language that essentially says “it’s not you, it’s me.”

    But I am old and I DGAF and don’t mind owning sh-t like that.

    Reply
    1. Bart on Film

      Agreed. Pushing some of the burden onto a vague group of others tends to muddy your point and make your motivation suspicious. Are you speaking for someone else? Are you personally bothered at all, or are you only raising the point on principle? This is the kind of question you open the door to when you try to incorporate others into your objection. Trust me, I’ve done it before and it backfired big time.

      Reply
    2. Delta Delta

      At least in my jurisdiction, all this stuff would be covered under workers’ comp. Someone gets injured during a gun range team building exercise = big workers’ comp claim. From a risk standpoint, this seems like a terrible idea for an employer. (Not knowing more about the organization I can’t offer an opinion about whether it would be an appropriate activity for the organization itself. I mean, it’s not my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right fit, activity-wise for others.)

      Reply
    3. Anon4This

      Agreed on removing the “many people” language! I had come to the comments to say this as well. Neither Alison nor OP#1 has any idea whether or not they are in the majority or even the vague “many people” metrics here with their discomfort about the gun range. (Personally, I’d love this outing and would find it super fun, I’ve advocated for it many times when planning team building activities at my last company…)

      When someone tries to say that the vague masses agree with their opinion with no relevant empirical evidence, they come off as out of touch at best and severely weaken their argument because of it. Definitely use “I statements” for this one!

      Reply
  27. Rebecca

    #1 – I’m going to pose this question about team building in general: why oh why do we have to endure these things? I was hired to do a job. I go to the office, do the job, get paid, and go home. The other people there were hired to do the same. We are all different – ages, backgrounds, interests, etc. and I doubt even in my small office we could come up with even 1 activity (aside from free pizza) that we could all agree on. I don’t want to do things outside of working hours with my coworkers for the most part, although there are a few of us who go to lunch on days off from time to time. I just want to do my job and go home and do other things.

    Want better productivity or a happier workplace? How about adequate staffing, decent PTO and vacation time (and no hassles about taking it), flexible work hours, WFH if not restricted by confidentiality or other issues, give raises (my employer has stopped doing this!!), things like that? But whatever you do, don’t suggest a one size fits all activity, after work hours, and expect people to be happy about it.

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think there is a benefit to having a team that gets along well, but I don’t think that necessarily requires Doing Fun Things.

      Reply
      1. Cat Herder

        Right. We have a weekly staff meeting which, while almost always too long (but what work meeting isn’t too long??), does get everyone in the same room and chatting weekly. We regularly do professional development and required trainings together at this time, or work on various projects that require collaboration. Occasionally we have very brief getting-to-know you activities. Excellent team-building — we’re working on something that needs to get done, we work together, we don’t feel we’ve wasted time / we feel that the time was reasonably well spent.
        We do a few out of the office group activities, but these are planned with a lot of input from the staff, always have a way for everyone to participate in a meaningful way, and are completely voluntary and easy to get out of.

        Reply
    2. reality king

      Rebecca, I hear you! I’m not a social joiner, not extroverted, and find team-building exercises unpleasant. Of course, if your employer is understaffed and you are underpaid, there’s no building a team with balloon-popping exercises, or trivia games, or whatever …

      HOWEVER, the reason these things persist is because, done right, they ARE effective. Once the salary, benefits, conditions etc. are set up right, there’s still a group of people of different ages, backgrounds and interests whose performance can be improved as a unit. Good team-building exercises take the sound foundation established at good employers and tune it up. I’m sorry you don’t work at a place that knows how to do this.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        Exactly! Here’s how one of the last “team building” scenarios went. We were told we were going on a local steam powered paddle boat on the river on a nice summer afternoon, and everyone thought this was great! Kick back, relax, have a nice meal, but…no…

        Time was limited to 2 hours out of the office, because that’s all the company would pay us (we’re non-exempt). We were allowed one food item (paid for by the company, with an $8.00 limit IIRC). Transit time to the paddle boat was 20 minutes each way. They were going to cover our ticket price to ride the paddle boat, though. We ended up not going at all, because in the end, an hour on the boat wasn’t really worth it. And our manager made it clear that we weren’t going to be paid for more than 2 hours out of the office, team building or not. To top it off she couldn’t understand why we didn’t feel more valued.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          Sometimes I think upper mgmt just doesn’t think through the details. Recently our organization teamed up with a major charity, which had five-day exhibit/event and you could sign up for shifts to staff it, which were all during regular work hours. Our organization did a significant push to encourage us to sign up. Since it was unclear, I asked a question that (apparently) nobody else did — so, will signing up for a shift be counted as work, and paid? Or will we be using our own AL to do this? Debate raged at the highest level… issues regarding accounting/audits…. I said, well, a bunch of folks signing up are assuming they’re getting paid, since it’s a daytime event related to work, and they’re going to be pretty p!ssed to discover otherwise after the fact. Eventually they decided no, it’s not paid. I think three people signed up.

          Reply
          1. WellRed

            Which I am assuming made your organization look bad.
            Nothing like not paying your employees to participate in…charity.

            Reply
          2. Cat Herder

            We had something similar happen — service project proposed by Great grand-boss, a good choice as most people were interested in it and would have enjoyed doing it, but required using your own leave. Fortunately my smaller group is more enlightened… GGB was really peeved that almost no one signed up (except folks working in GGB’s building, surprise surprise), even though several folks pointed out the problem with “team building” and “community service” costing employees leave time.

            Reply
        2. Tangerina

          Oh good gracious. Just like everything else, team building has to be done RIGHT to be worth anything at all.

          The only thing your scenario accomplished was wasting everyone’s time (which can be quite effective as a team “building” exercise as nothing brings people together as much as mutual hate, but it’s not healthy or good for the organization).

          GOOD team building exercises (even “fun stuff”) can do amazing things.

          Reply
    3. Anononon

      Because, in general, lots of people enjoy these activities when planned well. They’re a perk for me and most of the people at my work.

      There was a thread here about a week or so ago that had a lot of commenters chiming in saying that they like group activities.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        True, a lot of people really do enjoy these activities as long as they’re (a) free to employees, (b) interesting, and (c) truly voluntary…But I do think Rebecca has a great point in her last paragraph. Group activities aren’t a magic elixir, they’re more like a very minor perk.
        >If you’re treating your employees like crap otherwise, one free day going bowling or a pizza party isn’t going to fix that. At absolute best, you might get a temporary boost while employees think “maybe this is the start of them treating us like business professionals instead of junkyard dogs” until they realize that nothing’s changed and go back to being unhappy. But there’s a decent chance that it’d actually make things worse by just highlighting your other shortcomings (“maybe if you spent less on bowling nights, we could actually get a cost of living raise sometime this decade”).
        >If you’re treating your employees really well in other ways, they won’t really miss the lack of group activities.

        Reply
        1. Anononon

          But it’s not either/or. I’m treated well at my work and we get group activity perks. I would one hundred percent miss the group activities. Functional workplaces incorporate both all of the time.

          Reply
      2. MCMonkeyBean

        Yeah, at my office there are quarterly “socials” that were a targeted morale building effort and overall they are very popular. They are also voluntary (lots of people opt out, or unfortunately sometimes find they just can’t get away from their work that day–I was super bummed to miss one once because) and during the work day which I think are two important factors for a successful team social.

        Also though people frequently show up an mingle for an hour or two (they usually start around lunch time since they involve free food) and then go home early… which is definitely good for morale lol.

        Reply
      3. soon 2be former fed

        But that doesn’t mean these activities are team building. They are just fun things to do. Folks can’t be forced to like each other and it doesn’t matter if they do if they respect each other.

        Reply
        1. Anononon

          Good team building activities aren’t about becoming friends. They’re about getting comfortable/improving working together. Also, people can enjoy straight up team building activities. I do.

          Reply
    4. Tangerina

      I’m a bit of an office grump. I internally roll my eyes when 7 minutes of a 15 minute meeting are spent talking about our weekends. I don’t want to hang with coworkers outside the occasional (MAYBE once-quarterly) happy hour.

      But counter to all that, I actually do see value in team building exercises. They help me understand my coworkers’ communication styles if nothing else. It is especially helpful when you DON’T get to see your team mates very often such as when your team is mostly remote or when your team is part of a larger department that needs to work together but doesn’t get to interact much besides that.

      Sometimes you’re going to get nothing out of it. Maybe for some people, they NEVER get anything out of it. But even that helps me understand my teammates a bit better. I’ve seen amazing results from these team gatherings and by giving people a chance to blow off steam and be a little more real with each other.

      Reply
  28. Namast'ay in Bed

    I am so sorry you’ve gone through this #4. I know how hard it is to be kind to yourself, but think of it this way – you’ve had to deal with something horrible and stresssful for almost the entirety of your career with your company, and yet despite feeling like you haven’t been able to put your best foot forward, you’ve managed to perform well enough to be promoted during all of this. If this isn’t proof that you’re doing pretty dang good, I don’t know what else is.

    Be kind to yourself, you deserve it. I’m sending you good thoughts and all the internet hugs.

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      Thank you for your kind words. I hadn’t thought of my promotion in that light–but I really like it!

      Reply
  29. Roscoe

    #5 Its totally fine to ask for a phone interview first. I started a new job a few months ago. When I was looking, I’d always ask for a phone screen first. I think in one or 2 cases, that turned them off. However, I think that being turned off by it tells you a lot about the company. Specifically, they expect you to take time off work for a job that you don’t even know if you are interested in. And, being in America, chances are the salary wasn’t listed, so even if you WERE interested, you don’t know if you are interested at what they would offer. So if a 15 minute phone call is that problematic for them, I think they probably wouldn’t be great to work for anyway.

    Reply
  30. AvonLady Barksdale

    For #3: Most of the time when we plan to relocate and hope to keep our current jobs, we approach this knowing that we may simply have to leave and look for another job in the new location. Is this something you considered when you bought your house? If it is, and you would rather leave your job than work in the Potville office, then you’re in a great negotiating position. If you really expected to just move to the Teaville office, then… I think you’ve learned that these are indeed things you should discuss with your boss before you move ahead. Buying a house indicates that you’re definitely relocating (which you are), but it’s never a great idea to assume that other things will just fall into place along with you, especially if you’re not in a decision-making role.

    Reply
  31. Bigglesworth

    OP 4 – I am so sorry about your loss. My grandma passed away on Wednesday and I am struggling with very similar issues at work. The funeral is this morning.

    You’re not alone, OP. I’m sure your managers will understand as most people have lost people themselves and can empathize.

    Reply
    1. OP #4

      I’m sorry for the loss of your grandma. May her memory be a blessing.

      I hope you’re able to take the time you need.

      Reply
      1. Bigglesworth

        Thank you. I know it’s different than losing a parent, by the grief is still there. I’m glad your employer was able to give you three weeks after losing your mom and I’m sure they’ll be understanding now.

        Reply
  32. Cordoba

    LW3: I think your boss was actually very accomodating and would have been well within their rights to just say “Nope, of course you’re going to work in Earlville because that’s where your job is.” That they were willing to work with you to find something mutually agreeable is a good sign.

    If you bring this up again I recommend not bringing up “but I bought a house” or “this isn’t fair” at all because those are not things that actually matter to the boss or your employer.

    Focus instead on “here is how me working out of Pottsville benefits the business” and “here are the potential issues with me working in Pottsville and here is how I propose to address them”. Something like “I’ll drive to Earlville 2 days a week for the first 6 months, at which time we’ll decide how/whether to continue this arrangement” might be worth suggesting.

    Reply
  33. Cautionary tail

    Op2,make sure this is a real enployer. Many people on this forum, me included, have posted about being scammed by job counseling agencies whose desire is to polish all your submittals…in exchange for you signing up and paying to use their services. My first phone contact with a company was wonderful: the job I wanted, the industry/pay/perks/etc were spot on with my needs. They just thought my paperwork could be spruced up before being passed to the hiring manager…could I please come in to clean it up and have a preliminary chat? I was stoked!

    My first red flag was when I got to the place and the office directory did not list a tenant in suite 123. I walked in to the big building anyway and found suite 123 with a cheap looking sign out front. I entered. I noticed all the reception furniture looked almost disposable: rattan chairs on metal frames surrounding a mismatched glass coffee table. No wall decorations. After I saw the receptionist in cheap rental(?) furniture, my spidey senses were tingling and pinging off the walls. There were almost no people; this was an employer?

    The interviewer kindly explained everything that was wrong with my resume and cover letter and sweetly explained how I could never get a job with them, but that he could help me. After a lot of very soft sales cr*p, it finally came out that he wanted $6,000 plus 10% of my gross salary for the first year of any job I got, regardless if it was through him, if I got it myself, or if anyone else assisted me (like a recruiter).

    I walked out of there, thanking hm for his time but declining his services and not signing anything. I am now a lot wiser. I hope this is not your situation, but you are now better informed of what it could be.

    Reply
    1. 653-CXK

      Yes, I second your suggestion to make sure the people there are legitimate. Your Spidey senses worked to a T…he was looking to scam you.

      Reply
    2. Massmatt

      Wow, how sleazy! Trickery too get you in the door, and an outrageous cost for a dubious “service”.

      Reply
  34. NotReallyKarenWalker

    #4 Grieving –
    I’m so sorry for your loss. And, you don’t mention any kind of support around you, although I’m hoping it’s there. But if it isn’t, please know, you don’t have to do this alone! If you’re still struggling to cope a year out, there are so many bereavement groups (some especially for caretakers of parents), online groups, meetups, etc. Many of these groups will be able to help you find ways to work through your grief and help you create coping strategies for when it’s especially tough, and to be able to handle the double stress of grieving and handling stressful situations at work.

    Sending you all the best –

    Reply
  35. Antilles

    OP#5:
    I just got a request on a Friday to come for an in-person interview the following Monday at 10 a.m.! Can I push back and ask for an introductory phone call first, just to get a lay of the land, or would that put them off?
    With this case in particular, there is zero issue at all in pushing back on that because of the tight timeline. For all intents and purposes, that’s less than one days’ business notice. It’s entirely reasonable for you to not be able to make that work, so you shouldn’t hesitate one second in responding with something like “oh, I’m sorry, that’s really short notice [this is you politely saying ‘seriously?’] and I don’t think I can rearrange my schedule that quickly. I think I could fit in a phone call on Monday, so would that work for you?”
    Then you listen/read/etc carefully for their reaction – a reasonable person should at least give some kind of acknowledgement that the tight turnaround is a huge ask. If they don’t in any way indicate that they realize how ridiculous they’re being, I’d take that as a huge red flag that they’re either generally unreasonable and/or that they don’t respect their employees have lives outside of the company.

    Reply
  36. John Rohan

    I’m guessing by Allison’s response to OP #1 (“What the actual F?”) she worked in a very different culture than me. I don’t see a problem with it, as long as no one is forced to go.

    Someone said team building should never be controversial. Then what isn’t controversial in some way?? If you eliminate any team building that is uncomfortable (like camping), or physically demanding (like volleyball), or against someone’s religion (like drinking), or triggering PTSD (like a gun range), or potentially offensive (like a strip club – and yes, my government office had one of those), then you aren’t going to have many choices left except ones that are so dull that no one will have fun.

    Reply
    1. Pollygrammer

      There are a million and one potential team non-controversial team building exercises that are not uncomfortable, physically demanding, triggering or offensive and I’m sure you’re aware of this. There are many that can be adapted–somebody could watch a volleyball game without participating or go to a meal where alcohol is an option but not drink.

      And “just sit it out” is not a good solution. Because it’s not always an option. And because you’re not part of the (ostensible) team building, which is for, y’know, building the team.

      And yes, one person’s extreme discomfort should outweigh your (or even the majority’s) “I think this would be cool.”

      Reply
          1. Brett

            You would think that would be non-controversial…

            I organized a trivia night fundraiser to buy a new air conditioner for our subdivision club house, while I was working in government. Well, turns out one of our neighbors had a _moral_ objection to trivia nights because they encourage drinking, even though ours had no alcohol.

            She reported me to the ATF. For bootlegging. I had to go through a federal investigation. Fortunately, fifteen minutes into the first investigative interview the investigating agent realized how crazy the complaint was and ended it.

            Reply
            1. Thlayli

              Oh that sucks. In my case the trivia night was at our production site so there was no alcohol at all – just non-alcoholic snacks. Still lots of fun tho.

              Reply
            2. Database Developer Dude

              Brett, please tell me you sued her for harassment or defamation…. you could have easily been swatted, and if you are a person of color (as I am), that could have gone wrong in so many ways. If someone had done this to me over an event that had no alcohol whatsoever, I’d be livid!

              Reply
        1. Pollygrammer

          Cookouts. Arts & Crafts. Movies. Cooking. Games. Parks. Anything that has actually been discussed with the team instead of handed down from on high by somebody who isn’t concerned with what might be reasonable and enjoyable for everyone.

          And it’s absolute nonsense to equate “controversial” and “dull.” Those things aren’t equally problematic.

          Reply
    2. Database Developer Dude

      John, I worked in an office one time where there was a tradition that all the males in the office would go to a local strip club for lunch on Mondays because of the burger special (yeah, right). We had two females in the office who of course didn’t go. That was…..interesting.

      Reply
      1. John Rohan

        Some females in our office went to the strip club thing. It was a one time only thing, and it sadly, it happened shortly before I worked there, so I didn’t get to go!

        Reply
      2. Nita

        Huh. That sounds like a page in a potential lawsuit. If those two start getting passed over for promotion, it would not be hard for them to argue that they’re being excluded from valuable team-building time (every week) due to the nature of the venue. I’m sure there are women who don’t find strip clubs distasteful, but if my experience on other online forums is any guide, they’re in the minority.

        Reply
        1. Database Developer Dude

          For my story, these guys had been doing it long before I got there, and I’m sure they did it long after I left. I was the only black guy in the office, but the one Monday I organized the guys to go…all of a sudden it was a problem with the one female left in the office (the other one had been promoted upward)….and she was nasty to me.

          Luckily, based on the circumstances, my boss shut that down with a quickness.

          Reply
    3. Antilles

      I think the difference is that in the US, guns are controversial in a way that other activities just aren’t. It’s a major political issue that people on both sides of the aisle have strong moral and emotional responses to.
      There’s no nationwide debate over volleyball. Even if someone is physically unable to play volleyball, they won’t wonder if you’re secretly trying to push a political agenda. There’s very little chance that a volleyball tournament is going to cause your office to start discussing a major divisive political issue.
      Guns are just such a hot-button political topic that a company-sponsored team building event is troublesome on that basis alone, far more than other activities would be.

      Reply
    4. Naomi

      Team building activities are for everyone on the team–so a team building activity someone on the team will hate is not serving its purpose. It’s going to depend on the team, and all the factors you mentioned are potentially disqualifying. For some teams volleyball would be a great team-building activity, and for others (such as where someone has mobility issues), it would result in excluding some team members. You don’t want the message of your team building outing to be “We can all go have fun and bond–except you, Sally, who can either be left out or spend the day being miserable.”

      And the strip club outing is not appropriate for work under any circumstances!

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        And the strip club outing is not appropriate for work under any circumstances!
        Agreed. I’m surprised HR or a more senior manager didn’t hit the roof on that one.
        1.) Strip clubs have very strong moral objections from many people, so it’s completely inappropriate as a work outing in general.
        2.) It’s very exclusionary for a ‘team building’ event since there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with going to strip clubs – women, married men, people with moral/religious objections, etc.
        3.) Even among those who would have no issues with strip clubs in general, it still seems awkward and uncomfortable because, no, I don’t need to see that and have those mental images of you with the stripper in my brain during our monthly budget meetings.
        4.) It’s especially weird for a government office for a work team-building event. That’s a political firestorm and scandal waiting to happen…especially if you happen to be spending taxpayer money on it.

        Reply
    5. lawyer

      My office (SEUS) used to do a fair number of gun-related activities (typically skeet or trap shooting). We don’t now. Stuff we’ve done instead that was broadly enjoyed and non-controversial:

      -Assembling bicycles in teams for a local children’s charity
      -TopGolf (if you don’t like golf, you just hang out, enjoy food and drinks, and heckle others)
      -Bowling (basically same as TopGolf)
      -Sailboat excursion (you had the option to learn to handle the sails if you wanted to, or you could just enjoy the day; note that this was not the sole activity option since seasickness is a Real Thing)
      -Scavenger hunt around the city by public transit
      -Trivia competition with free food

      Will you get people who don’t love the activity? Sure. Will you get one-off situations where someone isn’t able to participate? Yes, and you should try to come up with an alternative in that case. It’s probably true that it’s impossible to please everybody, but it *is* possible to come up with activities that people will enjoy that don’t produce visceral moral objection in many people.

      Note that I am very experienced and comfortable with firearms, but understand that many people aren’t. And I don’t want people who aren’t to be excluded or forced to participate.

      Reply
      1. John Rohan

        Trivia competition is a good idea. The other events all involve physical activities, so they would exclude the disabled.

        Reply
        1. SarahTheEntwife

          My workplace also did trivia. It worked well, especially since it was opt-in so people could either play or sit back and heckle the teams ;-)

          Reply
      2. Brett

        I would be careful with TopGolf. Their land use practices and effects on property values have made them a lot more controversial in recent years; to the point where many people have very strong negative feelings about them.

        Reply
    6. Alton

      Like others have pointed out, guns are a politically polarized issue, a lot more so than something like volleyball.

      But also, I don’t think team building activities always have to appeal to everyone, but it’s good to have activities where people who don’t want to join in can still have fun. For example, plenty of people who don’t drink still enjoy going to happy hour events and just drinking soda. Beach volleyball won’t be accessible or appealing for everyone, but people might enjoy sitting on the beach and eating ice cream while other people play. And if it turns out that some people on the team really are excluded (for example, Fergus uses a wheelchair and has a hard time on the beach, or Sansa doesn’t feel comfortable being around drinking), then the workplace can reevaluate and choose different activities sometimes.

      But if someone is uncomfortable around guns, it’s hard to join everyone at the gun range and just “sit it out.” If someone has PTSD of is uncomfortable around guns, they can’t avoid them. And there may not be other activities available for people who aren’t interested in shooting.

      Reply
      1. aebhel

        Yeah, I actually effing hate volleyball and would much rather go to a gun range that doesn’t bring back shades of high school gym class, but I would still pick volleyball every time, because there isn’t a vociferous national political debate going on over volleyball.

        Reply
    7. Observer

      I feel sorry for anyone who can’t have a good time without these items.

      The idea that you build teams via activities that you KNOW are going to exclude people is bizarre.

      As for a government office having a “team building visit to a strip club”? That should have lead to the firing or whoever planned that one. That goes beyond “potentially offensive.”

      Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      Depends on the team, the company, and the activity. If the office is already doing things like decent pay and time off, and the team gels well around a few activities (that is, as with any other collection of humans, there are groups who will have a great time at karaoke and groups that will view this as like dental surgery with amplifiers), then it can be a pleasant way to spend a few hours with your coworkers that makes most people happy and so has positive dividends for the company–i.e. it built the team. Someone upthread had an example of egg-on-spoon races in the parking lot as a fun hour spent cheering for their coworkers.

      Reply
      1. Pollygrammer

        And sometimes it’s just nice to know that your boss/workplace wants you to occasionally relax and have fun. It can build goodwill to feel like people care about your teambuilding and stress relief, even if they’re not entirely effective at actually doing that.

        Reply
    2. Roscoe

      I’ve done some great ones that absolutely brought our group together (or at least let you get to know others more). I’ve also done some really shitty ones that were only good in the sense we got good food and drinks. It depends on a lot of factors.

      A broken team won’t be fixed by team building. However, they can definitely improve morale and teamwork if done right

      Reply
    3. Not All Who Wander

      If they are a mandatory set activity, never that I’ve seen. If there are serious existing issues between team members, never that I’ve seen.

      I *have* seen it work well when there are a bunch of new people on the staff that just need to get to know each other and it was something fairly voluntary on work time. For example, we did one where we reserved a shelter at a park during comfortable weather that had lots of seating, ADA paths & bathrooms, etc. Managers bought food to grill (both vegetarian and hamburger-type). There was a sand volleyball court, a cornhole game, or people could just sit and chat. Very low-key, didn’t require any change in attire, didn’t require anyone to change child-care arrangements, and didn’t cost people anything.

      Reply
      1. The Original K.

        Agree re: if there are serious issues between team members then team-building won’t help. There was a letter here a while ago about all the different ways a team had tried and failed to have a holiday celebration and the issue at the core was that the team just didn’t like each other, so it didn’t matter if they had a dinner or a potluck lunch or whatever.

        Reply
      2. paul

        Yep.

        I think this planned activity is a poor team building choice, and goodness knows I’ve seen bad team building.

        But I’ve also seen good, effective team building under a smarter boss. It can happen and can help. Voluntary, during the work day, and no cost to attendees are big parts of that.

        It won’t smooth over true inter-departmental or personal rivalry or hatred but it’s not something that’s always bad/wrong/pointless either (and I do think this commentariat tends to skew towards being fairly hostile towards team building).

        Reply
    4. Indie

      While there are good/fun options, the best team and morale builder activities are so simple that they are nameless. 1) let your team chat freeform about the work sans agenda. This could be as simple as making sure teams take breaks at the same time or a quick coffee once a week and 2) The ‘let’s get our work done and if we’re insanely ahead of deadline, go home early’ approach. If there’s time for gun shooting, then the work must be all done; so why don’t we all just go home? Dont waste my time!

      Reply
    5. Tangerina

      I’ve seen them work. I was quite surprised to discover that when I finally met and had dinner with the part of my team that works in Europe (I am in the US), my relationship with them greatly improved. We understood each other more. We got to have real communication without the barriers of phones and time limits.

      The greatest benefit I’ve seen from team building activities is just helping me understand what kind of people my coworkers are. In many cases, people are a little more “real” when doing “fun” things. So it helps me see that Pippin is more of a jokester than I thought and I’d been mistaking his humor for being a dimwit. And I see Gimli is always uptight and serious even over drinks, so I know that joking around with him is not effective.

      Reply
    6. Massmatt

      IMO they are most effective with a new team or group as a way to get people to know each other more quickly in an informal context. They can also work as a reward for good performance provided the activity is actually something the team wants/enjoys, and certainly not in lieu of more tangible things such as compensation or benefits.

      My experience with team building exercises outside of these 2 contexts is more mixed. Good teams that get along well with functional management will have good experiences. Badly managed groups with resentful employees are not going to magically change because of an outing or exercise, no matter how awesome it is.

      Reply
    7. Humble Schoolmarm

      At my school, there is a social committee that plans a completely voluntary after-hours activity every few months. We’ve done dinners, board game cafés, escape rooms, lunches and axe throwing. Teachers, myself included, tend to be a little intense about our profession and since we are working with society writ small, there’s a lot of opining and venting in the staff room. I think having a chance to do something completely non-school and silly together helps me feel a little more positively and the camaraderie has gotten me through some tough days.

      Reply
  37. Bea

    There’s a huge flag to me in #3 where the manager mentions requiring more management. Why is it that you’re harder to manage remotely?

    Have you had a lot of issues with your manager before this? It sounds like you’re possibly struggling and they’re upset you think you can do your job free range. Whereas the others were possibly high performers that they want to keep within the compa