updates: the coworker who came to work with Covid and more

Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. My coworker knowingly exposed me to COVID-19

First of all, I did not get COVID from Stacy (and have somehow managed not to get it from anyone else either, despite living in one of the worst hot-spots in the nation).

As for what happened after I got back to work, I was called into a meeting with the director and Stacy (after she had cleared the virus and tested negative) where she profusely apologized and cried a lot. She was very upset and remorseful and, though I was upset, I decided to be the bigger person and forgive her.

I believe people are capable of change and growth … but Stacy has not turned out to be one of those people. I didn’t know Stacy that well when all this happened, but I’ve worked with her for the better part of a year by now and I’ve since come to realize that, well, Stacy is an idiot. I don’t want to be mean, but I can’t think of any better way to say that. She believed the virus was a complete hoax up until she came down with it and tested positive. Even after literally having the virus herself (and getting very sick), she still continued to insist that it was “overblown” and then it was, “I know it’s real, I just think the media is lying about the numbers to make it sound worse than it is” and then that became, “I bet I just had a cold and it was a false positive.”

I became disgusted with her behavior and the behavior of others and requested to transition into a work-from-home role on the basis of me being very high risk and the cases in my area just continuing to explode. The company initially allowed me to do so, but then backpedaled and did a few more shady things it would take a whole other post to get into. I’m bleeding off my PTO and I’m quitting when it runs out in about a week. I’ve decided that I want to just focus on myself and finish my education. I’ve been accepted into the program I want and I’m thrilled! All online classes! As for work, I turned a hobby into a side business that has actually ended up doing well, so I’m going to lean into it and see where that goes.

I really appreciate the outpouring of support I received from the good folks who frequent AAM. It was a wonderful and validating experience for me and the commentariat really engaged me positively. Thank you all!

2. Performance plan two weeks after a glowing review

I wrote after my husband was put on a PIP just weeks after receiving an “exceptional” rating. He requested more information when signing the PIP but his manager never brought it up again. Then, in his end of year review last week, he was given a performance bonus, a merit raise to the top of his pay band and his manager told him he is being put up for a promotion into a new pay band at the end of Q1. He has not been taken off the performance plan, bafflingly. So the messages have only become more mixed.

One of his coworkers thinks that one of the department VPs likes to use performance plans to motivate people and keep them on their toes. The only thing that this experience motivated my husband to do, is look for other jobs. He still works there, but now knows that the leadership has no idea what they are doing when it comes to management and can’t be trusted.

3. My new boss asked everyone how many people they’ve slept with (#2 at the link; first update here)

I have finally found a new job! Thanks to all of your advice and the fantastic comments section I was able to successfully land a new job that pays $50K more than I make today and is full time remote (which is great since I’m high risk for covid). My manager said she wasn’t surprised I was leaving and was nice enough on the way out, perhaps hoping to avoid any direct call outs from me on her behavior. I’m so happy to be disentangled from that mess and am looking forward to leaving all of the craziness behind.

{ 134 comments… read them below }

  1. West*

    OP #1 – You are not being mean at all. Stacy is an idiot, exposing you to the virus and thinking the whole thing was fake. I don’t blame you either; you were exposed. But I am glad you never caught it. Also, your now former employer didn’t seem to be doing things right. Glad you are out of there and in a better place now.

    1. Realist*

      Stacy is a covidiot, and I am glad OP1 is satisfied with her situation right now, but she writes, “I’ve been accepted into the program I want and I’m thrilled! All online classes!”

      I think that OP needs to think long and hard about the merits of any academic program that consists entirely of online classes, especially if that is a professional degree like an MPP, MBA, or MFA.

      You learn as much from personal interaction as you do from textbooks (even at the K-12 level; hence the impetus to reopen schools), and much of the value of a professional degree comes from the network you buy into as much as the actual canon of knowledge you pick up. I seriously question whether the professional value of an online-only degree is worth the cost of tuition and foregone income.

      I obviously can’t speak to her employer’s “shady” activities (I only hope this allegation relates to more serious activities than asking a few people to come to the office). In addition, while a lot of online hobbyist businesses fail, who knows, OP1’s might be the exception. But — without knowing more — I would counsel her to think long and hard before letting her paid time office expire and quitting to rely on online classes and a hobbyist business. Doing everything virtually is not going to outlast the pandemic, not by a long shot.

      1. Jen*

        My MBA degree is now all online due to covid and I suspect it will remain that way until I graduate in December. I don’t think there is any less merit to it because I started it right as covid got underway in the US. It went online immediately and has not returned in person at all. I will give you the for profit university programs as something to reconsider but in these times you really can’t knock an online degree. You’d be hard pressed to find a program that’s fully in person right now.

        1. OP1*

          Op1 here, yeah, what you said is true. I’m going to a well regarded school, they’ve nust switched to online classes temporarily because of COVID. Pretty much all of the schools in my area are mostly online right now.

      2. writerhouse*

        I did my masters in library science 100% online before COVID existed and am happily employed full-time as a librarian, as well as a member of several online networking groups for alumni of my university. Your Mileage May Vary by field, but I don’t think fully online degree programs are particularly suspect.

        1. Mrs. Smith*

          Same. My cohort did occasionally meet in person, but I started my MLS way back in 2003 and it was fully online then. I was offered a job before I even graduated, and without doxxing myself or being too far up my own assets, ahem, I am respected in my field, well-published in several outlets and feel like the degree adequately prepared me, as much as any library degree does.

          1. jojo*

            Very true. My son is military. He has gotten his Masters all online. Also his wife has done all her nursing online except the hands on which she is doing now. She will also have a Masters when she finishes her clinical which will last most of a year. All this while having three kids. The oldest is now going into first grade.

        2. Jennifer*

          I recently graduated from a coordinated MLIS and MM (Master of Music) program (basically, I got two master’s degrees at the same time) that was a mix of on-site and online courses. I know of several people who did their MLIS degrees online, and I don’t believe fully online programs are problematic.

        3. Sammi*

          I earned my MBA entirely online, which included classes where the instructor spoke to us (like Zoom, but way before Zoom) – included military members on deployment. This was back in 2008…

          Since then, I went and earned my masters in nutrition, again online, with research projects discussed with other members. Not all online programs are suspect.

      3. Student Affairs Sally*

        The myth that online degree programs do not result in as much learning as in-person programs is just that – a myth. It’s been disproven by a number of well-regarded, peer-reviewed studies. Obviously for profit institutions are going to be subpar compared to non-profit, but that’s true whether the program is online or in-person. Now, I’ll grant you that there is networking that often takes place in in-person programs that’s a lot harder to duplicate online, but not impossible. And obviously some students have a harder time with the more self-regulated learning that’s required for an online degree, but those skills can be learned with practice. As far as actual learning objectives, online degrees are just as valuable and useful.

        Source: I work in higher education, and also got my master’s fully online

      4. Zillah*

        When we’re talking about higher education (as opposed to K-12), it’s certainly true that online classes can be different, but they’re not inherently lesser than. All of my classes for my second master’s have been online because of the pandemic; I don’t feel like the quality of education is beneath that of the master’s I got in person.

        Not that “all online” is typically specified on a diploma anyway (and many programs offer options for both in non-covid times), but I also suspect that as we move back into something vaguely approaching normal, there will be more openness overall to doing more things virtually long term in general.

        1. Zillah*

          pressed post too soon –

          You say “even at the K-12 level” – that’s actually getting it backwards. In person instruction is most important at K-12.

        2. TardyTardis*

          I did all the classes I needed to get my tax preparer’s certificate online, too (mentally muttering, ‘hurry up, The Good Place is almost on’ for a few of the sessions).

      5. Lizzo*

        I think you’re being unnecessarily harsh in your assessment of OP’s plans. There are plenty of online-only degrees across a variety of programs that offer a high-quality education. Perhaps you’re confusing nonprofit educational institutions that offer online programs (and usually offer the same program in-person) with for-profit programs?

        1. Sasha*

          Also, depending on where OP is, there may not *be* a non-online option this year.

          Almost all UK higher education has moved temporarily fully-online. So OP may well have applied for and been accepted onto a “normal”, prestigious postgrad, which happens to have moved fully online for next year (and will hopefully then move back to in-person the year after).

          Just because she’s happy the course is now fully online, doesn’t mean that was what she originally planned to do and signed up for.

      6. Midwest Manager*

        It’s awfully harsh to lump all online degrees into one category. It is true that several well-known online only institutions often deliver a poor education, and hiring managers often view those degrees as a negative rather than a positive. However, it is possible to receive a degree from an accredited brick-n-mortar school that was delivered entirely online. Many public and private universities are moving in this direction to be able to attract non-traditional students to their programs. In these cases, the final degree will be issued by the brick-n-mortar institution, so to a hiring manager reading the resume it would look no different than a traditional degree unless detailed as a specifically online program.

        Furthermore, there are a good number of people who find they thrive in an online learning environment. Coursework that is designed well and in a format that delivers the material in a logical and cohesive manner would not substantially decrease learning outcomes. There is no reason to assume that the degree being pursued would be sub-standard just because OP is enrolling in an online-only program.

        1. Lizzo*

          Not to mention that having a full-time online option broadens the potential applicant pool (which is good for the university’s enrollment numbers), and those interested in pursuing education are not limited to programs that are within commuting distance.

      7. Lalaroo*

        I see that a lot of people are defending online programs, which is fine I guess for many people. But I’m in law school, and we’re online right now (have been for 11 months), and it is incredibly diminished the quality in my opinion (and in the opinions of probably 95% of my classmates). For a program like law, in particular, where networking is so incredibly important, I would never recommend attending online. We feel terrible for the 1Ls who haven’t been able to build relationships in person – we only got one semester in person and then a few weeks in the spring, but that was so crucial.

        I do think it’s very different to have a program that was set up to be online rather than a program that’s meant to be in person but has been done over Zoom. The teaching methods are usually very different, and that probably really helps. But I don’t learn well online. I have ADD and it is just way, way too easy for me to get distracted when nobody can see that I’m not paying attention.

        1. JustaTech*

          You’re very right that there is a huge difference between programs that were always intended to be online and programs that have had to shift.
          I got my Master’s of Public Health online (through UC Berkeley) and it is specifically a program for mid-career professionals. That means that no only was it online (except for 2 one-week site visits), it was mostly asynchronous, because it was expected that the students all had day jobs. So there was a lot of reading, and a lot of group projects, more than there were lots of really long lectures (which, as an ADHD person myself, would have been atrocious).

          I’m sorry you’re having a sucky time and I hope you get back to (safely) in person soon!

      8. tectonic*

        That’s a whole lot of presumption to pack into one lousy comment on a stranger’s post. Apparently, you’re better informed than the OP is regarding: 1) online education 2) her employer and their activities 3) her financial situation 4) her ‘online hobbyist business’, about which we know nothing, including your assumption that it’s ‘online’.

        I’m struck by the dismissive quality of your comment; you’re treating her like a child, not an adult who’s asking her peers for some advice. How about you start over, and give her some credit for knowing her own mind and having some insight into her own situation?

        1. lailaaaaah*

          But- but- they’re a REALIST. How could they do anything but? Surely this is a very helpful use of their time?


        2. OP1*

          Thank you! Came to the thread late and I missed the party, wow. I did not think my letter would get this kind of response, but I appreciate that most people realize how condescending that guy is.

      9. lailaaaaah*

        ‘Doing everything virtually is not going to outlast the pandemic, not by a long shot.’

        What makes you say that? All the evidence right now seems to be pointing in the other direction.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          And anyway, anyone wanting to take advantage of a spell of unemployment to up their skills doesn’t exactly have much choice at the moment since everything is online.
          You do miss out on the networking opportunities when it’s all virtual, but otherwise online learning can present its own challenges. Someone who gets an all-virtual degree can be trusted to get work done on their own, for example, they won’t need to be babied through simple processes. They’ll know to google something when they don’t understand, or don’t know enough about the software they need to use.
          There’s a school our lodger attends, where there are no classes with teachers dispensing their knowledge from above, everyone has to find everything out for themselves. Graduates are in very high demand because managers know they can work independently, and they don’t quit when the going gets tough.

      10. Kal*

        I just have to add to what everyone is saying because someone who is at higher risk for complications being glad they found a program that has all of its classes online is a bit of a far cry from a predatory online-only degree, so I have to think you are bringing some serious bias to the equation. Not all online-only degrees are predatory, and a lot of very legitimate programs that are normally in person are online only right now. It would be utterly silly if every student had to drop out of their degree because a pandemic happened and classes went online for everyone’s safety. People can socialise and and network online! Its not exactly the same and so it can be an adjustment, but we’re almost a year into it and you’re talking to people online right now, so I have to imagine you understand that online interaction is a thing that exists.

        My partner, for example, is currently attending one of the most prestigious pharmacy schools in our region right now with entirely online classes. At the end of the degree, my partner will be a pharmacist and be just fine. The cost of tuition will give them a degree that has just as much professional value as it would if there wasn’t a pandemic.

        As for the hobby turned side business – its clearly a side business. It’s helping the LW get through the pandemic and the transition to being a student instead of working full time. Expecting that the side business is supposed to the LW’s lifelong career is just silly. It’s a side business, sort of like a part time job a student takes to get by during school. Maybe once they graduate they might be able to use the degree to turn the part time job into a full time career. Maybe the degree starts them on a different career and the part time job just stays on the side as a bit extra/a bit of variety. Maybe the degree starts them on their new career and they stop the part time job (which in your terms would be the business failing).

        The LW seems happy with their decisions and future trajectory, but you seem weirdly invested in them staying in a job they are unhappy with. You make some seriously uncharitable assumptions about the LW’s ability to make their own decisions and do their own research into their own future planning. That’s not being a realist, its just being rude.

      11. JustaTech*

        “Doing everything virtually is not going to outlast the pandemic, not by a long shot.”

        I got my Master’s of Public Health from UC Berkeley through their online/on-campus program way back in 2016.

        There are a lot of terminal Master’s programs that were developed specifically for mid-career working professionals that are online and primarily asynchronous and still accredited. They are real degrees from real schools with real professors. And I had plenty of personal interaction with my classmates, as pretty much every class either had a group project or had a very active student-only chat group for homework help. (The statistics class in particular everyone spent a *lot* of time getting or giving help in the chat.)

        Not every online degree is BS from a diploma mill.

      12. OP1*

        Hi, it was too long to get into all this in that post I made, but we got a new supervisor and he ended up being a total nightmare. He had no management experience and it showed. I had to tell him step by step how to do the most basic thing we do one day and I figured out he was just faking all his knowledge. He clearly lied on his resume about being a “teapot expert” and couldn’t even “pour a cup”. I tried talking to his boss about it because this was an obvious issue, but his boss just brushed me off. New Supervisor found out I went to his boss and started targeting me and then blaming me for every mistake he made. It got to the point that a lot of people actually believed him that I was terrible at my job and he was just so patient in dealing with me when the actuality of it was that the guy couldn’t do a single function of the job. I am not a confrontational person, but I started talking back to New Supervisor when he would try to blame me for things. It turned out he was having a REAL bad day one of those days and just had a rage meltdown in front of witnesses, yelling at me and telling me I was terrible and he wanted to fire me. I made an official HR complaint and then another when New Supervisor retaliated against me. He got reprimanded and I got told by the Director, who I thought was a nice guy, that he was just so sorry all this happened and he wanted to move me to another team for a “fresh start” into a work-from-home role that was supposed to be better for me. I stupidly accepted this, but they changed my assignment at the last minute to working at a more remote location that apparently needed people because they’d just had a COVID crisis. When I got here, most of the people there were not wearing masks and some were visibly sick and coughing. I tried talking to literally anyone about this, but nobody would pick up the phone, not even HR. It was pretty clear they sent me to their worst location to get rid of me. I decided this job wasn’t worth dying over, took all my sick time, and then they tried to fire me because I missed calling in on one of my sick days, so I just quit. I know it’s late, but now anyone wandering the comments can have the whole story if they want it!

        And thank you for patronizing me so thoroughly, truly, but I’m going to an accredited proper school that has just switched to online classes because of the pandemic, I have savings to survive for 6 months and I’m looking for other jobs currently. I’m not an idiot who would just quit my job with no money and no plan to go to a for profit college. As for my hobby… online business are actually pretty lucrative. This isn’t 2005 when online shopping was a novelty. Most people buy things online anymore and probably will continue to do so after the pandemic is over. My area has a distinct lack of available suppliers for my niche hobby and I’ve been doing pretty well.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I know this is majorly late, but can I just say how glad I am you’re getting away from covidiots and taking care of yourself :)

        2. AskJeeves*

          Holy moses…kudos to you for getting out of that place and keeping yourself safe! It sounds like you have a great plan in place for your financial stability and your career growth. Good luck!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I love how this jaw-dropping tidbit just slid right in to the story.
      OP if you can just add a few more words here for those of us who are super curious, we’d appreciate it.

    2. OP3*

      Hello All! I’m happy to share how I got the $50K pay bump. First, you’re correct that I was vastly underpaid which was a big contributor to the high shift. I think if I took another job today with the pay I’m making in my new job I might get between $5-10K instead of the $50K raise. However, to even figure out what I was worth to begin with I did lots of research. I looked up average pay rates based on experience, geography and company size on multiple sites. I would highly recommend using multiple sites to research average pay because there were lots of differences! I used Glassdoor, Indeed, BuiltIn, Career Contessa and LinkedIn Premium to figure out a solid salary range for me.

      Once I picked a number that I thought fairly reflected my work experience and skills I decided to be confident and just throw it out there on every phone screening. There was one company who turned me down on pay alone and another that wanted to make it happen in a bonus structure. However, the rest of the companies I talked to all said the figure was within their range (which kind of made me think I should have asked for more but really $50K is life changing for me too — I’m going to be able to afford a house and pay off debt!!).

      Whenever I change jobs again I know I’ll do the same research because it was SO helpful in opening my eyes to what I really am worth in the marketplace. I was worried that by asking for more I would just get turned down over and over again or that I wouldn’t even find a new job but I had the confidence of research on my side and the great advice that we all get on this site too. Something that was really helpful was to remember that the job search is not personal — it’s a numbers game and I was glad I kept that perspective.

      I hope you all get big raises too in your future!

  2. Threeve*

    In addition to just being a jerk move, have people who think “perpetual performance improvement plans keep people motivated and on their toes” not heard of the boy who cried wolf? If your first 10 criticisms of me are manufactured and pointless, please don’t think I’m going to take the next 10 seriously.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Either I’m doing well or I’m not and if I’m not taken off the PIP then I guess you don’t really think well enough of me for me to continue there. I’d be eyeballing the door.

    2. Sharrbe*

      I once workedd with a woman on a college campus who often supervised student workers. She told me that she specifically never told them that they did a good job because it would make them lazy. It’s unbelievalbe how some people think that this crap works to keep people motivated.

      1. Cat Tree*

        This is so backwards. If I push a lever and get sugar water, I’m gonna keep pushing that lever even more, especially if I keep getting more sugar water. Rewards are super motivating, even if the reward is just verbal praise.

        1. Xenia*

          Plus, with student workers, a lot of the time they might legitimately not know if they’re doing a good job or not. I know that while I was a student worker I’d get repeatedly frustrated because I didn’t have a good metric to compare to and my supervisors weren’t good at giving big picture feedback. So by doing this with your student workers you’re guaranteeing a poor performance because the student will never know what you actually want.

      2. Rainy*

        I’ve been around student workers for years as a professional, as well as teaching undergrads for nine years, and I’ve seen that attitude before. It never gets any less infuriating. I find, personally, that when you commend students when they are doing a good job, they are more likely to trust you and accept guidance when they have missed the mark. I bet that woman had a lot of student workers who were underperforming their capabilities, because why bother doing a great job if the feedback is the same as if you did a barely acceptable one.

      1. Rainy*

        Here we see a herd of gazelles. From their straight-line movement away from the lion, you can see that they have been put on a meaningless PIP and are in search of a better organization.

        Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Cubefarm

        1. INFJedi*

          I laughed way to loud at both the above commenters. :’)
          Rainy’s had the voice of David Attenborough in my head.

            1. Quiet Liberal*

              I’m that old, too. We watched that show every Sunday night. I had a crush on Marlin’s sidekick, Jim Fowler. I was like 10.

    3. GreenDoor*

      So true. I worked for a former teacher – one of those whose motto was “no one gets an A without really earning it” and “we all have things to learn.” Every evaluation contained bizarre criticisms or points for improvement that made no sense. One for example was “your analyses are too editorial. You need to report facts and leave your personal opinions out.” I asked for examples of where I was too opinionated. The response was ‘read back through your analyses and you’ll see it.” I said, “Well, I read over the ONE analysis I did this year and didn’t see opinion words so I’m not understanding why you can’t be more explicit.” The look on her face said it all – I wasn’t too editorial, she made it up because she couldn’t just give me that “A” paper. Ugh! After that, I disregarded my evaluations entirely. (Fortunatley I work in government, my salary is based on the bands and increases set by our governing body, not evaluations. But if I was in the private sector where the DID matter, I’d be pissed!).

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I’m scratching my head at the irony of this person.

        Bad Manager: “We all have things to learn.”

        Me: “Yes, I agree. That includes developing one’s skill in providing specific, meaningful, and actionable feedback.”

    4. West*

      If I were put on PIP, I would start job hunting immediately, because I would get scared that they are trying to fire me. And I take it seriously. My ex was put on PIP a few years ago, and was fired months later. It was a very toxic workplace anyway, but still. A PIP is usually a warning sign, not a routine check-up on how an employee is doing.

      1. KTB*

        The one and only time I was put on a PIP at work, you had best believe that I started looking for another job. My then-boss was shocked when, a week before the PIP was up, I handed in my resignation. His response: “But we were going to end the PIP–you did everything you were supposed to!”

        Including get a new job, because the PIP wasn’t the only thing wrong with that role, and my fit with it.

      2. Quiet Liberal*

        As a former middle manager, I can attest that this is true. In fact, upper management told us that the PIP was the last step before firing and that no one could improve enough to get off the PIP.

    5. TimeTravlR*

      OMG, so right! I had a boss that when she was on a tear (which happened from time to time), there was not a thing my team could do right. She was developing a new leader and he got the task of speaking to me about my team during one of these times when she was on a tear. I just laid it out for him. “How is it my team is so great most of the time, but this week they can’t do anything right? I don’t think it’s my team that is the problem.” He must have had a good talk with her (good for him, she was a piece of work) because it never happened again!

    6. TrainerGirl*

      Very true. It took me a long time to realize that my manager is one of those “You always or You never” critiquers that likes to exaggerate because he thinks it makes his case. He said today, “this document you’ve been producing has been subpar for months.” Eh, buddy? If that’s true, why am I just hearing about it now? How do you expect me to change it if you don’t say anything?

      Management that does this tells you it’s so much more about them than it is about you.

      1. lailaaaaah*

        Oh god, yeah. My manager was a huge fan of the ‘not telling you what you’re doing wrong, and then hitting you with all of it weeks later at once, when it’s too late to change it’. She thought she was keeping me on my toes. What she was doing was essentially guaranteeing that the mistakes continued, and that I’d get increasingly paranoid and stressed out (during a time when I had a ton of external stressors going on too) until I ended up quitting and having a mini-breakdown.

  3. Jenny*

    “One of his coworkers thinks that one of the department VPs likes to use performance plans to motivate people and keep them on their toes.”

    If this is true, this VP is an idiot. PIPs come with a serious threat of termination and they’re also a significant amount of work for the manager (at least they are at every place I have worked). I’d guess this VP isn’t the one supervising them.. I have supervised PIPs, both successful and unsuccessful and they are a lot of work and stress for everyone involved. A good PIP identifies clear deficiencies and sets forth clear goals. Serious side eye at this VP.

    1. Mystic*

      I’d assume it’s also a drain on mental health, because if I’m on a PIP, I become extremely nervous about everything…
      And it’d probably make it a lot easier to fire someone unexpectedly.

      1. GIS Without a Map*

        A lot of companies have a policy to do a PIP before firing someone due to performance issues. It’s part of covering themselves against litigation and generally making sure there’s a paper trail. (Obviously, not for something egregious like sexual harassment, threats of violence, etc.)

        Speaking as someone who was on a PIP and then fired- it did motivate me to work harder. But I didn’t work better. I knew I was under a microscope and any minor mistake could be the thing that got me fired. It caused a lot of second guessing, which slowed things down-which then caused me to rush. The having to rush made me miss something big while I was looking for the small stuff, and that was that.

        I have subsequently heard [unsubstantiated] things to the effect that our VP was the same way as the one in the OP’s post. Calling that guy a weasel is an insult to weasels.

        1. Ashley*

          Companies can fire for pretty much anything, but if you do a PIP to protect yourself from a law suit, I don’t know they think this would protect themselves. You are doing terrible job and need a PIP, but you are doing great enough to a performance bonus, merit raise, and consideration for a promotion. I would love to see the company defend that in a court case.

          1. M.*

            Right? Either you’ve got a performance issue, which the company tried to help you with, but it didn’t work – which seems pretty straightforward as a defense -, or you’re doing great enough work to get a promotion, which completely undermines the PIP if it’s kept up.

            I also can’t imagine anyone who’s watching this taking PIPs by this company seriously besides as a reason to start looking for a new job. If you get put on them for doing more than 100%, then what does it mean to be put on one? It’s just your turn now to be at risk?

          2. Cat Tree*

            This wouldn’t make a court case though because in most states it’s legal to fire even a high performer. Unless the firing was done as discrimination based on a protected characteristic, there’s nothing illegal here. Silly, yes. Frustrating, yes. Terrible management, yes. But illegal, no.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Right but the I think the theoretical scenario goes:
              They fire you for a protected characteristic
              You say that’s what they did
              They say “no it was a performance issue, see the PIP?”
              You say “it wasn’t performance because here’s my review from during that PIP that says Excellent, and here’s the date you gave me a merit raise, and here’s where you put me up for a promotion, all during that PIP” – and I mean hopefully also some evidence of the actual discrimination itself, but if their entire argument is “no it’s cuz you sucked”, they have not supported their own reasoning.

        2. lailaaaaah*

          I did exactly the same thing. Looking back, it made the stories my manager told me about the people who had previously held my position and how they’d all quit rather suddenly and left her in the lurch (including one who was sent to a different city for a conference and just… never came back) make a lot more sense.

          1. All het up about it*

            one who was sent to a different city for a conference and just… never came back

            Oh boy! I would love to hear the details of that story over a glass of wine. Like did they move to that new city? Get a job offer at the conference? Know ahead of time that they were done with the company and use the trip as a fabulous vacation? So many entertaining options!

      2. Amanda L Reynolds*

        It is beyond draining on mental health. I am currently on an very unexpected and very un-transparent PIP and it’s caused huge mental health issue relapses for me. As a disabled person, the threat of losing my livelihood and healthcare coverage (and in a pandemic no less) is one of the most stressful things I have ever dealt with.

        1. Former Employee*

          I am so sorry you are having to deal with this, especially now.

          Perhaps you should write to Alison and ask her advice.

          Wishing you the best of luck.

    2. Liz*

      Having been on one many years ago (rather unfairly IMO), it didn’t so much motivate me, as make me stressed and anxious, and second guessing every little thing I did! The only motivation was to make sure I did NOT get fired! I must have done something right because almost 20 years later, I’m still here.

    3. EPLawyer*

      I don’t think there is a lot of supervision of the PIP by the managers. They can tell the VP, yep I put Fergus on a PIP like you wanted, see here’s the paperwork. Then shove it in a drawer and NEVER EVER MENTION it to Fergus again.

      Meanwhile the VP thinks his plan is working because look how great Fergus is now. He was soooooo terrified of being fired than he worked hard enough to earn a bonus and be up for a review.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Meanwhile the VP thinks his plan is working because look how great Fergus is now. ”

        I guess the VP will be shocked to find out that we have a whole set of words used to describe people who lead by the use of fear and terror. And those words apply to that VP.

        And I bet the VP will be falling down shocked to see his company’s health care coverage costs JUMP. Well more people are having unending headaches. stomach ulcers, inability to sleep and so on because of HIM and his threats.

        Bottomline: People who don’t know how to lead, have to resort to threats.

        OP, I am very glad your Hub’s cohort spoke up and explained that to your spouse. This person sounds like one of the few good people in that place.

  4. pleaset cheap rolls*

    “One of his coworkers thinks that one of the department VPs likes to use performance plans to motivate people and keep them on their toes. The only thing that this experience motivated my husband to do, is look for other jobs. ”


    It’s funny because it’s true.

    1. Willis*

      Its a PPIP. Perpetual Performance Improvement Plan (or, alternatively, Pointless Performance Improvement Plan…).

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yup – it’s the glaring neon sign that management doesn’t know the sky from the sea – and it’s time to polish up the resume and get out of dodge.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Which is exactly what this kind of thing leads to. Oh, you think I need improvement to keep me motivated? You motivated me right out the door. Good employees have OPTIONS. They will not put up with game playing.

        1. lailaaaaah*

          Especially the kind of employee who you’ve just promoted and sent to the top of their pay band. If that’s how I was being treated, I’d take all that info and walk to the nearest decent looking company that had an opening, and hopefully finagle a pay rise out of it at the new job too.

  5. Fiona the Baby Hippo*

    I remember thinking back in spring 2020, god well maybe people actually getting it in large numbers will make people take COVID more seriously?! Then i saw people I know post on social about getting it and pleading for other people to take the pandemic seriously ….. then go back to indoor dining or travel VERY quickly after getting off their soapbox. I feel like psychologists have a lot of interesting work cut out for them.

    1. Artemesia*

      then there was the family whose matriarch was in the hospital dying on a ventilator who had a big Thanksgiving celebration with the extended family; some people are capable of heroic feats of denial

    2. Des*

      Remember all those Zombie apocalypse movies that failed to take into consideration people protesting that they want to have their brains eaten?

      1. meyer lemon*

        “Reports of this so-called ‘zombie infestation’ are seriously overblown. I myself have been roaming graveyards for months and only have a minor headache.” –L.H. Puttgrass, 62, head currently in the process of being gnawed by zombies

          1. meyer lemon*

            Just old Puttgrass (although I confess I couldn’t remember his exact age). I started reading it at age nine, and it really wormed its way into my subconscious. Puttgrass is my go-to name for a miscellaneous interviewee.

      2. Jayn*

        Early on I saw a few comparisons to the Corrupted Blood incident in WoW (short version, they created an accidental plague). One aspect they thought limited what could be learned from it was that some people purposely spread it. Turns out it was more realistic than they thought.

      3. lailaaaaah*

        I mean, it’s making the ‘guy who gets bitten and hides it to flee to safety with other survivors’ trope look way more realistic. I used to think it was just a thing writers threw in for plot points.

    3. Fiddle Faddle*

      Hospital workers report patients whining about “a hoax” as they’re being hooked up to a ventilator (and I’ve heard this more than once). Hospital workers must be saints.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Most epidemiologists I stayed in touch with are now the ones seeing psychologists because we predicted this exact behaviour :p

  6. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP2 how was that PIP phrased? What’s the chance your husband’s manager is clueless to mix up performance improvement with personal development?

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      Oh, that’s a good point. I have heard of people thinking a PIP is a “personal” improvement plan, not a performance improvement plan, and that it’s closer indeed to personal development rather than shape up your act.

    2. Leems*

      This is the only thing that REMOTELY makes any sense to me (not that I’m expecting that employer to, you know, actually make sense). Someone got performance improvement crossed with professional development and . . . I still feel like I’m giving that org way too much credit.

    3. MCMonkeybean*

      That’s the only explanation I can think of as well. I think someone along the line confused those two concepts!

  7. Liz*

    OP#1, first of all i’m glad that you didn’t catch it from her. Secondly, wow, i would be livid too! I know what you mean about being an “idiot” I know many like that and its frustrating. I’m all for doing what YOU want and believe or not believe, but when someone’s actions affect and endanger others, all bets are OFF.

    My BF was just in a similar situation; not a CW but the guy who owns the building where he rents an office. Both are self employed, and owner, who my BF is friends with, and is in BF’s office frequently to chat, bring in the mail if he happens to get it, etc, called BF last week to tell him he had tested positive. And he had been in BF’s office the day before, maskless (neither one has been good about wearing masks around each other, but that’s a different story, and not my issue).

    BF was livid, as he should be, as was I, because owner had to know he had been exposed, and tested, or was going to be tested, and yet there he was. BF had to get tested, his assistgant, her SO, and so on. BF was negative, thankfully, the others are awaiting results. He’s since told owner under no circumstances is he to come into his office for at least 2 weeks and must wear a mask when he does. BF says owner doesn’t really take it as seriously as he should (BF a bit too but i think this was a wake up for him)

    And your company doesn’t earn any points from me either. But it sounds like things are ok for you, you have a plan, its going well, and that’s the most important thing.

    1. Artemesia*

      And early negative test doesn’t mean he hasn’t caught it — he needs to re-test in a week or so. We are awaiting a second test for our grandson who was exposed at day care and is on two week quarantine.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, my husband was exposed to the British new variant recently (his quarantine ends today, yay!) and he had to get tested twice. He was wearing a PPT2 mask, everyone else there wore at least a disposable mask, kept his distance and didn’t spend more than 10 minutes at the place where he was exposed, but I’m glad it turns out his precautions were enough to prevent infection.

    2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Similarly LIVID, except that I *did* catch it from “Stacy”.

      The ramifications?
      1. D@mn near a month of me being isolated from my family; my spouse and children being quarantined/isolated for nearly a month; multiple tests for all of us. Thankfully I was asymptomatic and was tested per work protocols; thankfully the rest of the crew never tested positive nor did they show any sign of illness.
      2. Spouse owns own business and thankfully hadn’t been IN in about a week at the time of my exposure, meaning that after consulting with the health department, it was determined that his employees were not considered close contacts and he didn’t have to close operations for a month. Thank every Pantheon; realistically he could have lost his business.
      3. Our parents, who’d been helping with remote schooling and are all in the “not great” age groups? Yeah. They needed to isolate and test as well. Thankfully, none of them ever displayed any symptoms NOR did any of them test positive.

      So why am I livid? I have to listen to this utter john-donkey glass-bleeping-bowl tell me the first day back “It wasn’t that bad…hey, since we’ve had it we don’t have to wear masks anymore right?”. Oh, and the fact that I’m now experiencing cardiovascular and pulmonary issues even now, months later, when I had no previous heart or lung conditions? Yeah. That’s got me plenty bent too.

      I’m seriously going to need counseling and therapy to get past this anger towards this human, because its not healthy for me. It could have been a lot worse, but he’s absolutely OBLIVIOUS to the mess he created and the utter hell he could’ve wrecked, just because neither of us falls into a risk category and it has a “99.9% survival rate”.

      Thankfully, my place of employment, and darn near 100% of the rest of my coworkers, takes this ish seriously. He HAS to behave in general, and comply with all regulations and policy here, or he’s out on his butt.

      But I’d still like fifteen minutes with him and a pair of boxing gloves.

      1. Lizzo*

        I will happily lend you my gloves if I can also have some time with him on your behalf…I’ll only need five minutes.

      2. Quiet Liberal*

        I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through. It’s getting so hard to deal with so many deniers and just plain idiots. You have suffered physical damage because of that asshole’s lack of character. I wish we had had solid leadership on this crisis from the beginning.

  8. Luke G*

    OP2: That sounds incredibly frustrating. Why would you stay at a company that thinks little enough of your performance that you’re constantly on performance plans? Why would you leave a company where you’re so successful you’re regularly getting praise and bonuses and raises? Kudos to your husband for having the fortitude to see the warning signs of dysfunction and walk away from the good stuff- but if he’s not having some doubts about leaving, he’s stronger-minded than I would be. Apparently they think a self-doubting staff with mental whiplash is an effective staff.

  9. Eye roll*

    OP @2, I can only hope that when your husband finds a new job and leaves, he flat out tells them that he would never consider staying with a company that is not happy with his performance and this that perpetual PIP while promoting him made it clear the business didn’t have much talent amoung its employees if the only people available for promotion were those who weren’t performing well based on his PIP, so he’s glad to leave and have the chance to apply himself to a position where he can excel and meet the new companies needs.

  10. Mal*

    I’m relieved for you that it was negative, OP1. I remember that post and still cannot believe how many people defended/excused Stacy’s reckless and dangerous actions.

    Congrats to OP3 although for the sake of the remaining employees that manager needs to go.

  11. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    2) If I were doing an outstanding job, warranting promotions/raises, and were under a PIP, I’d start looking.

    And on resignation day they’re gonna say “oh, why? We treated you so nicely? What’s wrong?” Mention the PIP.

    And if they try to convince you to stay – then insist = “NON NEGOTIABLE POINT #1 – EXPUNGE THE PIP FROM MY RECORD HERE.” And see what happens. Because if it’s still in there it’s a black mark on you that you can’t erase.

  12. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW1 – I’m delighted that you have chosen a different direction. Very best wishes for your new adventure!

  13. Anonyy*

    Genuine question– how to people find jobs that pay 50k(!) more than their current jobs?!? That just seems like such an unfathomably huge increase. I struggle to find anything that would pay more than a few grand more than my current job.

      1. West*

        Ridiculously underpaid in this case must have been an understatement. So suppose the employee was making $50K at the first job and now $100K at the current job at the same level, it really baffles me that the first employer would pull a stunt like that. Not even my first job, that underpaid me $20K, would do this.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          It can also have to do with the value of experience or increasing credentials.

          As an example, going from a paraprofessional in the library field to a professional (aka finishing your master’s degree) can often mean between $20k and $50K a year in wages, even if you have the same responsibilities – but trying to get your current employer to adjust your pay upwards by that amount is a herculean task, especially if it’s a municipal library.

          So, often that pay bump will only be achievable by moving sideways into a new organization.

          Similar things can happen when you hit the 3/5/10+ year marks of experience in supervising others – especially if you’re in an institution where direct advancement may be blocked by a lack of positions.

      2. Dahlia*

        I wonder if it’s also one of those things where their title/job role was inaccurate – say they’re doing all the work of a job a level up, but that isn’t being reflected by their workplace, but they can apply for that job elsewhere and it will be.

      3. PhyllisB*

        That’s the case with my daughter. She just got a new job and she’s getting a 25k raise, but she was woefully underpaid at her other job.

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

      Could be a change in industry — go from non-profit to for-profit, or government to private. I could make more money as a graphic designer if I moved from non-profit education to for-profit advertising agency for instance; it would be interesting to see if it would be up to $50,000 but it would definitely be in the tens of thousands. But, I’d also have to give up a lot of the personal rewards of what I do. I believe in the mission of my org, and enjoy the work that I do here. I don’t think I’d be happy at all at an ad agency even if the work itself was similar.

      Another scenario is that the higher paid the position — D and C suite usually — the larger the disparity on pay from one company to the next. If someone is making $500,000/year, + or – $50,000 seems a lot less dramatic.

      1. Ash*

        Yes, my partner went from public interest law to corporate and got a little over a $50k bump. Of course, he has to work a lot more now than he did before. (Not saying all public interest lawyers don’t work long hours; I know many do. But he did not have to. Corporate law tends to expect or even require very long hours whereas a lot of public interest is unionized, at least in big cities.)

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      I gained 33K in one move by jumping from public to private sector. Within 3 years my total jump has been approximately 44k. It’s possible.

      But generally, yes, you have to start with a drastically underpaid job. Public sector, at least in my field and area, is very good at that.

    3. Roza*

      I got an increase about that big when I moved from private sector non-tech (in an area that did a lot of gov consulting) to private sector tech/startups. Industry can make a really big difference.

      1. Roza*

        Forgot to add — a big part of why I left the first job was because I knew I could almost double my salary by doing the same thing for a company in a different field.

    4. Rachel*

      I was seriously underpaid at a national non profit that didn’t do much to adjust salaries between LCOL and HCOL areas (I’m in a HCOL city). I got an over $35k raise by moving to a local public agency, who recently completed a compensation survey to match salaries with other local agencies. It’s been a huge relief.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I got my pay quadrupled at my current job.
      I accepted at x rate, found out what the job actually was and armed with Reasons ask for and got my pay quadrupled.
      I followed AAMs advice and mimicked her style of presenting the argument.

      In my setting, and it’s probably true for other people, the job had a much lower set rate when I first looked at it. If I had known how much the job entailed before I started I could have used a similar method to get myself a better rate.

      My guess is that people are applying to jobs then negotiating a higher rate. In OP’s example, it could be that the job paid 20k more, but OP realized that the responsibility also included x, y and z that no one thought of and does indeed meet a higher rate of pay. It’s a combo of being strategic and having some luck/ good fortune.

    6. OP3*

      Hello! I replied above in much more detail but yes… woefully underpaid in a tragic work environment was the prime factor. I didn’t even know what I was missing out on because I wasn’t looking until I needed to! I don’t think that kind of advancement would happen again unless I moved from a Director to a VP or something like that.

  14. Mannheim Steamroller*


    I still wish somebody had directly asked the boss, “What is the BUSINESS PURPOSE of digging into our sex lives”?

    1. OP3*

      Oh I had lots of fun rage quit fantasies where I asked all kinds of questions and very dramatic. Part of my wishes I had done something a little dramatic. :) I regret that I didn’t fully call her out on things but I’m just so relieved to be out of it all.

  15. JSPA*

    OP 2:
    This reminds me of people who are appointed to “independent” “oversight” boards by a public executive or legislative body, but are also required to tender a signed, undated resignation letter as a condition of being appointed. It’s a sign of terrible government, in the public sphere–it undoes the whole point of having independent boards to do oversight. It’s not much better in the private sphere. I’d hear it as, “your job is to be my faithful dog. You get rewarded and petted for your skills, but only so long as you remember who owns you, and act accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll be taken out back and shot.” Well, nuts to that.

  16. La Triviata*

    OP#2 – I once worked for a man who would proudly say that he never gave anyone a top rating on their review. If all your employees are, at best, satisfactory, perhaps you should evaluate your standards.

  17. LizardOfOdds*

    I wondered this when OP2’s situation came up before, but with this update I’m now wondering even more… does this manager maybe think a “performance improvement plan” is actually just a career development plan? Did the PIP have language in it that said “your job is at risk” or similar? This manager sounds totally incompetent either way, but with the stellar review followed by the PIP followed by the promotion message, that makes me wonder whether the manager actually thinks he’s doing OP2’s husband a solid by giving him a formal plan to get to the next level. That’s probably a generous reading, though.

    I’d definitely GTFO either way, especially if there’s an HR team involved that’s letting this all happen.

  18. Imaginary Number*

    Theory 1: OP2’s manager blamed a major screwup on OP and, when told to come up with a solution, said “well, I’ll put him on a PIP” but he couldn’t really explain what it was for without revealing the lie to OP. And he can’t close the PIP because there’s no progress to show.

    Theory 2: OP2’s company is putting everyone on PIPs to make it easier to do mass layoffs in the future. “No, these aren’t mass layoffs. Look, all of these people were on PIPs!”

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