is it ungrateful to ask for more money when you get promoted, my mentee is out of touch, and more

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

1. Is it ungrateful to ask for more money when you get a promotion?

My boss recently told me that you are not supposed to negotiate your salary when you are offered a promotion (that it makes you seem ungrateful). I’ve asked around at work, to those who are discreet and trustworthy, and the response has differed. Some say yes, you most definitely should counter whether it be a promotion, a new role, etc. Others agree with my boss that you are not supposed to counter a promotional offer. What’s the truth?

I’m sure your boss would like that to be the case — it’s certainly in her interests if you believe it! — but it’s categorically untrue.

It is very, very normal to negotiate the salary for a promotion. You get to decide what price would make the extra responsibility worth it to you! You don’t need to just accept what your employer offers you. People negotiate promotions all the time.

And her reasoning is that you should be “grateful”? You don’t need to be grateful when you receive a promotion! Your employer isn’t promoting you as a favor; they’re promoting you because it makes business sense for them. You don’t need to be grateful, any more than you need to be grateful when they hire you or pay you or ask you to take on a project they need to. You can certainly appreciate them if they’re a good employer who go out of their way to recognize and reward good work — as they can appreciate you for doing said good work — but being grateful implies they’re giving you something you don’t deserve.

Your boss has just revealed that she has really weird ideas about the power dynamics of employment. Keep that in mind when you’re dealing with her!

2. My mentee is out of touch with how our office works

I am a year into my first professional job after college. My company has a junior staff mentorship system where each incoming hire is assigned someone roughly a year ahead of them to be their peer mentor. It is supposed to be a casual and informal relationship, to establish a first relationship and get a sense of the company and have someone to go to for advice or tips. There is also a separate, more formal mentorship program where the mentor gives feedback, assists with career advancement, and other more serious things.

My problem comes with my new peer mentee, Jane. Jane is about a month into the job, and I have noticed some weird quirks I am not sure how to handle. Mainly, her manner comes across as a little rude/out of touch, which (I think!) is unintentional, but really rubs people the wrong way. I had heard that she almost didn’t receive an offer after her internship because of her demeanor, so I am not the only one to whom this stands out. For instance, we are expected to meet every two weeks to check in and discuss how work is going for her. She has failed to see/respond to/attend meeting invites with me multiple times, and brushes it off or doesn’t acknowledge the mistake, even when I have hinted that if she is doing this on her work teams, people won’t respond well. She also seems to misunderstand our relationship (despite my describing it to her); for example, once as we were discussing her work, she cut me off and said, “But enough about me, how are YOU doing?” even though the whole meeting is supposed to be about her work! Most recently, after showing up 10 minutes late to our meeting, after about 15 minutes (and before the scheduled end of the meeting) she said she had some other things to do and had to drop off. Normally, if a situation like that comes up, people at my office are pretty flexible (i.e., if an urgent email comes in during a meeting, you can say, “Something just came up, sorry about that, let’s reschedule,” etc). In this instance, though, nothing new came up for Jane, she just decided she was done. At my office you typically don’t do that if the meeting is scheduled for a certain slot ahead of time. Plus these meetings aren’t optional for her!

Essentially, nothing she does is particularly egregious, but it comes off as very presumptuous, not very respectful, and out of touch with our office norms. Since it is nothing crazy, however, and since I am relatively junior and not the one responsible for giving her feedback, what, if anything, should I do to address this? I don’t want to overstep, but in addition to stopping this annoying behavior for my own benefit, I would like to help her adjust to the office since I know I am not the only one put off by this.

Stop hinting and tell her directly! It’s not overstepping to let her know what your office’s expectations are in these regards; in fact, it’s likely that you’re expected to do that. That’s part of the point of mentoring, even with peer mentoring.

Sample script for your next meeting: “You’ve been not responding to the invitations for these meetings and sometimes showing up late or not at all. I want to make sure you know that’s a big deal here; people will expect you to actively manage your calendar and be on time for meetings. You should also plan on us using the full amount of time scheduled, unless we both agree we should end early. I’m setting aside time in my schedule, and I want to make sure we’re both invested in using it fully.” You can say this in a tone of “hey, you might not realize this, so let me me tell you something that will help you succeed here,” rather than a chastising tone — but do say it.

It’s also okay to address other off-key things right in the moment. Like if she says something that indicates she misunderstands the whole point of these meetings, you could just matter-of-factly say, “So, to clarify, these meetings are to discuss XYZ.” I suspect you feel weird doing that (because it feels weird that you’d need to do that), but you’re doing her a service by recalibrating her to your company’s norms if you can.

At the same time, though, don’t feel like you’ve failed if it doesn’t work. Some people are very hard to get through to, particularly if you’re not in a position of authority (and even sometimes then), and as a peer mentor your tools to reach her are limited. Give it a shot because it’ll be helpful for everyone if it works, but don’t stress too much if you can’t get through.

3. My spouse keeps asking me for career advice, and it’s too much

I am in the midst of developing career services consulting to assist job seekers with attaining new employment. Thus far, the process is slow-moving intentionally, but those I’ve shared my interests with are very excited about the venture, especially my spouse. My spouse is in the middle of job hunting themselves, so there have been times where they ask me for advice or insight. Of course, being my spouse, I’m more than happy to help every so often … but now they are expecting that I resolve every issue they run into and answer every minute question that comes up. Sure, my spouse wants to put their best feet forward and I want that for them, too; however, they’re regularly interrupting my daily motions (current 9-5, etc.). If this were any other person, I would have already sent an invoice, scheduled times to interact, and set those boundaries. Should I keep giving my spouse free career advice, stop all together—or do I charge them for my services? (That last suggestion is more joke than not, but it’s something that’s been suggested to me.)

If you were really good at accounting and your spouse kept interrupting your full-time job with constant accounting questions, at some point you’d need to say, “I can help you with this when I’m not working, but I need you to hold all these questions until after my work day is over so I can focus on my job.” And depending on the number of questions you then faced in your off-hours, at some point you also might say, “I’m happy to help you out here and there, but we’re spending a lot of time on accounting when I’d rather be relaxing with you. For the good of our relationship, let’s find you an accountant who’s not me.”

The principle here is the same: it’s okay (and necessary) to set boundaries so that it’s not interrupting your work or overwhelming your off-hours. It’s reasonable to tell your spouse you need your workday to be free of job-search questions, and to set limits on how much you’re up for doing the rest of the time. It also might help to schedule specific times for it — like deciding that you’ll spend an hour on it a few times a week, but it won’t intrude on all your time together.

That’s the nitty-gritty of how to navigate it … but more broadly, this is your spouse! Talk to them about how you’re feeling, and how they’re feeling, and figure out an arrangement that you both feel good about. When you’re at the point of wondering if you should charge your spouse for your help (even half-jokingly) and they don’t realize how put upon you feel, there’s a big communication gap to address!

4. We’re required to forward work calls to our personal cell phones

I work for a large organization in a role that was full-time in-office pre-Covid. Once Covid hit, those of us who could work remotely did so. My team has been high functioning and made the best of the past year, but was hoping to come back to a hybrid schedule, which we were told was approved. However, our department’s director decided what that looked like was giving up our offices and keeping a few hot desks (ugh). Part of losing our dedicated desk space also means losing our desk phones.

We were recently told that we would keep the actual phone number but are expected to have it forwarded to our personal cell phones. Our organization provides services 24/7, and many of our company phone numbers were previously assigned to other departments, so some of those phones ring at all hours. Not a problem when we aren’t in the office, but a very annoying problem when it’s your cell phone ringing at 2 am on a Sunday. Furthermore, they are not contributing to our cell phone bills. I’m super annoyed and don’t feel it’s fair to tell my team that the company will be forwarding calls to their cell phones. Is this normal and I’m just being overly annoyed? Or are phones a cost of doing business and they should be either providing us cell phones or subsidizing our phone bill?

That’s actually a pretty common set-up when people are working remotely or on a hybrid schedule without dedicated desks — although it’s also common for companies that do that to reimburse a portion of your phone costs, and that’s something you should push for. In some states, employers are legally required to reimburse you for business expenses, so you should check if yours is one of them. (More info here.)

The easiest way to deal with the calls outside of work hours, though, is to set up a Google Voice number that the calls forward to, because you can program that to only ring though on certain days and hours and to go straight to voicemail the rest of the time.

5. Formatting business letters sent by email

I have a random, very low-stakes question. Every once in a while I have to write a business letter that’s to be sent by email. Is there a modern format for the “block” on the letter, when there’s no physical address for either party? It always seems to look weird however I format it.

If you’re writing the letter in the body of the email, you don’t use the same formatting that you would with a physical letter — no date, addresses, etc. With email, you just launch in with your salutation (“dear Bob” or “hi Jane” or however you’re opening the letter). In part that’s because email puts the relevant information in the message headers already, and in part it’s because this is the convention with email.

If you’re attaching the letter to the email (because it’s something formal on letterhead or so forth), you’d put the date at the top but it’s okay to leave off the address block if you don’t have the other party’s address.

{ 255 comments… read them below }

  1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4 – yeah a past employer wanted to do that with me. We had a conflict – the de juro (written) policy is that they would not pay for a cell phone. The de FACTO (actual) policy is that a manager can authorize payment for anyone and they did, for nearly EVERYONE, except for me.

    I said “you pay for it like you’re paying for everybody else’s, and we can talk about it.” But – when confronted like that, they stuck to their guns (three different managers) and so – they never got my phone number.

    Fine with me.

    1. Hazel*

      I like Alison’s suggestion for a Google Voice number. OP might also ask about telephony software for your work laptops (you could turn it off when you’re not working). My company uses that, although I seldom get phone calls, so even though the software is installed, I haven’t set it up to ring on my computer.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I am a huge fan of our PC-based phone system. In March 2020 when my region went into lockdown, we moved our PCs home and the phone numbers came with us.
        I wasn’t an immediate fan in 2018. Awkward loss of stretchy cord. Frequent switching between the phone headset & the personal headphones I used to muffle office sounds. Concern about 911 calls, or answering a page while rebooting… then learning the signage for the public landlines the office set up.
        But we all realized that it made travel nearly invisible, because we could reach people on business trips…and what a lifesaver in shutdown.

        1. Just me, The OG*

          Me too. I was resistant about downloading the app but when the pandemic hit it made things so much easier.

      2. Nicotena*

        Although I think I figured out why customer service has been so gosh-darn terrible this whole pandemic, if all phones are basically now just being diverted to random google voicemails and not answered. Some companies, like insurance, utilities, airlines etc – really need to do better. And they need to invest in it as an essential business function, not just foist it off on their employees to figure it out!

        1. ThatGirl*

          I do not think that’s what’s happening, especially not for customer service. I can’t speak to large call centers, but many CS people worked from home pre-pandemic and used VOIP through their computers; when I was in customer service everything rang through Skype.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            When I worked in CS, we had to sign in to a queue. If you weren’t signed in, calls didn’t come your way.

            This does remind me that I need to check v-mail on my work phone. (I don’t get enough phone calls to justify a work cell & do most stuff through Zoom, Teams, or email.)

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think an important followup question to #4 is: do they expect you to actually *answer* the phone outside of business hours? Hopefully no, and if not then google voice is definitely the way to go. If yes, then that’s a much bigger problem to deal with.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          I think the issue is that it’s your cell phone and you don’t know who is calling.

          My office did this- so I went from “never answer an unknown number” to “answer every phone call”- even when I’m on vacation.

          Admittedly, I have a “good” number. It’s only ever been used by my office so I get maybe a dozen calls a month. It’s not a hassle and it means that I don’t have to worry if I run to the store that I’ll miss a call cuz my phone is with me.

          My supervisor has a phone number like OP4 was talking about- it’s publicly listed as belonging to someone else and he would get all sorts of calls when we were in the office so he just didn’t forward it. And this number is still better than his last number- he was at one point getting half a dozen or more calls a day, all that had nothing to do with us.

      4. Jammin'*

        My issue with Alison’s answer is with all calls being forwarded to Google Voice, you would miss out on personal emergency calls. (I also have a landline, but many people don’t.)
        I say this as someone who had to call siblings on two different occasions when each parent passed away. These urgent personal calls would get lumped in with work calls.
        I suppose you could also e-mail, but my siblings appreciated being let known right away – no matter what time it was (our family is scattered geographically.)

        1. Sasha*

          I think the idea is that work calls go to Google voice (which forwards to your phone during work hours and to voicemail the rest of the time).

          Normal calls come through to your phone as usual.

      5. Sharon*

        It can be a major privacy/confidentiality problem to forward a work phone to Google Voice and my company would absolutely not allow it. We have our phones ring on our laptops and go to voicemail when we aren’t logged in. I presume when they set this up there was a contract signed with the provider that satisfied our legal folks.

        1. Thank You For Saying That*

          Thanks for mentioning the privacy/confidentiality aspect of this. Basically every time someone suggests a “free” (as in money) service to handle something like this, I have to remember to pause and not say every word that comes to my mind in response.

          I hope it’s gotten better since it’s been many years, but I remember one time someone I needed to work with back when I was in school who was using Google Voice. I only found out Google knew about all our calls when it went to voicemail one time, as Google isn’t great (or at least wasn’t back then) at announcing its involvement in the calls otherwise. There wasn’t any ill intent, we just do a horrible job explaining to the general population that when you make a privacy-vs-convenience tradeoff, you’re also sacrificing other people’s privacy in ways that others don’t actually realize until it’s too late.

          Really, if the workplace is going to mandate call forwarding, then the workplace should provide a contracted platform to do this, where there’s legal recourse for misuse of information and individuals aren’t explicitly signing away baseline expectations of privacy as part of signing up. It’s honestly sometimes terrifying how much we’ve normalized this thing where the expectation is that individuals go create personal “free” accounts, then send so much data through these platforms where the trade is it’s “free” because the payment is snooping on data.

    2. GoGo*

      What was their thinking behind this? Not just that they expected you would eventually accede but the refusal to do for you that they were willing to do for others.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Well, they thought because I personally was financially better off than others, they could unfairly take advantage of me. I did give the number out to three or four customers who I knew would not abuse it.

        But that was it. Unfortunately, they often decided to stick to their guns rather than accede to reason.

        You’ll likely see that often in the business world. Some actually think “lose-lose” is effective.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I’ve never quite understood how people decide to stick to their guns in the face of reasonable pushback.

          Own example: if I politely refused a promotion/relocation to another city for family reasons, why on earth would you think I wouldn’t start looking for a new employer when suddenly I was being forced to travel to said city with a frequency that was not in my job description? Manager was extremely surprised I was leaving.

    3. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Ive had employers want my mobile phone number so they could use it as a leash. They offered 24/7 service but didnt have any on call or coverage policy. You answering the phone was their coverage policy and if they got your mobile, they doubled the chance to reach you. Never gave them mine and cancelled the land line.

    4. Kvothe*

      Is this expectation of forwarding to a personal phone an industry thing or an American thing? I’m Canadian and work in the construction industry and basically if an employer wants you to be reachable by cell you need to be provided one by the company. I’ve never heard tell of using personal phone numbers for work purposes before reading it here.

    5. Beth*

      Yeah, I remember a former boss, back before I had a cell phone at all, hinting that it would be really convenient if I got one. I told him that if the company (which was himself) wanted me to have one and would pay for it, I was certainly willing to do so. Oddly enough, he didn’t go for it.

      As a sole proprietor, he had his company paying, not only for his cell phone, but also for his car lease. I sometimes wondered if he was blackmailing his CPA to let all that pass.

      1. pancakes*

        It isn’t that unusual, nor is it inherently nefarious, for people who own a company or have a senior position in one to receive benefits that lower-level employees do not.

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          People at my level (and lower) DID have them. To be fair, I had a boss at the end of the time there that did want to straighten that out but since I was leaving in a couple months, it made no sense. Too late!

    6. Qwerty*

      At my previous job, a couple years before the pandemic even happened they got rid of all our desk phones and set up a voice service (I think it was called VIA?) that got tied into (what was then) our Skype for Business account. This carried over when it became Teams. So I could just dial out via Teams or receive work calls there, too.
      If they don’t want to pay for employees phone bills, they could look into a system like this.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes, and a phone number can go in there as well if you have one (that you want the other party to have, that is). However, a difference between email and traditional paper business letters is that this block goes at the bottom of the email rather than the top of the letter.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think in Eric’s example, that contact info was for the other person. In that case, it wouldn’t go in the body of the email at all. But if you’re attaching a letter (in PDF or similar), you could use that and the date as the block at the top of the letter. But again, generally not in the email itself. (If it’s your info, though, then agreed that it could go at the bottom of your email.)

    2. Ron McDon*

      Or how I was taught to do it at secretarial college was

      John Smith
      Senior Llama Groomer
      By email

      Which mimics how one would put ‘By hand’ if delivering a letter by hand.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, exactly this. I get work emails where the content appears as a pdf attachment* and this is how it’s addressed.

        * WHY THOUGH?!

        If there’s a reason you need to have a record of exactly what it looked like when you sent it, fine, but for the love of all that’s holy, copy at least some of the content into the body of the email so searches work properly, or give me a clue what it’s about and/or whether my response or action is required.

        The number of emails I get that basically look like:

        Dear Gen v Klinkerhoffen,

        Please find attached correspondence from Tangerina Warbleworth.

        Best regards,

        Clementine Teapot-Llama
        assistant to
        Tangerina Warbleworth
        Director, Teapots Division
        Llamas R Us, LLC

        1. EPLawyer*

          URGH I hate that. Especially since what is IN the letter can easily have been put in the body of the email. If you want to know why the chocolate teapots were not delivered in a refrigerated truck just ASK. Don’t send me an email that says see attachment, then the letter attached says Why were there chocolate teapots not delivered in a refrigerated truck? In the time it took me to open the attachment, I could have responded.

        2. Jane of all Trades*

          I get letters like that when it’s an offer letter, or something similarly formal, especially if you’re supposed to counter sign and return.

        3. Aquawoman*

          Maybe this reason is unique to the law, but I find that my least trustworthy counterparts do that or start a new email chain so that it is harder to track the back and forth. It’s not all in one chain, so it’s slightly more difficult to connect the response to the original letter.

          1. Legally Bored*

            As a paralegal, my boss is far more likely to send a letter like that (attached as a PDF via email) if OC is being a real ding dong and we’re going to have to put the documentation in front of the judge. If they’re being reasonable, then we just send an emai.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I’m also a paralegal, and this is where we’re instructing and they’re reporting, so it’s privileged.

              A friend (at a different firm) rejects such emails and *requires* them to put the content in the body of the email. I admire her boundaries and wish I had standing to do similar!

              1. pancakes*

                Whether an email is protected by privilege or not is determined by whether there’s a lawyer / client relationship, whether legal advice is being sought or provided, and whether it was prepared in anticipation of litigation. (I’m oversimplifying a bit, but just a bit). Whether the text at issue is in the body of the email or an attachment is not a factor.

        4. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Depending on who my audience (particularly unrepresented opposing parties) is and/or what area of law the matter is dealing with (particularly family law), sometimes I’ll put nearly nothing in the e-mail and keep all the information in the PDF. My reason is that I need the recipient to read the PDF, read the whole PDF, and read nothing but the PDF. If I put too much in the e-mail, then I’ll end up dealing with the fall-out that happens when the recipient didn’t read the damn document: they ask questions I’ve answered in the document, they fail to follow instructions in the document, etc. Wastes everybody’s time.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I can see why that would be important.

            Why do you send a pdf and not just an email, by the way? Is it a compliance issue?

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              PDFs can be perceived to carry more authority than e-mail. If the letter is on letterhead and has my handwritten signature on it, then the recipient will tend to take its contents more seriously than if it’s an e-mail. When I need to impress on the person that the communication has an important legal aspect to it and there will be consequences depending on how they respond, I’ll do a PDF and keep most or all of the actionable content in the PDF.

              Also, I don’t want to invite questions or conversation via e-mail (the letter itself may say something along the lines of, “If you have questions I can’t advise you because I’m not your lawyer, go hire your own lawyer”). The e-mail is essentially just an envelope for the communication, not the start of a conversation.

              Where the recipient is a client, and where they’re more sophisticated with working with lawyers, I’ll be less wary about putting important communications in a letter on letterhead scanned to PDF. But it also varies by jurisdiction. I work in 2 different jurisdictions, and each has its own quirks about where they’ve retained old-fashioned formalness.

            2. Sasha*

              Our pdfs are documents which are also going to be uploaded to the patient’s electronic patient record, physically posted out, or otherwise used in a context other than email.

  2. The OTHER Other.*

    #2 Where is Jane’s supervisor in all this? I agree with Alison you need to bring it up plainly with Jane but IMO this sort of situation where someone is expected to give guidance and feedback while having no power is ripe for a clueless person to just steamroll over anything they don’t want to hear. If she is not listening to you then it needs to go up the chain to her boss.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, this. That said, I don’t think it’s necessarily all Jane’s fault. It would rankle me, too, to spend an hour every two weeks talking to someone who has barely a year more tenure *in the same job* than I do about my work. This is about seniority on the job rather than age, my current and most recent formal manager are both about 10 years younger than I am, my current manager is a very recent hire as well.

      In any mentoring relationship, there has to be a bit of give and take. It makes absolutely no sense to me for Jane to talk about her work all the time. If it’s a peer mentoring relationship, the LW should be talking about her job as well, and what things have worked for her. I think it’s entirely possible that the LW has misunderstood what these mentoring sessions are supposed to be like.

      I’m wondering, is Jane’s boss also the LW’s boss? If that’s the case, then maybe the LW needs to tell their boss that this isn’t working out and ask if the boss has any suggestions on how to make it work.

      1. allathian*

        And just to specify, I have a great relationship with my recent-hire manager and I take direction from her, and apply any feedback I get from her in my job, because *we aren’t peers*.

      2. katkat*

        Im not very familiar with mentoring cultures, or styles, as I was just assigned my first official mentor. But it did seem strange that LW, the mentor, is so new to the business herself. What might be the reasoning for this?

        Altough I have great conversations with my peers who have started within a year before me, it’s a lot about mutual sharing and pondering, and I’m very glad my official mentor is more experienced.

        1. JustSomeone*

          I could be reading too much into it, but I’m definitely getting vibes that this is a giant company and they’re used to hiring a bunch of fresh college grads who are brand new to the professional workforce. In that case, I can absolutely picture there being a lot of value in having a peer mentor from “last year’s class.” That person has been through the same process recently enough for it to be very fresh.

          I do think that meeting every two weeks for a significant chunk of time over a span long enough to have multiple meetings and also miss multiple meetings and for it to still be ongoing feels like a LOT. It’s good to have someone to turn to for general guidance, but that seems like it would be more than covered in 2 or 3 meetings. When does Jane get to be done with this?

          1. iliketoknit*

            Yeah, I wondered if one of the reasons why Jane is ending meetings early is this, and also, describing a mentorship as “casual” and “informal” doesn’t really jibe with having meetings every 2 weeks that have to fill the entire scheduled time. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between how this is described and what the OP is doing, though I have no idea where that disconnect actually is (whether it’s between the company’s description of the mentorship and the company’s expectations of the OP, or between the company’s description and the OP’s understanding).

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            I also wonder if the meetings really have to last the scheduled amount of time. Is that a requirement in the mentor program? If not, then it’s actually fine to end meetings earlier than scheduled (usually very welcome by all attendees), although of course the way Jane is ending them is probably not ideal.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yeah, I guess meeting etiquette definitely varies wildly at different companies but that seemed odd to me too. I feel like 80% of the meetings I attend we don’t really know how long it will take when we block off the calendar. They end early all the time (and sometimes they go over). Especially the kinds that are just quick catch-up with peers. And I have not really been in a formal mentorship program but if the idea is to provide someone for the new hire to ask questions of, I’d think Jane would more often be the one determining the length of the meeting anyway?

            2. Yorick*

              Maybe it would make sense for LW to just schedule them for shorter blocks, with the caveat that she can stay a bit longer if Jane has more to talk about.

            3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              I get the sense OP was reacting to Jane unilaterally deciding she was done with the meeting, rather than it naturally running its course and ending earlier than scheduled.

          3. Esmeralda*

            Yes, this. There’s a lot of value in having a peer mentor, if the mentor is well chosen. And the kinds of things Jane is doing — blowing off meetings, coming late, leaving early, not taking the session seriously — are *exactly* the kinds of things a peer is well-placed to recognize and tell Jane about.

            OP could talk with her own supervisor about expectations for these sessions. It kind of chaps my ass that people are thrown into these situations without any direction — hey! you’re a mentor, get to work on that! For the OP, the mentoring is a development opportunity as well.

          4. Bamcakes*

            I’m very confused by the timescales, to be honest! Jane’s been there a month but has failed to see / respond to / attend multiple fortnightly meetings? I can’t make that add up!

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I can see it being useful to have someone who is fairly new to show you the ropes – the practical stuff about where to find things and who to talk to, and learning basic systems. They’ve done it themselves recently enough to remember what they needed to learn themselves, and you can ask basic questions without being embarrassed, and the more experienced mentors can concentrate on the work specific stuff.

          The weakness of the system, I think, is that you’re getting advice from someone with a year of junior level work, and they’re going to know mainly their own experience. If what you need to learn is different from what they need to learn, it might not transfer well, or if they’re not good at communicating the information. Then it could easily get really frustrating and feel like a waste of time.

          As an aside – you definitely don’t have to continue a meeting through a pre-defined period if you’ve run out of things to talk about! If you’ve blocked out half an hour, and you get through what you need in fifteen minutes, absolutely don’t try to fill the rest of the meeting because it’s a half hour meeting. This mindset leads to so much wasted time and painfully tedious meetings.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            This looks to me like the organization took a good idea–having someone who is fairly new showing the new hire the ropes–and turned it into a formal process to be followed in all instances, whether or not it makes sense for the particular individual. It might be that Jane has correctly identified that she has gotten all that she can get from the process, and resents spending more time simply to check off boxes. Or she might be clueless. It is a mystery.

        3. Snow Globe*

          My company recently developed a program like this, and it was specifically because more senior people often forget what someone new to the working world does not know. Someone about a year or two ahead of the new employee (usually both were hired right out of college) has a better understanding of the kinds of questions the new person will have. This kind of mentoring is about learning the ways of the working world, rather than learning expertise in the business.

          1. Smithy*

            This style of peer mentorship both makes complete sense to me, but also strikes me as the style of dynamic that is attempting to formalize something that often has happened more informally. Essentially those at a similar level connecting socially, either inside or also outside of work and learning more about the workplace from one another.

            However, the obvious pitfalls of that more informal process is the potential for those informal networks to be less inclusive across a number of metrics. Therefore, by formalizing the process the aim is to at least provide a more level baseline while acknowledging those informal networks will still happen.

            That all being said, I do think that for situations where there’s either a personality mismatch or some clear awkwardness – because this is a pairing that hasn’t formed informally – it sounds like it could benefit from more structure. Structure that both the LW and Jane are in the loop about.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          We do peer mentoring for new hires (in addition to rigorous new-hire training and a very experienced supervisor that meets with them regularly). In my experience, new hires are sometimes more comfortable asking a peers with a little more tenure what they are concerned are “stupid” questions, and the peer mentors have a better developed sense of if it’s a question they can answer or needs to be escalated.

          And Snow Globe is spot on as well – people who’ve been doing this for a long time forget the basics and what it’s like to be brand new, while the peer mentors are great with the wish-I’d-known advice.

          Our system doesn’t require formal meetings on a regular basis – there are maybe 10 specific responsibilities so it doesn’t interfere with the peers work – but it’s been one of the most effective things we’ve run and both new people and the peers seem to benefit from it.

          1. matcha123*

            I agree with this. I was lucky to be able to speak with my predecessor when I started my first job after college, but other new hires didn’t have that luxury and there were no systems in place for mentoring.
            I took it on myself to reach out to new people to offer to give some advice. Most people were fine, others were actively offended. The ones that wanted to act like they knew everything left after a year, the ones that were open to advice stayed on.

            These mentorships are great to help new people ease into office life. It really does help to have someone close in age that has a little more experience, but isn’t a supervisor per se. I’m confused at the comments that act like this is the worst set-up ever.

            I have been in jobs where the veteran members don’t care to remember or have forgotten what they didn’t know when they first started and get nasty attitudes toward new people for not being on the same level. A mentor can help ease that transition so much.

            In your first year, no one should expect to be revamping everything and being on the track to CEO in six months.

        5. quill*

          If it’s more of a basic training / office ettiquette thing, it makes some sense, but… even back when I was a lowly freshman in various club activities, they farmed us out to juniors and seniors to keep track of, not sophomores.

          The utility for both Jane and OP is going to be used up within the first 3-4 months.

        6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          My work has a “buddy system” where new hires are matched up with someone in another team, to get the lay of the land and be a resource to ask the questions you don’t want to ask your manager. I don’t think there’s an explicit rule about the mentor also being relatively new, but in practice it usually ends up being someone at the same level so that the newcomer feels comfortable being candid.

      3. Bamcakes*

        Yes, I don’t quite get the reluctance to talk about her own work. Even in traditional senior-to-junior mentoring relationships, “please give me an insight into what things look like at your level” is a pretty normal topic.

        I am also wondering what the time frame for this relationship is! If it’s a “new starter meets established employer” mentoring/buddying, I’ve usually seen that be 2-3 meetings in the first couple of weeks, maybe one more at the 4-6 week mark, and then maybe a catch-up after 3 or 6 months. Every two weeks for an unspecific period of time is a LOT, and I’m not surprised Jane feels like it’s not the best use of her time. I am not sure what if talk about for all that time! I would expect that after 6 weeks or so you’d either have developed and genuine relationship and want to keep meeting because it’s beneficial to both of you, or the relationship would naturally tail off. Both outcomes are fine, and I wonder whether OP is seeing “must keep up a formal biweekly schedule” as a duty when it’s really more of a loose guideline of how things *might* go.

        Is there anyone who organises the mentorship scheme that you could check in with, OP1? Generally things like this are done for the new starter’s benefit, and if she feels she’s not benefitting any more, then it might mean the relationship has reached a natural end rather than being something you need to Try Harder At.

        1. pancakes*

          My impression isn’t that the letter writer is reluctant to discuss her work but that she was and is taken aback by Jane treating these meetings as if she (Jane) has an equal say in their agenda and length.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Well yes. The mentee should have some say in what is discussed. After all, the mentor is there to help the mentee figure things out. If the mentor imposes the agenda, they may never cover the things that the mentee needs help on. it is possible that OP is not good at the mentoring thing — which is okay, not everyone is.

            But based on other things said in the letter like it is not just OP noticing Jane’s attitude, it is possible that Jane does not get the office norms and is not interested in learning them. There is supposed to be another higher up who is the mentor for more in depth things. I think OP needs to talk to this person and figure out if they can do a coordinated approach.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes I mentor a junior colleague and he absolutely had a right to table agenda items. For example he has some difficult meetings with a supplier coming up so asked to discuss tips and tricks for this situation. I talked about what had worked for me in the past and we ran through it.

              In my view mentoring needs to be a mutually beneficial thing.

              1. fhqwhgads*

                Yeah but I still think there’s a big difference between “can you talk to me about your work on X?” in an “I’m trying to get more info on that” way, and “enough about me, what about you?” If OP was quoting the mentee verbatim, the mentee seems to be coming at this from a very different angle than is expected in this scenario.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Shouldn’t she though? If the program is there for her to be able to ask questions and she doesn’t feel like she currently has anything she wants to talk about then sitting through another meeting until the end just because it’s blocked off on the calendar sounds odd to me.

            1. pancakes*

              I fully agree the meetings should be mutually beneficial, and that they shouldn’t last for a predetermined amount of time of neither party has things they want to talk about. At the same time, it seems self-evident to me that the mentee has been being brusque and clumsy, at best, and actively rude at worst, about trying to make these meetings mutually beneficial. It isn’t even clear whether she wants them to be or whether she wants to stop attending them instead.

            1. pancakes*

              Because she’s the mentee in this program and was assigned to the letter writer as such. The program isn’t, “you two employees will be taking turns mentoring one another.”

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                I would look at mentor programs opposite of you I feel like. I wouldn’t say she was assigned to the OP–I’d say OP was assigned to mentor her. The point of a mentor relationship is the benefit the mentee. If the mentee isn’t getting anything out of continuing the meeting then what’s the point?

                1. pancakes*

                  I think that’s just an alternate way of phrasing the same thing. They’re not direct peers in either construction. Either way, there are far better ways to express “these meetings aren’t benefiting me the way they’re meant to” than turning up late, being brusque, and leaving early. It is very odd to me that a handful of people seem to think it makes perfect sense. It seems quite clear from the letter that it hasn’t been good for Jane’s reputation.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think Jane wants LW to say, “Oh well I’m struggling with the Alpaca account – do you have any pointers for dealing with their misogynist buyer?”

          1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

            I had these issues at the beginning of my career and a lot of it came from having never been in a situation where bringing these types of issues up was encouraged/the raison d’être. I always assumed that any interaction with someone higher up the food chain was a negative interaction as that had been my only life experience.

            It took someone taking me aside an explaining the mentoring scheme used by that organization was meant to be a place not only of performance review *but also* a place to ask these questions that only institutional knowledge would know. But I wouldn’t have known this was what was expected until flatly being told.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              It’s the kind of question the scheme is set up for, but my feeling is that Jane thinks she and LW are supposed to be asking *each other* in an approximately symmetrical peer support relationship, rather than a traditional one-way mentorship.

      4. Green great dragon*

        I was a bit surprised they’re talking about Jane’s work in detail; our equivalent scheme (like most mentoring schemes in my experience) is more focused on how you approach work, office culture, that sort of thing, definitely including how one deals with meeting arrangements between peers. Like, Jane might say she’s really struggling with the hoof-polishing and expect you to tell her how to arrange training, but not report in detail about her work to a slightly more experienced peer.

        I’m with Jane on leaving meetings though. If you’re said what you need to, finish the meeting early and do something useful with the time!

      5. Daisy*

        Yes, if I were Jane these meetings would be the bane of my life. An informal peer contact who’s supposed to be there if I need help – but I can’t cancel, shorten the meeting or even ask them about their work?

        I’m a bit confused about the situation really. ‘It is supposed to be a casual and informal relationship, to establish a first relationship and get a sense of the company and have someone to go to for advice or tips’ sounds exactly like what I’m familiar with from a ‘peer mentor’ – but then how can it also be ‘not optional’ even after the first month? Usually these things taper off naturally. Surely it should be up to Jane whether she wants more contact? OP, are you sure you’ve understood correctly that regular half hour meetings are mandatory?

        1. 2ndYearHire*

          I’m also feeling that since Jane was already an intern at the company, she may feel like she has the same amount of experience as OP. This may add another “fun” dynamic to the relationship.
          I understand the goal of this but I think just introducing the newest hires to the hires with a year under their belt without anything required would be a more acceptable solution. Plus this puts unnecessary pressure on the still relatively new hires when they probably could use their time to focus on their own jobs.
          I’m saying this as a second year hire myself. I’m viewing the brand new hires more as direct peers since there are many things I’m still figuring out myself and we’re still going through it together.

          1. Selena*

            Good point about her having been an intern: she might feel a bit insulted she’s placed in the mentor-program with all the baby-hires.

            If it were not for other people apparently also having a problem with Jane’s timekeeping skills i would assume that OP2 is taking their own ‘senior’ position way to serious (‘i decide when we should meet’) and it is annoying Jane.

            OP2 definitely needs to be blunt to Jane: tell Jane it’s typically rude to call off meetings or sign out early without any ‘sorry, i have some urgent other thing’ explanation
            (‘typically’, because it is f.i. good sense to stop a meeting when everyone is done talking).
            But OP2 also behaves weird: bi-weekly for what seems like months is a strangely long time for such a mentorship, and Jane wanting to talk about OP2’s work is perfectely reasonable in a peer-mentorship

            1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

              I agree! This seems to be at least as much about Jane’s attitude and overall behavior – which is annoying others as well as the OP – as it is about Jane’s work. Jane is failing to grasp office / professional norms and is showing a low degree of emotional intelligence vis-a-vis her new colleagues. The OP should indeed run this by her supervisor; they need clarification re their own level of authority in regards to Jane. But allowing this to continue is doing Jane no favors; she’s on a path that will eventually have HER supervisor deciding that she’s more trouble than she’s worth!

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          Yes if she asks how your work is going, you can still tell her in a mentoring way rather than asking for advice from her way. She may have just been trying to establish more of a friendly tone.

      6. pancakes*

        Feeling rankled and choosing to wear those feelings on one’s sleeve are two different things, and it doesn’t appear Jane understands that. You don’t think there are more adept and professional ways to communicate those feelings besides turning up to meetings late, cutting her mentor off while she’s talking, and excusing herself early?

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’m seeing a lot of comments seemingly excusing Jane’s behaviour – maybe not intentionally, but that’s certainly how it comes across when there’s only talk about how this system is strange.

          And the thing is, it might well be that this whole thing is poorly thought out (or not! We aren’t there to judge!) or that Jane misunderstood the system’s structure and intent or that on top of her regular work this mentorship programme places an undue amout of stress on Jane or or or.

          But if that’s the case, she’s honestly dealing with it in the worst sort of way; you can be confused or insecure or even annoyed and think half the things you’re doing every day are a waste of time but you should try to deal with that professionally and not by unilaterally deciding that you’re simply not going to answer emails from your mentor or only show up to meetings if you please.

      7. katertot*

        Yep- I’ve been in many mentoring relationships and at no point do I expect as the mentee to talk about their work the ENTIRE TIME, in my experience a good mentor/mentee relationship (even if it’s a required one) is conversation around work from both parties- whether that’s from the mentor sharing learnings or updates that would be helpful, but I don’t expect the mentee/mentor to talk about the mentee’s work the entire time.

      8. Essess*

        Agreed. My company also has a peer mentoring program that continues throughout our career. We meet once a month and I discuss my work, any issues, and my interests for future training/duties/etc. My mentor then shares what she has been doing so I have an idea of future expectations in my role as my experience increases or possible duties that I could grow into. If my mentor has encountered any difficulties in a duty or working with another area, then my mentor explains how she worked through it so that I can learn by example. Information flows in both directions.

      9. Aquawoman*

        As a manager that has had a lot of new people over the past few years, I think a combination works well (which seems to be what they have –formal mentor, newer informal mentor). I’m the manager, I set the expectations and give the big picture. Peers are better at the day-to-day workings of the job because I don’t do that job and they do. More experienced peers can talk about substance well and less experienced peers still remember the stuff that tripped them up or they wish they knew earlier or the like. I manage professionals, so that matters, and it’s not an easy job to learn, so spreading it out is important (I had one guy who took up a ton of one of my other staff’s time with questions and hand-holding). That said, they don’t have that kind of meeting structure.

      10. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think I agree, the peer mentoring system sounds kind of odd and exhausting to me. I like the idea of it in theory if it were someone more like three years ahead of you, but I’ve never been one year into a job and felt like I knew anything yet! I really feel like I’d be a terrible resource at that point, especially *every two weeks.* I’m a little curious to know if Jane is like this with everyone or if she just doesn’t take this peer mentorship very seriously.

        But if this is the culture at their company then it would certainly be good to talk to Jane about it, especially if helping her understand the culture is specifically an aim of the peer program. But… yeah OP should definitely make 100% sure they understand how the program is supposed to work before they talk to Jane about it.

        1. Chris*

          Yes to all of this. Jane is being unprofessional. And, yet, as I read this all I could think was that I personally would not want to work at a company that made me be mentored by another junior staff in such a formal way. It seems like a huge waste of time and having to describe my work to someone other than my boss/team every couple of weeks would leave me feeling micromanaged. It may be that Jane just isn’t taking it seriously. My company has something like this but it is very casual and more about having someone to ask “Where are the pens?” and “What do I do if the timesheet software isn’t working?”

          All that said, if Jane is missing cultural things like getting to meetings on time or accepting them, I’d mention those things. I do, however, think it’s normal for a mentee to ask the mentor how they are doing and what they are up to. It’s another way of learning.

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

      I was thinking this too – who assigned you (OP) to work with Jane? Whoever you got the assignment from, it’s time to go back to them and let them know the mentoring doesn’t seem to be working out (with examples of Jane’s behaviour). The upside is I can’t see Jane lasting long at the company if her attitude is as obvious to everyone as it seems!

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        This! If she does last, would she be someone’s mentor the following year? What would they learn from her? Imagine an entire “Jane-tree” of people who come to meetings late, leave early, and don’t follow the agenda while they’re there!

      2. pancakes*

        I don’t think we can in fact conclude it isn’t working out because the letter writer has been hinting at what she wants to communicate to Jane about their workplace rather than being direct. It’s worth trying Alison’s advice.

  3. MissFinance*

    Removed — please don’t post off-topic questions here, but you can send it to me or post it on Friday’s open thread! – Alison

  4. Alfredo*

    #4 Clearly there are differences around the world about phones and required office equipment. I have never used my own phone for business phone calls – it means I am forever carrying two phones, but it also means I don’t give out my personal phone number to clients. My employers have always provided laptops, head sets, phones, and if also required, desks and chairs. They pay for my phone and internet expenses too. I can’t imagine it any other way.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah. My employer isn’t paying for my internet, but I have a work phone and a work computer. Only my boss and closest coworker have my personal contact info, because I never carry my work phone unless I’m traveling for work, or commuting to and from the office when I’m not WFH. So I need to have my manager’s work phone number in my own phone if I go on vacation and get so sick that I can’t return to work as expected.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I don’t mind using my personal phone to talk to my boss and coworkers, but if I had to communicate with customers or vendors, I would insist on getting a company-provided phone.

      (And failing that, I would begrudgingly buy myself a cheap burner phone.)

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I know many people who don’t have a work phone. However there is typically a set-up so that the calls forward to the phone (you don’t need to give out your personal number).

      Also, most people are offered IT support so that they can set it up so your phone doesn’t ring during out-of-office hours. Hell, my husband’s phone is set-up in a way that *all* his work-apps (slack, email, etc.) can be set to automatically ‘deactivate’ during his off-hours so he doesn’t receive notifications from them during those times. I honestly think that he signficiantly prefers that to when he had to carry two phones!

      Also most people I know who have work/personal phones have some of this paid for by work.

      OP – you have some very good standing to push back on some aspects of this, IMO.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Another thought – I don’t have a work phone, but my work laptop can make / receive phone calls.

      2. ecnaseener*

        You don’t have to give out your personal number this way, but if you call anyone back they will see your personal number. For awhile I used *67 to block my outgoing number on work calls, but no one picks up a blocked number. I eventually switched my work line to route to google voice instead of my real cell number, so if anyone calls me back on that line I’ll know it’s a work call.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          It can absolutely be set-up so that your personal number doesn’t show when you call back. That may vary by phone, but it can be done and OP/team should push for it.

          1. ecnaseener*

            All I can tell you is my team’s been asking about it since March 2020 and the only response was that we should use *67. And that we’ll eventually get voip/softphone on our computers.

      3. meagain*

        I don’t have a work phone either. Our workplace uses “Ring” and business calls ring through to your regular cell phone. You turn it off when you are not working/off the clock/unavailable. It also transcribes any voicemails left and forward a text of them to our work emails. No one has my personal number.

    4. londonedit*

      I don’t have a work mobile phone. I have a desk phone in the office, and since last March it’s been set up so that calls to that number will divert to my mobile phone. I don’t give my number out to work-related people – if they want to speak to me they can ring my work number or we can set up a Teams meeting. Some people I work with do use their own mobile phone, but it’s absolutely not an expectation. My employer provides a laptop and will now provide things to set up a good WFH environment, like a chair or an external keyboard or laptop stand up to a certain amount, but they don’t pay for my personal mobile phone and internet and nor would I expect them to!

    5. Selena*

      It may depend on the country, but i think it mostly depends on the company (and how rich and/or well-organized they are).
      When there’s less than a dozen employers a lot of things tend to be informal (using personal email, using personal phones, using your own computer) because the owner doesn’t want the hassle of setting up a proper HR system

    6. Bagpuss*

      I don’t have a work phone and would not give my number to clients. However, in lockdown we did (until we could get people’s desk phones from work to them) have an app when allowed calls to be made to and from our cellphones using the normal work number.
      The app settings meant you could turn it off out of hours and send any calls in that time to voicemail.

      I don’t think it incurred call costs.

  5. Julia*

    #2 – Jane sounds like a boor. Honestly, though, *I’d* rankle a bit at being “mentored” by someone a year into their very first job. That might be part of what’s making her act unprofessionally – she might be thinking “why is this person trying to manage me when they have all of one year on me?”

    Also, if your company characterizes these relationships as “casual and informal”, you may want to suggest rebranding them because that doesn’t sound accurate. Mandatory biweekly check-in meetings that sound like they last longer than half an hour and are explicitly restricted to discussing her work only? To me, “casual and informal” means every once in a while you stop by her desk and ask if she’d like to grab coffee and catch up, and you discuss your work too, since that’s part of her learning process.

    I definitely think Jane’s the problem here and Alison’s advice is right. I just also think your workplace norms are a little unusual and it might help to keep that in mind when course-correcting her.

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      That was my sense as well. Thinking back to my first year as a professional, I don’t think I would have found much value in a mentor only one year my senior. And I probably would have pushed back against multiple, lengthy, mandatory meetings with such a mentor.

      The way Jane is expressing her displeasure is all wrong, but I don’t think she would be wrong to ask her supervisor to discontinue formal meetings as part of the “informal” mentorship.

      1. Blaise*

        I think this is really interesting. My university required a lot of student-teaching-esque experiences. The very best experience I ever had in one of those was when I was paired with a first-year teacher. We worked as a team during my time there, instead of my other placements where experienced teachers just told me what to do and expected I would do everything their way because they knew best.

        My caveat would be is OP’s company making all new hires do this, or just people new to the working world? Because now that I’ve been teaching for 10 years, if I started at a new school and had to have a peer mentor (ESPECIALLY one who had only been teaching for a year!!) I would roll my eyes HARD. It would make me take a hard look at what else was going on there, and figure out quickly if it’s somewhere that I want to be.

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        Hmmm, when I think back to my first years in a corporate job, I actually found a huge amount of support and help (informal mentoring) from peers, especially peers with just a bit more experience. There were a lot of questions I was embarrassed to ask my boss or that my boss just didn’t know the answer to because she never had to get form XYZ through the system. So I really do see the value in something like the program that OP describes…but it sounds like Jane doesn’t, or doesn’t know how to use the resource she’s being offered.

      3. LizM*

        I found a ton of support from the people who were a year or two ahead of me in the fellowship program I was hired into. But we didn’t have a formal mentorship, it was more a standing coffee date once a month. I think something more formal would have been overkill.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, that’s a very good point!

      You can’t really mentor someone unless you also discuss your own job and the things you’ve learned that you think might be of use to the other person. This includes the norms of the office.

      The professional norms of mentoring are a bit different than those of other professional contacts, including those with your manager. If there’s no personal liking or trust between mentor and mentee, it’s just not going to work. Mentoring is supposed to be voluntary for both parties, with buy-in from both. It doesn’t look very much like that here. How long is this peer mentoring supposed to continue anyway? Until the next batch of college graduates is hired?

      I wouldn’t say these workplace norms are a little unusual, I’d say they’re downright weird. Don’t go into your next job expecting to be mentored in this formal way, LW. In many, if not most, cases, informal peer mentoring would mean simply having a more experienced peer who you can ask questions during your first few weeks or months on the job, until you get settled in, and who you might have informal meetings about the job a few times, say during lunch. In many jobs this happens organically, without anyone explicitly talking about peer mentoring. Certainly in all the office jobs I’ve ever had, a more experienced peer has shown me the ropes to start with, and I’ve done the same in my current job for three coworkers.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Your first point is good for OP to keep in mind if Jane tries to ask “how are YOU doing?” again. “Actually, I just had a really interesting meeting where X problem came up, I don’t know if you’ve encountered that yet but it turns out that Y can help in a lot of cases…”

    3. MistOrMister*

      Those meetings sounded like overkill to me. I mean my goodness, I don’t have that much time to meet with my direct supervisor that much and certainly wouldn’t be able to devote that much time to a peer mentor.

      I agree that it sounds like there are some problems on Jane’s end, but I also wonder if OP is maybe being more rigid than necessary. Goodness knows that a year into my first office job I was a stickler for some things where now they wouldn’t even register. Maybe the issues with Jane are more serious than they sound to me, but it could also be that OP might need to lighten up a little. I’ve found that a lot of things which seemed super serious when I first started office work are actually not that big a deal. And sometimes newer people are the most rigid about rules or norms which it turns out are not that important.

      1. Julia*

        This is a really good point. I think this is the same reason kids have more rigid social rules than adults (an explicit hierarchy of who’s “popular”) – the greener you are, the more you lean on the rules to get by. I was also more rigid about rules until I gained some work experience.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It sounds like it’s a way to help people adjust to the company — someone you can go to with small questions like “is it okay for me to attend the X meetings or are those invite-only?” or “how do people handle the unlimited vacation time — what are the unspoken rules around that?” That kind of thing can be really helpful when you’re new to a company.

      But I agree that biweekly meetings for that is a lot, and using them to talk about the mentee’s work in detail is surprising unless they do very similar jobs (in which case it might not be).

      1. Ariaflame*

        I do wonder what Jane’s mentor was like, and whether she is attempting to do the same thing that they had done to them?

      2. Julia*

        Yeah, your second paragraph. It’s not that being paired with someone a year above you is all that weird, period. I’ve seen that done. My point is more that the formality of *this* mentoring process and the degree to which it seems to be about checking up on Jane, rather than Jane getting to ask any questions she has when she wants to, seems like something I’d resist by someone a year senior to me. If it sounded more like Jane asking “how do you handle unlimited vacation time?” it’d be a different story.

      3. Retro*

        I took biweekly to mean that they’re having meetings every 2 weeks which isn’t a unreasonable frequency. I realize now that maybe they’re taking place twice a week which is indeed way too often than is productive.

        1. TexasTeacher*

          The OP says every two weeks, so I think your first conclusion was correct. Thing is, they’re only a month into this; how many encounters have they had? There’s the conversation in which Jane asked the OP how they were, and the meeting Jane ended early. And the scheduling attempts, but the first month of a job is really hectic sometimes. Maybe the OP will find a standing time that works best pretty soon, and maybe decide on a few things she really thinks will help a person a month in, and talk about those.

    5. TechWorker*

      We have a similar setup in my company, although the mentor is on the same team and sits next to the mentee – so you wouldn’t tend to have formal catch up meetings as the mentor is quite involved kind of all the time. In most cases the mentor is someone who’s been there a couple of years or more but someone who is particularly good at their job may be asked to mentor after a year. Acting like ‘why is this person trying to manage me when they have all of one year on me’ in that situation would be extremely unprofessional and also easily answered :p (they’ve been asked to mentor, they’re very good, you as a total newbie do not really have any useful opinions on their work yet).

    6. Carlie*

      Yes, it looked to me not like Jane is being unprofessional, simply taking “casual and informal” to mean what it usually does: chats and questions and workplace buddies. Especially if she also has a formal mentor! I think it would be more clear to everyone if your office relates and recategorizes these as formal mentorships, if they require regular meetings directed at feedback in this way.

    7. hbc*

      Yeah, it really sounds like the worst of all mentoring worlds. It would be lovely to actually have something casual and informal where the meetings are scheduled at the beginning (when a newbie might feel too intimidated to interrupt), but then it should be more casual once everyone is comfortable with each other. “Hey, Jane, heads up, the event notice makes a point to say it’s optional, but in practice it’s pretty much expected to attend” or “OP, got some time this week? Boss gave me some confusing feedback and I want a second opinion on how to take it.”

      But it really sounds like OP is (trying to) act more like a manager, with feedback on timeliness and review of work product and biweekly meetings. I’m not sure whether it’s OP’s take on the role or explicitly designed in the system, but I think it’s a terrible setup, especially for someone who’s been working there for a year and doesn’t need to be told most of the new person info. I’m really curious what value these meetings are adding in this specific situation.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I feel like this system needs clearer delineations between “buddy system” and “mentoring”–it sounds like neither Jane nor, really, the OP are clear on what this is supposed to be. The OP doesn’t have standing to give feedback but also doesn’t seem to know that she should, then, take these concerns to whoever does, which is a communication fail that isn’t going to serve anyone.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes definitely. My company gives new people a buddy to help them settle in. They’re there to answer questions about practicalities, how the printer works and where the best coffee shop is. The sort of thing you may not want to ask your boss. Some people from a friendship with their buddies but a lot dont.

        This is different from mentoring which is more about helping people with their career and dealing with work issues. Mentoring is much more of a voluntary thing people do for themselves.

        It’s critical for people to know what the expectations are at the outset I think.

    9. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad system – When I was in my first post-university job that’s how it worked. It does sound however as though there maybe needed to be better introduction and explanation as to the system and expectations of both parties at the outset, and possibly that the term ‘mentor’ is a bit misleading.

      It may be that Jane expected someone more senior nd perhaps more in line with a traditional mentor and that’s feeding into how she is acting.

      But I think in any event Alison is right that Op needs to be more direct in clarifying what the expectations are – she may only have a year’s seniority but it sounds as though this is a task she has been given by her employer and that Jane is expected to work with her, and part of OPs responsibility is to follow the instructions she has from her boss, whether or not Jane thinks they are a good use of her time.

    10. Joielle*

      I was a “mentor” for a new hire after only a year in my position, but it truly was very informal – it was mostly to give the new hire a sort of default person to go to with questions. And if I couldn’t answer them, we’d go to a more experienced coworker and ask the question together so we could both learn. I did answer some questions about general office norms and procedures, though, and I think it was good to get that off my boss’ plate. And I reassured the new hire that the learning curve is steep but you’ll catch on, etc – the kind of thing it is helpful to hear from another still-pretty-new person.

      But yeah, I certainly did not consider myself any sort of expert on anything complicated or give career advice or try to make it a formal thing. That would have been awkward given my level of (in)experience.

    11. matcha123*

      But Jane knew what she was getting into. Obviously this is a mentorship set up by the company, not the OP just waking up one morning and declaring herself Jane’s mentor.
      If Jane doesn’t like it, she can leave. Behaving unprofessionally isn’t winning her any points.

  6. Cassie*

    LW #2 – I’m a big fan of being direct and just simply telling Jane what she needs to do differently. A lot of us try to be super polite & courteous and end up not being all that clear. I’m also not a fan of the notion that we can’t “tell” other people what to do at work, even when it’s “work-related”, like filling out a form – if someone is filling out the form incorrectly, I’m going to point out what needs to be changed so they can correct it (and hopefully remember next time). It might be “nicer” & less awkward to just fix it for them and not say anything to the person, BUT then that person will never know that they are doing it wrong. It’s actually much kinder to just let them know so they can make the correction (whether it’s on a form or about their behavior).

    Of course, the person could be intentionally or carelessly doing something wrong – but at least then you’ll know based on how they react when you tell them.

  7. Another*

    OP2 if Jane is missing the meetings so regularly, it may be because she sees no value in them. Sometimes it’s hard to separate that from seeing no value in you personally although it is most likely the meetings she is seeing no value in not you personally. I agree with what Alison has said especially the ‘stop hinting’ bit as if you are only hinting when she has actual questions that need answering, it might not be as helpful as it could be.

    It’s also a bit inconsistent and unusual (for your organisation) that it is supposed to be informal and relationship building but she is ‘required’ to be there every 2 weeks and has a formal mentor as well. It’s hard to tell from your letter, but are you taking a passive role and expecting her to give a report about how she is tracking and then commenting or are you actively asking questions that will help her do her job eg. Do you have all the IT tools you need, How is the workload, is there anyone who is holding things up that you rely on to do your job etc. Helping someone navigate the office politics and letting them know who the actual decision makers are is invaluable help but I’m not sure if this kind of thing is within your ambit or not (and if it’s not, I can see why she might get frustrated)

    I would also suggest point blank asking her what she would find helpful to get out of these meetings in addition to whatever your organisation says, what kind of info would help as that might make her feel more engaged. She is far more likely to respond well to your comments about her manner etc if she feels she is personally involved and valued and it’s not a mandated meeting that she must turn up to no matter what. You might also ask for some guidance from your organisation and see if they have eg a list of the kinds of things that you would be expected to cover in case these things are also being covered by her formal mentor.

    Good luck!

    1. Office Lobster DJ*

      +1, especially to your last paragraph. I think this is the way to go about it. As many of us have speculated, it could be that Jane is prickling at having someone with only a few months’ more of experience being a mentor. Or they could have vastly different ideas about the dynamic. Or Jane could be a jerk. Or LW2 could be coming on too strong. Impossible to know, but what seems clear to me is that, whatever the cause, if LW2 leans too hard on an authority angle and telling Jane What’s What Around Here, it is likely to backfire.

      Instead, I think LW2 would be better off naming the behavior she’s seeing and asking Jane what she wants. “Jane, you’ve got a track record of flaking on these meetings, and I don’t want to waste your time or mine. However, we’re expected to meet for X time, so after we cover Y expected thing, how do you want to use it?”

    2. Cold Fish*

      I was confused as to the informal/casual description of the mentee program vrs the description of the incredibly formal process the OP is describing. A big question for me is if this biweekly, hour long meeting (that is reserved for only talking about Jane) process coming from the company or coming from the OP? I’m getting the strong impression that the OP is trying to act more like Jane’s manager than a mentor, and as someone else commented, treating these meetings more like an informal performance review than a place for Jane to ask questions and get help navigating the company culture.

      If that is the case, I can definitely relate to Jane. As someone who tends to shut down rather than confront, it would be in my nature to avoid and cut short these meetings if the only “benefit” I’m getting is being judged and corrected. OP would be the last person I would be going for advice or assistance if I were Jane.

      Personally, I don’t think OP should bring up the meeting issue, talk to Jane’s manager, or anything else. If Jane is blowing off people, cutting short meetings and behaving unprofessionally to the point of being office gossip, there is not much OP can do as a “mentor” and it is up to Jane’s manager to address the behavior issues.

      If the problem is simply a personality miss-match or a fundamental misunderstanding of the intent of the peer mentorship program than the best thing for both the OP and Jane would be space and dissolution of this mentorship relationship. Continuation of the relationship is just going to continue to sour both OP and Jane’s opinions of each other.

  8. Engineer Woman*

    For #1: I certainly wouldn’t say that countering would be ungrateful, but it’s not always possible to negotiate a promotion. I think it depends on the promotion. For example, if a Level 1 teapot inspector is being promoted to Level 2, or from Level 2 to Senior teapot inspector, many times it’s because the employee has grown in responsibilities and capabilities and are essentially functioning at that higher level when promoted. In these cases, companies might have a set salary increase. Whereas asking if you will take on a new role with increased responsibilities or management role where you could conceivably decline the “promotion” (not everyone wants to manage people), that pay increase ought to be negotiable.

    1. MK*

      It’s not that you must always negotiate a raise with a promotion; if you know that the salary for the new position is not flexible in your organization, or the raise is very satisfactory as offered, etc, you shouldn’t negotiate just to do it.

    2. Web of Pies*

      Years of reading this site make me know the answer to this would be “yeah you can negotiate,” so I would have loved to hear Allison’s take on what the heck you SAY to someone in the moment when they tell you you should be “grateful” for the job/promotion/compensation. I guess just pivot the conversation to increased responsibilities meaning increased compensation? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Lab Boss*

        Yup. I’m in line for a promotion. I’m grateful, in a personal sense, to my boss for being a good mentor and supporting me having confidence in me and helping me thrive and grow in my role. Precisely zero percent of that matters to what I should be paid.

      2. AnonPi*

        I had a former manager pull this on me during our yearly meeting when we’re told what our COL increase will be (slight variation from 1-2%) and discuss a promotion if we are getting one (rather rare). I was already unhappy because she informed me that even though I’d taken on extra work for at least year already, it’d be another year or more before they could promote me because they need “proof” that I will do the extra work well enough to deserve a promotion (more like they got cheaper labor out of me).

        Then we got to the COL increase, and after she gave me the slip of paper with what I’d be getting I said thanks. Then she said I didn’t seem very grateful about my “raise” she worked to get me. I don’t recall exactly what I said, I think something along the lines that I’m glad the company gives everyone a COL increase. I made sure to not call it a raise (because it wasn’t) or thank her for her “work” to get me it because she did nothing (HR does the COL adjustments). The room temp dropped about 20 degrees by that point and ended the meeting. Our very new middle manager sat in on the meeting (because they’ll often do the COL stuff) and asked me what the hell had happened afterwards, lol

        1. Lab Boss*

          Oof. A manager trying to sell a standard company-mandated improvement as some big personal favor is just the worst. When I was a baby Lab Tech I fully believed my boss had gone out of his way to get me a new computer- before the IT guy laughed at me and told me they just rotate them out on a schedule, and all my boss did in the process was confirm I existed.

        2. RecentlyRetired*

          Yeah, the thing is that your manager might have had to “work” to get you the COL increase though. As a low level manager in a big corp, I was given a budget of 0%-4% for annual increases for my direct reports. I had zero input as to what that percentage was: it was decided on the highest levels in the corp and depended on company circumstances. Your manager might have had to “go to bat” for you with her manager to get you even as much as 1%. Sucks for everyone, and I understand not feeling grateful for such a small increase. But “cost of living” increases are definitely not guaranteed.

    3. Smithy*

      In many many workplaces, it’s correct that it’s not possible to negotiate. And that can be either because of policy or will.

      In the case of will, it may not be as basic as a boss not wanting to – but rather a boss being aware that an attempt to get an increased salary for a recently approved promotion will require expending capital that they want to save for departmental budget asks or another team member’s upcoming raise/promotion. Therefore it ends up appearing like a defacto policy of not being able to negotiate on promotions, until someone turns down a promotion and gives their two-week notice or manages to show extreme gender pay gap. In both cases, the boss’ will is differently motivated and there is a willingness – but it does require that far far stronger case than simply “I’d like to negotiate a raise of $5k-10k more based on the expected duties”.

      A boss saying that it’s policy or very difficult to negotiate at Llama Grooming during a promotion is reasonable, if a bummer. However, what’s concerning about the OP’s boss is that phrases like being ungrateful I think get used instead of explaining those disappointing but understandable lack of will reasons. There’s limited opportunities for more concrete learning about an employer or a sector and how to advance.

      1. Lab Boss*

        Very true about the boss expending capital. As a boss I’ve been in a similar-ish situation recently, where I simply didn’t HAVE the leverage to get an employee what they wanted, even though I thought their ask was reasonable. In the end they gave notice and suddenly the powers that be did all the “impossible” things they refused to do before, and retained the employee. I hate the politics dance that makes it work that way.

  9. manager to be*

    #1 is super timely for me! I’m in the process of discussing a promotion with my manager and expecting to get a formal offer in the next few weeks, and I’m trying to gear myself up to see it as a negotiable business discussion rather than a personal favor to me. Pay scales are internally visible at my org, which is great, but I’ve always been at the bottom of the scale for my roles. It does feel a little more awkward than negotiating a new job offer, because there’s no chance I’m going to turn down the offer entirely and stay in my current role if the pay raise isn’t as much as I think it should be.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      If the promotion is a personal favor bestowed upon me, I would rather skip the promotion and instead take a raise as my personal favor.

      1. Paulina*

        If the promotion doesn’t come with a pay raise, what sort of “favour” is it? You now have a better title to put on your CV for when you look for a job that will pay you more?

      2. Nicotena*

        Yeah honestly promotions are often double-edged swords! Even when they come with a raise it may not be enough to cover the extra stress and hours some manager positions have, so employers can stop with the noblesse oblige act if you ask me. I’d rather have a raise too.

  10. CatBookMom*

    WAY back in the 1970s, my then employer CPA boss told me my per-hour charge would be raised $9/hr (nearly 33%), so I should bear that in mind, because of the hourly rate being charged to clients, while doing my work. I came back with ‘why is my salary not reflecting that rise?’ I got a raise, but more like $1/hr. Song and dance about extra added-on cost of doing business for the firm, yada.
    Shortly afterward, I was at family thing and spoke of this with my auntie, my best-loved auntie, the most-business related of my kinfolk, who scolded me for my presumption. “If you’re doing well, your supervisors will * of course* be giving you raises.”
    Oh, boy! did she not know about even the 1970s, vis-a-vis employers, employees.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Based on popular culture, negotiating (or at least asking for) a raise was very much a thing. I am thinking of Dagwood Bumstead and Mr. Dithers.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Regarding hourly charge out rates (because I get a lot of questions about these) – the organization never gets the full rate for all work billed. I have people come to me and insist that we can pay them more because their billing rate is X times their salary… (a) we don’t get that amount for every hour they bill – there are write-downs/write-offs, rate discounts, and people who’s billable hours are low and (b) factoring in benefits and overhead costs per employee eats up a lot of the billable rate. I get really detailed billing reports from our finance department, and even the strongest billers on the list don’t have even a 90% recovery rate.

      When I was first promoted into a larger management role over a decade ago, the head of HR was a lady who was definitely stuck in the 70s/80s and thought I should be grateful for the opportunity. They lowballed the promotion increase AND didn’t honor the specific title we’d discussed… if I knew then what I know now, I’d have negotiated better as it was an enormous amount more responsibility and the second team I was given was a hot mess. I am fortunate that she left a year or two later, and the new HR person and my generally pretty fabulous boss fixed the title and the salary issues quickly. But I didn’t know enough to advocate for myself at the time, and, had I done so, I think old HR lady would have been horrified and made a pretty dramatic show of telling me what a professional faux pas I’d committed.

  11. Nia*

    2. If the mentorship was described to Jane the way it is in the first paragraph of the letter I’m not surprised she’s acting this way. Its described as a casual and informal mentorship that gives Jane someone to go to for questions and tips. I would take that to mean OP would casually and briefly check in sometimes or if Jane had questions she’d go to the OP. I’d also take any meeting requests as optional, as if Jane has nothing she needs to ask/discuss with OP why would the meeting need to happen, especially when Jane also has a formal mentor to discuss her work with instead.

    1. katkat*

      Hah, your comment made me think that perhaps both lw and jane are dropping eachother hints and wondering why the other person is so thick. :D

      It’s very likely that you are seeing this relationship very differently, and thats why you treat it very differently. So it’s all the more reason to have direct conversation with jane. And maybe talk to your own manager first and get clear expectations from her, how does the company see the mentoring in practise.

      Good Luck!

    2. SomehowIManage*

      Early in my career a more senior person on my team was asked by our boss to mentor me. Unfortunately, the boss never told me that. I thought it a little strange that this guy kept checking in with me, and frankly I think I was a little defensive…
      It’s all part of the general cringe I feel when I look back on my career. Luckily, I’ve pulled it together since then!

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I was thinking the same thing – if Jane isn’t someone who picks up on social cues (which may be the case, since the OP mentioned how things went in her internship), she may not be aware that “casual / informal” means “we meet on a regular basis and discuss your work”. Frankly, that seems the opposite of “casual” to me.

      Personally, in the OP’s shoes, I would make sure to spell out the parameters and expectations of the mentoring program, and would be quite direct with Jane about expectations.

      (Having just done something similar with a manager and an employee who clearly did not understand each other, I’m a big fan of making expectations very clear and concrete.)

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’m wondering if OP was asked to make it a far more formal than normal process because Jane was described as “lacking in professional norms” and just nobody told Jane?

  12. Andy*

    > once as we were discussing her work, she cut me off and said, “But enough about me, how are YOU doing?” even though the whole meeting is supposed to be about her work!

    I mean, they are supposed to be casual and informal you said. This sounds casual and informal. I think it was a failed attempt to reciprocate, react in social way and not to have conversation monopolized. To be frank, these bi-weekly meetings are a bit puzzling to me, never seen anything like that. But, it might be good idea to talk also about what you do and other people in org do.

    I never had mentorship relationship, never really seen it, and the whole concept strikes me as odd. But, hearing about other people work/career was super useful to me in the past. It allows you to predict what will be going on in situations, understand what is going on, make decisions. Someone telling me how to do thing less so I think.

    All in all, it seems to me that she does not perceive your meetings as super serious thing where you will teach the things. Quite possibly, she does not see big value in it or does not understand why she should attend these bi-weekly.

    1. Andy*

      > In this instance, though, nothing new came up for Jane, she just decided she was done. At my office you typically don’t do that if the meeting is scheduled for a certain slot ahead of time. Plus these meetings aren’t optional for her!

      To state the personal preference, imo, if we said it all, it should be ok to end the meeting. In fact, it should be a norm to end meeting once the meeting goal was reached. I get that Jane was in different social situation, but forcing meetings full length when there is nothing to do, is a rule that should be questioned.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes I agree – continuing a meeting until the end of the allotted slot when there is nothing more that needs to be discussed is an odd thing to be teaching a new member of staff – maybe it is how it happens in your office, but it seems ok to question that, and for an informal, peer mentoring session to be allowed to work differently
        I also agree with the other commentators – in my experience peer mentoring has been most successful as an informal “buddy system” for a new starter to ask all the questions they might feel awkward about asking their manager, in order to settle in. it wouldn’t continue ad infinitum, only for as long as it is helpful.
        Is your company clear on what this mentoring role is for? As, OP2, you and Jane seem to have different ideas about it – is there a policy somewhere? Are other peer mentors in the company working in the same way? I also wondered if you had your own mentor, someone to mentor your mentoring; do you have someone who can advise and support you with this? It seems clear you want to do a good job and to help Jane in her time in the company, but it sounds like it is already getting a bit frustrating for both of you, only a month in, so doesn’t seem a sustainable relationship

    2. londonedit*

      The way mentoring works where I work is that it very much comes from the mentee’s side – people can choose a mentor from a list of people who have signed up, and then it’s all about the mentee leading things to get the most out of the relationship. Each mentoring scheme only lasts three or four months, and the idea is that you’ll check in maybe every three weeks or whatever makes sense. The mentee sets goals for things they want to learn about or improve, and the mentor is there to offer support and advice for them to do this. The mentor is absolutely not a manager or a teacher or any sort of authority figure, their role is to give the benefit of their own experience and knowledge to help the mentee grow in their own role.

      I agree that it’s possible Jane thinks this mentoring arrangement is meant to be very casual and informal, and doesn’t really understand the OP’s biweekly meeting requests and attempts at formal conversations. If the OP is only a year older than Jane, she might also feel like it’s meant to be a collaborative sort of thing rather than a formal mentor/mentee relationship. So I definitely think it’s worth talking to Jane and/or Jane’s boss to clarify what this relationship is supposed to entail.

    3. SomehowIManage*

      My boss/mentor would never respond when I asked about her, always turning the conversation back to me. For me to build a relationship of trust, I needed to get to know her better too—that’s simply part of my process. Eventually she opened up, and I found it useful to learn from her experiences, in addition to discussing mine.

  13. Covid Cassandra*

    Just had a look at Google Voice as my work phone has died and I won’t get a replacement (moved roles). You do not appear to be able to set this up for free in the UK, maybe outside the USA, full stop.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yeah, Google voice is a US thing specifically (free or paid), but once you’ve got it registered to a US number you can use it internationally.

          If you’re outside the US you’d need to look for a different VOIP system – the details would depend on your country.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      You may be able to get a number set up with Skype. I’m in the UK and haven’t set up a Skype phone number, but it does show up as a potential option in my account.

    2. Call me maybe*

      Does anyone have suggestions for non-Google Voice options for those of us outside the US? I’ve been looking for an option in Canada. It also seems you can have only one Google Voice number tied to an account, which can be an issue. And Skype numbers aren’t available in Canada :(

    1. Purple Cat*

      I despise the expectation of “Gratefulness” when it comes to employment and other issues. Dollars to donuts the LW is a woman (and bonus points if they’re part of an additional minority group too).

  14. TechWorker*

    Does (/should?) the answer to number 1 apply everywhere? In my company (huuuge corporation) promotions and pay rises are done all at the same time, it’s a slow process and budgets have to be approved many, many levels up before the whole thing is signed off and people can be told what they’re getting. I don’t *feel* like there’s any room for negotiation there at all because it all seems pretty formal – but perhaps I am missing something (or, literally missing out on more money…)

    (NB in this scenario promotions tend to be along the same track/getting paid properly for a job you’re already basically doing, Eg there’s no way someone would have a management promotion sprung on them without it being discussed first – though I’m not aware of anyone wanting to talk money in that situation. For promotions/transfers where someone is moving team or role more drastically I could imagine there is more flexibility/chance to discuss salary).

    1. Apples*

      Same here. By the time the pay rises are given out, they’ve been through layers upon layers of ‘leadership’ and ‘budget’ and they absolutely will not discuss it. You can’t negotiate beforehand, they’ll refuse to even discuss a ballpark figure. Then at the end of the year one person delivers your performance feedback, a different person delivers your new pay figure, and each one claims not to know anything about the other! It’s bizarre and very frustrating!

      1. TechWorker*

        Okay so at least where I am the person telling you your pay rise is either doing the performance review themselves or managed who does your performance review.. but the rest sounds very similar.

        As a pretty junior manager I have a *bit* of visibility into this in that I know I can’t give ballpark figures until everything is fully approved (Incase idk budgets have to be slashed at the final minute?? Idk). I also know from my mgrs mgr that they *do* want to give out the best raises possible.. what that means in practice is spending every penny of the budget they are allocated and thus -> no room for negotiation. So.. I don’t think it’s *bizarre* as such, but it’s not helpful and it’s difficult to know if you’re being short changed.

    2. MistOrMister*

      My firm doesn’t really give room for negotiation either. Sometimes they just randomly change your job and give you a sheet telling you what your new (higher) pay is. Any time you get promoted it’s already been hashed out and is given to you as de facto, with no choice to discuss on your end. And raises….fuggedaboutit! They do a percentage and if you are getting a raise, thats what it will be. Regardless of what you make. In the past they’ve maxed out at 2%. Which….is not a lot. If you’re making 40k, 2% is really not a lot at all. Ditto if you’re maling 70k, but ESPECIALLY when you’re maling below 50k. It makes it almost impossible to stay at the firm and work your way up money-wise. Maybe it would be negotiable, but not from what I’ve heard.

      1. The OTHER other*

        I worked at someplace like this years ago, raises were called “merit raises” but in reality rarely stayed apace with inflation. Promotions from the lowest rung to the next were not common and raises for them were low also. Most mid to upper promotions were from outside the company, it was oddly as though someone became more valuable after they left and came back, solely because of that. I was an exception that got a good bump moving to aa new role but even there it was presented as a final figure, the culture definitely discouraged negotiation.

    3. doreen*

      No , it doesn’t apply to every “promotion” – and I put promotion in quotes because sometimes “promotion” means you start doing a new job, like being promoted from Teapot Specialist to Teapot Supervisor and sometimes it means you are doing basically the same job with a new and slightly different title and pay rate , like going from Teapot Specialist 1 to Teapot Specialist 2. I’ve known lots of people who can’t negotiate pay in the second type of promotion.

      1. TechWorker*

        To be clear at my company teapot specialist to teapot supervisor also wouldn’t be negotiable, in reality you’ve likely already been coached into the role prior to a formal promotion occurring. (And you are told about it, no-one is surprised to be told from next month they will have direct reports).

        I don’t know what happens for teapot specialist to cutlery analyst because I’ve never made that kind of move, but I imagine that would be more of a formal hiring process with interview etc & thus possibly chance to negotiate. But yea – I’ve never interviewed or had much opportunity to negotiate my promotions and my job has definitely changed a lot.

        1. doreen*

          There is really no such thing as negotiating at my employer either – but that’s because it’s a unionized government agency that has very rigid salary rules. Really rigid- for example, if I get a two grade promotion my new salary will be either the 1) bottom of the grade for the new title or 2) an increase in my old salary of 1.5% for the promotion and 1.5% for each grade (4.5%) whichever is greater. The only sort-of negotiation that ever happens is when someone gets “promoted” and negotiates keeping their old title officially and using an acting title because the new job actually pays less than the old one ( this only applies to very high level jobs where the salary is set by statute)

    4. BRR*

      I think a lot of times an internal promotion is set up as “here’s your new job and here’s the salary for it” which doesn’t give you as natural of an opening to negotiate a higher salary. But people should feel free to say “I’d actually like to discuss the salary for this role.” You’ll have to work a little harder to bring salary up, but just because it feels like you can’t bring it up doesn’t mean you can’t actually bring it up.

      1. Nicotena*

        Also depending on your workplace, while it can be hard to turn down the new role, and you may be putting your whole career path on a weird track – it may also be very possible! Maybe not in a more formal government style system where steps are based on criteria (it’d be weird to say you don’t want to go to the next step I think) but in my current org folks have certainly declined promotions and been successful. One even accepted the same promotion later, when the timing was better for her.

    5. Me*

      No I think it’s employer dependent.

      I work for local government and there is a set pay raise for promotions based on percentages and paygrades you went up. It’s built into the HR rules and it is very much not ever up for debate. That said, because it’s a set formula, anyone can easily calculate what their new pay would be when considering whether to take a promotion.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      It does some like there could be different expectations as far as a “promotion” that is an increase in title and pay for the work you have already grown into, versus a promotion to a different position with new responsibilities.

  15. Random commenter on Ask a Manager*

    #4. My company has a “soft” phone thru the computer. It’s the same number as my desk phone and rings just like my desk phone only I don’t have access to the desk phone since we are working from home. They don’t need to forward calls and I don’t need to make calls with my cell.

    1. Deborah*

      My company has this too, but there’s an app you can put on your phone if you want. I use it more for the instant messaging because I find it useful to be able to see my instant messages during the day if I’m, say, in the line at the pharmacy on lunch and it’s taking a long time, I can message my coworker that I’m running late. Thus my cell phone rings when my office line rings – but the software has office hours in the settings, outside of which it doesn’t ring, and you can set yourself as do not disturb or sign out of the app and it won’t ring or notify of messages.

  16. Friendly Neighbourhood IT Person*

    #4 I agree with all the softphone recommendations but also wanted to suggest setting up active hours, most managed PBX’s have the ability to set this up so if you aren’t expected to be on call and work standard hours this could be something to raise with IT.

    It’s also pretty common to be able to get a mobile client app which means that the calls are actually handled through the client so that might also be an option. This is also a good option if your workplace records calls as when the calls are transferred to your mobile carrier the recording feature is lost.

  17. hamsterpants*

    #3 — I have helped a spouse job-search. We also fell into a dynamic of running EVERYTHING by me, stuff I had no reason to know better than he did, stuff where Google is your friend, stuff specific to his industry and not mine. You might check out Captain Awkward for advice maintaining boundaries. In addition to having a conversation where you call out the dynamic to him, it’s important to know where your own boundaries lie so if he tries to get around them you can promptly stop it. Job searching can be really stressful and he might be defaulting to having you do all the tricky decision-making, i.e. emotional labor, to spare himself from it.

  18. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP3: oh my sympathies as I engage the rallying cry of every single IT engineer to their friends and family: ‘no I will not fix your PC!’

    It is hard to explain that something I get paid to do all day isn’t something I want to do full time for free at home as well. I need a break! Please interact with me as your friend/your wife/your sister/your daughter and not as your IT consultant.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      In the case of a spouse who is job-hunting, this might also be part of a larger conversation about where both spouses are looking in terms of career goals, financial goals, and relationship goals, all of which are intertwined. Everything will be a bit easier if they can get on roughly the same page, and the job-counseling spouse can issue reminders like “remember how we talked about how one of my goals was work-life balance? Let’s set aside an hour on the weekend to talk about this, but right now I need to watch Ted Lasso.”

      1. Sleepless*

        …and I really cannot handle all 650 of my Facebook friends and all of THEIR friends messaging me with “Hey, Sleepless, can I ask you a quick vet question?” [as we covered in a letter awhile back]. People don’t think twice about stuff like this!

      2. InsufficientlySubordinate*

        Nobody fixes printers. Printers either cooperate or don’t at random because they’re evil. Hell is searching an endless hall of printers for one that 1) works at all, 2) doesn’t print out randomly in binary, and 3) doesn’t have somebody else standing at it staring and saying “I don’t know what Jammed Page means.”

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I’ve been doing IT for over 20 years now and I still groan whenever I hear a printer make a noise that I don’t like. I’ll gladly scrub the server room clean before I fix a printer.

        2. Caboose*

          90% of tech repair is just getting someone to come over and intimidate the machine into working.

          Printers do not know the meaning of the word fear.

    2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

      Yes – I also thought Alison’s accounting example was good too. Even when one is not a tax preparer, the well-meaning questions and requests for help from friends and family during tax time can get quite burdensome.

      Even my husband, with whom I file a joint return and have a highly invested reason to talk about Accounting Things! has bugged me during my working hours about Accounting Things. Every time I’m like “dude, a corporation is paying me the big bucks to answer their accounting questions right now. I’ll focus on our thing tonight ok?”

    3. AKchic*

      Yep. Learned Helplessness is a huge issue in my house. We are divorcing partially because of it.
      There’s only so much time you can spend fixing other people’s “problems”. Start tracking the amount of time being spent on the spouse’s requests, and the actual requests. Are these easily solvable by themself, but they’d rather take the easier path and have you do it? Are they tasks that are secretarial or they feel aren’t within their skill-set and aren’t wanting to learn? I cannot describe how many resumes I have had to retype, fix, etc. because my ex decided to *pay* someone to redo his (while we were broke!) and they screwed it up, or he chose to redo/add to it himself and messed up the formatting and didn’t run a spellcheck. I refuse to do anymore networking on his behalf to help him find better jobs. He’s burned me on more than one occasion by skipping interviews, bombing interviews, not showing up for jobs, absenteeism, etc.

      Sometimes, the best gift we can give a person is independence.

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

    #4 maybe your employer could look at an app. My work has an app from the phone system that you can put on your phone and then you just sign in to the phone when it’s your office hours. The great thing is the number that shows when you call back is the office phone.
    How does your employer deal with that? Like if you call a clue t back are you supposed to block your number or something? I would push back if you can.

  20. Little Miss Sunshine*

    #4 My company has a softphone app, where we can login on our company owned device and it rings exactly like our desk phone.

  21. Coffee Needed*

    Regarding letter #1, where I work (large, global organization) it would be seen as wildly out of touch to negotiate salary for an internal promotion. When promotions are offered, the salary is a standard percentage above what you’re already making and are dictated by which band you’re coming from and moving into. With my last promotion, I didn’t even receive my new salary until I was two weeks into role due to a hold up in HR who generates the paperwork. My company generally pays fairly and competitively so I’m not aware it’s ever been an issue for anybody but I can’t imagine someone turning down a promotion due to salary, I think they’d be blacklisted for life!

    1. Anya Last Nerve*

      Same here. I’ve only heard of one instance where someone attempted to hardball negotiate a raise (he’d only been there for 6 months and was being promoted as the result of a departure and was demanding a significant raise). Raises in such a short period of tenure were not allowed. Guy didn’t take the promotion and damaged his relationship with his manager, and when layoffs came along a couple of years later, he was let go.

      1. Napkin Thief*

        To be honest, this scenario confuses me. Regardless of why the promotion became available, if he was going to be doing the work of that position, why should how long he was at the company have anything to do with his pay reflecting his new position? Unless the raise he was demanding was completely out of step with the band for that position, I don’t see why he should have been expected to take on more responsibility without more pay.

  22. DCAnon*

    My old job had a similar set-up to LW2’s, but the staff a year into the job weren’t “mentors” for the new hires, they were “ambassadors.” It was by design very informal; if you were a new hire’s ambassador, you’d to help escort the new person into the building on their first day, take them out to lunch/coffee, and introduce them to the team when everyone was in the office. You also helped make sure the new person was adjusting to the office after their first few weeks and served as a point of contact for any questions they may have, but the new hire’s supervisor was responsible for more formal/scheduled check-ins.

  23. Junior Assistant Peon*

    OP 1 – If your attempt at negotiation fails, don’t turn down the promotion, but do the higher-level job for a couple of years and plan your exit. It’ll help you get a job at a higher level of responsibility (and more money) when you move on.

  24. Anya Last Nerve*

    I thought Alison said previously that if using your cell phone for work didn’t increase your costs (you already have unlimited data, etc) then it wasn’t terrible for them not to provide you payment for it?

    1. Empress Ki*

      But there’s also the risk to have your phone snatched if you need to use it outdoors for your work. I am in this situation. No way I will risk my own device. I insisted to be provided one.

  25. Not Today Satan*

    Re: #1. Once I was offered a promotion, but was told they couldn’t yet tell me what the new salary was because they had to figure that out. I said, I want to know what the salary is before I take on this extra responsibility. Partly because obviously, you can’t negotiate after publicly accepting a job. After some back and forth, they said I’d have to take this promotion without knowing the pay, or essentially be demoted, but at my current pay. (A reorganization was involved.)

    I took it, but my insistence on knowing/negotiating the salary before accepting it really soured my relationship with my boss. She thought I was difficult ever since, and I resented her and felt disrespected ever since. It really sucked.

  26. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP #2 – my first company did a similar thing. It’s a great idea. But it’s a little weird that this person has already had an internship, and therefore isn’t completely new to your workplace. Are your interns segregated off into their own little world, and therefore don’t see the normal culture of the office? And with Covid, of course, the normal processes have been turned on their heads.

    In any event, you need to hammer home to Jane that the point of this relationship is:
    (1) instruct her in the company culture
    (2) help her in basic logistics (who do I talk to if something’s wrong with my office, how do I sign up for the 401k program, etc)

    At this point, I’d be putting together formal agendas for your meetings. I also would talk to whoever manages the peer mentor program and see what advice they have.

  27. Salad Daisy*

    #4 this was even before the pandemic. We were told we had to download a “wellness app” on our phones and complete various tasks on it. For example, upload a picture of your bed and bedroom to make sure you were sleeping properly. Take pictures of your meals to make sure you were eating properly. Record yourself doing assigned exercises. An so forth. All really intrusive stuff. Unfortunately (not really) I could not figure out how to download the app and kept forgetting to bring my phone in so IT could do it for me. Eventually, everyone forgot about me.

      1. irene adler*

        Course, I’d be uploading pics of luxurious bedrooms (like those of the rich and famous), and elaborate meals (like what might be served at an upscale restaurant) and the like.
        Not sure what to upload of me doing the assigned exercises. Maybe me on the sofa working up a sweat with the TV channel changer in one hand? But if an employer is assigning exercises to me, then I’d need to be paid for the time. Is such a thing even legal if not compensated?

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          For non-exempt employees, I’d assume yes. Exempt employees it’s still invasive and unreasonable and I’d malicious compliance the hell out of it.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Passive noncompliance is the way to go on this sort of thing. Usually whoever had the bright idea will get distracted by some other shiny object and wander off. If they pressed the matter, I definitely would (a) feel free to creatively BS everything about it; and (b) start my new job search.

    2. kate*

      Wait, what?! That is so bizarre and invasive and just….ew. I would have pushed back HARD (and/or written to AAM) on that one. That’s just so not okay with me at all.

    3. anonymous73*

      That would have been a hard no from me. There is no legitimate reason for a company to be that invasive into your personal space.

  28. Stina*

    LW 2
    Mentoring another is training *you* as a manager so practice those skills! It helps you practice articulating expectations for another employee in a way they understand, learning how evaluate if they’re meeting or growing those expectations, how to lead that employee to improve or further succeed, and how to proceed when that employee demonstrates they won’t or can’t improve. Don’t hesitate to meet with your mentors for tools to enable you to help Jane if *she* is invested in succeeding. Also, don’t mince words when Jane’s managers ask her mentor(s) how she’s doing.

    1. Spearmint*

      I’m not so sure that’s accurate. A mentor doesn’t have the authority of a manager, and I’d be annoyed as an employee if I had an informal mentor relationship with a fellow entry level employee who acted like they were my manager. A mentor helps teach new employees, but they don’t set or enforce expectations, and shouldn’t.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes also I don’t report on my mentee to his management. The relationship is between us and not one that his boss has to do with. I expect my mentor not to report to my boss. if they did I would be a lot less comfortable sharing things with them.

      2. Esmeralda*

        That depends on the employer, it’s not universal. I don’t supervise my mentees, I have no managerial authority over them, but I (the program, which I mostly created) has expectations for mentor and mentee. If the mentee is not meeting those expectations, that’s an issue. If the mentee is not meeting expectations set by their supervisor, that’s also an issue — I’m there to assist the mentee in figuring out ways to meet those expectations, but I also have an obligation to give the supervisor a heads-up when the mentee is struggling.

        We’re very collegial and this is rarely “someone’s in trouble now”. For instance, a mentee has a pattern of not knowing how to address a typical student issue, although we have discussed it and it was covered in their training (we have a training schedule, I refer to it during our meetings — so, how was the llama grooming tools training session? ). I’m going to chat with the supervisor about my observations — she’ll either have other suggestions for me, or she’ll check in with the training coordinator, or she’ll meet with my mentee herself.

    2. Office Lobster DJ*

      I don’t think this applies here. Lw2 isn’t even Jane’s career/senior mentor! If the LW leans into a manager-y role of articulating expectations, evaluating if Jane is meeting them, and determining how to proceed if Jane doesn’t meet them? Huge overstep for this relationship that will not end well for anybody.

      However, that doesn’t mean LW2 shouldn’t consider how they can grow their own skills in this situation. That’s actually a really good idea! However, I’d suggest they frame it in their mind as dealing with difficult people or learning how to “influence without authority.” (And by all means, if someone with actual authority asks how Jane is doing, don’t feel the need to sugarcoat.)

    3. Claire*

      I absolutely second this. I’m at a large management consultancy, where team leadership comes earlier and less formally than other types of companies

    4. Frankie*

      I disagree. A manager and a PEER mentor aka buddy are very different things. A peer mentor is supposed to be an informal resource for the mentee to ask about office culture, basic logistics, business etiquette. It’s a casual, informal relationship. It’s nowhere near how a manager-employee relationship looks like.

  29. Spearmint*

    #4 – I hate the idea of workplaces requiring you to use your personal cell phone for work. Having a separate work phone allows me to turn it off outside of work hours so that I can maintain work-personal life boundaries. Also, in that situation you may have to install company apps on your personal phone, which I would be wary of for privacy reasons. I’m fine if my boss has my personal phone number for emergencies, but other than that personal phones shouldn’t be used for work, and if it is the norm for some jobs like Alison says, than that’s a bad norm.

  30. KellifromCanada*

    For OP3 … I would suggest helping your husband outside of working hours. In terms of trying to spend less time helping him, remember that your assistance may result in him getting a better/more secure/better paying job. This is money coming into your household! Why wouldn’t you want to help him (outside of work)?

    1. Colette*

      It sounds like the husband wants more help than the OP would typically give a client, and essentially wants her to be responsible for his job hunt, which is not a reasonable request. The OP should help, yes – but she should set boundaries and not take on his job search.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Probably because after a day of work, they don’t want to keep working in the evening.
      Helping out the husband a bit is fine, but there’s nothing wrong with putting a limit on it.

    3. Purple Cat*

      It’s not that they DON’T want to help, it’s that the spouse is looking for a burdensome amount of help and LW is burnt out (or at least heading towards burnout). Boundaries are an important part of ALL relationships – spouses too.

    4. anonymous73*

      If I’m spending 8 hours a day doing my job, then my spouse is essentially asking me to work an extra few hours each night and on the weekends, I would never get a break from work. OP never said they didn’t want to help, but there has to be some boundaries. Some advice every once in a while is one thing, but doing the job for them…nope.

  31. Unnecessary Subterfuge*

    I am a 37 year old woman of reasonable professional success who spent the first 13 years of her career in a super toxic environment.

    The whole paragraph on not needing to be grateful for a promotion just blew my mind. Especially the part about how being grateful implies they are giving you something you don’t deserve. Wow. Yes. That’s exactly how I felt every time.

    Thanks for the unintended therapy this morning, Alison.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It’s incredible, right? The moment you realize you earned your success and didn’t in fact grovel your way through your career, like so many bosses would have you believe?

    2. Meep*

      “Thank you for finally noticing I am valuable. Now let’s talk about my worth to you and the company.” lol

  32. Not really a Waitress*

    My company does not have phones. Some people have work phones (Mainly security and safety) but most communication is done via email, slack or google meets. However, I have a team that needs me off hours. (we have a 24.7 operation) I heard that we could get $50 reimbursed back month on our personal cells, and was told that was only for one site that was purchased and grandfathered in from their previous ownership. So I deleted all work related aps from my phone. My four team members know to text me off hours , but no one else can reach me off hours unless I choose to open my laptop. This was very hard for me as a fully engage, responsive team member(ok workaholic) but it has helped and nothing has blown up due to me not being available. I did research and found that California has a labor law that covers it

    1. Meep*

      Seriously. I got a raise after 2 years with the company (+1 a year as an intern) and I should have apparently been jumping for joy licking the messenger’s boots for “fighting for me.”

      1. When she told me about the raise, she said that the owner had wanted to give me less but she had added more because I “deserved” it when I know that isn’t true. The owner is the only one who can sign off on the amount.
      2. This is the same woman who tried to have me fired 3 months prior to the raise because she hated I was buying a house (no seriously. I cannot make this absurdity up.).
      3. She had made me false promises for two years leading up to this point whenever she needed me to do something before reneging. I am not going to thank you for fulfilling a promise I didn’t ask you to make in the first place.

  33. Esmeralda*

    You need to be checking in with Jane’s supervisor regularly to let her know how Jane is doing, any issues you’re seeing, etc.

    I’ve been a mentor for new hires in our dept for a number of years. I’m a couple levels up from them, so not strictly a peer mentor, but the principle is the same.

    Follow Alison’s advice. No hinting. This is not your best friend. This is a co-worker for whom you’re responsible for assisting and training. I suggest an agenda for your meetings and, even better, one that has specific topics that Jane has to write comments on BEFORE the meeting. We set ours up as a google doc, the mentee fills it in 48 hours before our meeting, I look it over and add comments at least 12 hours before the meeting. Standard topics: Key accomplishments/activities completed/objectives met, challenges/things that have been hard to accomplish, challenging situations with (key constituents), lessons learned/areas where you want to improve, areas of training you want to know more about, goals or benchmarks for yourself for the next few months, what can your mentor do to help you. Every topic does not have to be responded to every time, but it can’t be blank or superficial.

    If mentee doesn’t turn it in, I remind them of the obligation to do so. If they don’t turn it in, or turn it in late, more than once, that’s an item for the supervisor. If they are late to meetings or leave them early, after being reminded, item for supervisor. Don’t take the meetings seriously — same.

    1. Nia*

      This is massive overkill. Jane has a formal mentor and OP isn’t it. If OP was Jane’s formal mentor those things might be appropriate but they are definitely not appropriate coming from a peer.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Actually, it is. Mentoring new hires is one of my responsibilities, so I’m going to be allotting time to meeting with mentees, checking in on them casually, sending occasional reminders or alerts about weird office stuff nobody knows about til someone tells them. The agenda is very quick — I spend maybe ten minutes on it ahead of time? Mentees shouldn’t be spending more than 15 -20 minutes writing their comments.

        The mentoring is part of our training program — new hires have a couple of new hire training groups based on functions, plus their formal mentor. We have specific topics to keep the meetings on track. We don’t JUST talk about those topics. And some weeks we’ll talk about just one topic. It works very well.

        I’m the person who has the big picture so to speak on how they are adjusting — I have more time than the supervisor to be doing these meetings, checking in, and so on. The supervisor needs to know anything important I notice. Sometimes, that’s Mentee is doing great in all areas, is working on improving in X area.

        1. Heather*

          15-20 minutes on all that sounds extremely unrealistic. This is what I do for a yearly evaluation and it certainly takes more than 20 minutes. (“Key accomplishments/activities completed/objectives met, challenges/things that have been hard to accomplish, challenging situations with (key constituents), lessons learned/areas where you want to improve, areas of training you want to know more about, goals or benchmarks for yourself for the next few months, what can your mentor do to help you. Every topic does not have to be responded to every time, but it can’t be blank or superficial.”)

          1. twocents*

            But you’re presumably filling that out for the year, not just what has occurred in the past two weeks.

    2. Frankie*

      Honestly for a peer one year ahead of me in the company to do that would be ridiculous. Those are more appropriate for the supervisor, not a peer mentor.

      I also can’t imagine evaluating and telling on someone only one year my junior in the office that way.

      It seems that some offices take peer mentoring to a different level but most do not. OP2 needs to understand her role better given these differences in office culture.

      In any case, OP2 should be direct with Jane about professional etiquette such as the flaking on meetings.

  34. Erin*

    I work for a large tech firm, and I’ve never had a desk phone. It is also widely accepted that my working hours may be different than EmployeeX or EmployeeZ. For outside vendors, it’s the norm for them to either slack/email or leave a message on an employee’s cell phone. Reimbursement for phone related expenses? Ha.

    My boyfriend works in another org of this company, and his team rotates on-call weeks to handle major system outages. These alerts sound like a siren, go through slack, and they come through anytime for any outage in any location in the universe. We had one this last Saturday for an outage in Asia. We live in one of those high cost of living cities that everyone (including us) is trying to flee because of the pandemic. I digress.

    Anyway, totally normal to use your personal phone for work and not be reimbursed. Some of my co-workers use Google voice, and some of us just ignore non-essential calls if we are not working.

    1. anonymous73*

      Just because it’s widely accepted doesn’t mean it’s okay. Assuming you work on a computer for your job, do you think it would be acceptable to supply your own laptop? It’s the same thing. There are other options outside of using a personal phone if they don’t have desk phones.

  35. Brett*

    Google took away the “Do not disturb” function for personal google voice accounts 5 months ago.

    You now must have a work or academic account, linked to a paid Google Workspace account, in order to use do not disturb. People who had “legacy unmanaged Google Voice” before April 1, 2021, would still retain the old features including the do not disturb, but new personal accounts (even paid ones) do not receive it.

    1. Liz*

      I have an older Google Voice number which I do use for work (it’s fine). I have voice automatically turn off 5pm-7am, and on weekends. And can still ‘do not disturb’ from the app or the website if I’m going to be on PTO. I had no idea this isn’t a feature of newer numbers. That’s one of the saddest things I’ve heard today.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah but if you don’t have it forward to an actual phone, and only use the GV app, then it doesn’t matter if someone calls it off-hours because you can turn notifications off.

  36. Sleet Feet*

    #4 Feels like the Forrest may have missed for the trees.

    You mentioned that these lines were previous departmental numbers – does that mean that individuals are now getting all the calls for a department they may or may not be a part of? It sounds like there may be some phone tree cleanup needed before phones a forwarded if that’s the case.

    Also forwarding to personal cells may be common (I’ve never run into myself and have worked with 2 call centers since 2020), but it is not an ideal business solution. People leave, call forwards don’t get turned off, personal phones get broken and not replaced quickly etc. etc. Any time you have employers use personal equipment you lose control of that function. With alternatives like Teams there is no reason staff can’t retain their old phone numbers and have those lines attached to the teams account (my office has no phones at all actually because teams is our phone). There are a lot of other solutions out there for people who have various physical locations during a workweek.

    Also Alison’s suggestion of using Google voice may be good for the emoloyees, but from a business perspective it’s a privacy nightmare. Google servers record and retain messaging and anything voice used through their assistant. You have no control of how that data is used and shared. Not to mention retention and recording. If you retain and record phone calls for business training and quality then you may lose access to those records on a personal device. If there are any legal reasons you need to retain those records to demonstrate regulatory compliance then personal devices should be off the table.

    Good luck with this transition. Hopefully you can push back and get a work based solution.

  37. Meep*

    LW#1 – Something similar has happened to me recently. When I started working for the company as an intern 4.5 years ago, I was promised I would receive stock upon joining the company. That was 3.5 years ago. Well, I asked for a raise and more vacation time (which were approved) and they finally threw in the stock. I never expected to get it, but once I saw it, I realized I had considerably less stock despite having the longest tenure by about 2 years. Additionally, it was a four-year vesting period and I’d have to sign a year-long non-compete which is vague. I wasn’t having that so I am trying to negotiate. I haven’t had the stock up to this point so what do I care if I still don’t have it? The company has to sell and if (or rather when) I leave it will be in shambles.

    I have been guilt-tripped to h*ll and back for not just signing the bloody thing. But I am not going to when it has no benefit for me. If they want me to sign it, they either need to take the non-compete out – which case it is still worth the paper it is written on but I am not out anything – or make it so my stock is fully vested 90 days after my 4-year-anniversary in May.

  38. awesome3*

    #2 – Her asking about your day isn’t necessarily off-base. If the purpose is peer mentoring, it could be helpful for her to know what you’re working on and how you’re handling it if that’s what she can expect to be working on soon.

  39. librarianmom*

    Once one of my bosses offhandedly remarked that we should be grateful we all had jobs. I pointedly said that they should be grateful that they had us doing such good work in our jobs. He looked at me like I had three heads, and I looked at him like he was being an asshat. This happened over twenty years ago and I still get satisfaction from the memory.

    1. anonymous73*

      I stayed in a job for 6 1/2 years, hating the job and the people for far too long because I had survived many layoffs and was grateful to just have a job. I then realized that was no way to live and moved on.

  40. No Phone, no problem*

    #4 The Small Business that I work for wanted me to forward calls on weekends to my personal cell (I’ve been back in the office for a while now). The thing is – I have a desk phone and answer that during work hours. Plus, the business hours are clearly started on the website.

    I told my boss that since the office doesn’t pay for my cell service and didn’t pay for my brand new (and expensive!) iPhone 12, I wasn’t comfortable with forwarding calls to my phone. He never mentioned that again!

    I don’t mind texting co-workers during work hours – but I don’t answer before 8am and after 6pm…..unless there’s an emergency. People have come to accept that!

  41. anonymous73*

    #3 – you need to have a sit down with your spouse and set some boundaries. And I would recommend doing this outside of when they’re asking you for help. If you’re anything like me, the frustration is building and if you try and talk to them in the heat of the moment it will turn into a fight and nothing will be resolved. You may also want to start jotting down how often they ask and how long it’s taking you to help so they understand just how much time they’re expecting from you. They may not realize how often it’s become.

  42. LizM*

    The attitude that you shouldn’t negotiate a salary for a promotion but it’s okay to negotiate a new job is how you end up with people feeling like they have to leave an organization to move up, and how you end up with people coming from outside an organization making wildly more than people who came up through the business.

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