updates: the bosses who won’t give deadlines, the unsafe holiday party, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My bosses won’t give me deadlines

I wrote in some time ago about my two supervisors, Jack and Jill, who refused to give me deadlines.

The ultimate update is that the company we worked for was merged with another company, and I was laid off as part of that process. Happily, I found a better-paying job with better benefits, and I have been working here for about six months. My new company also has a less-toxic work culture, though in hindsight I can only see that my previous company’s culture was pretty toxic after taking a step back and talking to other people.

Jack and Jill are (as some people in the comments guessed) SMEs who have essentially no management experience. Jill, who was technically my boss, had “managed” Director-level individuals in the past, but they are also essentially SMEs who aren’t responsible for day-to-day items and support like I was. By the time I was laid off, my weekly meetings with Jack and Jill had deteriorated into two-minute phone calls, then “why don’t we just skip the calls?” then my sending a weekly summary of what I was doing, and finally into “I don’t have time this week, can we push to next week?” and then into nothing when they would duck my calls and say they didn’t have the bandwidth. After HR gave me the news, it took me a week to chase down Jill and I was only able to speak with her about wrapping things up the literal day before I was laid off.

Looking back, Jack and Jill had very little interest in helping me grow professionally as someone junior in my career, or even interest in me as a real resource who produced quality work-I was often told “Well, I don’t have any work for you but you have to put hours on the clock so go find something” when I asked for more work or stretch assignments (and despite the fact that I would have to resort to things like organizing the archives on our shared drive). While refusing to give me deadlines, Jack essentially expected me to be his mother or his personal assistant, and would frequently say things like “Don’t let me leave before I do X” or “Why haven’t I done Y yet?” He once copied me on an email chain, which included the five email follow-ups I had already sent him about an outstanding item with no deadline, to lecture me about how, “You should have already made me do this, don’t let things drop off like that.” In any event, I suspect that part of the reason I was laid off is that Jack and Jill couldn’t or wouldn’t articulate the contributions that I had made, and didn’t have a good measure of my value as someone very junior to them who would have normally reported to someone lower in the hierarchy.

After all this, one thing that I find very funny is that in 2019, the company shelled out a five-figure registration fee for Jill to attend another company’s “Executive Leadership Seminar Series.” In 2020 Jill won our company’s internal “Jane Smith Memorial Excellence in Leadership Award,” for which she received a massive trophy.

2. My company is having an unsafe holiday party (#2 at the link, first update here)

After my firm demanded we all go back to working in the office without any safety standards, I began looking for another job. I am pleased to say that I was able to find a permanent WFH position with better pay and benefits! I have to credit you for that; the position was one where I didn’t have 100% of the qualifications. In the past, I wouldn’t have bothered applying. But after reading your posts about applying anyway, I felt confident enough to do so! That, coupled with your tips with cover letters, resumes, and interviews, I got the job! Thank you so much for all of your help, and for the perspective your commenters gave me. I’m so much happier with my new job!

3. I was laid off and now they’re rehiring, but my old boss hasn’t contacted me (#4 at the link)

Thank you so much for your help and advice! I’m now working at my old company again in a new role and am thrilled to be back.

4. Interviewing when there’s already a candidate who’s “acting” in the role (#5 at the link)

The interview with the external HR agency recruiter was fabulous. Probably one of the best interviews of my life. Not just in my confidence and performance, but the ability of the recruiter to ask very thoughtful questions and digging deep into my professional career: we went over 90 minutes. They certainly didn’t make me feel like it was a bogus process.

I was moved on to the next round where I interviewed with the person the hired candidate would be supporting and working for. It was shorter and pleasant. I asked them some pointed questions about what specific skills they wanted in this role, and what they wanted the hired candidate to bring forth that previous people in this role didn’t have or weren’t up to the level needed. They pointed out two specific skills that I have 8-10 years experience in and would consider by bread and butter skills. I figured I had a chance.

They hired the incumbent and I didn’t get the job. Shortly after, there was a posting for a job reporting to the incumbent in the two specific skills that I probed for in the interview. It gave me a very bitter feeling about the whole process. Ultimately, can’t really say if the whole thing was a sham, but it certainly felt like that.

On the other hand, I feel like I improved on my interviewing skills and the recruiter told me that my Resume and Cover Letter were stellar – thanks to you! I appreciate everyone who commented on this, and I’m still on the job hunt with some interviews coming up. Thanks!

Update to the update

After a grueling year of applying for jobs, I finally accepted an offer and will be starting the new position in the New Year. I meticulously tracked my applications for 2021, and for all the data-driven people in the AAM community, I applied for 46 positions: 12 email/phone rejections, 5 first round interviews, 3 second round interviews, 1 final round interview – which led to the 1 offer.

There were many times during this year that I wanted to just give up the job search and coast on my highly unsatisfying job as long as I possibly could – but I was really miserable. The rejection from the job application where the incumbent got the role and the whole process looked like a sham, it hurt hard. I’m glad I had people around me who encouraged me to keep looking and I also have to thank Alison and the AAM community. The Friday good news updates gave me a lot of hope. Also, I applied for each position with a customized cover letter and resume with the resources Alison has provided over the years.

The role I will be stepping into is phenomenal: I am going into an industry that I’ve been wanting to move into for a long time, I have the right mixture of skills and experience for the role, the hiring manager and the team have been exemplary throughout the interview process, growth opportunities are immense, and I have a 75% salary bump from my previous role. I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

Even though I didn’t get the role that I first wrote about, I am quite glad that it didn’t work out because I would’ve never found this new job. Thanks for everything!

{ 85 comments… read them below }

    1. Hello, I'd like to report my boss*

      To be honest, if I don’t get an interview/phone screen, I don’t expect any contact from them. It’s not great, but I’ve come to expect it 100%. Occasionally I get an email for something I applied for months ago saying ‘Sorry you didn’t make the shortlist’ but I don’t expect get to that.

      In my recent job hut I applied for 19 jobs and five never responded at all to my application. Six sent me a rejection email. So it’s about a 50/50 split of the applications I made.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same here. I’ve applied to almost 600 jobs (gah!) and most of them just don’t even answer. Some were a bit of a long shot, but I didn’t expect to hear from them anyway.

        What really twists my knickers is not hearing anything back after an interview, even a phone screen. Companies that interview-ghost me go on my naughty list and I don’t usually apply there again.

        1. Jack Bruce*

          Same! I had people bring me in for an in person interview, then told me I wouldn’t meet the team until the second set of interviews (TBA) and then ghosted me. I felt even worse for the candidates coming several thousand miles to interview! That workplace has a lot of turnover and most local people in my field know they are not a good place to work.

    2. Five after Midnight*

      It’s actually 29: 46 total less 12 rejections less 5 interviews. :-) But that’s still too many.
      All-in-all, these are actually good stats. 1 interview out of each 9 application and 1 offer out of 5 interviews. I would have killed for such a hit rate when I was looking a few years back.

    3. Andrew*

      I get hundreds of applicants. If I’m using a site where it’s easy to reject people en masse, then I’ll do it, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time rejecting people I never talked to. I do, however, email every person who interviewed at some point.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, honestly, that’s all I expect, even if I’m in a bit of a niche job, where a typical posting gets 10-50 applications. When we were last hiring a peer for me, we got something like 20 applications. Half of them were rejected out of hand by HR because they were unqualified for the job, so we got to look at 10 or so applications, and all of them except one that had somehow escaped being flagged as unqualified by HR got a phone screen. We interviewed half of those again, and invited the top 3 candidates to a test, which took an hour. The top 2 candidates scored about equally well on the test. I could have worked well with either of them, but my then-manager, who was very good at reading body language, picked the one she felt “clicked” better with me. After all, we were hiring a close coworker for me. This was a great hire, 7 years later we’re still working happily together.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      The best practice I’ve encountered is an automatic email that confirms receiving my application and includes language saying that if they’re interested in talking with me, they’ll be in touch. That way, applicants know that silence means they’re not going forward and aren’t left hanging and wondering, and hiring managers don’t have to send individual emails to what could be hundreds of applicants they won’t be interviewing.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        These are very common now. I get them for most applications.

        I usually mark it as No Reply on my spreadsheet after two weeks, sometimes a week if I’m feeling inadequate. But I’ve been surprised a couple of times when someone emailed me after I already wrote them off.

    5. Frankie*

      It’s pretty common. Some companies receive hundreds of applicants and just don’t have the time to reply to every one. There was a commenter here from HR or who said the volume of applications was really overwhelming.

      I think that’s okay. But once I get to the interview stage, yeah, I’d at least hope to be notified.

    6. Bamcheeks*

      IMO, it’s understandable if a rejection email would mean someone manually adding dozens or hundreds of people to a system purely to send a rejection email. If people are applying through an applicant tracking system it’s inexcusable not to have it send a “Many thanks but” email at some point.

    7. Chick with Sticks*

      I’m at 364 applications, 32 phone screens, 21 first round interviews, 3 second. Am now applying for jobs I’m over qualified for and low level jobs I don’t want.
      Drives me crazy when I don’t hear back from places I’ve interviewed with. How hard is it to send a quick email? “Thanks for your interest, but we’ve gone with another candidate.”

      1. pugsnbourbon*

        My last job search was in 2019 – applied for 101 jobs, got 9 phone screens, 6 second or in-person interviews, 2 second interviews, and one offer.
        While the majority of my applications disappeared into the ether, I was pleasantly surprised by how many actually did send a form rejection rather than just silence. I did get ghosted after an in-person interview which was annoying, but what can you do.

    8. anonymous73*

      Why would you expect a company to contact you at all if they don’t feel you’re qualified for their open position? If you’ve been contacted for a phone screen, at the very least a form email should be expected. But contact for submitting an application? Not necessary and a lot of times, not feasible, depending on the number of applications received.

  1. GammaGirl1908*

    For LW4, I do think there’s a difference between a process being a sham, and the business wanting to see whether there is someone who will interview who can beat the person currently acting in the role.

    If the role is still officially up for grabs, it does make sense to at least make an effort to see if a search would yield someone better than the person who was already just there. Yes, it’s a slightly steeper hill to climb for you as the outside candidate, and it’s valuable to know that you are competing against someone who is already there, but that to me is different from a sham. A sham to me is where they are absolutely never going to hire an outside person, and these interviews are just for looks, no matter how great you might be. What you’re describing is a situation where they have someone good, but if you are better, you will get a fair shot.

    Full disclosure, I once interviewed for a job where there was someone already acting in the role. She got the job, but I interviewed so well that they created a job for me, which I accepted.

    1. Rav*

      Been on the opposite side of a similar situation, and it’s not fun either. Too much pressure to select the preferred candidate.

    2. Annika Hansen*

      My employer requires us to interview other people to help increase diversity. And there have been multiple times that the incumbent did not get the job. It’s really hard to know. And like you, some people didn’t get hired for the job they interviewed for, but we found another role for them.

    3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I think a lot of companies are legitimately willing to hire a more qualified candidate if they come along, but with the huge caveat that unless the person acting in the role isn’t doing a good job, it’s really hard to be more qualified than “I’ve actually done this exact job for the last six months with the following achievements…”. I mean it’s a strong answer to probably the most important question in any interview.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I think the reason it still felt like a sham to that LW is the part where they were told the two skills were super important – and the LW had those skills – but then they posted a different job for just those skills, reporting to the person they hired instead. Thus implying the interim person did not have those skills at all. So they choose the person who had been doing the job minus those things, instead of a person who could probably do the job and those two things. It’s not necessarily the wrong choice. We don’t have all the context the hiring people did. But I can see how to the LW, after the discussion in the interview and what happened after, that would seem like they never intended to hire anyone else.

      1. Need a WFH policy*

        I think the fact that they didn’t reach out to offer the new role to the the LW for the posting with those skills indicates that there was something else in play not that it was a sham.
        We interviewed some one recently who was very impressive but we offered the job to someone else who accepted and then ultimately rescinded the acceptance before starting. We did not offer the job to the impressive candidate and kept the role open instead. We felt he was not the right candidate for the job for various reasons though he very likely could do it. Ultimately, we decided to stop looking for that role and post for a different position with the original role responsibilities split between the new role and some current employees covering the role. It made better sense for us as an organization long term.

      2. Snow Globe*

        That’s a possibility, but simply looking for those skills in the person reporting to the hired person, doesn’t mean that person doesn’t also have those skills. I have many of the same skills as my boss – those are skills important to anyone who works in our department.

        1. Jaybee*

          Agreed. My boss and I do essentially the same job, he just has more experience in it and also has management responsibilities. His boss also does our work and again just has decades of experience and additional work management duties.

          In some positions there’s a big difference between the skills of the manager vs the skills of their team, but in other teams there could be a lot of overlap.

      3. Wisteria*

        Thus implying the interim person did not have those skills at all.

        That’s not necessarily true. It might mean that they need more than one person with those skills.

        Even if it was the case that the interim person didn’t have those two skills, as you say, we don’t know the context, and neither does LW. It could be that there was enough work that it made sense to leave the interim in place to do the managing and an individual contributor to use those skills.

        I think the LW went in with the mindset that this was a pro forma interview, and that mindset ultimately harmed them bc they could have applied for the individual contributor position.

        1. OP*

          The hiring manager directly mentioned that the incumbent and another person in that position didn’t have those skills at the level needed. we discussed tasks that would need to be completed using those skills and it was well within my wheelhouse.

          I didn’t go with the pro forma mindset. my interview with the recruiter was incredible and they made me feel like it was a real process. when i got the second interview with the hiring manager, i was shocked and optimistic at the same time.

      4. Overeducated*

        So…that has actually happened to me, and it wasn’t nefarious, it reflected a larger strategic plan for staffing. Imagine the job LW interviewed for was Manager of Integrated X and Y. The acting person had been the X specialist; my job at the time was in Y, and Y was an area of expertise/skill set that the hiring site didn’t have at all on staff and needed, which is part of why I got to the final round of interviews. Well, they hired the acting person with background in X. And then later they posted a job reporting to that person in Y. It’s not insulting – it reflected that they had had a long term plan to add a new role doing Y, but were waiting until the Manager of Integrated X and Y was in place to hire that person.

        (What DID actually hurt was when I didn’t get the Y specialist job at the same place, despite getting to the final round of interviews *again,* and despite the fact that the two positions were a lateral and a step down, respectively. I was told that “yes, your background is in Y and we think you’d be great, but there are other people out there who had the exact same job title at the exact same type of place.” Sigh. Can’t compete with that.)

      5. Overeducated*

        This exact scenario has happened to me. The explanation was that they had already planned to staff a role reporting to the job I was interviewing for, focused specifically on the areas where I had skills and the acting person didn’t, because they were missing that specialization and needed it. They were just waiting until the higher level role was filled so the person in it could hire their subordinate.

      6. OP*

        To clarify:
        I asked the person the hired candidate would be reporting to the following question in the interview:

        When looking at the previous individuals who occupied this role, which skills do you believe are important that they didn’t have or weren’t at the level you needed?

        They answered with 2 specific skills that I have a very high level of experience in. They went to further explain how those skills would be used for specific tasks and projects. Again, I’ve done more complex work using both those skills, which I explained in detail to them.

        After the incumbent was hired, they posted a position with those 2 skills. That indicated to me that the incumbent was hired on some other criteria, not those 2 skills, which seemed like they didn’t have based on the interview response. Which is why it seemed like a process that needed to be done to say, we tried to find better candidates but we couldn’t.

    5. Jonquil*

      This is really common in government. I’ve been the incumbent acting who wasn’t the first choice candidate once they ran the recruitment process. Which is the outcome you want, because the idea is that the incumbent can’t just get promoted because they are doing the job, they need to be competitive in an open process. Lots of places, if they get good candidates in the recruitment process, will offer those candidates similar positions if they can, or reach out in the future when they have a similar opening available.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. I’m also in government, although not in the US. My current manager was an external hire, she got the job, even if we had a really good internally promoted manager who was doing the job in the meantime. The internal pro-tem manager was hired when the manager before her wanted to get out of management before retiring (she had burned out on management). The burned-out manager went on a job rotation to a sister organization for 15 months, while the pro-tem manager, who had been the burned-out manager’s subordinate before, did the job, and did it well (the burned-out manager was a great person, but she wanted to be friends with her reports, which sometimes made hard decisions unnecessarily difficult for her, and thanks to her I realized that I can’t be friends with a manager if I want to respect them as a manager; the two managers since have been friendly but extremely professional). But government regulations meant that when the burned-out former manager finally retired, they couldn’t just promote the pro-tem manager, but had to initiate a recruitment process. Our pro-tem manager was in the top 2. She’s now on a job rotation at another sister organization, although somehow I’ll doubt she’ll ever return to us. In her shoes, I doubt I would, unless I simply couldn’t find another job.

    6. No Longer Looking*

      I’ve also been on the flip-side and been the person acting in the role for several months, then was encouraged by HR to apply for the position, was told when the application window would be briefly opened for me, and ended up not getting the job because a completely different internal applicant beat me out in the interview. That was over a decade ago, and it remains my most disheartening interview process because the internal communications had made it sound so pro-forma.

  2. WorkerBee (Germany)*

    #3 I need to know more. Why has your old boss not approached you regarding your old position?
    Did the job change? Did he not want you? Is your old boss your new boss..
    Soo many questions

    1. LW 1*

      I KNOW, RIGHT?! I thought that and the massive fee to attend a fluffy seminar series were hilarious. It’s like a firefighter standing up for an award while her house is actively burning down.

  3. Frank Doyle*

    Is the “SME” in letter #1 Subject Matter Expert? (I really wish people would explain acronyms as a matter of course, not everyone has the same context.)

    1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      Yes, that’s almost certainly what’s meant. The idea being that they don’t have any real management experience, they’re just an expert in the field and are “managers” because of it.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Yes, “Subject matter expert”. This is a common issue in academia, when a professor becomes Head of Department, without having any managerial expertise or training. They were appointed as a professor based on their ability to do research and teach. Now, as Head, they have to manage people and their workloads, and they don’t know how to do it. In many universities, the appointment is limited in time, so they know that after 3-6 years, they’ll return to “worker bee” status, responsible only for their own affairs. Couple that with the knowledge that you’ll have much responsibility, but no power.
        I had no formal training before I became Head of my department. What I learned before taking the job was gleaned from conversations with other Heads, reading AAM (thank you all!), and reflecting on examples I’d encountered of what not to do.

          1. JustaTech*

            Tech and biotech too. “You’re so amazing in the lab we’re going to take away all your lab time and make you go to management meetings!”

            At least these days in Big Tech they have a lot of management training and offer the option to advance/stay at the company without going into management.

        1. Wisteria*

          People in academia get hired into tenure track based on research and maybe TAing, and then go on to supervise grad students and their workloads despite having no managerial experience. Grad students get appointed into TAs despite no classroom experience. The entire academic pipeline is sorely lacking in actual training of dealing with actual human beings.

    2. Bri*

      Yeah, where I live, an SME means a ‘small and medium sized enterprise’ (ie a business with fewer than 200 employees).

      Happy you brought it up and sorted the meaning for me. I spent a good five minutes scratching my head, and it’d have bugged me for the rest of the day,

      1. ed123*

        I thought it meant that they had previously been a one/two person company (small and medium sized enterprise…but a very small one) and now they had employees and couldn’t adjust to that. Subject matter expert makes more sense.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have no idea what many non-standard acronyms stand for and often have to look them up online searching for slang.

  4. Unicorn Parade*

    My current manager constantly does what Jack in LW #1 does, but she insists that part of my job is making sure she does her job…even though I’m not her assistant. We have the same Outlook calendar invites, but I have to text her 15, 10, and 5 minutes out to remind her about calls, and half the time she is late anyway. I’ve resigned myself to it for now but it’s nice to be reminded that a grown adult in a management position who makes 5x my salary should not need a nanny.

    (She also NEVER eats meals at work, meanwhile I need two snacks and lunch to get through the day or I turn into an absolute monster. I cannot focus or function if I don’t have at least a snack by 2pm. I feel like a weirdo freak for needing to eat regular meals, even though it’s a normal human function. I’ve had multiple bosses like this over the years and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves! I need to eat!)

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      I’ve seen people here refer to that as a boss who seems to run on air. Somehow they never need food, they never need sleep, they never need respite, and they look at you sideways when you need those perfectly normal things.

      1. The Price is Wrong Bob*

        Usually in the absence of food I assume they run on…..other things, some of which are legal are stimulants and some of which are not legal and stimulants.

    2. Casper Lives*

      If you’re having to baby her, maybe she could do with some food… I think I’d lose my mind at my boss demanding that when it’s not what I was hired to do. So kudos to you for staying sane!

    3. After 33 years ...*

      I, on the other hand, almost never eat breakfast or lunch. My metabolism doesn’t work that way … Human bodies differ, so it’s not always obtuseness or lack of sensitivity. I don’t assume my way is the only way.

      1. Unicorn Parade*

        The vast majority of people need to eat regular meals. I’m not the outlier here. I’m also hourly, and a half-hour is automatically deducted from my hours whether or not she lets me take a lunch break or not. I’ve also stated many, many, many times that I need a lunch break to eat something and have been “allowed” to leave meetings that continued without me. She knows. She just doesn’t care.
        I also need to urinate every two hours, just because someone can hold their bladder longer doesn’t mean everyone in the office needs to pee on their schedule. It’s frankly inhumane to expect that.

        1. After 33 years ...*

          You’re correct, I am an outlier in this and don’t assume everyone has my metabolic state.

        2. ferrina*

          Do you have an active or semi-active job search going on? Your manager sounds awful. If she thinks it’s okay that she keep you through your lunch without pay, well, that’s illegal. Coupled with ignoring basic biologic needs, tripled with trying to make you responsible for making sure that she is doing basic functions like being on time… not good.

        3. Wisteria*

          I’ve also stated many, many, many times that I need a lunch break to eat something and have been “allowed” to leave meetings that continued without me. She knows. She just doesn’t care.

          I am sorry, I misunderstood what you meant when you said it the first time. THAT is worth assertively setting boundaries around. Stop asking permission. Tell her you are taking your lunch break as though it is the most natural thing in the world and of course it is not a problem, bc it’s not. Breezily drop “oh, but if I work through lunch and still have it deducted from my hours, it is contrary to labor laws, and she certainly wouldn’t want that, would she? No, of course not. I know that you wouldn’t want me to work unpaid.” Be assertive about it, not aggressive.

          I wouldn’t leave meetings, however. I would bring a snack to the meeting and eat it in the meeting with the same breezy, “Of course I am going to eat when the meeting is scheduled during my lunch” attitude. Then at the end of the meeting, announce, “I’m off to a real lunch now!”

          Your boss will hate it and will push back, but she doesn’t need to like it. Eventually, she will get used it, and you will get used to her not liking it. And you will be eating regularly.

          But still make sure the space in your head is occupied by something constructive. Her not eating is not constructive. You not getting a lunch break is constructive.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Ugh. Not the outcome I hoped for LW1.

      My (government) project lead also wants me to remind him of stuff. I don’t. We’re in a tech industry and have lots of automated tools to manage tasks and provide reminders. He…doesn’t use them. What he really wants is a personal assistant. My company’s contract (fed contractor) clearly states: “This is a non-personal, technical services contract.” He still tries, after 5 years…

      Do you automatically lose the ability to track your own work the second you become a manager? (Rhetorical; I know there are plenty of good managers out there. My own company supervisor is wonderful.)

      1. LW 1*

        Thanks! I have another job that I am happier in (even if it isn’t my “dream job,” then again I don’t dream of labor), and there is no Jack who needs me to “manage up” quite the way he did.

    5. LW 1*

      In my case, Jack actually DID have someone who was supposed to assist him in an admin role, but that person was essentially known to be totally incompetent. During the period before that person was hired I was the lowest in the hierarchy so Jack got used to relying on me.

      1. Nanani*

        That’s just awful.
        “Push basic parts of doing your job to the lowest ranking person” should be completely unacceptable. I’ll be screaming into the void on your behalf if you don’t mind.

        1. LW 1*

          Not at all! When I first started there I had zero office experience (as I was fresh out of school) and had only done things like retail and food service. So I said “yes” to everything and didn’t push back at all, even on things that, looking back, were unreasonable.

    6. Wisteria*

      I think you are personalizing your boss’s eating habits a bit too much. There is no reason to make their eating habits into a pet peeve. They aren’t being not-hungry AT you anymore than you are being hungry AT them. You just have different food needs, just like people sleep for different amounts of time. Just focus on your own needs and use the space in your head dedicated to their eating habits for something else.

      1. ferrina*

        I suspect this may have been brought up if the boss speaks/thinks like this and doesn’t understand that different people have different needs. “I’m not hungry, and I’m ready to keep talking, so let’s keep this 4 hour meeting going a little longer!” I’ve worked with someone like that, and they would mock me or look down on me for needing to eat. You start using weird logic to try to argue their weird logic, but it’s all a losing game.

        Warped workplaces warp the mind.

    7. JustaTech*

      Oh the bosses who don’t need to sleep or eat and expect if of the rest of us!
      I had a boss who seemed to live on diet Dr Pepper. He also tried to get in the habit of dragging me away from my lunch (usually when I had been waiting for him all morning), but our lab manager shut that down hard. “People need to eat, Bob.”

  5. LittleMarshmallow*

    #1 is an issue I see crop up whenever my company tries to “flatten the org structure”. It works ok at higher levels but you usually end up with people way too high up in the company trying to manage entry level employees that need more attention than the managers can offer. Without good processes in place to make sure the junior employees are getting the coaching and instruction they need, the junior employees I’ve seen usually struggle to thrive. The people that are “managing” are often not suited to management (perfectly great employees in other ways though so they still get a lot of recognition) and the people under them suffer.

    1. Partridge in a Pear Tree*

      What happens at my company is that other (relatively junior) employees act as informal managers and tell you what you need to do, or the project lead has a quick 10 minute chat with you every two weeks to check you’re ok. Then, your manager has a 10 minute 1:1 with you every two weeks (the only time you’ll see them unless you’re a project lead and the client isn’t happy), but that’s for project updates and suggestions from you, not for “here’s what you’ll be doing this week”.

      If you need more guidance, too bad! I think most people just figure it out though, but those who don’t just don’t get any work to do.

    2. allathian*

      It really depends on the organization. I’m a senior individual contributor, and technically junior ICs and interns are below me in the org chart, although I don’t have any managerial authority over them. I suppose if we hired an intern to do the same sort of job that I’m doing, I’d be responsible for assigning work to them, but not for hiring and firing. Our organization has about 1,600 employees, and above me in the org chart there’s my direct manager (granted, some bigger teams also have a team lead, but I and my only coworker don’t need one), our department director, and the president of the whole organization. This works, because most managers have at least 15 reports, some have considerably more than that. We’re an expert organization, where managers are supposed to do absolutely no subject matter work at all, just manage their reports, and try to ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to do a decent job. I find it extremely odd that there are organizations where a manager can have only one report. This leads to a lot of layers of middle managers. The definition of a middle manager seems to be a person who’s stuck between a rock and a hard place forever…

    3. allathian*

      It really depends on the organization. I’m a senior individual contributor, and technically junior ICs and interns are below me in the org chart, although I don’t have any managerial authority over them. I suppose if we hired an intern to do the same sort of job that I’m doing, I’d be responsible for assigning work to them, but not for hiring and firing. Our organization has about 1,600 employees, and above me in the org chart there’s my direct manager (granted, some bigger teams also have a team lead, but I and my only coworker don’t need one), our department director, and the president of the whole organization. This works, because most managers have at least 15 reports, some have considerably more than that. We’re an expert organization, where managers are supposed to do absolutely no subject matter work at all, just manage their reports, and try to ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to do a decent job. I find it extremely odd that there are organizations where a manager can have only one report. This leads to a lot of layers of middle managers. The definition of a middle manager seems to be a person who’s stuck between a rock and a hard place forever…

    4. Alternative Person*

      Yeah, my company has not been replacing mid-level positions for a while now, completely forgetting that those mid-level positions exist for good reasons. The upshot is upper level management is swamped with stuff they really don’t need to be and the low level has a glut of well qualified and experienced people who have no clear path upward.

    5. LW 1*

      In my case, I was hired into a small department that had gradually flattened the org structure after years of layoffs, and a combination of that and my bosses being promoted more quickly meant that I reported to someone several levels above me, and there was no one in the middle. Looking back, I could have possibly asked to report to the person below my boss, or suggested it, but I think part of it is that my boss wanted to maintain appearances and having multiple direct reports helped do that.

  6. All Outrage, All The Time*

    #OP4. Well done on your offer. I track metrics too and it’s usually about 100 applications boiling down to 1-2 offers. It’s numbers game for sure.

    1. ferrina*

      There’s ways to tilt the numbers in your favor. My stats were close the the LWs. Being picky about where you apply and being thoughtful about your application materials makes a difference.
      Industry and job title also make a big difference- my friend that’s a highly accomplished software engineer probably gets 75% first round interviews and 10% offers, but entry level and more competitive fields that will be lower, or if you’re trying to break into your first management position or similar.

  7. Sleeping Late Every Day*

    I took it to mean that the lower position ALSO needed those skills, not that they’d be doing the higher-up person’s work. I’ve had several jobs where I needed the same technical skills as my supervisor, but they were also doing management tasks that I didn’t have to.

  8. Sleeping Late Every Day*

    Oops, nesting fail due to having to re-enter my saved user name name, which had mysteriously disappeared.

  9. Robecita*

    It’s not uncommon in academia either. However, it does happen that outside people are hired when there is a visiting or interim person already in the role. In my case, I was involved in hiring for an interim role that I had decided I didn’t want- I wasn’t ready to make the move over to a fully administrative line despite agreeing to serve in the interim role. We were also transparent and let candidates know that I wasn’t applying, but not because it was a bad job.

  10. Slow Gin Lizz*

    I’m sorry, a five-figure fee for a leadership seminar series???? What kind of BS is that???? That’s utterly ridiculous.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Oooh, yeah, I hadn’t even thought of that, just thought it was a general scam. But could be a pyramid scheme scam for sure.

        1. Wisteria*

          I have been in leadership seminar series type things, and they are not a pyramid scheme. How bogus they are depends on the material and your attitude towards it. I find all horoscope classifications to be bogus, so that’s my bias, but sometimes they might have coaching elements or exercises to complete. The small time leadership seminars that I have paid for myself were $1-2ooo range. Without knowing more about the seminar series in question, I can’t say whether the price scaled appropriately. I can easily see someone of, say, Tony Robbins’ stature charging ten grand for a several week long series with only a half dozen or so people in it.

          1. LW 1*

            This one seemed crazy in part because it changed exactly nothing about how my manager interacted with me. I still had to beg for stretch/growth assignments, I still had to deal with her and Jack not reading my weekly update email, and she was still the same person who thought that giving me deadlines was “putting work on her.”

            I know what they were doing in the seminar and it wasn’t Tony Robbins. It was them having circle-jerky calls, taking MBTI type tests, and reading publicly-available articles. It was probably good for networking but I didn’t see anything of value in it. The “curriculum” was just a one-pager with that week’s list of discussion points and [insert Forbes article here].

    1. LW 1*

      It was completely ridiculous. All they did was have conference calls and sit around taking Meyers-Briggs type tests and reading that week’s Harvard Business Review and Forbes articles. The price of the seminar would have paid my salary for a financial quarter.

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