my new boss is changing the team culture I loved

A reader writes:

I took a new job about a year ago at a major tech company with a strong culture promoting employee well-being via work/life balance, reducing meeting loads, encouraging asynchronous collaboration across flexible schedules and time zones, etc.

My manager came from the military and has been at our company less than two years, so she’s still fairly new to the private sector. That said, she seems to be ignoring all the cultural pieces of our workplace. Her default is to work 14+ hours daily, work weekends, and she hasn’t taken any vacation or sick time since she started. This obviously sets a bad precedent for our team, but I’ve been in the workforce long enough to be confident in my boundaries around hours, setting reasonable timeline expectations, and not taking on work or meetings that don’t add value. This has worked well, generally.

However, as the team has grown and shifted, she’s continued to hire on others from her previous sector, and they are following her example. She discourages us from attending employee town halls and other “cultural” events because they don’t directly pertain to our work (a government contract — expertise in the regulations is why she and others in the team have been brought on from the military), and “anything important will be announced in emails anyway.”

I value our company’s culture; it’s the main reason I sought a job here. I continue to get involved in employee events, connecting with others outside our project group, etc., and am working on finding a position in a new team. However, in the meantime I’m here, and my teammates seem enraptured by her, so I’m concerned they’ll perpetuate the “countercultural” attitude. At minimum, they’re being denied a full employee experience.

Additionally, her views are all wrapped up in toxic positivity and a “we’re all a family”/”best team ever” attitude, so it’s hard to address head-on without being perceived as negative.

Most recently, she sent a meeting invite at 7 pm for 8 am the next morning stating “emergency; please prioritize!” Thinking that surely it was crucial, time-sensitive, and would require my full attention, my husband and I shuffled schedules so he could do school drop-off — he rescheduled a meeting with his own manager. Our emergency meeting’s purpose? Announcing a colleague’s promotion in level. No change to his or our duties, work structure, etc. It ended up being a three-minute meeting. She was “too excited” to wait for our team meeting the following day, and thought an email or Teams message was insufficient. I was stunned by the disrespect for our time, but attempting to address it is met with “but we need to celebrate our wins!” She truly doesn’t seem to think she did anything inappropriate.

Her manager, my skip-level, is totally disengaged from all of this because he oversees a broader team, and when I’ve attempted to address my concerns in the past with what she’s modeling, he’s brushed them off as managerial style differences. But compounded, these feel like behaviors needing significant coaching and correction steps to align with the company priorities. Any advice on what to do next, besides wait for our annual employee feedback cycle in a few months?

Agggh, so frustrating. It’s not like you took a job and discovered after starting that this was the culture there. That would suck too — but in this case you took a job knowing the culture and because of the culture, and now your manager is trying to change the things that drew you there in the first place.

The reality is, there might not be anything you can do to change what’s happening. Managers often get broad leeway to set the cultures on their own teams, with outside intervention only if they’re creating liability for the company (example). That’s not always the case; some companies will step in if a manager is out of alignment with aspects of their culture, especially if they use those elements to attract employees. But whether or not that will be the case here is impossible to say from the outside.

You’ve got four basic options:

1. Talk to your boss. It’s easy to assume this wouldn’t make sense to do in light of her toxic positivity — you’re understandably worried about being perceived as negative in an environment that wants everyone to be positive! all! the! time! — but sometimes managers like this are still open to hearing how they’re impacting others. Not always, so you’ll have to judge based on what you know of her, but if she seems generally competent outside of these issues and you’ve seen her be open to feedback or dissent in the past, it’s possible that talking to her could help.

That said, even if she’s open to hearing you, it’s very unlikely that she’s going to dramatically revamp the team culture (especially since it sounds like others there like it) or her own work style. So before you talk to her, figure out what you can ask for that you have a realistic chance of getting, and just focus on those things. You’re not likely to convince her to work fewer hours or take more time off, but you could ask for boundaries on your work hours, no last-minute early-morning “emergency” meetings that aren’t truly emergencies, and more acceptance of people’s interest in attending company-wide events.

Will it work? Who knows — but those are narrow enough requests that it’s worth a shot. You could try framing it as, “I know you really care about our team’s culture and this is an important aspect of it” since that might put it in terms she cares about.

2. Talk to her boss. This might not make sense to do since you’ve already tried it and been blown off, but it’s worth considering exactly what you said to him previously. If you laid out your concerns clearly and explicitly, there’s likely no point in trying again. But if, looking back on that conversation, you downplayed the details (as people often do), it could be worth going back and being clearer this time. This depends heavily on what you know of him, though, and on the relationship you have with him. In some scenarios you’d just look like you weren’t hearing what he already told you.

3. Talk to HR. This may or may not make sense, depending on how good your HR is. In some companies, HR would be concerned to hear about a manager creating her own rogue culture that directly conflicted with the company’s values and doing things like discouraging employees from attending company-wide events. In other companies, they wouldn’t. In still other companies, they might care but not have the power or skill to do anything about it. What matters for you is that last one. If you have decent HR who won’t mishandle the situation, it should be fine to talk this over with them even if they ultimately don’t do anything about it. But if you don’t have great HR, there’s a risk they’ll address it with your boss in a way that leaves you exposed. So, as is often the case with HR, decide based on what you know of them.

4. Just do your own thing. If none of the above options seem like the right ones — or you try them and get nowhere — the other option is to just keep doing your own thing the way you want to, and tune out your boss as much as possible. It sounds like you’ve been trying that — sticking to your boundaries around hours, setting reasonable timelines, attending events you’re interested in, presumably taking the time off you’re entitled to, etc. That undoubtedly feels harder to do as your boss increasingly stocks your team with people who share her mindset, but it doesn’t sound like you’re getting blowback about it.

Your points about the hours your boss is modeling and the experience she’s giving new people are well-taken, but they’re ultimately outside of your control. You don’t need to fix those; you just need to worry about your own piece of things.

Of course, that can be easier said than done. When you’re conscientious and invested in your work, being isolated in a sea of people operating very differently can drain a lot of the fulfillment from your job. For a lot of people, engagement and satisfaction at work depends on being aligned with a team. You’re not going to get that from this team anymore.

In fact, even if you try everything above with some amount of success, you’re still probably not going to get that from this team, because the pieces you have the power to address are small. There’s a new culture now. You might be able to improve some of it, but you’re unlikely to be able to change the big stuff.

Because of that, the best long-term solution is almost certainly what you’re already working on: moving to a new team. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying any of the steps above — there’s value in making things better for yourself for however long you’re there — but ultimately the solution is to move somewhere else.

{ 358 comments… read them below }

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I know that there is no way I would have contained my displeasure over this. This was absolutely a power play.

        Similar “Emergency Meeting” that incurred additional child care costs and a lot of schedule shifting/husband re-aligning two client meetings for himself…for them to announce at this Emergency Meeting that the theme of the year was “Something something stupid”. An Emergency Priority meeting to announce a d@mn theme for the year for the company.

        Definition of “This Meeting Could have been an Email”.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          Or at least OP could have called in by phone without totally rearranging their drop off schedule! (I would have totally missed an email after 7 for an 8AM meeting either way). I’ll give the boss some credit for just being genuinely excited and supportive of the person who got promoted, but it seems like there could be a kind way to give feedback on this, without seeming negative.

          1. OP*

            I didn’t go into the details, but I actually couldn’t in this case. We’re devoted to a confidential project with a lot of restrictions on how and where we can attend meetings. The meetings also can’t be recorded because of this. Since I assumed this was a project update, I needed to be connected to the VPN in a private environment.
            (The policies are definitely annoying, but at least I knew about them going in to the job. I do look forward to moving to a “normal” program without the red tape!)

            1. ecnaseener*

              But if you had been told it wasn’t a project update or anything else confidential, then you could’ve called in?

                1. Wisteria*

                  The take away for this thing is to ask her going forward whether you need to be in a private place, connected over the VPN–and tell her you are waiting on her reply before you rearrange your schedule. You will probably have limited success convincing her that she should change how she operates, but you can take measures to limit the impact on you.

                2. Observer*

                  Nah, the takeaway is that you don’t check meeting invites after work. And you don’t attend meetings if you can’t be private unless you are told that they don’t need to be private.

                3. Salymander*

                  Wow. Your new boss suuuucks.

                  The toxic positivity is obnoxious and soul crushing, and the disrespect for your time is just terrible.

                  I have no useful advice, really. In my experience, people like this are really oblivious to the feelings and needs of other people, and they will resist change to the bitter end. I don’t see this going anywhere good. Sorry, OP. This sucks so very, very much.

            2. EPLawyer*

              So this makes it worse. If it wasn’t a project update that required all the secrecy you should have been told. It changes what you have to do to attend the meeting.

            3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              So Great Leader is down on company wide rah rah events, company wide team building, company wide staff support…ok. But Great Leader is all about rallying the troops for internal rah rah, yay team events. Calling one person’s promotion a “win” is (thanks, Alison) an oddly adversarial way to position professional growth. Did coworker take the promotion like a flag on a hill?

            4. Anonymous4*

              I’m familiar with the “bulldozer” effect that some military personnel (and especially former officers) like to use on their teams. They may be wrong but they’re the boss, and if you don’t like it, sucks being you.

              It’s really abrasive, and it’s really poor management. But, being in the military, they could get away with it, and so they carry that technique with them when they get out.

              I can’t say that I’ve ever known anyone who learned a better way of dealing with direct reports and assorted underlings; I’ve known ex-mil who were fired for being stinking-bad managers, but I don’t know what happened afterwards.

              So sorry it’s happening to you, OP; if I were you, I’d find somewhere else to go. In the company, if you like the organization, or somewhere else entirely. Best of luck to you!

              1. Lee*

                I’ve learned to temper. The key for me was swallowing my ego and realizing I had people working for me who were smarter and more qualified to address an issue than I.

                I think back to my time in uniform and shudder at the thought of behaving the same way.

              2. Reluctant Mezzo*

                I had a CO who was like this when I was in the Air Force. Half our office was civilian, and they left the place as soon as they humanly could. Later, I heard he was working for his brother once he’d left the service, and I wondered how the long before a) his brother fired and/or b) the company lasted.

              3. NNN222*

                Once I found out a micro-managing boss who both was rah-rah we’re all family but also got mad if she overheard us talking about something non-work related even if we were getting our work done was ex-military, a lot of things about her made more sense. She was fortunately fired and I’m pretty sure her next job was non-managerial. I sincerely hope so but she also seemed like the type to act like she was someone’s boss even when she wasn’t.

          2. Elenna*

            If I got a 7 pm email for an 8 am meeting, I would not have been at that meeting, not out of deliberate refusal, but just because I wouldn’t have seen the email till after 8 am.

            1. Selina Luna*

              This, right here. If you send a meeting notice after the end of the school day, expect that most people will not receive it until the next morning.

            2. Mockingjay*

              Ah, but reading emails after hours is part of Boss’s modus operandi. Because it’s part of the 14-hour workday.

            3. MusicWithRocksIn*

              Even if I had for some crazy reason seen the email (not likely, but sometimes I leave my computer on when I WFH) I still wouldn’t have ‘seen’ anything I had no reason to see outside of work hours, and probably would have sent an email at 8:10 saying can someone update me after the meeting, I just got to that email.

            4. Florida Fan 15*

              I came in to work last week to find an email sent at 8:25 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. emergency meeting. I work a 9-6 so I saw it at approximately 9:15 a.m. Missed that meeting and don’t care.

              1. Alex M*

                This happened to me once … and I got in trouble for it. Not from the person who booked the meeting, who totally understood why I wasn’t there, but one of the other attendees took exception to my not being available and complained to my boss, who changed my work hours to start at 8:15 going forward. It was extremely annoying.

            5. SarahKay*

              So much this. In fact I missed a couple of big announcements around changes when Covid kicked in because I wasn’t on site in time for the meeting (as a not-a-morning-person I tend to get on site at heading for 9.30). You know what my boss did when I apologised for missing those meetings? He told me very firmly not to worry, and that he was sorry for the short notice but they needed to get the news out fast. (It was not good news and as an international company they wanted to get the official line out before rumour got ahead of them.)
              And you can bet your bottom dollar he wouldn’t have pulled that sort of nonsense to announce a promotion!

      2. Meep*

        That is because it is a power play. Trust me. I am well versed in them after watching some of the stupider ones unfold over the years.

    1. For the Moment*

      The petty thing of not showing up to future “emergency” meetings looms large here. “Oh, after Liam’s promotion meeting, I figured that I’d learn anything important via email and couldn’t move my family responsibilities. I’m sure you understand.”

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Ironic that the boss thinks the town halls aren’t worth attending because they can be summarized in an email haha.

        1. Salsa Verde*

          This is exactly what I came here to say – the boss doesn’t want her staff to attend town hall meetings because they don’t directly impact work but is fine to schedule a last minute “emergency” meeting to announce something that…doesn’t directly impact the team’s work?

          1. yala*

            Seems like if OP goes back to grandboss, it would be a good idea to point out the mixed messages boss is sending her team regarding engagement, and how it can be confusing for team members. Also, by using an Emergency Meeting for something so banal, she’s making an “emergency” tag/subject seem like not that important, which could result in employees not responding promptly to actual emergencies (if OP wants to maybe add some potential consequences of boss’s actions)

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        At a bare minimum I would be email back about all future “emergency meeting” requests:
        “Boss, can I please get a summary of what this meeting is in regards to. I have a conflict with that time and need to figure out which meeting is more important to business priorities. Thank you.”

        But yeah – if you email me at 19:00 local for something first thing the next morning I’m going to miss it as I don’t check work email after I log off for the day.

      3. Been There*

        This also has the potential to turn into a “boy who cried wolf” scenario, in which OP just stops showing up to “emergency meetings” because they’re not, actually, emergencies…

    2. Lynca*

      Yeah the boss’ “emergency” label on future meetings would be getting the 3rd degree from me. I’d be point blank about that and if called “negative” would point out that their actions are the ones that let to this negativity. You can be upset about things! Emergency isn’t something that should be called lightly if you want people to take you seriously.

      However OP’s boss is seriously trying to reshape some culture in here. The fact their skip level boss doesn’t want to deal with it, to me, means there’s not much OP can do to fix it. So they’ll have to decide if they’re okay with continuing to assert their boundaries or if they want to move on. Which if other people are falling in line with the new boss it’s harder to do.

      1. Salymander*

        People like this can have a weirdly disproportionate influence in an organization, especially if they start bringing in their own people, as this boss is. It can start resembling a cult, and you either buy in to the toxic positivity and lack of work life balance or you get pushed out. Or, you start looking for work right away.

    3. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      This shows a very revealing lack of empathy.

      “I was too excited” and “we need to celebrate our wins” means that the new boss is seeing things only from her fixed point of view. She was unable to predict how disruptive her last-minute meeting request could be, and when she was told the results dismissed them as unimportant compared to her own desires.

      I hope that Alison’s ideas of advocating for specific, granular things will produce results, but this is a boss that is unlikely to see things from the perspective of her employees.

      1. cubone*

        yeah, I had a former boss who did this multiple times. Not a short notice 8AM meeting, but once went around and pulled people out of meetings (!), another time had someone chase after an employee who’d just left the building for lunch, both times to pull us together and …. take 2 min to announce a promotion. It’s kind of funny how it has the opposite of the intended effect, and people were too annoyed to be genuinely happy for the promoted person (who was always deeply embarrassed!).

        I realized over time that it was exactly what you’ve said: the manager only saw her own desires and in fact I grew to realize when she was announcing promotions, it wasn’t about celebrating the individual or even the team, but self-congratulations for HER leadership and what a great boss she is because she promotes people. I felt very much like I was less a person and more a background character in some story she told herself of what a fantastic manager she was.

        1. OP*

          This has been my suspicion over her motivations, and it’s being confirmed the more I consider behavior patterns.
          She’ll also pull people into meetings to answer questions rather than taking the action to follow up. Every once in a while if something is truly urgent, fine, but it shouldn’t be a routine thing. This also feels very inconsiderate of others’ time. And of course if people realize your M.O. is to operate as if everything is urgent, they will start ignoring you.

          1. Wisteria*

            This also feels very inconsiderate of others’ time.

            Even that is a cultural thing, though. It feels that way to you bc your work culture values people’s time over immediately addressing issues. I’ve been in work environments where immediately addressing issues was the highest priority, and people expected to be called into meetings to answer questions bc seriously, fixing the yield problem in the fab is way more important than whatever you are working on right now, unless what you are working on right now is literally fixing the yield problems in the fab, and even so, you should be ready to answer questions about it! That’s not what’s going on at your workplace, but it’s just to demonstrate that what is disrespectful is not an absolute. You have a manager with different values, and she probably finds you as disrespectful as you find her. It’s going to be on you to find a way to navigate the values mismatch, bc she doesn’t seem to be willing.

            1. Sodium Benzoate*

              Agreed, but painful to read. I’ve been in a situation where my supervisor had mismatched values, I fought to navigate to a middle ground, I failed. The experience was useful, got me interested in researching interactions with “difficult” people

            2. Canadian Librarian #72*

              I cannot overstate how much I disagree with you. This is reading like an extreme version of cultural relativism, which is to say, no, actually; not everything is actually neutral. There are some things that are actually objectively disrespectful, and calling an “emergency” meeting well after the end of normal business hours for 8 am the following morning to announce something that was not, in fact, an emergency, is one of those things.

              1. Wisteria*

                I did agree elsewhere that the non-emergency meeting was annoying.

                Maybe it would have been helpful if I had quoted more in my response:

                She’ll also pull people into meetings to answer questions rather than taking the action to follow up. Every once in a while if something is truly urgent, fine, but it shouldn’t be a routine thing. This also feels very inconsiderate of others’ time.

                That’s a cultural mismatch, absolutely relative to the environment, not objectively disrespectful at all.

                1. Anonymous4*

                  If an answer is immediately needed, yes, get the person. But a minor question isn’t an emergency, and I no longer have any confidence that Bulldozer Boss can tell the difference between an emergency and a minor issue.

                  I work in an environment in which minutes and answers can be vital — but they’re not always a screaming emergency, and I can trust my coworkers and overlings to know the difference. Bulldozer Boss doesn’t know the difference. (Example: The “emergency meeting” to announce a promotion.)

              2. TechWorker*

                The comment is responding to whether pulling people into meetings to answer questions in the moment is disrespectful use of time. I don’t think they’re referring to the incident mentioned in the letter.

            1. EZ Like Sunday Morning*

              I’ve said this for years. “OK, this is an emergency? Great, I’ll put it at the back of the emergency queue and I’ll get to it once I’ve handled all the other emergencies that came in before it.”

              1. Happier Now*

                At a previous job we had a “List of #1 Priorities”. Basically everything was a priority so nothing was.

                1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                  I feel this so hard.
                  And also when we have some #1 Priorities listed, but we keep getting pulled into other things and don’t have the time or proper resources to do the things that are supposed to be the priorities.

              2. Nina*

                I have an extremely open policy of ‘if you tell me it’s an emergency, it goes on the emergency queue, which I look at in the rare moments I have time to spare from the tasks I’ve been given concrete deadlines for. If you give me a concrete deadline, I’ll take that into account when I’m prioritizing my tasks.’

          2. Meep*

            I had to try to explain to my boss once that the reason Problem Employee didn’t see deadlines as deadlines were because he would whip people up into a frenzy to get things done in a short amount of time only to… not look at it for two weeks to six months… He is better at it now. At least with me, because I will make sure to ask when the actual deadline is and what I can get away with having done in three days.

          3. Lizzo*

            Reminds me of a boss I had who I would be scheduled to meet with, and then I’d spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting sitting there…waiting…while she finished up the conversations she was having on the company chat. This happened at least three times a week. Absolutely no respect for my time.

        2. 653-CXK*

          My current boss does this “Before you go to lunch/before you leave…” tic – not with regularity, but enough to be annoying.

          1. Meep*

            My former boss would literally trap me in a conference room and wouldn’t let me leave. Not even when I wanted to go to the bathroom. It was always “let’s just finish this one thing.” Cue sitting on her phone for twenty minutes, giggling at the things her boyfriends (yes plural) said. We may change one word in that entire time. This lady is nearly 60.

            I now have a list of ridiculous trigger phrases including “fresh copy”, “sit down for a minute!”, and “let’s just finish it up. I think it is nearly perfect.”

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            ah yes, I had a boss who systematically would pop in to my office to ask me to do something, ten minutes before I was due to leave. Once, during our morning meeting I saw a paper on his desk and thought “that’ll be for me” but the boss didn’t mention it, so I assumed he’d ask my colleague instead. Predictably, he brought the paper to my office at ten to, but I already had my coat on to show that I was wrapping things up and wouldn’t be staying late.
            I had a kid in kindergarten and while I did have a backup plan if I couldn’t pick him up in time, it was to be used in true emergencies only. I was the first ever mother employed in the company, and the managers were a childless couple with zero sympathy for any child-related issue. I didn’t last very long there and my colleague ended up suing him for unpaid overtime.

    4. Ed123*

      Our manager did the same. Well it was during normal working time. But at 12.30 she sends a meeting request for 1pm saying she needs to talk to the team. We all sign in to the meeting and the topic was that the manager of another team in our department was promoted. Like, really? We would have had a deparment meeting the next day. The manager also told us not to tell anyone so us knowing first wouldn’t become a thing, but the reason she told us was that we don’t hear it from elsewhere. Then she went on a tangent about how happy she is for the promoted manager and went on to tell about her job hunt (totally private info) and started to cry. That’s when I excited the meeting.

      1. BatManDan*

        I’m sure you meant “that’s when I exited the meeting,” but I’m having fun reading it as you meant what you typed; “that’s when I excited the meeting.” I would be SO pumped if that all unfolded in front of me, and I only hope I would have had the sense to turn on the screen recorder when it became apparent things were going to get interesting. (I have a screen recorder program that runs independently of any meeting software, so I don’t need permission from the host to record.)

    5. Cheap Ass Rolex*

      Yes, and that example it’s definitely worth explaining, in a very neutral, factual tone of voice, exactly everything you had to do to inconveniently rearrange your morning schedule, so that the boss understands that there should be a high bar for making people do that. Obviously a grown adult shouldn’t need to be told that, but here you are.

    6. quill*

      Yeah, that stood out to me as spectacularly bad judgement. Give her one more strike and people are going to assume an emergency meeting about the llamas escaping confinement is to announce a new hire.

    7. Buttercup*

      I will say, promotion is a big thing in the military. I’ve been pulled from important work to attend a meeting where someone puts on rank. Calling it an emergency and making people rearrange their personal schedules though, definitely overkill. I’m in the branch most people call lazy, but we are encouraged to take leave, not to take work home, and 14 hour days+weekends are for exercises/wartime. I just don’t want people to attribute all of this negative stuff to the military and not want to work with veterans in the future :)

      1. Debbie*

        Here, here. I had some amazing supervisors while in that same branch who wouldn’t dream of pulling stunts like this. If you were working 14+ hour days, you weren’t managing your time well.

  1. A Penguin!*

    If my boss sent an emergency meeting notice at 7pm for an 8am meeting, most of my team wouldn’t even see the meeting invite until the meeting was over! (typical start times of 8:30-9, with end of day around 5-6 I think).

    1. Person from the Resume*

      My thought too.

      I’d never do this because I know I couldn’t expect people to see the email before the start time.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      Same here. If feasible, it might OP’s own sanity if they can stop checking email after a certain time and simply let the natural consequences follow. (“Oh, I didn’t see that email before I logged off last night” or “Just saw this email, so I’ll be joining the meeting by phone.”) I realize that’s just one symptom of a larger problem though, and OP most likely needs to find a new team.

    3. Observer*

      If my boss sent an emergency meeting notice at 7pm for an 8am meeting, most of my team wouldn’t even see the meeting invite until the meeting was over

      True. And this is something you can do right now – Actually start enforcing your boundaries around your schedule. There is no reason you should even have seen that notification. And if you regularly do work in the evening, you should have not even tried to get your husband to change HIS meetings so last minute. “By the time I found out about the meeting it was too late to change my morning schedule.”

      If she dings you on this, again that’s actionable information that goes well beyond vague “managerial style”.

    4. anonymous73*

      Yup. And even if I happened to see it, I would pretend to not have seen it. If something is truly urgent, my boss texts me. She doesn’t expect that I’ll see an email once I’m done for the day.

      1. BatManDan*

        Yup. Arrive at normal time.
        Boss: why weren’t you at the meeting?
        Employee: what meeting?
        Boss: The meeting at 8am that I announced at 7pm last night?
        Employee: How could I have possibly known about the meeting? I read my emails when I come in at .
        I’m in a slightly different structure (self-employed, franchise owner) and my co-owners and the franchisor have learned that if you don’t give me DAYS of notice for a meeting, I’m already booked. I’m not sitting around waiting for someone else to have an urgent idea.

        1. Salymander*

          That is a good point. Why would any competent manager want the employees to have so little to do that they are just sitting around waiting to be an audience for whatever nonsense the manager wants to perform? These people have work to do during work hours and lives to lead all the rest of the time. They aren’t the Manager’s captive audience. Manager needs to hire a few victorian era type paid companions to follow her around and pay attention to whatever she says and does. They can clap politely and say nice things, and the rest of the employees can get on with things.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      Same here. When I log off for the day I either lock or shut down my work computer. I do not have my work email on my phone. If they really need me after hours and I’m not on call (which has its own alerting mechanism), they can call me.

      Years ago I was always on, available at all hours, etc. It got abused, and I got burned out. Now I keep my boundaries and jealously guard them.

      I now work for an east coast company but I live on the west coast. If I know about things ahead of time and it’s important, I’ll get up for a 6 am meeting. But that’s pretty rare that I have to. My employer tries not to ask me to do this, so it works out.

      The real problem here seems to be that OP’s new boss doesn’t respect the work life boundaries of their people. They may think it’s great to be a 24×7 shop and ultra responsive, but it’s just a recipe for burnout, IMO. My advice? Change teams or change companies, your workplace is headed to the toxic waste dump.

  2. The Original K.*

    Been there. Nothing helped. That boss only stayed a year (she was clearly unhappy), but then there was a re-organization that sent things further downhill, to the point where I wasn’t sad to be caught in a round of layoffs because I was miserable. Once the culture has fundamentally changed, there’s not much to be done to get it back – that has to come from the top, and that’s usually where the problem is (like this letter).

  3. I Don’t Know It All*

    How frustrating. I tend to find that most skip line managers don’t get involved until they see a lot of turnover. Perhaps I am just projecting, but I worked at one of those we are all family work 24/7 and meet for no reason employers, and the only time changes were made is when 3-4 staff from the same division all left within a few months of each other.

    Either way it stinks to take a job in part because of the culture and have someone come in and create a counter-culture that is everything you didnt want.

    1. tessa*

      I think this is a really important point. Combined with Alison’s advice to keep doing your own thing, it might be that the problem eventually brings attention to itself without your having to do anything, for example, sudden turnover, as I Don’t Know It All discusses. My own experience is that problems as you describe wear thin at some point.

      Good luck, LW. You sound like a wonderful, mindful manager.

      1. EPLawyer*

        New Boss is bringing in her own people who like this way of doing things. I dunno, maybe their expertise in the area the New boss was brought in was so necessary that having one team misaligned with the rest of the company will be okay.

        OR New Boss will build a little fiefdom, then try to force her way on to other teams. Which will then be met with pushback hopefully.

        But yeah a toxic positivity boss with no boundaries is not a good culture.

        1. Kella*

          Yeah it seems like either, this culture will cause problems that will start to impact the company at large, like fast turnover, multiple people having to suddenly go on leave due to medical emergencies or burnout, conflicts between this team and other teams, etc.

          Or…. it doesn’t cause problems because the people on the team like working that way. It may still be unethical for her to run a team that way but if it isn’t causing measurable problems, then it may not be the worst thing that it exists.

          Doesn’t make it any less crappy for the OP that they’ve had the culture they sign up for removed out from under them. Hopefully OP is able to transfer to another team and hopefully that removes the majority of the impact from this team’s culture change on them.

          1. Anonymous4*

            Bulldozer Boss is bringing in ex-mil personnel who are used to that environment so they don’t see anything particularly wrong with it. Remember the bit about people who have been in toxic work environments have their expectations skewed waaay off to one side? Well, their expectations are so twisted, poor souls, they’d look like macrame.

            I think that OP should bring up the fact that Bulldozer actively discourages people from attending employee meetings. That SHOULD attract some attention and perhaps ring a few alarm bells — that she’s trying to replace corporate identity with fealty to her own bulldozing self.

  4. AnonInCanada*

    UGH! I don’t know whether or not I would be able to contain myself if I had to shuffle things around/reschedule other appointments/wake up extra early to attend this “emergency” meeting only to be told this, I think I would’ve flown off the handle, given everything else this “positively positive!” manager has implemented.

    I’m sorry, but being supportive and positive is one thing, but this takes it to a new level. If what Alison’s suggestions end up being met with the proverbial “talk to the hand” attitude, then I would suggest getting out of Dodge.

    1. Double A*

      Yeah, this, big time. “Celebrating wins” while disrespecting your employees’ times is really the opposite of positive and supportive… it’s disruptive and disrespectful and, ultimately, demoralizing.

    2. anonymous73*

      I wouldn’t have been able to keep quiet about it, boss or not. “My husband and I had to rearrange our morning schedules for me to make this meeting that was most certainly not urgent.” And moving forward, I’d make sure to “un-see” anything that was scheduled after hours until my next work day began.

  5. Xavier Desmond*

    This sounds frustrating but something you can necessarily do a lot about. Unless the manager is incompetent and/or abusive, which it doesn’t sound like she is, it’s just one of those things you have to accept has changed and move on. Looking for a new role seems like the best solution tbh.

    1. Barb*

      Yeah, I agree. I thought that Allison’s advice below was really about the only thing that can be said about the situation. “Your points about the hours your boss is modeling and the experience she’s giving new people are well-taken, but they’re ultimately outside of your control. You don’t need to fix those; you just need to worry about your own piece of things.”

    2. anonymous73*

      I think it depends on how hard core the company is about it’s culture because if that’s really important to them, they need to know that one of their managers is trying to change it. I’d skip the boss and grand boss and go straight to HR. OP should know pretty much right off the bat if HR is willing to do anything, and then decide how they want to proceed.

      1. Anonymous4*

        Yes. Bulldozer is trying to replace corporate culture with her own brand of crazy. Someone in upper management needs to know about this.

  6. Long Time Lurker*

    OP this stinks, and I really sympathize. I’m in something of an inverse situation. I’ve been with a company less than a year, and my team leader also tends to downplay corporate gatherings and meetings in favor of our team’s priorities. They scheduled our team holiday party for the same night as the main company party, and have set internal team meetings that overlap with company town halls.

    It’s frustrating, since I work most closely with the team and want to prioritize them, but at the same time I’d like to get to know people and priorities outside our team.

    1. Rayray*

      I’m in a somewhat similar boat too where I feel like my team and department don’t really get I cced with the rest of the company at all. Like during the townhalls, I know a lot of people stop working to tune in but we all just keep working and if you are listening in, you still work as you do it. We also were never really encouraged to use VTO even though others will post to Workplace about the stuff they do. It’s just little things, but it’s annoying.

    2. Amaranth*

      That sounds like a manager who wants an excuse to personally skip corporate events, or wants to keep their team from making connections.

    3. Salsa Verde*

      Scheduling the team holiday party for the same day as the company holiday party seems so inappropriate that I’m surprised the CEO didn’t put a stop to that. Holiday parties are sometimes the one chance for the execs to connect with their staff on a human level, they are a pretty big deal.

      1. Anonymous4*

        Did the CEO know about it, though? CEOs tend to be pretty busy. And an all-company party has a lot of people at it.

  7. Celia*

    Whoa, this sounds eerily like one of my old managers, especially when it came to discouraging us from going to town halls or any other office-wide events so that we could focus on our own work. The team culture became unbelievably toxic and insular, and I ended up leaving the company because it just didn’t feel like it made sense to try and combat the culture he had built. So sorry this is happening to you!

  8. Wisteria*

    my teammates seem enraptured by her

    Oooh, that’s too bad. It sucks when culture changes to something you don’t like, but it really sounds like you are the culture misfit now, not her, and not the rest of the team.

    Your skip level boss is not wrong. Managers have different styles, and teams have different cultures, and some people like the kind of culture she is promoting. Importantly, the team she is building likes that culture, as you admit. That doesn’t make them wrong, it makes them different.

    You are also not wrong. You want the culture you want. But, since the team is not wrong, that means you can only change yourself–by developing coping mechanisms and setting boundaries until you find a new team.

    There’s a takeaway here, which is that teams and team cultures only last as long as their composition does. New bosses are a crap shoot. New colleagues are a crap shoot. A new team or new job will also be a crap shoot. Those coping mechanisms and boundary settings are an investment in your future happiness, so don’t neglect them just bc you find a new team.

    1. I Don’t Know It All*

      I tend to agree. Although, I find scheduling an 8am “emergency meeting” to announce a title change at 7pm the night before to unacceptable no matter the culture.

      But, i do wonder how many of the OPs teammates truly love the culture or if they are playing the part? However, in general it sounds very cliquey to me. I suspect they will find it a challenge to recruit and keep employees without the exact same background as the OPs boss.

      1. Wisteria*

        Yes, that specific thing is pretty annoying. But it’s kind of like, pick your battles and know when to adapt and when to keep doing your thing. Now that OP knows that her manager is prone to that sort of thing, OP can ask whether she needs to be connected to the VPN in a private area before unnecessarily rearranging her schedule.

        1. Anonymous4*

          The “culture misfit” isn’t OP — it’s the Bulldozer Boss who is twisting the team’s culture from the wider company’s approach to employees, to her own brand of crazy.

          I’ve worked with a lot of different people, good bad and indifferent, and I’m familiar with ex-military supervisors, but I’ve never had one who tried to replace company policy with her own quirks. And the skip boss, who has been alerted to this, is either incompetent or lazy, because any competent manager would start looking into this sort of thing instead of shrugging it off.

    2. Commenter*

      Yeah, I tend to agree here – My read of the letter is that it would require multiple people changing what works for them to keep a culture that only the OP is interested in hanging on to (that could or could not be the ‘real’ situation here). Also just judging by the time stamps here (the manager has actually been at the company longer than OP, but sounds like now she’s finally hired a few more people that ‘fit’ with her culture, so the pendulum is swinging).
      Sounds like there are lots of particulars about this kind of work, the contracts, etc. so I’m not sure if changing teams is a possibility here, but sounds like the options are stick it out to see if something changes (aka the pendulum swings back), try to find another team that maybe fits with what OP think is the overall company culture, or move on.

    3. anonymous73*

      I got the impression that OP wanted the job because of the COMPANY culture, not the TEAM culture. Yes different managers have different styles, but if this manager is trying to change the company culture, that’s a problem (unless the company was just telling people what they want to hear and not backing it up with action).

      1. Commenter*

        Agree, although I can’t quite tell from the letter how…egregious it is? It sounds like the manager is a workaholic but OP has been able to avoid that (aka it’s not like the manager is like ‘I emailed you at 10 pm last night, why did it take you until this morning to get back to me?’).
        The “emergency” meeting is obviously an incredible lapse of judgement, for sure. But I don’t know, if 5 of the 6 members of the team like how things are going (and like not going to ‘mandatory fun’ type activities that the OP seems to really like & feel like other people should attend as well), then I think it’s more of a gray area of changing culture. At the very least, whether it’s the right thing to do or not, it seems like it would be REALLY difficult to do.

        1. anonymous73*

          The reason most of the team loves the new manager is because the new manager brought them in from her old company. I CAN NOT STAND company wide meetings and forced fun, but actively discouraging her team from participating and adopting the “we’re a family” way of thinking are a little red flag-gy to me. If I were OP I’d go to HR. If the company is big on promoting their culture, they need to be made aware of this manager’s actions.

  9. The Dogman*

    Time to revamp the CV/resume…

    This manager could leave, and you should do the 4 steps Alison suggests, but I think you need to look at jumping ship as a last resort.

    Having some options on the table can make you more confident in dealing with your current managers too, and who knows, perhaps some other company will offer you a good life balance and some more money?!

  10. Trek*

    The meeting scheduled at 8 am is similar to the boy who cried wolf and I would be reluctant to accept these types of meetings if they continue to occur. If it happens again-urgent meeting scheduled and no reason for it other than ‘she couldn’t wait’ go to HR and state she’s causing changes to personal schedules and even to your husbands schedule and its unacceptable and you won’t be changing your schedule for her again. Celebrating promotions at 8 am vs 2 pm makes no difference.
    Does your employer do any survey’s where you could provide feedback on your supervisor and on the change in culture and company values? That may help wake them up. I would add that if you are working towards a promotion this may not be the place to focus on. Is there another department you can transfer to that still holds to those values/schedules etc.?

  11. OP*

    OP here! Watching comments and will try to questions. The “emergency” meeting did quickly backfire, in that my single-parent colleague and I both ended up taking the following day as a mental health day*. Can’t speak for her, but that meeting was what spurred me to do it.
    *Mental health days are officially sanctioned by my company. Again, love this company overall!

      1. OP*

        At the top of the meeting I did, before knowing what it would be about. A casual “glad I saw the invite so I could adjust things and not miss this!” but to be honest I was too fired up to address further that day. After a four-day weekend, I’m organizing my thoughts to address in our 1-on-1 this week.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Just giving some outside perspective that saying it that way wouldn’t make it clear how seriously were inconvenienced.
          Hopefully, you can explain the situation in your one-on-one in such a way that they understand how much of a problem they caused.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, to me that reads far too much like you were happy to have received the last-minute invite and you’re always happy to rearrange things in that sort of situation. I think you need to be much clearer that many people would have missed something at 7pm, and that it took a lot of last-minute rearranging for you to be there, which you can’t commit to doing every time (especially when it turns out not to be an emergency at all). She’s going to use up people’s goodwill pretty quickly if every ‘All hands on deck at 8am tomorrow!!!’ request turns out to be something that could easily have waited.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Reread OP ‘s comment –this was said at the START of the meeting, and they’re trying now to figure out how to make it clear.
            They were glad they were able to reschedule on short notice *for an emergency*.
            Now they get to tell the boss that this was not an emergency.

            1. OP*

              Thank you; exactly! When my assumption was it was truly critical information we’d be getting, I was lightheartedly saying I was glad I saw it. That was also my subtle reminder to her that she can’t expect people to catch these things outside of work hours, but I wasn’t going to go to the mat on that if it were, say, that our project was indefinitely delayed and we were being reassigned, that funding had fallen through… whatever. Once the actual “emergency” was revealed I was just flabbergasted and didn’t say a word.
              Now I’ve processed, checked in with a couple trusted colleagues in other teams to validate that this was Not OK, and will be addressing directly. Yes, it will need to be super clear, and I’m mindful of the risk of her disregarding this as me not being happy about CW’s promo, so that is also part of the messaging. Wheee!

              1. Beany*

                But also: is there a reason why you even saw an work e-mail sent at 8pm? To me, that’s well past standard office hours. I either wouldn’t see it until the morning — when it’d be too late to reschedule — or I “wouldn’t see it” until the morning — when it’d be too late to reschedule …

        2. Wisteria*

          Agree with I should really pick a name. You hinted, hoping that she would pick it up. That almost never works. Try being more direct and specific about what exactly you had to rearrange and how it impacted both you and your husband.

          That said, do not expect her to say “Gracious! I had no idea. I will never do that again!” Expect her to reiterate how excited she was and how she just couldn’t wait to share the news.

        3. Observer*

          Yeah, be specific. The fact that you expected your husband to shift a last minute meeting with his boss is . . . I’m not even sure what words to use. But none of them are good.

        4. I Don’t Know It All*

          I would definitely address it, and I think it’s okay to also say that in future you won’t be able to make similar accommodations without at least knowing the nature of the meeting. To me, your boss sounds like someone who probably is logged in at 6am every day and assumes because she’s logged in at the crack of dawn that everyone else is as well.

          But, I am also of the firm philosophy that if you don’t have an agenda for your meeting then we don’t need to meet. If multiple people taking time out of their day for a meeting then at the very least they deserve to know how that time will be used.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            But, I am also of the firm philosophy that if you don’t have an agenda for your meeting then we don’t need to meet.

            This. No agenda, then why do I need to be there? It’s often the number one item in most courses on effective meetings. Just saying “emergency” doesn’t cut it, either, because some people assume that the littlest things are earth shattering emergencies. (I had a boss for whom everything was a hair on fire emergency, when it was just routine priority shifting due to workload and deadlines. Drove me nuts.)

        5. Cheap Ass Rolex*

          Yes, you really do need to spell out everything that you and your husband had to shuffle around in order to make this extremely non-time-sensitive meeting, and make it clear that you can’t do that again at the drop of a hat. Your boss won’t get it from generalizations; you need to be specific about every step you had to take last minute.

          1. Lizzo*

            And document the heck out of this request to CYA in case of retaliation, e.g. boss purposefully schedules emergency meetings so that certain people are excluded, makes snide comments about “Well we can’t do that, it would inconvenience OP”, etc.

    1. Gnome*

      I would be totally frank: This meeting on such short notice caused X and Y for me and my family. It was very stressful, but I was more than happy to do it because you said it was urgent and I am committed to our success. I obviously want to celebrate our wins, but I can’t feel celebratory when I’m expecting a major issue and have completely reworked my whole family’s schedule only to find out there was no urgent issue at all. Instead of celebratory, I feel misled and like I was out through a lot of stress to reschedule things without any consideration.. and all for something that could have waited. Going forward, I’d like to know that any urgent meetings like this will be actually urgent. This is very important for my ability to be productive. Is this possible?

      1. Red 5*

        Yeah, I was going to say that stressing that you can’t fully celebrate a win when you’re dealing with it this way -might- be a way to frame it to get through to her.

        IF her goal is to really be celebratory with the good news for her team, THEN the way to share that news should be in a way that would cause the most genuine celebrate among the team. THEREFORE a last minute “urgent” meeting invite was the wrong move and it would have been more useful to her goal to wait for the scheduled team meeting, and started on that up note when everyone was gathered already.

        Instead, the news was shared in a way that could have (probably didn’t but could have) caused resentment towards the colleague and the promotion because it was the catalyst for this thing that caused problems. (I know, it probably only caused resentment towards the boss, but I have absolutely seen it backfire onto the colleague in question when something like this happened and news was shared poorly).

      2. Delta Delta*

        A bit of feedback here – I suspect this manager doesn’t care about things like childcare and the fact that small children need parents to get them from point A to point B, etc. I’d keep the focus on the fact this wasn’t urgent but was billed as such, and could lead to a crying wolf sort of situation in the future.

        1. KWu*

          You might be right about how this boss would view child care, but still better to be specific that there are commitments for the time outside of regular working hours that there can be some flexibility on for urgent issues that impact the business. You don’t have to say it’s childcare, just that there are prior commitments.

        2. A Feast of Fools*

          I have had that manager. I don’t have children but I did have a cancer scare. I let him know that I was about to have a handful of doctors’ appointments that may or may not lead to me needing intermittent time off for treatment. Just a, “Heads up, here’s what I’m dealing with.”

          His reply?

          “Please write all this up and document how you plan to minimize the impact of your absence on the team.”

          I was a first-year staff auditor on a team of 30-ish other auditors, not a director or a VP. He just hated the fact that employees are humans. He was known for sending 10:00 PM emails with a meeting request for 7:00 AM the next morning. And we would get chewed out in an ad hoc meeting (“Feast, come walk with me. Now.”) if he caught us logging into town halls or company-wide lunch-n-learns.

          I went to my skip-level manager about it and she said she saw nothing wrong with his behavior. She was also in the process of hiring people from her old organization whose work style is similar to what the OP describes. We were expected to be in the office by 7:30 AM and stay until at least 7:00 PM, and to eat our lunches at our open floor-plan desks. (“We had the cafeteria upgraded so there’s no need for you to leave the building!”)

          I quit 3 days after my one year anniversary. That place was hell.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            We were expected to be in the office by 7:30 AM and stay until at least 7:00 PM, and to eat our lunches at our open floor-plan desks. (“We had the cafeteria upgraded so there’s no need for you to leave the building!”)

            Ugh. Toxic doesn’t even begin to describe that. I’m glad you got out of there.

          2. Second dodo not Pickwick*

            Oh Feast of Fools, did we work for the same person? Except, mine was also ex-military.

            When our crazy on site client, who is much akin to OPs boss, told multiple people all across the country/network about my pregnancy, well before I was ready to announce it… my grand boss said almost exactly the same thing!

            “Please write all this up and document how you plan to minimize the impact of your absence on the team.”

            I was utterly flabbergasted! First thing is that I was about 4 months pregnant, but showing, which was why client felt the need to tell everyone. Second, I was an admin and my plan was to call a staffing agency and have an admin come in for 12 weeks. It wasn’t rocket science. I couldn’t stand working for that toxic positive demented client and was so happy when it was over.

        3. Observer*

          I suspect this manager doesn’t care about things like childcare and the fact that small children need parents to get them from point A to point B,

          Except that it meant that the OP had to ask her husband to change his meeting with his boss at the last minute. And also, it’s against the rules for the OP (or her delegate) to not deal with school drop off.

          Both are things that the boss should understand.

          1. Anonymous4*

            Both are things that the boss should understand.

            Should. Probably won’t. As I said above, I’m familiar with ex-military personnel, and while some of them are the salt of the earth, smart, competent, etc etc, there are also the terrible ex-mil manager-types who think that “floggings will continue until morale improves” is a perfectly reasonable way to behave.

            There are still some that say, “if the [military] wanted you to have a family, you’d have been issued one,” and they mean it. Families just get in the way, and it’s only weak, semi-useless people who worry about them and have to take time off to deal with them.

            Bulldozer Boss clearly doesn’t have a spouse or kids, due to the 14-hour days she’s urging on her team, and she’s not going to be impressed by “I had to rearrange my childcare” because she’s never had that problem and doesn’t care if anyone else does.

            1. OP*

              Totally appreciate your input! What’s interesting here is that she does have kids (older teens, but kids) and when I first started she told me how she was such a workaholic when they were younger, how she wishes she’d spent more time with them, etc., so I thought she’d have a good grasp on balance.

              1. Salymander*

                Oh, so she was performing again maybe? Seems in character.

                I mean, plenty of people have to work and do feel like they are missing out on spending a lot of time with their kids. And plenty are ok with it. That is all fine, people need to do what they need to do.

                I just dislike the whole performative “I wish I could have” thing when what she really seems to be doing is calling attention to her willingness to put everything aside in favor of working long hours. It was misleading to the employees, and was really just more attention seeking self aggrandizing nonsense. How irritating.

    2. Just Me*

      Yes, I think it could be worthwhile to address it with the new manager head-on. I had a situation like that at OldJob where last minute a new manager asked me to join a meeting spur of the moment (like, it was 7:30 and I was showering. She said, “Oh, just call in and mute yourself!”) I spoke to her about it later (framed it as, I’m happy to come in early or adjust my schedule for true emergencies but I can’t drop everything at the last minute for things like this) and she said she hadn’t understood everyone had staggered schedules–she believed everyone came in at a certain time and so it wouldn’t be a big deal to have everyone join just for an update. I agree with Alison that it could be worthwhile just to talk to her about some of these things directly first.

      1. Velocipastor*

        I think if anyone, up to and including God herself, asked me to join a meeting on mute *From my shower* I would go absolutely nuclear.

        1. Evan Þ*

          I’ve occasionally joined meetings on mute from the bathroom before…

          … but that was when I was cleaning the bathroom, by choice, because I knew I wouldn’t have to speak at the all-hands/demo/etc, because I wanted to get ahead on home chores, and because I sometimes absorb things better when I’ve got something to occupy my hands in the meantime.

      2. After 33 years ...*

        OP: how many people are on your team? If it’s more than 3, they’re going to have different schedules, especially these days. I can’t imagine scheduling any meeting – emergency or not, including the time our building was closed by flooding – for any time outside normal business hours.

          1. After 33 years ...*

            Oh, is she on Eastern Time, and you’re Pacific?
            (I hope she was, rather than having the meeting at 7 am Eastern…)

      3. Double A*

        FROM THE SHOWER?? It would be very tempting to ask, “Are you suggesting that I should attend work events while in the nude?” But I’m glad it sounds like your conversation with her helped her adjust expectations.

        1. Wisteria*

          That’s a bit much. As per the previous thread about whether “shower thoughts” is inappropriate in the work place, just because nudity is involved, that doesn’t mean the focus needs to be on the nudity. Asking someone to call in from the shower is ridiculous for reasons that have nothing to do with nudity.

          1. Just Me*

            No, it totally was. Honestly, was more a sign of the CEO hiring clueless people and a messed up culture in general, so I left. BUT I was proud of myself for dealing with it in the moment, at least.

          2. Anonymous4*

            I don’t think it’s necessary to finger-wag at Double A. We’re adults here; we don’t need someone babysitting.

    3. Rich*

      Taking a leave day that you’re already entitled to isn’t really going to get the message across that she waisted your time with her fake emergency. I had a boss who would call me hours before I started work for “emergencies” that were really just minor problems that could be handled when my work day started. So, I started considering myself on the clock when he called and would put in for overtime and would explicitly state in the justification line what the “emergency” was. That got the message across quick. So if you can put in for overtime do that or email her and let her know that because you came in early, you need to leave early. People can only waste your time if you let them.

    4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I’m confused by one aspect of your letter: you say that you’re working on a government contract, but in my experience government contracts require *all* employees, including salaried employees, to track all hours worked and be compensated for those hours. Either paid (time and a half for hourly employees, straight time for exempt employees), or given comp time. Both comp time and overtime are charged to the contract as a rule.

      All of this to say, somewhere your boss is probably encouraging one of:

      1) Fraud- deliberately falsifying a contract timesheet for a Federal Contract is fraud even if it’s to the benefit of the government. If your boss and/or her subordinates ( management doesn’t always have to submit timesheets, sometimes they are payed directly by the contractor not as part of the contract) is submitting timesheets with fewer hours than they actually worked, your company faces potential liability, even though the government is getting “more than it paid for”

      2) Unnecessary overtime at the government’s expense. If timesheets are accurate, it sounds like people are working a *lot* of overtime, even though the work doesn’t require it. That’s not quite as bad as fraud, but depending on how the contract is written it’s likely that it will result in fines, fees, or loss of the contract in the next cycle. The government doesn’t like when things cost lots more than initial estimates. They get cranky and find someone else to do the work (and like I said, some contracts have fines or fees for cost overruns).

      I’m not going to claim that I know everything about the government contracting world, but I’ve worked on several, and been involved in setting them up when I was in the Army, and all of them that I’ve seen work like this. Every contract that I’ve been involved in on either side has been very strict about hours. You work 40 hours a week (or whatever the contract stipulates) period. Anything else is more trouble than the paperwork is worth.

      These might be good things to bring to your grandboss’ attention unless you know you’re on some sort of weird contract where they don’t apply.

      1. OP*

        Good considerations; in the case of our specific team, we’re all dedicated to the program and are exempt, so basically 100% of our time is assumed to be going to this work, therefore is billing to the program COGS internally. That said, costs overall are well beyond what was budgeted, so there’s a lot of attention on that from our company leadership and the customer. I know I’ve seen plenty of ways to reduce costs of what I’m accountable for, but my manager is being so conservative that I’m being forced to exceed requirements significantly (therefore increasing complexity and cost).
        These are also reasons I did do what I could to attend the meeting–I thought there was a very real possibility that our team was being reduced, project was being put on hold pending review of funding, etc. It felt very tone-deaf to set that meeting when we all know there are high stakes out there.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          I actually wonder if that’s legal, I’ve always had to track my time, even when I was working on a single contract exclusively, and I’ve always been salaried. I can’t say for sure though, your company might have negotiated something unusual.

          It still seems likely that if people are working more than the billed hours, there’s fraud going on, the way the government defines it, but that’s a lot harder to prove it’s not tracked.

        2. Observer*

          I know I’ve seen plenty of ways to reduce costs of what I’m accountable for, but my manager is being so conservative that I’m being forced to exceed requirements significantly (therefore increasing complexity and cost).

          Bring that to your grand boss or their boss – and perhaps lead with that. If leadership is already worrying about costs, this is a REALLY big deal.

      2. fraud*

        You’re right that this is a big deal, but for fraud, where is the gain part in billing less hours than worked?

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I’m not sure she gains anything. I think the company technically does, as they’re saving money (because they don’t know they owe it) by not paying for hours worked, which is why it’s fraud?

        2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          You’re deliberately falsifying data on what amounts to a document for the Federal Government. Your timesheet is probably not actually going to the government, but the data on it is, so close enough. The law is written such that the falsifying of the information is fraud, regardless of how it’s wrong.

          If you’re claim boatloads of hours you haven’t worked, you might be guilty of other things too (embezzlement comes to mind, but I don’t know the threshold is on that), but lying on your timesheet is a problem in an of itself. When I was a contractor we had to watch a scare video about this at least once every six months.

    5. OP*

      Edit: my single-parent colleague who was also inconvenienced and clearly stressed by the emergency meeting ended up also taking today off. Could be totally coincidental, but it’s interesting that order of events was emergency meeting, two hours later coworker logs off with migraine, takes Friday off, takes Tuesday after holiday off. Wondering if maybe she’s on the same page as me (our functions don’t overlap, so I don’t have a good read on how she feels about our manager).

      1. Salymander*

        I bet you are right that colleague is also very irritated by this. I am sure you were both very shocked in the moment to be so bamboozled by this new boss. It seems like a good idea that you decided to think carefully about what to say and do before confronting boss. Her behavior was so disrespectful of employees, and clearly very selfish and attention seeking. It seems like working with an overgrown child.

  12. Buu*

    Can you ask for a lateral move to another team? You quite clearly get on with other the company. Perhaps one of them could advocate for you and get you moved?

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, look around internally. Set your own boundaries in your current department but be on the lookout for lateral moves you might make. I worked for the same company for decades, but changed jobs every few years for new challenges and, yes, to escape culture shifts.

    2. J.B.*

      Yeah, I don’t think there’s fixing this team. But if your boss is discouraging people from going to town halls, her group is eventually going to be the misfit group. Which might not lead to her exit but usually means less visibility and influence in the overall company.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OP says: “I continue to get involved in employee events, connecting with others outside our project group, etc., and am working on finding a position in a new team.” Hope it works out soon, OP! This team is doomed. New boss is bringing her people onto the team, isolating the team from the rest of the company, sounds like it is only going to get worse as time goes by.

    4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I think OP should put all effort into the lateral move, and if that doesn’t work out, look for a new job.

  13. Gnome*

    I’ve also got a new boss who is recently put of the military. Some of the same issues (all family, etc.). Note that my prior position had lots of former military… But a different branch. Totally different issues there.

    I have been totally honest and tried pouting them to AAM. For example: let’s all talk about fitness and support each other’s fitness as team building!
    Me: We might not want to do that as people might have ADA disabilities or other issues and feel excluded. Certainly we can talk about it, but we probably shouldn’t make it a formal team building activity.

    Sorry you are going through this.

    1. Red 5*

      Yeah, I’ve had a boss in the distant past who was recently out of the military and it was…not ideal. Nobody thinks about the fact that it’s a major transition from military to civilian work forces and unless the boss was hired specifically to make their team more like the military, it’s their job to learn and adjust. Chalking it up to different managerial styles is a cop out for the OP’s upper management.

    2. Sal*

      I am very interested in a breakdown of which branch is how! All I know about this is my Air Force granddad and Navy aunt used to make rude jokes about Army (which uncle was in for approximately 5 minutes).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I used to work in a call center that dealt with all branches of service & ranks. We definitely noticed differences.

        And my dad was a vet. He always told us never to date a member of a particular BOS.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had two bosses and several more teammates who were ex-military, but it was never… this, whatever this is. I really enjoyed working for/with every one of those people. This boss is wild.

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

        When I still worked for the church in NC, we got a new administrator who was a recently retired (the week before) Lt Col. I thought for sure it was going to be a nightmare, but he actually was the most laid back boss I ever had. But since it was a military town (Ft Bragg/ Fayetteville) almost everyone was current or former Army. Most of them would have been very hard to work for, I have no doubt. They have their own very different culture than civilians do.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          When I was an officer I had a theory that officers get a stick shoved steadily further up their asses from the time they’re a lieutenant until they reach major, then it’s slowly removed after they’re selected for LTC. I swear new majors are the hardest people on earth to work for.

          1. Anonymous4*

            I dunno. We have a lot of military personnel rotating through, and one of my absolutely favorite bosses was a major. Of course, he wasn’t the typical hoorah! military-type — he always claimed that he was trying to sneak through to 20 without anyone noticing he was there. Pilot. Such a sweetheart! Loved him to death.

            1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              It’s definitely not a hard and fast rule I’ve worked for good majors, but I’ve also worked for a lot of captains that became assholes when they made major. And at least one major who became a *lot* easier to work for when he made LTC. I got out as a captain, so I can’t use my own experience

              1. Anonymous4*

                I have to say, I’ve been really lucky with the military supervisors I’ve had. Just the luck of the draw! Of course, we do tend to keep them somewhat off-balance — there was one guy who told me that the 10 civilians in his group caused him more anguish and consternation than the 100+ maintenance airmen in his last command. I grinned and said, “Now, now; compliments will get you nowhere!”

        2. Mike S*

          I had an ex-Air Force Col. for a boss. His last job was building rides for the Mouse, and they were under an extreme crunch, thanks to marketing. By the time he got to us, he was pretty laid back.

    4. Service Cilvility*

      And yet a friend of mine with a civil service job had an ex-military boss who was her favorite supervisor. Calm, humorous, results-oriented and a great people manager.

    5. Gnome*

      So, I worked with a bunch of former submarine guys. Generally pretty laid back (I assume they are selected for that trait since they have to be in a tin can together under water for ages). The Navy pilot I worked for seemed ok at first, but was an actual nightmare when it came to dealing with problems. I’ve got a client who’s Army that I’m sad they’re retiring soon… But my current boss is recently put of the Army and we are working through things. I don’t know what part or enlisted vs officer.

      It’s not just the branch, but the group within that branch. I don’t know specifics, but I’m learning.

  14. Falling Diphthong*

    At minimum, they’re being denied a full employee experience.
    OP, I think this is an odd take on your coworkers seeming to like the new manager and her style. Lots of people would sincerely like to skip the company wide meetings, no peer pressure required. The most obvious answer to why your team members seem to be going along with all this is that they actually like the culture shift.

    Trying to transfer to a different team that still embodies the values you like–or finding a different job–are the options to get away from a new manager whose style is at odds with your preferences. (Or Alison’s option 4, set your boundaries and carry on.) The jump manager and other senior people seem to be signaling that they are totally fine with what she’s doing in your division, so getting out of that division is the realistic option for changing your manager’s style.

    1. velomont*

      If you ignore the emergency meeting issue, I think you have a good point here. The things that OP likes seem really similar to things that are often seen as annoying and intrusive in this forum. For OP’s coworkers, not attending town-halls etc may be a feature not a bug.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Idk – even if I didn’t want to go, I would see it as a huge red flag to be actively discouraged from attending stuff the company put on for all employees. Paranoid Charlotte would ask why her manager wants to isolate the team. That’s what cult leaders do.

        1. J.B.*

          So would I. Where I am I often sit out of company wide stuff, but I know we are already the misfit group and I personally can’t change that fact :)

        2. EPLawyer*

          Yeah a town hall where people might learn that taking ALL of your vacation time is actively encouraged.

          1. After 33 years ...*

            Or, when the President tells the town hall group that the interpretation of regulations by the lower-ranking administrator was incorrect.

        3. Red 5*

          Very much this. I thoroughly resent and avoid our company wide meetings because they’re generally useless to me at my current organization and they do nothing but take time that I need to be spending doing something that has a deadline. But if my boss ever told me that I -shouldn’t- go to them and that they were a waste of time? I would be at every single one five minutes early because there is something going on that I do not want to get sucked into and be considered a part of.

          I’ve had other jobs in the past where company wide meetings were a good thing, and where it was a great place to build relationships with other departments. There was useful information shared and there was no substitute for the ability to ask questions in the moment. THAT is also a big difference – yes, many people hate town hall meetings. Because those meetings are bad and ARE a waste of time. OP’s description does not make it sound like that is the case, but it DOES sound like the manager is assuming that is the case through an assumption based on previous jobs. And it’s likely other employees are doing that too.

          It should be each person’s discretion if they find the meetings useful or not, not the manager’s.

        4. Avril Ludgateau*

          Same. I hate broad, general update meetings that don’t typically affect my day-to-day but they do tend to drag on and eat a lot of my time. But there is a difference between being told “hey, you don’t need to go to this!” and being told NOT to go. I can’t quite explain it, but there’s something about it that gives me the same vibes as when employers try to discourage employees from organizing, negotiating, or even discussing labor issues.

          1. Anonymous4*

            I see Bulldozer Boss as trying to isolate her team from the company. “Oh, no, you don’t go to town halls!” and, “Those meetings are just a waste of time” — that’s very unsettling. And I think that upper management needs to know that she’s standing between the team and the company, trying to keep people from finding out what the company — and the people in upper management! — have to say on various matters.

      2. just another bureaucrat*

        Yeah I hate our town-halls and other groups but that’s because they are all the toxic positivity and they are all bs because I know the volume of work the people who are pushing that are dumping on our department so I just feel annoyed if I have to go to them. And the other obnoxious come sit in on a listening circle bs of not working. A supervisor who’s like yeah skip it would be great. But that said if they are skip it AND are toxic positivity…what even is that?

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Yeah some of the other pain points were totally valid, the but Town Hall one was the least persuasive. OP should probably just plan to attend these types of events herself regardless of the boss’ opinion if she’s interested (it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing anyone could get in trouble for) but not worry about the experience of other coworkers around that.

    3. PrecariousPigeon*

      Yes! Yes to the whole “missing the full experience” thing. As someone who is former military, I hated all the forced company-wide team building stuff in my jobs outside the military. I want to be with my team, not some rando from an entirely different section of the company – I have stuff to do for my actual job thankyouverymuch.

      Also, I appreciate Alison’s advice of, aside from the last minute meeting, but wrong but different. I also wonder if the emergency meeting wasn’t called by the boss in an attempt to do things the way they had been done, creating a team culture, and then failing badly because it’s not their natural style??

    4. NYC Taxi*

      Outside of the “emergency” meeting, which would have made me livid, I don’t see an issue with the manager’s style. My company has a ridiculous number of ‘cultural’ events, programs and whatnot plus town halls and road shows that I never attend because I’m at work to do my job and get my paycheck; I have enough activities and resources outside of work to keep me going mentally and physically. Plus because I’m management I find out what is going to be covered in the town halls in advance anyway. Some of my direct reports love these events, and fine, as long as they get their work done I don’t care if they participate, but not everyone wants or needs the “full employee experience”.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Agreed, the coworkers can try to participate in the larger company culture if they want to, just like LW. That is not LW’s to fix.

      It’s also a bit of a weird framing…employment isn’t an “experience” designed for the employees’ benefit. It’s not like they’re interns or anything.

    6. Dana W*

      Right? I really don’t want my coworkers worrying about me getting the full employee experience. It’s none of their business, and in this case it seems like the OP is just rationalizing that this is bad for them as a way to get OP’s own way. A LOT of employees have no interest in town halls! And it sounds like the rest of the coworkers don’t mind the new culture. OP is coming off as a little controlling to me.

      1. Fran Fine*

        My team actually helps put on my company’s town halls, and I rarely attend them, lol. I can just watch the recordings later.

    7. BuildMeUp*

      I would assume OP is not just referring to things like the town hall but also her manager working 14-hour days and never taking vacation time. It sounds like the company is overall very flexible and wants employees to stay healthy and happy. The employees who follow the manager’s example may not take advantage of that benefit.

      1. OP*

        Yes, this. It’s not about Town Halls, etc., but the overall tone that’s being set by the behavior being modeled, and encouraging an insular team dynamic.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I immediately wondered whether the people she brought in really do like her style vs that’s what they’ve always experienced and assume is default/normal, and since they’re being discouraged from going to all-staff things, they might not even know anything other than her workaholic style is a possibility.

    8. EventPlannerGal*

      Agreed, I found that really strange.

      I am also curious about the timeline here, because if I understand the letter correctly (which possibly I’m not!) then the manager has been at the company for 2 years and the OP joined a year ago, actually making them the newer person. The reason I’m curious is that it seems to me that if that’s the case then the manager is probably perfectly familiar with the company’s overall culture, and if people are largely going along with her way of doing things – “enraptured”, even – then that *is* the culture of this specific team and they *are* getting the employee experience that they want to have. Saying that they’re being denied the experience seems, I don’t know, off – they’re grown-ups.

      Given how very highly the OP seems to value the company culture and how they joined the company mostly because of it, I’m sort of curious how they ended up on this specific team without being made aware that they operate so differently. Were they interviewed by this manager? Was there a bait-and-switch situation? It just seems odd all round to me.

      1. OP*

        Ah, I can clarify. Manager joined company about six weeks before me. She and I actually reported to the same manager (now my grandboss) initially, but she was senior and indirectly managed us. But my interviews were all with my initial/hiring manager, who I clicked pretty well with. He actually highly values work/life balance, takes all his vacation time (and doesn’t do work on vacation!), etc. I was happy to work for him
        About six months in, things were restructured because original boss just had too many direct reports. Now-boss was officially made manager over our team. So yeah, kind of bait-and-switch, but of course pretty routine in a large organization.

  15. Glomarization, Esq.*

    I wouldn’t do this unless it’s actually true, but maybe LW can inform their skip manager that team members are on their way out the door due to this manager’s style. I absolutely don’t mean to state it as a threat or an ultimatum. I mean, if it’s factual the LW knows that people are sending out resumes and talking to recruiters, then that’s something they could take to the skip manager as a concrete problem that the manager is causing to the team.

    1. Commenter*

      I read the letter as ‘other members of the team seem to like it, but they don’t know what they’re missing.’ Never fun when something that you love changes, but it reads to me like OP is the odd person out on their team, at least as far as the manager’s style goes.

      1. Anonymous4*

        Bulldozer Boss is hiring other ex-military personnel who are used to the toxic 14-hour-days, hoorah! atmosphere she’s building.

        I’m familiar with this style. It’s not a good one.

  16. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    This is “find a new job” territory. I worked in a similar company (lots of ex-military, government contractor) and they think 8 am is about two hours after people have started work, think work-life balance means only answering crucial emails on holidays, have an insane number of meetings, and are extremely silo-ed in how they perceive roles. There are advantages to the ex-mil environment (namely, a total lack of b.s.); however, you pay for those in other ways.

    The silo-ing will continue and will begin to affect your ability to move up/over within your company. People often succeed in corporate America when they are flexible and can take on new responsibilities, learn outside of their roles to apply skills to their own job, etc. You will be shocked at how you don’t get that from your boss.

    1. LunaLena*

      Yeah, this is what I was thinking. The scripts people have suggested so far are indeed very reasonable and good in general, but might not work given the manager’s military background. There’s a reason there are vet programs to help people transition from the military to civilian life. I watched my own husband struggle to adjust after he got out of the military, and when I’ve been on hiring committees, I can always tell the candidates with military backgrounds immediately just by looking at the way their resumes are formatted.

      This manager sounds like she has no desire to adjust, she’s basically re-creating the military environment in her new job by hiring people with military backgrounds, running things like it’s the military (expecting people to bend over backwards for a whim is totally a thing in the military), etc. This isn’t going to change no matter how reasonably and nicely the OP explains it, because the manager has succeeded in changing the culture to one that is comfortable and familiar and works for her. I really think the best the OP can do is take the suggestions here to enforce their own boundaries (like not re-arranging schedules unless they’re told the nature of the “emergency meetings”) while forming their exit plan.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Honest response: no bs and an insane number of meetings seems mutually inconsistent. Either those meetings are unnecessary or the outfit is so poorly organized as to require them. Both sound like bs to me, though of different sorts.

      1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        Expectations are clear. There is minimal/no backstabbing. People who cannot behave properly are shown the door: there’s a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, regardless of whether or not said harassment is legally actionable. Our head of HR had, on at least one occasion, gotten on a plane to a branch office in a different state to get s–t sorted out (and show the harasser the door).

        But so many meetings!

          1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

            Removed; you misinterpreted the response and I don’t want sniping like that here. – Alison

  17. berto*

    If I got an email at 7pm for an 8a meeting I would just ignore it. If they fired me for it, that would be a blessing.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Every place I’ve worked, if people got an “emergency! please prioritize!” meeting invite at 7PM for 8AM the next day, everyone who saw the invite would for sure show up, assuming it is to announce something like “our group is all being laid off”, “company is shutting down”, “owner sold the company and we are now working for Massive Corporation Corp.” Things of that nature. (Actually, having lived through several merger/acquisitions, even then it was never an 8AM meeting, it was more like everyone getting an invite to an all-hands early-afternoon meeting when they came to work in the morning.)

      With that said, most of my coworkers, present and past, and myself, would’ve most likely not seen a 7AM invite until after the meeting was over.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, my working hours are 8.30am-5pm, other people in my office work 9-5.30, and we don’t routinely have email/Teams on our personal phones, so the likelihood of anyone a) seeing a meeting invite at 7pm and b) being available for said meeting at 8am are slim. If you want me in a meeting at 8am the following day, you need to make sure I know about it well in advance of five o’clock.

      2. Commenter*

        Same, I would assume the meeting would be a similar topic. I assume manager set it for 8 am to avoid other meetings already on the calendar (due to the short notice). When I’ve gotten invites like this, they’re at a (normal) time and you make that time – the idea being that if this meeting is critical, then you have to reschedule your conflict. Sounds like manager thought it was critical enough to put on the calendar ASAP but not critical enough to ask people to reorganize their schedules?

          1. Stevie*

            Oh! This is interesting, because out of context this sounds less mandatory to me than I had assumed. That’s just my reaction to that; maybe I’m slacker-ish and expect stronger language if I absolutely must be there. And as the person in the situation, you’d have a better sense as to what she means. In any case, she definitely should be more clear about the purpose of the meeting if the attendees aren’t already aware of what’s going on. That’s just good practice to make sure everyone is adequately prepared!

            1. OP*

              If helpful, here is the exact language: Subject is “Emergency Sync,” body is “I have a crucial update and I would like to have all hands on deck. Please prioritize this meeting.”

              1. Shan*

                This gets worse the more I hear about it! That absolutely does not line up with “Cletus got a title change.”

              2. berto*

                I would immediately call her and say “I can’t make it tomorrow, but since this is so important, here I am”. I would then have a conversation with her so we can align on what the definition of an “Emergency” is (a promotion announcement isn’t an emergency). Set boundaries or get jerked around like this in the future.

              3. Anonymous4*

                I’d think, “We’re all getting fired because X,” or “The contract fell through and this branch is being closed down,” or “The Inspector General will be here in an hour,” or some other cataclysmic event.

                “Fred got a promotion” is NOT cataclysmic, and if I scrambled like a maniac to make it to a meeting I thought was crucial and turned out to be that petty, I’d be livid.

              4. Stevie*

                I forgot about the “emergency” part – that certainly implies…a meeting of utmost importance…which this is not.

              5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                OP, I just saw this. What in the almighty heck is wrong with your boss? I… have no words.

      3. Scout*

        But none of your examples are actually affected by knowing at 8 am versus a few hours later. If the group is laid off, they’re still laid off at 10 am. If somebody bought the company, that’s still true at 10 am. And nothing I can do would change that.

    2. Lizcase*

      If I got a 7pm email, I wouldn’t even see it till I logged in the next morning at 9 am. I’m willing and able to come in for early morning meetings, but I’m clear that I need to know the day before (before the end of my business day).

  18. Camellia*

    Regarding #3: “…depending on how good your HR is…they might care but not have the power or skill to do anything about it…If you have decent HR who won’t mishandle the situation…But if you don’t have great HR…So, as is often the case with HR, decide based on what you know of them.”

    But if you’ve never had a situation where you went to HR, and haven’t really heard about or known anyone that did so, how can you tell if you have a good HR or not? I’m seriously wondering this, about my own company.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Back when I was doing the podcast, I had Suzanne Lucas of Evil HR Lady on and she talked about how to know if your HR team is good. The show is here and the transcript is here, but here’s the relevant part from her:

      “I wish I could give you a magic formula, but there was one thing. I had the fortune of working for a great HR team and our head of HR used to say, “If we don’t do the little things right, how can you expect them to trust us on the big things?” And so one of the things I look for in an HR department is: are they doing the little things right? How is the onboarding program? How is the recruiting going? How are year-end performance appraisals and annual increases rolled out? If those things are smooth, you have a pretty good idea that your head of HR is competent. And if your head of HR is competent, there’s a good chance that your employee relations manager or your business partner are going to be competent as well, because competent people tend to hire competent people. If those things are a disaster, chances are your head of HR is a disaster and she’s going to be hiring other disasters, because disastrous people tend to hire disastrous employees. So, I do think there is some value to looking at how the little things are handled. But the other thing is, you should get to know your HR business partner or your employee relations person, and if you’re in a big company, those people will be separate. If you’re a small company, your HR department may be one person or two people. I’m not saying to become their best friends because HR really shouldn’t be friends with employees, that’s another story. But if they know who you are, they know that you’re a responsible, hard worker or whatever. If there comes a time when you need support, or you’re being accused of something or whatever, if they have a background on you, that’s going to be helpful for you.”

      1. Fran Fine*

        I can attest to this. I work for a mid-size employer (about 5k employees), and our HR team is awesome. The recruitment process was straightforward (for the most part – there was one non-HR exec who almost held up my start date by not approving my hiring form fast enough), the onboarding was smooth (which was amazing considering I’m fully remote and the company’s US headquarters is about 600 miles away from me in another state), and they’ve now streamlined our yearly reviews, which saves most of us a lot of time.

        I’m also in touch with my HR business rep a lot for tuition reimbursement matters, and she’s awesome too. Before I started back up on the school front, I may have interacted with her less than a handful of times, but when my maternal uncle suddenly passed away in 2020 (not COVID related), she was so accommodating at my manager’s request giving me a much longer paid bereavement leave than was offered by company policy. She also had the company send me two bouquet of flowers – one for me and one for my mom, who isn’t even an employee – and a condolence card to let me know the company was here for whatever I needed. When I started up on the school front to take my mind off my grief, the business partner became a cheerleader of sorts for me. Good HR really makes a world of difference and can completely shape the way an employee feels about a company. My company doesn’t always get everything 100% right (who does?), but they try and I appreciate that.

      2. Some clever pun*

        “you should get to know your HR business partner or your employee relations person”.

        How does one do this at a large company where you aren’t in the same location as the HR person and have no natural reason to interact with them?

  19. Jean*

    The “emergency meeting – SIKE” thing is a huge red flag for an incompetent and/or manipulative manager. How is anyone supposed to trust this person’s judgment? Celebrating wins is not a justification, it’s an excuse/plausible deniability for a naked power play.

    1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      I worked for someone who enjoyed this power play, except he would send out a meeting notice at 8 am for an 8:30 meeting, when our hours explicitly started at 8:30 am. Yes, he knew we were all commuting when the meeting notice was sent. He knew that he would send it out too late for us to be able to leave home a bit earlier to be 100% certain of being on time for the meeting. It was his way of tormenting us – be completely perfect or be on the chopping block. He never worked a full 8 hour day, but would always push our skip-level manager’s boundaries on OUR start times and end times.

      Our team took to texting and calling each other when this happened – “Don’t even swing by your desk, just go straight to the fifth floor.” Yes, of course the meetings were in a completely different part of the building than our offices.

  20. Don*

    I don’t have any strategy to suggest here but the thing where boss is discouraging people from going to larger-company/all-hands-invited events is a big warning siren for me. I have many differing rationalizations for that and exactly none of them are good.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Yeah, I’m in agreement with this. It’s possibly due to the silo-ing tendencies hippo-nony-potomus mentioned above, at least partially, but it’s not a good sign and it’s likely to exacerbate the team culture getting very toxic very rapidly.

      1. Karia*

        The ‘silo’ thing is interesting. What is the rationale behind it, do you think? Is it a ‘clean sweep’ sort of thing?

        1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

          From my experience (and from talking to my retired military in-laws), the military has clearly defined roles with clear duties, scopes, and expectations. If something needs doing, it should be obvious who can do it, and if no one is “supposed” to, who in the chain of command assigns it.

          Bring that over to the private sector, and it turns into silo-ing.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          It’s my impression that having extremely rigid roles with minimal overlap is considered (rightly or wrongly) to be the most efficient way to handle things in organizations that are dealing with life-or-death situations. Instead of trying to find the mongoose handlers, you know that the herpestes lieutenant is in charge of mongoose handling and can go to directly to them without wasting time.

    2. Anon for This*

      My boss started discouraging us from attending meetings, but only after it became apparent that all hands on deck company meetings in the post Covid era tend to feature celebrating how “the company” is weathering the pandemic in fine shape, and praising the teams that have worked together to come up with initiatives that have helped us succeed.

      As the team that actually implements the majority of the initiatives proposed, which has seen its workload skyrocket with no end in sight, the positive “we’re growing! And succeeding!” with no recognition is incredibly demoralizing, and boss finally told us we should probably not attend them.

      1. just another bureaucrat*

        YUP! this is where I’m at with the town halls. They are wildly tone deaf to the part of the organization that is doing the most work. It’s like the guy coming by your desk at the end of the day Friday dropping a giant stack of stuff in your inbox that MUST be done by Monday then spending 20 minutes talking to you about his vacation and then telling you that you really MUST go to whatever obnoxious place he’s going. I hate the town halls and the only good part of them is the totally snitty questions from people calling out the stupid somewhat but not entirely professionally. So I just peek at the questions and ignore the rest.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right? I’m getting big “new boyfriend cutting you off from your friends and family” vibes from that one.

      If she’s so anti-wasting times in meetings, then why did she call that 8AM one? This does not compute.

    4. Show Globe*

      Agreed. The senior executives clearly think the meetings are important or they wouldn’t be organizing them. I’d imagine they’d be pretty unhappy to learn a mid-level manager was encouraging their staff to skip them.

    5. anonymous73*

      As someone who really hates town hall/company wide meetings, I agree with you. IME only about 5-10 minutes of those meetings is significant to me. I honestly don’t care to listen to the higher ups drone on and on about things I really don’t care about unless it affects me directly. But discouraging your team to attend them is a problem and I’d wonder what they were trying to hide.

  21. PT*

    I worked somewhere that used to do a Friday afternoon last-thing meeting. But of course they wouldn’t hold it on time, so it got pushed back from 4:30 to 5 to 5:30 to 6, to the point where people started missing their rush hour train and getting stranded in the city until the pokey local service picked back up. (It took 2 hours to go 50 miles! It went at school zone speed the whole way. It was terrible.)

    Eventually people started walking out to catch their express train.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Ouch, sounds like the commuter train in my area, where the last “bullet” trains out of the major city leave around 6 pm, and after that it’s the slooooow every stop trains that run once an hour. It’s about 50 miles to drive it.

    2. Gumby*

      Heh, I worked someplace that also had a Friday afternoon last-thing meeting. But it was a “beer bash” and always started at 4 on the dot. Or 3 maybe. It was early. No one got drunk but there was alcohol there in addition to non-alcoholic drinks. And snacks. I liked that job…

  22. Heidi*

    It’s possible that the boss really did have to work longer than everyone else to survive in her previous work culture and she has normalized it to the point that she believes this is the way things should be. It’s going to be tough to change this if her management style gets a lot of positive reinforcement. Which is why the part I thought was really interesting is that the OP describes her colleagues as being “enraptured” with this new boss. I wonder what the appeal is? Is she meeting goals that the previous boss didn’t? Are they glad that they don’t have to go to non-work related events now?

    1. Umpire*

      OP said boss has hired mostly people from her old organisation, so they are already embedded in the style. That’s not a coincidence.

      1. Heidi*

        I thought about that, and it seemed to odd to me that people would be “enraptured” by a boss who had the same management style they’re used to. Wouldn’t they just think that this was the same old same old? I figured there must be some sort of novelty to this new boss that the old coworkers (that she did not hire) were enthusiastic about.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          It could look like enrapturement to the OP and just be business as usual to the new colleagues. I am a work-eight-hours-a-day person, and if I had a bunch of coworkers following my new boss’s 14-hr-a-day lead, I would think to myself “wow, they must really like the boss to emulate her long working days.” Meanwhile those same coworkers are just doing their same old same old work patterns.

    2. Gnome*

      Yes. I wonder if the boss has good charisma or a positive attitude or is visionary in a way Old Boss wasn’t. That could be fun for folks, at least for a while. Also, with them hiring more former military, they may be more like minded.

      Although, am I the only one who wonders if the propensity towards hiring more military could potentially be a diversity issue? Esp if they stick to one service, etc?

      Note I used to work in government contracting supporting submarine operations. We had lots of former submarine guys (and until recently, they had to be guys). There were legit business reasons to hire them, but it did skew the workforce.

      1. All the words*

        Employers can receive various tax credits for hiring veterans. There’s definitely financial incentive for them.

        1. Anonymous4*

          Also, in gov’t service, and in some contracting companies, there’s veterans’ preference. You get extra points toward getting hired if you served in the military.

    3. Lucious*

      >> it’s possible the boss really did have to work longer than everyone else to survive in her previous work culture..


      The Military is a radically different world from civilian corporate culture. In the civilian world, there’s few situations where getting things done later is a life or death problem. In the military , it’s a different story. The mission comes first, and it comes ahead of your family, friends and in some extreme cases even your own mortal survival. Even a military computer network technician is in an environment where deploying a network meant the difference between launching missions or not. It leads to a culture of getting the job done by any means necessary.

      So when someone who’s spent their entire professional career in that environment moves into the private sector, it’s a recipe for serious culture clash. Some veterans can adapt , and many can’t. To be sure good military leaders recognize the need for work-life balance even within the serious confines of that job, but a lot more don’t.

      For the OP, it looks like the military centric culture is how things will be done going forward. So long as productivity metrics are higher from the new boss’ workaholism , I suspect the OPs justified complaints will also fall on deaf ears.

      1. Anonymous4*

        Well, OP already said that there were problems with cost overruns, so that’s attracting negative attention from higher up.

        And while the hours worked aren’t being billed to the contract, HR should be tracking when people come in and leave, to make sure they work 80 hours a pay cycle, so if there’s a prolonged spike in employee attendance, that’s going to cause some eyebrows to go up.

        And if there are employee complaints, such as from OP and from the single-mother coworker (who was also greatly stressed by the MUST COME IN, VITAL MEETING, FRED GOT PROMOTED situation), that should, in combination with the other issues, definitely alert people higher up that there are Issues in Bulldozer’s Team.

      2. SnappinTerrapin*

        Ollie North was said to be the type that, if he was told to get on the other side of a wall, he’d be the first one there. He might (or might not) check to see whether there was a door or window in the wall.

  23. Rainbow Carebear*

    This is such a frustrating situation with so many grey areas. It’s not like one set of cultural values is “right” or “wrong,” just very different and largely incompatible. The out-of-tune “emergency meeting” aside, it sounds like this workplace doesn’t have a finely-developed internal culture – at least not that anyone is actively cultivating. Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of workplace the executive leadership wants this place to be.

    As others have already said, I think the only thing OP can do is determine if she can live with this changing culture in her department, find another team that is more in line with her own cultural values, or start looking for a new place. When your coworkers have decided to follow the new leader, being the squeaky wheel risks you getting greased.

  24. Umpire*

    The “emergency meeting” situation puts her entirely into bad Manager on a power trip territory.
    I hope one day she gets a proper dressing down from her own boss because that’s not incompetence. She would’ve been told about the culture during her own hiring. Hiring people that fit her culture but not the organisation is
    Infecting your office with her toxic, useless military ~values. People do this all the time, trying to turn a new job into their old one where they had more power.

    1. velomont*

      “toxic, useless military ~values” Is the overgeneralized stereotype necessary? From my experience after 32 years in the military the one big value is to look after each other. I got a very rude shock when I discovered in the private sector that there is no expectation of that.

      1. Kate in Colorado*

        Looking our for each other is not unique to the military and isn’t one of the toxic traits the OP is describing. Maybe perhaps your rude shock had more to do with the specific organization you went into rather than the private sector as a whole.

      2. Anon for This*

        Some military values are not toxic and useless. Some are. When you’re in the military your life belongs to whatever branch you’re in for however long your… contract? Is that the word? lasts, so the idea of work life balance is fluid. Of course, they consented to that when they signed up, so presumably they’re okay with that still. But this is creating an environment where anyone who values work life balance is going to be incredibly unwelcome.

    2. J.B.*

      One of the best colleagues I had was retired from (two separate branches of) the military. He was awesome and communicated his expectations very clearly. There can definitely be not so great management practices but I think your statement is a bit too broad. Especially if the military experience is directly relevant.

  25. Observer*

    My manager came from the military

    It’s important to note here that this is not really a relevant piece of information if you want to go back to your GrandBoss. There are plenty of ex-military who are quite good with boundaries and are not into toxic positivity. By the same token lots of ex-military ARE far better at team-building and the culture piece that she seems to be.

    So, when you go to your GrandBoss stick to the basics – she scheduled a meeting outside of hours, calling it an emergency when it absolutely wasn’t. She schedule an out of hours meeting outside of work hours, which means that she is effectively requiring you to be on email / teams 24/7. She’s trying to keep you from attending COMPANY events – events that are intended to provide important general background information because she doesn’t think you need background information. These are specific actionable issues that might catch his attention in ways that more general talk about culture won’t. And they are also things that directly affect you in ways that her work schedule doesn’t.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Nicely framed! If your grandboss doesn’t respond to you laying these out (the “don’t attend company events” piece seems especially egregious), then that seems like a sign he won’t require any changes to your new manager’s approach/rules.

  26. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    For what it’s worth, this is not my typical experience in working for retired military personnel on government projects. Most ex-officers understand that private-sector contractors are inherently different from enlisted military and from commissioned military; they have strengths and weaknesses that complement the other elements. Turning contractors into pseudo-uniformed personnel defeats the purpose.

    So your boss has more than just a cultural fit problem with your company; she has a cultural fit problem with government contracting in general.

  27. KHB*

    I’ve got kind of the opposite problem going on, in that it’s the new-ish CEO who’s trying to change the company culture (among other things, we used to be very no-nonsense and talk to each other in plain English, but the CEO wants everything to be all business-speak all the time). My direct boss and my immediate team are all great, and they seem to be resisting this nonsense as much as I am, but outside of that, I barely recognize this place anymore. Fortunately, I can do 99% of my job without interacting with anyone outside of my team, so my strategy for now is to keep my head down and ignore everything else, but it seems like that might only work for so long.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I’m a lab type, and am confused about the difference between “Business-speak” and “plain English”.
      Can you please provide an example?

      I have no problems with being discreet about co-workers and not sharing formulations with sales people.

      Thank you.

      1. londonedit*

        Plain English: OK, so it looks like we’re running slightly late on the Widget project. Can everyone have a think about how we can speed up the process? Let’s take the morning to come up with some ideas and we’ll put a meeting in the diary for 11.30am.

        Business-speak: OK so we’ve hit an operational slowdown on Widgets, we’re going to need to accelerate here and sniff out opportunities to implement strategy. Let’s socialise some ideas and we’ll circle back at 11.30, I want everyone running as many ideas up the flagpole as we can manage.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Well, it’s a synergistic way that stakeholders are incentivized to interface with their b2b contacts.

        How’s that?

          1. Meep*

            My favorite part is that all those words have meaning – until you are speaking business. I mean I suppose being used to deceive gives them meaning though, blergh.

            1. Your Local Password Resetter*

              They can be used to say things! But first you have to explain what the things actually are, or you’re just talking nonsense.

      3. ArtK*

        Lucky you for not having to deal with it. Search for “business speak” and you’ll find a number of sites that list various phrases that show up a lot

      4. EPLawyer*

        Let’s circle back to that idea and brainstorm some ideas to synergistically create more value for the company (business speak)


        Let’s come up with some ideas to make more money for the company. (plain English)

  28. Umpire*

    OP, if in the end nothing can be done about her, I hope you get to move to a team that’s still operating as it should. I would hate for you to have to leave the whole organisation when you seem to enjoy it.

  29. Anon (and on and on)*

    I work in what I’d like to believe is a “good HR department” focusing on building a positive culture (NOT toxic positivity, but an actual healthy culture where people can be at their best and have their individual needs met in the workplace while performing great work) with high employee engagement and our biggest challenges are…. buy-in among front-line managers and getting their next-level managers to hold them accountable on culture. So, basically what you’re experiencing here. The bottom line is, your manager has all the power in this situation, and if your skip-level isn’t interested or willing to make her change, there’s not much anyone else can do. HR can support culture by providing training and guidance to managers, rolling out org-wide programming and procedures, and providing employee feedback by way of engagement surveys and 360 reviews, but they don’t have the authority to make individual managers change their behavior. Only your skip-level can do that, or the leader that they report to who I’m guessing is too distanced from your team’s culture to step in. This would drive me completely batty if I were you, especially since building a positive culture is so challenging and you actually HAD one and are watching it be dismantled, but I don’t think there’s much you can do here that’s actionable. The more you can say “not my monkeys, not my circus,” and try to transfer to another team, the better off you’ll be. Yes, it’s a waste, especially since a positive culture with work-life balance will lead to better workplace results. What your manager is doing is short-sided and dumb, but ultimately it’s her call and no one at your company seems to be interested in stepping in to stop her.

  30. Kate in Colorado*

    I really feel your boss is responsible for ensuring that your manager understands and respects the culture. You said he is disengaged and brushed off your concerns. That is a huge problem. Your manager bringing some of the more obnoxious aspects of military culture into your company needs to be addressed (I’m a reservist, so I only have to deal with these obnoxious aspects once a month) because they just don’t work everywhere. Your boss should be helping your manager transition into the company, and he is not doing anyone any favors by ignoring the problem.

  31. just another bureaucrat*

    This feels like a worst of all worlds kind of thing. Honestly the first half I wasn’t too bothered, like buckle down get shit done, ok. But then the answer to that is yeah we don’t spend a bunch of time wasting energy on celebrating our wins and joyjoyjoy bs. We put our heads down and do the work that needs to be done.We get that it’s a job and it’s hard and whatever but no one lies about having to be full of light and sunshine all the time.


    Everything is sunshine and sparkles and you never get upset when people don’t do work because you don’t care about it and everything has to be cheerful and you have dozens of meetings to talk about how great people are and every promotion that’s unearned and doesn’t change anything. But then you take the time you want off and you shrug and smile pretty for 10 minutes and put your feet up or do your laundry during meetings.

    Both of those in one person is a super nope.

    1. Gnome*

      Good point. I wonder if this “celebrate wins” is in response to something someone said about the work-work-work attitude.

  32. PizzaSquared*

    I’ve worked at several major tech companies, and at any of the ones I’ve worked at, after a year or so of good performance, it’s usually not that hard to transfer teams (sometimes they officially say 1.5 or 2 years, but I’ve seen those guidelines be stretch many times). If I were in your shoes, that’s the path I would be investigating first, to be honest. Nothing wrong with talking to the manager or skip-level, but my experience suggests that drastic changes in this kind of behavior are uncommon.

    1. Keyboard Cowboy*

      Yep, same. I work at a Big Tech company now, and forget about the ping pong tables and beer – the biggest perk is that the size of the company makes it easy to change teams without losing seniority/vacation accrual/etc. Especially if your skip-level is this checked out about the team culture, that says to me that they aren’t invested in making your area a good working culture in the future, either.

    2. OP*

      Yeah, this is another reason I came here–plenty of internal opportunities! I’m definitely looking around and talking to hiring managers and colleagues in other teams. Right now, two people have left in the past six months (one definitely because of the same frustrations). I’d be third, making annual turnover ~40%.

  33. Blaise*

    My heart sank when I read this title, because I just went through this a few years ago. When Allison says there’s no such thing as a dream job I know that’s not true, because I had one. That school was downright magical (I’m a teacher). I was on cloud nine for years! But then we got a new principal and I was job searching within two weeks- I saw the writing on the wall. Things only got worse and worse, and a semester later I finally got another offer and got the heck out of there. Now well over half the staff is gone.

    I’m so sorry OP, but all you can do is get out of there. You’re very lucky that moving to a new team is an option and you don’t have to leave altogether, so best of luck with that move!!

  34. DEJ*

    I feel a lot of this – in my previous job a new boss came in and totally changed what was a good culture. In the three years since that happened, a ton of long-time people have either been pushed out, laid off, or left for different teams because it got to be too much. I agree that looking to move to a different team is your best bet here.

  35. tessa*

    It’s the “We are family” thing that gets me every time. What is it with that ish? I try to develop as many warm relationships as possible at work, but my co-workers aren’t my relatives. Just…no.

    1. Gnome*

      I’m walking my recently put of the Army boss away from that. Sure, if you are in a combat zone, your unit is your family, you rely on each other, etc. We are not in a war zone, I don’t know what half my coworkers look like, and I don’t interact with most of them.

      What I said was something like “No, the private sector doesn’t do that. We want our work relationships to be positive, so we definitely don’t do the ‘like family’ thing”

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        You are a true hero.

        It’s a weird concept to me, because I’ve known so many people who absolutely could not rely on their families. And some of them were in the military.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I think that’s part of the idea — “we’re like family” is different from “we’re all friends here.” The family version conveys something akin to “we might not all like each other, but we’re stuck with each other (unless you leave, which would be an earth-shattering betrayal) so there’s no point in setting boundaries.”

        2. Wisteria*

          I’ve known so many people who absolutely could not rely on their families. And some of them were in the military.

          But that’s why the military tries to be like family–to try to be the people who people can rely on, esp. young enlisted folks who may have never been away from home. I can’t comment on the success of that approach, but being “like family” isn’t always about being the replacement creepy uncle, racist aunt, or abusive parent.

          1. Your Local Password Resetter*

            I mean they also want you to bleed and die for your bosses on command, and tying you to the people around you to mentally trap you in their organization is definitely one way to do that.
            So sometimes it actually is about being the replacement cultist leader grandpa.

  36. sofar*

    This very much depends on your HR, but I know that, at my company, if I had documentation that a manager was discouraging folks from attending town halls/other company meetings, that is information HR would find very much compelling. And something they’d certainly act upon DIRECTLY with that manager. This might be a concrete way to alert HR and document that your manager is out of step with the company culture.

    At my old company, we had an issue of managers treating town halls like study halls, as in, “I know you’re sitting at your computer attending this boring town hall, so I’m going to use that time to Slack you directly and expect an immediate response and do a bunch of housekeeping with you.” Folks complained about that, and HR took it up with those managers directly in a, “Hey, these town halls are important, we are communicating important info, employees should be allowed to pay undivided attention, cut it out. This kind of thing is for 1:1s, not something you hijack a town hall for.”

  37. BlueFredneck*

    Does this new boss make it rain? I’ve found weirdness and/or mild misbehavior is way more tolerated among those who make it rain, with occasional exceptions for a SME that’s been there a long time and knows where the bodies are.

    But if this boss has improved margins on this contract by 35% in the past 12 months by telling her military buddies to work more, the grandboss isn’t going to care one bit unless she’s hitting people during team meetings or blatantly propositioning the interns.

    1. OP*

      *Cringe* actually the opposite, but as others have guessed, she’s very charming.
      But she’s actually making things less efficient and more expensive than they need to be. I think it’s a power thing, because she’s applying requirements for the technical pieces of the broader project to the operational processes, artificially raising the perceived stakes of our work. What’s frustrating is because she’s made herself the arbiter of requirements, there is tons of ambiguity and expectations are constantly shifting. The team directly upstream from us handles more pieces of data, but is still using standard processes because they meet contract requirements and are efficient.
      I didn’t address this dynamic in the letter, because it’s more an indicator of the health of the project and overall leadership engagement… It’s a mess.

      1. Nesprin*

        Woof. That actually sounds worse than 11 hr notice emergency meeting.

        My standard approach to shifting requirements is to move as much as physically possible to written communication approaches, with lots of “I will do X by date A, in collaboration with B. The requirements are A, B and C, and D is a bonus but not a requirement” type emails post meetings.

        Ambiguity and shifting expectations coupled with power plays really portray a profoundly crappy manager.

      1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

        Kind of! Basically an employee/manager who brings in a lot of money for the company (‘makes it rain’) is more likely to get away with sub-par behaviour, because they’re getting results that the company cares about ($$$). Kind of similar to the brilliant jerk archetype, and potentially just as damaging long term in terms of staff morale and turnover.

  38. Terrysg*

    For urgent meetings, you could draw a hard boundary (if only in your own head) that all meeting have to be during business hours? Is there any problem that needs an out of hours meeting? Surely if it’s urgent someone should be working on it, not sitting in a meeting, and if it isn’t that urgent then why are you have a meeting at all?

  39. Warlord*

    Ugh. I’m prior service (Army Reserves), and I like celebrating a win as much as anyone, and high fiving my coworkers who get promoted is great. But what you’ve described isn’t normal for the military. First Sgt. had us out at 0-dark thirty so he could tell us stuff FOR A REASON. Not kicks and giggles. Your new boss isn’t bringing in military values, she’s bringing in ego.

  40. Egmont Apostrophe*

    Gotta disagree with Alison; you don’t have four options here. You have one: find a new job.

    Had a new creative director once who absolutely could not have a meeting with her own people during 9 to 5 but would schedule them for 5 or 6 pm. I was already interviewing but that just sped me up; agency people work plenty of long hours when they need to, but this was just deliberately wasting daytime to get to the evening as a power display. Bye!

    1. Gnome*

      Funny, we have pretty flexible hours and I’m irked that my boss made a 4-5 PM regular staff meeting. A good chunk of the office is done with their day by then! Heck, I was logged in by 6:30 this morning. Also, it’s during school pickup time (covid has caused a shift to cars here due to driver shortages).

    2. anonymous73*

      Finding a new job isn’t always the answer and it’s not always that easy. If the company is big enough and most of the managers actually do align with company culture, OP could much more easily move to a different department (as they say they are trying to do in the letter).

      1. Egmont Apostrophe*

        If the company is big enough that changing teams would be the equivalent of leaving, then that would be… a new job.

        1. anonymous73*

          Moving to a different team in the same company is generally not as difficult as finding a new job in an entirely different company. But thanks for having to be right.

  41. Meep*

    I consider myself a workaholic but I detest people who expect me to be one. Working long hours should be an option choice that you make because you loose track of time – not by force.

  42. JustAClarifier*

    This sounds a LOT like the situation in my (major tech company) organization right now. It has not been fun to experience the changes wrought by the new ex-military grandboss, and they are absolutely in direct contradiction to the overall messaging of our company. It’s exhausting. We went from “Take time off!” to “Check your phone on your days off and also respond to emails and also attend meetings if you can.”

    1. OP*

      I’m sorry. I hope for your sake you’re not at my company on the same project, but that sounds like at least one director over another team here.
      I’d been hanging on until launch so I can at least have that accomplishment, but our launch date has shifted several times, so at this point I’m looking for an internal move. If launch happens before then, great! If I find a new role first, great! :-D

  43. Bookworm*

    YIKES, OP. I’m so sorry you’re going through that. And I will lean towards finding a new job. If you attempted to address this and are being met with walls, then, well, I’m not sure what you can do to save it. I had a somewhat similar experience not long ago, except it was the pandemic that caused changes in the organization and let the org’s head consolidate control. I did the same–my then-immediate supervisors were powerless to stop and an attempt to go to HR was, uh, not helpful. There was nothing left to do but leave. I’m not saying that this is the answer for you, OP since it sounds like you have a family and you may need the income, but I would hesitate on whether there really is anything you can do.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.

  44. Umiel12*

    The phrase “but we need to celebrate our wins!” really triggered my PTSD, lol. That became one of the catchphrases at my previous job. It was actually code for “look how much better the new management is than what you had before when you clearly didn’t know what you were doing.”

  45. AngryOwl*

    Discouraging people from going to events/town halls would bother me. It’s one thing to say “if this isn’t your jam, you don’t have to go,” (I would support that). But actively discouraging… that’s a problem.

    I hope you can find a team to move to!

  46. yala*

    If you opt for Option 2 (which would be my pick if I were ok with rocking the boat), then I would suggest making sure to state the consequences of her actions as they specifically effect the department’s productivity/quality/efficacy. He doesn’t seem like he cares if y’all are happy or not, but “Becky discourages us from attending presentations on llama breeds, since our department is about llama grooming, but by not attending the meetings, we’re less aware of the variety of llamas we may encounter and how best to handle them” might make a bit more of an impression.

    She sounds dreadful tho

  47. Karia*

    This sucks, but I’ve been there and it’s not going to change. You’re right to move on, and I 100% would after that BS ‘emergency’ meeting.

  48. Cat*

    Ugh, I went through this with a previous job, lot of parts where I was nodding along.
    Mostly for other reasons, I left that job, best decision I made.

  49. RSJN*

    OP, I know how frustrating it is to have a manager like that. Even worse is when their boss/the higher ups don’t care. I think your only option is to dust off that resume and get to applying to other companies. In my experience, nothing will change and no one will care because your manager/employer views you as just a worker drone. Telling your boss that you had to rearrange your morning will fall on deaf ears. Mention it to her if you want to get it off your chest, but your ultimate goal should be keeping your head down and getting out of there asap.

    At my last job, we had a director like this. Our hours were 8am-5pm but she would schedule “important” meetings for 6pm, these meetings were actually nonsense. This was before covid and people had to leave the office to get their kids or whatever else they had to do. This director didn’t care. She would tell people that work comes first (!!!) and that other arrangements need to be made. When some of us (including me) just left the office anyway, she would write us up. She would tell us about how when her kids were younger, her mother in law would watch them so she could work at any hours. She said we’re like faaaamily and need to give our all to the job. Upper management loved her so our only options were to tolerate it or leave.

  50. Happy*

    I would be so frustrated by that emergency meeting, OP. You have my sympathy and hope you find a better team.

  51. JelloStapler*

    As we are on the brink of a leadership change from a beloved boss to… well we don’t know yet… this hits home.

  52. Candy*

    This really does just sound like a managerial style difference to me (like OP’s manager’s manager said). OP’s manager works 14+ hour days, weekends, and hasn’t taken any vacation. That’s a lot but it’s their prerogative. OP doesn’t say their manager is requiring that they or their coworkers do the same, and, in fact, OP says setting their own boundaries around hours and meetings has generally worked well + they still get involved in employee events and connect with others outside their project group.

    It’s not OP’s place to monitor their manager’s hours worked or to significantly coach and correct them. OP should just keep doing what they’re doing, work on finding a position in a new team if that’s what they want, and keep in the back of their mind that 7am emergency meetings may or may not actually be emergencies and can be prioritized accordingly going forward.

    1. OP*

      I get that, but as the team shifts more toward people like her, it’s harder to just ignore. Obviously I’ll be moving on, as this is not good for my mental health. Some other examples: She suggested casually on a Friday afternoon that I take over a meeting series she was running. The series was already on calendars, and the next one was the following Thursday. Cool, I added “set up meeting series” to my to-do list, planning to do it Monday. Monday morning, she messaged me to say she was disappointed I hadn’t sent the new invite yet.
      She emailed me on a Tuesday morning to follow up with someone on a task and confirm when it had been completed. It was pretty minor and something that would normally be assigned to a vendor, but I tracked through the morning and emailed back when it was complete, with documentation, saying to let me know if anything else was needed to close that out (but didn’t expect there to be, because it was the equivalent of confirming a package was delivered). On Thursday she told me she was disappointed I hadn’t communicated task completion… which I had. Turns out she’d missed my response, so then it shifted to me needing to follow up if she doesn’t get back to me. I cannot win.

      1. Wisteria*

        How long have you worked for her? It does sound like a fair number of adjustments that you have had to make, which is frustrating. I still read that as an adjustment, though. Now you know that she has a higher sense of urgency about things than you do, which you certainly have given evidence of in your other stories. That is a change you can make.
        But you don’t need to feel like you can’t win when she misses a response. You can send her back the time stamped initial email with a clear conscience. If it becomes a pattern, you can bring it to her attention (“Hm, it’s seems like you miss my follow-ups sometimes”) in a non-confrontational manner.

        1. Ash*

          This is far too deferential. This manager is not a good manager if she acts like everything is urgent and must be completed within minutes or hours.

  53. Uncle Boner*

    Helpful hint: When someone, even your boss, sends a Meeting invitation, you can hit “decline” or “tentative.”

    You can also let emails sit in inboxes. You can reply later. Or…not reply at all.

    My first boss was a douche who would use your pen to clean his ears and hand it back…but he did have one thing right. He followed a three-email rule. First email…sat. Second email on same topic . .. sat. Third email: He would address.
    Everything that didn’t make it to a third email: after 6 months, went in Trash. He emptied the Trash folder once a year. He showed me the folder before deleting. The number of requests he received in a year was ridiculous. This was an electronics engineering product development group.

    Your boss sends you a meeting invitation for a bad time? “Decline” or “Propose New Time.” If they reject your request, you gave warning you won’t be there – so don’t go.

    1. OP*

      Yes, but if you’re on a sensitive project, do see the email, and can prioritize, maybe you take the “urgent”/”crucial” messaging at face value and want to have the opportunity to hear the update first-hand and ask questions. It’s on me for accepting and shuffling, but it’s on her for abusing her employees’ trust in her judgment.
      Definitely a lesson learned for next time.

      1. Observer*

        t’s on me for accepting and shuffling, but it’s on her for abusing her employees’ trust in her judgment.
        Definitely a lesson learned for next time.

        Yup. I’m glad to hear that you will be acting on the lesson learned here.

        Crying wolf is not good management practice. Your boss apparently is going to need to learn this the hard way.

      2. Happy*

        Yeah, I don’t blame you at all for going out of your way to make sure you could attend the “urgent” meeting.

        It wasn’t your fault that she cried wolf.

      3. IT Manager*

        Lots of people saying – just don’t show up, pretend you didn’t see the email, but OP if I’d seen the wording you posted here about all hands on deck, and please prioritize, or even just the words “emergency meeting” without any other context, I’d have reacted the same way you did and then I would have been just as angry when I urgently rearranged my life to attend a non-emergency.

        There’s no job I’ve ever been in where you can ignore an “emergency” meeting and keep your job! I just can’t fathom it.

        I agree with most posters – time to move on.

        1. Observer*

          I TOTALLY understand why the OP responded the way she did. Not maybe the best idea, but hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

          The thing is that going forward the OP would be doing herself a huge favor by setting some hard boundaries. Because this boss is NOT reliable nor trustworthy. And she’s going to really get worn down if she doesn’t protect herself.

  54. Dragon*

    I haven’t read all the comments here, but I would be interested to know whether this ex-military boss was a civilian employee or in uniform. It wouldn’t surprise me if a former veteran tried to boss civilian subordinates around the same way s/he did military regulars, who had to obey.

  55. Waving not Drowning*

    Ohhhhh, we had a manager who called an emergency meeting – we were heading off to a training course, and half the team were already there so they had to come back to campus. The emergency meeting was to announce who our new VP was going to be. Which didn’t really impact us at all, as we didn’t have day to day contact with them, and, the information had already been sent as an email from HR. Total power move – he did it because he could. He was a bully. He was ex military…. Took the wind completely out of his sails when he made the announcement – and people are saying, oh yes, we got the email already…… When he did eventually leave (his contract wasn’t renewed, but, it was announced that he was leaving to move interstate), we had to be forced to go to his farewell lunch. He’d alienated EVERYONE by that point, even the people he’d brought in from his previous department. It was the second most uncomfortable lunch that I’d experienced! Noone wanted to talk, the food was crap (he’d chosen it), and as soon as we could leave – we did!

  56. Snowy*

    Oof, I had a similar situation with a previous job (it was after I’d left, but I still had friends working there). Ex-military new director basically wanted to change all the things about the culture that made it a great place to work AND a good portion of the reason why customers chose the organization.

    In the end, it came down to he asked one of my friends to do something pretty awful (not technically illegal, but an extreme jerk move and potentially discriminatory), which she refused and quit, sending her resignation and the reasons why to the board. The issue was related to something the board had kind of a “policy of non-policy” about while I’d worked there, so in the end, this whole situation made them have to actually confront it. Happily, the board recognized that the new director did not really belong there, and officially sided with the staff on inclusivity. It did take a bit of a toll on the organization though as there was a lot of turnover for a while.

  57. Good Vibes Steve*

    OP, I’ve been in your shoes. It sucks.

    You’re right to be looking for something else. Eventually, your boss will get found it, consequences will take place, but it could easily take a year or two for things to be bad enough that someone else steps in. In the meantime, you’ll be unhappy at your job, unless you leave.

    What to do until that happens? Keep your head down, push back on the truly egregious stuff, and do your work while maintaining boundaries. Use the “exit” brain – you know you’re leaving, so all the weirdness is just something for you to observe as an anthropologist. Not to get involved in.

    Good luck!

  58. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP, in this case, given the information that you provided in your letter and subsequent replies, I would focus your effort on the lateral move to a new position within the company, and if that doesn’t look realistic within 6 months, start looking for a new job. I just don’t think it is worth trying to change what you don’t like by talking to your boss or HR–I don’t think that will work in this case, but of course you are the best judge.

  59. Imaginary Friend*

    Hey OP, what did you actually SAY to your boss?

    > I was stunned by the disrespect for our time, but attempting to address it is met with “but we need to celebrate our wins!” She truly doesn’t seem to think she did anything inappropriate.

    But did you tell her that it disrupted morning routine and school drop-off schedule? Did you tell her that it affected your HUSBAND’S workday, and that he had to reschedule a meeting with HIS boss? Some people just can’t make the connections like that and need them spelled out. And she might shrug off child-related concerns or “respect for our time” but I’d bet she would be more aware that messing with someone else’s employment is Not Good.

Comments are closed.