recovering from angry outbursts at work, surgery right after starting a new job, and more

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

1. Can I recover from two angry explosions at work?

I’m a senior manager at a public agency, and been in the role for about three years. Last week, during a stressful time at the office, I learned of a serious error from another department that affected a very public part of my work and could have affected my credibility in the role outside of the company were it to come to light. I’m ashamed to say I did not react well — I got quickly upset, and escalated to shouting at the other department head while we were in our mutual boss’ office. (It was late and we were the only three people still at work.) I know there was no excuse for that; I apologized immediately and left work for the day. The next day I apologized directly to the manager in question.

Now, however, my boss has made a mandatory referral for me to receive anger management classes from our EAP. I’ve been deeply embarrassed by the incident and trying to lay low in the days since it occurred, but this referral has only increased my shame. This is the first time I’ve ever been disciplined in my career, so it’s very distressing. I should also note that this is the second incident where I’ve gotten seriously angry at work. I’m worried that I may never be able to recover from this internally and that, even if I go through the EAP successfully, my reputation may be tarnished beyond repair. I have a good relationship with my boss, but he’s not great at managing people (I’ve never once gotten a review, although I’ve received merit raises so I know they were generally good) and it can be hard to know where you stand with him. Do I have a chance in hell in being able to continue to be successful in this role?

Well … I don’t know. Two serious anger incidents at work is the kind of thing that people will remember. One can sometimes be accepted as an aberration, but two means you’ll be seen as the guy who’s prone to inappropriate anger. That doesn’t mean your reputation will be ruined beyond repair or no one will ever work with you again or you won’t be able to move past it in time. But it does mean, for example, that it’s likely to be harder for you to get promoted (at least in a reasonably functional office) and that someone who knows about it will have to grapple with how to handle it in a reference for you, and colleagues who know about it probably would hesitate to refer you for other jobs. It’s a big deal (again, at least in a reasonably functional office). However, if you do the anger management classes (a good idea!) and you go a long period of time (at least two years) without another outburst, even in difficult or stressful situations, eventually people are likely to accept that you’ve got it under control.

If you’ve noticed you have a problem with anger in other areas of your life too, you might think about doing anger management therapy on your own, aside from the work-ordered class. And while I normally wouldn’t advise telling your boss what you’re working on in therapy, in this case it could help to mention to him that you’re pursuing that on your own because you take what happened seriously.

2. What is the purpose of assigning work?

What is the purpose of assigning work? I don’t mean to sound naive; I’ve had a bunch of jobs where A, B, and C were my regular ongoing tasks. The only reason I’d be asked to do other work was if I was covering for another coworker (e.g., if the receptionist was off in my prior job I’d often cover reception because I had the most experience as a receptionist).

That doesn’t seem the same as what I hear about people talking about, such as people talking about not having enough work because their manager didn’t assign them work. I’ve never had a job where I’m just lingering around waiting for new work; I’ve always had my regular ongoing work, with capacity to cover other people’s duties where needed.

This also feels different than people who have clients or patients or whatever else. I work in a client-based field, so if things are slow, there might just literally not be enough new clients. Again, this feels different than just not being assigned work because you’d know that’s why you’re not busy.

Whenever I hear about people complaining about not being assigned work, it always feels like it is a dysfunctional workplace or a bad manager. So my question is that am I right that it’s bad management? Because otherwise, the two examples I described above don’t sound all that bad or problematic.

It’s just different types of jobs than yours!

In lots of jobs, there’s a fairly steady stream of new things that come up and need to be handled. Four random examples: (1) You’re invited to participate in a community event and you need to assign someone to design items for it, someone to coordinate logistics, and someone to staff the booth. (2) Your organization creates a new campaign around an event in the news and you need to assign someone to write talking points, someone to design collateral, and someone to execute the media strategy. (3) You’re pondering questions about your subscriber base and need someone to go through your subscriber data for the answers. (4) You learn about a new type of software that might be helpful for your team’s work and assign someone to research the available options and make a recommendation.

But a good manager will make sure that people have enough on their plates to keep them busy without being overwhelmed. If someone is regularly sitting around waiting for work to be assigned, that’s a problem. (Although there are some exceptions to that — in some jobs, the nature of the gig is that the work will ebb and flow, and the ebbs are built into everyone’s expectations from the start. Even then, though, ideally the person would have lower-priority projects that they can work on during slow periods.)

3. Am I supposed to let references know every time I put their names down?

I recently left a job that was doing some real damage to my mental health. In my final meetings with my supervisory line, everyone offered to serve as a reference for me. I thanked them and let them know I would take them up on that offer. I have since applied to over 40 jobs, most of which have asked for references up front. Each time I would submit my former supervisory line and often never hear from the company again.

Here is where I think I screwed up. I didn’t want to email my former managers every time I applied for a job that included them as references — that would be almost an email every day. However, apparently one of them recently refused to provide a reference for me because he didn’t know he was being put down as a reference, despite agreeing to it prior. I was told this by a hiring manager who was extending me an offer and who wanted to let me know. She reminded me that it’s good practice to make sure your references are aware of their role ahead of time. I’m embarrassed and feel like I’m starting off on a bad foot already with this new employer. Now I’m just anxious about this job rather than excited.

I thought about giving my references a heads-up when this new company let me know they’d be contacting them. But then the email would still read as “I already put your name down so get ready” which didn’t feel deferential or respectful enough. Ultimately I chickened out because I still get super anxious at the thought of emailing them, even though our work relationship is over. Wrong choice I know, but here we are.

In the future (hopefully years from now), I plan to be much more explicit when asking people to be references, including a written confirmation via email. I also plan to ask how they want me to handle putting them down in lots of applications (email every time? heads-up if possible? etc.) Hindsight being 20/20, I should have known that I needed to get everything in writing from my former employer based on what my experience was working there. But what is the right way to navigate this situation?

You’re not expected to alert a reference every single time you put their name down; as you point out, that could be dozens of times in a month. Instead, typically people just give one heads-up at the start of their job search and that’s assumed to cover at least the next few months. If you get to the finalist stage in a hiring process and know they’re about to check references, it’s smart to let your references know that’s happening so they’re expecting the call and you can mention any specifics you’d like them to highlight for that particular job).

It sounds like in this case, your managers offered to be references but you didn’t then circle back to let them know more officially that you were embarking on a search and wanted to put their names down. I can see why you didn’t necessarily think you needed to if this all happened close together, though! And that reference who refused — after proactively offering to do it — was being a jerk.

4. How to negotiate more vacation when you’re based in a country with more time off

I am currently working as a freelancer for a great company in the U.S. (I am in the UK). They are very happy with my work and have asked if I would come on board full-time. However, they want to give me the UK minimum for annual leave (20 days a year and bank holidays). In reality, most jobs give 25 days and bank holidays, and I don’t want to lose a week’s annual leave! However, I know that the leave situation is very different in the U.S., and I don’t want to look like I’m not reading the room by requesting 25 days from someone who may only get 5 or 10 days’ leave a year. I would be the first UK employee, so I would effectively be setting the standard.

Will I seem grossly out of touch if I ask for more leave? And if I do it, what is the best way to go about it?

Think of yourself as matter-of-factly filling them in on local norms so that they don’t seem out of touch: “In the UK, most companies offer 25 days plus holidays — would you be able to match that?” You shouldn’t seem out of touch if you’re clearly stating that this is the norm in the place where they’re hiring. They might not agree to meet it, but it’s a reasonable thing to point out.

5. I just started a new job and need two weeks off for surgery

I just started a lovely new admin job at the turn of the new year, and I really enjoy my office and coworkers. I left teaching last summer and temped this fall, so I really want to make sure I make a good impression!

I need to have an eye surgery in the next two months, February or March. I won’t be able to see for two weeks, and I will be super drugged up so obviously work is a no-go. However, I’m worried for asking for two weeks off so close to my starting date! I don’t even think I have accumulated the sick days yet. I don’t think I’m eligible for FMLA yet, but the people I work for are ethically-grounded individuals. Do you have any advice or a script on how to approach this?

This should be fine! This isn’t asking to take a two-week vacation right after starting a new job; it’s medically necessary surgery. Sometimes stuff like that happens, and any decent employer will understand.

I would say, “I’ve just learned I need to have eye surgery sometime in the next two months. I won’t be able to see for two weeks afterwards so won’t be able to work during that period and wanted to let you know right away. What’s the best way for me to handle that time since I won’t have accumulated the sick leave yet?”

They might tell you that you need to take the time unpaid, but a good employer will work with you on other options.

{ 321 comments… read them below }

  1. GiraffeGirl*

    #3, I would try not to stress too much about “starting off on a bad foot” because of the reference issue. I don’t think it says anything about your ability to do the job. It’s just one small detail of the job search process. And I agree with Alison that this was a jerk move on the part of your reference. Best of luck in the new job, hope you love it!

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      #3, your new employer extended the offer to you because they have confidence in your ability to do the job well. There’s no reason that has changed, and you have every reason to be equally confident about your new role. She hired you despite the lousy behavior of your reference, and you can walk into the job as excited as you were before. Congratulations and good luck!

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Good point. And odds are only a handful of people know about it so with a bit of time and newer hires (I’m talking months, not years) no one is going to remember the details of the recruitment process. Also, personally, I would think worse of the reference than the candidate in this situation. Yeah, being surprised by a reference request is no fun, but there is no reason to be a jerk about it

    3. jane's nemesis*

      Yes, I wanted to emphasize this as well! The hiring manager likely has not thought twice about it since letting you know what happened. You are not starting off on the wrong foot at all!

    4. The boss of me*

      Exactly! OP3 still got the job offer. Everybody know that weenies abound, and figured the reference guy is a weenie.
      Enjoy your new adventure!

    5. generic_username*

      Agree. The person extended the offer because the other references were good and then decided you would be better off knowing about the reference who refused when they called.

      I would also add that I agree with Alison that one notification at the beginning of your job search is good enough (until a job explicitly lets you know they’re calling – in which case more detail is warranted for your reference), but OP3’s situation was weird because they were extended the offer to act as a reference verbally at the beginning of their job search (assuming they told the former workplace that they were going to find something new immediately and didn’t say they were taking time off between jobs for mental health). I would have followed up with each person individually in an email with something like “Thank you so much for your offer during our final meeting to provide a reference during my upcoming job search. I have attached my resume for your reference when potential employers call and wanted to verify the contact information you wanted me to use (I do this because I’ve had some references want to use work email and some want to use personal, some want to use their work phone and some want to use cell, etc…). This would give them a reminder of the offer (probably made off the cuff) and allow them to tell you more honestly if they aren’t actually sure they can provide a good reference (if they offered because everyone else in the meeting was but really didn’t mean it)

      1. Antilles*

        +1
        This is a really good plan.
        As someone who’s provided a bunch of references for others, it’s really helpful when someone includes their resume and a bit of detail about the kinds of jobs they’re applying for. This gives me time to think through what I’m going to say rather than being caught off guard and allows me to sort of ‘tailor’ things so you shine.

  2. Librarian1*

    oh wow, I’ve never been on the blog when the first post of the day was posted! This is so exciting!

    1. Raven*

      It’s one of the nice things about being a night owl! I’ve been the first commenter on AAM posts a few times because I’m normally up late.

      Maybe that’s what the A.M. in AAM stands for!

    2. Bowserkitty*

      Being in a completely different time zone means I see them all the time!

      Caveat: I miss out on the FFAs….

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        UK here and yeah, I generally don’t get to see the later daily posts until the next day, so I miss a lot of that discussion.

      2. Just delurking to say...*

        Australia here – the short answers are my afternoon reading but most everything else goes up while I’m asleep.

  3. Librarian1*

    Anywho, I agree with the answer to number 1. Therapy for anger management sounds like a great idea.

    1. allathian*

      Definitely. Being angry at work to the point of yelling isn’t a good look. The saving grace of this is that the second incident happened out of public view, so unless either the other department head and your mutual manager is a gossip, nobody else needs to know about it. That said, the fact that this isn’t the first incident is somewhat worrying, and anger management training is absolutely necessary, if you’re ever going to overcome this. But it can be done.

      I’m not a manager, but I’ve yelled at a former manager who managed by building relationships, and who for some reason had selected me as her confidante. Bad management by her, and I should’ve known better than to allow that to happen (but I wasn’t an AAM reader when it happened). Her predecessor had been a very work driven person, who barely seemed to recognize that her reports were human, so just being treated like a human being rather than a resource to be exploited was such a contrast that I allowed myself to be closer friends with her than I should have. For example, I should’ve put a stop to it when she talked about her son’s messy divorce, but I guess I was flattered by her confidences. This was fine for as long as things were going well, or if I needed support from her as a supervisor. But then we had a project that really stressed me out, almost to the point of burnout. Like a good manager should, she intervened and took some of the projects I was really invested in away from me, to give me the time to do the big project. I really resented that, and reacted by yelling at her and by questioning her managerial authority. This was obviously unacceptable, so there was an intervention by HR, and both of us were ordered to talk to an occupational health psychologist through our EAP. We had individual sessions, as well as a joint session to discuss how each of us had seen the events. There I apologized to my manager, and at some point I realized that I didn’t respect her as my manager because she had used me as her confidante. I apologized to her, but our relationship never recovered. Fortunately for me, she’d already been thinking about getting out of management, and my yelling at her was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She went on job rotation to another agency, then came back for six months to do a project as an IC, and then she retired.

      I haven’t had any anger issues since then, even when I’ve been stressed, and the interim manager who did the job while my former manager was on job rotation, and my current manager, are both professionals who don’t try to be friends with their reports, so I’ve had no problems accepting their managerial authority. I did learn my lesson, though, to never become friends with a manager.

      When the incident happened, I was so ashamed of myself, because I don’t get angry easily, and to yell at people in anger is an extreme reaction for me. But please don’t let the feelings of shame and embarrassment stop you from dealing with the anger issues, it’s the only way to move forward.

      I work for the government in a country where employee protections are much better than in the US. But if I hadn’t learned my lessons, and if my then-manager had continued as my manager for longer, I might’ve been fired for insubordination at some point.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I hope OP reads this and sees they are not alone.
        One thing that jumps at me here is that the yelling came on the heels of a longer plot. It was not just about the problem at the moment. I hope you think about this, OP. Yelling can happen when one feels a loss of control.
        Are there other ways you feel you do not have control over your work? You mention that you never get reviews but you do get merit raises. Do you find yourself guessing if you are doing a good job or not?

        I had a job where I was actually told, “If we are not scolding you, that means you are doing a good job.” I was walking on egg shells the whole time I worked there. We need feedback be it good, bad or neutral. We need inputs in to how we are handling our jobs. Employees at my old place were “starving” for inputs, real inputs, not just admonishments. Scolding also included being hit with snark and put downs. The place was tense.

        It’s striking to me that you are concerned about your rep. It could be that this is just a common sense reaction and there is nothing to it. Or it could be that you always worry about your rep and could that be happening because you never get evals or other inputs? Again, I do see that this could just be a normal reaction to your own behaviors and nothing more.

        I think private counseling is a terrific idea. Remember the rule of three. Once is a genuine mistake. Twice is a yellow flag. Three times is a problem. You have your yellow flag, now is the BEST time to take big intervention steps. You have an opportunity here to re-earn respect. People DO admire those who work hard at correcting their poorer choices in life. And this is not something just to make you feel good- I am sure if you think about it you know someone who was doing X, got help and stopped doing X. Admirable, right?

        FWIW, the place my husband worked at offered anger management help. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was totally aware that the help “wore” off after a while and the employee had to be sent to anger management again in years to come. Just my opinion, but the work programs are too short to make a life-long lasting impact. A life change takes more than that.

        One last thought and it’s not something Alison mentioned but you might want to have a really good physical with your GP. Make sure there are no big changes going on inside your body that could be driving your upsets.

        1. Oui yes si*

          I want to add my support to seeing your GP. I read last week that LOW cholesterol can be a cause of anger, and there are other possible physical problems, from depression to mini-strokes that can result in angry outbursts. Good luck to you!

          1. WFMMom*

            I second a visit to a GP. I was recently diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I wasn’t sad so much as frequently on edge. The turning point for me was when I lost my temper with my child again and then threw a pair of shoes at them. The look on their face was heartbreaking and I knew I had to do something. I’m now on a low dose of medication and it has made a world of difference. I’m much less irritated and more able to keep my emotions in check.

            1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

              Yes, getting on anti-anxiety medication nearly cured me of my short fuse. It’s much easier to roll with the punches and deal with cascading minor irritations when your body isn’t in a perpetual fight/flight mode.

        2. Clemgo3165*

          I echo the good physical, including bloodwork. Especially if you find yourself easily angered in other areas beyond work.

          I was the angry employee, slamming doors, etc. I even used foul language after someone pushed my buttons one too many times in a row. Definitely not my finest hour, but for some reason my temper was just boiling and I couldn’t control it. And I’m usually a pretty calm person.

          At the same time I was feeling boiling hot all of the time, my heart was at a resting rate of 150 bpm, I couldn’t satisfy my appetite, etc. It took over a year and a trip to the ER to diagnose me with Grave’s disease and get the treatment I needed. While it’s not an excuse for my behavior it does it explain why my temper was flaring.

          Medication managed the problem and I’ve not had similar issues since. While I do get angry sometimes, it’s nothing I can’t control.

        3. PT*

          I wanted to add here, I’ve worked in high stress workplaces where people losing it and yelling was…not uncommon. The workplace was very dysfunctional, almost abusive, staff were expected to be on call 24/7 and work split shifts (so for example a director might have to cover 5 am to 8 am and then 5 pm to 8 pm for two front line staffers who are out, while also doing their 40 hour a week job, while also doing this 7 days a week for several months, while having no support from their boss who is making their job harder and demanding they work more hours to fix more things, while the payroll software crashed so nobody’s pay was correct and it required hours and hours of time to fix it, while also getting Karened for any of the shortages by various customers and being ridden hard by other staff members who were sick of getting Karened themselves.)

          Occasionally, some very good and kind and patient people snapped. They always apologized, and we always understood.

        4. Formerly Angry Guy*

          I agree with the answer to #1. In fact, I could have WRITTEN #1 (two outbursts in a very short period of time).

          Management intervened and referred me to mandatory anger management counseling. I owned it when discussing with management and took the counseling sessions.

          Fortunately, due to working remotely, only management and the other co-worker involved were aware of the issue. The counselor helped me with addressing the underlying issues, and I am much happier now. I have personally apologized to the co-worker in question and to management. While there is a note in my file, I am lucky to work for a company that understands that people are people and not numbers. In my case, it has not affected my prospects with the company.

          #1, it is OK to be embarrassed. I am obviously not familiar with your company, so I do not know how it will affect your career. I hope you are as lucky with your employer as I was. Wishing you the best.

      2. Meep*

        I don’t necessarily think yelling is the be-all in context. I have “screamed” at my (former) boss a couple of times. She lacks boundaries (think telling strangers about “hot men” she dates) and was being verbally abusive.

        The first time I was in the car driving (which she KNEW and refused to let me get off the phone – on top of insisting if I was late I would be written up so pulling over wasn’t really an option) where she started to berate me for “not communicating” (which is always rich coming from her) with her boss (which is even richer as she screams at you if you do talk to him). I think I shouted “I have sent countless texts and emails. Go f*cking talk to him and let me drive into work.” before I proceeded to cry. She then tried to gaslight me and say she hadn’t been yelling at me. I think I hung up at that point. When her boss found out about it, because she whined to him that I was being “mean” to her, he was surprisingly sympathetic towards me.

        The second time was again on the phone (because no paper trail of her being abusive!) but it was 9 PM at night. She had just potentially exposed me to COVID and I had told her I would work from home until I had a negative test. She had been receptive in the morning meeting but suddenly wanted me to come in the next day to fix her boss’s computer (not my job in the first place). It wasn’t so much yelling as much as she pretended I had yelled at her. It was a firm, but calm, “I am not coming in until I have a negative covid test because I am not a raging a$$hole.” I later found out he didn’t even need or want his computer fixed. She had purposefully tried to get me in trouble for quarantining and following CDC guidelines after SHE exposed me to COVID. Thankfully I was wearing a mask. She has had COVID twice now and remains unvaccinated.

        In OP’s case, it definitely seems like anger management as opposed to long-term abuse, though. Still, I think understanding the situation is important.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      The part about not letting feelings of shame and embarrassment get in the way is very important. I got the feeling that LW wants to sweep this all under the rug and make this go far away and aggressively pretend it never happened, which LW hopes will make everyone just forget. I get it, and I agree that you don’t necessarily want to harp on it or make this a capital-T Thing at work, but that doesn’t mean you should never address it or deal with it. A couple of sessions with someone who can give you some coping strategies for next time things get out of hand can go a long way.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Pretending is so toxic! It will probably work with people who haven’t seen your outbursts, or heard about them, or are not your boss.
        Those who have seen or heard about it will know you’re pretending and question your integrity and honesty.
        If you have any direct reports, they will be very uncomfortable with you and their main focus will be avoiding another outburst-not doing their best work or getting things done or bringing you things they need help with.
        This is how it will be until your next outburst, which will definitely happen if you don’t get help. Then you might actually get punished or fired.

    3. Allonge*

      Yes. LW1, it sounds like being referred to the EAP feels like punishment to you, but it’s looking for a solution, really. Can you look at it like that? Especially because, as Alison says, this is serious and will impact your position at this company the way you are afraid of.

      1. londonedit*

        This is exactly what I was going to say – OP1 talks about ‘being disciplined at work’, as if being referred to the EAP is a punishment, but I’d try not to see it like that. The boss has simply told them to contact the EAP because it’s a resource that’s there to help with issues like this, and it’s clear that getting angry to the point of yelling at someone (twice) really isn’t something that can continue happening in a normal workplace. I think the best way to mend their reputation is to follow the boss’s advice, do the anger management sessions, and then make it clear to the boss – both by telling them what they’ve learned and by demonstrating it – that they have taken the lessons on board. It might still be the case that people are wary around them for a while, or that their boss doesn’t have the same level of trust in them, but the only way to rebuild that is to demonstrate that they’ve learned and they’re not going to react in the same way.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          This.

          You are not being sent to therapy as a punishment – you are going because they value you and want you to get through this.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Definitely. If it was punishment, you’d be looking at a PIP and a, “If you ever do something like that again you are fired” talk

        2. Lab Boss*

          Yeah, my first thought when the boss referred LW to anger management was “LW must be really valued in the company,” because the boss is not only NOT really disciplining them for the outburst but is actively trying to get them help to correct the issue so they can stay and succeed at the company.

          1. AuntAmy*

            Agree! I went through something similar where I was experiencing anxiety that showed up as very easily irritable and short tempered. My manager approached me and let me know that I needed to work on it. No EAP, but I took her seriously and reconnected with my therapist. Ended up taking meds for a bit to regulate and regroup. I considered it a gift. I wish you the very best in working this out! It sounds like they want you to stay on and be successful with them.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Totally agree. LW1 is reading this as a punishment, but I really don’t think that’s how it’s intended. There’s no mention of a warning on file or anything like that; rather, it’s “before this becomes a problem, let’s make sure LW1 can upskill in this particular area”.

        One outburst could be an anomaly. Two suggests a pattern. I’m actually quite impressed that this company is sufficiently invested in its people to take action this quickly and sensitively.

        The only company I’ve known do this perhaps better were slightly less insistent about the anger management angle, and slightly more insistent on a week off to recover his mental health, and the signposting to therapy providers through their medical insurance.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Eh, this stuff feels like punishment, period, at least at the start.

          When my father was in his final illness and then passed, I went for months on 1-4 hours of sleep per night. I developed an edge to my personality. And finally, I was so miserable to be around, *I* did not want to be around me. It was not reasonable to think others would want to be around me. My boss suggested EAP. She was stunned when I agreed that I needed help. I said, “But I think I need something deeper and longer lasting than a few sessions with EAP. I am going to find a private counselor.” At this point my boss was ecstatic. I heard her message and gave her a very serious and very real answer. I stopped being such a jerk and the problem nor the counseling was never mentioned again.

          I agree that the company sees value in you, OP, and they are putting the time in to keep you going under their employ. This is a compliment. When I got serious about helping myself I totally forgot about the feelings of being punished.

      3. Eleanor Abernathy*

        I had to talk to a counselor through EAP for a similar reason. I was incredibly burnt out and really lost my temper and yelled at someone. I was embarrassed and worried about keeping my job or my future ability to get a new one. EAP was so helpful to me and I’m ultimately glad my HR mandated it. Recently my manger told me how much she appreciates me and hopes I’ll be there for a while still. You can recover from this!

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, this is so important I think! Did you boss actually phrase this as discipline, or do you just feel that way because you are basically feeling consequences for your actions? Consequences are not automatically discipline! This sounds more like your boss sees a thing you are struggling with at work and assigns you to take some training to improve in that area–which is totally normal!

        I think also while this is something you should take seriously, you may come back from this. One key piece of info missing from your letter is the amount of time that passed between the two incidents. If they are both recent that will be more memorable to others than if the other incident was years ago. I also think there are two things on your side: 1) you knew in the moment that you were wrong and apologized and left and 2) you know this is a problem and you want to fix it. That puts you in a better position than a lot of others with angry outbursts! Don’t be ashamed that your boss has referred you to anger management as there is nothing shameful about getting help. Take it as a real opportunity to work on something you are struggling with.

        And one more thing: it’s easier said than done but I want to point out another important reason not to get so angry at work (or at least not to take it out on your coworkers). Mistakes happen–that is inevitable. The earlier someone catches a mistake the easier it is to try to fix the situation. If people worry that you will yell at them if they say they made a mistake, it might make them less likely to admit to it at all! You say your public reputation was *almost* impacted, so that means the mistake came to light early enough to salvage it. That meeting that you yelled in was part of saving your reputation! In those situations it’s best to be gracious and focus on the solution rather than the problem.

      5. Librarian of SHIELD*

        When I was in school I went through some Big Deal experiences in my home life that started having an impact on the way I interacted with the world. One of my teachers noticed and referred me to the school social worker for counseling. At the time, I was mortified. It felt like I had failed as a person for not being able to handle everything and not being able to suppress those feelings in public. It absolutely felt like punishment.

        But. It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. The freedom that comes with being able to talk about your feelings with someone who has no emotional connection to the rest of your life is something I hadn’t expected, but sorely needed.

        OP, something inside your brain has decided to use your anger to protect yourself. Until you figure out why that’s happening and find healthier ways to deal with it, it’s going to stay a problem.

      6. NYC Taxi*

        Yes! EAP isn’t a punishment. I was suffering from near daily panic attacks at work due to a personal family situation and would go to our medical office to try to calm myself so my team wouldn’t see me falling apart. The physician assistant there recommended I use EAP benefits, which I never wanted to do because wrongly I thought it would get back to the big bosses that I was struggling. I used the benefits then worked with a MSW to help with coping strategies. It changed my life for the better – both in terms of personal and work lives. And no more full blown panic attacks since then.

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Same. I know its embarrassing/disappointing/ego hurting to be assigned to this by work, but this might also be a wake-up call that something needs to be worked on. Two anger outburst in 3 years is a sign that something needs to be worked on by the LW and to not gloss over these outbursts. Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes. I get the sense that having this assigned is disrupting LW’s self-image — he doesn’t see himself as the type of person who gets disciplined at work or who has anger management issues. From his perspective, he had a bad moment and now he’s the Guy With Anger Issues. Of course that’s upsetting! But all you can do now, LW, is work to become the person you saw yourself as.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      Eh, I disagree that its recoverable. OP#1 will always be known as the guy who was ordered to have anger management therapy. I don’t see him recovering from it, tbh. OP, definitely take the therapy and learn and grow so you get healthy and don’t repeat these mistakes. But also start looking for a new job. It’ll be much easier to start fresh than to rebuild from your current reputation.

      1. JustaTech*

        “Will always be known” – by whom? Their boss, obviously, and maybe the other manager, but unless the OP, the OP’s boss or the other manager choose to share that OP’s boss said “go to anger management through the EAP” who else will know?
        I guess if the OP’s office is super-gossip-y then everyone will know, but that’s bad office environment they should be looking to leave, regardless of what is or is not in their “permanent record”.

        Is it your experience that all offices are utterly unforgiving?

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          >Is it your experience that all offices are utterly unforgiving?

          That’s a touch hyperbolic.

          A decent manager is going to want to make sure that the team knows that kind of conduct is unacceptable. It’s tough to do that if it’s all swept under the rug. Plus, information like that tends to get out one way or another. Counting on it remaining secret is not a good strategy.

          1. Aitch Arr*

            There’s a big difference between “We are aware of the issue with Bob and his outburst. We are addressing the issue. If you witness another outburst, please tell us.”

            And “We told Bob he had to go to Anger Management Classes or be fired.”

            One is good management and communication, the other is gossip.

            I had a very senior manager like OP#1.
            Unfortunately, his outbursts were not few and far between. I pushed the C-level to write him up and as a requirement to seek coaching/counseling from EAP.

            3 years later, he has made a complete turnaround. He is still seeing the coach/counselor that EAP recommended (maybe once a month now). Because the coach/counselor was an LICSW, after the EAP sessions ran out, he started seeing the coach/counselor as a provider through my company’s medical insurance.

            1. JustaTech*

              This is exactly what I was getting at: it’s not about keeping the anger management classes secret, it’s about keeping them *private*.
              If management says “we are addressing the issue” and people see that Bob has changed his approach to interacting with others for the better, and there aren’t any more shouting incidents, then does it actually matter if Bob was specifically instructed to take anger management or if Bob chose on his own to seek therapy? The important thing is that Bob was told his behavior was not acceptable and he changed his behavior.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                With all due respect, “we’re addressing the issue” is meaningless without showing the action that is being taken.

            2. Trout 'Waver*

              You’re proving my point – 3 years later he’s still known as the guy who went to anger management therapy.

              1. pancakes*

                I don’t at all agree that discussing how impressive it was that this guy was able to turn things around, in the context of a q&a about anger management classes, proves your point. Your point seems to be that someone in this position can either move on to a new job where no one knows the circumstances of why they left their last one, or remain in place and forevermore be known as someone with an anger management problem. There are numerous comments here from people who know someone who did the work and successfully overcame the problem.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  You’re still proving my point…. In all those examples what stands out is that the person went to anger management therapy. Lauding someone for overcoming a serious problem like that isn’t the compliment you’re making it out to be. Anger management issues are very serious, and as is very obvious from the comments here, people remember them for a *LONG* time.

    6. YallAdopter*

      I love that LW#1 is reaching out for advice. I’d encourage them to lean into the opportunities to learn and grow and develop better behaviors in stressful situations. I worked closely with a manager with major issues of anger and intimidation. I hated working with this person – an angry shouting man triggered an old fear response and would shut me down for hours. His subordinates didn’t respect him because he was irrational and angry, and his department was a mess.

      But! Something happened (I imagine some words with his boss) and this person started Doing The Work – you could see it over time. The angry outbursts did eventually stop. The key piece was that he also worked hard to rebuild the relationships that he had destroyed with his anger. That took a lot of time, but this manager has gone from being seen as an absolute glassbowl to someone genuinely sympathetic, trustworthy, and effective at their job. I have a good relationship with him now based on mutual support and trust.

      LW, please think about how your actions – even if occasional – affect your coworkers. You’re lucky to have the chance to fix it, and you can.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I’m so impressed by Alison, the commentariat, and OP here. I have worked in lots of offices where anger and yelling was pretty common and nobody would have ever gotten in trouble for it. I’m glad I don’t work in those places anymore. If anybody yelled at me now I would probably quit on the spot.

        1. Cercis*

          I think it’s a sign of how dysfunctional my workplaces have been. Yelling 2 times over 3 years would not have been seen as a problem at any of my jobs, yelling several times a month was pretty normal. At one job, yelling so loud that people on other floors heard was normal-ish but was actually addressed to a certain extent but mostly as a “you know that wasn’t okay, and we’re sorry you were yelled at, how are some ways we can work to prevent that situation from happening again?” putting it all on the person who was yelled at, not the person who did the yelling.

          But I already knew law offices were toxic places. And sadly the tree care industry isn’t much better.

    7. jane's nemesis*

      I really hope that LW can stop looking at the referral to anger management as “discipline” or “punishment.” The referral was the absolute right call by their manager and I hope they take it seriously and can get help from it!

      1. jane's nemesis*

        I also want to add, there’s nothing in LW’s letter about the impact of their yelling on the other manager. I would like the LW to think about how awful it may have made the other person feel and that the very least they can do is attend the EAP anger management classes with an open mind and a will to change for the better.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Yes, It’s normal to respond very poorly to being yelled at. It’s frightening wondering if the person is going to hit you or attack you, and demoralizing because you know you don’t deserve it and you feel disrespected and abused. No matter what the situation is, this is the normal reaction to being yelled at in close quarters.

    8. Little My*

      I also think that this LW should really consider the way gender (and race) plays a role in this trait of his, and discuss it in therapy. As some other folks have mentioned, a loud angry man can be viscerally frightening for many women, whether they are the direct target of your shouting or not, and I assume LW doesn’t want to be causing that.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        I was curious about this as well, but since I didn’t see OP specify their gender or the department head’s, I jumped to another perspective. Women are often punished for showing the least sign of anger, where speaking firmly or disapprovingly is often perceived as yelling. (As a woman I’ve even been guilty of referring to myself as having yelled when what I mean is I spoke firmly) On top of that, is OP a woman who hurt a man’s pride in front of their male boss? I didn’t want to go too far down that road, since OP seems comfortable admitting that, whatever happened, they were indeed out-of-line. But I wondered. Oh, I wondered.

        And yes, I totally agree that a loud angry man can be terrifying and that is very, very worth considering as well.

        1. FDS*

          I can almost guarantee it is a male that was doing the yelling without even having to look further in the comments. Let’s be real looking through the history of everyone that’s written in about yelling coworkers. Assuming that this issue splits down gender lines by 50% is completely laughable.

            1. FDS*

              There seemed to be some speculation with other commentators too. I was just commenting on the speculation and that men tend to grossly disproportionately represent in office yelling making the speculation pointless.

    9. JulieF*

      The EAP counselor may refer OP1 on to longer-term therapy.

      Also, I used to have angry outbursts – usually by myself and only one ever at work, and that was 21 years ago. I’ve noticed that since being on antidepressants they pretty much stopped happening. So if there are other factors to suggest medication is warranted, it could help with that.

    10. Office Lobster DJ*

      This referral lets OP’s manager say that he has Done Something. Maybe in the intervening time, the other department head put in a complaint, and OP’s manager [tried to / had to] appease by Doing Something, even if he otherwise wouldn’t have thought it was necessary. Particularly since OP says their manager is generally sub-par, this lets him duck having an uncomfortable conversation with OP while still telling himself, his own boss, or whoever else that he has Done Something to handle the situation.

      OP, not to downplay how out-of-line you might have been, but if it helps you move through the paralysis of shame, consider that there may be other nuances at play in this referral, in addition to the actual severity of the event.

    11. LittleMarshmallow*

      I also agree that therapy and anger management classes are a good idea. Here to also offer encouragement. I have seen numerous “yellers” promoted into management. It might be a combo of working in manufacturing and in a company that is pretty dysfunctional about who they promote, but out of the people I’ve worked with that yelled and berated people, I’ve seen more of them promoted than I’ve seen anyone care about their bad behavior. My current grand-boss is a known yeller. He’s mellowed a little but I still get anxious talking to him, but thankfully for him, my opinion on him being terrifying to talk to doesn’t matter. So I’d say you have a decent chance of being just fine.

      Also… it really sucks on your first disciplinary situation in your professional life. I hear ya… it can be really disheartening. I’ve only been disciplined once. It was awful. Accidental safety violation… it happens. My advice is to not let it get you down because that will only make things worse. Take your lumps, vow to do better and then move on and learn from it and you’ll likely be just fine. :)

  4. nnn*

    One thing that struck me in #4 is they asked you to come on board full-time. It’s not like you’re applying for a job they’ve posted and then asking them to drastically change the terms and conditions.

    If they can’t match your vacation, you can just shrug your shoulders and say “In that case, I think it works best for everyone if I stay freelance.” They proposed a change in the status quo, and after looking into it a bit you’ve determined that the status quo works better. Nothing lost on either side.

    1. Squidlet*

      That makes sense if the OP has the option to stay on as a freelancer, but not if the company has decided they want to make the role itself permanent.

        1. WellRed2020*

          Yes, as a freelancer, those vacation days aren’t paid ( unless they are under some sort of UK thing). There may be other benefits too. Or not. I’m actually quite curious.

          1. AnalystintheUK*

            Can confirm they are not – also being freelance in the UK means no statutory sick pay, maternity/paternity pay and pension, so LW is likely missing out on a whole pile of benefits they would be entitled to as an employee rather than an independent contractor. Plus they’ll currently be having to do a tax return every year which is not standard for most people, so that’s additional admin to do each January that being an employee gets rid of for them.

            Honestly I think if the company is willing to go through the full rigmarole of being an employer in another country I’m not sure they’ll balk at the 5 extra days – compared to the obligation to pay pension contributions, national insurance and the like it’s probably not going to be a big deal

            1. Amaranth*

              I’d want to take a good look at UK/US equivalencies on things like health insurance. If they aren’t providing those kinds of benefits due to LW’s location, are they making up for it in other areas?

            2. Imaginary Friend*

              Wait, what? UK employees don’t have to do a tax return every year? That alone explains why people feel so differently about Inland Revenue as compared to the Internal Revenue Service. (Am I understanding you correctly?)

              1. Badger*

                Yup, we use a system called pay as you earn (PAYE) where our tax is taken out of our pay before we receive it. It also means that deductions (pensions, childcare allowance etc) are taken out of our pay before tax is calculated.

    1. Whimsical Gadfly*

      You are assuming they are in a state that has that. Not all do.

      My mother worked at Disability Determination Services in UT for over a decade, and she’s mentioned a lot of folks who moved from CA calling and having terrible culture shock when they learned UT doesn’t have anything like that (some employers do, but the state doesn’t.)

      1. EPLawyer*

        Or if the state has it and they qualify and it can be processed in time. When I had my car accident and they were trying to find out why I passed out while driving the cardiologist was all “we need to test you all kinds of ways and you can’t drive for 3 months.” I said I need to drive for work, I can’t be off work for 3 months. He said “go on disability.” I was all “do you even know the freaking process and oh and by the way I am self-employed, no work for 3 months means no job to come back to.” I found a new doctor. Who did one simple blood test (no not theranos, standard stuff) and found out I was anemic and that’s why I passed out.

    2. Random Internet Stranger*

      That assumes they qualify. At my company you have to be there for 6 months before you’re eligible for ST/LT disability.

      1. NotWhatYouThink*

        Random but funny memory…

        Our office HR person put a sticky note beside the name on our receptionist’s phone switchboard of someone who went out on short-term disability. So at the front desk where all could see, there was a bright yellow sticky by the poor person’s name with “STD” is big letters for several weeks….

        Even after several mentioned that health status should not be visible to everyone, and disability leave should not be abbreviated “STD” as that would be confused with something very particular and embarrassing, they still left it up there because “Short Term Disability”

  5. AcademiaNut*

    For #2 – I find that you can categorize a lot of jobs as task based, or project based. In the former, you’ve got a list of specific things you do on a regular basis – doing weekly payroll, for example, or processing widgets in a production line, or regular data entry. In the latter, you don’t have specific repeating duties, but are working on part of a larger, often non-repeating project. Planning a convention, building a new instrument, developing a software package, that sort of thing.

    My job is almost entirely the latter – I literally don’t have repeating tasks beyond regularly scheduled meetings. Part of my supervisor’s job is keeping track of how parts of the project are assigned, and making sure that no one is overloaded, as that overwork them, and block other people who need the results of their work. The way things work is that we never actually finish everything – there’s always something more to do. So pacing and longer term schedules are important.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      My job is the same. I provide technical assistance to a bunch of one-off community/organizational studies, surveys, and events. My tasks will be similarish between events, but never identical, and the pace is set by stakeholders, so I have bits of time where I haven’t been assigned a new project after I have finished or am wrapping up an old one. My boss figures out which projects need my skills and assigns them to me and in the in-between I don’t have any actual work to do. During those gaps I catch up on admin work and trainings and just wait for the next assignment.

    2. ecnaseener*

      This is a good framework. I’d clarify that task-based work isn’t always on a regular schedule (I’m thinking of systems with tickets/orders coming in at unpredictable times but a fairly steady flow)

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Another difference, you have a team all performing the same basic role but at differing skill levels or differing levels of familiarity with different types of problems. For example in software developers work together and someone needs to assign each development task to a developer and then someone needs to assign the job of testing it to a tester. Tasks will be assigned based on experience/domain knowledge in the area the work is being done and employee’s availability.

      Now in my experience we’re always overworked and overloaded and not underassigned and bored.

      It can’t just be a free-for-all. Some people would volunteer to work on everything. We actually have conversations about stopping developers from volunteering every time someone sends an email asks for help because that developer has too much on their plate and we need to have them focus on something else.

      I guess their could still be management where someone inexperienced and not as skilled is just never assigned anything, but that is bad management. They should have something to do even if it’s just the easiet jobs while they get up to speed.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        This is extremely true in my experience. In addition to assignments being made on who has specific domain knowledge, they are also made on who needs to gain domain knowledge. (Effectively, cross training so we aren’t left at a complete loss when someone gets abducted by aliens.)

        (That said, I did once have a situation where I was wrapping up one project, and didn’t have another one to immediately move on to. I concluded my updates at our daily standup by saying “No roadblocks. Also, no road.” I had a new project before lunchtime. But oversights like that are extremely rare.)

      2. Software Dev*

        We do a Kanban style system where everyone picks up tasks from queue. We do this specifically so that we don’t end up with one developer who has domain specific knowledge and everyone has exactly one task to work on at a time. Works pretty well for us, but not perfectly.

    4. just another bureaucrat*

      This is very much the case. I run an area that is nearly all project based work with some tasks thrown in. I’m constantly adjusting and juggling who has what project based on what I know of their workloads. I’m fairly good at estimating how long the work should take for each person but I need people to speak up when they are finding themselves with extra space or overwhelmed. I get incredibly frustrated when people go directly to my staff because of this. Asking to “just do a quick thing” can be a giant 5 week project I don’t know they have when I agree to take something else on, and my team had to take a lot of proding to realize that they need to move those things to me. Sometimes the answer is “No, we can’t do that” sometimes it’s “yes, but not until the other thing” sometimes it’s “yes, I’ve got someone with free time”. And staff don’t know what the whole picture looks like. And while I give them what the upcoming work will be they don’t know and can’t control the timing on that so it’s got to go through a process for that.

      This is why talk to your boss should be the first thing for anyone who is feeling either over worked or under worked. They won’t just know. I had someone who was overwhelmed to the point of a melt down and had been working on a project for months, I did the whole thing over a weekend and it was nothing for me. That person can’t do that work so I won’t assign it to them, but you don’t know until you try assigning things to people. Sometimes they blow you away and get it done fast and well and that’s great.

    5. Smithy*

      Another wrinkle to this dynamic is how much your work is impacted by internal factors vs external factors.

      My work is heavily dictated by external ones, so a significant part of my manager’s job is to balance individual contributor’s overall workload with an expectation that a certain percentage will turn into high touch work, some medium touch work and others low touch work keeping their plate full. In practice, there may come a point where an individual contributor goes to their manager and says “I’m light on work, and can either take on a short-term project or preferably assign me new long term projects/tasks”.

      At this point, the manager’s experience in the role should be able to assess everything going on and either decide one of three main this 1) that the individual contributor is indeed light on work and able to take on new long-term commitments, 2) that the lull appears temporary and offer extra short term work or even just accepting less to do, or 3) reevaluate how the individual contributor is managing their work and offer new approaches to try first before adding more.

      The above is the sensible and pragmatic way this dynamic can work. But because even overall decent workplaces can have their own politics and issues, often that can exacerbate these dynamics. Individual contributors are concerned if they tell their manager they don’t have enough to do (due to very reasonable external issues) that will reflect badly on them – so they keep quiet, complain to friends/family, try to quietly take over others work/etc. Good situations can mitigate against this, but this dynamic can lead to the kind of complaining the OP might be hearing and not understanding.

    6. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Another scenario is jobs where employees are responsible for a specific area but a task comes in that doesn’t fit neatly in one of the pre-existing boxes. This is the case in my job — I write contracts for the Llama Grooming group at my company, a coworker supports the Llama Feeding group, and another supports the Llama Lodging group. If something comes in specifically for Llama Grooming, it comes to me (and the group in fact largely sends things directly to me). Sometimes there are contracts that have a component of Llama Grooming and Llama Feeding, so my boss would take a look at the requirements of the contract and at our workloads and assign the contract from there.

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

      Same — even if there are projects done over and over, my part of the project might not be the exact same each time.

      Another thing with project-based or task work, is that I might have 15 large projects assigned to me, but they are all in varying states of waiting, so I don’t have anything to do at the moment…I’m waiting for content, I had a question or need clarification, I’ve sent the proof, it’s at the printer, the committee is reevaluating the project…

      There might be small administrative tasks for me to do, but even those are dependent on the larger projects — nothing to file, no expense or purchase forms to submit, no backup until the project is closed. I suppose I could dust my desk.

    8. A Feast of Fools*

      I’m in internal audit and my work is entirely project-based.

      I am a lead and, for some projects, I am in charge of requesting data / information from various areas of our business then assigning that information to lower-level staff as it comes in so they can verify that everything is as expected. We definitely have periodic [short, like maybe 1- or 2-day] lulls where we’re waiting for documentation to be completed and sent over, so there are times when lower-level staff reach out to us leads and the managers asking if there’s anything they can do.

      For other projects, I am creating the testing and assigning different areas of the project (audit) to lower-level staff for them to dig into.

      I know that many of the departments we audit have repetitive tasks that people must complete every day / week / month / quarter. They typically have checklists that they work from.

  6. June*

    Screaming managers are the absolute worst. I’ll never forget when I was the target of one and then she realized she was absolutely wrong. It never left me.

    1. JSPA*

      There is some daylight between “yelled” and “berated,” in my mind (with both being less gendered than “screamed,” which is unpleasant, but penalizes/responds to pitch, more than volume or content).

      “I was loudly wrong and jumped to conclusions” is also (separably) bad (and not relevant here, by OP’s self- report).

      Yelling, “jeez, man, do you realize how serious this nearly was? It makes us all look bad when crap like this happens” is also different from, “I’m tired of you being a shit manager of shit people, and dealing with your stupid half assed crap.” Loudly upset on everyone’s behalf, vs personal attack.

      Relative power also matters. Getting louder with a same-level manager– especially in the presence of a mutual boss, who could shut the exchange down- – is a different dynamic than bullying or berating one’s reports. That would be relevant info, for the prior incident.

    2. Saraquill*

      I was sympathetic about how much stress Former Manager was under, and how it leaked out in the office. Then she had a minutes long shouting fit at me after she peeked at my computer screen where I had someone else’s notes up. According to her, I must be incompetent at the job I’d been doing for years, how dare I follow instructions with the coworker I’ve long collaborated with, I should have been following Former Manager’s lead the whole time despite her being unconnected with my work, etc.

      That’s how I started losing esteem for Former Manager. I got phased out of my job following that fit, replaced by someone who does the same style work FM screamed at me for doing. I don’t miss that place.

    3. Parakeet*

      Yeah, I had a previous job (in academia, different field from now) where my manager shouted at me during a meeting with external stakeholders, because I had (to my own frustration too) not been able to implement a particular thing the way he wanted. I went numb and kept it together during the rest of the meeting. After the meeting I cried at my desk for a good 45 minutes. He never said anything about it, though a couple of more senior-contributor teammates came by and gently said things to the effect that he shouldn’t have done that.

      I do understand, OP1, that it can be hard not to let your frustration show in the moment, when something really big has gone wrong. There are also various conditions that make that kind of control harder – for that reason, if you’re able to afford it/if your insurance covers it, you may want to look into other options beyond anger management, which hopefully will be good but which is more about addressing behaviors than finding underlying causes.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Maybe not try to suppress frustration – suppressing feelings doesn’t really work – but rather express it in more appropriate ways.
        Maybe shake your head and say this is upsetting, this is disappointing, this shouldn’t have happened… and from there move on to fixing it and ensuring it doesn’t happen again.

  7. Fikly*

    #1: Take some serious time to consider that you are writing in and concerned about how these incidents are affecting you, rather than the people around you who have no choice but to be in your path and around you when you are angry, because their jobs are dependent on it.

    Then go to the anger management and consider some more.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I do see a hint of a struggle to survive going on. This happens when one becomes more concerned about one’s self than others around them. smh. I know first hand that life can get hard for [reasons]. The need to protect my own self became very high.

      If this makes sense to you, OP, it might be worth investigating what is going on that you have such need to protect your own self. It could be externals. I talked about my father’s illness and passing above. Sometimes life throws us a hard curve ball and every aspect of our lives can suddenly seem fragile and vulnerable.

    2. Omnivalent*

      Yes. It’s telling that the OP goes to some length to justify this first incident and minimize the impact, and doesn’t give any details of the first incident at all. As described by the OP their boss is being very severe with them. As described by everyone around the OP I would bet that “alarming” and “escalating” are words being used.

    3. Generic Name*

      I agree. It’s also concerning to me that OP takes the time to explain how their boss is a bad manager. It really isn’t relevant at all. OP, are you blaming your boss for your (most recent) angry outburst. I assure you, millions of people worldwide toil under angry (and sometimes even abusive) bosses and manage to never yell or have a single angry outburst at work. I’m not saying those bosses are in any way acceptable. I’m saying one doesn’t excuse the other.

      1. Loulou*

        It’s completely relevant to the question they asked, which is “how will this anger management impact my standing at work, *and how will I know it*?” Since their boss doesn’t give them regular feedback or reviews, they generally don’t know where they stand.

  8. Knot Naymed*

    RE Letter #1: Notice how this “Ask a Manager” person regularly says on here “I default to using female pronouns ‘she’/’her’, etc., unless the OPs/LWs identifies themselves as male” (or whatever)…And yet Letter#1 DOES NOT identify as male, so then why DIDN’T this “Ask a Manager” person INSTEAD answer (RE: 2nd line of answer) “…but two means you’ll be seen as the WOMAN/FEMALE who’s prone to inappropriate anger…”??

    1. Whimsical Gadfly*

      You do know these are generally edited for length and rarely the whole communication she’s had with them, right?

    2. Jean Marie*

      Alison generally has more information than we do. Among other things the user’s email address.

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      AAM defaults to female pronouns when the gender of the person she is discussing is not obvious to her or is generic (like when the person mentions a dealing with their colleague or boss or professor or intern or spouse, but they don’t mention whether that person is a man or a woman).

      The obvious conclusion is that in this case, she knows the letter writer is a man (…probably from the name on the email, which we as readers don’t see, or from some edited piece of the letter, or some other very obvious context clue). That is frequently the case.

    4. Sue*

      What a weirdly hostile comment. The others have explained why this happened but why are you posting a question in such a hostile manner? Especially to someone as consistently helpful and polite as Alison. Very strange.

  9. HA2HA2*

    2 – it depends on the kind of job. In the field where I am, it’s pretty common for a company to have many projects going on, with a lot of people working on different pieces of them, but with enough flexibility that people could work on one or another project. So it’s up to management to decide “Hey, HA2! We need you to first do Thing 1 for Project A, and then do Thing 2 for Project B. “. There isn’t a sense that some of this is “ongoing work” that’s always mine – there’s certainly some types of work I’ll often be responsible for because of my skillset, but if I just come in to work and have no guidance I wouldn’t necessarily know what project to pull up or what piece of it to work on.

    Yes, of course if management does everything well, then nobody’s ever left wondering what to do next – everyone’s got a pipeline of things to work on, they finish one they start the next.

    But that certainly takes work from the managers – making sure that with even with various things that can happen to delay work and with the various dependencies between people’s work, nobody’s left without tasks to do. If that doesn’t work out and there’s a gap (someone gets underutilized for a time) that’s not necessarily a huge red flag – sometimes surprises happen, work gets delayed, or hey, sometimes project managers misjudge things. If it’s happening all the time then yeah, it’s not great.

  10. GoosieLu*

    In re: 3, in a situation where references are more labor-intensive (I’m in academia), I send out a sort of bi-weekly/monthly “reference digest” to my references letting them know what I’m planning on listing them as a reference for in the next couple of weeks/month and reminding them of any upcoming deadlines for letters. That gives them time to ask clarifying questions or let me know if a specific reference request won’t work for them (or if they know someone there and I should name drop). So far that’s worked out well as a way to keep people consistently in the loop without filling both our inboxes with job updates.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I LOVE this. It’s networking and keeping your references up to date at the same time. Sure it might be a little extra effort in your job search, but I bet it pays off in better references or other help.

    2. AFac*

      This also nice because it’s becoming common for reference requests to be sent via email from the potential employer, which a referee may not be expecting or may get caught in the spam trap. Sending gentle reminders can prompt people to track them down if necessary.

  11. AnotherLibrarian*

    #5: Please talk to your work ASAP. You might be surprised what options exist for you. I recently have had to take way more time off than I had sick leave or vacation time for due to surgery and my work was far more understanding than I would have imagined.

    1. DataGirl*

      I was only about 3 weeks into a new job when I was unexpectedly hospitalized with a bad infection. I think between my hospital stay and time at home recovering I was out a couple weeks. The job was incredibly understanding and just gave me the time, paid, without requiring I use PTO or any other type of leave. Not every business will be that flexible and kind, but OP might be pleasantly surprised at what kind of accommodations they are able to give.

  12. Bowserkitty*

    LW #1 – I know it is fiction, but if Andrew Bernard can make a successful comeback and eventually become the branch manager of Dunder Mifflin, so can you.

    Definitely go through the therapy. Willingness to show you want to change goes a long way and in time will help your reputation. You can only go up from here. Rooting for you!

    1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

      Andy also went through anger management training too, and (if I remember correctly) it did help him! :D

    2. Allonge*

      I had a boss who yelled at people in view of her boss and several journalists. Nobody ever forgot it who was there, but it was addressed, she went though coaching / training, she changed her behavior and she did a lot of good work in general. Did it impact her career? Sure, as it should. Was it unsurmountable? No.

  13. Junior Software Engineer*

    Re #2: As a few others have pointed out, in more project based jobs there tends to be more assigned work. I’m a software engineer and fairly early into my career, plus I work remote, so my work pretty much revolves entirely around being assigned specific projects and tasks. I’m often developing a specific product or part of a product, maybe developing a tool for internal company use, or assigned specific bug fixes that are flagged for us by other teams. There’s not a lot outside of those specific projects that is regular ongoing work I can do if I don’t have anything assigned to me.

    1. Valkyrie (OP2)*

      It’s definitely starting to make more sense reading the comments and Alison’s response. I still find it very unrelatable – I’ve always just had run of the mill stuff to do; answer emails, do paperwork, see clients, do training, plan ad hoc projects. I get new clients, sure, or I decide to plan an event specifically for for my clients, but it’s not like I have a manager who’s deciding who to give what to. I suspect I’d hate that kind of environment and probably why I’m in a more self-directed career path, which also has is pitfalls (like sometimes the endless routine paperwork sucks lol)

      1. Kit*

        As someone who did end up in a job or two where this was the case… one was very early on, when I was a receptionist, being assigned some tasks to assist other departments, and didn’t have any idea which managers/departments needed work (nor could I just get up from the phones to go ask).

        And in another, a customer service/inside sales thing: I had to go to my manager to get tasks reassigned *off* my desk on a regular basis. Our workflow was such that requests could come in to a general queue or to a specific CSR… and a number of our customers and outside sales reps decided that I was their point of contact. That meant my manager and supervisor didn’t actually have a grasp on how much work I had waiting for me, because they didn’t see it come in, and other people in my role were twiddling their thumbs because the general queues were taken care of. (Because it was all coming to my desk. But I digress.)

        Different kinds of jobs simply have different requirements; managers assign duties for any number of reasons, from cross-training to rebalancing workloads, that aren’t an inherent sign of bad management or dysfunction. They’re just different jobs than the ones you’ve had.

      2. just another bureaucrat*

        I will say that I was in a job that should have been fairly manager directed but I was someone who just sort of charged forward and was like “I think we should do this!” and sometimes the answer was no, but a lot of times I was right once I got my footing under myself of what the organizations needed and so I have been able to in jobs that are absolutely like that able to do those kinds of things. Part of it I think is just, do you want to show up to work and have the work managed for you or do you want to manage your own work? And if you want to manage your own work do you have the skills, judgment, and autonomy to do so?

        I keep thinking I’m someone who just wants work handed to me but 5 minutes into a job I’m like, just gimme that and I’ll sort it out it’s fine!

  14. LikesToSwear*

    LW #5 – as others have said, talk to your boss and/or HR as soon as possible. About 6 weeks after I converted to an employee from a contractor, I had to have very unexpected and unplanned major abdominal surgery. I was out for 8 weeks. Fortunately, my job offers salary continuation for up to 6 months, so even though I was not yet eligible for FMLA, I was still being paid and my employer had absolutely no issues with me being out.

    They were amazing during that, the follow-up treatment, the follow-up surgery (planned), and the ongoing appointments for the last 2 1/2 years. They are still amazing and for all of the quirks, I love my current employer.

  15. AnonCA*

    #1 – I’ve worked in PR and PR adjacent fields for the last 10 years and it’s a field where an anger problem is a big liability. Not only is it terrible for the work atmosphere but clients don’t want a PR person who buckles under pressure or is prone to outbusts when questioned by journalists or stakeholders. We’ve had a guy like that and one of his outbursts made the paper, which was NOT good optics for the client.

  16. Ginger*

    Letter writer no. 4 – it’s worth a go, but a surprisingly large number of companies in the UK still give the basic holiday of 20 plus bank holidays, especially in manufacturing or adjacent industries.
    It’s also though common for leave to increase annually, so if they don’t go for the base 25, you can always ask them to increase e.g, a day per year for 5 years. That’s seen as the limit for service-related increases.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      My guess is that if it’s a job at which you freelance for a US company, it’s not likely to be the minimum 28 days (20 + 8 bank) for most employees. Sounds like not manufacturing/service not an entry level.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Most US employers have 8-9 holidays, and it’s not terribly uncommon (for sought-after professionals like LW seems to be) to have around 20 vacation days on top of that.

        For example my (white-collar) workplace starts you at 20 days of PTO (so that includes sick time) plus the 9 holidays, and you get more every 5 years.

    2. Thistle Whistle*

      If the OP is being asked to work remotely for the US then its probably a safe guess to say its a professional position and so most probably would have at least 25 days holiday in the UK. The US company needs to offer the appropriate compensation package to take the OP off the market and that means meeting the local market norms.

      I started out in Engineering and every company had at least 25 days for all employees (trade and professional). In fact I’ve now worked in several industries and never had less than 25 days holiday plus stats (and dome companies offer more than basic stats too).

      I was once asked to interview for a company (US owned) that looked great on paper until they said it was 21 days holiday and you get an extra day a year. The job was open for months as they struggled to get anyone who would take those terms as it was effectively a pay cut as you had to work longer hours for your salary. They weren’t meeting local standard terms and so struggled to get the level of staff they wanted.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think this is often a key problem when companies set up overseas. They don’t always understand the local labour market and the terms and conditions for employment. It’s a classic cause of market entry failure. If you’re establishing in country X you need to offer the same terms and conditions as people would get from a local company and use the same incentives and perks that people want in the local area.

        1. NYWeasel*

          I’m currently recruiting for a position that will be based overseas, and even having worked there myself years ago, I’m still finding out cultural differences now that are surprising, such as the length of notice employees usually give their employers. Luckily we have an office there, so I’ve got resources to lean on to help learn the nuances.

        2. Alice*

          Yep. I work for a US based company that has offices all over the world. I’m in one of the European offices and my contract is similar to what I previously had with other local companies. They’re not just offering the bare legal minimum, they saw what local companies were offering and based their terms on that. That’s just the smart thing to do if you want to attract and retain staff — now we’re expanding and we’re not having trouble finding qualified applicants.

      2. Roller*

        My last job was 20 days holiday. Being young and naive I hadn’t considered that it could possibly be less than 25 when interviewing, and somehow only saw this when I got my contract to sign. I nearly pulled out at that point. Sometimes I regret not doing so, it made a big difference to my stress levels and enjoyment of the job.

        The joke of it is they advertise as having 28 days holiday, but in the fine print only mention that 8 of those days are Bank holidays.

    3. BluntBunny*

      I think it’s worth asking about the days in between Xmas and New year. I have worked at places where they close during that time and either those 3 days are included in the 25 days (so really you have 22 days) or it is isn’t so it’s 25 days and those 3 days (you don’t have to use your holiday allowance).

      So as a compromise you could ask for 23 days to include those days.

        1. UK Anon*

          In the UK, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (26 December) are public holidays so you either get them as days off, or if you’re expected to work on those days, you get the time back in lieu. Therefore most people only need to take 3 days leave between Christmas and New Year, unless you work in Retail/Hospitality/Care or an acute medical setting.

  17. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP1: people here have probably heard the story of how in my earlier years I was an angry mess at work. I recovered from it.

    Therapy, and in my case far more serious help (had an undiagnosed disorder, got on meds, helped me a lot), keeping my boss updated that I was seeking help and doing everything I can to change and then a proven track record after of not ever snapping or being hostile.

    It takes time, effort and a lot of both. Not gonna lie, there were times when I thought that this was such a long process to regain trust that it meant it was pointless. It wasn’t. It truly wasn’t.

    10+ years on and I’ve got the coping mechanisms for my temper down pat. If I think I’m gonna lose it I’ll remove myself from the situation and go think about something else for a bit (current go-to is a computer game). Therapy is excellent for teaching ways to cope.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Great advice! If you don’t try to address the underlying issues triggering your anger, this issue is just not going to improve. (It could be a mental health issue, extreme stress, a toxic work environment, personal issues – to name just a few.) OP, they are referring you to the EAP because they want you to tackle the root causes.

      On my previous toxic team, there were so many things that I found frustrating that I would approach issues in ways that were just not productive. Now that I’m in a much more positive work environment, I’m like a totally different employee. So the solution may be making a personal change, making a job change or a combination of both. Approach this process with an open mind and see where it takes you.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It takes time, effort and a lot of both.

      My thoughts exactly, succinctly, and precisely.

      Also, like Fire, Anger can be a productive Servant, but is a horrific Master. Never give it control.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Very, very true.

        Anger against bigotry? I’m well known for that (I got hot button topics – I stay away from AAM posts on them in general because I don’t trust I won’t flare up and use inappropriate language). Frustration though is a different matter – I can’t let that turn to anger. That way lies disaster.

  18. John Smith*

    #4 I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that UK employment legislation applies to anyone and everyone working in the UK regardless of nationality in which case you should be subject to UK working conditions.

    1. TechWorker*

      Yes, they are saying that most companies in the U.K. (or at least, most companies in their industry maybe) offer the legal minimum plus 5 days. So they would ideally get better than the legal minimum :)

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Also stage of career – if you’ve got some years of experience (which a freelancer would) you probably don’t want to go back to minimum.

  19. Ben*

    UK legislation does apply. The legal minimum is 20 days plus Bank Holidays (usually 8)- however this is a bare minimum and many companies offer 25 days. I’ve never worked anywhere- or applied anywhere- offering fewer than 25 days, though this no doubt varies by sector.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      I did when I worked in a call centre – but even there, that was for new starts, and it increased after 3 years. I’ve seen other entry level/retail/service offering bare minimum.

    2. londonedit*

      I’ve worked for very small companies that offered the bare minimum (UK book publishing). However that was 15+ years ago and most of the bigger publishers now offer 25 days plus bank holidays, and most also close over Christmas without staff having to take that out of their holiday allowance. At the beginning of my career my experience was that the companies that offered 20 days plus bank holidays would close over Christmas and you wouldn’t have to take the time out of your annual leave (so you’d effectively get 20 plus bank holidays plus three days between Christmas and New Year), but if you got 25 days then you might be expected to take the Christmas shutdown out of your annual leave. Where I work now, we get the best of both worlds, as we get 25 days’ holiday, bank holidays (which I wouldn’t even count as part of a holiday allowance because they’re just there) and also the time off between Christmas and New Year.

    3. Bagpuss*

      well, strictly speaking the legal minimum is 5.6 weeks (based on your normal working week, but capped on a 5 day week) so pro-rata for someone working part time)

      There is no legal entitlement to bank holidays so an employer can require that 8 days of the holiday entitlement are taken on the bank holidays, if they are closed on those day, or they can phrase it as (say) 25 days plus bank holidays, which means that you are over the statutory minimum.

      With an overseas company OP may want to clarify the picture regarding bank holidays – whether she will be expected to work those days where they are working days for the US, and equally whether she will be expected to use holiday for days which are public holidays in the US where the company may be closed. I think in the first instance it is totally reasonable for her to go back to ask for something which is in line with normal UK allowances – but it sounds as though it would also make sense for her to check in about whether they expect her to follow the US or UK calendar when it comes to public holidays, and to look at the total number of days including those holidays, either way, to make sure that they are on the same page. (I’m not sure how many public holidays there are in the US – here, 25 days plus public holidays would give you 33 days total as there are normally 8 bank holidays a year (although there is an extra one this year for the Queen’s platinum jubilee)

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        The jubilee bank holiday is an interesting one, as a lot of contracts will include wording like “the standard bank holidays” – technically since this is a non-standard bank holiday that only applies for this year, it isn’t automatically covered and companies will need to clarify whether people will get that additional day off ‘free’!

      2. Clisby*

        The US has 11 federal holidays (1 was just added in 2021). However, that doesn’t mean every employer gives those holidays off. I’ve never worked anywhere that gave all of them as holidays.

  20. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW4 should bear in mind that the UK has fewer public holidays than the US, so 20+US is closer to 25+UK than it sounds. In that case, asking for 22+US would result in the same number of working days (except 2022 where we have a bonus Jubilee) and might be an easier sell.

    I’m assuming LW4 will be benefiting from US holidays wherever they’re physically located.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      FWIW I’d more concerned about making sure paid sick leave was in line with UK expectations as I understand this can be where employees are more likely to see a substantial difference.

    2. Alanis*

      Some US states may have different holidays but I’m not aware of it being true that the US has more than 8 bank holidays where non-government offices generally close down.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Thanks, that’s interesting. So our definitions of public holiday vary? That’s worth knowing anyway.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          It depends on what you mean by a public holiday. Federally there are 11 this year but that doesn’t mean you’ll get every/any given day off, depending on what industry you work in.

          The 11 are New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Washington’s birthday aka Presidents’ Day (due to the proximity of Lincoln’s birthday), Memorial Day, Juneteenth Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day (called Indigenous People’s Day in some states), Veterans Day (aka Armistice/Remembrance Day elsewhere), Thanksgiving, Christmas Day.

          From what I can tell, only Columbus Day and Veterans Day allow stock trading, compared to the others, so the others are frequently referred to in a group as ‘bank holidays” – banks are closed and so is most of the rest of the financial market. Government agencies/services would be closed all 11 days, probably public schools too. Most standard office-type jobs would probably skip being closed on MLK Day, Washington/President’s Day, Juneteenth Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day.

          So around half of the public holidays (federal and state, which differ) are only a sure thing if you work for the government or the financial industry.

          1. Jay*

            When my employer started closing on MLK day, they stopped closing on President’s Day. I’ve rarely had President’s Day off – in prior jobs it was Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. Made life fun for people with school-aged kids who sometimes had to burn half their scant vacation to cover the other days school was closed.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Federal Employee in the US Mountain region. Where I live my school aged children have school on Columbus Day and Veteran’s day, but do get the other days off (either because of the holiday or because the dates are in the summer no school months).

            Personally I enjoy having those days off but them in school, gives me a chance to clean house without them underfoot.

          3. ThatGirl*

            Of the holidays you listed, my company does not close down for MLK Day, President’s Day, Juneteenth, or Columbus Day/Indigenous People’s Day. All of those but Juneteenth are school holidays (school is usually out by early June), but no non-govt company is obligated to give them off. (We do get a floating holiday plus day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve off.)

          4. Alanis*

            Thanks, for your response. I was starting to doubt my own experience. My experience was with working with a US organisation and I know we compared bank holidays and I had more. But it was over a decade ago and was in foodservice so there were lots of things that could have changed since then.

          5. DataSci*

            The US federal holidays tend to fall into two groups. There are the “major” ones where office-type jobs that don’t require every day coverage would be closed. Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Then there are the “minor” ones where government offices are closed but many standard office-type jobs are open; lots of places will be closed for a few of these, few will be closed for all. That’s the rest, other than Juneteenth which was just added to the list last year (like two days before the actual day, too close for most places to make a decision). At my workplace we get MLK Day and Presidents’ Day, not Indigenous People’s Day or Veteran’s Day.

          6. Cheap Ass Rolex*

            Yes the two private healthcare entities I know of (mine and my spouse’s) both give about 7 of those off – Christmas, New Year’s, Labor, Memorial, Thanksgiving, and the day after Thanksgiving. His just started observing Juneteenth and mine just started observing MLK (which seems a bit… overdue?)

            I’ve never had Veterans’ Day or President’s Day off, but I look wistfully at those who do. And I wish we could get Boxing Day off so that no one has to travel on Christmas itself!

      2. Amy*

        There are 11 federal holidays in ‘22. My workplace observes all of them, in addition to a local holiday (Patriot’s Day) because our corporate office is in Boston.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Our norm in the UK is New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the first and last Mondays in May (although this year with the Platinum Jubilee this last one will be moved to a later date plus one extra date added), last Monday in August (the first in Scotland), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

          1. londonedit*

            And if Christmas Day/Boxing Day/New Year’s Day are weekend days, then we get the day(s) off in lieu – so in 2021 the 27th and 28th of December were holidays in observance of Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and this year January 3rd was a holiday in observance of New Year’s Day.

          2. DrunkAtAWedding*

            We also get Royal Weddings as Bank Holidays, if the Royal is Royal enough. So the next one will probably be when Prince George marries.

            1. sunglass*

              Only if they get married on a weekday! We got a bank holiday for Will and Kate when they got married on a Friday, but Harry and Meghan got married on a Saturday. So unsporting of them :p

              1. londonedit*

                Very unsporting of the Duke of Edinburgh to specify that he didn’t want the full works for his funeral, too – we didn’t get a day off for that, either!

              2. Bagpuss*

                They are also further down the pecking order so possibly not important enough anyway.
                As far as I can remember there was an extra one for the Charles / Diana wedding but not for Andrew and Fergie , I suspect it is a case of them getting married on a Saturday *because* there’s no public holiday so it minimizes disruption to business and normal city infrastructure, and no doubt gets the vote of the TV companies and advertisers.

                (pro tip. Big Royal occasions are perfect days for travel or shopping, as roads / trains and shops are all half empty. My sister and I did a long rail trip on the day Andrew got married and there were literally only about 6 other people on the train, not counting the staff. )

          3. Akcipitrokulo*

            Scotland also gets 2n Jan but not good Friday- and also St Andrews day but a lot don’t give it as it’s fairly new.

            1. EvilQueenRegina*

              Yeah that was something to get used to when I went to a university in Scotland after years of living in England – I don’t know if this was just specific to St Andrews, but the spring break always used to fall in the same two weeks regardless of when Easter actually fell that year, I think for me it worked out that out of my four years, twice I’d had my holiday and was already back when Easter weekend came around (classes were held on Good Friday but it was okay for people to choose not to attend that day), and the other two years I was travelling either there or back that weekend.

              As for St Andrews Day as a bank holiday, I remember that I used to get that day off classes, but my ex’s friend who went to Dundee didn’t.

      3. Alanis*

        I was working off my own experience and I’ve gone and had a look and it looks like the state where the office I was working with that year doesn’t give in lieu holidays so that must have been a year where a number of them fell on weekends (like this year with Christmas and New Years Day).

        1. Governmint Condition*

          It would be very unusual in the U.S. not to have the Monday off if a holiday falls on a Sunday, since the federal holiday is shifted in that circumstance. Saturday holidays are a little more variable in how various levels of government handle them. For us, we just get one extra day of leave that doesn’t expire. Most people save them up and take them as extra full-pay days off just before their official retirement day.

          I usually work when most people take off, but I hate when Christmas and New Year’s are on Saturday, so I have to work 5 days both of those weeks. It feels weird not to get a day off somewhere in there.

      4. Ana Gram*

        I’m a local government employee in the US and we have 14.5 annual holidays that the office closes for. Private business might differ but I was surprised to see that there were only 8 bank holidays.

      5. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t assume there are necessarily more holidays for a US employer. Mine has 9.

        Also, as nice as the occasional holiday day is for a breather, it’s not exactly comparable to vacation time that you can use when you want.

      6. Person from the Resume*

        Often I think US Federal holidays = “bank holidays” in the UK.

        That said I’ve always been a federal employee and always get those days. Lots of people do not. Most service industry employees obviously do not get a holiday because they’re open on those days like they’re open on weekends normally. I’m noticing a lot more companies, professional companies (not restaurant and retail) having their employees work some of the “minor” federal holidays. People don’t always get off President’s Day and Columbus/Indigenous People’s day despite being a US Federal holiday. In the US basically everyone get off the 4th of July and especially Thanksgiving and Christmas (except recently some retail).

    3. Owlimentary*

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume that – I work in the UK but we have colleagues based in India in our company. They take the Indian public holidays, and work the UK ones (and their annual leave follows Indian norms, not British). I think it’s quite normal to just have your leave based on the country the worker is based in, even when it’s different from most of the company. I think in the UK as well if the OP were working bank holidays they might have to be paid more? I’ve never worked a bank holiday except a long time ago in retail, when I got time and a half for it, so it might have changed since then/not apply to office jobs in the same way.

      1. Media Monkey*

        i don’t think you have to be paid more for UK bank holidays but if you have to work you have to get time off in lieu of the bank holiday.

        1. SarahKay*

          Confirmed; there’s no legal requirement to pay extra.

          I’m in the UK in a salaried role with requirements such that I often need to work a bank holiday and I get a day off in lieu, but no extra pay. On the same site we also have people who qualify for overtime, and if they work a bank holiday they do get extra pay, plus the day off in lieu.

          The extra pay bit all depends on what’s agreed in the contract, and I suspect is more likely to apply to people whose jobs qualify them for overtime payments.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          That’s how it is for my company – they expect us to work on at least some bank holidays as those tend to be very busy for us, but we then take the day at some other time. I’d love it if we got paid more for it but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

        3. Akcipitrokulo*

          You have to have a minimum of 28 days (or pro-rata if part time). There’s no obligation for those to be on certain days. My current job says I have to take Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year, but the other 5 are just rolled in – so I have those 3 + 30 floating days to take when I want.

      2. londonedit*

        Yes I think the extra pay would normally apply more to people who are paid hourly – they might get ‘time and a half’ or ‘double time’ for working on a bank holiday/over Christmas/whatever. But most people in salaried jobs (which in the UK would be the vast majority of office jobs) would get a day off in lieu instead of being paid extra for working on a bank holiday.

      3. Teapot Wrangler*

        Legally, they don’t need to pay extra for bank holidays. I’ve worked places waitressing back in the day where it was time and a half or double time (triple time for Christmas Day) but I think that’s getting less common. I’ve never had to work a bank holiday in a professional job but I’d expect to either get Time Off in Lieu or nothing extra rather than my monthly salary changing.

      4. Bagpuss*

        There is no legal right to time off on bank holidays, or to extra pay, it’s entirely down to what is in the employment contract, although it is very common for organisations which require coverage to offer some kind of perk for working those days, whether it is extra time in lieu or higher pay. I think it is much more common to offer time and a half or double time for jobs in retail or hospitality where people are paid by the hour and more common to offer time in lieu in other areas, but it does vary. My brother in law works for the NHS in a hospital so of course coverage is needed – I think they get paid extra for bank holidays and other ‘unsocial hours’, but that’s due to previous negotiated agreements , it’s not a statutory right.

        In terms of time off, the only requirement is that over the course of the year you have to have the statutory minimum time off, so if you only got 20 days holiday but were then required to work on bank holidays you would have to be given time off in lieu to bring you up to the statutory minimum of 28 days, but if you got 25 days and were required to work on 5 of the bank holidays you would still be getting your 28 days statutory entitlement so would only be entitled to time off in lieu of the bank holidays if your contract included that right

    4. tg*

      I spent a year in the US back in the early 90’s, and at the time there were about 10 US public holidays a year, the same as the EU.

      1. tg*

        I meant to say, when I was working in the US I was told that the US has more public holidays that Europe, so that’s why there was less annual leave, but when I counted up the days they were the same (or only different by a day or two, not 10 days).

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yes, we added Juneteenth last year, so it’s 11 now. But of course they only really apply to government and (to a lesser extent) banking/stock market jobs, so it can vary a lot per actual job as to what you’d have off.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Yes, but that’s true for at least half the other holidays too. Most don’t give MLK, Presidents, Columbus, or Veterans Days off, with MLK the most likely one to get excluded as a day off. (And depending on where/what job you work, the remainder can be iffy too.)

              1. Clisby*

                Yep, some folks have been advocating for US Election Day to be a federal holiday – and when you pay attention to what they’re saying, apparently they think everybody would get the day off, to make voting easier. Nope. (As far as I know, the federal government has zero authority to tell private businesses what holidays they have to recognize.)

            2. fhqwhgads*

              I know we’re the anomaly, but my company had decided to give it as a paid holiday BEFORE the feds made it a federal holiday.

    5. Scatterling*

      I doubt that. I am located in Europe and get local public holidays, not US ones. Besides which, 5 days you can take as a block is preferable to scattered public holidays.

      1. Terrysg*

        I’m in Ireland and there are 10 bank Holidays a year, 11 this year as there’s an extra one for covid.

      2. UKDancer*

        I think you always get the local public holidays or at least you do everywhere I’ve worked. When I lived and worked in Brussels we got the Belgian holidays (e.g. Belgian National Day, Assumption of Mary) despite the company not being a Belgian one.

    6. anonymous73*

      What holidays a US company observes can vary widely so I wouldn’t make this assumption. Yes there are 11 federal holidays, but unless you work for a government organization, those days off are not guaranteed. My last company gave us the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday, but only a handful of the federal holidays and we worked on a government contract.

      1. Anononon*

        At my company, we don’t get MLK Day, Presidents Day, or Columbus Day, but in addition to the regular PTO, we get three “floating holidays” we can use whenever.

    7. tg*

      In the local holidays vs US holidays, it’s local holidays all the way.

      If country of origin holidays applied, then a US employee of an Irish based company would get days like St Patrick’s day, and the last Monday in October off, but not 4th July or Thanksgiving. Bank holidays are more than a day off, they are an opertunity (sp) for people to get together and NOT getting local holidays is a Big Deal.

      My husband worked for a US company in the ’90’s and this came up. They didn’t want the Irish workers working when the US office was closed, but they didn’t want to give Irish Bank Holidays.

    8. Global Cat Herder*

      I’m on a global team for a large multinational, so we have a big spreadsheet to track the holidays / specific days off in various sites where we’re based. Most European colleagues get 14-17 specific days off depending on country (with some as high as 20) and most APAC colleagues get 17-20.

      I’m the only US team member and get 10 specific days off. My employer is considered generous among US employers – we get Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve off! Paid even!

  21. bamcheeks*

    LW1, it’s great that you apologised to your manager and your co-worker, but your attitude here is “this thing that happened and how it affects me”. If you want to recover your reputation and your potential at this company, you need to switch that around to “this thing I have done and how it affects others”! Not just thinking of an angry outburst or two as a broad-strokes Unacceptable thing that you have to atone for, but genuinely making an effort to understand why it’s unacceptable– the impact it has on others, the way it changes the atmosphere where you work, the things that won’t get done or won’t get done right if people are afraid to approach you with problems or mistakes, and so on. That’s the attitude that would help me decide that someone was taking it seriously.

    The second thing is to be very honest with yourself about whether the two angry outbursts are the only problem, or just the most visible manifestation of it. Very few people are all sweetness and light up until the angry outburst comes out of nowhere! You may be one of the few, but chances are, the anger is coming out somewhere else at an earlier stage: gritted teeth, heavy sighs, tense atmospheres, snarky comments etc. The good news is that if that IS you, you can demonstrate changed behaviour much quicker than if the angry outbursts really were the only sign. You can start right away taking a constructive, cooperative and information-gathering approach to other people’s mistakes– not, “what have you DONE” but “how did this happen and what do we need to do to fix it in the short-term and what do we need to put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the longer-term”.

    You can also quite legitimately ask your boss about that directly: “I have been thinking a lot about this and whilst I realise that the triggering incident was me shouting at David, I get angry a lot and I realise that may be more visible to others than I think. Can you tell me if there are any other behaviours I need to address or which cause you concern? Are there any other situations where even if I didn’t get ANGRY-angry, you would have liked me to handle them differently and can we talk through what you would have like to have seen?”

    This isn’t about going through the motions of the EAP to be compliant and “regain your reputation”, it’s about actively engaging in a process of learning and developing because you realise it’ll make you better at your job.

  22. tg*

    I spent a year in the US back in the early 90’s, and at the time there were about 10 US public holidays, the same as the EU.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      The difference here, I believe, is that the 10 public holidays in the EU are generally statutory paid holidays. In the US, unless you work for the government or in banking, most US companies do not give all 10 (now 11) holidays as paid days off. You usually get 8, although which 8 varies, and some companies it’s as few as 5 – and could also legally be none but that’s less common.
      In other words, the question “is it a holiday?” is not the same question as “should you expect to not have to work on that day” and is also not the same thing as “should you expect to not have to work and get paid for that day”. The answer to the first can and often is “yes”, while it’s no for at least one of the other two questions.

  23. tg*

    To OP#1, I haven’t had the same experience of angry outbursts at work, but I have had a few times in my life where I was getting road rage (I was getting very very angry in my car but not getting into fights). When I stopped to figure out what was going on I realise that I was overwhelmed by something else and that it was coming out as anger in another area, that might be something to consider.

    Were the two angry outbursts in the same company? Or close together? It’s not clear from the letter where only one angry outburst was mentioned. Though even one angry outburst is serious. After one angry outburst, the people present will consider your response every time they interact with you, and even if they tell no-one what happened this will be noticed and you will become someone to avoid.

  24. WS*

    LW #5 – someone started a job at my workplace and then had to have surgery that was expected in the next few years but suddenly became urgent three weeks after starting. We could work with them and organised sick leave. Most jobs that are not retail/food service or very, very small businesses have some leeway to deal with this.

  25. LDN Layabout*

    I learned of a serious error from another department that affected a very public part of my work and could have affected my credibility in the role outside of the company were it to come to light.

    Aside from the explosive anger issues, LW1 you need to think about how you approach errors and mistakes in general. As others have noted, you’re letting fear and embarrassment dictate your behaviour in how you’re reacting to the EAP referral and it feels like the initial reaction was also driven by fear and embarrassment.

    You may not have shouted or lost your temper at a subordinate yet, but it’s worth looking at how you treat them if similar situations crop up.

    Also, this would have been the perfect opportunity look to your own processes, as well as how your work intersects with the other department. External publication means higher amounts of QA, there’s clearly a gap somewhere. If you hadn’t lost your temper, this would have been a case of you and the other manager looking at the problem together.

  26. Turingtested*

    OP #1: As someone with a temper, I’ve learned to control it at work. For one thing, yelling almost never helps get the results I want. Second, you never know who’s been in violent situations in the past and yelling might be really awful for them.

    I normally try to literally take a deep breath and count to 10, or excuse myself for a moment. I’ve asked for feedback from trusted colleagues to make sure I don’t seem angry.

    More than a decade ago I caught someone washing our chili pot with the well used toilet brush and I absolutely lost it-screaming, swearing, it was bad. It’s one of those situations that’s funny and the person was obviously in the wrong but I’m still ashamed. I wasn’t helping anything.

    1. A Social Worker*

      Sorry to derail but I have to know how it came to pass that someone was cleaning a chili pot using a toilet brush at work. Did they go get the brush from the bathroom and bring it to the kitchen? Were they washing the pot in the bathroom? WHY?!

      1. Turingtested*

        They got it from the bathroom and brought it to the kitchen, saying that it looked like it could really scrub and that they’d rewash the pot afterwards. They were an adult and had definitely used that brush on the toilet.

        To me, if there was ever a time to lose it and tell that was it, but it wasn’t right.

    2. STG*

      ” Second, you never know who’s been in violent situations in the past and yelling might be really awful for them.”

      This. I grew up with parents with anger management issues and I will not tolerate them as an adult in any situation. Unless I had years of working with you under my belt, one instance of yelling would have me considering leaving. Even then, I would require a direct apology and mutual understanding that it isn’t acceptable behavior and it can’t happen again.

      You will lose employees for things like this. Get it in check.

  27. TG*

    My ex was sent to anger management by his work and to be honest he never recovered at work – he’s been at the same company for almost 30 years and lost his planned move into Csuite role. He stayed because he’s been there forever and it’s family run. and has an ownership stake from his length of service.
    If the suggestion is being made I do hope it’s out of caring but don’t be surprised if it derails any upward movement.

    1. Batgirl*

      You don’t mention if the anger management was successful or if there was much opportunity to demonstrate that success?

  28. MistOrMister*

    Re OP1 – I worked under someone who yelled at me twice. The first time I was relativelt new to working with him and, given that we were getting along well up until that point, I let it go as assuming he was just stressed out and reacted poorly. The second time it happened, I had been working with him for over a year and our relationship was…not great. I had told him more than once that I needed info from him so I could do a task and he wouldn’t give it to me. Then he suddenly decided the thing was due yesterday and started yelling at me for not having it completed. When I pointed out that I was waiting on HIM and had told him so more than once, he didn’t even have the grace to apologize. I went to my supervisor that day and told her I didn’t want to work with him any more.
    Anyway…long story short….one yelling incident MIGHT be overlooked. If there’s more than one, I wouldn’t think so. After doing the EAP and all, you might be able to move forward, but I think you would have to work diligently to never have another outburst in the office. I know if I had to work with the guy at my office again and he raised his voice to me another time, I don’t care if it was 5 years since the last one, I would refuse to work with him again even if it meant quitting on the spot. I suppose it’s somewhat different if you’re yelling at a peer instead of a subordinate, but still, its not something you should be doing at all.

    1. anonymous73*

      One incident can be overlooked, but for most it won’t be forgotten. I had a manager (not mine) call me a F’in bitch and tell me to go to hell because I had reiterated to her what needed to happen and she didn’t like my answer. She did this in front of our business consultant (thankfully, I had a witness). We had been friendly in the past, but from that point forward, I was nothing more than civil and only spoke to her when I had to for work reasons. I also had my manager (same job), who I had a friendly relationship with, berate me in front of a co-worker because I had made a mistake. I lost all respect for him after that day and our relationship was never the same, at least for me.

  29. Teapot Wrangler*

    #4 – Definitely tell them. Especially as the first UK employee, letting them know that 25-28 days plus bank holidays is standard and some places offer 30 days will help them. You might find that they’re very generous with leave for the US and would also want to be generous here so give 28 or 30 days. Or you might find that they’re happy to be normal but not generous so stick to the 25 days but I know I would never apply for a job with less than 25 days annual leave and I’m sure lots of (if not most) people would be the same so you wouldn’t want to hamstring yourself in the future by ending up with fewer choices of co-workers because lots of people haven’t applied for the role knowing it only offers 20 days of AL.

  30. Emma (UK)*

    4. I would agree 25+ is more the norm in the UK, though I haven’t that often seen more than 20 ‘floating’ days (ie days you can request for when you want to take them) – this is not counting any ‘long service’ days.

    It’s not uncommon for the 5 (or however many) ‘extra’ days are days set by the company, because they close on those dates. For example, Christmas Eve, the days between Christmas and New Year’s, additional days around Easter, or, depending on sector, certain days outside of school or university term times, etc.

    I’m not saying companies *don’t* offer 25 floating annual leave days, but I’d say most places I’ve worked or been aware of have offered more like:
    * 20 days annual leave (to take as requested)
    * 8 bank holidays
    * Around 5 or 6 further additional days where the company is closed (such as the examples listed above)
    * Anywhere up to 5 or so additional days of leave (to take as requested) gained via long service (eg. an extra day of leave for 3 years of service, another one for 5 years, and so on).

    (It’s also less common to negotiate leave in the UK I think, and not at all common for different people in the same type of job at the same company to have different amounts of leave to each other. However, I recognise this is a different situation as the LW will be the first UK employee in a US based company and negotiating leave is relevant in this case).

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Your description of leave in the UK is vastly different to my own, which could be industry or sector related. Everywhere I and my friends have worked, aside from those in call centres, it’s 25 days annual leave, not including any scheduled office closures.

      1. UKDancer*

        Same for me. 25 days annual leave and 8 days public holiday is pretty much the standard. I’ve never worked anywhere that closed for periods of time but I have a friend who works in a sector where the office closes between Christmas and NY and they’re given the days off in addition to their paid leave.

        My first company gave people extra leave for long service but I’ve never worked anywhere else that did so that would be unusual in my experience.

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I’m in the public sector so long service holiday allowance changes are very much a thing here, but it also can be a thing in workplaces with lower holiday allowances e.g. supermarkets etc.

          1. Tumbleweed*

            Mostly learning from these discussions how much my industry sucks with this…I was aware it’s common enough to have an extra week above minimum (25 days instead of 20) but I guess not quite how wide spread it is in other professional-type careers offices. (My line of work is definitely a ‘profession-tm’ and a registered one at that, with long qualification periods and high liability – extremely rare to see any job offering more than the statutory minimum 20+8)

        2. Bagpuss*

          I think extra leave for long service used to be common but it was something where people became concerned it could be seen as indirect discrimination- women being more likely to have career breaks due to having children so much less likely to be able to benefit, plus potential age discrimination as it can be seen as giving older people an age-related extra.
          So I think there was a wave of HR professionals and employment specialists advising against that type of structure.

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah I work for a publishing company and we get:

        25 ‘floating’ holidays
        8 UK bank holidays
        Christmas Eve and the time between Christmas and New Year (as additional company holidays that we don’t need to take annual leave for)
        1 extra day’s annual leave for every 5 years of service

        In addition, during 2020 and 2021 we were given two floating ‘wellness days’ which we could use for whatever we wanted, but the idea was that we might use them for something that would benefit our mental health during the pandemic (we haven’t heard whether this will be extended into this year and beyond). I said in another comment that maybe 15-20 years ago it was slightly more common for smaller companies to give 20 floating days plus the 8 bank holidays and maybe the time over Christmas, but I think in my experience nowadays the vast majority will absolutely give 25 floating days. You’re right though that it’s not common for people to negotiate annual leave when they start a new job – there’s usually a company-wide leave allowance and unless people have an extra day or two for long service, or perhaps they’re on a different contract because they came to the company via an acquisition of another company, everyone will have the same amount of leave.

        Another thing for US commenters to note is that none of the above has anything to do with sick leave – that’s completely separate, and it’s not generally seen as a benefit to be used up within the year (I’ve also never worked anywhere where it can be rolled over – where I work now we don’t have a set number of sick days per year, it’s handled on an individual basis, but for long-term sickness the company will top up Statutory Sick Pay for up to 12 weeks after one year’s service, or 15 weeks after two years).

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think it is very industry and company dependent.

      Where I work, our standard is 25 days + bank holidays (so 33 total, pro-rata’d for part time employees)
      We normally close on Christmas Eve between Christmas and New Year and as they usually means that there are usually 4 non-bank holiday days in that period, we generally give 2 of them as extra days off and people use 2 holiday days .

      So everyone has 23 floating days, 2 days where they are told to take holiday, 8 bank holidays (so again, they are told when these fall) , and 2 extra days . Previous jobs were similar except one used to open between Christmas and new year so you have to use holiday if you wanted that block of time.

      I think two of my siblings,and one in law, who all work in the public sector both get slightly more and the other one who works for a privatised utility co. gets about the same. Of those, 2 work in roles where coverage is required so they sometimes have to work bank holidays – one routinely (NHS) the other on-call.

      My sense is that white collar jobs generally tend to offer a bit more , retail, hospitality and other service jobs a bit less, and that smaller companies are more likely to offer the legal minimum than larger ones.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Despite how often negotiating PTO is mentioned, I don’t think it’s that common in the US either. Pretty much any large business will have some sort of set amount of PTO usually adjusted up based on longevity at the company. Employees PTO will be programmed into their pay and benefits system. It may be possible when starting for someone with experience to leverage that to start at a higher longevity level of PTO, but I think it would be very common for the new manager/HR to say “PTO is not negotiable.”

      I can’t imagine there are more than small percentage of companies where all employees just have random amounts of PTO based on what they negotiated rather than set progression.

      That said with gaining their first full time UK employee, the US-based company will have to set up a lot of different things for the first time including what the standard PTO is for UK based employee and it would behoove them to be competitive in the labor market by at least meeting the norns for their industry in the UK.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        I think that’s a very good point about OP’s being the first UK employee – their policies won’t be set in stone yet, and hopefully will be open to “the business norm in UK would be…”

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      Lowest is 20 floating + 8 bank Holidays (or 28 floating). You can’t legally offer a total of 25 holidays for a full-time job. Min is 28, regardless of how they are labelled.

      I wouldn’t apply for one that offered less than 33 (25 + 8).

      I have done the minimum before, at start of career. But not for a non-entry-level job.

    5. Adereterial*

      I’ve worked in most industries except healthcare and have ever, ever experienced having to retain leave for days the office is closed. Not once.

      I suspect this isn’t as common as you think it is.

    6. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      25 days has been standard for me in most companies with some going up to 30 with an extra day accrued per year (am from UK)

  31. Ehh*

    The bosses with actual anger issues, or severe problems with bullying or other serious problems, are basically never flushed out. So if OP1 really has only had 2 instances of serious frustration and anger in the office, I really feel for them. Just make sure that your staff are not on the receiving end of it.

    1. pancakes*

      They are flushed out in workplaces that aren’t dysfunctional.

      “Just make sure that your staff are not on the receiving end of it” is not good advice for this letter writer. They were referred to a mandatory anger management class, and they need to complete it. The extent to which any of us feel for them is beside the point. Clearly the letter writer would prefer to move on and pretend this never happened — hence the “but” in “I’ve been deeply embarrassed by the incident and trying to lay low in the days since it occurred, but this referral has only increased my shame.” They aren’t entitled to focus solely on minimizing their sense of shame; they need to take steps towards addressing the underlying reasons for their outbursts, and give their coworkers and boss confidence that it’s not going to keep happening.

    2. Goldenrod*

      I agree with Ehh. Angry outbursts are SOMETIMES caused by real frustrations that have built up and systemic issues that aren’t being addressed. Unfortunately, when you explode angrily, all the focus goes to “your bad behavior” and not to whatever (potentially very toxic) thing that happened that made you explode.

      Then your emotion just becomes a stick your dysfunctional work culture can use to beat you with.

      It does happen this way sometimes….particularly to women of color who aren’t ever supposed to be “scary.”

  32. Assertive not aggressive*

    Many years ago, I was sent on a couple of courses to help me modify my behaviour. It was basically converting my aggressive (including passive aggressive) interactions to pleasant but assertive ones, with appropriate language and boundaries. I hadn’t yelled in anger at anyone, but I hadn’t always been professional.

    The training worked, and didn’t hamper me moving upwards within the organisation because
    1. I was very early stage in my career, and not up to speed with professional behaviour
    2. My bosses didn’t say at the time, but they recognised that I was struggling with my mental health and outside issues
    3. I worked with nice, understanding people throughout the company
    4. I took the training to heart, and every day, I apply it, and think about how I’m coming across in every interaction

    To be honest, that early investment in me as a person paid off massively for me, and the organisation, although I did leave them four years later. But it was some of the most valuable training courses I’ve been on and it influences me to this day.

    It could be the same for your husband OP1, but he’s going to have to be more open and less embarrassed and resentful.

  33. Elsa*

    When I was early in my career, I was in a pretty dysfunctional workplace. I was already an anxious person and acted out more than once (think getting teary and walking out of meetings). My director sat me down and said “you need to stop freaking out at work.” It was a wake up call – I got into therapy and made an exit plan for that job. 15 years later, I am at the height of my profession. LW 1, you can recover but you need to show your work to your boss and future employers (if it comes up.) Cognitive behavioral therapy was a career saver.

  34. anonymous73*

    #1 You say your manager is not great at their job, but I think mandating anger management sounds like a step in the right direction here. Yelling is never okay at work. I’m one of those people who lets things build up and then I explode, but I’ve still managed to keep it under control at work because yelling is just not ever appropriate at work. Whether you’ll be able to recover is completely up to you. Take the anger management classes seriously, do some reflection, and show people at work through your actions that you’ve changed (if that in fact is true). “Actions speak louder than words” is not just a tired cliché.
    #2 it completely depends on the job. I was hired in August to do PM support for a contract. I do no actual Project Manager work, in fact the only things I do are administrative – meeting minutes, consolidating PPT presentations, uploading documents, etc. I’m not saying these things aren’t important, but it’s a complete waste of tasks for my role, takes me very little time to complete and is not advancing my knowledge or teaching me any new skills for my future. I’m continuously offering to help with other things and make suggestions, but it falls on deaf ears. So yes part of it is bad management. Thankfully my company manager put me on an actual project where I can be an actual PM or I’d already be looking for a new job.
    #4 20 days vacation is actually quite generous by US standards as a starting point. I’d raise the point Alison suggests but be prepared for them to say no.
    #5 this happened to me as well. A few months into a new job, I needed my gall bladder removed and this was before WFH was a thing. My manager was awesome (in fact he drove me back to my car – I took the bus into the city – when he saw I wasn’t feeling well, and I was able to take time off without issue and it all worked out.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      I think the point for #4 is they are unlikely to get anyone in the UK looking for a professional level position who would be willing to accept 20 days + bank holidays. I wouldn’t even apply, and I don’t believe any of my colleagues would entertain it either.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely not. In my sector the minimum is 25 days because most of the good people expect that. If you can get 25 days across the board why would you take a job with fewer days? If you want to attract good people in country x you need to provide levels of pay and benefits comparable with a country x company.

        One of my friends works for a company that set up in France. A lot of the French people they wanted to recruit asked about luncheon vouchers (ticket restaurant) as these are very common in France and the competitors all provided them. They’re not really a British thing any more but if the company wanted to succeed and retain people they need to provide the benefits that the workforce require so the company quickly worked out how this worked and set them up.

      2. anonymous73*

        But that’s irrelevant when OP is working for a US company. If the company really values their work and doesn’t want to lose them, they may consider it (and even if that’s true it may come down to finances). But OP needs to set their expectations and know if they’re willing to walk away. If I were working for a non-US based company, I may ask for something I consider standard in the US, but would understand that it may not happen.

      3. SimplytheBest*

        But is OP being in the UK something the employer even cares about? Like, if OP were to turn this down, would they need to find someone else from the UK because that location is important? Or would they just turn their search back to the US?

      4. Mavis Mae*

        It’s not just about business norms. UK legal requirements will apply. If a USA company hires somebody to work in the UK and tries to provide fewer than the legislated leave days (or any other requirements) then the company is in breach and is exposed to remedies and sanctions. I have a relative who works for a USA company from overseas and has local entitlements such as mandatory superannuation contribution, local paid public holidays etc.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      #1 and anonymous73, it’s never good to let things build up and then explode. It’s worth the effort to get therapy and learn other ways to cope.
      After five years of therapy for my PTSD, it comes naturally to speak up in the moment and address problems as they happen without waiting and wondering if I should speak up, or waiting and worrying about getting punished if I do. This is a much more comfortable way to live! And I guarantee that the people around you will be much happier and more comfortable if they’re not wondering when and how you’re going to blow up next.

  35. AthenaC*

    “I learned of a serious error from another department that affected a very public part of my work and could have affected my credibility in the role outside of the company were it to come to light.”

    OP1 – I know this isn’t what you write in about, but what is the usual recourse for an error this serious? Is there a channel to address it effectively without bullying the person that made the error? I think it’s worth asking because if not, there’s no way to “anger mange” your way out of that underlying issue.

    1. Observer*

      That’s true, but not relevant. The issue of how to manage errors by other departments is real. Losing your temper – badly enough that your boss is mandating anger management help is just not the right way to handle things, even if the OP really doesn’t have any good options within the job. If it’s really that bad, they should look at finding an exit strategy.

      1. AthenaC*

        “If it’s really that bad, they should look at finding an exit strategy.”

        That’s …. exactly what I was trying to say? Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      2. AthenaC*

        Forgot to add – it’s absolutely relevant because if you’re in a no-win scenario, focusing on the anger management (rather than leaving the no-win scenario) is a really great way to warp yourself.

        Like I said – worthwhile question to ask in case it applies.

        1. Jeni*

          Learning proactive and adaptive coping skills to avoid explosive anger in response to no-win setbacks is not warping oneself. For context, we teach this exact thing to Kindergarteners and then expel tweens and adolescents from school for not being able to do this exact thing.

          1. Observer*

            Exactly. It’s always a good idea to understand context and take that into consideration for figuring out next steps. Maybe the OP needs therapy. Maybe the job is toxic. Maybe they need to do some strategizing as a team on how to deal with errors and QA. But none of these possibilities, or any others, negate the fact that the OP’s reaction was a problem and he needs some reasonable techniques for not blowing up, till he can deal with whatever the underlying issues may be.

    2. Lab Boss*

      Aside from the direct problems with yelling/outbursts at work, one of the secondary problems is that you make your own anger the problem instead of the thing that you were angry about. LW may have had justified complaints about the other department’s errors, but by exploding he made sure that all the focus will now be on himself rather than on those problems. Someone else screwing up in a way that damages you doesn’t excuse blowing up. To the contrary, it makes it even MORE important to keep calm and act correctly so the focus can stay on solving the problem rather than fixing your outburst.

  36. Lacey*

    #2 My work ebbs & flows and it’s entirely based on other people having work for me to do. Sometimes it’s crazy, sometimes it’s basically nothing all day. But since it’s entirely based on what other departments need from us my manager can’t just conjure up things for me to do. Sure, sometimes there are low level tasks or a training I can work on, but those never take very long and I still have huge chunks of the day with no work.

  37. JTP*

    LW #2 – I’m one of seven graphic designers in our company’s marketing department. Work is assigned to us based on our strengths (logo design? Send to someone else. Coding an Outlook email? Send to me.), and to keep our workloads even, so one person isn’t sitting around bored while another one is swamped.

  38. Sally*

    OP4 should also take salary into consideration. Salaries for professional positions tend to be significantly higher than in the US than the UK for the same type of work. When I moved from the UK to the US, my husband and I both lost a few days of leave, but the increase in salary more than made up for it. Over time, we’ve both advanced enough that we gained back the days we lost within a few years.

    1. Gagagy*

      I came here to say the same thing! I was hesitant about working for a U.S.-based company because I thought I would lose a lot of annual leave, but I didn’t lose as much as I thought and the huge increase in salary made up for what I did lose.

  39. Pippa K*

    There’s a lot of thoughtful commentary for LW1 above. I just wanted to add that, however he’s feeling about the outbursts, the requirement of anger management, and his reputation at work, another consideration is the effect on his colleagues. I had a senior colleague prone to furious outbursts – red-faced derogatory shouting at people, violently shoving chairs across an office, etc., – and everyone knew about it, but nothing ever happened. He would have an outburst, storm away, and later be back to his usual glib, smiling, confident demeanor. Over time most of us realized that he acted this way because he wanted to and because there were never any consequences. It affected not only our view of him, but of the institution and leadership. This was a sign (just one among several, it turns out) that men like him could do as they liked.

    If I’d heard that anyone in authority had told him to stop, or required him to seek anger management help, it would have gone a long way toward establishing that abuse like that wouldn’t be tolerated. The absence of consequences wasn’t just bad for him, it was bad for the whole workplace.

    So for LW1, I hope word gets around that he’s remorseful and that the company is actually addressing it. It’s really likely that knowing this would matter to other people there.

    1. alienor*

      I’ve worked with someone like that also. When he wasn’t yelling and red-faced, he was funny and charming and everyone’s favorite drinking buddy/resident Cool Guy, so it didn’t stop him from getting promoted quite high in the chain. But most of the people who knew him for a long time, including me, stopped finding him funny and charming in his good moments because we’d seen too many of the bad ones, and we definitely thought less of leadership because they kept letting him get away with it. It was really unfortunate.

    2. Jeni*

      “Senior colleague prone to furious outbursts – red-faced derogatory shouting at people, violently shoving chairs across an office, etc….He would have an outburst, storm away, and later be back to his usual glib, smiling, confident demeanor” is a textbook description of antisocial narcissism.

      1. Pippa K*

        Oh, a distinct possibility. But also telling, that his (likely) narcissism was a problem for his colleagues but not for the institution, which tolerated it just fine. He got promoted and everything.

    3. Mavis Mae*

      A lot of law firm partners used to be like that (and probably still are). They’re rainmakers and the firms just accept that these people will churn through junior and support staff. There was one who used to throw files at junior staff if he was unhappy with their work. He stopped doing that with one junior who threw the file right back at him, but HR did nothing and he kept going with everyone who didn’t stand up to him.

      1. JustAnotherKate*

        Yup. When I was an associate, one of the partners in my firm was known as a book-thrower. Like, he literally threw books at people if he didn’t like what they had to say. I never dodged a book, but he did sometimes drop my written work on the floor and stomp on it if he found a mistake or just didn’t like it.

        Guess who’s still there earning millions, and who’s out of the practice?

  40. alienor*

    #2 it depends on the role and how the workflow on a person’s individual team is set up. In my last job, I had a mix of short-term, self-contained projects that my then-manager would assign to me, and long-term, open-ended projects that I managed myself. If I didn’t have any short-term projects, there was always something to do on the long-term ones, even if it was just planning or research for the next cycle. I also had some control over my own processes, so I’d do things like make templates or write documentation.

    In my current job, all my projects are short-term, and I work with a project manager who assigns them to me. If I wrap one up before the next one is ready to assign, then there’s a gap where I don’t have any work to do. I’m fully remote and don’t have to “look busy” when I’m not (thank god, because I remember that being horrible in other, much earlier jobs) but I’ll read some industry news or find an online class to take so I have something I can point to if anyone asks. I would really prefer to have some ongoing projects, but at least for right now, the nature of the position doesn’t accommodate that.

  41. Calm Water*

    #5 recovery time from eye surgery can vary which may make computer work difficult even after two weeks. If you have any tasks at work that take you away from the computer that you can save for your first days back it might be helpful. Good luck!

  42. Phony Genius*

    On #4, the U.S.-based company is offering the U.K. minimum of 20 days of leave to the employee based there. My question is what do they offer U.S.-based employees? If it’s less than 20, it may be harder to get the extra days.

    1. Mavis Mae*

      They have to offer whatever is the legal minimum in the UK, not whatever they offer in the USA

  43. Beka Anne*

    To #OP1 –

    This is a bit of an odd reply because it’s not generally about anger management. I found myself suffering from burn-out and depression recently (a reaction to *looks around* and stressful working conditions). For me, when I start to go into a depression spiral, I tend towards angry outbursts – It tends to be supernova hot, and then gone. It’s a straw breaking the camels back scenario.

    I think reaching out to your EAP is a really great idea. Be open to it and talk to them. You may find that it’s not as straight forward as just anger, but rather a combination of mental health conditions that just broke out at that point. And if it’s out of character, then definitely talking to someone will help.

    It won’t blow your career, you will find your way back. It’s now about actions rather than words. Find your toolkit and put it into action and you’ll be fine! :)

    1. River Otter*

      This is not an odd reply at all! Anger and irritability are symptoms of a number of things. A lay person telling the OP to go to anger management classes is a little bit like a lay person telling somebody with the sniffles to blow their nose and take a decongestant. Maybe that’s what it takes. Or maybe that’s too much and they don’t need the decongestant at all, or maybe that’s not enough and they need additional treatments.
      LW1 might need anger management classes, or they might need better emotional intelligence overall, or they might have an actual disorder that they need treated. The focus on anger management is really clouding the ability to consider other potential problems.

  44. Maggie*

    #5: This happened to me too and my colleagues and manager could not have been more supportive and accommodating. I was literally on the surgical table one month to the day after starting my job and did not catch one bit of flak for it. I hope your team supports you the same — and I hope your surgery goes well!

  45. DJ Abbott*

    #1, I’d like to suggest you get therapy for as long as necessary to fully resolve your anger issues.
    My father was prone to angry outbursts. At one point when I was a child he wore a shirt and tie to work every day because he was trying to get promoted into management. He didn’t get the promotion and was very disappointed.
    When he retired after more than 30 years there he indicated he didn’t feel appreciated.
    I’m sure they noticed his anger and irritability, and negative attitude. Back then they didn’t have EAP’s or anger management, and his anger and issues held him back.
    If you fully resolve your issues now things will get better in other parts of your life as well as at work. Good luck!

  46. River Otter*

    OP1-I have had conflicts of, shall we say, varying degrees of intensity, with peers where they were in the wrong. Those peers who admitted to me that they were wrong are the ones that I remember for how they recovered from the conflict, not for how they handled the conflict in the first place. If you can move on from this with grace and make a dedicated commitment to being better with the person you raised your voice at, it is possible that they will remember you for how you repaired the relationship rather than how you broke it in the first place.

    1. River Otter*

      BTW, I don’t think you have an anger management problem, and I don’t think you should let either your manager or random commenters on the Internet diagnose you. I think you should take advantage of the EAP to find a counselor, explain to them what happened, and tell them you want to work on your responses so that you do not establish a negative pattern of responding to stress.
      Right now, you are like that kid who got straight A’s in high school and freaked out the first time they failed a test in college. Failure is tougher for people who have not experienced it, so in addition to needing help on establishing good patterns in response to stress, you also need help learning to acknowledge your weaknesses when they happen.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think you have an anger management problem

        You seem to think that “anger management problem” is some sort of diagnosis in the DSM or the like. It’s not – it’s simply a description of a behavioral problem. The fact is that is that he blew a stack at work, and it’s the second time he’s done so in three years. If you think that being unable to contain your anger twice in three years is not a problem, that’s fine. But if someone thinks that twice constitutes a problem, then this is a perfectly reasonable description of what is going on. Because the OP’s problem here is not that he had an objectively unreasonable complaint, but that he didn’t manage his reaction ie he lost his temper.

          1. pancakes*

            You did indeed refer to it as a diagnosis (“I don’t think you should let either your manager or random commenters on the Internet diagnose you”).

            1. River Otter*

              That doesn’t mean I think anger management problem is a diagnosis. That means it is not my place (or anyone else’s) to tell him what I do think is going on. That is a counselor’s job.

              1. LDN Layabout*

                If someone loses their temper more than once in a reasonably short space of time as part of their job, especially if they are in a managerial position, they have an anger management problem.

                You don’t need to a counsellor to identify that.

              2. Observer*

                That’s just the point. No one is telling him what they think is going on. The boss is simply describing a pattern of behavior that they are seeing at work – ie blowing up at people, and telling him that he needs to get a handle on it. Is the boss really supposed to ignore the problematic behavior that he is seeing?

              3. pancakes*

                Regardless what any of us here think, the letter writer was quite clear about the fact that their “boss has made a mandatory referral for me to receive anger management classes from our EAP.” It would not go over well at all for them to go back to the boss and say they refuse to do that on account of the referral not having been made by a counselor. If they want to pursue counseling on their own, also through the EAP or not, they are of course free to do so, but there is nothing in the letter that suggests they’re free to ignore their boss’s directive to attend anger management classes without consequence.

                I’m not sure why you seem to think attending anger management classes would be harmful to someone who doesn’t have an anger management problem, nor why you seem to think that someone who has had two angry outbursts at work doesn’t have an anger management problem, but that’s neither here nor there.

      2. MHA*

        ” I think you should take advantage of the EAP to find a counselor, explain to them what happened, and tell them you want to work on your responses so that you do not establish a negative pattern of responding to stress.”

        This is… exactly what attending anger management classes are for?

  47. Nanani*

    #1 – Please keep in mind that your never having been disciplined before isn’t necessarily a sign that you’ve never done anything that -should- have been disciplined. You may have had managers who wanted to give you more chances than anyone else would get, or were just not good at that part of their jobs, or a lot of things.

    “But I’ve never experienced a consequence before” is never a good response to experiencing a consequence. Self-examination, perhaps with the help of a professional, is definitely a very good idea.

  48. Nanani*

    #2- There are plenty of jobs where part of the manager’s job is to sort out exactly who is handling what, breaking up tasks that are unsually large for that type of task among multiple people, helping coordination between different teams, etc.
    In that type of work, there might not really be anything else for an individual contributor to do unless/until work is assigned to them, as just randomly picking up a different assignment can cause more chaos than anything else.

  49. Anonymous Hippo*

    For #1, I know if someone blew up at work, I’d find if much easier to give them grace if they immediately and humbly acquiesced to the anger management training. Also, don’t joke about it in order to lighten the mood…this is serious, let people see you take it seriously as well. I think in general, you should be able to come back from this. It might be a little harder rebuilding trust with the person you actually yelled at though, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that while you definitely owed them an apology, they don’t owe you forgiveness.

  50. ButtonPusher*

    In response to OP#2: in my experience, sure, I can find something to do, but the I get halfway through it and someone says, “Why are you working on THAT?!”

    Well, because no one told me what was more important to be working on.

    Also, I often hear about how much work there is (and this is true: one could look at our backlog and see pages of things to tackle). Especially as a more junior employee it’s probably not safe for me to just pick one and start work. Again, sure I could try, but doesn’t it make more sense to have someone who has a pulse on the higher level needs, who can sift through all the requests, and assign the right ones to the right people (or at least manage those conversations on how to do it)?

    That’s where to me it’s important to have management (call them a supervisor, team lead, senior consultant, The Decision Maker or whatever) there to sift through what needs to be done and let the do-ers focus on that while they focus on shoring up the pipeline.

  51. Orange You Glad*

    #2 As others have said there are different types of jobs. Also, folks that are waiting around for work to be assigned may be doing so for various reasons – they could be new so they haven’t been trained in every task and are waiting for instruction, the workflow really has been completed for the day and they don’t know what else to do/ask for, or the manager could like the control of doling out assignments.
    Where I work, most areas rely on a shared dept inbox for tasks and each person grabs whatever is the next item on the list to work on so there is a constant stream of tasks to complete. A newer person may not be able to complete all the tasks and rely on someone more senior to assign tasks in their skillset.

  52. Observer*

    #1 – You’ve gotten some really good feedback.

    I think that there are a few pieces, that together paint a picture that you need to give serious thought to.

    Firstly, and the thing I saw the least response to, is your statement that your boss is not great at managing and that you therefore don’t really know where you stand with him. But the fact is that your boss told you VERY CLEARLY how you stand with him. Right now, he sees you (and rightly so, I believe) as someone with a problem with his temper. I know you believe that he’s not a good people manager, but I have to wonder if that’s really the case. I mean how much more clear does he need to be?

    I could be reading too much into the way you tell the story, but it seems to me that you are bit too focused on appearances. But what people do is as important as what they say. And fixing underlying problems is as important as being seen to not have that problem. It seems to me to be part of why you are having so much trouble with the requirement to access the EAP. You are seeing this not as an attempt by your boss to find a solution to a problem but “Oh no, there is now a mark on my record!” So much so that you can’t even see the difference between an EAP referral and actually being disciplined.

    That lack of distinction also concerns me because you seem to not realize that mental health is a real thing, and that seeking assistance in that area is not just for “broken” people. And that “senior manager on the road to promotion” types of people can also need to find some way to handle mal-adaptive behavior.

    You have a problem with your temper. You have all the information you need about how your boss sees that. Focus your attention on actually getting a handle on the problem, not on how you will be seen. Ultimately, that will serve you a lot better.

    1. kiki*

      Anger can be rooted in all sorts of things, so I don’t want this to come across as a definitive identification of what’s going on, but sometimes obsession with perception of perfection and blowing up go hand-in-hand. When you don’t feel like mistakes can ever happen without them being a huge deal and think being a good employee means having a perfectly clean track-record, some people are more likely to blow up and self-destruct because they’ve been holding a lot in instead of more gently releasing over time. Good employees are human beings and have bad days, bad weeks, hell, bad 2020-2021. Being referred to your boss for anger management is a big deal and you must take it seriously, but being referred to anger management rather than immediately fired is a hopeful sign that they want you to get to a good place and believe you can. Some of the managers and senior colleagues I admire the most are the ones who made grave errors and did the work to correct them. Perhaps you won’t be able to stay at this company forever and see the growth you were hoping for, but if you work on yourself, you will be able to have a career. Barring major transgressions, most things are recoverable. And actually internalizing that can make you a lot calmer.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “When you don’t feel like mistakes can ever happen without them being a huge deal and think being a good employee means having a perfectly clean track-record, some people are more likely to blow up and self-destruct because they’ve been holding a lot in instead of more gently releasing over time.”

        I so agree! Also, demanding a standard of perfectionism is a form of white supremacy. It helps me to remember that.

  53. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#1: My opinion is that, yes, you can bounce back at work and be successful. I am basing this on your two incidents of getting angry at work, and the resulting consequences to you, which…were minimal. You have not been put on probation, nor put on a performance improvement plan–there has been no actual disciplinary action (because I don’t consider mandatory anger management counseling as disciplinary action) and as yet, your evaluation/raise has not been impacted. That may change on your next evaluation, but we don’t know yet what will happen. It seems to me that you experienced very little consequences from your angry outbursts. Did your boss even have a discussion with you about the incident?? You only mentioned the mandatory counseling, but nothing further about what your boss might have said to you.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Adding: The above response was my pessimist’s round-about way of saying that many people with anger and similar behavioral issues are not held accountable in the workplace in any meaningful way, and may continue to be rewarded for accomplishing their work goals, despite the way they go about it.

  54. Ali + Nino*

    Re: #4 – What about a European company hiring a worker in the US? Since US time off is paltry compared to the standards of many European countries, should the employer try to bring a US employee’s experience in line with that of other colleagues?

    1. LDN Layabout*

      They’d likely adhere to local rules/market expectations, so similar annual leave to other US companies, but they’d provide health insurance.

      A friend who works for one of the big four says it’s always one of the big points of contention when there’s a big international project on-site where you get employees from a number of offices, while corporate culture is broadly in line, there’s differences from country to country (e.g. Brits don’t get a per diem like some European coworkers do, but they get to expense things, so it’s usually one of the UK managers getting the credit card out on nights out)

    2. npoqueen*

      I had a friend who worked for a European company and got European standards, so 25 days and health care. At the time, I was incredibly jealous, as I had 20 days, but it was vacation and sick rolled into one. As a person with long-term health conditions, it was really limiting, I never wanted to take a sick day because I wanted to have vacation time for the holidays. Unless the situation is dire, I’ll never work a job that has combined PTO again; it rewards the healthy and punishes the sick.

      Speaking of holidays, my UK colleagues tend to enjoy 3-4 week holidays every year, which is very uncommon in the US. Outside of a honeymoon or tacking an extra week onto the winter holidays, I haven’t run into folks who take a whole month off, but in the UK office, they are used to staggering their team to accommodate for summer holidays. Not gonna lie, on my side in the US, it’s sometimes frustrating to have the decision-makers gone for a month, but I make do. I don’t begrudge them the time off, just that they don’t delegate super well. I’d love a month to turn off my brain, but my company is already considered incredibly generous with 18 days off, three personal floating days, 11 federal holidays, and the time between Christmas Eve and New Years off.

      1. Hogwash*

        In my last role I worked with a lot of UK folks and I’m not gonna lie, I was resentful of their shorter work weeks and long holidays. I occasionally had to pick up slack for them but by and large they were a fun, hardworking group to work with, so that made up for it. I don’t begrudge them their time off, I just think everyone on a team should be treated the fairly. I got way more time (and money) than my Indian colleagues and that bothers me deeply. It’s another way capitalism pits people against each other. Take your holidays, OP, as many as you can negotiate.

      2. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        UK person here – can only speak from personal experience however but mine from companies I have worked at is that anyone taking 3/4 weeks at a time is been extremely rare and even 2 week holidays are planned around work. And we would look at french and italian based colleagues with month long summers off with envy.

    3. A nice fish*

      I worked for a while at a small company in the UK which had two remote employees in the US (they were sales reps there). They did indeed get less time off than the rest of us. We all (except the owners, obviously) thought this was pretty horrible.

  55. Goldenrod*

    OP #2 – I’ve struggled with managing my anger at work too! I think you can overcome it if you take the anger management classes and are scrupulous going forward.

    I think you should know, too, that terrible managers don’t particularly *care* that they had angry outbursts – my last boss sure didn’t – so the fact that you feel bad about it and want to change shows that you have the capacity to be a great manager. Bad bosses don’t care! I think it’s normal to struggle with emotion at work, and you can “own” it but still leave the shame behind. Don’t let anyone keep shaming you about it either – you are taking responsibility, time to move on. Take the anger management classes and show your commitment to handling things differently going forward, but you don’t have to feel the shame forever either. If you are scrupulous going forward, it will pass (I believe).

    1. Observer*

      Shame is not a particularly helpful framing here. I do understand why the OP feels that way, of course. But that’s not really the issue. And I think that the OP would be well served to try avoid that lens. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like his boss is looking at it from the pov of “shameful” behavior.

      That does mean that it’s much more likely that you can come back from it – you took the first step by apologizing. But now you need to make it your business to show that you are taking steps to avoid the problem happening again. That is a good idea on its own. But also, if someone DOES try to shame you for it, it becomes much easier to respond in a useful way.

    2. Purple Cat*

      I’m not so sure he feels bad and “wants” to change.
      He’s ashamed for being sent to the EAP for anger management counseling. It reads a little like the burglar who’s not sorry he stole, but is very sorry for going to jail.
      That being said, this isn’t necessarily a death knell at his current company, but he has to commit to the counseling, apologize to the people he yelled at, and show a drastic improvement in demeanor. And even then, it might not be enough and career development may need to come at a different company.

  56. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #5 my dog died about six weeks after I started my current job. They were SO understanding and let me borrow from future vacation to deal with the logistics around that. They offered me however much time I needed but I really felt better working.

    Life happens. Places that want to keep good employees will understand that. Mine I would have understood either way (not to start a pet debate but just acknowledging there’s mixed reactions to pet stuff). Medical stuff is much more straightforward. Just ask them how to handle it, you didn’t do anything on purpose and they’ll work with you.

  57. TechWriter*

    Re: #5, I’m wondering if the answer would be different about something like laser eye surgery, which is generally optional and more flexibly schedule-able. (This is probably not the case here, given LW5’s wording, and the generally quicker recover time from modern intralase, but I’m curious.)

    Ideally the answer could still be the same, and you could be vague about the exact nature of your eye surgery so as to disguise the ‘optional’ component, but I wonder if that would prompt more “best be safe and wait a few more months to schedule it” response.

    1. Clisby*

      I had laser eye surgery more than 40 years ago, and recovery time was over a weekend. (This was laser surgery on the retinas in both eyes, and of course other laser surgeries can be different.)

  58. Fleur-de-Lis*

    LW #5 – I moved for a big promotion and found out that I needed a major surgery less than 3 months after taking the job. I manage a large department in an academic setting. Unfortunately, they’d been without someone in my role for a year, so they were more able to muddle through while I was away than might have been the case otherwise. I was out for two weeks, then WFH part time for another four weeks before returning full-time.
    HR worked with me to make sure that I could cover my time out, and that I understood the parameters of my leave options. It’s been four months now since my surgery and it’s like I was never away! If I hadn’t asked for help, I would never have known how generous the policies actually were to support my recovery. Ask! You can’t help when you need a surgery.

  59. Eether, Either*

    OP#1: I used to work with a boss who yelled a lot. His temper was completely out of control–think…throwing telephone receiver across his office, lobbing a rolled up newspaper across his office (I was in his office both times), among many, many other horrific outbursts. He had not directed his anger to me, but it was only a matter of time. I reported him to HR more than once. Unfortunately for me, he was a Former Big Deal at the firm and it got all twisted around and made to look like I was the problem. I left that job after about 6 months.

    1. Goldenrod*

      I had horribly bullying bosses who were smarter than to yell – which would have gotten them fired – but there are ALL KINDS of ways to bully people without actually yelling.

  60. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW1: Do you truly grasp that your temper is out of control? That an uncontrolled temper is a weakness and not a strength? That mature adults seeing another adult throw a verbal temper tantrum won’t think “This person is a born leader! Just the kind we need to promote ASAP” but are instead wondering when (not if!) you’ll ratchet up your rage from verbal to physical – possibly with a weapon in hand while you’re at it? Do you REALLY grasp all this? Because if you do then you have a chance of redeeming yourself. If not, well…

    Your company is doing you a FAVOR by referring you for anger management training; it means that they think you’re worth it! If they didn’t, you’d be unemployed right now! Please take a moment to grasp this too, and to ask yourself if you want to retain your job enough to do what you must in order to keep it. Finally, please ponder a proverb once quoted by Solzhenitsyn: “Master of your own anger, master of all.”

  61. Mid*

    Without veering into diagnosing, OP#1, have you considered that you might be experiencing burn out? Its unclear how close together your two outbursts were, and how long you worked before the first outburst, but a shorter fuse can be a sign of burnout. I noticed myself getting more and more emotionally tied up to my work, and more reactive to anything going wrong, even things (or perhaps especially things) that were out of my control when I was in the midst of burn out. It sounds like you tie a lot of yourself to your status and reputation at work, and while that isn’t something inherently wrong, it might be good for therapy to touch on how you separate your personal sense of self from your work–because things happen at work that you cannot control, and if your self-identity is so tied up in your work performance that you feel like work events are a personal attack, that’s not a healthy situation to be in. Again, not diagnosing, just speaking from personal experience and from seeing my close family and friends struggle with the same issues.

  62. Jeni*

    Letter 1: My evidence-based opinion of angry outbursts at work is they stem from a person losing control of another person, rather than losing control of themselves, and I would absolutely steer clear of anyone with a history of explosive outbursts in the workplace. One time, I’m cautious. Two times, I’m a gray rock and never alone in the same room. Been there, twice, with two different ticking-time-bomb coworkers.

  63. RagingADHD*

    LW, being ashamed of our actions when we do something that is in fact wrong, isn’t necessary a bad thing. It shows that you have an appropriate understanding of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

    That initial response of shame can fester and drag us down further, or it can morph into healthy remorse and help motivate substantive change.

    And that very change is your best shot at recovering from this professionally. If you grow into a larger pattern of self-control, respect of others, and thoughtful responses the majority of the time, then these 2 incidents can be remembered as “LW went through a rough time but really turned it around.”

    Use the EAP time to talk about your feelings of shame. That will likely be a good doorway into finding a better way to cope with your emotions.

    After all, it was fear of being publicly discredited (aka shamed, humiliated) that prompted this latest outburst in the first place. Follow the connections, and the work you need to do will go faster.

  64. Goldenrod*

    “My evidence-based opinion of angry outbursts at work is they stem from a person losing control of another person”

    Jeni, I agree with this as it applies to a boss yelling at a subordinate. But if you get mad at a peer – sometimes there are good reasons for that – maybe that person was pushing at you in subtle ways for a very long time and you finally spoke to them about it – and you ended up raising your voice.

    This is what happened to me, I was in a very bullying environment, and when I finally lost my patience, I raised my voice to my peer. And I apologized afterwards and she totally accepted it – we worked it out. But our bullying middle manager used that as a stick to beat me with and it became all about “my behavior” rather than addressing the real issues at the company.

    Also, this can be a form of white supremacy (focus on “nice” behavior) because sometimes people of color express themselves differently and are perceived as “scary” when they are really just legitimately frustrated.

    1. Jeni*

      No, I learned long ago to stop rationalizing away patterns of angry behaviors at work. When people show me who they are, I believe them. YMMV.

      1. Goldenrod*

        It can be more complex than that. Not having perfect control over your emotions at all times is human.

        1. pancakes*

          No one has suggested otherwise. If the letter was being bullied at work, though, don’t you think they’d have mentioned that? It would be important context.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      The focus on “nice” behavior was used against me for my entire life until I was around my 40s. It’s also used for sexism. (I’m white and female.)

      1. Goldenrod*

        “The focus on “nice” behavior was used against me for my entire life until I was around my 40s. It’s also used for sexism. (I’m white and female.)”

        Exactly! I so agree with this!!

  65. Maria*

    #5 – if it’s a non profit or government, they might be a very “good” employer and still only be able to offer you unpaid leave, as some funders are VERY strict about that kind of thing. But you can also ask if you can borrow against future leave – it’ll mean you’re out of most of your sick days for the year, but at least you would get paid during your leave. In the event that you leave before earning back those days, they would come out of your last paycheck.

  66. Marian*

    OP #1:

    I worked with a gentleman who had this reputation and changed it. By the time I was hired he was a friendly, joking, gentle person. So it was to my great surprise that I learned he had made my coworker cry and was generally seen as a rough person to be around a few years prior. (He did good field work and was rarely in the office, so that behavior was more tolerated but still not seen as OK). My impression was that he turned it around with a lot of conscious effort to be kind and gentle, especially around newer and younger employees. It took some real time and people still rib him about it. But he is very well thought of now and I very much enjoyed working with him.

    (I’m not suggesting you are hard to work with, only want to illustrate that reputations can change but it takes real effort and time.)

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think this is a useful insight in that avoiding boiling over isn’t just about clamping the lid on tighter. You usually need to turn the temperature down overall.

  67. Hogwash*

    #4, I was the American team member in this situation. Not only do they get more vacation, but the UK folks worked something like 5 fewer hours a week. ASK ANYWAY. Normalize not giving you whole life to a role. Set the example!!!!

  68. plumerai*

    LW#1: This letter could have come from my father—a senior manager at a public agency who had occasional explosive outbursts at work. He was indeed sent to anger management training.

    Listen, maybe this really was just a one-off (or two-off). But please, please consider whether the anger management classes could be something that would benefit you in your life, and take the classes in good faith. My father learned techniques that ensured he was able to stay in his job and be effective as a manager, and when he retired maybe 12 years after these classes, he was surrounded by people who were truly sad to see him go. If it weren’t for those classes, I don’t think that would have been the case.

    *My* life also changed considerably—for the better—after my father took these classes in good faith. Like you, he wasn’t off the rails or anything. But his outbursts were terrifying for our family, despite him never being violent in the least. It just FELT violent. And that may well be how your colleagues feel—they know you’re not going to hit them. But if there is something you can do to make sure they don’t ever feel like they need to walk on eggshells around you, please do it. At the very least you’ll learn some techniques that ANYONE can learn from, regardless of anger issues (which are hard to diagnose from a letter!).

  69. Mavis Mae*

    For the #4 letter writer – your employer has to comply with any minimum employment conditions that apply in the country you are working in, even if a lower or different standard applies in the country the employer is based in. It might be that everyone in the UK gets 25 days’ leave because that’s in the employment legislation! There will be an employment regulator or ombudsman or something like that, go checking and tell your employer that they have to comply with local employment requirements. You might find other benefits as well such as minimum sick leave entitlements, superannuation, unfair dismissal protection etc.

  70. WonkyStitch*

    #5 happened to me with my current job.

    I was scheduled to start in late April and was waiting for insurance approval for a surgery that had been in the planning stages for almost 6 months. My surgeon decided she wanted to do the surgery in May, but could only get the OR time on May 6th. At that time I would have only been in the job for about a week.

    I emailed my recruiter and told her of the situation. She checked with the hiring manager, who said it was fine. My company is wonderful and starts new hires with a week of PTO on day one, so they had no problem having me work one week, take a week off for surgery and recovery, then come back on week 3.

    A good company with good time off policies should be ok with something like this. It happens. Good luck with your surgery!

  71. Amaranth*

    I’d want to take a good look at UK/US equivalencies on things like health insurance. If they aren’t providing those kinds of benefits due to LW’s location, are they making up for it in other areas?

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