my office has a burn book we all have to read and sign

A reader writes:

I work at a customer service desk with one supervisor and a handful of employees. It’s shift work, and there is often very little overlap between morning and afternoon shifts. We have a notebook behind the desk where we are supposed to write notes to the team about anything you need them to. Things like “Expect X customer to come in tomorrow” or “We need to buy more staples.”

The problem is the supervisor, “Jane,” who writes down every employee’s mistake in this book, and we all have to read and initial it. It can be minor things like “Mark put the stapler in the wrong drawer” or more serious incidents like “Pam left the safe wide open and we could’ve been robbed.” Regardless of who the note is intended for, we all must initial next to each entry to show that we’ve read it. We are all frustrated with this and started calling it the Burn Book like from Mean Girls.

If I’m making mistakes at work, I absolutely want to know, but I think Jane should pull me aside and tell me about it. When I first started here about six months ago, I would skip over notes that weren’t about me. Then Jane wrote notes about me not reading the notes. If my shift overlaps with Jane and she has a complaint about me, she says “read the book” and refuses to talk to me about it. I’ve asked her point blank why she does this, and her answer is, “I want everyone to know when someone screws up.”

Some of the complaints Jane writes are actually wrong. There was a note saying “Pam broke the phone!” when there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Jane just forgot how to turn it on. A few of my coworkers and I have also written notes when Jane has made a major mistake, but each time she flipped out and says that we should have told her in person. That’s what we want!

I sent an email to Jane’s boss, which is her preferred way to be contacted. She normally responds to emails within a couple of hours, but it has been a week with no answer. Anytime one of us has complained to her about Jane’s behavior in the past, she says, “That’s just the way Jane is.” Jane has only worked here for one year, and in that time 11 people were hired, worked a few shifts, then quit saying they can’t work with Jane.

Is there anything I can do in the meantime? Should I tell Jane I refuse to read the book and want her to talk to me in person? I recently went back to school and hope to get a job in my new field in a year or so. Should I shut my mouth until then?

Does Jane know your handwriting? Because if not, I would leave multiple notes in the burn book saying “Jane is leaving weird notes about people’s mistakes instead of talking to them directly” and “this log book is bullshit and contrary to any decent system of management.”

I guess it’s “band together with your coworkers” week, because the most effective thing you can do here is to push back on this with a group of your coworkers. This is the kind of thing where it’s easy to ignore one of you but will be harder to ignore a group of you. You could start with Jane herself if you want, or you could go over her head (which I’d do by emailing her boss and saying that the group of you would like to meet with her about a concern with Jane’s management).

Then in that meeting, you could make the following points: (1) People learn best when they have a real conversation about their mistakes, not just a public bulletin without any discussion. (2) Publicizing everyone else’s mistakes just for the principle of it is punitive and demoralizing. (3) Refusing to speak directly to employees about problems (even when they’re right there next to her on the same shift) means Jane isn’t hearing about context that might change her perspective or help her coach someone more effectively. (4) You want a manager who will coach you to do your job better, not just tally up mistakes. (5) If Jane won’t speak to people directly, how will she handle topics that are more personal, like needing to address a hygiene problem or talking about disability accommodations? (6) Eleven hires in the last year have quit after only a few shifts because of practices like this.

I will say, though, that if this is retail (and it sounds like it might be), that field is rife with terrible management practices, some of them very much like this, and you might be fighting an uphill battle. If that’s the case, your best option might be to simply see this as the farce it is.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 437 comments… read them below }

  1. Seeking Second Childhood*

    For a safety/security error, I could understand a reminder line that said something like “Remember to re-alarm the rear door after every delivery” — but no name attached, and ONLY after the individual is reminded.
    I see no benefit to Jane’s blame-and-shame method.
    And if repeated turnover were coming out of my budget, I’d see it as a HUGE drawback.

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Yep. Praise should be public, blame should be private. If you can get yourself out of that environment, do so ASAP.

      1. LKW*


        I would take photos of the notes to inform store management. I’ve no doubt that they have requested this book, but not those kinds of notes.

      2. The elephant in the room*

        “Praise should be public, blame should be private.”

        That is a GREAT way to put that! And it’s definitely a phrase I need to write down for my own reference somewhere.

    2. RKMK*

      I worked the front desk of residences at my university and we had one of these books, and that’s how it was used – just passing information and reminders about what we’re supposed to be doing in situations that crop up. THIS use of a book like that is INSANE.

      1. Anonymeece*

        Ditto. We use it to say, “Hey, computer’s down, already put in an IT request”, that sort of thing. It’s meant to help communication through the shifts, not to be a public blame diary.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        I have this in my office. It’s called an “Action List.”

        It’s basically stuff that needs to be done/paid attention to by all and sundry, which could be any of the staff or me. It’s just a one stop, hard copy, hand written “to do” (basically) list of things that crop up but don’t necessitate making a document/folder/sub folders, etc.

        No way no how would I call out/shame anyone even if they set the bathroom on fire, or worse… used all the coffee without letting me know we needed to buy more.

        1. Tom*

          I would not call this insane. As that indicates the ‘manager’ wouldn`t know differently.

          I would call this, petty, weak, powerplay.. you can think of other examples.

          But what you cannot call this is leadership, good management, coaching/teaching..

          This person should be removed from any position of power.

        2. Dave H*

          Exactly. When I worked private security, we called it a “Pass Down Log.” Just things that other shifts needed to be aware of, known issues, expected visitors, maintenance requests, etc.

          LOL, the Mean Girls reference is apt because the boss sounds like one herself. Refusing to talk to an employee who wants to discuss her behavior and says “read the book” but flips out when her employees make her read it herself. Sheesh.

  2. Penny*

    Try writing with your non-dominant hand – it should look different enough to not be recognizable as your handwriting. ;-)

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Have friends come in when Jane isn’t around, and add their own notes as “customers.”

      “Saw this notebook on the desk, you should probs try to be less insane.”

      “Your office is a grotsky little byotch.”

        1. Admin in Arkansas*

          Oh come on, that was ONE time!

          And in response to your username:

          “Awful managerial practices are what makes Jane proud to be an American.”

    2. Elbe*

      The LW could also jsut cut out words from a magazine and paste them in. Turn it in to a fun crafts project!

          1. Jadelyn*

            This is the field in which I grow my passive-aggressive memes. You will note that it is not at all empty.

        1. Electric Pangolin*

          I know this is just a joke and also not warranting this level of operational security, but just as a PSA, if you print something out the printer adds its serial number into the page! Printing is *not* anonymous.

      1. Pilcrow*

        There are ransom note generators online! Search by those terms and you’ll find quite a few.

        I used ransomizer(dot)com once with my boss as a joke (he knew it was a joke). We work in different offices and something got delivered to the wrong office so he asked if I or my other team member could ship it to him. I made up a note about if he wanted his box he needed to send small, unmarked Snickers bars.

        1. Kathenus*

          Ha! I did the same with a former boss when she left her glasses in my office, but I just sent an email using random type/size/color font to make the ‘ransom note’. Obviously coming from my email account made it less than anonymous, but she still got a kick out of it and if I remember correctly I think I got chocolate.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          OMG, take the Burn Book, photograph it near a copy of that day’s paper, and post the photo with the ransom note. Problem solved. ;)

    3. Prof. Kat*

      Funny story! I figured out the tooth fairy isn’t real because I received a note from her that appeared to be written by my uncle (my mom’s brother) who was visiting at the time. I kept that information to myself, as I had younger siblings. A few years later, I mentioned it to my mom and joked that she should have been trickier than to have my uncle write the letter. She said no, she actually was the one who wrote it…with her non-dominant hand! (Which makes me wonder if my uncle is actually left-handed and was forced to write with his right hand all his life…)

      1. Jaybeetee*

        That kinda caught me onto the Santa thing when I was a kid. When I realized that Santa had the same handwriting as my mother. (My older brother, in a relatively rare good-brother moment, told me it was because Mom and Santa went to the same school).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My mom used Palmer Method….obviously Santa’s elves had trained in the same program. Only the best secretaries for Santa of course!

      2. TootsNYC*

        that was the Santa thing for me!
        It was a little slow, because my mom had that Palmer script, as did all the grownup ladies I knew. And Mrs. Claus was the helper, Mom explained.

        But then Mrs. Claus was late sewing the dress for my bride-doll present, and that was TOTALLY like my mom. Busted!

        1. TootsNYC*

          Oh–Santa never labeled the main Santa presents–he just set them out, and you were supposed to figure out that the plastic train set was for the youngest brother (enough gender and age differences that this was totally easy).

          But the bride doll came with a note from Mrs. Claus that apologized for not finishing it, and asking if maybe my mother could help her out.

        2. Prof. Kat*

          LOL! One year, Santa accidentally “dropped” a gift on his way to the tree. My parents “found” it a few hours later in the fireplace….luckily, we were all too young to realize that it hadn’t been there when we opened our stockings that morning. Heh.

        3. Flash Bristow*

          My teacher just told us “now that you’re all five, you should know it’s your parents.”

          19 of us already figured it (tho my mother was livid when I said I had confirmation) .

          The class bully burst into tears – he still believed! That was a good day.

            1. Lara*

              Yeah, I found out when I was 8 and I don’t think I’d questioned it before that. That teacher is overstepping.

            2. whingedrinking*

              When I’m tutoring younger kids, there are only two question that I know the answer to and will still say “ask your parents about that”, and one of them is “is Santa real?” (The other one is “where do babies come from?”, and that’s just because I don’t want to get in trouble with parents who think their kid is too young to know that.)

            3. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I had words with my (now beloved) fatherinlaw over Santa-questioning ‘jokes’ when my daughter was in kindergarten or first grade. I was livid.

              1. Same.*

                I realized that Santa wasn’t real pretty young (I don’t even recall how I figured it out) and once I knew, I thought the other kids should know too. I remember a certain friend’s mom being pretty unhappy with me

                1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

                  My brother and I did too, but we kept up the pretense for awhile so our mom wouldn’t be sad LOL.

          1. NotThatCompany*

            I was 6 or 7 and watching Batman before dinner. “Should you tell your kids there is no Santa Clause? next on the 5:00 news…”

      3. Collarbone High*

        My co-worker’s daughter left a note for the tooth fairy with a long list of questions, like “where do you live” and “please draw me a picture of yourself.” (He was an investigative reporter, guess it ran in the family.)

        He brought the note to work and asked if anyone was willing to answer, so she wouldn’t recognize the handwriting. I got to be the tooth fairy for two years, and I was told the notes were quite popular at show-and-tell.

        1. hello_newman*

          This was me as a kid! I also did this for Santa and even made a couple presents for Santa over the years.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I made a poster for Santa once and my dad left it hanging out of the chimney, and he probably should have just thrown it away instead because I was so offended that Santa didn’t take my poster with him!

      4. Liane*

        While not totally ambidextrous, I can write with my (non-dominant) right hand, without thinking about it even. It looks terrible, but you can see the same stylistic cues.

        That said, I think Jane sucks–she’s just a nose behind Worst Retail Manager I had* and my view of their ranking is probably due to me not having to deal with Jane. But I’d still be tempted to write the comments because Jane doesn’t sound smart enough to distinguish handwriting.

        *not only was this wench the archetypal Bad Retail Manager, she also violated most of the rules for managers in any field.

        1. MrsCHX*

          Agreed! I can do most things with both hands — e.g. I mouse with my left hand (on a right hand ergo mouse no less!) after fracturing my right hand.

          When I write/sign my name with my left there’s not a huge difference aside from neatness.

      5. Dust Bunny*

        I was maybe three when I realized Santa Claus had Mom’s handwriting half the time and Dad’s the other half. My parents weren’t big into “Santa is real”.

        1. many bells down*

          Yeah my mom has the world’s Most Perfect Cursive and my dad was an engineer who only prints in all-caps. It was preeeeetttyyy obvious that Santa/Tooth Fairy notes were from one or the other of my parents.

      6. Mockingdragon*

        Hah…funnier story than mine. I don’t think I ever believed because my mom only waited like 15 minutes after putting me to bed before coming in to take the tooth, and I was never asleep by then. I just pretended to be.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I would always forget to do it and my kids would wake up in the morning and be like, “MOM! You forgot to be the tooth fairy again!” Then they’d lie back down and pretend to be asleep while I did the job right then and there.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            The way I found out was after the time my parents forgot and I woke up to find the tooth there. Next day it was gone and a card saying “sorry I’m late” in its place. I don’t know who they got to write the card but I didn’t recognise the handwriting.

            Have to admit I’m a bit surprised they bothered to have disguised handwriting in the card, considering that they were quite happy to have Santa use the same wrapping paper as them every year which was how I caught on to that one.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          At the start, something happened to all my daughter’s teeth–lost at the beach so gone-gone, given to Gramma to save but she couldn’t hear well so threw out ‘the dirty tissue’, lost at school before it came home–and then she wrote to the tooth fairy asking for a necklace made from her tooth. That was the beginning of the end!

      7. Arts Akimbo*

        My dad used to write all the Santa tags in fancy Gothic calligraphy script! :) It’s one of my favorite memories of my dad, how much he threw himself into making Christmas magical!

  3. AnonyNurse*

    I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. Can you start writing actual Mean Girls quotes? “Jane made out with a hot dog.” And someone else could initial, “that was one time!”

    And then when you quit, you can make photocopies and share them with everyone. Life imitating art.

    1. Elbe*

      I love this!

      Jane is obviously trying to embarrass people, so treating this like the joke it is would undercut that.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      “Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Jane’s passive-aggressive notes.”

      1. Prof. Kat*

        To be true to the movie, Jane’s boss should meekly initial this comment as well. (And it sounds like she would…)

    3. SDSmith82*

      I second this!!!!!! Add things like “Karen dressed like a mouse. “Duh” I know I would. Or “Katy wore her hair in a ponytail twice this week” for additional obscure Mean Girls’ references.

      1. AKchic*

        “She doesn’t even work here!” to both reference the movie but also note the fact that this is *supposed* to be a place of business.

        1. Carrie*

          On a Wednesday: “Jane didn’t wear pink.”

          Especially effective if there’s a dress code that does not include pink.

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          I’ve never actually watched Mean Girls, but if this is an actual line from the movie it has suddenly turned into a MUST SEE. I cannot stop laughing!

          1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            To me this is like an insult that a really little kid would think was really bold and shocking, or else something you would come up with doing a Mad Libs: “Your ___[BODY PART] ___ [TRANSITIVE VERB] like a ___[BODY PART]”
            I am cracking up!

    4. AKchic*

      This might actually be the best way. Turn her book into the joke that it is and then it won’t be as “effective” as she thought it would be, thus negating the purpose of it entirely.

      However, if she’s learned everyone’s handwriting, you’ll have to ensure that everyone is protected. Printed out missives would help, or having someone who isn’t an employee writing in the book to cover everyone’s tracks.

      1. AKchic*

        Then when she starts wearing pink, write “Jane wore pink this week. She still can’t sit with us.”

    5. LaDeeDa*

      This is obviously the only acceptable and reasonable approach to deal with such BS. If OP’s name is on any of the notes- she has to respond with “Why are you so obsessed with me?”

    6. Managercanuck*

      Or Ralph Wiggum quotes like “Jane’s cat’s breath smells like catfood” or “Fergus bent his wookiee”.

    1. ElspethGC*

      Cut out newspaper headlines and paste them in! Ransom note – stop using this book or it will be mysteriously burnt.

    2. stump*

      Glue stick is quick and easy, rubber cement is extra secure and provides an extra level of “Go eff yourself :)”. Double sided tape is extra quick and convenient, but makes your message more vulnerable to removal.

      Can you tell I used to work in a craft store? ;)

    1. Lilo*

      It’s just absurd that management isn’t treating that as a huge problem. I’ve worked crappy retail, and 11 would be huge for any of the stores I worked at. It costs a HUGE amount of money just in paperwork alone.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        My money is that Jane has something on the boss. I get (don’t agree, but get it) when someone has been a fixture in a certain workplace for years, has all kinds of institutional knowledge, seems too senior to fire, and turns into a “Missing Stair” in this way. But Jane was only hired a year ago and has been a nightmare driving off staff the whole time? An otherwise-responsive boss has been totally ignoring this? This boss is afraid of her for some reason.

        1. irene adler*

          Well, yeah. Jane might write something about the boss in The Book. And then everyone would know.

          The horror.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          I had a boss like this. In a year, she drove off something like 12 people…in one department. She oversaw four departments. She was terminated, but it took a year to get enough evidence to act.

        3. Emily S*

          Sounds like boss isn’t on site. Perhaps they own multiple locations and Jane was transferred in from another when she became too problematic there but couldn’t be fired?

      2. Plush Penguin*

        I had a short stint at a retail store, where the manager wasn’t really keen to take me on, but she did, only to let me go about four shifts (over the course of two or three weeks) later. A few months later, I noticed that the manager was gone, and there was someone else there. Some time after that, I ran into one of the other people who worked at the store at the same time as me, who told me that the manager had kept hiring and firing people (I think she had done this to five people!) over the course of a few months, and head office took notice and fired her.

    2. Elbe*

      I don’t understand how management is okay with this. Don’t they know that on-boarding new people is expensive!? Jane is a nightmare, but Jane’s boss sounds completely incompetent.

      1. The Original K.*

        I was thinking the same thing. Jane has driven out 11 employees in one year and her boss STILL brushes that off as “how Jane is?” WTF? Does Jane’s boss have a boss? Is NOBODY is concerned about that kind of employee turnover?

        1. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

          Letter writer here. That’s the crazy thing. After the last person left Jane made a comment like “Sally’s going to be pissed that we’re scheduling interviews again.” Sally is Jane’s boss’s boss. She’s known as being a dragon lady, so I really don’t understand why she hasn’t made the executive decision to get Jane out of there. Even if the 11 people didn’t mention Jane as the reason they were leaving (which they did), it should’ve been a HUGE red flag that Jane is doing something wrong.

          1. Ama*

            Are we sure Sally knows Jane is the problem? The fact that she hasn’t responded to your email about the notebook makes me think Jane has convinced her everyone else is out to get her.

            If you decide to push back as a group, make sure someone takes a few photos of the notebook in case it mysteriously disappears if Sally starts to ask questions.

            1. The Original K.*

              I wonder if Jane’s boss (I’ll call her Karen) hasn’t mentioned to Sally that these employees have named Jane as the reason they’re leaving. But even if Karen hasn’t mentioned it, 11 employees in one year would cause me to start doing some digging. I can’t imagine brushing that off.

              1. your favorite person*

                Right? Maybe Karen just doesn’t want to manage Jane and is trying to show there’s just something off about the ELEVEN people that have come and gone. I’ve heard of crazier things happening.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Take a photo of the note and email it to Sally. (No content, just the image.)

            But this sounds like a case of bad management all the way up the line :(

          3. Samwise*

            OMG. Is the Sally comment still in the book? Take a picture, print it out, mail it to Sally. Every Sally comment, and every Jane’s boss comment.

          4. Observer*

            So, you know who Jane’s “grand boss” (boss’ boss).

            Approach her directly, either via email or requesting a meeting. Show HER the book, and mention that every one of the 11 people who left mentioned Jane as the main reason that they were leaving. Because I would be willing to bet that Sally has been given some misinformation about what’s going on.

    3. Wintermute*

      The fact the bosses are not panicking over this tells me it may be a “hire them in masses, train them in classes, kick them in the asses” high-turnover environment. Most professional jobs the turnover costs would be into the triple digits with this kind of turnover and the budgetary chaos alone would be bringing down heat from on high. Only retail, call centers, etc. can get away with that sort of thing.

      Also the fact people are quitting before the end of the week tells me it’s an environment where these aren’t jobs people spent two months trying to get and would have a delay getting another job in their pay bracket. By taking a job and abandoning it they’re giving up any potential unemployment insurance, after all.

      My bet would be call center, they attract lunacy like this and often have managers whose only qualifications were they were really good at strong-arming customers into upsells or not cancelling their account.

  4. Autistic Farm Girl*

    If it’s a hand writing problem, write them on the computer, print and glue in the book. And then ask everyone to sign their name next to it.

    This is surreal though, and i’m sorry you’re working with such a petty human being!

        1. No Mas Pantalones*

          Confession: if there’s a heaven, I want mine to be a giant office supply and book store.

    1. zaracat*

      or, you could stick a great big blank sticker over the top of whatever rubbish Jane writes, so NO-ONE can see it.

  5. Où est la bibliothèque?*

    I think this needs to be a Twitter account. I would follow “Insane Boss’s Burn Book.” Especially if you add your own outlandish “complaints.”

      1. SDSmith82*

        THIRD-ED!! Is that a thing? I don’t want to be Gretchen and make a word that doesn’t exist “happen”. :) I love this thread today.

  6. Crivens!*

    Jane apparently never graduated middle school. If you can get out of there, do so! If not, remember that she’s toxic, this is her toxicity speaking, and you don’t have to give credence to it.

  7. Natalie*

    It’s possible I’m not ask risk averse as I should be, but my inclination would be to just stop reading the book entirely. Her notes about how you didn’t read the other notes don’t matter if you never read any of it, and it doesn’t sound like the non-Jane notes are critical items you absolutely must find out about that day. Or, what if all of you just stopped reading this book and communicated about office supplies some other way?

    But in my area, retail employers are pretty desperate for workers so it would be hard to get fired over this. YMMV depending on the market in your area.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I’m going to plug the smartphone app Shyft here. It’s a third party smartphone app for shift scheduling (so it doesn’t report phone information to your company.) It lets you post a photo of the schedule, post and accept sub shifts, and post general notes to the group in a newsfeed/chat section. It is *really* helpful.

    2. Samwise*

      LW may have to read the book for actual important information (Laertes will bring back the poisoned sword at 3 pm, follow safety procedures!), but I would stop initialing anything that is not pertinent information. Do not initial any burns. And try to get your co-workers to do the same.

      Frankly, if this blows up (bullying? harassment? who knows what’s in that book), I would NOT want my signature next to anything that showed I knew about the bullying and didn’t report it.

      1. Emelle*

        Absolutely I would stop signing anything that didn’t have to do with general office knowledge. Also, LW, I would take everything Jane writes with a grain of salt. You already know she is not being fully honest on somethings, skim over, make sure you get the gist on her call outs (double check doors, check in equipment, refill coffee, whatever) but no one should be playing these reindeer games.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      If there’s an in-office email system, why are they writing about needing staples in a notebook, anyway? Why not email the person who can procure said staples and be done with it? This whole notebook process seems like a really inefficient means of communication even without the Mean Girls of it all.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        This part I actually get. In a lot of retail situations, only the supervisor or manager even have access to a computer. Regular shift workers may need to notify them that supplies are needed but don’t necessarily have access to work email to tell them if they’re not on the same shift.

        1. LW - Not-So-Mean-Girl*

          Letter writer here. We don’t have individual emails addresses. There is one computer that we all use, and there is an email address where customers and management can email us information, assign tasks, etc. Jane has her own computer login that is different from the rest of us, where she can log into her own work email.

          Really, she should be sending us any notes to the email address anyway. There’s no need for the book. Unless, of course, Jane doesn’t want a digital paper trail that management can access without her knowing. Or she doesn’t want us to forward them to ourselves or anyone else. I guess if her bosses to ask her about it without us showing them the book first, she could throw it away and say “what book?”

          1. AKchic*

            I would assume she doesn’t want the digital paper trail. So, be maliciously compliant. Take photos of the entries and email them to the employee email, her email, and her boss and say “I wanted to ensure that the log book entries are all above-board and official. Attached is the last 24 hour’s log notes in case something happens to the book.”

          2. Bagpuss*

            I wouldn’t do that at this stae. I would consider photgraphing it and possibly e-mailing Jane to put in writing what you have said to her in person, e.g.

            “Jane, I would really appreciate it if you could speak to me directly if you have any concerns about my work, rather than leaving public notes in the book. Could we revert to using the book simply for necessary admin such as passing on informatin aboutordering supplies etc.?”

            That way, you have a record should you nd it, of the issue, and can show the photos to Jane’s boss, but also have a paper trail as king for, y’know, actual management instead of ridicualous notes.

            If your workplace hs a grievance process I would suggest useing it, ideally as a group.

            I do like the idea of only initialling anything which uis actually relevant to you.

            1. Bagpuss*

              Oh, and where she puts in a note abotu you, respond by e-mail. “Dear Jane, I saw from the note book that you were concerned that I put the stapler back in the wrong place. I apologise for putting the stapler in the wrong place.
              Could I ask that in future, you raise iany issues with me directly instead if publically, so they can be resolved in the moment? “

    1. Amber Rose*

      I wonder what would happen if the book went mysteriously missing, replaced by a note calling it out for being a bad idea.

      1. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

        Start taking pictures of it in touristy places. Send it with travelling friends and family. Paste pictures of said travel into Jane’s new book, when it appears.

      2. Ellex*

        I think the book should definitely go missing with no evidence or notes or anything. Jane asks what happened to the book? Nobody knows. Jane replaces the book? That one disappears too. Nobody knows what happened. Repeat ad nauseam.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          Take it up a notch, get everyone to respond, “What book?” look really concerned that she’s been hallucinating.

          1. Snark*

            “Hey Wakeen, you seen a book?” ” Nah, never seen a book here. What was in it?” “All our mistakes.” “Definitely never seen that, would have remembered it.”

    2. Snark*

      Came here to post this. Swipe it, huck it in the nearest dumpster, say nothing to nobody, toast yourself with a glass of your favorite beverage with a satisfied smirk on your face.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      My third period class of 8th graders immediately had the same response: people need to keep throwing it away.

      OP, if you think you can do another year of this, go ahead but I encourage you to look for a new job. Your boss and grand-boss both show poor judgement. Good luck!

      1. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

        Can I just say I love that you shared this letter with a bunch of 14 yos? I share some of these letters with my 13 yo (who is currently a TREMENDOUS jerk, thanks to hormones) as an exercise in critical thinking. I like to see how he analyzes the problem and judges the consequences of each possible action. I feel like these help him think through his normal day-to-day jr high issues, get a handle on societal norms, and learn to treat people with empathy. And you’re doing it on a much larger scale! Fantastic. You know when a bunch of stinky 8th graders call shenanigans on a burn book, the manager is in the wrong.

        This blog should be required reading in business college.

        AAM: helping raise the next generation of goof managers.

          1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

            Based on my three kids’ behavior in their middle-school years, I think “goof managers” is spot on.

    4. jamlady*

      Yup. I found a digital burn book on a shared drive and deleted it. Craziness ensued, though no one got in trouble because no one wanted to admit to it’s existence in the first place. I lasted a year at that place (but got a best friend out of it, so no regrets).

  8. CMBG*

    After every burn, everybody can agree to write nice things with their initials. “That’s OK, Mark, I’ve misplaced the stapler many times! It’s no biggie.” “No prob, Pam. The phone worked for me just fine.” “Oh, this didn’t inconvenience me at all. It really wasn’t an issue.” “I think you’re doing a great job, Sam! Keep it up!”

    Or, heck, write nice things about each other anyway, after the mean things and also in response to nothing.

    1. Clorinda*

      This is the best of all possible responses.
      Jane will hate it, but what can she say?
      “Employees are being kind and supportive to one another! This must stop!”

    2. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

      Letter writer here. This is a good idea. If I see something minor written about a person, the next time I see them I always say “Don’t worry about it. That’s Jane’s problem and not yours.” Actually writing these things in the book as well might drive home how dumb the complaints are. And it’s not really unprofessional because having a burn book IS unprofessional. Thanks!

      1. Observer*

        And it’s not really unprofessional because having a burn book IS unprofessional.

        That’s putting it mildly.

        I think it will help drive the point home. It’s also going to be something that Jane can’t really do anything about, which is great. If she DOES object? Take that to her boss. If her Boss still gives you the same tired line, go above her head.

        1. EPLawyer*

          If she does complain, take pictures of the burn book and send it to the boss. Its possible that the boss doesn’t really understand what is being done with the book. Telling is not the same as showing.

      2. AKchic*

        Write it IN the book. Write notes as if you are a technician writing up notes on a job.

        “phone was working just fine. Appears to be user error.”
        “management should be advised to remind staff member directly of proper safe procedures and use the reminder book to appropriately remind all staff of proper safe procedures.”
        “manager’s passive aggressive reminder was taken under consideration and ultimately deemed irrelevant to the task. Better way was found and can be discussed in person or via email.”

      3. boo bot*

        I would take it even a step farther and start writing compliments! I mean, who says notes about people’s job performance have to be bad?

      4. pcake*

        I’d pass on writing “That’s Jane’s problem and not yours”. I think the supportiveness should stand on its own better, but that’s just my opinion.

    3. Snark*

      I adore this idea, because it is both relentlessly cheerful and flings so much shade at Jane that it will blot out the sun.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Snark, sometimes I think we share a shade armory. (I adore this idea for all the reasons you’ve stated.)

        1. Snark*

          I am but a client state who occasionally purchases your export-approved shade after heavily lobbying your legislators, PCBH.

    4. NW Mossy*

      I love the idea of adding your own praise and recognition for others. “Pam did an amazing job talking down an angry customer and keeping their business!” “Mark pitched in to help me out during a sudden rush – thanks dude!” “Sam did a great job training us on the new system – it’s been really easy to use with his guidance!”

      We all like to have our accomplishments noticed and appreciated, and probably doubly so in a Jane-led environment where the managerial focus is unconstructive criticism.

      1. AJ*

        Jane to Boss: “I have this Burn Book but people keep writing nice things in it about each other. Waaaahh!”

    5. Drew*

      This is absolutely brilliant and completely unimpeachable. Unless you’re batshit, as Jane seems to be, but what is she going to say about it? “This book is for MISTAKES ONLY”?

      1. James*

        If she does, the workers could get a second book to write such positive feedback in.

        And when Jane throws that away, get another. And another.

    6. Sleepytime Tea*

      I think we have all gotten so jaded with the ridiculousness we read here (and see in real life) that this didn’t even occur to most of us. Just be the positive force you wish to see in the world. And write in pink pen or something. With hearts to dot the i’s. Emoticons would be a great touch. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Emelle*

        Toss Original Burn Book. Replace with a Lisa Frank notebook. Kill burn book with unicorns and cats and rainbows. (Also keep a ridiculous pen attached to said notebook.)

    7. Environmental Compliance*

      This is a fantastic idea. I love everything about it – brings a much needed cheerfulness & maturity to a really downright childish and petty action.

      *Especially* if you treat it like a very bored, very over it, very cynical IT help desk staffer (or the airline mechanics, there was that post that circulated the internet for a while with responses from mechanics to pilot’s complaints).

      “Pam broke the computer! AGAIN!”
      Could not replicate error. Can only assume it’s a PEBCAK error.
      It’s okay, Jane! I click on the wrong icon all the time. :)

      “Mike misplaced the stapler. UGH!”
      Found stapler. Was in spot designated for paperclips. Returned stapler to rightful spot.
      That’s awesome! I’m glad the stapler got to return to its home – but it does enjoy those adventures! :)

      Because it always gives me a giggle…here’s the pilots vs maintenance engineers joke:

    8. nnn*

      Yes! Fill the book with kudos, which will both dilute Jane’s malice and render the whole book ritual less useful to business operations, thereby increasing the likelihood that it will be gotten rid of or a rule will be introduced to include information of business value only.

    9. Sharrbe*

      This is absolutely the best idea. If the book devolves into outright snarks and digs, everyone may eventually get blamed, but this is a brilliant way to defuse the situation and put Jane in her place.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is probably most effective because it’s completely in line with the instructions AND turns intent from bullying to mutual aid society.

      I’d still tell Jane’s boss’s boss in detail.

    11. jcarnall*


      “I think Pam is a wonderful person and works really hard. Please initial.”

      “Today a customer praised Susan for going out of her way to be helpful.”

      “Mark did an excellent job mopping up a spill and not making the customer feel bad about it.”

      “My nephew’s entire sixth-grade class thinks Jane is hilarious.”

      Or, borrowed from another post

      “I don’t feel comfortable participating in this.”

  9. Amber Rose*

    Feels similar to a story I once read (here? not sure) about the company that made employees wear dunce caps.

    It really is a mean girl kind of culture, and quite frankly OP, if escaping is an option, you should probably take it.

  10. BRR*

    I thought of this as a joke but am wondering if it should be seriously considered; can you throw away the book if you can do it without it being traced back to you?

    1. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

      Letter writer here. Another part of Jane’s weird behavior is that if she can’t find something she will tear the desk apart looking for it. I’ve come in to work about an hour after she has, and she had pulled everything out of every cabinet and drawer and piled it onto the floor. She was looking for a computer mouse which was exactly where it was supposed to be, but it had a sheet of paper on top so she couldn’t see it, and thought it was gone forever. She’s also called people at home looking for things (I’ve stopped answering my phone when she calls) and checked security camera footage.

      So I could just throw it out, but I’m sure she’ll either know or assume that it was me, and she’ll probably get a replacement.

      1. SarahKay*

        Can you…put a piece of paper over the book? So she can’t see it? Well-deserved discomfort for her, no blame to you.

        1. Pilcrow*

          Ooooh! Does Jane have a desk or a cubby? Hide it in one of her spaces so when she tears everything down it’ll be the last place she looks.

          Then record “Jane tore apart the office to find the book… in her own drawer.”

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          Or put a different cover on the book. Glue different colored paper to it. It’s still there, but hiding in plain sight.

          1. *narrowed eyes**

            This sort of description is straight out of my past, when I tried to switch fields and got hired on at a call center start-up. The coke use was rampant, and I have seen this EXACT BEHAVIOR (along with super-aggressive shaming behaviors and 200%+ turnover rates) in the managers there.

            If that’s the case, writing positive notes in the book and speaking directly to Jane won’t help. BUT being kind to your coworkers will improve morale, and lessen her impact overall. It will also make you a better coworker and set you up to be a better manager, in your own career.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              If Jane and her boss are both drug users – or both something, friends, some activity in common – that would explain why there’s been no action re Jane.

      2. No Mas Pantalones*

        I’m pretty clumsy. I spill things a lot. Like, whoosh–oops, entire latte wasted right on that book. So sad. Another book? This diet coke is delici–dammit, I did it again.

        1. ShortT*

          I’m waiting for Jane to be called into Sally’s office to be told, “We got a burn notice on you. You’re blacklisted.”

            1. Michaela Westen*

              (Ahem) Last I checked, Burn Notice was on Netflix, you can watch whenever you want.
              Or if Netflix has disappeared it as they often do, try your local used CD/DVD store!
              I’m not Michael, but he and I have much in common… My brother loves the show too, one of the few things we have in common!

    2. Indie*

      1)Decide to start keeping it somewhere else.
      2) Move it, then write in the book ‘now being kept somewhere else’
      3) Start writing in the book ‘Jane isn’t writing notes or reading notes. In other news the notebook is being used for original purpose more often’
      4) When Jane tears the place apart tell her she would know where it was if she was reading the notes.

  11. Murphy*

    I worked a job kind of like this. Not with a notebook, but our managers would send out an email to all the staff saying “Don’t do X” rather than speak to the person who did it. They didn’t name names, but sometimes it was obvious who they were talking about. When it wasn’t obvious, we’d go around asking everyone on the team “Have you been doing X? Don’t do that!” (This also sometimes included complaints from other departments, so they wouldn’t even speak to us to get out side of the story. Just “Department B said some of you are doing Z. Don’t do that.” when we weren’t even doing Z, or there was a perfectly good explanation for why Z needed to be done.) Extremely demoralizing and does not make you think management is on your side at all. More like they’re just there to discipline you.

  12. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I would make things up. Bonus if they came from movies and television.

    Peter didn’t put a cover sheet on his TPS report.

    Some guy named Ross stopped by with a picnic basket for Rachel when we were working late.

    Customer Meredith Gray couldn’t find paperwork regarding her husband Derek’s death.

    Someone ate Terry’s yogurt again. (Then sign it Terry because Terry talks in third person.)

    There’s a dude in a striped sweater and weird claw hand in the furnace room who won’t go away. He keeps dragging his weird hand against the pipes.

    Dr. Cox came in and spit ranted again. He still has no points to make.

    1. knitcrazybooknut*

      Eliza just turned down Stephen Collins for no reason.

      Angel came to town and didn’t tell Buffy.

      Daria wrote a report for her coworkers and charged cash.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        There’s a Japanese girl with gray skin and super long hair crawling on the breakroom ceiling. She’s making a screeching noise. Call maintenance?

      2. Decima Dewey*

        Emma tried to set up Philip with Harriet, but he likes Emma.

        “Lover’s Vows” will be playing Thursday evening at Mansfield Park.

        Admiral Croft can’t tell Louisa and Henrietta apart.

        Martha Dunstable got engaged to Dr. Thorne.

      3. not really a lurker anymore*

        There was a big blue box with some weird police markings on it that appeared in the storage room with a whooshing sound. Some women dressed a bit like that old Mork and Mindy show came out, said brilliant a bunch of times; talked super fast; and waved her hands around a lot. Then said she’d be back in 2020. Thought you all should know…

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      Walter and Jesse aren’t hitting their production goals this week. They say the smurfs aren’t getting their ingredients to them fast enough and want to speak to Gus about it ASAP.

    3. Snark*

      Jim and Naomi are fraternizing, and it creates an appearance of favoritism.

      Jim started a war today.

      Alex is distracting me from working because he won’t stop talking.

      Jim solved the war he started. Still kind of a dick move, Jim.

      Miller left his hat in the head again. It’s a dumb hat anyway. Stop it.

      Jim started another war today. No radio priveleges for you anymore, Captain.

      Amos is intimidating.

      Miller left protomolecule in the hold. Not cool.

      1. Emma the Strange*

        Chrisjen cussed everyone out again. Points for creativity though.

        Prax keeps explaining everything with complex plant metaphors no one understands.

        Bobbie beat the crap out of her boss.

        Melba left C4 in her locker again. I think she’s also stalking Jim?

    4. Rainbow Roses*

      Norman missed work again because his mother needs him home again.

      Ted is too distracted at work because he just met the mother of his future children.

      Can Chandler *BE* more slow figuring out the numbers?

      Jan is on the phone complaining about her sister Marcia too much and is behind on reports.

    5. Michelle*

      Jackie had a great hair day.

      David wore a new shirt that highlighted his eyes.

      Joan wore cute shoes and got a compliment from the Coke guy.

    6. Drew*

      Rosebud is missing. Please return. -CFK

      Luke, your dad called. He needs his inhaler.

      Caller asked for Keyser Soze, wouldn’t leave a message. Please stop giving customers fake names!

      Von Trapp missed his third shift this week. Did he leave town without telling anyone?

      If Elsa calls for me, let it go… to voicemail.

        1. Carrie*

          Weird silhouette on floor of break room, looks almost like wings
          Customer complaints about spilled salt–cleanup ASAP
          Anyone know how to get hold of Chuck? His girlfriend keeps calling.
          Sam misread schedule, thought he was scheduled on Tuesday again.

          1. Pilcrow*

            Cas is leaving work early to follow the bees.
            Death is filling up the office fridge with greasy takeout.
            Kevin’s TPS reports are filled with strange symbols and gibberish.
            Bobby called 4 customers “idjits”.
            Dean keeps taking up multiple parking spots with his Impala.

            1. AKchic*

              Cas keeps bringing sandwiches, so please feel free to help yourself to them in the breakroom.
              Someone keeps bringing stray dogs into the office so all staff are reminded that this is not a dog-friendly workplace and to keep their animal friends at home.
              No Casa Erotica on the televisions or computers on company property.

            2. EvilQueenRegina*

              Fergus keeps introducing himself to our customers as Crowley.
              Balthasar kicked off when My Heart Will Go On came on the radio.
              Rowena and Gabriel were quacking in the back room.

    7. Old Admin*

      [Full story was originally posted here:
      Read it, it’s one of my favorite tech support stories.]


  13. Leela*

    I’m so disappointed in Jane’s boss! “That’s just the way _____ is” is a horrible way to address problems and she’s not taking her own job seriously by excusing herself of dealing with it.

    I’d be tempted to print out an article about how managers need to be direct and respectful with their employees and slipping it in the burn book, but based on Jane’s behavior I’d guess it would just miff her but she wouldn’t learn anything. Even if you all push against this, whatever’s causing Jane to manage like this will remain and she’ll probably do something equally disrespectful and ineffective. The best I can give you is good luck on your job search:/

    1. Observer*

      Yes. I think that Jane’s manager is as bad as Jane in her own way.

      What Jane is doing is ridiculous and it needs to be stopped.

    2. Can'tSettleOnAName*

      My husband and I have had conversations about this issue. There’s only a certain amount of leeway where things can be dismissed as “oh, that’s just how Fergus is”. At some point it crosses the line into “no, really Fergus is a jerk and needs to grow up/change his behavior/etc”. Too many people get to hide behind the claim of that’s just who they are and aren’t told that they suck.

      Can I just say I love all the suggestions? I would love to see some of these done with the burn book!

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Has anyone ever said or heard “that’s just the way ____ is” where it wasn’t an excuse for blatantly unprofessional behavior? It should be a pretty big cue to everyone that if that phrase is used, actual management of said behavior isn’t happening now or ever.

      Personally I would be loading the book with commentary on Jane’s every action. Up to and including “Jane complained again that her actions are being written up in the book just like everyone else’s.”

    4. CastIrony*

      I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t included in the book, especially after someone was victimized: “I emailed Jane’s boss about Jane’s management issues and consequences, but was told, “That’s just the way Jane is!”

  14. Observer*

    Also, note that because she doesn’t talk to people she gets things wrong and misses information that she needs. (Like how to start her phone!)

    Here’s the thing – Jane probably would say that she’s perfectly happy putting highly personal and sensitive stuff in her burn book. She does have an extremely strange idea of what people “need to know”. But if her manager says “That’s just how Jane is” (which is an incredibly stupid response) it’s worth noting that this could put the company in legal jeopardy. For one thing, it creates an effective policy that people cannot make legally protected complaints confidentially. Also, while there is no specific requirement of confidentiality with regards to ADA and other accommodation laws, exposing people to mockery or embarrassment could be seen as retaliation.

    I’m not saying that those scenarios are highly likely. But, when you have a manager that is lazy and refuses to deal with behavior that is out of line, you sometimes have to push less likely but harder to ignore scenarios. Because allowing someone to act like a cartoon villainous manager because “that’s just how she is” is DEFINITELY unreasonable and sloppy management, at best.

    1. AKchic*

      All of this.

      Who is the grand-boss? Is there a grand-boss? Someone should be concerned about this behavior, and obviously Jane’s boss isn’t.

  15. Rainbow Roses*

    “Jane can dish it but she can’t take it. She flipped out again when her mistake was noted in this book.”

  16. Michaela T*

    A fun thing to start doing would be to start referring to the notebook as your supervisor. Greet it in the morning rather than Jane, bring it flowers on Boss’s Day, etc.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      Give gifts and appreciation to yourself, from the Book.
      Refer to it as “the Good Book” as in, “The Good Book says…”

  17. S-Mart*

    Go through the book with a heavy black flat-tipped permanent marker and cover large portions of Jane’s comments? So it would become things like ” put the in the wrong .”

    1. S-Mart*

      Arg, stupid formatting.

      Was supposed to be “(black bar) put the (black bar) in the wrong (black bar)”.

      Was using angle brackets, but got it wrong.

  18. Al who is that Al*

    Actually no, the film and TV quotes are better still. I’d like to adopt the persona of Zog the caveman and talk in the third person.
    “Zog learn how to say hello”
    “Zog make fire”
    “Zog meet Fred but fancies Wilma”
    “Zog bring Club to work”

    1. Amber Rose*

      Or the alien-poorly-imitating-human persona.
      “Rynar use non-tentacle human hands to enter order. Like human!”
      And then initial beside it with runes of some sort.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

          (Initialed by: “IÄ”.)

    2. smoke tree*

      Or like a Lovecraft narrator. “Fred forgot to refill the coffee pot again. Also, the scratching sound inside the walls has intensified. Disturbing markings have started to appear on the stapler. Although I know I should leave this place, I feel compelled to sleep on the floor where the scritching sound is strongest, among the pile of rat skulls.”

  19. Need to think of a name*

    Worked somewhere once where we had a manager who did this, when they made a unreasonable comment people just started hiding the book but everybody else carried on commenting since the only person who didn’t know where it was, the manager.

    Managers boss threw the book out in fit of temper when he read the comments one day. He sailed close to the edge on the side of employment law and the book was helpfully documenting it.

  20. Lynca*

    Honestly I would double down on telling Jane that I want to be spoken to in person. I’d cold turkey the book, tell her I want to be treated the same way she does (i.e.: talk to me in person instead of this book non-sense), and let the chips fall where they may.

    As bad as being fired might seem, I’ll be honest if I was dealing with this I’d relish getting to tell future prospective employers that I got fired for not participating in the burn book.

    1. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

      Letter writer here. Thanks for the advice Lynca (and Alison!). Most of my coworkers are just as fed up as I am so I think we’re going to band together and all stop reading or writing in the book altogether, and then if Jane makes a fuss about it (which I’m sure she will) then we’ll try to get a meeting with Jane’s boss. We wanted to bring it up in our team meeting, but they keep getting postponed and I honestly don’t think we’ll ever get one.

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        Hell, just write it in the book.


        Then never open the book again.

      2. TeapotDetective*

        Seconding the polite request for an update of how this all ends! Good luck handling Jane and her nonsense for as long as you end up needing to :)

      3. AKchic*

        Captains Log, Star Date (insert date here): This will be my final entry. After many attempts at communicating with the local management, I have come to the realization that local manager Jane is incompetent and I must attempt to make Sally realize that this method of “management” is bordering on illegal, is hostile, futile, and is a poor way to manage, as evidenced by losing 11 staffers in 12 months. I have photographed every page of this book and emailed Sally, sent private messages to ALL other staff members and will no longer participate in this farce of a log. If local management wishes to communicate with me, local management has been told on multiple occasions on how to do so, which is more effective based on best practices and all schools of thought.”

        Of course, I’m throwing some nerdy sarcasm in there.

  21. Elbe*

    “A few of my coworkers and I have also written notes when Jane has made a major mistake, but each time she flipped out and says that we should have told her in person.”

    This is so, so rich.

    It sounds like Jane is just a bully and is trying to use the little bit of power she has to embarrass and intimidate people. She clearly doesn’t actually buy in to this approach. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to give someone advice when the issue is intentional meanness. It’s a lot more difficult to solve than a miscommunication or training issue. The advice given was good and I hope it works!

  22. Observer*

    By the way, do you have HR? Because any competent HR is going to be concerned with the cost of losing so many people in such a short time. Also, can you go above GrandBoss’s head? Because, again, even if these people don’t care about supervisors acting like decent human beings, they should be concerned with the cost of the turnover she’s causing.

    1. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

      We don’t have any HR. Jane’s boss tells people to go to her if we have a problem and she’ll deal with it, but obviously that isn’t happening. We’re actually a shopping mall owned by an investment firm, who owns hundreds of malls in North America. Getting in touch with anyone there would be pretty pointless. I’m not even sure what the firm’s name is.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I’ve got a good guess which one. But there is a hierarchy. As I like to say when asking to speak to a supervisor who is always unavailable, I state I doubt that is owner of the company so that person has a boss, find that person.

        Well Jane’s boss has a boss. Who would love to know that Jane is a terrible manager and HER boss is not managing. Leading to 11 people leaving in one year. I am betting grandboss does not know because Jane’s boss stops all problems with her and never loops in her boss. Because that would be too much like doing her job.

      2. SavannahMiranda*

        If this sounds like the kind of Google-Fu sleuthing you’re up for, there are ways to track down the firm.

        First, find the property tax rolls for your county online. Google “County + Property Tax Search.” Almost all counties make these rolls available online now. Only random rural counties still make you visit the office in person. Then, locate the shopping mall in the rolls. This can be tricky so take your time and figure it out. The resulting record will show the property owner’s name. It may be something like “Big Mall Firm, LLC.”

        Next, Google “Your State + entity search.” This will send you to the state’s Secretary of State entity search site. In some states it’s a different division of the state government, but the result is the same – an online database of all the companies either formed or registered to do business in your state. Search for Big Mall Firm, LLC. Again these searches can be tricky so pick through it until you figure it out.

        The resulting record should show a metric ton of data about the entity. Some states hold the information close and reveal virtually nothing (ahem, Delaware). Other states will give you the kit and kaboodle including PDFs of physically signed filings for free. Most states are somewhere in between. Dig through the results. What you’re looking for is a listing of the Officers and Directors of the company (or if an LLC, the Officers and Managers). In other words, the CEO, President, Secretary, Board Chair, and other such individuals.

        Now I’m not suggesting you call the CEO! What you do with this information is you take it to LinkedIn. Search the people listed in the Officer and Director disclosures within LinkedIn and cross-reference them. You’re looking to find out who they are linked to, what other suggestions come up, and what other names and titles you can locate for the company. See if you can drill down to someone holding a title along the lines of “Director of Operations in Western U.S.” or wherever your state is located. That is who you’re looking for. Even better if you can find your boss’ boss or people you can decipher are actually in her chain.

        Of course you can go directly from the property tax rolls to LinkedIn with the Company name, but the state filings research provides a wealth of names, dates, addresses, and other confirming data. For instance, drop an address from the state filings into Google Maps. Confirm the results that come up are the headquarters of Big Mall Firm, LLC. Just lay out all your data like a spider web and start pulling strings to see what piece is connected to what, and what confirms what.

        Eventually you’ll drill down to someone who looks reasonable to contact.

        If all else fails, publicly traded companies will have a member of the Board of Directors assigned to monitor the anonymous compliance hotline for the company. This is done so that employees have a mechanism to notify someone in charge at the very top of ethical or legal violations that jeopardize lives or risk litigation. Google “Big Mall Firm compliance hotline.” Now a burn book is not the same thing as sending workers into dangerous jobs without hard hats, but it does raise litigation and compliance issues as others have identified. If you can find such a hotline, and you are frustrated enough, call it. Focus on the lack of ability to discuss ADA issues in private, and other legal concerns. You’ll leave a recorded message. Don’t expect to be directly called back.

        If Big Mall Firm is an LLC, you will not find a compliance hotline. But you might find a “Director of Legal Operations” or a “General Counsel.” Part of the job these people undertake is keeping the company out of legal hot water. If all else fails and you can’t find someone with a more reasonable title to reach out to, it wouldn’t be out of the question to try legal. The only approach to take at that point is an incredibly friendly ‘partnership’ approach. You are seeking to partner with the legal department in order to keep the company out of hot water. You are doing them a favor! You want the best for everyone! (You are not a threat, you are not a complainer, you are helpful!) Use “we” and “us” when talking about the company. You’re on the company’s side. If you reach legal at all, they’re not going to be chatty with you. They will be tight lipped. They won’t make any promises. They’ll just say they’ll take the information down (if you don’t in fact simply leave a message on voice mail, which is what you should expect). All you need them to do is tell someone else that Your State division needs to get their act in line. That will make its way down to your chain from the top.

        Obviously attempt to find someone in the chain for your region or division first. Good luck!

        1. MoopySwarpet*

          She might not have to go through the upfront googling . . . what is the company name listed on the W-2 you just received for taxes?

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            There you go!

            Might be a subsidiary of the parent where people claim they don’t have oversight or some BS, but yes, I love this. Direct and to the point!

        2. LW - Not-So-Mean-Girl*

          Thank you so much SavannahMiranda and the people who replied to her comment. I didn’t mention that I’m actually in Canada, but it’s basically the same when it comes to taxes, government and finding information online. I did some searching following the steps you said (I haven’t received my tax slip yet, and have been here less than a year so I don’t have one from last year), and already found out the company info and where the head office is. I don’t think I’ll end up contacting them, but now I have the information I need to do so if I change my mind.

      3. Observer*

        Oh, there is HR, you just don’t know where to find them. @SavannahMiranda has some good advice on finding them.

  23. TootsNYC*

    If you can’t get rid of the book:

    Start leaving nice notes!

    Fill it up with positives.
    “Jane had a really pissy customer, and she kept her cool. Way to go, Jane!”

    And if someone’s mistake is pointed out, write something encouraging along with your initials.
    If a mistake is pointed out that’s actually NOT a mistake, write that. And get everyone to write the same sort of comment–in their own words. (“The phone worked for me–did you forget to turn it on? —L.W.” and “Oh, that phone’s tricky–you have to remember to turn it on.” —S.P.” and “I bet you just forgot to turn it on. —J.R.”)
    Or maybe have everyone write the same exact words, because often that “cut and paste” will make people notice how repetitive they’re being.

    Or, if she writes “Susie forgot to lock the safe and we could have been robbed!”, the first person to sign can write some actual advice, “Hey Susie–I always touch the sticker on the door frame as I leave the room, and that reminds me to look behind me at the safe. Would something like that help?. —L.W.” Anybody else who has a tip can write that too.

    Or if it’s really just a situation where you want to encourage someone, then the first person can write, “Good luck!” and everyone else can initial underneath, or write “What she said,” with an arrow to the first encouraging comment.

    Basically, just co-opt the book as a positive. Let her spew negativity all over it, but you guys can just flood it with positivity.

    It’s going to make the legitimate messages (“we need staples” or “Customer X will be coming in to return the widget; be sure to get the manager to handle that”) hard to see—though you guys can start a custom of drawing a highlighter box around them, or writing in a specific color.

    She’ll start trying to make her negativity take it back over, but you guys should just stay one step ahead of her. If she starts drawing highlighter boxes on her crabby stuff, then you stop with the highlighter, and start putting a star in front of them, or something.

    1. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

      Letter writer here. Thanks for the great advice TootsNYC! I like your idea of not only writing nice things, but bringing attention to them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Oh, be sure to have everyone write “intensifiers” next to them (like, if the note is “Jane had a pissy customer and really kept her cool,” everyone else should write in tiny notes to the side, “yay Jane” and “Jane is my role model” and initial those)

    2. CherryGirl*

      TootsNYC, that’s a great idea!

      The only down side is if it really takes off and Jane gets credit for a great new management technique. But either way, it makes their lives more pleasant. (Being subversive is so much fun!)

  24. Delta Delta*

    I guess, though, where’s the line? Yes, it’s really important to have “Janet Planet is stopping in on Thursday at 2 to pick up 39 centerpieces” because then everyone knows that’s happening. It might also be important to have “if you count the drawer at the end of your shift, make sure to lock the safe, as it was accidentally left open on Tuesday” for obvious reasons.

    I’m also concerned that important information might get lost in the visual noise of the burn book. what if everyone was so busy worrying about Mark putting the stapler in the left drawer that they missed Janet Planet’s 39 centerpieces?

    Last, management taking the position that this is just how Jane is and she isn’t going to change simply isn’t management. That sucks and it’s demoralizing. Perhaps an actual meeting with the supervisor, showing them the book and discussing the fact eleven people have left in a year is in order. turnover is also very unsettling for employees and could have a negative impact on the business.

    1. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

      Letter writer here. You’re absolutely right! Often Jane would write something important like Janet Planet’s 39 centerpieces but since it’s surrounded by noise, we often miss it. If/when we go to the manager as a group, we are definitely bringing the actual book.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        Take pictures of the book with your phones and email them to Jane’s manager. I do this all the time with forms,, receipts, etc.

  25. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    In addition to Alison’s advice, I would call Jane’s boss. I don’t care that email is her preferred method of communication. If she’s not responding you need to take it to another level. Not saying this will do any good, but it’s worth a shot. Maybe having an actual conversation, when tone can be heard instead of inferred over an email, may get your point across more effectively.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      Perhaps call Jane’s boss and express concern that the email on something very important apparently has gone missing, since it went unanswered.

  26. Numbers matter*

    If you have only a handful of employees…. let’s be generous and say that’s 5 or 6.
    And 11 people have been hired and quit in the past year…. that’s about 200% turnover.
    That is a financial risk and unsustainable. Use that 200% turnover number in telling the story. It tells the story.

    1. LW Not-So-Mean-Girl*

      Letter writer here. Yep, we had 5 people plus Jane, and now we only have 4 plus Jane. 200% turnover is not an exaggeration.

  27. TootsNYC*

    I once did something sort of like this–only it wasn’t about mistakes.
    It was about great catches.

    I was supervising copyeditors, and when someone would make a great catch, or have a good question about rewording, I’d have them make a quick photocopy of the text and stick it in a folder.

    Then periodically I’d ask people to route the folder around and initial so I knew who had seen it (they weren’t all in the office all the time), and I knew if I could pull some of the older stuff out to make room.

    My intent was to create a way for us to all train one another. I’d sometimes put something in there because I’d had to look up some style point, or I’d almost forgotten one, or I thought the grammatical error was likely to come across our desk again.

    Of course, w/ successive editing of multiple passes, sometimes one copyeditor’s catch is a previous editor’s miss. I was worried about that, and I tried to make a big deal out of, “you are NOT allowed to try to figure out if you missed it. Just use it as a reminder or a refresher. Not everything is going to be useful for you, but maybe one or two things will be helpful.”

    Some people still tried to see if they’d missed it, or they’d just naturally remember that it had been in the story when they read it, and sometimes I had to insist, “I don’t want you to talk about having missed it, because I don’t want OTHER people to start to feel self-conscious if one of their misses ends up in the folder as someone else’s catch.”

    It was sort of useful, but also sort of not. Maybe I should have put more newsy things in there (like the copyediting version of “we need staples”).

    1. Cafe au Lait*

      I work with student employees who don’t have consistent hours or even the same staff throughout the week. I made up a info binder that basically updates everyone on what’s going on. If something is missed and needs more attention, it’s handled broadly.

      There are spaces to initial below the info so I know if everyone has seen it or not. This way I, or a fellow supervisor, can follow-up with students.

  28. MuseumChick*

    So much good advice above. I want to add my voice to it. I think you need a multi pronged approach here:

    1) Band together as Alison says. Each person should contact Jane’s boss my either (or both) phone and email.
    2) Similarly, as a group refuse to participate in adding things to the burn book.
    3) If you are threatened with being fired over not adding to the burn book then take the following approach A) Add only things related to Jane (When she flips out put on the best confused face you can “Isn’t it policy to do this? It was my understanding you wanted everyone’s mistakes in this book. Are we changing how this is handled?” B) Take some of the ideas from the comments to use (reference fictional characters, add things like “Entering my own mistake, my IBS was acting up so I took 10 minuets long than the allowed break time”)
    4) As others have suggested enter either only positive things or make notes under each mistake that are supper encouraging.
    5) Have you considered…burning the burn book? Like what if it magically disappeared while Jane was out for a few days?

  29. Bee Eye Ill*

    I used to work at a place that would have bi-weekly meetings where we’d all discuss someone’s mistake and everyone would say what they would have done differently – yeah, with the benefit of hindsight. It was horrible.

    1. Jennifer*

      I worked there! Someone walked out of one of those meetings and immediately quit. I don’t blame them.

  30. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My notes would just say “LOL nope” at the end of each shift.

    Take the cue from the others and bounce out of that shame castle.

  31. Rusty Shackelford*

    This reminds me of the (perhaps apocryphal) list of pilot vs maintenance engineer book, where pilots report an issue and ground crews report their solution. It includes such gems as:

    P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
    S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

    I’ll post a link in a follow-up, but you can find it by googling “pilots vs maintenance engineers.” I’d love to see some responses like these show up in the Book.

  32. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Two questions for Alison:

    #1 – Did you deliberately run this on a Wednesday?
    #2 – Are you wearing pink?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        LOL! I wasn’t even thinking of that! I was thinking because On Wednesdays We Wear Pink.

  33. Jaybeetee*

    “I want everyone to know when someone screws up.”

    Did she suddenly grow a moustache, twirl it, and cackle when she said that?

  34. Nancy*

    Am I the only one who finds all this advice about leaving anonymous notes really funny after the previous letter concerning an anonymous note and how cruel and cowardly it was? Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with all the comments and suggestions, I just think it is funny.

    1. Baby Oil*

      I think its different when its aimed at the boss, and when its for stuff that is not hitting on anything personal (they didn’t say Bucktooth Chatty patty gnawed on all of the office pens and put them back in the communal container). Also its well deserved and likely their only recourse.

  35. Retail Manager*

    Run as far from retail as you can, it never gets better. Seriously retail managers are a class by themselves , and there is no hope to reform them. In college my roommates and I all got jobs at a Macys type store that thinks they are Neiman Marcus, they promoted one of us quickly up to store manager a week after we graduated. She was a normal girl going in but once she hit department manager she was intolerable, but when she became floor manager her soul was lost and she had to find a new place to live because our house wasn’t large enough for the ego that came with the manager title.

  36. LD'S Mom*

    Well, obviously, “Mark” must be fired for putting the stapler in the wrong drawer. He’s clearly incompetent. You can’t be expected to work in conditions like this. It will surely escalate to things like not putting the caps back on the pens and mixing the small and large paper clips. Chaos will most certainly follow!
    Seriously, though, I love the suggestion of writing positive things and the book. “Esmerelda went above and beyond to help me out today.” “Floyd handled a difficult customer very well.” “The weather was beautiful today. I took my lunch break in the park and enjoyed watching the children playing.”
    The biggest problem here is Jane’s boss, though, and I hope you and your coworkers can get through to her. Would love to hear an update!

    1. Jennifer*

      Jane seems calmer today and didn’t scream at us.

      It’s Wednesday and everyone remembered to wear pink!

    2. Lucille2*

      This gave me a thought…perhaps OP and coworkers could just spam the burn book with meaningless info. Things like:
      “Wakeen seems to be in a funk today. He should get more sleep.”
      “Bertha has a new dress. She looks very professional.”
      “Bathroom is extra funky today. Reminder to use the deodorant spray!”
      “Found a 1950 penny in the drawer. Don’t see those too often.”

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        “Old woman came in today wearing a pointy hat. Gave me a book of hexes and curses and walked out without saying a word. Odd.”
        “Wow, this book is pretty interesting!”
        “Hey, I have all that stuff…. let’s see if this works!”

  37. irene adler*

    I think I’d have to start a second book – Boss Blunders.
    It would not be limited to just Jane’s foolishness. GrandBoss actions would also be recorded.
    And all would be shared with HR and Great GrandBoss.

  38. No Mas Pantalones*

    Don’t suppose you’re willing to write “Burn Book” on the cover and glue on a picture of Regina George? I’ll send you $20 to do that.

  39. Jennifer*

    You let it out, honey. Put it in a letter to AAM. This was super fetch. Okay, I’ll stop.

    Is throwing it out an option? Would she just get another one? If this is retail or fast food, horrible managers sometimes go along with that, sorry to say. Try all of Alison’s suggestions, but be ready for the fact that they may not work out. Try to laugh it off or find another job with better management.

  40. Flash Bristow*

    Oh wow.

    I could live with that, if that’s the system (my PA and I have a book where I write things between shifts as I think of them; it means I’m not sending her messages when she’s off – and if I’m asleep when she finishes, she lets me know what she’s completed in the notes).

    So if that’s the system and everyone knows it, fine.

    But not only should it be used equally (the reception book rather than being “Jane’s book”), I would feel awful reading criticism of others. It isn’t my place to know that stuff and you can’t unsee it (I imagine sometimes there are reminders to check if the loo flushed fully, etc).

    Can you all push for a rule where no one person is named? And a task is ticked and initialled when done, but just by the person who did it, so we all know the staples were ordered but can see we are still out of coffee?

    And then maybe once a week if there’s anything not done by the relevant person – or on the day if it relates to everyone, such as a security reminder – Jane can quietly email the relevant person(s) – and *only* them.

    See, it could work if Jane wasn’t such a controlling arse about it.

    Good luck. I hope you do push back as a group but have an alternative system to suggest when you do.

  41. LaDeeDa*

    These may be my favorite comments ever– there is no rational way to deal with irrational, I love all the clever, absurd, silly, and passive-aggressive suggestions.

  42. Jennifer*

    Okay, I got it. Get Jane called into the principal’s (grandboss’s) office. Make copies of all the pages of the burn book and distribute them throughout the building. Expose everyone’s secrets and add a few tidbits of your own. Mark didn’t really move the stapler. It was Gretchen! Stuff like that. A riot will ensue. Tina Fey will then come to calm everyone down and Jane will learn to channel her anger into sports. Everyone wins!

    I bet Aaron Samuels will even take you to spring formal.

  43. Free Meerkats*

    It’s been touched on here, but document the book. Either photocopy or get your phone out and photograph every page. Then send the copies to Jane’s boos, and that person’s boss.

    And implement the positive comments suggestions. Even if the other employees won’t, do it yourself.

  44. LCL*

    Log books-Jane is doing it wrong. Having a log when there are different shifts is a good idea, but the log should be a listing of things that happened, are needed, affect the work, etc. So, someone would log ‘locked exit door at 2315 hrs’. But not ‘Jane left the door open.’ The work my group does is dead serious. Sometimes we have to discuss mistakes. We would never do it the way Jane does it.

    Shiftwork employees can divide into competing groups all too easily. A good manager tries to reduce this. I wish I could talk to Jane. Since her manager approves, she won’t change. What I am seeing from OPs post is that Jane has all the autonomy so the rest of management isn’t bothered by the after hours workers.

  45. Anne Elliot*

    Much as I hate to disagree with Alison, the book itself actually isn’t bullshit and contrary to good management practices, but the way it is being used sure is.

    I have worked in two different fields that utilize some variety of a pass-down log or shift narrative as a means to communicate between shifts in locations that have desks that are staffed 24/7. One of those fields was hospitality (a hotel). When you’re getting off shift, you don’t want to stand there are tell the person coming on-shift the 40 little things they need to know, some of which you invariably will not remember. Writing them down (either in the computer or in an actual book) also prevents arguments about whether something was or was not communicated (“Bob never told me that.” “I did too!”) When I worked at a hotel, the pass-down was very helpful for things like “don’t rent room 407, the toilet is blocked,” “plumber arriving 9 a.m. for room 407,” “Guest Wakeen moved from room 407 to room 509 at 3 a.m., not happy, authorized free breakfast,” etc.

    A pass-down is a handy document; it is not a “burn book.” The problem here is not that it exists but how it was used, which is to call out people by name, which is not its function. So you would not say “Mark put the stapler in the wrong drawer” or “Pam left the safe wide open and we could’ve been robbed” in the shift log, but you certainly could say “Please put the stapler in the right drawer! I could not find it!” or [starred entry] “LOCK THE SAFE!!! $$$ COULD HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Some of those entries might implicitly call someone out (like “lock the safe” when everyone knows who worked the last shift and therefore presumably left it open), but the need to communicate the message still justifies including it. The point is not to call people out, but to put people on notice of problems or issues. So to me the real issue here is a bad manager, not a bad process.

    1. Jennifer*

      If only one person made the mistake, it doesn’t need to be addressed to the entire team. A message only needs to be public if multiple people on the team have been making the same mistake. Then a public note or even a sign might be a good idea.

      If everyone knows who did it making it anonymous serves no purpose, comes off a bit passive-aggressive, and could be embarrassing for whoever made the mistake who already feels bad enough, most likely. Take them to the side.

      1. Anne Elliot*

        I work in a field now, and would argue that hospitality is another, where public notes or signs are not the way to go precisely because they are public. These fields do not have an easy way to communicate issues to all staff because there is no good time for a daily staff meeting (if you’re running three shifts) and no time for a pre-shift meeting like a roll-call. It is no more reasonable to expect one staff member to create and post a sign or note on the bulletin board and all other staff to check the bulletin board every day, than it is to have a pass-down log that everyone is expected to initial as having read. We might disagree as to what properly belongs in a pass-down, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are not “burn books,” do have utility, and are widely used in some fields, where you have a high flow of people coming through on both sides of the desk (public and staff) and not a lot of time for personal communication.

        1. Jennifer*

          I meant “public” in the sense that it’s something everyone will see somehow. It sounds like the log book is being used for its intended purpose in your workplace and I see the need for it. It reminds me of when I worked in a call center and I would make sure to leave detailed notes when a customer called in so if they called back the next person wouldn’t unknowingly walk into a minefield.

          I think that’s very different from writing “please close the safe!!!” when everyone knows Gretchen was the one that left it open. If everyone else always closes it, they don’t need a reminder, and poor Gretchen is even more embarrassed.

    2. LQ*

      Sure, if it was an entirely different thing then it would be totally fine. But it’s not an entirely different thing. It is absolutely being used as a burn book. Which means it doesn’t really matter if the initial intention was to do something productive and needed or to write down a list of good movies. It has turned into a burn book.

      Of course the problem is a bad manager not a bad process…

      But this log book is still 100% bullshit because that’s what the manager has turned it into.

    3. Observer*

      You’ve gotten some good responses. But I want to emphasize one thing here. What the OP is describing is NOT a pass-down log, or anything remotely like it. Jane may be calling it that, but that doesn’t make it correct.

      What this is, IS a burn book, and the existence of such is garbage and totally contrary yo good management.

  46. Essess*

    I don’t like the comments to get rid of the book entirely, because multiple shifts DO need a method to communicate messages such as the example of expecting Customer X to come in the next day.

    I would put comments in the book like “Jane left another inappropriate comment in the book instead of speaking to the employee privately” each time she leaves a bad comment, and especially put the comment like “Jane left personnel discipline comments in the book instead of speaking directly to the employee even though employee was in the same room with Jane for that shift”.

    1. The Doctor*

      Keep writing notes in the book about Jane. When she complains, you can say, “I want everyone to know when someone screws up.”

  47. Nana*

    Reminded me of a story … ship’s log book could not have erasures or cross-outs. Captain noted “First Officer was drunk today” or some such. When Captain was off-duty, First Officer noted “Captain was sober today”

  48. Fergus*

    Everyday you should put the same message. I did my kegles. I had a two hour therapy session. Something obnoxious…lmao

  49. Interviewer*

    What would happen if you sent the burn book – the original, not copies or pictures – to Jane’s boss?

  50. Strawmeatloaf*

    Doe sit have to be written? Perhaps the LW could just type something out on a computer and stick-glue it in.

  51. Magenta Sky*

    Maybe the letter writer should organize a contest, with prizes, to see who can get put into the burn book for the pettiest offense. I’m sure there’d be a lot of volunteers to be judges.

  52. Elizabeth West*

    I came over to this post expecting to get really mad but instead I laughed my way down the page. Nice pushback, commenters. :’D

  53. Workaholic*

    A hotel i used to work at had one of these. Everyone posted generic notes, but typically knew the person causing such note be posted. My prior work history was food service, so i kept leaving notes on how to properly store leftover breakfast items, for both aesthetic and food safety reasons. Everyone agreed and followed my suggestions except the front desk manager (she handled breakfast 5 days a week). I also spoke to her directly a few times. I finally went above her to the office manager – and was promptly criticized and written up for not being a team player, and that i should take the issue to the front desk manager.

    These can be useful if only generic things are covered, and everyone plays along (and plays nicely)

  54. nnn*

    I’m halfway to a useful idea, and I’m posting it here in case someone can figure out what the other half is:

    Even if this book were being used properly (i.e. to pass on useful operational information, not to diss people), a book is an inefficient format. It should be electronic, so it’s searchable. Even a simple text document would do the job.

    That way, even if you read and initial something but then forget it, you can simply Ctrl+F for a keyword. “Wakeen is coming in tomorrow to pick up his teapot. It’s on the second shelf in a brown box.” So Wakeen comes in and says “Hi, I’m Wakeen and I’m here for my teapot” but you don’t remember the entry you read, you simply Ctrl+F for Wakeen.

    The part I haven’t figured out yet: how to use this very sensible format change to disincentivize Jane’s behaviour.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      “The part I haven’t figured out yet: how to use this very sensible format change to disincentivize Jane’s behaviour.”

      Maybe a like/dislike button?

  55. Lucille2*

    The comment about no response from the GrandBoss stood out to me. I had a boss who was like this. He worked in a different office and traveled often, so there were many times when an email or text were the only way to reach him. For situations like this, he just wouldn’t ever respond and avoid the confrontation altogether.

    Jane sounds like a rookie manager and she’s trying to assert her authority in a really terrible manner. She’s likely not getting any kind of guidance from anyone. There’s not much OP can do about that but plan a graceful exit from the sh*tshow.

    1. Tom*

      You might want to reconsider the ‘graceful’ part.

      If you know you are out – but ‘manager’ doesn`t – have fun with the burn book.
      note every mistake by jane – ever – in the book – and if she throws a hissy fit – then throw one too with ‘i quit’ at the end.. (BUT – only if you can afford this stylish exit)

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        I really like the idea of handing in one’s notice by writing it in the middle of a burn book.

  56. hi!*

    I’ve been through this!
    -a log-book-turned-burn-book that hasn’t been shut-down by now is a sign of layered dysfunction. the end.
    but if you need more reasons:
    – someone’s unimportant preferences become rules you just broke. (If yesterday it was “staplers go on THIS counter!” and tomorrow it’s “staplers need to be pushed to the edge of the counter next time!” take note of the fact that they can continue to demand like this, day in, day out. if they’re allowed to do this, there’s bad management top-down.
    -it focuses on the negative. doesn’t even notice, or appreciate, the more pertinent work someone did for the actual customers and business earlier that day.
    -if you try to push back, be aware if you’re invalidated with “well that’s just the way they are”
    -grand boss often approves the early stages of this book, and is now either a part of the devolving logs or is okay with it by letting it continue

    The log book may have good intentions, but when it becomes a burn-book, there might be little left to do to change the underlying culture that let it happen. It’s a losing battle to try to get them to see it differently if that’s the case. And if they eventually do, they won’t be hats off to you about it.

  57. Wrench Turner*

    Just start making stuff up:
    12:45, Grey Alien came wanted refund for socks without receipt. Gave it after some intense probing.
    13:23, Cat’s in the cradle with the silver spoon; little boy blue and the man in the moon. Spilled coffee aisle 5.
    16:50, Gave $40 petty cash to Nigerian Prince experiencing difficulties but promised to pay back.
    and look for a new job.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      Bwahahahaha; “8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Job hunted” is probably about as counterproductive as it is accurate.

  58. Chris*

    Start leaving weird stains on the book, and put notes about how a random customer’s poodle found the book and got overly amorous with it. Or barfed on it. Seriously, I don’t think I could restrain my sarcastic urges in a situation like that.. this is just begging to be mocked.

  59. AnonAnon*

    Jane: “There is no way this will turn into toxic management.”
    Ron Howard: “It did.”
    Jane: “I’m sure everyone will appreciate my detailed notes.”
    Ron Howard: “They didn’t.”

  60. Snickerdoodle*

    Ugh, I had a job like that, and yes, it was retail. The assistant manager got the bright idea to have a “communication notebook” at the register for everyone to note BS problems like “such-and-such was not put away last night” or whatever. I started leaving notes only for stuff I knew she herself had done, and not long after that, we stopped keeping a notebook, allegedly because it wasn’t accomplishing anything. You don’t say.

  61. Indie*

    How about if the comment is about you:
    “Thanks for the pointer but I don’t fully understand/it is due to a personal reason. Can we discuss?”
    If the comment is about someone else, everyone (with prior agreement) writes “I dont really understood this, can we discuss?” “Yeah me too- needs explaining in person”
    The first time you say:
    “I didn’t understand how it applied to me”
    (She will make her usual comment about group shame)
    But the second/third time you say “Do we all need group training on that?” Or “How should I help co-worker with that?” Or “That was actually incorrect but I didn’t want to point out a mistake publicly!”
    Then for the fourth time go back to”I didn’t see how it applied to me”.
    If you keep it up she will start choosing one conversation over 20.

  62. That One Person*

    And all else fails keep adding notes about her including “Overreacted to notes about her in book, needs to calm down/work on temper” and have everyone sign it. Every. Time. If she’s going to keep a public documentation then its worth doing in turn if nothing else is done about her.

    At the same time it’d be so satisfying to see a lot of people leave en masse because of her and the fallout of trying to deal with that. They can all actively blame her on the way out so instead of it being spread out it’s a large group and more noticeable of a problem. IF people are able to though (as not everyone can just drop a job like its hot).

  63. nin*

    The LW may want to get a scanner app on her phone and begin taking pictures of the notebook’s pages. This way, she can attach them to any e-mails sent to the higher ups, and if Jane ever tries to hide the bad behavior by tossing an old book, the LW still has a copy.

    When in hospitality, we used this type of notebook to talk to the other shifts. We would put mistakes in it, though without people’s names. Because everyone would already know who the idiot was who forgot to do whatever (ex: “Please count the drawer before 2nd shift” not “Jane forgot to count the drawer. Everyone sign below to acknowledge her shame”)
    The only time everyone had to initial was in the cases of memos (like: “New policy–please do x instead of y now. Initial below to confirm you read this”)

  64. CRspring14*

    So this Mean Girl supervisor can dish it out but can’t take it. Harsh judgmental criticism, that is. I’ve known a few mean girls in my day like that. Pam broke the phone!?! LOL

    At my job we have a computer logger tracker, we just give notes in there so everyone is aware of an issue and how it is being handled. Like, instrument 1 is being sent to manufacturer for maintenance. And no one has to sign it. But we are supposed to read it every day. And everyone in the large company can see it including the CEO and general manager.

  65. Snowy*

    Refuse to initial any comment that doesn’t belong in there. “I’m sorry, but I’m not comfortable doing that. The book is for information we need to know for our job, so by only signing those items, they’re able to stand out amongst the lines shaming us for mistakes.”

Comments are closed.