angry boss writing angry memos – the next installment

A reader writes:

I have attached an email from our company’s president/CEO. I understand his complaint, but I don’t agree with his approach. And mind you, this was all brought about by a single employee’s actions. What is your take on this?


I see Tiger Mike lives!

Part of me loves everything about this, from the hilariously self-centered all-caps subject line (I am going to start sending out a lot of emails headlined “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME” now) to the multiple casual threats to people’s jobs, which he apparently believes will be highly motivating. But enjoying reading this doesn’t equate to enjoying working for this guy, so you have my sympathies.

I’m also skeptical of his claim that he doesn’t get fired up over many issues. But if that’s true, and he’s choosing to invest his firepower in people texting during the work day, that’s a troubling statement on his priorities as CEO.

This is someone who doesn’t really know how to manage (see: all-staff memos when one person is the problem, threatening people about phone and internet use instead of managing their actual output, and talking to people as if they’re serfs rather than adults who have willingly entered into a business relationship with him). Instead he’s just throwing his weight around in ways that aren’t even particularly effective.

If he is in fact the reincarnation of Tiger Mike, I will retract all my criticisms, but otherwise I am sorry to say that you are working for an ass.

{ 528 comments… read them below }

  1. Art3mis (fmrly Bad Candidate)*

    Yep I’d be dusting off the resume and looking for a new job if it were me.

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      The last line just kills me. It’s basically “So help me Jesus, I will turn this car right around!” The kids know when you’re bluffing, buddy.

      1. Art3mis (fmrly Bad Candidate)*

        Yeah, my dad wouldn’t warn us, he’d just pull the car over. Every time I’ve had a boss like this my opinion was basically “Do your worst” because I knew they wouldn’t.

        1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          That was actually the best parenting advice I got from my own dad: Don’t make idle threats.

          I am amusing myself imagining the day this boss actually follows through and fires everyone. I picture him sitting alone and forlorn in an empty office, surrounded by ringing phones, while Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” plays and he realizes would put up with all of the idle texting in the world if he could only have his employees back. Just to hear the sound of typing and laughter. And he has realized something. He has realized that the one ruining it for everyone was *him*. “I wasn’t angry at my employees ” he cries, “I was angry at meeeeeeeeee!”

          1. General Ginger*

            HarvestKaleSlaw, you’ve made my afternoon with this comment. I’m picturing a former boss doing exactly that, and it’s pretty great.

          2. Luna123*

            I’ve seen a former boss sitting alone and crying because she just fired all of her staff and now had to do all the work herself while finding replacements and … tbh I just felt bad for the people she’d eventually hire, because I knew she wouldn’t treat her future employees any better than the former ones

            1. CoveredInBees*

              Yup, had a boss who was the reason her employees (myself included) quit. Even though everyone had some other reason lined up to avid getting cajoled and screamed at, she always took it quite personally. But she still treated the people she managed terribly.

          3. Chinookwind*

            “That was actually the best parenting advice I got from my own dad: Don’t make idle threats.”

            My mother lived this advice. My older cousin told me how my Mom (at 21) told her to behave or she was going to have to walk home. And then she stopped the car and made the 16 year old get out and walk. Now, my Mom did only go a few blocks before stopping and seeing if there would be an apology, but that story has made it down 2 generations now and we all believe that, in this family, such threats are not only not idle, but the rest of the family will back up such a power move.

            If the CEO who wrote the memo was willing to fire the employee caught texting or not answering their phone after this, no threat he makes will ever be idle again.

            1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

              When my sister and I were kids, we would sometimes sneak contraband items from the pool vending machine into our bags and then behave badly in the car so that my mom would make us walk the last half-mile home, so that we could snack on our goodies without her knowing.

              It never occurred to us (or maybe it did, but it was just more fun this way) that we could have asked to walk, or said that we wanted to get out early and finish the way home on our own; instead, we pushed so many buttons that she got fed up. My poor mother.

              1. Lily in NYC*

                This is really funny! Our minds sure work in mysterious ways when we are kids (I was mortally embarrassed to ask for anything extra in a restaurant, like mayo or something – I thought it would offend the waiter).

          4. Ozma the Grouch*

            I knew a boss like this, and he actually DID start firing people and replacing them with temps. I only know this because I was sadly one of those temps. Those poor souls were so afraid of that tyrant. And he was such a hypocrite too. He was happily on HIS cell phone, texting and facebooking away, while everyone else was afraid to do anything when he was around. Even on their lunch breaks! That gig did not last long.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              The hypocrite part reminded me of the worst boss I ever had, 15-20 years ago. One day, out of the blue, he decided to institute strict hours. Everyone had to be at their desk at 8:30 sharp, or else. BG, we were all a 24-7 on-call rotation, one week on – two weeks off plus occasional coverage for a teammate or doing a production release in between; we worked pretty random hours as a result, there were no morning meetings that we needed to be on time for, so generally we were allowed to come in whenever we came in. So in that environment, a change to a strict 8:30 start was pretty drastic.

              The strict hours policy died a natural death two months later, because the boss continued to stroll into the office at around ten am, like he’d always done, and was therefore unable to enforce his own policy.

              I happened to be at a pretty rough time in my life when he put the strict hours in, so went to ask him to make an exception. I explained that I had a kid in daycare and another one at school; that my husband had had two surgeries recently and had a steel pin in his leg and was not allowed to drive for the next three months, so I was the only person available to drop the kids off every morning, and so could not possibly commit to being at work at 8:30 on the dot. His response is something I’ll never forget. He looked at me wistfully, and said “I didn’t know about that”. (pause, I’m thinking, wow, he’s human after all.) “You did not need to tell me all of that. That’s personal. I don’t want to know”. Then he allowed me to come in at 8:45, but only until my husband was allowed to drive again. Good times.

              1. dawbs*

                I hope he sits on a cheese grater. What a lousy response.

                Even my bad bosses would offer pretend sympathy, even if they said no

          5. Cat Herder*

            My dad’s advice on maintaining order in a classroom: don’t do discipline with your mouth. (Once you are back and forthing with a student, you have lost control of the classroom.)

            1. Thursday Next*

              My MIL always spoke more softly as her (high school) students got louder. They’d quiet down to hear her. She must have had quite a presence as a teacher, because you can’t pull that off just through volume.

              She’s a softie in a lot of ways, but she maintained a lot of respect in the classroom.

          6. RUKiddingMe*

            “That was actually the best parenting advice I got from my own dad: Don’t make idle threats.”

            My dad:”You can’t just threaten to do something. You have to follow through or they will never believe you…about anything.” Spot on.

            I love the Cats in the Cradle reference by the way. LOL

            What I would love more is if the entire staff, en mass, “saw him” and turned in their resignations like the time the whole factory quit on Roseanne because of the d-bag manager.

      2. Specialk9*

        It is utterly hilarious, from the outside.

        It would be very concerning from the inside. OP, run like hell.

      3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone actually took him up on that offer? Beat him to the mass firing with a mass resignation.
        *happy sigh*
        I know of several current and former managers I can superimpose into this mental picture – I think I’ve found my new happy place.

        1. BookishMiss*

          Had a boss like this. My entire department quit within a month of each other. It was beautiful.

        2. Chinookwind*

          As a receptionist who had to deal with the unanswered calls bouncing back or the customer calling back because she couldn’t get a hold of the person (and is probably the only one not allowed to be on their cell during work hours), I am pretty sure I know at least one person who would be happy to stick around.

            1. Chinookwind*

              I created an account with Gravatar, uploaded a photo there and then use my email here.

    2. Fergus*

      Mine would be posted within the hour and I would be setting up phone interviews and in person interviews , I would be making those dental appointments.

      1. Anonymouse*

        But would you be using your personal cellphone on business hours to set up those interviews?

    3. Fish Microwaver*

      We have 2 new hires who are learning the job so it’s a steep learning curve and naturally they will make mistakes. The boss sent out an office wide memo saying the central switch board was complaining about undelivered faxes because “0” had not been dialed before the number. The memo exhorted us all to be more careful and finished with “I will address this individually with those concerned “.

  2. Thursday Next*

    I don’t understand why someone would create an all-staff memo to address the conduct of one or two people. That seems like the essence of poor management—it’s bad for the morale of the people who aren’t engaged in that behavior, and the real culprits often don’t recognize themselves in the blanket statement.

      1. RJ the Newbie*

        So true. At my old job, whenever a certain engineer’s stamp would go missing, he would email the entire office. This included all of the overseas offices.

        1. AKchic*

          Had I been someone overseas, I would have been tempted to reply all just once to say “y’know… a random stamp just appeared in [X Location] with an overnight bag. I wondered why. Should I inquire if the stamp has return travel plans?”

          1. RJ the Newbie*

            We actually did get a response from our UK office from one of the project managers who told us if that batty twerp sent them one more email about his stamp, that they were going to purchase one and overnight courier it, billing it to batty twerp’s project (he was notoriously cheap with expenses).

        2. Anonymous Drone*

          My entire multinational corporation got an email the other day that read in its entirety:

          “If you own a tan camry with license plate [redacted] please contact the front desk.”

          They didn’t give a state for the license plate or say which office it was at, they just emailed like 12,000 people.

          1. Former Employee*


            I just have to think that whoever did this meant to send it to “all” employees at their location and accidentally sent it to “all” employees.

        3. Q*

          Too funny, I worked with a woman who sent an angry email that included our Midwest, east coast and west coast offices demanding that whomever took her spoon from the sink needed to give it back to her immediately since it was an heirloom. The responses were priceless, coworkers in NY (we were in another location) told her they would fed ex it to her if it showed up there.

      2. A username for this site*

        We would typically do this at my old work, send an all-staff email when 1-2 people screwed up. It annoyed me (I’d rather know if I did something offensive and I don’t care if someone else did) but it was considered a CYA move to show that all employees had to follow the same rules and that all employees were equally warned of the rules. So when you finally had a conversation with Offender, they couldn’t say “No one ever told me!” or “You’re discriminating against/picking on/bullying me because Good Employee was on Facebook yesterday and he’s not in trouble!”

        1. Kat*

          We actually have our branch manual updated every time because of the same thing. ‘Well I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to x, it’s not written down’. And repeat every time someone tells them not to do x until it is, in fact, written down. Ridiculous

          1. Decima Dewey*

            Back in the day I drove myself crazy trying to update the rules for using the public computers every time a patron claimed they didn’t know they couldn’t watch porno, download lord knows what to our computers, or that they had to pay to print. That was also back before we got a computerized reservation system and get users off the computers ourselves when it was the next person’s turn (now the session ends automatically). I finally wised up about the rules after I realized no one was reading them anyway.

    1. Sully*

      Ugh, my boss is notorious for this. He will come out and yell at the people actually doing their work in hopes that it will “inspire” the bad workers to work harder/get off their cell phones/etc. I could write a book about his poor management skills…

      1. Jadelyn*

        Wait…he yells at the good employees to motivate the bad employees? Does he think people like getting yelled at by him or something, that it’s a reward to strive for? I am so confused.

        1. Sully*

          So if he wants people to get on the phones (make sales calls) instead of working on personal e-mail/texting/etc, he will yell at the people who are actually doing their jobs (maybe just typing a work e-mail or working on something not on the phone) to start making calls, rather than getting on the people who are doing non-work related things. Agreed, makes zero sense. He’s pretty old school when it comes to sales so to him, if you aren’t on the phone making sales calls, you aren’t doing your job.

          1. Drew*

            The intent of the boss is to yell at everyone in a group setting including the bad employees, not specifically the good ones to not single out any one person. Probably sounded like a good idea in his head, not good in practicality.

          2. Tisiphone*


            I used to work tech support and our manager was a stickler for our time to be as much incoming call time as possible. That meant returning calls was discouraged, even when we had to spend time looking up information. we had to waste the caller’s time and keep them on the phone.

            One fine day I was on the phone with a caller solving their technical problem. I saw the voice mail light on my phone light up. After I finished the call, I checked my phone message. About 30 sec or message. A coworker came over to tell me that the manager told her to tell me to get back on the phone.

            I said, “No. It’s noon. I’m going to lunch.” I clocked out immediately and left the building. I was angry enough about that that I almost didn’t return. You see, dear reader, that 30 second message was a job offer.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        I had this boss who used this technique as a misguided way of resolving conflicts within her team – there were some big personality clashes, which would make a whole AAM post in themselves, and she tried to resolve it by going after EVERYONE for excessive personal conversations, when really that was a “specific people” offence rather than an “everyone” offence. Her thinking was that this would unite us all against her. What it really ended up doing was causing resentment both against the offenders, but also her in that she wasn’t handling it properly and wasn’t listening to the non-offenders trying to put their side forward.

        (This manager was offsite, witnessed very little of what actually went on in that office, and if any concerns were ever raised, she wouldn’t investigate properly but would jump to her own conclusions about what had happened and act on that, and then often those conclusions were wrong. I used to call her Cornelius Fudge.)

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        So instead of dealing with poor workers he alienates and demoralizes the good workers? Coward.

    2. FaintlyMacabre*

      When I worked at massively terrible job, there were two computers that the Llama Herders used. Two llama herders kept goofing off and using the computer for non-work uses, leading the powers that be to just get rid of one computer, leaving the other three of us who didn’t misuse the computer with one computer. Way to solve that particular problem!

      This manager also sent out an email that said “problem X occurred again at 7:20 pm. Someone needs to do something!!!” (None of us worked at night, and had been begging him for weeks for help on that issue when it happened during days, because we were all badly trained temps who were in deeply over our heads on that problem. But I agreed- someone needed to do something, it just wasn’t the people on the receiving end of the email!)

    3. Teapotty*

      Ugh, in a job about 25 years ago, I worked somewhere we were not allowed in the kitchen after 9am until lunchtime (we had a tea lady for midmorning drinks) and use of the toilets were banned after 5.15pm as some girls were touching up makeup etc before going home (we finished work at 5.30). Instead of addressing it with the culprits directly, there was a blanket ban for the whole company. It was one of the very few places that I’ve worked where staff exited at 5.30pm on the dot. Blanket bans or instructions rarely work, particularly as the other staff will probably know who is being referred to.

      1. Fergus*

        toilets were banned after 5.15pm

        I wonder what would happen if you used the toilet or didn’t use the toilet if you had explosive diarrhea because of IBS

      2. Teapotty*

        Mainly family-owned albeit stock-market listed retail card/gift firm. I worked in the head office. It’s actually incredible looking back that it was tolerated. Half of the rules wouldn’t be permitted now – such as banning female staff from wearing trousers!

        1. London Calling*

          *Half of the rules wouldn’t be permitted now – such as banning female staff from wearing trousers!*

          Very common when I started work in the dim and distant mid 1970s. And I recall that the school I attended up to 1972 was rocked to the foundations when one of the younger teachers rocked up one cold winter’s day wearing ‘slacks.’ She was utterly bemused by the furore and shared it with us in the senior class.

          1. Free Now (and forever)*

            Makes lots of sense. My high school didn’t permit pants until the winter of 1970/71. My mother refused me permission to wear jeans. One day in 1972, my parents slept late. I wore jeans to school. Of course, being unpracticed in the art of deceiving my parents, I also wore them home. As you can imagine, she lowered the boom. I didn’t wear jeans to school again until college. Every single freakin’ day.

        2. mrs__peel*

          There’s a large company here in my hometown where female employees are *STILL* forbidden to wear trousers (or they were as of a couple years ago, when I was job searching). It’s completely ridiculous. You may or may not be surprised to hear that their CEO (the main proponent of the no-women-in-trousers policy) has political ambitions in the GOP.

          (I did a bit of legal research on this issue, and it turns out that there’s not actually very much case law to rely on. Apparently, the increase in women wearing pants to work had more to do with changing cultural norms than lawsuits).

          1. London Calling*

            Yeah, God forbid that men in the workplace should be denied their right to look at female legs when they need a bit of relaxation from Business.

          2. church lady*

            Five years ago I interviewed for an admin assistant job at a tool wholesaler in the NYC suburbs and was told by the recruiter that the office had two rules: no profanity and for women, skirts/dresses only, no pants. I was desperate for a job and went on the interview but fortunately wasn’t called back. Maybe my legs weren’t good enough? I didn’t have the nerve to ask the hiring manager about their rationale, but it was really odd for the geographic area.

          3. Michaela Westen*

            Sorry late, but wow! That’s like putting up a sign “this company is run by Neanderthals” :o
            Do they expect their secretaries to sleep with them, too? Do they leave at noon to play golf?

          4. TardyTardis*

            Snicker, I have a lot of long skirts and muumuus that I would wear to that company (longstanding hatred of pantyhose unless it’s really cold out). What, they’re upset because I’m modest?

      3. What's with today, today?*

        We have a new hire at our home station, where Big Boss is, that came into our station to train yesterday. He told us that he went to the bathroom the other day and Big Boss asked him where he’d been. When he replied I went to the bathroom,” he said that Big Boss said “You’ve already been today!” We are hopeful he was joking, his sense of humor can be hard to read, but most likely he wasn’t.

        I’ve been here 10 years, and I think Big Boss KNOWS better than to ever pull something like that with me, but in addition, I have Crohn’s Disease, so I would immediately be asking for accomodations.

    4. Allison*

      When you use a general announcement or all-staff memo for an issue that only one or two people are really guilty of, one of two things will happen:

      1) The guilty party will instantly know the memo is really about them, and will feel absolutely mortified, but also frustrated, wondering why the issue wasn’t raised in a one-on-one setting.

      2) The guilty party will ignore it, either figuring that they’re not the problem, or know that they are doing the thing, but will figure the boss doesn’t know they’re the ones doing it and they will continue to get away with the behavior, at least for a little while longer.

      So for the love of feck, just talk to your employees directly, and in private, when there’s a problem. Let them explain, tell them they’re breaking the rules, let them know they have to stop, tell them what the consequences will likely be (for fork’s sake don’t just say “there will be consequences” with some weird, ominous smile and then refuse to specify because you “know” it won’t come to that, that was one of the worst workdays of my career!)

      “Haley, you’re not answering the phone, what’s up?”
      “Okay, well you need to fix that, because we need you to answer these calls as they come in, that’s part of your job. If we don’t see a significant improvement in the next week or so, we’ll need to put you on a PIP and then your job will be on the line. Is there anything you need from me to help with this turnaround?”

      “Norbert, you seem to be on your phone a lot, but I only want people using their phones for emergencies, what’s going on?”

      Actually this shouldn’t be an issue if people are getting their work done.

      1. Nanani*

        3) The guilty party has a good reason to believe they won’t actually be fired, or at least not easily, but someone lower on the totem pole gets fired for a first offence.

      2. Sharur*

        Or 4) the most charitable option: they have recognized its an issue with multiple people, or could conceivably happen again with a new employee. Rather than deal with this on a case-by-case basis they institute a new policy and distribute it, appropriately, to all employees who would be affected by it. This is especially appropriate when the behavior was, if not officially sanctioned, but at least tollerated.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          5) An innocent party could wonder if they are, in fact, guilty of doing the offending thing and spend lots of time thinking they did it without knowing they did it.

      3. n*

        I once worked at a place where the CEO sent out a very similar all-staff email about someone leaving an unwashed cup in the sink overnight. The CEO then stormed out of her office and ran around the open office literally pointing fingers at individual staff members and asking them, “DID *YOU* LEAVE THE CUP?! Was it you?!”

        The offender wrote an all-staff email back about how they’d left the cup in the sink “as a statement about the way we’re treated around here.” They were fired with another email from the CEO that said, “I don’t think this is working out.”

        That place was bonkers.

        1. Snickerdoodle*


          “Why did you leave your last job?”

          “I was fired because I left a cup in the sink.”

      4. Queen of the File*

        4) A bunch of innocent parties become paranoid that someone thought they were doing something wrong, lowering morale everywhere. Our all-staff ‘correction’ memos tend to be vague enough, and based on a single random complaint (“If you are having sensitive conversations please use the break room” etc.) that you are never quite sure if you caused the memo or not.

    5. Artemesia*

      they are cowards. They don’t want to confront individuals and manage things, so they foof around like this or enact draconian policies that make everyone miserable instead of just exercising some judgment and doing some actual management.

    6. Marthooh*

      Mr. Boss thinks everyone in the office will turn around and tell That One Guy to stop texting! And answer the phone! So he doesn’t ruin it for the rest of them!

    7. GM*

      Precisely – the more alarming thing is how common this is. Had a boss once who told us all off in a meeting for taking too many leaves – “Stay home and don’t work if you can’t come in to the office.” The zinger – there was only one woman who was doing what he said, and she wasn’t in the room.

    8. Fish Microwaver*

      We have 2 new hires who are learning the job so it’s a steep learning curve and naturally they will make mistakes. The boss sent out an office wide memo saying the central switch board was complaining about undelivered faxes because “0” had not been dialed before the number. The memo exhorted us all to be more careful and finished with “I will address this individually with those concerned “.

  3. Never*

    Can we also talk about the last sentence in #2? Can we please stop punishing people for actually finishing their work?

    1. Not really a Waitress*

      Yes, you have worked hard, stayed focused, and completed your work effectively and efficiently. Your reward is to go help that performance issue/slacker/deadbeat that none of the managers will address

      1. Engineer Girl*

        I have seen this too many times to count. I remember at one point telling a manager that I wasn’t going to work overtime to compensate for people that only put in 4-6 hours of work per day.
        He actually started managing at that point.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Congratulations for doing your job efficiently! As a reward, you get to do other people’s jobs!

        2. Jady*

          And god forbid you ask for a raise, promotion, title change, comp time, or any other form of acknowledgement or compensation!

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think this email is mostly garbage, but what is wrong with telling people to check in with a supervisor if you have nothing work-related to do?

      1. Never*

        The “ask your supervisor immediately do not even stop to text!! no you can’t even take a 2 second break!!” part.

      2. Melissa*

        Because it feels like a weird double assumption. It assumes that you are too stupid/lazy to go and offer your time to help someone else, but it also assumes all the someone elses are not slacking off, but overworked and need help.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          I have a supervisor like that. She’s gone so far as to create a “daily task list” that’s posted in the warehouse and we’re supposed to initial items as we do them (not before).

          Not everything is “do A then B”; a lot of times someone will start A, then realize halfway through that in order to complete A the way it should be they also have to do B and part of C (or start A, then go “hey, I can also do B/etc at the same time”)…and sometimes everyone’s just so damn busy we forget to mark it off. So not everything can be initialed the way she wants–also a lot of our flow is whoever gets to something first. Although she sees it as “everyone’s too lazy to do this so I’ll do it”, nevermind that when that happens the other two of us taking care of the 342 other things that have to get done.

      3. Thursday Next*

        There are cyclical lulls in lots of jobs. It doesn’t mean the next thing isn’t going to hit your desk in 20 minutes.

        1. Amanda*

          I once drafted an email about having a lull coming up and did anyone need anything? That email was never sent because something big landed in my inbox before it finished spell checking it. It is still in my draft folder awaiting the day I have truly unfilled downtime.

        2. TardyTardis*

          I was once supposed to do extra scheduled reports, except that no one told the vendors who sent me box car loads of invoices right when those reports were due.

      4. Antilles*

        Because it’s really situational. Are we talking 45 minutes of nothing to do or 5 minutes? Are we talking staring at my phone for an hour or are we talking “oh, lets just check a quick text message”? How regularly does it occur that people are short on work? Does everybody else have plenty of work too?
        …However, based on the overall tone of the email, I have zero doubt that the boss sending this is not in any way considering nuance and information. Basically this:
        Boss Perception: I walked down the hall and saw two people staring at their phones! Awful! Terrible! Why isn’t anybody working??? People need to know this is Not Acceptable!
        Reality: It was 1:57 and there was a 2:00 conference call. It’s logistically impossible and ridiculous to have them ask for 180 seconds of additional work.

        1. Emily K*

          Yes, nuance is exactly it. He’s expecting the employees to be like a factory line where the belt is turned on at 9am and doesn’t shut down until 5pm. It’s not only dehumanizing and demoralizing for employees, it also reflects a complete lack of understanding about how office work is done, which is nothing like a factory assembly line. Work is not done at a continuous rate in an on/off state.

        2. SusanIvanova*

          I had a boss who was a morning person and came from an industrial background, but was now CEO of a small software team. He’d wander the place in the mornings and see us all moving slowly, reading docs, anything but the sort of focused head-down coding he expected. Because that happened in the afternoon, when he was in his slow period and never left the office.

      5. Alton*

        I think it depends on the nature of the work and how long the lulls are. There are jobs where there might be additional work that can be picked up, but if not, then this comes across like expecting people to do stuff that isn’t really needed just for the sake of looking busy.

        One of my first jobs was in a fast food place inside a big box store. We were always expected to keep busy. I was fine with this. The trouble was that I quickly realized that there were lulls where there literally wasn’t anything to do. I’d ask the person training me if there was something else I could work on, and they’d just shrug. So I’d have to walk around cleaning tables I’d already cleaned just for the sake of looking like I was doing something. It was the most boring job ever.

        Also, it’s not clear if what the CEO is observing is really an issue or not. There may be some slackers, but people aren’t robots, and taking a short break occasionally doesn’t really need to be policed if everything is getting done in a timely manner.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I worked at a place like that – the store sold furniture and knick-knacks and never had many customers. We had a lot of downtime but were not allowed to sit (understandable yet ironic in a room full of chairs) or stand still, but we also weren’t to clean during open hours. So, the three employees would just kind of slowly rotate through the store like there was a gentle breeze scooting us along. This was pre-cell phones and no reading material allowed on the floor, so there was absolutely no way to entertain yourself. Probably the easiest retail gig you could ask for, and so. boring.

      6. Trout 'Waver*

        If a manager has a pile of work to hand out, why haven’t they already handed it out? Also, if you have good competent employees, it can be a lot of work as the manager to find appropriate tasks. And the manager might be working on higher priority tasks at the moment.

        But also, a good manager should instruct their staff based on their roles how to handle downtime so that it’s unambiguous what they should do in such situations.

        1. Never*

          Thank you for saying this. I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought that if work really needed to be done, I wouldn’t need to ask for it.

        2. GrilledCheese*

          I’m teaching a new assistant how to ‘hoard’ projects for downtime instead of rushing through everything then having no real work to do. We aren’t micromanaged, but are expected to look reasonably occupied if other people are around. Having filing or email clean up to do is a great way to manage a little work between social media activities and actual crunch times.

        3. Agenda*

          My mom used to do this! The worst thing one could say was “I’m bored!” Because she then started giving out chores, even if you had just completed your chores. It’s how the windows got clean during summer break.

          1. Catherine from Canada*

            I used to tell my kids that if they were bored, it meant they found themselves poor company. They’d look confused for a minute, then stomp off.
            Which, from my perspective, was the desired result.

            1. Mike C.*

              Boy: “My father used to say that only boring people get bored”

              Ford: “Mine Too. But I used to think it’s only boring people who don’t feel boredom, so cannot conceive of it in others”

              1. Emily K*

                My position is that boredom is a young person’s game. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t either busy, or so exhausted that doing absolutely nothing would be a reward, not boredom.

              2. Nopetastic*

                Ha! I also thought about that exchange from Westworld when I read the comment. Best. Show. Ever.
                Side note: Just named my new cat Wyatt. Hope she doesn’t live up to her namesake.

    3. hari*

      That gave me major high school flashbacks. I was a smart kid who often finished my work early and some of the teachers would have me help other people. But I was never asked to help the children who were struggling but tried to do the work (which I wouldn’t have minded) instead always had to help the wasters who didn’t care and expected me to do their work for them. On top of this academic intelligence does not equal good teaching skills I am an appalling teacher. I can learn very quickly but if I try and teach anybody what I know I do an awful job. Interestingly a classmate of mine with severe dyslexia who barely got into University, and only then after working her butt off, is a teacher and her students love her. Teaching is a talent some people have and some don’t and academic intelligence is irrelevant. Yet these teachers got angry when I a teenager failed to teach children who didn’t care about learning and who the teachers couldn’t teach themselves.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        That’s similar to what happened to me when I was working overnight stock. I was one of the best employees, so they wanted me to train new hires, not taking into account that I am not good at teaching and markedly less so when I’m not being paid extra to do it.

        This is the definition of “rise to the level of your incompetence.” As in, “Oh, Bob’s a great engineer; we’ll put him in charge of the project so it’ll turn out well” only for it to transpire that Bob has zero management skills and the project’s a trainwreck.

        1. JustaTech*

          And you have ably described all technical industries (and academia). I mean, there are plenty of good managers, but it continues to amaze me how often people who are great at a technical skill are promoted away from using that skill and into a job of managing humans, which they may or may not be any good at (or even want to do).

          “Babs, you’re an amazing llama washer, the best we’ve ever seen! You’re so good that we want you to sit in meetings all day and never touch a llama again.” And then they wonder why Babs is miserable and a bad manager.

  4. Robbie*

    “I don’t get fired up about many issues”- someone who indeed gets fired up about waaaaaaay too many issues, especially when they follow that claim with a true and proper rant.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m still just giggling at how awful this is.

        This company is not going to do well if the CEO is so invested in the unimportant weeds instead of the big strategic stuff.

        1. Snickerdoodle*

          That’s what I’m hung up on. The *CEO* is sending out emails texting? He says “I’m not here to babysit you,” and I thought “Yeah, you’re not; so why are you? Why aren’t you doing your actual job?” My money says he leaves in a blaze of ignominy that will be gossiped about for years.

    1. BRR*

      It’s true though. Technically the boss doesn’t get fired up about many issues, they get fired up about ALL issues.

    2. Decima Dewey*

      I’d like to turn his logic back on him: if he has time to rant about one person texting, then all other issues within his purview must be going great. Production is hitting all targets, no equipment problems, no one complaining about the product on social media…

      1. Kittymommy*

        Yes, if he has all this time, perhaps he needs to find out how he can help other staff…
        The statement about this being out of the ordinary is ridiculous. Maybe they came answer their phone because they are in another line, helping a colleague, getting something from the copier, in a meeting, or actually using the restroom!!
        The CEO is an ass.

    3. Le Sigh*

      I think these are the same people who say things like, “I don’t like to gossip, but…” — they’re never self-aware.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Also, people who say things like “I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic/bigoted/whatever, but…”

        At least we can take comfort in the fact that they warn us?

      2. General Ginger*

        A former coworker would complain about how awful the office gossips were. He did this by basically repeating the gossip and then handwringing about how terrible it is to spread such gossip.

      3. Just Employed Here*

        The classic is “I’m not a racist, but…”.

        Everything before the “but” is BS.

        “However” is just a fancy “but”.

        These last two sentiments, taken together, have really forced me to adjust both my writing and my thinking.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          This always makes think that if you’re acting or sounding so close to a racist as to be confused for one, maybe you might reconsider your position.

        2. nym*

          “however” is just a “but” in a tuxedo.

          So said a former writing coach of mine, and I’ve never forgotten that advice.

      4. Le Sigh*

        They also talk a lot about how they hate it when people start drama…they are usually the source of much drama.

      5. Anonymeece*

        Or anyone who says they don’t like “drama”. I legitimately don’t, but realized that almost every time someone said that, they were a bit of a drama llama.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          Or it’s code for “don’t ever come to me with problems, or I’ll accuse you of causing drama.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      People who are in control of their jobs and their workflows very seldom, IF at all, use the phrase “fired up”.

      They have no need for the phrase.
      Additionally, they have no need for memos like this. Again, that would be because they are actually in charge of their jobs.
      I am not sure if this guy could even lead a school of minnows.

      Good luck with your job search, OP. ;)

    5. Be vewwwy vewwwy careful!*

      Yup, it reminds me of people who make a similar claim on social media, and a quick scan of their page reveals that they complain constantly.

    6. Snickerdoodle*

      I totally read that as “I hate drama.” I bet he calls all his exes crazy, too.

      1. starsaphire*

        “All six of my exes were bat-guano crazy!” = “I’m completely unreasonable and will dump you at the slightest provocation.”

        1. Snickerdoodle*

          Nothing makes me swipe left on a dating app faster than “drama free” or, even better, “Please don’t be crazy!” I went to an interview once where they asked me “Soooo . . . how do you handle drama in the office?” I thought “I work someplace else!” but said something generic, wrapped it up quickly, escaped, and didn’t respond to their followup email. (Turned out their boss was a big drama llama and thusly the reason they had a vacancy.)

  5. Snarkus Aurelius*

    The irony here is that most people know who the offender(s) are while the offender(s) sincerely believe the office-wide communications are about everyone else.

    I say this as someone who sat through an hour long staff meeting on appropriate dress code while the only person in the room wearing Chucks, a hoodie sweatshirt, and ripped jeans that showed her crack nodded along and said the attire in this office was “shoddy”!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      With that person’s confidence and my skillset, I would rule the world.

      1. Jadelyn*

        And the sad truth is that, for me at least, people like that are *terrible* for my confidence, because it makes it so clear that there are people out there who are absurdly un-self-aware and now I’m always self-monitoring because I never want to be That Person who’s oblivious to my own shortcomings or mistakes!

        Doesn’t seem fair, really. They get a boatload of unwarranted self-assurance, while their self-assurance directly undermines mine.

        1. Specialk9*

          I had a manager like that once, and it broke my brain, but I also sometimes channel him. He didn’t know anything, but he just looked so unruffled and confident that people assumed he knew stuff! It taught me that so much of others’ perception is one’s own projection.

    2. Future Homesteader*

      Yup! I worked at a daycare where once we came into memos in all of our mailboxes about only taking X number of bathroom breaks for no more than Y minutes each. There was ONE PERSON who was doing that, and the far bigger issue was that she barely ever showed up to work on time, if at all (which is a huge problem when you have legally mandated ratios to maintain). So the rest of us got paranoid about our bathroom breaks, and she just ignored it all.

      By the time I’d been at this place six months, I was the longest-tenured assistant teacher (non-lead) in the building…

    3. Antilles*

      The irony here is that most people know who the offender(s) are while the offender(s) sincerely believe the office-wide communications are about everyone else.
      This is usually the case when you try to do a group-wide memo to address a single offender.

    4. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Yes! Our manager will take time in our staff meeting to complain out people not attending meetings. Complain to us. The people attending the meeting. Ugh.

      1. RJ the Newbie*

        Sounds like my monthly accounting meeting at my old place. Right after the complaints about non-attenders, the obligatory ‘this is why we need to have meetings’ spiel would take place. The actual bullet points we needed to review took less than 10 minutes. A group email would have sufficed.

      2. Anonforthis*

        Hahaha I will never forget this professor (who I otherwise really liked) going off on a giant rant about people answering their cellphones after one idiot in our class got a cell call and ANSWERED IT while sitting in class.

        However. No one else had done that or even had a cell phone go off, and she wasn’t there to hear the rant. Soooooo.

      3. SusanIvanova*

        There’s a very old story about churches where the Christmas-and-Easter sermons were always about how terrible it was to only show up on Christmas and Easter – and how they couldn’t figure out why that kept happening.

      4. Mongrel*

        Reminds me of the UK anti-piracy messages on movies.

        You know who the people were who had to watch them? The people who had a legitimate copy, the people who ripped the pirate copy stripped all that stuff out.

    5. Essess*

      I recall the hypocrisy of being forced to attend a departmental “dress code” meeting and the person who was leading the meeting and lecturing us about obeying the dress code was violating about half of the dress code herself (ie – “no flip-flops”, “no shorts”, no sleeveless shirts etc… while wearing flip flops, a sleeveless shirt, and shorts).

      1. Specialk9*

        That would be effective if they used themselves as an object lesson. How many ways am I breaking the dress code?

    6. Snickerdoodle*

      There’s a chronic heavy perfume wearer in my office. Complaints have been made, emails have gone out, etc., and anybody who ever wore a hint of any scent has ceased, but it doesn’t matter because of the one anosmic lunatic who goes through a bottle of perfume a day.

  6. Monty's Mom*

    This is really funny to read as an outsider, but would be fairly horrifying if it were happening in my job! So sorry you’re working for this guy!

    1. Clare*

      My thoughts exactly. I can’t stop laughing, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be laughing if I worked there.

    2. Rachel*

      I don’t work there and I felt sick to my stomach reading this jerk’s rant. Not laughing at all. Maybe that’s because I worked for 15 years for an employer like that – it hits too close to home.

  7. Bruna*


    (Chose to use all caps since it seems to be his preferred way of really ramming home the important points).

    1. Fergus*

      I bet he has children who are about 4 years old and instead of talking to them he sends emails like this. What a douche

        1. Fergus*

          yea and she’ going to send one back eventually that states that he is an asshole and she wants a divorce to marry is brother who is an angel.

        1. Fergus known as Fergus*

          I can see the letter to his son who is 4 years old



          Dear Chldren,

          I don’t have many pet peeves but I want you to know that these are unacceptable. I still have dirty diapers I have to change. Get with the program. I want you to use the toilet. I don’t care if my team is 2, 4 and 6 months. The toilet is for poop, use it! Also this household does not want to keep spending money on diapers. This is an expense we really don’t want.

          NOW the next order of business. eating your food. There is utensils there for a reason. That reason is to put food in your mouth. I do not want to see you using your hands and definitely not putting your plate to your mouth, and food on the floor is something that will get you sent to bed.

          Do I make myself clear. Any questions please see me and we can discuss you living with grandma until you are 18.

          everythintg in caps

  8. Detective Amy Santiago*

    As a former front desk person, #1 is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    That being said, if I received this email, I would definitely be looking for a new job (and also sending it to Alison).

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Obviously I’m not talking about people stepping away to go to the bathroom or being in a meeting or on break. I’m talking about people who sit there and look at their phone when I’m calling them and choose to ignore it because they don’t want to talk to the person I am trying to transfer.

        1. General Ginger*

          When I’ve literally been hung up on by the screaming person two minutes ago, and the very same person is now trying to reach me again because they decided they want to yell at me some more? They’re going to voicemail.

            1. General Ginger*

              We don’t have a receptionist. Wouldn’t do that to a receptionist, if we did have one.

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Yeah, that’s different too. I got screamed at so many times because someone didn’t answer their phone and “I’ve left four messages and he hasn’t called me back”.

                1. Chinookwind*

                  Yup. And that is why I love this CEO (even if I don’t like his method). He is acknowledging that the receptionist is doing her job, know others need to do theirs.

                2. Jen*

                  Although sometimes they leave you four voicemail messages and then make a complaint in your one hour Tuesday meeting time.

                  Voicemail is a fact of life.

            2. Sully*

              As the front desk person and someone who answers 85% of all incoming calls, it drives me crazy when a coworker says they don’t want to take the call, I transfer the person to voicemail, and they immediately call back and say “oh I guess so-and-so isn’t available so you can help me.” Oh goody!

              1. Snickerdoodle*

                I always hated that. I just sat there holding the phone away from my ear and surfed the Internet for a minute until they stopped talking and replied “Uh-huh. You’ll need to talk to so-and-so about that; would you like his voicemail?”

          1. Bea*

            Been there! Thank God for caller ID.

            If there is a receptionist involved, just loop them in. I let everyone know if I’m ignoring someone like that.

          2. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

            I do the same thing. Or if it’s a person who I suspect is going to have a complicated question. Sometimes I don’t have 30 minutes to talk to someone.

            1. Nanani*

              Right?! Worker could be trying to enforce “save small questions for our regularly scheduled calls/meetings” with an annoying external client. Receptionist might not have the standing to refuse to put them through, but Worker can enforce the boundary with voicemail.

              “Let the squeakiest wheel take all your grease” is not good management

              1. Jadelyn*

                With me, it’s always pushy job applicants. All of our postings, instructions, the auto-reply on the email that receives applications, literally EVERYTHING very specifically says DO NOT CALL ABOUT YOUR APPLICATION. But of course, there are always a few Gumptioneers that think they’re too special for the rules to apply to them, and since we have a call center for our clients they will call that and ask to be put through to whoever does the hiring. And since the call center doesn’t know who the actual hiring manager is for any given position, they just send them to me instead. And no, I am not going to waste time talking with a pushy applicant who shouldn’t even be calling me in the first place. So you’re darned right they go straight to voicemail.

                1. Snickerdoodle*

                  “Do not call unless you want to go into the ‘do no hire’ pile” is a lesson gumptioneers need to learn.

            2. Jen*

              I once made the mistake of taking what I thought would be a quick call as I sat down with my lunch. My soup was congealed by the end. I no longer answer phone calls if I have a meeting in the next five minutes or another engagement.

              1. only acting normal*

                Flashbacks to the client from hell that liked to call and scream at me 10 minutes before quitting time on a Friday. *shudder*

        2. Noah*

          Is that the reason? Sometimes I don’t take a call because I have a meeting in five minutes. You would be able to tell that by looking over your shoulder to my desk. There are all kinds of good reasons to not answer the phone. I wonder what the situation was in this letter.

      2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        And if I’m on another call, sorry, the second (or even third) line is going to go to voicemail!

    1. Observer*

      There is a reason why voicemail exists. Even people whose jobs are nothing but answering phones cannot always get EVERY SINGLE CALL. If someone would rather that people stay on hold for a loooooong time, then you can set the system that way.

      1. Clare*

        But in some cases the company has to agree to change that, it’s not up to the receptionist or other individual staff. When I worked in customer service it was our job to make sure at least one person was available to answer the phone at all times. We had one guy who would sit there surfing the web and ignoring calls because he hated answering phones (it did suck). I think that’s the type of situation being referred to in this case.

        1. General Ginger*

          A guy very much like this covered part of my duties once, while I was on vacation. After I came back, I found out he let most of my calls go to voicemail, and then deleted the voicemails without listening, because, and I quote, “most of their issues were kind of stupid and they could have figured it by themselves if they tried”. No, he was not let go. He worked for the company for about six more months before quitting on his own.

          1. Specialk9*

            I guffawed in surprise.

            I knew someone like that once.
            Client: “Go to this meeting”
            Him: “No, it’s stupid.”

            He wasn’t wrong, but every single meeting at that place was stupid. Every single one.

            1. General Ginger*

              That’s the thing, he wasn’t exactly wrong. It’s just that… dealing with super simple, kinda stupid questions is actually one of the easiest parts of the job! Call ended in two minutes tops, customer thrilled, positive feedback on the CS survey pretty much guaranteed. It baffled me that anyone would give up such easy kudos.

            2. Snickerdoodle*

              Something similar happened at my old job, where the boss would come up with all kinds of stupid ideas and shoot down any good ones anybody else had.

              boss: “But if y’all talk and think it’s a stupid idea, then don’t do it.”

              us: “But EVERYTHING she comes up with is stupid.”

              On the upside, after sitting through a boring meeting, we did have lots of free time.

        2. Observer*

          Sure. If the company never wants someone to go to voice mail, that’s how it gets set up. The receptionist doesn’t need to get worked up about it – just transfer the person and let it go to voicemail.

          And, of course, people shouldn’t be yelling at the receptionist over this. But the people who do that tend to yell anyway. Because those are not reasonable people.

      2. Jen*

        I remember one time I had a scheduled hour long call with someone, and a third party called (no voicemail) FIVE TIMES during that call. I didn’t answer but it was extremely annoying to have it pop up over and over. And then it turned out his question was something that I had previously gave him full info on in an email. That he had but hadn’t read fully.

    2. Michelle*

      I agree, Detective Amy Santiago. It’s not the people who are gone to bathroom or out to lunch, it’s ones who “don’t like to answer the phone”, even though it was clearly stated in the job description that talking to guests, members, vendors on the phone is part of the job. If you are in New York and a member is calling from Washington state to verify their membership so they can access their reciprocal benefits, you need to answer your phone.

    3. Temperance*

      I totally let any unknown numbers go to voicemail and have no regrets. I found out that the receptionist gave my direct number and full name to a nutjob, so now she suffers the consequences.

    4. Sylvan*

      When callers whose call went to voicemail would call again to yell at me about it…! :( I understood that my coworkers were often busy, away from their desk, or already on another phone call, though.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      I pictured it as if yelled by the elder Costanza – “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people!!”

  9. Les G*

    When 50% of your email is bolded, it…kinda defeats the purpose of using a bold font in the first place. But this is hilarious (for us, not for the OP). Sorry, OP!

    1. Thursday Next*

      Ah, but then it just gives more weight to the parts that aren’t bolded! Read this way (non-bold parts only) it’s a much less antagonistic memo!

  10. Construction Safety*

    Ah, the ole “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” method of management.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Plus: we will keep having meetings until we figure out why nothing gets done around here!

  11. BRR*

    People who read this and are worried they made a mistake = people who always answer their phones
    People who maybe skimmed this and won’t change their actions = people who send all calls to voicemail

    People worried they’re on their cell phones too much = people who had to check their phone once for an emergency
    People who are on their phones too much and it’s impacting their work = people who won’t decrease their cell phone usage

    I am also going to title all of my emails “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME.”

    1. Indie*

      Bosses send out the following message:

      “Please everyone, the break room is not to be used at (start of the day) as this is a time we expect you to be doing y. Also, we expect you to be in z location at that time because ALL of you should be pitching in with (task). Can we also ask that you not be in the open plan work area before the afternoon meetings, because it’s clearly just slacking off. ”

      I, panicked respond: “I’ve done all of these things today! Start of day is my only opportunity to get a drink, I am not involved with y, or (task) I was told to use open plan space because you need my office for (waste of time).”

      Reply: “Silly Indie! We’re not talking about you

      1. SusanIvanova*

        “ALL of you should be pitching in with (task).”

        CEO: “Nobody can take time off until Team X is done!”
        Best Manager Ever (of completely unrelated Team Y): “Go hold your grandma’s hand as she goes into surgery. I’ll deal with the CEO.”

  12. Quickbeam*

    Love the subject line. The frustrations are legitimate but this is a horrible way to go about fixing them.

  13. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I’ve seen worse – I once worked at a place where a peer put out a memo “do not act like an obnoxious imbecile”…

    And management countersigned it – ERROR! But it aligned the entire staff – and not necessarily in a direction that management wanted.

    1. OhNo*

      I am now deeply curious what behavior that memo was about.

      I don’t suppose you’d care to share…?

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          OK, we were a bunch of programmers and techs, but we had to perform what was known as “Help Desk” duties three or four hours a week – primarily resetting passwords, restoring datasets, whatever came up.

          The tech – who was in charge of the help desk project, issued a memo – I probably prompted it, because I closed the door one afternoon and the snoopy snitchy secretary couldn’t hear what I was talking about that day. I was buying some real estate and the bank called on financial particulars, I didn’t want to share that with the office….

          so this insulting memo went out. And a manager foolishly signed off on it, thus putting its author in, shall we say, not so good terms with the rest of his peers.

          In short order, a fraternity formed in the office – the IOOI – International Order of Obnoxious Imbeciles – we all had membership certificates hanging in our cubicles, the memo became a big joke for everyone – except for the guy who wrote it.

    2. KRM*

      We got an email once that went as follows:
      “Some fool left the -80 freezer open too long and the temp dropped and now it’s alarming”
      The kickers were that 1-the freezer wasn’t hot enough to trigger the operations alarm, so it was just someone digging for something that went on a bit long and 2- we were all offsite for an outing, had been for quite a few hours, and it was the emailer and maybe one other person working on site. Dude, it was either you or the other person! WTF?

      1. This Daydreamer*

        I’m interested to learn more about the technology that makes the freezer colder when the door is open. Or do you work on the South Pole?

    3. Copier Admin Girl*

      I’m deeply intrigued by this like the other replies are too! And I’m going to start adding “ERROR!” into my discourse whenever possible.


    Anger! Angry Anger! Something has gone wrong in my company and it’s because of the texting and I hate voicemails because I can’t ever remember my password!

    Grrrrr, everyone cower in fear of me.

    1. sunshyne84*

      I hate all those buttons you have to press to get to the actual message especially when I know its my manager telling me to call her like she couldn’t just respond to my email. The light will stay red, I’m just wondering how many voicemails til it says my box is full.

  15. Art3mis (fmrly Bad Candidate)*

    Also, I’ve gotten emails like this. And been told that management was told by HR that they need to “give everyone the warning” to make sure we’re not discriminating against anyone. Whatever. Glad I no longer work there.

    1. AlligatorSky*

      If your name is a reference to Ready Player One, you get ALL the high 5s. (If you like RPO, I hope you see what I did there).

  16. onechickmama*

    February 8, 1978
    “…..there will be no more birthday celebrations, birthday cakes, levity, or celebrations of any kind within the office. This is a business office. If you have to celebrate, do it after office hours on you own time.”
    He had someone else send this for him, per his orders! Wow, wouldn’t you like to be the guy who has to do that!!

    I, too think the the subject of all memos from this point forward should be “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME”.

      1. LuckySophia*

        A former ad-agency colleague had some great stories about his first job, in the Advertising department of MajorBigCorp. He and two male colleagues, all under thirty, were sharing some kind of humorous anecdote in the hall first thing Monday morning. A 50-ish colleague stomped out of his office into the hallway and made his pronouncement: THERE IS ENTIRELY TOO MUCH LEVITY AROUND HERE!

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          I worked with someone who said that levity and jocularity had no place in the office. I laughed. She was serious. None of our co-workers knew what either word meant, either. That was a long, long three years.

    1. Decima Dewey*

      I’d like to send out a few with the subject line “ISSUES I AM UTTERLY INDIFFERENT TO BUT X INSISTS I BRING UP.”

    2. Augusta Sugarbean*

      It’ll be fun to find previously-unknown fellow AAM readers when we read that subject line in the future.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      For me those messages started out with:
      Boss wants everyone to know that [blah, blah, blah].

      Then when the boss came back and yelled at me for not “owning it”, I just figured that he could not unring that bell. His message went out with his name on it. One some level he knew his message was wrong because he wanted my name over the message not his.

  17. Lora*

    OP, for the sake of humanity, you need to save copies of every email from this person and publish them on the internet as an addendum to Tiger Mike.

    Please, someone tell me that there is a website dedicated to all such things, not just Tiger Mike. This is hilarious.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I’m just really glad that I wasn’t the only one thinking of the Tiger Mike emails. I don’t think it is entirely what you are looking for.. but the link in my username is where I found the Tiger Mike emails originally.

      When googling them to remind myself I see that he died recently.
      Godspeed Tiger Mike, you were probably a really big asshole but you entertained me to no end and will hold a special place in kooky boss notoriety!

    2. Jadelyn*

      There’s, which is not quite the same (and now just an archive, I don’t think they update anymore) but still pretty funny all the same.

  18. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I do not get #1. What if I’m legit away from my desk (say, in a meeting) or on another call with someone important when a new call comes in? Am I supposed to see into the future and know when I’d be forwarded a call, so I am sure to be at my desk and off the phone when that moment rolls around?

    1. OhNo*

      A valid question. THat just means the next memo will be announcing the new policy of chaining employees to their desks at all times, just in case.

      How else can we be sure that you’ll be there to answer the call?

      1. irene adler*

        Ya know, management could convert desk phones to cell phones. And then require they be carried around and answered whenever they rang. Solves the calls going to voicemail issue.
        Then folks would run afoul of rule #2-cell phones are for emergency use only.
        Can’t win. **shrug.**

        1. Jadelyn*

          My mother’s previous jerk boss actually insisted that she take her cell phone with her to the bathroom so he could always get ahold of her with no delay, after one time when he texted and she took a few minutes to reply because she’d been in the bathroom. So I…could see a company doing that, sadly.

          1. This Daydreamer*

            Actually, I have to carry my phone everywhere – including the bathroom.

            Thing is, I’m on call in case the volunteer at the shelter has an emergency or a question that needs an answer. And it’s only for a four hour shift. Of course, when I get to work I’ll have to carry a portable phone in case of a hotline call. But it’s definitely for a very good reason.

            This guy? He can pound sand. If it isn’t life or death, it can bloody well go to voicemail if you’re away from your desk, on another call, answering nature’s call or whatever.

        2. Boop*

          Would also run afoul of the unspoken but very much real “don’t answer your cell phone while DOING #2” rule…This strikes me as the kind of boss that would expect people to always answer their (work cell) phone no-matter-what-no excuses-never-ever-ever-let-it-go-to-voicemail and then be incredibly offended when someone actually answered a call in the bathroom.

      2. Rachel*

        Well, a past employer of mine solved this problem without chains. We were simply not permitted to leave our desks except during scheduled breaks and lunch, unless instructed otherwise by your own (no one else’s) supervisor. You were not permitted to speak to any coworker or have any food or beverage (including water) at your desk. Have a medical need for bathroom breaks or water outside of a scheduled break? Too bad! No ADA at that time. I don’t work there anymore.

        1. Jan*

          Not allowed to speak to coworkers??? Not even about work? How can they do that? Mindblowing!

    2. uranus wars*

      This was my first thought! “Do I hang up on a customer who just called to answer another customer’s call being transferred? I obviously never go to lunch or meetings. Do I put a pot under my desk to piss in?”

    3. bee*

      Having formerly been the receptionist in a similar situation, there were definitely repeat offenders that went beyond the usual “away from the desk”/”on another call” reasons for not being able to pick up the phone. The repeat offenders also tended to not be very good at following up on the voicemails they DID receive, so I would get stuck fielding angry calls from clients refusing to be sent to voicemail for a 3rd or 4th time in a row and demanding to speak to a live person.

      Obviously, OP’s boss’s hilariously shouty email is not the way to handle this, but I don’t have a hard time believing there’s a legitimate problem buried in there somewhere.

      1. Observer*

        The key word being “buried.”

        No one thinks that never dealing with your calls is appropriate. But his way of putting it is like a high jump over the top.

        1. bee*

          Yeah, that would be why I said “Obviously, OP’s boss’s hilariously shouty email is not the way to handle this.”

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        *fistbump of solidarity*

        I’ve gotten less than 10 calls in the 3 months I’ve been at my new job and it is glorious.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          In my shiny new world-famous office building, you only get a phone if you ask for one, or are a manager. Nobody has asked.

        2. Chinookwind*

          I have moved back to the stone ages where there is no voicemail for our phone system except at reception (the system is from the ’90’s, no joke) and I still don’t miss working the switchboard at an office with 100+ people where at least 10 of them would deliberately ignore phone calls from clients/potential clients. I may have to track down my current colleagues by walkie talkie, but atleast they answer their phones!

      3. ExcelJedi*

        such offenders should have switched careers to non-client facing roles. I know for a fact that I’m terrible at the phone (social anxiety ftw), but I chose a career that doesn’t force me onto it often.

      4. Sylvan*

        Yeah, I’ve been there, too.

        I never found a real solution in that job, despite trying a few approaches and watching my manager try others, aside from just accepting that I’m going to hear complaints and yelling.

    4. AKchic*

      Well, I know one thing: you can’t transfer your line to your cell! Boss doesn’t want you to use your cell.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This stuff is quite common in retail. So here’s the answers.
      Don’t leave the phone. Ever.
      Yes, look in to the future and know when the phone will ring.
      If you can’t do that there are a dozen more people waiting for you job who can do that.

    6. Lynn*

      We were given a similar edict at work – you must be physically present for all things. Except there are often 2 or 3 places where things are happening at the same time. When I asked how they’d like me to prioritize, I was yelled at. Everyone else just nodded. But I got in trouble for actually trying to figure out how to put an impossible plan into action.

  19. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Does anyone else have the maturity of a 12 year old? Because I snickered at “servicing our members.”

    (All the other glorious sections, subject line included, have been discussed.)

    1. Teapot librarian*

      My employees use the word “servicing” instead of “serving” and I hate it. It is, however, not a hill to die on in my management of the office.

    2. Jadelyn*

      How did I miss that??? I had to scroll back up so I could giggle at it like the 12 year old I truly am at heart.

    3. Canadian Natasha*

      Snicker snicker. I was about to reply the same thing (even including the 12 year old’s sense of humour part). Could we be twins? :D

  20. Matilda Jefferies*

    I literally just let a call go to voice mail, five minutes ago!

    Reason: I have planned my afternoon to concentrate on one specific, time-sensitive thing. I know the person who called me, and I’m pretty sure I know why she’s calling, and I know that talking to her right now will derail the other thing that I need to work on first. So I looked at the call display, and decided to triage her out of my plans for the afternoon. If I’m right about why she called, I can deal with that issue just as effectively tomorrow.

    And, to OP’s boss: guess what? I’m an adult, and a professional, and I get to make decisions like that about how I manage my work! You sound like a TERRIBLE BOSS, and I hope the OP can find a way to get out of your organization as soon as possible.

    1. RJ the Newbie*

      I did the same thing yesterday. As I am a project accountant, I have several billings that have to be run and issued on the last business day of the month. I block out that entire afternoon monthly to do this. And my calls go to voicemail. Never had an issue.

    2. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow*

      I do this regularly. Usually by the time a call gets to me, it’s a complicated issue that is going to take 30 minutes to resolve or explain. So I like to send those calls to voice mail so that I can make sure and call them at a better time, so that I can make sure to provide the attention that the call deserves. Picking up the phone and then trying to get the person off the phone is far less customer friendly, IMO.

    3. Specialk9*


    4. RabbitRabbit*

      Yup. I suspect this e-mail is addressed to That One Jerk that never picks up phone calls ever ever ever and also doesn’t return calls from voicemail, but sometimes I just do let stuff run to voicemail if I have a priority.

    5. Amanda*

      Plus my work phone gets about nine wrong number calls daily so I have to put it on silent if I am to get anything done! Maybe it’s generational but I think people who just call without arranging a call are kind of rude, assuming their needs should supersede everything else on my priority list. Send me a message on skype, email, WeChat, hipchat, is text to see if nows a good time to call about X. It helps ensure I have the documents/data in front of me when you ask about them, for starters. I actually prepare for calls and people who call out of the blue are assuming I don’t prepare, which is a bit insulting.

      1. Nanani*

        Wrong numbers!

        This reminds of the office I used to work at, where the shared line for my small group was one digit off from the office FAX line (this field still uses a lot of FAX for -reasons-.)

        Most calls were from FAX machines. After the first ear screech, we all knew to ignore the next several rings as it would be the other person’s FAX retrying to send.

        Not sure if screechy faxes made it to voicemail.

        And I totally agree about the rudeness of calling without arranging.

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          a day late and a dollar short-

          but you can just transfer the fax to the internal extension for your fax machine when you get the screechy call, and it will go through. Then call the sender and tell them they were faxing to the wrong number.

  21. Amber Rose*

    But what if I don’t answer the phone because I’m in the bathroom? Or on another call? I get that people who send all their calls to voicemail are frustrating, but the response to that isn’t to say that anyone who misses ANY calls is fired. I haven’t mastered the shadow clone thing yet. :(

    As for cell phones, that one keeps coming up around my workplace too and it bothers me. I’m an adult. Either trust me to use my phone responsibly, or tell me I’m using my phone too much. Like another adult would. Punishing everyone for the offense of a single person is BS.

    Also it never worked. I had a high school teacher once tell my whole class that I was the reason that everyone was having a bad time (kind of a long story) and I still did the thing I was doing. Because that kind of thing just makes people dig in their heels against the injustice. You give them righteous anger.

    1. PB*

      I get almost no phone calls at work, and yet I have a talent for being away from my desk every single time.

  22. sam*

    Unless the receptionist can literally see everyone in the office, how does she know that the person she’s forwarding a call to (a) isn’t already on another call or (b) is actually at their desk and not, say, in the bathroom for five damn minutes?

    These things happen.

    It’s obviously likely that the CEO is pissed about a particular person who is ignoring calls rather than the above, but…sometimes calls get forwarded and they don’t get picked up.

    Quite frankly, what the receptionist should be doing if this is an ongoing issue is not let her end of the call drop (either through forwarding or using the transfer/conference function instead) so that she can pick the line back up, apologize and take a live message or ask the member if they’d like to be transferred to someone else. Even as a non-receptionist, when I’ve had to transfer calls, that’s what I always do.

    1. Bea*

      It depends on her call flow. If she’s answering a lot of lines or if it’s confidential work, you can’t take live messages. This shouldn’t come back on the receptionist, if you see someone letting a call ring to voicemail you just address it with them.

      1. Michelle*

        Seconded. Don’t push it back on the receptionist. I have 30 incoming lines. If I can hear you talking to your best work bud about how you are planning to get druuuunk tonight, you have time to answer your phone, so I can answer the other calls coming in.

    2. Chinookwind*

      Oh, as receptionist, you know. There are usually other behaviors that show a certain disrespect for other people’s time. As well, when you have 10+ or more lines, you can’t take physical voicemail messages (especially since that is what voicemail is for) and, during busy season, dealing with an irate customer is very hard to do when you have 5 other lines ringing that need to be answered ASAP.

  23. Ruth (UK)*

    I would be 100% unsurprised if my boss at my last job had sent out this exact message as he managed very similar ones several times! Aaand that’s one of the reasons I left…

    1. Genny*

      Haha, this email didn’t sound that bad to me at first, but then it dawned on me that it doesn’t sound bad because it sounds like something that would come from the general manager of a fast food restaurant (especially the “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean” part) where you’re dealing with employees new to the workforce, customers who expect rapid service, and thin profit margins. It’s not how you handle people in a professional office environment.

      1. it_guy*

        And it cost him millions of dollars!

        His major investors were questioning him on why he was in such a panic. Other minor investors heard about it and started selling Cerner stock. After the memo became public, the company’s stock dropped almost 20 percent in two days.

    1. Specialk9*

      And apparently it was based on bad data – most people were working significant overtime but the time card system had a glitch.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        I wonder what his gripe about the parking lot was about, though. Does he just not know how many cars “should” be there at any given time?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      And they do work tangent to the health care field. How ironic. Yep, treat people like crap and they won’t get sick or anything, no, don’t worry about that.

  24. E. Jennings*

    brb, renaming my calendar event for my weekly 1:1 with my boss from “BossE. Jennings 1:1” to “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME”

    1. Foxy Hedgehog*

      Yes! I have already sent 2 e-mails today with the title “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME.” It feels…good.

  25. Bea*

    I know a couple utter dbags like This Guy.

    Find a new job. He isn’t viewing you as adults who contribute to the company’s success. You’re just a whipping boy and his pawn in his game known as business.

    I hope he finally takes a good healthy poop, be seems so stuffed up…

  26. Lynca*

    I want to watch this guy’s head explode when it turns out someone let a call go to voicemail because they were already on the phone with another customer.

    He’s probably against bathroom breaks because you’re away from the desk. Ugh.

    1. AKchic*

      I would purposely let any call from him go to voicemail because “I was on the phone with a customer. Your email made it clear that ‘servicing the customer’ was our number one priority.” and leave it hanging there.
      Let him try to work his way through that one.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I wanna watch as people put HIM on hold because their phone is ringing with a customer.

      Boss: “I want to talk about…”
      Employee: “My other line is ringing, I’ll be right back.”
      Boss: “things that BOTHER ME.”
      Employee: “Whoops, Boss, looks like the other line is ringing again, be right back”
      Boss: “Quit answering the other line.”
      Employee: “I am following your memo , Boss. Whoops, I will be right back…”

  27. LGC*

    To my boss: this is why all my emails will be titled “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME” from now on. I’m not sorry.

    1. LGC*


      1) I sent this to my coworker and I had her rolling.
      2) I have a meeting tomorrow with my team about some things. I’m tempted to just read this e-mail out loud with a straight face instead of my actual agenda. (I shouldn’t do this. But I really want to.)
      3) I might actually print this e-mail out and frame it behind my desk.
      3a) I might print out the Tiger Mike memos and give them to one of the VPs (who has sent a few Tiger Mike e-mails in her day).

  28. submerged tenths*

    When I have completed my work and look around for someone to help out, the only place i categorically refuse to go is the department which is always behind . . . because the person in charge is always. on. his. cell. phone.

    1. SusanIvanova*

      I’d look at the people whose busy cycle was the inverse of mine because I knew they’d do the same thing, but I didn’t touch a single one of Coworker Coffeecup’s list until the day after he left. Then I did a dozen of them in one morning, just to prove the point of how useless he was.

  29. Pennalynn Lott*

    I had a manager once who would call all-team meetings just to do this kind of thing (berate everyone for the behavior of a single person). After the first one I asked him if he meant that my behavior was the problem. He responded by saying, “Don’t jump in front of a bullet that isn’t aimed at you.” I was like, “How about you don’t drag me onto the target field of the shooting range next time?”

    But, no. The next time someone was late, or disappeared from their desk for “too long”, or didn’t meet the minimum metrics, the entire team was dragged into a conference room for a dressing down. What a massive waste of time.

    1. Bea*

      How was turnover?? I can’t imagine good employees dealing with that crap too long.

      It’s a waste of time to pee 36 times a day and so the response is to drag everyone away from work to lecture the working folks about 36x person. Nonsensical

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I had three people lecture me on the problems with punching in one minute early. They lectured me for 20 minutes, which translates into an hour of pay to discuss the wastefulness of being one minute early.

      Einsteins, I tell you. This company was a group of Einsteins.

      When employers worry about one minute that to me signals a sinking ship.

  30. WellRed*

    Oh would that the LW’s boss sees this! But, since he’s an ass, he’s probably not an AAM reader.

    1. Let's Talk About Splett*

      I feel badly for the LW’s coworkers if he does. He clearly isn’t afraid to punish everyone for something one person did.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*


      He not only sees this post, but he writes a rebuttal email to Alison that provides an actual logical explanation for the email.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        He was being held hostage.
        He had not eaten for three days.
        Someone took his blankie.

      2. This Daydreamer*

        These are IMPORTANT ISSUES that shouldn’t even come up in a PROFESSIONAL OFFICE!!!!!!!

  31. General Ginger*

    You know the next memo is going to be, “some of our employees are abusing the privilege of the internet existing. The internet is for work and funny animal videos, not for exposing my unreasonable yelling to public shaming”.

  32. DMouse*

    Wow, we had a guy EXACTLY like this in my office. He only managed certain people, but since he was the highest “rank” person in our office, he considered himself in charge of office matters. He sent emails like this – or would rant out loud about similar things. Once it was about not removing other people’s things from the copy machine – “don’t take things that aren’t your concern!” Or about people not making a new pot of coffee. And I can’t remember the details, but once I got yelled at either for transferring him a call that he didn’t want, or not telling him who it was when I transferred it…something along those lines, because this particular call was one he didn’t want.

  33. thinkagain*

    Gee, these capital letters–and especially those in bold— really straightened me out.

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      I know, right? If I were the OP, I would come to work tomorrow with a picnic lunch and a bedpan, because, by golly, there’s no way in sweet heaven that I want to miss any incoming calls…..

  34. CaribouInIgloo*

    Hold on, you’re not allowed to let your calls go into voicemail? What happens when you have to, god forbid, go to the bathroom? Do you take your desk phone with you to the stall and talk when you’re doing No.2?

    1. Nita*

      You forward it to cell, and take the cell with you! Just make sure you’re not using it to text and go to Facebook!!! :D

    2. anyone out there but me*

      You could forward your desk phone to your cell phone………… Oh wait. Nevermind.

    1. bee*

      I would 100000% approve of a Michael Shannon dramatic reading of ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME.

    1. H.C.*

      I’m also mashing up “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME” with other AAM memorables (OK, mostly the “worst boss” entries from years past).

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Maybe you should do an Ask the Readers on best memos and do a top 10 like you did with holiday stories. I’ve got a real doozy saved that I’d love to contribute.

        2. smoke tree*

          Re-reading these comments, I notice that you suggested a podcast episode featuring dramatic readings from memos past. I am supportive of this idea.

  35. miyeritari*

    “Issues that are bothering me,” is the name of my new autobiographical comedy memoir.

    1. H.C.*

      I’m currently reading Samantha Irby’s hilarious book of essays; “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME” would’ve been an appropriate sub-/alt-title.

    2. This Daydreamer*

      It’s also the name of my Rage Against the Machine cover band.

      /continuing an ongoing joke from another website

  36. anyone out there but me*

    I worked for a boss who made every employee leave their cell phone in a basket on the office manager’s desk. If they needed to use their cell, they had to ask for permission. But the boss had hers and would always text in meetings, etc. That was just one in a long list of reasons I quit that job.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Wow – the last time I encountered someone with that degree of ‘other people’s phone control’ I was a TA in a middle school and the phones belonged to 12 year olds…

    2. Luna123*

      I didn’t even encounter that sort of behavior in middle/high school.

      Did people have to swing by her office if they wanted to go on breaks/lunch and use their cell phone as a timer?

    3. The Original K.*

      My best friend’s husband worked at a place like this. You dropped the phone in the basket as you came in & only got to take it back during breaks & at the end of the day.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      The only time this (phones in a basket) makes sense is if you are working in a classified area and it applies to absolutely everyone, no exceptions. Otherwise, it’s a massive overstep. I would have started pointedly staring at the boss each and every time she pulled out her phone. Ugh.

      1. Rae*

        Except for classified buildings know way better than to have a BIN OF PHONES hanging around. My dad works in classified spaces and locks his in his glove box. If he has a meeting inside or carpooled or had any other “contraband” the company had keyed lockers.

        I totally would have dropped in a plastic play phone and put my phone on silent.

    5. anyone out there but me*

      It was a law firm. Nothing classified. It was just another example of the business owner’s total paranoia and control issues.

      I wish I’d have thought of the old cell phone in the basket trick.

  37. Shrunken Hippo*

    This entire idea of punishing everyone because one person messed up makes me have flash backs to elementary school when the entire class got detention because two or three idiots decided to do an impromptu comedy skit in the middle of a lesson. It didn’t make sense to me then and it certainly doesn’t make sense to me now. Why does everyone have to have their time wasted, especially when the whole point is to stop wasting time at work?

    1. rldk*

      At least one part of the thinking is that in school, which is more of a social group than work, that knowing you’ll cause punishment to your classmates will be extra social pressure for you to stop, because your classmates will be mad at you. Or even start self-policing you against that behavior without the teacher needing to intervene.
      It’s still not great, but it makes it completely ineffective in a work environment where your *entire office* doesn’t have social ties, and usually they’re not even close to your first source for socializing.

  38. Environmental Compliance*

    “…we will find someone to replace you that is will (sic) to answer the calls for whatever your job is.”

    I got stuck at the “whatever your job is” part for a while. Kinda reeks of I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE PAY YOU ALL TO DO BUT THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE TO (pretend to) MANAGE SO THAT MAKES ME IMPORTANT, ALSO NONE OF YOU ARE IMPORTANT.

    How utterly clueless!

    1. The New Wanderer*

      That’s why this guy will always come in second to Tiger Mike – TM was completely up front about mattering more than any other employee, as he repeatedly reminds them in basically every memo.

  39. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    I wouldn’t want to work in a place where emails like this were acceptable. That email is unprofessional, condescending and insulting.

  40. smoke tree*

    I’d say this guy was taking communication tips from one of my former clients, but I note the lack of red font, underlines, italics, and long forwarded chains where he insults me to other people. He’s got a long way to go.

  41. MaureenSmith*

    Having worked for (and am related to) people like this, I have 3 comments:
    1 – Find other work
    2 – Ignore this (and similar) memo’s
    3 – Save these in a special file for laughing at over some beer later. I can guarantee that it’ll be hilarious in hindsight.

    There’s a folder somewhere at the office here of similar memo’s from the previous boss, who retired 10 years ago. Such memo’s are occasionally brought to light and chuckled over by those who remember previous boss.

    Seriously, you have a boss who is a bad manager. There are lots of them out there. Spending a lot of time with such bosses does tend to warp your sense of correct workplace behaviour. Keep up the good work questioning when something doesn’t seem ‘normal’. What’s normal for your workplace probably isn’t acceptable elsewhere. Something to remember when you move on.

  42. Jack Russell Terrier*

    This is exactly the kind of email that might be sent out by the Office Manager of a yoga studio where I ‘worked’ checking people in and tidying up after class. I say ‘worked’ because it was a volunteer position – but free yoga. She even sent and e-mail outlining things I hadn’t done when tidying and closing up – that I didn’t even know existed and certainly had never been mentioned.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      There’s nothing so high stress as a yoga studio. It’s the perfect environment for someone who micromanages a volunteer. /s

  43. Dram*

    Well I’m glad this is so hilarious to AAM and white collar office workers. It’s quite common in service-oriented work jobs — call center type places, data entry, whatever. Yes, employees can be and are fired. No, Internet or cell phone access is not a worker perk in most such jobs. The letter itself was unusual in that it’s actually really tame — I’ve been places that just fire everyone who happened to get caught in the crossfire one arbitrary morning. But please. Keep being entertained by it all.

    1. General Ginger*

      What makes you think none of us have worked in service-oriented fields, or aren’t working there now?

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      It’s part of the reason why The Office and its ilk are so popular. We like to laugh at it, if only as a release of the “OMG someone else is going through it too! What a relief I’m not alone.”

      It’s clearly touched a more painful nerve with you, rather than the comradeship of recognition.

    3. Thursday Next*

      I actually think it’s a form of gallows humor—people are laughing because it’s a relief to see they are not alone in being subject to mismanagement.

    4. Bea*

      Oh please. Many of us are saying we have this kind of screwjob in our past. It happens in all professions. That’s why everyone is encouraging a job hunt, not to throw herself on this grenade.

      You have to laugh or you’re going to die miserable.

    5. EditorInChief*

      I don’t think most people find these “funny” in a haha funny way, but in a “Oh yeah, I’ve been there” sympathetic way. I’ve only worked in white collar jobs and have seen my share insane memos along these same lines, including my personal favorite with the headline: STOP ASKING ME: If You Work In A Cost Center Dept You Are Not Invited To The Holiday Party.

    6. FaintlyMacabre*

      I think an important distinction is that we’re not laughing at the people who receive suck letters- it’s aimed more at the self important jerks who think this is somehow effective and okay.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        “Suck” should be “such”, but as far as typos go, it is actually a good descriptor.

        1. AMT*

          I didn’t even question your use of “suck letters.” I was like, yeah, that’s a great way to phrase that!

    7. Indie*

      If I had not laughed at my ridiculous call centre and retail job bosses I would not have made it through without giving up. No; I didn’t laugh when I/someone else got fired but no one’s doing that. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I can see your point. How many people in our country are employed in these sectors? A lot of people.

      My hope here is that the laughter (mockery) trees out and more and more people decide that they are not going to put up with it. We need a culture shift such that this behavior is called out and not accepted.

      Some one above mentioned The Office. I wish that show was more of a wake-up call that we need huge changes. I don’t care for the show because I have lived it enough and because it does not seem to be opening the conversation of how we manage people.

      You do make me think though. Changes in our society did not come about because people laughed. I remember old movies where a scene would show a drunk driver and it was supposed to be funny that he was all over the road. I did not get the humor. Finally one day our country stopped laughing at drunk drivers and things changed.
      Bosses like this cause upheaval in people’s lives. The phrase “worried sick” is not just an expression, it happens. People worry themselves until they are ill. Other upheaval is caused when people just walk out of jobs with no new job to go to. How many folks here have commented they are in therapy because of their boss or management? They are in therapy because of bosses like this one here.

      I have to land on that I tend to agree, once we start taking stuff like this seriously then actual change will start.

    9. LGC*

      Late response, but…

      I actually do work for a data entry adjacent company. And…you’re somewhat correct about that stuff being standard, and in fact I’ve dealt with the exact same thing myself. And we sometimes get all staff emails about these issues. I don’t think the request is entirely unreasonable (answer the phone in a timely manner – it looks like it’s from a couple call center – and don’t use your cell phone at work).

      But also – that doesn’t stop this email from being completely unhinged. And I think that’s the major issue – the tone the email takes is totally unprofessional. He’s addressing the issue as a personal offense against him, when in all likelihood most of the call center employees barely know who he is. If I got this, I’d honor the request in the near term because I like having a job, but it would torpedo any respect I had for the CEO.

      So excuse me for pointing and laughing at the reincarnation of Tiger Mike.

      (And that doesn’t make your point about the mistreatment of blue collar workers, especially in the US, invalid! It’s just that I think everyone is – or at least I am – laughing at how badly this email is written and not at the fact that OMG these are such unreasonable demands.)

    1. London Calling*

      Oh the grammar in that thing as well. Hint – if you are telling people where they are failing, you had better be perfect.

      1. mcr-red*

        Oh yeah. I noticed that too.

        He really needs to invest in some commas. Read #1 out loud if you can, it’s like a run-on sentence.

  44. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

    Hubby used to work for someone like this, only hubby’s tyrant wasn’t daft(?) enough to put it in writing – he’d just go and berate every member of staff to their face – sometimes in a team meeting, sometimes one on one (even when said ‘one’ wasn’t the offender). Hubby referred to this as “receiving the hair dryer”, because basically a lot of hot air was blown at your face (if you were lucky it was just hot air – one of tyrant’s brothers was co-owner and known for excess spittle)
    Hubby’s tyrant never put anything in writing – that way, when he was inevitably sued, there was less proof he did anything wrong. Man, I wanted to insert a crowbar into that *expletive deleted*

  45. Drama Llama*

    Okay, I’m going to be unpopular with this but I can empathise with the CEO’s frustration.

    People slacking off at work is a common and frustrating issue that managers have to deal with on a regular basis. At my company we have a rule of no cellphones on the shop floor, because it looks unprofessional and leads to missed sales. Yet this is an issue that’s come up time after time.

    When we remind staff either individually or as a group, they’re good for awhile – then they gradually start using their cellphone more and more. From the manager perspective it’s frustrating to deal with the same problem repeatedly.

    Sending aggressive memos will do more harm than good; but as a manager I understand why he got to that boiling point.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Then he should be berating his managers, not an all-company memo. It’s a poor CEO who can’t trust that his managers under him will keep the direct reports (i.e. the ones being managed) toeing the line. Let the managers manage – and if they’re not, then they’re the ones failing to do their jobs.
      Likely the original offender was just a jobsworth, or new to the workplace – if they were a repeat offender, that’s kinda on the manager to have fixed them by now.

    2. Observer*

      The memo is so over the top, that it’s hard to tell if there is actually a legitimate issue buried there or not.

      Is this an issue of lots of people routinely not doing their job? Almost certainly not, based on his language alone. So, already we know that he’s over-reacting in a big way. Is he over-reacting to a real issue, or not? It’s hard to tell, but this memo is so unreasonable that it’ easy to believe that the answer is not.

      If there is a real problem buried there, there are many MUCH better ways to handle it.

    3. Bea*

      I’ve been there. I’ve had to pull people in for slacking and dicking around. Yes, it’s usually something that will resurface later. As a manager that’s a thing you deal with.

      So if he was venting to me as a friend, I would encourage him to fire true poor performers and don’t nitpick the ones who aren’t causing a problem. Don’t punish everyone, get rid of your 1 or 2 low performers who don’t want to or can’t do their jobs.

    4. Indie*

      What. You don’t fire or discipline those members of staff who ignore individual warnings until gradually it catches on?! Therefore it’s not that important. So gradually, the conscientious ones either leave or follow their lead too – else the least conscientious are getting a perk by knowing a bluff when they see one. This guy’s bluffing too and he’ll lose his good staff members first.

    1. It'sBotheringMe*

      Whoops — in moderation because I linked to an older story.

      He forgot to add #3: Ordering extra guacamole is wasteful of member dues!

        1. It'sBotheringMe*

          Since I wrote it, I could see it. I think it’s hidden to everyone else until it gets through moderation.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          You can only see your comments waiting for moderation if you include an email address.

        3. Apollo Warbucks*

          If you include an email address when post you see the comment and a message above it saying awaiting moderation and reply to it then.

    2. Parcae*

      My all-time favorite!

      An aside: I am not a very frequent commenter, but it seems to me that *all* of my comments go temporarily into moderation. Am I imagining it? Or am I on Alison’s naughty list? ;)

        1. Parcae*

          Oh good grief. That probably should have occurred to me. (I can really relate to the letter writer from a while back who kept getting teased about their last name, for also obvious reasons.)

  46. irene adler*

    I’d like to post his office phone # on-line somewhere so folks can call him. All. Day. Long.
    Let’s see him take every single one of those calls.
    (except this would make the receptionist’s job hell and I would not want to do that)

  47. Nanani*

    “ruin it for everybody”? Ruin WHAT for everybody, dude?

    The existence of the internet and people’s personal cell phones are not special perks you are generously providing. They are part of modern life that adults in professional jobs can manage appropriately.

    IF cell phones on site are a problem, you should have policies for that (like no personal phones in customer-facing areas) and wouldn’t need to yell about “websites and facebook”.

    What does this guy think facebook is if not a website, I’m curious to know.

  48. NW Mossy*

    My dad is notorious for sending emails with his subject lines in all caps, so I always laugh when I see others do it as an expression of anger because he uses the same in a much more banal way. Just the other day, my dad sent me an email with the subject ANSWER TO PUZZLE, wherein he discussed the solution to the Wall Street Journal’s most recent crossword contest. Now I’m imagining him shouting “ANSWER TO PUZZLE” at me and dying laughing.

    1. Thursday Next*

      My dad has block printed every card or note I’ve ever seen him handwrite. I got used to it, so it’s actually a bit jarring to me that his emails to follow normal, not shouting, capitalization conventions.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Do we all have the same dad? Mine has been sending all-caps emails for at least 20 years. It’s just how he rolls.

      2. Red Reader*

        My husband prints everything in tiny block capitals. It’s because he’s played tabletop RPGs for twenty-five years and the tiny block caps are super easy to read in the tiny writing spaces on character sheets.

        Just yesterday, in fact:
        Me: (Housemate) needs you to write his name.
        Husband: What? Lazy git can write his own name.
        Me: He needs it on a luggage tag, and you have the best handwriting for that.
        Husband: Oh. Point taken.

        1. Thursday Next*

          So true.

          My dad made me alphabet flash cards when I was little (my parents were grad students and didn’t buy stuff they could make themselves). Those cards looked machine printed.

    2. Myrin*

      Now I’m also imagining your dad shouting “ANSWER TO PUZZLE” at you and I’m also dying laughing.

    3. Specialk9*

      I’m imagining that whole crossword scene in Hot Fuzz now with shouting.

      Fascist. System of government categorized by extreme dictatorship

      Hag. Evil old woman, considered frightful or ugly. It’s 12 Down.

  49. Queen of Cans and Jars*

    Thank you for the opportunity to peruse the letters of Tiger Mike again! And sorry about having such an a-hole for a boss, OP.

  50. DouDouPaille*

    OMG sounds like the CEO of my company!!!! He micromanages our press releases to an absurd degree, even though he doesn’t know the first thing about PR. Here is an excerpt from an angry reprimand he sent just last week (complete with unintentionally hilarious typos): “CAN EVERYONE PLEASE STOP INTERFERING WITH and changing PRESS RELEASES THAT I AM PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN WRITING!!!!! I will not tolerate this and I don’t have the time to keep revisiting this. WE JUST WNET OVER THIS WITH THE [deleted for privacy] PRESS RELEASE YOU CHANGED AFTER I WROTE IT. DON’T LET ANY OF YOU THINK YOU ARE BETTER ENGLISH EXPERTS PLEASE.”

    1. Janet*

      “DON’T LET ANY OF YOU THINK YOU ARE BETTER ENGLISH EXPERTS PLEASE.” Ugh. There’s no reasoning with people like this.

  51. voyager1*

    Okay minority opinion here:
    1. People do like to send stuff to VM because they don’t want to talk to people in my line of work. It is rude and if that is what that email writer has an issue with then I can see why he is upset.

    2. I had a AVP that I reported to (sort of) that was like that about cell phones. She was in her mid 50s so I think it was a generation thing. She joked that she wanted to make our floor like a day care where you had to check your phone in. My direct manager pretty much told her that if she did that people would find other ways to waste time. After my manager left she however cracked down on cell phones. I left about 2 months later but in the end everyone was pushed out of that team (some soft landed in company) I was later told that cell phone use was a reason. I want to emphasize that folks were not using the phones much at all. But yes we all might take a FB or Twitter break and use our phones. This same AVP thought ear buds or ear plugs were unprofessional. She also told a female manager not to hire young women as processors because they all get married/pregnant (manager at the time was trying to have a child and having issues). That AVP was a wacko.

    My advice to the LW and her email. Yes we can all laugh at this, but this is your job, take your CEO seriously on this until you can find another job somewhere else.

    1. rldk*

      I don’t think anyone’s saying that these can never be issues. What we’re all pointing out that if these are indeed issues, this is the WORST way to address it. You/their manager need to speak to the offenders one-on-one, to point out the impact of what they’re doing.
      And because of that, this is a perfect demonstration of a terrible manager, and LW most definitely needs to get out before the terrible management affects her more directly.

    2. Bea*

      Nobody is saying to challenge him! (That I’ve seen, maybe I’m missing it). That would be absurd and you may as well just quit.

      Follow this hotheads rules while planning an escape.

    3. Specialk9*

      Not one person thinks there isn’t a real annoyance here. It’s the method of communicating it, which buries the validity and undermines the CEO’s credibility.

      1. voyager1*

        I guess I read the tone wrong, but I got the impression from AAM (and some comments up thread) thought the whole email was funny and no taking it too seriously. I agree this not a great way to communicate for a CEO, sorry I didn’t mention that in my first comment.

  52. KarenK*

    There was something kind of awesome about Tiger Mike. If you have not read these gems, I highly recommend them. He weighed in on all aspects of the operation of Tiger Oil – nothing was too big or too small to merit his attention. He most definitely had opinions about everything, and he constantly invited his employees to go work somewhere else if they didn’t like those opinions. He treated all his employees the same. I think my favorite one was about everyone learning how to type, because writing longhand wastes too much time.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I just read those for the first time today, and I am so curious as to how big this company was?? He mentions multiple offices and many different types of employee, but then names specific names for responsible people in relatively low level positions (the kitchen lady, the guy who checks the trucks) like it’s a small enough company that everyone would know those names. And he claimed all the furniture and carpets were HIS, not company, property. Calling out “long-hairs” and “dope fiends” was probably my favorite part – how quaint!

      Clearly he was very emotionally invested in his business.

    2. Triple Anon*

      People were stealing candy from his office. They weren’t actually afraid of him. That says something. And his looney toons idea about distributing vacation time (taking days off next to holidays means you’re taking more vacation days than if you took two weeks together). Maybe that’s why they weren’t afraid . . .

  53. Pebbles*

    Re: people who “waste” time checking their phones at their desks…

    I once had a manager that in my annual review had written down that I was ALWAYS surfing the Internet. He told me this was absolutely unacceptable, so I asked him a few questions to clarify:
    1. When are you coming by and seeing me on the Internet? During my lunchtime? (Well, maybe, sometimes. But you were on it at other times too!)
    2. What was I using the Internet for? (He didn’t know. Note: Facebook and internet email sites like Google Mail and Yahoo! Mail were blocked. And I often am on to look up programming syntax on sites like stackoverflow and MSDN)
    3. Why was this not brought up during one of our weekly 1-on-1s before now if it’s a huge deal? (No response)
    4. Am I falling behind on my work? (He checked with people and they told him that no, I wasn’t)

    If you don’t know exactly what someone is doing, why, and for how long, either ask questions to figure out if it really is a problem, or move along. I used this example when the GrandBoss was asking for feedback to get him removed as my manager.

    1. rldk*

      I had a similar issue with my ExBoss. Either she saw social media on someone’s computer or the CEO did once and complained, because she was asking us to literally *put up a sign* when we were on a break so that “people” would know we weren’t slacking. Also, we had to now only take two 15-minute breaks plus half-hour lunch in a salaried desk job with no customer interaction and no need for coverage.
      I was already on the way out when this came up, but dear god. Treat us like adults. We got our work done, and took 5-minute breaks at *most*.

      1. Pebbles*

        I was once experimenting with a productivity tool called pomodoro planning. Basically you break down and map out your tasks for the day in 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks in-between. You concentrate on whatever you need to for the 25 minutes, and then answer emails, phone calls, stretch your legs in the 5-minute breaks. It worked pretty well until I had a (different) manager that started suggesting I do exactly what yours did except for the opposite reason. I should put up a sign to show I was not to be disturbed. Seems reasonable, right? Except I would have been spending my entire 5-minute breaks modifying my environment to show whether I could be disturbed or not changing my voicemail, IM, email, and physical space. It didn’t last.

      2. Indie*

        Was there an ‘I am slacking’ sign too? Because expecting employees to self report whether its legitimate or not, suggests trust… signs needed if so?

        1. rldk*

          Ah yes, “trust.” It’s almost like they knew that for how little they were paying us, they needed to force us to stay engaged the whole workday

    2. Never*

      Also the fact that your manager needed to check with people and didn’t already know whether or not you were falling behind on your work is a failure of their job as a manager.

      1. Pebbles*

        I didn’t see this so much as the problem as we are rather lean on middle management. My manager knew generally speaking what I was working on by checking our job board, but I worked more closely with a different group and some of my tasks could go on for a few weeks. So the engineers that I was developing/fixing software for would have a better sense as to how any particular job was going and if I was wasting time overall. All he had to do was ask BEFORE assuming it was a problem and writing it down in my annual review.

    3. H.C.*

      That reminded me of the time when IT emailed me & my supervisor about my time spent on social media sites… which was “way above average” in comparison the company average.

      I was the de facto social media manager for the organization. My manager & I had a good laugh about that before crafting a semi-snarky reply together.

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      I have to know, Pebbles. Were you successful at getting your manager removed? And did you have to cite any other examples of his poor management to really get the point across?

      1. Pebbles*

        Not sure if you’ll see this now, but yes, I was successful. I wasn’t the only report of his to have issues with his management and I did use a few other examples including one where I flat out told GrandBoss that I had given up ever getting promoted because year after year I wasn’t getting objective goals to meet in order to advance. It was always “improve in this area” and then next year it was “well, yes, you’ve improved, but I still have some concerns.” The company restructured a bit which led to an org chart demotion for him and he had most of his reports moved to other people.

    5. Amethystmoon*

      Busy bodies are why I use my cell phone most of the time to Google questions about software I use for work. Some people have too much time on their hands.

  54. Herald of Storms*

    My last boss sent out emails like this almost every week- usually close to 2 or 3 pages. It was absolutely infuriating, I’ll check my archives to see if I have any particularly outlandish ones

      1. Herald of Storms*

        This one was always my favorite

        “Friends and Hangout – your friends are not only welcome as customers, but they are invited! We gladly offer a 20% off Friends & Family Discount to those people. However, this is NOT a hangout. If your friend is in the area and wants to stop in and say hi, great. They should be gone in under 5 minutes. From the moment they walk in, the clock starts. Failure to say “good seeing you, I’ll see you later” will result in your termination. Don’t know what to say to get your friends out of here? It’s simple: “Hey, I don’t want to be rude, but if you stay here I am going to lose my job.”

        Like a fair rule, but bolded and sent out to all employees for 2 people who had friends hanging out close to close when we were completely empty? a bit far

    1. AsItIs*

      Thank you! Incorrectly use a semicolon and, to me, your entire message cannot be taken seriously. /notsarcasm

  55. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

    The tone of this memo sounds a lot like the tone that a boss I had a few years ago used to use in emails. The use of the word “member” (I work in the credit union industry) makes me wonder if this is same person.

  56. Carol ann*

    This goes back to second grade, when someone was chewing gum in class and then the whole classroom did not get Recess. When you treat your professional staff like they are 7 yr olds, you will not get respect, loyalty or commitment in return. The boss needs to retire, take a management class or work from Home. The office would run more efficiently without Him.

    1. Nicelutherangirl*

      Without…”Him”? You mean, the office would run better without (the man who thinks he’s) God?!
      Typo or on purpose, it works!

    2. buttercup*

      I had an English teacher in high school who’s strategy for punishing students for eating in class was to give a pop quiz. No matter where we were in our readings or lessons. It brought our grades down some, but did not discourage sneaking granola bars in class. This was one of the less crazy habits he had, as he was completely looney tunes.

  57. Call Center Manager*

    I know that this will make me sound like a jerk, but I’ve had a similar meltdown about cell phone use in my department. We work in a call center, and there is always work to do. If the phones are slow, we have a queue of tickets that need to be answered. We have an assigned work flow so that you know if you’re primary queue is empty where to pull work from, but that doesn’t seem to fix the issue. When you confront someone about being on their cell while there’s work to do, they’ll sheepishly put it away, but you catch them with it out later. I’ve had the same conversation with multiple people for multiple days in a row. Do they eventually have their temp contracts ended? Yes. But it makes me feel insane. I’ve even had to let people go for making Live videos while they’re on the phone with customers. Why??


      Call center jobs are soul-sucking pits of despair, but easy to land so they attract desperate people.

      That said, video while on phone with customers is a huge No for about a hundred reasons.

      1. Triple Anon*

        Yeah. It’s hard to screw up a call center job, but that is one way to do it.

        Since finding out what those places are like first hand, I’ve been nicer to call center workers. Even if I’m calling to complain about something, I ask them where they are and how their day’s going. It’s refreshing when you get to talk to someone who treats you like a person. You tend to get a thick skin from all the yelling and the hanging up.

  58. Anon so I can whine a bit*

    “ISSUES THAT ARE BOTHERING ME” would be the subject line of every email from my cats.

    To: Human servants

    The sun patch has moved one foot to the left. The sun patch is intended to STAY IN ONE PLACE, not to move away and thus INCONVENIENCING ME by forcing me to get up when I’ve only been napping for two hours.

    1. Pebbles*

      The cat overlords aren’t likely to fire you, so what are the consequences? Hairball thrown up on your pillow? Shredding the arms on your favorite chair? Tripping you as you walk down the stairs?

      Okay, that last one could technically lead to a “firing”. You better fix that sun patch, human!

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        I want that sunbeam BACK on the RUG by THE TIME I GET BACK FROM THE LITTER BOX or there will be CONSEQUENCES, hooman.

    2. Blue Anne*

      To: Human servants

      I have consumed ONLY ONE CAN OF GOOSHY FOOD. I require AT LEAST FIVE CANS OF GOOSHY FOOD and also UNLIMITED TREATS. I am aware that you are trying to starve me to death. You will be punished.

    3. Delta Delta*

      “I have been unable to catch a bird this summer. Please see to it there are birds I can catch. Absent birds to be caught, see to it there are sufficient crunchy things in the bowl. It is unacceptable that I do not have an unlimited supply of crunchy things.

      Also, you may pet me only at my convenience. I am available from 3:17-3:43 am. I’ll alert you by standing on your bladder. Thank you.”

    4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      To: Human servants

      1. My favorite food from yesterday, Yummy Loaf, no longer tastes good. So today I will only eat Krunchy Kibbles, but tomorrow, I will only sniff the Krunchy Kibbles and then walk away disinterested.
      2. You left that pen on the table again, so I knocked it off onto the floor.

  59. Triple Anon*


    1) There are legitimate reasons for letting some calls go to voicemail (need to finish something else first, need to look something up before talking to that caller, in a bad mood and need to gain composure first, being harassed by someone, etc).

    2) There are also legitimate reasons to do some personal texting and other phone activities at work. And if it’s kept within a reasonable limit, it isn’t counter-productive.

    I’m sure this has been said by other commenters by now, but, geez, let people manage their own time and work flow. And if someone seems to be having issues with that, talk to them about it. That kind of mass email is almost always counter-productive – the boss will no longer be taken seriously.

  60. Anonymous 864*

    “If you need clarification about the above issues please see me in person”? Who wouldn’t want to, after such a friendly and charming e-mail?

  61. Cacwgrl*

    I have been in HR for going on 15 years in two months and I have never heard of Tiger Mike before. Those memos have brought me back to life on this killer week. I am so happy!

    Wanted to add – when I was in private industry, our lawyers told us it was ‘best practice’ to issue blanket statements in some cases, versus ‘targeting’ someone directly with an adult discussion. Basically, they didn’t want to have to defend us in a lawsuit and I hated it. We never got to send email like that but it sure would have been more fun.

  62. buttercup*

    Ugh. Minus the threats to people’s jobs…this is exactly what my manager does – send alarmist warning emails based on only one person’s behavior. It leaves people even more confused than before. She has more than once written these emails based on a employee who either resigned or was fired…so made even less sense.

  63. Old WineBox*

    My husband use to have a boss just like this. I’ve always told my husband that he should post some of the emails, just like this one, to a public forum because they were so BAD. It was also one of those work environments where they claimed they were like “family.” Just to give you a taste, he once fired off an email that read something to the tune of “When you talk to the owner of the teaport firm, you are interrupting his work, even if it’s a friendly conversation. Interrupting his work means taking time away from the time he gets to spend with his family. YOU ARE PREVENTING HIM FROM SPENDING TIME WITH HIS CHILDREN EVERY TIME YOU SAY HELLO TO HIM. STOP.”

    1. Specialk9*

      Oh please please please tell me your husband still has some, and will send it to Alison. Prrrrrrease Eddy!

  64. Strawmeatloaf*

    Are people not allowed bathroom breaks then? Or are they supposed to bring the phones in with them?

    Because let me tell you, that is gross and I don’t want to hear anyone doing their business in there.

  65. child*

    Oh lord, I was up until recently a reluctant member of an apartment-wide group chat where our landlady (and other residents!) would register complaints in this exact manner.

  66. Kate H*

    I’m half-expecting my own company VP to send an email like this now. About six months ago, our department head had to go around and tell each team that we’re not allowed to use our phones for music anymore (something everyone in my department relies on to alleviate the tedium of staring at spreadsheets all day). The reason, we found out later, was our VP saw a Facebook post that someone had made–apparently while using the restroom. This came with a profound sense of irony as the VP saw this post while on Facebook during a meeting.

  67. Jaid_Diah*

    My management has come up with some doozies, but my current manager is…special. This morning, we got an email from him saying that upper management wants all decorations take down from our cubicles, with the exception of anything work related. It’s not entirely clear because he abuses grammar, spelling, and tenses.

    So all photos of loved ones, funny magnets, etc are supposed to be taken down? We have a housekeeping memorandum from 2011 that I haven’t seen an update to, and no other unit reported getting such orders. Techically, we’re not supposed to have fun stuff on the outer cubicle walls, but inside is fair game, as long as it’s tasteful. I think there was something tacked onto someone’s outside wall that offended the powers that be and they reminded him about that and he just took it to the next level.

    BTW, if it was that, I’m wondering if it was me. I stuck a Dilbert comic strip and a Loose Parts comic panel on the outside. The comic strip was Wally explaining how he managed to talk to idiots and the Loose Parts was about a farm that raised hardware. Someone left a fence open and the screws were on the loose…

  68. Rae*

    My company–of several hundred–established a hard rule about transferring and voicemails. If a client called in YOU owned that client. If the client wanted to speak to their rep than you could see what “color” the rep was. If the rep was green you would warm transfer the client. If the rep was red, you’d do everything you can before sending to voicemail. The only special case was for noted “troublemaker” clients whose files were flagged and could be sent straight to VM.

    Everyone HATED this system. Mostly because it was easy to track and management was ON.OUR.CASE. It was awful. We weren’t allowed to go “red” for very long which often left us scrambling. However, over time, we had a notable shift in workload. It went from outreach and crisis management to us often calling clients before they were in crisis. It actually significantly increased clients reaching our desks and getting what they needed. Eventually, we came to love and defend our system because it really does work.

    The boss was a jackalope about it though. It’s a huge process and a huge workload shift.

    I can’t even fathom the second comment. It harkens back to my boss who told me that I should feel “lucky” she let me go 15 minutes early to pick up my friend’s daughter at a closing daycare when she was stuck on a highway after a bridge collapse and the 411 had said she wouldn’t be home until midnight. However, my boss felt that since the little girl wasn’t my child, it wasn’t my problem even though I was the emergency contact.

  69. Undine*

    Oh, at my job, we have the “Did you know?” guy. Periodically a mass email will go around: “Did you know, even though marijuana is now legal in [state], that does not mean you can come to work intoxicated? Impaired workers — it’s everyone’s problem.” Or “Did you know that using company computers to download illegal content is grounds for dismissal? Intellectual property, it’s everyone’s problem.”

    I’ve always assumed the culprits also get discipline or fired, but I do wonder who’s done what, and why. Especially the guy who was tor-ing content even after they told us that they had a complaint from our ISP and were monitoring our computers.

  70. Fafaflunkie*

    Thank you for reminding us about Tiger Mike. Those memos he sent out via paper must have cost more than he potentially saved.
    Tiger Mike reincarnated 2018 alas has email access to spew his guts. Which kind of makes me wish we can shut down the internet for people like him.

    1. MagicToilet*

      I missed Tiger Mike when it was going around. I’m glad I’ve been exposed to it now, even though it’s years late.

  71. BoardInterst*

    It is really interesting that the President and CEO used the term “member” instead of “customer” and this does not appear to be a tiny organization.

    If this is accurate, it is possible that the organization is a credit union, insurance company, or larger nonprofit and would have a board of directors. This type of email may get the board more interested in the day to day management style of the President and CEO

  72. Marlene*

    So, if you’re efficient and get all of your work done, you get to be rewarded by doing someone else’s! Great!

  73. Matt*

    The “answer your phone” thing also means that all employees are chained to their desks and have to wear diapers, since it’s unacceptable to sit on the pot when the receptionist forwards a call?

    1. FD*

      I know! And what if they’re on the other line?

      We all have those colleagues who never. return. phone calls. but an all-staff memo is about the least effective way of dealing with that that I can think of–particularly because those people tend to think they respond to far more of their calls than they really do.

  74. Boss lady*

    I’m going to play devils advocate. I’m guessing the Ceo has been trying to help the manager deal with an ongoing issue for quite some time and it is going nowhere because the staff are prob entry level and just don’t care. Also I’m guessing that the staff on cell phones are not being punished for finishing work so much as slacking off completely. I don’t think the email was great. But I do completely understand the temptation. I think people are being overly hard on the boss. Sometimes people just get soooo frustrated. I have sent out 2 all staff memos designed to deal with about 30% of the groups actions. Partly to let them know they were being monitored and mostly to let the other staff picking up the slack that I was not ignoring their complaints. Not my finest moments but they got the job done. No one quit over them ( a couple of years ago) and I haven’t received any hate mail either.

    1. FD*

      Sorry, but that doesn’t make this much better.

      If your subordinate manager isn’t able to deal with the issues, then…well, they probably aren’t a good manager. A good manager corrects the behavior, and then follows progressive discipline up to and including firing, to handle things. Generally speaking, at best, an all-staff memo makes people hide things better.

      Think about this–when you send out an all-staff memo, what you’re really saying is “I can’t handle this any better than with an annoyed email.” That’s actually makes the sender look weak! What’s the stronger, more confident position–sitting down one-on-one with the offenders and imposing appropriate consequences, or sending an email where the offenders don’t get any consequences?

      For the staff who are doing their jobs, it’s not much better. I’ve been there! And generally speaking my mental attitude is, “Really? You’re sending an annoyed email? Thanks, that will REALLY show them.”

      Over time, this tends to create a culture where there’s little trust between management and line level employees. Good employees tend to see management as ineffectual (again, this kind of email is generally a sign of weakness, not strength). Bad employees tend to not feel that worried over the threats contained in them. Over time, good employees leave–but they won’t bother to tell you the real reason why, because you haven’t actually eared that level of trust.

      I would encourage you to re-think your management strategy on this. It really won’t have the effect you want it to, and it often worsens the situation.

  75. Amethystmoon*

    This boss is essentially saying that if you are speaking to someone at your desk, and your phone rings, you are now under mandatory obligation to be rude to the person who is physically at your desk. Sorry but I think a real-life conversation should trump a phone conversation.

    Also, regarding the cell phone issue. Yes, technically people shouldn’t be using their cell phone. But if it is slow, and even the managers don’t have busy work, do you really want your people literally staring at their monitors and doing nothing? They will be bored to death. Also, how does this office busy body who reported it know if these people were on break or not? They are making assumptions. This is why office busy bodies should mind their own business. If it is really that slow, it’s not the employees’ faults, it’s management’s. There have been times when I begged for work and there simply was none to hand out. So then what, employees are supposed to literally just stare at the computer for hours on end and do nothing? Yes, people really enjoy getting paid for that. *sarcasm*

    I, too, would be dusting off my resume if my organization sent e-mails like this on a frequent basis.

    1. Madeleine Matilda*

      I’m not sure it is so cut and dry. If I’m talking to a co-worker and a client calls, I would excuse myself to the co-worker and take the call. I can always catch up with the co-worker. If a client is sitting in my office and a client calls, then yes, the call will go to voice mail.

  76. Anonymosity*

    Well that’s just bullshit.

    1. Sometimes people aren’t at their desks. What is he gonna do next, say they can’t go to the bathroom unless they find a coworker to cover their desk phone?

    2. As long as their work is getting done, there is no problem. He’s employing adults who theoretically can manage their own time. If one of them isn’t, then deal with that person.

    What an ass.

    1. MagicToilet*

      1. And sometimes people are at their desks but really can’t be interrupted at the moment. You better believe if the CEO has set me on a task with a quick deadline, I’m sending everyone except my manager and above to VM.

      I realize things are different in customer service or call center positions (where you really are expected to answer every single call that comes in and are expected to go off line for restroom breaks), I get the feeling that’s the kind of group this memo was directed at. Still, no excuse for the rude tone of the memo.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      We once had a new manager who wanted us to indicate, by buttons on the phone, what we were doing if we were away from our desks.

      In a conference call = “press 6 if you must log out to go to the rest room.” — I replied “I am a computer professional. I have not had to ask permission or log in/out to go to the bathroom since I was in the third grade. I am NOT going to waste time and start doing this now.”

      What I was more concerned about – does our director have a toilet fetish?

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        My boss at my last job (complete with shouty emails) lectured me on being away from desk to use the restroom and said he didn’t want to micromanage me, etc., and then almost in the same breath asked me to let him know every time I got up from my desk. I kinda did so for a day or two and then stopped. He complained to no avail.

  77. MagicToilet*

    Yeah I wouldn’t operate well here. This kind of crap right here is an example of a workplace where respect and professionalism are abandoned on a whim.

  78. BenAdminGeek*

    The Tiger Mike thing fascinates me. On the one hand, he’s incredibly terrible and flying off the handle about little things like carpets. Then at other points, he’s basically like “I’m not paying for your personal phone calls. If you need a raise to pay for them yourselves that’s fine, come see me”, telling supervisors to actually pay people what they need to hire what they need, and treating all men and women equally when it comes to things like cursing (where historically women have been punished whereas men have not). It’s a fascinating study in contrasts.

    1. Triple Anon*

      Exactly. If you read between the lines, there are some signs that he was a nice person. But once you start to believe that, all the crazy stuff stands out as even crazier.

  79. Q*

    I have to admit I ignore certain people when they pop up on caller ID simply because I know it’s not going to be a simple 5 minute phone call. I was trapped on a call once with a woman listening to her tell me her 5 year old daughter’s birthday party theme and each store she had to go to for decorations and party favors. It lasted an hour and I couldn’t get a word in edge wise, I almost hung up on her but couldn’t bring myself to do it. After this happened two more times I never answered her calls again. She complained to my boss but I didn’t care.

  80. Snickerdoodle*

    I’m piling onto the “Get out now” crowd because I used to have bosses like this, and it blew up spectacularly. Every time anybody ever did the slightest thing wrong, they’d get hauled into the bosses’ office for a closed-door lecture and have their job threatened. Examples of potentially fireable offenses included leaving one minute early, ordering a slightly more expensive item than usual on the office supply list, going to the restroom and being in there when the phone happened to ring and someone else had to get it, etc. We, too, would receive ridiculous shouty emails (always with terrible spelling and punctuation, too) warning us in dire terms that “this doesn’t happen again” and so on. More than once, an issue arose that we pointed out was the sole fault of one of the bosses, but they still managed to make it about us. Of course, the egregious offenders like the racist and sexist sales rep who wasted reams of paper and screwed up all his orders got away with it because sales reps were deemed more important to the company than we lowly admins.

    The boss who sent the shouty emails had previously gotten shouty in person with my predecessor, which was why the job was vacant. (Also why I learned to ask why a position was vacant in interviews.) Presumably, her walking out on the spot was why he restricted his future rants to emails. He told my immediate supervisor that he wanted people to fear him; he seemed to think having everyone afraid of him was the best/only way to manage. Aside from being childish and ridiculously bad management, it was also ludicrous because he was so utterly un-fearable. He would show up to the office every day in basketball shorts, a tie-dyed T-shirt, and socks with sandals; he thought it was funny to be deliberately annoying; he was a know-it-all who’d invent transparently false stories on the spot when he didn’t know the answer; etc.

    My immediate supervisor and I got sick of working hard to improve organization and communication and save the company money when our only reward was being threatened with firing for the slightest thing (especially after a delivery driver got caught falsifying his time sheet and taking home hundreds of dollars in unearned overtime and didn’t get fired for it!), on top of which we both got insultingly small raises, so we began job hunting.

    One Saturday morning, I got a text from my supervisor asking if one of the bosses had called me the previous evening. I said “No; why?” It turned out they’d blown up her phone the previous evening without saying why other than they wanted to ask her about “some stuff on her computer.” Being a Friday night, she was out partying and didn’t hear her phone, but she wouldn’t have answered anyway. We then each received an email saying we’d been removed as admins from the company Facebook page. We called each other and agreed to meet at the office to gather our personal possessions just in case.

    I was the first to arrive at the office that Saturday afternoon, and I unlocked the door, walked in, and saw all my stuff in a box on my desk. I thought “WTF” and immediately called my supervisor to tell her what was up. She was about to arrive herself when I looked out the window and saw the bosses pulling up. I panicked and ran out the back door and left. Not my proudest moment, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to stick around for whatever shouty crap was about to go down. I ran around the corner of the building, hopped in the car, and called my supervisor to warn her not to go in if she didn’t want to deal with them. She opted to go home since she hardly had any personal possessions at the office anyway and could get them from the warehouse manager later.

    I went home and emailed the bosses that evening to say that I had gone to the office Saturday afternoon and discovered all my personal items boxed up on my desk, that I was consequently submitting my resignation effective immediately, that I’d send them my key via certified mail, and no further communication was necessary. My supervisor did the same. We each received (and accepted) offers from companies we’d already interviewed with within the next couple of weeks.

    Hilariously, the former job decided that they could save money by hiring one person to replace the two of us–at a lower rate than we’d received. The first person they hired didn’t show up again after the first day. After that, it was an endless rotation of a new person every couple of months. It’s been over two years, and they STILL can’t keep any staff around. They think it’s because people get burned out or “just move on” and don’t get that treating/paying people like crap = no more staff.

    It was a tough time while I was in between jobs, and I definitely had job PTSD (nearly melting down the first time my new boss wanted to see me in his office when it turned out he just needed me to proofread something for him), but I still LOVE the thought of those two idiots frantically scrambling to answer the constantly ringing phone, replying to streams of emails for special orders, sorting out misdelivered or broken items, receiving shipments, processing statements, paying bills, etc. without the two of us for months.

    The moral of the story is, don’t stay in a job with a boss who constantly threatens to fire you. Either they eventually will, or people will leave because they don’t want to deal with the strain.

  81. Snickerdoodle*

    Oh, I forgot–We never did find out what the “stuff on her computer” that triggered it all was. My supervisor never asked, and as near as we can tell, they may have seen her or my resume (we were each other’s references) and deduced that we were job hunting, but beyond that, I have no idea. It’s a mystery I’m happy to leave unsolved.

  82. ctstud2010*

    This is why I HATE group work meetings, especially when problems are addressed at them. Generally, it is only a handful of employees who are responsible for the problem, but everyone has to listen to the lecture even if he/she isn’t responsible.

    Often the culprits will just pretend they weren’t responsible for the problem and the message will go right over their heads because it isn’t directed at them specifically.

    One-on-one meetings are far more effective at addressing workplace problems.

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