should I warn someone he might be fired?

A reader writes:

I have a new employee who has performance issues — bad communication, loads of errors, very slow pace, among other things. I am working on improvements, both on his and my side. But if no improvement happens, this employee will be let go.

I am wondering if I should tell him that. I prefer to be absolutely clear, to not surprise him by letting him go if it comes to that. Another manager I work closely with is of the opinion that telling him that he could be let go is counterproductive, as it would be a big de-motivator and he would start looking for another job straight away.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Hiring a candidate who dressed too casually for the interview
  • Happy hours and religious restrictions
  • My coworker asks where I’m going every single time I leave my desk
  • How much time should managing people take?

{ 230 comments… read them below }

  1. Ali G*

    #4, Alison’s answer is obviously the best idea, but I would probably just start ignoring her and pretending I didn’t hear her. I would be curious if when I came back she asked where I’d been (“no where special”), or after a couple of times she stopped.

    1. Kristinmagoo*

      I was in this situation once. I just quietly responded “wherever I want.” That effectively communicated her overstep and she never did it again.

      1. Helvetica*

        That is amazing! Sometimes, with people like this, you have to be clear that they are over-stepping.

    2. Safely Retired*

      “Crazy. Want to come?”
      “I don’t know, I’ll find out when I get there.”
      “I ask myself that same question every day.”
      “Sorry, is it your day to watch me?”
      “I forget.”
      “Well I’m not going to Tasmania.”
      “I like to keep my options open.”
      “Nowhere I haven’t been before.”
      “Sorry, you wouldn’t understand.”
      “The edge of the earth. Then I’m going to jump off.”

      1. Milk of Amnesia*

        I know this would not fly in most offices but I would be really tempted to reply with…

        Well I had this large burrito for breakfast and am not sure if I have to do a number 2 or it could be back up gass pressure, but I do not want to release that around you.

        Or… something along those lines and very preposterous so they would eventually stop asking.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        HHAHAHA, this is what I think…
        “The Moon”
        I’d probably get more and more ridiculous… I actually read this to my sister and said “a meeting with the communists; don’t tell McCarthy”

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      While I was an intern, I had an older male boss who was otherwise fantastic, but always asked where I was going as if I needed to be excused. One time he asked me in front of a room full of other guys and I just blurted out honestly “I HAVE TO PEE SO BAD” and the look on his face, I wish I had a picture of it. He never asked me again.

      1. Hobbit*

        OMG I would do something like that, or I might say the little girls room, is that allowed? LOL

    4. Psychedelic Stretch*

      Have some fun with it.

      When the question is asked, look as if you have just woken up with a jolt and say: “Wait. Am I sleepwalking again? Is this another weird work dream?” Walk out of the room, touched things, as if you’re sure whether it’s reality or a dream.

      When the question is asked, raise your arm, wave your hand around and say: “This is not the coworker you are looking for.” And walk out.

      “The creme brulees need torching.”

  2. Dagny*

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but why does it matter if he starts looking for another job? Firing someone comes with all sorts of risks, even if the person is in a probationary period. The position will be unfilled, but the employee is not getting much work done anyway.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      Just an excuse not to have a hard conversation, anyone can look for another job at any time. If the new hire does a poor enough job your good employees may start looking because they don’t want to have poor employee messing up their work or having to pick up the slack. Who do you want to leave – the worker who can’t get it together or your good employees?

    2. whistle*

      That was my question as well. If a poor performer quits before they can be fired, great! I don’t have to do the firing or pay the unemployment. And assuming they give notice, I can openly begin hiring processes while they are still performing some work. I seriously can’t wrap my head around the mindset that you wouldn’t want someone who you may have to fire to be job hunting.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s just some half-assed BS, to keep the “power” on the side of the management/company. Don’t try to make sense of it, it doesn’t make any sense!

      I’d rather someone opt out if they prefer to do so, than to just watch them struggle until we finally cut the line and free them into the stream again.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        I agree completely. Use him until it’s not worth it then kick him out? Why? Power move.

      2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        But how do you feed your sense of superiority without getting to watch people struggle as a spectator sport?

      3. Marna*

        Alternatively, if the boss is that worried about him quitting early, maybe that’s a sign that this situation is potentially very salvageable and it’s worth putting in the work to give him a really solid chance of getting up to speed?

    4. Can Can Cannot*

      Exactly. I had a similar conversation with one of my engineers, letting him know that there were some serious performance issues that he needed to address. Afterwards he appeared to be working on them, but about eight weeks later he gave his notice. I was fine with this, and replaced him with someone who was a much better fit for the job. If he had stayed I wouldn’t have been able to find a better person for this position without firing him, so it was a good move for both sides.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        “telling him that he could be let go is counterproductive, as it would be a big de-motivator and he would start looking for another job straight away.”
        Came to say the exact same thing. If he uses the information to kick up his level of work at his current job, or he puts his energy into finding a new job is both his choice and useful information to OP.
        If he starts looking for a new job that means yes, he is demotivated about this job. So let him go in the best way possible. The other manager seems to think that it is better to squeeze whatever low quality work out of him that you can until it’s not worth your time any more then kick him to the curb.
        Yeah, not better for anyone.

    5. hey*

      “telling him that he could be let go is counterproductive, as it would be a big de-motivator and he would start looking for another job straight away.”
      Came to say the exact same thing. If he uses the information to kick up his level of work at his current job, or he puts his energy into finding a new job is both his choice and useful information to OP.
      If he starts looking for a new job that means yes, he is demotivated about this job. So let him go in the best way possible. The other manager seems to think that it is better to squeeze whatever low quality work out of him that you can until it’s not worth your time any more then kick him to the curb.
      Yeah, not better for anyone.

        1. Tabby*

          IDK, I rather liked being told I wasn’t doing well at my job and would be let go the time it happened. I wasn’t doing well, and I knew it, though I tried my best — and the management knew as well. We parted amicably, and I got a good reference out of it! They even told me they wanted me to apply for unemployment so that I would have a bit of holdover money until I got a new job, and I got it, too. As badly as I did as a receptionist at that job, I learned something valuable: I was right to think of my skillset as back of house animal handler/kennel tech. I’m /not/ a front-of-house kind of girl, nor am I a vet tech kind of girl, even though people seem to think I would do well at it. Theoretically, I /can/, but I don’t do well with medical things like compounding meds and the like, and I detest being chained to a desk all day, but I am magic at dealing with dogs and cats who aren’t easy to handle, and cleaning/keeping the place ticking over.

          I just wish I were better at writing this in a cover letter, and convincing more people that yes, I’m perfectly happy doing that forever, preferably at full time. It really is an “anyone-can-do-it” kind of job, but very few people are good at /actually/ getting it done properly. Also, there’s the ability to deal with tedium and difficult dogs (WAYNE, MAC, DUKE, HARLOW AND HARRISON, I SEE YOU (these are my special frens, whom I love and are troublemakers!:D)) every. single. day.

          1. Deliliah*

            Yeah, I have this issue as well. I like doing the “grunt work” at my job. I’m very good at the behind the scenes, carry out the orders type of work. I have no interest in coming with ideas, but I love to implement other folks’ ideas. It’s hard to convey that sometimes!

            1. TootsNYC*

              I try sometimes to make that point by comparing it to being an alto. We so seldom get to sing the melody, but we also add such depth to the finished product, and I take a lot of pride in that.

              I also often say that I like the puzzle of figuring out what someone else was trying to achieve, how they are missing their mark, and what I can do that helps them hit it in their own style. That it’s an interesting challenge, and it takes more skill, almost: I have to understand their job in a deeper way even than they do. (But it’s also less work, because I don’t have to start things off; I just get to come in and polish it up.)

          2. JobHunter*

            I told an interviewer that I felt most successful at my job after helping other people achieve success in theirs. I then tied it into examples from my teaching experiences. They seemed pleased with my answer.

            1. PeteAndRepeat*

              I’ve done this too and gotten the job. I said that I like being in the background – training, facilitating, and supporting others to be the face of the project. I think if it’s true and you convey it genuinely, it can sound good!

            2. Anon for this*

              Remember Charles Emerson Winchester III from MASH? Loved music, couldn’t carry a tune on a bucket? My stepfather was a bit like that, and he once admitted to me that he had felt bad about it until he realized that SOMEONE must be the audience. He went to all my concerts while he & Mom were married.

            3. Chaordic One*

              Similarly, I once matter-of-factly said to an interviewer that I wanted to make my boss look good. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, but the interviewer later told me that it was what made me stand out and got me the job from among several similarly qualified candidates.

    6. staceyizme*

      I kind of wonder about holding on to a new hire if they are making a lot of mistakes, are very slow, have poor communication etc… It seems like a trifecta of trouble and wouldn’t it make more sense to bring in a recently interviewed candidate that was maybe choice #2 in the role instead of letting the ninety days or six months of probation play out? It seems kinder, if they are truly failing in the role, to cut things shorter rather than try to do a formal PIP and other things so early in a role. Just my thoughts.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Also, if he’s not on a PIP or something, then that’s poor management. When we had some folks who were fired on our team a few jobs back, management belatedly realized that the rest of us needed a lot of reassurance that *we* were not also on the chopping block. It’s not just about this one employee. Others might go “Wow, what if I’m next?” and it would be worse to lose a key player than be upfront about the performance correction process. Once management said, “We messed up and from here on if you’re in trouble, you’ll very clearly know” people calmed down. I don’t know if they realized how close they were to losing a few more team members because of the uncertainty.

    8. LunaLena*

      Just my speculation, but I wonder if the manager thinks that Employee’s work will get even worse since he won’t have anything to lose if he’s going to be fired anyways. Or that he’ll be upset and retaliate with sabotage, like deleting files or refusing to show anyone how to do various aspects of his job.

  3. BlondeSpiders*

    Q #4: I don’t think introverts would feel comfortable using those scripts, even as an extrovert I’d feel weird about it. I think I would just say, every single time:

    Coworker: Where ya going?
    Me: Out of this room. Why?

    Rinse, repeat. They’ll get the message.

    1. marny*

      I’d be more likely to respond, “Why do you ask?” in a truly sincere-sounding voice to see how they respond. And when they answer with something like, “Just curious.” I’d say, “Oh, ok.” And I’d leave without answering. I think that would highlight the strangeness of them asking enough for them to cut it out.

      1. irene adler*

        That, or “what do you need? ” or “What can I get for you?” -thinking that she’s asking because she needs the OP to get something for her.

      2. Birdie*

        I’ve definitely said, “Why, did you need something?” in a helpful tone before, which worked pretty well.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          That’s what I would go with. It would make them realize that they are asking for no valid reason, and also not answer their question, since it’s none of their business.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’m an introvert, and I feel a lot more comfortable with the scripts Alison provided than giving a snarky or cutesy response to the question. Being introverted is not the same as being afraid of direct communication or to address difficult behavior. The vast majority of us of us are not cowering from the smallest of social interactions like a vampire from sunlight.

      marny’s suggestion of, “Why do you ask?” would be my first choice, though.

        1. Tired of Covid*

          Yeah, I’m very much an introvert, which has helped me be relatively ok during the pandemic. However, I’m very prone to snark and sarcasm, many folks mistakenly think I’m an extrovert because I do not shy away from people or confrontation when needed. They don’t understand why I turn down their invitations to socialize or visit. People really do misunderstand introverts.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Lol yes. But I do like “why do you ask” because it doesn’t assume intent. The coworker just be making a (bad) attempt to be friendly, and a snarky reply will feel really alienating.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yes, I think I first saw it in a Miss Manner column years ago, and it’s served me well over the years!

          1. Tired of Covid*

            Sometimes folks do want you to bring them something back from the vending machine, but not every time. I would just ask “do you want something” or ignore them.

          2. Chaordic One*

            Ann Landers and Dear Abby often suggested giving this response to overly nosy and inappropriate questions, but I never found it helpful or felt that it was a good answer. In my experience it does encourage the questioner to justify the question, but then they keep talking and they’ll usually just keep asking. If you leave without answering they’ll ask again when you come back, and it doesn’t really highlight the strangeness of them asking enough for them to cut it out.

            I think you need to be more direct and maybe a bit curt and blunt.

      2. nonegiven*

        Not even that. Why do you need to know? If they say they want to know if I’m gone for the day, then after that,
        I’d just tell them I am gone for the day or I’m not gone for the day.

        Is there some reason they need to know that they can articulate then I’ll fulfill that and nothing else. If they just want to know, then no, I’ll just ignore the question after that.

    3. Combinatorialist*

      Just because you are introverted, doesn’t mean you can’t be direct. Introversion means interacting with people drains you as opposed to energizes you. Being uncomfortable here is more about being “conflict” avoidant, but that doesn’t mean that the easiest way out of this situation is to say something kind and direct.

    4. Parenthetically*

      I’m an introvert who is perfectly capable of being cheerful and direct, and I think the scripts are great. Introversion/extroversion has nothing to do with shyness or awkwardness.

      1. DoubleE*

        Amen! I’m a definite introvert. I don’t come across as shy or awkward at all, and don’t mind interacting with other people; I just need my alone time to recharge.

        1. allathian*

          Indeed. I’m an introvert too, but a chatty one. I also don’t have an issue with adlibbing in a meeting if necessary. It’s just that being around people drains rather than energizes me. Whether we talk or not is irrelevant, just being around other people for more than an hour or two a day tires me out. I’ve opted out of our company Christmas parties for years. I do enjoy going out for drinks with my team when that’s an option, but I’m done attending events that involve the whole office at once.

      2. Gray Lady*

        Shy introvert here, and I STILL think the scripts are good. Neither introversion nor shyness are excuses to avoid the best way of resolving an interpersonal issue. If it’s the best way to handle something, I can do one thing that is a littler harder for me. Just don’t expect me to consistently be a different person from who I am.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Introvert who used to do stand up comedy, and still has zero fear of public speaking here :)

    5. Lady Meyneth*

      I think you’re confusing being an introvert and being shy. I’m an introvert, as in I could happily spend days without making small talk, and being social is an acual effort for me and not really relaxing. But I would be perfectly fine with any of the scripts Alison suggested, and would personally prefer them to saying “out of this room”, as they are clear enough I shouldn’t have to rinse and repeat often.

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        To complement. I think the scripts are actually *harder* for extroverts, as most of them want to have frequent or semi-frequent interactions with their coworkers and are wary of making things awkward even on the short term.

      2. TiffIf*

        “I think you’re confusing being an introvert and being shy.”

        This so much–I see people confusing these two a lot (not just on AAM). I am an introvert but really really not shy. I also really like public speaking–still an introvert!

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          I’m also a strong introvert who enjoys public speaking. It’s an interesting challenge – what do I want to communicate, and what is the most effective way to get it across? The part that wears me out is person-to-person real-time interaction, but crowds are totally fine. I’ve done panels, demos, etc in front of thousands of people without breaking a sweat.

          1. PeteAndRepeat*

            Same. I like public speaking and in a past job I regularly did presentations for groups of high-level professionals who way outranked me. Loved it! But mingling? Unstructured networking event? Worst nightmare.

            1. allathian*

              Ugh, yes. I attend a two-day networking and training seminar every year. It’s very good professionally and I do enjoy myself there, but when I get back to my hotel room after dinner I’m utterly exhausted. Luckily it’s scheduled for Thursday-Friday, so I get to rest during the weekend. I make sure that I don’t have anything scheduled on the following weekend, and if possible, I prefer to spend much of it alone to recharge. Networking is exhausting.

              This year they switched to a one-day webinar, but I skipped that. I just couldn’t face the prospect of 8 hours on Zoom…

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*

    For #4, I wonder if people are often stopping by asking where OP is when they aren’t there and that’s why the coworker keeps asking. It’s still annoying, but at least it would be a logical reason.

    1. Princess Scrivener*

      Yep, my thought exactly. I have officemates who leave with no mention, and the boss’ll come by and ask where they are, and I’m like… ummm… I think it’s polite to say, “I’m going out for a walk,” “I’m running upstairs,” etc., when you share office space.

      1. This is She*

        Sorry to be disagreeable but for me, I would find this annoying. I’m working. I don’t need a play-by-play of anyone’s movements. I would nod and smile and never say it, but my internal response would be “o…kayy. why are you telling me this”. If I’m writing/composing or strategizing or building a spreadsheet or whatever, I don’t want to be yanked out of my concentration groove multiple times a day by someone telling me they are going upstairs now. Or to get a coffee. Just go, it’s fine, I don’t care.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I would find this annoying, too. Plus, I’d probably forget almost instantly where the person said they were going because I wouldn’t care, and I’d be focused on my own work.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Like most things, this depends on the environment.

          My current position involves frequent, spontaneous, unpredictable work outside the office. I’m in and out a dozen times or more each day putting out fires (sometimes literally!). It would be very irritating to me and my coworkers if I needed to tell them where I was going each time. Same for jobs or office cultures where most work is very independent and done at one’s own pace.

          On the other hand, for coverage-based jobs or work environments where you need a coworker regularly for time-sensitive issues, it’s pretty normal to let people know where you’re going or at least how long you expect to be gone for. Gory details are not required… a simple “I’m stepping out to my car for a few minutes” or “I’ll be out for a meeting until noon, text Bob if you need backup” should be enough.

    2. Atlantian*

      I was wondering the same thing. It’s definitely possible that people stop by looking for the LW more often than she realizes while she is away. Or, that the office mate feels awkward not having an answer when that does happen. Perhaps something simple like sharing their calendars with each other, and making sure to include personal things like planned lunch times and out of office appointments, would ease some of the awkwardness. Even a redacted version, with just the times blocked off, could allow the coworker to answer potential stoppers by with “Her calendar shows a meeting/lunch/she left early today” rather than always having to tell people she doesn’t know, which she may find awkward.

      Being able to tell people who are stopping by about how long until you expect your office mate back can be helpful for the stopper by as well. Knowing whether it would be prudent to wait, come back later, or send an IM or e-mail could be very helpful to them as well. I’ve definitely been in situations as the person in closest proximity to the person in question’s office, where being able to say “They are in a meeting with boss in boss’s office” has led to the inquirer to go interrupt the meeting because it’s that serious before, and it does make you feel better to know you helped avert the crisis, rather than make their day a little bit harder by not being able to assist.

      1. Marny*

        Couldn’t this be easily solved by a conversation though? If I were the person being asked about my officemate’s whereabouts, I’d mention to my officemate, “Hey, people come by sometimes when you’re out and ask me where you are. How do you want me to handle that?” And then they can come up with a solution together instead of playing hall monitor.

        1. Parenthetically*

          YES. I don’t care what the reason is, because Office Mate isn’t making the reason relevant. She’s just asking the same damn question a dozen times a day. If she wants consideration for her reasoning, she needs to use her words.

          1. Batty Twerp*

            Not to be That Person, but has OP used *her* words? Humans aren’t by nature mind readers. Office Mate may not realise her little habit hasn’t been explained if no one has mentioned how annoying it is. Especially if she thought she’d given a reason (perhaps to a previous Office Mate).

      2. KateM*

        Even a redacted version, with just the times blocked off, could allow the coworker to answer potential stoppers by with “Her calendar shows a meeting/lunch/she left early today” rather than always having to tell people she doesn’t know, which she may find awkward.

        Couldn’t it to be even more awkward for OP – if people start thinking that OP is never at their workplace when they should be?

    3. Kes*

      I would just say “Why do you ask” at some point and see her response – is she concerned about people asking, does she want to go with you to get coffee, does she just want to know – and then take it from there. If there is a real reason like people asking for OP they might feel better about providing that information or the information needed (brb/lunchtime/meeting time/going to get coffee/going home now) and if there isn’t a reason then you can say that you don’t feel comfortable with being monitored like that.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I used to sit next to my boss, who was often in meetings, and this used to happen to me aaallllll the time. We joked about getting his wife to chip him so we could track his location and have it reported on a sign at his cube. I started referring people to the department admin, who could see his calendar since I couldn’t and I didn’t keep tabs on him because I had too much to do to take that on.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        We’ve turned that into a joke in our office as well.

        Our boss is always, always, ALWAYS on the go for meetings all over creation. She is quite senior, very experienced, and is involved in a great many high-level efforts that are far above my pay grade. Every single time she leaves her desk, without fail, someone will come over to our corner, peek through the door, then turn to me and my cube-buddy and ask “where’s Jane?”

        Cube-buddy and I have perfected a routine where I look at her, deadpan, and say “this is your day to keep track of Jane, isn’t it?”

        Cube-buddy, equally deadpan, replies “no, I checked the schedule this morning and it’s your turn today.”

        I’ll reply “are you sure? I could have sworn I saw your name on the Jane-minder task for today.”

        Cube-buddy says “nope, that was yesterday, today is yours.”

        We keep that up until whoever it is gets the clue that we neither know nor are we expected to know where Jane is at every moment of every day. It usually only takes a couple back-and-forth exchanges like that, but I recall one time when we kept it up for a good five minutes before a particularly clueless individual caught on.

        1. Rake*

          I think that’s really mean. It’s okay to not know where someone who sits near you has gone, but the person asking isn’t stupid for asking. Is it really so hard to respond with “I don’t know where she went, sorry” then go back to your work? What about if you do know where she went? Do you speak up without being asked to volunteer the info or do you just decided it’s not your problem if other people at your company get their work done?

          1. londonedit*

            It’s annoying if it’s not your job to keep tabs on where the boss is, though. It’s like how the person who happens to sit next to the printer ends up being infuriated by people saying ‘Oh, hey, the printer’s run out of ink’ or ‘There’s a paper jam!’ as if they’re supposed to be Printer Support just because their desk happens to be nearest to it. Sitting near the boss’s office doesn’t mean you have to be responsible for knowing where the boss is 24/7, and it’s annoying when people are interrupting your work with questions that have nothing to do with you.

      2. allathian*

        I’m just glad that in my job, everyone can see everyone else’s calendars if they need to. We’re also able to flag appointments private if they’re something we don’t want everyone else to know about, such as doctor’s appointments. They’re really private, too, not even my boss can see them. But work-related appointments are visible to all.

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      That’s what I was thinking too. My cubemate and I worked for different departments, so I knew little about where she was. People would come by when one of us was not there and ask the other where the other person was. If the answer was, ‘I don’t know, she’s here today, around somewhere’ would be ok for some, but some would do weird things like demand to know when the person would be back, or even more fun, SIT IN THEIR CHAIR until they came back to their desk. One dude sat in my coworkers chair (pre-COVID) for an hour!!

      We would try to put on our whiteboards if we were going to be gone for more than an hour from our desks if we remembered. We ended up using a sign we found on Facebook that said something like Question: “Where is Bob?” Answer: “Look in Bob’s cube. Is he there? There he is!/ Is he not, then I don’t know!”

      I would try leaving a note on the whiteboard or something so your cubemate can tell people to look at that, and if you don’t leave something up the cubemate can just say ‘she stepped out for a few minutes, she’ll be back soon.’

      1. TootsNYC*

        the secret is not to answer that question–that’s not the question they’re really asking.
        They’re asking “how soon will Jane be back?”

        Just address what they need, and ignore the question completely if you can’t really answer it (and even if you knew where she was, you might not know for sure when she’d be back).
        Them: Where’s Jane?
        You: I’m not sure. She’s in today–would you like to leave a message for her?

    6. Certaintroublemaker*

      That was my first thought, too. When we were in the office, my co-worker and I had shared access to our calendars so that we could say, “It looks like she has meetings until 2:00. Try back after that.” If nothing was on the calendar, then it would be, “She’s just stepped away. Do you want to leave a note?”

    7. Just Another Zebra*

      My coworker and I are constantly in and out of our office, and respond to people looking for us in a variety of ways, including “they were eaten by a dragon”, “she ran away,” “I traded him for chocolate,” etc. It gives everyone a laugh, and they’ll leave a note for whichever of us they wanted. I would think if that was the case for OP, there would have been some evidence at this point that someone was looking for her.

  5. Kowalski! Options!*

    For #5: “six hours per person every week is more than any average number I would have offered up.”
    Really? Damn. I’m lucky if I get that six hours per *YEAR*. And I’m in a team that only has six people.

    1. fposte*

      While you’re clearly going to be underserved no matter how it’s counted, there’s a fair bit of management that doesn’t involve contact with the employees. I probably spend as much time on HR as I do direct communication.

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        Agreed. A lot of the lack of direct communication to the team in the past eighteen months has been due to higher management playing Priority Dodgeball with the middle managers. Still, it has made more than one of us wonder aloud about…stuff.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        can you share what some of the “management that doesn’t involve direct contact with the employees” might be? I don’t really know as I don’t think any actually happens at my (dysfunctional) workplace.

        I know we are all underserved at my workplace, I’d estimate about 7 hours of direct contact in 7 years from my managers. I know that payroll for our team takes my boss about 1 to 3 hours every two weeks, and sometimes figuring out how to handle a holiday or leave (we had one pregnancy and one person on disability in 7 years before COVID required more from managers) and I know there have been a few interactions between staff that need intervention over the years. But I am at a loss to account for any non-contact management regarding employees. We don’t have a PIP system or even evaluations of any kind. She does have to weigh in occasionally on how we do things, but that is mostly – someone above me has decreed we now do x, please do x, ask questions if you need. And she has to approve one thing we do (to remain anonymous I’ll say it goes like this, I have an idea, I send her a form, she spends about 10 minutes reading it, emails me back in 10 minutes to say yes or no, her involvement ends). We don’t have one-on-one meetings, my department has had about 1 department staff meeting a year, we don’t have any mentorships, or pathways to promotion. Someone else does the scheduling. All managers are like this at my workplace. There must be paperwork or something but what does it look like from your side of the table?

        1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

          Not fposte here, but some of the things I do as a manager apart from talking to my reports and looking at their work include:
          * preparing and presenting resource allocation plans (what the people on my team expect to be working on for the next N months) to senior management
          * attending similar planning meetings of other teams whose work affects my teams’ work, so I know what’s coming
          * headcount planning – figuring out from the above when I need more people on my team and advocating to get a new job opening approved
          * hiring – evaluating and interviewing candidates for any open positions on my team
          * writing performance reviews (eventually I discuss these with the reports but first I have to write them, which takes a LONG time – it’s only once a year, but it’s a couple solid weeks of work)
          * various management team projects. for instance, all the managers in my department have been working on a project to gather best practices for all the stages of the hiring process, as reference material for new managers and just to make sure we are all working from the same playbook.

          That’s just a few of the things I do as a manager that are not in direct support of individual members of my team. There’s also a small amount of paperwork (approving people’s leave requests, for example). (I also have various projects that are not related to my role as a manager but they are beside the point here.)

          1. TootsNYC*

            but wasn’t the question ABOUT direct support?

            the things that are actually people management — things like development, coaching, feedback, talking about priorities and satisfaction

            1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

              I was responding to this by Thankful for AAM:
              “can you share what some of the “management that doesn’t involve direct contact with the employees” might be?”

              which I interpreted to mean managerial work OTHER than “things like development, coaching, feedback, talking about priorities and satisfaction”

              …because those things normally are visible to reports; I thought the question was asking about managerial work that isn’t obviously visible to reports. Sorry if I got that wrong!

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      First, I LOVE your user name. We’re big Penguins of Madagascar fans in my house.

      Second, six hours per person per week is INSANE. I have a team of 40. Even taking out some people who have a line supervisor, I still have 12, which is more than a full-time job. They get a half-hour a week scheduled plus any additional time needed to address concerns, special projects, etc. on demand, and I probably spend 1an average of 15-30 minutes per week dealing with backend things that don’t involve them directly.

      There are, however, people who eat tons of my time, and they are never the highest performers – these are the people who’s drama I have to mediate or who’ve dropped the ball on something that I have to step into. If someone’s using six hours a week of your time (outside orientation, training, or something unusual) just to manage, that’s a sign of a problem.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        It depends on how closely you’re expected to supervise, but in my organization a supervisor should manage no more than 10-15 people. 40 is far too many.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          In my org the higher you go the bigger your department. So my VP has a team of about 50, but he only had 7 direct reports and he manages them through us. For a company our size (which is small-mid sized) we’d need to have 300 VPs to keep teams down to 10 people.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            This is me. As noted above, I have 12 people with no line supervisor, and the level of required supervision varies by role, experience, and day. I still cannot dedicate 6 hours a week to each of them. And the folks with line supervisors still like to have interaction, give input/feedback, and escalate things from their line supervisor, too.

            My C-level boss has five teams, including mine. She is still directly responsible for at least 15 of us, but 75% of her direct reports are experienced professionals who should not require a lot of daily. hands-on supervision.

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      I used to be one of 6 people who reported to a boss who had LITERALLY NOTHING to do except be our manager, and it was torture. That works out to 6.7 hours a week of undivided attention for each of us, and it was just way way too much. We’d have one-on-ones, small group meetings, large group meetings…. constantly asking about status and I’d be like “If I ever get out of these endless status meetings, maybe I’ll have time to do something to provide status on.”

      Now, to be fair, we were a largely self-sufficient and mid-career group, not like a new hire who needed a lot of training/babysitting. But there is definitely such a thing as too much dedicated time.

      On the other end of the spectrum, one of my early-career jobs, I had a boss who had his own full time job to do +was expected manage 4 brand new engineers (we all had questions like “how do I calculate the velocity of this lemon” many times a day), and it was a total nightmare. Not nearly enough time to go around.

    4. Half-Caf Latte*

      In my last role, 6 hrs/direct report per week would be a very manageable 720 hours per week!

      In truth, all of the paperwork and time needed to keep a per diem employee on the roster wasn’t worth it if they only worked like, once every few weeks.

  6. Dagny*

    LW2: I have a very different read on this than Alison does. You are interviewing retail employees (whose paychecks have been destroyed by the pandemic), who never got paid that well to begin with. You are interviewing them for a part-time assistant role.

    I’m not sure that it’s reasonable to expect that a lot of retail employees will have a business-level wardrobe, nor that they would invest money in a business-level outfit for an interview for a part-time role. It’s a lot to ask for someone to invest in nicer clothes for a part-time role.

    Perhaps reconsider what the standards of dress should be for this particular role.

    1. Littorally*

      These are old letters, pre-pandemic.

      That said, overall I agree that people coming out of retail are less likely to own business professional outfits.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      For something like dress-code and code of conduct policy, you can’t bend them so drastically. So whereas it’s 100% acceptable to look past this issue during the interview phase, once they’re hired, they’re going to be held to the same dress code standards. That may mean they are reusing the same suit/outfit throughout the week and you should be kind about it. But you can’t just let them dress in a casual style while you hold everyone up to another standard because “well they may be poor.” You don’t know what anyone’s socio-economics really are, unless you live their life. So assuming they can’t afford something is not acceptable behavior at any time.

      It may be time to revisit if their dress code is necessary and could be made more casual for everyone. But no, you shouldn’t just allow your part time assistants to not blend into the required dress code because of their pay grade. That’s discriminatory and just makes them stand out as “lesser” in a lot of ways, even though it’s not the intention.

      1. Dagny*

        You’re missing the point.

        There’s a lot of good reason to ask senior management to take on all sorts of burdens that don’t apply to other people, from being available on their vacations, working well past quitting time, and, yes, looking nicer. In many companies, people with heavy client interaction are expected to dress more nicely than those who are not in client-facing roles or do not have client meetings that day.

        Expecting a part-time worker to be the ‘professional’ end of business casual is a tough sell. That’s a lot of wardrobe for not a lot of pay.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It really, really depends on the context. There are plenty of part-time jobs that are client-facing and where dress code matters. Simply being part-time isn’t a reason in itself to default to waiving the dress code.

          1. Dagny*

            If that’s the case, the job should pay accordingly. Part time paying $25/hour is different from part time paying $10/hour.

            I’m rather shocked at the pushback on this – AAM is usually full of people who make this point, frankly, ad nauseum. You can’t pay people peanuts and expect them to dress (and drive a car, and have a cell phone, and…) like they are senior management.

            1. Archaeopteryx*

              They sell office type pants at Old Navy, Target- maybe two pairs of those plus minimum five appropriate shirts is just not that expensive.

        2. Littorally*

          When I first made the jump from retail to office work, I had to upgrade my wardrobe accordingly. I did so from a thrift store, and it did not break the bank. Obviously it isn’t a perfect option, but talking as though part-time workers can’t possibly be expected to dress themselves decently isn’t exactly accurate.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, this. When I got my first professional job, I wore the slacks and jacket I had worn to the interview every day for the first week, and one blouse for three days and another for two days. At the time I had a glassed-in balcony, so I did air my clothes out in the evening after work, but I did not put on freshly-laundered clothes every morning. I spent most of the disposable income from my first paycheck on new clothes so that I could have a clean blouse every day, and for a bit of variety.

    3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Since LW was talking more ‘business than casual’ I thought they were going more with ” in this office, we only wear polo shirts on Fridays. Mon-Thurs we require button down shirts.” Any wardrobe changes are hard economically, but setting the expectation up front is helpful.

    4. I'm just here for the cats.*

      I took this to mean that they are business casual, but more businessey. So jeans not ok but kackis or dress pants are ok. A full suit would not. I felt like the interviewies were showing up in jeans, which is typical retail/restraint wear.
      I don’t think it would be a stretch to have them have a couple of nice pants and shirts.
      On a side note, what worki g adult doesn’t have a pair of nice pants that aren’t jeans? I’ve had dress pants since high school and I come from a very poor background.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        That’d be me. I own a pair of pants that are good enough for interviewing, if needed, but they’d definitely not be okay for business casual leaning more heavily towards business (same goes with the shoes, actually, though I do have the shirts). I have never worked in an environment where I’d need that kind of clothes, and I’m one of those people for whom dress codes are deal breakers.

      2. wendelenn*

        “jeans, which is typical. . . restraint wear”. . .
        Well, depending on how well they fit!
        (Sorry couldn’t resist–funny typo/autocorrect. I know you meant restaurant.)

    5. Minocho*

      I think that dress code should absolutely be mentioned by the time the job is offered – especially if the interviewee did not hit the right dress code notes during interviews.

      It can always be a bit of a guess what is appropriate to wear for an interview – I tend to go more formal for interviewing, but that can be a problem in tech interviews. And I have factored in dress code when choosing a job! I would not consider a job that said women had to wear skirts and stockings, for example! And I turned down a job that required professional attire, even though they expected my job description to include installation of electronic hardware!

      Different places have different definitions of what terms like “business” and “business casual” mean, as well. My last job, our dress code allowed jeans, collared shirts and nice tennis shoes, and this job is business casual – where I as informed by my manager one day that he had received a complaint because I had wrinkles in my shirt one day.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Sometimes, when the job has minimal customer facing contact, my supervisors would look the other way until after the new employee has a payday or two under their belt and the chance to buy some more appropriate work clothes.

    7. Sara*

      I think this is a good reminder that it’s helpful to let candidates know dress code, not only at the offer stage, but at the interview stage. If the hiring manager or interviewer has some kind of expectation around what a candidate wears, let them know ahead of time so they can prepare/dress accordingly. The expectations around this vary from industry to industry, so being clear about your expectations helps make sure all your candidates are on an equal playing field. At my company, we explicitly tell candidates that the dress code is business casual and what that means, and encourage them to wear similar interview attire. We don’t want someone purchasing a suit because they feel that’s what they’re supposed to wear because it’s an ‘interview.’

  7. ThinMint*

    For #5 – 6 hours a week per employee? No way. No how.

    I know that wasn’t in Allison’s answer, but the LW mentioned she’d read that somewhere.

  8. just a small town girl*

    OP 2, when I was in that position I literally didn’t own a single item of clothing that was “business casual”. I owned a couple pairs of jeans and two “church” shirts, so I wore my darkest, nicest jeans and a blouse to a job interview where I was gently told that I would need to get at minimum some slacks and a few more blouses, so I used my last paycheck from my last job to buy one pair of pants and two shirts that I rotated and washed for the first month until I started getting paid. So be sympathetic to the fact that this candidate might not be able to afford nicer clothes, especially on the kind of salary where a part time assistant is a step up. Not to say don’t make it a requirement, but don’t assume it’s a part of everyone’s wardrobe and do make it clear to them that it will be part of the dress code.

    1. Beth*

      I’ve been in the exact same position — I wore the absolute best clothing I owned to the interview, and got a lecture about how I needed to dress better.

      1. just a small town girl*

        Thank goodness I wasn’t lectured, but I already essentially had the job in the bag and was meeting with the director as the final “interview” before being officially offered it. I do remember being pretty embarrassed about being told I couldn’t wear what I was wearing then, but she handled it pretty matter-of-factly and wasn’t unkind.

        I’d only ever worked summer jobs or retail before and we were dirt poor so I really didn’t have anything that wasn’t one very nice church dress, a couple of blouses, tons of tshirts, some jeans, and a pair of shorts. Of course, this is the job where I eventually(years after this) was told the pants I was wearing were not in dress code because they had rivets at the front pockets and pockets on the rear, and I needed to go buy new ones, so…it ended up being plenty crazy and toxic in lots of ways, but that first initial moment was a nice bit of grace handed my way.

        1. Ashley*

          I would have loved to comment about never seeing men’s pants without pockets in the back. There can be such a double standard with business casual for women vs men.

          1. TootsNYC*

            men’s dress pants have plackets for their rear pockets, not patch pockets.
            That’s probably what they meant.

        2. Deliliah*

          One of the few reasons I’m happy to have worked at Barnes and Noble as my first retail job was that they required us to dress business casual, so I already had the wardrobe when I moved into an office job.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        My interview for my first US job happened completely out of the blue (my plan was to go to grad school, get a Master’s, and *then* start sending out resumes. I had been told no one would want me straight off the plane), less than three months after we arrived in the country. We had been extremely financially strapped in Home country, and had no income in the US yet. I wore the best clothes I had that was the closest thing to a suit – a blazer, a dress shirt, a skirt. Later on, my boss told me about that interview, “the moment you walked in and I saw what you were wearing, I knew you were hurting for money” until he said that, I’d been sure I’d pulled off a solid interview outfit, but nope! But honestly, even if I’d known it before the interview that I needed a new suit, a nice top, new shoes etc, there was nothing I could have done with that knowledge. We simply did not have the money.

        1. Anon for the Day*

          I don’t know why people share things like this with the person in question. If my boss said that to me (even if I was now better off financially) I would have been incredibly hurt and offended. I mean, what did he think you were going to say in response to that? The realities of poverty are so crappy that most people still feel shame about it even if it was through no fault of their own and they’re doing better (at least I do and a lot of people I know who grew up poor).

      3. Observer*

        That’s out of line. Setting expectations is absolutely reasonable, but that’s different.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That’s horrifying! I’m sorry someone treated you like that.

        There’s a difference between telling people what the expectations are when you work there but lecturing someone who doesn’t even work there yet is so wildly out of tune.

        I can usually tell if someone tried their best. I’ve seen the difference many times and have had the opportunity to interview literally homeless people.Whereas some just show up in their every day attire and didn’t even try, even then I don’t speak to them about it because it’s not my place because I’m not hiring them because they’re in many other ways unimpressive and not getting the job. So why bother lecturing a stranger.

    2. just a small town girl*

      I forgot to note about backgrounds, they might also come from a socio-economic background where they had no exposure to this kind of job growing up, so they literally might have no idea what is appropriate wear for this kind of job, even if they do have the finances for it.

      Bottom line, yeah, Alison’s answer to just clearly explain it to them is the best way to go, but don’t disqualify them for not knowing.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Please don’t feed into this stereotype and incorrect information.

        Just because my mother didn’t hold an office job, doesn’t mean I didn’t realize how people in an office dressed when I went to a doctor’s office and got a very easy look at what “office attire” looks like verses street-clothes.

        Unless it’s their first job, ever, they have had more exposure and access to the internet to google “what to wear to an interview.” You aren’t doing us country-bumpkin first generation professionals any favors playing this up!

        1. Lady Meyneth*

          I agree with you in general, But. I come from a poor background, and I rememer starting out in office work after my retail stint. I basicaly knew I needed to dress nicely, but I could not tell the difference between dressy party casual, business casual or even business professional, and it took me awhile to catch on. While I wasn’t wearing jeans, my slacks were definitely of a non business-y material and cut, my blouses definitely had more cleavage than they should, and I’m sure my then colleagues noticed pretty fast I didn’t know what I was doing.

        2. Tired of Covid*

          First generation college graduate here. I was a newly minted graduate at a corporate headquarters, poor as a church mouse just. Wore what I considered “nice” jeans because that’s all I had, and was kindly told by my supervisor that jeans were not permitted, something not told to me when I got the job. This was not my first job ever, but I was not exposed to typical corporate dress as I did not have an undergraduate internship, which is also usually something the more privileged students get. No internet back there then either. AAM has numerous posts about young people needing to learn corporate norms, and appropriate dress is definitely one of them.

          I’m a clothes horse now, earlier deprivation likely has something to do with it. I regularly donate business attire to organizations like Dress for Success to help those in challenging circumstances have appropriate outfits and boost their confidence while job hunting. Perhaps folks on this thread can consider doing likewise in their area.

        3. just a small town girl*

          I mean, I don’t think that’s fair. I experienced it, and I’m not the only one, so it’s not just a stereotype and incorrect information. Yes, I was extremely sheltered growing up and literally very rarely interacted with professionals as a child, but that still happens to people. Like Lady Meyneth said, you might know in theory to dress nice but if your only exposure to “nice” is, say, like mine, in a religious setting, you don’t know what makes something just the right level of business casual. Or if you don’t even have that idea of “nice”, and only have things like TV to go off of. I work in K-12 education and there are plenty of seniors who don’t realize the difference in perception between a nice pair of dark jeans and a pair of true slacks or khakis even, or the line where a blouse becomes too low cut.

          It’s not super common, but it IS something to be mindful of when addressing the hiring pool OP described. It’s not a country-bumpkin thing so much as a very poor/first generation anything/still young and learning their way kind of thing.

    3. aiya*

      this was my thought exactly. if you’re interviewing candidates whose experience was predominately in retail and hospitality, it’s very possible that they don’t have the kind of formal clothing needed for white collar jobs. It’s also possible that they’re from a lower-income background and don’t have a very good sense of what sorts of outfits are considered proper for this kind of interview.

      We once hired an intern whose background was in retail and other low-wage customer service jobs. Before her first day of work, we sent her a email detailing our office dress code with some stock photos attached. She turned out to be a pretty great intern and dress code was never an issue.

    4. Lucy P*

      We once had someone apply for a front desk job wearing a hoodie over a decent t-shirt and a pair of slacks. I thought it showed poor taste, but I was gently reminded that person had just relocated from another state and may not have had full access to their wardrobe.
      Whether or not that was true, I’ll never know. They abruptly quit after just a few days.

      1. Anon for the Day*

        Oh this is a weird excuse. I’m generally pretty forgiving around interview outfits (suits are nice to see, but as long as it’s business casual I’m OK with it), but I wouldn’t have hired this person. Even people who relocate can figure out where the nearest Target or Walmart is and buy a button down shirt and a tie or cardigan (if the candidate is a woman).

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I was thinking the same – I moved once with only my cat and whatever else fit into a civic. I had about 10% of my wardrobe…but one of the things I brought was a business appropriate outfit.

          1. Cedrus Libani*

            Agreed. I’ve tossed myself and my worldly possessions into a taxi headed to the airport, having gotten rid of that which I couldn’t be bothered to carry, and I still could have dressed appropriately for an interview the next day. I wasn’t about to replace my interview outfit if I didn’t absolutely need to – I had other things to do with that money!

    5. Thatoneoverthere*

      When I was in college it was drilled into us to wear a suit for interviews. Also my parents were in very white collar positions and knew this as well. However I know several friends who even went to the same college as, I did or similar that do not wear suits for interviews. I know them well enough they either have a nice wardrobe or could in fact afford a lower end (but still nice) suit. So it always blows my mind when people don’t wear suits. It also leaves me wondering if interview suits are falling out of fashion? I don’t know, until I hear different I will wear a suit.

  9. learnedthehardway*

    My other half’s employer refuses to hire people who are dressed too casually. The job is customer-facing, and the feeling is that if a candidate can’t dress appropriately for an interview, then they’re going to dress inappropriately for work. Given the issues the business has had with employees who have had to be sent home due to really inappropriate outfits (think practically see-through tops), I seems to me that the policy fits their needs. It’s not that the company expects candidates to show up in suits, but rather that showing up in excessively casual wear demonstrates that the person simply doesn’t get what is and isn’t appropriate. (eg. OH complained about someone who showed up in ripped jeans).

    1. Random Commenter*

      Do you know if the employees had been clearly informed of the dress code when they started working?

      1. Anon for the Day*

        You’d be surprised how many people don’t adhere to even the most clearly defined dress code just because they hope management will feel too awkward about sending them home.

    2. Anon for this*

      I used to work for a great company but the owner had a bug in his bonnet about business dress. He *wouldn’t* hire anyone who showed up in a suit/buttondown shirt for our 100% office jobs. Really, there has no way off knowing this unless you had a friend who worked for the companny. T shirts, old jeans, and hoodies were the norm and anyone who showed up in business casual was suspected of job hunting.

      1. KaciHall*

        My job is like that. Most of us wear jeans and t shirts every day. I showed up in black palazzo pants and a black dressy shirt one day, and got asked by four different people off I had an interview or a funeral to go to. I didn’t think my outfit was that nice (Funeral appropriate, maybe, but I wouldn’t wear palazzo pants to an interview…)

    3. Anon for the Day*

      Candidates should lay off the perfume too. I’ve had a few candidates that absolutely reek like the counter at Macy’s and I’ve left the interview with a migraine (and FYI, it doesn’t cover the cigarette smell, so don’t bother. I’d rather just have you smell a bit like cigs). They usually had other issues come up in the interview that caused them not to be selected, but holy smokes, lay off the cologne.

  10. Beth*

    I would tempted to give the nosy co-worker a long string of increasingly bogus answers, until they either got the hint or it bacame a running joke.

    “Where are you going?”

    Over the rainbow.
    Down the rabbit hole.
    For a long walk off a short pier.
    In search of a lost chord.
    Just following my dreams.
    I thought I’d go mail a letter and end up fighting enemy agents on Mount Rushmore.

    1. Captain Kirk*

      “Where are you going?”

      Second star to the left and then straight on ’til morning.

          1. Beth*

            The Door of Knowledge Through Which the Untutored May Not Pass sticks something wicked in the damp.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My mind went to “Oh a few of us are having a party over by the printer, but it’s only for the cool kids. You’re not invited, sorry!” (Not that I’d actually say that. I’d probably either say nothing, or “Why???”)

    3. ScroogeMcDunk*

      My immediate thought was that I’d reply “Any way the wind blows.”

      And then pull a miniature gong out of my pocket and give it a clang.

    4. Tabby*

      To the Joshua Tree.
      Where the Streets Have No Name
      To the City of Blinding Lights
      New York
      Just gonna Walk On until I get Vertigo

      (Why yes, gentle reader, I AM quoting U2 songs. :D)

    5. Squidhead*

      Or increasingly TMI answers…
      Gonna sit in the bathroom for a while.
      To see if I can get this wax out of my ear.
      To get some aspirin and tampons, I have wicked cramps…

      I like the fantasy answers better, though.
      Gotta destroy this ring before He sees it…

  11. KRM*

    I was ready for question #1 to be along the lines of “I heard that X told Y that Z said you could be fired!!!” and my advice would have been to STFU. But this…yes you have to tell them! You have to tell them, and work with them, and see if their performance can improve! Otherwise you are watching them do a bad job (or possibly be struggling, not knowing how to ask for help) and letting it happen. That doesn’t do anybody any favors. It may not be the right fit for this person and you ultimately let them go, but it’s unkind to not step in and have the conversation, no matter how awkward it might make you (or both of you) feel.

  12. He's just this guy, you know?*

    #2: I was on the other side of that situation last year. I was working for a tech startup at the time, where the “dress code” was pretty much anything this side of a bathrobe – so during the summer months, shorts and a t-shirt were what I wore to the office every day. When I started looking for another job, I made a conscious effort to start dressing up a little bit more so that it wouldn’t look too suspicious if I headed out to an “appointment” someday looking all spiffy. One day I had an interview for a job that I really wanted, and my plan was to take a change of clothes in the car with me so that I could leave at lunchtime and change somewhere on the way to the interview. Somewhere in between getting ready for work and getting my son ready for school, though, I ended up forgetting my change of clothes at home, but I decided to just go ahead with the interview while wearing shorts and a button-up shirt (to be fair, they were one of my nicer pairs of shorts, but still shorts nonetheless).

    While I was waiting in the HR area for my interview to begin, I noticed a donation jar on the table next to me with a “Casual Friday” label on it, and I started to feel a little nervous. My interview was with a group of five people, all of whom were decidedly dressed in business casual, but I didn’t mention anything and decided not to let it phase me. I did the best interview I could, and then at the end the hiring manager asked me a question I had never heard before: “If you could do this interview over again, knowing what you know now, would you say or do anything differently?” I asked for a bit of clarification, and he really was asking what I thought he was asking – that I could basically pretend that this was like “Groundhog Day”. I decided to say, “Well, for one thing, I would have dressed a little better,” which got a really good round of laughter out of everyone, and I went on to explain why I was dressed in shorts. He then asked me if it would be a problem for me to dress better, and I said no, not at all – I had lots of nice clothes, but just never normally had a chance to wear them.

    A couple of days later I ended up getting offered the job, so obviously it all worked out. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on purpose, but just in case you accidentally show up severely underdressed for an interview, the best you can do is own your mistake and give an honest interview.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I think that’s a good interview question even if you had been dressed on-point. I can see it applying to several scenarios — didn’t research the company website or social media, didn’t bring a printed copy of your resume, didn’t bring a printed or digital portfolio, arrived late…It gives the interviewee a chance to acknowledge any miscues and what they would have done instead. But I can also envision a scenario where the interviewee might think (or say), “I wouldn’t have applied.” I’ve certainly had a few of those.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’ve done the “bringing a change of clothes and changing ” (in my car in the middle of winter, in a McDonalds bathroom, etc) thing many times, so I can relate. Heck, at one job, I came in wearing nice clothes because I was meeting a friend for drinks after work, and the boss immediately asked if I had an interview that day. (I wasn’t even wearing what you’d call interview clothes!) Glad to hear it worked out for you!

  13. SD*

    #3 “If someone can’t drink for religious reasons and doesn’t want to participate in (voluntary) happy hours after work, is it that person’s responsibility to suggest another place to go or another group activity to do…”

    I don’t drink because I don’t like alcoholic drinks (champagne is the worst!). I’m also lactose intolerant. I’ve never intervened in a group decision to either go to a bar or order an ice cream cake for Jane’s birthday, because this is just me. If anybody asked if I was going to meet them at the bar, I’d just say I don’t do bars, but I’d see them later. If I don’t actually eat the ice cream cake, just sing happy birthday and be sociable, I’m just as happy and it’s no skin off anyone’s nose. It’s just me. Others can do things I don’t/can’t without upsetting my apple cart or vise-versa. I don’t really feel called upon to “fix” things.

    1. Littorally*

      When it’s an official workplace event organized by higher-ups, as in the letter Alison responded to, that’s a different situation imo. I’m also a non-drinker, and I would feel very deliberately excluded if every team building event or the vast majority of them were alcohol-centered.

    2. Teyra*

      I don’t get the issue, to be honest. Unless someone’s a recovering alcoholic, in which case I can absolutely see how being in a bar could be triggering to them. I do drink but not frequently, and have happily gone along to alcohol-involved events and just… drank water, or mocktails. And likewise I’ve had a cocktail or alcoholic drink at a bar with a non-drinking friend before without any issue. Unless everyone’s getting hammered and going clubbing after or something, I don’t see how it’s excluding anyone – so please let know if you disagree so I can understand that perspective better.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Some people’s religious convictions forbid them from going into bars. I grew up with and know plenty of people who would genuinely believe it was wrong for them to go into a bar, even to order a water. That would exclude them from these happy hours, and however silly coworkers find their convictions, if their career is being damaged by not being able to go to these events, that’s a problem.

        1. Elenia35*

          I’m not even a non drinker. I drink. But a happy hour, every time, at the bar? That sounds hella boring and not my interest at all. Sure, let’s go to a place where everyone has to shout, where people regularly get drunk, where there’s just nothing to do but sit in a dark room and drink. I think it’s boring. I don’t mind going once in a while but no way would I go every time and after a while I would really resent it.

          1. Teyra*

            That’s a fair point – mixing it up is always good, and doing the same thing over and over again is going to get boring. Also maybe a cultural difference? Here in the U.K. plenty of bars are pretty chill, family friendly places. It’s common to bring your kids there. So I’m picturing that sort of casual hangout. Not the sort of bars I went to at university, which are as you describe.

            1. londonedit*

              Teyra – yes, I think this is where the pub/bar cultural difference comes in. Going to the pub (unless it’s a particularly rowdy pub on a Saturday night, or something) is generally a pretty chilled thing to do – people will be having meals, it’s a casual place to have a drink or two, no-one’s really going to be policing what anyone is drinking. It’s not a dark cocktail bar with thumping music where everyone’s there to get hammered.

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, in the worst case, this can lead to accusations of religious discrimination. That said, if the work culture is such that people frequently go to bars after work, then those who can’t or don’t want to do that may simply be bad cultural fits for the company. Most people who don’t drink for whatever reason, could go the mocktail/water route. I do drink, but I wouldn’t like to work for an employer where you’d be expected to go to every Friday happy hour to get any interesting projects.

    3. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Same here. I used to be a non-drinker for religious reasons, but nowadays it’s purely out of personal preference (alcoholism runs in my family and I prefer not to tempt fate). I’m not 100% alcohol avoidant, but it’s definitely a once in a great while thing for me. I wouldn’t enjoy a happy hour event in a bar, but I’d skip it rather than risk alienating people by asking for a different type of activity.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      A former colleague of mine would go to the bar with the rest of the group and order a cup of hot tea. You’d be surprised how many bartenders didn’t bat an eyelash.

      1. James*

        I do this pretty frequently. My work used to be 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week, in the hot sun, and while a cold beer on occasion was nice, dehydration was a real concern. So I’d order water, or a soda, or occasionally a cup of coffee. Once or twice a bartender asked if I was the designated driver, but typically they treated it as just another drink order.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I do that. I need the caffeine usually too!

        (Recovered alcoholic, still not touching booze again)

    5. Khatul Madame*

      How about… a company golf tournament scheduled on Yom Kippur?
      (yes, this really happened)

      1. Doc in a Box*

        A few years ago, the major academic conference in my field had to shift dates by an entire week because they scheduled it during Passover. These conference dates and venues are announced years in advance!

        1. allathian*

          Indeed. And there are apps available to check when lunar holidays occur (Jewish holidays, Easter and its associated holidays, such as Ascension Day, and Muslim holidays like Eid al-Fitr, and that’s just the three big Abrahamic faiths).

    6. Chaordic One*

      I’ve worked in places where they (my supervisors) consciously tried to mix things up by having happy hours in places other than bars. (Whether they were all that happy is debatable, but I thought they were O.K.) Sometimes we’d go to coffee shops and everyone would have some sort of latte with whipped cream and sprinkles (and some people had a plain cup of tea). Or we’d go to an ice cream shop and everyone would have some sort of treat with sprinkles and whipped cream.

    7. MsMeercat*

      I think this is also a bit of a question of inclusiveness though to be fair. While I understand that if one person is the only one that doesn’t drink/go to bars, it can feel like they should be the one coming up with alternatives, I think it can also feel a bit othering. It reinforces the point that being an observer of a different religion is not the norm, and that they need to sort out their own way if they want to participate (meaning someone who may belong to a minority demographic gets yet another signal of what may already be a constant presence in their life that they ‘don’t belong’)
      If your workplace has the ambition to be an inclusive place (not just diverse but inclusive) it will go a long way to at least sometimes put the effort in to have social bonding activities that everyone can participate in without making ‘the other’ responsible for organizing them (or at least making that a group effort, too).

  14. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    Also, dress code is country specific. Here in Germany, the majority of positions and interviews in government offices, major corporations, and virtually all industries (not the executive level) involve fairly casual dress. It was a revelation when I was teaching interview prep and not a single adult student thought to wear anything other than jeans.

  15. Frank Doyle*

    For LW #1, I hope they don’t accept anymore advice from that other manager with whom they work closely, because their advice is terrible and they are probably not a very good manager, since they advised against, you know, managing.

    I was let go at the end of a four-month probation period (I had been told the probabation period was 3 months, so I thought I was in the clear), and I was in shock. I had received no feedback up until then. All I could say in my “you’re fired” interview was (quietly, and repeatedly) “I wish you had said something earlier.” And my boss’s response was “that’s not my management style.” What, to actually manage?

    1. irene adler*

      I’ve got 4 interviews this week. And you’ve just prompted a question on how and when the new hire will be evaluated and whether THEY ARE-DIRECTLY- INFORMED OF THIS EVALUATION.
      Follow up will be what steps are taken to help the new hire meet expectations.

      Thank you. What you described is my worst nightmare. Hopefully I can avoid it coming true.

      1. Frank Doyle*

        Oh yes, for sure, that situation has prompted me to ask questions regarding feedback in interviews now. How often is feedback delivered? Are there standing meetings with the boss to discuss how things are going? Are annual reviews actually held annually, or are they pushed for months because the big boss is too busy, or not held at all because there’s no money for raises so what’s the point?

        (That last one was the situation at my job previous to the one mentioned above — I didn’t have a review or any feedback (or a raise) for five years. A few months before I left that job I had a meeting with the three big bosses who said a few nice things about one aspect of my job, and then spent the remaining 45 minutes talking about the stuff I hadn’t been doing correctly, including the fact that they didn’t like that I came in late most days, even though I made up the time at the end of the day. Why didn’t they tell me that five years ago??)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Then how do people know when they are failing and correct their course?”

      This is a “Don’t waste my time” employer. I had one once. They hired me. I point blank said do I have to do X?
      They said NO. Five months in, I wasn’t doing X and they were ticked. I ended up saying, “I asked this question on the interview and I was plainly told I did not need to do X. Now we have a situation where the company has wasted ITS time and my time. Nobody came out a winner on this one. I could have been working for someone else who would have wanted me to stay with the company.”

      I was so mad. Anyway, it ended up that I kept the job. But, ya know, when you have to fight that hard to keep your job, it ends up being not worth it anyway. I would have done better just to leave at that point and let them sort themselves out.

  16. DoubleE*

    For #3, something that Alison didn’t mention is the possibility of underage employees. My employer hires a lot of college interns, some of whom are not yet 21. I don’t know if that’s common in the letter writer’s workplace, but I’d hate for any underage interns to feel excluded from a team event.

    1. Dave*

      Oh the days of being an underage intern! I remember a party where there were mocktails and cocktails but the glasses looked the same and someone was wondering if I was drinking underage.

    2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      You mean like a company “holiday celebration”? Held in a nice restaurant within a casino. 21 and up to enter. Our college level interns? 3 of the 4 were unable to attend because they were under 21.

  17. Roja*

    I actually really appreciated the “how long should employees take to manage” letter. I’ve worked in… very hands-off positions, let’s put it that way before, so have been feeling bad that I’ve spent maybe a half hour to an hour a week working through issues with my boss (that needed her input, not things I have the authority to do on my own) in this first month of a new job. Now I feel like I’m probably perfectly normal.

  18. Richard Hershberger*

    Yup. This is confusing introversion with shyness, or perhaps conflict avoidance.

  19. Steveo*

    OP#1 – the person looking for another job is not the worst possible outcome – the worst is that he stays and doesn’t improve and you have to fire him.

  20. WantonSeedStitch*

    Re: #1, in my organization, we have HR-mandated check-ins at specified times during a new employee’s probationary period. I think it’s 30/60/90 days, and then the review of their probationary period at six months. We HAVE to discuss with them how things are going, whether their work is meeting expectations, whether they need anything from us to do their job better (e.g., more training, different equipment, etc.), and so on. I feel like this is helpful because it forces the manager to really consider whether the person’s learning curve seems to be appropriate for that time in thee role, and to assess whether they might need additional training in a certain area or maybe to have expectations clarified.

  21. The New Normal*

    OP #3 – I also have religious dietary restrictions. While I have made sure to mention that I am vegetarian, I make sure not to mention it every time food is brought up. There was one memorable professional development day where the salad was coated in Caesar dressing, the mac n cheese had bacon, the entrée was chicken, so I had a single bread roll. I said nothing at the time. Smiled and made it seem like I wasn’t hungry. But a few days later, I let my manager know so that when planning for the next training, they could make sure the dressing was just left off the salad or something. And ever since then, the organizer makes sure that one dish is completely vegetarian or vegan.

    So it is really a combination of the individual speaking up and the managers doing right by taking it into consideration. I don’t ask for the entire meal to be vegetarian. I ask for one dish to be available. If a barbeque is planned, I have side dishes or I make a sandwich with bun and lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. If it is a meal out, I’ll find sides or I will choose to not attend if the menu doesn’t show anything for me. But if a manager was consistently choosing a place where I could not eat, I’d be offended and would feel slighted, especially if I mention to them that another location might be nice so that I could participate.

    1. Kate 2*

      That’s a really good point! I had no idea salad dressing might not be vegan/vegetarian. I had a coworker who was gluten free so I know soy sauce has gluten in it. But we can’t all be experts in every dietary choice/issue. So it is so important for the person with the issue to speak up. And good event planners want to meet you halfway!

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Caesar dressing generally contains anchovies. (As does Worcestershire sauce) I don’t at all mean to criticize you for not knowing this, but I do think it’s fairly common knowledge, and especially is something that should be known by someone with food-ordering responsibilities for a workplace. So if the planners had any notification of “there be vegetarians here” (and frankly even if they didn’t, it makes sense to guess any room might have at least one), that order where even the salad had animal products on it, and the bacon in the mac, and the just meat in absolutely everything except a roll is a bad look on the part of whoever ordered it.

  22. staceyizme*

    I don’t know why people would routinely ask a question like “where are you going?”- it kind of implies that they are tracking/ supervising your movements (without authority and without need). People who violate boundaries are often multiple factor offenders: “where are you going?”, “what was that meeting about?”, “why did you say that to him?”… In your shoes, OP, I’d start bouncing the questions back to her… kindly… “why do you want to know?”. There are about a million ways to ask it and as long as you aren’t short, sharp or cutesy/ teasing about it, she should get the message quickly. If she doesn’t, well, “don’t worry…I’ll be back” should cover any further inquiries. Lather, rinse, repeat…

    1. Amaranth*

      It does seem odd, I like your suggested response. All I can think of is that coworker either resents any time OP steps away under the idea it creates a workload imbalance, or they are hoping to glomp onto OP’s lunch/coffee runs.

    2. rear mech*

      It may just be a habit from another workplace where there’s a constant flow of random requests and your peers need to know when you’ll be back so that they can effectively share the work or set client/guest expectations. It’s especially important if you’re understaffed and constantly running a bit behind. Knowing that someone will be gone 5-10 minutes to assist someone vs. 30-45 minute lunch break vs. ?? minute meeting with a manager vs. made a panicked-sounding phone call about their kid and may be gone for the day is huge when you are short handed and the next avalanche of calls or requests might come in at any moment

  23. AndersonDarling*

    #3. I’d be so incredibly grateful if a suggestion would come with the request of alternative arrangements. I remember being an admin and having to put together happy hours, work lunches, and fancy pants dinners for VIP visitors. There was an expectation that because I was younger that I would automatically know all the hip restaurants and cool places to have events. There is so much pressure to get it right and make everyone happy, so a suggestion of an after work fro-yo, smoothie shop, walk in the park…. any suggestion would be a relief. As an admin living a few rungs below the other employees, I wasn’t exposed to any of the activities the other employees experienced.

  24. employment lawyah*

    should I warn someone he might be fired?
    Yes, if you would rather that they stay. Ideally you would do so using language like “if ____ does not happen by ____ you will be fired immediately” or “if ____ happens again you will be fired immediately.”

    Be warned: even if you say this, and even if it happens exactly as you predict, there’s a good chance the employee will still (either for real or pretend) be “surprised and amazed” if they are fired.

    You can drum it in by asking them clarify and confirm, but that can feel a bit harsh so many folks skip it.

    Do not use words like should, probably, may, might, “no longer work here,” “no longer have a position open”, “no longer a good fit,” or anything like that. If you mean “fired,” say “FIRED.”

    Good luck.

  25. Helvetica*

    LW#4 – In my organisation, people voluntarily offer info about where they’re going, to their office mate if they know they will be away long enough that it would matter. This can be as much or as little as they’d like, saying anything from “Going for a quick catch-up with the boss!” to “Will be back in an hour”. The upside of this is that everyone understands that you do not need to ask nor know additional details, but it’s good to be aware of how long people will be away for multiple reasons. This also means that if you’re going to get some water/to the bathroom/anything that is a reasonable timeframe where people probably wouldn’t wonder where you’ve gone, it is not noticed and nobody asks. Reading this, I am glad it works in our office culture.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      We used to simply say, “I’m stepping away for a moment.” Could be to the restroom, to get a coffee, or anything else you might care to do in an office. The only time we gave more detail was if we were leaving for the day or had a reasonable expectation that another colleague might need to find us.

    2. James*

      Some jobs require more rigorous protocols. At my job we have a sign-in/sign-out sheet if we leave the office. This is to track who’s where in case of emergency, among other reasons. In general we also let people know “I’m going to check out Job Site Alpha” or whatever as we leave the office.

      Most jobs don’t need that sort of rigor, and in fact it would be considered absurd. If I’m in a cube farm my neighbor doesn’t need to know that I’m stepping out to grab a cup of coffee! But if the OP’s coworker came from an environment where such rigor was standard, it may explain the behavior. It always takes me a few months to adjust to working in a normal office after being on a field site for a while.

    3. Uranus Wars*

      To me, this is how it has worked in most offices. If someone is going to be gone for just a minute (coffee, restroom, etc.) they just step out. If someone happens to come by their office mate knows to say “they just stepped out”. Whereas if you are going for longer you might say “ok, headed to lunch/meeting, whatever”.

      No one has ever asked someone every. single. time. when they get up. That just seems like overkill to me.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have told this story before.
      Cohort left the work area and did not return for hours. No one checked. No one knew where Cohort was.
      Finally someone found Cohort in a storage area. They had gone there to get supplies. They fell. They broke BOTH their ankles in the fall. The Cohort laid there for hours waiting for someone to figure out something might be wrong.

      I really do not understand what I see here, the “don’t talk to me” thing. It’s quite simple. “I will be back in 15 minutes.” I don’t care what you are doing. But if you are not back two hours later, I want to know that something might be wrong and I should get some help for you.
      If you don’t want to utter one word to me all day, then put a sign on your desk, “Back by x time.” I am not mom, I am not going to answer all the people who are looking for you.

      Perhaps none of this fits OP’s setting. Then the basic advice is “use your words”. That can look like, “Coworker, you need to stop asking me that. From here on I will not answer that question.” And if true, “I prefer that we do not speak all day long.” Just say it so I can find a different office mate or a different job.
      Part of holding down any job is getting along with others. This means speaking to them. So while conversation can be at a minimum, there still has to be some work related conversation. I worked with a woman who would target various people and just not speak to them. This was not a shyness problem AT ALL. As I watched her target people, it dawned on me that she would not speak to them even if she had to tell them the building was on fire.(I watched her fail to notify others of safety issues.) In that moment, she became a walking safety hazard herself. In my mind, her inability to speak to certain people was a fire-able offense.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Was this more than five years ago? I know not everyone has a cell phone, but I read that as of last year 96% of Americans have cell phones, and 80something% have smartphones. So if this happened today, it’d be overwhelmingly likely he could’ve called or texted someone to say “come help I fell”.

        1. Lis*

          Company I worked for everything outside the offices was ATEX rated, so no electronics in the floor, could cause an explosion. So no cell phones. If you were headed anywhere outside the office space, which included the archives, you used to tell someone or announce to the office at large “I’m headed to X place” and if you were gone for longer than expected people would start looking. We did carry alarms that would go off if they were not held up straight if we expected to be gone for a long time.

  26. Absurda*

    Letter #2: Many years ago I was recruited (by an internal recruiter) for a job with a tech company that was pretty well known for it’s casual attire. When the interview was scheduled, the recruiter sent an email with all the required details and a statement along the lines of “Although X company has a casual dress code, interviewees are expected to wear a suit or other business appropriate attire” or something like that. I’d already had appropriate interview attire drilled into my head by my parents but this would help people who were not aware of the norms. If you’re hiring for entry level positions where most candidate are not coming from offices, so wouldn’t know the norms, you might include a similar statement.

    Letter #3: You might just go ahead and suggest alternate activities to the VP. Even if everyone else is religiously fine with happy hours, they might also like a break from alcohol or going to the same old bar. I think people schedule happy hours most often because they are relatively quick and easy and people don’t know what else to do.

  27. IT Heathen*


    I’ve been the person in #3 quite a few times. I was raised in a religious sect that forbid us to go to a restaurant if it had a bar. If you are low on the ladder, it can be difficult to speak up, especially if you have and feel like you have been ignored. There are lots of other reasons folks have aversions to bars that have zero to do with religion, and might be sensitive to discuss like sexual assault. I think if someone is hosting an event and they know that their choice will exclude someone, the right thing to do is change the plan.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, certainly for more official events or ones that the manager also attends, because not attending could potentially affect their career prospects. But if it’s just a few coworkers who want to hang out a bit after work in a relaxed atmosphere, it should be OK to go to a bar, even if they know that it will exclude someone. But in that case, the people who are going to the bar are probably also workplace friends with each other, but probably not with the non-drinker. If they were friends with the non-drinker, they’d schedule an activity that the non-drinker could also attend.

  28. ITGuy*

    For LW3, if it’s a more formal type of event the way I’d probably go about it is to suggest for the VP to send out a message to the team saying they are looking to expand the types/venues of after work activities and to solicit suggestions and see if that person (or someone else) has some ideas, even anonymously.

    Another factor may be the extent of the objection to alcohol. Is having an event at a location that isn’t centered around alcohol going to be enough for them to participate or will everyone else in attendance be prohibited from drinking? I had a devout employee who not only refused to drink for religious reasons but refused to be in the same room as alcohol. That really limits the possibilities of after work activities.

    1. allathian*

      Ouch. I must admit that while I totally respect people’s freedom of choice and right to live by their convictions, this only holds as long as those convictions don’t affect other people. It’s fine to refuse to drink for religious reasons or for any other reason, but don’t expect others to comply if you can’t bear the sight of other people drinking in front of you.

      Was this person pleasant otherwise? The point of after-work activities is for coworkers to enjoy each other’s company in a less formal environment. But I wouldn’t be able to be anything other than strictly professional with a person who refuses to be even in the presence of alcohol, who knows what other things they might be judgmental about…

  29. Angstrom*

    #1: I was once blindsided by being told “I haven’t been happy with your work for the past six months” by a manager who hadn’t given me any negative feedback up to that point. WTF?! Why didn’t you say something five months ago?!

    I later found out that that manager preferred to “avoid conflict”, and I wasn’t the first person to have that experience.

    Please have the conversation.

    1. TiffIf*

      It feels like this wouldn’t be completely out of the blue–they do say “I have a new employee who has performance issues — bad communication, loads of errors, very slow pace, among other things. I am working on improvements, both on his and my side.” so it sounds like there has been feedback, but that there has not been a conversation of “I haven’t seen the improvements we talked about and If I don’t see x progress by y date then I will have to let you go.”

    2. ALH*

      I was once that employee too. I was new to the workforce and wasn’t picking up the cues that my performance was lacking. If the supervisors had been straightforward in telling me I needed to improve and how, I would have. Instead, I was shocked and devastated. It took years for me to overcome work-related anxiety after that and it is still a struggle.

  30. RussianInTexas*

    Where are you going?
    Tasmania. King’s Landing. Shire. The Capitol. Mordor. Winterfell.

  31. chewingle*

    Dress code hang-ups annoy the hell out of me. They are SO subjective. I once interviewed wearing business casual clothes for an office and was told (in the interview) that it was a more casual environment and my clothes were unsuitable (whereas other people had indicated I wasn’t dressy enough). I swear, every interview should be done in a way that prevents them seeing candidates from the neck down so clothing can’t be a factor. Now I’m working from home in my pajamas and it hasn’t affected my performance one bit.

    1. TiffIf*

      Like blind auditions in an orchestra! They even go barefoot because panels could differentiate between male and female footwear and resulted sometimes in unconscious or conscious bias. The concert mistress of the local symphony auditioned in some sweats and a tshirt that she bought real quick after her luggage got lost when she flew in for her audition.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not necessary to have a hang up. My husband applied for a new job. He set the interview for immediately after work. This meant he went in his work clothes. His current employer had a looser standard. The new employer had a higher standard. My husband went all through the interview and it went great.
      When the offer was made, the boss included that my husband would have to dress up a bit more, business dress and no corduroys. My husband said, “Thank you for telling me.” We went out and bought clothes for him that weekend. On the first day, my husband walked in with clothes that were like what everyone else was wearing. My husband said he saw a flicker of joy on the boss’ face when he first entered the room and he knew he had the right clothes.
      For the most part people are great, if we use our words and tell them what is necessary they will usually do it, especially if they are told before-hand, so they know before something happens what is going to be expected.

  32. TechWorker*

    My company has fairly small teams and likes managers to be relatively hands on. The recommended max amount of time to spend on mgmt is half a day/week/report and it’s usually much less than that!

  33. Spoons*

    This is the worst Inc layout bug yet – it loads the whole article for just a second, then everything except the intro and the title of the first question vanishes. So frustrating! XD

      1. Rosy Glasses*

        For my experience, it had their new conference info. It literally said “Green replies” and then a short blurb about their upcoming conference, then nothing after that until you scrolled to the next article down.

    1. Rosy Glasses*

      Yeah I had to actually just use another browser (went from using Chrome to Safari) and it worked fine after that… but I am hitting their paywall after this article so will just have to flag these to come back and read later!

  34. TootsNYC*

    I’ve seen one article that says the right number is six hours for each employee per week,

    I’d find it so frustrating to have to spend six hours with my manager every week! That’s almost one full day!

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      I think some of that time is meant to be just the manager alone, Thinking Deep Thoughts. But still, how many direct reports is this manager assumed to have?

  35. Starfox*

    For #3, if they are asking for an accommodation for an after work thing, that could very easily end up being seen as them making their issue everyone else’s problem. I feel like this is an even bigger risk if they already belong to a marginalized group that could be written off as not fitting with their company’s culture. If the VP is organizing these things, it’s the VPs job to make sure it’s something everyone can attend/enjoy.

  36. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

    I was responding to this by Thankful for AAM:
    “can you share what some of the “management that doesn’t involve direct contact with the employees” might be?”

    which I interpreted to mean managerial work OTHER than “things like development, coaching, feedback, talking about priorities and satisfaction”

    …because those things normally are visible to reports; I thought the question was asking about managerial work that isn’t obviously visible to reports. Sorry if I got that wrong!

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