I accidentally sent my boss a message complaining about her, boss wants to know my long-term plan, and more

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

1. I accidentally sent my boss a message complaining about her

I accidentally sent a message to my boss which was meant for somebody else and am very embarrassed.

I’d had a long day. I had back to back meetings from 12 to 4. I started work at 7 am to allow myself some extra time to produce work products before the meetings started. A few of the meetings were intense, with coworkers having professional differences of opinions that resulted in some animated Zoom conversations. I had an important appointment that required me to leave at 4:30, but I did not tell my boss in advance because that’s when I’m typically scheduled to leave work anyway.

Then, at 4:15 I got a text message from my supervisor saying she needed me to jump on another meeting. Assuming the meeting might not end by 4:30, I sent a quick text message to my sister, who was joining me at the appointment. I said, “My boss is being insane and asked me to join another call. Hopefully we can still leave on time.” However, I accidentally sent the message to my boss. Obviously, I was totally mortified. Even though it had been a long day, I meant the text message in a lighthearted, joking way. I have a lot of respect for my boss, and in no way think it is unreasonable for her to ask me to join a call when she needs input.

I apologized immediately. I explained the message was meant to be humorous and intended for my sister. I acknowledged how rude it was, and said that it is, of course, perfectly reasonable to expect me to join calls during work hours. My boss said not to worry about it, but she then told me not to join the call since it was almost over and that she could catch me up tomorrow. We are all working remote due to the pandemic, so I could not have a face-to-face discussion with her right then.

I am not sure if an apology via text message is sufficient, or if there is more that I should do to try to make amends. This is particularly unfortunate because I truly think she is a great boss, and in no way insane. Do you think I should bring this up with her again, or is it time to let it go? Also, from a manager’s perspective, how serious is this offense? I think we have a good relationship, and don’t want her to think that I resent doing my work and think she’s a bad or unreasonable supervisor.

Well … yeah, as a manager, if I got that I’d feel a little stung, but more importantly I’d wonder if it reflected something you saw as a pattern, or if you were unhappy with me in ways I hadn’t been aware of. (And I say that as someone who knows that it’s very normal to blow off steam about your boss, even a boss you like.) It wouldn’t be a huge deal, but it would be irresponsible for me not to reflect on those questions after seeing that comment.

So yes, I think it’s worth following up with her. The next time you talk, I’d say something like, “I want to apologize again for the message I sent to you that I meant for my sister. It had been a long day and I was feeling pressure to leave on time to meet her for an appointment, and I was just blowing off steam. It wasn’t in any way unreasonable to ask me to join that call! I really like working for you, and I’d never want to give you a different impression.”

It’s not that this is a serious offense — it isn’t. This is just about not leaving your boss with an inaccurate impression or having her worry about how you’re feeling about her/your job/her expectations.

2. My boss wants to know my long-term plan

I work at a nonprofit (about 50 people total). We’ve survived COVID-19 so far, but the future is uncertain. We’re waiting on news about some grants and state-issued money to know what the immediate financial future looks like. Without them, it seems pretty dire.

My supervisor asked me today what my five-year plan is: if I want to stay with the organization, if I’m looking to stay in the field, if I think I’d like to move on. They explained that, with some potential/probably financial turbulence, we may have to reorganize, so her boss was looking for insight on what some possibilities could be.

I felt caught off-guard and flustered my way through saying that I thought I would probably move on from our organization before another five years were up (I’ve already been here for over five years and am not really challenged anymore, with no potential for growth.) I asked for more time to think and let her know, with no hard date set as to when to do that.

Frankly, I’ve been considering moving on from the organization for a while and potentially leaving nonprofits entirely. My immediate plan was to leave in spring 2021 and start massage therapy school. (My partner makes decent money and has awesome benefits, under which I’m covered; it’d be tight, but doable … minus, you know, COVID.)

Do I tell my boss any of this? Should I just say that I’d like to stay at my organization for the foreseeable future? Or do I take this as an opportunity to try something new out entirely? Plans are by no means set in stone about massage therapy school, but it’s a pretty strong contender.

Do not tell any of this to your boss. There is too high of a risk that you’ll end up being pushed out earlier than you want to leave, because if they’re looking for places to make cuts they’ll figure you’re an easy one since you’re on your way out anyway.

In normal times, maybe you could share your thinking with your boss, if and only if she and the organization both had a track record of handling this kind of thing well and not pushing people out earlier than they wanted to leave. But right now, with so many employers facing budget shortfalls — and yours openly saying they’re contemplating how to reorganize — the risk is just too high.

Go back and tell your boss you’ve been happy at the organization and hope to stay for a long time. (If you then do end up leaving in the spring, you can explain that your plans changed. You’re not writing any of this in stone.)

3. Is liking a competitor post on LinkedIn a cardinal sin?

I work as a manager in a small specialized team in a much bigger company — our team is about a dozen analysts and 4-5 people with a management role. One of our former colleague, whom I’ll call Sansa, left for a competitor company a few months ago, after 10+years with the company. Nearly all of us in the team are “friends” with Sansa on Linkedin, from her time with our company.

Apparently, one of our analysts liked a post from Sansa on LinkedIn, with his personal account, and the other managers in the team are considering it a cardinal sin, and that it shouldn’t be done, and that we should remind our staff not to do that, ever. It may be cultural or personal difference (the other managers are American older men, and I’m a younger European woman), but I don’t see why it’s so much a problem. We cannot control personal accounts on LinkedIn, and it’s not because Sansa is now competition that she’s the devil all of a sudden. What would you advise?

They’re overreacting and being weird. Liking a LinkedIn post from a former coworker is not wrong or disloyal, even if the person now works for a competitor. That said, some employers are weird about this kind of thing — although usually it’s more about liking other companies’ stuff, not the posts of individual people who you know personally.

Can you be a voice of reason and point out to the other managers that this is an over-reach, that your employees aren’t going to cut off Sansa just because she now works for a competitor, and that they didn’t do anything disloyal?

The exception to this is if Sansa’s post was promoting her new company in a way that was in direct competition with your company — like if it was about a product that’s clearly designed to threaten your market share. If that’s the case, you should explain to your staff that even if they just meant to be supportive to Sansa, it’s the kind of thing that can ruffle feathers.

4. We close early before long weekends — but not entirely

My company, like most others, closes early on the Friday before a holiday. However, they always send an email saying that we are closing at say 1 pm on Friday, but expect us to check our voicemail and email until 5 pm in case of an emergency, and that the main line will be answered until 5 pm and calls will be forwarded as usual. So really, it’s not closing early at all.

Is this the norm? Why do I feel like this is unreasonable and/or disingenuous about granting an early dismissal for a holiday?

We are an insurance agency, so it’s not like we have patients or legitimate medical emergencies that need to be addressed immediately. We do have claims of course, but policyholders are provided claim reporting information that directs them to go directly to the insurance company, which is generally staffed 24/7.

It’s not terribly uncommon. They’re not fully giving you the afternoon off since you still need to check in and would need to work if something urgent came up — but they’re saying you don’t need to keep working if no emergency comes up. You can go home, lounge around, check in a few times, and continue doing nothing unless there’s an emergency. And if you don’t often have emergencies, then you probably won’t end up working during this, which is good. But they want to make sure that if something does come up, letting everyone head out early won’t cause problems.

I don’t think it’s especially unreasonable or disingenuous — it’s a way for them to let people leave when they otherwise probably couldn’t.

5. Do I need to include my most recent job title on my resume?

I’ve been at my current company for about a decade. In that time, I worked up to a very respectable job title. In May, the company had major layoffs. I was spared but made a lateral move to a different division, and with it came a different title that is very generic and not a good description of what I do (which is almost the same as what I did before with my old title).

I am considering applying for jobs that would be a good match for someone with my old title. Do I need to list my current title on my resume or can I just use my pre-May resume? I’m afraid for two reasons — one is that the title sounds much less impressive and like less of a match to the new positions and the other is that I would list this title as just beginning in May, I’m worried that it looks like I was given a new job, didn’t like it, and left. Is leaving off this detail lying?

Yeah, you’ve got to list your current title. Otherwise you’d be saying your old title is your current one, and that’s misrepresenting it. That could easily come out in a background or reference check, and that would raise questions.

That said, if you don’t think the title accurately captures what you do, you can include an explanation in parentheses like this:

Senior Breakfast Specialist (manager of breakfast communications)

You don’t need to worry about leaving so soon after your title changed. You might get asked about it, but it’s not going to be a big deal. Just explain the company has been having layoffs and you’re looking for a more stable role. Interviewers will get it.

{ 137 comments… read them below }

  1. Finland*

    LW1, It’s perfectly understandable that you have a life outside of work and that you have an appointment after you were normally scheduled to finish your workday, but it kinda reads like you were expecting your boss to read your mind. Without the understanding that you needed to leave exactly at 4:30pm this time, there was no way to know that another last-minute meeting would have thrown your plans out of whack. If I were a manager, I would almost fall into the assumption that you told me about your plans already and that I forgot about them. That thought might be going through your managers mind, especially if she is a good manager who values your time. I think your apology should give some reference to the fact that she could not have known that you needed to leave so urgently and that, perhaps next time, you’ll let her know so as to not give you last minute work if it can be helped.

    1. valentine*

      it kinda reads like you were expecting your boss to read your mind.
      I think it was more the supervisor piling onto the 12-4 block.

      But why not just say, “I’m on my way out. I can get in touch later if you need my help before morning,” or not respond (if it’s work/a culture where it’s reasonable not to check messages after your usual quitting time)?

      1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        Except OP’s usual quitting time was 4:30, so if they gave that response the supervisor/manager might be wondering why they were clocking off early.
        I agree that it might be an idea in future to mention if you definitely need to leave right on finishing time (even if you don’t expect it to be an issue), so then if someone tries to grab you for “just one more thing!” you can just say “Sorry, I don’t have time right now because I have to leave for that thing I mentioned, let’s chat tomorrow, bye!”

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Agree with this. LW really should have used her words and told the boss that she had a hard stop at 4:30, and would be happy to join the call for a few minutes, but would need to be logging off at her regular time. The message intended for the sister is kind of a red herring.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            I mean, it sounds like she did use her words: she has already acknowledged her rudeness and apologized.

            I think the issue here is how to handle things if you accidentally send a text to the wrong recipient. I don’t see how that’s a red herring.

            1. hbc*

              But I think the issue there is that there shouldn’t really have been a message denigrating the boss, joking or not. She asked a perfectly reasonable question. Something like “Well, this is the day of Meeting Hell and my boss is piling on” is fair. But as a manager, I *would* be worried OP’s frame of mind if “Can you attend a meeting during normal business hours?” was turned into a slam against me.

              1. Mystery Bookworm*

                Eh, I disagree. People are allowed to complain about their boss to their family and friends.

                And sometimes perfectly reasonable requests will grate on us (because we’re already overburdened, because we’re tired, because the person is someone who just gets under our skin). We don’t always owe our manager a proactive explanation of our feelings.

                1. charo*

                  “We don’t always owe our manager a proactive explanation of our feelings.”

                  True. It’s when you send her a message calling her insane, by mistake, then
                  it’s on YOU!

                  Call the boss a “b” if you want, call her anything privately, but not to her FACE! You’re ignoring this key point. What if the boss sent your office an email saying you’re a bunch of losers, after a hard day? Would she owe you all an explanation or is that too “proactive” for you? Of course you’d expect one. Your boss might be “overburdened” too.

                  Here’s the RULE: You’re allowed to complain about your boss and call her vile names — as LONG as you don’t mistakenly send it to her! Is that so unreasonable. It’s a two-part rule, “If / Then.”

                2. Mystery Bookworm*

                  Charo – I agree, the text is the issue. I’m responding to a comment above thread saying “the text is a red herring”

              2. JSPA*

                This is a good boss. She most likely thought, “ooh boy, time got away from me, it’s already OP’s quitting time, I’m not surprised she has something planned.” If the message had said, “she’s being an [expletive] like always” or “wouldn’t you know, another unreasonable demand from Tyrant Jane,” that’d naturally set her back on her heels; but by making it clear that the situation was unusual and unexpected, it’s actually– almost –a compliment. “My reports think of me as predictably fair and not given to last minute demands on their time, they appreciate that, and are shocked when I accidentally push the limits, yet still willing to step up” is a sign you’re doing it right.

                1. Jennifer Juniper*

                  I’d be very careful about e-mails sent at work. Lots of companies have tracking software that monitors keystrokes – not to mention that IT often monitors staff as well.

              3. Sam.*

                Personally, I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask an employee to attend a meeting 15 minutes before they’re scheduled to be done for the day unless it’s a pressing or unusual situation. It’s pretty much guaranteed to go past their leave time, and then it’s no longer normal business hours for them. I understand OP being annoyed, but when this happens to me, I assume my boss has just forgotten I typically wrap up at 4:30 (she’s super hands off and works in a different location, even when we’re in the office). If I can’t stick around, saying, “I’m happy to hop on the call, but I’ve got an appointment tonight that I scheduled based on my normal 4:30 leave time, so I’ll need to log off at 4:30,” reminds her and resolves the issue. That would’ve been the better option here.

                1. Galloping Gargoyles*

                  I agree with this sentiment that most of the time it’s not reasonable but there could be times that something pressing has to be dealt with right away. We also don’t know if OP is exempt or non-exempt, which can also change the expectation. I think the best response would have been that OP needed to leave at 4:30 for an appointment and to ask if it made sense to hop on for 15 minutes or if it made sense to handle it first thing in the morning. I think Alison’s response of how to address it with the manager is spot on.

            2. MK*

              I think the issue is that the OP should have used her words before she fired off this text, not after. If I was the manager, I wouldn’t be concerned about the text, but that my employee, instead of sending ME a message that she had a commitment and would need to leave on time, send a complaining one to a relative. It’s not a huge deal, but the vibe you want to send your boss is “calm professional” not “slightly bratty teenager”.

              1. Mystery Bookworm*

                And I disagree. OP didn’t chose to talk this through with her manager – that’s her preogative. There’s nothing in the letter to suggest she has a regular problem with not speaking up.

                I definitely agree with your last sentence – OP should follow up and be extra professional in the weeks going forward.

                But this is just one data point. The manager shouldn’t judge her too harshly on this, and I don’t think OP committed a faux pas by not talking to her boss beforehand or by complaining to her sister. Those are pretty commonplace.

                1. charo*

                  “I don’t think OP committed a faux pas by not talking to her boss beforehand or by complaining to her sister. Those are pretty commonplace.”

                  You’re avoiding the part where she called her boss “insane” for not reading her mind — and then sent it to HER!
                  It sounds like you don’t want to deal w/that issue and it really is the main one —
                  when you send anyone an insulting message by mistake, you have to accept the consequences. If you said something far worse than this, like “I could just kill my boss,” it could really backfire.

                  Say whatever you want. But if you make a mistake and send it to the wrong person, it’s on YOU. This is not “he said / she said” — it’s in black and white.

                2. Aquawoman*

                  I’m a manager, and have solid reason to believe that reports really like me as a manager and I have ZERO doubt that they complain about me occasionally to each other or friends, and I’m totally fine with that. I’m human, I have foibles, I’m sure they wish I’d read my email more carefully or whatever. No one in the history of time has not complained about their boss.

              2. JSPA*

                OP didn’t want to ask the manager to accommodate. OP wanted to change the timing with her sister, to accommodate her manager.

                That choice demonstrated respect for the manager and the demands of the job.

                Stressing the unlikeliness the situation in the message to her sister demonstrated OP’s respect for her sister and her sister’s time.

                It is, IMO, completely normal to dial that up slightly in a message to a close friend or family member, if you’re making a last minute change in plans, especially when you don’t know how long the delay may last. “Running 10 min late” is fine, if the blame is on you, and you can predict the length. But when you’re asking someone to hang on for an undetermined amount of time, you need to make it clear that it’s out of your hands and not optional.

              3. Yvette*

                It’s the old adage about not putting in writing what you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Times. Really though, without the “is being insane and” the message would have been completely innocent. It would have been a heads up rather than a complaint.

                1. charo*

                  I worked in publishing so I’m used to words have a fine point on them, and what appears in black and white needing to be very intentional.

                  So maybe that’s why I’m shocked that this many people are this calm about sending one’s boss an insulting email, by mistake.
                  Any derogatory email sent to anyone by MISTAKE deserves an apology but to one’s BOSS? Even more so. It’s not so much what she said, it’s the MISTAKE.

                  If you’d do this, would you also mistakenly email a client w/insulting comments about them? It’s about attention to detail.

                2. Jasper*

                  “Work is insane today, sorry” would be fine.

                  “My boss is insane today” is a lot less fine *even when sent to your family*.

    2. Sam.*

      Why would OP tell her boss about plans for her free time on the off-chance the boss picks that day to ask her to stay late? If staying late happens a lot or she had reason to expect it that day, I can see preemptively saying, “I have a hard stop at 4:30 today,” but if OP normally leaves at 4:30, I don’t think it makes sense to give her boss a heads up ahead of time. It’d almost certainly be a waste of the boss’ time.

      1. Finland*

        She doesn’t have to tell her boss her plans well in advance; if a last-minute thing (an extra meeting, perhaps) happens to come up, it’s just a heads-up that she will need to leave by 4:30 pm sharp. If they do become a pattern, then, yes, it would have to be a general rule. This isn’t difficult and she’s probably already learned this lesson by now.

  2. SBH*

    LW1 : don’t sweat it. A decent manager will take this a temp check/error and will likely check in with you about meetings towards end of day. A great one would be grateful into an insight that your day was cramped, unproductive and overpopulated with meetings, that you were going above and beyond and still willing to prioritize work over existing plans. Make the recommended apology/check in and move on : in the most literal sense: Do not exhibit or act guilty. You could have written an expletive-laden tirade against your boss, your work, capitalism, and assailed the heavens themselves – but you didn’t, so be chill!

    1. charo*

      It’s actually a chance to

      1) share w/boss that you value her and that wasn’t how you feel
      2) point out that many meetings was a lot, maybe too many?
      3) promise to let her know if you have to leave on the dot like that

  3. Sandra*

    Questioner 4: “Is this the norm? Why do I feel this is unreasonable… ?”
    Plenty of places don’t close early on Fridays before holidays. Like public schools and hospitals and retail. You should feel lucky that you get to close a little early ever.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Even with office based job, getting an extra half-day holiday before a random long weekend is fairly unusual. I’ve mostly heard of it as a thing on Christmas Eve.

      In any case – I’d regard it as a nice bonus, rather than an injustice. You get a relaxed afternoon where you have to keep an eye on your email, rather than a full day’s work.

    2. WS*

      Yes, working in healthcare and trying to track down urgent medical information before the long weekend only to hear the relevant place has closed early for the public holiday is not fun! It’s a good thing that your company is keeping the main phone number and email requests open but letting you go home early ahead of traffic.

    3. Dan*

      Yeah… in my line of work, I have to account for my time, and there’s no long-holiday weekend freebie. I have to bill 80 hours every two weeks to projects come hell or high water, or it comes out of my vacation time. I do cut out early on holiday weekends, but that’s only because I worked 9-10 hour days the rest of the pay period, or put in for vacation.

    4. GammaGirl1908*

      It does feel like this company could find a better way to do this. Maybe they could let most people go, and then keep a few people on. Those people can get some extra pay or perk, or they can rotate who has to stay (so everyone gets early release on some long weekends, but has to work a full day for a couple of them). But “You can go, but I need you to stay online” is not really doing anything for me. That’s just … working from home.

      1. MK*

        If you can’t appreciate the difference between actually working in your home 1 to 4 and being free to do whatever you want as long as you answer calls and check email, if they do happen, ok, but no, this is not in any way working from home, unless you believe people working from home are not really working and are just lounging around answering the occasional email.

        As for finding a “better” way of doing this, the company is already doing a nice thing for their employees by letting them leave work early and do only minimal work for half a day. This is a perk, not a benefit or part of their compensation and it’s pretty unreasonable to suggest that they should be paying some people extra to work normal business hours, so that the rest of the office won’t have to maybe answer a call during time they are getting paid to work anyway.

        1. Tau*

          I wonder if this depends on how much external communication is involved in your role. Like, if 90% of your job is answering calls and incoming e-mails, I can see how you’d see this as no different from usual and be annoyed at it being treated as a special perk. But for me this would basically mean I have to work maybe twenty minutes through the course of the afternoon and can go curl up with a good book instead. Sign me up! I too would be extremely confused to have someone call this “just working from home”.

          I do think either way OP should try to reframe it as an optional thing the company is choosing to do in her head. From her post (“like most companies”) she’s approaching it as Friday afternoons off before holidays being the default and her company reneging on that, which is not a great mindset and just going to lead to needless resentment.

      2. Observer*

        The only “better” way would be to do what other companies do and just not let them go home early. Expecting them to actually pay people extra to work the day BEFORE a long weekend is just not reasonable. And even if it were practical for a few people to cover for everyone (often, that’s not really doable without significant planning), you still wind up with the headache of scheduling all of this and making sure that it’s done in a way that is genuinely fair and is also SEEN as fair. That’s a lot of work to ask a company to take on in order to give people an extra half a day off.

        1. Anony-Mouse*

          Or how about they simply actually close early? Isn’t that the other “better” way to do it? Simply announce on social media channels, the companies website, the phone messages, email signatures, etc that on Friday Sep 4, 2020 our hours will be 8-12.

      3. Chinook*

        Thing is, they are already keeping a few people on. Who do you think is answerjng and forwarding the calls? Atleast the receptionist is there and she is the one having to deal with no one answering their phones. I have been there/done that and while, yes, it is part of the job description, it is particularly irksome to be the one left dealing with clients who may have urgent (to them) needs and no one to deal with them. It is doubly skowhen your higher paid colleagues then complain about having to check voicemail during work hours while they are at home.

        I am team “either shut down the entire office, including switchboard and front door or everybody works a regular day.”

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          HARD agree. I always found it especially annoying when I’ve been the receptionist/switchboard person when there were informal arrangements like this, because you can’t even just say “sorry, the office is closed for Christmas Eve” or whatever, which clients would usually understand even if they were still mad. But when you’re technically open but everyone has “accidentally” put their phones on silent and all you can do is ask them to send an email that you know perfectly well nobody is going to answer at 4pm on a Friday that they get to have off but you don’t because you have to sit there answering the phone… yeah, it sucks. Just check your voicemail and enjoy your afternoon off.

    5. TechWorker*

      Totally, I definitely query the ‘like most others’ bit here. Maybe this is more common in the US (?) but even then there’s going to be a tonne of companies who don’t do this.

      1. Mel_05*

        Yeah, my company does this before some holidays, but it’s usually only for specific departments because they’re going to be slow.

        We’re still expected to keep an eye out for emergencies, but it’s a chill 4 hours and we still get paid.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        Yes, I’ve never heard of companies doing this, but then again I’ve only worked in retail and healthcare so far. If this is common in typical office jobs, I’m excited.

    6. ACM*

      Yeah, I came here to say that “most” offices don’t close early before a holiday. “Some”, maybe even “many in our industry”, but “most” is pushing it.

    7. WellRed*

      I don’t think it’s helpful others are telling you to be grateful, here. It’s not helpful or useful. We closed early Friday for the long weekend, and while I stopped working, I was waiting on a possible announcement (I’m a reporter) so needed to monitor email and 2 gov websites. It was exhausting and it was hard to watch tv or read so yeah, it’s not quite the same as an actual free period. For those of you surprised by the early release, my company does it for labor and memorial days, as well as when the 4th fall on a Monday ( or Tuesday). US.

      1. doreen*

        It may not be helpful for the OP to be told to be grateful, but it’s absolutely helpful for her to be told it’s not actually the default to close early before a long weekend. Some companies close early on the last business day before some holidays* but lots don’t. Her letter sounds as though she believes working a full day the day before the holiday is so unusual that it has become unreasonable for her company to do anything other than completely close at 1 pm.

        ( I’ve never heard of an early close the Friday before Presidents’ Day and I’ve known companies that only do it for Christmas or New Years)

        1. Liz*

          My company, back when I started, did NOT close early. some managers would let their staff go early before holidays, but most did not. THat’s what I hated, there, and previous jobs. When its left to the manager’s discretion, and not everyone did, and I always seemed to work for someone who did not. My fave was my manager when i worked and commuted to NYC. She lived in NY state, i was in NJ. she’d leave an hour or two early, and tell me i could leave at 4:45, 15 minutes early. Gee thanks! this was pre-cell, email etc., so i’m not ashamed to say that i’d sometimes wait 15 minutes to let her get a head start (different leaving points too), and leave myself.

          and now, at my current company, for the most part, we are let go early before Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. which is nice. we used get an announcement a day or so before, but the last year or so, its been the day of. And the last 6 months, we only got “let out” early for july 4. i guess they figure working from home, there’s no need to go early to avoid traffic. Which is disappointing, but not all that bad.

      2. MK*

        Would it have been better/less exhausting to continue working? Because if so, I think most companies wouldn’t actually object if you preferred not to take advantage of their allowing you to leave early. It’s pretty common that not all employees will want or be able to take advantage of everything an employer might offer.

        Look, I usually don’t think being grateful is something that applies to work relationships. And this isn’t some huge perk (if the managers are framing it as such, I get why the OP might feel resentful). But it is a nice gesture and when your employer is doing a completely discretionary one, it’s kind of entitled to complain that the gesture isn’t nice enough.

      3. Oh No She Di'int*

        But you got paid for that time, right? Which is the same as OP’s situation. I think people are just saying that OP hasn’t lost anything. I mean if you’re able to actually relax during that time, good for you. But if not, nothing has been taken away from you.

        1. WellRed*

          I would have gotten paid either way and it sounds like OP did, too. The only thing I lost was a mental break and the option to actually run errands or whatever.

      4. Observer*

        Whether or not the OP should be grateful is not the issue. The issue is that their question comes from a factually inaccurate view of the situation. So, understanding that they are actually incorrect about the premise of their question is, in fact, potentially useful.

    8. Pineapple*

      I’m sure OP is aware that there are different norms for office work and non-office work. Obviously, OP works in an office and is asking about office norms.

      1. TechWorker*

        Right – and there are *plenty* of offices who also don’t leave early the day before a holiday.

        1. Pineapple*

          And that’s what OP is asking about– if its normal for offices to let people leave early and then expect them to work. We can tell OP that it isn’t very common for offices to let people leave early, but among the ones that do it’s common that people are expected to continue checking their email, without telling OP that they should “feel lucky” about it.

          1. Observer*

            Nope. Completely closing early the day before a long weekend is not a norm at all. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but “like most companies” is just not accurate.

            1. Pineapple*

              uhh, that’s exactly what I said…

              “it isn’t very common for offices to let people leave early, but among the ones that do… “

            2. Chinook*

              In all the industries I have worked in, this only happens before Christmas, which is usually 2 days off in Canada. This make sense from a business perspective as business slows to a crawl from the 24th to Jan. 2nd except for month and year end deadlines, so most people can take off early because the phone rarely rings and few people stio by offices except to drop off gift baskets.

              But, support staff do get resentful when everyone else is told to leave early but they have to stay to answer the phone that never rings (and when it does, there is shock that there is a human there to answer it.) The places that shut own the office early completely and someone monitoring the main number for emergencies from home (or whatever they do for a Stat. Holiday) goes over much btter as there is no room for resentment.

              1. Liz*

                Yes! I know if I were the support person who had to stay “just in case” there was a phone call I probably would feel resentful as well. Plus, if everyone is gone, and they have no power to do anything, how is that helpful? Sure they can take a message or direct the caller to someone’s voicemail, but to me, it doesn’t make any sense if the person left behind can’t actually HELP a client or customer.

              1. serenity*

                Agreed, some of these comments are lurching into unkind and snappish territory.

                Some administrative office have skeleton crews or close a bit early before holidays. Some do not. The OP was asking a valid question.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Absolutely jumping in this bandwagon. Most companies and offices don’t close early before a holiday weekend. I would be very frustrated to try to go to an office on a Friday to conduct business and discover they’re closed because it’s the Friday afternoon before a Monday holiday. There’s no expectation of that for the average person.

      With that in mind … you’re very lucky your company does that for you, rather than entitled, so the fact that they’re giving you mostly off while asking you the check your phone or email is a nice benefit instead of an annoying fake out of time off.

      1. Lara*

        The kind of businesses that do this are not public facing. Public facing businesses don’t typically do this for exactly the reason you said– it would be annoying for customers, but it’s not that uncommon in offices that don’t have customers.

        That said, I don’t think commenters should be telling OP that they are very lucky to get this. That’s the kind of BS line that management gives when they do this. It’s not a huge benefit to be given a few hours in which you are expected to only kinda work. It’s not like you can do whatever you want with that time if you’re still expected to be available.

        1. doreen*

          But it sounds like the OP is in a customer-facing business – the letter says “policyholders are provided claim reporting information that directs them to go directly to the insurance company, which is generally staffed 24/7”. Presumably the insurance agents at the OP’s office provide some sort of service to policyholders -otherwise there is no reason for the agency to exist.

          1. Lara*

            It sounds like that’s a different office or department. If OP worked in the department that had to be staffed 24/7, they wouldn’t be getting let out early to begin with. I think OP is explaining that there is another office that is open 24/7 to handle claims and therefore its ok if OP isn’t available all day.

            1. doreen*

              No, the insurance company has a claims department , not the OP’s agency. What the OP is saying is that policyholders always report claims directly to the company and can therefore still report claims even if her office is closed. But the people in her office must do something ( sell policies , make changes to policies, answer questions about policies, etc ) otherwise there is no reason for the agency to exist. Plenty of insurance companies sell directly to customers without an agency – and if my local Allstate agency is unavailable on Friday afternoon when I want to buy a policy, I might just buy directly from Allstate or another insurance company, which means the local agency won’t earn a commission.

              1. Lara*

                ok, but that doesn’t change the fact that OP seems to have a job that doesn’t require 24/7 coverage. If they did, they wouldn’t be getting let out early to begin with. 

                1. doreen*

                  I didn’t say the job required 24/7 coverage- what I said is it seems like her employer is a customer facing business , which you said typically don’t close early before a holiday weekend. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather leave at 1pm and have to check email/ voicemail until 5 that have to either stay at work until 5 or use vacation time to leave early.

        2. Observer*

          Why is it BS? I mean if the company were making a big deal of paying on time, or paying decent salaries, then that’s a trash fire. If they are making a big deal of being closed for business on a reasonable number or holidays, that’s BS. But the company expecting that people should check their emails / messages in a situation like this IS totally reasonable – the down time IS a really nice thing and totally optional. And pointing that out and telling people not to complain about it not being a complete time off is not baloney.

          1. Lara*

            Because companies that do this make it sounds like it’s some wonderful gift that their employees should be grateful for when it really isn’t that big of a deal. We don’t need to be grateful or feel lucky about every little morsel of niceness that employers give their employees when many people are being treated like crap by their employers most of the time.

            1. MK*

              Whenever I was allowed to leave early, it was never presented as a “wonderful gift”, just a casual gesture, nor do I know of any company that makes a big production of it. If a company expects immense gratitude for something like this, that’s obviously unreasonable, but the OP makes no such mention.

    10. fhgwhgads*

      “You should feel lucky” is kind of a rude thing to say to an OP. Plenty of places don’t close early before a holiday, but plenty of places also don’t give sick leave, or only give one week vacation. Wanting to use the time off you were told you’d get is reasonable. In the specific case of the letter, I think the OP is feeling burned by the company because it was framed to them as time off, when it’s really time on-call that will probably not result in doing work other than checking email 4 times. But there is less freedom in on-call than being truly off. So it’s a mismatch of expectations resulting in the bummer.
      That said, I have worked at companies before that always gave a half day the day before a paid holiday (not necessarily Friday, just whatever the business day before was). However, that company also gave only 8 paid holidays a year. Most others I’ve worked for gave 10 or 11. So at the time I took that job, doing the mental math comparing the benefits, I definitely calculated in those half days to make myself feel better about the loss of whole days.

    11. MassMatt*

      Yeah, I wonder what region this is that “most places” close early the Friday before a holiday weekend. That’s a nice perk (that the LW doesn’t seem to appreciate), not the norm anyplace I’ve worked, except for Christmas Eve.

      If it really feels too much like work, use your PTO and take it off, this is what most people do.

    12. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

      In the UK many companies only work half a day on the last working day before Christmas and New Year. I too have had a boss that behaved like a jerk because it wasn’t a hard stop.

      One New Year’s Eve I had a heavy cold, and struggled in rather than calling in sick because it was only supposed to be half a day, dosing myself up to the gills on Lemsips to keep myself going. The company, and our department in particular, had a huge presentee culture, so whereas another firm might have taken one look at me and sent me home, it was not only expected that you would be there while sick, but you would continue to work to capacity. Anyway, on with the story.

      Nearly everyone else from all the other departments had gone home by midday. Even most of our long-hours culture department were gone by around 1:00 or 1:30. It was only one of my fee earners, “Charlie”, who was still there. I asked him if I could leave, and he said that he still needed me there in case our department head “Jim” phoned up from our California office with something urgent to do. Charlie was desperately trying to impress Jim and our U.S. partners in order to be promoted to partner and would work silly hours just because Jim’s habit was to work silly hours. Charlie had given me silly fill-in tasks in the meantime that weren’t urgent at all and could wait until the New Year. I had finished everything else.

      2pm rolled around. 2:30. 3:00. Still no phone call from Jim. The company had a policy that while anyone was in the building working, an IT professional also had to be there. The IT team member on duty happened to be 8 months pregnant, and was tired and wanted to go home. By this point, she was threatening to unplug his network cable if he didn’t go home. My disabled partner was also phoning up getting more and more frantic because I hadn’t left yet. The final straw came when I suddenly got an email from my parents saying that the cat had died.

      Charlie really was that tone deaf that he made a sick secretary and a heavily pregnant IT tech stay in the office with nothing important to do, just *in case* Jim phoned up and he wanted to show him his dedication.

      If firms are going to offer a half day, make it a proper half day. Either everyone leaves at lunchtime, or everyone stays all afternoon.

    13. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      That’s not fair. And if a company is going to close early, then unless you’re in the type of job that puts you on call for emergencies, you shouldn’t be obligated to check VMs for the last half of the day, because while you may not be in the office, you’re still working if needed. So they either need to close or stay open. Letting people go home but expecting them to work is not letting you off early.

  4. MBK*

    LW4: If you’re working in an actual office (as opposed to COVID-imposed WFH), that closing-early-but-not-fully can be an opportunity to beat holiday weekend Friday commuter traffic on the way home even if you’re still on the clock until 5.

    1. doreen*

      During normal times, it can also be an opportunity to get on the road earlier/beat traffic to a weekend getaway. I can monitor email/voicemail while my husband is driving just as well as I can from home. Sure, it’s not quite the same as a free afternoon off- but it’s also not quite the same as WFH or in the office.

    2. lapgiraffe*

      I came to suggest the same. I’m in outside sales and during slow periods we often don’t have anything to do on Fridays, but we’re still expected to be available for calls and emails. I know some people want to power down completely and it’s a me ya adjustment, but more often than not no one calls, no one emails, and you just had a free Friday. I hit the road early for a long weekend, or use it to run all my errands, or get excited for some deep cleaning time. Yes it’s hard to make this extra time pure leisure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize it and make the most of it even with keeping your ringer on and regular cursory glances at email.

    3. Marthooh*

      Once upon a time, when the world was young, people would use the long weekends to visit their extended families. Getting a semi-free afternoon on the Friday was a chance to pack their luggage, go to the grocery store, do some laundry, or fuel up the car for an early start. Nowadays, of course, it’s less likely to be a relaxing start to your time off.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      While true, they shouldn’t frame it as an afternoon off, because it’s not. When you’re “on call” which is essentially what this is, there are only certain things you can do since you may have to jump online and work. So you can’t really get your weekend started early.

  5. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

    LW1 – I would apologize once more in person or on the phone. Explain again it was a long day and you were worried about missing an appointment. A good boss/person will understand. This is a mistake everyone will make at some point.

    1. SleeplessKJ*

      I agree this is a time when picking up the phone is a great idea. So much can be misconstrued in a text or email since you can’t hear “tone”.

    2. charo*

      I have never sent my BOSS an insulting message by mistake. Ever. Can’t imagine how this is OK.

      It wouldn’t be OK to send an insult to a CLIENT, would it?

      Or even to a coworker?

      It’s bad enough if you intend to be insulting, but by MISTAKE?

      1. Willis*

        You have said this same comment multiple times. The OP obviously realizes she should not have texted this to her boss and apologized. The advice is to apologize again and explain that she was frustrated. Of course this wouldnt be acceptable to send to a client, accidentally or otherwise. But it’s also not some tragedy that the OP and her boss shouldn’t be able to get past. What do you want the OP to do besides the advice that’s been given?

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I’m so confused by all your comments. Are you saying you think it would be more okay to send an insulting message to your boss on purpose than to send one that is clearly an accident? That’s an odd take.

        This is obviously not an okay thing to send to your boss, literally no one is suggesting it is. But it is mostly an okay thing to send to your sister, which is what OP was trying to do.

        Sending the message to the wrong person happens literally all the time. If it’s never happened to you, then that’s nice for you. But that doesn’t change the fact that it has happened to lots and lots of other people and will continue to happen. Yes, it sucks for everyone. Yes, it is super embarrassing to the person who sent it. Yes, it is hurtful to the person who received it. But since time machines don’t exist there is not ever a way to go back and make it so it never happened. All you can do is respond to the mistake, which is what OP has already done and what Alison has advised doing a bit further.

  6. Dan*


    Titles are very much a “know your industry” kind of thing. In my line of work, titles are so generic and company-specific that they are completely useless for a resume screen. I’ve seen some companies hand out “senior analyst” to entry-level hires. And at others, “senior analyst” requires at least 10 years of experience. (Found that out when I told an interviewer that my 5-year plan was to be senior analyst. Response was “not here you won’t be… takes ten years minimum.” Well WTF kind of answer did you want then?) My current org is one of those places where “senior” is one step from the bottom… OTOH, “senior principal” for some reason is baller status — most people will never get that.

    In my field, I need to know if you’re an Individual Contributor, Project Lead, or some other sort of formal manager. I can’t get that from company specific or generic titles, so I have to look at your descriptions.

    Point being, if titles are a BFD in your field, you have to try hard to convey things in just the right way. If that’s the case, then you may want to ask the advice from those in your field who can give you a more relevant answer. If you’re in a field like mine, it matters not one hoot and you don’t need to worry too much.

    Perhaps in your case, a good option might be to state your title, immediately followed by a one-sentence description of your most significant duties/accomplishments. And you can address the change itself in your cover letter. So your resume might read [some generic title] Project Lead for team of 12, doing blah blah blah… The PL would tell me that you know how to manage teams, can interface with clients and can write project reports. However, PL means you don’t have formal hire/fire responsibilities.

  7. Kate*

    OP #1 I have been there. I sent a message to my manager calling her bitchy. As soon as I realised I called to apologise, the call went unanswered. So sent another text message apologising. We never acknowledged it ever again.

  8. Not Australian*

    #1 – a similar thing happened to me, not with my boss but with a dear friend with whom I was collaborating on a project. It does take a little while to recover from, but the only sensible course is just to tackle it head-on and admit that you were feeling put-upon/flustered at the time but it doesn’t represent how you usually feel. We all have flaws and make mistakes, and I expect your boss too will have done things in her past she’s not proud of; if she’s a good boss, she’ll remember those and not to too tough on you for this one.

    1. charo*

      The difference is you didn’t “interview” to be dear friends and promise you that you have “great attention to detail” — which most job-seekers do promise.

      1. winter*

        Are you the OP’s boss? You’re leaving some strange comments.

        We are generally asked to be kind to letter writers and I also think that advice which requires a time machine is not very helpful.

  9. Beatrice*

    #4 – Sounds like the person who answers the main line doesn’t get a break at all. Ideally. They’d get something else to compensate… if I were in charge of them, I’d try to arrange for a floating afternoon off on another day or buy lunch for them or something. Same for anyone else unlikely to get an actual break. Other than that, it seems fair. If anything, it’s pretty generous, especially if the holiday you’re referring to is Labor Day and not one of the bigger ones.

    1. teclatrans*

      OP5, Alison has written in the past about how to list multiple titles at one company; you should be sure include the one that is more representative of your skills & experience. And then make sure your bullet points demonstrate that higher-level work.

  10. Anonys*

    LW3: Your company’s reaction to this strikes me as super weird. Our company’s own PR boss is probably the one who comments on/likes major competitor’s posts the most on LinkedIn. I think it’s done as part of the general “keeping in touch and engaged with what’s going on in the industry” strategy.

    To be fair, we are in an industry where we might compete with a company, but also have a supply relationship in another area, or cooperate sometimes. Still, it strikes me as weird that anyone would take such a hard-line stance against this (or tbf that anyone at my company would notice or care what I like on LinkedIn). Would be interesting to know what Sansa’s post was about. If it was just about a personal achievement of hers, the reaction is definitely out of line.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Since she recently changed jobs I assumed it was something along the lines of “loving this new job at Competitor Llama Groomers”.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Letter #3 is why I never friend anyone at the current job. It avoids situations like this.

      And it makes no sense, business-wise, to treat former employees and their new companies as the ‘enemy.’ Today’s competition can be tomorrow’s new teaming partner.

      1. Don’t*

        My former employer DOES treat those who leave for the competitor as if we are the worst of the worst. The iciness we all feel when at an industry gathering is palpable. In fact, other competitors have commented on this. I think the folks we left behind are butthurt that we felt the need to go. Many have deleted me and others from their LinkedIn accounts. It’s really pretty petty.

    3. RabidChild*

      I am in a marketing communications role, and it is very common to engage with a direct competitor’s content on social media, both to keep abreast of what’s going on in the industry and to be sure I’ll receive ads for similar products. It’s not at all uncommon for folks in a sales or product development area to do the same–it’s a form of competitive research. A like is not a cardinal sin, and it’s not like your colleague gushed all over it or admitted the other company’s products/services were superior.

  11. Asenath*

    In my part of the world, it is NOT usual to close early before a long weekend, although my former employer did for Christmas Eve only. We had to wait for the “surprise” announcement. This practice probably varies from place to place and industry to industry – we weren’t usually busy on Christmas Eve, with our busy period being a bit earlier. It does sound like a less generous gesture if you have to still check emails and phone calls, but on the other hand, it’s still a bit of a break from your regular work.

    1. Chinook*

      It was so common in Calgary that the commuter bus had a Dec. 24th schedule where they ran the evening commute 2 hours earlier and, if you didn’t get let go early, you ran the risk of missing the last one (so they actually had print outs of that one day schedule to show your boss ahec of time).

  12. Shortstuff*

    I worked at an organisation that gave out ridiculously generic job titles – so you could be “Associate, Department” or “Principal, Department” – and the four (out of five) most junior levels conveyed neither information nor status if you worked in a field that normally uses more specific job titles (eg Teapot Lid Manager, Head of Teapot Spouts). But in my department we did all have roles that we were de facto doing or hiring for, so we used those quite a bit as working job titles. On my CV I put both. This worked fine and it never actually came up in job interviews, but if it had I’d have just explained.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Yeah, my current org basically just has analysts, experts, senior analysts and … you guessed it, senior experts.

  13. Not So NewReader*

    For OP #2. I have no clue why bosses ask this question and sincerely expect to get a useful answer. Most people are going to say they plan on staying with the company for a while…. most people who want to keep their jobs, that is.

    I really think that what your boss wants to know is “how do we keep this company relevant given our new setting”. It baffles me that employers want to ask employees this question also. But anyway… If you have ideas on how the company could go in a different direction you could probably do a subtle redirect for this conversation.

    What I have gone with is, “I have some personal goals that I am working on, so my plan is to stay here while I work on other things in my life. [then the seque…] However, I have been thinking about what the company could do that would be of value to our [people/customers/clients] and I see a couple unaddressed needs that I thought were worth kicking around….[explain what you see].

    I have used this approach when I was backing away from the job and my level of commitment to the job. A key part for me is that while I tried to make intelligent comments about my observations, I had ZERO interest in where the company went with my comments. Ignore me, it’s fine, I’m not invested here. I tried to put together a thinking person’s answer as I felt it was the proper thing to do. But it also got me out of answering the main question regarding where did I see myself in x years.

    Try not to let the question weigh you down, try to view it as a general question rather than about you as an individual employee. I really think that the question they are asking will not give them the answers they want. They really need to ask a different question entirely.

    1. Luna*

      I absolutely agree with you!

      I always find it strange when asked about my ‘future plans’ during job interviews or similar. Given that I am having difficulty keeping jobs for a long time, despite wanting to stay there, I don’t really have future plans. My plans for the future, so far, are very, very low-set. “Keep this job for at least a year and more.”

      I don’t plan things like wanting to work myself up to a manager position in a few years. I don’t have the money or other resources to even *think* of planning things. It’s such a weird question!

      And that’s not getting into the fact that there are people who are just not future planners. Or even those that have plans for their work. Some people are happy in the position they work, and don’t feel like striving for something higher.

      1. MassMatt*

        Well, it’s one thing to ask it in a job interview, or at an annual review. Ideally you want someone who plans to grow in their career and align training, opportunities, etc to meet their goals.

        But in this context it really seems as though the manager is fishing for reasons she can lay people off without feeling guilty. If you say you are looking to move on soon you are jeopardizing your job, if you say you want to stay and then move on 6 months from now the manager can act as though you lied. This just fuels the fire for vindictive managers that look at employees leaving as some sort of betrayal.

        1. MamaSarah*

          So, like LW2, I have been in my job for 5 years, am no longer challenged (I’ve been reading relevant literature to keep the mind sharp), and there is little to no opportunity for growth. I daydream about being a barista or going back to school. I would NEVER share this with my employer. Moreover, I personally believe it’s important to “go all in”. I’ve just redefined my definition of “all in” (do the work that asked of me, being pleasant and cordial but no longer seeking ways to expand my role) and decided to focus on personal passions.

    2. RC Rascal*

      Yeah, this is a loaded question. A good friend of mine just got managed out of a Senior Director role at a publicly traded company just because he answered this question too honestly with his long term manager he thought he could trust. There is honest, and then there is savvy. Here you want savvy.

      One way to handle this is to talk about career development/skill enhancement, provided that is possible at this employer. If it isn’t possible, you can talk about gaining greater exposure/knowledge to the industry. You might even be able to finagle a conference invitation from this kind of discussion.

      If neither those approaches is credible, then talk about how much you enjoy company culture and your coworkers. None of this has to be true. Employers misrepresent situations to employees all the time. The trick is learning to read between the lines of communication.

  14. Bookworm*

    LW4: No, that is not unusual. It’s to make sure there is someone (or multiple people) available just in case. Sometimes, you never know what will drop on a Friday before a long weekend or right before a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, etc.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      Yes. My understanding is that promise certain hours to their customers and they have to honor that. But since nothing vital is likely to come in just before a holiday weekend, they want to encourage you to take it if possible….but reserve the right to call you back if something immediate does surface, so they’re still keeping their word to the clients.

      I think that’s reasonable in this context.

  15. staceyizme*

    Sending the text wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t awful. If your boss knew that you were leaving for an appointment and also knew that you’d been in meetings for fully half of the workday, it’s not an overreach to expect that the combination of a fifth hour (even a partial one) and the pressure to finish up and leave would tax your reserves. That said- maybe it’s really worth pondering whether all of those meetings are necessary and whether some of these professional differences of opinion couldn’t be addressed more productively. Or at least in a more structured forum.

  16. Blarg*

    LW 1 – Sent a text including the phrase “my dumbass mother” … to my mother. And didn’t realize it til she replied “that wasn’t very nice.” I apologized. That was 2006. I still remember. Haven’t done it again, though.

  17. Alex*

    My office sometimes (not always!) closes early on long holiday weekends, but there’s always the caveat “If your work allows you to do so.” Meaning, if you’ve got something time sensitive in the works, you are expected to do it and not ignore requests or time-sensitive tasks just because the office is closed.

    That’s because it’s not *really* a holiday that we’re entitled to, as in, one of the holidays on the official list that we get off. It is time paid as work. Yes, that means some people get the afternoon off and some don’t, but life isn’t always fair.

    They trust that employees take ownership and responsibility for their work, and can make good judgement calls about when to leave and whether or not they need to be available. This past Friday I didn’t have anything time sensitive to attend to, so I went to the beach! But plenty of times in the past I worked through an afternoon “off” because otherwise stuff would have gotten behind.

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      Same! Well, except my office ALWAYS closes at noon the day before a holiday. But it’s also with the condition that any time sensitive stuff must be taken care of before you head out for the holiday. On Friday, I worked an extra hour trying to untangle a big mess and get an important report out for one of my customers. Sure, it was annoying, but sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

  18. Arctic*

    LW # 2 has already told their boss that they want to leave in five years though. I don’t think just saying “nm hope to stay forever!” is going to come off as credible.

    1. Avid reader infrequent commenter*

      Yeah, I’m curious if Alison perhaps missed this part of the letter? The answer and suggestion glosses over or outright ignores that part of the situation.

      1. Arctic*

        Yeah the advice and comments are all “don’t do the thing you already did.” That must feel kind of terrible and anxiety inducing for the LW.

        1. Observer*

          No, the advice is to essentially say “I was kind of taken aback at the question, but now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, I realize that I have no plans to move.”

          1. Arctic*

            Yeah, no it isn’t.

            “Do not tell any of this to your boss.” (already did.)

            When told to go back and say there are no plans to leave Alison does not suggest mentioning being caught off guard or how to explain what was previously said, at all.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              The LW wrote, “I felt caught off-guard and flustered my way through saying that I thought I would probably move on from our organization before another five years were up … I asked for more time to think and let her know, with no hard date set as to when to do that.”

              Then she described her plans and asked, “Do I tell my boss any of this?” (So “don’t tell her any of this” applies to the plans she described in her letter, not to her boss.)

              Saying “I’ll probably leave in the next five years” when you’re put on the spot doesn’t preclude you from going back and saying you’ve thought about it and don’t actually have real plans to leave, are happy, and want to stay for a long time. The point is that she shouldn’t go back with her actual plans to leave in the spring, which is what she was contemplating doing.

              1. Arctic*

                And just saying “actually I want to stay” without addressing the fact that you just said something completely different is going to come off as insincere, at best.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  She’ll just frame it as something like, “I gave it some more thought after we talked and I don’t actually see myself leaving in that time period, blah blah.” It’s not a big deal to do that.

  19. Artemesia*

    #2 — these are dangerous times to be vague about this. Of course if I am laying people off I am going to all things being equal going to lay off the person who has been telling me they are thinking about moving on. I am going to privilege the person who is committed to the job. Absolutely confidently tell the boss in these times with this questions that you intend to be working there in 5 years and hope to advance to X. If something comes up along the way, we all rethink out careers from time to time. But don’t make yourself the sacrificial lamb.

  20. boop the first*

    2. I completely agree with the usual tactic advised for this situation! The only thing that would give me pause, is that if they inevitably have to push someone out, it might end up being someone who really did need to stay long term, who doesn’t have a supportive living situation or a side gig to fall back on, and I don’t know how to just… watch that happen and then go “whoops, turns out I’m out next month, thanks!”

    1. MassMatt*

      Layoffs suck, there’s no way around it. The decisions should be made based on who is most valuable on cost/benefit to the company, not the perception of how much they need the job. That sort of thinking has tended to reinforce sexist stereotypes, as in assuming that guys are providing for a family and women are just providing “extra” income and trying to stay busy, as though their jobs were hobbies.

      Cut the less people based on productivity, not their perceived needs. Your understanding of who has what needs may well be inaccurate anyway.

  21. not neurotypical*

    OP #2, Allison’s answer–which encouraged you to actively deceive your employer–came from within the each-against-all logic of capitalism, but we’re talking about a non-profit, so I have a different spin consisting of a series of questions:

    (1) How much do you care about the mission of the non-profit?
    (2) How much do you care about the well-being of your co-workers?
    (3) How would you feel if, having been deceived into thinking that you plan to stay for “a long time” when you really intend to leave in less than a year, the non-profit keeps you but lays off a coworker who is deeply devoted to the mission and really did intend to make her career at that organization? What if that co-worker, unlike you, doesn’t have a partner whose job can support her? What if that co-worker loses her healthcare as a result?
    (4) How would you feel if, having been deceived into thinking that you plan to stay for “a long time” when you really intend to leave in less than a year, the non-profit devotes resources to training you for a new role within the re-org?

    This may be an ethical dilemma for you. I’m not saying that you must disclose, just that you probably should think about such questions before making a decision that you might later feel uneasy about. There’s a reason you feel inclined to be more honest, and you may want to listen to that part of yourself while also thinking about your own self-interest.

    1. LTL*

      … no.

      Even if LW’s organization is a nonprofit, at the end of the day, there’s a power dynamic between employer and employee. There is no reason for LW to consider risking her livelihood in exchange for the nonprofits resources. A person losing their job and an organization losing some money are in no way the same, nonprofit or no.

      LW should absolutely not take on the burden of others’ employment onto herself. “What if your company lays off a coworker?” What if they don’t? None of us know what the nonprofit’s plans are and none of us should guess. It’s horribly unfair to burden LW with that sort of anxiety over something she can’t know and has no control over. By this logic, should I stop job hunting because the family-oriented culture I’m from means I’ll always have a roof over my head? Should those who are doing well and single not go for promotions because someone with a family probably needs the money more? There’s a problem with the system that prevents a lot of people from making the livelihood they need. It’s preposterous to ask an individual to shoulder that burden.

      tl;dr: Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.

      1. Metadata minion*

        Ditto. And just because the LW is really hoping to leave doesn’t mean that a good alternative will come along in that time period. Or there could be some sort of reorganization that leads to actual advancement in the organization. Or etc. Laying someone off who was really hoping to find a new job but has no actual leads yet doesn’t leave them in any more secure of a position than laying off someone who was planning to stay until they retired.

  22. Tidewater 4-1009*

    #3, your letter reminds me of the trouble I had with older men in America when I was young. They made a big deal of everything I did, and got even more hostile when I tried to stand up for myself. Reasonable people aren’t like this, but they were not reasonable. I’m a woman and I’m sure chauvinism was a factor. This was in the 1980’s.

    I would be careful defending your employee or yourself to them, and document what happens. I wish I could give more specific advice, but I never understood why they were like that. Yours sound like they take competition way too seriously and way too far.

  23. Maxie*

    #1: The text wasn’t great but it also isn’t awful. I think we’ve all accidentally sent an email or text to the person we were complaining about in either our work or personal lives. I once accidentally sent an email complaining about sister A to both sister A and B. I did that by hitting Reply Al instead of Reply. All I could do was profusely apologize.
    I agree that you should follow up with your boss. I think an in-person conversation would be best. But OP, one thing in your explanation doesn’t ring true: that calling your boss insane was lighthearted and joking. To me, that reads as a denial. Unless you can credibly explain the lighthearted humor in that, I recommend sticking with your frustration and a apology, along with taking responsibility for not telling your boss about your appointment. If your job doesn’t normally require you to stay until after 4:30 that really wasn’t your fault but you’ll make points by apologizing for that anyway.

  24. Jennifer Juniper*

    LW1, it is best to not use messages at work for anything other than professional communications, of course.

    Also, Alison, thank you for teaching me something new! I thought it would have been a fireable offense at worst, a PIP at best.

  25. KathyW*

    LW #4 – I am a little surprised to see so many replies about how you should be grateful for what you get. In my industry it’s fairly common to get the afternoon off the weekend before a holiday as well, though it’s typically for certain holidays – good friday, thanksgiving, 4th July, etc. I guess I didn’t realize it was that unusual.

    It was always similarly frustrating for my group because they would making a big deal about letting us have the afternoon off – except that emails and phone calls all still needed to be answered as usual. That was probably 90% of our jobs soooo really just business as usual! Fortunately, I moved to another group at the same employer where I don’t need to have the same level of availability, and now I get to be one of those people who can leave and just check emails occasionally :)

  26. e271828*

    “Senior Breakfast Specialist (manager of breakfast communications)” is my cat’s new job title. He’s thrilled—it’s a significant upgrade from his Rodent and Avian Tracking title, which he was hired into after performing well in Cardboard Applications Training. Taking the rest of the afternoon off after his shift requirements are fulfilled is a great perk with this role.

  27. Emilitron*

    #1 – My workplace is weird, but “my insane boss needs me at a meeting” is the kind of message that my manager would actually not take much offense over at all. It’s part of our office culture that worker bees throw managers under the bus when there are annoyances that we can’t help and need to apologize for, and many managers see that as part of their jobs. In your situation I would have sent a note saying “Sorry I sent you Sally’s note, I honestly don’t think you’re insane and I completely understand why I needed to be at that meeting. If I use you as an excuse again I’ll do it without the name-calling”

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