my team planned a wine-tasting while I’m pregnant, no one is paying attention to my training, and more

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

1. My team planned a wine-tasting team-builder while I’m pregnant

I’m on a team of 15 people and am currently pregnant, which the team is aware of. The team is fairly young, and only one other employee has a child.

One of our teammates who is in charge of running quarterly team builders chose virtual wine tasting as the next activity. I expressed to her that I wouldn’t be able to participate, and to her credit she offered to find non-alcoholic options to send me, but I was still offended this activity was chosen. I didn’t think it was inclusive or considerate.

I declined the team builder invite, and when my boss asked me I told her why. She was initially surprised and suggested I go along anyway, but when I stood my ground she agreed to change the activity.

Am I in the wrong or making too big of a deal of this? It’s over now, but I’m still debating documenting the situation with HR, but again am not sure if I’m overreacting.

With a young team, it’s likely that you’re dealing with people who haven’t yet needed to think much about the needs of pregnant people. It sounds like your coworker picked wine tasting without realizing you wouldn’t be able to participate (probably reflecting lack of life experience) but then tried to think of a way to include you once you pointed it out (even though it wasn’t a particularly good way). And then your boss changed the activity once you brought the issue to her attention. None of this is ideal, but it sounds like it’s more about inexperience on your team than deliberate carelessness.

If your boss hadn’t agreed to change activities, it would have made sense to bring it to HR at that point (since team-building by definition needs not to exclude people). But since she did, there’s not a need to loop them in. If you really wanted to, though, you could frame it not as a complaint but as “it would be helpful to remind managers that team-building activities should be inclusive of everyone on their team, which means they need to ensure activities work for people who might be pregnant, don’t drink, or have physical restrictions.”

2. Should I have to be the one scheduling meetings with my boss?

My boss routinely puts it on her staff to schedule one-on-ones or any meetings. I don’t understand this, she has access to all of our calendars since she does the schedule.

Recently she asked about dividing up job duties since a staff member is leaving. I replied to the email, indicating what I thought. She then replies to me saying, “Please set up a meeting with me, thanks.” I feel if she wants to meet with me she should send a meeting request. I don’t get it. Am I being nitpicky here? I feel there is no real professional way to answer that email, except ignoring it without sounding bitchy.

Yes, you’re in the wrong. It’s reasonable for your boss to ask you to handle setting up the meeting so that she’s able to spend her time on other things. In fact, when I coach busy managers — many of whom have way too much on their plates — I encourage them to delegate everything that can be done by someone else, so that their own time is freed up for things only they can do … even when something seems small, because those things add up.

My advice to you is to see it as an advantage because it means you can pick the meeting time based on what works best for you rather than your boss always controlling that.

3. I’m leaving my job and no one is paying attention to my training in what they’ll need to do when I’m gone

I work in healthcare. My job is a very niche role in my organization; literally no one else does my job in its entirety. After a lot of thought, I accepted another role in a completely different organization with a 20% pay raise and 50% more PTO. I’m super excited. I’ve given a total of four weeks’ notice.

I have been working with the two people who are at least temporarily getting my job responsibilities: Lisa, who is my manager, and Kim. I have run into an issue where my job is demanding basically a brain dump. I am writing incredibly detailed instructions of how to address things for both Lisa and Kim. However, neither of them has been following said instructions as I have them working alone. It has become a great frustration in the training process when I find yet another noteworthy error that is directly related to not following the written procedure in front of them.

In addition, neither wants to take any incentive in trying to learn anything or attempting a new task that I don’t absolutely push on them. They are more than willing to ask me very basic questions and demand that I write up a “cheat sheet” on that question, which is significantly lower level than they need to be at (and should be at.) They have ignored my numerous requests to write down the questions as they ask them so I have something to go by.

Every time I’ve tried to train my supervisor when I went on vacation in the past, when I returned I’d get everything just dumped back on me. She is supposed to be my backup but doesn’t want to do the work.

I am 1.5 weeks into this notice period and I want to just scream every time they seem to think that I’m not going to leave or ignore the process. I don’t know how to phrase that they need to take some level of ownership or they will be figuring it out after I leave. I don’t know if I need to address this to my supervisor’s boss. They have a tendency to be very aggressively verbose without accomplishing anything.

I have good news: this isn’t your problem to solve. You’re going above and beyond in trying to ensure things will run smoothly after you’re gone, but that’s out of your hands. It’s up to Lisa and Kim, and they apparently aren’t terribly concerned about it. So be it, then — it doesn’t make sense for you to be more invested in getting them trained than your own manager is. You’ve spelled out what you need, you’ve tried to convey the urgency … and they’re not matching your investment. All you can do is continue being diligent about your own responsibilities, including the documentation you’re leaving behind (within reason — you shouldn’t try to write down every single thing you’ve learned about doing your job in the years you’ve been there because that’s impossible … and would probably be wasted effort if you did, since for some reason when people leave detailed manuals behind, more often than not they’re consulted far less than the people who leave them envision.)

Again, this is not your problem to solve. You’ve given notice, you’ve offered to train people, and the rest is up to them. In a couple of weeks, you’ll move on to a better job and they’ll figure it out one way or another at that point.

4. My employees and I have different ideas of what professional development they’re owed

What is the expectation for managers to help their direct reports grow and develop, leading specifically to a promotion or another role (internally or externally)? I’m of the mind that it’s my role to help my team develop relevant skills to their role, and capitalize on their strengths, talents, and what they enjoy doing. Then if they come to me with ideas about what they want their future to look like, I can help them with guidance and resources and help pave the way if it’s in a role in our company or department (connect them with relevant people, pull them in on projects that would build their skills and put them in the spotlight, etc.).

What I can’t do is come up with a tailored career path for each of my direct reports and guarantee that each step will happen on a specific timeframe. Most of them are six years or less out of college, and I think have the expectation that that’s how things work. Many of them don’t know exactly what they want to do (which is fine!) and I am happy to show them a couple of common areas of growth within my department.

For example, one teammate told me she was interested in project management (we are not project managers). I gave her a few responsibilities that would align but told her if she wanted that as a career, she would likely have to take classes, get certified, or learn more outside of working hours. She thought that that wasn’t fair, and that I should allow her to have professional development time during the workday or we should create a PM role for her, and that I and the company owed her professional development opportunities of her choosing, and otherwise we wouldn’t be enabling her growth. I really don’t want to be the “kids these days” person, so I’m hoping you can gut-check me on what’s happening.

Your understanding is the common one, and your reports sound out-of-touch. What you’re doing is exactly what you should be doing (and what a lot of managers don’t). It would be highly unusual to create roles for people that aren’t aligned with what your team needs (like the PM job) and it’s not a typical expectation that you’d offer development that has nothing to do with the work your team does. Occasionally there might be circumstances that make it possible (for example, someone is a strong writer and wants more writing experience even though her job is phone sales, and so you have her write some things your department happens to need) but it’s not an expectation or obligation; it’s more a lucky confluence of events. And offering on-the-job time for someone to prepare for a totally different position at another company would be really unusual — maybe something that could happen in the exact right set of circumstances, but not something people typically expect or feel entitled to as a matter of course.

You should be really up-front about this with your team so they know what they should and shouldn’t expect … but they sound naive enough that they might not get it until they have more professional experience (and it might not happen while they’re working for you at all).

5. Invitations to interview before I finish the application

I am applying to some positions in schools, and the strangest thing keeps happening when I apply to a charter school — I get an invitation to interview before I finish the application!

At two different schools now, I have started an online application and then paused halfway through, only to get an invite to interview from my unfinished application. Both websites sent form letters asking me to finish my application, but then sent another form email inviting me to pick an interview time immediately after! As far as I can tell, they’re all automated emails, so no human is connected to this process.

Is this a new thing? It feels creepy that even beginning an application — usually by uploading a resume — triggers an interview request. It doesn’t make me feel particularly good about working at the school! The first time this happened, I assumed I hadn’t done my due diligence and the charter school was a bad match. There are a lot of subpar charter schools in my state due to lack of regulation. But the second time, this happened with a charter school with a superb reputation! I uploaded my resume, saw that they asked me to disclose my salary range, and decided to do some more market research. The next thing I knew I was invited to interview!

Is this just the new normal? I’ve worked in public schools for almost 10 years and am only moving away from it due to outside circumstances, so I haven’t done this in a while. But it seems like such a strange thing to do! It really made me feel like it wasn’t a school I should interview at, even though it is beloved in my state.

You’re the second person I’ve heard about this from. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because there’s a major teacher shortage right now. (But also, if you’ve fully uploaded your resume, it’s not totally unreasonable that they’d feel they have enough to do an initial screen and invite you to talk.)

{ 834 comments… read them below }

  1. Sabine the Very Mean*

    I disagree with #2 for the most part. In my world, I the worker bee am much more swamped than my boss and feel they should do their own work even if it’s calendar setups. My boss also asks for meetings with me and then makes me set it up. It drives me nuts and makes me feel like I am his executive assistant. I’m not the one who wants the meeting. He also has my coworkers call me to find out if I’m available right then to talk to him. We’re a four man team. So strange.

    1. Reply My*

      Bosses also get paid more. I feel this way about my job when I’m tasked with finding my own backup for when I’m out on earned PTO. I don’t feel like this is my problem to solve. (9-5 salaried office work, not like Starbucks or something.)

      1. JessieJ*

        Bosses telling you to set up a meeting for them feels like a power play from my experience. I find it odd and a tad rude.

        1. Allonge*

          You must have had pretty crappy bosses. It’s a perfectly normal thing to ask in my world (having been on both sides of this).

          1. Zelda*

            And it takes, what, five minutes? You look, you pick, you click, you type three words, done. I’m afraid I’m not getting why this is such an outrage for a boss to ask. Now, it would also be just five minutes for the boss, but hey, if she prefers that I do it, that’s her prerogative. It just… isn’t a big deal either way.

            1. Allonge*

              Yes, the time it takes is also where I am stuck with how this can be such a huge imposition: if a manager asks once in a while a report to set up a meeting with them, is this 2-5 minute investment really the hill to die on?

            2. mreasy*

              I’m much busier than the junior folks I often meet with – and usually I ask them to schedule. It takes a couple of minutes as we all have each other’s calendars. Im often back to back on meetings and not having to handle the scheduling is a help. My boss is in the C-Suite and is even busier than I am – unless your company is extremely dysfunctional, leadership & senior ppl should always be busier than the “worker bees.” If they aren’t, I can understand why OP 2 feels this resentment!

              1. Allonge*

                I would also understand the resentment then – just a word of caution, that it’s incredibly easy and common to misjudge how busy someone else is, even if you work with them pretty closely. Almost by definition managers have a bunch of tasks that they cannot talk about but will take up a lot of their time.

                This is not to say that there are no situations where someone is busier than their boss, but always something to consider.

                1. HotSauce*

                  My reports really have no idea all of the extra work I am required to do on a day to day basis. I think sometimes they believe because I manage less accounts than them I’m not as busy, but I also manage several projects, assist my reports with problems that come up, have dozens of conference calls, some bookkeeping tasks and many other things that they’re not aware of. Having them set up calls helps me out tremendously when I have a to-do list as long as my arm that day.

                2. MurpMaureep*

                  Thanks for making this point. I think I generally have a good relationship with my staff, but sometimes sense frustration from them about how I’m “always in meetings” or “seem so busy”. I’m busy specifically because I’m doing all the things that allow them to focus on their day-to-day work as individual contributors. More open time for them would mean their jobs would be exponentially harder!

              2. Just Another Tired US Fed*

                They attend many more meetings, but I would never say that leadership and managers are always busier than the worker bees. As a federal contracting officer, there was barely time to go to the restroom. The higher ups perform more strategic work, but that is not necessarily more work. And the higher-ups generally have much more support, staff assistants and the like.

                It’s just a bit of a power play, but a minor one. If their schedule is viewable, pick something that works for you and forget about it.

                1. Just Another Tired US Fed*

                  Meant to add that in Outlook, it’s so easy to meeting plan. Can’t speak for other systems. I’m not admin and never have been, but I can easily and quickly arrange meetings.

                2. Fae Kamen*

                  I’m sure for some people, it’s a power play—after all, some people can make anything a power play. But in my experience, it’s always just been an attempt to get things done efficiently.

                  I don’t think managers do this because they “work harder” than “worker bees.” But as others here mentioned, in many cases managers may have a broader variety of tasks to do and to oversee—a lot of which may be admin and coordinating—whereas reports may be working more consistently or in depth on their own projects. That difference I think accounts for many of the attention span issues people have with their managers who need reminders put in front of their face or emailed to them 3 times. Asking reports to propose a meeting time for something that presumably also involves them does not seem particularly Machiavellian to me.

              3. Legalize Texas*

                Isn’t that why they should be the one scheduling, though? Whoever’s schedule is the most packed / least flexible is usually the one who should be both choosing the time and the one who owns the calendar entry so they can move or cancel it if needed.

                I have worked with a few busy managers who could do “throw it anywhere I have an opening” scheduling, but most people say that and then have to come back and ask you to change it at least once because oh it can’t be right next to that meeting because they need more time and no wait I need a gap that day actually and you know what actually Thursdays aren’t good days for this and etc etc etc.

              4. Lanlan*

                I’m in the opposite situation — usually I’m the one that’s busier than my supervisor, so them asking me to consult my schedule feels like common courtesy. Then again, in our org, we tend to defer to whoever’s known to be busier, so if it’s someone above me who hasn’t got more to do, they pick the time because that’s just more efficient.

            3. I edit everything*

              Five minutes foe the boss for *each meeting*, but how many reports does the boss have? Scheduling meetings for six reports might take an hour, allowing for switching from one to the other.

              1. Allonge*

                Exactly – this is why it’s so common to have an admin assistant to handle this for any boss who is high enough in the hierarchy and also why it’s reasonable to ask subordinates to do so if there is no dedicated assistant. It’s just not a good way for the manager to use their time.

                1. Hannah Lee*

                  Yeah, the employee having one meeting to schedule, with the boss, makes much more sense that having the boss schedule multiple meetings (ie any meeting they might need, want, be asked to have by any of their direct reports)

                  Add to that the reality that anything on the boss’s calendar is likely to be less flexible (meeting w/ C suite or other upper level folks juggling their own areas) than anything on the DR’s calendar, and the DR knows the handful of their own things that have no flexibility, having the DR look for and schedule something when the boss has an opening makes much more sense. And that the boss is likely getting paid more to do higher value things for the company …the company losing the opportunity cost of 10-15 minutes of the boss’s work time vs the DR’s time, and spending more payroll cost to schedule a meeting (that is not necessary for the company to continue functioning)

                  Also, given the particular situation: boss asked for ideas, DR provided some ideas, bossed asked for a meeting about it, why on earth would DR push back in any way? Their boss effectively said they wanted 1 on 1 time with this person to discuss stuff, which in my world indicates they might value whatever bits they took from the message and want to meet to spend more time getting more insight. That’s likely a GOOD thing. OP shouldn’t be trying to come up with things that could cause the boss to not get around to it – like boss doesn’t remember because she’s going into a different more critical meeting right then, boss starts to schedule, is having trouble finding a good free slot and gets interrupted and never gets back to it, boss decides “oh, never mind”

                2. christy7h*

                  Agree. I’ve been a boss (1 step below C suite) for 5 years, and it took me awhile to give this up. My admin sets up most of them, but I was also realizing that I’d be in a mtg, we’d mention having another meeting about something, and at some point everyone else assumed I’d schedule it. Honestly it wasn’t top of mind to me, so I’d forget if I didn’t do it right then. This happened a lot, and I think came across much ruder (Hey, why isn’t my boss scheduling that XYZ mtg with me?) when in reality I didn’t even realize it was on me to do. Now I either immediately ask my admin, or I ask the other person to handle the scheduling. It is incredibly common in my field. I do the same thing for my boss (schedule her mtg or arrange someone else to) if needed.
                  Also the point about what is and isn’t flexible is a good one.

                3. Jasper*

                  On the contrary, this why it makes no sense at all for the employee to schedule it. The boss is the one who knows how her day is going and when the schedule allows for meetings where.

            4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              If I’m a part of the requested meeting I’ve got zero problems setting up the meeting (as long as I have access to see all relevant calendars).

              But if I’m not going to be in the meeting I generally ask one of the folks who will be in the meeting at a coworker level to set it up.

              And for the record, we’re not admin staff and my manager doesn’t have admin support either.

          2. UKDancer*

            Same. I ask my team to set up meetings, my boss asks me to set up meetings. It depends what the meeting is about and who it’s with. It’s a fairly normal activity. We all have access to everyone’s outlook diaries so it’s not like it’s a difficult ask.

            1. londonedit*

              Yeah, maybe it’s because I work on a small team but we all set up meetings depending on what the meeting is about and who it’s with. I generally lead our team catch-up meeting so I manage that in terms of sending any necessary updates to the date/time in Outlook. If my boss has a new author who wants to meet the team then it’s my boss who asks for our availability and sets up the meeting. Or if one of our existing authors asks me for a call to discuss something that my boss needs to be present for, I’ll ask my boss for their availability and set up the meeting.

          3. Michelle Smith*

            Yeah I really don’t understand the big deal about it. I set up meetings with my boss all the time. I prefer it to the random invites that just pop up on my calendar with no respect for the fact I might have non-meeting things planned for that time (or it’s just not a great time for me; for example, my boss is a morning person and would be happy to meet at 8:30 or 9 when my brain isn’t even working yet).

            1. Cheshire Cat*

              I have some recurring non-meeting tasks that have to be done on a particular schedule; I add those to my calendar. I’m happy to shift them around some when needed—I may have something scheduled for 3 but can work on it at 2, or 4–but having them there let’s everyone else know that I have to get to those tasks on a given day.

          4. Sparkles McFadden*

            The boss asking the direct report to do the scheduling was always the norm for me. Some reasons as to why this is:

            – Direct report asks about something while we’re in the hallway or in a meeting and I will likely forget about setting up a meeting by the time I am back to my office because my seven other direct reports did the same thing.

            – The thing I want to meet with my boss about is more important to me than it is to her, so I get to pick the time so I have time to gather what I need and prepare an agenda.

            – Despite that fact that there are managers who aren’t busy, I mostly worked for people who had an enormous workload, and bosses have more meeting-centric work so me scheduling the meeting was sensible and a common courtesy.

            – Finally (and I know this may be unpopular) my job is doing what my boss assigns (within reason and job description) so if the boss says “schedule a meeting with me on that” I just go do it.

        2. Green great dragon*

          Power play seems more relevant to interactions between peers, or at least not direct management chain. If they’re your boss then yep, they can ask you to do things, it’s not a power play because they officially do have that power.

          I get my reports to schedule most meetings because my calendar’s packed, I’m happy for them to take any slot they can find, while they might have preferences about which one they want. And also because the time does add up, especially if we need to reschedule, and it makes sense to delegate what can be delegated. (I’d say they are as likely as me to need to reschedule).

          If, overall, you are overworked and your boss isn’t that’s a whole different issue.

          1. BatManDan*

            Yours is the only position that makes sense to me. #1. Boss asked you to do it. #2 boss’s time is more valuable to the company; you may, or may not be, “overworked” in comparison to your boss – you don’t really know #3 I’d view it as a courtesy to the lower-level employee; now THEY get to pick a time that works for them. #4. It takes 90 seconds. #5. the LW sounds petty, and is possibly trying a passive-aggressive position as push-back for being unhappy at work / with their manager.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I’ve been at BEC stage with one past manager where everything they did irritated me.

              I sometimes ask my manager to schedule a meeting with people in another department just because someone decided I didn’t need my own Zoom or GoToMeeting licenses.

          2. Lab Boss*

            Related to your point about giving your team their preference of time- at this point in my career a lot of my time is in booked meetings, while my team spends a lot of time in the lab. I don’t always know when a day that looks pretty open in their Outlook calendar is a good day for a check in meeting, and when they planned to spend the whole day working at the bench. They know if my calendar is open so am I, and it makes sense to let them schedule around themselves.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              This! I don’t schedule my lab time on my calendar (that’s impractical!), but if my boss wants to schedule a meeting I’ll put in on the calendar around when I was planning benchwork. I can work around a meeting request a week or two out, but if it’s last minute, I need to be the one scheduling on my available time.

            2. SheLooksFamiliar*

              Same here. My direct reports are in meetings, but not nearly as many as I am. Their daily routines also include more ad hoc or fluid activity than mine. It’s far easier and less time-consuming to ask 9 different people to grab time on my calendar when it suits their schedule than it is for me to do it.

            3. Hapless Bureaucrat*

              Yeah to this. I ask my team to schedule with me because my day is usually chopped up with meetings. They, on the other hand, do a lot of technical work requiring focus time. If they get to pick the time, they can do whatever works best with their process flow, and I’m in meeting mode anyway.

              If my schedule is packed enough I’d have to move things, then I’ll usually schedule instead. And this is how it works with my bosses too; I schedule meetings with them unless they’ve told me to let them do it because they need to navigate conflicting needs.

          3. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yes, this. If I leave it to my boss or her admin to schedule time with me, I will get the time most convenient for my boss, not necessarily most convenient for me. I much prefer to do the scheduling (and tend to be faster at it, because it’s a higher priority in my mind).

            If I need to schedule time with someone subordinate to me I do usually do it, and tell them they can move the time if it’s not convenient for them. But that’s a matter of preference and expediency. And a little bit of an ADHD thing, it’s much easier for me to do something while I’m thinking about it than wait for someone else to get around to it.

          4. greenland*

            The point about time adding up is so huge here — if you have 5+ direct reports, scheduling (and rescheduling) all meetings with them winds up being a pretty significant time suck! People in this thread thinking about this as a power play have had unfortunate boss experiences or simply haven’t thought about this from the other side of things.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              IMO, one on one’s should be a fixed, recurring meeting, set by the manager as part of their regular meetings. Other stuff, yes, the person who needs the boss’s time should schedule the meeting. But regular one on one’s need to be recurring meetings set by the boss as part of their management responsibilities.

              1. Green great dragon*

                I think you’re right about regular one on ones, but I often need extra meetings to have more in depth discussions of a particular piece of work, or discuss something too urgent to wait. I’d still call those one-on-ones.

        3. spruce*

          I have had that feeling from certain managers only. It was specifically the ones asking me to find a a spot in their calendar for a meeting, and when you try to do that, they are booked out for the next 4 weeks. It felt like a power play suggesting they were too busy to talk to me.

          1. Allonge*

            Ok, two different possibilities:
            1. you are right and this is just one more way they show disrespect towards you. This is a ‘your boss sucks and is not going to change’ situation. Proceed accordingly.

            2. they are indeed that busy. This is not a reflection on how they see you, it’s just a fact, and they are happy to have the meeting five weeks from now or are ok with you asking ‘can we have 5 minutes this week, call me any time’. In this case you are attributing to malice something that is a perfectly reasonable request. What are you gaining here?

          2. OhGee*

            This happens with my managers (I have two) – because my workplace has too many meetings in general. When I encounter this issue, I simply reach back out to note that their calendar is full and ask if there’s any way to find X minutes to talk this week. There’s usually something on their calendar they can skip. And speaking as a lower level manager, I sometimes put blocks on my calendar so I can actually get things done, which has the added bonus of allowing me to be able to make time for my staff without risking a less important meeting being dropped on my calendar. It’s all a frustrating game, and most likely not a power play.

          3. andy*

            I would interpret this as seeking to blame the employee for the lack of the meeting in the future. Or alternatively, trying to feel like everything was done on their part, they have check box in todo list fixed and can feel good – obviously meeting wont happen but manager might be actually fine with that.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              That makes me think there are other reasons that you don’t trust your boss.
              If my boss asked me to schedule a meeting, I would interpret it as him wanting me to schedule the meeting.

              (Sorry if I posted this already)

            2. MurpMaureep*

              I’m honestly sorry that this is your relationship with your boss. If being asked to schedule a meeting with them invokes this level of cynicism and distrust, there’s a lot more going on than calendar management.

              1. Czhorat*

                That’s true. This can be a chance to take a hard look at the relationship.

                Does the boss regularly engage in petty power plays, or does the OP have a tendency towards cynicism and distrust of authority? It could be OP’s own biases leading them towards an uncharitable interpretation or a boss who doesn’t lead in as gentle a way they could.

            3. AngryOctopus*

              I mean, if my boss told me to schedule something and his next 4 weeks were booked, I’d book something 5 weeks out and write “snagged your first available time! Let me know if you need a 5-10′ chat before that!”, so he’s aware without having had to look at his calendar and see how crowded it is. And if he needs a meeting before, he can either take me up on the chat, or say “oh Monday from 1-4 is just time I booked for myself to look at X, feel free to schedule over that”. Blame would not enter into the equation ever.

              1. Lily Rowan*

                Yeah, exactly. Lots of bosses at my job are booked into 40 hours of meetings a week, or maybe it’s actually 35, but they put holds on the other 5 so maybe they can read an email once in a while.

          4. Dust Bunny*

            This always feels like when people who have a ton of money and family support tell you that you should quit your job and follow your dreams! Divorced from and above looking at reality.

            I mean, the managers probably are that busy, but it still feels like dumping in your lap a problem over which you have no control.

            1. Allonge*

              But you do have control! Boss is not telling you to reschedule their meetings, just to schedule something. Next step is communication: if the meeting needs to take place in the time fully blocked off, you go back to the boss and say, look, there is no time available on your calendar, can you give me a hint (I am willing to come in early on Wednesday).

              If the meeting is not urgent, you take it when you can. Why would you assume that further questions are not allowed?

                1. Allonge*

                  If your boss is telling you to shedule a meeting and at the same time knows they will not take it, you have bigger problems than who schedules the meetings.

                2. Elsajeni*

                  I mean… if your boss isn’t willing to squeeze in the meeting, having them be the one to schedule it isn’t going to help! If you have a really adversarial relationship with your boss or can’t trust them to mean statements like “sure, schedule a meeting about it” in good faith, that sucks, but it’s not the default situation; Alison’s answer to the OP, that this is a pretty normal request and not a sign of secret enmity or disrespect from your boss, is reasonable.

        4. Pineapple*

          Also, generally you boss has enough access to your calendar to know when you are available but the reverse is not always true. Why should I schedule a meeting when you’re probably going to have to change the time anyway?!?

          1. ecnaseener*

            I don’t think it’s at all common for managers to be able to see their reports’ calendars but not the other way around! (Maybe different privacy settings for the actual names of events, but not blocking availability altogether.) If you’re in that situation I’d wonder whether your boss realizes you can’t see her availability.

          2. mlem*

            That’s not true in my org; all calendars are equally open. If my grandboss needs a meeting, it’s far easier for both of us for me to pick through his few openings and find one that also works for me / the team I’m booking.

          3. Michelle Smith*

            If you have Outlook, all you have to do is go into the scheduling assistant. It’s not going to tell you what the person has on their calendar, but it will show you their blocks of unavailability. Then it’s very easy to pick a time when you are both free. I’ve never had a problem with this in any job.

        5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Hmm, I dunno, to me it’s a digital equivalent of the boss saying “my door is always open”. So, the opposite of a power play.

          I’ve gotten those requests from my managers in the past and interpreted them as the boss being open to talk with me about things that concern me, at a time that is convenient to me. Sounds pretty great, tbh.

        6. LilPinkSock*

          Hm. My boss routinely says to me “That sounds great! Can you please put something on our calendar and we’ll follow up.” She will also copy me on emails with others and say “LilPinkSock, copied here, will set up a good time for us to meet”.

          I never thought to assume it’s her making a rude power play, I just figured that it’s because I’m an admin, and it’s my jobs. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that admin work is once again disdained here.

          1. JSPA*

            Unless you happen to have a background in it, I don’t imagine that as the admin, you’d like to be instructed to drive the forklift or come up with a long-range sales strategy. Asking people to do jobs that are “not their job” reasonably gets pushback–especially if both people involved are crazy overscheduled because their company doesn’t understand the importance of having admins.

            1. Samwise*

              Oh please. Scheduling a meeting is not hard to do, and in many many places for many many employees does not fall under “not my job”. Once upon a time, large companies had a typing pool (I’m that old, I worked in such places). Now, everyone can type their own reports, correspondence, etc. If you said to me, I’m a very busy analyst, I have no time to type up my findings, send in the steno girl…well, I’d be mighty unimpressed.

              I’m very busy, boss, YOU schedule the meeting if you want it so badly. Yeah, I’ll schedule a meeting alright. And the topic will be attitude and unwillingness to perform assigned work.

            2. Loch Lomond*

              But taking a minute to set something on a calendar, which by definition means that can be to your preference from the options available, is such a low threshold of effort that it comes across as incredibly petty for people to consider that admin work outside their job description.

            3. Bess*

              Most jobs have a certain amount of admin tasks as just general workload–in no world can you say, in my experience, “I am not a dedicated admin assistant and therefore I don’t have to do a minor administrative task for my boss or myself.” A bit like saying “I am not an IT professional and thus do not have to do basic troubleshooting such as restarting, clearing caches, operating a printer…”

        7. KatEnigma*

          They normally have more on their plate and certainly more reports than just you. You have one boss and this thing is probably YOUR priority. It’s not the manager’s. Just request the meeting and stop focusing on “power plays”

        8. Essess*

          It’s not a ‘power play’ for a boss to assign a task to you that is part of your job duties (such as scheduling a meeting). That is their actual job to delegate tasks to their reports to free themselves up to do other work that is not appropriate for their reports to do. I find it weird to call assigning work to you to be a “power play”.

        9. Cmdrshpard*

          It can be, but it really isn’t in most situations I would say. A bosses time is often much more valuable than a subordinates ( I know there can be situations where that is not the case, but it usually) so a company can pay the boss $25 to spend 5 minutes scheduling or it can pay a subordinate $10/15 to spend 5 minutes scheduling the meeting. Even if both people are salary there is an average hourly rate that will likely be higher for the subordinate over the boss.

          While usually everyone is busy, bosses tasks are often more important and time is better spent, 5 minutes can be spend responding to an important email giving the go a head for a project versus scheduling the meeting.

        10. Starbuck*

          I think it really depends on the rest of your working relationship. When my boss does this, I know she’s asking me so that I can suggest times that work best for my schedule, which even though I put a lot of stuff on my calendar it’s not always obvious when I’m most easily available. We have a good rapport (and I know how busy we *both* are) so it comes across as considerate and not rude.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        I also find this obnoxious and it’s a small chunk of why I haven’t gone on a full week’s vacation except at the end of the year in years.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          That’s what’s called cutting off your nose to spite your face. You really should take all leave owed to you, it’s part of your compensation package, and unless you actually like using up your leave at the end of the year, I find it totally mind-boggling that you don’t take your leave when you want simply because you don’t want to click on your boss’s calendar.

          If my boss were to schedule a meeting (at my previous job), he’d totally set it up at an inconvenient time, either just as I’m supposed to leave (which he should know about) or when I’m desperately trying to meet a deadline (which he also should know about). So I’d see it as a luxury to be able to choose a calm moment.

          1. TechWorker*

            I think Aggretsuko is responding to the second half of ‘reply my’s comment RE: being responsible for finding your own cover for PTO. That’s both a bigger ask and something the boss should really have the best view on who can reasonably take on the extra workload – a very different situation!

            1. Mockingjay*

              “the boss should really have the best view on who can reasonably take on the extra workload”

              I think LW2 buried the lede, probably unconsciously. Boss asked about dividing duties for a departing team member. LW2, is the issue really meeting scheduling, or is it that Boss fobs off management items that they should reasonably handle and the request to schedule the meeting made you hit BEC stage?

              I’ve been irritated by expectations of meeting schedules and admin duties. Each time my ire was really due to systemic mismanagement problems.

              1. Cmdrshpard*

                “is it that Boss fobs off management items that they should reasonably handle and the request to schedule the meeting made you hit BEC stage?”

                I don’t really see it as fobing off management, the Boss asked for suggestions not decisions. Likley Boss is going to hear OP’s suggestions then say that will work or that won’t work because Bob is busy with xyz. Often the workers who do the detailed work might have a better idea of who can do the work best or who knows how to do.
                Bosses often are paid to manage people and not necessarily to know and do x work. They usually need to know the rough idea but not the details of the work.

                1. Starbuck*

                  Yes, would OP really prefer that boss just dictated this all, with no opportunity for their input? Maybe, perhaps the boss should just ~know~ what’s best, but I think having the discussion to gather info/input from people who will be affected by the decision is pretty considerate, without knowing more about the actual quality of their management.

            2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

              Yes! Or I can’t go out sick because I need coverage ( the vacation is annoying but I’m usually healthy enough to ask but when I’m ill I’m so ill I can’t do my job!)

              1. JSPA*

                that seems not normal (or if it’s the norm where you are, then highly problematic) to the point that I’d consider a whole lot of “whatever it takes to get unstuck” from crazy job. Understanding that there can of course be reasons to tough it out.

                If you can get through automated screening, I doubt a firing would be held against you by another employer if the reason were, “I was puking too hard to call around and find a replacement so I could take a sick day, so while I did call in sick, it was not accepted because I had not found a replacement.”

      3. Observer**

        There is a fundamental difference between being asked to set up a meeting – which is normal and completely appropriate, and being tasked with finding your own back up, which is too common, but should most definitely be the job of the supervisor in most situations.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes, people are really projecting that onto this letter but it’s not mentioned by OP at all! Arranging a meeting with your boss during your workday, and arranging coverage from your coworkers for when you’re off, are really different tasks.

      4. Allonge*

        I’m not the one who wants the meeting.

        I find this argument weird. Do you want to do anything else your boss tells you to do? I have a good relationship with mine and still would not do anything unless I get paid!

      5. Person from the Resume*

        I disagree that it’s a power play. It is fair for your boss to ask you setup the meeting with him. You work for him. Usually he’s paid more. It think it is fair to ask the junior person to set up a meeting. It is an admin task.

        OTOH I agree, finding coverage for time off is managing. Managers should at the very least have a process that someone can use to find coverage. If that doesn’t exist, then they may need to be prepared to help find coverage needed to ensure necessary work continues while employees take earned time off.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, this. My manager sets up all of our meetings, but that’s because during a typical week, I have less than 3 meetings per day, while her calendar is fully scheduled. I don’t need to schedule my lunch hour, for example, because I know I can always take it. But she has to schedule hers, because otherwise her calendar would be completely filled.

      In my organization, the meeting organizer always schedules it, regardless of the relative positions of attendees in the org chart.

      1. talos*

        This! I’m pretty junior, so I _might_ have 1-2 hours of meetings in a given day, and don’t generally have any constraints on when I can meet or would want to meet. I can go days at a time without ever having a scheduled interaction with a coworker.

        My manager typically has 6+ hours of meetings and scheduled focus time for specific tasks scheduled, and has a fair amount of private calendar events (meaning I often can’t tell if an existing meeting is cancelable/likely to run long or whether his lunch hour is a viable meeting time on any particular day). He will be far more satisfied with the meeting time if he schedules it himself.

        1. Allonge*

          But if he asks you to do it, presumably he is ok with whatever is actually empty in his calendar and/or proposing a different time?

          I don’t quite get why people think it’s appropriate to respond to a manager giving you a task by ‘you will be happier if you do it yourself’. Would you do this with any other task?

          1. KatEnigma*

            And the angry “whatever should I do?”

            Your boss asked you to do something that’s not illegal or unethical. You DO it. If it bugs you that much, look for another job- but that job will likely have 10 things that irritate you too!

          2. talos*

            I mean, I’ll do it. I completely agree that if a manager tells me to do something easy, I will do it.

            But I had a manager who would constantly do this, then either cancel last-minute because of a conflict he knew about all along and I couldn’t have known about (and not follow up), or show up to the meeting late, distracted by his previous meeting, and unable to pay attention to me (which seems less likely if he had scheduled the meeting himself)

        2. Loch Lomond*

          If he’s asking you to look at his calendar and book an available time, that’s telling you that he’s fine with whatever you book from that time.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This is kind of what I came here to say, really. Not that I really disagree with Alison, but it so happens that I do a lot of brainstorming and research and tasks with no fixed deadline, so my day is less structured than most of my co-workers’, which is why I usually tell people to send me a meeting invitation at a time that’s good for them.

        That said, if a supervisor or boss asked me to schedule a meeting with them, I would certainly do it without complaint or comment.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I agree with Alison’s interpretation.

      In my opinion and experience, I consider part of managing up is setting up meetings with my boss to make sure I have time with them.

      And there’s a huge difference between:
      Normal and reasonable: “Pleaae set up a meeting between you and me.”


      Treating you like an executive assistant: “Sabine handles scheduling for all my meetings, please go through them.”

      1. BetsyTacy*

        Agreed with this. If it’s part of a bigger issue – I see the frustration. If it’s a ‘can you find 30 on my calendar to discuss this?’ – that’s part of work life. My boss does it to me as well.

        Maybe I just have a particularly anxious team (lots came from higher stress places), but I’ve also found that people are much more relaxed/less stressed when *they* set up 30 minutes than when I send them a 30 minute meeting that just says ‘Update/Status’.

        One thing to note from a manager’s perspective – I know everyone on here truly believes that workplaces should support people when they have personal issues that they need to handle. It’s not just about work! However. Often, the work still needs to get done. So… my staff doesn’t know that one person has actually only been working 50% because their parent was critically ill and another person is dealing with some major MH issues and a third person has a custody/childcare issue that means that they’re having to totally shift their schedule. Well, it’s part of my job as the manager to cover all those things and make sure mission critical work is all completed. You may not know that it’s a week where there are 3 major things going on with staff, but sometimes that’s what’s up.

    4. Twix*

      I feel like Allison’s advice was spot-on, but also that this could be something that has a lot to do with workplace culture. I genuinely like and trust my boss and grandboss, and I know that they spend pretty much all day every day in meetings working on stuff that actually matters to our department’s success. Neither of them generally delegates setting up meetings, but I have no problem with it when they do because it really does make sense for them to delegate stuff like that when they’ve got bigger fish to fry. I imagine I would feel very differently in a situation where it seemed like my boss had the time to do it, but was passing it off to me because they didn’t feel like doing it themself and wanted more time to screw around while getting paid more than me.

      1. Marshmallow*

        Usually I end up having to ask managers to schedule meetings with me because, as others mentioned, their calendars are ridonkulous!

        It’s easier for them to just schedule it since they know what is and isn’t movable on their calendars rather than make a meeting, have them suggest a new time and then accept new time… like now both of our time has been wasted and they basically had to do it anyway…

        That said… I do not find it inappropriate, annoying, or rude if my boss does ask me to set up a meeting. That’s just like part of their job… to tell me to do things. It’s fine.

        1. Allonge*

          It’s easier for them to just schedule it since they know what is and isn’t movable on their calendars rather than make a meeting, have them suggest a new time and then accept new time… like now both of our time has been wasted and they basically had to do it anyway…

          Coming at this from the boss perspective: not true. Even if I need to reschedule something, it’s still better that I am not responsible for initiating the whole process. There is a mental load in it that you are taking off off me if you do it.

          Obviously you know your boss best, but to consider anyway.

          1. Marshmallow*

            I definitely do it both ways… if my boss asks, I have no issue scheduling and doing the back and forth.

        2. animorph*

          Absolutely this for me. My manager has a ridiculous number of meetings, and I have no idea which ones are flexible or not (I do know some people who colour code their meetings as fixed/flexible, which is hugely helpful).

          I find I’m trying to book something that would be a quick conversation a fortnight in advance, which isn’t helpful if I need her input to continue with a project.

          And even if I set one up in a free 30 min slot, she usually ends up moving it anyway!

        3. hodie-hi*

          I do what boss prefers. Either I set up meetings or she does. I like to be able to choose a time that works best for me.

          That said, when I’ve had bosses who are double or triple booked back-to-back all day, I’ve been flummoxed. Thankfully those bosses were often able to shoehorn me in either themselves or with help from an admin.

    5. KateM*

      I don’t see calendars of other people. And I feel anyway that the bosses are far more swamped with meetings, so it makes sense for them to tell me when they are ready to talk to me than the other way around.

      1. allathian*

        One of the absolutely unbreakable rules in my org is that our Outlook calendars must be visible to everyone else in the organization. I could look at the calendars of our C-suite if I wanted to, although I never do because I don’t need to do it to get my work done.

        1. UKDancer*

          Same with my company. I can see everyone’s outlook diary (probably including the CEO although I’ve never tried).

        2. Allonge*

          Also, this would be a perfectly reasonable request to a boss that relatively often asks for you to schedule meeting: could I have at least available/not access to your calendar?

        3. Twix*

          Same here. Or it’s not really a “rule” so much as just standard practice. I could see trying to schedule a meeting with my boss being very frustrating otherwise, but as it is I know exactly when she has openings in her schedule.

    6. Pudding*

      I ask my current single direct report to schedule meetings with me all the time. He has access to view my calendar and a general sense of what is important and what is not. Usually I am instructing him to do something and then schedule a meeting with me when it is done (eg “Please draft a Powerpoint with X information and then ask Tina for data on Y and create a visual, then put some time on my calendar for me to review and approve it by Thursday.”)

      I tend to schedule basic 1:1 meetings on my own, because I consider them movable and want to be able to reschedule them myself if I need to rearrange my calendar. But I think I’m the only manager (out of 4) in my division who does that – everyone else has their direct reports schedule them. I am also the one probably most likely to get the feedback that I’m not delegating effectively, so make of that what you will.

    7. Roland*

      I’ve always had way less work than my bosses (software engineer), or at least way less work that consists of attending meetings. Unless it’s a recurring meeting that they want to make sure is convenient for their hectic schedules (is OP scheduling one on ones individually???) it’s very common for them to ask me to set up meetings.

    8. münchner kindl*

      I would prefer to set up my own meetings because then I can easier decide when I have time for it, unlike the boss putting down a date when it doesn’t fit well for me.

    9. The Sandshark*

      They ARE doing their own work. Setting up the meeting is your work – because they assigned it to you. Which is part of their work too. Getting narky about that is immature and unprofessional.

      Why are so many people on this thread acting like whiny teenagers who don’t want to do what a parent tells them? It’s baffling. Too many otherwise reasonable and intelligent-seeming adults who have this weird oppositional attitude to a normal work expectation. It’s ridiuclous.

      1. Rosalie*

        Yeah, this thread is really bringing out the (metaphorical) oppositional defiant disorder and I don’t get it either. Just set up the meeting! It’s perfectly normal, it costs you nothing, and if it’s that easy for your boss to do then it is also that easy for you to do.

      2. sundae funday*

        Yeah I feel like there’s something I’m missing…. It makes so much more sense to me for the employee to set up the meeting with the boss, especially since it sounds like the boss has slots on their calendar for meetings. But presumably, the boss doesn’t know every detail of every employee’s schedule, so it seems more courteous to have the employee schedule it themselves.

        1. Starbuck*

          I can see how someone would bristle at this if their manager was already bad about other things – it’s just one more example of the manager not managing, not having enough time for them, etc etc. But it’s actually not inherently unreasonable, it just might seem that way if your boss is not reasonable.

    10. Steve Jobworker*

      I agree. In the time it takes my boss to write an email asking me set up a meeting, including a whole paragraph detailing what he wants to discuss, he could have set up the thing himself. Being busy is not an excuse. He’s not too busy to write a long email. And most of these meetings could have been better handled with an email.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I don’t really get the “not an excuse” comment. Why does your boss need an excuse to delegate work?

        1. AngryOctopus*

          This. They’re your manager. Maybe writing the email is to give you a sense of what you need for the meeting so you know if 30′ is OK or you’re going to need an hour. And you know what to bring to the meeting. They’re managing you by making this ask.

          1. Zelda*

            And so you know how long it will take to prepare– is this something I can toss together and schedule for this afternoon, or will I need to gather things from across the department and do some analysis, so it had better be next week instead?

      2. MurpMaureep*

        From the manager’s perspective, he could be writing the “long email” to help simplify the meeting when you do have time to talk. It can be easier for some people to get all their thoughts out “on paper” ahead of time and then review and make pertinent decisions during the face to face interaction. It’s not an either/or situation. I am also not sure why your boss needs an “excuse” to ask you to do a task. Delegation is a huge part of management and asking an employee to do an administrative activity is really normal.

      3. I am Emily's failing memory*

        “He’s not too busy to write a long email.”

        I’m wondering if you’re familiar with the famous Mark Twain quote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

        Basically: Writing short emails requires spending time editing them down from the first draft. The long email is the first draft. It’s faster to send long emails if you can.

      4. Green great dragon*

        A lot of people strongly prefer to know what a meeting’s about, so they can gather their thoughts and their paperwork, and not worry it’s bad news. So the para ought to be written anyway, whoever sets up the meeting. Of course, maybe you don’t feel the need to know in advance. Neither do I, really. But I have learnt that many people do.

        1. Allonge*

          Also: if the meeting can be an email, you can make that proposal based on that paragraph – saying “I thought we settled this in X, Y, Z already, if you send me document B, I can take it from here” can be a reasonable reaction. Saying “well, set your own meetings up if you really want them” is not one.

      5. CRM*

        I don’t understand this, I would MUCH rather get a paragraph from my boss detailing what the meeting is about, even if they are asking me to schedule it. I always feel reassured knowing what a meeting is about (and knowing that it isn’t about something bad), and it helps me be prepared for the meeting as well. For instance, if my boss wants to meet to discuss the TPS reports, I will attach them to the meeting invite and review them before we meet. I will also try to schedule them for the morning in case there are any immediate action items that I can work on in the afternoon. Also, this process does require some thought, so I can still save my manager time by scheduling the meeting for him.

    11. gawaine*

      As a boss – I work roughly 60 hours a week in the office. I’m the first one in the building, and often the last one out. My people have flexible schedules, and maybe two of them work as much as 45 hours a week occasionally.

      I ask people to schedule their own meetings with me because I don’t want to schedule a meeting, then reschedule it when they say “actually, I’m not really available at that time, I just forgot to put it on the calendar,” or find out later that while they were available, they ended up leaving home extra early to make sure they got in on time, or stressed trying to make sure the nanny got in early or stayed late to keep their kids calm, etc.

      1. Allonge*

        This. “Oh, I have a recurring medical appointment at that time.” “I was not planning to come to the office that day.” “I need to finish earlier today, I have to pick my kid up”. “I wanted to focus on X that whole day”.

        All these are perfectly reasonable not to put on your work calendar when you have 2 work meetings / week and so don’t live in your calendar! But it’s not something that your boss will be able to remember, even if you asked them about it before. This is why it’s not better to ask boss to schedule a meeting.

      2. TX_TRUCKER*

        Same here. Plus, I have folks who may be “free” according to their calendar, but are actually working on a deadline driven project who don’t really have time to meet for a lesser priority items.

      3. MurpMaureep*

        Yes to all this.

        I’ve had to tell staff that the only way I know the details of their schedule is by their calendars, so if they have things that take up time during a work day, record that in Outlook. I don’t care if they have a standing “appointment” to pick up a kid, walk the dog, eat lunch, heck make it private that’s fine! Or if you are busy on a given day, block time to work on a deliverable and I won’t put a meeting there. But if it’s free and during normal work hours I will assume I can take it if need be. I have almost 20 direct reports, I cannot keep track of all the exceptions to their time they think I should know.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I have an appointment called “leave work” at 5pm every day. If I didn’t, I’d just work later and come to work later until I was working all night and asleep all day.

          1. MurpMaureep*

            I approve of this! I frequently block off Friday from 3-5 as “wrap up” time, in part because I usually do need time to finish up tasks at the end of the week, and in part because I have no desire for people to schedule meetings with me at that time. I’m a big advocate of taking control of your own time and calendar to do what is necessary to perform actual tasks.

      4. Erin*

        For most of my teams, this has been the understanding as well. There’s a lot less back & forth about times & days when I schedule the meeting with my manager.

        I also like being thought of as an employee who makes things a little easier.

        1. Allonge*

          “I also like being thought of as an employee who makes things a little easier.”

          dingdingding! This, x1000. You absolutely will be.

          Listen, I know that the people who hesitate to schedule a meeting with me because “I am busy” (I am, but so what?) may even have my convenience in mind when they refuse to propose a time based on my calendar, even when I invite them to do so.

          But I looove the ones who actually do what I ask them to do, because, hey, meeting is scheduled and all I need to do is accept!

    12. Cheese*

      I see where you’re coming from. My boss does this too and it feels like a power play because he’ll say, “set up time with me. My calendar is up to date.”. So I’ll select a time and then he’ll immediately decline it. So then I reschedule and he’ll accept and then the meeting time rolls around and I’ll ping him and he says he can’t make it. Rinse and repeat like 3 more times.

      I realize it’s probably not about me and he’s just busy but it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t realize how it’s coming off.

      1. kiki*

        I do think this is a genuine call-out to make to folks who ask someone else to schedule a meeting with them– make sure your calendar is actually up to date and that you can hold those times. I normally absolutely do not mind scheduling meetings at all– I honestly don’t get most letters here about the “power play” of being asked to do this– but when somebody asks me to schedule and then no time works… you gotta pick the time then.

        1. Gracely*

          Yeah. There is a legit reason to complain if your boss tells you to schedule a meeting, then repeatedly reschedules. Once, fine. But two or more times, especially when it’s because their calendar isn’t actually up to date? A boss that does that is being crappy.

          But that’s definitely not everyone’s boss, so in general, just scheduling a meeting when asked shouldn’t be a big deal. I always prefer getting to pick the time I have a meeting, so I can make sure it’s not too early or too late depending on what I’ve got going on.

    13. Dust Bunny*

      See, I would expect my supervisor to set up the meeting because her schedule is generally less flexible than mine (she has more outside obligations) and she would know better when she can meet. If I set it up, we risk having to reschedule because she had to do something that I didn’t know about. We don’t have access to each other’s full calendars.

      1. Gracely*

        Well, if you can’t see each other’s calendars, then yeah, the person with less flexible time should probably schedule the meeting, or give access to their calendar. I think in most cases (such as OP’s), bosses who are asking people to schedule meetings *do* give those people access to their full calendars.

    14. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      This whole thread is making me appreciate my team even more for not having petty attitudes about things like this. It’s also never been hard to find a backup person because we all are a team and help each other out.

    15. learnedthehardway*

      I STRONGLY prefer to schedule meetings with my “bosses” (ie. clients) – I can schedule at my preferred time, delay scheduling if I want to have more time to work on something before reporting in, etc. They’re dealing with business development and other projects. I can fit in around them and take a small task off their plates, and meanwhile, it benefits me. Win / win.

      When I worked in house, I had a colleague who deliberately scheduled her meetings with her manager just before her salon appointments – that way, the meeting got finished on time and her manager’s attention was focused on relaxing rather than anything else.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        With a previous manager, I used to schedule meetings right before another of my meetings just so I had an excuse to leave when the meeting was supposed to end. My manager liked to chat so much that it wasn’t unusual for a half-hour meeting to run 45 minutes over.

    16. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I somewhat disagree with #2 because my boss (who is also the owner) has put it on us to schedule time with her. She accepts my meetings and then no shows. She also does not respond to my follow up emails, phone calls, & texts during/after the meeting to confirm if she was planning to attend or would like to reschedule to a different day/time.

      After several months – yes literal months – of ghosting every meeting & phone call I had arranged with her, the follow up on my review was that A) I am not communicating enough with her and B) I am not trying hard enough to get her to attend meetings. So, scheduling the meeting, confirming several hours before by text/email, and spending 10+ minutes trying to contact her after the meeting was supposed to have started and it is just me equates to ‘not trying hard enough’ for her to show up.

      IMO this is not a ‘me’ problem. This is a ‘boss’ problem. And dumping the scheduling on me just gives her the ability to hand wave any issues with is also being my fault. I did push back on the review with the HR manager, presented evidence why I disagreed, and was told that because my boss is the owner, and felt the original review was correct, that HR would not adjust it and if I don’t find a solution which works for the boss, then I will end up on a PiP after my next review.

      I understand being busy, I understand things happen, but I refuse to accept that I have not tried ‘hard enough’ to get the owner attending even one meeting with me since the end of August of last year.

      1. Allonge*

        This is not a ‘who is scheduling’ problem, this is a ‘bad boss is bad’ problem. Boss could just as easily not show up to meetings she scheduled.

        1. Twix*

          100% this. There is absolutely a problem here and it’s absolutely a boss problem, but the problem is not who is scheduling meetings. It’s that she’s delegating a task to you that requires followup from her and then not doing it, and using the fact that the former was your job to blame you for her not doing the latter. That’s both bad management and a really crappy way to treat your employees, and your frustration at it is totally reasonable and valid, but that doesn’t mean delegating scheduling is inherently dysfunctional.

    17. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I promise everyone that it is okay to disagree on this site. I’ll handle my life as I see fit. I simply offered a counter viewpoint.

    18. Jenna Webster*

      I much prefer being able to set meeting times (I do have access to my boss’ calendar), and have to admit, I assumed this was generally true. I hate meetings on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings, so I don’t schedule them then. That said, I don’t usually ask my direct reports to pick a meeting time – but for the same reason I like it when my boss asks me to do it – I like to be in control of that decision. This definitely falls into my category of not even guessing someone would not want to do that. This site is valuable for so many reasons.

    19. Love to WFH*

      I’m really baffled by the negative reactions to this. I like to let people pick the time that is convenient for them. They can put it back-to-back with another meeting if they hate having their time chopped up, or if they’re someone who wants breaks between meetings, they leave one. Maybe they’re hoping to keep one morning free!

    20. Catherine in UK*

      Agreed. My current job is the only one where I’ve had regular 1-1 meetings and my bosses have always scheduled them. Most of the team has zero meetings with anyone else, so our calendars are normally pretty empty!

    21. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I also disagree with #2 to a certain extent. A boss should be responsible for setting up any
      recurring one-on-one meeting with a direct report. In my workplace, (a) boss is much harder to schedule, (b) boss has an admin assistant to do scheduling, (c) boss is the one most likely to need to reschedule frequently due to conflict, and (d) boss should be demonstrating this minor proactive effort at managing.

      I do agree that if I want to discuss something with my boss in a one-off meeting, I should do the scheduling. But if my boss wants to discuss something with me in a one-off meeting, the boss should do the scheduling. I find the problem is that too many managers don’t want to put any effort into managing, and that includes scheduling meetings. These are people that should never have become people managers in the first place.

    22. Give and Take*

      I am fine scheduling meetings upon request but there is a line in the sand. I don’t think it should be my responsibility to always take that initiative. I once had a boss who accused me of ‘never calling her’ and I didn’t because I didn’t have questions for her and she never told me she wanted or expected regular 1:1’s or anything like that. If she had requested I find a time and schedule them, that would have been ok but I’m not a mind reader, nor will I call you just to check in unless I feel like I have a specific question. There needs to be some accountability and effort to be available on behalf of management.

  2. Observer**

    #1 – Wine tasting. Going to HR over this, unless you do so in the spirit mentioned by Alison would be a mistake, imo. I think that the idea was really, really bad. But it was not the most egregious mistake they could have made, and it looks like good faith efforts were made to rectify the problems.

    If you do go to HR and use the language that Alison suggests, please be as inclusive of others as you want them to be of you. Pregnancy is only one of the possible reasons why this could not work for members of your team (or other teams). And it’s worth calling out, both for the sake of real inclusivity, but also for the fact that it strengthens your case.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I don’t get why anyone thought wine tasting was appropriate for work. Some people don’t drink even without pregnancy, for whatever reason.

      1. Jackalope*

        I would say it depends somewhat on when the event is happening. If it’s during the work day that does seem a bit odd, although I know some work places (never any that I’ve worked at) allow alcohol during the day. If it’s a post-work bonding experience that makes more sense.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I agree. Attitudes to alcohol in the workplace have changed a lot even during the decades I’ve been working. When I started my current job 15 years ago, retirement parties would routinely include a toast with sparkling wine. When I was pregnant 14 years ago, there weren’t even any alcohol-free alternatives on offer when a member of my team retired. It was a bit awkward, because I’d only just learned that I was pregnant myself, and wasn’t ready to tell my employer yet. So I took a glass, and wet my lips for the toast. We were in a break room with a sink, so I threw the rest of it away as I left.

          Apparently in the 80s it was still routine for some senior employees to take wet lunches at 1 pm on Fridays and not return to work after that.

          When I was away on maternity leave, our alcohol policy changed completely after my great-grandboss was found passed out in a cleaning closet one morning. He’d apparently been in the office all night. He got medical care and was sent to rehab as a condition of employment, but sadly he never recovered and died shortly after I returned to work.

          Alcohol is still allowed on the premises for retirement parties on the clock, but the party must take place after our core hours (9-3), and employees who’ve drunk alcohol aren’t allowed to continue working after the party, even if they’ve only had a sip or two.

          According to some statistics, as many as 5 percent of all employees in Finland are high-functioning alcoholics, so I think it’s long past time for attitudes to alcohol in the workplace to change.

          1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

            In my brief stint in multifamily property management I learned that (at least on the operational level) it’s not at all abnormal to have the occasional wet lunch and just not come back to work. I was only in the industry for about a year, but the College Greek Life vibes I got in that time were so wildly different than any other industry I’ve worked in. It’s really interesting to compare norms and expectations with folks who are still there.

          2. Marion Ravenwood*

            My company is currently based in a co-working building that has a bar downstairs providing free beer, and quite often my team will go down there after our day in the office to socialise. The bar opens from 3-6, and we have a similar rule to you in that if we’ve had a drink from the bar then we’re not allowed back in our office. So far everyone’s obeyed that as far as I know and it’s all been pretty civilised.

            I should add that this is an accountancy membership body, and that when I briefly interned at an ad agency when I first came to London 10 years ago the ‘wet lunches’ were definitely a lot more common, at least among senior staff.

        2. ThatGirl*

          My company has offered mimosas and coffee with Bailey’s during the day during the company Christmas party. That’s been the only time I’ve seen it in-office during the day. Otherwise, plenty of post-work happy hours, but those are all off-site and plenty of people come just to hang out and not actually drink.

      2. Heidi*

        I’m sometimes surprised by how many people assume that recreational drinking is an activity that everyone will enjoy. In addition to the multiple reasons (medical and otherwise) that people do not drink, it just seems odd to expect everyone to like a particular food item. It would be like having an arugula tasting party and assuming that everyone loves arugula.

        1. Observer**

          Yeah, I can hardly imagine a more uninteresting activity. But that’s a whole different discussion. And CERTAINLY not an HR issue.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, but it’s a fact of life that regardless of how inclusive an activity is, or what it is, you aren’t going to please everyone. Some people consider any and all team building activities to be an imposition, regardless of the activity.

            1. Mongrel*

              I think if it’s team building, then that’s work and will have to account for everyone.

              Not being able to participate because of medical conditions, religious reasons or lifestyle is vastly different than “This is an imposition and I don’t enjoy the activity”

              Passing it off as “You can’t please everyone” is facetious and incorrect

              1. Bit o' Brit*

                And like work, LW was offered a reasonable accommodation to make the activity accessible (non-alcoholic beverage options). That’s the point at which their objection became “I don’t enjoy the activity”.

                1. Tomato Soup*

                  I don’t think handing her grape juice while everyone else is doing a wine tasting is an accommodation. She’s not complaining about being thirsty. She’d still be left out as everyone learned about, drank, and talked about the wines.

                2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  The whole point of a tasting is to share your impressions with people who are also tasting it at the same time. Being given a different beverage is not inclusive unless the organizer is calling it “tasting” but just using it as an excuse to drink.

                  I make wine at home. I have been to wine tastings, hosted them, and had classes with a professional sommelier.

                  The bucket on the counter of a wine tasting is not for tips–it’s for wine the taster did not need after tasting the sample.

                3. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Apparently I needed to read further down the thread, because below would have been a better place to nest this. Some days I wish I could have been in the conversation when Europe was reading with morning coffee. ;)

                4. Allonge*

                  to Seeking Second Childhood

                  But the ‘purpose’ of this meeting is also not to have a shared understanding of these particular vines. It’s to have a team activity where people can join and have some fun together. You can learn abour vinemaking even if you don’t dring that evening, you still can participate.

                  Is it the optimal choice under the circumstances? No, which is probably why boss agreed to change it altogether. But it’s not totally out of line to suggest that people can participate still without actually drinking the vine. If the company provides non-alcoholic options, presumably it’s something that people have chosen before. If I cannot drink alcohol, I would be ok with this option.

                5. Curious*

                  Having a non-alcoholic alternative at a meal, or as part of refreshments or a toast, is a perfectly reasonable accommodation.

                  But an activity *focused* on alcoholic beverages is simply not inclusive of people who temporarily (e.g., pregnancy) or long term (e. g., for religious or health reasons) don’t imbibe.

                6. MissGirl*

                  No, it’s not. I don’t drink and sitting there while everyone discusses drinking with my nonalcoholic drink is not inclusive. If it were a happy hour then it would be fine. But when the event is all about the alcohol experience, I’m not part of the conversation or the activities. I’ve been at events like this and all the conversation is about alcohol, which I have no ability to participate in. That’s not okay for a work event.

                  I was recently in a group trip where one of the activities was rum tasting. I couldn’t opt out and it was so boring and tedious. I sat there on my own counting the seconds. That’s acceptable for a trip but not for work.

                7. zuzu*

                  That wouldn’t work really well for someone in recovery, who would find it difficult to be around a discussion of alcohol (in a virtual event) or around people drinking (in a live event), even if grape juice were offered.

                  And that person shouldn’t have to disclose their reasons to the entire office.

            2. Observer*

              Yeah, but it’s a fact of life that regardless of how inclusive an activity is, or what it is, you aren’t going to please everyone.

              That’s true. Which is all the more reason to NOT take this to HR.

        2. Roland*

          > I’m sometimes surprised by how many people assume that recreational drinking is an activity that everyone will enjoy.

          Was that necessarily the assumption though? Frankly if I’m tasked with organizing an event for my team, then “at least half enjoy it and the rest aren’t actively suffering or excluded” is my goal, not “everyone will enjoy it”. And it sounds like this employee is in charge of organizing something every single quarter – it’s way too much work to find something in your budget that 15 people will enjoy once, let alone 4 times a year. I don’t think we need to judge her for originally suggesting it as an activity.

          (Before someone replies to me with ‘but it WAS excluding someone!!!’, I’m not responding to the OP telling them to suck it up, I’m responding to the quote that I quoted.)

          1. Dust Bunny*

            But alcohol seems like one of those things that has a higher-than-average risk of being problematic.

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              Agreed–I very much doubt they’d schedule a class about cigars with a cigar “tasting” and the wine is along a similar vein.

              1. TechWorker*

                I mean it might be similar but clearly these things are not treated the same in society – perhaps you think they should be, but they just aren’t.

            2. Katherine*

              Exactly. There are all sorts of reasons it wouldn’t be inclusive. Off the top of my head:

              1. Pregnancy
              2. Religion
              3. Sobriety
              4. Allergy
              5. Just plain hate wine

              There are plenty of other team-building activities that will be less problematic.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                Yeah, red wine turns out to be a migraine trigger fore me. I like alcohol in small doses, but not red wine, and not beer.

              2. Avery*

                Don’t forget 6) Reacts badly with their medication.
                Which is the case with a lot of medications out there, though “reacts badly” spans the spectrum from “just makes you drunk faster” to “changes how the medication itself works” to “might actually kill you”.

                1. MigraineMonth*

                  I’ve been on SSRIs since I was a teen. So when I drink, I tend to fall asleep in odd places. (I once fell asleep on a table in a bar with a live band playing.)

              3. Distracted Librarian*

                Also medical issues (besides pregnancy) and family trauma associated with alcohol and lots of other intensely private reasons why people don’t drink. And too often when someone opts out of an alcohol-focused activity, people ask them why or at least privately speculate about why–and their assumptions are usually things like pregnancy or alcoholism. I’m not a super-private person, but I’d prefer not to have co-workers speculating about why I don’t drink.

              4. Database Developer Dude*

                Except #1 and #2 are personal choices. While I agree that this should not be a during-work-hours activity, nor should it be mandatory….

                If I were part of a group denied this after it had been chosen simply because one person was pregnant, I’d be feeling like the person thinks I should be constrained by their life choices.

                LW#1, I didn’t get you pregnant, so why should I forgo a wine tasting just because you can’t drink?

          2. PurpleShark*

            I don’t drink and I would not have minded going to the wine tasting. If you have good snacks and good alternative drinks I would not mind socializing with my coworkers. As long as they don’t get drunk – not really my scene. I did kind of read the letter and wondered at the end if she would have complained if she wasn’t pregnant?

            1. Sleepy Librarian*

              It was a virtual wine tasting, so they would all be sipping their wine at home and providing their own snacks.

              I still think the whole idea of an alcoholic based work bonding activity isn’t the best if it is required of staff. There’s plenty of other food based (and nonfood based) activities to do.

          3. Random Dice*

            Except that the one person who declined was tracked down by her manager and asked for an explanation. So it’s mandatory.

        3. triss merigold*

          Wine (all alcohol but wine especially) remains a mystery to me. Arugula at least is mild, but I have never been able to understand wine tasting. It’s all really foul to my taste buds. Not to pile on these people because they changed it and that’s great, problem solved, but am I unusual in finding it undrinkable, separate from any health concerns? Maybe the other half of the trip is going to a nice vineyard and eating bread and cheese, which is pretty pleasant, I’ll grant.

            1. Just Another Tired US Fed*

              Many mouthwashes are 20% alcohol so this is no surprise! Alcoholics have been known to drink mouthwash, as have kids.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            Wine is the least confusing to me, but all alcohol tastes unpleasant to me. So much so that for a very, very long time I assumed people drank alcohol despite the awful tastes to look cool or get drunk or for some purpose that did no involved liking the taste. People have in the past handed me drinks where they said you can barely taste the alcohol and I very much tasted the alcohol so I think I’m sensative to it.

            I have found some sweet wine I don’t mind drinking, but juice tastes better to me because it doesn’t have the unpleasant (warning!) taste that alcochol does.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              Same here. I’ve found a few drinks where I can’t taste the alcohol (then why am I drinking it? This amaretto milkshake could just be a milkshake) and a few sweet wines that I was willing to take more than one sip of, but by and large, alcohol tastes to me like you started with perfectly good fruit juice and let it rot.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              I love wine, and I must say, drinks that get recommended as “can’t even taste the alcohol” are usually not good. Either you absolutely can taste it, not in a good way, or they’re cloyingly sweet, or both.

              I like only dry wine, not sweet, and the point is the complexity of taste (tannins etc. that will combine with, not cover, the alcohol). It’s an acquired taste, like coffee or truffles or blue cheese, or any number of fermented things with bitter notes and complex taste. For any acquired taste there are always people who just can’t (or don’t want to) acquire it, and that’s fine.

            3. goddessoftransitory*

              The only alcohol I can stand is those drinks where they basically melt a candy bar and then add the tiniest of booze splashes to it. The taste is not for me.

            4. Boof*

              It really is an acquired taste; i used to feel the same as you, and i’m not particularly dedicated to getting into alcohol, but it does modify the taste of things in ways i found unexpected and therefore interesting (cranberry juice for example tastes way different with alcohol added). Kind of like coffee; now i like black coffee, used to only like it loaded with cream and sugar!
              Veering off course i know – i could see how it might have seemed like a good idea at the time; worth modifying to kumbucha tasting or cheese or appkes or whatever might be more palatable for the whole group XD

          2. Moira Rose*

            LW1 said it’s a virtual wine tasting, which I think means everyone sits at their own house and drinks wine alone. It sounds extremely unappealing to me.

            1. Allonge*

              Which is fair enough (I like wine and don’t see this as particularly appealing) but this is going to be the case for someone with every single possible team building activity. Plenty of people drink alcohol but don’t like wine!

              But this does not mean the concept itself is not appropriate. Apparently there is at least one company that makes business providing this experience.

            2. Lily Potter*

              I’ve did virtual wine tastings during Covid. Ours was a vendor gift in lieu of taking us out for dinner. Wine got sent to the house and we all opened the bottles and tasted in a big Zoom session.

              They were a lot of fun. But then….I like wine.

              1. Random Dice*

                I did a fun virtual event where people were sent snacks, and we ate them “together” with a beverage of choice.

            3. Solokid*

              Our company did virtual cheese tastings once – I much preferred being virtual so nobody could see me spit one disgusting cheese back into a napkin haha

              1. Lily Potter*

                Didn’t care for the Camembert, huh?
                I would LOVE a cheese tasting as a work group activity.
                But I suppose that someone who’s secretly lactose intolerant would be upset.
                Or someone who just doesn’t like cheese.
                Or someone who’s allergic to bovine dairy, and could they please have vegan cheese?
                Group activities just sometimes don’t work for 100% of people, no matter how hard organizers try.

                1. sb51*

                  Or the OP, since I think some softer cheeses are recommended not to eat during pregnancy.

                  I do think these things are fine if everyone enjoys the item being tasted — but with a group of 15, finding something in common might be tricky. A small group where everyone has discussed their love of (beer, wine, stinky cheese, chocolates, etc), great!

                  I’m more of a wine person than most of my coworkers (who are Beer People, of the ones who enjoy discussing their beverage choices at parties with optional alcoholic drinks), so a wine tasting to me would be awkward because I’d be taking it seriously and they’d all be like “it tastes like wine, yay?”

                2. MigraineMonth*

                  One of my companies did this while we were in-office, and the conference room stank of limburger for days.

          3. Lime green Pacer*

            Anne Fadiman, daughter of wine expert Clifton Fadiman, has the same problem. She wrote a long piece about investigating the science, I think it was a chapter from her memoir The Wine Lover’s Daughter .

            The upshot is that the physical experience of taste is (apparently) far more variable and personal than vision or hearing, and there literally is no arguing in matters of taste. My mother and husband taste something quite different (and nasty) in cilantro. My husband adores a certain olive oil; I find it puckeringly bitter.

          4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Wine (all alcohol but wine especially) remains a mystery to me.

            I couldn’t agree with you more. Even my favorite wines, I look at the description on the bottle and wonder “Am I drinking it wrong?” I inherited amateur vintning from my father, so while I’m not a master craftsperson, I’m not completely clueless (on paper), either.

          5. marvin*

            I think the flavours of wine and the process of wine making are fascinating (I have a very sensitive nose, which may contribute to this). I still wouldn’t want to drink or talk about wine with a bunch of coworkers for many reasons.

          6. Willow*

            I don’t think you’re that unusual. It’s probably a combination of acquired taste and being more sensitive to certain tastes. If you drink wine frequently you get used to the alcohol taste and get better at tasting the other flavours in it. But if you’re not interested in drinking wine there’s no actual reason to suffer through it until you acquire the taste.

        4. JP*

          Same here. I don’t drink just because it makes me feel physically awful, and I get tired of feeling like the buzzkill because no one in my company can figure out how to interact with each other outside of the office without alcohol. People seem to assume that because you’re abstaining that you’re also judging, which isn’t the case.

          1. Anonomite*

            I feel like the “but you’re judging me” is an immature response. Unless you’re drinking around your teetotaler grandmother, likely nobody else cares about your drinking, and if you’re feeling judged, you probably need to spend time with that and figure out where it’s coming from. (You generic, not you specific.)

            1. Jay (no, the other one)*

              If JP feels judged, it’s entirely possible that’s because JP is being judged. I drink and I don’t judge those who don’t. I’ve definitely run into people who are very judgey about it and in almost every case that stemmed from Judgey McJudgeypants’s own discomfort about their drinking. They needed everyone else to join in they could normalize or rationalize it.

              I’ve done some team-building facilitation and it’s more than “find something fun for everyone to do.” Effective team-building helps develop relationships and insight into the functioning of the team. Wine tasting, whether in-person or virtual, isn’t going to do that. I really enjoy wine. We’ve collected a nice cellar over the years and have learned a lot about wine. I would not want to do a wine tasting as a work event because either I’m going to be bored or I risk people thinking I’m a snob or a show-off. It was a questionable choice for a lot of reasons.

              1. DisgruntledPelican*

                They were commenting on the people who drink saying they feel judged by people who abstain.

            2. JP*

              My former (thank goodness) boss made comments about me getting a diet coke instead of alcohol directly to me. Most of the times the comments are more like a disappointed “that’s all you’re getting?” or “are you sure you don’t want a beer / wine / etc.?” And, granted, it’s not all the time, but it’s absolutely something that people notice and comment on. Your declaration that it must be imagined and that people who feel this kind of judgment must have some sort of other issue going on is something else.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                I think Anonomite was saying that your former boss (and those who similarly feel judged by you not drinking) were the ones being immature. Like maybe they felt bad about their own drinking and were projecting it on you.

          2. Callie*

            You’re literally judging them in this comment by saying they can’t figure out how to interact without alcohol. Maybe that’s a correct judgment but it would hardly be surprising if they’re picking up on it.

        5. Just Not Into Booze*

          This x 1,000,000, Heidi! I can’t think of any other foodstuff or beverage that provokes this peculiar reaction when someone declines it. We don’t start to speculate as to why someone doesn’t want to eat olives, hard boiled eggs or grapes, but turn down alcohol and people seem to think that it’s their business to winkle out the reason why you’ve done such a very odd thing. Sigh….

        6. MigraineMonth*

          A company I worked with arranged a cheese-tasting party… including limburger. We had to air out that conference room for days.

        7. goddessoftransitory*

          I find all wine tastes like straw, and all beer tastes like straw a horse peed on, so yeah, this would not be for me. I’m always bewildered by “now, you note a hint of blackberry and oak” and I’m going…nope, hang on *slurp* nope, still straw.

      3. Marshmallow*

        I guess… ok… so it’s bad that it wasn’t an inclusive event… but, it can be really difficult sometimes to guess every possible thing that people might not be able to do. I don’t necessarily think that the burden should have to fall on the person being excluded. That just sounds awful, but at the same time we are all humans with different experiences so sometimes we are going to get it wrong. The willingness to change the plan is important.

        My sis was recently pregnant and went in several golf outings with her management team during her pregnancy. She enjoyed the outings, but not all pregnant women would enjoy that or even be able to do it… it’s important for the organizers to be open to changing plans when stuff like that pops up.

        I don’t drink but personally would’ve been just fine with the non-alcoholic version of the tasting. Teas or juice or something would’ve been fun potentially.

        Everyone is so different which is what makes team things difficult.

        1. ceiswyn*

          I don’t think the offer was an entirely non-alcoholic version of the event. I think the offer was that everyone else would be tasting wines and comparing notes, and OP would be drinking something non-alcoholic and different.
          That would exclude OP from a lot of the social interaction of the event.
          If everyone were doing a tea tasting or a chocolate tasting, that would seem like a much better idea.

          1. Despachito*

            But then you can have people who do not like tea and are allergic to chocolate.

            Frankly – the main purpose of such an event should be to socialize on non-work basis, as opposed to getting the maximum personal enjoyment out of it. I like Roland’s “at least half enjoy it and the rest aren’t actively suffering or excluded” goal because “everyone will enjoy it” is sometimes so difficult to achieve that the effort is not worth the result, and it would be better to have no event whatsoever than to invest a lot of energy in coordinating everyone’s differing needs for something that is not essential for the work as such.

            I also think that it depends a lot on the stance of the persons involved. If my relations with the other people are good I would be more inclined to participate in an activity with them which is not 100% my cup of tea but I am able to participate and will not be suffering (ie going to a steakhouse while I do not care much for meat provided I will have at least some non-meat options). It would mean that I value more the company and the socializing than my full culinary satisfaction. I can imagine people I would want to do this and go to a different restaurant I would select if on my own, and I can also imagine those I would not care for because I do not value their company that much. I went to several wine tasting events when pregnant or when trying to lose weight and therefore almost not drinking, because I wanted to meet the people whe were also coming, and didn’t mind one bit that I could not drink. There were plenty of other things we could socialize about, you do not talk about the taste of the drink the whole night.

            OP1 says they were OFFENDED although they were offered an alternative option, and I think this is too strong given the circumstances. I might propose to alternate the activities so that next time they should find something that would suit me (and the segment of non-drinkers) more, but I’d save the “offended” feeling for something that really deserves it.

            1. Less is more*

              Her getting offended is what bothers me most. I agree that alcohol is not an appropriate choice for work activities, and I think even young coworkers are aware that some people don’t drink. So their decision to hold a wine tasting was self-serving and inconsiderate. BUT being offended is too much. I’d be thrilled if nobody took notice of my pregnancy at work! It seems as if LW was offended not by the alcohol, but because her pregnancy wasn’t acknowledged.

              1. Lexie*

                It’s a group of 15 so it’s possible the organizers do know if everyone drinks or not. It could be they also didn’t think it would be an issue for a pregnant person because it’s not at all unheard of to spit the wine out at a tasting. So they may have thought it would be fine for her to hold some in her mouth for a few seconds and then spit it out or even take a couple of small sips. I am absolutely aware of all the pitfalls in this situation and I’m not saying they are right in their decision but I can absolutely see how someone might think it wouldn’t be an issue.

              2. Minerva*

                Yeah…I understand that not everyone drinks and a during work a boozy event is on really shaky ground.

                But the “don’t they know I am pregnant” and the “should I take this to HR” is what gets me. Like…if she wasn’t pregnant would she have had an issue? Is she trying to claim pregnancy discrimination?

                A general issue with workplace drinking due to the way it might exclude people, OK legit. But this feels like problem is “THEY EXCLUDED ME!” And none of it rises to a HR worthy offense seeing as how mgmt handled it.

            2. Just Another Tired US Fed*

              Team building activities should not involve ingesting anything. Or require physical fitness. Just query the staff and do what they want. Stop trying o impose mandatory fun on people.

              Besides, team building is a lot of BS. If teaming was so important, individual performance ratings would not be a thing. Working with people is important, but the truth is how you do your job will matter more for you than some theoretical team.

              1. Despachito*

                This seems pretty harsh.

                I am with you that IMPOSING MANDATORY fun on people is very wrong, and it by no means replaces genuine good relationships, and I am afraid that is what at least some managers are trying to do.

                However, if the overall atmosphere at work is good, people cooperate well and are on good terms it can be great to have a get-together in a restaurant once in a while, or some fun activity, and it can help the “how do you do your job” part. And if I feel valued by my coworkers in general in our daily interactions, it is much less likely that I will feel slighted by an isolated omission just because of that – I will consider it to be an isolated omission that can happen to anybody, not a part of a broader pattern of not being valued enough.

              2. Lexie*

                I wouldn’t say team building shouldn’t ever involve ingesting anything. It’s the ingesting of something specific that can be an issue. But going to a rest and letting everyone order off the menu can work.

          2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            I HAVE done a work tea tasting (opt-in, only with colleagues who thought it would be interesting) and we had a great time! I didn’t like them all, but it was cool to try stuff and learn about tea.

          3. to varying degrees*

            FWIW, I go to a lot of wine tastings and very little of the discussion involves actually talking about the wine. In fact the sommelier’s leading them tend to get a little frustrated by that fact.

            1. Allonge*

              Yes, unless it’s a meeting of sommeliers, it’s pretty difficult to say anything intelligent other than ‘I liked the rose better’ or ‘yum!’. Discussion follows in other directions.

              1. Despachito*


                Every wine tasting I’ve been to had wines poured and explained by a sommelier, and the people around the table mostly discussed work and non-work issues, only briefly mentioning “I liked No1 better than No5”, by no means was wine the main topic of discussion.

            2. Bridget*

              I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wine tasting led by an actual sommelier. Usually it’s just the person working the counter of the tasting room and they are given the notes on each wine.

              1. to varying degrees*

                I’ve been to a couple of restaurants who had their own sommelier’s so they hosted the event. The others were by the actual wine producer. Those were just chaos for the poor people.

            3. marvin*

              And trust me, it’s probably better that way. I have a relative who is a sommelier and hearing all about how their wine would be so much better if it were two degrees warmer loses its appeal pretty quickly.

          4. Bridget*

            “Tasting wines and comparing notes” is usually just “oh I like this one” or “yuck, that one is terrible”. Folks are over thinking this way too much.

      4. Blackcat*

        Yeah, I am anti all work things focused on alcohol. So many people don’t drink for so many reasons, including religious reasons. It just should be done. Incidental alcohol (wine or beer at dinner) is one thing but alcohol centered events are another.

      5. FashionablyEvil*

        But learning this (especially if you’re earlier career and come from a culture and/or industry where alcohol consumption is normal) is an entirely different thing. It’s not reasonable to assume everyone has the same baseline here.

      6. TX_TRUCKER*

        I’m in the trucking field, so alcohol related events are a big NO for us. But we have several craft breweries in this area and beer related events are quite common for many other industries in this area.

      7. Lacey*

        Yes, but in some fields drinking for work events is SO common.

        I have a sibling who can’t drink for health reasons, but works in a field where every networking event, every celebration, every achievement lunch involves alcohol. And the people at these events are oddly aggressive about making sure everyone is drinking. It sounds like a frat house, but it’s a traditionally conservative field!

        1. Anonomite*

          That feels like an offshoot of the drinking culture in Japan. Typically conservative office workers get VERY drunk and party a lot on the weekends. It’s some weird socially acceptable way to not be buttoned down and conservative.

        2. Kotow*

          That’s pretty much the legal field! You’ll even find the occasional alcoholic options at continuing education events. There **is** more of an awareness in the last several years that not everyone drinks and it’s not polite or necessary to ask why, but you definitely stand out if you’re not having any and people do ask. There have been multiple occasions where younger female attorneys are outright asked if they’re pregnant because of not drinking.

        3. My Cabbages!*

          My old workplace literally bought a keg every Friday. Scientists by and large can *drink*.

          (You just make sure that you didn’t drink so much that you could more-or-less get the pipette in the right well.)

      8. PinkCandyfloss*

        I am an American who works with an international, heavily European team, and drinking wine during the work day is a norm for them which I always view with a touch of incredulity.

      9. Pugetkayak*

        Exactly, and they shouldn’t have to state why. It’s even worse that it was virtual almost? Like in person at least if everyone was hanging out and talking, but virtual and not drinking sounds extra awful.

        1. Anonomite*

          The fact that it’s virtual is even weirder. Why make wine-tasting part of it at all, then? Why not just do a virtual hang out where people just talk or you play trivia games, or something like that?

          1. Allonge*

            Because, maybe, they have done trivia games or ‘people just talk’ (which, I have no clue how that works in virtual, really) a dozen times already and they wanted to try something new?

            Everyone here very easily spots problems with any possible teambuilding event. Try being the person who needs to come up with something four times a year and it should be exciting.

            Also: if you want to just chat, what is stopping you from throwing the wine in the trash and just chat?

            1. Dahlia*

              …the fact that everyone else is going to be talking about the wine and not want to talk about what you want to talk about? And sitting at home watching people drink wine you can’t drink isn’t great team building?

            2. Wannessa*

              What’s stopping the event organizer from polling the attendees about what they’re actually interested in? Especially if they’re the ones who want to try something new?

      10. Essess*

        Especially people taking medications for medical conditions. Anything that requires someone to share info about medical conditions in order to opt out should not be considered for a ‘team building’ exercise.

        1. Allonge*

          You know this includes every possible activity under the sun, right? Or rather: could you please list three different activities that it does not exclude?

            1. Allonge*

              Could you please list one activity that is ok for a team building and has absolutely no limits on people participating due to medical reasons? Just one.

              1. Allonge*

                Just to add because the above sounds snarkier than I intended: an event taking place at any given time can be a medical issue (one needs to take medication and cannot eat/drink before/during/after, people run out of any energy to do things at a certain point in the afternoon or cannot wake up in the morning earlier than they have to for work.

                All food can be or contain an allergen, there is no physical activity that does not exclude people. There is no location where you can guarantee that people can get to without medical issues coming up (mobility, allergens, transportation, accessibility). All places in the world have the potential to trigger mental health issues.

                So, when I say that if you want to organise an event where there is no chance that someone would be excluded due to medical issues, I am telling the truth.

          1. Valancy Trinit*

            1) Painting parties. I have fine motor skill issues and I’ve still enjoyed them. Nobody cares whether the painting looks halfway decent at the end.
            2) An excursion to a local park. Drinks, badminton, and cornhole are all great – but if you can’t participate in any of those, it’s still fun.
            3) Volunteering at a food bank. You don’t need to be able to lift 20 lbs, you don’t even need to be able to quickly do math – you can just greet and direct people.

            There we go, that’s 3. There are lots and lots more out there!

            1. Nemo*

              Actually I couldn’t do one of those, depending on time of year. At times my allergies are bad enough that purposely going outside would lead to my face leaking snot uncontrollably.


            2. Seconds*

              Truth : I would not be able to do ANY of those three things.

              I wouldn’t be able to work in your office either, of course, but I might be able to work part time, remotely.

      11. MsClaw*

        In my 20+ year career I’ve never been involved in a team building event that didn’t center alcohol in some way. I work in a pretty drinky business. There are typically dry options at the bar/brewery/whatever for those who don’t drink.

        I understand the whole list of reasons why this isn’t ideal, but this is a fairly entrenched norm at a lot of places.

      12. Narvo Flieboppen*

        Absolutely. I stopped drinking alcohol more than a decade ago. Even when I did drink, I did not like wine. A wine tasting would be just as pointless for me as a team building exercise as it would be for someone who is pregnant.

      13. Starbuck*

        Well, wineries themselves can be workplaces. Lots of workplaces serve wine. It’s not inherently unreasonable, yet obviously not going to be a good fit for everyone. But it can be a fine option if the planning allows for everyone to have a choice to opt in, and if it’s not unanimous then something else can be picked.

      14. Gato Blanco*

        Seriously! There are so many medications that don’t mix with alcohol. How embarrassing would it be for an employee to admit they couldn’t drink because of a medication or health problem or an addiction issue they are trying to resolve. I’ve had this issue with previous workplaces and I find it so frustrating that it keeps coming up!

    2. Alex*

      Agreed, this letter seems oddly antagonistic. While I can understand some annoyance that an inclusive option wasn’t provided from the start, especially since this doesn’t seem like a case where it would be hard to offer one (it’s virtual, so just let the team members select their own alcohol/no alcohol tasting bundle and the organizers don’t even need to know who chose what), OP1 seems to be acting like the team chose wine tasting AT them. Which is sort of an odd way to react, especially since they were immediately offered an inclusive option when they pointed out the problem. And then when they declined, the activity was changed entirely to accommodate them. Asking HR to document ‘I couldn’t participate in a team building activity and didn’t like the inclusive option so they chose a different activity’ doesn’t seem like the win (?) OP1 thinks it will be.

      1. Cat Lover*

        “OP1 seems to be acting like the team chose wine tasting AT them. ”

        Yeah, this is one of those situations where OP has to realize that they are being targeting. I work with a person where they think every little thing (decisions, comments, etc) are aimed at them. I can’t decide if it is narcissism or just anxiety LOL.

      2. anna*

        From contextual clues in the letter I would not be surprised if the OP has run into other culture issues from being on a young team and her reaction is because of the pattern more than this single incident. It can be tough to be in one stage of life when all your coworkers are in an earlier one if they function with no regard for that.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah I can see that. Pregnancy is one of those things that impacts your day-to-day life so much, in ways the people around you may not notice. Innocent mistakes that cause you to feel inconvenienced or unseen can certainly add up over time and build resentment, especially in this environment where it seems like most of OPs coworkers are in a different life stage and haven’t had to consider those changing needs.

        2. Willow Pillow*

          I had the same feeling. It can be very trying for a someone in a minority group to always have to explain and educate.

        3. marvin*

          My feeling was that the LW is either not used to being excluded at work and reacting strongly because of that, or they are regularly excluded and this happened to be what put them over the edge.

          As a person who is the only member of a few marginalized groups in my office, I have experienced a kind of bell curve of annoyance. The first few incidents or the latest of many can really hit you hard, whereas there is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle where you’re too exhausted to care. Sometimes it’s hard to predict what will bother you most.

      3. philmar*

        Yeah, I thought “offended” was a very strong word. I’m sure it’s annoying they forgot about something that is currently the major focus of your entire world, but I’m not offended when work events are child-focused and the central activities are for kids, for example, even though I don’t have kids. Especially since it was virtual, so it would be extremely easy to send her mocktails or whatever (which sounds like the original accommodation) rather than her standing around a winery not able to do anything but eat the palate-cleansing crackers.

        1. Kim*

          This currently pregnant person also thought that ‘offended’ was such a strong emotion to feel about this. It was certainly a gaffe on the end of the organiser, but I can’t fathom malicious intent.

          I just don’t drink alcohol in general, regardless of whether I’m currently at work building a baby and/or breastfeeding them. Alcohol in the work place is so fraught, with people with medical issues, religious reasons or just non-drinkers existing. That would maybe be the only reason to bring it up again, but maybe to the boss and not HR?

          1. Curious*

            While I agree that this incident doesn’t warrant discipline for the organizer, it does show a gap in the organization’s efforts to be inclusive. That should be pointed out to the organization’s DEI office so that policies and training can be adjusted.

        2. Antilles*

          I’m sure it’s annoying they forgot about something that is currently the major focus of your entire world.
          That was my interpretation too. OP views this as a major life event that her entire life currently revolves around and it’s
          Of course, for everybody else, it’s not particularly notable. Oh coolOP is annoyed

          But of course the reality is that for everybody else, it IS something that’s not particularly notable.

          1. Antilles*

            Was re-writing and it posted somehow. Really wish there was an edit feature (or, if you want to avoid issues of people changing posts, limit it to “edit within the first X minutes of posting” which I’ve seen in other forums/comment secitons).

            To OP, it’s a major life event that everything revolves around, impossible to forget, and it’s the centerpiece of everything. OP is annoyed that it’s not remembered because to her, it’s so important that it’s always foremost in your thought process; how could you possibly forget.
            Of course, for everybody else, it’s *not* at that level. It’s something you remember when directly talking to OP but it’s not at the top of your mind, so it’s easy to accidentally forget when you’re planning events for an entire group.
            No harm intended, not an intentional slight, simply differing levels of importance in the person’s memory.

            1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

              Would you say this about things that were exclusionary to people with other disabilities? I thought she over-reacted, but the point of DEI is to think about these things and not put the burden on the person needing accommodation. What if the person was in recovery or from a religious tradition that banned alcohol?

              1. EPLawyer*

                Mistakes happen. But this was handled. An accomodation was offered. Then the whole event was changed. But OP STILL wants to go to HR because her life event wasn’t the central consideration when picking something.

                The idea is we learn. Okay, we forgot this time, next time let’s be aware of ALL possibilities. But if the person who was affected the first time turns it into a BIG DEAL, all anyone is going to remember is — make sure we pick something that pleases Person, regardless of any other consideration. Which doesn’t help the overal situation.

                1. Dahlia*

                  “You can sit at home and drink grape juice while we talk about wine” is not really a good accomdation. It’s boring for OP and could be harmful for others.

              2. Observer*

                Would you say this about things that were exclusionary to people with other disabilities?

                That very much depends on the circumstances. If the scenario had been me, for instance, where I can’t drink ANY wine for health reasons, and I also would have an issue because the wines would almost certainly not be kosher, I *still* think that the OP’s reaction would be out of line. She flagged it for the organizer who did try to accommodate her. It was not a GREAT solution, but I can see why she thought it would work. And when the OP made it clear that she found that unacceptable, her manager did change the whole activity.

                Sure, the OP probably shouldn’t have had ask. And I should also not have had to ask, in a theoretical case. But reality is that people are not always going to know. Whether it’s alcohol or anything else. And a reasonable person speaks up and recognizes when people are acting in good faith.

                Now, if this were a pattern, where the OP is constantly having to remind people of things like this, that’s a different issues. And flagging a pattern for her manager and HR would be a good thing. But if this is a one-off, then yes, it’s just something not great that happened that the OP needs to chill out over.

                1. Meep*

                  This. The activity was a bad idea, regardless. The original solution is inadequate. It got fixed. Complaining to HR is petty.

                2. Antilles*

                  And a reasonable person speaks up and recognizes when people are acting in good faith.
                  Bingo. Human beings are sometimes forgetful, don’t pay attention, or just straight up make mistakes. It happens all the time.
                  The key is how the other side responds after realizing they made a mistake. Do they handle it the right way once you point it out? Do they learn from it? Does it happen repeatedly?

                3. Starbuck*

                  Yeah, OP doesn’t give enough information in the letter either way for us to assume good faith vs. bad – but I like to operate from an assumption of good faith unless it’s demonstrated otherwise. I think the reactions both times OP brought it up were in line with good faith, so I agree that pushing it further after it’s been resolved is not necessary or going to be helpful to them.

              3. Meep*

                Removed. Arguing “you chose to be pregnant” ends up being terrible for women, whether or not you intended it that way. – Alison

                1. Fuzzyfuzz*

                  OK–I think the LW is being OTT. However, the attitude of ‘I am tired of treating a pregnant woman with consideration because her condition is her fault’ attitude is pretty gross.

                  Being pregnant can be tough on your body, your hormones, your psyche in ways that are very difficult to predict, even if you had wanted, planned pregnancies. Plus, why not be a decent person and show others minor consideration, even if they make choices you don’t agree with?

                  I am a parent, but certainly don’t believe that parents’ concerns and considerations should trump everyone else’s under all circumstances–people without kids have lives, loved ones, and health concerns too. But taking a stance like the above is a bit self-centered.

        1. WellRed*

          I was really surprised HR was suggested at all. And I agree with Philmar. Pregnancy is currently the major focus for Op right, but it’s not for anyone she works with.

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            “Crutches are the major focus for OP right now…”
            “Managing her diabetes is the major focus for OP right now…”
            I don’t think that argument works, that people can just disregard other people’s disabilities and the person with the disability needs to “chill.”
            I thought she could have let it go as one team-building exercise among many, but when she asked to change it, they should have changed it immediately.

            1. Pugetkayak*

              Agree, I don’t think it was malicious but the boss should have stepped in and made it something different. I realize the planners didn’t realize, but the boss has to be like…oh hey guys we need to do inclusive things. Someone suggested ax throwing to our team, but one person on our team (young person) actually had a pretty serious brain issue that makes use of his arms difficult. Even if you don’t know about it, it’s not an inclusive thing. If everyone is meant to participate, it better be really accessible to everyone. And that’s something a manager should teach to everyone who may not realize.

            2. ThatGirl*

              Pregnancy may be considered a disability, but it’s not a permanent one. I don’t know that you can compare it to diabetes or mobility issues.

              I agree that the LW’s coworkers could have been more thoughtful, but I don’t think it was purposely exclusionary, just a bit thoughtless.

              1. Office Lobster DJ*

                If this quarter’s planned activity was a hike when LW was on crutches due to a broken leg, I’d still think being offended or going to HR would be an overreaction. However, I would feel differently if LW couldn’t go on the planned hike due to a chronic health condition or physical limitation.

                To me, the temporary broken leg is more analogous to limitations due to pregnancy. Ideally, it should have been considered, but it’s not going to be a pattern of exclusion. Catch them at the next event in 12 weeks.

                (Of course, I say all this with an assumption that these activities are not required and LW will suffer no consequences by not being able to take part in a single event. If that is not true in LW’s workplace, I can more understand the reaction.)

                1. ThatGirl*

                  Yeah, I agree, a broken leg expected to fully heal is a good analogy. And that hopefully none of these activities are required.

                2. Yorick*

                  A temporary condition is easy for the organizer to overlook, especially if this is a team where everyone or some people work remotely (the fact that it’s a virtual event made me think this). You might plan a hiking trip totally forgetting that Jane is temporarily using crutches. You probably wouldn’t do forget that Jane is always using a wheelchair, and would consider that when planning. I think pregnancy could fall in this same category, depending on particular circumstances.

              2. Willow Pillow*

                I have a permanant, dynamic invisible disability… I honestly find “a bit thoughtless” (or issues along those “unintended” lines) to be worse in some ways. The affect on me is typically the same in both cases, but with the “a bit thoughtless” cases there’s even more of an imposition: the burden falls on me to either explain the impact on me, or to put up with said impact if it turns out to be less of a burden then trying to fight insistence on good intentions.

            3. Observer*

              I don’t think that argument works, that people can just disregard other people’s disabilities and the person with the disability needs to “chill.”

              Except that there is no sign of disrespect here. The OP expressed a problem. The organizer came up with an accommodation. The OP decided that the mere fact that the mistake had been made was enough of an offense that they just declined the invitation, at which point the manager found out that there was an issue and immediately changed the entire event.

              Sorry, that the OP was SO offended that the activity had been even chosen that they are now trying to raise this a major issue is what’s disrespectful here. Yes, it was a mistake. But to willfully ignore the good faith actions to deal with the problem is really not acceptable. Now, if this happens AGAIN, that would be a much bigger issue and one where the OP would be right in going to HR.

              1. Czhorat*

                I think this thread is being unkind to the OP. It happened once, the organizer initially pushed back and OP had to escalate it to get what they considered a satisfactory result.

                Was this a one-off problem that would never recur? Maybe. Or maybe the next time an event is organized there will be a similar issue. OP doesn’t seem to be coming at this with aggression, but asking an advice column for next steps. Is it worthwhile going to HR to have new guidelines drafted to prevent this from recurring? DEI training that includes potential issues with alcohol? I could see those as reasonable things to at least consider.

                1. Willow Pillow*

                  I agree completely. There seems to be a lot of mental investment in how wrong LW’s decision was, but her actual actions – declining the event, declining the alternative – don’t seem egregious.

                2. KC*

                  I would disagree. I would consider wanting to run to HR and possibly get someone in trouble over this pretty aggressive when they made a good faith attempt to accommodate her and changed the activity with no push back when the accommodation didn’t meet her approval.

            4. Observer*

              @Pugetkayak you say that the boss should have stepped in and made it something different.

              But the Boss DID step in once they were made aware of the problem! It’s not clear that the manager even knew what the activity was. But even if she knew it’s not an outrage that she didn’t realize that it might be a problem.

            5. Cmdrshpard*

              It is also not clear that OP asked for it to be changed immediately. OP told the organizer oh I can’t participate in xyz, or I can’t participate in xyz because I am pregnant. In OP’s mind that might be the same as asking to change the activity but the literal words were not asking for a change.

              The organizer offered a solution to the “I can’t participate” with one that would allow OP to participate.

              What you mean to say, what you actually say, and what the other person hears is not always the same thing.

      4. Totally Minnie*

        I don’t like the way some commenters are contextualizing it as “she didn’t like the inclusive option they offered her.” The option they offered was not inclusive. The point of a wine tasting is everybody tastes the same wine at the same time and compares impressions. Essentially, the alternative they offered her was “we’ll have the wine tasting and you can watch while you drink something nonalcoholic.” It’s the equivalent of telling a disabled coworker “oh, you can’t go rock climbing with us? That’s okay, you can watch from the bottom!” It’s still exclusionary, which is why the boss stepped in and changed to a different activity.

        I agree that the LW shouldn’t make a bigger deal of it from here, but let’s not act like the alternative that was offered to her was something that would have allowed her to participate at the same level as her coworkers.

        1. jes*

          I think that is misstating the purpose of the wine tasting. At least for most team-building events, it is not really about the wine– it is about setting aside time for socializing as a team. Yes they’ll talk about the wines a bit to be polite, but the majority of the time is typically spent talking about work and social topics. Similarly I have gone along with friends on rock climbing outings, even when injured and not climbing, because plenty of the fun socializing does actually happen while watching from the bottom of the crag. This is not a simile/metaphor– I actually have done this and enjoyed it.

          1. Distracted Librarian*

            It’s still exclusionary–and exclusionary based on protected classes (pregnancy, other health issues, religion). Don’t have work events focused on activities that exclude whole classes of people.

            1. tessa*

              But that has an undercurrent of malicious intent, which is so *over* the top. I mean, offended? Going to HR? Good grief. I am utterly amazed at the excuses made for some just awful behavior, but make what looks to be an honest oversight, and here comes the piling on!

              It seems this is a learning opportunity about inclusivity for the person who arranged for the wine-tasting. What a wonderful opportunity for spending time and energy on something meaningful, instead of abject pettiness!

        2. marvin*

          I agree. The central issue is that the event wasn’t planned in an inclusive and accessible way and the proposed accommodation wasn’t adequate either. In the larger scheme this one incident isn’t a huge deal, but if I were the LW, I would expect the next event to be handled more thoughtfully. If this becomes a pattern, at that point I think it would be worth a more serious conversation.

      5. Sassenach*

        I agree with Alex. I have attended work happy hours during which a pregnant co worker would attend and make endearing jokes like “bellying up to the bar” and order a glass of water or juice. She was not offended that her temporary situation was not considered in the discussions of a work related activity. In a virtual wine tasting, if I were pregnant, I would probably be good natured and join the fun with my own varied juices or flavored waters or even tap vs filtered vs bottled water etc. I would make it fun for myself instead of complaining.

        1. Scooby Snax*

          These days there are MANY new non-alcoholic “spirits” available–even wines! It could actually be fun and interesting to try out some of these.

        2. marvin*

          But the whole purpose of team building events is to create a sense of belonging. If one of the people on the team is saying they are excluded by the event, it is failing its main objective. And there is a reason why bottled water tasting events don’t exist.

          1. Starbuck*

            Oh, but they do exist! Not that it’s a good alternative for OP, since she’s clearly not having it, but a wine tasting isn’t categorically a bad idea, there will be plenty of workplaces where everyone would happily opt in. If it’s unanimous, why not? Wineries themselves are workplaces after all!

        3. Willow*

          A happy hour is different from a wine tasting though since in a wine tasting everyone is drinking the exact same wines to discuss them, whereas at a happy hour people normally drink different drinks including nonalcoholic ones.

      6. Curious*

        This approach – which many comments seem to share — seems oddly dismissive of a significant DEI issue. Consuming alcohol is a problem for a significant number of people for religious or health (e.g., suffering a substance abuse disorder) reasons. Providing a “non-alcoholic alternative” at an event focused on alcohol is, at best, “othering.” This is not the same as providing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments.

        1. Maggi O*

          I’m actually very surprised at the comments on this one. Just because many people on this site go out of their way to think about these issues usually.

        2. Czhorat*

          I think it’s because alcohol consumption is treated as a default activity; the assumption is that the vast majority will enjoy alcohol in general and that wine in particular is “classy”.

          There are SO MANY reasons that alcohol-focused events are poor choices for business, and it is SO OFTEN swept under the rug.

          In this case there was a very visible, culturally neutral reason for a participant to not want to drink. What about those with substance abuse problems? Or religious objections which they don’t want to share at work? Or health issues? What about people with poor impulse control who behave poorly after even just one or two drinks?

          Alcohol-related activities are *terrible* choices of team building exercises.

        3. Observer*

          Consuming alcohol is a problem for a significant number of people for religious or health (e.g., suffering a substance abuse disorder) reasons.

          Maybe the reason so many of us are responding this way is BECAUSE we are trying to think this through. I’m one of the people who certainly could not have participated in the original event, and would probably have had an issue with the first alternative offered. So, my response is not coming from a place of dismissing of the actual problem. It’s coming from a place of trying to be a reasonable person dealing with people who ~~gasp~~ make mistakes and don’t always know everything they need to know.

          The OP was SOOO *personally* offended that the activity was even chosen that even when a good faith attempt was made to include her she just essentially sulked. That’s not an extrapolation – she says that she just declined the invitation and that she did so because she was offended that the event was even scheduled. That’s not really a great way to get people on board with trying to be inclusive.

          What’s worse is that when the manager realized that there was a problem, she did NOT brush the OP off. And she didn’t even insist that the option the organizer had come up with was adequate. She changed the whole event. In other words, she handled the situation *reasonably*!

          Why is the OP going to HR? We all make mistakes. This was not a high stakes error as can be seen by the fact that it was fixed before any harm was done. Is the OP so perfect in all of her work that she can afford to have everyone look at her work this way?

          There is no evidence of a pattern of issues. Now if something like this happens again, that starts becoming a problem. Because the person involved is now on notice that these are issues that NEED to be planned for in advance. But for now? No.

          1. Czhorat*

            This is a VERY unkind reading.

            The OP initially didn’t choose to escalate after being given an option they didn’t find acceptable; they were just going to stay home and sit it out.

            Yes, the manager was reasonable. And the LW is legitimately asking if their concern is reasonable, if there are next steps to take. It’s a bit of a vibe-check and a bit of a question on norms.

            There is a lot of hostility to the letter writer in these comments, which I don’t really understand.

            1. Parakeet*

              I’m mostly not commenting to avoid piling on, but I will admit (and I am someone who has a moderately unpleasant reaction to alcohol and thus rarely drinks) that my instinctive reaction to the LW is also at least a little bit hostile. And the reason for that instinctive reaction is that they would even consider getting someone in trouble over this.

              I have permanent disabilities. The disability community is varied. We don’t know all each other’s access needs all the time. People WILL make mistakes and gaffes, especially in regard to temporary conditions (I agree with the person above who would see a different level of problem if a team scheduled a hike forgetting that someone was on crutches temporarily, vs scheduling a hike if a team member is a wheelchair user). The manager made a mistake here. Being offended and considering going to HR over it just seem over the top to me, though there could be context (e.g. an ongoing pattern of behavior) that would change my mind.

        4. Allonge*

          Three things for me that make a difference are:
          1. this is not a programme for the entire humanity. It’s one for a known group of people, who presumably do not include those issues other than OP’s pregnancy. Yes, there are many people who would have an issue with this in general, but that applies to the whole spectrum of possible team activities. This is sandwiches territory. If we went only for events that everyone everywhere could participate in, possibly we could have some breathing exercises.

          2. it’s an optional team-building event in a series of quarterly events. It’s not a commitment to buy a vineyard for these. There is no way that everyone is available for the date and time of the event if the way this works is anything close to how we work; there is no commitment other than a couple of hours, the next event will have something else to do and nobody loses that much by not participating. Or if it’s that essential, you can still sip the grape juice and do the talking – who will know anyway?

          3. eating and drinking are a classic part of team building staples for a reason. It’s easy to tear the idea to pieces here, but if it was your job to organise a series of such events, you would make similar mistakes (as would I), no matter how proficient you are in DEI.

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            If we went only for events that everyone everywhere could participate in, possibly we could have some breathing exercises.

            Not even that, I had to leave a “desk yoga” session once because the breathing exercises were giving me a panic attack!

          2. Boberta*

            “this is not a programme for the entire humanity. It’s one for a known group of people, who presumably do not include those issues other than OP’s pregnancy. ”

            Except that even in a known category, the issues that alcohol specifically causes are often ones that wouldn’t necessarily be “known” in a work context. I take medications that are incompatible with alcohol and I’m close with my coworkers, but because the medications make it immediately obvious what health condition I’m treating, which for various reasons I do not want my coworkers to know about. Similarly, alcoholism, certain religious restrictions on drinking, and health issues that may be visible but have less obvious relationships to alcohol may all exist even in a group of 15 “known quantities.” They’re coworkers, not a tight-knit group of intimates being scheduled by their combined spiritual adviser/doctor/therapist.

            1. Allonge*

              In this case, by known quantity, one could understand that this particular group, including OP pre-pregnancy, has had events before where everyone was drinking alcohol. You don’t need to know people intimately, you just need to have some experience with them.

              1. Boberta*

                Except that, again, people can stop drinking at any point, and shouldn’t really be put in a position to have to explain that at work…which is why this shouldn’t be a thing, regardless of how “known” the quantity is.

                In any case, the OP doesn’t state one way or another that they have had events where drinking happened before, so that’s as much as inference as the idea that they haven’t.

                1. Freya*

                  Like the year that I had to be on daily antibiotics… No alcohol at all for that entire year, and my alcohol tolerance has never really recovered because I just don’t drink like I used to any more – one or fewer drinks when I’m out with friends is plenty!

        5. Yorick*

          If the team is small or close-knit, it can sometimes be common knowledge that everyone drinks (OP currently does not, but may have before and she may have talked about that with coworkers or even had a drink with coworkers before). I agree events involving alcohol aren’t inclusive in many circumstances, but they are if you already know that all 5 members of the team do drink alcohol.

          1. Yorick*

            I missed that it’s a team of 15, so my comment is less relevant. But if they’re pretty close or even if the organizer is pretty close to the rest of the coworkers, it’s still possible to go through the list and remember seeing everybody drink wine before.

      7. No Cold Cut Zone*

        I worked with a pregnant woman who threw a fit when her boss ordered sandwiches for a lunch because, apparently, everyone should know that pregnant women are now advised to avoid deli meats? She refused to even attend the lunch and told everyone that she was being mistreated. This was very much a BOSS IS ORDERING JERSEY MIKES AT ME situation and I still kind of shake my head. The boss also felt bad when she learned why the woman didn’t come and was very clear that she would have been happy to get a different option had she known! Honestly sometimes people really don’t think these things through, and while that’s unfortunate it’s rarely malicious.

        1. Ginny Weasley*

          Yikes, but also as someone currently pregnant, this did make me giggle a little. There are SO MANY rules about what you “can” and “cannot” eat when pregnant that I can’t even keep them straight. I think even OBs raise their eyes at some of the guidance (during my last pregnancy, my OB said “I have to warn you against cold cuts because it put you at a risk of listeria [this is what make it dangerous] but the last 3 listeria outbreaks in the US have been Hummus, Ice Cream, and Lettuce, so do what you feel comfortable with”. I would never, ever expect my boss or coworkers to be able to keep up with guidance like that.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I feel like lettuce is the thing that is always sending around e coli or listeria and for some reason it’s never on the bad list lol

            1. WillowSunstar*

              Probably because in general, doctors encourage people to eat fresh vegetables, especially salads, for healthy diets.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              Minor rant incoming: I actually had food poisoning during my last pregnancy. From, you guessed it, SALAD. It was extremely unpleasant. Turns out improperly washed salad is a major cause of food poisoning, and it’s rarely on the avoid-list (it was on one list, but softened, “try to avoid if possible”).

              I have a theory why that is. All the other stuff to avoid are indulgences – wine, deli meat, raw cheese, sushi, raw meat and eggs… all luxuries in a way. But salad is “healthy” and therefore virtuous. We forbid the indulgences more easily, because that seems right in our puritanical traditions.

              1. Observer*

                The list proves just how unscientific this supposedly “science” is. Eggs happen to be an extremely healthy food – and one of the best sources of protein for anyone who might be having a bit of a hard time with other sources of protein.

                1. My Cabbages!*

                  Likewise, the risk of parasitic infection from sushi (which in the US has almost universally been deep-frozen which will kill off almost anything) is extremely small.

                  When I was pregnant I ate cold cuts, soft cheese, and sushi, and even (*gasp*) had a sip of wine on rare occasions. I got some side-eye from strangers but if anyone gave me static I pointed to my PhD in molecular biology.

            3. SQL Coder Cat*

              Fun fact: lettuce was the first thing on the list of foods to avoid for my chemo! The other things were blue cheese and under-cooked meats and eggs. The nutritionist they had me meet with told me that it is virtually impossible to wash bacteria off lettuce and that pretty much all lettuce has some level of bacteria on it. I just had my three year cancer free anniversary, but I still don’t eat lettuce.

                1. Observer*

                  @biobotb or the general level of immunosuppression in the two populations.

                  If you really believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. If women are really not that immunocompromised then why all the freaking out over anything else that might maybe have bacteria?

                2. Marley's Ghost*

                  @biobotb: The concern with pregnancy is not immunosuppression; it’s specific things (such as listeria) that particularly impact the developing fetus.

        2. christy7h*

          good way to put it. This wasn’t done “AT YOU” it was just done, and people didn’t realize. I’m pregnant right now, and also have a slew of food allergies. Rarely is an event/action meant to be aggressive or AT ME- so I roll with the punches and see what I can make work.

      8. Epsilon Delta*

        This really feels like a symptom of a disfunctional team. It’s not about the wine tasting, it’s about everything else going on at work and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back or the thing that feels concrete enough to raise to HR.

      9. Distracted Librarian*

        I get this, but alcohol-centered activities are inherently non-inclusive, and they typically exclude people based on sensitive reasons (health and religion, to name two) that people may not be interested in sharing in the workplace. In 2023 I’d expect people planning work events to understand this, so I’d probably be a bit cranky in OP’s shoes.

    3. Allonge*

      If anything, I would give this to HR as a good (ok, reasonable) example of problems with non-inclusivity. It’s sorted now, right?

      But going to HR with “I had a problem and now it’s solved!” is not something I have done before.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It’s more “I had a problem, it was solved [kudos to those who solved it], but it seems like a preventable problem and I’d like to flag it for you in case there’s something you could do to keep the problem from arising again.”

        1. Anonomite*

          Yes, exactly. Alison tells the OP to redirect her reasons for going to HR. It’s not about the OP personally, because that would be an overreaction, it’s about flagging this for some training to raise awareness.

    4. Zarniwoop*

      If I went to HR it would be to compliment my manager, then suggest HR create policies (and possibly training) so managers don’t have to reinvent the wheel wrt inclusive team building exercises.

      1. Observer*


        Because pregnant women are not the only ones who need accommodations, and alcohol in particular is an issue for a LOT of people.

        1. Zarniwoop*

          Not just all the other reasons for not wanting alcohol but all the other ways team building can be no inclusive.

          It seems like “plan a team building exercise” often gets assigned to someone with zero training or guidance, so it’s not surprising it often goes wrong.

    5. Winegirl*

      I run a wine event business and we serve mainly corporate clients. We have a full program of non-alcoholic options as part of our events which allows it to be more inclusive. Non-alcoholic wine has really come a long way! It’s still not right for every team though and some people don’t feel comfortable drinking it, especially for religious reasons.

    6. Another person*

      I’m recently sober (3 months) after struggling with a drinking problem that hopefully went unnoticed by my work. I would seriously be struggling at a virtual wine tasting, it would be very difficult for me to be going along with non-alcoholic drinks while everyone is talking about the amazing wine they were drinking. And, I absolutely would not feel comfortable telling anyone I’m recently sober and struggling with addiction. This whole situation would be massively triggering.

      1. Another person*

        I meant to include this is the above comment: OP1, I would be very grateful to have you on my team, because you would have said something when I wouldn’t have been able to say anything for myself.
        I would guess there is probably someone on your team like me who is also grateful to you.

    7. Hermione's Twin*

      I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time feeling any sympathy for this poster. There are 14 other people in your department who aren’t pregnant. You are not special. This is one activity you’ll have to navigate around, like the grown woman you are.

      1. Starbuck*

        No, OP was right to ask for an alternative, pregnancy is a protected condition and workplaces should not have practices that discriminate based on it when a reasonable accommodation can be made.

      2. Boberta*

        What? Alcohol is an inappropriate thing to build a team-building exercise around. It’s inherently exclusive based on health status (pregnancy, medications, addiction) and religion, just to name a few. LW isn’t expecting special treatment, she’s expecting a team-building exercise that isn’t so massively triggering for so many people.

        I’d do the same thing, to be entirely honest, and I would also probably go to HR to suggest some DEI training around team-building, because there are lots of things that even in a close-knit workplace a manager might reasonably not know that would make this a difficult event for people, and which they should not have to contend with at work. I have meds that are incompatible with alcohol and make obvious what health issue I’m dealing with–and I don’t share that even though I am very close with my colleagues. A coworker might be recovering from addiction, and no one would know. Someone might be openly and proudly Jewish, but the manager might forget that the wine needs to be kosher for the employee to partake. And so on. The LW isn’t being dramatic–teambuilding is inherently loaded, but an alcohol-centered event is just an obvious miss.

    8. christy7h*

      Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t think this is that big a deal. I’m pregnant right now. People just don’t know the various restrictions, and some people make different choices than others about stuff. My husband’s work threw us a baby shower over lunch and 99% of the food wasn’t pregnancy friendly. The party planners had kids, so I assumed they would know this? I wasn’t insulted by it or offended, just seemed like one of those circumstances where people just don’t know. I ate what I could, picked at the rest, and got food immediately after on the way back to my office.

      Also, when I was in my 20s at an old job, we regularly planned team building happy hours and people came who didn’t drink. It was more about spending time away from the office than anything else (and yes, young and dumb and wish I had brainstormed more ideas).

  3. Aggretsuko*

    #2 is reminding me of thoughts I’ve had lately about how people *do not want to listen* to the bearers of bad tidings. Not that #2 is giving any, mind you, but it seems like people (especially in the 2020’s) don’t want to listen and don’t want to hear stuff like “Seriously, you need to pay attention to this and DO SOMETHING and not just hope for the best here.”

    (This thought brought to you by my telling my work they needed to do something about our mail problem for over a month, they categorically refused to listen, and we lost everything they refused to do anything about. They still won’t admit I was right, either.)

    I presume the people at L2’s job will be Learning The Hard Way as well.

    1. Lana*

      Somehow I thought this comment would be either about global warming or about people pretending covid doesn’t exist… The times we live in

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I tried to direct it back to work, but yes, those are also areas where we have this *#$^@%$#Y&^@ problem.

    2. Y*

      I think this is LW3, but agreed. “… or they will be figuring it out after I leave” is the on,consequence here. So be it. That’s what they’ll do. It aggressively will not be your problem at that point.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I have been noticing “hope as a strategy” more and more over the last few years, also.

      1. Birdie*

        My former manager’s devotion to hope as her one and only strategy was one of the big things hat drove me out of my last job.

        And like the LW, I left detailed documentation. I gave 3+ weeks of notice, largely because I had a project to deliver and was committed to seeing it through to the end. My boss barely communicated with me during my notice period, and then asked me 2 days before I left to show her how to do my job.

        Unsurprisingly, she fell flat on her face and was maneuvered out a few months later.

    4. Tomato Soup*

      It may take some degree of failure after OP leaves for them to take the work seriously.

      Look at Southwest. They’d repeatedly been told for over a decade that their computer system needed to be updated but it was ignored. Then they totally collapsed after a winter storm and couldn’t get back to functioning until well after all the other airlines. Suddenly, there was a $ case to be made for updated systems.

      1. Failure Predicted*

        Reminds me of the sort of thing that happened at my job (long before we were WFH) … we were going to be moving the facility from old location to new location. Supposedly, they had “counted all the parking places” and made sure that there were enough … They must have missed multiple parking lots.

        Well, a few weeks before the move, they had departments that weren’t directly involved in care move … and we filled up all of the employee parking. We told them “this is going to be a problem”. They added a bit more employee parking (redesignating some of the spots but not increasing the overall number). Still just barely enough for a *fraction* of the total number of employees. The patient move day was on a weekend, and everything went fine. Come the next normal work day, though, and cue the pandemonium. Employees parking in spots that were supposed to be for patients/visitors. Patients coming in for appointments and being unable to get a parking spot. People parking on the roadsides.

        What finally happened was some brave soul got into the restricted access lot and parked in the administrator’s reserved spot (probably a doctor–the lot was restricted to the doctors and top level administration). Wouldn’t you know, by that very afternoon, there was heavy earth moving equipment out creating a new gravel parking lot. My department and the other ‘early moves’ had been there for about a month prior, and had noticed the problem on day one … but they didn’t think there was a problem until they (high level administration) had first hand experience with their reserved spots being filled by someone else and finding that … no, there really isn’t another spot open.

        1. cabbagepants*

          I love when this sort of massive problem is caused by a failure to perform basic arithmetic.

      2. Massmatt*

        I’m reminded of a saying frequently applicable here: You can’t care more about your job than your boss does. Document what you do, offer to help bring them up to speed, and let it go. If you are really concerned that, say, client needs are not going to be met, or that you will be blamed for the meltdown when you leave, maybe document your attempts/offers, or bring your concerns to your grandboss. But that’s going above and beyond.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I love the French expression for this “you can’t be more royalist than the king”.

      3. Observer*

        It may take some degree of failure after OP leaves for them to take the work seriously.

        Look at Southwest.

        That’s where I thought this comment was going.

        Suddenly, there was a $ case to be made for updated systems.

        $825 million, so far. And that’s not the end of it by a long shot.

      4. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Sadly true. It’s very easy in management (and a lot of other parts of our life, for that matter) to ignore, put off, or not factor in the cost of keeping a long-term asset stable and functional, and we only do something about it once it comes crashing down around our ears.

        I see a lot of this when people are comparing their rental prices to the cost of the mortgage – they exclude the accumulated cost of all the big maintenance tasks a house will need (roof, siding, flooring, appliances, electrical, plumbing) and the higher risk that if a tree falls on you, you are now the one stuck with the repairs. Or the homeowners insurance bill. In businesses it’s frequently the non-profit cost centers: HR, admin, accounting, IT. Especially if the asset in question is something specialized to the point where the people who set the budget do not know how to use it (and often don’t want to learn how to use it).

        1. Observer*

          It’s very easy in management (and a lot of other parts of our life, for that matter) to ignore, put off, or not factor in the cost of keeping a long-term asset stable and functional, and we only do something about it once it comes crashing down around our ears.

          Yes. My husband tends to be the type of person who looks at immediate cost, while I tend to focus on TCO. We balance each other out. And we have a “deal” with the car. We’ll keep it till we spend a certain threshold amount in one year or he spends more that a threshold amount of time in dealing with non-routine maintenance. (My husband is the one who drives, so car maintenance is on him.) That helps us avoid the mistake we made with the first car, which wound up creating some major issues.

          Because we make this decision at the time we bought the car, when it’s relatively low stakes, we can make a more reasonable and sensible decision and it’s a lot easier for both of us to make a decision on when to pull the trigger on a new car.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      This is an interesting observation, because when my kids were in elementary in the aughts-early teens, I definitely noticed both an increase in the number of things someone wanted you to pay attention to, and a decrease in responses to those. Even if people in theory wanted to help with something, in practice it was one more thing and they were deluged.

      Recently I read an observation for modern censorship that the would-be censor didn’t need to delete the information they didn’t want–instead, they could up the amount of sheer nonsense and garbage coming at people like an information firehose. The information they didn’t want out there just got buried, rather than erased. I think over the past decade or two people are getting overloaded with information and having a hard time triaging–getting your news from inside your bubble being one obvious adaptation.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The first paragraph is re volunteering.
        Workwise (I freelance) in the last decade I’ve seen companies that want to give me a ridiculous amount of possible background material for the project (e.g. just give access to the server with all the old versions of requirements on it, reading which would take much longer than the project), and other companies that have really thought about how to convey just the key information I will need in a smart interface.

    6. Newly minted higher ed*

      I had the same issue when leaving my last job, coupled with ‘your job isn’t that hard to do and I know where all the hotels are!’ (Helping new students settle into a new community, which meant I had to help them with everything from scheduling plane tickets to enrolling them in classes and everything that goes with a move). It was insanely beauracratic coupled with actively unhelpful departments and individuals. It was a hard job.

      6 months after I left the department got folded into a new one and the position was eliminated. Recruiting got turned over about a month later and so did that job’s duties. It really does get solved one way or the other. Either a crash or burn or it stops being a problem it seems.

      1. Newly minted higher ed*

        I mean, student services got turned over about a month after I left and the position and department eliminated 6 months later.

        1. Antilles*

          Is it possible the higher-ups already had some heads-up about the coming shake up and that’s why they were so casual about the transition? Either from “why bother” apathy or because they were too busy trying to stop the bleeding elsewhere.

    7. Artemesia*

      The OP needs to cool right down. Not her circus. She leaves good documentation. She does her best. And then she answers maybe 5 questions the first two weeks after she leaves and then is not available again and refers to the documentation. And don’t pick up the phone when it rings. Call back a day later when it is convenient — you are so busy with the new job, you don’t have time for this — see the documentation.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I one time made a move to another department, and had to train the person replacing me. Which I tried to do. The person was sure that they knew more about my job than I did, so they ignored me. I left step by step instructions that they refused to read. Then I moved, and the first time they had to do my job they screwed it up by the numbers, making all of the mistakes I specifically warned them about. They tried to blame me, and I pointed out a) the time I spent training them that they ignored, and b) the detailed instructions that I left on the group wiki that they ignored. Never heard anything more after that. My old boss literally told the group not to talk to me. (He was a controlling, abusive b*****d and I was glad to be free of him.)

    8. frustrated trainee*

      Honestly after The Secret got published I noticed a HUGE push for surface-level positivity which came at the cost of solving problems, and anyone who spoke out was therefore Mean and Negative and Bad and might not get hired, or not get to rise up in the ranks to impact anything. I noticed a huge preference for hiring positive people who didn’t solve problems and it’s just caused a disastrous work culture, especially if you recognize patterns pretty easily and can see the storm coming from miles away, knowing that your best bet is to just keep your mouth shut and let it happen because bringing it up has gotten group scoldings directed your way for being so “negative” no matter how gently you phrase things:/

  4. Well Alright Then*

    I’m surprised by the response to Question 1. Once you were given non-alcoholic options, I don’t see why this had to go further. At that point, you can participate and gain the benefit of team-building. Opting out because you were offended seems like a tantrum and is now entirely on you. What I would have encouraged and agree with is making non-alcoholic options available to all, to ensure inclusivity. Since the boss was surprised it sounds like they knew this is something the team would like, which is common on small teams, but that is still important to offer just in case. Taking this to HR…because they tried to accommodate you?
    Massive overreaction.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Isn’t the purpose of a wine tasting for everyone to try the same wines and discuss them? One person drinking different, non-alcoholic wine would exclude them from the team experience.

      1. KateM*

        Isn’t one NOT supposed to drink wine during wine tasting anyway – just to move it around in mouth and then spit it out?

        1. Lab Lady*

          I mean, you’re right in theory. That is certainly how professional wine tasters taste wine but….

          I live in a winery-heavy area of the country, and have gone to about 30 different tastings in the last 3 years.

          During covid, after the initial lock downs, they got rid of the spittoons for most of the tastings. It was swallow it or nothing. Now, they will bring them out if you ask for them, but you get funny looks.

        2. Allonge*

          Not necessarily – the idea is to learn a bit about the wines (instead of just drinking), and so to have a bit more of a structured programme.

          1. KateM*

            Then whether you have an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink at your side is even less important.

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Not necessarily. My workplace had a ‘wine tasting’ that boiled down to ‘here are a variety of wines you can try, a bunch of nonalcoholic drinks, and a big table of food – go forth and socialize’. I am not much of a drinker and did not feel shoved out.

        I do understand the feeling though.

          1. Maggi O*

            The virtual nature of the event makes it worse. If there was a social at a bar, it doesn’t matter if you are drinking or not. At a literal wine tasting where you aren’t even with other people sitting next to you to socialize, it just is too much.

      3. Artemesia*

        Professional wine tasters don’t drink. If it were me I would do the tasting but taste and spit the way it is done in an actual wine tasting.

        It was a thoughtless choice; not sure it rises to the level of so much anguish.

    2. Joan*

      Agreed. Unless you’re a total wine snob (which I doubt a team of 15 would all be), you’re just there to chat and drink. Having non alcoholic selections is accommodating. I don’t get why you’d still be upset, but that’s me.

      1. Tomato Soup*

        It’s a virtual event, so hanging out and chatting, rather than listen to the person leading the event, would be very difficult logistically.

        1. Artemesia*

          Heck as a virtual event, it is even easier to taste without swallowing — so a real nothingburger.

        2. theletter*

          I think that’s the crux of the issue. In a physical setting, the activity is an excuse to get together and chitchat. In a virtual setting, the activity is unavoidable.

    3. Prefer my pets*

      I had the same reaction as you.
      It sounds like it’s a completely optional quarterly thing that is different each time so it’s not like there’s a pervasive drinking culture that’s excluding some people from networking. This degree of angst over someone initially forgetting to provide an accommodation one time is so extrme it feels like either the LW is at BEC stage over other issues or pregnancy hormones are having more of an effect on her sensitivity levels than she realizes.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I must say that crossed my mind as well. I’m not particularly volatile or emotional normally, but when I was pregnant, I cried at the drop of a hat.

      2. Karath*

        I suspect OP isn’t showing yet, or is one of those blessed women who is only pregnant in profile, and her team simply forgot.

        There is literally no reason why she couldn’t have gone and just not had the wine, but socialized – or just sat this one out. I get being annoyed, but roping in HR seems like a big reaction. It really read to me like she was more annoyed that she didn’t get to drink wine, because she certainly could have gone.

        1. PsychNurse*

          Yes, I don’t drink, by choice. I would still have gone, if I like my coworkers and wanted to sit around and chat in a nice environment.

            1. Karath*

              So much chatting. The virtual wine tastings I was a part of had built in socialization time, and very little actual wine talk because none of us knew anything about wine.

        2. Allonge*

          It’s also – likely the pregnancy is the Biggest thing happening in OP’s life right now. To someone else who is just setting up an event, it may or may not have registered at all that the pregnancy will have an impact on this, and in any case it’s just a Tuesday.

          I also prefer that people remember my food allergies, but have long since learnt that it’s best to confirm and it’s not an insult when they don’t. Having to remind people is not something to be offended about, especially when they come up with ways to accommodate you.

          1. UKDancer*

            I would agree. Also if I’m organising something for my team of 30 people, I don’t remember all of their needs (dietary, access and other). I make suggestions and ask and expect people to tell me if something won’t work whether it’s “I need a vegetarian option without mushrooms” or “there needs to be a lift to the meeting room” or “it’s Vaisakhi that week can we not have the event on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

            I mean running inclusive events is important but it definitely works better if people say what their needs are and then they can be accommodated.

        3. Moira Rose*

          It’s a virtual event, there’s no “going” just to socialize. It’d be a Zoom call where everyone is going around the circle offering thoughts on a Cabernet Sauvignon and the LW is sipping ginger ale with nothing to contribute. It sounds like a really awful time.

          1. Nonny Moose*

            I’ve been to several virtual wine/alcohol tastings, for the most part the sommeliers are aware it’s a work event and build in lots of socializing time. At most the OP would be listening in on background info on how the wine was made – you still get a lot out of it if you don’t drink.

        4. Boberta*

          I disagree. She’s the most visible category of people on the team for whom this is a miss, and quite possibly the only one, but scheduling a wine tasting as a team-building exercise was a genuinely bad idea from a DEI perspective and she would be right to point out that there needs to be more DEI training on how to do these sorts of things.

          Just to highlight how exclusionary an alcohol-centered event is, it effects people with physical and mental health issues, people with certain medications, people of certain religions (and not in obvious ways, too!)…and often these are things you would not reasonably expect to know about a person even if you work on a close-knit team. Addiction, medications, disabilities are all incredibly personal and often invisible, and an alcohol-centric team-building event forces people to make those things visible when they would not have wanted to.

      3. Persephone*

        I get what you’re saying, but drinking being chosen as the work socialising activity (or being a large part of it) is pretty much the norm. And there’s a lot of us who get excluded because of that. Which, given that religion and health are the two biggest reasons people don’t drink, turns into failure to accomodate people. This might have been a singular incident here, but this incident is a part of large, overarching theme of excluding people who aren’t a part of the “norm.” This and all the other ways people are excluded adds up and can have major professional repercussions, and loops directly in with society’s massive lack of diversity problem.

        This is one small incident. But it isn’t the only situation OP is going to be in where they’ll be excluded because they can’t drink. It adds up.

        This is one small incident for everyone who ISN’T being excluded. It’s every single time for the people who are.

        1. explaininator*

          BEC = b*tch eating crackers. The idea being that a certain point, you have such little patience left with someone that things that would normally be a minor annoyance or just irrelevant mundanities (like eating crackers) become disproportionately frustrating when that person does them.

    4. Santiago*

      It seems punitive to go to HR, when both the coworker and the boss arranged accommodations for her to participate.

        1. KateM*

          Document that the organizer and manager both were very ready to accommodiate OP, I guess – is that something that HR writes down in employee files?

        2. Starbuck*

          If OP is potentially worried about a pattern of pregnancy discrimination, then having that documentation would probably be helpful.

    5. Maggie*

      I agree the best thing to do would be to offer both options to all. This is something my previous job did in the past – they would do online cooking classes as an activity during the pandemic and you had the option to choose and alcoholic or an N/A pairing.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Yes to both options available to everyone. I enjoy an occasional drink, but wine isn’t something I particularly enjoy. And many times, I just don’t want to drink any alcohol. There are also medical conditions and medications that can make drinking activities a problem for some people.

    6. hellohello*

      I agree, especially because there are so many non-alcoholic drink options (some of which are quite good!) these days. A drink tasting probably isn’t the top choice of someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, but I don’t think there are any team building events that will be everyone’s top choice, and once a non-alcoholic option was offered it feels like there was no reason to elevate the complaint any further.

    7. Lab Lady*

      The other thing to consider, that wasn’t touched on here, but is absolutely true, is that OP1 would probably experience at least some form of censure if she’d gone along to get along and appeared to be participating in a wine tasting.

      The US is incredibly persnickety about what pregnant people do or appear to do with their bodies, and complete strangers are absolutely willing to vociferously share their nonscientific opinion on what a pregnant person is doing wrong if they appear to be doing something as egregious as drinking moderately in public. (Happy to point people at the research)

      1. Marshmallow*

        My understanding is that this was a “virtual” tasting. I’ve never done one but I think that they send the wine to your house and it’s just the LW and their team on like zoom or something drinking their beverages and chatting. I don’t think that particular issue is at play here.

      2. Temperance*

        There’s no safe amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy, if you are concerned about FASD.

        1. KGD*

          This actually may not be true, which I think was Lab Lady’s point. I don’t think I can post links here, but google “pregnancy alcohol paternalism” – it’s a really interesting topic!

        2. Emmy Noether*

          I mean, that’s kind of true in the same way that there’s no safe distance to travel in a car. Now, drinking alcohol is easier to avoid than riding in a car, which is why as a society we’ve decided it’s reasonable to forbid all alcohol during pregnancy (although, well, “all”… no one seems to be forbidding ripe fruit, or other sources of trace amounts of alcohol).

          I general, people seem to be very ready to make a pregnant person’s risk assessments for her, as long as it inconveniences only the pregnant person.

          1. Jackalope*

            Yes to the making the risk assessment for pregnant people as long as it only inconveniences the pregnant person. So many people jump in on the judgmental train the second they know you’re pregnant.

            1. Minerva*

              OMG, the way I had to shut someone down when I mentioned I was still drinking my 1 fully caffeinated coffee a day when I was preggers. Being pregnant blows and we as a society have decided we want to make it as miserable as possible under the delusion we can create zero risk.

    8. Asenath*

      That puzzled me, too. I wouldn’t be participating in a wine tasting at all, and dislike team-building events, but if it was part of my job to participate, and they sent me juice or soft drinks instead, I drink them and maybe joke a bit about the vintage of the orange juice. I doubt this is a very serious wine tasting.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Most of these companies seem to have a non-alcoholic package option built into their offerings, so anyone who doesn’t want to or can’t drink wine can get a tailored package of alcohol free drinks.

    9. Ellis Bell.*

      It did strike me as a bit of a strong reaction; unless there is more of a background of OP’s pregnancy making her an outsider, then why was this not seen as a simple slip-up rather than an offensive gesture? There is always some background information missing, perhaps when OP said “oh will we all taste the non alcoholic wine?” maybe she got a lukewarm response and was expected to partake on the sidelines. I will say that sort of situation can be a bit shit, but it still doesnt seem offensive.

    10. Quizix*

      I agree.. going to HR with this would be a huge over reaction. You could still swirl the alcoholic wine in your mouth and spit, if you thought the non alcoholic version was not a good compromise.

      I’ve got an 18 month old, and my work did a virtual soft cheese and champagne tasting even when I was 6 months pregnant. Not one single thing besides the crackers and quince paste I could eat. Did I throw a tantrum? No I sat there drinking my juice, eating my crackers enjoying my colleagues company.

      Because there’s something I am a pretty firm believer in, and that is that the compromises that come with having children are made by the people that make them. And believe me, there are plenty more down the track to be made once the babe is born!

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        Raising an issue about a team-building event that excludes protected classes is not equivalent to throwing a tantrum. I think OP is well within her rights to flag this issue for HR as an area where the company could do more DEI work, because events focused on alcohol (as opposed to events that merely include alcohol) are inherently exclusionary for multiple protected classes.

        Gotta say, I’m pretty disappointed in some of the comments on this thread. This community is usually much more understanding of issues related to inclusivity.

    11. PJH*

      “Once you were given non-alcoholic options, I don’t see why this had to go further. ”

      Well, quite.

      Getting “offended” after that comes across as looking for things to complain about, and I rather suspect there’s a few other things getting on OP1’s nerves at that place of employ, and this is just the latest…

    12. Jo*

      100% agree. I’m not sure a team building event exists that is EVER agreeable to everyone. Allergies, not-athletic, introvert, special diets, hate games, against(whatever). It’s a one-time event. The lead quickly offered an alternative of non-alcoholic wines. Why this had to escalate to the manager, much less suggesting HR might get involved seems over the top.

      I barely drink. Definitely not a wine fan and I cannot drink reds at all. The tannins give me a horrible headache. But I’d participate in this. It’s interesting to learn about the wines – even the ones I don’t taste. And it’s fun to see what others think. And I think it would be interesting to try non-alcoholic wines and share my thoughts as that’s not something I’d buy for myself.

      1. Boberta*

        They’re never agreeable to everyone, but they’re not usually so openly discriminatory to so many protected classes. You cannot know, even in a close-knit team, who is an addict, who has medications that are contraindicated for alcohol, who is pregnant, who has medical problems, etc. And an alcohol-centric event is going to exclude all of those people, plus anyone with religious reasons for not drinking. This isn’t the same thing as doing, like, a tea tasting and finding out that one employee is allergic to caffeine and another hates tea, it’s a categorically discriminatory event choice because the thing around which it is centered is inaccessible and possibly outright triggering to multiple categories of people.

    13. PinkCandyfloss*

      The point is not that accommodations can be made for people who for whatever reason cannot or do not drink alcohol.

      The point is that a TEAM BUILDING event should be inclusionary, not exclusionary, and that employees should not be put in a position where they have to disclose (directly or indirectly) to others on their team any medical or personal reasons for not being able to participate to the same level as the rest.

      Going to HR may help frame this as a learning opportunity for the team and the rest of the company and to shape policies around such events to ensure inclusion is the norm rather than the exception.

      1. Willow Pillow*

        This. LW did choose to just decline the event, and her boss asked her about it. If her attending a team-building event is that important, then why doesn’t she deserve to participate without feeling othered? There are some seriously uncharitable takes today.

      2. Allonge*

        “The point is that a TEAM BUILDING event should be inclusionary, not exclusionary, and that employees should not be put in a position where they have to disclose (directly or indirectly) to others on their team any medical or personal reasons for not being able to participate to the same level as the rest.”

        Would you have an example of, let’s say, three activites that guarantee this?

        1. Distracted Librarian*

          Guarantee? No, because it depends on the makeup of your team. But here’s a list of just a few virtual activities that would be more likely to be inclusive than an event focused on alcohol:
          * trivia game
          * virtual happy hour (yes, happy hour is often associated with alcohol but can include nonalcoholic drinks as well as snacks)
          * virtual coffee chat
          * dessert tasting

          1. Spicy-MapMaker*

            But the point is that you can’t guarantee it. Take the dessert tasting for example – what if someone on the team struggled with disordered eating? They’d either have to disclose to their management team or exclude themselves from the event.

            I did a virtual wine tasting with friends while I was pregnant and it is almost exactly the same as the kind of virtual happy hour you describe. A few minutes is spent introducing each wine, then people drink it and chat. Probably 90% of the time was just spent chatting.

            1. Omskivar*

              Yes they can. The general medical advice is to limit caffeine to 200mg/day, which is two 6oz cups of coffee, and decaf coffee is a very common alternative if they really don’t want to have caffeine. Or they could have tea, or hot cocoa, or really anything they wanted, and no one would care.

    14. reality check please*

      I believe going to HR is an overreaction and LW’s coworker acted with the best of intentions, but I disagree that asking to pick a different activity was unreasonable. There’s a difference between participating in something and being able to participate fully. For example, if my team decided to get lunch at a steakhouse, I (vegetarian) could technically eat a side salad and a roll, but would feel annoyed to settle for that when everyone else got steak. Whereas if we went to the nice Italian restaurant across the street, there would be entrees we could all eat–and I would have no issue requesting to change restaurants casually without being offended by the original steakhouse plans. If you have a large group or some people with a lot of restrictions, full inclusion for everyone may not be attainable, but it’s something to strive for whenever possible. And in general, alcohol is fraught for so many people that avoiding events with alcohol in a work setting is best unless you’re very sure that everyone on your team drinks. I’ve been to work happy hours with pregnant coworkers who were happy to hang out and drink club soda and didn’t take an alcohol-themed event as a personal affront, but someone in recovery might not feel okay drinking mocktails at a (virtual) wine tasting.

    15. Bridget*

      LW1 completely mishandled this and shot herself in the foot. Team Building events aren’t about personal enjoyment and they’re not even about becoming friends with your team. This was ultimately about making professional connections and showing how well you function within your team and even potentially how you can lead. Instead LW got mad because she couldn’t personally participate in the exact event. She could have still absolutely logged on or enjoyed whatever N/A thing she was doing. “Hey guys, I’m going to have a root beer tasting over here” and could have even stepped up and offered to get that together if anyone else needed an N/A option. Boss would have seen her identify and address a problem, while also working to include others. Now she’s known as the woman who threw a fit over the team building event.

    16. Team PottyMouth*

      I have to wonder if you’ve ever been pregnant, because I think the vast majority of people who have experienced being pregnant in today’s society are acutely aware of what a minefield this would be. Literally everyone who knows you’re pregnant will have an opinion about whether or not it’s appropriate for you to attend this function at all much less participate. Next they’ll want you to prove whether or not what you drank was non-alcoholic. Then they’ll circle back and make you prove you never drank any of the alcoholic options. In this “virtual wine tasting”, was the company shipping wine to your home? Great, now you have to prove that you didn’t drink the wine that they sent to you. Even people you don’t know or who didn’t attend the wine tasting will have an OPINION to share with you, your team or your boss about it. It’s exhausting.

      The “option” to be provided non-alcoholic options literally cancels the entire purpose of “team building”. Everyone else is chatting about the moscato while you sip your (what, apple juice?). There would be literally nothing for you to contribute to the discussion. That’s quite the opposite of team building.

      1. IT Manager in Toronto*

        I’m pregnant and I don’t care about being excluded from the wine tasting. Not all events are for all people at all times. If the culture of my team was such that everyone loved wine, I wouldn’t want to hold them back. I see the other side of this, but I think LW majorly blew this out of proportion. It’s an annoyance but not a slap in the face.

        1. frustrated trainee*

          It’s great that you don’t care about being excluded but the point of setting up a team building activity isn’t to check with you, IT Manager in Toronto, if you personally care, but to consider that people in LW’s situation might given reasons that are described above. Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can represent everyone who’s pregnant!

          And of course not events are for all people at all times, but the point of a team building activity is to get as close to that outcome as you can, while sidestepping obvious issues, and this is an obvious issue.

    17. marvin*

      Maybe the LW would like to participate in team building activities without being singled out from everyone else? This is likely to draw attention to their pregnancy, which they might be uncomfortable with. And anyone who had to opt out for religious reasons, sobriety, or medical restrictions they may not want to discuss in the office would likely be quite uncomfortable with this setup as well.

      I don’t see any suggestion to have the whole group do an orange juice or sparkling water tasting, because clearly it isn’t an equivalent experience. I don’t appreciate the characterization that it’s a tantrum to take issue with a workplace accommodation that creates division among employees in what is supposed to be a team building event. Particularly because alcohol is a very obvious choice of a non inclusive activity to anyone who has done the slightest amount of thinking about it.

      1. frustrated trainee*

        Agreed, people are being really weird about this. People are acting like LW threw a tantrum by 1) bringing up her situation 2) wondering if she should let HR know in a way that didn’t seem shame-y to me as much as an FYI. I guess that’s hard to say only from what’s written here but I’m really shocked by the responses that LW is some kind of unhinged anti-wine-tasting crusader instead of correctly pointing out that team building activities are supposed to be able to properly include things people on your team can all do.

        As someone with an invisible chronic disability, I face something similar with things like group rock climbing, which has happened at several companies I’ve worked for. Me being invited to the gym to stand around and do nothing while everyone else gets to climb, or be sent off to a separate activity, is not me getting to be a part of team building just because I’m at the activity. Everyone else gets the benefits of being a part of the group activity and I’m expected to not act as bored and excluded as my situation would cause someone to be

    18. frustrated trainee*

      Frankly, a wine tasting is a horrible choice for multiple reasons. As some other commentators have noted, the “group” and “team building” part of a wine is discussing the wine together, not just drinking a beverage in each other’s presence.
      Wine tastings aren’t just horrible options for pregnant people. I have cancer and can’t have any alcohol and being given a milk or a soda while watching the rest of you bond isn’t really a team building experience that i’m a part of, it’s a team building experience that’s happening in front of me.
      Also a terrible option for anyone in recovery from addiction, and a host of other reasons.

    19. CarlEatsShoes*

      I just had a baby a few weeks ago. My office had a wine event while I was pregnant. My reaction was – oh bummer! Not “IT MUST BE CANCELED IF I CANT FULLY PARTICIPATE THEN NO ONE CAN!! WHO CAN I REPORT THIS INJUSTICE TO!!!” It’s one thing if it’s every week and it’s the only thing. But, if there are a variety of things, then there are going to be some things that don’t work for some people. That’s called life.

  5. Observer**

    #3- People are ignoring your training.

    As Alison says, this is not your problem to solve. Write up as many low level cheat sheets as you get asked for and know that this is going to be very much NOT YOUR PROBLEM in 2.5 weeks.

    The only thing I would do is let your GrandBoss (and anyone else affected by this nonsense) know – in writing / email – what is going on. Maybe GrandBoss will do something about it. And, even if they don’t at least you’ll have been on the record about what the issue is so it’s going to be harder for them to make you look bad to others. And if the people being affected know what’s happening they will probably be annoyed by the situation, but they won’t think of YOU as the person who left everyone high and dry. That’s really all you can or should try to do.

    Again, the fact that necessary work won’t get done is NOT YOUR PROBLEM anymore.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I was coming here to say the same thing about contacing grandboss. Good for you for not wanting to leave your colleagues in the lurch and having integrity about your departure. The last step is alerting your grandboss that you created documentation and shared it in your notice period with your soon to be ex-colleagues. Happily, you don’t have to describe the response of the people you’re training. You did your part and have your integrity intact. Enjoy your new role!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Oh, now I see from other comments that I missed your mentioning you work in healthcare. I can see how some of your protocols not being followed might affect patients. In that case, in flagging it to your grandboss, I can see adding something about having them double-check that protocols are being followed from the documentation you share.

        1. ferrina*

          I’m with you. In almost any other industry, I’d say don’t do anything, it’s their boat and they get to sink it if they want. But in healthcare….yeah, I’d flag this for the grandboss somehow, especially if it’s going to have a big impact on patient care. The steps you take should be directly proportional to the impact on patients.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed – if patient safety is going to be affected – make a point of letting grandboss know what is being ignored and what those mistakes could impact.

    2. linger*

      If you care about continuity, GrandBoss especially needs to be CC’d on a final email that lists what resources you’ve left behind, and where/how to access them, so that there is some backup in the (likely) event that your duties simply get dumped on the next new hire with some minimally relevant background.
      But realistically, you shouldn’t care more about it than they do!
      (I … may have battled similar forces not so long ago, when I retired from an essential & mission-critical task on which I’d been left as sole SME for far too long. I left copious documentation behind, but I really had to leave the task behind, and not look back.)

      1. Joielle*

        Once I was leaving a job under similar circumstances to the OP, and so in addition to writing up documentation and emailing it to my boss and backup coworker, I printed out some relevant portions and instructions to find the rest on the shared drive, and left them in a desk drawer in hopes that the next hire would find them. I don’t know how it went after I left, but at least I felt like I had truly done everything I could to help the next hire, and if someone was going to actively prevent them from getting the information I had written for them, it was simply not my problem anymore.

    3. AlwhoisThatAL*

      I had the issue where everything I knew about setting Exams online for prisoners – really niche stuff was “covered” in a meeting with my Boss starting on a Friday at 3:30 PM. I was leaving the job permanently at 4pm. Yes, 1/2 an hour before leaving forever to show my Boss how to logon to various complex systems. I live in the UK so they had been given a months notice.
      This also meant it was difficult to say goodbye to people properly as at 3:59, I’m still trying to explain how to login. I had also left several documents explaining how to do my job.
      Accoding to people who were there after I left, all the issues that happened afterwards were my fault and no-one understood the documents. So I looked out of my window and beheld my field of f**ks and lo, it was barren and there were no f**ks to give.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        “So I looked out of my window and beheld my field of f**ks and lo, it was barren and there were no f**ks to give.“

        I have nothing to add to this poetic perfection

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          There is an image of a beautiful medieval-esque tapestry someone created with this phrase on it (or similar) and it is glorious. I would share a link here but I don’t want to be banned.

      2. AnonInCanada*

        My sentiments exactly. OP #3, as long as you clue in your Grandboss about the documentation you left and the progress of your replacements’ training, be happy that you’ve washed your hands of all of this muck. And for your new role, best of luck. And don’t give a … rhyming word.

      3. GasketGirl*

        There’s a musician by the name of Thomas Benjamin Wild, Esq on YT who has a song “I’ve No More F***s to Give” that has become my theme song for certain times of the year. Well worth a listen when you have a chance and would be an epic way to say see ya to a screwed up job:
        “I’ve no more f***s to give, my f***s have runneth dry
        I tried to go f*** shopping, but there’s no f***s left to buy!
        I’ve no more f***s to give, though more f***s I’ve tried to get
        I’m over my f*** budget and I’m now in f***ing debt!”

    4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      Honestly, depending on the details of the situation, I would potentially be tempted to email grandboss and the two people I was trying to train, with a very polite version of “I gave four weeks notice so that I could train people on my tasks, but if learning these tasks isn’t a priority for Org, maybe I should just make Friday my last day?

      I’m not saying that that’s GOOD advice, either in terms of getting people to step up or in terms of one’s future reference, but I would be tempted.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, I was thinking along similar lines, that if OP finishes the documents and the other employees aren’t attending training or whatever, she could offer to leave early if she can afford it. It’ll feel even better for OP to get out and stop caring about exJob if she gets to leave earlier than planned.

    5. CJ*

      The other thing #3 needs to start deciding now is what is their consulting rate going to be: I could almost guarantee in writing that one week they leave, they’re going to get a panicked phone call about how to do the steps, and two weeks will be a “will you just come do it”.

      I recommend, given standard consulter rates and the “that client” markup boss sounds like she deserves, starting at five times your current hourly rate.

      1. Dances with Flax*

        Brilliant! And the LW can chuckle all the way to the bank as her consultant fees bring in a nice little sum because nobody at her job cared to learn what they needed to do BEFORE the LW left…

      2. AnonInCanada*

        To which OP responds “sorry, my new job has got me booked solid and I have other commitments outside outside of work. I’ve left plenty of documentation.” Of course, after making sure OP is paid their final paycheque/unused vacation pay.

      3. Birdie*

        I did this. Told them my consulting rate was $125/hr, which I knew they would never pay. “I’m sorry that’s more than you’re willing to pay. That’s my rate, but I’m sure there are other consultants out there that could help you within your budget. Bye!”

    6. Dancing Otter*

      Yes! to the cheat sheets.
      I’ve written a lot of training materials in my time (think system conversions user training), and it’s really important to have the simplified, “follow these steps” points separate with full explanations elsewhere, or else bold/highlighted somehow so that it’s easy to skim for them.
      Think about the way you outline before you write something. But *keep* the outline as headings and bullet points. Where something needs more detailed discussion, that goes down a font size.
      It’s really easy to lose people in the detailed explanations. If something could be important later, like *why* X is done a particular way, stick that in an appendix or hyperlink/footnote.

    7. Katherine*

      Also, I’d like to inform the LW that once they leave and everyone at the old job starts panicking, the LW will be far too busy to help them. This is the way.

    8. WillowSunstar*

      Yes, as someone who has written up detailed instructions that were simply not read, I’ll agree. It seems like these days, people in general don’t want to read anything. I’d still do my due diligence and write up cheat sheets with as many screen shots as possible, but it seems like it’s not worth the effort anymore to write good documentation. Most people don’t like to read books, let alone instructions. I must be weird because I love reading books when there is time.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        When you write up simple, step by step instructions and people don’t even look at them, there something other than “doesn’t like to read” going on here. In my experience, it’s because the replacement thinks they know your job already because they are better than you. It comes from arrogance, IME, and since I know that the place will blame everything that goes wrong on me anyway, I have to just document what I can and then leave them to stew in their own arrogance.

        1. cncx*

          I was leaving a job once and I told my then boss I was worried about handover, and he gave me similar advice. He was like « do what documentation you feel you need to do to personally have a clean conscience as a professional human being, but you know that’s not gonna stop people from blaming everything on you, so just worry about getting right with yourself on this. »

    9. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

      yes i think letting someone else know, HR or grandboss, know that the OP has tried to do X and got push back o here is all of the documentation that can be reasonably done for the job. And if possible ask that there not be any problems with future references. I could see after the OP leaves and stuff starts to fall apart that the manager blames the OP.
      If there is an exit interview done by someone else mentioned it there too!

    10. MJ*

      Years ago I wrote detailed document to leave behind and found out as soon as I left they threw it away. Cue my ex boss contacting me after a month of panic to ask me to induct my replacement. I said I would for a consultation fee. He said no, so I then wandered off into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

    11. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – write up a training summary, including PDF’s of all the documentation you created, and make sure that grandboss has it before you leave. This way they know what resources have been left behind for the people covering your responsibilities until the new person is hired. Those may even help with training the new person when they start.

      But ultimately, you can’t care more than they do. Maybe a question or two each and then “terribly sorry, but I’m just swamped at the new job.” And don’t answer their questions right away – wait a day or so – they may actually in desperation consult the documentation you created.

  6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    LW4: I totally agree with Alison’s answer.

    It would be a kindness for you to lay the reality out for your employees about what they can expect from a reasonably functional and functional employer-to-employee relationship.

    Their thinking (attitude?) strikes me as part of the transition from school to work. In school, the institution is paid to help them develop. At work, the employee is paid to provide services to the employer, so the flow of money and services is reversed.

    1. Teach*


      And, OP, try to not think of this as a “kids these days” thing–its just a “kids” thing. Everyone of every generation has had some unrealistic expectations and misconceptions when they become shiny new adults.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        This is a really good point – it’s so easy to forget/not want to remember that we were the annoying kid at some point! And maybe not in the exact same way as technology and society evolves, but always in the same flavor of inexperience.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          This definitely sounds like something I would have done early in my career. Maybe not AS pointedly as this employee, but “here’s where I want to go and I would like experiences and duties tailored to that even if it’s inconvenient for you because I’m great and valuable” sounds cringe inducingly familiar. Typically as an overreaction to “we’d like to keep you and help you grow” and not understanding the limitations therein.

          Kids have to learn, it’s a kindness to correct these misunderstandings.

      2. Xer*

        Not every adult came out with the entitlement Gen Z and the youngest millennials seem to have today.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          And not every Gen Z and young millennial has that entitlement. We’ve just started hiring Gen Z workers and some of them are the hardest workers I’ve ever had…though much worse with technology than I would’ve expected. And there’s a smattering of entitlement. But that’s been true of every college aged hiring batch I’ve had over the years.

          You’re going to have a range of experiences in any demographic. But the general trend of “younger people with less experience need their expectations to be set” is not new with this generation.

          1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

            I’ve worked in a high school for the last six years, and a particularly “complex” (read, low income) one at that. Gen Z, and particularly kids from low income families, are much less likely to have had a personal computer (of any type) at home that they got much use out of, than to have had phones, tablets, and possibly video game consoles, at most, to interact with the internet and social media. Ready access to phones means they are even less likely to have sought out computers to use. They especially are less likely to have had the “exploratory” relationship with computers that millennials had.

            Even now that they all are one-to-one with school-issued laptops, most of them see them as merely word processors and internet-accessing machines. I don’t think those with low tech literacy know less than those in my generation with low tech literacy knew, but it’s definitely more common to not know much about computers, how they work, data storage and organization, and the differences between programs, apps, and web-based services. They just need some more relevant experience with them. PCs still, and maybe increasingly, are a luxury when you’ve already HAD to pay for a phone.

            Which just goes to the point. Young people are always young, no matter their generation. Just because it manifests in a slightly different way doesn’t mean they are worse than any other. And if you consider the circumstances, you might see that it says very little about their character, and a lot more about the cause and effect of the circumstances of the world.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          Can we not?

          I’m a 40 year old Millennial and I’m so freaking tired of hearing about how entitled I apparently am simply by virtue of having been born in the 80s.

            1. Rosalie*

              I’m GenX and I know way more entitled Boomers and Gen Xers than I know entitled Millennials or Gen Z.

              1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                I am X-ennial, and I know that whatever generation you find yourself in, there will be more than too many entitled people in that group. It seems to be a problem with the human race!

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            I am slightly older than you, and I consider us X-ennials, because we were the tail end of X and beginning of Millennials. We also get called the analog to digital generation and the Oregon Trail generation, lol! I am technically a Millennial by about six months, but I tend to identify more with X.

            And yeah, I agree with you on the overall point. I was just sharing the above because I enjoy those alternate titles for our age group!

        3. Lily Rowan*

          I saw something over the weekend pointing out that the difference may be coming out of school into a strong economy vs. into a recession like many of us Gen X and older Millennials did in the 90s and 2000s.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Ooh interesting. I dunno, I joined the workforce in a ‘desperately hold onto any job you get’ environment and saw some of this (perhaps even was guilty of it). This letter is an extreme example but I think younger people learning to assert their needs just tend to swing the pendulum too far towards ‘demanding’ before they find their stride.

        4. Greg*

          Every older generation complains that the new generation is lazy and entitled. Literally. Newspaper articles from the early 1800’s had this as a theme, and has continued ever since.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            “What will these children do when the paper runs out, they don’t know how to properly clean a slate!” is one I remember reading.

        5. Teach*

          Interesting! I was teaching my 6th graders about logical fallacies today, and we got to overgeneralization. They complained about people saying just this kind of stuff to them. So, yeah. That’s an overgeneralization.

        6. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          In all honesty, I do not think the example described by the OP was typical. It sounds like it was the most extreme. It sounds like her other reports are more inexperienced and unsure of what they want or should expect regarding career development.

          I am tail end of Gen X and beginning of Millennial (I use the term X-ennial), and I grew up as the internet went from being a vague idea to most of us to it being essential. I remember dial-up, early chat rooms, napster, and the beginnings of social media. With that forum becoming available to allow people who were young, inexperienced, and lacking in judgment to suddenly state their strange thoughts or ideas in a very public and permanent way, I think it was easier than ever to take a few extreme stories and examples and paint the entire generation with the same brush. But I know very few Millennials or Gen Z individuals in real life who think or act entitled.

    2. Smithy*

      I agree with all of the above, but I’d like to perhaps add a piece of insight I’ve had that has impacted this trend around “fairness” around these types of of development/growth plans. And it’s that generally speaking, I don’t think that managers are comfortable having conversations around these things that are and are not fair.

      At the 4-6 year mark, it’s a solid point when staff no longer see themselves as “young” or “new” to the work world and are ready to make more significant strides into the parts of work that they enjoy. And for some of those staff, that growth will align with their employer’s needs and they will receive investment by the employer to meet those needs. And for other staff – that growth won’t. And they’ll need to leave their employer or invest in themselves with their own time/money to move into that field. And very often, for that younger staff, that reality can feel wildly unfair and a bad luck of the draw. Because it does have very little to do with how good anyone’s work product is.

      I’m in fundraising, and in one job I was on the corporate/foundations team that had zero institutional investment for growth. The individual fundraising team, however had extensive investment and my peers were being sent to conferences, training, working with external consultants and vendors, etc. It had zero to do with either of our individual work product, but rather institutional investment in what teams they wanted to grow, and which ones they didn’t. And instead of my boss having conversations about that institutional investment and the types of jobs I could be looking at in different organizations – I felt like I was getting weird feedback on my development plan or goals.

      I think that managers don’t like saying that these things are unfair because it can expose the employer. But if there is a way to have these conversations more directly, it can be really helpful.

    3. ferrina*

      Yep, I totally agree. Part of my job is to scope out development and set standards for the company; what the employees are asking would be considered excessive. The company’s job is not to ensure that the employee is positioned to go into whatever they want. Yes, companies should offer flex time when possible so employees can attend class, but paying them for time spent pursuing skills that the company won’t use? No. The company also won’t pay for my time spent reading sci-fi books, for the exact same reason. As the manager, you may even be reprimanded for dedicating company resources (including staff time) toward non-company activities.

      Depending on the employee’s attitude, you may want to give your boss a head’s up. I had an employee get really annoyed that I wouldn’t change her job description (I was upfront that we didn’t have a need and if she wanted to build her career elsewhere, I’d be a reference for her). She complained to my boss about my management, saying I was undermining her career and I was verbally abusive (because I told her that her job description wasn’t changing, and asked her to stop doing side projects when she hadn’t completed her main job). It became a month-long mess.

      1. Pescadero*

        …and my employer will pay for me to take college courses, completely unrelated to my job, and give me paid time off work to take them.

    4. Cypress*

      Seconding the part regard the transition from school to work. My previous position had me working with recent college graduates, and I experienced a lot of what LW4 dealt with. An especially frustrating aspect of this most folks weren’t sure about their career direction and would question why we didn’t have well-prepared development pathways for them to pick from. I had to explain on several occasions that professional development wouldn’t be College 2.0 and, while I was more than happy to help support them as I could, that it would primarily be self-directed.

      I’d also use the conversation to gently broach the topic of seeking employment elsewhere as their skills grew if I was fairly certain our company wouldn’t have opportunities for them. This would usually result in a lot more frustration at first (again for similar reasons as LW4). Once I explained the reasons why, especially when discussing how job mobility would provide them with better salaries in the long run, they would usually come around and appreciate the advice. It’s a tough conversation to have, especially when I’d like to retain the staff (and pay them the salary they’d deserve as they develop), but I hope it set most of them up for future success.

      1. Smithy*

        Yes – I do believe that these types of conversations are often the most frustrating to be on the receiving end of because it is also common to see others find those tracks in their current employer. And if its not their peers at a given employer, it may be peers with their friends or family. It doesn’t make it an employer’s or manager’s fault – but it can help contextualize the frustration.

        I will also say that personally, I never really had managers who were honest with me on this front and instead resulted to shifting goalposts about my performance. So I am hopeful that as my generation (elder millennial) become more experienced managers – there’s a more thoughtful shift away from this approach.

      2. Somehow_I_Manage*

        The transition can be a shock. All former students have been able to “graduate” every year to a new grade, so long as they did not fail. And it’s not just the students- for the last 10-25 years, their *parents* and mentors may have had a radically different journey- spending nearly their full careers with a single employer and collecting a pension.

        The modern workforce is much much messier. Opportunity and your talent aren’t always in alignment. We all spend our entire careers trying to develop a sense of how to navigate this. We constantly must make imperfect choices weighing the rewards of immediate opportunity vs. patience.

        As managers, I think it is our job to *make* opportunity for those that deserve it. And prepare our staff for those opportunities. But often, the realities of business mean you aren’t practically able to make it happen.

    5. The Fed AO*

      This. I work for the Fed and for some reason people new to the Fed think that we will continue to pay for their education. Nope. Only if it relates to the position they currently occupy. If someone has a bachelor’s in English language studies and they were hired in for policy, then decide that they want to become an accountant, the Fed won’t pay for you to get an accounting degree. I get so many people that push back that “it’s bringing value to the agency,” I push back with “not when you leave for an accounting position, and we’ll have to hire a new policy person and train them on procedure.” A lot of agencies have training agreements now where you can’t leave for 2-3 years after completing fed paid for training program or degree completion, if you do, you have to pay it back.

  7. John Smith*

    Re #1. There’s cultural/religious considerations too. In any case, you can’t please all people all the time.

    1. Sunshine*

      I was also thinking this, along with the fact that we can’t know other peoples’ relationships to alcohol. Encouraging drinking as a work activity is just a bad move. A wine tasting is different than going to a restaurant or something where some people order drinks and others can feel free not to – drinking is the whole point! And someone might not feel comfortable disclosing if this is uncomfortable for them.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Please come try to organize something at my workplace and report back on that lol

      2. CarlEatsShoes*

        Says someone has never tried to please 15 people. We have 6 people at my work, and we can’t even find a date when everyone is available.

    2. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

      I cannot fathom why they think this is a good idea! any other tasting would be better. I could not imagine having to go to one of my coworkers and say sorry but I’m in recovery and cannot partake. Depending on their comfort level they may not even want to be at the tasting. (Virtual or not).

      I’m sure there would be some sort of other food or beverage tasting that everyone could partake in that is not alcohol. I think this is young adult thinking what’s something fun we can all do? Oh lets all drink on the company’s dime!”

    3. frustrated trainee*

      There’s a difference being failing to please all people all the time, and not having bothered to consider that not all members of a team can even participate properly in the team building activity provided. I’ve been to a multitude of team building activities that I don’t personally find pleasing but I can still participate at the same level as everyone else and get the benefits of the team building. I’ve also been to team building activities that I absolutely cannot participate in for medical reasons (rock climbing comes to mind) and I’m usually invited to the gym so I’m “participating” but I’m just standing around watching everyone else do the team building activity, and there’s a lot of pressure to act like I had as much fun/got as much out of it as everyone else or I’m a bummer.
      This is massively different from say, going to a baseball game, an activity I don’t enjoy and doesn’t “please” me, but I can certainly take part in to the same extent as the rest of the team, and actually get the team building out it of because I’m participating

  8. Anonforthistake*

    It is not just the needs of pregnant people! At least LW#1 has a publicly known and socially acceptable excuse for why she is not drinking. People don’t drink for so many reasons, including, often, medical issues or religious beliefs that they would prefer not to discuss in the workplace.

    I am and have always been a non-drinker, and drinking-based work events are so common that I have dealt with it all–coworkers who won’t take “no thanks” for an answer, rumors that I am an alcoholic (nope!) or pregnant (never!), and so, so many awkward questions. I thought it would get better as I got older, or if I kept a seltzer in my hand, or if I said I had to drive. No. There is almost always someone who is weird about it. And I cannot imagine how much harder it must be for someone with a history of addiction or alcohol-related trauma.

    I really wish we could just keep mind-altering substances out of the workplace entirely, and I do not understand why so many people insist that alcohol is necessary or appropriate at work events.

    1. Me*

      I am also a lifelong non-drinker, and I also find it puzzling why some people are so uncomfortable with the idea that someone else in the room isn’t drinking. The worst are the people who try to persuade you to have a drink, sometimes very persistently, although that doesn’t seem to happen as much as it used to.

      1. Jessica*

        Yeah, why can’t it just be like anything else? If I’m having broccoli and I offer you some and you say “no thanks,” the conversation is now over. (Okay, in my secret heart I think you are a weirdo who’s missing out on this delicious broccoli, but I would never say that out loud.)

        I always feel that people who are comfortable with what they’re doing don’t need to care what I’m doing. Somebody who enjoys a drink and has no qualms about it will drink their drink and enjoy themselves and not bother about me. But someone who feels guilty that they drink (in their opinion) too much, or who thinks they’re sinning, or whatever, will not be happy until they can drag me down to their level, because even though I’m actually not not-drinking AT them, they feel my sober existence as a silent reproach.

        And the absolute worst people, whom I want to strangle, are the “we want to get you drunk” people. Okay, you fantasize about poisoning me with mind-altering substances that I would never consent to consume, because you’d like to put me in a position of being vulnerable and out of control, and you hope I’ll humiliate myself somehow so you can enjoy mocking me? Why on earth does anyone think this is an acceptable thing to say to anyone.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          “I always feel that people who are comfortable with what they’re doing don’t need to care what I’m doing.”

          Agree 100%. My husband and I are non-drinkers, and I remember a party we went to in grad school where some guy (a friend of the host who we’d never met) got like, mortally offended when he realized we were drinking soda instead of something alcoholic. It was so weird we didn’t even know what to say. You’d have thought we were deliberately drinking soda AT HIM on purpose!

          I was sure he had some kind of personal issue about his own drinking that he was reacting to, but realizing that didn’t make the whole thing any less uncomfortable. We ended up not staying very long, because his outburst kind of ruined the mood, lol.

          1. BatManDan*

            Agreed. In my experience, the people that react the most strongly to my choice NOT to are the ones most likely to be served by challenging them to think about how comfortable THEY are with the activity they are advocating.

        2. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

          I rarely drink, and I have absolutely no criticism or judgement for people who drink. (Many of the most fun times in my life have been with people merry with drink!) But the judgement I have gotten off a few folk when I say I’m not drinking…It is mad. They do seem to think I’m criticising them.

          I think it’s similar when someone says they don’t eat sugar, or gluten or dairy or whatever… People can be really angry with them!

      2. Roland*

        I agree with everything you’re saying here 100%, and it’s really frustrating. I try to step in when I see it happening around me because I’ve had it aimed at me and it sucks.

        But I also don’t understand why some non-drinkers are so uncomfortable with the idea that someone, somewhere, is drinking at work. Not your comment, but a lot of others in this thread have veered away from “it would make me uncomfortable to participate in an event like this, so my team shouldn’t do this” and into “no one should have events like this”. Like, I don’t ski, and I’m really self-conscious about my lack of athletic abilities, and one time, my team did a ski trip and I just didn’t go, even though I got hit with all the “are you sure? you can hang in the lodge! you can tube! you can bunny slope!”. It wasn’t a fun team building event for me but ski trips don’t need to be banned, just taken in moderation. It wasn’t a slight at me, just an activity that I disliked but a lot of people liked a lot.

        1. Anonforthistake*

          There are two differences with drinking-focused events (although ski weekends are not great either for reasons this site has discussed in the past):
          1) At work, we try not to exclude people for medical or religious reasons. Drinking-based activities often do this.
          2) Drinking makes people behave in ways they might not if they were sober, and no one I have met get more professional while drunk—it tends to go the other way. Many people would be uncomfortable if their boss arranged a team building activity around getting high, even though, for those of us in many states, that would be equally legal. Why do people want to be intoxicated around their coworkers?

          1. elle kaye*

            Also, the specificity of team events that are ENTIRELY focused on alcohol as the activity of interest seems to be an incredibly common suggestion for social/team building purposes. I had a conversation with my own team about how a brewery was out for me– not for any reason other than celiac disease means you cannot drink beer. No objection to alcohol/drinking, just why does that need to be the only thing we could do?

        2. PoolLounger*

          Some people have had really bad experiences being around people drinking, either as a child or later in life. Sometimes when you’ve had trauma stemming from alcohol use/abuse people drinking around you can feel very anxiety-inducing (and this site has taught us that not everyone can drink moderately during work and work parties.) That’s not what’s going on in the OP’s question, but it is a reason some people may be bothered by drinking at work at all, a place that for some people may be an escape from alcohol.

          1. Distracted Librarian*

            This. I’m OK around people who drink moderately (buzzed OK, obnoxiously drunk not so much) but I have a lot of trauma from being the child of an alcoholic who was not a very nice man when he was drunk. Plus dealing with handsy drunk guys in college. I’m fine with events that include alcohol (as long as I can leave if someone gets out of control) but would feel very othered by an event focused on alcohol.

        3. Boberta*

          Because if you care about not excluding protected classes, you can’t have an event centered on alcohol, which by its very nature is inaccessible to certain people on medical and religious grounds. Plus, alcohol can make people behave poorly; it worsens people’s judgement, and that’s not something that should be on coworkers to deal with. The easy solution is just to not have alcohol at work.

          I’m all for, like, drinks at an office party, to be clear. But drinking on the job is a problem, as is making alcohol the sole focus of your team-building efforts for the quarter.

      3. Bagpuss*

        I do drink in moderation and *also* can’t understand why people feel the need to push it onto others.

        I’m fortunate in that I can’t think of any time since I left university when I have chosen not to drink, and have found myself facing any pressure to do so – at most I can think of a couple of times when I’ve been offered other alcoholic options (e.g. saying no to wine with a meal and being asked if I’d like beer instead) but never anyone then pushing when I’ve said I’m not drinking.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*


          I drink, but only when and where I feel safe to do so – i.e. I have a safe way home, or am staying over (e.g. at a hotel), and am with people I trust. The last factor is really big for me. I don’t start drinking at all unless I have those questions answered. I don’t often drink in bars because of this. Saves me a lot of money, quite frankly.

      4. Emmy Noether*

        Luckily, I haven’t encountered this much in my circles.

        The only time I have slightly pestered non-drinkers was when I was hosting and they were drinking plain water! I somehow felt like I was being a bad hostess, so I was like “Oh, but I have juice! Can I make you tea? Coffee? Lemonade? At least let me put a lemon slice in your water!” Lol.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I’m that person if I am not drinking – I am not a huge fan of fizzy drinks and find a lot of soft drinks too sweet, especially while eating, and don’t care for hot drinks with food, usually, so if I’m not drinking alcohol I genuinely prefer water to most other options.

          Although like you, I would usually try to offer options so no one feels they have no option other than water!

          (If I’m hosting a meal and serving wine, if someone says no to the wine I would usually also offer them the option of beer, as well as soft drinks, as I know not eveyone likes wine, but I’ll normally do it as a list – e.g. “What would you like? I’ve got orange juice, lager, coke zero, water,or if you wanted I could make you a cup of tea”)

        2. MapleHill*

          Emmy, sometimes being a good host, is just offering up what you have and accepting the answer. I’m a non-drinker and I enjoy and even prefer plain old water (& hate lemon in my water) to any cokes/juices/seltzer/etc. If I wanted something, I’d ask if you have it and be fine with water otherwise. Sometimes a host harassing you (*even with the best of intentions) about getting you something else to eat/drink can make you more uncomfortable. We call my mom a food pusher & have to remind her to stop bugging guests about this.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Oh, I know that, and I swear I left them alone after they assured me that no, really, water is fine. Culturally, I’ve been taught that guests can’t ask, the host has to offer.

            Later in life, when I wasn’t drinking myself, I encountered plenty of people who were like “non-alcoholic? *shrug* we have tap water I guess”, I’d have appreciated someone pushing options on me.

    2. Rara Avis*

      We have alcohol at our annual year-end party, and a lot of my coworkers would be very unhappy if it wasn’t part of the celebration. I rarely drink; there are many others who don’t either for various reasons; there are plenty of non-alcoholic options; and no one has ever been weird about it. I had the same experience at a party thrown by my husband’s employer — no one cared what anyone else was drinking.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I don’t think alcohol itself is necessarily a problem, particularly not at work events outside of working hours. It’s the drinkers who can’t accept that someone else chooses not to drink who are the problem, as well as those who can’t limit their intake and get annoyingly drunk.

        I’ve enjoyed myself when I’ve gone for after-work drinks before, but these have all been completely voluntary events, with no pushback if someone doesn’t want to or can’t attend. I’ve gone for a drink or two, stayed for a couple hours, and then gone home, but then I enjoy informal socializing with my coworkers, at least when it’s completely voluntary and doesn’t happen too often. Before the pandemic, we went for after-work drinks about twice a year. I would feel differently if the events were more frequent and if there were any consequences to not attending.

        1. just some guy*

          Uh huh. I had a co-worker spend a solid half-hour badgering me to drink at a work event because he was uncomfortable with me not drinking.

          I’m not teetotal, but I refuse to drink around people like that.

          1. BatManDan*

            I’m with you. Sometimes I drink, sometimes I don’t. Even when I’m drinking, if someone asks me WHAT I’m drinking, I frequently respond with “orange juice” or “cranberry juice” or “club soda” (whatever the mixer in my glass so clearly IS), in part to normalize those moments when I’m NOT drinking, and in part to normalize it for ALL the folks who may not be drinking, at any particular moment, for any particular reason.

      2. Marshmallow*

        Same… I’ve been to many a corporate party serving alcohol. The alcohol is always popular and I’ve never seen any one get weird about someone not drinking… we don’t usually discuss what people are or aren’t drinking at all. Maybe someone will be like “oooo that looks good what did you get” but that’s probably about it. It sucks that it seems like so many people experience these assholes. I don’t know why I never have? Maybe I don’t care enough to notice? Or maybe have just been blessed to mostly be around reasonable humans (at least as it pertains to alcohol)?

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          I don’t think anyone has tried to push me to drink when I choose not to since – maybe my early 20s? Decades ago, anyway. Maybe that kind of pushiness is something most people age out of. Or I found better people to associate with, personally and professionally, as I got older.

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            As a lifelong non-drinker these comments are taking me back to being a teenager at house parties with everyone trying to find some kind of alcohol I could stand to sip. They gave up and I played drinking games with spoonfuls of ice cream instead of fingers of alcopop. Made the King’s Chalice look super gross, though I hear it also made it delicious.

            So I fall into the camp that’s surprised the LW was still offended after being offered a non-alcoholic alternative. I probably wouldn’t have taken them up on the non-alcoholic wines suggestion, instead counter-suggesting cocktail/mocktail tasting. Or just dig out the ice cream again.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              I think having alcohol at a work event should be fine as long as no one pressures people to drink or not to drink and there are plenty of options for people who don’t want alcohol as well–but the difference is that this is an event that is totally focused on the alcohol. The alcohol is the whole point of the event. I think it’s reasonable that OP didn’t want to be in a situation where they are like “okay everyone except for OP take a sip of the 1982 Red and lets discuss. OP, I guess you can sip some more cranberry juice.” They would be singled out over and over as doing something different than the rest of the team, which is not very good if the whole point is team bonding.

              1. Distracted Librarian*

                “They would be singled out over and over as doing something different than the rest of the team, which is not very good if the whole point is team bonding.” THIS. Being constantly othered, especially in a team-building event, feels pretty terrible.

          2. Tomato Soup*

            I’ve seen it happen with some people who were well out of their 20s but they were either very immature in general or alcoholics who wanted other people to be drinking so they wouldn’t have to think about their own drinking. In my case, I’m related to one of each. Despite enjoying a wide variety of alcoholic drinks in general, I find their behavior annoying and exhausting.

    3. Lacey*

      Yes! I have a sibling with health issues that keep them from drinking. There’s absolutely no reason for people to be weird about it – but they are.

      And oddly, she works in a traditionally conservative field where I wouldn’t have expected that kind of drinking culture. Where as I work in marketing and yeah, there’s alcohol, but absolutely no one cares if you drink it or not.

      1. DannyG*

        This book gives an in depth look at alcohol use in humans, especially the social aspect: Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization
        by Edward Slingerland

    4. MillennialHR*

      I definitely agree. My first thought was that this could trigger someone who was recovering from alcohol addiction or perhaps had traumatic experiences with alcohol in their past. I work in HR, so I know I’m a bit more sensitive to things like that, but I thought it really was a terrible idea for a work team-building event. How about coffee/tea if they’re going to do a tasting?

    5. AnonPi*

      This is how it is for a lot of events out side of work (and even a few select ones at work). I pretty much don’t got to any events because it’s always “a thing” because I don’t drink, and apparently everyone feels entitled to an explanation.

      It’s particularly frustrating when I’ve pointed out to organizers that it would be nice to at least occasionally have events at some place where the focus isn’t drinking. But I’m told that since no one else complains it isn’t a problem.

    6. Phoning it in*

      Anon, I’m sorry you deal with rumors for making your own decisions, but I think it’s a going a little bit too far to say any alcohol is inappropriate at a work event. Am I reading the last sentence right?

      At work itself, yes, alcohol is totally inappropriate (assuming your job isn’t sommelier or the like); at lunch when you’re going to go back to work, also inappropriate; and I agree it shouldn’t be the only focus of anything that’s billed as team-building. But I don’t see why OTHER people shouldn’t have a glass of wine with a dinner or party with coworkers. That sounds like you want to force other people to make the same decision you’ve made.

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        There’s a difference, though, between a work event where alcohol is available, and one where the whole point of the event is drinking. Wine tastings and the like aren’t much fun if you’re not participating.

  9. Joan*

    LW #2 – as Alison says, this is an advantage. You can schedule the meeting when it’s good for YOU. That’s why Outlook is great, you can look at the conflict scheduling thing and do it in literally 30 seconds. If you don’t use Outlook then maybe it’s a PITA?

    1. Mel*

      It’s pretty easy on Google Calendar too. I think most people who ask for someone else to schedule meetings use some sort of tool to facilitate.

    2. Lacey*

      Yeah, my boss doesn’t ask me to schedule it, but he always asks me when I want to meet and I appreciate that he’s letting me decide what would work best for me.

  10. JSPA*

    #1 virtual wine tasting seems such an odd choice.

    Is every person being sent multiple bottles, so they can take a taste, and then be left with multiple open bottles? What a waste of a) money b) wine, unless they happen to live in a household with multiple adult wine drinkers.

    If it’s merely, “each person tastes something different and reports back, as a way to share something that’s about personal perceptions not work,” then NA wine (or juice, or sparkling water) seems like a perfectly fine alternative (except that given some people have lingering smell and taste problems post covid, doing anything smell- and flavor- based could be buying trouble).

    If knowing that other people on a call have a sip of liquid-that-includes-alcohol in their mouths, when you have no-alcohol liquid in your mouth, feels significantly distressing, that seems more like “This is a time in my life when I am feeling big feelings” than an actual work problem, though.

    It’s not like this is the only thing you have available to sustain you. The bonding (such as it is) involves sharing perceptions and preferences, Which you absolutely can participate in, even if you don’t have wine in your mouth.

    And finally, the tiny amount of alcohol that is absorbed through the oral mucosa if you were to taste-and-spit (like a real wine tasting) is probably not significantly higher than the natural alcohols you would be getting from eating plenty of very ripe fruit.

    So while it’s a badly-chosen activity for a host of reasons, it’s also a really rigid response to that activity on the part of the LW, unless they are finding “not drinking” hard (which isn’t on the workplace to manage).

    1. Me*

      Yes, the indignant outrage the LW feels about a pretty minor incident that’s been addressed to her satisfaction already seems disproportionate. I don’t drink, and I wouldn’t love the idea of a team-building exercise of wine tasting, but I can’t imagine going to HR about it after the event has already been canceled.

      I agree with JSPA that it might be meaningful for the LW to explore why this bothers her so much. It might not be about the LW’s relationship to alcohol. It might be that she feels her co-workers don’t like her much and this was a way to exclude her from the heart of the bonding experience. It might be that the LW resents the negatives of having a child, and missing out on the wine tasting is one more example of that. Or a hundred other things.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yes my thought was that this is perhaps not an isolated incident, but instead is an easy example to point to. When I was pregnant last year I was surprised at how many things in everyday life don’t really work well with or account for being pregnant, and it can simultaneous feel like you’ve never been more on display and also never been more invisible.

        I’m not going to judge them too harshly though – they only asked for advice and a gut check. I’m sure we’ve all had a bad first instinct that we later realized would have been awful to act on!

    2. Marshmallow*

      I’m pretty sure they send a box of like little wine shots. Not like full bottles of wine… sorta like a wine advent calendar!

      1. JSPA*

        Oh, that makes more sense.

        Do they stay good for a few months? If I were temporarily not drinking, I’d probably either do taste-and-spit, or just take notes, and maybe go back an try them in a few months. (Or, I don’t know, try to freeze them or something, and use them for cooking later–I’m assuming it’s not rare vintages, if they’re getting this treatment.)

        IMO, “I can be there socially though I can’t do the excuse for being social / sure, that’s fine” is a far cry from the (completely unacceptable) versions we usually get: “everyone must walk the slackline for your team to finish the obstacle course” or “everyone must be locked in the escape room for the duration of the challenge.”

        That’s even without counting the “hey, maybe we can even find a way for you to semi-participate if you’d like, by sending you NA wine or grape juice?” And the actual, “oh, we cancelled it, because the workarounds were only about 20% good.

        But look, I remember that it was not unusual for someone to go on a golf outings with their arm in a sling, just to walk the course and chat and catch some sun, or their leg in a cast, to ride in the cart and chat about golf. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world” was the appropriately collegial phrase, and the other people would lean in on how much they looked forward to some future time when you can play. Niceness all around, connections made, work bonding achieved.

        If you think that the golf outing with clients is about the golf, or the wine tasting with coworkers is about tasting wine, IMO you’re missing the point.

        Now, enough people find the consumption of alcohol triggering, or offensive, or socially-awkward, that I would tend not to make it the center of many / most events. But of course, there are also people who find food problematic in one way or another…and pretty much every work bonding event has a food component.

        1. SkyePilot*

          I have done similar events and they are usually three to four little bottles that do stay good as long as they are kept sealed. See this as an example:

          I actually did a coffee tasting event (while pregnant) and it was quite fun!

          I have also totally accepted wine/tequila/other liquor as vendor gifts while pregnant and just hoarded it for the days when the kiddos make me want to sell them to the circus. I can understand not feeling appreciated/momentarily put out by the organizer being thoughtless, but this seems like such an over reaction to still be upset.

    3. design ghost*

      I’m assuming they would be sent a package of sample bottles of different wines, not full sized bottles. If it was being done with a winery, there might have also been a sommelier on zoom or whatever giving information and guidance on the different drinks.

      I agree it’s weird for the LW1 to have taken this so personally. A non-alcoholic option was available, and even at in-person wine tastings it’s not necessarily expected that everyone drinks all the same things. I’ve done a wine tasting with a friend who likes red wine while I prefer white, I don’t think the two of us had a single glass from the same bottle, but we had a great time.

      Even for this virtual tasting, I’d bet not every person on the team would have tried every wine sample sent to them. It’s really not about everyone drinking the exact same thing, in my experience at least. LW1 really overreacted.

      1. münchner kindl*

        A friend of mine took part in a virtual wine tasting last year (as part of virtual conference – to replace the usual meet-and-greet that’s so important during conferences) and yes, he got a small parcel of small portions beforehand, and then got a nice explanation of each wine during the tasting. He complimented on how well the “guide” (presenter) did it, to explain things to people with different levels of knowledge/ experience about wine, so that everybody learned interesting things without being overwhelmed/ bored.

      2. Karath*

        I attended a virtual wine tasting for a group I’m in, and just told the organizer not to send me the wine because I don’t like white wine. Still had a good time.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        Yeah, these events are usually really casual even in-person at a winery (where everyone has voluntarily shown up to this place). I highly doubt at a work event that the discussion would be super deep into the layers of flavors or whatever. Probably the leader will explain how to taste and then give an overview of wine-making. Maybe someone would share a story of a time they went to where the grape originated (ex: Australia, Argentina, Italy). Someone will make a joke where they do an overly-elaborate sniff, swirl, sip and then announce, “I think this is wine.”

      4. Shan*

        I grew up in BC wine country, and we’d frequently do wine tours. One of us would always be the DD (we’d rotate), and honestly, I had just as good of a time when I was the sober one as I did when I was tasting. Obviously I was with friends, so a different dynamic, but it definitely wasn’t a case of everyone discussing the blackberry note in that 2014 meritage for twenty minutes while the DD stood awkwardly outside the circle.

        I’ve largely stopped drinking due to migraines, and while an alcohol-centred event wouldn’t be my first choice, I’d take it over some of the sport options my company loves offering up. Which, inevitably, also involve a lot of alcohol.

    4. Relentlessly Socratic*

      We did a virtual wine tasting as an after hours event. Yes, they send you about a half-dozen small bottles (@187 mLs). Not the regular 750 mL bottles.

  11. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

    LW1: I do hope that the manager of the wine-tasting-organizer will explain to her, kindly but clearly, that no one should assume that everyone in the company drinks alcohol – and that declining it does NOT mean that the person is in recovery, pregnant or religiously very conservative (all three are common assumptions). Some of us share an ethnicity that is prone to “blushing” deeply upon drinking even a small amount of alcohol (Google “Asian flush”), while others of us simply do. not. like. the. taste. of. alcohol and don’t see why we should guzzle empty calories that we don’t even enjoy!

    It would really be doing this well-meaning but possibly naive organizer to steer her towards more inclusive group activities. It can be a real challenge to find something that EVERYONE enjoys, but as long as she recognizes that some activities are a very real “powder keg” for some people, she should be able to come up with good ideas. And she can always send out an invitation for the staff to suggest things that they’d like to do together – she needn’t come up with ALL the ideas, after all!

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t think it’s even just about alcohol / other non inclusive activities, but rather how the organiser (and probably most of the team-mates) seems to see the purpose of these quarterly activities. The manager, HR presumably, and OP see them as the intended ‘team building’ activities. The organiser seems to see them more as an opportunity to get a desired social event paid for by the company.

      It doesn’t seem like there’s any approval or oversight step between the organiser having the idea and the arrangements being made. That needs to be added imo.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          We have something like a happy hour or staff activity probably quarterly, mostly incidentally when people feel like organizing something. Optional, of course. This is probably a cultural thing. For us it’s a lot of the staff feeling a loss of connection over covid and trying to build it back (mainly championed by junior staff).

          But something structured and mandatory or implied-mandatory I personally wouldn’t do…ever. So it’s definitely YMMV.

        2. ferrina*

          Yeah, this is a reason why I would give the organizer a pass. It’s tough to think of quarterly virtual team-building activities. If this were the first or second activity, I’d be side-eyeing her, but if this is the sixth or seventh, I get it. Not every activity will fit everyone. The organizer should have been aware that pregnant people are commonly advised not to drink and maybe checked in with the LW in advance (to see if she’d be interested in non-alcoholic wine or other alternatives), or sent around a poll or something to get feedback on the ideas. But this is a pretty minor offense.

    2. Distracted Librarian*

      I love this approach. It’s kind, not punitive, and focuses on helping the person do a better job and better understand inclusivity in the workplace.

  12. Data/Lore*

    LW 1, I can commiserate- I don’t drink, and have a somewhat restrictive diet due to medical conditions. The industry I am in has a lot of social networking that takes place around food and/or alcohol depending on the time of day. I’ve learned two things- people almost never consider that someone might not enjoy something like a dinner out with alcohol or a wine tasting or the like, and the best practice is to be really clear ahead of time about any limitations or restrictions you have, in a matter of fact way. So when I traveled to meet my new team in person last year, and they were discussing restaurants, I made sure to state, clearly and matter of factly, that I have a specific diet I need to follow for medical reasons, and as long as I can access a menu ahead of time I’d be able to participate in whatever they wanted to do. I didn’t bother with a lot of detail, and they were all perfectly fine with it, and made sure I was able to find something at each restaurant we went to. I learned a long time ago that framing things like “oh I don’t drink” or “I have this need to be accommodated” plainly and in an “of course this is the way it is” way ahead of time makes it easier all around, and that’s a good tone to take into conversations about inclusivity with team building events.

    That said, with it being a young team age-wise I personally wouldn’t have assumed any offense or exclusion was intended (not to say you are in the right or wrong in feeling offended, you felt how you felt and it does sting when the team plans something that you can’t fully participate in, even when they offer an accommodation), and I wouldn’t dwell on it- call it a learning experience all around and I would consider making suggestions for future events that are more inclusive of everyone to the person who typically plans the events.

  13. Educator*

    One more theory for LW#5–it might also be the time of year. When my district had midyear vacancies, there was a great sense of urgency around filling them. If you indicated in any way that you are more qualified than the sub or multitasking administrator that they have in the classroom now (mentioning a certification, your years of experience, etc.) they will be highly motivated to keep the application process moving.

    But you are right to be wary–I can’t remember anyone we hired this way moving into a tenure track. It was all about fixing an immediate problem, not finding a long-term fit for the community.

    1. Snow Globe*

      I agree with Alison, though, that if the LW submitted a resume, the hiring manager likely has enough information to decide the candidate should be interviewed. It really sounds like maybe the schools have a more complicated application system than they actually need, since the LW stopped half-way through.

      I have a friend that is a recruiter for a public school system, and I know how very desperate they are to find qualified staff, so I’m really not surprised that a school would be checking their application system daily for any activity.

      1. Name*

        My husband was invited to interview without completing his full online application. It was a team leader role. The company really needed someone and we’re about to start interviews. He ended up accepting the position and loves it!

      2. SomebodyElse*

        I agree with this. Honestly the only one that cares about online applications is our internal recruiter and HR. Hiring managers just look at the resume. It’s only been recently ~ 9months or so I’ve even been able to see the online application. Out of habit, I still ignore it and go straight for the resume and cover letter :)

        1. Toby Zeigler*

          I’m an internal recruiter (not for teachers but in an industry that has had a lot of well-publicized staffing shortages) and I couldn’t care less about a finished application before wanting to talk to someone. Most systems need candidates to finish an application before generating an offer but OP, I wouldn’t assume that the organizations to which you’re applying are somehow subpar because they reached out to you before you had finished what is usually the first step.

          Also, while the “thanks for applying/please finish your application” email is auto-generated, I can state with nearly 100% certainty that the email asking you to interview was sent by a human after reviewing your resume. The days of applicant tracking systems being the main arbiter of who goes through the process and who doesn’t are long gone. A human will review your application materials nearly every time. Good luck on the job search!

      3. LW #5*

        I think I’m experiencing culture shock about the post-covid teaching shortage! Last time I interviewed for a position was before covid, and even though I knew the school and the administration, it was still a highly competitive interview and took MONTHS to get an offer!

        Plus I’m sort of reluctantly applying to charters for reasons that are too complicated to get into, so I’m a little more leery than I would be otherwise. Seems like it’s just that the job market has changed so dramatically for teachers it’s hard to recognize anymore!

    2. Library in the Middle*

      I just laughed out loud at “Multitasking administrator”. In my 12 years in edcuation, an administrator has NEVER a subbed -even for a class period. Thanks for the giggle.

  14. Brayden*

    Wine tasting seems like a REALLY odd choice for a team building exercise for any sort of professional setting. That is something you do for a party or with a small group of friends. Aside from the obvious pregnancy reason that you had for not being able to participate, the number of other reasons that I can think of off the top of my head (religious, medical, negative history, or personal issues), with others that I can’t even think of, makes this choice of a team building event a really really bad idea. Absolutely go to HR about team building event appropriateness, but do NOT get your coworker in trouble for choosing this. Good faith efforts were made to include you and fix it.

      1. Allonge*

        It’s a young team and it may also well be that the rest of the potential issues do not apply (e.g. they regularly go out for drinks after work). Events like this need to be inclusive to the people who are there, not to everyone in the world. Hopefully now they learnt that alcohol can be an issue.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Very well put. You need to know what works for your team.

          Of course you also have to be flexible to changes in your team dynamic. So someone being pregnant, or someone joining who doesn’t drink, should be a prompt to diversify your activities. But it sounds like OPs employer got that memo and adjusted.

        2. SomebodyElse*

          This is what I was going to say. It’s not clear from the OP if they participated in activities like this prior to become pregnant. In other words if you have a team that has done this or you generally have an idea they all are ok with alcohol, then it’s not a stretch to plan a wine tasting. It’s not even unreasonable to forget that that the OP is pregnant.

          Of course at any given time someone could be temporarily (pregnancy, new medication, temporary diet/dry month) or even new permanently (e.g. new decision to not drink, alcohol treatment, etc.) not drinking and once that’s known then alternatives can be found.

          I know that this is an unpopular opinion. But work team building and other events are never going to please everyone. The best anyone can hope for planning them is that the majority will enjoy them and that the minority who can’t/doesn’t want to participate in any given activity rotates so it’s not always the same people. As an employee the best you can hope for is that you enjoy and want to participate in the majority of activities and you aren’t always the one left out.

          In other words you can’t please all of the people all of the time but the goal should be to please all of the people some of the time

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If it’s a new planner, which is likely with a young team, they probably googled “virtual teambuilding activities” and thought this one sounded fun.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Honestly in the age of COVID I’ve done that a number of times even not being a young team member. Options have changed!

      2. Antilles*

        Especially since they do quarterly team building events and apparently do them virtually. If they’ve been doing this for a couple years (e.g., since Covid hit in early 2020), they’re probably scraping the bottom of the barrel of “okay what haven’t we done yet?”.
        Ask me to come up with an idea for a virtual team building event once or twice and I’ll come up with something no problem (off the cuff while writing this post: group video game a’la Among Us, virtual movie watch session, book club). Put me tenth on the list of “whose turn is it to plan the quarterly event” and yeah, I’m going Googling to come up with something.

    2. Sadie*

      I don’t think it’s that odd. It depends on the workplace culture and/or the regional culture, surely. Especially since there is a non-drinkers’ option. I could see many places I’ve worked at doing something like that.

      1. Birdie*

        This. I’ve lived in some places in the US where alcohol is omnipresent and a work event without alcohol is practically unheard of. Other places, the mere suggestion of alcohol and work will immediately get you labelled an alcoholic.

      2. philmar*

        Yeah, I live in Italy and wine isn’t really considered an alcoholic drink, it’s part of your meal. As in, for our holiday party, the wine with dinner wasn’t considered a “free drink” when we specified that the venue must provide each guest with 2 free drinks. So the fact that there is ALWAYS pearl-clutching and diatribes about how wine-tasting is NEVER appropriate for work events really feels tone deaf.

    3. BuffaloSauce*

      It depends on the company and the industry. I just left the tech industry and my particular company had a heavy drinking culture. It was pretty typical to have drinks on fridays. Toasts during the year. Company parties were crazy with people getting pretty drunk, taking shots etc. No one ever batted an eye.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yes, my team did a wine tasting activity in a conference room once many years ago. The team was much smaller then that it is now – maybe a dozen people if you included the AVP and VP that our Director reported up through – and we had an in-office happy hour at 4p every Friday in a spare conference room, which people could drop in on or not as they pleased. It was easy enough for the tasting organizer to know first-hand that all 12 of us were comfortable enough with being in the presence of alcohol to have attended the Friday happy hour, though the announcement of the event did still indicate a non-alcoholic flight option would be available for anyone who wanted it (just because you drink some alcohol sometimes or don’t mind being around drinkers doesn’t mean you’re obligated to drink literally any kind alcohol put in front of you at any time!).

        I have a much harder time imagining that taking place today when we’re more like 25 people, skewing more mid-30s than mid-20s, and the increase in hybrid/remote schedules means we haven’t had the regular Friday in-office happy hour since before the office shut down in 2020 – even people working hybrid schedules don’t want to be there on Friday. The organizer wouldn’t have the easy reference point of, “I literally saw all of these people drinking wine together on Friday.”

      2. ferrina*

        This. My company wasn’t quite like this, but a wine tasting wouldn’t be out of sync at all. One difference is that you’d sign up for the activity and it wouldn’t be team-specific, so it doesn’t have the same element of “everyone in the team but me”.

      3. kiki*

        Also in tech. Drinking is a surprisingly big part of the culture! All the tech companies I’ve worked for had some variation of “beers in the fridge for Fridays and those late-evening hacking sessions!” Even at a small agency where neither founder drank, they insisted on stocking the fridge with beers because it was such a cultural “thing.”

  15. Mirrors*

    #1: Alcohol can be a little insensitive in a workplace team-building environment, but speaking honestly as someone with a physical disability, there is a level to which as adults we advocate for ourselves “I can’t do XYZ” etc, and allow people to assist with other solutions, as both your coworker and boss did. I’m not sure what purpose going to HR serves. This seems like small faux pas – which has been corrected. It’s natural to feel a little flustered though; it is tiring to have these sorts of conversations over and over.
    #2: I find it strange to bristle at the EA type duty of scheduling, to be honest. If she has an EA then sure, or if she were making you do it for other people.
    #4: It sounds like they need to do some growing.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      #1 yes. I have a physical disability as well and a number of physical activities have been suggested for team-building type events at my job. I usually do a simple “I wouldn’t be able to participate in that” at the planning stage and it’s not a big deal.

      I do push the people most commonly planning such activities to think inclusively as much as possible, not just for me but for things like alcohol and how easy a venue is to access and time of day etc etc. But I also know planning for all needs is hard and if I have to pipe up for myself once in awhile I can do that.

      1. Mirrors*

        Cheers- to both your points!

        I don’t know if this aligns with your experience, but I also feel that I expect my friends to think of my needs slightly more than coworkers etc. It’s not black and white, and it’s 100% situational, but I’ve just feels less personal with a coworker. I don’t know if I can articulate this well.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I absolutely get what you’re saying. For example, I ask if there are stairs everywhere I go and if my husband is the organizer and didn’t find that out, I get a little annoyed. If a coworker couldn’t answer that question it wouldn’t even faze me. It’s not on the normal list of concerns and they’re already trying to figure out dietary restrictions, and capacity, and schedules, and a hundred different things.

          If they can answer or offer to find out, great! But I won’t be offended if they can’t or the information isn’t available.

  16. E*

    #1 going to HR would be an overreaction considering they’re changing the activity. Sure it wasn’t the most inclusive thing but if it’s an after work type of thing I especially wouldn’t do that.

  17. Derivative Poster*

    #3 – You mentioned you’re in health care. Are you worried that patient safety will suffer after you leave because nobody will be properly trained in your role? I suppose that might make it more reasonable to talk to someone above your boss. IIRC Alison has acknowledged before that it’s harder to avoid picking up coworkers’ slack in hospitals or other workplaces with vulnerable clients.

    1. Just a nurse*

      Those of us in health care are very overworked and understaffed (and getting more so with each passing shift). We literally cannot pick up more slack, no matter how vulnerable the patient.

      1. Tomato Soup*

        I can fully imagine that the coworkers getting the trainings are already feeling overworked and are not getting any changes in pay or workload for taking on OPs work or for the extra time spent being trained for it.

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          “Healthcare” didn’t even register when I read the letter, and that’s exactly where my mind went.

      2. Derivative Poster*

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I just wanted to point out that it might be harder for the OP to take a “not my circus, not my monkeys” attitude than if she were, say, a salesperson worried her clients would receive inferior service after she left.

  18. Jessica*

    Yeah, just be braced to resist any post-departure contact where they try to get you to help them with stuff they didn’t want to learn when you tried to teach them.

    1. Just a nurse*

      This is a very good and important point. LW3, please decide how you will deal with these requests. Alison has had many helpful posts about this.

  19. Becca*

    LW3–a lot of times written instructions are great to have as a reference, but if you want someone to learn a procedure you will need to *show* and explain…I have learned this over and over at my own niche healthcare job

    That said it’s so not your problem at this point. Cheers to moving onward!

  20. GlitterIsEverything*


    I also work in health care, and am in a position with a lot of things that fall exclusively on my plate. While I agree with Alison that this won’t be your responsibility in just under 3 weeks, I have a slightly different take for you.

    I’d suggest separating your duties into “things that will affect patients if not done correctly” and “other things,” and write out the list for both categories. Then send an email to Lisa, Kim, and appropriate managers with these lists. Explain that you will be prioritizing training on the patient-centric duties, and that you will only train on the other duties if time allows before your departure. You could attach a few reference tools (which would ensure that management knows you’ve created them and made them available). Make it clear that, once you leave, you will not be available for any advice / questions / etc.

    Then follow through with that. You will be able to leave knowing that you have trained people as thoroughly as possible on the patient-centric duties, and that you had direct, clear communication with everyone involved explaining that you would not be available for help after your departure. If they don’t take you seriously, that’s a them problem.

    1. WS*

      +1. There’s actually vital procedures and there’s important but not life-threatening procedures, and I suspect the OP will feel a bit better if she’s got the serious stuff done in advance, even if the other staff are slacking on the rest. It’s their problem if a bill doesn’t get sent on time, it’s everyone’s problem if someone’s care is compromised.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      I never worked in a critical field such as healthcare, but I did work in places where there would be a breakdown of processes and thus a loss of money, but I’d still divide everything into “Things that are critical” and “Things you need to know eventually.” Focus on stressing the critical stuff, LW. You can’t do more than that.

  21. Not A Manager*

    #2, good-faith question: Where is the line between “I encourage them to delegate everything that can be done by someone else,” and being an obnoxious boss who abuses their power? Fetching coffee? Washing up in the kitchen? When does “I cost the company more money” stop being a good explanation?

    1. 867-5309*

      The line becomes – is this generally related to the job for which they are there to do?

      I agree completely with Alison. I would be annoyed if a member of team got salty about scheduling a meeting with me. Of course there are poor managers out there – just like there are poor employees – but most of us who manage people are often dealing with our own workloads and in my case, expected to lead strategy, manage up to my own boss and the c-suite, manage my team, their work and support their individual development, etc. Good managers are also investing time in their own development as a leader and taking on a good share of the mental load for behind-the-scenes stressors.

      1. UKDancer*

        I agree. I ask my team to schedule meetings sometimes (especially as one of them has school run duties sometimes and I always forget which days he has pick up and which days he has drop off so it’s easier for him to schedule discussions) and sometimes I schedule them if I want multiple people present.

        By and large if I want a meeting with my boss I put it in his diary, that way I know it’s there.

        I don’t ask my staff to do my washing up or fetch my coffee because these things aren’t relevant to the job we do. I don’t do these things for my boss either (although occasionally if I’m getting myself a coffee I will make one for him when he looks super stressed, but that’s a kindness because I like and respect him).

        1. allathian*

          Yes, that’s it. If it’s related to the job, by all means delegate the task. It might be appropriate for a busy executive to tell their EA to get their lunch, provided the executive pays for their own lunch, preferably by giving them cash in hand before they go. But I’d look askance at a first-tier manager telling their report to do the same, especially if the report eats leftovers from yesterday’s dinner because they can’t afford to buy even a sandwich for lunch.

      2. Alias Sydney*

        I think this is definitely in line of “what is part of your job”. Scheduling a meeting between you and your boss is part of keeping lines of communication open between you and her, so I don’t see that as a big issue, and it definitely takes no more time for you to do it than your boss.
        Getting coffee when you are not a PA, that has nothing to do with your job? No.
        But if you were in a meeting with a client, and it was either you or your boss getting coffee, I guess I can see that. I’ve set up meetings with customers and did set up the service to get coffee. Otherwise my boss would have been doing that. And it was just the two of us and a customer.
        But I’ve also been there when my boss was telling other people that we needed to clean the area, and to get a broom. And then while I was working on something else, she proceeded to sweep the area along with the other people who came to sweep, rather than asking me to do it.
        I told her I was impressed that she didn’t just ask me to do it, and she said, “I wouldn’t ask you to do something that I wouldn’t do, and you were busy.”

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t think the rule is, “I cost the company more money”, but the inverse: I can provide more value to the company “doing things only I can do” (to quote Alison’s answer). And that applies to all employees, not just managers.

      So both examples you give also don’t follow that rule, since they are often not high on the priority list of how employees would contribute the most value, even if it may be reasonably part of their role (e.g., executive assistant, office manager). They likely can be doing more that’s of more value and higher priority.

    3. TechWorker*

      Fetching coffee – probably an abuse of power, unless that sort of thing is actually part of the employees role (but depends on the office I guess). Washing up – if it’s just the boss’ stuff being washed up, definitely not ok. If it’s a mix and the boss takes their turn less regularly… the optics still aren’t ideal but I don’t think it’s terrible. (And there’s some senior mgmt at my company who sort of go the other way and end up spending ages tidying when it’s definitely not the best use of their time :p)

      Scheduling a meeting between two people tho is not a big task, and benefits both of you. IMO the line is:
      – Asking to schedule a 1-1 with both of you – absolutely fine (I don’t do this all the time but I do sometimes)
      – Asking you to schedule a meeting you’re not actually in – not fine unless you’re actually an EA.

      1. BatManDan*

        Making coffee, etc., for the boss? Only criteria in deciding “should or shouldn’t” is – can I get the rest of my what my boss expects of me done inside my standard workday? If not, make the boss aware of 1) overtime, or 2)incomplete tasks, and let them decide how they want the employee spending their time.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Does that work in practice though for little things? Getting a cup of coffee takes two minutes, or if you have to make a new pot maybe five. “Okay Boss, I can get you that cup of coffee but it might mean I have five fewer minutes to check my email at the end of the day, or I could take overtime.” – it feels silly, because the time isn’t the issue for chores like making coffee, the issue is that it’s not work-related (unlike scheduling a meeting)

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I have heard my big boss occasionally ask if anyone was going to the nearest lunch place, because he was fully booked in meetings without the 5 minutes to pick up an online order. That seems fine to me — he was asking like he knows it’s a favor, and it’s not a common thing.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Yeah, if you’re already going that’s totally normal. Sending someone (who isn’t your personal assistant) would be weird.

    4. münchner kindl*

      A surgeon when operating does work that only 1 in a 100 people (numbers for illustration only) has both got the talent and training (skills) to do.

      Wiping the OP room afterward is not a good use of their time. Neither should nurses clean the room – they are trained to take care of the patient before and after.

      Any sensible hospital will hire a dedicated cleaning stuff that only cleans the surgery room – though they also need special training to comply with special hygiene demands.

      So a surgeon or a nurse declining to clean the room aren’t obnoxius or abusive: they know what their job is, and what it isn’t.

      Equality of people, and respect, and not abusing, is done in other ways than every single person making their own coffe, or cleaning the floor.

      1. metadata minion*

        I feel pretty strongly that cleaning the floor and making coffee fall into two different categories. Cleaning an office space well and efficiently is a skill that most people actually don’t have, even if they’re generally fine at keeping their own house tidy. And unless you have very widely-distributed offices it just makes more sense to have a dedicated cleaning staff to handle the entire building rather than have people assigned to each room or surface.

        But someone’s individual coffee should be their own responsibility unless they have a personal assistant whose job really is getting coffee and handling the dry cleaning and other personal tasks. I’m also fine with an office manager being in charge of the office coffee pot — as with cleaning, it just makes more sense to have one person do stuff in bulk. But otherwise my boss can get their own coffee like a responsible and highly-paid human.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I’m a doc. When I worked in an outpatient office I noticed that none of my colleagues would answer the phone. Ever. Not even if every front desk person was already on a call. They’d stand there next to a ringing phone because it wasn’t their job to answer it.

        I answered the phone. That usually meant I put the caller on hold or took a message – it wasn’t a good use of my time to pull charts or book appointments or do the other things the caller needed. Answering the phone was good for the patients who were calling and helpful to the staff and didn’t take that long.

        And no, I didn’t clean the exam rooms or empty the garbage or sterilize the instruments. All of those take much longer than answering a phone call and would have made me less available to do the things only I could do.

        1. Nightengale*

          It’s interesting what does and doesn’t take too much time for a doctor.

          I wash the toys in my exam room on a regular basis. I’ve considered doing additional cleaning tasks but instead I take about the same amount of time asking office staff to, again, call environmental services, again, to report our floors were not cleaned.

          I asked for permission to book appointments myself if I was already on the phone with a patient after hours or to book a follow-up if I was meeting with the family by telemed. I got the second grade “if we let you we’d have to let all the doctors” refusal, so instead it takes more of my time to remind the family to call the office or office staff to contact the family to schedule than it would have been for me to just book the visit while I had them right there.

          I don’t answer the phones though – I haven’t been trained on the system and would not trust myself not to drop the call I was trying to put on hold or whatever.

    5. Allonge*

      Beyond what already has been said: does it put an unreasonable workload on the lower-ranked person (especially by things that are not part of their main job)? If all the delegated tasks come on top of an already busy workload AND boss does not acknowledge this by e.g. allowing some things to be done later / changing deadlines, then it may be abusive (for me it still would need to happen regularly before I call it that because some days just do not allow reprioritising).

      But in general: boss gets to tell me what I should be doing. If once in a while that includes doing something that an EA would do if we had one, so be it.

      If this ends up being, let’s say, 25% of my job or more, I need to talk to my boss. But scheduling a meeting once in a while or grabbing her a coffee when I am getting one for myself is not even close to this.

    6. Green great dragon*

      There’s work tasks, which get the job done, and there’s personal tasks, like needing to eat and fetch the dry cleaning. I think any work tasks are fine to delegate, which includes setting up meetings. Personal tasks is much more of a grey area. Delegating them would be more cost effective for the company, but in practice only a few very high level roles get that sort of assistance, because they’re not directly job related.

      The other thing that feeds in is relative busyness. If workers are swamped and boss never is, then that’s probably an obnoxious boss, who for those same cost-effectiveness reasons ought to be delegating less.

    7. Everdene*

      For me the line is ‘does this need to be done by me’ and ‘how busy is my report compared to me’?

      I have had to learn to delegate as a manager, and it was hard. Scheduling meetings is something my report can do and if my calendar is swamped they’ll come back to me and say ‘help’! Most of the time though not an issue. Similarly, occasionally I will ask my apprentice to go and pick up breakfast or lunch for me, once a week maximum. I give him money and occasionally tell him to get something for the rest of the office with my money too. Other occasions my team will see how busy I am and offer to take things off my plate, the only stuff I can delegate on some days is picking up lunch or the small admin tasks that add up.

      I think this is balanced however by visibly helping my team when they are busier than me. I will answer the phone or take delivery of a parcel if needed and while my job is explicitly not client facing every now and again I will see a client if I’m available. But also, if there is no one available to see a client then I have work to do as a manager to ensure those conditions don’t happen again.

      Incidentally, I was off sick for a month and a couple of my team picked up some of my work. They had a crash course in the hidden work I do and one said “I never want your job” and the other showed hugh relief that I was back. We don’t always know quite how busy our managers are – I have hidden overtime from my team before so they don’t feel the pressure to follow my example.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yes, ultimately I feel like this question for most people wouldn’t be about just the specific thing being asked. It most likely got asked because there’s discontent with the larger manager-employee relationship and as we’ve seen time and again on this blog, when there’s a big nebulous problem, it’s natural for people to seize on one specifically defined thing that seems to be violating some kind of objective, clear-cut standard.

        It’s simpler and easier to explain something cut and dry like, “This it’s an admin task my boss could do but is making me do for her,” to third parties you’re asking weigh in, than to try to accurately and credibly describe complex dysfunctional situations, in no small part because people in those situations can lose track of what is normal and what isn’t.

        Often it’s revealed in the follow-up or comments that the reason everyone hates being asked to start sending Boss Jeeves a weekly status update email is because Boss Jeeves routinely fails to provide key feedback, moves goalposts frivolously, disappears for hours during crunch times, and causes the team to miss deadlines through his own failure to review work on time. But all that stuff has become so *normal* because they deal with it over and over again, and they seem intractable, that it feels easier to get one’s hackles up about a suddenly new request, no matter how reasonable it might actually be.

    8. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Fetching coffee is loaded with sexism if you’re delegating that to a woman. I remember my colleague, a software developer, being incensed that the boss asked her to make coffee for a half a dozen blokes who turned up for a meeting (that we had no idea was happening even). The other software developer said he was glad not to be a woman if that’s what it meant.
      He laughed on the other side of his face when the boss asked him to deal with his motorbike’s flat battery…
      So I reckon neither of those activities should have been delegated, or at least, for the coffee, it should have been delegated to someone whose job it was, and there wasn’t anyone, I don’t think we even had a trainee at that point. The software developer was Indian, and younger than me, two factors probably that meant she was chosen to be the waitress rather than me.
      Eye-rolling stuff, and that was one of the minor incidents in that hellhole.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. Unless you’re a PA in which case it’s probably part of the job description to make coffee for meetings. So my CEO has a PA, I’d expect her to make coffee for high level meetings as that is part of the role responsibility.

        I am not a PA so my boss knows what a dusty answer he’d get if he asked me to make him a coffee. I wouldn’t ask it of my team. I mean if someone is going to Pret or Starbucks they might ask their colleagues if they want anything but that’s an offer not an expectation.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Yeah, asking someone whose job is not meeting organizing to make coffee should at most be done 1) rarely and 2) with explicit recognition that it’s an imposition you’re asking them to take on as a favor.

          E.g. “I’m so sorry to ask, but Big Annoyed Client just arrived and is champing at the bit to get started with this meeting, and I just went to the kitchen and there’s hardly anything left in the coffee pot. Could you brew a fresh pot while I get things started with them, and wheel the service cart in/knock on the conference room door to let me know when it’s ready?” (Note that in this scenario, the task would just be brewing the coffee to keep the manager from taking to leave the clients sitting on their thumbs while it brews. Actually pouring and serving the coffee would still be self-serve or fall to the manager hosting the meetings, whichever is the standard practice in their office – the coffee not being available when the meeting was scheduled to start wouldn’t change that.)

      2. Essess*

        If there isn’t a designated EA to provide refreshments for a meeting, then the responsibility of getting coffee ready for the meeting should have been the host/organizer. That’s what the words ‘host’ and ‘organizer’ mean…. you are hosting the meeting and organizing the resources needed. It should not be waiting until a woman employee shows up and sending her off to do the busy work unrelated to her job.

  22. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    I don’t drink and it would not bother me in the slightest to go to a wine tasting. I actually have attended a number of them. They generally have non-alcoholic drinks and it’s not really an issue.

    1. Persephone*

      This was a virtual one, I believe. The only way to properly be involved is to do the tasting. If it was in person (with NA options), then it wouldn’t be as much of an issue. Still exclusionary, but not to the same degree. Participating but flagging it definitely would be enough then.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      The reason you don’t drink is presumably not because you have suffered from alcoholism in the past…

  23. Qadata*

    I’m sort of torn on #2.
    On the one hand, my current boss sometimes asks me to schedule our meetings. I’m fine with that because I respect her and her responsibilities, and it allows me to pick a time that suits (I’m not a morning person).
    On the other hand, I’ve had at least one previous boss who was too good at “delegating”. She was quick to pass work to me but slow to acknowledge there was only one of me. Discussing my workload with her had little effect and she never took an active interest in my work until I inevitably screwed up. I felt like she was more interested in easing her own workload than anything else.
    I get the logic behind delegating but I think the higher priority is to ensure work gets done and done well.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Delegating is vital to almost any leadership position. What you’re describing is not a problem with the act of delegating, it’s a problem with knowing how to delegate, which is a different problem with a different set of solutions.

    2. KN*

      This is different from the gist of what LW is saying, though. If your boss gives you more work than you can reasonably manage, doesn’t take an interest in your work unless you screw up, and isn’t open to having reasonable discussions about your workload, then yes–that’s very bad management. That’s true regardless of how busy she personally is, or whether the work she’s giving you is her own (although if she is in fact sitting around doing nothing, that would be even worse management).

      The LW seems to be personally offended by their manager delegating this particular task because they perceive it to be a *favor* to their manager to discuss the thing the manager wants to discuss–which is a misconception. It’s not a personal favor to do something your manager deems important for your company, even if it was the manager’s idea. If the LW were being crushed by work to the point where 5 more minutes of work to schedule a meeting seemed oppressive, that would be a different story… but that’s not what they’re saying.

      Your examples seem to be reasonable about what good management is or isn’t–but that doesn’t make LW right!

  24. Future silver banker*

    On the wine tasting thing, I see team building activities as a nuisance but wouldn’t have made a fuss, no one plans these things specifically to spite me or another person. I do not drink alcohol in general, and my company also planned a virtual wine tasting when I was recovering from surgery so alcohol would have been a no go with my meds.
    I joined and had the wildest time guessing notes based on the colour of the wines which eventually became a joke: “You must taste uhmm grapes?… with a hint of berry or was that chocolate?”.
    I completely opted out of the axe throwing team building, some opted out of the candle making, others opted out of the cooking class. I can’t remember the last time we had a team building where every single person thought “this is the one!”.
    In general, I never volunteer to organise anything because of these sensitivities. I’d rather focus on my day to day job than have an HR complaint lodged because I organised an Indian cooking class and some people thought it was too spicy (sadly enough, this happened, apparently one of the team captains had a higher spice tolerance than the rest of his party)

    1. Urbanchic*

      This is a great comment. Quarterly team building that has to be organized virtually —– after so many quarters you are really having to get creative. My entire professional career has involved social and team events where alcohol is offered – I see why it is problematic but it is an ubiquitous reality for many. I have also been pregnant or breastfeeding since 2017, and have to turn down alcohol frequently. HR is not appropriate in this instance (what would the report be? An activity was scheduled, upon realizing it was not inclusive, accommodations were offered, when the accommodations were not acceptable the event was changed). I’m wondering if there are bigger issues at play here because the reaction to this situation seems to be disproportionately hostile.

  25. Lexi Vipond*

    #2 is very cultural, I think – where I work , if the manager wants to set up a series of regular meetings with me _as part of their job of managing me_, that’s part of their job, not mine, and offloading it on me would be weird.

    If I want to meet with them outside that about a specific issue, or if I’m in charge of setting up a particular event, I would ask them – so as someone said above, organiser invites.

    Things can be inappropriate or uncomfortable in a particular setting without being wrong in every setting – and having your manager demand extra work which isn’t part of the usual job description and that people in similar posts for the same pay with different managers don’t have to do can be quite unpleasant.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Yeah my org is more like yours – the person requesting the meeting sets it up, regardless of hierarchy. Sometimes if the manager is particularly busy or scheduling is a particular headache (external attendees usually) they’ll ask us to do it instead and no one really cares because helping out when someone is swamped is just what you do.

      1. Justin D*

        Yeah I’ve had managers do the whole “I want to meet with you, set up a time on my calendar” when the meeting was more for their purposes and I found that weird. Not only are they the one who wants the meeting, they’re more important than me and have much more complicated schedules. In the time it took to ask me to send an invite they could have just done it themselves.

        On the other hand. If the meeting is more or less to benefit me or the work I am doing, like “Hey we should meet on the project. Find a time that works” then that’s fine and normal to me.

    2. NYWeasel*

      I was looking for a relevant comment to respond to—yours is how our org functions too, and it makes sense. I put the 1:1’s on the calendar so that I can balance out my people leadership responsibilities against my other work. They book other meetings as needed.

      But one thing I do that’s super helpful is I schedule daily “open hours” where my team can stop by and ask any little questions they have. Some days I help 3-4 team members, some days I just catch up on my email, but it cuts down on the overall number of meetings I get asked to attend.

  26. just a random teacher*

    #5: I have two theories on this, but it mostly boils down to what Alison said about the major teacher shortage.

    Since Alison’s heard about this already, my first guess is that one of the large vendors for school district hiring has some setting that districts are turning on to “consider the application complete if at least x parts are done” in an effort to generate more leads. This then causes you to get invited for interviews because you’ve at least shown interest in the position, and they figure they can always convince you to finish filling out the application after the interview if they decide you’re a good fit.

    My other guess is that it is a manual process, where the software is surfacing that so far the opening has x applicants, with information about what each of them has an hasn’t filled out yet, and when the person on the other end goes through they’re clicking both the “remind this person to finish their application” and the “schedule this person for an interview” button and hoping for the best.

    In a more typical teaching jobs climate, this would be something of a red flag that they were desperate to fill the position, although this time of year it’s not as much of a flag for a same-year position since it’s that’s always going to be a thinner recruitment pool than for a next-year opening advertised in spring.

    On the other hand, I was cold called about long-term sub positions two years in a row back when I was working as a regular sub, so mid-year openings often have the whiff of desperation about them. One time I wasn’t even on the sub list for that district, but they were calling their contacts at neighboring districts trying to get leads on anyone who would take that particular position (which was teaching a difficult subject in an alternative program part time as a maternity leave cover, and finding someone who wanted a part time job working with that student population who also was certified in that subject area was a big ask compared to “please teach this group of very typical 4th graders at a neighborhood elementary school in a upper-middle-class suburb” or something).

    I also once had a school district that I had never applied to search my profile on one of the multi-district hiring sites (which I’d set to be searchable by districts, since I was just out of school and actively looking for a job) just because they wanted a bigger applicant pool, and that was in a much less “jobs as far as the eye can see” hiring environment. I don’t know if they seriously considered me or not, but I did go to their interview. (It was one of those weird interviews that some districts do. This particular district’s form of weirdness was to interview two candidates at once, rather than either a normal one-candidate interview or a group interview. I have no idea why they wanted to do it that way, but maybe I was asked because they’d otherwise have an odd number of interviewees. I am not at all sorry that I didn’t get that job.)

    1. LW #5*

      Ok these are all excellent points! I think I’ve been isolated because I’ve been at one district during covid, and inter-district transfers are SO different…if someone tried to hire me before I even finished applying through the inter district transfer system, it would have been a huge red flag that the school was a mess and they can’t keep staff.

      But I guess no one can keep staff these days! So it’s more like whole field is a giant red flag, and I can let go of my suspicion

  27. bamcheeks*

    LW2, as others have noted, this seems a bit of an outsize reaction to a problem that has actually been dealt with pretty effectively within the team, so I just wanted to say– are you OK? Has this landed on top of other things that have made you feel excluded, or is pregnancy making you feel a bit more sensitive? This is the kind of thing that can feel like a real kick in the teeth if it’s coming on top of any other pregnancy-related exclusion, like feeling like you’re not being seen as a team player or getting assigned the same level and intensity of work as other team members or anything like that. It might be worth just having a think about whether this is a symptom of a broader problem rather than the thing in itself.

  28. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (training/handover not being taken seriously) is there an impact on patient care through this? If so, I would suggest taking it to whoever in your organisation would be the point of contact for any “patient care affecting” type of incidents in the normal course of events — there must be a mechanism for reporting those?

  29. Empress Ki*

    #3 I bet that once you’re gone and they wake up, realising they don’t know how to do things, they will call you to ask you questions.
    That would be very bad, as you’ll need to focus on your new job. If they call you with questions once you’re gone, you have no obligation to reply to them. It’s okay to answer a very quick question every now and then (if you want to), but don’t let them swamp you.

  30. Dumpster Fire*

    LW #5, the teacher shortage is such that if you are remotely qualified, you’ll probably get an interview. In my department, for one recently open position, we had ONE candidate and even that one was still waiting for test results and so wasn’t yet fully certified. (We used to have many dozens of applicants for open positions.)

    1. LW #5*

      Yeah I just spoke to a friend at a very well known school in the area who told me that when she applied in 2017 there were 90 candidates and that same school is folding 3 5th grade classrooms into 2 because they got only 3 bad candidates. So I guess I’ve just been protected from how much of a dumpster fire education has become!!

  31. Persephone*

    Re: LW1

    Not going to lie, I’m really sick of so many obligatory social activities involving large amounts of alcohol. I have a laundry list of reasons why I don’t drink, ranging from multiple health issues to personal views, and potentially being hindered professionally because I can’t join colleagues in drinking is really…icky?

    Like, you can’t not participate without facing some sort of consequences for it. Obviously this isn’t just a work thing—Western society centres socialising around alcohol too much in general, but I definitely think professional environments should take more consideration in these scenarios.

  32. FashionablyEvil*

    I’m finding some of the comments in response to #1 to be somewhat harsh and unhelpful. If the colleague who organized this event is younger and comes from a different cultural background when it comes to alcohol, it’s not terribly surprising that the pitfalls of this event might not have occurred to them. Hopefully someone will have kindly explained this to them (as opposed to just coming down on them like a ton of bricks.)

    1. nonnynon*

      The commentary here tends to lately skew towards piling on and anti-team/group activity so this is not surprising.

    2. anna*

      Are you reading the same comment thread I am? Nearly everyone is telling the OP they’re overreacting, not criticizing the coworker who planned it.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        It’s the attitude of “everyone should know you never plan a work event related to alcohol!” that I’m responding to here. No, not everyone does know that and it’s better for everyone to approach it as a “Here is a perspective you may not have considered,” rather than a “I can’t believe these fools don’t know this!”

    3. Distracted Librarian*

      I’m pretty firmly in the “don’t plan work events focused on alcohol” camp, but I don’t think the person should be shamed or even disciplined. I do think they should be educated about what it means to plan inclusive events, and a conversation with HR could be the way to make that happen.

  33. Amtelope*

    #5: It’s the teacher shortage. If you give the slightest hint that you’re a teacher looking for a new job, someone may try to reel you in, especially if your resume indicates that you’re in a hard-to-find specialty (math, some languages, special education.)

  34. PsychNurse*

    That is how I got a school nursing job not long ago. I agree, it felt creepy! But I got the job.

    1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      I don’t quite get what is creepy about it. Can you explain?

      I would personally chalk it up to desperation / eagerness to fill the role. Which has pros and cons, as an applicant.

      1. LW #5*

        I think the thing that is creepy is that usually if a school is SO quick to offer you an interview or position, it’s because no one wants to work there…so you shouldn’t want to work there either. Schools with bad admin can be burnout central, so I’ve always wanted to work with schools who are so good they can slow down and have their pick. Also charters aren’t unionized so if you end up in a bad charter it can be really really bad in terms of workload!

        So the interview before application just pings a red flag for me…but it seems like it has more to do with our entire system going down the toilet than with these particular schools.

        1. joella*

          I got my teaching job right out of college–in private ed, so a slightly different but still teaching landscape–and it was a similarly weird thing. Quick response before I’d finished the entire application, quick phone screen, quick interview, and an offer 24 hours after the interview. I think they had some unforeseen staffing issues at the school (teaching in COVID, eh?), but it was weird–though obviously I took the job. They paid for my MA, too, so it’s not like there wasn’t a real incentive to work for them, so the desperation did and still does confuse me.

          Which I guess is to say the landscape is just weird right now. If a school that’s funding a graduate degree is doing the same thing, it’s more a flag for the field, not the school.

  35. Ex-prof*

    #5: The teacher shortage is why. At least in the US, people in the worst-hit states are being offered jobs– not interviews, jobs– without even applying. I know a non-teacher who was offered a high school teaching job by an acquaintance out of the blue (and took it).

    There’s never been a better time for a teacher to be looking… but the flip side of that is you may end up teaching in a school that’s has unfilled teaching positions.

    1. joella*

      …why would anyone just take a teaching job with no experience in a place desperate enough to be handing out to folks with no qualifications? I love the field, but it’s killer even when you know what you’re doing.

      1. KX*

        My teaching days are long behind me but I switched careers shy of the minimum needed to qualify for a pension. And the pay is so good now. I’ve been pretending about it. Not seriously. But still.

      2. J*

        People just don’t think teaching is a “real” job. Your post implies you are a teacher so I’m sure you‘ve seen some form of this.

        A lot of people seem to think anyone can teach, and the disrespect towards teachers makes the job twice as difficult. This in turn leads to more teaching shortages and less-than-ideal candidates, which exacerbates the problem.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        I mean, for example, someone might have a PhD in math and be working unpleasant adjunct jobs, but not have any explicit K-12 education training. I can see a private school offering a full time job to that person, teaching AP Calc or something. Might feel like a very stable and better paying opportunity.

  36. John*

    Former manager. In an ideal world, there is an assistant who can handle scheduling.

    Otherwise, scheduling is an activity likely not worth the manager’s time.

    Think about it. Not only do you have to put the meeting on the calendar, but then what happens when your employee has a conflict come up? Now it’s on the manager to reschedule. That should never be.

    A manager who is spending time sorting out their calendar is neglecting higher-value work.

    It’s also important for employees to feel responsibility for taking initiative.

  37. Asenath*

    3. One thing that used to bother me in one of my jobs was that when I was away, my work mostly didn’t get done – even though I left instructions and theoretically one of my co-workers was supposed to cover for me. I thought about it and realized that they were doing this on top of their own work, so the arrangement had been that they’d cover anything “urgent” (by their definition, I guess!) and that’s it. Naturally, I couldn’t expect everything to be covered, especially as our duties were largely different. The same thing happened after someone with similar duties – but a different ways of doing things – was hired. I came back to find part of my work done, but the information stored in such a way it took me a while to untangle it and put in the spreadsheets that I’d left instructions about. So when I left finally, I did expand those instructions into a kind of manual listing everything I could think of – but I had practice in letting go of any fantasy I may have had that my job would continue to be done to my standards after I left. It wouldn’t be, and that wasn’t going to be my problem. And as for my (now former) co-workers who didn’t know my job and were in fact doing whatever bits they could manage on top of their own full-time jobs, well, I realized I was wrong to expect them to do any of my job to my standards; all they could reasonably be expected to do was to handle a bit on the fringes of my job as best they could.

  38. I should really pick a name*

    I expressed to her that I wouldn’t be able to participate, and to her credit she offered to find non-alcoholic options to send me, but I was still offended this activity was chosen.

    Why were you offended?
    My assumption is that when she picked the event, she didn’t made the connection that pregnant = doesn’t drink.
    Is there something about the coworker that makes you think it was more than an innocent mistake?

    If you were to ask HR to document this, what would they say?
    “An activity was selected that excluded a team member. An accommodation was offered. After the accommodation was not accepted, a different activity was selected.”
    It sounds like things played out in a positive manner.

  39. Asenath*

    Scheduling – I always took it for granted that if I wanted a meeting with one of my bosses – even one where the suggestion came from one of them – I would have to set it up. Not one of my favourite tasks, because it was a complex tasks, especially because they all had horrendously complicated schedules, and even had their schedules been made available to everyone (they weren’t) there always seemed to be meetings that weren’t on the schedule. Not only did the bosses not schedule meetings, I usually had to go through their secretaries to find their availability.

    1. Dragon*

      And sometimes the secretaries have to check availability with their bosses first, before they can tell you.

      After I told someone my boss was available at X time, Boss asked me not to do that without checking with her first. She might have other meetings in the works, or personal plans that weren’t reflected on her calendar.

      I said I would. Then I politely reminded her that the first time this happened a while back, I had asked if I could take her calendar at face value when someone asked me for her availability. For exactly the two reasons above.

  40. HappyCoincidences*

    Re #5- I had this happen 9 years ago with a major corporation. Despite not having the advanced degree they requested, my experience was almost exactly what they needed for the role. Best decision I ever made was to take that interview. 9 years later, I still love where I work and have had success in maneuvering into roles that met my interests as they’ve evolved (I’ve gotten good at leveraging those rare opportunities that Alison mentions in #4- the key is seeing them early and specifically asking for them).

  41. Delta Delta*

    #3 – This might feel a little harsh, but #3 has a bit of a whiff of control issues to me. OP is leaving and is doing a great job to leave instructions on process, and that’s great. But ultimately, it’s out of OP’s hands at this point, and the organization will go on without her. I get a “nobody can do this but me” vibe from the letter. They’ll succeed or they won’t, and all OP can do at this point is leave instructions and assume the organization can do what it needs to do while OP moves on.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I think the OPs concern is that this is in health care and the work impacts patients

      1. Delta Delta*

        OP says they work in healthcare, but it’s not clear the work is with patients. I’m not saying it’s not, but it isn’t clear that it is. I don’t work in healthcare, but it also seems to me that if there’s direct patient care at stake that the organization already has (or should have) some sort of procedures in place.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I agree, but it’s also completely normal that having been solely responsible for Compliance with X for 5 years (whether that’s patient safety, patient confidentiality, building regulations, oxygen supplies, this particularly part of the IT infrastructure), it’s incredibly hard to internalise the idea that you won’t be responsible for it after the 28th January 2023. It’s not so much abnormal control issues as just habit— it takes a while to get your head around the fact that it’s someone else’s problem!

        2. AnonyAnony*

          I work in healthcare (currently not working directly with patients), and I agree with Delta Delta’s comments. Healthcare organizations have patient care procedures already in place. These aren’t things that the outgoing employee have to come up with as part of their offboarding. On top of that, organizations also have procedures for arranging direct patient care coverage, as staff taking PTO, going on extended leave, or turning over are pretty routine occurrences.

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      You’re right, it does come across as harsh. For me, it’s more the conscientious worker who does not want patients to suffer because she is leaving.

    3. reality check please*

      I feel for LW3, because that’s been me in every job I’ve ever left! It’s hard to spend a lot of time working really hard to build something, knowing it will likely fall apart when you leave. It’s okay to acknowledge those feelings while simultaneously understanding you have no control over what happens after you leave. Also, workplaces are often more resilient than we realize. I’ve left places where I was the only person who did my job and didn’t feel like anyone was adequately prepared to take over for me when I left, despite my copious documentation and offers to cross-train. Things definitely went south at both workplaces after I left, but nothing spectacularly crashed and burned in the way I feared it would.

  42. Ann Onymous*

    LW #5, it’s probably the teacher shortage. The district where my sister teaches is now hiring pretty much every applicant who can pass a background check. But I do want to point out that there isn’t a shortage of teachers in general, just a shortage of teachers willing to put up with the way teachers have been treated and compensated in the US the last few years.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I really wonder what will happen if teachers just start refusing to do all the onerous documentation they have to do. Like show up, teach well, document what you need and just … not do the rest of it

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I do not think it is the extra “onerous documentation” that the biggest problem.

        1. Ann Onymous*

          It’s definitely not the documentation. Just one example of an issue my sister is running into. Her school asks kids to bring boxes of Kleenex as part of their school supplies at the beginning of the year. Those ran out just before winter break and the school doesn’t have budget to buy more. So any teachers that want Kleenex in their rooms for the rest of the year have to buy them out of pocket. Now that it’s cold and flu season, my sister’s classroom alone goes through a box every couple days. That’s a lot to ask of teachers who aren’t making big salaries.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Oh gosh, I hope they at least lightly reach out to parents and say “hey, if you have any extra–” My son’s teacher did that last year and I promptly brought them a Costco case of tissues. Not every parent will do that; not every classroom will have a parent that can do that, depending on the district demographics. But some of us both understand how bad it is for teachers and can afford to help – please at least let us know if something would be helpful!

      2. just a random teacher*

        Depends on the documentation, but that’s really not the hardest part of my job. The less important stuff mostly no one reads anyway, so you don’t have to spend too much time filling it out once you know what the forms look like. There are paperwork things I’d like to never see again, but that’s not what’s changed the last few years.

        What’s getting me close to quitting is how we’re increasingly asked to be flexible with students, yet not given the additional resources or time to offer that flexibility. I have the same curriculum I did in 2019, the same expected class size as in 2019, and students who are very much not in the same place as the students I was teaching then. I have no extra resources to point them at in terms of additional material to help them fill in content gaps, or support staff who can work with them one-on-one (or call home to find out why they’re not showing up), and I’m told to do things like offer every student an opportunity to complete all work from all courses until the end of the summer with no penalty. This means I’m constantly playing late assignment whack-a-mole, have to invent alternate assignments and instructional materials for anything they were supposed to do with another student (since if they didn’t do it when I asked the class to and want to do it in July, they have to be allowed to do that), and can never do a whole-class debrief of anything since someone won’t have turned it in yet.

        Sure, teaching every student one-on-one at exactly their pace would be an amazing educational method, and that’s how children of the aristocracy learned in previous centuries with their governesses and private tutors, but we absolutely did not set up the modern American educational system to work that way. I could do that with 5-10 students, assuming all of them could work mostly-independently on larger projects, but I have an entirely different order of magnitude in terms of student load and so that’s why we set up our educational system to cut certain corners and teach groups of students the same thing at the same time, just like the difference between buying a pair of slacks from Target versus a custom-tailored pair of slacks. If they want custom-tailored results, they need to adjust my workload appropriately. I love helping kids learn, but I just have an overwhelming number of them who need support beyond what I can give compared to a typical pre-pandemic year, when most classes mostly worked for most students, and the ones who needed extra support were few enough that I could usually find time (or extra resources) to give them.

        1. LW #5*

          This is exactly it. It’s not the documentation, or the kids, it’s the way that you can work yourself to the bone and still never get close to what teachers are “expected” to do!

          For the record, it’s not actually a teaching job I applied to – it’s a SPED para job because I’m back in school part time so I can do other things in schools besides teach. I’m applying to charters because I know that public schools are so desperate that no matter what my job title is, they’ll put me in front of a classroom. So I’m also part of the teacher exodus, because I just couldn’t handle the hours and the stress any longer.

          1. just a random teacher*

            If the market for part-time paras where you are is anything like it is here, they’re so desperate to get anyone to take those jobs that it doesn’t surprise me that a partially-completed application leads to an offer of an interview. Only thing they’re hurting for more here is bus drivers, which was to the point of having walk-in interview hours this year.

            The district has at least acknowledged that a part-time job that pays less than working at the car wash and comes with a greater chance of being bitten is not particularly appealing, but seems to lack a plan for doing anything to make it more attractive to qualified applicants. (This was also a problem pre-pandemic, but it’s worse now.) They seem to see it as more of an explanation as to why students who aren’t having major behavior blowouts aren’t receiving their required services rather than as a problem they need to take urgent action to solve.

    2. NotRealAnonforThis*

      That was my thought – there’s not really a shortage, so much a shortage of highly educated professionals willing to tolerate the compensation level and overall treament/villainization that we’ve seen in the media for the past few years.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      It’s just a magnified version of the “nobody wants to work” trope. Teachers do, in fact, want to work in their chosen field. The problem is that as conditions in schools get continually worse, it’s harder to get people to agree to those working conditions.

    4. Llama Identity Thief*

      I did private tutoring while going through college, and would eventually like to be a public school teacher. There’s no way in hell I’m doing that now because of what financial suicide it would be. My career goal is now to save up enough to live off of the savings, so I can then feel secure going into teaching.

  43. Jam Today*

    #3 Oh man this is my dream scenario. I fantasize almost daily about leaving my role and the entire business crashing because nobody else bothered to show up to work for the last four years. Enjoy it, they’ve earned what’s coming.

  44. gawaine*

    #1 – One thing I’m not sure of from the tenor, is whether this is a work-sponsored activity, or just an activity that the team does (semi-unofficially). Since the boss saw the invite, I’m assuming the former. Trying to get something that everyone can do, and involving HR when people can’t do something, is a problem. Best case, you end up with things that 100% of the team is technically able to do, but no one really wants to do.

    On this particular event: I don’t like wine. I would have shown up. I would have carried a wine glass, smiled, talked to the team. And then I would have tried to help guide whatever the next event was to make sure it was something I liked better.

    Getting HR involved because you didn’t get the full value of something that people did outside of work is a mistake. If HR can get involved, there is no upside, and huge downside, to being part of planning events – why would you want to suggest something that could be a career killer? And if you’re known as the one who went to HR, and it ends up getting team building killed, you’ve done a lot more damage to the team atmosphere than you would have by just showing up even if you couldn’t fully enjoy it.

    The fix for us is just to do more, different, things. There’s no one event that everyone has to go to, and the people who can’t or won’t do an activity are the ones planning the next activity. Nothing we do is official, though, and the only tacit work sponsorship is the use of the internal scheduling webpage, in the “unofficial” section of our site.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I’m mostly with you here and I would never involve HR with a team who is actually responsive to feedback and accommodating (what a rare treat!) but I don’t think this particular activity should be painted as a can’t please everyone issue, at least by the manager providing feedback to the organizers.

      It’s hairy territory when you have a work event during work hours centered around an activity that members of a protected class cannot participate in. That’s true of a wine tasting and it would be true of pig roast (though I’ve never seen someone try to do that as a work event). If it were a paint and sip event, where the alcohol could be substituted without materially impacting people’s ability to participate, that would be different too.

      Total inclusion is a really good goal the manager should coach them to strive toward (while accepting it’s an unrealistic expectation to actually achieve that), but it’s even more important to help them recognize when they’re doing something potentially discriminatory.

  45. winter frog*

    #5 — I work at a small, rural community college. We can see in the applicant tracking system everyone who has applied for a position, even if they haven’t completed their application. Because of our location, we often get few qualified applicants even after the position has been listed for several weeks. It’s not unusual for us to reach out to people with uncompleted applications and invite them for an interview.

  46. Ah Yes*

    #1 – You went to the organizer, who readily made an accommodation for you but which you found unacceptable so you went to the manager, who also made an accommodation by changing the activity. Yet, you’re still mad so you’re going to HR and reaching out to an advice column. This… seems very over-the-top. What exactly do you want the outcome to be here? Clearly, it wasn’t actually about wanting to participate in the event. Do you want to see people punished? If you’re hurt that you felt excluded, I think that going scorched earth like this is not going to earn you any friends or help the situation at all.

    1. Rock-solid agree*

      Yeah, this is much too strong of a reaction for what happened. I’d be complaining to HR about how unfair it was that someone’s pregnancy dictated my entire team’s activity and that specious complaints were brought against team members.

      1. Czhorat*

        To be fair, I can see the OP looking at this as “this was an ad hoc fix to an issue, perhaps more training or better guidelines can be created so prevent this happening again”.

        Otherwise there’s a risk that the OP will have the SAME interaction again next quarter when someone tries to schedule a team-building activity at a distillery.

        1. Ah Yes*

          There’s nothing in the letter that indicates the LW is looking to come up with training or better guidelines around group activities. Her language (“still offended”) suggests anger at the situation coming up in the first place, which is why my question is — “what do you want from this, LW?”

    2. UKDancer*

      Yes I agree. I mean you got what you needed, they changed the activity. I am sure the organiser now understands your concerns. What would it add to go to HR? I think you risk annoying your colleagues who may consider it a bit of an over-reaction.

      1. Samwise*

        Yep. I would have a different view of the OP as a colleague: prickly, not happy even when we apologized and changed the event, willing to go nuclear for a fairly low level “offense.” I’d not be picking OP for teams that need everyone to get along and treat each other nicely.

        And, maybe this is pregnancy hormones, as some other commenters have suggested, but as with anything of this sort, that doesn’t excuse poor behavior on the part of the pregnant person. It’s been a couple decades but I remember feeling rather extra due to pregnancy hormones, but I did understand that I still had to be nice to my coworkers and, if I *felt* that they were being mean or excluding or whatever, I had to take a minute to pull myself together and say to myself “I’m sure this is just an oversight and not intentional”. I was on crutches for a couple of months and initially people just forgot and scheduled things that required using stairs…now, I could have thought, they’re deliberately excluding me! when all I needed to do is say, hey, I literally cannot get up those stairs…

  47. Dust Bunny*

    #1: Can we just, like, not plan events around alcohol?

    I drink and will never be pregnant but this just seems like a terrible, exclusionary idea for oh, so many reasons.

    1. Czhorat*


      It’s interesting to me how this one has split the opinions on here – there seem to be a fairly wide gulf between people thinking the LW overreacted and who think that planning work events around alcohol is inherently problematic.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, some of us actually believe both things.

        I think that it’s a very bad idea to have work events that revolve around drinking lots of alcohol. But I also think that the OP is waaaaay over-reacting. And that’s before you get to the fact that most wine tastings don’t even require drinking lots of alcohol (or even any, properly done.)

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I agree: I think the LW way overreacted but it also just seems completely unnecessary for anyone to have scheduled an alcohol-focused “team building” event.

          1. Czhorat*

            The LW’s reaction didn’t seem that big to me.

            1) They told the organizer they weren’t OK with it. When offered an alternative that they didn’t feel was sufficient, they quietly declined the invitation.

            2) the boss *came to them* to ask about the decline. When they explained why, they stood firm that they weren’t OK with the option. It was the boss’s choice to cancel the event.

            3) They are now asking about next steps, if they are going too far, and if there is any value in taking this further up the food chain (perhaps to prevent a recurrance)

            None of the above is over the top in my reading.

            1. Lily Rowan*

              It’s the emotional reaction — the “I’m still offended” — rather than the actions, I think.

              1. Czhorat*

                “Still offended” came before the event was swapped for something else. I get that.

                And she did say it was to the planner’s credit that a non-alcoholic option was attempted, but if I said I couldn’t participate in a wine-tasting event because I couldn’t drink and they insisted they’d go on with it and give me something separate to drink I’d also be – at least – irked.

                The LW did not indicated being still offended after the event was replaced with something completely different.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              “They didn’t feel was sufficient” does mean that their feelings were in reasonable proportion to the offense, either.

            3. Distracted Librarian*

              Exactly this. If anything, the level of hostility toward OP in some of the comments seems over the top.

              1. Observer*

                When someone is trying to get people in trouble for making a relatively low stakes mistake – and one that was CORRECTED! I think there is some reason for hostility.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          I’m with you on all points.

          When I was managing a team a few years ago, I knew my boss didn’t drink, and a couple of members of the team didn’t drink, but every time my boss wanted to get the team together, she suggested happy hour! I pushed pretty hard to at least rotate the activities more, but she was firm on happy hour. Which was fine, I mean, it wasn’t really centered on drinking — we went to a bar, ordered some food, some people drank alcohol, some people drank other stuff — but I always thought it was weird that a non-drinker was so into it.

          1. Roland*

            I think you answered your own question though – it’s not really an alcohol-focused event. It’s like me asking someone “do you want to grab a coffee” knowing fully well that I will be ordering tea.

          2. Distracted Librarian*

            I’m a non-drinker and I *love* happy hour because, cheap eats! And usually those cheap eats are yummy appetizers that I rarely have otherwise.

    2. Not day drinking at work*

      Yup, I have a complicated relationship with alcohol due to some religious trauma (Southern Baptist family, Muslim ex husband) and drinking is something I do only very rarely and with my inner circle. Coworkers are generally not inner circle, and just the effort of me disclosing why I wouldn’t participate would put me out. I think it’s common enough these days that there are enough people who don’t drink for Reasons, I feel like Mandatory Fun with alcohol should be relegated to bungee jumping or climbing a mountain or singing a song, something that would be seen as not super inclusive.

  48. Dust Bunny*

    #3 When I left a healthcare-ish job I attempted to train two other people in a specific set of tasks. I left reminders on the work board. They still didn’t get done. Clients got mad.

    Not my problem–I tried to cover my a** but nobody else picked up the slack, including our bosses who could and should have assigned and trained somebody else to do it if my coworkers wouldn’t listen to me.

    Move on. If this slips it’s out of your hands.

  49. Former call centre worker*

    I worked on a team that wanted to do a team building day doing a brewery tour and beer tasting. I’m teetotal. Thankfully they were so disorganised that they still hadn’t planned it by the time I left the job – they literally couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery

  50. MaybeRetired*

    LW2. I say it all depends on how much access you have to your boss’s calendar and how accurate it is.

    If it’s straight forward just set up the meeting and pick something that works best for you.

    If all you see is a bunch of double and triple booked busy blocks, your boss may have to do it.

    I found picking a time live was most efficient if the request was made during a meeting/call. Cannot tell you how many times I heard “I don’t go to that, we can schedule over it”

    1. Delta Delta*

      I once worked for a guy who refused to keep his calendar updated. This often led to confusion about where he was. Once there was an issue about coverage for a particular situation, and I sent an email to everyone on the team, saying it looked like certain people, including the boss, were around that day. He sent me back a scathing email saying I should never speak for him and that I should never assume his calendar reflects where he’ll be because there are important things he does that I’d never know about or need to know about. It was maddening.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That would kill me. I tell everyone who joins are organization that calendars are sacred. Everyone will respect your calendar, but you are in return expected to keep it up to date.

        Especially in a hybrid setting I would just lose my mind if I couldn’t check calendars.

  51. Moira Rose*

    Just had to share this. When I was pregnant with my second kid, I was on a team that skewed very young. At one point they had a team building exercise where they all went and played bubble soccer together (Google it if you’ve never seen it). They were perplexed when I said there was of course no way I could join in. They did it anyway. No hard feelings though.

    1. Lily Potter*

      Moira, you handled this perfectly. Have a chuckle, move on, and attend the next event.

      There’s got to be more going on with the OP than missing out on a wine tasting. I could speculate a bunch but I won’t. Suffice to say that I think the OP is frustrated about other things but this situation is what she’s latching onto as her “hill to die on”. I’d want to go out over something more substantive than “I can’t participate in ONE event, but that’s me.

      1. Fuzzyfuzz*

        Agreed–I have two small/medium sized children and went through both pregnancies while working full time. This will not be the first time that being a pregnant or new parent makes work-related social events/expectations difficult for you, but this isn’t necessarily anyone else’s fault. Advocate for yourself where you can, approach situations with a sense of humor otherwise.

  52. toolate12*

    That’s an interesting point about manuals. I made one for my coworkers when I left my last job but now I’m wondering whether it was worth the time…

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      If nothing else, it gives you the moral high ground! No matter what happened after you left you’re able to say you did everything you could to leave them in a good place.

      I know that + $5 gets you a cup of coffee, but who knows – that extra effort at the end might help you with a recommendation or a referral someday!

    2. Lily Rowan*

      I had someone leave me an extensive manual recently, and I lived by it, and so did the person’s replacement! So some of us do appreciate the effort.

  53. HannahS*

    LW1, I agree that team-building activities are supposed to be inclusive, and it’s a poor choice to do something that so many people can’t do, often reasons related to things in protected categories (i.e. pregnancy, illness.) Excluding (or not fully including) people from team-building activities for those kinds of reasons is an equity issue, full-stop. I agree that it shouldn’t have been the activity. At the same time, as a formerly-pregnant woman and now mother of a young child in a field where neither of those things is generally accommodated for, I would say that there may be more of things coming down the pipeline that you’ll want to use capital on. My opinion is that part of advocating for yourself is using your capital judiciously. Are you in the right? Yes, absolutely. But going in harder on this issue might leave you with less ability to push back in the future should you need other, more important kinds of accommodation.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      This is a good point, and something I’m debating now in a different but similar vein – I have a 4 month old and we’re smack in the middle of an awful sleep regression. I’m getting such little sleep but I’m hemming on asking for an accommodation since I’m wondering if I’m always going to need an accommodation for something, and if I can/should maybe tough it out in case I need to ask for something bigger for an even harder situation that might come up later.

      So LW1 should keep in mind that it can’t hurt to try and save capital for when they really need something, vs using it on something that is mostly annoying but relatively inconsequential.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “I’m wondering if I’m always going to need an accommodation for something”

        As someone who does always need an accommodation for something – don’t suffer needlessly. Capital is important, you’re absolutely right there, and if something is truly minor it might be worth pushing through. But sleep is one of those things that really messes with your entire existence and can snowball into bigger problems.

        For me, it’s a calculation of “if I push through this, will it resolve itself in a timely manner”. You have no idea how long this is going to last, and your lack of sleep is going to get worse before it gets better, so I would take care of yourself now.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          As a chronic insomniac, I have literally called off when I got too little sleep. I had a 50 minute commute into the office, and I didn’t feel safe to drive while badly underslept.

          Now I WFH, and can always take a nap in the middle of the day for lunch. I also am getting better sleep due to different medication. I still woke up for an hour last night, cutting my sleep to under seven hours. (Yes, lunch nap today. I set a timer, and take an extended lunch.)

    2. Ahdez*

      I was going to say this, but you put it perfectly! There are several real and valid issues here, but as a mom of two kids under 4, I have realized that most workplaces are not parent-friendly. Strong agree on saving up your capital for things that make a bigger difference for your family than not participating 100% in a team building activity.

      Also – when you are pregnant or have a small child, your attention is often very focused on that and everything it implies, but plenty of well meaning colleagues just didn’t really think about the fact that I was pregnant or had kids (for example, when making work travel plans or scheduling meetings that clash with end of day pick up from childcare). I don’t get offended over that, and they don’t get offended when I remind them.

  54. Lily Potter*

    Regarding the whole “Managers should delegate low level tasks” thing. This is super, super location dependent. I once worked for an organization with a CEO, two line managers (including me), six individual contributors, and occasional temp help. We had a kitchen that we all used….some more than others but everyone at a minimum used the fridge and microwave. We had a posted chart with our nine names; every 9 weeks a person was in charge of nightly kitchen cleanup. This was an at-most 10 minute job -wipe down the table, countertops, put dishes in dishwasher, that kind of thing. Everyone did their duty and it wasn’t a big deal – until the CEO decided that she didn’t need “one more thing” on her calendar and told me to take her name off the chore list.

    Needless to say, CEO lost a ton of credibility with the office staff that day. A year later, I still heard snide remarks about how “SOME PEOPLE around here are too good to wipe a table.”

    1. I should really pick a name*

      10 minutes of the CEOs time tends to be significantly more expensive to the company than 10 minutes of someone else’s time.

      1. Lily Potter*

        Probably shouldn’t matter, since the point of the story is that “optics matter” – but this wasn’t a for-profit company. The CEO taking 10 minutes to wipe down a table wasn’t costing anyone money. I’ll also add that the culture was very “get the job done even if it’s not your job”, which really ran counter to a CEO deciding she couldn’t handle pitching in on kitchen duty.

        1. Observer*

          but this wasn’t a for-profit company. The CEO taking 10 minutes to wipe down a table wasn’t costing anyone money.

          Non-profits need to be properly managed, just like for-profit orgs.

          And “it wasn’t costing anyone money”, even if kind of true, is the wrong metric. Because time and attention are finite resources, and it often simply does NOT makes sense for a CEO to be spending their time and attention on something like this.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Honestly to me that’s a bunch of people overreacting to something that is very common and very normal.

      Most CEO’s/upper level management would not be doing things like cleaning the kitchen. I’m surprised that they were even on the list to begin with.

      It has nothing to do with being “too good” and everything to do with a CEO’s time is more valuable to the company and spent doing higher level work. And frankly often working more hours.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think there’s two very different ways of seeing this– the first is that cleaning is a work duty, and that is does fall within someone’s job description, but not the CEO’s.

        But the second is that there are certain things which aren’t in anyone’s job description, and cleaning shared spaces like kitchens often fall into that. Keeping non-client-facing, non-offices spaces like kitchens clean explicitly wasn’t part of the cleaning staff’s job description in one place I worked, and so there was a rota for everyone to do it. Since it was extra to everyone’s JD, the senior managers taking their turn was a real positive for the sense that we were all part of a team and that it was a shared responsibility.

        There’s a point where separating out duties too formally by value to the organisation becomes a problem, because it silos your senior management from the rest of the staff and doesn’t foster a feeling of belonging and equality. Having senior staff members who muck in on things like that can reap significant rewards by making them seem more approachable and literally giving people the opportunity to approach and talk to them, which might well mean that some problems get cut off at a much lower and less complicated stage.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s not potential value in management pitching in. Although I personally would think that was more valuable for things like actual work when things are tough, not occasionally wiping a counter or taking out the trash.

          But it is very weird to be mad/snotty/incensed if they don’t.

          The vast majority of organizations have a hierarchy that permeates everything in the company. If my grand boss was taking a turn and then decided they could no longer do so, I wouldn’t even blink.

    3. Observer*

      Needless to say, CEO lost a ton of credibility with the office staff that day. A year later, I still heard snide remarks about how “SOME PEOPLE around here are too good to wipe a table.”

      It is NOT “needless to say.” Because the people who would have lost credibility would have been the people making these inane comments.

      100 x over when it’s a matter of who sets up appointments.

    4. Roland*

      I’m with the CEO and I think the people who “needlessly to say” had big reactions to this were being precious. Sure it’s not in anyone’s job description, but it’s farthest away from hers and I do think it’s weird she was on that list to begin with.

      1. Lily Potter*

        It was on her list because that was the culture of the organization. The previous CEO (a man, in case anyone’s wondering) always took his turn. The CEO that decided she didn’t have time for it worked as an Individual Contributor underneath the previous CEO before taking on the job, so she knew that kitchen duty was a part of the culture.

        Or…..what bamcheeks said above.

        1. Roland*

          The culture of this organization sounds odd to me. Like, good information for someone working there, but I don’t think this is broadly applicable.

    5. Lyra Belacqua*

      This works the other way, too–I once caught the president of my organization washing mugs that had been left in the sink, which I’m sure many wouldn’t have considered the most efficient use of her time. But it left such a great impression on people who saw her do that kind of thing that it genuinely raised office morale–which ultimately made it a *great* use of her time.

      1. Lily Potter*

        I think I’d want to work for this president :)

        I worked for a President who made it perfectly clear in a speech after a large group potluck that he expected to see everyone pitching in to help clean up the resulting mess, since our admin was not hired as a scullery maid. And then he spent a few minutes helping to tidy up before heading back to his office. Those few minutes made a big impression; a couple of the president’s direct reports were the types that would have left their crockpots sitting in the lunchroom for the admin to scrub out……go figure, this time they realized that they should help, too.

  55. Betty Dishman*

    LW#1: very inconsiderate for any group to have wine tasting as a team building activity. Lots of people don’t drink for many reasons and it’s really no one’s business why. I work in state government and we would all be fired for doing such a thing.

  56. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #3 – this is a classic case of “not my tree, not my monkeys”.

    I know how frustrating it is that the work you are doing (writing procedures, training) isn’t creating success (people who can execute tasks successfully). But this is not your fault – they are choosing not to pay attention, or the organization is choosing not to prioritize the work you do.

    If you really want to try again to get your boss to focus on this information, you have one potential opening. Since you’re in healthcare, is the work you are doing important to standards of patient care, regulatory requirements, reimbursement, etc.? If it is, then you can certainly lay out, in writing or orally, “we’re legally required by the state licensing board to do this within 48 hours of the patient visit”, “if we make this mistake more than once per month, our reimbursement from Medicare for this procedure gets cut by 15% across the board”, etc.

  57. KN*

    “I feel there is no real professional way to answer that email, except ignoring it without sounding bitchy.”

    Oh my goodness, do not ignore an email from your boss asking you to set up a meeting!! It sounds like LW is suggesting this as a “professional” alternative to… what, denying the request? Neither of these things is professional, and you can’t straight-up ignore requests from your boss to handle something (something that is, in fact, a quite typical job responsibility of anyone being managed in an office job–whether you agree with it or not) and expect to remain in good standing at your company.

    It seems like the LW is viewing this through a lens of personal motivation, when it’s really not. Like, yes, it would be obnoxious if a friend asked for your help with something and then made you schedule a meeting with them to talk about it. But that’s VERY DIFFERENT from what’s happening here. The thing your boss needs your input on is NOT a personal favor to the boss, for the boss’s own whims. It’s literally part of your job, in service to the company you both work for. Your boss is not rude for asking you to take on responsibility for something in the context of your job.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah the professional way to answer that email is…with a calendar invitation. I really don’t understand that letter and wonder if OP is otherwise frustrated with their boss in a way that warps perception on minor, normal things.

    2. Observer*

      Yeah, that line jumped out at me. Like what? How does anyone think that *IGNORING their boss* is the “professional” and “non-bitchy” way of handling a situation?!

  58. Ula D*

    I wonder if the issue in #4 comes from Millennials and Zoomers having their lives scheduled rigidly from right around when they first start forming memories to after they graduate from college. Kids These Days are always being told what they have to do next to move on to the next phase: in order to get to the next grade, you have to pass your classes. To pass the class, you do X. To graduate from high school or college, you need X credits and cl