I manage the CEO’s horrible nephew, quitting a job I love over money, and more

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

1. I manage the CEO’s nephew and he’s horrible

I’m a first-time manager dealing with a difficult employee, “Felix.” Felix has been at my company for five years now. He also happens to be the CEO’s nephew.

His performance was never good, but it’s gotten steadily worse in the time I’ve been here. His work frequently has mistakes and he is unreachable for large stretches of the day. What’s worse is that he and I do not have a good relationship (we were peers before I was promoted) and he pushes back on any feedback I give him. At one point, he yelled in my face when I pointed out a repeated problem with his work, saying that he “didn’t respect” my feedback.

I’ve documented these issues extensively. My boss, “Rachel” (Felix’s former direct manager), had similar issues managing him. I’ve talked to her repeatedly about putting him on a PIP or even terminating him outright. She says that Felix is unhappy and actively job-searching and that she will work with him directly to set an end date. I’ve also talked to HR after he put in a complaint about me, but they’ve largely been useless.

Things came to a head at the end of last year, during Felix’s performance review. I gave him poor marks on attitude, work quality, and communication (all of which he gave himself top marks for in his self-review), and he once again yelled at me and told me that my review was unfair and said that the whole team thought I was a jerk. With Rachel on the call. Who again told me that he was probably going to leave soon on his own.

What should I do now? Should I keep pushing to fire him? Should I just deal with it? Look for a new job? I like my job, even though my company is dysfunctional in a lot of ways. I also care about the rest of my team, and don’t want to leave them in the lurch. I’ve been trying to make it work, but I’m at the end of my rope.

You should indeed keep pushing to fire him, pointing out that his behavior over time will destroy any accountability on your team (since other people will see what he’s getting away with — the yelling alone is unacceptable) and also noting that it’s not reasonable to ask you to manage someone who believes he can be a jerk to you with impunity.

But also, it sounds like Rachel might not feel Felix can be outright fired since he’s the CEO’s nephew. The may or may not be correct; sometimes people think that about nepotism hires, when in fact the CEO would be fine with the nephew being fired if they knew what was going on. But either way, it’s time for a conversation with Rachel about what really can and can’t be done. If you absolutely cannot fire Felix or put him a PIP, she needs to come out and tell you that. And if that’s the case, the two of you need to decide how to manage around that situation to minimize the impact on you and the rest of your staff. Is she willing to follow through on this “end date” conversation? If so, by when? If not, what does she propose since she’s tying your hands? Or — can you explore the option of letting him go despite his ties to the CEO? Is she just assuming that’s a no-go or does she know for sure? If it’s off the table, can you just stop giving him work?

Basically, it’s time to push this out of the realm of “Rachel will talk to him,” point out that that hasn’t worked, press for a different solution, and talk honestly about what is and isn’t possible. Then you can decide from there if you’re willing to live with that or not. (But if you did leave over it, that wouldn’t be leaving your team in the lurch! People leave jobs. Your team might even appreciate you taking a stand.)

2. Would it be silly to quit a job I love where I’m underpaid?

Nearly a year ago now, I started a job that I had interviewed for right before the pandemic hit. I love my coworkers, my supervisor, and even upper-level management. I get to work from home, and I successfully finished a big project that I was told would be impossible to complete for someone with so little experience in the field. As happy as I am—and this is the first time I’ve loved everything about my job—I’ve been thinking of looking for another, higher paying job since I realize now that I’m being severely underpaid. Seeing all of my friends get out there in the field for the first time and getting paid more than I ever have while I have years of experience is making me feel as if I’ve shortchanged myself. Am I being ungrateful in wanting to risk getting another job just because I’m unhappy with the pay or should I stick it out?

Grateful shouldn’t come into it! Your employer isn’t doing you a favor that you need to be grateful for you; you are selling them your labor for money, and you have every right to look around and see what your options are.

Look around and see what else is out there, and compare it to your job now. You might determine that higher-paying jobs don’t offer things that are important to you that you’re getting from this one … or you might conclude there are better options out there for you. I wouldn’t decide only based on money if you’re otherwise happy, but look at the whole picture. You’re allowed to take whatever option you judge is best for you!

3. How to respond to vague expressions of interest in our program when I need something more concrete

I work at a fairly low level in my office, but as a side role I’m chair of a committee related to, let’s say, teapots. We’re in the process of partnering with a big, exciting national teapot group right now with ambitious plans, and I’m really enjoying taking on this work that’s far outside my usual humdrum work.

Because of my position as chair of the committee in my office, I’ve started receiving emails from representatives of some of our teacup suppliers who are understandably interested in this. I’m happy to field these, and if I think a supplier could benefit the Big Teapot Org in a specific way I’m open to expanding the partnership. The problem is that some of these requests are pretty vague or will mention fluffy things around “awareness raising,” which frankly Big Org already has well covered.

I usually respond favorably and ask what the person feels their contribution to Big Org’s plans could be, since its plans are pretty well published and I need something to actually take forward. But more than one has responded asking me to tell them what *I* think they could do or saying, “Once we connect I’m sure we’ll have loads of ideas.” I’m not sure how to appropriately respond in a way that gets across the point that I need them to make some of the effort, without coming across rude, and I do want to strengthen our relationship with these suppliers where possible, as they do good work in the limited scope we need.

Can you suggest scripts that can help me more directly get the point across? I don’t have time for endless meetings without something concrete to discuss, since I do still have my normal role to fulfill!

How about: “Because we’ve had a tremendous volume of interest in this program, we’re asking anyone interested in participating to send a specific proposal before we talk with people directly. It doesn’t need to be formally presented — even a short email is fine as long as we have something concrete in writing. (In part that’s governed by my need to triage my schedule right now.)”

Also, are you getting enough interest that it would make sense to do an open conference call or two, where anyone who wants can call in at a time you choose and hear more about the plans, ask questions, etc.? Sometimes when you’re getting a lot of these kinds of queries, it can make sense to funnel them all into something like that — something that gives them an opportunity to talk to you while preventing you from having to schedule 27 separate phone calls.

4. Sending thank-you’s for answers to hiring-related questions

Should I send thank-you emails when someone answers a question for me during a hiring process? I’ve been casually applying for internships (competing with ~60 applicants) and positions for new graduates (competing with ~2000-3000 applicants), and have had to ask questions about the application processes. These are normally brief questions like “Will the application timeline be affected by this deadline extension?” or “The application requires my GPA but my degree is from a foreign university and has no equivalent, how would you like me to proceed?”

Should I be replying to their answers with a thank-you email or is it excessive? When I was working full-time, I found thank-you emails polite but a little annoying/unnecessary. I know you’ve answered this in terms of when you work with someone, but as a potential employee I’m worried about how it reflects on me if I do or don’t.

If someone answers a question for you, sending a quick thank-you is polite … and if it required any research or a more elaborate answer from them, you absolutely should thank them.

That said, this is one of those things job seekers worry about but people involved in hiring rarely think about, definitely not to the point that it would affect your candidacy, because they’re dealing with large numbers of candidates. (Plus, the person answering those questions often isn’t involved in actual hiring decisions anyway.)

5. Asking to work from home with terrible road rash

I unfortunately had an alcohol-related fall on a flight of stairs, which resulted in essentially road rash covering 50% of the right side of my body. I was luckily to only have relatively minor injuries all things considered, but the right side of my face and right leg were covered in road rash to the point that I couldn’t cover everything with bandaids or gauze.

I explained this injury at work after assuring everyone I was fine and talked to my boss about being able to wear shorter-than-professional shorts and dresses temporarily, because it was unbelievably painful to wear pants with my leg injuries.

Luckily I work in a very casual office so this wasn’t a problem, but I do wonder if this was the right choice. I didn’t ask to work from home because I could walk and commute as normal, but my injuries were definitely uncovered (partially at doctor’s orders to help them heal) for a week or so.

Do you think I should’ve offered to work from home if my injuries were making people uncomfortable? Or would that have looked like I was milking my injuries? Unfortunately I’m pretty clumsy and accident-prone so I wouldn’t be surprised if I run into the same issues in the future.

Unless you work in a severely dysfunctional office or have a reputation for trying to shirk work, asking to work from home shouldn’t look like you were milking your injuries! It’s true that really bloody/gorey injuries that can’t be covered can be distracting/unsettling, but it also sounds like you might have been more physically comfortable at home too. (And I don’t know how short these shorts and dresses were, but if you weren’t comfortable wearing them at work, that would have been reason to prefer to be at home that week!)

{ 151 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    First things first, you don’t love *everything* about the job. You love most things about the job except for the one thing that we all actually *work* for: MONEY!

    That said… I know what it’s like to have a job that 5 days a week, you get out of bed and actually want to go to. I was at that job for 5 years, and as the years crept on and my rent kept going up, my paycheck didn’t keep up. As I was really starting to think about moving on because my paycheck just wasn’t keeping up, the decision was made for me, and I got laid off. (It’s kind of depressing, though, when you think about liking your job, but also that your paycheck isn’t keeping up with cost of living increases.)

    That was 7 years ago. I’m now making double what I made when I was let go. And here’s the kicker: Everything I loved about my old job, my new job offers too! (And even better, there are actually things I love more about the new job than the old one. Getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me. Only thing worse off is that I lost a week of vacation. Everything else is the same or better at the new job.)

    At the same time, if you have coworkers and management you like, a good schedule, and work you like, there’s something to be said for that. So how do you know when leaving for more $ is worth the risk? First, figure out how much money you’re leaving on the table. For a small amount of money, it may not be worth it. But at a certain point, there may be enough on the table where you really have to think. So… figure out what you like about your current job. Then, talk to your friends. Do the places they work offer the same thing? Or, are you trading 40 hour work weeks for 60 hour work weeks? If the later, then think long and hard about whether the extra cash is worth the extra time.

    1. MJ*

      Yep, the whole “love my job” doesn’t wash. I bet you love not being hungry, homeless, naked too…

      Either your bosses know you are seriously underpaid – and they don’t care – or they don’t know, in which case they perhaps can be educated (sometimes a risky manoeuver). If you were to interview for this job today (with all the unknowns of a new job), what would be your bottom line salary-wise? Would it even be close to what you are earning now?

      1. Forrest*

        “Underpaid for my field” does not necessarily = unable to afford basic necessities! I’m all for people getting paid what their labour is worth but “I really enjoy my job but can’t afford to eat out more than a couple of times a month” is a completely reasonable lifestyle choice that many people make.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          This. I have worked in the same small office for going on twelve years now. I could make more working in a big downtown office. Why don’t I? I like my boss, and we work well together. I have worked in big downtown law firms. They are miserable places. Money isn’t everything. Neither is it nothing, but once actual needs are met and we move into wants, less money but not hating going to work is a perfectly reasonable tradeoff. To think of it another way, hating or liking your job is a quality of life issue, just as is being able to eat out more often. How to balance them is a personal matter.

          1. pretzelgirl*

            I am def underpaid for my skill set, age and experience. But I have had some terrible jobs and bosses. Right now I work for a great company and have a great boss. Honestly when I made more, I was incredibly stressed, exhausted and a mean person. I am so much happier now.

            1. Anononon*

              Yeah, I’m underpaid in my field, and I could probably find a new position where I get, minimum, a twenty-five percent raise from my salary. However, I like what I do, have good coworkers, and decent bosses. Also, as an attorney, I probably average a 35-37 work week, which is incredible. If I were to calculate my hourly pay and then figure out what I would be paid at about 50 hours a week, it’s much better.

              1. Midwest writer*

                I don’t know that I could make a lot more than what I make (journalism is a notoriously low-paying job and I’m probably about maxed out for small papers), but what I cannot find anywhere is the flexibility and autonomy I have at my current job. And that is worth a LOT of money to me. The less-than-40 hours many weeks is also pretty invaluable, to be honest. Any job change would come with similar pay and way more stress.

            2. Ashley*

              This is coming to light in the financial industry and I know companies that pay super well but treat people terrible and the turnover is super high. People think because one company will pay that everyone should, but it doesn’t always happen. A super fair question is how must stress and work are you willing to tolerate for more money.

              1. Lucy P*

                Interesting perspective. Mostly I’ve heard people complain about high-stress, low-money.

            3. MissBaudelaire*

              This was the conclusion I came to. I am underpaid.


              We get by. Are we millionaires? No, of course not. We’re doing okay. And I could find a job and make more money, but I’d be giving up a lot of things with my current lifestyle that really work for my family. Pick ups and drop offs to childcare, for example, would become much more complicated and likely expensive. I would likely have to commute again. I would likely come home ornery and unpleasant.

              And the money, at this point in my life, isn’t worth it to us. Might it be in a few years? Probably. But today? Eh.

          2. pancakes*

            Ok, but decades worth of wage stagnation data, income inequality analysis, and gender and race pay gap analysis all point toward this being a far more complex issue than how often workers like to have dinner out. EPI dot org, for example, found in its 2020 report (“State of Working America Wages 2019”) that “[f]rom 2000 to 2019, the overall 95th-percentile wage grew nearly four times as fast as wages at the median (30.7% vs. 8.0%).” And that “[f]rom 2018 to 2019, the fastest growth continued at the top (4.5% at the 95th percentile), while median wages grew 1.0% over the year and wages at the bottom fell (-0.7% at the 10th percentile).” Far too much discussion around this topic focuses on personal choice, as if people can remove themselves from this dynamic if they stop eating avocado toast.

            1. Archaeopteryx*

              I think what people are saying is that you can be underpaid for your specific field and job, and still not be so underpaid that any of your basic necessities are not being attended to.

              1. doreen*

                Yes- if I were paid $20-$30K less for doing the same job I’m doing now, I’d be underpaid. But I wouldn’t be hungry, homeless, naked or without health insurance. I would have to change my lifestyle, but I wouldn’t be going without necessities. And I might choose to do that because there were non-financial benefits that made up for the lower income. ” Underpaid” doesn’t necessarily mean “low income”

                1. Indigo a la mode*

                  Case study: I’m a marketing manager in a reasonably high COL area being paid $75k, which means I’m underpaid by about $20k. $75k is totally enough to live on, take care of my dog and chickens, eat out a few times, save for travel and the future, occasionally buy new clothes when I budget for it, etc. I’m underpaid, but have a great lifestyle.

                  That extra $20k would be lovely, but my awesome team and a ton of schedule flexibility (e.g. I can bail at 2:30pm on Tuesdays to go volunteer; boss doesn’t care what hours in the day we work as long as the work gets done) are worth the underpayment for now.

              2. pancakes*

                The letter writer didn’t say anything about not being able to afford basic necessities, though – they said that they seem to be severely underpaid, and are feeling shortchanged. Multiple people are making a point of telling them that they should be happy to afford to basic subsistence. It’s not responsive to the question, and it’s moralizing about labor in a very particular way.

                1. Pickled Limes*

                  That’s not how I understand any of the replies. Nobody’s telling the letter writer to stay at this job because they’ll definitely be miserable if they switch to something better paying. As I understand it, the replies are pointing out that sometimes more money comes with more stress, so that’s something the letter writer should be on the lookout for if they decide to start job searching. And I agree with it. They should definitely start looking if they want a job that pays better, but they should be pretty vigilant and ask a lot of questions to make sure they’re not giving up everything they love about their work in exchange for a better paycheck.

                2. pancakes*

                  MCMonkeybean, try a Ctrl-F search for “homeless” you’ll see three different commenters making that point. They’re not the only commenters making that point but that’s a good place to start.

                3. Forrest*

                  I just did and that’s not at all the point people are making! One person is actually suggesting the opposite— that not earning as much as you could be is practically the same as being homeless, naked and starving— and the other two are saying that THEY PERSONALLY could be making more money, but since they like their job and they are “far from homeless” or “not exactly homeless” that’s a reasonable trade-off. Nobody is saying the LW should be satisfied if they’re not, just that that’s a trade-off that many people do choose to make. I can’t even see anyone saying they think the OP *should* do the same (whereas there are several people saying “you should definitely maximise your income”.)

                4. pancakes*

                  Forrest, I don’t see anyone saying that not making as much as possible is comparable to homelessness, and you yourself are one of the commenters who made the point I take issue with, when you wrote, “‘Underpaid for my field’ does not necessarily = unable to afford basic necessities!”

                5. Observer*

                  @pancakes, I don’t know what you are reading, but the ones who are talking about homelessness are saying the opposite of what you claim. They are saying that it’s all good and fine to love your job, but you need to cover your basics and if you are underpaid you MUST NOT be covering your basics. And the others are saying that this is not NECESSARILY true.

                6. Mr. Shark*

                  The LW also has only been there a year, so she had to realize before she took the job last year that she was underpaid, and then decided to take it anyway (maybe it was a necessity due to Covid).
                  If she had been there longer, I think she could make a case for asking for more money with comparable salaries at her position from other employers. But it seems unlikely to work considering the short length of time she has been there, and the fact that she knew what she was getting into when she first signed on.

            2. Forrest*

              I don’t think that contradicts anything I said– I am not saying that LW2 should stop worrying about money because she loves her job, just that “underpaid” and “in poverty” are not the same thing.

              I’m also — I don’t know where you’re going with that thought, in terms of what it means for LW2? I don’t know if you’re trying to say that the way we solve income inequality is by persuading individuals to pursue their own financial interest more aggressively? Because if so, I wildly disagree: a structural problem needs structural solutions, like labour organisation, progressive taxation and a strong social security net. Focussing on individual interest and choices just amplifies the difference between those who have options and power and those who don’t.

              1. pancakes*

                This is such a misreading of what I said that I’m not sure where to begin. I thought it was pretty clear that my point was that I don’t think it’s helpful to frame people’s satisfaction (or lack of) with their salary as a simple matter of personal choice.

            3. Nanani*

              Doesn’t “underpaid for my field” imply that other people in the same field aren’t? So there’s something fishy going on. It’s absolutely worth looking for a job in the same field that you like, which doesn’t underpay. And if you’re underpaid because of demographic reasons, that paints your current job in a very different light.

              “Money isn’t everything” is much easier to say when you’re already comfortable and extra money just stockpiles.

          3. Momma Bear*

            Agreed. It is lovely when the money and the work/life balance are in synch but when it is not, it is reasonable to weigh more money vs a not insane job. For a bit I took a PT job not for the money, but the experience and the work/life balance. At that point in my life time was money and I needed the flexibility. I do think OP should take a look around. They may find the grass isn’t all that greener but at least they would be assured that where they are is where they want to be. Also, if you have a decent job, you can casually search and wait for the right thing vs just anything.

          4. MassMatt*

            Well it sounds as though you know about alternatives and chose the path that you are happy with, but I want to push back a little on the general idea that happiness is connected with low pay and higher pay involves compromise, stress, and unhappiness.

            IMO some of the low-paying jobs I have had were among the most stressful and unhappy places I’ve ever worked, with terrible managers and miserable employees. When I first started getting more professional jobs I expected this to continue if not get worse, but it was the opposite.

            There’s nothing happiness-inducing about being underpaid for your skillset, and no natural law that says someone willing to pay you more is going to have a terrible workplace. In many cases, it’s the opposite.

            1. Forrest*

              I don’t think it’s so much that there’s a “general idea” that it’s happiness/low pay and stress/high pay, so much as those are the situations where there’s a compromise / trade-off possible. If you’re miserable AND in a low paying job, you should definitely leave! It’s when you’ve got one but not the other and you aren’t sure whether your other options will give you both that there’s a decision to make about which is the bigger priority for you.

          5. The Starsong Princess*

            It depends. For example, I could make $10,000 a year somewhere else but I like my current situation too much to leave and $10,000 more isn’t a huge percentage. But when I made $35,000, $10,000 more was a huge enticement and would definitely cause me to switch jobs. This LW might want to test the market and figure out if they can get a job with a life changing increase or not.

        2. BRR*

          This is where I am after being laid off my last job. I had to take a pay cut. I’m happy at my job and underpaid for what I do but am far being homeless, hungry, etc. it’s a trade off the letter writer will need to decide on. Looking for a higher paying job but getting to be picky about it isn’t an awful position to be in.

          1. Pickled Limes*

            This may actually be the best position to job search from. OP2 is still happy enough with their situation that they can set high standards for what it would take to convince them to leave.

        3. ThatGirl*

          My husband is seriously underpaid – he was underpaid to start, and hasn’t gotten a raise in 10 years. But we’re doing fine financially because of *my* job. If he were on his own he’d either be living paycheck to paycheck or need a roommate.

          And if he wanted to stay there indefinitely, I would support him. He likes the work itself and his coworkers, but there are other things going on that are pushing him to finally leave. And honestly, someone with a master’s, a license, and ten years of experience deserves to be making a lot more than he is – even if you don’t need the money, there is a sense of validation in being paid more fairly.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            You make an excellent point re: being paid fairly that I had not considered.

          2. JustaTech*

            I’m in the same boast as your husband (though I only found out last week how much I’m being underpaid) and while I make good money, it’s upsetting because I’m essentially being told via my paycheck that my company doesn’t value me.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              It’s the message, not the money. I worked in a field where the professionals start at six figures. Corporate had a nickel-and-dime attitude towards their pay, which was in part based on productivity, that was very upsetting for them. They didn’t need the extra 2k or 5k, but it was the message that hurt.

    2. MK*

      The OP should do some research to figure all these things out, because so far she seems to be going by what her friends are making, which might or might not be relevant.

      1. another Hero*

        yes! this is an important point. there might be more to the comparison with friends than the op said explicitly, but friends making more money doesn’t necessarily reflect on the reasonableness of op’s pay. (that said, it could help op decide to change fields or similar, of course. the point that just about everyone who works does it for the money is accurate and a good point for op to take away.)

      2. Smithy*

        This is where I was in my 20’s. I was working in an environment where I was making very little and had a number of friends/peers making a lot more. On its surface, it was certainly frustrating – but being more mindful about *why* that was the case was the most important in figuring out how to think through my own next steps.

        In a number of cases my friends had skills that I didn’t, where it meant that they were competitive for a opportunities that were not available to me (in this case being bilingual). But more than that, I got to learn about the pay scales, what places paid what for what kind of work. Where, in this case being multilingual, was a deal breaker vs a more negotiable desire.

        Ultimately, it made my job hunt smarter without just getting hung up on the numbers.

      3. Willis*

        Yeah, this! If there are similar roles to what the OP has with comparable benefits, hours, WFH ability, etc. but higher pay, it does make sense to ask for a raise or look for a new job. Even if someone doesn’t NEED additional salary to be above poverty-level, it makes sense to be paid a market rate for your work. And leaving that money on the table now can impact pay in the future, when it may matter more to the OP.

        But if her friends have different skill sets, are in different roles, work longer hours, live or work in different cities, etc. etc. then the comparison isn’t really apt and doesn’t really say anything about how competitive OP’s pay is. She needs more info to figure all this stuff out.

    3. MassMatt*

      Two bits of wisdom for LW 2 that helped me.

      First, it’s great that you like your job and coworkers. Having a sense of fulfillment and purpose at your job is good. But you can (and should) have other areas of your life that give you satisfaction: Friends, family, hobbies, social groups, etc. Only your job provides an income. So you should try to get that job to provide as much income as you can.

      Second, it’s absolutely true that money can’t buy happiness. But it’s also true that poverty can’t buy anything!

      It’s sounds as though you are dramatically underpaid, and you know this, yet you still dismiss your own very understandable desire for compensation as being silly. Do yourself a favor and allow yourself to succeed financially!

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        Just because the OP says she is underpaid doesn’t mean she is living in poverty. It’s obviously up to the OP to decide on her own priorities but personally, if I had a job I enjoyed that didn’t overwork me and I earned enough to live on, I would happily forgo the potential of a higher paid job.

      2. MK*

        I don’t know if the OP is actually dramatically underpaid; learning that a few friends make more money doesn’t replace market research. But I do wonder why she assumes that a higher paying job will not be as pleasant. Could it be that those friends have no work/life balance and work in impersonal corporate environments?

        Even assuming the OP is underpaid, that doesn’t mean she is poor or that she isn’t succeeding financially. I am assuming she would mention if she couldn’t make ends meet; if so, she absolutely needs to find a new job. But if it’s just a case of making more money, she should consider the trade-offs. It’s not as simple as making as much money as you can, if the job that does that leaves you no time to enjoy your life or makes you miserable.

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          It’s not clear to me from the letter that LW2 has presented a case for a raise to her current employer yet, either. That’s certainly worth doing.

          1. BethDH*

            It was very common when I was a new grad for someone to be hired with minimal experience at a low but fair rate given assumptions about their likely work level. If they then performed at a higher level no one thought to re-evaluate their pay. I actually had a new boss come in and after she talked to me about my track since arriving she coached me through making a case to the people who decided on salaries (she was my project manager, I had a different personnel person who I rarely worked with directly).
            I told one friend about it and she did the same at her job as well.

          2. MCMonkeybean*

            Yes, especially if you conclude that you can’t stay there at the current level of pay–then there is really nothing to lose by having that conversation! I once had a very frank talk with my boss that was basically “I really like it here and I could see myself working happily here for a very long time, but I have realized that I am underpaid for what I am doing and I am often told that really the only way most people are able to correct that in the working world is by moving to other jobs and that’s honestly just not something I want to do.”

            I was pretty early in my career so this is probably not the best way to say things but I just really wanted to make clear that I was not trying to be like “pay me more or I’m leaving!” My boss agreed that I was underpaid and he did eventually get me the big bump although honestly it took like two years.

          3. Momma Bear*

            Women tend not to advocate for themselves re: raises and salary expectations. If OP hasn’t presented a case to the boss, it’s worth asking.

          4. JustaTech*

            It’s very much worth doing because having a low salary at the beginning of your career can depress your salary for the rest of your life, which is pretty important. Hopefully less so now that fewer employers are able to ask about your current salary during interviews/negotiations, but I know from personal experience that if you start off getting lowballed (or even just working in a part of your industry like non-profits or academia that historically pay less), it can be really hard to get back up to market rates.

        2. MassMatt*

          I question whether there IS a tradeoff, necessarily. LW says she likes her coworkers and boss. Getting another job that pays more doesn’t mean she must therefore hate her coworkers and have a terrible boss. Many low-paying workplaces are terrible and many high-paying ones are excellent. It’s a false choice to think you have to give up a good workplace for more money.

          1. Willis*

            Yeah, I get that some commenters are pointing out potential trade offs that might come with a lower salary but those are all hypothetical and not anything mentioned in the letter. It totally makes sense for the OP to explore options if she thinks she’s underpaid, rather than staying in her role cause she gets along with coworkers and is able to pay her bills. If it comes to light that other jobs require more hours or reduce flexibility in ways she wouldn’t want, she can decide then what tradeoffs make sense.

    4. Cat Tree*

      I think your most important point is that you found a job with everything you like AND more money. OP is in a great spot because she knows what she likes in a job. Just knowing that makes it a lot easier to find another job with the same things. She knows what’s important in a job for her and can ask questions about that at interviews. It’s worth at least looking around to see if there is a similarly good job with better pay.

    5. Fiona the Baby Hippo*

      I also think a lot of work culture (especially in America, although LW2 doesn’t specify that is where they are) is focused on constant growth and momentum and it can be hard to feel OK just staying in a safe port for a while (as long as it’s financially feasible). If you’ve had a string of bad jobs/bosses and you’re somewhere where your emotional wellbeing is secure, even if you are underpaid (again, as long as its not causing major problems) I think it’s fine to hang around a bit longer even if you know it’s just a short stop

    6. tamarack and fireweed*

      All of this is true. I’d just add that another way the situation is not necessarily a stark choice between “great work environment, great intrinsic satisfaction, but underpaid” and “correctly paid, but I’d lose the otherwise great position and might never find one like it again”. At least, before you’re ready to jump ship it would be worse bringing up compensation. In as positive a way as possible.

      This could be a two-step process:
      a) Take the temperature of what your co-workers think & get some solid market value numbers from somewhere. It would be good if your general attitude (“love my job, but the pay is starting to look really measly”) was shared more widely.
      b) Talk to your superiors *very* openly. Talk up everything you love about your job. Tell them that you want to keep doing it for a long time. Then bring up compensation. Here’s what you see in the market. Can anything be done?

      Your org is somewhere on a wide spectrum. They may be unawares that the compensation is out of kilter. They may be aware but think you all are super happy and no need to pay you more. You can disabuse them of both. They may be aware and a bit apprehensive, but think that the way funding works this is what they have. But then, the argument that you can take to your bosses is also something they can take to whoever sets their budget.

      The risk is that either you find out that your senior management *is* as cynical as some here assume (and they may be!) and that your great place to work is rotten to the core, or that after you start pushing they come around to a more cynical attitude (go from “we are all a happy family” to “oh, no, I have to bring out the brass tacks”. But if you consider leaving and have options then it may be worth looking into instigating a push first.

  2. Hazel*

    Re: #5 ‐ I don’t know if you told your job that your fall was due to too much alcohol, but I don’t think they need to have that detail. You fell, you got hurt, period.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Agree. “I unfortunately fell down some concrete steps” (or whatever) is more than enough information. I fell in my bedroom last night and could have hurt myself, and alcohol was not a factor. It could have been alcohol, the sudden appearance of a cute puppy, someone screaming across the yard, or a fire alarm going off because of burned brownies that made LW lose focus and fall down the steps.

      If there’s a problem with alcohol, that’s a separate issue (and I’m not assuming there is. I personally love a cocktail and I’m not judging someone for being tipsy once at a party), but precisely why you fell down the steps and need health accommodations is not the point. You don’t need to overshare.

      1. Smithy*

        That stuck out to me. I think there are a list of injuries/illness that are often accompanied by more shame and can get into our head what we’re entitled to ask for accomodation wise. Having cancer is a good reason to take all the time you need to recover, while a trip/fall coming out of a bar is embarrassing and therefore requires toughing it out.

      2. I'm just here for the cats*

        Or could have fallen because she was wearing high heels and uneven stairs

      3. Pikachu*

        #1 – Does the CEO know any of these problems are even happening? If they don’t, then factoring their potential thoughts/feelings into the management process is going to make it more difficult because you are assuming the CEO approves or disapproves of things of which they aren’t even aware.

        If they do know and nothing is changing, it is worth asking why, but the only thing you really need to know is that the CEO ignores the recommendations of managers and is willing to gloss over crap behavior from their favorites and you probably do not want to work for a CEO like that.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        I have cats. There is a very high probability that I will someday fall down the stairs because of them, no matter how sober I am.

    2. Momma Bear*

      I agree. Sometimes less is more. “I fell and have terrible scrapes that mean I can’t wear professional clothes as comfortably. May I WFH this week?”

    3. JustaTech*

      Agreed! There are so many ways to get nasty road rash – a friend made a dive playing soccer and ended up with terrible road rash on her leg, which she couldn’t cover, but as a pre-school teacher had a terrible time keeping the kids from touching.

      At any reasonable organization “I had a fall and I got some terrible road rash that I can’t cover and it looks really gross, can I work from home to spare you all that for a week?” should be answered with a resounding “yes!”

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      That’s what I came here to say. Research salaries in your area. Look at what you have accomplished at your company, and make the case for a salary increase.

      In the past, Alison has suggested not doing that earlier than 1 year at a company (I think 1 year).

    2. Harper the Other One*

      That’s my thought too. You now have a track record of good performance and if you can really show that you’re underpaid for your specific type of work, I’d consider talking to the boss and laying out your case for an increase to get you to the point where the difference in pay is made up for by the awesome work environment.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Agreed, if you’re already considering leaving, there’s zero downside even if it goes poorly, but if the company is half as amazing as the letter says, there isn’t much risk.

        1. LTT*

          That! We lost a star employee not long ago, and I wish so very much that he’d advocated more strongly for himself.

          He had a different reporting chain and management that didn’t know what they had — but if my team (who benefited from his work) had known he was at risk of leaving, we would have tried to transfer him into our reporting structure if that’s what it took.

          1. MassMatt*

            I hope you take this to heart and your company is more proactive in this area in future vs: just hand waving. Retaining great employees should be a priority in any good organization; that this person had a “different reporting chain and management didn’t know what they had” doesn’t speak well to the organization.

  3. kfilbert*

    Re: #5
    Several years ago I fell running to catch a train (on my way to work!) and totally wiped out. I basically broke my fall with my face. Luckily I didn’t break any bones, but I had a black eye and road rash all over my leg and hands. In hindsight I should have stayed home longer than I did (maybe 1-2 days). No one would have minded and it was totally understandable!

    1. Astrid*

      Two firms ago I went on a rollerblading trip before I started my new job and I wiped out on the last day, skidding across the pavement on one side of my face. I really wish I would have pushed back harder on having to take my building ID on the first day – I was stuck with that horrible photo for 8 years. Plus they were showing me around the firm to introduce me to everyone and I had to explain repeatedly why it looked like my face went through a meat grinder.

    2. Cathie from Canada*

      Sometimes its also not wanting to cause a lot of talk around the office, too, or concern about whether something is contagious.
      About 10 years ago I had a horrible attack of shingles, running down the main nerve on my arm, it looked awful — a black rayon long-sleeved blouse did the trick, I could wear it over a sleeveless top, sort of as a jacket, without having any weight or pressure on my arm. Wore it for a couple of weeks.

      1. Anono-me*

        That sounds horrible. I hope you are somewhere that has a better sick leave/wfh plan now. I also hope that you were able to get the shingles vaccine.

      2. Snailing*

        Oh my goodness, shingles are so painful too! When I had them (as a kid, too – super weird!), I sat around shirtless and even lukewarm oatmeal baths hurt. I had them on the front and back of my torso, so even sitting against a chair was difficult.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      I fell on my way to work once, didn’t think it was that bad at the time so just patched myself up and carried on into work and tried to carry on as normal, (I didn’t have the option of working from home back then, but didn’t think at the time it was bad enough to warrant being at home anyway) but then realised I’d made a bigger mess of my knee than I thought. 13 years on I still have the scar.

    4. KoiFeeder*

      My brother’s dog dragged me and gave me road rash at one point, I looked like raw hamburger and was absolutely miserable. Fortunately it was over summer break and I was in high school, because I can’t even imagine trying to go to school like that.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I have psoriasis and after a bad outbreak, I was left with marks around my neck that looked like bruises. It took several years for them to finally fade away but in the meantime, I got looks and questions about my partner and DV. One good result was been able to educate people about psoriasis.

    6. Spicy Tuna*

      I am super clumsy and fall all the time! I fell once running in the AM before work. My shoulder was cut up pretty badly and I covered it with some gauze but it bled through – while I was in a meeting! Another time, I tripped and fell twice over nothing (I went back in the daylight to check!) in the same place while running – on Monday AM and on Wednesday AM. Same week on Thursday, someone in my apartment building was having work done and the guys were using a wet saw outside and dripping water on the stairs while carrying the tile up to the apartment. Slipped and fell down a flight of stairs. Not a good week!

      Also had a friend get her hair colored the day before she started a new job – she went to the same salon she always goes to using the same product they always used and broke out in horrible hives on her first day of work!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My natural tendency to trip and take a dive is tempered by an automatic tuck-and-roll, a reaction trained into me as a former skater to avoid getting hurt. It doesn’t make it any less embarrassing, though!

    7. Daisy-dog*

      And it might heal better if you’re not moving around so much! Obviously depends on the injury, but a former boss cut open his knee in a cycling accident and tried to power through going into work. It got infected and took a long time to heal.

  4. bikewrecker*

    Just a road rash pro tip: Tegaderm is one of 3M’s greatest inventions. It’s the only way I know to possess and heal road rash without it becoming one with your clothing.

    1. Biziki*

      A+ recommendation! I got some wicked chub rub last year and tegaderm saved my sanity.

    2. Rock Prof*

      Can confirm, as someone who had crashed my road bike in a variety of situations.

      1. Squeakrad*

        I’m surprise no one has commented on what I thought I saw an OP number five supposed – an alcohol related fall? I think there might be other things to attend to in addition to what to wear to work.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          I don’t think there is any reason to suggest that based on just the information included in the letter.

        2. Violetviola*

          Meh, it happens. If she’s of age then she’s allowed to drink, and drunk people can be clumsy. Unless it happens all the time, it’s probably not indicative of a larger problem

    3. meyer lemon*

      It’s also really great if you have a large burn that takes weeks to heal. It’s magical stuff.

  5. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – while the CEO may be willing to let some issues with his nephew’s performance slide for the sake of family harmony, I’m guessing that there is a limit to his patience and toleration. I think it is time for your manager to involve HER manager in addressing the performance issues with Felix.

    A few strategies for dealing with Felix come to mind – figuring out what motivates him so he improves, making the job miserable / boring for him so he quits, and the other is making the cost he represents to the business obvious to the CEO.

    Is there anything you have observed that makes Felix respond positively? If he’s competitive, you could set up a system of rewarding interesting assignments for performance on prior tasks. If he responds to praise/approval, set up opportunities to “catch him” succeeding, and praise his success. If he responds to being the centre of attention, set performance goals with a reward of being able to present something to someone/a group. If he’s someone who can be manipulated by telling him he won’t succeed at something, heck, give that a try and see if he’ll prove you wrong, simply to be ornery.

    In combination with the above approach, perhaps it is time for your manager (not you – you were a peer) to have a heart to heart with Felix and express concern that his failure to take his job seriously is really him shortchanging his own potential. If you can’t motivate him any other way, get him to realize that he’s cheating himself.

    Of course, if those tactics don’t work, then you need to make quitting look more attractive. You could take a look at your team and remove as many responsibilities from Felix as you reasonably can, without overloading the other employees. Give him only the stuff that doesn’t really matter and that won’t impact the results of your department. Just treat him as the dead weight that he is, and let him know you’re doing it. Tell him that if/when his performance and attitude improve, THEN and only then will he get to do more interesting things.

    In terms of making the cost of Felix obvious, ask your manager for budget to effectively hire someone to do Felix’ job, and make the business case for why that person is needed and the impact to the business if they are not hired (in lost revenues / profitability, bad morale, and retention issues). Make it really clear to management that Felix represents a cost of doing business that is affecting the company’s success, and also what the potential risks are of continuing to employ him. That’s more likely than anything to get the CEO to decide that enough is enough.

    1. WS*

      +1, if you’re not allowed to actually manage Felix, you can certainly manage around him. The other thing I like about this comment is making Felix other people’s problem, not just yours and (vaguely) Rachel’s. Felix won’t do X, Y and Z to standard? Ask for another staff member or a temp or ask Rachel to borrow someone from another department to get those things done. Felix is unreachable? Let HR know “in case there’s a problem”, and ask them what you should do when this is the case for an employee. Right now, Felix is only a problem for you and your team, so you’re bearing that entire “Felix cost”. Spread it around a little.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I like the idea of asking for a temp or to borrow someone from another department. I don’t think one of Felix’s team members should be asked to pick up the slack. They know what he’s like already; now he’s going to get paid for doing essentially nothing while they do more. That can breed some serious resentment.

        1. Clorinda*

          I concur. The only way for OP to make the Felix cost visible is for that cost to be borne by someone outside her direct area. Making her own team pick up the slack doesn’t spread the pain to the right people.

    2. Ellie*

      Can Felix be taken out of your reporting line? If you can’t fire him since he is a nepotism hire, then see if you can transfer him into another position where he isn’t responsible for anything, and have him report directly to the CEO, or someone high up enough to actually get through to him. The yelling at you, frankly, is a deal-breaker and much worse than just not doing any work. If they can’t fire him, they need to isolate him so he doesn’t harass any other employees.

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Also, if you do reach the end of solutions and Felix is your hill then after your departure please write a factual Glassdoor review outlining how one fire-proof bad employee is able to drive good workers away.

    4. Not Me For This Comment*

      I’ve been in a similar situation. Only it was the CEO’s son. Junior was a horrible employee. Senior occasionally got overly involved in his career to the extent of having us upgrade everyone in a similar role because clearly they where all under paid (they where not). In the end, his performance was just not excusable and the CEO’s direct report (the head of the division the employee worked in) had to have a conversation informing the CEO that Junior was not meeting performance expectations and that as a curtesy he was giving Senior a heads up that Junior was being placed on a PIP. Senior asked for details on the performance issue and specific and measurable examples where shared. To Senior’s credit he then pulled back and said to manage Junior and treat him just like you would treat any other employee. In the end, Junior was let go. I raise this story as while it is almost impossible for the CEO to not want to help their family, often people closer to the family member assume there is a hands-off rule when that may not be the case. I would recommend the OP’s manager talk to their manager and have the CEO’s direct report have a conversation about the performance issue. This gives the CEO the explicit choose to either say “hands off” or to step away and let the nephew deal with the consequences of their performance issue.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, I had to manage the VP’s rotten nephew once. Who had no specific education in our field, but had to be granted a job fresh out of college that normally goes to someone with 5-7 years of experience. Then did not want to be managed by a woman, and actively sabotaged client projects run by women managers. And screamed FK YOU BITCH in the middle of the cube farm if I tried to give him any direction or ask simple questions like “where’s the validation report, when do you think you will have that done?”

        He was eventually taken off client projects and made to sit in the main office with his uncle, who then encouraged him to quit and follow his dream of being a software engineer. I was long gone by then, the company was really letting the VP destroy the division with the whole nepotism thing – I heard that another relative had gotten into some sort of nearly-physical fight with another contractor on the site of their biggest client, and the client fired the lot of them.

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        Yeah, if OP was able to give the guy an accurately poor review and no one came to him like “oh my gosh you can’t do that he’s the CEO’s nephew!” then I think it’s at least possible the CEO doesn’t feel like the nephew has to be treated with kid gloves. It’s definitely worth pushing a little to make sure people like Rachel aren’t just assuming that’s the case.

      3. Observer*

        I would recommend the OP’s manager talk to their manager and have the CEO’s direct report have a conversation about the performance issue. This gives the CEO the explicit choose to either say “hands off” or to step away and let the nephew deal with the consequences of their performance issue.

        I think that a key to making this possibly work is to some specific samples of the problems. eg Fergus was asked to write a report on which tea pouring competitions will be reopening in the next year, and it was full of grammar and fact errors. Fergus was supposed to provide a list of vendors at the spout convention by the 15th, and on the 16th he informed me that he was not going to bother because “it’s a stupid idea”. etc.

  6. Squidhead*

    #5 If you were keeping your wounds uncovered per the advice of your doctor, you were also at increased risk of infection in these wounds. That’s reason enough to stay home…50% of your body is no joke…plus the chances are good that some scab here or there would crack and you’d leak some fluid. Or whatever ointment you were putting on would get all over everything. That’s all much less about the aesthetic comfort of your co-workers and more about pathogen protection for all parties.

    1. E*

      DEFINITELY. After it’s healed to the point where this is no longer a concern, you can ask yourself this question again. By which point the aftermath of the injury will look less unsettling than it does now.

  7. Andy*

    > I’ve also talked to HR after he put in a complaint about me, but they’ve largely been useless.

    I think that HR are largely powerless against CEO. People kind of expect HR to be that magical place that will solve interpersonal problems, but if management cant fire nor fix someone underperforming due to him being nephew of CEO, HR cant do it either.

  8. Bubble & Squeak*

    Ouch, OP 5. That sounds really painful. I think if the uncovered rash was still weeping or bleeding, you are probably better off staying home if it is an option. Unless you have a reputation for pulling sickies and leaving your coworkers in the lurch, no one is going to think twice about you taking a day or so off to recover. However, if it is all scabbed over and just looks dreadful, I think going to work is fine if you are up to it. Once again, no one would bat an eye at you wearing loose, casual clothing that doesn’t rub in this situation.

  9. Forrest*

    LW, how frank have you and your manager been with each other, and how frank has she been with her manager? There’s a big difference between a company where the nephew thinks he can do whatever because protected by being the CEO’s nephew, and one where the CEO will actually truly let other good employees leave because their nephew is creating such a toxic and unproductive atmosphere. You might have got the former, or you might have got the latter, but I don’t think it’s clear which yet.

    I think this is the flipside of Alison’s “but have you been REALLY, REALLY clear with your employee that they’ll be let go if this doesn’t improve?” It sounds like you and your manager have had some vague. “this is unsatisfactory” “yeah, it is, I’ll — do — something— maybe.” Before you look for another job, I would lay it out with your manager, “This is the behaviour— this is the impact it’s having on my team and our workflow– and this is the impact it’s having on me, and I am considering leaving over this.”

    The worst case scenario is that your manager tells you that she’s expended as much capital / tried as hard as she is willing to try– and then at least you know. The best case scenario is that she takes that to her manager, who maybe takes it to their manager, however high it needs to go, and someone between you and the CEO goes, “wtf, this is totally unacceptable, light a fire under that boy’s arse”.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      Yes, this! And the part about “it is bad enough that I would consider leaving rather than having to deal with Felix” is critical. They need to know that the cost of keeping Felix isn’t just the price paid on a low performer’s salary. Maybe it won’t make a difference, depending on just how much the CEO is going to push to keep Felix, but a lot of companies will respond differently to the possibility of losing people over an issue like this.

    2. LKW*

      Agreed – is the CEO aware that this is an issue or is everyone protecting the nephew because they think the CEO will be angry or something? Assuming that the CEO made their own way to their position (it wasn’t handed down via nepotism) then assume that the CEO is someone who worked hard and expects others to do so. And that they have a reputation that they too need to protect. I have a feeling that the CEO would actually appreciate having insight – but the OP would have a better sense.

      And not for nothing – allowing this behavior is not doing the employee any favors. If he decides to leave (or actually gets fired), unless he has a whole host of relatives who can give him jobs, he’s going to find it rather difficult when he’s not protected.

      If my nephew was not performing well, and had received multiple warnings and well documented feedback, I would not be standing in the way of his firing.

      1. Absurda*

        I actually kind of wonder if the nephew is even seriously thinking of leaving. He has a pretty sweet deal right now: He can do whatever he wants, treat everyone like dirt, scream at managers, slack off on work and face absolutely zero consequences. No well run company will put up with his BS so why would he willingly go anywhere else?

        I do wonder how accessible the CEO is. If it’s a large company, OP and Rachel may not have ever had any direct contact with him or even with the higher ups close to the CEO so telling him how toxic his nephew is may not be feasible.

        I do agree with OP continuing to push this issue with Rachel and make the problem as visible to her managers as possible, but OP may just need to manage around him. I do wonder if Felix is a one-off or if there’s other dysfunction/toxicity in this company; if he’s not a one-off then a solution is even more unlikely.

        1. Faith the twilight slayer*

          Lol no, of course he’s not considering leaving! He obviously has been shown that his behavior will in no way have consequences. This is a string-along answer he gives to make people think they’ll only have to put up with him for a little while longer, so they don’t make the effort to solve the problem because they think the problem will go away. Hint: it won’t.

          1. Antilles*

            That was my thought too when I read about the whole “he’s actively searching”. Why would he want to leave?
            He’s not accountable for producing good work. He’s allowed to be unreachable for most of the work day, which given his crappy attitude makes me guess that he’s spending it not working. He’s apparently immune to consequences.
            At absolute most, he might have casually tossed some applications into the hopper elsewhere in a vague “huh, is anything else out there? maybe?” way. More likely, the ‘search’ is nothing whatsoever.

      2. Artemesia*

        This is the crucial question. I once worked in an organization where I had to manage the CEO’s wife who was worthless to us and it was very clear that she would continue to be so and we had no choice. So I made sure she was kept as busy as she was willing to be doing something that had zero impact on anyone else. Knowing that took all the stress out of it; if she had been doing critical work to others it would have been miserable.

  10. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP2: this is a very difficult decision.

    About 12 years ago I had a job that I was excellent at, coworkers I am still friends with, wonderful managers etc. It also cost me a lot of money to go to (UK rail fares are no joke) and necessitated getting up at ungodly hours to make it there.

    My home life was suffering due to the lack of money (and hours) and I had to sit down and work out how much longer I could feasibly do this when I could get more money by leaving the firm and getting a job more local to me (I.e. less than 100 miles). For the home life I ultimately wanted (paying off mortgage, actually having holidays) I worked out I could maybe do one more year before the losses were significant.

    Checks and balances. Remembering I was a person with hopes and dreams outside the job.

    (I did leave. To this day however I regard that company with a lot of fondness and am grateful for the friendships I made. The longest one being the guy who was my manager for a while: after I left we met up as friends)

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Work-life balance is important but so is work-life balance with enough money to enjoy your life. At this time in my career, I’ve finally reached the sweet spot of work I love at the pay level that I can live on. Having a job where you are respected and taken seriously is amazing. It really is the small things that make a difference, recognition with tangible rewards (yay to sweatshirts in your favourite colour!). But importantly, being compensated with real money is a sign of respect for me and the work.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Agreed. Part of the reason I left virology for IT was a realisation that having a passion for something doesn’t always pay the bills.

        (There’s a lot more reasons than that, and I did end up liking IT way more)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      One of the best bits of advice I’ve read on here is about framing what you’re doing as a choice. “I could quit right now, but I need to pay rent so I am choosing not to do that.” Usually it’s in the context of hating everything about the job other than the money, but it works for the flip too.

  11. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP5: In the situation I’d probably have asked to work from home, if anything just to minimise infection risk for healing wounds.

    I can sympathise though, after the car crash that nearly killed me I was a MESS for a long time and people tended to have rather visceral reactions even when my scars were fading because it took a long time before I could bear fabric on them (to this day parts of my skin look like the London Underground map). There was a time when I couldn’t deal with the numbers of people trying to find out if it was self inflicted or something my husband had done.

    But, it is a dependent upon the environment thing. If you work around people who are chill with exposed skin that’s healing, and you don’t fear infection (because the skin has closed etc) then go with whatever you feel is right.

    1. Harry Potter's Scar*

      Is that London Underground scar on your left knee by any chance? Are you …. Dumbledore?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      That was my first thought. Why not ask for a raise first and see what happens?

  12. EPLawyer*

    #1 – Felix may be untouchable, he may not be. I doubt he is really preparing to leave. Why would he? He THINKS he is untouchable. He has a great job where he has to do no work, is not accountable for anything and gets to yell at his boss but still gets paid like a decent employee. Why would he leave?

    On the other hand, the rest of the team doesn’t get to do those things AND has to put up with Felix. If you truly can’t fire him, something tells me you won’t be leaving your current team in a lurch if you leave. Why? THEY won’t stick around.

    You mentioned other dysfunction at your job. Look around and decide if this is something you really want to keep doing or if its time to move on to other opportunities.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I doubt he is really preparing to leave. Why would he? He THINKS he is untouchable. He has a great job where he has to do no work, is not accountable for anything and gets to yell at his boss but still gets paid like a decent employee. Why would he leave?

      This is what I came here to say. I don’t see him ever leaving on his own. He’ll never find another job where he’s the CEO’s nephew.

    2. Absurda*

      Yep, I came here to say the same and made the same points in response to an earlier post (before I saw this one). I’m thinking there may not be a solution to the Felix Problem just because no one with authority has the desire to deal with it.

      It did just occur to me to wonder why OP was put in charge of Felix when he reported directly to Rachel in the past. Was Rachel just putting OP in as a buffer so she (Rachel) wouldn’t have to deal with him any more? If so, OP has been set up to fail.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        It sounds like Rachel was manager to both OP and Felix until she was promoted, and OP was promoted to her old job. I wonder if Rachel hadn’t had that path available to her, if she would have considered leaving if she had to continue managing Felix. Or maybe Felix went from bad to worse because now he’s managed by a former peer – watching others get promoted while you don’t can cause hard feelings even if there’s no chance that Felix would ever be promoted (on merit, anyway), and he doesn’t sound like he has that kind of self-awareness.

        Either way, I think the best options are determine if Felix is truly untouchable and take steps to fire him if he’s not; if he is, give Felix meaningless busy work and request an additional person to do the real work that Felix would otherwise get to minimize his toxicity and uselessness; or if *that’s* not possible, for OP to find a path out.

    3. Artemesia*

      Felix will never leave. I’d push poor reviews and a PIP and at the same time start a serious job search. It is VERY possible that the CEO is not aware how his nephew is behaving (it is one thing to have a not very able relative and another to be willing to have his own reputation damaged by that nephew essentially giving the finger to his own managers which appears to be the case here). If managing nephew causes actual problems with the CEO you are then poised to move on and don’t worry about your team — they will be right behind you.

      I’d also be talking with your manager about letting the CEO know how nephew is doing. He may not want this damage to his reputation.

  13. BRR*

    #1 I don’t entirely trust that Felix is going to leave. If Felix knows his performance wouldn’t be tolerated at another office, he very likely will stay. I would first try to push your boss on the end date conversation. I would also try and figure out if you’re boss doesn’t want to move on this or can’t move on this. There’s more you can do about the former, not so much about the later.

  14. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    Alison rightly pointed out that you shouldn’t be grateful for your job.
    I’m adding that it’s your employer who should be grateful for you. You’re absolutely rocking it, doing stuff you literally were told was impossible, yet you’re underpaid?
    Others have suggested you do some market research to check just how underpaid you are. Armed with this information you can then ask your boss for a pay rise. If she agrees, then you’ll still have your dream job and also a salary that you deserve. If not, you can start looking elsewhere. I doubt very much that your employer is the only one to offer a job like yours.

  15. Insert Clever Name Here*

    OP3, I write contracts for my company which means I also run bids to find the supplier for those contracts. Alison’s suggestion of a conference call is a really great idea! We do something similar with all suppliers at the beginning of a bid and have found that in addition to being an efficient way to disseminate information, it’s good for the suppliers to know that there are 10+ other companies interested in the same work (so therefor they better submit their best proposal). I bet it will work out similarly for you. Good luck!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Agreed. This is a good practice – government agencies run “industry days” on a regular or ad hoc basis where they present their purchasing plans, research areas, etc. Since they publish all or most of that stuff online, you’ll be able to find good examples quickly of how to set up the logistics and agenda, what level of detail to present, what kinds of questions you can expect, etc.

  16. B Wayne*

    As to LW#2, is the job underpaid because you did not attempt to negotiate a higher salary at hire? Of course, that is in the past but with the one year anniversary coming up perhaps it is time for a raise discussion (Strolling through the comments I see this popping up a lot. Check out Alison’s stuff on asking for a raise. Can’t hurt and good luck!) There may be some “wiggle room” in your salary range based on the company shooting low initially. Maybe best of both worlds, more money and everything positive you like about being there.

  17. MCMonkeybean*

    LW5–you definitely don’t need to ask to work from home to make *other* people more comfortable, but I do think in that situation it’s worth considering whether it would be a good idea to make *you* more comfortable! If I were in your shoes I probably would have and then worked at home in no pants at all (I don’t normally do that but I think in this case I would) and been free to lather on the neosporin or whatever any time I needed.

    Actually now that I think about it I sort of was in a similar situation once. I broke my nose and I asked to work from home for a while. I could walk and function fine but I honestly just didn’t want people to see my face like that. I went into work at like 5am the next day to grab my laptop and then stayed home for like a week. At my job it’s very easy to transition to WFH (which obviously has been really useful this past year) so it wasn’t a big deal at all and I don’t think anyone thought I was “milking” my injury.

    1. SweetestCin*

      Yes to all of it.

      Very similar situation in my first “real job”. I managed a glaringly obvious facial injury that included serious bruising and a decently high number of stitches (even correcting for “facial injury”) because I am in fact THAT clumsy. My boss and mentor at the time was horrified on my behalf (entry level position had zero PTO, and I’d just moved, meaning I was hurting, money wise), asked what I needed and what I was comfortable with as the sight of the injury provoked a lot of questions and reactions to it, and promptly found me things to do that kept me in my level of comfort for the weeks it took to not have my face half green due to bruising. I was OVER everyone’s reactions within five minutes of returning to the office, but it kept going. ::shrugs::

  18. pancakes*

    LW2, I haven’t read it yet but am a fan of the author’s other work, and want to recommend Sarah Jaffe’s book Work Won’t Love You Back.

  19. Knope Knope Knope*

    #2 I think the equation should include how being underpaid impacts your quality of life, what stage of life and career you’re in and what your longterm goals are. Only speaking for myself (and sounds like you’ve got plenty of personal anecdotes, so sorry to pile on if it’s not helpful), but the equation changed a lot for me around 30. I was mostly underpaid before then, but at 30 I had what I thought would be the best job of my life. I LOVED it and to this day look back on it very fondly. I would have stayed if I could, but I was going into debt, not saving adequately for retirement, and not building any monthly savings. I quit for a job I ended up kind of hating, but my overall happiness dramatically improved when I paid off my debt, was able to move to a nice apartment, and actually start saving. As frustrating as that job was, I would do it over 1,000 times. Now 5 years later I am two years into a job I absolutely love, living in a house I own with no credit card debt making more than double what I was at the first job in this scenario. I say don’t sell yourself short. I love my career but life is about so much more than just work.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is good advice; my first job was one I loved but paid nothing much — I am now retired and living well able to do pretty much anything I want — travel, have a view of Lake Michigan, not have to count pennies when I go out etc — because after a few years I found a job that paid a lot better and never looked back. Someday if luck is yours, you will be old and healthy and want to be able to retire and be very happy that you squirreled away a little each year in that retirement account for 40 years. Money may not bring happiness but, yeah it kinda does.

  20. I'm just here for the cats*

    #1 I wish we had more information about the CEO and his thoughts about Felix.

    Is Felix really a nepotism hire or is it that he applied and someone thought “Oh we better hire him because he is CEO’s nephew.” Or perhaps he got the job on his own but obviously, it’s not a good fit and he figures he can slack off because of his connection to the CEO. Maybe CEO would love to fire his nephew because he feels like he is a jerk and needs to learn a lesson.

  21. Wintermute*

    #2– Pay is the #1 thing you work for, presuming you’re not independently wealthy and doing it for fun, it’s entirely reasonable to leave over pay. And in all honesty, I think you have to. Having low pay is a compounding problem because future employers are likely to base your pay going forward on your pay going backward in many cases (yeah, it’s terrible, but it *is* the norm in most places). The longer you accept being underpaid, the more likely you are to ALWAYS be underpaid unless you make a radical change.

    Now, there are some decisions people make to prioritize this or that. For isntance, my family in government, in positions that would make 50% more elsewhere, know that they’re being paid less than they could make but they have good benefits (some still have defined-benefit pensions!!!) and pretty rock solid job security in exchange for that. AND (and this is a big caveat) they know that if they decide to change that in the future they can say to an employer in an interview “well I was being paid xx,xxx but that was for the state and you and I both know public sector and private aren’t comparable in terms of income, so I am looking for yyy,yyy”.

    But absent benefits that are life- and future-changing (like retiring at 60 with a defined benefit pension that you can easily live well on) you’re leaving way too much on the table, both now and in terms of damaging future earnings, when you accept being underpaid, in my opinion.

    1. Sambal*

      Absolutely. And OP, if your job is preventing you from reaching you non-work related goals (travelling, saving for retirement, downpayment on a home, investing, etc.), you need to consider how much you’re willing to sacrifice for a satisfying workplace (within reason, of course).

  22. Qwerty*

    OP2 – One of the best pieces of advice I received was to always have my resume up to date and to casually interview once a year. (Given to me by my manager at the time)

    You may find that being underpaid is a trade-off for a good work culture (for now). Or you might discover which skills you need to develop further. Plus your bar for a new job will be higher when you are still feeling ok about your current job.

    The best job I ever had I was underpaid, but anytime I interviewed elsewhere it just made me realize how much I loved my current situation other than the salary (which was definitely livable, just not industry standard). Until one day when the other companies started to sound interesting, which is how I knew that I was ready to move on.

  23. Artemesia*

    Gotta think the key is the CEO gets info about how this guy is doing. Most people don’t want the reputation of a goof off relative in a large organization. If it is a small family business and he already knows Fergus is a goof off that he is ‘keeping employed’ for the family maybe; but if this is a larger organization then it is damaging to his reputation to have failnephew attached to his leadership.
    If you think this is so, I would go ahead with a harsh review and PIP if you possibly can .

    1. Wintermute*

      exactly! businesses have to make decisions about the relative worth of people all the time. They might decide that (very high-value in a highly-important position) CEO plus (low-value but in a position that is not highly important and doesn’t hurt much) nephew is a net positive to the company. But having the rider on his balance sheet lowers his value a little. That might make him less attractive than a new CEO that might want in, or, more likely, he might worry it does and not want his value brought down by a boat anchor nepotism hire that people associate with him.

  24. ErinWV*

    OP4: Send a “thanks!” reply but don’t gush, that’s all that is warranted.

    BUT! Be professional and polite. When I was in grad school, I applied for a job in the admissions office, the main duty of which was managing the inbox. The supervisor told me that when students applied, the first thing she did was search their name in the inbox. If they had previously written to the school and were rude or entitled, she wouldn’t hire them.

  25. Observer*

    #5 – Two thoughts

    Firstly, I agree with everyone who says that no one needs to know how you fell. You fell down the stairs and that’s all there is to it, as far as work is concerned. The injuries are the same regardless and are no less “worthy” of being dealt with.

    Secondly, you say “alcohol related”. That raises a bit of a flag. If you got falling down drunk, and the falling down was near stairs, that signals a real problem. On the other hand if say, you fell because someone tipsy bumped into you right by the head of the stairs, that’s a story to tell if you want. Obviously those are not the only two scenarios. I’m just using them to make the point that depending on what the alcohol involvement is, you may want to think about your alcohol intake. But, it’s still not something you need to bring to work. If, as it seems, there are no issues with your work, then *IF* you have an alcohol issue, it’s something you can deal with on your own time and not involve your employer in.

  26. justabot*

    LW #3, maybe you could create a simple Google form, something super easy to do, for any inquiries regarding this program. Then just respond with a standard email like, “Thanks for your interest in Big Teapot Org whatever. Please submit your inquiry here and provide a brief summary of your proposed contribution/partnership/idea/etc and include the google form link. You could even add something like, Due to the volume of inquiries we receive, we will only contact you if this is a strong fit for our program. (Or word as you wish.)

    Include a few basic fields like their name, title, organization, contact number, email, and a box to write a brief summary. That way you can review those at your convenience and decide which responses to follow up on. It also gives the benefit of having all the submissions already compiled for you in one place/format with the ability for you to run a report or download a spreadsheet instead of having to compile it together on your own.

  27. Former Employee*

    OP #5 said that the fall was alcohol related. I think it is legitimate for people to raise the question that the OP may have a bigger problem than having to work around the rash.

    If I were their friend, I would ask them to think about whether alcohol is playing too big a part in their life.

    Not knowing the OP, I realize this could be a one off, but I see no reason not to bring it up. I feel that is actually doing the OP a good turn.

  28. Former Employee*

    OP #2: I don’t know if others have brought this up, but a lower salary has long range consequences. While it might be fine for now and even for the years that the OP is working, it may catch up with them when they realize that their 401(k) plus their Social Security together don’t add up to enough to fund a decent retirement. Since both of those are based on earnings, the OP could find that they are living in poverty in their later years.

  29. Elizabeth West*

    Re road rash:
    Oooh, ouch. That must have been really painful. An employee at a restaurant I used to work for had a similar accident, except she fell off a scooter and scoured her face on the asphalt. She showed up to work looking shockingly gory and our manager sent her home until her face could heal up a bit. In this case, it made sense because it was bad enough to potentially put people off their food. (It didn’t bother me; I was the go-to for gross stuff and even cleaned up the kitchen after another employee cut himself on the slicer. But I could understand the manager’s point.)

    Obviously, my coworker couldn’t work from home, but I wouldn’t think it unreasonable to ask if you have the kind of job where you can.

  30. Retired (but not really)*

    Regarding being underpaid for your position but you love your situation otherwise, by all means check out other options. However it is also wise to weigh the possible downsides of these options, such as commute time/distance, whether a change in cost of living if a move would be needed, and many other factors that might not be as obvious as these two but would be important to you.

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