update: employer wants friends and family to participate in 360 feedback reviews

Remember the letter-writer whose sister’s employer who wanted friends and family to participate in 360 feedback reviews? Here’s the update.

Thank you for answering my question about filling out a 360 review for my sister. The letter was published on a day when I had spotty cell/wifi reception, so I couldn’t participate in the conversation, but my sister and I read every single comment.

By the time the letter was published, we agreed that her company was being inappropriate with its request but couldn’t quite figure out why they made the decision (my favorite hypothesis was that they got wowed by a sales pitch and didn’t critically think about how dumb the policy was). I also decided I wasn’t going to respond to the survey, but part of me wanted to respond with family-related issues only to see if they put them in her performance review (“She’s too tall so I can no longer borrow her clothes” “Mom always makes me help cook for family get togethers- she gets to hang out and socialize” “She forgets that mom is terrible at keeping secrets and it messes up family surprises”). I would have died of laughter if my sister had to put ‘cooking at family get-togethers’ as her yearly performance goal.

Afterwards, we had further discussions about her company, which uncovered a myriad of concerns. To try to simplify things, let’s say she started as a generalist, but worked very hard to achieve certification in a very specific area (like starting in chocolate teapot production and becoming certified in making the teapot molds). She was promoted to supervisor of chocolate molds but wouldn’t tell her the pay—they claimed they needed to hire another person to be a mold admin. This hire did not have certification and no experience in chocolate teapot molds but was still offered a salary 10k higher than my sisters. They did eventually raise her salary to match his, but then decided that she shouldn’t have the supervisor title, and essentially demoted her to being an admin (despite being the only staff certified in molds with experience in the specific mold of the company).

My sister was conflicted about staying or leaving; she was hoping to make this job a long-term career, but the run-around eroded a lot of trust she had for the company. She found another company that was looking for someone certified in chocolate molds and was offered a job that had both the senior title and a hefty pay bump. When she resigned, apparently her old job was completely shocked that she would leave.

The company has not reached out to me to ask my opinion on my sisters’ resignation.

{ 113 comments… read them below }

  1. CatCat*

    When she resigned, apparently her old job was completely shocked that she would leave.

    Why is this so often the case!?

    1. Be Gneiss*

      When I resigned a couple weeks ago my boss literally said “I keep reading about the great resignation, but I never thought it would happen to me!”

      1. Regina Phalange*

        This sounds like an Upworthy headline or something

        “You won’t believe what happened next!”

      2. AskJeeves*

        LOL. What a weird response! Did the boss think they would go their whole career without a single employee ever leaving for another job?

    2. Tea Pot Dome*

      I wish I knew. It has happened to me. I can only guess that management is tone-deaf and does not know how to react.

    3. Meow*

      I worked once for a manager that seemed to pride himself in bullying us and cracking down on stupid things. I had to take a couple days off to fly out to interview for another company, and one of my coworkers accidently let slip where I was in his earshot. Apparently he said, “Why would she be looking for a new job so soon after starting this one?”

      That place was a nightmare to work for even apart from my terrible manager, and I was (naively) shocked that management didn’t know that everyone hated it there.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I’ve heard that everyone is the hero of their own story. Which is kind of scary, because it might mean that no matter what horrifying things someone does, they still think they’re ok really. So maybe the manager doesn’t think he’s awful.

    4. irene adler*

      I think it has a lot to do with the mindset that assumes women workers aren’t really invested in jobs, career, making more money, and climbing the corporate ladder. Jobs are simply a means to an end. Not like men who are expected to be totally invested in the job, the career, advancement, ever-increasing salaries, achieving the C-suite by age 30, etc.
      Hence, women aren’t going to mind being underpaid, passed over for promotion or being recognized for their skills/knowledge/experience.

      So when the female employees head out the door, they cannot comprehend why.

      1. As per Elaine*

        Someone suggested to me recently that we’re still a bit stuck in a mindset that men Have A Family To Support but women are just working for pin money. Which, demographically, is nonsense, but here we are.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I was thinking that gender played a role in this who 360 review nonsense. They are asking about women’s home lives. Like they want to know how your spouse feels about her having a job.
          “She does all the X, Y and Z for the kids and me because she isn’t bring work home with her.”
          Some twisted reason.

        2. turquoisecow*

          I’m a woman who’s working, essentially, for pin money. My husband makes way more than I do and his salary covers most of our household expenses no problem. I work part-time and my money goes into savings or things for myself.

          If I’m unhappy with my job, I walk. I’ve told my current employer several times that if the job changes significantly – they want me to go full time or visit the office regularly – then I’m done. They sort of need me so they give me what I want for the most part. I don’t know why “doesn’t need the job” would equate to “going to stay there no matter how horrific it is.”

          1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

            My husband has a great job, and I’m semi retired and work for myself (and a partner). I’ve also spent 30 years with two professional incomes living below my means and putting away cash. But a few years ago I took a job that was a trainwreck. At some point my boss looked at me and said “but we have to put up with it, we can’t afford to live without the paycheck….and I said “I can.” I think I lasted another three weeks. The company was having some financial issues so I convinced them to lay me off so I could get unemployment (there is a reason I could afford to retire early – unemployment isn’t a lot, but its something).

        3. BBBB*

          I had to looking this up. Apparently “pin money,” means a small sum of money for spending on inessentials.

          In my house it literally means the money my wife spends on collecting rare pins.

          1. Jen with one n*

            And even though women’s money “back in the day” was referred to as “pin money” and not considered vital to the family budget, it actually did usually cover necessities like food and clothing.

          2. Aldabra*

            Ooh I just read about this a bit ago. There is a really interesting history to the term “pin money,” the short version is a long time ago people used pins to hold articles of clothing together and on (sleeves onto tunics, robes onto stomachers, hats onto heads, hair into elaborate arrangements etc) and they were made in many many sizes and types and qualities. Also, because you were out walking around with your clothes pinned together, the pins would fall out occasionally and would have to be replaced. When a woman married, her husband would give her an allowance to buy pins, and this could be stretched to include other things for herself and the household.

            1. Salymander*

              Yes, and it is interesting that pin money was seen as being a smallish sum of money used for frivolous spending, when actually it is anything but frivolous. Those pins literally were keeping these women from having to walk around semi-nude and with their clothes falling off in the street. Most women had only one or two dresses, and even comfortably middle class women didn’t have a huge number of dresses, so that was a really big deal.

            2. Nina*

              And pins used to be wicked expensive (they’re difficult to make by hand) so pin money was pretty substantial, like it was your major household money. Only after mass-production dropped the price of pins did it come to mean something insignificant and frippery.

    5. The Original K.*

      My friend’s former boss told him “I knew you were unhappy but I didn’t think you’d quit.” Ma’am, why not? He’s supposed to just sit in misery?

      1. PennylaneTX*

        Omg, this reminds me of an ex-boyfriend who said “I knew you were unhappy, I just didn’t think it was my problem” and was BLINDSIDED when I broke up with him. Bosses and boyfriends–more in common than you think!

        1. Petty Betty*

          My last ex-husband was much like this. “I thought if I just kept saying I’d change you’d be okay”. Uh… no. Empty words are empty words. Especially when you are actively doing the opposite of what you’re telling me and it is openly causing problems and has been causing problems for a long time.
          I have no desire to deal with stunted adults. Grow with me or get left behind.

        2. Jen with one n*

          Oh, I like the variation on this one I got – “I knew you said that you were unhappy, but I didn’t think you really meant it!”

          Bye bye!

          1. Salymander*

            More like, “I knew you said you were unhappy, but I didn’t care at all until that eventually resulted in me being inconvenienced.”

        3. Nica Bee*

          Yes, I broke up with a boyfriend. I wasn’t happy and I knew we were getting to the point that it was either get engaged or end the relationship. I decided to end the relationship. He was 100% blindsided while it was clear to me that it was evident how unhappy I was, to the point that I had spoken to him, several times, about issues I had with the relationship. He just kind of blew off my concerns or acted like they were “no big deal” (hint: they were HUGE issues that needed addressing). When he pooh-poohed my very valid concerns, I knew the relationship was dead in the water but obviously he did not.

          Fast forward 20 years. I’ve been happily married to someone else for almost 17 years. He is divorced. I’m guessing he never did develop those interpersonal and communication skills.

      2. AAA*

        This happened at my company! I told my boss, Beloved Coworker Who You Love and Would Absolutely Hate To Lose is going to quit if you don’t move his accounts around. (It was okay to say that, he’s a good friend and we’d strategized the best way to make this happen given our respective powers.) Boss does not move his accounts around, says “that’s what account work is! everyone says that” when asked. BCWYLaWAHTL quits. Boss is both shocked and wants to know if it was him that was the problem. He could have just…moved the accounts around a bit.

        1. Nica Bee*

          I’ve been at my current job for a long time. I’ve gotten to the point that I work 95% independently and my boss pretty much just rubber stamps what I do. However, he seems to go through assistants like people change socks. It mostly has to do with the fact that he just burns them out. The minute his assistant shows any kind of competence, he loads the person up with a work that no single person could reasonably accomplish in 40 hours a week and then is all over the person when the work isn’t done in a timely and accurate fashion. Without fail, these assistants, who require a quite a bit of time and effort to train, as it is a niche field, up and leave after a year or two. He’s gob-smacked each time it happens, despite the fact that I and other team members have repeatedly explained that he needs to either give a realistic amount of work his assistant or, maybe, hire TWO assistants. But, nope, he just keeps doing the same thing and being surprised at the result each time. SMH.

    6. kiki*

      People who take advantage of others don’t see the folks they’re taking advantage of as real, full people like themselves. They can understand that *they* would be mad if they were senselessly demoted and underpaid, but fail to carry that forward to other people. When people take advantage of others, they also tend not to assess the value of whom they are taking advantage of correctly. The people taking advantage are genuinely surprised somebody somewhere else would see that person as valuable. The skills of the person are often diminished. Even if they can recognize that their employee is really good at their job, they begin to assume that the job they’re doing isn’t important or that valuable to them.

      1. Roy G. Biv*

        They can understand that *they* would be mad if they were senselessly demoted and underpaid, but fail to carry that forward to other people. — Also known as “empathy” or the lack thereof.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        This. I have a thesis that companies routinely have a bright line between workers they regard as fully human and those they regard as meat robots. Bogus “independent contractor” status is a formalization of the worker’s non-human status. And outsourcing overseas? The company literally does not care if the supplier uses child slave labor, so long as the supplier passes on the savings. These are formalized classes, but it can apply to direct hires as well. A good test is if the employees has to take time off to deal with a situation. If the company recognizes the employee as a human being, the response is to take the time you need to do what you need to do. If the employee is merely a meat robot, then taking time off makes it a bad meat robot that should be replaced by a better one.

        One might think that the “if this person leaves were are in serious trouble” category would fall on the fully human side of the line, but this often is not the case. Where that line falls is nothing like rationally considered. For that matter, some companies don’t have the “fully human” category at all, even at the top levels.

        1. Me!*

          I think “if this person leaves were are in serious trouble” falls under “we couldn’t do without this office machine/program/other tool we need to function.” The operative word there is “tool.” (I like meat robot too, though.)

          1. Danish*

            About a month ago there was someone in the comments here talking about a new hire issue, and they said “but we had already located another resource”, when they meant “we had already hired another person”, and I am sure the commenter is a lovely person who is just using their industry standard jargon but holy heck it creeped me out.

            Employees are people and I think we do ourselves a real disservice when we us language that obscures that.

    7. FrenchCusser*

      Ah, skill theft.

      Get new skills, take on more and higher level work, get paid nothing more than before.

      Been there, done that.

    8. Just Another Starving Artist*

      Some people just think whatever weird dysfunctional thing they’re doing is perfectly normal and how jobs work. They don’t think anyone would leave for better because they don’t actually believe there is better.

    9. Sloanicota*

      To be fair, I’ve often read here that people who are fired are often blindsided even though they have been warned several times, are on a PIP and are informed they’re not meeting expectations, told “we’ll have to let you go if this continues” etc. I think everyone just leans hard on the status quo and is shocked when anything disrupts it.

    10. Reality Check*

      I think ruling by fear might be it in some cases. At my office, the bosses lose their temper and snap at people on a regular basis. Employee runs to the bathroom and cries, boss appears to be oblivious to the effect on the employee. Employees are now terrified to speak up about anything. When they quit, boss is shocked.

    11. Overit*

      Becaise one reaon wjy bad managers are bad is that they view their staff as nothing more than cogs in a machine which exist only to run the machine. When staff demonstrate that they are actually sentient human beings with options, it causes great cognitive dissonance. Even worse when those options cause inconvenience to the manager. “How dare they?! The staff is supposed to stay quiescent and available forever…or until we don’t need them any more amd dump them. They don’t get to dump US! Ia that even alllowed?!”

      1. BBBB*

        “How dare they?! The staff is supposed to stay quiescent and available forever…or until we don’t need them any more amd dump them. They don’t get to dump US! Ia that even alllowed?!”

        I’m cynical enough to believe this really is the case. They are so accustomed to the one-sided power dynamic, it never occurs to them that the employee might not agree. These are the same people who usually complain that employees aren’t “grateful,” or don’t have “loyalty” to the organization. As if employing someone is an act of charity rather than a transactional relationship.

    12. eileen1979b*

      Former legal assistant here, WORD PERFECT WAS THE BEST. It was far better than Word and I miss it every day.

    13. Meganly*

      I’m the LW from the “hermetically sealed” trainee letter a long while back (that was overshadowed by a letter about tea) and my manager was literally mouth agape shocked when I told her I was quitting. The trainee bit was just the tip of the iceberg of how ridic that place was.

  2. AlsoCanadian*

    First, congratulations to your sister on her new gig, as well as to both of you for something many of us should do more – serious reflection on our jobs. I was WTF at your original post, but I confess I will also be snickering for DAYS at the “The company has not reached out to me to ask my opinion on my sisters’ resignation.” closing.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yes, OP, your closure was perfect.

      Congratulations to your sister on finding a job where her skills are appropriately valued.

    2. Not that other person you didn't like*

      LOL, me too! OP, your writing is excellent and quite funny and I just wanted you to know that.

  3. Lady Danbury*

    Raise your hand if you were shocked that the admin who made $10k more than OP’s sister is a man. OP, I’m glad that your sister made the right decision and found a new job that values her. There’s no way that this company would have been a good long term employer.

    1. Jaydee*

      I’m commenting because you can’t see through the internet just how un-raised my hand is, and I don’t anyone to mistake silence for surprise.

      As soon as I saw that the less-credentialed, less-experienced admin made $10K more I just started skimming ahead to look for male pronouns. Kind of like when I’m reading a mystery novel and I think I’ve figured something out and I feel compelled to skip ahead a little and see if I’m right.

    2. Salymander*

      I was not surprised at all. Of course they have Sister doing the work but hire some random dude who doesn’t know the business to supervise her and make more money while she does all the actual work. What a terrible, dysfunctional trash fire of a place. So glad the sister got out and found a better job.

  4. Nanani*

    Good on your sister getting a better job. Why do I sniff something sus from the old one :|

  5. Beth*

    I’m going to be giggling all afternoon at the thought of filling a performance review with strictly family-related observations. “My sister demonstrated her mentoring skills when she taught me to fry bacon when I was 10, but then she made me clean up the kitchen.” “Her favorite colour looks terrible on me and she insists on buying it a lot, so I can’t steal her best clothes.” “I had to sit in the back seat with her on family trips, and she always took too many cookies out of the box when it was passed back to us.”

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      22-year-old moved out and promptly became good at picking up after herself.

    2. Writer Claire*

      Same here…

      “My brother is twelve years older than me. He taught me poker just so he could beat me. I was only five!” Or “My brother built a snow fort for me and challenged me to a battle. Except he stood farther away than I could throw, and I ended up with a face full of snow. I was only four!”

      1. Jerkface!*

        My oldest brother (3.5 years older than myself) joined the wrestling team when he went to high school. Why, yes, he did offer to “teach” his (much shorter) siblings some wrestling moves.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      “We’re all quite impressed that a kid who didn’t speak a word until he was almost 3 now gives speeches for a living, and is in fact really good at it. His speeches aren’t limited to public ones, either. He’s 2 years younger than me and he is the biggest mansplainer I know.”

    4. Reality Check*

      “My brother is easily intimidated by strong, intelligent women. For his personal & professional growth, I recommend you place him under a strong, intelligent, female supervisor.”

    5. Kit*

      “Even though I am the oldest sibling, I was always forced to sit in the middle on car rides because Sister could not be trusted to keep her hands to herself.” “She used to text our mom from upstairs rather than get off her butt.” “Despite being over 30, she can still fit in child’s sizes and this means she gets much more exciting clothing options; I can’t find Heelys in my size, this is unfair!”

      My brother is especially lucky this has never happened, since I’d probably end up recounting in great detail the time he and a friend got their hands on blanks for a starter pistol, set them off with a hammer, and got shrapnel injuries. Teenagers’ bad decisions (and younger kids’ too!) should never be part of work reviews, but it makes me laugh to consider it…

    6. quill*

      “My brother is not good at adapting to a changing audience. He used to try and bring me frogs to get a rise out of me, but I love frogs, so once I got over the amphibian in my face startle reflex, it no longer worked.”

      1. That One Person*

        I like that it almost sounds like the purpose changed too where first it was to startle you, then it was just to show you another frog when that stopped working (even if that wasn’t the actual intent) XD

    7. Kelly L.*

      I used to work for a professor whose daughter took one of her classes. (It was a small school, and there was no one else to take it from.) I got to type up the student evals for that class, and cracked up when one of the evals, in response to a question about how the professor could improve, said “Stop wearing my shoes to class!”

    8. Madame Arcati*

      Communication skills: fair. My brother moved to a country in a radically different time zone so when our mother wants to phone someone to solve a random issue for her, she always calls me. That said he is very forthcoming in telling me how to live my life

      Organisational skills: needs improvement. According to our mother after her last visit, the basement laundry room at his house is an absolute disgrace!

      Managing employees: Adequate. His children, cats and dogs seem happy and fulfilled. His wife may actually be in charge though.

    9. Salymander*

      “My sister has feet that are 3 sizes bigger than mine, so I can’t borrow her shoes.” “We had to share a bedroom, and she tattled on me for reading by flashlight under the covers.” “She hates vegetables and overbaked her cakes so they are super dry.” “Sister refused to eat the macaroni and cheese I made when I was 7 because I put real shredded cheese in with the orange powder and it looked weird.” “Sister ate some of my Halloween candy and blamed it on the dog.”

    10. Very Social*

      “She’s very good with money and always has an eye for a good bargain–a really good one, not just for something that’s cheap. Also, please keep her WFH most of the time so I can continue borrowing her nice business casual clothes.”

  6. OrigCassandra*

    Outstanding outcome. Well done, both of you! I hope your sister is loving the new job, and I also hope the old company crumbles.

  7. Bilateralrope*

    The only part of your sisters resignation that should surprise the company is that she hasn’t filed a sexual discrimination complaint.

  8. Falling Diphthong*

    The company has not reached out to me to ask my opinion on my sisters’ resignation.

    Yet, OP. Yet.

    1. Chocolate Teapots Should Be Real*

      when I tell you I wheezed reading this? this site, it’s truly a gift.

  9. Lady Knittington*

    That last sentence is absolute GOLD. Congrats on the new job, OP’s sister.

  10. Don*

    “her salary to match his”

    There’s two of the least surprising pronouns in order I’ve ever seen.

    Good on your sis for getting out of that mess. I cannot imagine the gall of (a) asking your employee to (b) ask their family and friends to do unpaid work for the company. I live proximate to DC and vaguely resent the hassle of having friends and neighbors with security clearances. At least those investigators have the class to acknowledge that they’re an imposition and make a serious effort to accommodate my schedule to ask their tiresome questions.

  11. Miette*

    @Alison: your response to the original letter was absolutely priceless. Thanks for the lols today :)

  12. EPLawyer*

    Gee, the bonkers 360 review involving people not working for the company (hello I don’t work for you, you don’t get to give me homework), was only a symptom of the disease of dysfunction. Whoda thunk it?

  13. Just another queer reader*

    Congratulations to your sister! Thanks for this incredibly satisfying update.

    And letter writer, I adore your writing. Bravo.

  14. Coder von Frankenstein*

    “Afterwards, we had further discussions about her company, which uncovered a myriad of concerns.”

    I’m shocked, shocked to find that evil bees are going on in here.

  15. kiki*

    my favorite hypothesis was that they got wowed by a sales pitch and didn’t critically think about how dumb the policy was

    I feel like a lot of companies and services are popping up to that claim to help employees but actually delve way into the personal, largely due to misunderstanding results of certain studies.

    After seeing studies that claimed physically “healthier” employees tended to be more productive, companies got really into programs and incentives to encourage employees to be “healthier.” The companies failed to fully comprehend that a lot of times, the work that employees were doing for them contributed to their lack of health (e.g. somebody working 12 hours a day probably is too exhausted to consistently exercise and a free gym membership probably won’t help).

    Now, a lot of studies are coming out about mental well-being affecting employee productivity. Instead of adjusting workloads, making employment less precarious, and giving employees more time outside of work to work towards wellness, companies are hiring agencies or buying software to “boost employee wellness.”

    The work is the problem. Workers need more time off, solid wages, and less precarity; they do not need somebody interviewing their cousin for opinions on how they’re doing outside of work.

    1. quill*

      Not to mention, the whole pandemic thing…

      Productivity will not go up until the ambient stress level goes down.

    2. Nanani*

      And making wellness, fitness, health, or any other synonym a -job duty- won’t help anybody!

      Give people time off and pay them enough that they can actually DO THINGS. It’s that simple.

  16. TiredAmoeba*

    I suspect her employer was shocked that your sister could possibly get another employer to match their generosity. /s

  17. woooooow*

    I must say, OP, you sound like a wonderful sibling and your sister is lucky to have you. Glad she’s out of that mess.

  18. Liz T*

    Has your sister considered talking to a lawyer about the very obvious gender discrimination? It seems like a really clear-cut case from how you’ve put it.

  19. That One Person*

    Glad she moved on to a better place because I don’t think that other company was ever going to figure out what they were doing wrong.

    That said there’s a part of me that thinks the family evals would be a hilarious concept and a great way to roast employees. They shouldn’t be used against them, but it’d be funny to collect some and compile them into a newsletter while naturally removing identifying traces as they can lol

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