my mentor won’t acknowledge my family’s loss, a disorganized boss, and more

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

1. My mentor won’t acknowledge my family member’s death

I recently started a new job where I took over for a very high-profile and beloved person, Baxter. To help me transition, they were asked to stay on for a year in an advisory/mentor capacity. It became clear that Baxter had complicated feelings about retiring, as over the course of the year they have veered wildly between acting supportive and actively hostile. I’ve tried to have empathy for what I know must be a difficult life change. I have responded rationally when they send passive-aggressive emails, I kept my cool when they lost their temper in a public meeting, and I responded calmly when they went above my head to the president about decisions that are now mine to make. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and they deeply care about the organization. I respect them a lot and have gone out of my way to communicate that.

However, this week a close family member died. It was not an immediate family member — think aunt/uncle/first cousin — but it was sudden, tragic, and untimely. I was close to them and we are reeling from the shock. I sent an email out to the relevant folks, including Baxter, to let them know that I would be leaving town for the funeral and to be with my family. In the days that have followed, Baxter and the company president have been in touch by email about work things but have not acknowledged my email. I thought it was possible they didn’t see it, but then the president asked about an event that was to take place while I was away. I reminded them that I would be out of town for the funeral and did not receive a reply. I continued to get emails about other things.

I don’t need a flurry of condolences about this, but … can’t they at least have summoned up a stock “I’m sorry for your loss”? I feel stupid about feeling so annoyed about this, because in the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter if two people from work drop the ball on something that is probably more based on etiquette than personal feeling — at least on their end. But on top of trying to navigate Baxter’s mood swings, passive aggression, and periodic undermining, this small lapse has sent me into a place of intense resentment that I know isn’t healthy. I have been trying really hard to keep an optimistic outlook because this is my dream job, and I want to do it well. But I’m sad, I’m at the end of my rope with the Baxter minefield, and I find myself in a place where I worry I might actually say something I regret and jeopardize all of my good capital with the company.

Should I say anything about their lack of acknowledgement of my family member’s death? Should I let this go and continue to ride the wave of Baxter-isms until they get used to the new normal? They will be in a decision-making capacity with the company for the next year at least, so I need to retain a good relationship with them.

Yeah, this is crappy. Unquestionably. When someone tells you a family member died, you acknowledge that in some way.

I’m curious, though, how this fits in with what you already know about Baxter … and the company president too, for that matter. Is this out of character? Or unsurprising when you consider what you’ve seen of their emotional intelligence/emotional fluency previously? My hunch is that it’s in character and should be interpreted through that lens.

That’s not to say you don’t have grounds to be hurt but it sounds like it might be the final straw after you’ve already had to deal with a slew of crap from Baxter. Your tolerance has already been strained by their bad behavior … and so during a terrible time personally, something that might have been easier to brush off earlier no longer feels that way. It’s so understandable.

If you can, I would try to set aside your reactions about Baxter and the president for now. Give yourself a few weeks to just focus on your family and check back in with yourself on this a month from now. I think there’s a decent chance you won’t feel the same urgency to do something about this in particular at that point (although if you do, you can deal with that then). But at some point, it’s also worth thinking about whether you should talk with your boss about the bigger issues with Baxter. Not now — you have more important things to deal with right now — but when you’ve got more bandwidth for it.

2. I have to do extra work because of my disorganized boss

I have been working for my current boss, “Maggie,” for about four years and have served as the number two in our department for the last two years. Maggie is generally a good boss who cares about her employees and has a ton of experience in our field (she has been with the company for nearly 30 years). However, she struggles with staying focused and organized, something that has gotten worse in recent years amid the shift to a hybrid workplace. These issues range from losing her cellphone, keys, credit card, etc. to constantly missing emails and messages (or reading them but forgetting to reply) to starting a task but getting distracted and forgetting about it until someone reminds her. She has also remarked to me that she believes she has undiagnosed ADHD.

As a result, I do the vast majority of the planning and project management in our department and frequently have to serve as an assistant of sorts for her, reminding her of deadlines and meetings and to respond to emails. The situation is becoming increasingly frustrating. When I’ve brought up issues around communication or organization, Maggie immediately apologizes and promises to do better but nothing changes. When I try to ask more specific questions (“what’s the best method and times for me to communicate with you on days when we’re working remotely?”), I get general “whatever works for you” or “it doesn’t matter” responses. I do really like her as a person and we get along well, but it feels unfair that so much of the mental load of the department falls on me because she can’t remember anything. Is there anything I can do to fix this situation? I have been casually job hunting but I like my current department and company a lot, and I generally enjoy the job and would like to stay if I can.

You can try, but it may or may not work. You could talk with Maggie and tell her that your current communication and organization methods aren’t working, you’ve tried everything you can think of, and at this point the two of you need to come up with different solutions. For example, does she need an actual assistant? Can the two of you have twice-weekly standing meetings so you’ll have locked-in times when you know you’ll be able to reach her? Would she delegate more authority to you so that you’re less dependent on her responses to move things forward?

If that doesn’t change anything, though, I think you’ve got to figure this is the job and decide if you want it — not the job as you wish it was or as it should be, but the job as it really is.

You should also think about whether there are things you might want to ask for in exchange for taking on so much of the mental load. Would a raise make you more willing to pick up Maggie’s slack? A better title and a job description that formalizes the extra responsibilities you’ve taken on? An assistant for you or the team to help with the pieces of this that you could delegate? You might have more luck going after those things than in trying to change Maggie.

3. How to post salary in job listings

My small nonprofit is planning to (finally!) begin posting salary ranges on our job listings. For several years, we have openly discussed salary expectations and targets with candidates during the screening and interviews. But we have hesitated to post up-front up until now. Can you provide any tips or best practices? For example: all our positions have salary ranges, but we typically have a target budget for each job we’re recruiting for. People with a variety of educational levels and experience amounts can be successful in some of our roles, so some people come in at the lower end and we train them up over the years, others come in close to the top. If someone is great, we’ll go higher than our budget target, but rarely, and NEVER over the position salary range. So say that the range for a position is $50,000-$75,000 but our target is $60,000-$65,000. What should we post?

We also have very, very generous benefits like a TON of PTO, flexible schedules and family-friendly practices, an outstanding 401K match, really good EAP, cover health insurance premiums for employees, and have even started doing some technical assistance for employees to get their federal student loans forgiven that has worked. All those things are definitely a conversation when we are courting good candidates. Should we mention any of that in the posting?

Yes, definitely mention the benefits! Be specific, too. A lot of employers say they have great PTO when it’s actually pretty average, so sharing the details can set you apart.

For the salary example you gave, since you rarely go over the target range, I’d word it this way: “The salary range for this position is $50,000-$65,000, depending on your experience (although we can go up to $75,000 for an exceptionally qualified candidate).” Generally, the more transparent you can be, the better. So if you’re able to easily explain what determines where in that range someone will land, that’s helpful too (like “candidates with less than X years of experience generally come in at the lower end of that range”) — although that’s not strictly necessary if the factors that go into that aren’t easily captured in a sentence or two.

4. Reference check after rejection notice

I’ve been on the job hunt for a while and am no stranger to rejection letters, but something happened that I’ve not yet come across. I applied for a position, did assessments, sent work samples, and had a first interview. After the first interview, I received a rejection letter stating that while I had a lot to offer, they would be pursuing other candidates. I thanked them for their time and for notifying me, and asked for feedback on my interview process, stating that I understood if they could not provide any, and wished them luck in hiring for the position. I received my rejection letter on a Friday afternoon and sent my response about an hour later.

Monday evening, I received notification from my number one reference saying the company contacted her that morning for a reference check. Why would a company pursue a reference check for a rejected candidate? Could it be that I have a similar name for another applicant and they have contacted my references by mistake? Does that ever happen? Did I potentially get rejected as a mistake? I do not want to get my hopes up, but would love more insight as I’ve never heard of this happening before.

It’s possible that the rejection was a mistake; that does happen. It’s also possible the reference call was a mistake, due to crossed wires somewhere. That’s less likely, but it could happen. If the rejection was a mistake and they end up wanting to hire you (or move you forward to another interview), they’ll contact you at some point. For now, though, the safest thing is to assume that the rejection was correct … and let it be a pleasant surprise if you do hear from them. (In fact, that’s the best approach even if this confusing situation hadn’t happened.)

But if you really want to, it would be fine to contact the hiring manager to say, “I just want to make sure we didn’t cross wires somewhere — I’d received a rejection email on Friday, but my reference was contacted a few days later so I wasn’t sure if I was still under consideration or not.”

{ 270 comments… read them below }

  1. EPLawyer*

    1 — First, I am sorry about your loss. Having Baxter stay on has created a difficult situation for you. Everyone still thinks of it as Baxter’s job, because Baxter is RIGHT THERE. I am sure it seemed like a good idea to have Baxter pass on all the institutional knowledge in their possession. But what it did was create a system where Baxter is still in the job. Leaving you lost. Which might be contributing to your feelings right now. When you have the bandwith, sit down with your boss and discuss making the transition from Baxter’s job to YOUR job. Lay it all out how you need to take control of the job and not have Baxter overriding decisions you make. Your boss’ reaction will let you know if this really is your dream job or a nightmare you need to escape.

    2. Maggie isn’t going to change because she doesn’t have to. You are picking up the slack from all her disorganization. I know you want the department to shine, but sometimes you have to let things fall apart. Things won’t change until there is a reason for them to change.

    1. This is Artemesia*

      One of the things that has really impressed me about excellent bosses is that when they leave, they don’t hover and poison the well for their successor. They honor the new person’s right to shape the position. They let go. I have seen this in action several times including with the best boss I ever had. Sure he would have done somethings differently than newguy, but he pointedly did not do anything to pre-empt the arena of choices for his successor.

      It was ridiculous for the CEO to keep this doofus around and then to allow him to meddle. I hope that he will soon be gone. If this doesn’t come to an end, it is a good reason to be job searching — and it wouldn’t be out of line to be doing that now — not in a rush but just in case there is something better for you.

      I would just let the lack of empathetic response go. It is so not the issue for you in this job. I am sorry you have been treated like this, but let it go and keep your eye on the ball here — their really in appropriate behavior as bosses.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Agreed. The lack of empathetic response totally sucks but is just icing on the cake of suckage here. So sorry for your loss, OP. Aremesia’s response is spot-on.

      2. Clorinda*

        In my denomination, a retired minister has to leave the church they served for a whole year, as in, not even attending services in that church until the transition is complete.

        1. This is Artemesia*

          What a wise policy. Strong leaders seem to instinctively know that this is important and go out of their way to not commit an organization to new things they won’t be there to manage; they make space for the new person coming in. The OP’s organization is full of bees and they start with the CEO who has inflicted this nonsense on her. Mentor my azz.

        2. Robbie*

          It is one of the most important things a minister can do as they leave.

          I was under contract so did not have that obligation, and they were still looking to fill my position when I left (they have a lead minister I was a secondary). So I was explicit in my boundaries and communication limits, and now that my successor has been found I will only ever say positive things about her and her work. A smooth transition requires everyone knowing their roles and not bounding too far, and unfortunately OP#1’s mentor is so far out of line it isn’t funny.

      3. Jay*

        I left full-time work at the end of 2021 and continue to work per diem for the same org and often the same team that I led for four years. I had a one-week overlap with my successor between Christmas and New Year’s, so it was really three days. Long enough for me to give her my sense of the team dynamics, not long enough for her to chafe at my presence. Everyone including my successor invited me to come to the morning team meeting on the days I was working. I didn’t do it until March because I wanted to give her a chance to really take hold of the position and by the time I showed up, I was definitely a guest. As it should be.

        1. IT Guy*

          What does work per diem mean in your country? I understand it to be the amount of money a company will spend for food and lodging for the day, not my rate of pay.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I’ve seen other people use it for doing contract work for a former employer work that involves coming in for just a day here and a day there, and is paid accordingly.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      Baxter still being there is a problem that won’t be solved until he’s gone. So I’d suggest #LW 1 starts job hunting now. Only stopping when they find a suitable replacement job or Baxter leaves.

      That gives a timeframe for “if it’s not fixed by {date} …” that will be stuck to. Even though the LW should never state this ultimatum.

      1. John*

        That’s rash. First step is to discuss the situation with your boss.

        Too often, orgs bend over backwards with their rock star long-timers at the expense of their successors and everyone caught in her middle between the former and current leader. It’s so bad all around.

        Boss needs to see how this guy is undermining his successor. It’s when/if boss elects not to step in that OP should consider looking.

        OP needs to be really specific about how this is harming the org and it’s people.

        1. Trawna*

          Good points. And, depending on how much this is affecting everyone caught in the middle, OP might not have much of a team left at the end of Baxter’s exit year.

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

          Yes, I agree that the CEO needs to know how this is affecting OP and the org. Does the CEO know about the outburst in the very public meeting? If so what did he do about it?

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Right! If CEO *does* know about that, then the problem here is really with the CEO, not with Baxter. Although of course Baxter is totally a problem. So I’d say discuss with CEO first but if CEO’s response is dismissive or worse, then definitely start job searching. Who’s to say that things will improve much after Baxter leaves? I mean, of course you won’t have Baxter around (thank goodness) but it’s entirely possible that everyone will be like, “Hey, OP, your suggestion is ok but we like it better the way Baxter did it so we’re going to stick with that procedure.” In which case, I’d recommend you RUN for the hills.

        3. This is Artemesia*

          She has plenty of evidence that this starts with the CEO. She doesn’t have to leave but job searching will often give someone a sort of inner confidence that they don’t have to put up with nonsense and strengthen their hand. She needs to be more assertive with the CEO over this. The public outburst should have been the ‘mentor’s’ last day.

        4. Observer*

          Boss needs to see how this guy is undermining his successor. It’s when/if boss elects not to step in that OP should consider looking.

          Considering that the CEO has refused to acknowledge the OP’s loss, it’s quite clear that the boss is not going to step in.

        5. My Useless 2 Cents*

          Right, it sounds like boss and Baxter are close. You will never make the job your own until Baxter leaves. As Alison mentioned give it some time so that you can recover a little from your loss (Condolences). Going in now things are likely to get out of hand as you won’t have the emotional bandwidth to handle this as professionally as you’d like. But when ready going to boss with a “I’d like to talk about the plan to transition Baxter out of the advisory/mentor position. I am finding that people are confused as to who is currently (your title).” maybe adding something like “I have found his advice helpful and would still love to be able to call him with questions for the next few months but I really think not having him come into the office would be a bid help to avoiding future confusion.”

    3. Sloanicota*

      A year is waaaay too long. Even the best intentioned person would fail to be helpful instead of annoying in that amount of time. A month would have been the right amount of time, then you need fewer cooks in the kitchen.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Agreed! That wasn’t the smartest move for the company to make and may also be a red flag for what is to come after Baxter leaves. I’d say, OP, if you want to try finding a new job, we’d all support you in that decision.

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

        Sorry for your loss OP. I hope that not offering the most basic condolences isn’t a sign Baxter and the CEO are freezing you out. You need to start managing Baxter out instead of continuing on as a subordinate, but you might not have the capital to do that at this point. For a high level position where important things may come up only once a year, a year transition could be fine, but it should have been structured so that Baxter agrees to be available for questions and a few meetings during that year transition, but gone from the day-to-day work. The OP should never have been made a mentee to Baxter…that’s a junior/senior hierarchy…they should have been level peers.

    4. Lenora Rose*

      #1 is very much one of those letters where “the thing you wrote in about is not the main issue at hand.” It’s what’s immediately in OP’s mind because she has had a huge personal loss and it hurts (And I am sorry for their loss), but it’s the last straw, and to me, the accumulation of all the other straws before it looks like the real problem.

      Had this been the only thing wrong with otherwise utterly splendid management, I suspect, however wildly out of character such coldness about a loss might be, it would have been given a pass (or better, it would be a manager where she could use a polite script to bring it up.)

      I agree with EPLawyer, when her bandwidth is back up to dealing with work stuff, having a frank discussion about Baxter’s behaviour *and* that the presence of Baxter at this point may be undermining to her own assumption of her role rather than useful mentorship.

    5. Boof*

      #2 – sort of agree, i’m not sure what lw2’s job is but if their job is to support boss (as it usually is) it’s a bad idea to just start dropping things without at least a conversation. I don’t know if Maggie has a condition that’s likely to get worse or not but lw should spell out the problems they see and what they’re not willing to keep doing. Maggie can decide if they just need to put their own systems in place, or if they need further medical/professional help (not on lw to get into) but it’s important for lw to give Maggie a heads up.

      (And indeed lw1 it sucks to lose someone suddenly, hope you’re doing ok)

  2. Passionfruit Tea*

    LW1 I’m very sorry for your loss and how they’ve treated you concerning this and I have a very bad feeling about their non-acknowledgment and especially about them assigning you work for the time you are clearly out of town. You might want to brush up your resume and take a look around because to me this sounds like they are potentially looking for a reason to get rid of you.

    1. AnonAnon*

      I agree – maybe consider that sometimes, just sometimes, when we feel an intense emotion that seem like it’s out of place, it might be a good idea to pause, take a step back, and assess whether there is something very wrong with the bigger picture. That intense resentment that you think is not healthy might be an important signal from you to yourself that sticking around to tolerate Baxter and Boss’ terrible treatment of you is the wrong thing to do.
      Sorry for your loss!
      BTW the title “mentor” is something I would reserve foie someone who coaches me, looks out for me, supports me, and serves as my role model. It doesn’t sound like Baxter deserves that honor.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes, totally agree with the bit about the intense emotions being a flag to pay attention to. If things were generally good otherwise you probably wouldn’t be so thrown by this. I’m not saying leave the job; I’m just saying that you should take your reaction seriously and look at it with a thoughtful eye once you’ve had time to wrestle with your grief a bit.

        Also, how much time do you have left with Baxter? At the beginning it sounded like you were a significant chunk through his final year, but at the end it sounded like there’s a full year left.

        And I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope that you get some good time with your family and time to work through things.

        1. emmelemm*

          Yeah, I was a little confused on the timeline too. LW is brought in, Baxter is staying on for one year, then “over the course of the year” Baxter has acted erratically, nice then mean then nice, etc. It seemed LW has been with the company for a while now, like, more than a month or two, I’d say. So, in some sense, if it was 8-9 months in, it makes sense to grit your teeth, endure Baxter, and make plans for how you can really take the job fully in hand once he’s gone.

          But then at the end of the letter, Baxter will be meddling “for the next year, at least”. ???

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            I wondered about that as well. It seems almost like the timeline for Baxter staying on keeps being extended – possibly due to Baxter’s tantrums (& if that’s the case, OP needs to have a serious conversation with the CEO!)

          2. Irish Teacher*

            I wonder if the remaining there in a decision making capacity is separate from their role of mentoring the LW? Like even after he retires Baxter will still have some decision making power?

          3. Bagpuss*

            Yes, I wondered about that – and also about how firm the date for Baxter to leave is. If there is a hard deadline then it makes sense to consider how much time is left and whether it is worthwhole to ‘wait it out’. On the other hand, if it’s more fluid and Baxter may be extending the period or continuing in a consultant or part time role then it’s sensible to think about whether that’s sustainable for you or whether you want to look elsewhere.

      2. Beth*

        Massive agree on the “mentor” title — Baxter is NOT a mentor.

        So very sorry for your loss, and for the extra load of fertilizer you’ve been given!

  3. Rachel*

    This is for the Baxter story. I’m sorry for your loss. One tool I’ve found very helpful in situations where i feel an urgency to do *something* is to write an email to the people in question with all my thoughts, and then put it aside and reread it after a week or two. I did this with an email to my covid denialist family and revised it every month or two for a year, until it finally met the threshold for “this is a big issue that i can’t live with without responding and it is finally worth sending”.

    Final tip: write these messages NOT AS AN EMAIL DRAFT. Write them in notes or as a Google docs file in your personal drive. Anything to avoid the chance of accidentally hitting send in a blistering diatribe you weren’t ready to publish.

    1. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

      I have had two draft emails/letters on the go for about 9 months (letter to X) and 6 months (letter to Y). Both about huge interpersonal issues that the pandemic has brought to the surface.
      I was feeling a bit ashamed of not having actually sent them by now, so it’s quite consoling to read this.

      1. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

        Ps. Two things:

        1. Lately I found it useful to read up on “the drama triangle” and let that inform how I write the letter. It helps me make sure my letter is balanced and fair (which can be a challenge when expressing anger, fear and trying to establish firm boundaries.)
        But the first phase of writing definitely needed to be just pure anger, fear etc, for my own sake! I wouldn’t have sent that bit I needed to get it all out.

        2. I wrote and SENT a third letter (to Z) on the same issue and it was received well and has changed our relationship for the better.

        1. Allonge*

          Oh, sometimes it’s absolutely worth some time to get to the place where you can address a large issue in the right way. Well done!

    2. bamcheeks*

      A couple of nights after my mum died, I helped my dad write a furious, pompous and whisky-fuelled email to a friend who had behaved kind of badly and hurtfully in their own grief, and then made him save it in drafts. He argued with me for half an hour that he should be allowed to send it. I told him if he could find it he could send it, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to find the Drafts folder. The next morning the first thing he said to me was, “I’m very glad you didn’t let me send that email.”

      We really had a good time writing it though.

    3. bratschegirl*

      My solution is to write these as email drafts but leave the address fields all empty. Then even if I hit “send” by accident it can’t go anywhere. I have a couple of those percolating right now.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Yes. That’s once it gets beyond my “write it out longhand on physical paper, see if you actually need to tranfer it about a week from now, and if not, torch that mofo” phase. Because I’m an extremely hot-headed person and I acknowledge it, and am working on it daily.

      2. korangeen*

        Same. Even for my regular emails I usually avoid putting anything in the address fields until right before I send it. It definitely takes out some of my anxiety while writing the email!

        1. BubbleTea*

          I do this with work emails. I also have a delay set so that all emails sit in the outbox for a full minute. Gives me time to check stuff and cancel if needed if I suddenly realise I’ve missed something.

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

      or you could do it as a draft and just not have anyone in the too line. But I agree that to be extra cautious to just save it in a document.

    5. Smithy*

      So I actually did a version of this related to a work issue where the dynamics were unprofessionalism, rudeness, and what I strongly believe to be sexism.

      It wasn’t that I wasn’t sharing my “struggles” to my supervisor – but it was COVID, lots of things were in flux, etc etc. I did do this in email drafts, but never attached an email address to it – so no risk of accidentally sending it to anyone. Regardless – it was a place to catalogue and inventory the litany of issues from micro to macro.

      What this really helped with was when I finally had my proverbial straw that broke the camels back – I wasn’t focusing on one single event. Rather I was saying, “this starts going all the way back to X, 2021 when this was shared, then on Y, 2022 this was updated and again updated on Z, 2022. Now well over six months later, I really am reaching the end of my rope.”

      1. Smithy*

        Edit to add – what this process allowed what when situations like “no condolences were shared after a family member died”, I could write that down and acknowledge how much that was impacting me. However, when I did finally submit/share that might have been a detail I’d cut.

        Those situations I’d edit out, not because they weren’t real or didn’t happen. But because if someone were to ask me “what is the remedy you’d like” – for a situation like that, I wouldn’t want that issue returned to.

        It reminds me of a recent birthday I had. A Newer Friend who I chat with nearly every day didn’t acknowledge my happy birthday – and also a Longer Friend forgot, but someone who’d been flakier with me in recent months. Newer Friend, it genuinely didn’t bother me at all because she’s there for me in all sorts of regular and daily ways. Longer Friend it did bother me, but mostly because she hadn’t been available for a while on a number of issues where I really would have appreciated it. Personally, I typically don’t see slips or mismatches around birthdays/weddings/funerals on their own as an issue I’d put front and center. However, because more emotion can come with them, it’s deeply understandable how they can elevate other long standing issues.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I think this is a very good way of looking at these situations. People can focus on the one straw that broke the camel’s back (no acknowledgement of a death in the family for the LW, no acknowledgement of a birthday for you) but it is wiser to look at whole bundle of straw that the camel was already carrying.

          1. Smithy*

            Absolutely – and anything you can do to help demonstrate the bundle of straws and not focus on one straw will help illustrate that.

            When you are the camel feeling each and every individual straw, it’s harder and difficult that it is often also your burden to make someone else see the bundle. But it’s important to make sure the message is that it’s never one missed major life event or one snarky email or rude phone call that is the focus.

    6. What She Said*

      I personally use my email for these but the “to” person is me. So if I accidentally hit sent it’s only going to me.

      I definitely agree to let things calm down a bit and get a clear picture of what is going on before communicating with the intended person. Sometimes when the dust settles you find it’s not worth a response and sometimes you get a different perspective that changes your initial response.

    7. Jay*

      Yup. Did that last spring – wrote the Email, almost sent the Email, thought better of it. Checked in with a couple of friends to get some perspective. Came back and re-wrote the Email, shifting it from “seriously pissed off” to “confused and asking for clarification” with a dose of appreciation. The appreciation was sincere – the Email recipient has gone above and beyond for our community throughout the pandemic.

      Successful on all counts: he reconsidered and ultimately reversed the policy I was upset about and we now have a much stronger relationship. VERY glad I didn’t send the first Email. And I really appreciate the suggestion to write in Word or Docs. Next time I will do that!

  4. A Comp Person*

    #3: Congratulations and kudos to you for posting salary ranges! Since your org is small, this may not be relevant to you, but also keep in mind that current employees may have questions about their own compensation, especially if your posted ranges are above the salaries of current employees in the same or similar roles as you are hiring for.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think part of the reluctance of organizations to be transparent is that they’re uncomfortable talking through their salaries with candidates even if they’re not trying to get away with anything (because we all know there’s an element of arbitrariness to them!). Listing that $75K number probably means more candidates will try to get it – after all, you told them it was available – but you should be comfortable explaining what kind of candidate would get that kind of salary and where this candidate falls on that range, kindly and transparently. In my org, we would say, “with the possibility of exceed the top range for an exceptional candidate” but I wouldn’t list the figure. Because we’re not comfortable talking to people honestly.

    2. The OTHER Other*

      Yay on posting salary range, it’s past time the taboo against this be broken.

      And definitely be specific about benefits, no employer describes their benefits as poor or even average, yet I have encountered MANY whose “great benefits” were anything but. A retirement plan with no match (in the retirement industry!), a time off policy that turns out barely met the FMLA requirements, etc.

      Job perks that rely on superlatives such as “great” and “competitive“ are no more effective than resumes filled with similar superlatives with no specifics or accomplishments backing them up.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I recently came across one great response to the use of peppy adjectives to promote companies’ benefits: “If your compensation is so competitive, why don’t you tell me what it is?”

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I like that one.

          When people say the salary is “market” on remote positions I assume it’s “market” in Roadkill, Idaho where the town is a post office, a grocery/drug store, an overpriced gas station and a church on the four corners of the intersection of two highways.

          Seriously, if you don’t give numbers I will assume it’s a lowball, bottom of the market in a low cost area.

          1. LavaLamp (she/her)*

            Thankfully it’s now a law to post salary here in Colorado. Right before that went into effect; I interviewed for a job that was only paying a whopping 12$ an hour. I’m still salty I wasted my time on that one, and I wonder how that guy is getting anyone to work for him now that things have changed. Seemed like the sort to very much NOT want to pay more for labor.

  5. turquoisecow*

    OP3, I feel like the best thing would be to say the range is $50-$65k and then let that exceptionally qualified unicorn candidate be pleasantly surprised by an offer of $75k. I think otherwise people might be upset or try to negotiate for $75k and then be disappointed by not receiving the top end of the salary when they don’t really qualify for it. But also maybe that exceptionally qualified person you’d be willing to give $75k to won’t apply because they think the salary is too low. I guess I agree with AAM that you should spell out exactly what makes someone worth the $75k.

    1. Mid*

      I like how the government does it. Hiring range is $50k-$75k, target range is $60-65k. Explain that target range is for someone who is highly qualified, but open to a more junior person at the lower end of the range as well.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      “But also maybe that exceptionally qualified person you’d be willing to give $75k to won’t apply because they think the salary is too low.”

      Correct. I have passed on quite a few applications because the posted range was much lower than I was willing to accept. That being said, it was far less annoying than the times I wasted a chunk of my day doing an initial phone screen with a recruiter just to find out the anticipated salary was several tens of thousands under my current compensation. One of those situations breeds respect and goodwill (posting the range in the job application) and one of them does not (springing it on me once I’ve made a time investment). So even if you may lose out on a few candidates, still post the range or at least the bottom number absolutely.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, I get those a lot. I’m looking for a minimum of $Y, and their max “competitive” salary is $Y-$20K. When $Y is what I was making in several years ago, it’s a hard no.

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      If they’re targeting 60-65k that’s probably what I would post. If I know that I want a candidate with 3-5 years experience and qualifications X, Y, and Z I’m not going to be upset when I hire someone that fits that bill. If I get a candidate with 20 years experience who also has A, B, and C then I can’t imagine they’d be upset when we offer them above the posted range, but that’s not who I’m trying to attract so I don’t see a reason to post that info.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I agree. It’s terrific that OP3’s company is listing salary ranges, but those need to be tied to the position level. Who do you want to hire? junior, mid-level, senior? I would tie a specific range per position: junior is $50 – 57k, Mid-level $57 – 63k, etc. And make sure the job duties reflect the different levels; there can be core required elements for all, with corresponding level of responsibility.

      While companies may like to use a broad range and a single description to attain a good candidate pool, as an applicant, it’s hard to figure out what they are looking for and whether your quals suit.

    5. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      They should just do what Allison said, so they won’t lose out on the exceptional candidates who won’t take less than the higher amount.

  6. Blarg*

    #3 — yay! At this point in my life and career, I’m not bothering to apply to jobs without salaries listed. I know that it’s a silent protest, but I hope more employers take steps like yours is. It just makes everything so much easier and levels the playing field a tiny bit.

    1. Green great dragon*

      Me too. It’s not any sort of principled protest, it’s just not worth the time, given I’m not particularly needing to move.

    2. Delta Delta*

      This. I’m on a nonprofit board and we’re struggling to hire a new ED. The old white guys on the board refuse to agree to include salary in the postings, and won’t hear younger voices explain that we’re missing good candidates because of this. * shrug emoji *

    3. Sloanicota*

      Solidarity! When I see jobs without salary ranges posted, I just keep scrolling at this point. I’m not here to play games.

      1. Lizzo*

        I won’t reshare job opportunities that other people send me unless the salary range is part of the info included.

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Oh man, if I could convince my company people are doing this. We have a TON of openings (because people are going to 100% remote over our hybrid model) but HR management is completely opposed to posting the range or benefits! And then they go “gee, we aren’t getting the volume of candidates we used to, wonder what’s up.” Our ranges are competitive, our benefits are stellar, but NO ONE KNOWS THAT because it’s not what you expect from a public utility. Infuriating.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Plus, insisting on hybrid for jobs that can easily be done 100% remote is going to drastically reduce your pool anyway.

        At this point, if someone wanted me to commute and risk Covid, Monkey Pox, etc it would need at least a $20K+ pay bump, just to pay for gas and N95 masks (~1/day, $2 to $5 each).

    5. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I haven’t been searching because I am happy where I am, but I’ve definitely told the few recruiters who have reached out to me that I’m not applying to jobs without knowing the salaries in case that helps prompt them to tell their clients to disclose the salary ranges. I’m also emphasizing that I’m looking for 100% work from home, so that they know at least some of their desired candidates aren’t interested in whatever silly configuration they consider to be “hybrid”.

    6. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Honestly, I’m not even passing along job opportunities in my circle when there’s not even a range of salaries or hourly pay listed. (One local print shop was advertising for an intern level designer – “PM to set up an interview to discuss compensation”. Uh, no. I’m not passing this along. If McDonald’s can post their hiring pay on the fence of their property, you can literally explain what you’re willing to compensate an intern with. They did not respond well to the various call-outs.)

    7. MicroManagered*

      Me too. I also respond to recruiters who contact me, even if I’m not interested, to let them know I don’t and can’t even consider job opportunities without salary specifics.

      I’m in an industry where expectations and salaries vary WILDLY, so this is actually true. I know recruiters aren’t always in possession of salary information or at liberty to share it, but they can definitely share that feedback with their clients in the future when helping them develop recruiting strategies!

      1. Anecdata*

        Me too, and also every once in a while I use LinkedIns feedback mechanism to ask for a feature to do a job search filtering only for positions with salary listed, if anyone wants to join me in that :)

        1. Lizzo*

          LinkedIn keeps feeing me job opps and I just keep clicking “yes” to the question, “Would you like salary information about this job?” (even though I am not looking and have no intention of leaving my current employer).

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Why stay silent? Unless a jobseeker is affirmatively informing the potential employer that they didn’t apply for a job because no salary was listed, I don’t think I understand how a “silent protest” affects anyone but the jobseeker — and negatively, at that, by artificially whittling down the number of opportunities that they pursue.

      If it were me, and if I were unemployed with nothing but jobseeking time on my hands, I’d e-mail or call up the potential employer and see if they can state the range. If they won’t, maybe then I’d tell them that I don’t apply to jobs that don’t give me a salary range. (Not that they’d probably do anything but shrug, or laugh, or say “sorry, the decision’s out of my hands”.)

    9. Avril Ludgateaux*

      Your individual protest may be silent, but trust me, silence by millions is loud. I don’t want to give away what I do in the interest of privacy, but suffice it to say labor market and jobseeker behavior trends factor heavily into my job. And you’re not alone in your silent protest. It will take time to convince the powers that be of the need for change, but as the saying goes, “adapt or die.”

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        > It will take time to convince the powers that be

        I mean, until then, jobseekers are silently, by the millions, cutting off their nose to spite their face.

        1. Green great dragon*

          Or choosing not to waste their limited time investigating job options which turn out to be nowhere near the salary they’d need (or a far higher salary with far higher standands). If I was unemployed, I’d be applying, or at least investigating, all these jobs. But I’m not in a hurry to move, I don’t want to spend massive amounts of time jobsearching, so I choose to focus my efforts on those jobs I can see are at least in the right ballpark for me.

        2. Filosofickle*

          That seems hyperbolic. I assume that commenters/workers doing this feel good enough about their position/market to hold the line. If it was apply blind or lose their home, I feel pretty confident most wouldn’t choose principle over a roof. Personally, I don’t hold this line because virtually no jobs for my industry/level post salary — I just did a quick check and it only 1 in the first 20 listings did. So for me it doesn’t make sense. Others can decide for their situation.

          1. Fulana del Tal*

            Someone who is employed and is being headhunted/recruited has the luxury to reject offers without salaries but others like those who have been unemployed long term and/or are quickly reaching retirement age really can’t afford to be so picky unfortunately. Really depends on the situation and whether their harming themselves more than employers/business owners.

            1. Lizzo*

              And I’d argue that using that luxury, i.e. privilege, to make a principled point about the availability of salary information for job postings is a very valuable thing for those folks to do. With persistence, it will benefit everyone eventually.

        3. The OTHER Other*

          So jobseekers that loath openings which don’t have a salary range should what, apply anyway? Despite their individual experiences that such employers are wasting their time? There really isn’t a mechanism in place for seekers to tell employers “I’m not applying for your job because it didn’t list a salary”. Why should job seekers take the time to do this and educate employers?

          Everyone decides whether or not to respond to a job listing, and has their criteria for what they are looking for, these job seekers are simply being more selective.

    10. Ali + Nino*

      Same – but does anyone know of job boards that require employers to list salaries? It’s frustrating not to be able to filter by this info on websites – very time-consuming.

    11. RagingADHD*

      I don’t apply to jobs without a salary listing because I have a salary minimum in order to make an application worth my while. As in, it has to be more than what I’m making now.

      If I were long-term unemployed and my baseline for comparison were zero or below subsistence level, I would care more about having a steady income, recent skills, and a recent job on my resume. If I were losing my living situation because the relative I lived with was going to sell up and move, I’d consider *some* employment more urgent than ideal employment.

      There’s solidarity, and then there’s setting your hair on fire to keep other people warm. You can do a lot more good for other people with a job than by looking for reasons not to even apply for one.

  7. talos*

    #2 – may not work (particularly as Maggie leads a whole department and doesn’t probably have that close of oversight), but you could consider going to Maggie’s boss about this?

    1. NotBatman*

      I used to work for a Maggie, including the part about genuinely liking my manager and realizing it wasn’t fully his fault. What worked on my end was going to the office ombudsman and saying “I’m currently doing 10+ hours of work a week beyond my contract, because if I stop then our institution will be in violation of XYZ policies due to failing to provide a promised service to our clients. Can you help me figure out how to make sure XYZ always gets done?” It meant my manager got a development conversation, but also that my own role picking up the slack got formalized with a slight job shift. Hopefully you can get something similar, or at least stop doing part of your manager’s job.

      1. The OTHER Other*

        Office ombudsman? I have only heard of the ombudsman title in the newspaper business, and in that field the position is to represent the readers, not manage a situation where a manager can’t keep track of her keys. Or emails. Or meetings. Or credit card.

        Maggie sounds both infuriating and exhausting, it boggles my mind that LW assays they still like her.

        1. mlem*

          My company has two ombuds, rather than having an HR department. They … exist. They mostly seem to see their job as quoting policies to you, even when you sent those very same policies to them in your questions. :/

    2. ferrina*

      I’m a manager with ADHD, and this is something that I’ve always dreaded. I’m not nearly as bad as what is described here, but I do miss emails sometimes. If you can, I would:
      1) Layout out plainly what is happening and what the impact is on you.
      2) Suggest solutions. If this is something Maggie has been struggling with her whole life, at this point she may be petrified that she will be fired and lose her financial stability (I’ve been there). This fear can block your brain. If you can suggest a few solutions, this can help her start finding her feet again.
      3) If you have this kind of relationship with Maggie, you can remind her that she once mentioned the undiagnosed ADHD, and gently suggest that she seek a formal diagnosis. Mention that ADHD research and treatment has dramatically improved in recent years. YouTube channels like How To ADHD can give her more info if she isn’t comfortable talking to a professional yet. I would say this once, give her the info she needs, then trust that she follow up on her own.
      It shouldn’t be your job to do #3, but if this is something you are comfortable with and have the kind of relationship for, it could be a kindness. When I was growing up, ADHD was a dangerous label that said you would never go anywhere. Treatment turned creative kids into zombies. I had to hide my own diagnosis so I could be respected as a professional. Seeking treatment can be a really scary thing for ADHDers, but when you find good treatment, it’s life changing.

      1. Observer*

        It shouldn’t be your job to do #3, but if this is something you are comfortable with and have the kind of relationship for, it could be a kindness.

        Yes, but also it could wind up being really helpful to the OP.

      2. Carlie*

        Strongly seconding that #1 could be a big help to Maggie, particularly with the issue of #3. One of the big diagnostic criteria for ADHD is how much effect the organizational issues have on your life. If Maggie’s way is being smoothed by you and she doesn’t quite realize how much you’re picking up her slack, she won’t understand or be able to properly convey to a diagnostician how severe her problems are. Also seconding how good treatments can be now (such as non-stimulant medications) and tips from channels like How To ADHD (Hello, brains!). I got diagnosed in my late 40s, and now with medication and treatment it feels like I have superpowers.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        As someone who was diagnosed in childhood with ADD, but never medicated or treated, I concur with this. Since I was not really provided with coping strategies by others, I had to come up with my own, and some aren’t ideal. Mine was so bad I ended up dropping out of college (part due to money, part due to lack of ability to do homework.)

        Yes, there are strategies to manage it, but they are a major effort to do. I only was able to make them work because of a head injury, which had its own major memory and executive function issues, and really grinding on getting back to where I could work without being a flake! I did not want to spend the rest of my life in “supported” work making peanuts doing phone surveys.

        Even if she doesn’t pursuer an actual diagnosis and medication, there are a lot of ADD self-help books. One is “ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life: Strategies that Work from an Acclaimed Professional Organizer and a Renowned ADD Clinician” by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau. Several of my ADD colleagues recommend it, whether the person has a formal diagnosis or not.

        In the field I am in, there seem to be more people that are neurodivergent than the average population. Some of the hyperfocus symptoms of ADD and autism are actually useful in tech. But when it comes to organizing? It’s like someone strewed caltrops on the floor.

        What I would do is, the next time Maggie mentions that she might be ADD, is point her to that book, and also mention that there are places like that can do telehealth type diagnosis and treatment, for a fee.

      4. Attractive Nuisance*

        I disagree with your #3, especially given the points you raise about the stigma surrounding ADHD and how scary seeking a diagnosis can be.

        I’m in a similar situation to LW. I spend so much time and physical and emotional energy picking up after my boss and dealing with her disorganization. I do not have the capacity to have a serious conversation with her about her potential diagnosis. She’s my boss! We have the best possible boss/employee relationship, but it is still a boss/employee relationship.

        She knows she might have ADHD – she can do the research herself. If she needs someone in her life to motivate her to get treatment, that’s understandable, but as her employee I cannot be that person. There is a very small chance that my conversation will be the thing that leads to her finally getting treatment, and a very large chance that it will blow up our relationship or make me look unprofessional.

        1. ferrina*

          That’s fair! #3 is absolutely dependent on the type of relationship. In most boss-direct report relationships, #3 would not be a good option (either for the manager or the employee). There is a few relationships though where this would be something you could say. You know your situation best, and should decide what is best for your situation.

          1. Attractive Nuisance*

            I guess my point is, I don’t believe there is a situation in which it’s ok for an employee to encourage their boss to get an ADHD diagnosis, in the same way that there’s not a situation in which it’s ok for a boss to date an employee. There are situations where it happens and nothing bad results, but it’s never “ok”.

            Also, since you identified yourself as a manager with ADHD, I think I’m reacting a little bit to the idea that this could reflect your relationship with your employees (which may be unfair of me). In my experience of working and living with people with ADHD, I’ve had a few inappropriate tasks pushed on me with seemingly no recognition of the effect on me (logistically and emotionally). There are a lot of managers with ADHD who are speaking up in this comment section, but if we’re recommending LW have a conversation with her boss, I would like to hear from an employee who’s actually had this conversation with a boss and see how it felt from their perspective.

            1. Attractive Nuisance*

              Basically – I think you’re saying you would feel fine if an employee had this conversation with you. But you’re the one in power in this situation. I want to know what the impact would be on the employee.

    3. JayNay*

      It sounds like OP is doing Maggie‘s job, more or less, just without Maggie‘s title and pay. Please do speak up and push for change, otherwise you may end up like OP1 (the Baxter story) and resent this boss you otherwise like.

      1. Pippin*

        I was in this situation before-always covering for my boss (who I really liked as a person) with her boss (Oh, I think she stepped out for a moment!-when she was actually running 2-3 hours late) and picking up the slack. I also would look at her calendar and remind her she had an appointment the next day-I was not her assistant. What did I do? Stopped covering for her. “I don’t know where she is” or I haven’t seen her in a while”. Bit her on the butt within 2 days when she didn’t show up for a meeting SHE had scheduled with her boss and her boss’s boss. Oops. Would like to say she learned from that, but no. I found a new position at the same place (new boss) within 3 months.

    4. Knope Knope Knope.*

      I think I’m a Maggie, finally pursuing my ADD diagnosis at almost 40 years old. A few thoughts for OP:

      – First, if she has undiagnosed ADD there’s nothing you can really do to change how organized she is. She has to do that work herself and get medical help.

      – be upfront with her about issues and ask for her to provide solutions. I live and die by to do lists, meeting notes and follow up emails. Ask her what her preferred method is to stop things from falling through the cracks and don’t be scared to tell her your preferred methods.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        There’s a podcast I rather like called Productivity Alchemy which is all about tips and tricks to keep things from going off the rails; not from experts with products to sell (the host likes some products and methods for himself, and reviews some others, but is very clear on the “Different things work for different people”.), but laypeople in a huge variety of walks of life, some of whom have diagnosed conditions. The hosts’s wife (and first interviewee and frequent co-host/commentator, though usually outside the interview segments) was also formally diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years in, which changed her featured segments noteably. And a lot of the time, it’s more fun to listen to than you’d expect for a podcast which is all about how different people get their tasks organized.

  8. Ginger Pet Lady*

    #3 If there’s a chance you’ll make an offer at less than $60, don’t start the range there. Most people would be incensed if the ad said the range was $60-65K and you made an offer at $55K

    #4 I’ve gotten a rejection call and then two days later an email offer. It was so confusing! Ultimately it was a big factor in turning down the job, as the job was as an office manager and I did NOT want to step into an organization that disorganized.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yup, if an employer isn’t organised enough to even make job offers to the correct candidate, that is NOT a good sign.

    2. Bast*

      I would be upset if I were a match as to what they were looking for and they low balled me. If I’m a stretch candidate (ie: they want 5 years experience but I have 3, and I’m maybe not matching up quite as much as they’d like) I would expect and understand that I would not get the same pay as someone who ticks most of the boxes. When I was new to the field, I did some research as to what people in the field typically made and would negotiate a little during the interview. Did I expect to make the “average” salary as a newbie? No. But I showed that I did my research and also acknowledged that some of these were stretches for me.

      HR here doesn’t like to post salary range as they assume “everyone will want the top” and won’t listen to me when I explain it really saves a lot of time for both the interviewee and us. Yes, we do have people that want to start at the top, but we explain that if you have no experience and we have to train you from the ground up you’ll be at the lower end of the range. Mostly we get a lot of people coming in to interviews that want a lot more than we are willing to pay for the position, and big boss gets upset about the “wasted time” but she STILL refuses to disclose salary or allow anyone else to.

      Anyway, point in this being, I think depending on how much of a stretch candidate you are you wouldn’t mind then going down a little just to get the experience and great benefits. As someone established in their career, I wouldn’t go down below the points posted. If I’m brand new or have little experience, I was desperate just to get my foot in the door and would go lower.

    3. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Absolutely agree on #3 – a lowball offer reeks of bait and switch.

      I appreciated a rejection once where the owner called me directly and said that I wasn’t necessarily a great fit for what the roll had morphed into, and he couldn’t make me an offer that would work because he felt I’d need too much specific and niche training to get there, but I had far too much knowledge and experience in the overall field and he didn’t wish to insult me with a lowball. He also asked what keywords had caused me to look at the position, so that he could better tweak it.

    4. Meep*

      I agree with not wanting to be hired in #4’s situation because I also wondered if it was one doofus who didn’t like OP and decided to eliminate them without consulting anyone else. Which isn’t… great…

  9. Wintermute*

    regarding letter 1: I’m sorry you’re in that situation, it’s rough. It can really hurt when something is looming large in your life and someone close to you doesn’t even acknowledge it. I think the best thing in situations like this is to frame it in your own mind differently.

    It can be really tough to know what to say in a situation like that, it’s very possible they saw the email and thought “oh wow, this is going to take some thinking about to write sensitively” and put it aside intending to think about what to say, or even started writing a draft but put it aside to think about it and then things got away from them: more urgent work, something came up that needed their attention for business reasons, etc. Feeding into that is the fact that saying the wrong thing can be far worse than nothing at all, if they are stressed about that kind of thing it can result in putting off a response, I know I’ve inadvertently done that to a resignation notice, I wanted to phrase it right and ended up sending it late. It could also be that they had a lot going on and mentally marked it as ‘not business related’ and put it aside and simply forgot to come back, they might not have even registered what it was about fully. Sometimes people also just focus on the business part because they feel awkward saying anything– obviously that’s not good but it’s also not about you, it’s their own lack of emotional intelligence not intended as a snub or insult.

    Sometimes bosses also can kind of think that it’s best to just deal with the business side and keep things brief because they know you’re dealing with a lot. Obviously it’s not a great idea depending on the relationship you have, acknowledging the situation is the polite thing to do, even if it’s to say “I know you’re going through a lot so I’ll keep this brief, don’t worry about x, and y, let me know about z…” and so on.

    The other thing that can help to remember is that things going on in your life occupy a great majority of your attention, naturally. But other people, even people who are perfectly kind and nice and like you, think about you a lot less often than you probably think they do– it very well might have slipped their mind. This can feed into the above in that once a certain amount of time has passed it can feel like it would be awkward to bring up, it’s not like wishing someone a belated birthday.

    Another thing here is exactly what Alison said: it sounds like you’ve reached saturation point with frustration and that can make a small misstep or minor insult feel much larger. in isolation this might not have bothered you so much from someone who doesn’t have a backlog of frustration, at that point it becomes another data point in a pattern rather than just a weird thing.

    1. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

      This is great, thank you for the reframe, (From someone who A. never got a response to a similar message about personal tragedy, and B. hasn’t yet responded to a heartfelt letter I got from someone else.)

    2. Allonge*

      I am normally the first to say it can be difficult to react well to bad news but this is email, multiple emails actually – all that is needed is ‘I am sorry for your loss’ and depending on circumstances, ‘take the time to be with your family / terribly sorry to bother you about this but I would be grateful for a short call on project X [whatever applies if there are work things that really cannot wait]’.

      A manager / someone close to retirement can be expected to be able to write this; if not in their very first email then in any of the follow-up ones. Sure you want to avoid saying the wrong thing, but that is why there are age-old templates for these situations.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yes, I agree — though I will say that it took until my mid-late twenties to realise it, and it was my own first major bereavement that made me REALLY realise it.

        Simple and formulaic one liners like “I’m so sorry for your loss” exist for a reason. With close friends, you may know that they actually want flippancy, silence, distraction, normal business, hate cliche, want a personal and original message, or whatever. But for 99% of the population you come into contact with in the first few weeks after a bereavement, you just want an acknowledgement that is IS a bereavement and that it’s a big deal, and it costs very little to say the formula and acknowledge people’s pain.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, I agree — though I will say that it took until my mid-late twenties to realise it, and it was my own first major bereavement that made me REALLY realise it.

          So that’s the thing. If this were a junior coworker, it might make sense. But the president of a company that already has a long-serving and “beloved” person resigning is not likely to be a newbie 20-something.

    3. JSPA*

      Or that they asked someone in a support role to send condolences from the department, and they didn’t send the email yet…or they got a card that will be waiting for you at your desk or in your mailbox at work or home…or they got a physical card, but got lost in the logistics of how the remote people could sign it… lots of possible answers. Some workplaces send epic condolence cards, wherein people write paragraphs, but nobody says anything to your face. Some go to viewings or funerals, or send flowers.

      Especially if you don’t know how the office does condolences in general, this is not something to take personally.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Yup, I was thinking about when my father died. Two of my coworkers pretty much ignored it. For one, this was pretty much in character; they have a tendency to focus so much on themselves that they take little or no notice of anything that happens to anybody else. But the other…well, there was a staff meeting literally minutes after I told everybody (just checked my phone before the meeting and found a message saying “call me when you get this”) and apparently there was a long discussion about behavioural issues with a class he was responsible for. Not his fault in any way; he just drew the short end of the stick when classes were being assigned and got “that class”. Every school has one. But I think he felt responsible and was under pressure to deal with that and my bereavement slipped his mind. When it did come up – we were talking about something from the staff meeting and he realised I hadn’t been there and why – he was quite embarrassed.

      So I wondered if there could be something like that. The overall situation makes me think it might be more indicative of disfunction than distraction though.

      1. Observer*

        When it did come up – we were talking about something from the staff meeting and he realised I hadn’t been there and why – he was quite embarrassed.

        Well, that’s the thing. If it had just been the initial failure to even say “sorry to heard that”, it would have been one thing. But then the boss asked the OP about something that was happening when the OP was going to be out – which *is* something the boss should have had in his head, and when the OP pointed out that they were out dealing with this bereavement, the boss was still not “able” to come back with even “Oh, right! Sorry about that!” No sign of embarrassment at all.

    5. This is Artemesia*

      This would be more plausible if they were not loading work on her while she was out on bereavement leave.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. And also if the OP had not responded to a WORK EMAIL with the WORK RELATED *reminder* that they are out because of this thing.

    6. Books and Cooks*

      Yes. I will never forget seeing, in the wake of Princess Diana’s death, someone complaining that Prince Charles had taken his sons to *church.* Because how dare he take them out to church instead of staying home with their grief. The idea that church is often a comfort to people in the wake of a death didn’t seem to occur to them at all.

      I mention this because some people can react in ways that seem odd or insensitive to us, but they actually think they’re being sensitive. Maybe it would help LW to see it as, “They just didn’t know what to say or didn’t want to act like they were being nosy, or didn’t want to upset me by talking about it,” instead of, “They care so little they can’t even say they’re sorry for my loss.”

  10. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

    LW2: I think I may be a bit of a Maggie. I have great intentions, I love my staff and work really hard to give them what they need to succeed, and there are parts of my job I do well, BUT… I can really struggle with “executive function”, project management, and staying on track (it doesn’t help that I have a weird kind of word blindness around days, so I am a nightmare to schedule with because I can’t tell the difference between Tuesday and Thursday). There is some shame around this, too, so then sometimes I get into worse trouble covering up or avoiding thinking about how to actually solve the problem.

    For me, carving off the scheduling and project-management bits of my job and giving them to admin colleagues has been massively helpful – I would second Alison’s suggestion to see if Maggie can get an assistant.

    Depending on what your relationship is like, if she mentions undiagnosed ADHD again, you might be able to turn this into a more serious conversation and suggest she looks into some ADHD accommodations or supports – I often come across conversations on Twitter between people with ADHD swapping tips and recommendations for good apps or techniques.

    Otherwise, lots of commiserations – the work you’re doing is super important and demanding, and I hope you get to have it recognised or to pass it on to someone else and free up your time for other stuff you enjoy more!

    And LW1, I’m really sorry for your loss.

    (New commenter. Hello all and especially Alison – thank you for being about 50% of all the management training I have ever received!)

    1. Fledge Mulholland*

      I believe I am also a bit of a Maggie, who just in this past week accepted my first managerial job where I will have two reports. This is the kick in the pants I need to be more proactive about learning more accommodations and strategies to mitigate some of my disorganization now that it will be impacting others more directly. I’m open to any suggestions from any other Maggies out there!

      1. JSPA*

        If you’re in the same physical location, tasks can be put on a magnetic white board, where you can both write out the task and move magnets (color coded for whose job it is, to complete the next step) from stage to stage of a task.

        Alternatively, world’s simplest shared document: a list of tasks that get updated for, “step completed” “next step, by whom, to do by when.” You generally set the process, except they can always set it to, “ready for you to look at / comment / sign off.”

      2. ferrina*

        Delegate. Spend your first few months observing your staff and talking with them to assess where their strengths and interests lie. Then see how that matches with your skill set. I struggle with routine documentation, so I delegated that to someone who was really passionate about that (she would make her own documentation if I didn’t assign it to her).

      3. DisneyChannelThis*

        Make your devices work for you. I get a PC reminder 5 min before each meeting and a phone alert 15min before. It was annoying to learn to setup but now its instinctive, add meeting to calendar, add reminders to event. If you have outlook its very doable. My zoom app also has options for scheduling reminders. Google calendar does as well.

        Whatever email system you have, setup filters, folders. Use a flagging/star tagging system. A read but not replied folder that you circle back to end of each day or simply mark the email unread again in inbox if you haven’t replied yet. Figure out what works for you. Maybe its printing out important emails to a binder like its 1995 so you have a physical reminder.

        Schedule your day. every morning list out meetings that day, plan some of your own work goals with times around that. Ok no meetings till 10am, so 8-830 handle emails, 830-930 work on project A, 930-945 check in on direct report, 10am meeting…. etc. Doesn’t matter if you meet your goals or not, having times attached means if your brain does space out you can revert back to the agenda what should i be doing. If you’re not that bad just schedule 1 hr morning/evening with like 15min check calendar for meetings today/tomorrow, reply to emails, make sure didn’t miss any emails, etc.

        In addition to regular lists on whiteboards or in apps there’s also specialized list styles:
        Kanban boards (To Do, Waiting on someone else, Doing, Done)
        Quad grids for triaging to do items (Y axis Urgent, Non-Urgent, X axis Important, Non Important)
        Gantt charts (fancy timeline estimates, easy to glance down a column and see what needs to happen this week to stay on target)

        Keep detailed notes on your reports, not just project goals but also skillsets – where are they hoping to advance their careers, what skills do they need for that, what areas are they missing, what are they good at. When you have new projects and tasks that can be really helpful. Also great for annual reviews. (She wants to be a team lead someday, lets make sure she gets a chance to take lead on some projects this year).

    2. Agent Diane*

      Welcome new commentator. I too think “what would Alison say?” to management quandaries.

      OP2. If Maggie is in her 50s (30 years at the company suggests that) then any undiagnosed ADHD traits may be being exaggerated by the menopause. Because what people with ADHD really need is a hormone shift that causes additional brain fog. This is NOT something to raise with her, though there is a Gen X movement here in the UK to make discussing the menopause at work like any other health issue. I’m raising it so you can factor that in to your empathy.

      The solution is definitely for budget to be found for an admin for Maggie or a project manager for your department. The latter could be a part time role (or shared with another department who need a bit of project management but not enough for a full time post).

      And for you to put twice weekly stand-ups in the diary (or whatever your preference is) rather than asking Maggie what she prefers. She’s said she’s fine with whatever you want to do, so do it.

      As someone currently with menopause brain fog and undiagnosed ADHD, I have a heap of systems I call my external brain to help me stay on track but it’s exhausting.

      1. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

        I too am a ‘maggie’ (adhd) but in an odd way: I’m terribly disorganised in my freelance/contractor work and excellently organised in any employed position I’ve ever had. I’ve tried every darn trick/approach to get my brain to apply some of that excellent organisation to my contractor work but it doesn’t stick. Sigggghhhh

      2. ferrina*

        Yes to the regular stand ups! Provide a bulleted agenda, and keep the topics as consistent as possible. So:
        -Kitten Portraits: Currently recruiting kittens to model for the portraits. How should we respond to email from Kitty Pawson?
        -Lllama hats: Waiting on materials from vendor, due to arrive Sept 10.

        Then each week keep the project names the same and update the status. I found this helped even with my non-ADHD boss (she didn’t have ADHD, she just didn’t pay any attention to what my team was working on)

      3. Alpaca Bag*

        +1 for the menopause reference! I have the diagnosis, and first my symptoms got worse with perimenopause and again with actual menopause. Then my cardiologist saw trouble with how the Strattera I’d been taking for 20 years was affecting me, and I had to switch to a less effective ADD prescription. Also, my adult child passed away recently, so my executive functions are just out the window now. (At least I am lucky enough to have a supportive workplace…) My point is that any number of things could be making her symptoms worse. Without my diagnosis, treatment, training, and apps, I think I might be unemployable. I hope that there is a way for LW2 to let Maggie know that ADHD is a medical issue that can be improved, and doing so can make her life better.

    3. JSPA*

      pure curiosity; do you happen to be left handed? As a kid, did you have left-right confusion, and/or trouble with 9 vs 3 on an analog clock dial (without the numbers written on it)? How are you on June vs July?

      My “thursday = tuesday” was a combination of reading too fast (T’s and U’s!) and the fact that each is “one day in from the end” on the work week (or the calendar week, if your calendar starts with Sunday).

      The confusion on all of them improved markedly around the same time, when I realized I could use time of day (morning vs afternoon) to tell 9 from 3; a bracelet to tell left from right; the same bracelet to tell 9 from 3 when indoors; and that days were easier to remember if I thought of it them as “Tuesday, short for Tuesday-by-Monday” and “Thurs, short for Thurs-by-Fri”. (Always writing out Tuesday and always truncating Thurs also helped.)

      A (distant) cousin also shares all of the above. I’m wondering if this might be a dyslexia-adjacent syndrome having to do with having visual memory and visual compartmentalization of abstract concepts, combined with left-right confusion.

      1. BethDH*

        I’ve never heard of someone else who thinks of them in that “one day from weekend” way and it always made me feel so mis-wired. I don’t do the other things, but in general I remember things by “proximity to (symbolic) landmark” but without specific detail.

        1. Amy*

          I also think of days relationally/relative to other days!
          Knowing I’m not alone just made my day.

          1. Filosofickle*

            Huh, I just realized for the first time ever that when I think of days of the week, I am visually pulling up a week calendar in my head to understand the relative position. Holy cow.

      2. Jaydee*

        I have many of the other issues you describe. Analog clocks are hard, left-right confusion, some trouble with months that sound alike (although my very concrete mental picture of the months as a circle with different colors makes that easier), etc. My understanding is that they are indeed related to dyslexia and even more so to dyscalculia (like dyslexia but for numbers).

        But Tuesday and Thursday are fine, and I attribute that to my university which used R to abbreviate Thursday instead of T or Th on class schedules. So the week was MTWRF. Totally different letter; totally different day.

        I still use R for Thursday.

        1. JSPA*

          That “R” is excellent. Must try.

          It also helped when I had enough history, mythology and linguistics to attach Thor (the historical one, not the comic book reboot) to thursday. (I’m still somehow unsurprised if a thursday turns out to be stormy.)

          Clearly most people use a LOT less of their brains for this sort of everyday stuff, and don’t have to box the compass just to successfully make appointments and show up at them. I’m guessing they also don’t know exactly where every item is in their fridge, relative to the other things. Or one paper relative to the others in the pile of papers that’s therefore more difficult to file than it would otherwise be.

          As I’m the only one of me that I have, I choose to treat those quirks as “not a bug.” (Note to potential friends and employers: if you want the ferrari or minivan of friends, get one of those; I’m more an Isetta or a 2CV. Niche product, no less lovable for it.)

          As for numbers, calculus was a lot easier than arithmetic. And I still either “add 10 then subtract 3” to add 7, or “add 8 and subtract 1” or “divide 7 into whatever it takes to fill to the nearest 1o, then add the remainder” (so 105 + 7 is added as, 105 + 5 + 2).

          When people act like there must be a single underlying machine language equivalent that’s used by the human brain… oooh, I have my serious, serious doubts.

          “This is how I function, now lets find compatible processes” is the attitude that’s worked best for me.

        2. Avril Ludgateaux*

          I use R for Thursday after picking it up from an early job! Team R! People always go “R? WTF is R? … Oh. I get it!”

      3. Nethwen*

        I do something similar with number strings, like phone numbers. I read from left and right towards the center or from the center outwards to left and right and memorize based on positional and numerical relationship. It’s hard to explain, but it makes it very difficult for me verbally say strings of numbers accurately until they are memorized and don’t require unit markers (I can say 1, 8, 0, 0 but not one thousand eight hundred or, worse, 18 hundred). I also don’t label things because I identify things by their location and proximity to others (and always put things back in the same spot) – labels are just visual clutter for me. And yes, I know exactly where everything is in my fridge and what is next to it.

        1. JSPA*

          Ah yes. Confirm the account number on the lost or stolen card? “I don’t know, but it’s got four 8’s, a couple of 4’s, a 7 next to 49, and a 5 digit palindrome centered on a zero.”

      4. Lenora Rose*

        The extra fun of having Thurs instead of Thursday is when someone makes a crack about doing things on days ending in Y…. you have one that doesn’t.

    4. pierrot*

      Definitely agree with your suggestions here. One thing though- it’s unlikely that Maggie will be able to get formal accommodations from their employer if she doesn’t have an actual diagnosis. If the LW wants to go the “making suggestions” route, I think she can just say “There are a lot of resources available for people who have issues with executive functioning.” If they have a EAP she could bring that up too.

      Just as an aside for anyone reading this who also has trouble with executive functioning- I have ADHD and when I was 12, I got an “executive functioning coach” who was like a tutor except the focus was on helping me develop organizational skills around school. Prior to that point, I was a pretty good student but also a mess when it came to keeping track of assignments and tests. The coaching was extremely helpful and I took the skills I learned to high school and college. Coaches like this exist and you don’t necessarily need a formal diagnosis to work with one.

      Ultimately it’s not the responsibility of the LW to recommend these resources to her boss. When approaching her boss, I think that the emphasis should focus on how this is not sustainable, she has brought it up multiple times and not seen much change, and it is creating extra work that falls outside of LW’s role. There’s two overlapping issues- Maggie’s disorganization and her reliance on the LW to pick up the slack. The former might not change a whole lot, but the latter definitely can if the LW sets firm boundaries (and Maggie understands how serious this is).

    5. Mockingjay*

      Whether Maggie has ADHD is irrelevant. What is important is that she is disorganized and resistant to fixing it herself. She doesn’t have to, because OP2 is doing the fixing.

      OP2, I would go to Maggie and have a discussion on workload. “Maggie, I’m full-up with my work X and Y. I can’t keep up on those and continue the project planning for the department at the same time. What do you think about bringing in a Project Manager?” Prep some materials for the hire – tasks, budget, position description. Or set prioritization: “I can keep planning for Projects A, B, and C; can Fred pick up the planning for the rest?” Give her solutions that she can easily agree to.

      And let the personal stuff go. If she can’t find her keys: “sorry, I don’t know where they could be. My cousin has a tile attached to her keys; the app on her phone tracks them down in a jiffy. Maybe you could get one of those.” Redirect, don’t accept.

      1. ferrina*

        As a manager with ADHD, the ADHD is relevant if it’s driving the behavior. The only question is if it’s relevant to the LW.

        If they have the kind of relationship with Maggie that they can make a sensitive suggestion, they can say something like “you once mentioned that you might have undiagnosed ADHD. If that’s something you think is true, it could be worth looking into a formal diagnosis. ADHD research and treatments have improved a lot in recent years!” If Maggie takes this suggestion, it can help address the symptoms without potentially jeopardizing her job (if the LW is concerned about that- no judgement if LW just doesn’t care at this point).

        There are also certain strategies that you can use with someone that has ADHD. Having duplicate copies on hand, bulleted lists (I find physical lists are more helpful than digital, since it’s easier to put in front of me- helping with short-term memory- and provide mild stimulation/interest from the act of crossing things off), anticipating where her challenges will be (and building extra time in the timeline for when she forgets to respond to the email, making sure you have a chance to chat with her a couple days after you send the email to actually get an answer- I’ve also used this strategy with non-ADHD bosses), and channeling her into responsibilities that better suit her (like “hey, I’d love your support on this aspect of the project”).

        If they end up hiring someone, make sure that that person is well-equipped to handle Maggie’s issues. Look for someone that is able to stay on top of absent-minded stakeholders and find creative strategies.

        If LW is at BEC and just done with it, no judgement! The situation sounds really frustrating!

        1. Mockingjay*

          I have an extremely disorganized Project Lead. He doesn’t have ADHD. He simply doesn’t like tracking fine details that are the majority of his job. He has tools (automated database, schedules, spreadsheets, whatever he wants), PM staff, etc., but frequently won’t use them because he prefers me as his convenient or go-to choice. I’ve implemented my own recommendations so I can focus on my actual work (which is NOT project management). I am pleased to say that it’s slowly working; for instance he hired another PM analyst this year to spread the load.

          I don’t care why he is the way he is; that’s not my problem to fix. Note that he doesn’t see it as a problem, it’s a matter of personnel preference for him. I can only address the impact on my workload.

      2. This is Artemesia*

        good advice. I’d remove myself from the personal mess i.e. the lost keys, the where did I put my coffee cup. AND then claim the good parts of the job and find ways to offload the lower level parts of the job. You can keep organizing projects, but you need assistance with the grunt work. Doing the high level work without title or acknowledgement from the top is discouraging. See if working with Grandboss and boss you can improve your own job and make it manageable.

  11. Grus monacha*

    LW1, I wanted to express how sorry I am that you seem to be doing such a good job of keeping things together and staying professional for everyone’s sake, and in return these people can’t even muster the common human decency of recognizing your loss. I agree with what’s being said, it seems more like a theme of not recognizing your efforts than an isolated incidence. Are you sure this workplace deserves you? Take care, and again I’m so sorry.

  12. Varthema*

    LW4 – I think you’d be doing a good deed to mention it, because clearly something has gone wrong – either the rejection email or the reference check – and the company should be aware of it. If they’re at all decent, they SHOULD take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again, because either way it’s not a good look for them!

    1. Hannah Lee*

      That’s a good point.

      And FWIW my first thought when reading this is that LW’s candidacy got to the point – in that particular company’s hiring process – where reference checks are done (like maybe they do it for the top 2 candidates before an offer is made). But for some reason whoever was supposed to do them didn’t do them in a timely manner. Then, Monday, after they’d had the offer letter accepted by the #1 candidate, and after the rejection letters had gone out to everyone else, someone was collecting all the hiring stuff to close out the recruitment file and the person who was assigned to check references person nonsensically thought “uh oh, I didn’t finish my part, better do it now” so they could check off the reference checks completed box before handing in the paperwork.

      It doesn’t say great things about the company that their wires got crossed like this, but it happens.

    2. Drago Cucina*

      Yes, glitches occur. I received an auto rejection from the application system. I wasn’t surprised. I had submitted my application because it is a position that is part of a mission I believe in. But, I figured there was already someone else in mind for the job.

      Imagine my surprise when I received a call from HR wanting to verify one of my documents. The system hadn’t given me full credit for experience and had auto kicked me. After getting that cleared and some other paperwork, I start at the end of the month.

      Technology isn’t always our friend.

    3. kiki*

      Yes! Definitely mention it! I feel like part of the reason a lot of hiring systems are so abysmal for job applicants is that the workplaces using it don’t tend to get a lot of feedback on it, especially not from rejected applicants. I’ve worked somewhere that was horrified to find out that they had been auto-emailing the same rejected candidates rejection letters about once a month for a YEAR because they were improperly put into some group. It must have been happening to at least 15 people and only one of them reached out after a year had gone by.

    4. Willow Pillow*

      Yep, I got a rejection email from my current job – I applied through Linkedin and they probably hadn’t changed the auto-reject settings or notified it not to do so. I mentioned that when they called me to schedule an interview a couple of days later.

      The email LW got sounds different than this one but it could still be from their internal HR system.

      1. tabihabibi*

        I also had this with my current role. Most likely with my case it was because there were multiple openings under one posting and they were able to move faster with the internal candidate who got the other position. We think when they accepted her, the rejection email kicked out to me. I really wish places would knock off requiring references at time of application, since yes, I definitely decided *not* to give my references a heads up after getting a post-2nd-interview rejection email! At the time, I told myself that this and other imperfect HR moves might not indicate the culture at my dept but…no, it accurately reflected the overstrained and discombulated system I now work in.

  13. Katrina S.*

    OP2, that sounds frustrating. Maggie should be taking way more initiative here. If she thinks it’s ADHD, she should be looking into getting an official diagnosis and researching what will help her. It’s an actual disability, and one can’t “try harder” to give their brain its missing internal clock any more than they can try hard to change their hair color through sheer force of will.

    Even if it’s not ADHD, the same principle still applies. There are tools to help with this stuff, but they have to be used regularly. Even when it’s a little embarrassing.

    It sounds like if she can acknowledge she needs help with things that others don’t (whether the reason behind it), it might work out. If that help includes an assistant, someone can be paid to do that. But until then, it’s just a frustrating cycle, and I’m sorry you’re stuck in the middle of it.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      It sounds like a discussion about Maggie’s possible ADHD might happen, because she’s pretty open about it, but OP should tread really carefully about being the one to raise it, or direct her on what to do. It’s just not their issue to bring up and Maggie is their boss, not their report. Maggie also did okay for decades before OP showed up so unless OP keeps the focus very firmly on “let’s fix what is not working for me”, rather than”let’s fix you” that’s going to seem presumptuous. ADHD diagnosis is also really tough to get done, (especially if you have it!) is not fast under the best of circumstances and may not fix anything at all. If the solution pre diagnosis is to get an assistant, the solution post diagnosis might well be the same! Maggie clearly has a lot of faith in OP to have mentioned it all, so OP should be careful about using that disclosure in their own interests. They don’t need to raise a possibility that Maggie is already aware of. OP is allowed to want recognition and be heard out even if Maggie does not have ADHD, so they should just focus on that.

      1. Katrina S.*

        100% agree. Sorry if I came off wrong!

        I was more trying to sympathize with the OP because it sounded like Maggie is aware there are issues but doesn’t want to admit they 1) they are having a serious impact on the OP and that 2) simply wanting to do better isn’t producing any meaningful change.

        As you said, the OP can only say what isn’t working from them. I wouldn’t suggest bringing up the ADHD at all. If Maggie brings it up again, really the only thing to say is that it’s something she can ask her doctor about if she’s concerned and then move back to the topic at hand.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Oh I didn’t think you were suggesting it; it was just an add on thought of rocks to navigate if the situation came up.

    2. ferrina*

      Maggie definitely should be looking into getting a diagnosis, but I can also understand the reluctance. When I was a kid, my friends that were diagnosed with ADHD were immediately type-cast as a “problem kid” and given medication in doses that turned them into zombies. They were constantly frustrated with their treatment, since it was just there to make them more convenient and not actually improve their lives.
      When I self-diagnosed as an adult, I only told a few people. I kept it hidden at work, since I knew the stigma would immediately undermine my professional reputation. I didn’t want to be known as “Great….for an ADHD person.”
      It’s only in recent years that I’ve started being more open with it. Research and treatment has vastly improved in the last decade. There’s several classes of medicines, and most physicians now understand that the goal is to help the patient thrive (not just be quiet). Treatment is also more than medicine- Pierrot suggested a executive function coach elsewhere in the comments, and there are behavioral therapists as well. ADHD is starting to be seen more as a way of being and less as a disease. Yes, I misplace my keys weekly, but I can also multitask like you wouldn’t believe. Sure, I forget what I was saying in the middle of a sentence, but I can also synthesize and correlate disparate information in incredible ways, leading me to be able to develop elegant solutions (that’s pretty much my job description now).

      For someone that’s not actively following ADHD information, the old experience like I saw in childhood can make you very wary of getting diagnosed. Introducing folks to the newer approach to ADHD can help them feel much more comfortable and safe in getting their diagnosis.

      1. Katrina S.*

        Appreciate this perspective! I didn’t have that type of experience as a kid, but I can see how that would have a major impact.

        For me, it was a big relief to get a diagnosis, because I don’t feel like I’m slow or stupid anymore for struggling to do the stuff that’s just naturally harder for me. I’m still working on my weak points, but I can hyperfocus like nobody’s business. :)

        Hopefully Maggie finds a balance that works for her, too.

    3. Willow Pillow*

      While these issues are definitely Maggie’s responsibility, an adult ADHD diagnosis can be really difficult to obtain. Stereotypes put members of minority groups (gender, race, etc.) at a disadvantage, and costs could be in the thousands. Even with a medical diagnosis, meds aren’t a magic bullet and they’re expensive.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        You can get a diagnosis online, with notes for follow up to take to your own doctor.

        Yes, AFAIK medications can often take a while to A) find the right one, and B) get the dosage dialed in. But with decent insurance it’s not that big of a barrier. I know several people in my professional circle who have done so, and are currently getting their medications dialed in.

  14. Storm in a teacup*

    Sorry for your loss. I went through something similar a number of years ago and you are completely justified in your feelings. My grandmother died whilst I was working abroad for a week and had to phone the office to ask for time off for the funeral. On return to work the only thing my boss said to me was ‘you cannot have the day before off as compassionate leave, only the day of the funeral. It’ll have to be annual leave’. I put it down to a lack of etiquette & being busy – a one off.
    6 weeks later another close relative was dying in hospital and I was asked to get there and pick up one of his children on the way from their class. The only thing my boss said was ‘what’s the latest time you can leave?’
    Her boss overheard, called me into her office and made sure I was OK and that I could go.
    What made it worse was prior to joining my workplace this person and I had worked together elsewhere and had been friends (not close but still).
    Ultimately after a few months I came to the decision that this was not someone I could work for as I knew they were not going to leave or move away anytime soon and there’d been a number of other instances of poor management on their part.
    7 months later when the same role at a more prestigious organisation came up I left. Actually in my exit interview with my line manager I was honest about what drove me to leave; her callous attitude to anything personal that happened for people (these were not the only examples) & her not being able to manage people individually according to what was needed. Someone else was on a PIP so in her view the rest of us should be managed similarly for ‘fairness’.
    Turns out she’d had a previous employee complain she was out of line for asking them about a family loss and rather than have a more balanced approach she went completely the other direction in ignoring people’s personal lives completely.
    In hindsight I think she struggled to calibrate what appropriate responses to things outside the norm should be and I’ve heard has since not received a couple of promotions, probably due to this issue.
    Don’t let your bosses responses get to you. However as Alison says, it tells you who they are and at later date reflect on what that means for you in this role.

    1. Observer*

      In hindsight I think she struggled to calibrate what appropriate responses to things outside the norm should be and I’ve heard has since not received a couple of promotions, probably due to this issue.

      That’s a good thing. Not for her, but for the organization. Such an extreme inability to calibrate and deal with differences is poison for a company. I can’t imagine the legal issues her attitude could cause because reasonable accommodations are almost impossible for people like that to deal with. But also, it keeps you from actually keeps you from working to people’s strengths, broadening your customer base and even beginning to figure out how to deal with different situations.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        It was exactly this. She was excellent at execution when given tasks (even big ticket ones like setting up a new service) as long as the parameters were clear. She was an incredibly dedicated hard worker. However trying to think outside of the box or wider than tunnel vision of the core was when she ran into problems. So it wasn’t just about people management but I think flexibility in general

  15. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    LW1, I’d expect a condolence message and perhaps flowers from work if it was a partner/spouse, child, parent or sibling who had passed. For secondary relatives, even though you were close to the person, your co-workers wouldn’t necessarily know that. It doesn’t seem that you’re friendly with Baxter or Boss to the point they’d know how you felt about the deceased. A lot of people attend funerals like that out of family obligation. Even with co-workers I was friendly with, if I were told a cousin or uncle had passed, I’d probably say “I’m sorry” if they told me in person, but I doubt if I’d send written condolences if they texted they’d be off for Uncle Felix’s funeral.

    1. Allonge*

      I am not trying to be snarky here but seriously?

      If someone texts me that they are sick and will be off today, I send back ‘feel better, thanks for letting me know’. The extra five words are part of the acknowledgement.

      If someone emails ‘my aunt died, I need to take Thursday off for the funeral’, it costs about five seconds to add ‘I am sorry for your loss’ to the acknowledging email. We are not talking about a handwritten note of condolence here.

    2. Anon all day*

      I find this odd. If someone says they’re off for a funeral, my gut response is a sympathy, “oh I’m sorry for your loss,” no matter the relation. Do you just not respond if someone tells you they have to go to a funeral for, say, their aunt?

    3. bamcheeks*

      I don’t think OP is asking for formal written condolences, just an acknowledgment that they are going through a bereavement. Even attending a funeral out of family obligation usually means someone you love has lost someone they love. “I’m so sorry for your loss, I hope it goes well” is a perfectly adequate acknowledgment which accounts for both losing someone you were close to and supporting people who were closer to the deceased.

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I’d recommend that any time someone tells you a person in their life has died, no matter the communication method they use, you say “I’m sorry to hear that.” It costs you literally nothing to respond with empathy when a human tells you a human they know has died.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I might try to make this excuse for someone who’s otherwise thoughtful (while making a mental note to strengthen my resolve to extend condolences no matter what I think of the relationship). However the OP has plenty of additional evidence that Baxter is just a jerk. It might be a low conflict way to raise it though, by pretending to have miscommunicated: “I don’t know if I made this clear but this is a close relationship and that’s why I needed to go offline for the funeral”.

    6. honeygrim*

      It costs nothing to acknowledge another person’s loss; it’s kind of a basic part of being a human who interacts with other humans. I’ve also dealt with friends and acquaintances out of work who also did not offer condolences, and it just sucks. I know that death is a difficult subject, and a lot of people don’t know how to react. But it doesn’t take much effort to say “I’m sorry for your loss.”

      I’d argue that it’s even more important to acknowledge difficult situations faced by those whom you supervise/mentor. We’ve all seen letters on this website from people who are treated as cogs in a machine by their bosses, and we probably all know how that feels. “The Great Resignation” is happening in part because, for once, employees have the power to say “No, you can’t treat me like I don’t matter.”

      In my situation, I’ve come to the conclusion that my “big bosses” are cowards: they’re afraid to acknowledge the lived experiences of those of us “under” them, because then they’d have to acknowledge the various ways in which they make our working lives more difficult. If they don’t communicate with us as fellow humans, they can continue to treat us as cogs in the machine. That, coupled with the support from my coworkers, has helped me deal with the coldness from upper management.

    7. Ari (Law)*

      I just wanted to chime in and say that different folks have different levels of closeness with extended relatives, which is often dictated by culture or other life circumstances.

      For example, in my big Italian American family, everyone knows everyone and lots of people are close with not only they’re first cousins, but also they’re second cousins. So, if an extended relative passed away, I would expect coworkers to offer condolences once I shared that someone in my family had passed.

      You likely won’t know the levels of closeness of your coworkers extended relatives just from day to day interactions with them. But, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution with a brief “I’m sorry for your loss,” just in case they are from a close knit extended family.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        Exactly this!
        I also come from a vast extended family. 1st cousins, aunts and uncles are Family. 2nd cousins out are relatives (some may still be family). Nieces and nephews of first cousins = mostly family depending on the cousin.
        I think even if you’re not super close knit, someone you’ve probably known your whole life or where people you love are affected will be upsetting.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yup, my nephew’s aunt-on-the-other-side childminds him and has a son about 9 months older than him who is about to be in the same class at school. He will likely grow up as close to that cousin as many people are with their siblings. On the other hand, my dad had children late in life and most of my cousins on that side are so much older than me that I actually have never even met some of them, because they were in their 20s and had moved away by the time I was a small child. Families differ.

    8. LB*

      Whenever someone tells you a friend or family member has died, you need to acknowledge it with a “sorry”. Even if you don’t know them well, just a standard condolence phrase is all that’s needed, but it is in fact needed, in response to emails or texts as much as in person.

      Please know with certainty that you’re hurting people or coming across rudely if you don’t. It can feel callous and hurtful even if you don’t know them well. I’d encourage you to set “I’m sorry to hear that/for your loss” as your minimum.

    9. Observer*

      It doesn’t seem that you’re friendly with Baxter or Boss to the point they’d know how you felt about the deceased.

      You don’t need to be “close” to someone to know that if they are actually *taking off a few days* that means that this is someone IMPORTANT to them.

      Beyond that, the bare minimum of decency when someone tells you “I have a family funeral to attend” is a simple response of “I’m sorry to hear that” or the like. When you are told that someone is going to be out, and then REMINDED of it, because you ignored that information and asked for something that shows you ignored it, then the BAREST minimum response it to say “sorry about that!”

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Yeah, my brain is a rat with a filing cabinet in it, and if I forgot something this important to someone (it has happened) I would be apologizing immediately. Doesn’t matter that I genuinely forgot and didn’t know, it’s still hurtful, and still warrants an apology.

    10. iiii*

      To my mind, it’s not that the company president needed to convey some specific degree of condolence. It’s that the company president was informed that LW1 would be out of the office and unavailable for the next week, and the company president ignored it. Even if a boss is incapable of/unwilling to perform minimum rote condolence, it’s part of a boss’s job to make a note in their calendar that a subordinate is going to be out, and as necessary re-plan around that absence.

      No condolences? Company president is rude, in a way that’s foolish but not all that unusual.
      Keeps talking as though LW1 will be at work during the funeral? Company president is not paying attention, and that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

      LW1, I am sorry for your loss.
      When things have settled a bit, it might be good to take stock and decide whether this is a company you want to keep working for.

    11. Lenora Rose*

      We’re not talking about flowers or major gestures. We’re talking about the bare bones “Sorry” said once, or any email acknowledgement at all of this person being away.

  16. Not All Hares Are Quick*

    If #4hadn’t actually had an interview, I’d have assumed that a reference contact following a rejection meant that the whole ‘recruitment’ process was just an unethical contact-harvesting exercise. The interview is an unnecessary step for them in that case though (and to be honest, such scammers usually ghost rather than even rejecting).
    It would be interesting to know if there’s ever been a case where an unnecessary reference for a rejected candidate produced such a glowing recommendation that the rejection was reversed!

    1. The OTHER Other*

      Interesting, I had not thought of it as a potential scam to get leads via references.

      I think the bigger issue is that the company is bothering my references for no good reason. My references’ time is valuable, it’s an imposition on them they do as a favor to me, IMO it’s not unlimited. If I am only willing or able to impose on them X number of times I don’t want one of them blown by some idiot calling them after I’m already out of the running. This is why I absolutely refused to provide them early in the application process, as some employers have asked. I’d be pretty pissed if I were the LW.

  17. Lilo*

    I think LW1 this really is more about the job being a mess than a personal issue and it’s better to mentally approach it from that angle.
    Yes, not great they haven’t said anything but would this really be bothering you that much if the workplace was otherwise fine? I had a weird month where I lost two uncles when I first started and I can’t remember if my boss said anything.

    So my question is, how sure are you that this is your dream job? Because what you’ve presented sounds a bit exhausting. If you really want to stay here you need to just let this particular issue go and focus on the direct work problems because ultimately they’re just more actionable and will affect your day to day than the lack of condolences.

    1. Other Alice*

      I agree with your conclusion but I think the lack of condolences stems directly from the fact that this workplace is a mess. It’s very weird that LW got no reply at all to either email telling them that they’ll be out of office for the funeral. To be clear, it would be weird if LW had told them (twice) that they’d be away for any other reason and it wasn’t acknowledged. It’s extra painful due to the circumstances but I think it points to a serious problem with boss/Baxter.

      As for your case… Maybe your boss didn’t know that your uncles had died? I got a “sorry for your loss” from my grandboss when my grandfather died and I had to cancel a meeting. It was less of a heartfelt message of condolences and more of a brief acknowledgement that we would reschedule and a coworker would cover my duties while I travelled for the funeral. I wouldn’t expect anything more, it’s just the bare minimum required socially and professionally.

      1. honeygrim*

        I agree that the lack of condolences is a symptom of the larger issue. As I mentioned in my comment, I’m relatively new in my current job, and there is a definite coldness from the higher ups that has made it difficult for me to feel like I’m a part of the place. My “big bosses” have demonstrated other instances where they seem to be unaware of what’s going on with the rest of us. Mostly they’ve done typical “generals make decisions without considering the impact on the soldiers at the front” kind of things. I think this lack of emotional intelligence is often common in workplaces that are at least a little dysfunctional. I’m just very lucky that most of my coworkers are not like the big bosses.

      2. Lilo*

        It’s weird but I don’t think LW would be obsessing so much if this place was otherwise okay. Using the phrase “dream job” while describing dysfunction is odd.

        But I just don’t think addressing this particular issue with the boss, rather than other work issues, helps LW.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I think this was the final, damning piece of evidence on Baxter. Earlier it was “he’s going through something difficult, I’m not” and now it’s “Really, Baxter?”

  18. bamcheeks*

    Lw1, I am so sore for your loss.

    I would strongly recommend taking some time with a trusted friend (or a family member who has the bandwidth right now) to talk through the Baxter situation. And DON’T try and be the bigger person. Be bitchy. Be spiteful. Be furious. Drag up every single slight and infuriation, including the absolute petty. Make fun of their shoes, their hair and the amount of sugar in their tea. Spend some really good quality time getting every bit justified AND petty rage — and probably some sadness about the great-job-it-should-be — out of your system, with someone you trust to take it in the right spirit— as venting! — and who will say things like, “you’re absolutely right! That sounds INFURIATING!” “Omg they NAMED their STAPLER? Death penalty, no question!” and never breathe a word of it.

    It will really help you get the big stuff and the little stuff into perspective, and some of the eating-crackers rage will dissipate. If you do want to ride out the next twelve months, it helps so much to have something in your head going, “Ginger is going to incredulous-laugh so much when I tell her about this” or “oh wow, THIS is going in the Egregious pile”. It’s really useful for distancing yourself from the small-but-infuriating and identifying the bigger-and-needs-addressing, and being able to put a calm professional smile over both.

    And, having been through grief and bereavement, it’s actually not a bad time to have conversations like this? It’s kind of psychic cleaning— you get the crappy petty stuff out of the way so you can focus on remembering and celebrating your loved one. And your friends and family are often that bit more willing to make space for you because they want to support you.

    Good luck, and I hope you and your family have a gentle time together.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Everyone needs that friend who when told something like this, blinks, and then says “so we’re MFing Baxter then, right? Hold on. Let me grab martinis….okay, go!”

  19. Lady_Lessa*

    For LW1, I can appreciate the challenges of working with Baxter. I am sorry both about your loss and for the lack of acknowledgement.

  20. Raw Cookie Dough*

    LW1, I’m sorry for your loss and I’m sorry that your loss is being ignored. Perhaps the best thing to come from this is that once you are untethered from Baxter you’ll not only rock your new job, but you’ll also bring the empathy that is sorely lacking from him and your boss.
    Perhaps you’ll have the chance to model that empathy for someone else while Baxter is still there to see it.
    It seems that when you wrote this, you were still out of the office. Baxter and your boss may acknowledge your loss when you return. Awkward timing, but it might still happen. I wonder if belated condolences will help you feel better?

  21. hamsterpants*

    LW#2, I would urge you to “drop the rope” with being Maggie’s unofficial assistant. By carrying Maggie’s mental load for her, you are making it easy and comfortable for both Maggie and her manager to do nothing about the problem — because to them, there is no problem!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      So much this! It’s on Maggie to seek out effective methods that work for her. It’s not on you to take an unofficial demotion to assistant while also trying to manage your own work.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Second comment to add, I have seen people get passed over for promotions or positions in other departments or even for work on cool projects with other teams because “X department would be unable to function without them”. Don’t let that happen to you.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I was thinking this; I was also wondering if the problems OP is solving bother them more than they bother Maggie.

  22. Michelle Smith*

    LW1: I am sorry for your loss. I had a death in my family a few months ago and my boss did not acknowledge it. It was the last straw for me and really helped motivate me to find another job and GTFO. Turns out it really was me being slighted for whatever reason. Someone else who had been with the team a fraction of the time got a card and flowers and a bunch of to-do when she left. Crickets when I did, even though I’d carried on the work of several people by myself when we had a bunch of people quit in 2020 and 2021. Good riddance to those people. Your bosses suck. Your dream job may not be the dream you thought, and that’s okay. You can find another one, with bosses who actually support you, with coworkers who don’t think screaming in meetings is acceptable behavior that must be tolerated calmly, and an organization that has your back.

    1. o_gal*

      Similar situation for me. The office tradition was that when someone had a loss, an inter-office envelope was circulated with a couple of condolence cards in it, and also an envelope if you wanted to contribute toward a gift. Didn’t matter what the loss was – parent, brother, uncle, aunt, sister, etc. – both in your family and your in-laws. I signed so, so many of those, and contributed to some of them.

      Then in 2017 my brother-in -law died, and I informed my boss. She sent back an acknowledgement and told me to take whatever time I needed. I also let some other people in the office know what had happened. I went away for a Friday and the weekend. Not until a few weeks later did I realize that there was no card for me. The only thing I can attribute it to is that there was an admin who hated me. She may have been the one who always started the envelope going around. No card for you!

  23. honeygrim*

    LW1, I’m so sorry for your loss. I have been dealing with a very similar situation and had actually thought about writing in, so I’m glad to see Alison’s advice. I’m lucky in that my immediate supervisor and my peers have been very supportive. But from my supervisor’s boss upwards, it has been basically radio silence. Even when I was standing in front of the HR person in our department, asking for help in figuring out how to submit my time off requests for attending my family member’s funeral, there was no acknowledgement of WHY I was asking for that time off. It was just completely ignored.

    I’m somewhat new to this office, and perhaps the lack of a longer-term professional relationship has led to that radio silence, and there have been other situations where the upper administration has demonstrated a lack of awareness of–or perhaps consideration for–what’s going on with the rest of us. But as these are my grand bosses, etc., I don’t feel I have much of a standing to say anything to them. So I’ve tried not to take it personally (even though there’s not many situations more personal than losing a loved one!). I’m fortunate that my closest work colleagues have been supportive, and I hope you have some people at your job who have acknowledged your loss. That has helped me a great deal.

  24. Salsa Verde*

    Regarding LW#1, a year seems like a really long time for someone to be asked to stay on to help the new employee transition. Is that normal in certain professions? And it seems like the more important/visible the position, the less this would work – no one is going to go to the new person when the person they’ve been going to for 30 years is right there. I’m surprised Allison didn’t address that a little more (I know that’s not what OP asked about, but often Alison addresses things like this as an aside).
    It seems to me that having Baxter around for a year is the real problem here.

  25. Just Another Tired Trans Person on the Internet*

    How come everyone who is using a pronoun for Baxter is misgendering them?

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      Are they misgendering? I assume the singular they was used for vagueness to make this situation less identifying and that they weren’t really Baxter’s preferred pronouns.

      Baxter is acting in such a way that they really sound like a old white CIS guy. But that was such an obvious assumption I wondered if they were actually a woman and using she/her seemed too identifying for the situation to the LW.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The best thing to do is to use the pronouns the LW used. We, as commenters, have no way of knowing if letter writers change pronouns for vagueness just as we have no idea when they change details of their job for anonymity. Speculating on what details a letter writer may or may not have changed doesn’t bring anything useful to the discussion.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        If they’re not using the pronouns that were provided, then yeah, that’s basically misgendering.

        Maybe it’s to obscure gender, maybe Baxter uses they/them. There’s not really a good reason to use pronouns other than what were used in the letter.

      3. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        Yes, well, that’s an assumption. “They” is also a pronoun people use.

      4. Observer*

        Are they misgendering? I assume the singular they was used for vagueness to make this situation less identifying and that they weren’t really Baxter’s preferred pronouns.

        So? You absolutely do NOT know Baxter’s pronouns and it doesn’t matter why. Using him OR her is just an assumption on your part.

        Baxter is acting in such a way that they really sound like a old white CIS guy.

        That’s a really ugly assumption to be making. And it does nothing to promote healthy respect for people or avoiding stereotyping.

    2. Napkin Thief*

      I didn’t realize until your comment, then went back and saw they/them pronouns!

      I assume it’s because the use of Incredibly Gendered Name (Baxter) mentally overrides other input – so by the time folks have scrolled down to comment they remember they’re talking a Baxter, and that doesn’t ping the “might be female/non-binary” sense that might prompt double checking pronouns.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Huh, I did not think Baxter particularly gendered at all! I didn’t clock the pronouns but immediately pinged that it was meant to be ambiguous. I even had that conscious thought, that choosing a last name was a clever (and new) way to do it.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I’ve only heard Baxter as a dog’s name. Perhaps OP1 would be less annoyed with Baxter imagining them as a pug in a suit?

    3. Myrin*

      I mean, that happens in at least one letter a day (generally more) and not typically in a way where people seem reluctant to use “they” which seems to be what you’re implying (in fact, I’ve observed that it usually happens the other way around – an OP will specifically call someone “she” and a lot of commenters then refer to that person as “they”). I personally don’t understand this and always make sure to use the pronouns given by OP but it’s not a rare thing in any way.

      1. Very Social*

        I’ve also noticed how often commenters seem to use a pronoun other than the one specified in the letter! But I also seem to miss things in letters all the time (there has been more than one letter where pronoun discussion in the comments confuses me, I scroll up, and sure enough the LW is using/not using one pronoun or another), so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt on that front…

  26. SW*

    LW2: take the advice that I once received and let Maggie fail. The people above you will do nothing unless they are forced to see the ways Maggie is failing. And odds are that even if she’s like my boss and finally gets demoted, she still won’t see the real reasons why she’s failing. Stop trying to cover for her.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think it’s the job of a number 2 to support the manager where they need it, so I think this would be the LW failing, not Maggie, or at least in addition to Maggie. A team should be a team, not a collection of hostile individuals.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        But LW2 isn’t Maggie’s assistant; if she were, yes, tracking these kinds of things and making sure stuff doesn’t fall through the cracks would be appropriate. But to do this for a boss, outside of the capacity of an assistant-type role? That doesn’t sound right to me – and based on the letter it doesn’t sound like that’s how the role was billed. It’s not hostile to stick to your own job responsibilities.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I agree with this. If you are spending a lot of time working on helping Maggie keep to her schedule and reminding her to reply to emails you are missing out on time you could be spending on projects that show your skills and capabilities. Projects that could lead to your own career goals, be it more exciting projects, raises, or just line items on a resume for that dream job application. Managing your bosses issues rarely gets you anywhere.

      I’m similar to Maggie, with reading and not circling back to reply to emails but you know what? I learned out to set reminders and tasks and flags in outlook and set a time each day where I go review the flagged ones and make sure I replied. I sought therapy for help when my mental load was overwhelming and learned skills to manage it better. I make sure all my meetings have 15 and 5 min warning reminders so I’m ready and focused. You can’t do these things for Maggie, she has to want to make changes for herself.

  27. The Person from the Resume*

    For LW1 and the big picture, is everyone clear that Baxter is staying on in an “advisory/mentor capacity”? Or is it possible they assume you are learning from Baxter to eventually take over?

    Without a timeline about how long this – transition I want to call it but if you were in charge for the start then the transition happened – has been going on it’s hard to get a read.

    It may be time for you to move because it’s untenable, Baxter not giving up his role, but it may also be time just to say I’m ready to go without Baxter. I’m ready to only meet with Baxter once a week. If you are not given the authority, though, it may be time yo move on.

  28. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    I think LW2 may want to think about the issue differently. People have strengths and weaknesses, and usually those are two sides of the same coin. E.g., someone who is great with details often has a harder time seeing the big picture (and vice versa). My most experienced team member and sort of de facto 2d in command is different from me in ways that we both benefit from–and I think that’s how it should be. One person is not good at everything, but 2 people with complementary skills is a strong team.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Also, I suggest coming to Maggie with specific proposals, rather than ask her what works best for her, take what you know about both of you and make a best guess and propose it to her. It’ll likely be easier for her to work from a specific suggestion than a general question.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think what your describing works in a balanced situation. But it sounds more to me like the LW is taking on work outside her job description to try and help Maggie work better. Number 2s generally don’t need to remind the Number 1s to read and reply to email for instance. They might be cc-ed on email or have emails to Number1 forwarded to them to handle the reply but it is not hand holding “hey did you remember to read your email today?”. That’s not sustainable. And wastes LW’s time chasing after Maggie trying to get Maggies’ responsibilities done instead of focusing on their own.

      I like the admin/assistant suggestion. An admin with access to Maggie’s inbox and in charge of triaging it for importance, and tracking upcoming deadlines might make a world of difference. Also some admins handle scheduling, which it sounds like Maggie would also benefit from having a second set of eyes on her calendar.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Reading this has me thinking “are you my direct superior?” I mean, I’m PRETTY sure you’re not but I am a sort of de facto 2nd in command and that is exactly the situation between me and the head of department. We complement each other pretty well.

      I think it is different from the LW’s situation though in that HE also covers things I am not good at whereas it seems like the LW’s situation is more one-way where she is compensating for the areas in which the boss struggles but…the boss might not be compensating for her weaker areas.

  29. fine tipped pen afficionado*

    Love the advice here and I just want to add, in case anyone here thinks they might have ADHD or relates to Maggie’s description in Letter #2 some tips from my own process of getting an official diagnosis. Your mileage will definitely vary, but more information is better than less.

    * I was in therapy and being treated by my General Practitioner for depression and anxiety for 3-4 years before my GP said it sounded like I had ADHD and referred me to the psych for an official diagnosis. I was 28ish when I started therapy and 32ish when I was diagnosed with ADHD. The way ADHD presents in women, this is not an uncommon experience at all.
    * You can be diagnosed for ADHD through a conversational method, but I believe (I could be wrong) that you have to undergo one of the standardized evaluations to pursue a pharmaceutical treatment since they are controlled substances.
    * I had to get my depression and anxiety down from “severe” to “moderate” before I could take the evaluation to ADHD. The process required changing medications and took about 7 months.
    * It turned out that I was basically self-treating my ADHD with severe anxiety, so treating that made the symptoms of my ADHD get worse. My experience felt basically like the treatment was making me get worse during those 7 months.
    * When I was finally able to manage those symptoms and get evaluated, I had to pay for that out of pocket even though I have very good health insurance. It cost me $350. The results were evaluated by an expert at Duke University rather than my psychiatrist and that person returned them along with some recommendations to my psych.
    * My psych offered me both medicated and non-medication treatment methods. I am still waiting for one of the ADHD coaches they referred me to to have availability.

    For a very long time it was commonly believed that women and girls could not get ADHD. And even now a myth persists that it’s something you grow out of. Finally understanding what happened to my brain and getting treatment for that instead of the other things that were happening to me as a result of that being unmanaged has made a huge difference in my life. There are a lot of barriers to getting diagnosed and treated though.

    If you are financially able and have such a practice near you, I recommend seeking out a GP that specializes in women’s and transgender care. They are the most likely to hear you on this and many other topics, even if you aren’t a woman or trans. :)

    I know this is slightly off topic but if any Maggie’s are reading, I hope it helps.

    1. kiki*

      Sending internet hugs. Relating to the line “I was basically self-treating my ADHD with severe anxiety.” Going on anti-anxiety medication made my ADHD way more apparent. Beating myself up for every little potential error was how I learned to achieve “normal” functioning. A lot of therapists treating anxiety operate under the assumption that the anxiety is only playing a negative role in their patient’s life or that the anxiety is unfounded, so when I was no longer anxious but forgetting to bring my laptop to work or not finishing tasks, it threw my therapist for a loop. “So you said you were anxious that if you didn’t obsessively list everything, you wouldn’t be able to operate like a normal adult. It turned out that anxiety was, um, founded.”

      1. fine tipped pen afficionado*

        Yep! It was also like… something they look for is if you report being in trouble a lot as a kid. But I was an angelic kid. I was angelic because I saw how other people were treated and developed a severe anxiety disorder to make sure I never “deserved” to be treated like that.

        Right now I’m working through this book called “A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD” and it’s been really helpful. Apparently I am extremely not alone in that experience or anything really.

        I hope Maggie seeks treatment. It’s not easy and definitely not an ADHD friendly process, but it’s not fair of us to make our untreated behavior everyone else’s problem, the same way as it’s not fair of everyone else to try to say there is only one correct way to function as a professional adult. Also life is just much better for everyone when you know what’s up and have some tools to address it and communicate your needs to others.

        1. Grilledcheeser*

          Thanks for the book rec! I am she/her, newly diagnosed at 56. And this Maggie situation is why i have actively avoided management roles in my career – I always knew I would be bad at it. Now I know *why* I would have failed before, and can work on things. Still going to avoid management, though. I am a techie to the core.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, I was always told it was something I would “grow out of” (it isn’t). While I was diagnosed in childhood I was never medicated (fortunately, because the drugs would have made me a zombie). Now I am toying with getting a diagnosis as an adult since my childhood medical records got lost in a move years ago. Yes, it costs cash out of pocket, but that’s what I have an HSA for.

  30. KK*

    LW #1. I am very sorry for your loss and doubly disappointed in the lack of empathy from boss and Baxter.

    But what concerns me in addition to this is the lack of acknowledgement from the boss and Baxter as well. When you notified them of the family death, I found it rude to receive no response. I find it particularly rude that they would keep emailing you with work concerns. Is the expectation that you although you said you are out of town for the funeral that you are to keep up with emails or other messages? And keep up with job duties as status quo even though you have notified them TWICE you are out of town, at a funeral & spending time with your family?!

    I’m not going to jump the gun and tell you to start a job search but I would certainly want you to put your feelers out within the company of how this type of service interruption is navigated. I fear that the office will keep in constant contact with you while on vacation. Something to be aware of for the future.

    Best of luck! Pls keep us updated on this!

    1. kiki*

      I do feel like LW may currently be focusing mostly on Baxter because they were supposed to be a mentor and because LW’s had more exposure to their less-than-professional behavior, but is it possible the issue is really the company at large, not just Baxter? It’s really strange not to offer condolences when somebody lets you know that they’re going to a funeral! It’s even stranger that Baxter and Boss both didn’t– maybe that’s just a coincidence, but it makes me wonder if that’s the company culture? Baxter has been actively crappy towards LW in full public view of other people at the company and it doesn’t sound like anyone’s called Baxter out for that. It’s possible that Baxter’s just a missing stair who is supposed to be on the way out, but it’s also possible Baxter is a product of their environment at the company. Just something to keep in mind.

  31. not neurotypical*

    2 — It’s possible that the shift you’ve attributed to the shift to hybrid is also or instead related to aging. For those of us who are undiagnosed/”high functioning” with ADHD or some other way of being neurodiverse, the normal degradation of memory that slowly becomes evident after 50 (and may be exacerbated by menopause) can lead to a situation where what worked throughout life to seem “normal” suddenly doesn’t work anymore. Considering the possibility of this, and having some empathy with what it might be like to be a competent person whose competence is slipping, might make this feel less onerous and help you accommodate it as you would any other disability in a coworker.

  32. ICodeForFood*

    LW # 1 – I am sorry for your loss, and I agree that the thing to do right now is concentrate on yourself and your family… I had something, well, not quite similar, but I was laid off from a job and kept in touch with some of the fols who were still there. And then I needed major surgery, and let those folks know I’d be out of touch for a while due to surgery. And NOT ONE of them could bother to reply and say something like “I hope your surgery goes well.” At the time, I wondered why I even bothered… Now, nearly 20 years down the road, I still remember it (obviously), but i recognize that they were and are wrapped up in their own problems, and not particularly concerned or caring about anyone else. Which sucks, but is how some folks are.

  33. Irish Teacher*

    I’ve gone back and forth about whether to say this because it probably won’t be any help, but I finally decided I might as well say it just in case. I have a coworker who I strongly suspect has ADHD and one thing that made my interactions with them easier was finding out a bit more about ADHD. Like I said, this probably won’t apply in LW2’s case as it’s not going to make Maggie any more organised and the things that were bothering me were more stuff like my colleague interfering/taking over and realising it was almost certainly an impulsivity thing rather than a “I’m going to do this because I don’t trust you to” thing made me feel a lot differently about it.

  34. ICodeForFood*

    Baxter and your company president should have acknowledged your loss… but you may just have to accept that they’re selfish and ‘not nice’ people… (Sorry, hit enter too soon on previous comment.) Hang in, and again, sorry for your loss.

  35. graceful loser*

    For LW1, I am sorry for your loss. In my experience, a lot of folks who have not (yet) lost a close loved one don’t get it, not really. When my parents died, there were friends I expected to be there for me who were awkward or silent, while some loose acquaintances stunned me with their kindness and insight. You’ll be well positioned going forward to show real empathy when someone else has a loss. Hang in there.

  36. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    LW1: First off, I’m sorry for the loss of your family member. Especially in such an abrupt way.

    I may be totally off base here. What I’m seeing in your letter is that you have been trying to convince yourself that everything is generally OK at this job, when you’re actually having to deal with quite a lot of nonsense from Baxter. And likely also the President, who (I’m assuming) did not redirect Baxter back to you about decisions that should be yours/tell him that he can’t just go over your head.

    You say that this is a dream job. In those circumstances, it can be really hard to accept that the dream job isn’t quite what you expected. Ask me how I know! (It’s from direct experience with a “dream job”!) So are you letting yourself be angry about some of the crappy aspects of the job or are you trying to convince yourself that no, this job is actually great because if it isn’t great, then you have to come up with a new dream?

    I’m not suggesting at all that you change your behaviour, since it sounds like you’re dealing with the issues with grace and composure, which is usually the way to go. I’m just wondering if your desire for this to be the dream job is leading you to look at things with rose-coloured glasses and not acknowledge how frustrated you currently are.

    Not acknowledging your loss is a thing that basically any reasonable person would agree is crappy. Is *some* of the anger and hurt you’re feeling now maybe related to other problems at work, but being focused on this because it’s something you feel like you’re “allowed” to be mad about?

  37. Paris Geller*

    LW #2- Would you be more OK with the situation if some of your other responsibilities were shifted so that you could do more of the project management side for your department? Also, (independent of your current workload) is that mental load/project management task stuff that you’re good at and like?

    I ask because my last manager was a Maggie. I absolutely loved her and she was a great manager in many ways, but she was disorganized and forgetful. I ended up having to take up a lot of that project management/higher level administration for our team as well. It’s work I like and am good at, but at first it was hard because it felt like a lot of extra work that was taking away from my core work. I sat down and talked with my Maggie about it, and we formalized some of those things a little more as part of my job and were able to redistribute some other tasks I had that I didn’t particularly enjoy to team members who were better at them. This was a small team, so all of us wore many hats–we switched some things around and everyone was much happier and more productive!

  38. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Re: LW2 – OMG, I so feel LW’s pain. I have a Maggie on my team but not my boss. But I do provide administrative support for my Maggie and it’s exhausting because you do the work and also manage the person.

    There will soon be a job posting to replace the director who was just promoted on my team. I am in utter dread of the Maggie on my team applying. She’s been there the longest and has expressed desire for it before but she would be exactly as how the LW described her Maggie because she’s like that now without being in charge.

  39. Avril Ludgateaux*


    Personally… I would avoid the parenthetical, but maybe up your top range to $70k (i.e. 5,000 above your ideal, but still below your cap), and simply advertise as $50,000-$70,000 for the range. From a candidate’s perspective, the parenthetical would put me off.

    Reason being, every viable candidate is going to think and thus argue that they are THE most qualified, capable, truly exceptional candidate, and they’re going to gun for that $75,000 number, which you admit is unusual and a hard cap and about $10,000 above what you want to be paying. Advertising it, when you’re not entirely keen on it, may actually alienate some applicants (some of whom are experienced job hunters and will self-select out because they have low trust for employers due to a history of encountering misleading job postings; others who will get to the offer stage, might actually be satisfied with $60k, but will reach for more and feel spurned when implicitly being told they are NOT the exceptional candidate it was aimed at).

    At the same time, only listing $65,000 as the maximum might discourage qualified applicants who are looking for a little more, from considering applying at all.

    Listing the cap at $70,000 is therefore the viable middle road – it leaves a small bit of room to wiggle for the candidate you really want to reel in, while also being substantially close to your ideal range. It’s similarly close enough to your ideal high end that, when a confident but maybe not perfect candidate self-advocates and negotiates for $75,000, you can split the difference, while leaning on the fact that $70,000 was the advertised max because it is the maximum your budget allows. *And if you get that perfect candidate, you can stretch to make that $75,000 happen, and they’ll be sufficiently chuffed.)

  40. ABCYaBye*

    LW1: Most importantly, I’m incredibly sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you.

    While it would be awesome to send a firey email to your boss and Baxter about how rude they’re being (because they are) I think I’d set that aside. Not just for the time being. Don’t ever address it. Just keep it in mind as you go forward in these business relationships. It tells you something about them that will guide your interactions and expectations.

    I would suggest a sit down with your boss when you return though. There needs to be clarity on what Baxter’s exact role is. If they’re aggressive and losing their temper in public meetings, that undermines you and makes the company look awful. Your boss needs to hear from you in a calm, mater-of-fact way, so they can see how Baxter isn’t mentoring you, isn’t allowing you to grow in your role, and is hurting the company. If they want to keep Baxter on payroll for the duration of their time that was agreed upon, Baxter shouldn’t be in meetings with you. Baxter should be a resource you can tap into as needed. If they can’t provide you (and then Baxter) some clarity, both in Baxter’s role and the timeline of Baxter’s involvement – because it should be that as time progresses, they’re more and more removed from your daily activities – then you need to start looking for another role. And you probably need to let your boss know that Baxter’s actions are causing you to look.

  41. Lou*

    LW 2, I was you a few years ago. I got out, even though I really liked that job, and I don’t regret it. I’m not saying you should leave, too, but it may be the easiest path.

    You should, however, let things drop; stop reminding her of deadlines and picking up her slack. The only thing it’s doing is allowing her cover and to continue to avoid being held accountable (and maybe forcing herself to deal with her thinking she has undiagnosed ADHD by, perhaps, seeking a diagnosis or other treatment). I did all that same kind of work for my boss, and when things fell apart it became clearer to me 1) just how much I was doing and 2) that perhaps if I’d let more of my Maggie’s things slide there could have been an intervention earlier.

    Ultimately, it took my Maggie being away for several weeks for the cracks to actually snap and the higher-ups discovered a lot of undone projects that she’d said were done/in progress, and in the end that department was reorged. I was already on my way out, so it didn’t affect me, but honestly I think my leaving may have also sped up the process because once I left all the things that I was doing weren’t getting done anymore, and I was doing *a lot*.

  42. Orange+You+Glad*

    I guess I’m a cold-hearted unfeeling sort of person but I would never expect to get any condolences about a personal loss from anyone at work. The company absolutely shouldn’t be contacting you about work during your leave but I wouldn’t expect anything else other than the time off needed to manage things. When I needed to take bereavement leave, I just sent a message to my boss/team that I’ll be out that day for a funeral and that’s it.

    1. Atomic Tangerine*

      I hear that – I am the same actually – but it’s important to many people and it takes 15 seconds to type “I’m so sorry for your loss.” If nothing else, that is good management.

    2. Observer*

      Seriously? Someone emails you to tell you that they need to be out because they just lost a family member and it’s too much to actually acknowledge that and say “Sorry to hear that”?

      Honestly, I hope you don’t manage people. I mean, I do appreciate that you actually are ok with people taking the time they need to manage things. But people who treat others like sentient robots tend to be poor people managers.

  43. irene adler*

    Some places just don’t have their act together.
    I’d like to think that this is not indicative of the whole company though.

    My experience:
    1. Interview screen with HR-did well.

    2. Interviewed with hiring manager. During the conversation she indicated she WILL be moving me forward in the hiring process.

    3. Received rejection email a few days later.

    4. Received a survey from HR on my hiring experience. The email began: Congratulations on your new job! Please take a few minutes to provide your thoughts on the hiring experience.

    5. I then emailed the HR contact to indicate that I was confused. Was I rejected or not? She assured me that I had been rejected for the position. Decision was final. Okay.

    6. I responded to the survey with: Gee, this is unkind! Please see the rejection email attached. They responded with a nice apology.

    7. Received a second survey from HR. It began with condolences on not being hired for the position. They encouraged my continuing to apply to other positions. Then asked if I could share a few thoughts on my candidate experience. I shared that they might try to pay closer attention to how they reached out for survey information.

    8. A few days later, I get a phone message and an email from the HR contact. She says she was mistaken: I am very much still IN the hiring process and she wants to schedule the next interview immediately. Please in touch right away!

    9. My response: No thanks. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Sometimes there’s an internal squabble over candidacy rejections. And if a company moves forward too quickly with a hiring process (and the numero uno candidate rejects an offer) , they then go to the rejectee list and try to tap dance their way out of the situation.

      There is also the very real possibility of an internal screw-up. That is, some clerk in the HR office got confused (hey I live in a state where pot is legal, you should see some of the things that can happen) – and accidentally sent you a rejection.

      In any case, you not only dodged a bullet, but avoided a stinkbomb, as well.

  44. Observer*

    #1 – I haven’t read all of the messages. But I am going to disagree with all the people who say that Baxter is the problem and that you need to push for them to leave.

    Baxter is not THE problem, they are a symptom of a harder problem for you. Because Baxter is supposed to be leaving. But you President is NOT supposed to be leaving. And HE is the *real* problem here. I could see how a character like Baxter would go over your head and get the ear of the President. Not a good thing, but not shocking given their long tenure and “beloved” status. But what on earth is up with pretending that you are not having a major issue going on in your life? That is not on Baxter. I mean, of course Baxter is being a jerk. But a decent and reasonable human being would still offer trite condolences and not determinedly and pointedly ignore that you just suffered a shocking loss and refuse to acknowledge it in any way.

    Which is to say that I think that there is more toxicity in this place – at least as it comes to your employment – than the presence of Baxter. The lack of condolences feels big, I think, because it’s the tip of an iceberg of dysfunction.

  45. I'm Done*

    I’m very sorry about your loss and Baxter and the CEO failing to acknowledge it. They suck. However, I also think your subconsciously misdirecting your anger. The elephant in the room is that Baxter is still there and doing the job you were hired to do. My concern is whether there is an actual date for Baxter’s departure because Baxter might not leave. I think that is the first thing that needs to be clarified. If your CEO is giving you a song and dance about the date, then please polish up your resume and start looking elsewhere because Baxter ain’t going nowhere. If you are getting a firm date then you need to be firm about Baxter stepping back and serving purely in a mentoring role with you. He should not be taking active part in the decision making processes or represent the company in any official function. If the CEO doesn’t get this, then again I’m not sure that Baxter will actually leave or whether the CEO has the necessary confidence in you to actually allow you to do your job. If that’s the case then again it means polishing up your resume and looking for something else because ultimately if the CEO allows this situation to continue, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

  46. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    #2… Could this be a case of “Weaponized Incompetence”?

  47. Hannah L*

    #1 On top of it feeling crappy for someone to not acknowledge a death, personally I would also be feeling very anxious about the fact that they were still emailing about work that’s happening while I’m gone. If I was in that position, I could see myself freaking out that they didn’t see it for some reason or were mad that I wasn’t going to be at work etc. So, on top of grieving now you have to worry that people are going to think you’re dropping the ball. Very frustrating situation all around, I’m so sorry OP!

    1. Atomic Tangerine*

      I know right? If they can’t be decent enough to acknowledge OPs loss they could *at least* leave them alone. It gives me serious reservations about the culture there.

  48. Over It*

    LW #3 – This would take organizational buy-in, but based on your willingness and ability to hire people with a wide range of experience for the same role, it would make sense to create standardized levels within the position. This is pretty common in research and academia, maybe other fields too. So instead of just seeking to hire a research coordinator, you could post a job for Research Coordinator Level I-III depending on of the candidate experience then list experience, requirements and pay for each. And then make the offer and title commensurate with the best candidate’s qualifications (of course let them know which level you think they’d be most appropriate for reasonably early during the interview process). E.g.
    Research Coordinator I: Experience – Bachelor’s + 1-2 years relevant experience, Responsibilities – XYZ, Pay – 55-60K
    Research Coordinator II: Experience – Bachelor’s + 2-5 years relevant experience, Responsibilities – XYZ + ABC, Pay – 60-65K
    Research Coordinator III: Experience – Bachelors + 5+ years relevant experience or MS + 3 + years relevant experience, Responsibilities – XYZ + ABC + Supervise up to 3 Research Coordinators I/II, Pay – 65k-75k
    This would help to standardize pay and responsibilities for existing people in the role, and create a streamlined pathway for people entering at lower levels to get a title and pay bump as they gain more experience and take on more responsibility at the organization.

  49. Atomic Tangerine*

    #1 I’m so sorry you are going through this and for your unexpected loss. It sounds like this is part of a bigger pattern where you are not feeling supported in your role, although the promotion itself is a great career opportunity so I can see why you might otherwise put up with what frankly seems like a very unpleasant work situation. I wonder if it would help you, once the dust settles from the family situation and your grief is less raw, to think about your big picture and maybe an eventual exit strategy from this particular company?

  50. Dancing Otter*

    OP1, regarding Baxter, I think my church (maybe it’s the diocese/synod, rather than the congregation?) has a very good rule. When the rector retires, he has to move out of the parish for at least a year. Since the parsonage goes with the job, he’d be moving anyway, so it’s less onerous than it might seem.
    When the founding pastor of my in-laws’ church stuck around, people were *constantly* going to him instead of the new person. AND he didn’t seem to make much of an effort to redirect them, either.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Note: I used the male pronoun because it’s accurate in the specific cases mentioned.

  51. Atomic Tangerine*

    #2 as an ADHDer myself, I find it useful to have a lot of systems and structure built into my workflows to keep me from dropping the ball (examples: I ask everyone who gives me an action item to send it to me in an email, and I’ve set up my work software to automatically generate to-do items for me when certain actions are taken). I also have step by step written procedures for just about everything I do, even if I’m the only one who does it (I’m the business owner).

    All of this has helped a lot but I’m not sure you’ve got a lot of power in this – it’s really on your boss to take those steps.

  52. stitchinthyme*

    LW1: Sometimes people just don’t know what to say after a coworker has suffered a loss or similar, especially over email.

    A few years ago I went through a difficult time — just after getting a cochlear implant in my one deaf ear, I suffered an unrelated, severe loss of hearing in the other; the CI had not yet been activated (because I was still recovering from the surgery), so I was nearly deaf for a few weeks, and also dealing with the side effects of the attempts to treat the new hearing loss. In other words, it was a pretty miserable time.

    I had sent out an email to the people I worked with most often, asking them to use email or text chat rather than coming to see me in person if they needed anything. (Luckily, I have a job that doesn’t require a lot of in-person interaction, so this was not an unreasonable or unworkable request.) They complied, but I was a little hurt that not one of them asked me anything about how my recovery and treatment were going. I even posted about it on here in one of the Friday open threads.

    A couple weeks later my CI got activated and I was more able to interact with others, and when they saw me in person, they all asked how I was doing, how things were going with my hearing, etc. Turns out that they just felt awkward asking such things over email or chat; it wasn’t at all what I had thought (that they just didn’t care at all).

    So my point is that there may be reasons for people not saying anything after a personal loss or hardship, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t sympathetic. (Of course, it *could* mean that…just saying that making that assumption is not a great idea.)

  53. Elizabeth West*

    3. How to post salary in job listings

    I agree with Alison. I want ALL the details you can give me—amount of PTO, whether it’s accrued or a bucket at the start of the year, what percentage of health insurance you cover, if you cover vision/dental, any bonuses, all of it. If I can see that up front, I’m less likely to apply if it’s not what I’m looking for and neither of us will waste our time.

    Also, I really think more employers should learn how to frankly spell out what the company actually does. I’ve seen so many profiles and About Us pages with jargon like, “Our process synergistically coordinates high-payoff channels to organizations and authoritatively implements focused potentialities with a broad range of external and internal client alignments.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN????

  54. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#1: I would advise setting aside any resentment over the specific absence of a condolences statement, and focus on whether you were treated appropriately and respectfully as someone who needed quiet time away from work (to grieve). I think these two individuals failed in that respect. They should not have been constantly contacting you with work questions and expecting answers. And if that situation ever happens again, you should feel free to send a follow up email clarifying that you will not be checking/answering email during this difficult time of grief.

  55. Longtimelurker*

    OP 3, we use: “Starting pay at or close to $60,000, salary range $50,000 to $75,000”.

  56. Bubbles*

    Hi OP#1, I’m so sorry for your loss. i don’t agree with Alison’s advice in this case: it sounds like Baxter is not really going, and I wonder they need to stay on that long to “guide” you into your new role. It’s not normal for peopke not to aknolewledge your loss and keep assigning you tasks while you’re grieving. It sounds like you’re putting up with a lot if things that aren’t healthy behaviour. I would pretend verythings is fine, but meanwhile start applying elsewhere to find a job where people treat and appreciate you more as a human being.

  57. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1 I’m sorry for your loss, and Baxter is a right jerk. Alison’s advice is spot on. Concentrate on your family, and deal with Baxter later on. When you’ve suffered a major loss, it’s not always a good time to make another major change in your life, your sadness can leak into the other project even if it’s something you would normally be excited about.

    OP2 Your boss sounds a bit like me. I’m not a boss because I know I’d be bad at it. At school, I had three different friends who took it upon themselves to remind me about homework and meetings I had to go to, and I’ve always been scatterbrained. As a freelancer, I’ve evolved a method that works for me, and I know I’m on my own so I make the huge efforts required to keep on top of things (mainly with lists all over the place and schedule notifications etc). In my volunteer work, again, I have a friends I work with who tend to look after me, reminding me to book railway tickets or fill in forms as necessary and I’m constantly finding myself in a position where I have to apologise for not finishing stuff or forgetting to send things. I do have the excuse that I need to put my business and family first but then, so do those who share the workload with me. They don’t seem to mind, thank goodness, probably because I’m the one who trained them and I’m like a mentor to them, like a scatterbrained professor who forgets to do up his shoelaces and has students who “look after” him.

  58. Candy*

    LW2 – I’m an Exec Assistant to an ED that is like this exactly, down to forgetting her phone in boardrooms, her purse in the office kitchen, emails in her inbox, you name it. Super smart woman, but hella disorganized. There are only two things that have worked for me:
    1. Having a standing weekly one-on-one where I bring her everything that needs to be seen, scheduled, and signed off on. I know nothing is going to get done before or after that meeting, so I come to it prepared with everything I need to do my job for the week. And crucially:
    2. Caring less. She’s late for a meeting? I chat with her guests until she arrives in a flurry of apologies and excuses. She doesn’t make a project’s deadline? I have an email script thanking everyone for their patience that I copy n paste to buy her more time. I work in gov’t so it truly is a case of not my company (circus), not my problem (monkeys), and unless you have a stake in your company, I’d recommend finding the same level of zen. If the ED of your company doesn’t make something a priority, why should you?

  59. Former_Employee*

    Baxter is retiring, but he is acting as if he is being pushed out. You would think he was being forced to train his replacement in order to receive his severance package.

    Unfortunately, the CEO doesn’t exactly seem like a prize, either.

    Regardless of how much the job itself is the OP’s dream job, the work environment does not seem to match.

Comments are closed.