my employee announced her acceptance to grad school on Twitter without telling anyone in advance

A reader writes:

I am a manager of an entry-level employee who share with another manager. Our shared employee, let’s call her “Jane,” is terrific — a hard worker, very smart, quick, and organized. Jane has been with us over two years and we would like to promote her, something she’s clearly earned, but our progress has been stalled by the pandemic. And though we’re working to push the promotion forward as quickly as possible, with budget cuts to contend with, this has been slower and more difficult than expected.

Meanwhile, Jane has shared with our team (including my boss, her grandboss) that she’s interested in returning to school for graduate study but was not sure when she’d want to attend. However, later Jane confidentially asked me to write her a recommendation letter to include in an application for study beginning this fall. I happily agreed and we discussed that she didn’t want this shared more widely, so I wrote the letter and kept it to myself. A few weeks ago, Jane texted me that she’d been accepted to grad school. I was thrilled for her but concerned about her departure. She stated that it was her intention to defer until 2021 due to the pandemic. We love Jane and I’m happy to have her as long as she’d like to stay, and again kept it to myself per her wishes.

Today, to my surprise, my boss called my attention to a tweet that Jane had shared, publicly on her personal account, announcing that she’d been accepted to grad school. My boss was blindsided since she didn’t think of this as an immediate plan and was particularly upset because HER boss (my grandboss and Jane’s great-grandboss, our president) was the one who saw it and alerted her of it. What’s worse is that my boss’s boss has been the one doing the hard work in negotiating Jane’s promotion with HR. Worse worse, after sharing this development, my co-manager (who shares management of Jane with me) revealed that she too had learned of Jane’s acceptance on Twitter. For the record, this tweet is about 10 days old at this point — time for Jane to have made a plan to speak directly and openly about it at work if she chose to.

I’m all for private use of social media and the right to have an online presence that is separate from your work. However, this puts me in an embarrassing position. I was honest with my boss when confronted, confessing that I did know about her acceptance and had provided a reference, but I can’t help but feel a little taken advantage of after Jane had asked me to keep it confidential. Additionally, her other boss heard of this news on social media and so did people above her who are gunning for her promotion — valued coworkers of mine and superiors of Jane who now feel disrespected for being out of the loop. I do not believe that Jane’s attendance at or deferment from grad school should affect her eligibility for a promotion, but it will surely be another hurdle to overcome among many other pandemic-related ones now that the news is out in this manner.

Extra notes: 1) Jane has previously announced 10-day vacations on Instagram (plane tickets booked) before asking for the time off. 2) Jane runs our company social media channels, so people look at her personal ones with scrutiny.

I feel compelled to speak with Jane in a friendly but direct way to explain that it’s her choice how or with whom she’d like to share her news, but that social media is not the place for bosses, grandbosses, or great-grandbosses should discover employment-altering news. Ever, really, but particularly when we’re working hard for her promotion. How can I do this without overstepping? Am I overstepping?

This strikes me as a classic entry-level employee mistake. It stems from not understanding professional conventions (you let your employer know you’re leaving before you announce it to the world, at least if you don’t intend it as an F-you), and also from not understanding the additional amount of finesse needed when people above you have been using their energy and capital to get you a promotion.

It’s annoying and eye-rolly, but given that you say she’s great, I’d assume it’s really just a mark of inexperience, not anything else. She hasn’t had the professional seasoning yet that would allow her to know how this stuff is and isn’t done.

I think you’re right to want to speak to her about it, since that’s how she’ll learn for next time. It shouldn’t be to chastise her, just to explain, “Hey, generally the protocol is that you’d give people here a heads-up first so they’re not hearing it on social media” with a side of, “When a bunch of people have been using their time and capital on a promotion for you, letting them hear it this way seems especially dismissive.” Explain that it’s not that there’s anything wrong with her deciding to leave; it’s just about handling it in a way that’s respectful of the planning people have been doing around her. (Make sure to emphasize that point because otherwise this can easily land as “people are upset that you’re leaving.”)

This is not at all what you’re asking about but for what it’s worth, I would not put an entry-level employee in charge of your social media again! It takes professional maturity and judgment that most people don’t have without more experience. Employers sometimes think of social media as a young person’s game, but it’s a major communication and branding outlet for your company and it should be a higher-level responsibility.

{ 371 comments… read them below }

  1. Cat*

    Wait, I’m confused. Did she say she had been accepted or did she say she had been accepted and was going to start in Fall 2020? Because if the former, she already did tell her boss that she had been accepted and was deferring till 2021.

    1. Littorally*

      My read on it was that she announced her acceptance without mentioning any start year, which most people would assume would mean she’d be starting in the fall.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      Regardless, they probably want to promote her knowing she will stay longer than 6 months, especially with how much work they put into it.

      Jane will look back one day and cringe, but to Alison’s point, it does not sound malicious.

      1. Cat*

        Yeah, but the LW already knew that and should have been factoring it into promotion plans, right?

          1. Ego Chamber*

            That’s not a reasonable request and it’s weird that LW didn’t set expectations correctly with Jane on this in the first place. Unless LW didn’t think it would be out of step in their industry/company to put a lot of effort into promoting someone who would be leaving in less than a year, which … doesn’t seem right?

    3. sacados*

      Yeah I think it’s likely that Jane’s just sharing “yay I was accepted, go me!” but is still intending to defer as stated.
      But clearly the big issue is that this tweet is causing tons of confusion. And I’m kind of left wondering why *hasn’t* anyone talked to Jane about this yet??
      I mean, LW is one of Jane’s managers and also already a party to the application process. The very first thing would be for LW to let Jane know “Hey, Boss and Grandboss are aware that you got accepted to grad school and now they’re confused about what your plans are, you should let them know the situation so they don’t jump to conclusions.”
      But yeah, also this seems like just very basic not-thinking-about-the-professional-implications-of-private-social-media type of early career mistake

      1. Amanda*

        That’s my thought too. Being accepted to grad school is a big achievement. My feeling is that it’s not really their business especially since she already did speak to her boss and should probably not have her bosses on her personal socials.
        Nowhere does OP say that Jane has asked for this promotion and maybe in reality she is thinking more about her personal development than long term career at this company.

        1. The Rules are Made Up*

          And she also may not ACTUALLY know how much work they’re doing on this promotion. I know that when I’ve had promotions or title changes or whatever in the works, I had no idea what was happening behind the scenes until I ask for updates. And things move so slow it’s easy to think that nothing is really happening. How often have we seen letters about promotions “in the works” for months or years with no sign of movement. My mother always told me that it isn’t official until it’s official and clearly Jane wasn’t banking on it coming through and she continued making her plans without putting all of her eggs in the promotion basket. Which isn’t a bad idea.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Samesies. Especially with a promotion from entry level to the level above that. All the promotions like that I’ve gotten have been time-based and everyone who’s still there after the clock runs down gets that promotion, no issues.

            Her boss not blinking when she talked about leaving to go to grad school and helping with the application is also a clear indicator that the promotion wasn’t a huge deal, regardless of whether it was.

        2. Katrinka*

          She announced it on twitter, which is open to anyone who Jane hasn’t blocked. It doesn’t require her to accept them as friends or follows or anything else (like Facebook does). Yes, even if she didn’t realize that the grand and great-grand bosses were on twitter, she should have realized that anyone from her company could read it there and report it to the company, but as others have said, it’s a fairly common rookie mistake.

          1. Colin*

            But it is perfectly reasonable to vaguely share good news like that. She didn’t say, “I got in to grad school, so my company and F-off.” Does it affect the company? Sure. Are people three rungs up the chain from her in a position to get into a tizzy because something good happened in her life and they weren’t her first call? No. Especially since she did, in fact, tell her manager.
            It’s hard for me to chalk this up to entry-level inexperience when four people, all more experience than her, are also handling this in an entirely immature way.
            Are the bosses mad about it? Get over it. Say congratulations and discuss what this means for her future at the company.

            1. LGC*

              …yeah, that’s what strikes me here. Like, Jane might have made a faux pas here (might), but you’ve got three separate levels of management pitching a fit about a relatively innocuous tweet. That’s the alarming part here.

              (Okay, so part of it is that Jane is in charge of social media, but still though.)

      2. Remote HealthWorker*

        Yeah this reminds me of my drama lama coworkers.

        This literally happened at my work:
        The lead complained to the assistant manager about Lisa’s work. They jabbed for over an hour about how big a deal the error was, the impacts it was going to have down the line, etc. They involved another lead then another departments manager got involved. After two and a half hours hours of this they decided enough was enough and they needed to escalate this to our VP, skipping Lisa and their manager.

        I texted Lisa and let her know there was an issue with her work and she should come back here. She popped back and pretended to get something from the printer. They all went quite as I rounded the corner, they were literally going to say nothing to her so I chimed in “Hey weren’t you all just talking about Lisa’s work!? Here she is great timing!” They FINALLY spoke to her about it.

        Turns out Lisa was right and only someone with her experience and certifications would know why it needed to be that way.

        3.5 hours of snark and escalating drama. 30 seconds to talk to Lisa. No actual issue ever existed.

        These bosses suck. They are way more unprofessional then Jane.

    4. pcake*

      That was my first thought. If the OP wants to talk to Jane, the first question should be to ask when she is actually scheduled to start grad school.

    5. Kesnit*

      I read it the same way. People jumped to conclusions and freaked out, rather than asking Jane directly

    6. Yorick*

      She has two managers, and she told one of them and asked her not to share it with anyone else.

      1. Colin*

        And that manager chose to follow the request instead of saying she had to loop in other people.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I’m not really sure why people are so upset with Jane announcing her acceptance.
      I worked through most of my grad school, which was at night. Many of my fellow students also did so while working full time jobs. So going to grad school doesn’t even necessarily mean quitting your day job!
      And why are Jane’s grand-boss and the president of the company watching her personal Twitter account? Weird!

      Seems to me like people are having a serious case of over reaction conniption here.

      1. Rectilinear Propagation*

        I would think the question of whether she was going to work while in school or not would have been discussed when she talked about being accepted and deferring but it’s possible both sides made assumptions there.

        (This is all going to be extra goofy if it does turn out she intended to work while at school.)

      2. fhqwhgads*

        There’s a bit of a disconnect between telling one person at work and asking them not to share the news yet (implying she’s going to share herself soon but isn’t ready yet) and then having already posted it on twitter where anyone could and did stumble upon it. If it were a night-only thing presumably she’d have said to the people who wrote the letters of rec? As presented it sure as hell sounds like it was a “leaving for grad school” scenario.

      3. Uranus Wars*

        I agree mostly that it’s an overreaction to an acceptance (not a “hey I am enrolled”) but I also think wanting to keep it a secret seems like she knows there is some layer that won’t work. I am currently trying to figure out how to handle and employee who told me her grad school wouldn’t interfere with work when she enrolled but then came to me last month and said “By the way, my only option for class A is from 9-3 Tuesday and Thursday in person”.

        The twitter thing could have been a total coincidence. He scrolls and she is in the feed at that moment. Or he logs in infrequently enough that it does that weird thing it is doing right now where instead of seeing tweets as they happen you get fed something from 2 days ago first.

      4. GradBoss*

        This part. I got both of my graduate degrees while working full-time so unless it’s in another state and they don’t have an online option I’m confused why people are freaking out.

      5. Exactamundo*

        I’m not really sure why people are so upset with Jane announcing her acceptance.

        Exactly. Jane is allowed to announce good news about her personal life on her personal social media accounts. (If she got pregnant, would folks expect her to tell her boss before Twitter? Of course not.)

        That also includes her vacation plans. If she announces them before she gets internal approvals, then in the worst case scenario she cancels the vacation if she fails to obtain time off.

        And why are Jane’s grand-boss and the president of the company watching her personal Twitter account?

        Can’t agree with this, though. Twitter accounts are ultimately public.

      6. LGC*

        To be fair, Jane’s in charge of social media for the org and she posted this in a very public arena! If she made any mistake, it’s probably in the venue she chose to make this statement, especially if her role as Twitter manager and her personal Twitter are easily linked.

        That said, you’re absolutely right – it sounds like a bunch of management is really upset over…a mildly dumb tweet, at best. (At least, using LW’s language, which makes it sound like this huge dramatic ordeal.) I’m in relatively the same position as LW (where I’m a manager that’s a couple of levels down from the president), and if he (the president) got upset about something one of my employees did…I would be very confused as to why he’s wasting his energy worrying about that.

      7. Scarrie Fisher*

        Also, I would like to note the difference between being admitted to grad school and enrolling… she may not even have/ever accept the offer!

    8. The Rules are Made Up*

      Yeah it looks like she told her boss and her grandboss that she planned to go to grad school at some point. Then told her direct boss that she was applying and then told them she was accepted and deferring so It’s not like they had no idea. It’s just a question of when, which they could’ve asked.

      And tbh sure this is probably part inexperience but when I’m excited about something I tell my friends/family before my employer because my life doesn’t actually revolve around them. And I think a lot of young people do as well except their “telling my friends and family” includes posting it on social media because its 2020. I’m leaning toward she did tell them and she just wanted to be excited for 5 seconds before needing to alert her whole reporting structure about it.

      1. Rex Jacobus*

        I understand what you are saying. I too, would tell family and friends first and then tell work. But what Jane did was tell EVERYONE before she told work. She probably doesn’t feel that way but employer sure does.

        1. Willis*

          Except that she did tell various people at work at multiple stages of her grad school process. Her company had more information than they were really entitled to about her grad school plans, and now they’re mad they didn’t have enough (even though she already told her boss she’d been accepted and is planning to defer??) How many people is she supposed to personally keep apprised of this process – her two managers plus her grand boss plus a grand grand boss. This is ridiculous. They should be glad they’re not getting the other option – a two week notice in fall of 2021. OP and Co-Manager needed to talk with Jane about timing and her possible promotion proactively.

          1. Katrinka*

            Once she’d been accepted, no matter whether she was deferring or not, it will affect her work. It is common courtesy to have an official, professional conversation with your company yourself. The company needs to make plans for either your departure or changes to your workload, if nothing else.. Jane let them find out on social media, which is pretty rude, even in these days of increased social media use by companies and employees. Telling one of her bosses that she is planning on deferring and asking her not to tell anyone else is NOT that conversation and is not any kind of official notice.

            1. windsofwintergreen*

              You can’t know whether or not this is the case. Jane’s schooling could very well not affect her work at all. There is not enough information in the letter to determine that. Plenty of people work full time and attend school without any change to their workload or hours. Some of them don’t even tell their employers at all. I also want to point out that Jane asked OP to keep her application process confidential, not her acceptance.

              1. Willis*

                This. Also, OP can say “Congrats, Jane. Now that there is a more solid plan re: grad school, I need to loop in Co-Manager on this so we can discuss your plans in and how it may impact workload, promotion, etc.” The OP is a representative of the company, and Jane told her, so OP needs to pick it up from there and be the manager.

            2. A*

              You are making some assumptions here.

              I also think calling Jane’s behavior ‘rude’ is a bit much. Obviously it is not ideal, but “rude”? Oh come on. She didn’t blast it out on social media before saying anything at work, she just didn’t give the go ahead on sharing the info yet. Rookie mistake. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              If you set the twitter thing aside, I think most people would advise not giving your company over a year of notice that you will be leaving for grad school, especially in an entry-level position. When I was accepted to grad school while working at a bank everyone told me I should still just give them two weeks notice. I was very young and felt too bad to do that and ended up giving them a month, but I knew I would be leaving for two months before I told them. That’s definitely normal.

              To me the mistake here was not that she didn’t tell everyone, but that if she knew she wanted to keep the information contained she should probably not have posted her exciting announcement in a place where it was so easily seen by so many people in her company.

              1. Cat*

                People where I work will tell us as soon as they know about stuff like that but we have a long history of still treating people well. Though yes, it would scuttle a promotion.

                1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                  So, you don’t really have a long history of treating people well, then. You have a history of not treating them poorly.

                  After all, if they had earned the promotion before planning on a way to leave, then their plans don’t change the fact that they still earned the promotion.

              2. Exactamundo*

                Pretty clear to me that Jane was only concerned about keeping her *applications* to grad school confidential. Once she actually got accepted, she was happy to let the cat out of the bag.

                That strategy makes sense; if she failed to win any acceptances, she wouldn’t want to jeopardize her career path at the company.

                In law, confidentiality is the right of the client — not the lawyer. I think that’s analogous here. Jane made the request for confidentiality, and Jane can waive it when she’s no longer concerned about confidentiality.

            4. The Rules are Made Up*

              If she had said “Yay I got accepted to grad school! Can’t wait to move to Kansas in the Fall!” then sure I guess. But it sounds like she just said she was accepted. Which her boss knew. She gave them more than I would. I wouldn’t even have said I was applying because who knows if I’d even get in and it may be a moot point. And if you are accepted to school you generally know that months prior to starting which is more notice than employers usually get. I’m sorry but when I get great news the first thing I think about is not “how will this affect my employer”. Employers would love that but employees are people who should be able to make decisions, celebrate and share news without being obligated to keep a multi-manager information chain about it before it even really concerns them. (And the promotion isn’t enough reasoning for me because none of them know if it’ll even actually happen)

            5. Taz*

              Unless she’s going to be asking for serious time off – it’s none of her employer’s business. If she’s planning to quit in the fall, then that’s still aways off. If she’s going to school at night, then that has no bearing on her employer. If she’s deferring then who cares?

            6. Jojo*

              She told her direct boss she was applying and asked for a reference. She told zero people at work she was accepted. She posted it on internet that she was accepted. Work saw her post 10 days after she put it up. Work had no idea she was accepted until they saw it on the internet. 10bdays later.

      2. Ginger Baker*

        I understand the share-with-friends idea here, but 10 days is much longer than 5 seconds (and as the social-media-person, she should be aware more than anyone of how timing impacts social media announcements, imho, though you can only account for the understanding of norms that you have and I concur with others that this was a rookie “didn’t realize bosses don’t expect to hear Through The Grapevine about my grad school acceptance” mistake. (This all is reminding me how I heard about my boss moving to another firm SECOND IN LINE to the head of the entire company (which I know for sure because I coordinated the call), and I took that as the extreme honor that it was and is (and I followed him to NewFirm)!)

      3. Confused*

        Jane did nothing wrong. Company leadership closely following her PERSONAL social media accounts is really inappropriate.

      4. Scarrie Fisher*

        Lol I am such a nerd that I told my boss and her boss first–but only because I was AT work when I found out. I was walking out of the bathroom behind grandboss two minutes after I got the email and burst out, “I AM SO HAPPY I JUST HAVE TO TELL SOMEONE.” (She knew I applied so it wasn’t completely random.)

        Then her first response was, “Are you going to keep working??” Should’a known…

    9. Alice's Rabbit*

      Yeah, she did tell her boss before announcing it online. I certainly wouldn’t think to go tell every person in my management chain all the way up to the company’s owner. I would tell my manager, and expect that manager to pass the info along to whomever needed to be informed.
      Which is exactly what Jane did.
      So it looks like the only one who dropped the ball here was the letter writer.

    10. Anonymity*

      All Jane owes this company is two weeks notice. She has not been promoted and apparently thinks it’s time to move on.

  2. Marie*

    I agree with Cat, the timeline here was two weeks ago she told LW that she’d been accepted to grad school with the intention to defer until 2021, then 10 days ago she told Twitter that she’d been accepted to grad school. LW’s boss and grandboss were both blindsided by this news, which to mean means that LW never pulled them in the loop? Or coached Jane on how to tell them both?

    1. Colette*

      I don’t know that the OP anyone needed to bring them into the loop … until Jane put it on social media. The OP knew, and knew Jane wanted to keep it quiet and she wasn’t leaving for a year+. That’s not something she should bring up, or ask Jane to specifically tell anyone else. A lot can happen in a year.

      But once Jane put it on social media, management was understandably concerned. And that’s on Jane.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My read is that the LW understood she was still under Jane’s “please keep this confidential” request — although looking at the letter again, it doesn’t explicitly say Jane renewed that request when she told her she’d been accepted. (But I can see why the LW would have assumed it, given the earlier conversation.)

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, that’s how I read it as well. And if Jane were planning to start school in September, it would have made sense to have a conversation about her plans for giving notice and declining the promotion (if that’s what she was going to do). But I can see why that didn’t come up if she wasn’t leaving for over a year.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          Did Jane specifically say she was going to be leaving for grad school. Couldn’t she work and go to grad school.either online and/or at night. I know my university had a lot of night classes and even so e Saturday classes for some of the “adult” learner’s and grad students. I think there is a lot of confusion because there’s not any clear communication.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I think that the LW should have told Jane that she would need to share this information with the grandbosses when Jane told her she was accepted and planned to defer to 2021, specifically because people are currently expending energy on Jane’s promotion and planning needs to change directions.

        As a younger employee, I’ve had some conversations with different managers about transferring into their departments. I wanted those to be confidential, but I was made aware that they had to share the info with my manager if we were going to move beyond the first discussion. (If I talked to them and they didn’t have interest in me and I didn’t have interest in the role after learning more, it could have been a “never happened” convo.) I think this is similar.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Honestly, if I was Jane and my manager spoke to me about people being blindsided, I might be confused because I would think I told her and that was enough. I’m not sure about the co-manager situation, but I wouldn’t tell my manager and his boss. I’d assume he was taking it up the ladder as needed, esp. since Jane didn’t renew the confidentiality request during this conversation.

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            Under normal circumstances I would agree, but not here.

            The thing that makes a difference here is that all of these upper folks are really actively working and pushing to make a promotion happen for Jane. I am thinking Jane was aware of all this, and so she really should be letting them know her plans since they are doing all of this for her; if for no other reason than out of consideration for all the effort they are expending just for her benefit. Also, since she did ask for OP to keep things quiet, and since OP was aware that things would not be changing immediately due to Jane planning to defer, Jane should not have expected OP to share the news.

            Don’t put things out there publicly you are not ready for the whole world to see, including your bosses. Also, never assume someone else has shared information that is yours to distribute. OP isn’t Jane’s only manager, at the very least she should have told her other manager before putting it out there on Twitter. That’s the long and short of it.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I genuinely do not think it is Jane’s responsibility to share her grad school info with anyone but her direct manager. In a different scenario, I can see us getting a letter from a manager who is ticked that their direct report told the grandboss something like this before the manager could prep her. Of course, the main issue is that it was on Twitter and the grandboss saw it, but she had already told Jane — I could really go either way on that one. Everyone is a little over the top on the reactions in this story, too. I mean, Jane’s an entry-level employee. This is what they do. I’d save this reaction for if she had posted it on the company account or if she was a key account manager and had posted it to client followers on her personal account.

              1. Glitsy Gus*

                Right, but, OP said in the letter that Jane has at least two direct managers, one of which is OP. She should have told both of them before putting it on Twitter. Telling Grand-boss etc. would probably have been a good idea if Jane knew she was bending over backward for her, but it’s not ridiculous that she didn’t think to do that. At minimum, though all of her direct managers should know first and Jane should not have assumed OP told Manager B.

            2. Andy*

              It is unlikely that Jane as entry level employee has much idea about company politics and promotions negotiations.

              It is not norm for management to talk about these openly. Norm is to pretend there were no political fights and smooth over everything. That is to keep company going smoothly, but result is that entry level people have no idea what is going on.

              1. Andy*

                To add, and people who know about politics and negotiations keeps things like this even more secret. Savy politicians would tell things at the last possible moment because promotion is good for CV and salary raise does not hurt.

            3. SaintPaulGal*

              I have a real problem with this assertion:

              That when it comes to the junior employee’s promotion, “they are doing all of this for her.”

              They aren’t. Sure, she will (hopefully) benefit from the promotion with better pay, professional development, etc. But make no mistake, companies don’t bestow promotions out of altruistic kindness. Promotions are, first and foremost, for the benefit of the company. The company has higher level work that needs to be done, and they want to retain a good employee that they trust to do that work. (And yes, spending the next year-plus working there “counts” as being retained.)

          2. JerryTerryLarryGary*

            “and again kept it to myself per her wishes”
            Jane screwed her manager over a bit here. She specifically asked her not to share.

            1. A*

              Jane asked OP to keep it to themselves during the application process, it’s not clear if that extended to the announcement that she was accepted and planned to defer.

              I could easily see being in Jane’s shoes, wanting to keep it on the DL until I know what the plan is – and then considering the convo with my manager of letting them know I was accepted but deferring, as being the last necessary step.

              She is an entry level employee. These are rookies mistakes. I think it’s a bit extreme to head in the direction of saying it’s rude, or screwing someone over.

              1. JerryTerryLarryGary*

                LW writes she kept the acceptance to herself “per [Jane’s] wishes”.
                It’s pretty clear. LW could have made an assumption and written about it in a very misleading way, but as written it LW is saying she was asked to keep the acceptance quiet, along with the application.
                When Jane wanted to go public, she should have given LW a heads up.
                And really that’s all the LW needs to let her know. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a mistep, especially for a social media person.

            2. BasicWitch*

              LW had the option to say, “actually, it’s important we let a few key people know for such and such reasons. If you’d like to tell them personally please let me know so we’re on the same page, otherwise I’ll have to let them know by X date.” LW is just as much on the hook by deferring to the judgement of an entry level staffer. Getting into grad school is a big deal and Jane deserves to celebrate openly. The faux pas could’ve been avoided with better communication on all sides, but I think slightly more responsibility lies on the LW here.

        2. Name Required*

          Agreed. LW wouldn’t have egg on her face if she had done this, and her faux pas strikes me as bigger than Jane’s.

          1. Katrinka*

            Well, except that her employee would then feel like she couldn’t be trusted and might not feel comfortable coming ot her with any problems she was having in the future.

            1. Cat*

              She could have told Jane that she couldn’t keep it confidential due to the promotion situation.

        3. Smithy*

          Additionally, I think a number of these moments would have been good opportunities for the OP to have more frank conversations with Jane around their organization’s workplace norms as well as perhaps increased sensitivities regarding COVID norms.

          Where I work, while I would be happy to to support a direct report applying for grad school – if I had the same news I would have encouraged Jane to ensure the news was kept confidential until 2, maybe 3 months before she planned to leave the job. First, hearing the news of grad school, even 12-15 months in advance would kill promotion talk. Even if no one would be upset with someone leaving a year after receiving a promotion, no one would put in the effort to secure the promotion knowing that kind of clock existed as well as potentially getting her bumped from exciting projects.

          Furthermore, deferring for a year – and especially with a pandemic – it’s a long time. Maybe work over the next year is so wildly cool, that trying to find a way to do grad school part-time and keep the job would be worth it? Maybe a major life event happens and it forces Jane to keep a full-time work schedule. Keeping that news secret helps Jane have that freedom in case things change, and also lets the OP go “out of sight, out of mind” – knowing that there’s been a request for a more gracious leave period closer to when a final decision needs to be made.

          Not every workplace would be like this. But I think that was a missed point from the OP to give Jane more insight and talk through why essentially giving a year’s notice is a bad idea more many industries.

          1. Katrinka*

            I think this is a mistake a lot of managers of entry-level hires make, assuming that their employees are familiar with professional norms. I think it was a miss all around, but LW is not asking IF she should talk to Jane, she’s asking HOW to address it.

            1. windsofwintergreen*

              LW is sort of asking IF she should talk to Jane. Part of her question is whether or not she’s overstepping.

            2. Smithy*

              I would reply that part of how the LW should respond is in a conversation with Jane being a bit more detailed about the reality of the situation and maybe even reflecting on information the OP could have/should have shared upfront.

              Did Jane know that level of senior management was regularly checking her personal Twitter? Did she know that for this organization announcing you’d be leaving, even 1.5 years in advance would kill promotion talk? Additionally – having an opportunity to talk about what that kind of notice means between Jane and the OP as well as between Jane and the rest of the organization.

              I think there are still opportunities for the OP to mentor and protect Jane. And I would say that part of that is reflecting on why what happened has now backfired. And part of that is on the OP.

            3. Exactamundo*

              I think this is a mistake a lot of managers of entry-level hires make, assuming that their employees are familiar with professional norms

              Again, it’s not a question of professional norms. To assert that is to give companies a veto over one’s personal life. If Jane got pregnant, would you ask her to tell her boss before telling the Twitterverse?

              1. Smithy*

                For many in the Communications field and other external facing roles, a public facing personal Twitter feed often has a very blurred line between personal and professional. So by managing about professional norms, part of that is to say “because you manage our social media, senior leadership will be looking at your public facing individual Twitter handle and my recommendation would be to view it as an extension of your LinkedIn.” If having a truly personal Twitter account is something someone enjoys as an outlet for adult content and more private communication – then go out grab a handle like MyOwnGoshDarnTime but not Jane S Doe, Communications Professional.

              2. Elsajeni*

                I mean, I would tell Twitter first, sure. I also have a Twitter account that’s under a pseudonym, not linked to my full real name or place of employment, and not followed by anyone I work with, and a locked alt account that I use occasionally for things I really want to keep confidential from people who know me in real life. I do think that “your employer should hear about things that impact your work from you directly, not secondhand” is a matter of professional norms, and that’s really the part that Jane erred on — if she wasn’t ready to tell her employer directly “hey, I’ve been accepted to grad school, here’s how and when this will change my availability for work,” she needed to find ways to share the news with friends that wouldn’t immediately get back to people at work.

        4. LGC*

          …yeah, that’s how I likely would have handled this. Or at the very least, I might have said that this was pretty big news and asked if they wanted me to share after giving congratulations.

          A lot of people don’t think to CC the entire management chain first, and Jane could have thought that letting her direct boss know was sufficient. Maybe LW doesn’t need to take the lead, but I’ve found that in cases where my boss needs to know something I know about my direct reports, it helps to flag that for them.

      3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        It was implied by Jane that this was still on the “back channel” by texting it to OP (assuming they don’t normally use text for work comms) rather than using a more official means of communication. As such I think OP and Jane both believed this to be “confidential” (or “unofficial”).

  3. Kelly L.*

    I feel like I’m missing something too–everyone seems to be assuming her being accepted to or attending grad school means she’s going to quit, but is this even true, or was she planning to maybe go part-time while still working there?

    1. Lyudie*

      That’s what I wonder too, I’m in grad school and working full time because I’m taking one class a semester. It’ll take me longer but it lets me keep up my career (and I’m working in my new field) and make money while getting the master’s.

    2. HS Teacher*

      I thought the same thing. I’m doing my doctorate but continuing to teach. I announced my acceptance on social media, where several of my colleagues are on my friends list, and no one batted an eye.

      OP needs to find out from the employee if this will affect her employment. A lot of colleges and universities have online programs, even if they have brick and mortar buildings.

    3. CTT*

      Given that Jane wanted to keep it confidential makes me think it’s the sort of program that would require her to go to school full-time.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I wouldn’t assume that. It seems far more likely that Jane just didn’t want her business being shared far and wide, especially if she didn’t get accepted for some reason.

        1. Mouse*

          I’m applying for part-time evening grad school right now and have asked for confidentiality in case I’m not accepted.

          Everyone at work has been great about it, but of course my mom has told everyone she knows. C’est la vie.

          1. sunny-dee*

            This – the main thing is that you don’t want to tell people during the application process in case you get rejected. Or, ahem, they assume you’re quitting and treat you differently.

            1. queequeg in his coffin*

              I didn’t tell anyone when I was applying for grad school because whether or not I was going to go depended on what kind of financial aid packages I could get. Just because she applied and got accepted doesn’t mean she’s going, and just because she’s going doesn’t mean she’ll quit her job. There are a TON of assumptions all around this one.

              1. Katrinka*

                Except that she ANNOUNCED IT ON TWITTER. The professional norm would be for her to officially notify her company prior to announcing it to the whole world. I have known when direct reports are applying (they asked if I would be a reference) and I have known when they got a job offer. In the case of the latter, I find out when they’re leaving and then tell them they need to send something in writing (either an email or a letter, but I recommend a letter) to either the Superintendent or to HR (who then forwards it to the Superintendent). That’s the process listed in the Employee Handbook, but I don’t assume everyone has actually read the thing. I also ask them to send me a copy if they can (it’s not necessary, because the first thing the Super or HR will do is copy everyone that needs to know).

                1. A*

                  It’s entirely possible Jane viewed the conversation with her manager where she let them know she was accepted but would be deferring, as being that formal step. This is an entry level employee, and this is a rookie mistake.

                  The announcement on Twitter didn’t say anything about intentions, just that she was accepted. Jeez, cut some slack. We ALL did silly things when we were new to the work force, and anyone that says otherwise I do not believe. The rise of social media is just a new platform for the same old rookie mistakes. We were all there once.

        2. Jam Today*

          I took evening classes for two years in prep of applying to a grad program and never told anyone, including my parents, because I don’t want to have to explain in case I don’t get in.

        3. MissDisplaced*

          Possibly, but sometimes you take classes and decide you don’t want to tell your employer until they’re over.
          Because? Because then they may think you’re not committed, or too distracted, or whatever. Better to tell them when you have your certificate or degree in hand (unless they’re paying for it).

          1. A*

            Sometimes it’s not optional. In my line of work, because it’s a global position and requires availability outside of business hours (sometimes without notice) we are required to seek approval for continued education outside of work hours the same way we have to for ‘moonlighting’.

        4. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Counter point, as a person who was applying to grad schools recently, with a very real chance of not being admitted due to my undergraduate performance and the competitveness of the program – If everyone at the office knows I’m applying, and I don’t get in, then there’s a crap ton of questions about why the school turned me down, etc, that I now have to field.

          Rejection is major embarassing, and can have career consequences. Not wanting all my coworkers to know I got rejected, particularly from a competitive program, is a pretty reasonable stance.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Another reason – perhaps her grad school pursuit is completely unrelated to her current career. Even if she went to school and kept working full time, maybe she wouldn’t want her company assuming she would be leaving post-graduation.

    4. Allywood*

      This is my thought as well. We don’t have the additional information, but being accepted to grad school doesn’t equate to quitting your job. She could be going online, evening, part time weekends…etc. I went to grad school in the evening and worked full time.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yeah, I wondered this too. I’d say that most people don’t have the luxury of not working while they’re in grad school.

      And depending on what type of program it is, maybe Jane is fully intending to stay with this org long term.

    6. Mazzy*

      I know. Economists are seeing a 10% unemployment rate for the rest of the year, and some are saying the official rate of 13% is wrong according to the BLS’s own data and it’s actually 16%. In that environment, please tell me no one is quitting a job to go to school, when the main reason you go to school is to get a job. That would be career suicide in a recession like this.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ah alas, it’s going to be exactly like the Great Recession. People did quit to go back to school, thinking a degree would give them wider options when jobs were drying up. Lots and lots of people make this bad decision, often based on bad advisors in those schools that are struggling to get their student numbers up.

      2. Exactamundo*

        In that environment, please tell me no one is quitting a job to go to school, when the main reason you go to school is to get a job. That would be career suicide in a recession like this.

        1. It may well be that Jane is planning an academic career. If she’s doing a PhD, well, that’s the primary goal of most PhD students. Not all, to be sure, but most. In that case, the main reason to go to school is NOT “to get a job,” at least not a job outside the professorate.

        2. Even if she’s not planning an academic career, she may be planning a career change. For example, she may have been accepted to law school and want to pursue a legal career.

        3. Even if she’s got not concrete career change plans, by the time she finishes the program, the economy is likely to be very different. Let’s assume it’s a two-year MA program (doctoral programs are obviously longer). She starts in August 2021, assuming she defers entrance this year — which would be wise, since online learning sucks. That puts her on track to graduate in May 2023. While no one has a crystal ball, the pandemic is likely to be well in the rearview mirror by then, and the economy substantially recovered.

        4. There is an argument, too, that the impact of COVID-19 is substantially less than many had feared it would be in March. And unfortunately you have disaggregate that 10% into service industry/retail positions, blue collar positions, and white collar positions. Classist or not, white collar positions (which seems to be where Jane currently is) are, on the whole, less affected than these other categories.

        5. The school and program may be prestigious enough that she is likely to weather the recession. For instance, if she’s been accepted to do a Stanford MBA, she is still likely to find a quality position after graduating, even if the economy is still in the doldrums. And her lifetime earnings are, with a *very* high degree of certainty, likely to be higher with the Stanford MBA than without.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Planning an academic career? College budgets have been bleeding since April. Colleges have hiring freezes and are laying off staff left and right, and a bunch of smaller colleges are just going to out and out close up shop. And that’s before the 2026 cliff…because people stopped having kids during the 2008 recession, there won’t be enough students to fill anywhere near all the slots in college starting in 2026.

          Leaving a viable job to plan an academic career now is about as smart as trying to open a restaurant now.

          1. Exactamundo*

            1. Unpopular as it may be with tuition-paying parents, the primary mission of nearly all universities is research, not teaching undergraduates.

            2. Although some staff have PhDs, the primary reason one pursues a PhD is to become faculty, not staff. People who enter PhD programs are well aware of the lack of tenure-track slots; that doesn’t keep them from trying for them. If you’re in a Top-10 program, your chances go up significantly. My own guess is that the pandemic, coupled with competition with China — another “Sputnik moment” — may actually inspire greater federal spending on academic programs. Also, there are significant differences between the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields.

            In any case, if Jane wants to pursue an academic career, that’s her call. Very rarely does one achieve dreams by playing it safe.

          2. Beth Jacobs*

            What Exactamundo is saying, is that “it’s better to get work experience than go to grad school” is not universally true, just like the often given advice “go to grad school, it will help you get a job” is also incorrect for many people. We simply don’t know anything about Jane’s career ambitions, funding, the quality of her specific program or… much anything else really. So discussing whether it would make sense for Jane to go to grad school really doesn’t get us anywhere, it’s pure fanfiction.

    7. sunny-dee*

      This is exactly my thought. Unless she’s also signing up to be a TA or research assistant or something, which is a full time job in itself, there is no reason to assume she’s quitting. I have no idea why the managers are running around like their hair is on fire here – honestly, they’re being the immature ones, not Jane. This is especially true if some or all of her classes end up being online. Geeze, I know a half dozen people who got graduate degrees while working.

    8. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Contrary to most of the comments I’m seeing in this thread, announcing you’re going to graduate school would be a concern for an employer and colleagues.

      Yes, it’s feasible that a coworker plans on working and going to school; however, the costs of assuming that they are quitting is much lower than assuming they will keep working.

      It’s good professional courtesy to explain that you’re going back to school without quitting your job *AND* to talk through how you’re going to keep school from interfering with work. All of that those only apply if you’re going to be making it public; if you’re quietly going to school without sharing it where coworkers can see it, then it’s no one’s business.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        the costs of assuming that they are quitting is much lower than assuming they will keep working.

        Ooops, I mean to say, it’s better from the employer’s perspective, to plan for the situation where the soon-to-be-student is quitting versus being caught off guard by it.

        I know that people can quit whenever and it’s the same principle as resigning for any circumstance: Talk to the employer before announcing it in places that others can see it.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Yeah, the first red flag was all the higher-ups freaking out about this in a full-office circle jerk instead of talking to Jane about it. The second red flag was LW writing a letter to an uninvolved third party and going over all the details—including the first red flag—instead of talking to Jane about it.

          (I know the letter was ostensibly asking “How do I talk to Jane about this?” but it was a very long letter and it stank of drama, up to and including I’m all for personal social media but …. O_o)

    9. lazy intellectual*

      In addition, getting accepted doesn’t necessarily mean she’s going to attend? When I was applying to grad school, I got accepted to 2 prestigious programs and bragged about it on Facebook (which I now realize is cringe..), but it didn’t mean I had decided where to go.

    10. Scarrie Fisher*

      Same. I feel like the entire issue is that no one is recognizing the difference between being accepted and enrolling!

    11. SaintPaulGal*

      I think the “deferring due to the pandemic” thing is a pretty strong indication that the employee intends to do full time, on-campus type grad school. If this was a distance-learning, one-class-at-a-time, night school situation, that decision wouldn’t make any sense.

  4. Lyudie*

    Obviously I don’t know the details but is it possible Jane has decided to study part-time and thus is not leaving her job? My M.Ed program is 100% online, I’m working full time along with taking a few classes a year.

    1. Katrinka*

      That’s why she should have had an official conversation with her company before she put it out on social media.

      1. Just A Zebra*

        Or that’s why her bosses should have had a conversation with her before assuming anything. Jane did tell a manager she was accepted and, as far as we can tell, didn’t ask for confidentiality after that fact. She doesn’t really owe her bosses more than a few weeks notice. If anything, it’s OP and her bosses that are blowing this out of proportion.

  5. Deanna*

    Just because she is going to grad school doesn’t necessarily mean she is leaving. I got my master’s degree while working full time

  6. KayDeeAye*

    I’d just like to emphasize Alison’s last point – that entry-level employees should not be put in charge of social media – unless MAYBE they’ve had some sort of special training. Yes, younger people do tend to be pretty comfortable with social media…but comfort on a personal level is miles away from professionally competent, and professional competence is what you need here. It’s important, it’s a skill, it takes training to do it right, and it takes the right data to do it right. Don’t default to the youngest person on staff just because they’re the only ones with a Snapchat account.

    1. Mazzy*

      That’s a good point, but the person in my company who does social media runs EVERYTHING through their boss, who oftentimes runs things through their boss. I watched these conversations all day when we were in the office. IMO it might actually make sense for an entry level person to do it, because it must be really annoying to have to go through so many layers just to put up a tweet and people who’ve experienced autonomy in the workplace won’t want to deal with it. But then again, that’s just my limited POV

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Yes, if at all possible, it needs to be overseen exactly like a news release or a brochure. You’d think that a few words combined with an Instagram-friendly image or a Facebook-ready 15-second video would be easier to do than a release or a brochure, but they really are not.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        If you have someone above entry-level doing that, though, you’d presumably be able to give them a little more autonomy.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Yup, I agree. If they weren’t entry-level, then they would have earned more autonomy.

          1. KayDeeAye*

            Well, unless they work for one of the bosses I’ve had…:-) Her idea of “autonomy” is “You can work independently, of course, but everything has to be reviewed by *me* even if its been reviewed by five other people and even if I schedule a vacation for right around the time that you’ll need me to review it.” Not a bad person, but golly, does she have control issues.

      3. Smithy*

        If someone this junior is going to be running this – I do think it behooves the organization then to take a more involved mentoring approach if their private social media will also be involved. Just in the same way that all posts get run through a boss, super clear expectations and guidelines about personal social media should also exist.

        In one job, our pretty junior social media staffer made a post on her personal page where she referred to a personal friend by the same first name as the name of one of our celebrity spokespeople. If Audrey Hepburn had been that person, it was a post that said something to the effect of “me and Audrey”. Because this team was very aware of wanting the celebrity’s team to have no cause for concern ever – it turned out all staff working on different national social media channels – their private pages were being very closely watched and this was seen as major breach of professional conduct.

        As a non-social media professional, to this day I couldn’t tell you if this is something the sector would respond to with “duh, that was an obvious professional misstep” or if it was more specific to where I worked and their needs.

    2. notacompetition*

      Came here to say this. You need someone with strategic communications skills in that role. It’s a very important job, and you’re on the front lines of every complaint, snarky comment, message with a really detailed question, news update, etc. It’s overwhelming to stick a junior person in the job and expect them to make informed, experience-based decisions. Social media workers usually don’t get the credit they deserve because senior execs think their nephew who likes the Wendy’s Twitter account could do the job just as well. It’s a strategic communications role.

    3. WhatDayIsIt*

      I disagree and found Allison’s statement to be frankly a bit rude. I’m in an entry-level position in my mid-twenties and manage one our social media presences for my work completely without my supervisor hovering over me (my boss would hate to be involved with it anyway). I think this is a maturity thing not a “entry level folks should be barred from this” thing. It seems to assume we’re all childish and will handle social media poorly, when I’ve seen older folks also handle running social media badly. You just need to good guidelines for what the messaging is on that platform.

      1. A*

        Not for nothing, but sometimes it’s a ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know’ situation. Not trying to be combative, it just might be worth while reflecting on rather than getting upset about. Maybe it’s a non issue for you – which is great! But if your immediate inclination is to be defensive, it might be worth looking into why that is.

      2. Smithy*

        I don’t think the point about “maturity” is as much about being childish but rather being plugged into higher level communications strategy decisions as well as simply having greater professional experience.

        In the nonprofit space, I’ve worked for teams that had more junior social media staffer report into a non-Communications boss because of the size and evolution of the team. What would happen is the social media person would often find themselves making a lot of autonomous decisions without being plugged into greater organizational strategy meetings. Their boss who would be at those meetings, would represent social media, but again without bringing a communications professional lens to the discussion. Very often this wouldn’t create major issues, but when it did – it was a case where the junior staff member would take a lot of heat for “not knowing better”. And the “not knowing better” was often limited to whether or not guidelines or strategic decisions were reaching them.

      3. Batgirl*

        There’s a huge difference between someone who’s not yet had certain professional experiences and someone who is childish!
        You can also be old and not have had specific and relevant experiences; but it is still a question of experience, not of maturity.
        There are plenty of mature people in the world who don’t know how to code, or do shorthand and trying harder to be mature and follow guidelines just isn’t the same thing as knowing the ropes. Social media is just as much of a skill and not something that anyone can just do to a professional level without a grounding in it. If your boss has seen and understands your prior experience is up to this, then it’s a compliment to be entrusted with this. If however, the boss thinks any professional adult can do your role, they’re disrespecting your role, not mentoring you in it and are probably frequently proved wrong when they pick the wrong person.

      4. Ego Chamber*

        It’s not rude to point out that a role requires more education or experience than an entry level employee tends to have. Would you put an entry level employee in charge of payroll? (Maybe, but it’s not recommended.)

        I think it’s pretty bizarre for you to decide someone saying a position shouldn’t be filled by any random entry level hire is a personal attack against your maturity level (?) instead of against your professionalism or your communications knowledge, which would be the relevant skills you’d want to draw attention to. Alluding to your “maturity” and how you’re not childish paradoxically makes you sound very young, jsyk.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      It said though that this was shared on Jane’s personal account, not the work account.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        It was on her personal account and not the company account. I don’t see anything from LW that causes concern about the work she’s doing with the social media. If there was,she wouldn’t be in the run for a promotion.
        Why are bosses looking at an employees personal Twitter account. That’s like asking to be friends on Facebook. It shouldn’t be done, even if they are the social media person for the company.

        1. WellRed*

          It says in the letter that by virtue of her job they look closer at her personal accounts. Like it or not, this happens. If you have a social presence, it’s not neatly blocked into separate buckets.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          The issue at hand is not “personal account” vs “business account”. It’s “public” vs “private”. What she did is absolutely Not some sort of epic unprofessional evil of doom, but it is tone deaf to announce something to everyone in the world before telling people it affects directly to their face. It’s not weird for people to feel like “why am I finding out in this manner instead of to my face?” and the argument that an intentionally public and open to everyone forum is something they should’ve actively avoided sidesteps that. Posting a public statement on a public platform that is open to anyone and then pushing back with “well you shouldn’t have been looking there anyway” doesn’t really make sense. It’s like…if you don’t want your friend from around the block to know you’re selling your house, but you put the For Sale sign in the yard, and they drive by and notice and then are like “why didn’t you tell me?” if you’re all “well you shouldn’t have looked” it’s not odd that they might react poorly. It not worth being upset enough to consider it a totally burned bridge, but it’s totally reasonable to feel like…that’s not cool.

    5. Exactamundo*

      They may understand social media better than more senior employees (although we’ve had social media for 15 years now, so that is undoubtedly changing). Where they may lag behind more senior employees is in messaging, i.e., the content of corporate communications. A lot depends.

  7. Momma Bear*

    Was there a discussion about this when she booked vacation before making the request? If not, then I can see how she wouldn’t realize that her personal Twitter account was so widely viewed and what the opinions about that content are. If she does intend to defer for now, then that is something that the bosses up the chain should know, perhaps from Jane herself. After your talk with her. She seems to like you and value your input so I think that this is a good opportunity to mentor/guide her about these kinds of protocols and unspoken professional guidelines.

    I would also expect my Social Media Content Manager to be more aware of their own presence on social media, privacy settings, etc. This repeated behavior would make me question their professional judgement for the company’s accounts.

    1. juliebulie*

      I was really surprised to read that she bought tickets before making the request. That could end up being a very expensive mistake.

      1. Over Here*

        I have often booked a vacation before putting in the request. I only thought that was a faux pas if I had a job that needed particular coverage.

        1. Yorick*

          Agreed. In my job there’s no coverage needed when I’m out, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t let me take off any days off I want. I pretty much tell my boss about vacation days rather than ask.

      2. Andy*

        Depends on the job. In my job, not giving me vacation would be interpreted as managers power trip and reason to look for new team (whether in this or another company).

      3. MissDisplaced*

        I do that all the time. I do not have to ask for permission to book a vacation. We enter the days off into the automated system, which notifies the supervisor. I will try to give the supervisor some idea of when (like “I’m planning to take a week off in July”) but never give exact days until I book and input them.

      4. Jackalope*

        Yeah, chiming in that this varies by position and field. In my field in particular, we have specific times of year that we make long-term leave requests and sometimes I’m in a situation where I can’t officially request leave until those dates, but if I wait until then the plane tickets skyrocket in price meaning I can’t afford the vacation. Right now due to seniority I know that the next vacation I take that is contested I will be the person who “wins” (if you use your seniority you go to the bottom of the list and work your way back up, and I’ve never had to do that so have stayed at the top) so I go ahead and book the trip ahead of time with the good prices and then request the leave later. We do the long-term leave requests in 6 month increments and once that’s happened it’s first-come, first-served for leave slots that are still available. If I know I’m going to take a trip I might for example tell my supervisor I’m thinking of going on vacation in October (not this year, alas!), for example, and double check that there are no dates that are already maxed out. I then go buy my tickets based on price and availability, and when I’ve confirmed the dates I let my supervisor know. I’ve had times when I posted that I got tickets for a big trip on FB before putting in my official leave request (never the dates since I don’t want to let unfriendly strangers know when my house will be empty, but at least that I’m going), but it hasn’t been an issue since I knew for one of the above reasons that I was sure to get that leave slot.

  8. AskAnEmployee*

    Jane did nothing wrong.

    She didn’t say she was attending this fall, just that she was accepted. And even if she was attending, she has no obligation to tell her employee until she gives notice, and 2 weeks notice (and we are more than 2 weeks from any grad program starting) is considered the typical notice — although I’d argue she isn’t even obligated to do that since she’s presumably at-will and can be fired by you at a moment’s notice for any reason. It’s nice that she was up for promotion but it sounds like that is something you want for her, and it doesn’t sound like she was pushing for this promotion at all (which is being delayed in any event).

    Jane is fine. Her bosses should stop monitoring her personal social media because it’s creepy.

    1. Lance*

      I feel like that last sentence doesn’t fly as much given OP’s point that Jane is running the company’s social media; it’s very likely she’d be attached to it in some way, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the bosses wanted to occasionally check in and make sure the person running their company’s social media had a clean presence of their own.

      1. Name Required*

        Unless her job title is tied to PR, Marketing, or Social Media, then it’s unlikely that she has any obvious ties to the company’s social media account. Social media accounts for businesses are typically in the voice in the business, not in the voice of an employee, i.e. she’s not signing all of her tweets “by Jane”

      2. Lance*

        Accidental extra emphasis on this one, sorry; basic point is, I don’t think it’s so odd that the bosses would occasionally look at the account belonging to the person running their company’s own social media account, and the timing on this one (10 days, maybe a bit less) for someone to have apparently found it tells me they don’t do so very often, or might even have had someone else entirely bring it to their attention.

    2. DrakeMallard*

      This!!!! If I was Jane I would immediately block all of these people. I don’t understand the “scrutiny” her personal social media should be under unless she were posting truly offensive things.

      I also disagree with the notion that a young person cannot be put in charge of social media. The only thing I really agree with here is that you shouldn’t announce a vacation (or buy tickets) until you have secured the time off.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Of course young people can be put in charge of social media, if they have *expertise* in social media. All too often, though, they’re picked for no other reason than because everyone thinks, “Oh, she’s young. She knows all about this stuff.” The fact is, knowing how to use it in your personal life is miles and miles and miles different from using it professionally.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’d argue that if they don’t have enough experience that you’d give them a role where they’re making major branding decisions on their own / writing and sending out press releases without someone signing off on them / otherwise handling major communications responsibilities, you shouldn’t do it with social media either. (I do think it’s okay to have a less experienced person do some parts of social media work, but they shouldn’t be heading it up unless they have the professional experience/judgment/seasoning for the other kinds of work I listed.)

          1. KayDeeAye*

            Yeah, that’s the thing with social media. It’s so immediate, and often things – important things – are posted with little or no supervision. And once it’s out there, it’s way the heck out there forever.

      2. rayray*

        I agree.

        I don’t really use my social media much, but I actually have preemptively blocked a manager that I really disliked. I actually never post anything so I am probably fine but the idea of employers/bosses keeping tabs on my social media is incredibly unnerving.

        This story is exactly why. I absolutely see where others are coming from in saying that Jane should have talked to her employers first, but I see it as she was excited to share news with her friends/family and would deal with the work issue later. Two weeks notice is the standard if Jane was going to quit, and if not, she still made zero indication that she would be quitting. Many people can’t afford to live off savings or loans alone so maybe she was intending to balance it all.

    3. Colette*


      People are going out of their way to get her a promotion. That’s not something they are obligated to do. It’s OK if she doesn’t want it, but she needs to say that directly, not just make other plans and let them find out on social media.

      And the thing with public social media is that anyone can read it. There’s nothing creepy about it.

      1. DrakeMallard*

        Just want to point out, I’ve read through OP’s letter, and I didn’t see anything about Jane being aware of the promotion. I did see that she’s publicly expressed a desire to attend grad school. Has anyone asked Jane if she wants a promotion? Or even told her they are working on it?

        1. Colette*

          That’s a good point; if she didn’t know, it’s less of a faux pas (and more on the OP, who knew.)

        2. Doe-Eyed*

          I mean also how long has this been going on? My last promotion was “worked on” for almost two years. During the entire two year period am I obligated to gratefully speak with my manager every time another opportunity comes up?

        3. GrumpyGnome*

          This was exactly my thought – does Jane have any clue about the promotion? And how long has it been ‘in the works’? I understand with the current issues that businesses are impacted and so promotions, raises, bonuses, etc have to be put on hold, but has all of this been communicated with Jane yet?

      2. Spencer Hastings*

        I wasn’t entirely sure from the letter just how aware Jane was about how hard the LW is pulling for the promotion — whether it’s visible to her, or just a vague possibility in her mind.

      3. Contrarian*

        From the letter, it sounds like Jane already *should* have been promoted based on her performance (though she’s not aware of the promotion-in-motion), but the promotion is being held up internally for reasons that are certainly beyond Jane’s control. Why should Jane tiptoe around and put her grad school / life on hold because her employer’s too incompetent to make a deserved promotion happen? IMO, this company is (appropriately) going to lose a good worker because it’s spending more time looking at its employees’ personal social media than recognizing their efforts.

        1. Colette*

          That’s a big leap.

          And again, no one is saying Jane should put her life on hold. I am saying that, once she had made the decision to go to grad school, she should have told her employer directly before she made the information publicly available.

      4. Delphine*

        She earned that promotion. If OP and the bosses had been more open and clear that she was going to be promoted, maybe Jane wouldn’t be making other plans.

      5. MissDisplaced*

        Jane is not obligated to tell them everything before posting it on her PERSONAL social feed. She got accepted. Big deal. I worked full time and went to grad school. Frankly, this company is WAY too nosy about people personal social media.

        As for promotions… talk is cheap until they actually DO IT. People wait years for promised promotions.

      6. Genny*

        Based on personal experience, I don’t put any stock in promotions, jobs, etc. that are being “worked on” and I would advise others to do the same. Nothing’s guaranteed until it’s happened and I don’t receive any benefit from a promotion until I’ve gotten it, therefore I have minimal obligations to the powers that be who are “working on” said promotion. Not to mention, working promotions is a basic function of retaining good employees, so I don’t tend to give out bonus points to leadership unless it’s very, very clear that their using substantial political capital to make it happen.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sure, she has no obligation to anything more than two weeks notice. But the reality is, if you make an announcement on social media that sounds like you’re leaving and people see it, they will have responses to that. If you don’t care, that’s fine — but if you’re someone who wants to be thought of as conscientious and responsible (and who cares that other people are doing work to get you a promotion predicated on the belief that you’ll still be around), it’s much smarter to handle it differently.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I don’t think “I got accepted to grad school” automatically makes it sound like Jane is leaving.

        1. lazy intellectual*

          That’s exactly my thought. “I got accepted into…” is very different from “I’ve decided to go to…” or “I’ve officially enrolled in…”

          I guess if Jane was aware people from her work followed on social media, she should have been tactful about even posting the first phrase, since the upper managers may not have been aware she was applying to grad school. But she didn’t do anything wrong.

      2. DrakeMallard*

        I think it’s difficult to judge without seeing the wording of Jane’s post. I announced that I was accepted to a couple of different graduate programs on my social media when I was younger. It wasn’t a guarantee that I’d attend those schools, I was just proud of my acceptance and trying to keep friends and family in the loop without sending dozens of texts and phone calls.

        To me, it sounds like a regular life update that’s been blown way out of proportion by her superiors. Again, if I was Jane, I’d be making some big updates to my privacy settings.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          But did you eventually go to grad school? If you were actively applying to schools and everyone knew that you were doing so, that’s not really the situation here. Being accepted doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll actually go, of course, but if you’re excited about getting in and posting about it on social media, that certainly sounds like you’re planning on going. Not many people apply to grad school just for the fun of it.

          Sending regular life updates via social media is great for grandmas and cousins and college friends. Communicating about your long term career plans with your management chain via social media is not. Maybe Jane is intending to take 1 course a year and keep working, maybe she is deferring, maybe she’s going to be a full time student and has no intention of working at all – regardless this is a decision that could have an impact on her work, and that’s a conversation she should have approached in a different way.

          1. Doe-Eyed*

            I applied, accepted, and am now attending grad school and announced it the same way. I’m also still working at the job I was at when I was accepted because when I crunched the numbers based on scholarships I had available, continuing to work made more sense.

        2. Yorick*

          The wording matters a lot here, especially if she named the university and it’s not local.

          1. Doe-Eyed*

            Also, don’t make assumptions. My (state) university is 6 hours away but the entire program is online.

            1. Yorick*

              Well sure, but unless it’s a well-known online program in her field or she put “will be attending online” in the tweet, I think most people would assume she’s moving. Especially if the replies were full of “omg congrats you’ll love California!”

              1. Yorick*

                As an example, would you post on twitter about getting a new job, not be clear that it’s a part-time weekend job, and then be surprised your current job thinks you’re about to resign?

                1. X*

                  Yes. Because they shouldn’t be taking into account anything that I didn’t tell them face to face or through official work channels. Announcing on social media that I have a new job has zero bearing on the current one.

                2. Yorick*

                  It’s just unreasonable to post something publicly and think people from work (who you’ve probably allowed to connect with you) won’t see it or have an opinion on it once they have. That’s not how life works.

                  If you overheard your employee say they were planning to leave in two weeks and give no notice, would you talk to them about it? Even if not, would you start preparing for the transition? Or would you decide “this hasn’t been told to me face-to-face or officially, so I won’t take it into account.”

                3. Doe-Eyed*

                  I think it’s fairly unreasonable to assume someone going to grad school is going to immediately quit without even bothering to consult them. Depending on the field, even, most of them probably have some sort of part-time option. For example, in our state virtually every MBA program has a “working” plan.

                  If you’re going to creep around on social media at least have the stones to actually ASK the person you’re creeping on instead of reacting to what you assume is going to happen.

        3. EvilQueenRegina*

          Agree that it would be easier to judge with more of an idea of what exactly she said – I can quite easily see a situation where she was planning to take up the place in 2021, but didn’t mention the year in her tweet and it was interpreted as her starting this year, or if the course was something she could do without needing to leave her job that also may not have come across clearly in the tweet.

      3. AskAnEmployee*

        I think it’s conscientious not to monitor your employee’s private social media and and, in general, I think managers should acknowledge that “at will” employment truly works both ways *in reality* instead of employees being forced to adhere to management’s skewed views about what is and is not “conscientious and responsible.”

        I mean, the OP acknowledges that the promotion she wanted to give Jane (and that Jane, for all we know, didn’t even know about) was delayed — a delay that causes Jane to lose money I would assume — but somehow that’s not an issue that requires conscientiousness, just the fact that Jane made a personal announcement on her personal Twitter.

      4. Student*

        I think it’s pretty likely, from exactly the context you mention here, that Jane gave up on the promotion in favor of planning to go to grad school in order to advance professionally. It’s less her not being conscientious and responsible than her giving up hope of a career within this company and moving on.

        Reverse it – if she’s waiting with baited breathe for a promotion to come through, would she have applied to grad school in the first place? That’s a pretty big undertaking. Or told her boss anything about grad school plans at all, for that matter?

        Her earlier hints and discussions about grad school with her manager and her manager’s boss may have been an indirect (and thus, poor) way to hint around that she was planning to move forward with her life because there’s no career path for her in her current job, or fishing for any positive news about a promotion.

        In a lot of fields, two years is a long time in an entry-level job. It was time for her to move on.

    5. yup yup*

      Yeah, I’m on team Jane here. She can tell her news to whoever she wants, she doesn’t owe her company anything more than two weeks notice. I’ve certainly told plenty of big news to people before telling my boss. Granted, she should think twice about who should read it before posting to Twitter… but I am really surprised that the OP was so shocked and horrified about this that a letter to AAM was warranted.

      1. Colette*

        She can – but she gets to live with the consequences (i.e. hit to her professional relationship) that result from it.

        1. Name Required*

          If there are any long-lasting hits to her professional relationship in this situation, that would indicate to me that folks are taking things way too personally. Jane wasn’t offered a promotion, and she can’t be expected to make decision incorporating information she doesn’t know about. She told her boss she was accepted to grad school and afterwards announced it on social media; nothing seems amiss here to me.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think it should be a lasting mark against her, it’s just a temporarily annoying thing and it’s useful to explain that to her so she knows for the future.

      2. KayDeeAye*

        She doesn’t sound shocked and horrified to me. She sounds taken aback and perhaps a bit embarrassed. I mean, she did go out on limb – not a long limb, but a limb – to mentor Jane and to keep Jane’s secret…and then Jane blasts it out over Twitter. Yes, Jane is absolutely “allowed” to do that, but it’s not the best and most professional approach.

        1. Yorick*

          I’d be pretty annoyed if she asked me to keep secret something that would/could affect decisions we’re making about the company’s future and then she just put it on Twitter.

          1. Yorick*

            I mean, I wouldn’t be shocked and horrified and I wouldn’t hold it against her, but I’d be annoyed.

          2. A*

            Jane asked for it to be kept confidential during the application process. Jane could very well have thought notifying her manager that she got it but was deferring, was the final necessary step. It is an assumption to say Jane expected confidentiality beyond the application process.

            1. Yorick*

              LW says she shares management of this employee with another manager, who didn’t know about the grad school application or acceptance. If Jane thought telling LW and asking her to remain confidential and not speaking with the other manager was the necessary process, then that’s something to talk to Jane about so she’s aware that she messed up.

    6. Commenter*

      Agreed. Nothing here even suggests that Jane wanted a promotion or knew one was being (slowly) negotiated on her behalf. What about these circumstances makes Jane more beholden to her employer than any other employee making personal decisions about her own life? All I will say is that if Jane happened to know that all these bosses and grandbosses and great-uncles follow or have access to her personal social media, then it wasn’t very smart to post the info and at best get tongues wagging without all the information, and at worst give people a reason to want to fire her before she can leave on her own terms.

      1. Colette*

        It’s naïve to think you can post something to your public social media account (that may be linked to your work account) and not expect your coworkers to see it. I mean, you can let your mom find out you got married on Twitter, but if you have a good relationship with her, she is probably going to be a little unhappy about it.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          But if Jane isn’t planning to leave her employment, I don’t see how this is a misstep at all. She notified her immediate supervisor. After that, she was totally clear to share her news with anyone she wanted in any way she wanted.

          1. Colette*

            There’s no indication that she’s planning to stay – and, in fact, if she were planning to stay, this would be a non-issue. Management would have heard about it, and the OP would have said “yeah, she’s planning to do that in the evenings starting in 2021”.

            1. Me*

              But there is indication she’s planning to stay in that she has already indicated if accepted she would not be attending right away and would be deferring.

            2. Not Me*

              But, management did hear about it. The LW was told by Jane she was accepted and she’s deferring her enrollment. Jane doesn’t need to explain to her employer the difference between what she’s already told them, and what wild assumptions they are making in their own head.

              “There’s no indication that she’s planning to stay ”
              There is actually, she told LW she is and will be deferring her enrollment to 2021.

            3. Yorick*

              I think if she were planning to stay in that job and take night classes, LW would know that and could explain it to the other, freaked-out managers. Also, I expect it’s not an online program if Jane wants to defer because of COVID (but I could be wrong on that). LW has been told about this grad school plan and seems to think it means Jane is leaving, although there’s confusion about when.

              1. windsofwintergreen*

                She could be delaying due to financial concerns, not just worry about catching the virus. It’s a serious consideration about whether to take out thousands of dollars of loans or spend your savings on grad school at the moment. Some people may feel it’s better to wait and see if the situation improves before throwing away their savings stockpile.

          2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            But if Jane isn’t planning to leave her employment, I don’t see how this is a misstep at all. She notified her immediate supervisor. After that, she was totally clear to share her news with anyone she wanted in any way she wanted.

            The difference is she informed her direct supervisor, then asked the supervisor NOT to share it up the chain. When GrandBoss and GreatGrandBoss saw it, that was a surprise because Jane specifically said not to share it. So, in effect, Jane didn’t inform management.

            I don’t get the sense anyone in the comments is scandalized by Jane’s behavior. We’re saying it comes across as unprofessional because Jane is acting in a way that demonstrates a misunderstanding of how her role affects others.

            1. windsofwintergreen*

              Not quite. She was openly discussing her idea to attend grad school such that all bosses and grand bosses were aware. Then she decided to apply recently and asked for a recommendation letter from OP. That is the part where she asked for confidentiality. She did not specifically tell OP she was accepted and ask OP to keep that information secret. So we don’t actually know if Jane wanted that information to stay secret. It appears not, since she shared it on her public Twitter profile. At that point I feel it was OP’s responsibility to clarify whether she should keep the acceptance confidential, and should have discussed a timeline for Jane to tell the higher bosses.

    7. kt*

      Jane did nothing wrong — she did something *impolitic*.

      People are going out on a limb for her for a promotion and she did not give them the courtesy & thoughtfulness of a persona conversation about her changing goals and plans. She doesn’t *have* to. It’s not *immoral* that she did not. It’s just dumb. Those people have now lost trust that they’re engaged in something worth their time (and to be clear, that means agitating for her promotion — I’m not saying Jane is not worth their time). If I were one of these higher-ups and I’d been pushing in meetings to promote her, I would… stop doing so. I wouldn’t say anything bad about her, or treat her poorly, but I would not push to promote her. What would be the benefit for any of us, after all? She’s leaving, so what’s the point? She can keep doing good work & getting her paycheck and then move on as she’s indicated she plans to do, without me burning any more of my political capital.

      1. windsofwintergreen*

        Why would grad school necessarily mean she’s leaving. I’m currently enrolled in a program that takes place in the evenings, so it is conductive to a typical work schedule.

        1. X*

          Even if she did, it shouldn’t matter. Jane is well within her rights to take said promotion and quit to go to grad school a year, month, week later or the next day. All that should matter is that the leadership needed to promote someone and they thought Jane was the best fit. Life happens. Is it good to plan ahead as much as possible? Yes. Could Jane need to drop everything and go home to take care of a family member who is diagnosed with terminal cancer later this afternoon? Also, yes.

          Alison just told someone earlier this week NOT to tell her bosses that she might be retiring in the next 18 months precisely because they might then treat her differently. I don’t see how this is any different. The bosses in this situation should be able to separate information they learned inadvertently from an employee’s social media from information that employee chose to share with them in the employee-boss relationship. And then they should block her on all social media, like good bosses should, because you don’t need to know that much about your employees’ personal lives. Maybe she was just applying to see if she could get in, keep her options open. Getting accepted to graduate school is both very exciting and really only the first step along the process of actually attending. Maybe she won’t be able to get enough funding, maybe she will change her mind between now and September 2020 or 2021, whichever she decides to pursue. And none of that should matter to her bosses as to how she is treated from now until she turns in her notice that she is actually leaving this job.

          Furthermore, if Jane is reading this, I would suggest lying through your teeth when they inevitably confront you about the tweet. Say you applied on a dare because no one thought you could get it. Say you applied, but changed your mind about spending the money. Say you are deferring for 2020, but haven’t decided about the future. Say ANYTHING EXCEPT your actual plans before you are handing in your resignation. Get that promotion and get paid more for as long as possible before you choose to leave, for whatever reason you eventually decide to.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Hm…I’m not sure what sentiment in AAM’s answer or the comments you’re responding to.

            In AAM’s answer and my skim of the comments, I don’t see anyone suggesting Jane should defer any plans because her boss and GrandBoss are trying to promote her. What I’m getting is that there are going to be consequences (i.e. singed bridges) if Jane did quit, because they are going out on a limb.

            Whether anyone should or shouldn’t quit right after a promotion is a cost/benefit analysis everyone should do, as AAM suggested in the example you cite, based on what’s right for them. AAM and the commentariat consistently advocates for each employee to choose what’s right for the employee, with a clear-eyed understanding of the fallout of those choices.

      2. DrakeMallard*

        I don’t think the letter makes it clear that Jane knew about the promotion. But she has mentioned to her coworkers in the past that she wants to attend grad school.

      3. Colette*


        (And if she changes her mind about grad school and stays, that attitude might continue.)

      4. hbc*

        If that’s your stance, then how she told doesn’t matter, and you’d probably be more ticked off if she kept mum about it until putting in notice 2 weeks before classes start.

        1. kt*

          No, the point is that if someone told me in person I’d be really happy for them! If I learned third-hand, then I’ll conclude that my help isn’t that important to her.

          I don’t understand why everyone makes it about being “ticked off” or “upset” or “doing something wrong”. I’m not that emotional, I just want to spend my time on impactful change at my workplace.

      5. Poke*

        “People are going out on a limb for her for a promotion and she did not give them the courtesy & thoughtfulness of a persona conversation about her changing goals and plans.”

        People leave jobs all the time including at inconvenient times, like right before or after getting a promotion. It makes things challenging for the company, but Alison often advises letter writers not to hold it against the employee, so I’m not sure why that’s different in this situation.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          the leaving isn’t the issue (like I wrote in the post); it’s the announcing publicly before telling the people it would impact

          1. Poke*

            So, you would advise people to not make any announcements about changes in their personal life on social media until they inform everyone at work? The tweet was clearly meant to share exciting news with friends and family and some coworkers happened to see it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I would absolutely advise people not to post things on public social media that imply they’re leaving their job until they’re ready for everyone at their job to know that.

              1. Lizzo*

                ^^This. Those with whom you have important relationships–family, close friends, colleagues–deserve to hear things offline, directly from the source (i.e. you). It’s a sign of respect for the relationship. You also have more control over the message when you deliver it privately to those folks, whether in person, over email, or by phone, not to mention being able to respond immediately with clarifications–in this case, “I’ve been accepted, but I’m deferring to 2021.”

                Making a public and very general statement on social media does open up the possibility of multiple interpretations/misinterpretations/, which is what Jane is experiencing here. As others have stated above: can she do what she wants on her personal social media? Sure! But there will be consequences, and they may not be good ones. Better to learn this early on in her career!

              2. Batgirl*

                Especially if your job role includes doing things like pre-empting inferences and reactions you don’t want or didn’t intend when you post something online.

          2. PJ*

            This really applies to so many things… you don’t announce a family death, a pregnancy or an engagement to the world of social media before you’ve told those closest to you. How do people feel when they find out personal family news via facebook? Not so good… It’s just common sense and there are a lot of examples in the world outside of work!

            1. Ego Chamber*

              I’m guessing this is generational. All the major personal announcements in my family for the past 10 years have been via Facebook. If you weren’t involved in the pregnancy or the engagement or in the room with the person who died, you got the same FB announcement as everyone else. (Millenials.)

              I don’t feel weirdly entitled to my family member’s life event’s that I’m not a direct part of tho, so I might be an outlier.

    8. Poke*

      I agree with this. To me, this isn’t different than announcing a pregnancy on social media. Just like grad school, pregnancies are disruptive to work and may result in leaving your job, but there is no obligation to make a formal announcement to your bosses before announcing to friends and family. It probably would have been a smart idea to tell her bosses if she knew they followed her on social media, but I don’t think it’s worth chastising her for not doing that.

        1. Poke*

          haha, yeah I missed that, but I don’t think its even worth having a conversation with her about it.

    9. jess*

      Jane is fine. Her bosses should stop monitoring her personal social media because it’s creepy.

      Agreed, she was probably excited and wanted to share with friends. So she didn’t consider her boss was spying on her – so what?

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In lots of fields (especially comms, PR, etc.) it’s really normal to connect with colleagues on Twitter. It doesn’t mean they’re spying on her or doing anything creepy.

    11. Cassie Nova*

      People who behave this way suffer in their careers, though. Even just focusing on this idea of “what is the strict definition of my obligation” is a bad idea. A good working relationship and a helpful network comes from thinking beyond “what is the minimum I can do here?”

    12. Lunchy*

      Yeah I have zero clue what the issue is here.

      Reason #371 not to friend your coworkers/social media publicly viewable.

    13. Exactamundo*

      I agree with AskAnEmployee, except for the last sentence. Your social media account is public. It’s not “creepy” for anyone to read it. If you find it such, you should block non-contacts from accessing it, or not use social media.

    14. Richard*

      Agreed 100%. She has every right to seek an advanced degree and shouldn’t have to pussyfoot around her management’s feelings and timelines and communication channels to get it. It isn’t even clear how much she knew about this promotion push, or how genuine she believed it to be. I’ve been in the “we’re working really hard to get you a promotion” position before, and, if I had prioritized that instead of moving on, I’d bet real money I’d still be waiting today.
      Maybe this is really a classic management misunderstanding that employees that are at entry-level positions for years but are maybe totally someday probably maybe certainly on track to maybe get a promotion some day soonish but not too soon are actually smart to bail on that process instead of coddling some executive’s feelings.
      You can say that “it’s not her leaving but the way she announced it” but it doesn’t take a mind reader to know what the LW and higher bosses are really upset about.

    15. Asiina*

      Hard agree, especially that last sentence.

      In graduate school, I had a supervisor who would stalk me on social media like this and then chastise me when they felt they were not kept in the loop on my life or that I was spending too much (aka any) of my own time on leisure activities, since grad school scheduling is generally a lot less formal.

      She would bring it up to me as if she was just concerned about me and so checking up on me, but I felt incredibly violated and it made me stop posting on all social media for years. Unless you are saying hateful, bigoted things that prove you aren’t someone the company would want as an employee, people deserve a space to talk about good things in their lives without having to think about whether their employer will be happy about it.

      Don’t read your employee’s personal twitter feed and if you do, you have no right to bring it up to them, nevermind be angry with them about it.

  9. Littorally*

    LW, for what it’s worth, I think you’re holding some of the fault here too. Pulling for a promotion for Jane without bringing up that she’ll be leaving in a year, once she confirmed to you that she was accepted into grad school and would be going?

    I think at that point, you should have discussed a timeline for looping in the folks above you. Not to say, “Jane, I’m telling them all tomorrow,” but to ask when she wanted to make the announcement, and to talk about how to alert the folks who would be in charge of her once she was promoted (assuming that wouldn’t still be you).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes — at that point you need to say, “OK, let’s talk about your plans and how/when you’re sharing them since a bunch of us are in the middle of working to get you a promotion.”

    2. Willis*

      Yeah, this sort of sounds to me like Jane’s been pretty transparent about the grad school process, telling various levels of bosses she’s thinking of going, applying, and then was accepted. It’s been a few weeks since she told the OP of her acceptance, so I don’t really see what’s wrong with putting it on social media that she was accepted. Meanwhile, OP and her bosses have a parallel plan were Jane is going to be promoted that maybe Jane doesn’t know about? I feel like there are some communication errors here, but I’m not really sure they’re Jane’s. Why don’t the OP and OP’s co-manager talk with Jane about grad school timeline and the promotion?

      1. revueller*

        Yeah, I have no idea why LW kept the grad school acceptance and future plans confidential from Jane’s other manager. That’s a serious conversation that needs to be had between all three. And if it takes this long and this many people to promote an entry-level employee at this company, that conversation should’ve happened as soon as Jane gave LW the heads up.

      2. Littorally*

        To be fair, I do think that once Jane asked the LW to keep things confidential, she did owe it to the LW to actually tell her when the confidentiality was no longer necessary. But that’s a conversation the LW could have started.

        That’s a general principle, not a workplace-specific one. If I tell my buddy Joe in confidence that I’m planning to move to a new town, and ask him to keep it under his hat, it’s going to put him in an awkward position when I tell Bob and Andy and don’t alert him that he’s now free to discuss it.

      3. Marillenbaum*

        To the extent the Jane flubbed here, it was in not letting her boss know that the confidentiality request had expired. OP, as her boss and the person who knew about both grad school and the promotion, should then have talked to Jane about how her grad school plans/promotion plans interacted, and informed her of what the norms are in that regard for the office: is she supposed to email her grandboss and cc OP? Does she request a meeting? As manager to an entry-level employee, it is partly your responsibility to coach them on workplace norms.
        That said, it hopefully blows over, because it sounds like Jane is a great employee who is going to be around for at least another year, assuming she doesn’t work while going to school.

  10. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    Honestly, it strikes me that everyone here is way too enmeshed with each other, and taking what should be a business relationship as a personal betrayal. Boundaries, people.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I often write about managers who take resignations as personal betrayals, but I don’t think this is that. This is people being annoyed by bad communication.

  11. Who the eff is Hank?*

    I guess I’m seeing this situation from a different perspective, but was this really a “mistake” on Jane’s part? I use social media to communicate big news to family and friends because it’s the easiest way to spread the word without having to call/text 30+ people. Is it possible Jane was doing the same? If her tweet was meant to be news for her friends and family then she probably wasn’t thinking about people she worked with.

    If Jane made any mistake here, I’d say it’s having her social media be public or being friends with coworkers on social media. No one I’ve ever worked with has ever had the ability to see my posts on any social media platforms in order to avoid situations like this.

    1. Confused*

      I totally agree! My social media is private, but even if it were not, I would be a little put off if my announcing grad school acceptance turned into this big, dramatic thing. Announcing something exciting like acceptance to school on my own channels does not mean I’m leaving, and it’s definitely something I would not expect my work colleagues/superiors to take in this way! As others have mentioned, it’s never made clear that Jane knows she’s up for a promotion, so this should not be held against her either.

    2. rayray*

      I agree. I very rarely post anything to social media. I think in the past few years, I myself posted one photo and maybe 2-3 articles I found interesting and worth sharing. Even so, I still hate the idea of befriending coworkers on social media. It’s so unnerving to think of people looking at your personal life and then getting in a tizzy over it. Especially when they’re just assuming things, maybe Jane will keep working. Even if she doesn’t two weeks is the standard notice. Also, if she isn’t aware that they want to promote her, it’s hardly fair to use that as more ammunition in the “Jane’s the one that messed up” argument.

  12. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I agree this is an inexperience problem about not knowing to talk to people first before announcing things online, but at the same time I feel like the various grand and great-grand bosses are all making way too big a deal about this? It’s a professional faux pas that can be coached out of her, but “how dare she, we’ve been working on her promotion!!!” seems a bit much for an entry-level person in relatively good standing.

    We encounter these situations all the time on this blog: someone who is slated for promotion and/or a raise has to wait and wait and wait while people fight with HR/higher ups about making that change. We shouldn’t be surprised when they decide to make alternate plans in the face of that, even if some of the delay (pandemic!) is perfectly reasonable. Just because it’s reasonable doesn’t mean they have to live with it.

    1. Catherine*

      Yup! I’ve also tried to do promotions behind the scenes (and the pandemic makes it more challenging to navigate) where the direct doesn’t know about it, so I certainly can’t be mad if they make life plans! And “working on her promotion” might be taking months in which they certainly shouldn’t be mad about it.

      And I manage my org’s social media platforms- that doesn’t mean I should be held to different standards or expectations. The OP needs to back off this.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I do understand why you want to keep the promotion behind the scenes in case it falls through, but unless it’s just adding senior duties to someone’s role, I generally think that way isn’t great. How do you find out if the person wants that promotion? Or, since they have no idea anything is going on and their career is stagnating, they may be looking elsewhere while you mess around (or passively taking calls from recruiters).

      2. Littorally*

        Really? That seems like such a weird thing to do. Why wouldn’t you at least talk to your report and find out if they were interested in the role?

        1. Andy*

          Because after report was talked about promotion twice and manager failed to win negotiations, the report will be pretty demotivated and pissed. It is worst then not knowing.

          Given multiple possible people to be promoted, most managers fail to win.

    2. kt*

      I don’t think it’s “how dare she!” It’s just a, “welp, that was a waste of meetings. Guess I’ll move on.”

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        LW said they felt disrespected for being left out of the loop, though, which I don’t think is the same as “Well, that was a waste of my time.”

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Jane posted her announcement on her PERSONAL Twitter. So… Yes they are making way too big a deal about this, promotion or no promotion.

  13. EPLawyer*

    I know LW you were pulling for a promotion for Jane, but how many times on here have we’ve seen someone was promised a promotion that dragged on for months (for various and sundry reasons)? Alison’s advice has been to act like the promotion is not going to happen. Given what you have stated about the economy and the budget, it doesn’t look like the promotion is going to happen. So Jane is moving on with her options. It’s a business deal. The promotion is not happening for business reasons so Jane is moving on for business reasons.

    Now the time to talk to her about her social media was announcing the vacation before asking. Perhaps you did and it didn’t sink in. But Jane is going to grad school either this fall or next. That is pretty much a done deal and whether she announced it on social media or put in her resignation first doesn’t change that.

    1. Colette*

      Jane making new plans is not the problem. The problem is that even after she had those plans, she didn’t tell the people affected by them directly. If she’d come in and said “Yay! I got accepted to grad school for fall 2021” and then put it on Twitter, there’d be no issue.

      1. Name Required*

        She did, though. She told LW. That was the time to have this conversation. I’m not exactly sure why LW didn’t say, “btw, we’ve been continuing to work on that promotion, is that something you’re still interested in now that you’re going to grad school next year?” And if anything came out of that conservation that indicated ambivalence, LW isn’t obligated to continue to remain confidential about a change that effects multiple other people’s efforts.

        1. Colette*

          Sure, but she had also asked that her plans be kept confidential. I can see why the OP didn’t immediately set out to stop the work on her promotion (since she presumably would be putting in over a year at the new job). I also suspect she’s not getting a promotion now.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            No, but it doesn’t sound like OP asked Jane either. There are a whole lot of assumptions happening among the bosses and I don’t think it’s very fair to Jane.

      2. Wintermute*

        would the business give her anything more than the statutory requirement if she was being laid off? or even pay in lieu of notice? I am firmly in the “businesses, as a whole, have set the expectation, don’t be upset when employees follow it”

  14. Thehammer*

    Why is there so much capital being expended on getting Jane a raise? If she deserves it I don’t see that she has to be so very grateful about getting it. It sounds like she should have had it already.

    1. Colette*

      No one is saying she should be grateful?

      In order to give her a raise, they probably need to rework the budget to find money or look at her pay compared to her peers.

      1. Delphine*

        That’s what it suggests when folks says that LW & bosses were “going out of their way” to “gun” for a raise for Jane, when they’re “not obligated” to do so–that this is some huge favor being bestowed upon her, for which she should be grateful.

        1. Yorick*

          Well, when you’re a middle manager and you’ve been working hard and using up social capital to advocate to those above you for someone’s raise, it would be nice for that person to realize and appreciate that. It’s not expecting them to grovel to the company for throwing them a few more dollars.

          1. Student*

            Some of us think that promotions (and raises) should be a mostly routine part of a talent retention and open-position management/filling strategy, instead of a matter of middle managers trading social capital with each other.

            This is an entry-level promotion. Dishwasher moving on up to short-order cook, or lab assistant moving up to lab technician, or admin assistant moving up to financials clerk. Not someone becoming the CFO of a Fortune 500. If entry-level promotions require smoke-filled rooms and complex deals, then something is profoundly broken at that company.

    2. Littorally*

      In a perfect world, everyone who deserved a raise and promotion would get a raise and promotion in a timely fashion.

      But this isn’t a perfect world, and the reality is that sometimes even a very well deserved promotion takes a lot of work behind the scenes, and it’s appropriate to demonstrate gratitude for that work.

      1. windsofwintergreen*

        Do we even have confirmation that Jane knows about all this arduous work being done on her behalf though?

        1. Littorally*

          I would be vastly surprised if she doesn’t. Surprise promotions aren’t generally that much of a thing, in my experience.

          1. windsofwintergreen*

            I wouldn’t. See my comment below for my personal experience. I had a promotion mentioned in passing and didn’t get much info beyond that for a year and a half. I have no idea if my boss was advocating for me at every turn, or simply mentioned it once and never again. So no, I’m not super grateful for the work he put in on my behalf, because I don’t even know if it happened.

      2. hbc*

        I dunno, it’s asking a lot of people to express gratitude that the huge bureaucratic process surrounding a raise I haven’t earned yet is being navigated by people who are paid to do so. We don’t ask people to be more grateful for their paychecks just because the company has a clunky payroll system.

        Maybe it wouldn’t take so long if the president spent less time browsing Twitter accounts of people three levels down from him and more on other aspects of his job.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        It’s not intuitive to most non-management employees that getting someone a promotion is a huge arduous process. Really, it’s kind of crazy that it is. Promoting people is a normal part of having employees, so why would they expect that their manager is having to “fight for them” like giving someone a raise and a new title is a whole new idea no one ever thought of before?

  15. windsofwintergreen*

    I am also on Team Jane here. I think her only mistake is allowing her employers access to see her personal profiles. I also question whether Jane knew about and/or wanted this promotion to begin with. That much is unclear, so it seems very odd that management is taking her mere acceptance into school so personally. Plus it sounds like there was no reason for them to be so completely blindsided…Jane had already started discussing her intentions to attend grad school. It’s very possible that she wanted confidentially on the chance that she did not get in for some reason. I just applied to grad school as well and I was (perhaps unreasonably) very nervous about not getting in. It’s not necessarily something I wanted a bunch of people constantly asking about.

    1. Sue3PO*

      My thoughts precisely, windsofwintergreen. Did OP clarify with Jane that she still wanted the news confidential after getting accepted? Because I would also not want people knowing and asking about an application process, but if I then told my manager I got in I’d think that was the conversation with management I was supposed to have.

      That said, yes be careful with social media that your boss might see. I used to be in a weird situation where my manager was FB friends with everyone and she did the inviting… I didn’t know how to say no to the request, but I did sure as heck keep my privacy settings on lockdown.

  16. Not for academics*

    What? No.

    The only ones at fault here are the ones jumping to conclusions without actually asking Jane what’s up —

    “Hey Jane, congratulations! When are you planning to start?”

    would have saved everyone here a lot of drama.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I agree! And maybe asking if she is going to still work for company or of she needs flexibility for classes. Going to school doesn’t mean not working. I think most people would need to work, even if they have a job through the school or get a dividend of sorts, it’s really minimum.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I agree. I think that it is the sort of thing where the point at which it impacts her employer is a long way in the future and she has no obligation to tell them until she is ready to have her notice in.
      If they happen to hear through other sources, so be it.

      I don’t think that the fact that she runs the office social media changes anything.

    1. juliebulie*

      There was also a Wakeen, but I think that name was retired after a particular letter. (The guy who didn’t tell the LW that his wife was in the hospital with a gunshot wound?)

      1. Ray Gillette*

        The short version is someone had a coworker named Joaquin, but they didn’t know how to pronounce his name. So they ended up thinking for a long time that Joaquin and Wakeen were two different people.

        1. juliebulie*

          That’s how Wakeen started. I was referring to how Wakeen ended (if he did end).

          1. Ray Gillette*

            Wow, I completely misread your original comment. It’s one of those days. The story you reference sounds like a doozy, and while I don’t recall it right now… like I said, it’s one of those days.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’ve never used Wakeen in letters; it’s always been a commenter thing. (I don’t use it in letters because I think to people who don’t know the back story, it can sound like it’s making fun of a non-white-sounding name, although that’s not where it actually comes from!)

  17. KS*

    Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but it sounds like she posted this to her personal Twitter account which can be viewed publicly. Still a faux pas, but less so than posting to the company’s page (which it seems was Allison’s take)

  18. windsofwintergreen*

    In my last job, before I was laid off, I was presented with this sort of nebulous idea of a “promotion” fairly early on. That was dangled in front of me for a good year and a half with, as far as I am aware, no progress. I don’t know how hard my boss was arguing in my favor, if he was at all. He never told me any details. He was a great boss in many respects, but he was never transparent about the development of my career. I don’t think he had a lot of power there, and I got the sense that he never gave me anything concrete in order to avoid letting me down if it didn’t come through, but it still annoyed me quite a bit. So that’s why I wonder if Jane even knows anything about this promotion and raise. I just don’t think they can take such umbrage at arguing on her behalf if she didn’t even know it was going on.

    1. mourning mammoths*

      Yep. When I gave notice once, my boss informed me that “It’s such a shame you are leaving. We just yesterday decided on a promotion and a huge raise for you.” I shrugged. I had no idea this was in the pipeline at all, and in any case, too little too late. I had already been passed over for this promotion and raise, with the reasons why being contrary to the results of all previous performance reviews – each more glowing than the last, all with the conclusion “keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll get that promotion in the next round.” So I simply figured it wasn’t going to happen and it was time to move on. Good riddance, too.

  19. L*

    Mostly I’m wondering why upper level management has such an eye on her Twitter, even if she runs the company’s social media– unless she specifically has that advertised in her own Twitter bio that she runs it.

    I think a lot of people are used to (and now the younger folks are raised on) announcing an exciting thing on social media and THEN working out the details. It’s really normal (unlike the Instagram vacation announcement but again why are her management watching her Instagram unless, again, she has in her bio straight out that she manages the social media for Teapot, Inc…..)

    If I knew my employer (who I have a great relationship with) watched my Twitter I’d change the @ and lock it immediately and I don’t even talk about work there.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not unusual for people to follow their colleagues on Twitter, especially in industries that do a lot of social media or PR work.

      1. L*

        Sorry, I should clarify– “they saw it ten days later” sounds more like her Twitter is being checked up on/watched and not a more usual mutual following between colleagues.

        1. Yorick*

          Not necessarily. It also sounds like a very casual twitter user logging in again after a week or so and clicking on Jane’s profile after seeing one of her more recent tweets, or going to her profile because her tweets are pretty good, or whatever. It’s super normal to look at people’s public posts on twitter.

  20. hbc*

    I think Jane could have handled this better, but the response from everyone else there seems way over the top and dramatic. The vibe I’m getting is almost…passive aggressive? Jane totally deserves a raise and we tell her so, but she’s supposed to recognize that she’s got to be super grateful for all the hoops that are being jumped through (which she may have zero knowledge about) to get what she deserves–which she hasn’t received yet and may never have received, by the way. Jane’s grad school idea is totally great and we’re supportive, but it’s such a horrible bomb shell that the company president needs to find out about it through just the right channels. And I’m highly suspicious that the vacation thing is also “No, we’ve never turned down a vacation request, we just want you to ask first because That Is The Order Of Things.”

    It just seems like everyone is taking this so personally and like such a big deal when, as far as I can tell, no one would be doing anything different based on this news. In Jane’s place, I’d be really annoyed that what I was reassured was a fine thing to do had to be handled so carefully.

    1. Colette*

      The only people saying Jane should be grateful are the ones saying that everyone is saying she should be grateful.

      She should be respectful. When you make a life decision, you should tell the people it affects personally before you announce it in a publicly-visible forum. If you aren’t ready to tell them, then you shouldn’t announce it publicly.

      And with vacation, the issue is that if you buy plane tickets before asking for the day off, a good manager will not want to ask you to cancel your (usually non-refundable) trip, which puts pressure on her to approve it even if there are valid reasons to say no.

      1. hbc*

        I know why vacation planning like that can be a problem, but a good manager *will* ask you to cancel if they need you there, and will have made clear that you need to check first. A good manager would say, “Hey, this is fine, but next time you should confirm or that could be an expensive mistake.”

        As for the notification, I would never expect one of my three-levels-down direct reports to tell me directly about grad school six months out. If I noticed something like this (which I wouldn’t, because why the heck would I be browsing her tweets), it would be “Hey, heads up, you on this?” to her managers, but it wouldn’t be about respect. It’s just not personal. You’re right about gratitude not being in the letter directly, but “embarrassing” and “disrespected” are in there, and it’s part of the same package, as far as I’m concerned.

    2. Name Required*

      Totally agree with you. LW, I think you should drop it. There is a coaching opportunity for Jane here, but I don’t know if she’ll take it seriously if she’s privy to all of this upper management hand wringing.

    3. Frank Doyle*

      I agree with this comment, and I also agree with the earlier comments that announcing that she’s been accepted to grad school is not the same thing as announcing that she’s quitting her job.

      And I think the title of this letter is a bit misleading . . . she told everyone that was interested in attending grad school, and she told her boss she was accepted. I guess the announcement was the part that was unannounced?

    4. Delphine*

      Agreed. She told them was interested in going to grad school, told her boss she was applying, told her boss she’d been accepted and would defer, and then made a small faux pax by tweeting about her acceptance publicly. I think a reasonable boss/grandboss would go to Jane and say, “Hey, I saw your tweet–you didn’t mention that you’d been accepted. Does that mean you’re leaving? We weren’t expecting that.” Then letting her know about the appropriate etiquette for the future, without any of that “look at all the time/capital we wasted on you” bull, as if she didn’t earn her promotion.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Let’s be real. People can earn a raise or promotion but that doesn’t mean they’re going to get it. Especially at a non profit. (Or in academia). And in the middle of a pandemic where budgets can be iffy. So yeah, lots of times bosses and grand bosses do have to advocate for their people. They do have to go above and beyond. They do have to call in favors and use up some of their capital. There may not be enough $ for everyone deserving (or anyone deserving frankly) to get their raise.

        Jane may know not know that, to bring it back around to the OP. It’s not something I knew early in my career. OP can let Jane know, it would be useful professional info for Jane.

  21. Trip Advisor*

    Have to admit that I’m on Team Jane here. Whilst I understand LW’s frustrations, the argument that people scrutinise Jane’s personal Twitter account as a result of her role overseeing the business’ social media feels like a huge generational divide. I’ve been burned by posting things on social media myself, but at the end of the day, it’s a personal account.

    Whilst I usually agree with Alison on these matters, I take a huge issue with how the overall advice seems to still be “tell them to be more mindful on social media about what they post”. Older generations seem to feel that a Millennial and younger’s social media account is a reflection on them as an employee, but really, it’s just a sounding board for information, chatting, and funny memes. The sooner managers like LW can realise this isn’t a big “eff you”, and to let Jane exhibit some sense of freedom on her *personal* social media, the better everyone will get on.

    Especially considering that perhaps Jane’s news has (assumedly) not impacted her current work output!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’re writing this as if there’s widespread agreement that what people post on social media is off-limits to employers, and there’s not. Until the people in charge of managing, hiring, and promoting other people agree with that, it’s really short-sighted to proceed as if those are private communications. Twitter in particular (as opposed to, say, Facebook) is not.

      1. Trip Advisor*

        My stance was more surrounding there being an agreement that if it’s a personal account, this should be off-limits. Humans are allowed the agency to speak and interact as they wish, and so long as what is being posted (1) doesn’t impact the worker’s output and (2) doesn’t negatively impact the employer’s reputation, I don’t see why LW feels so wronged by Jane’s actions! It’s not exactly the best way of doing things, but we also don’t know Jane’s side of the story – is she still trying to navigate the dates because of the pandemic, will she perhaps be trying to find a way of balancing grad school and the position, and so on.

        Ultimately, I don’t think it’s very “2020” of managers and employers to consider these private accounts something they can use as collateral to raise concerns with the employee unless the employee has done something absolutely grievous, like spewing racist hate whilst they have the employer’s handle in their bio.

        I do understand the concern, of course, but as someone who was reprimanded by HR for simply tweeting “Wow, rough day at work today” on my Twitter account, I feel like it’s time employers try to understand that there are lines that they shouldn’t be crossing when it comes to someone’s Twitter account.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Twitter really isn’t a private account. It’s by nature public.

          I get what you’re saying, and I’d agree more with you if this employer truly was monitoring her Twitter account without any cause. But in lots of fields, it’s really normal to be connected to colleagues on Twitter, and if that’s the case, it’s not off-limits to have a response to a major announcement like this there. You don’t have to pretend not to have seen something in that context (and more relevant to Jane, it’s not realistic to expect people will pretend that).

          1. windsofwintergreen*

            I don’t think having a response to the news is that odd. It’s the level of dismay. There’s a good chance that Jane’s attendance to grad school won’t affect her employers at all. There are many grad programs created with working professionals in mind that allow students to continue full-time employment. It seems like the bosses are upset that Jane did not share her news on their timeline, which I don’t think is fair. There’s also the chance that she simply doesn’t know if she wants to continue working yet, and she was trying to figure out her own plans before informing the bosses that she got in and being bombarded with follow up questions.

      2. I'm just here for the cats!*

        How is a manger looking at an employees public tweets or other social media different than the other letter today where the manger.was Facebook friends. Shouldn’t bosses not look at an employees social media regardless if they are “friends” or “following” or anything else.

    2. Kate 2*

      I’m a millennial and social media is NOT private. You can wish it was but it’s not and what you say on it matters, just like what you say in person matters. Social media isn’t the irl equivalent of talking with friends in youf living room, it’s shouting at the top of your lungs in a dark crowded noisy bar. You don’t know who is there and listening.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        I think younger millennials and zoomers were done a disservice when people stopped telling them not to use their real names online so they wouldn’t get kidnapped or whatever the story was they told us elder millennials.

  22. pieska boryska*

    Pulling the promotion would be a pretty crappy thing to do, when she’s not planning on leaving for a year and a half, if then. I bet Jane thinks she’s already notified management, so what’s the problem? This is the kind of employer that deserves 2 weeks notice and not a day more.

    1. Name Required*

      Realistically though, she’s unlikely to be in the promotion for an extended period of time if it’s being delayed by the pandemic which is no where near over if they are in the US, where most of the letters are based.

  23. Lauren*

    I understand that they might be frustrated that they were advocating for a promotion for Jane. But by the same token had anyone communicated to Jane that a promotion was in the pipeline. From what I read it sounds like a possible promotion was still very much in the air. Unless it was communicated to Jane along with a concrete timeline they cannot feel blindsided. Jane is managing her career. Jane’s one mistake was not communicating to her managers at the same time she informed via social media. However, when she posted vacation plans etc on social media before posting getting the formal ok this should of been addressed then . Some things are learned with time experience and feedback. I would let her know that should apprise management before posting online so she wont keep making the same mistake.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It did not sound like Jane knew definitely about a promotion. Or, maybe it was mentioned, but you know, talk is cheap until it actually happens. Especially right now with the pandemic and budget cuts.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I was a little confused by the vacation thing. Was this recently, or was it when she was relatively new. I understand that Jane has been there for a few years.

  24. Phony Genius*

    I am wondering if the LW needs to do anything to smooth things over with their boss their boss’s boss. Especially having had some information that Jane asked be kept confidential. I know that wasn’t part of the LW’s question, but I wonder how this should be handled.

  25. Allie*

    I feel like she was just announcing her acceptance – just sharing good news. I don’t think she meant that she was leaving this year or next year or accepting the acceptance or anything. I know from personal experience that employers don’t always take well to leaving for grad school (mine told me it was as bad as going to a competitor?!?) but she didn’t announce that she got a new job or something.

  26. bubbleon*

    I don’t disagree that Jane could have handled this differently, but it sounds like LW’s bosses jumped straight to being upset before asking any questions. “Hey LW, we saw Jane got into grad school, do you know what the plan is?” probably would have gotten them the answers they were looking for (it’s not immediate, she may or may not be planning to work while attending evening classes, etc), I don’t see the need to go straight to everyone being bent out of shape because they were supportive of a good employee. If she’s a good enough employee that people thought she should get a promotion, that should buy her just a little bit of grace and understanding for being young and inexperienced instead of gunning for her promotion. The fact that it was a confrontation with LW and not a conversation feels like there are other issues.

  27. CallofDewey*

    Did she say if she was quitting her job to attend school? Because I’m a full time and employee and full time grad student. It’s hard, but doable

  28. Joni from Marketing*

    I know my degree and personal experience is probably different from others, but is leaving a full-time job to go to grad school a thing? I worked full time and was a single mom when I did my Masters program. Maybe because it wasn’t research/lab focused? Maybe Jane has no intention of leaving her position to attend grad school. Unless she specifically told LW she would leave, I don’t know that we can make that assumption.

  29. Evan*

    The management team shouldn’t be checking out the personal social media of their employees. She runs their corporate social media, so they should be monitoring that, but they should stay off her personal social media.

    It’s creepy and weird that they follow their employees social media.

    1. Colette*

      It’s really not. The thing with publicly available social media accounts is that they’re publicly available, which means anyone can see them. There’s nothing creepy about following someone on social media. (Of course, you can use social media to be creepy, but that’s because you’re a creep, not because of social media.)

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*


        I personally find all social media creepy, so I don’t use it. If one does use social media, then be aware that it’s public and anyone following you on it is using it as it’s intended (well, let’s set aside the “if you’re not the customer you’re the product” for now). This is about recognizing that your* actions will cause reactions in others.

        *General, universal “your”

          1. Kate 2*

            No, it’s not. I’m a millennial and that’s reality. Social media isn’t your private club. Anyone can and will see everything you post.

    2. windsofwintergreen*

      I don’t think it’s creepy, but I do think it’s inappropriate for managers to monitor their employee’s own social media accounts.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Yes, I don’t think it’s right either. You are bound to see something you dont agree with. Like they follow a certain politician yiure against, or a have certain religious aspects, or they don’t like how they announce news.

        What if she was announcing she was pregnant? Would they be all upset because she didn’t tell the bosses first?

  30. MistOrMister*

    I can’t tell from the letter…did/does Jane even know that they’re angling to get her a promotion? Maybe my reading comprehension is off, but that part is not clear to me. And if she has been there for two years with no promotion in sight, it makes perfect sense to me that she would be looking at grad school.
    I don’t see the big deal, overall. As others have commented, Jane could be planning to go to school part time and keep working. Or, given that she mentioned deferring her acceptance until 2021, she might have felt it was way too soon to say anything at work. It sounds like everone loves her, but for all we know their office dynamic is that as soon as it’s known she’s leaving, they will boot her right out the door. I think if I was her I would not have posted to a social media account that was public, but I am just not seeing why this would be a big deal. It kind of seems to me like all the bosses are overreacting.

  31. windsofwintergreen*

    I’m frankly a little surprised that the bosses (and many commenters) leapt from “grad school acceptance” straight to “quitting her job”. It seems that the bosses have all assumed this is the case and I don’t think that’s at all fair to Jane. When I announced my intention to apply to grad school this year, none of my bosses took that as “hey, I’m jumping ship in Fall 2020”. I was furloughed due to the pandemic, and my boss still texted me to ask if I planned to work and go to school at the same time. (Granted, I, along with 60% of the organization’s staff, were subsequently laid off completely, but again, that’s all due to the pandemic. My boss is the only one left out of our 4 person department). He asked. That’s all they had to do. Ask Jane. Have a conversation, instead of just assuming the worst of what sounds to be like a stellar employee. I would be pretty annoyed and maybe a little hurt at all of this speculation and conversation going on behind my back if I were her.

  32. not that kind of Doctor*

    People who post things publicly should be aware that there are sometimes consequences, justified or not. Sure there are a million reasons why there’s nothing wrong with what Jane did, or it could be someone else’s fault entirely, but the fact is that the action she took could result in a negative impact to herself. Whether or not it should. It’s fair that her manager remind her of this – as managers of young and/or entry level employees sometimes have to point out other facts of work life.

  33. Buttons*

    To prevent this I cover it in New hire Orientation and in our New Graduate Summit and our Intern onboarding. People under 40 have always had the internet, they have always had social media. The line between online and in person life is very fine. It is important to set those expectations from the start. Here are a few things I cover:
    1. Do not link your personal social media to the company’s social media. If you want to do that create a professional account, but do not confuse the two.
    2. Do not tag the company in any personal social media posts
    3. Don’t post negative things about the company while you are employed, even if it is “OMG my coworker is driving me nuts. “

  34. Buttons*

    Just because she was accepted into grad school doesn’t mean she is going to quit. The majority of students will be attending school online in the fall, she may intend to work full time and go to school. I worked full time up until my last semester, then I went 50% for the last semester and then returned to full time when I graduated. You can’t assume these things, it isn’t fair to prevent her development and advancement on what you assume.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I worked full time through all but the first 3-4 months of my grad school. Classes were at night.
      Quite a few of my fellow students were also older professionals holding down full time day jobs.

      Seems to be quite an assumption here that Jane will be quitting. But it’s not an automatic one has to.

  35. Treebeardette*

    I’m really confused by the letter. If your bosses found out, why didn’t you say you already knew and that she has plans to defer it? It looks like you threw all responsibility to her when she already did tell you.

    I see a lot of talk about how bad this is because she is getting a raise? Does she know she is getting a raise? That’s an…. Odd reaction if she didn’t. She can’t read minds. If she did know, I wonder how long you have been dragging it out.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      If your bosses found out, why didn’t you say you already knew and that she has plans to defer it?

      I agree with you on this. I also agree with AAM’s advice that this is a good coaching moment for Jane, since posting on social media before going through proper channels is a pattern that could be a hindrance for Jane professionally.

      1. Treebeardette*

        She told her boss and grand boss she was thinking of applying. She announced to the LW that she was accepted. If her boss found out about the announcement through twitter, then the LW should have explained Jane’s plan to the bosses. That’s putting too much pressure on an entry level person to tell her granboss and great granboss. I mean if that’s this organizational policy, sure, coach her.
        I’m sure in Jane’s mind, she did what was needed. It just seems like the bosses are upset because their bosses are upset and so they are blaming an entry level person for their own miscommunication. I think if Jane was coached, LW also needs to take responsibility for not communicating properly.

  36. Chelsea*

    I think this is a letter that could use clarifying details. There are not many grad students who can stop working completely, so was Jane clear with LW & bosses when talking about grad school before applying that she would resign/take a leave during her enrollment or are they assuming? Because if she was planning to stay on, the bosses just seem upset that Jane didn’t include them in the circle that she alerted personally. It does put LW in an awkward position, so as LW I would have encouraged her to let the bosses know if grad school was going to impact her work. If it’s not affecting her schedule, she doesn’t owe them details imo, but knowing that they see her social media, it may have been easier just to tell them as a courtesy. Additionally, if LW knows Jane would defer for a year, a promotion for a year still seems worthwhile for those who were trying for it as employees can also leave at any time. I am a bit confused by the bosses scrutinizing her personal social media unless she’s posting and linking to her personal on professional posts – usually it would be coming directly from the company’s handles, not Jane’s, and otherwise she seems to be doing a great job.

  37. revueller*

    A complete derail, but I’m baffled by the fact that multiple people from several levels of management are required to work aggressively to promote one (1) entry-level employee.

    Also, “Jane has shared with our team (including my boss, her grandboss) that she’s interested in returning to school for graduate study.” The team was warned that she was considering this before going to bat for her promotion. She also told her boss (LW) about her acceptance and her planned deferment. Yes, Jane should not be announcing major, potentially employment-altering decisions on social media before telling both her managers (and DEFINITELY needs to stop announcing vacations before requesting PTO). But it really doesn’t sound like management is blameless here.

    I also have no idea why the LW kept their silence on Jane’s acceptance and deferment. If the company is as slow-moving as LW claims, 2021 is not that far away! They should have pushed back at Jane on keeping the news confidential from everyone involved in pushing Jane’s promotion forward, especially if they knew that people were going to feel betrayed (!!) over this.

    I really don’t mean to be harsh, but I truly don’t believe Jane is entirely in the wrong here. She made an immature mistake, but she isn’t leaving her company in the lurch according to her own words from the LW. The lack of communication on both sides is what got them here.

    1. NW Mossy*

      I’m also a bit confused by Jane having two bosses – the OP makes a couple of references to this arrangement. I know this is a thing that happens in a surprisingly large number of places, but I’ve never felt like you get the best work out of people when they’re trying to serve two different people who will rarely have exactly the same priorities.

  38. D3*

    1. Jane posted this on her PERSONAL account, not the company account.
    2. Jane DID tell her boss (you, OP) of her plans
    3. Her announcement does not necessarily mean she’s leaving. You’re jumping to conclusions.
    You’re getting all worked up over nothing. The information in her tweet (that she’d been accepted) WAS told to you in advance.

  39. windsofwintergreen*

    On a reread it seems that people who don’t even supervise Jane were also “upset” and felt “disrespected” by this personal Twitter post. Is this an organization where everyone just expects to be privy to the personal education plans of entry-level staff? This is so bizarre to me. It speaks to a workplace environment that is uncomfortably enmeshed. That combined with the fact that it seems no one (beyond LW) has bothered to even ask Jane about her plans before leaping to conclusions does not paint a great picture of the professional boundaries at this company. Perhaps all of these details were omitted and Jane does know about the arduous promotion process being undertaken on her behalf. And perhaps she HAS stated that she intends to leave work when she starts school. But taking the letter at face value, it seems the greater miscommunication has happened above her head. I would advise Jane to start brushing up her resume if she does intend to keep working. All of this drama would leave a bad taste in my mouth if I were in her position.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I find it very weird. They are so upset and disrespected by a PERSONAL post on her personal account about acceptance to grad school that may or may not happen for a year, or may even be part-time or online school.

      1. windsofwintergreen*

        Apparently gunning for the same promotion as they want for Jane entitles these people to information and her personal life choices. So weird. SO weird.

  40. Delphine*

    LW, I think a lot of this falls on your shoulders. Did Jane specifically ask you to keep her acceptance confidential too? Why would she do that and also post about it on Twitter where literally anyone could see? Didn’t you tell her that you’d need to inform people that she was planning to leave next year (especially if the pandemic has prevented her promotion, which likely means she wouldn’t even be promoted until 2021–when she plans to leave)?

  41. memyselfandi*

    Jane has engaged in this type of behavior before – announcing travel that she has not requested time off for on social media. Seems to me that was the opportunity to impart some guidance on this.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      I still don’t get to what the big deal is if she is asking for time off well ahead in advance? Maybe the managers need to lay off her social media since it’s causing them anxiety.

      Again, like in my comment below, Jane lacks tact. I never buy tickets until after I get time off approved because if I don’t, I wasted money. But Jane posting stuff of social media isn’t inherently bad.

  42. lazy intellectual*

    Wait – does Jane KNOW that she is a getting a promotion? Because if she doesn’t, I don’t know what the big deal is?

    It looks like all Jane did was announce she is getting into grad school on her personal social media. This isn’t meant to have anything to do with her employer. Jane’s only obligation to her employer is that she give two weeks notice when she resigns.

    I will say from a tact perspective what Jane did was risky, because obviously if her managers are monitoring her account, her employer can see her Tweet and fire her. Like, I would NOT have done what she did, but she didn’t actually do anything wrong. Also, like others pointed out, just bc she got accepted doesn’t mean she’s quitting. You will know she’s quitting when she quits. The OP is freaking out over nothing.

  43. Sparkles McFadden*

    This sounds to me as if everyone could use a refresher on communications. First of all: Did anyone speak to Jane at the time of the vacation request incident? That should have been the first discussion regarding what needs to be discussed at work before a post appears on social media. Did that happen more than once? Since she is running your social media, I’m rather surprised there haven’t been prior discussions regarding business vs. personal posts.

    It sounds as if Jane’s posting was an excited tweet. She was accepted into her desired program, and social media is now the go-to manner in which people share their news. It’s likely she didn’t think about anyone at work reading it. It’s also likely that, having mentioned that she was interested in this program to everyone on the team, she might not think her acceptance would be something to announce at the job. “Hey I got accepted!” does not translate to “I am quitting my job!” You absolutely should speak to her and explain business norms and how her announcement might be perceived at work. It’s a good teaching moment but not an egregious error. It’s just a sign of inexperience.

    I totally agree with Alison regarding the idea of having a more senior person running the social media channels. Far too many businesses treat social media as an afterthought.

  44. Twice Bajed*

    Wow, the headline here is really misleading! She DID tell someone – she told YOU, OP. Not to mention having been open about wanting to apply all along! It’s really unfair to say she announced it without telling anyone!

    1. Senor Montoya*

      And she asked OP to keep it confidential, which then put OP in an awkward position when it was suddenly not confidential and the OP didn’t know it was no longer confidential.

  45. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP, I’m curious about this:

    1) Jane has previously announced 10-day vacations on Instagram (plane tickets booked) before asking for the time off.

    Vacations, as in plural? How many times has it happened? And did you know at the time the request eventually came in, that it had already been announced on social media, or do you know this retrospectively by browsing the history (?) in instagram and realising that she posted before making the request? If you knew already, did you mention the Instagram posts or (with the devil on my shoulder) perhaps suggest that you’ll have to think about whether that particular 10-day period can be approved (after it happened more than once?)

  46. Alex*

    Agree with a lot of others about what was said here, and just wanted to share my story about when I announced to my (then) job that I’d gotten into grad school, we had a TOTAL miscommunication–they took it as I was quitting, and announced to the rest of the staff that that was so! When in reality, I was just sharing happy news and had no intention of quitting, as the program was almost completely online and I worked full time throughout the degree (yes, I was extremely tired for a couple of years).

    Fortunately it was a healthy workplace and I was able to correct them and it all worked out fine, but it was a slightly comical communications blunder that was partially my fault.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I was thinking that this might be what is happening. That Jane has no intention of leaving, would probably like the promotion of it was something she could do when in school, and that everyone got bent out of shape.

  47. Student*

    This isn’t a problem with your entry-level employee. It’s a problem with your process for promoting entry-level employees. That faulty process has cost you a smart, talented employee. You’re justifiably annoyed at losing a good employee – but you’re taking your frustrations out on the employee for leaving, instead of addressing the process that has led to her departure.

    A first promotion for an entry-level employee at a company large enough to have quite a few tiers of management shouldn’t be a big production. It should be a simple matter, without a lot of second-guessing, hand-wringing, and “gunning”. It should not require you, or your boss, to “work hard”. It should be a streamlined process that’s not all that different from annual pay raises. If you want to attract and keep talented people, you have to be prepared and able to give them pay raises and promotions regularly based on performance factors.

    You’ve mentioned this promotion was stalled by the pandemic and thus became “slower and more difficult than expected”. If I were Jane, and I heard that, then I would think “They do not have the budget to give me a promotion here. Time to move on!” If I were Jane, and you’d told me you’d been fighting to promote me out of an entry-level job after I’d been there for two years already, but you hadn’t made any actual promotion after ~3 months, I would assume “They do not have the budget and/or open positions to give me a promotion. Time to move on.”

    It’s understandable that the pandemic has caused budget shortfalls, which have killed some otherwise-deserved promotions. But, when that happens, a natural consequence is that people who are talented but stuck will move on. Don’t take it out on Jane. Try to get your business through the pandemic financially, fight for a more streamlined and promotion process so it doesn’t happen again, wish Jane all the best in grad school, and encourage your boss to stop complaining about your entry level employees sharing their own major life news on their personal social media.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Sounds like it could be the kind of place where entry-level employees typically don’t get promoted as such, as in there isn’t a “standard” promotion path (to Senior, team lead or whatever makes sense) but rather, people accomplish 2-3 years as an entry-level person and then have to move to another company in order to get that first promotion.

      I could be wrong about that but that’s the sense that I get from the letter. The promotion has been a lot of work for various management because it’s outside the structure of how things normally happen there. The “pandemic” aspect probably makes it more difficult but I felt like the promotion process had been started before it hit.

  48. MilkyWay*

    I wouldn’t call this a rookie mistake. I started out fresh out of college and even I knew professional norms. Has that been lost already? By the way, I’m in my mid 30’s for any reference point.

    1. TechWorker*

      Erm given professional norms aren’t universally the same everywhere and there’s a tonne of people in their mid-30s and beyond who still haven’t grasped them I’m gonna go out on a limb and say No, it hasn’t been ‘lost’, there’s just variance in the population…

    2. Confused*

      Well, Jane violated no professional norms IMO. You know what’s a violation of a professional norm? Senior leadership closely following an entry level employee’s Twitter and IG. That is incredibly inappropriate. Jane made no mistake, she told her supervisor what she was doing, and it sounds like OP dropped the ball by not talking to their boss. Jane did not make a single mistake at any point, she is allowed to share personal news on a personal account, even if someone could find it. No reasonable person expects the CEO to follow their personal Twitter. That’s weird and stalker-y. Early 30s for reference.

  49. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    I have a few questions. One is, things being what they are right now, are we sure that Jane intends to begin in Fall 2020? Secondly, is Jane absolutely sure she can afford this? Being accepted doesn’t mean, “I’m going” and it sure as hell doesn’t mean, “I’m going this fall.” If this sounds personal, it is, a little. I was working as a legal secretary and I had confidentially told one of my bosses that I had been accepted to law school. One of the firm’s other lawyers overheard me on the phone with someone and ran into the partners saying, “She’s going to law school!” I was then fired. To top it off, one of the partners told Unemployment that I had quit.

    1. Amalieee*

      yeah i agree with you. Being accepted is a big deal but not everyone ends up going or being able to afford going. Sounds like people jumped to conclusions just because she was accepted and excited to announce it.

      Also im sorry that happened to you

  50. Amalieee*

    Maybe its because I’m younger but I don’t see this as weird at all. My coworker was trying to get into grad school and she wanted to keep it quiet in case she didn’t get accepted and also so that people didn’t ask her about it all the time. When she got accepted, she announced it on Twitter and i think Facebook and Instagram or something like that but then she didn’t even end up going. A lot of my coworkers followed her Twitter and Instagram and no one was offended. She had just been promoted so its not like she was trying to get a promotion but maybe I don’t understand but this sounds like nbd. Like she applied to grad school, told op or someone she was going to defer and then announced on social media that she was accepted. Okay pretty normal. Does Jane normally talk to the boss and grandboss a lot or just op? Some workplaces the higher up dont even talk to the lower employees all the time.

  51. Slinky*

    I’m a little surprised by some of the pushback in the comments. When I was hired for my job and was letting my family know, I specified that they could tell people but not post it on social media, as I wasn’t ready for my employer to know. It’s a very basic rule. Don’t put anything on social media you’re not ready for your employer to know. It’s understandable that Jane wouldn’t know that yet, but it’s also good for OP to clue her in. That’s how we learn.

    1. Student*

      There’s a lot of evidence in the letter that Jane was ready for her employer to know.

      For example, she told her manager her detailed grad acceptance plans. She told both her manager and her manager’s boss that she was considering applying for grad school.

      So, she already told her employer, by any reasonable standard, before her company’s upper management discovered this on Twitter. It’s on her employer, the OP, to then actually figure out what may or may not need to change about Jane’s job, promotion, etc. in response to that, alert others in the company that have a reasonable need to know, and chat with Jane openly and proactively about who else may need to be notified and what the reasonable consequences might be. OP failed to manage correctly.

      Managers should never, ever pledge to hold something in indefinite confidence to their employees. If asked to do so, they should lay out the truth – they can keep certain confidences, but things that impact business aren’t going to be kept secrets from those in the business with a reasonable need to know and act on it. It’s reasonable to keep Jane’s application to a specific grad school in confidence. Once she tells you she’s accepted to grad school, it’s the manager’s job to have the convo to figure out if that means she’ll be leaving, what the timetable is, and then to loop in the manager’s boss and others who deal with staffing, when and as appropriate.

      OP’s biggest fault was not clarifying that point with Jane when she revealed her plans, talking through what that means for her promotion chances with her, and then informing OP’s management chain.

  52. Girl Alex PR*

    Alison, THANK YOU for your comments about social media managing. I am the social media director for a large federal agency, and while I am very fairly compensated and appreciated, so many leaders assume any recent grad can do my job. I have a master’s degree in strategic communication. It’s an incredibly demanding and important role- we are literally the gatekeepers of the agency’s brand and perceptions the public have about it. I so appreciate you reminding people of that.

  53. KR*

    I think OP and their bosses are really jumping the gun here. She said she got accepted, not when she is attending or whether she’s quitting her job. I also think that if OP felt she needed to give her job a heads up before announcing it on her personal social media then OP should have brought that up when Jane confided in them originally. Or when Jane confided she should said “Hey we’re all gunning for a promotion for you. You need to tell so and so as soon as you feel comfortable.”

  54. Elizabeth West*

    Re the vacation announcements and all that, yeah, you don’t want someone doing that before they see if they can get the time off. However, just because Jane was accepted to school doesn’t necessarily mean she’s leaving. I went to grad school in the evenings and worked full-time; obviously, so did everyone else in my program. Depending on her school’s program, it’s possible she could also do that.

    Regardless, the heads-ups should be taking place at work before she announces them to the world, at least the ones that could affect her standing as an employee.

  55. anon for this*

    I think lime has often been said here that managment shouldn’t have been looking at her personal account. It’s her personal account, and really it sounds like maybe some better boundaries from management. Why was grand boss reading her personal account to begin with?

  56. Bad Bunny*

    I think it is a bit weird that management have been stalking Jane’s personal accounts, but just because she has tweeted that she was accepted doesn’t mean she is going in the fall, and it doesn’t mean she is going to be attending full time. Twitter does have a character limit meaning that posts have to be very short. She might still plan to defer or she might want to study part time and didn’t mention that on Twitter.

    I personally also find it a bit…..overreachy to suggest that Jane is obligated to tell her employer exciting news before she tells her friends, which for someone Jane’s age, is her audience on her personal Twitter account.

  57. Lifer*

    Honestly haven’t read all of the replies. I’m not quite sure I even understand the problem? I work for a graduate program. Most of the programs are entirely online, and I would estimate that 75% of our well over 1000 current students work full-time. Not getting what the issue is here? Several different kinds of graduate school options, this is 2020 after all…

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Yeah I wondered about that as well, as my feeling (as a non-US-er) was that many grad school programmes are online or in the evening etc. But on reading it again…

      Jane texted me that she’d been accepted to grad school. I was thrilled for her but concerned about her departure. She stated that it was her intention to defer until 2021 due to the pandemic.

      So I’m inferring quite a bit, admittedly, but it seems to me that OP must have said something in reply to the text amounting to “oh that’s amazing!!! But sad that you’re going to be leaving us, haha!!” or such like. It’s quite subtle but seems like Jane texted OP, then OP replied with something, then Jane stated her intention to defer until 2021 (prompted by what, if it wasn’t a comment of concern about departure by the OP?)… Wouldn’t she have set the record straight and said “Oh nononono I’m not leaving!! This will be in the evenings [or whatever]” rather than just a statement about deferring it to 2021?

      Also if it was an online program, and she already has a job, why would she defer it “due to the pandemic”? That only makes sense if it’s an in-person program that you have to travel to. The pandemic is immaterial if it’s all online.

  58. Fox in a Box*

    This reminds me of something similar I did a few years ago (not new to employment but close enough to still be naive on some things). I talked about my plans to apply to teacher’s college openly with coworkers and never thought to inform my manager, since I figured there wouldn’t be a point to do so until I potentially had an acceptance letter.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Haha, I think I can best (or at least equal) you with this one, with a (former) co-worker of mine (at a job that was long-ago now)….

      For background, he had been having numerous conversations with our mutual manager, as well as with HR, about how he was being “underpaid” for the role (he wasn’t) etc etc which hadn’t resulted in any chance, so he decided to apply elsewhere. After being at the company for a short time, I don’t recall how long as it was some time ago and I’ve slept since then, but way less than a year — probably more like 4 months.

      Fair enough I suppose, except that he gave his company phone number (not a cell phone, an actual phone, on a desk.. this was the early 2000s) as the contact details (He did have a cell!) and then proceeded to take calls from recruiters, and even a couple of telephone interviews, on that desk-phone in full earshot of all of us in the office, including our manager!

      The real WTF with this is that the manager either didn’t notice, pretended not to notice, or “addressed” it behind the scenes (which I happen to know via unofficial means, didn’t involve either a raise or any kind of reprimand)

      I suppose he thought it would prompt the manager into action (spoiler: it didn’t).

      The mind boggles!

      [I’m quite bold myself but even I wouldn’t have the (metaphorical, as I am a cis female) cojones to do that!]

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        *hadn’t resulted in any change, not any chance. Damn it I make this typo all the time but I usually catch it!!

    2. Scarrie Fisher*

      Lol I did the same thing when talking about potentially moving across the country. Talked about it to coworkers (because they were friends!) and it made it to my boss (mind you, this was six months before I ended up moving–I was always going to give two months notice). When I finally told her she berated me and told me how “unprofessional” I was not to “ever do that again.” She asked me if I had any idea how many people she knew in my new city and that I missed out on so many connections by not going to her first. Oh, she also told me I was the best writer she had ever seen and she could’ve taught me so much more, and then I told her I was sorry that we didn’t ever find a good groove with each other but I always felt a little bit of anxiety going to her because she was so busy (we literall had two check-ins the entire time I worked there because she would always cancel them).

      She then told me to get over my anxiety–go throw my worries in the ocean. See a shaman… I processed her therapy bills every month. For anxiety…

      I do not feel bad, I do not feel guilty for how things transpired. She’s a miserable person and finally after I left the board opened their eyes and fired her.

  59. Workfromhome*

    Maybe management wants to look in the mirror first? “. Jane has been with us over two years and we would like to promote her, something she’s clearly earned, but our progress has been stalled by the pandemic. And though we’re working to push the promotion forward as quickly as possible, with budget cuts to contend with, this has been slower and more difficult than expected.”

    Has management had conversations with Jane: “We think you are great and want to promote you.” Hey Jane I know we talked about promoting you but the pandemic has really slowed things down…the time line for a promotion now looks like this how does that fit into your plans? We hope you’ll hang in there while we get the promotion through”

    If they have not had this conversation then they have n0 right to get their nose out of joint. If Jane thinks she’s a 2 year entry level employee ,who’s already shared she might return to grad school and has no idea that she’s in line for promotion or when why would she worry about announcing she’s been accepted?

    We are in a pandemic and people are communicating through social media more than ever because they don’t see people. Unless the conversation you can have is “Jane we talked last week that we are promoting you last week and that its just taking a little longer your tweet surprised me” then they should leave it alone. Its not there in the letter but there is nothing that leads me to believe that Jane was aware of a promotion. Lack of communication around that isn’t her fault.

  60. J3*

    This whole situation feels a little overblown to me. Like Jane could have handled the situation a little more tactfully but on the whole… who cares? She’s an “entry-level employee”, not the Secretary of State.

  61. Confused*

    Allison, I don’t understand your response. Jane did nothing wrong by posting an accomplishment to her PERSONAL social media of which no reasonable person would expect several members of their company leadership to be closely following. She TOLD her direct supervisor of her plans and it was OP’s job to inform their boss or do whatever was needed. It sounds like OP screwed up and did not do what they were supposed to. Jane did NOT make an “entry-level mistake”, she is allowed to live her life on social media, more or less, without the expectation that she’s being watched from every angle by her company. She is allowed to share with her followers, presumably people who are her friends, family, or people who otherwise care about her, good news, without expecting retaliation from her job. Would your response be the same if Jane announced her pregnancy first on Twitter to, you know, the people who actually know her and are invested in her life, instead of company leadership, the people who she sells her labor to? And them following her on IG? That is so, so, so inappropriate.

    Your response was seriously off the mark. OP and her leadership feeling embarrassed is not Jane’s fault.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I thought of the “pregnancy” analogy as well when I read this, but wasn’t sure if I was off the mark or how I could say that tactfully (I’m not a very tactful person!) but I fully agree with that!

      As for social media that “no reasonable person would expect several members of their company leadership to be closely following” – again, agree, except that OP added about the instagram/vacation incidents but didn’t make clear who knew about the instagram posts or how (or the timeline in relation to requesting the vacation, as I mentioned in a comment above so sorry for the repeat!) .. it’s possible that the context we can infer from this is that Jane already got “busted” (for want of a better word) with the instagram incidents, so would have known that bosses were cognisant of her social media posts, even if in an ideal world they shouldn’t be, of course.

      “She TOLD her direct supervisor of her plans and it was OP’s job to inform their boss or do whatever was needed.”
      It was unclear, but implied/inferred, that she told OP off the record. First she asked her unofficially to supply a reference and OP kept it to herself and didn’t share it more widely. Then upon acceptance Jane texted her (rather than, say, bring it up in the next 1-2-1 if they have them, or via email, or whatever) which again seems like sort of an unofficial “back channel” of communication outside of the normal company manager/report comms.

      1. Scarrie Fisher*

        Yeah the aside comment mentioning the vacation post just felt like OP trying to include anything they could think of to make Jane look unprofessional.

  62. LtdEdition*

    Someone else may have caught this, but as I read the letter, the confidentiality was around the request for the recommendation letter, not necessarily the grad school application. Maybe Jane didn’t want any other manager to feel slighted at not being asked to write a recommendation. It sounds like everyone was aware of her intention to attend graduate school. After seeing heThis sounds more like a two-way communication proble

    Jane’s Twitter announcement shouldn’t even rise to the level of annoyance, only maybe a mention, much less people feeling “disrespected”. There’s no mention that she was aware of all these levels of management “gunning” for her promotion and this really should not be anything extraordinarily outside of the realm of management recognizing/rewarding an employee for the level value that she brings. After seeing her acceptance tweet, it wouldve been more appropriate to have a conversation with her about her plans that to feel “disrespected” because management is really doing what they’re supposed to do. This sounds more like a two-way communication issue–not just a Jane inexperience issue.

  63. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    Apologies if this was covered in a previous comment – I tried to read them all but I think I missed a few. I’m not sure whether the potential promotion has actually been discussed/mentioned to Jane, or if it’s all been going on “behind the scenes”, although it seems clear that it’s OP, rather than Jane, who initiated the promotion talk.

    If Jane was aware of it — from her perspective, there was talk of a promotion but then it’s all gone quiet for a reallllly long time with no update from management. She already mentioned about applying to grad school, and received what I can only assume was an indifferent response from the company/management structure. Now she sees there isn’t much prospect of moving on at this company and so is seeking to do the grad school now to improve her prospects (here or elsewhere) and didn’t expect the bosses to be monitoring her social media.

    Or she knows they are monitoring her social media (possibly as a result of the previous instagram/vacation incidents, if it was ever mentioned? it’s not clear) and posted it to light a fire under them.

    From what I know of grad school in the States, it seems that many people do it in the evening or via distance learning, and as such don’t need to leave their job or cut back their hours in order to pursue it.

    Jane texted OP privately that she had been accepted (which I infer is equivalent to “I’ve decided to go” as I realise an acceptance isn’t a definite plan, but why share if not?) but didn’t share it up the company hierarchy although she had discussed those plans with higher bosses before – why?

    In Jane’s position I think if I were highly valued but spinning my wheels at a company that didn’t ostensibly offer any kind of recognition and wasn’t supportive of my plans to attend grad school which I could do outside of work.. I probably would shut down and not mention anything to management.

    It seems like Jane has texted OP rather than use the official channels because at this point Jane sees it as an “off the record” favour/confidante-protegee/personal-rather-than-professional interaction with the boss, rather than being part of the management structure. Which puts the OP-boss in a difficult position!

    [It sounds like the company is doing something wrong if it’s large enough to have 5 (at least) layers of bosses, but has employee’s personal social media accounts linked to the “company” social media.]

    The whole “Jane’s promotion” thing sounds like a lot of hot air, honestly.

  64. Justice4Jane*

    Allison, what?! How was Jane supposed to know her social media accounts were being monitored? You JUST told a manager to unfriend her employee on Facebook. Shouldn’t the same boundary be in place for Twitter? Additionally, you’ve said many times that employees don’t owe their employers more than two weeks notice. This advice seems misdirected. I think the manager needs to step back and take a look at how she is managing her employees, and why she is taking this so personally.

  65. Scarrie Fisher*

    I’m gonna disagree. I am going through a very similar situation right now and it the responsibility of a manager to provide clear and honest communication throughout the negotiation, especially if you are concerned about retention. The resentment vibe I get from “how hard” LW has worked for Jane’s promotion makes me think that this did not happen during the process. (Also, that’s what a manager’s job is! Sure, it’s hard, but it is a responsibility you take on when you accept a managerial position.)

    Jane has every right to worry about herself and the reality of her professional progress over an entry-level job that isn’t matching up with promises and her performance level. Based on the rough timeline mentioned, I am going to assume that, not only conversations about a promotion were initiated far before the pandemic, but that conversations about grad school started even before that. I know every program is different, but I applied all the way back in November of last year for a start date of fall 2020. If Jane has been waiting since winter for any movement, that is a ridiculously long time to wait.

    Last year, I had been given every indication that I was going to get a position I had been negotiating for months. Then, I was rejected (that’s a whole story in and of itself) and told there were “opportunities” for me coming up. I had applied to grad school two days before and already been promised schedule flexibility and reminded of tuition stipends. I began tracking open positions outside of my office the day after I was rejected and hadn’t stopped until this March when I was finally informed of my “opportunity.” I was told two days before lockdown that there was a reorganization happening, I would report to someone else, and I would have more responsibility.

    It turned out that this was no promotion. There was no salary increase; no title change and my boss had just gone on maternity leave. I had to fight for myself to be reclassified and get a salary bump because no one bothered to do it on my behalf. I began advocating for myself at the end of March and am just now getting an update on my salary. Thankfully, my interim boss has provided me with updates along the way, and that has made all the difference. You have to have some sort of evidence to show employees you are advocating for them. Otherwise, they will have no faith in the system and no reason to trust you.

    1. Scarrie Fisher*

      I really hope that Jane finds a mentor who teaches her this. Advocating for yourself is such a wonderful skill but so many people never get the support to develop it or the confidence to try and fail on their own until it works.

      If I hadn’t done this for myself, I’d have died before anyone else did it for me. Honestly, the bitterness of not getting what had been promised to me made me work even harder the second time around, and I truly believe that this will end up being a better opportunity.

  66. C.*

    I might be in the minority here, but I think you need to take a step back. Was it great that Jane announced her acceptance to grad school online? Not really, but–as Alison mentioned–a common entry-level mistake. It seems like you and the rest of your company are taking this really personally for some reason. I can understand that to a certain level, especially in your case as you provided her with a reference, but your company isn’t Jane’s life and this promotion (if Jane even knew about it..?) shouldn’t hinge on any life decisions she makes for herself. Grad school is more of a premeditated thing, but she didn’t know if she was going to be accepted, if she would receive enough funding to make the program worth it, if other circumstances would change in her life between applying and acceptance, etc.

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