I’m nervous about having to write up an employee, returning heavy office furniture when resigning, and more

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

1. I’m nervous about having to write up an employee

I am a new-ish manager (just under a year), something I never saw myself doing in a field I sort of fell into. In general, it’s going well, but I find myself getting quite anxious when I need to handle discipline of a staff member. I have to share a write-up with someone tomorrow concerning their behavior, and I have an awful stomach ache about it. In the past when I have had to have these conversations, it always goes better than my imagination was creating ahead of time, but I’m still agonizing over it. Do you have any suggestions on how to prepare better or ease my mind prior to the interaction? Is this just another form of stage fright, in that the more I do this, the less difficult it will become?

Part of the problem is probably that you’re thinking of it as “discipline,” which implies a strange parent/child dynamic that doesn’t fit the context. I know some employers call it that, but it’s a weird framework to use. Instead you should think of it as coaching/feedback, because that’s what it is — or at least what it should be. The idea isn’t to be punitive; it’s to share clear feedback, explain where they’re not meeting the mark, and lay out what they need to do differently in order to succeed in their role.

You might dread it less if you see it as helping them be successful in their job (and not get fired or miss out on raises/promotions/other things they might want) — so it’s in their interests, not something that needs to (or should!) be adversarial.

And yes, the more you do it, the more comfortable with it you’ll likely feel. But changing the way you’re framing these internally should help you get there.

what’s the deal with write-ups?

2. Coworker seems annoyed that I might hire her employee

I work for a company of about 2600 people. I’m hiring a replacement for one of my employees who is leaving and have received over 500 applications. One of those applications was from an internal employee, Susie, who has been finishing a masters program that is highly relevant to the position. I scheduled a first round interview with her, and on the day of her interview, her supervisor, Jane, sent me a message on Slack that essentially said, “I know Susie is interviewing with you today. Please tell me why you’re considering her and what your timeline is for hiring her. She just joined my team a few months ago, and it would be very inconvenient to have her leave this role so soon. I look forward to hearing more about her being considered for the position.”

This threw me for quite a loop. If I decided to hire Susie, would Jane, who I have to work closely with, hold it against me? Do I need to take her current supervisor’s dissatisfaction with Susie’s interest in the position into account? Should I respond? And finally, why is this my problem? Shouldn’t Jane be having this conversation with Susie?

I’m curious what your thoughts are, and if/how I should respond. If it makes a difference, I likely wasn’t going to move her on to a final interview, and at the same time, Susie decided to withdraw her candidacy after the interview, as she does want to spend more time learning her current role. I’m also wondering if I should tell Susie what Jane said (though that feels like gossip, so I’m inclined not to do so).

So, this depends heavily on how your company handles this. Some companies won’t consider internal transfers without the candidate’s manager in the loop after a certain stage, or even without their sign-off. Partly that’s because if there are performance issues with the employee, the company has an interest in making sure the manager who’s hiring knows that. Partly too though, it’s so managers don’t feel like their own company is blindsiding them with a personnel change that they could have been looped in about earlier. Obviously this can make things very awkward for the employee seeking a transfer and in some cases it discourages people from applying at all, which can mean the company loses good people they otherwise could have retained.

In your case, I’m guessing your company doesn’t have that policy or you would know about it. It’s possible Jane comes from a company that does … or she’s looking at you less as “manager of an independent team conducting independent hiring” and more as “colleague who is trying to lure away someone I’m depending on to get our work done.” The latter is short-sighted — if someone wants to leave, they’re going to leave one way or another, and it’s in no one’s interests to hold on to an employee who doesn’t want to be there — but it’s pretty common.

But you could seek guidance from your company on how they typically handle situations like this; there may be political concerns you need to take into account, at least in responding to Jane. If you were still considering Susie, I’d say you shouldn’t hire her without getting Jane’s assessment of her work at some point, but you could do that much later in the process if she were still in the mix. In that case, I’d also ask Susie about it when you interviewed her, both as a way to make sure she knew Jane was aware of her application and to find out if there were dynamics on that team that you’d have to navigate. (And since she’s only been there a few months, presumably that would come up naturally when you talked about why she’s interested in moving.)

Read an update to this letter

3. Returning heavy office furniture when resigning

I work from home for a smaller company under a larger corporate umbrella, at a location an hour away from the local office. I moved to this location at the start of the pandemic. In the beginning of lockdown, our parent company was posting things like “look how easy it is to make a standing desk at home — just stack two storage bins on top of your kitchen table!” and other absurd ideas. I asked my company whether I might have a small standing desk, as I have a disability that is greatly mitigated by a standing desk, and they bought me one. I already had a tall office chair I’d brought home with me from my cubicle. Once it became clear that we were all working from home for the foreseeable future, I realized that this tiny desk wasn’t going to work. I went through the proper channels and asked the corporate office for a better standing desk — they said no, they were not purchasing any furniture for anyone, disability or not. The head of my company ended up going to bat for me and using their corporate card to buy me a very nice (very large and heavy) motorized standing desk, which was delivered to my home.

I’m in the final stages of interviewing for a job, and it’s becoming more likely they will make me an offer. If I leave, what am I supposed to do about this desk and chair? They are both big and heavy, won’t fit in my car easily (if at all), and would have to be driven an hour+ away to be returned. Is it my responsibility to bring this up and return the items? Should I wait until they ask? Is it up to them to arrange for pickup for things that their disabled employee cannot even lift? Would they possibly want me to pay them to keep the items? (I can’t afford that.)

Returning the furniture is a business expense (for them, not you). If you resign, mention to your boss that you have a chair from your office, plus the standing desk the company bought you, and ask what they’d like you to do with them. Say, “They’re too large and heavy for me to transport, but if the company wants to arrange a pickup, I can have them ready to go.” It’s very unlikely that they’ll want you to pay to keep the items — they might offer it in case you want that, but you can say no. These are business items for them, and it’s reasonable to assume they’ll arrange and pay for their pickup (or just tell you to keep them free of charge if that’s cheaper for them).

Read an update to this letter.

4. Asking for a different in-office schedule

My partner works in an office where they are in office two days a week. Let’s say the whole team is in on Wednesdays, then the subteams are each assigned one other day. This schedule was implemented about a year ago and the “other” day was assigned to each subteam arbitrarily. Unfortunately, my partner was assigned to come in on Wednesdays and Fridays, with Fridays being the most undesirable day across the board.

Fridays are most undesirable for a few reasons: (1) We work in a big city and traveling in and out of the city on Fridays takes more time. (2) If you don’t have to commute home on a Friday, you essentially get 1-2 hours more weekend time than those that do commute. (3) Many on this team travel, and there’s a huge convenience factor for those who can work remotely on Fridays. (4) More people take Fridays off, so for those in the office there’s often some slack that needs to be picked up, which isn’t as prevalent on other days.

Management is currently updating the in-office schedule from two to three days in-office and my partner would like to ask about changing or making more equitable who is in the office on Fridays. Management has historically been opposed to this (no real reason given why they can’t change it), but given they are making updates anyway, my partner would like to bring it up. What is the best way to get management to consider a change to who is in-office on Fridays? How can they get management to consider making a fairer in-office schedule?

The thing about pushing to work from home on Fridays in the face of opposition is that it’s easy for it to sound like you’re looking for a long weekend, rather than treating Friday like a real workday … which companies obviously don’t like very much. So if your partner brings it up, it’s important to frame it in terms that make it really clear that’s not the case. In his case, that might mean the strongest argument is to say, “My commute is up to two hours longer on Fridays; would it be possible for me to swap it with a different in-office day, or at least rotate it with other people?”

5. Reapplying to a job I previously declined to interview for

At the end of last year, I applied for a job at a company in the next town over, roughly an hour drive from where I currently live. Unfortunately, pretty much the same day as I got a response asking to schedule a Zoom interview, I also got some other bad news that kind of wrecked any of my plans to relocate (or make a commute work).

Fast forward about six months, and my situation has changed again and the position is still up on their website. For the most part, my mindset is mostly “it can’t hurt to ask” (especially since my change in situation isn’t really because anything has improved, just more than I’m running out of options) but is there a certain amount of time I should wait before applying again? Does applying, “flaking,” and then applying again so soon make me look unreliable or wishy-washy?

You won’t look wishy-washy. You could apply again now with a note that says they invited you to interview last year and you ended up needing to withdraw but are now available and would love to be considered. One caution: try to be really sure you’re up for the commute this time, because if you enter the process again and then withdraw for the same reason (especially if they knew the reason last time), that will look wishy-washy and could make them less inclined to consider you in the future. But otherwise you should be fine!

{ 189 comments… read them below }

  1. Viki*


    Jane has given you insight in Susie. She joined Jane’s team a few months ago and is applying for a different opportunity, within assumingely around six months of that position (or at least less than a year).

    I’m from a company that if you are an internal hire, you have to have been in your current position at least one year before you’re eligible to apply to other positions. It is in an effort to try to keep disruptions to a minimum, as you want to be able to have functional departments.

    As it is, Jane’s message isn’t inappropriate in my world. Internal hires have their current manager weigh in because sometimes their department needs are greater than the hiring ones. It’s very dependant on org and politics.

    1. Temp Anon*

      Most of my employers had a similar policy of a minimum 1 year tenure before an internal transfer can take place, but this place might not be like that.

      It may be the case that since this employee is going/has gone to school for this field, the alternative to disruption of an internal transfer is the greater disruption of her leaving for other opportunities.

      I would definitely take what the other manager says about the potential internal hire with a bit of a grain of salt, sadly many bad managers badmouth good employees to keep them from moving on.

      1. Snow Globe*

        I know (from reading this site) that there are crappy managers like that, but I’d like to think that most wouldn’t be deliberately vindictive. Unless the LW has reason to believe that Jane is someone who would, I’d give it her benefit of the doubt.

        Talking to Jane could give the hiring manager a good idea of Suzie’s strengths and weaknesses, and the LW might also learn some interesting information, such as – when Suzie was hired, did Jane tell her that there was an expectation that she’d be in the position for at least a year, and did Suzie agree to that?

        1. Sacred Ground*

          I’m wondering if Susie got through the interview and hiring process without anyone noticing that she was about to finish a graduate degree or asking about how THIS job, the one she was hired for, fits into her post-grad plans. It seems reasonable to assume that once someone finishes a degree, they’d immediately be looking for work in that field and/or jump at the possibility of such work at their current employer.

          I mean, if I hire a dishwasher who is a few months away from finishing culinary school, I shouldn’t be surprised when a few months after hiring them my new dishwasher is now looking for a job as a cook. If I can’t give them one, they’ll go elsewhere. And whether I promote them to the line or watch them leave my employ, I’ll still be short a dishwasher.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            Also, it seems possible to me that Susie was planning to stay in her current position for some time before looking but that this opening at her current employer was just too good an opportunity to let pass.

    2. Zzzzzz*

      OR, Jane is not a good manager for Susie, and/or the position doesn’t mesh well with what Susie actually wants to do (and is getting her master’s in). In either case, unless Susie isn’t a good fit for the new position, why not let her move over to a better one?

      1. Rebecca*

        I can see how that situation would warrant a conversation, though! Having the conversation doesn’t mean you’re going to bow to what Jane wants, but you might find out information that would be helpful, and if you do end up going against Jane’s wishes, at least you’ll be doing it with all the info and an opportunity to keep Jane in the loop or feeling respected, if not happy with the outcome.

        1. AlsoADHD*

          To me, the wording of Jane’s message feels very overbearing and aggressive, almost designed to intimidate or complain. A conversation isn’t unreasonable at some phase maybe but unless the company has a policy, individual managers shouldn’t discourage transfers generally based on things like time worked etc.

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            I have some sympathy for Jane, though. The jobs I oversee take a lot of specialized knowledge, and while employees can contribute starting right away, it takes a good 1.5-2 years of training until they’re familiar with the program. It’s annoying when people leave at year 2, because it’s like we didn’t get our investment back. Obviously, people need to do what’s best for them and I don’t begrudge that, but it is a drag. This would be less true for internal transfers for us, but 6 months of someone on my job is just 6 months I didn’t get to have an employee who could really function in the job AND was wasting my time on someone else.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yeah, I kind of feel like of course Jane was annoyed that an employee she just got up to speed was possibly going to leave and she’d have to start the hiring process over. That’s annoying. It doesn’t mean that OP would have been wrong to hire Susie, but it didn’t sound like Jane was planning to block the transfer or anything. She’s allowed to be annoyed.

              I am not a hiring manager and don’t have a lot of experience with how internal transfers work, but I know at my company if an applicant is interested in multiple jobs then those teams would each interview them and then they would talk to each other and try to mutually decide where they thought it made the most sense to have the new employee go. I would imagine a conversation like that is reasonable to have for internal transfers as well–though of course you have to take what the employee wants into account and acknowledge that if they want to leave their current team it’s probably better to have them stay at the company than leave entirely. But I don’t think it was totally out there that Jane wanted to have a conversation with OP about the situation.

            2. AlsoADHD*

              I mean, I understand the frustration but blocking internal transfers doesn’t usually successfully “keep” people either so I see that as almost a separate issue. Retaining people by blocking just doesn’t work well generally.

          2. Tesuji*

            Honestly, the wording of Jane’s message makes me think that either the company does have some sort of policy regarding internal transfers, or that Jane at least thinks it does.

            And, to be fair, given that this is a 2600-person company, it would be really strange to me if they didn’t have any kind of policy for a situation like this.

            It’s entirely possible the LW just completely dropped the ball; if Jane is assuming that the LW knows what she’s doing and that she is deliberately ignoring a rule, that level of aggressiveness isn’t entirely unwarranted.

            (If, instead, it’s just an unwritten rule… eh, little less warranted, but kind of depends on whether this is a known social norm in the company that the LW is blowing past.)

    3. AlsoADHD*

      I think Jane has given more insight into Jane. The style and tone of that message (in a company that does not seem to have such a policy like yours does, because LW would likely know it) suggests Jane is a bit difficult to me. If Susie is working on a degree relevant to the open position, it makes logical sense why she would apply, especially frankly with Jane sounding less than ideal to work for and being a fairly selfish manager who seems to think more about employees as placeholders than people—if it was the latter, I feel like she’d realize the degree Susie was working on applied and not try to blatantly sabotage a chance for her employee to move into a better fit possibly even IF it was inconvenient—many managers would do this kind of BS but good ones wouldn’t. (It sounds like Jane is not super interested in growing her people as much as making her own life easier. Not uncommon, but not someone many care to stay working for if any other position you want opens up.)

      That Slack message was intense and needlessly so! It felt very passive aggressive frankly to do the “I look forward to hearing” nonsense. Since LW and the manager work together, I could see a quick curiosity maybe but it was framed pretty much as a “hands off” and really feels like it had nothing to do with Susie’s quality of work or caliber as an employee.

      Sure, some places have a policy on internal transfers and time, but not all do. Those policies have benefits and drawbacks as Alison notes BUT an unofficial “policy” that “frowns” on such things but isn’t company official has only drawbacks and creates a toxic place to work.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        I don’t love this take. Jane requested information and explained her reasoning for asking in a very matter-of-fact, measured way. I consider that the opposite of difficult. I wonder if the LW titled Jane as John, would you still feel the same way?

        1. Sleepy Snoopy*

          Thank you for saying this. I think saying Jane is difficult is a huge reach and not supported by anything else in the letter. Jane’s message does not come off as rude. It sounds like she is trying to get a plan in order in case the switch happens. She just didn’t use soft language that is expected of women.

          1. Hazel*

            Hmmm I’m not sure Jane is owed an explanation of ‘why are you hiring her’. The only possible answer being ‘I haven’t decided to, I am considering candidates who applied and is qualified’. Its an overreach at the very least, which is why people find it aggressive. If there is a ‘no move in the first x months’ rule she would have been screened out. Jane just doesn’t want her to leave.

          2. Happy*

            I disagree – I think that Jane’s message does come off as rude (and bizarre). “Please tell me why you’re considering her and what your timeline is for hiring her” is a strange request. It’s obvious why she’s being considered – because she applied and might be a suitable candidate. And asking for a hiring timeline seems reasonable, but saying, ” timeline for hiring her” is weird. She hasn’t even interviewed yet, much less been selected! It reads to me like Jane is coming at this from the assumption that LW is actively seeking to steal Susie away. It all makes it sound really personal and antagonistic.

            There’s probably some regional variation here since some people find it rude and aggressive and others emphatically disagree. (Like the recent conversation about whether general use of “please” in emails seems polite or demanding.)

        2. AlsoADHD*

          Yes. I’m a woman too and I agree women can be taken in a sexist manner but some of the things Jane asked were inappropriate particularly the last line and I also think expressing an inconvenience is too far because that biases against Susie as a potential hire (which is Jane’s goal—Jane is not interested in how Susie wants to grow, just her own needs).

        3. Eukomos*

          Seriously? That would be just as weird and overbearing a note from a man as from a woman. Demanding to know a hiring timeline for someone who hasn’t even been interviewed is crazy pushy and comes off as attacking OP for the crime of considering an applicant for the job they applied for. It screams abusive boss to me, as does Susie wanting to jump ship so quickly.

        4. Random Dice*

          It was wildly rude and inappropriate.

          OP isn’t Jane’s subordinate, but Jane’s message makes it sound like she is. A demand to tell her why they’re considering the candidate and on what timeframe? Yeah let me get RIGHT on that task, for a peer, in between doing my job and all these interviews.

          I’d be PISSED at Jane, and wouldn’t forget it.

          I’d be just as pissed at John.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      That rule is very common but as with almost all rules, there needs to be room to make exceptions. One of those exceptions is where the benefit to the company overall from the person moving internally is greater than the loss/cost to their existing manager. A manager not recognising this seems a sure sign that they are more focused on their own little domain than the big picture.

      OP didn’t say whether the masters degree is being funded by / taken under the encouragement of the company. If so, it won’t sit well with the “sponsors” that Susie has been prevented from making use of it. (That also puts Susie in a difficult spot if she has a tuition payment clawback, in terms of leaving for another company).

      I think Susie was pressured into “withdrawing” her application with the surface reasoning of wanting to get more experience in her current role. Completing a masters in the new field (OPs area) means she wants to work in that field!

      1. MsM*

        Or maybe the conversation with OP made Susie realize she’s not actually ready to make that leap yet. OP did say she didn’t really see her advancing to the next round even without Jane as a factor. (Which strikes me as all the more reason for Jane not to interfere and just focus on future-proofing for when Susie’s completed more of her degree, but unfortunately Jane didn’t write in.)

        1. Random Dice*

          I assumed Jane was just as inappropriate and aggressive to Susie directly, and Susie decided to withdraw to keep the peace.

          I hope Susie finds a better manager than Jane.

      2. Annony*

        In my experience, getting an exception usually requires the current manager to sign off on it.

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      This only applies to internal hires, but companies may have policies that someone must be a certain amount of time in a position before they can apply for an internal position because your company wants to get a reasonable amount of work out of a the person’s training for a position before they move. There are certain positions that are seen as stepping stones that employees may want to stay a minumal amount of time but companies need/prefer someone to stay for a year or two so they are not always hiring and training for this stepping stone position. A company can’t do a darn thing about someone leaving for another company, but they can make a policy about interviewing and hiring internally for the company’s benefit.

      I will note that Janes message did sound wierdly aversarial, but as colleagues you’d both want what’s best for the company as a whole rather than just for yourself and your team so a conversation about if Susie moving positions makes sense for the comapany. The answer could be “yes” because of the new masters degree and the company risks losing Susie (assuming Susie is quality employee) if she isn’t given more responsibility soon. the answer may be “no.” Frankly position hopping after a few months is not a great look for Susie, but the new degree could make a difference.

      OTOH as an internal hire, you should plan to reach out to Susie’s boss for a reference early in the process to understand if it’s worth your time to hire her. An internal hire is not the same as an external hire and someone leaving their current company.

      1. Smithy*

        This came to mind to me as well, and it is certainly why larger organizations will implement those generic internal application rules. You have pragmatic entry level or mid-junior level that some people pick up super quickly, some people a little longer – but it’s just known that those are jobs people keep for 1-3 years on average. And after a few months, they’ve often mastered a large amount of the job.

        So just because they’ve become a “super star” after 4 months, and a team expects they’ll get a new job after 9-12 more months anyways – doesn’t mean the employer thinks its a good idea for those staff to get those new jobs that quickly. Because those are jobs that do need to be done, and a staff vacancy, hire, train, and departure churn rate at that level is far worse overall.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      I can understand it if Jane is concerned. Her question is not phrased well, though – it’s open to interpretation. Ie. does she mean “Why are YOU poaching MY employees?” vs “Why are you interested in Susie – did she apply?” It’s hard to gauge the level of annoyance, but Jane’s definitely disturbed about this – and reasonably so.

      For companies with policies around hiring internal applicants, most of the time there is a minimum tenure that the employee has to have in the role to which they were hired, before they can be considered for other opportunities in the company. Also, most companies with policies require employees to inform their current manager before they consider other internal opportunities.

      In the OP’s shoes, I would talk to HR before answering Jane – just to get a view on the policies. It may be that the OP is not allowed to hire Susie at this point, given she has been there for so short a time.

      How you handle it depends on the policies – if there’s an ironclad policy that internals can’t be hired before they have X time in a role, then Susie needs to be informed and the OP should apologize to Jane. Of course, there is a risk that Susie might leave for a role that is more closely aligned with her masters degree, but that’s the downside of ironclad policies.

    7. Fluffy Fish*

      Not really.

      People pursue other opportunities after a short stint all the time. Often for no other reason than its an opportunity that’s interesting or closer to what they want to do. Finishing a degree and wanting to move to a position aligned with your degree is super valid.

      People cant control when positions of interest open so ya, you kind of have to apply as they come up.

      I mean if we want to extrapolate we could say that Susie really likes her employer so she’s looking to stay instead of applying elsewhere once her degree is done.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Yes, if Susie is just about to get her masters she has probably been working toward it for a minimum 2-3 years, it seems very likely that she would be looking for jobs that will utilize the degree.

        Also, we know nothing of Susie’s work history (or job search) other than she joined Jane’s team a few months ago. Maybe she applied for both positions at the same time and Jane was a little ahead of OP to hire someone. That the OP stated one of Susie’s reasons for withdrawing was to learn more about her current role leads me to believe Susie was moved to Jane’s team thru no active machinations of her own; perhaps there was a re-organization of teams at the company.

        I don’t think we can gain a whole lot of insight into Susie just because she looking into an opportunity that opened up.

    8. Justme, The OG*

      I worked for an employer with a similar policy that they would bend for good employees. Better to keep Suzie as an employee in a new department than lose her to a competitor.

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

      I don’t think the minimum of a year is the problem here. If the company had those rules then Susie’s application would not have been accepted or gotten to the level of an interview. Either there are rules and OP doesn’t know about them or there are no rules and Jane thinks that she should keep newer employees for certain amount of time.
      I think it’s a bit inappropriate that Jane wrote to OP just because she is interviewing Susie. Jane makes it sound like OP was going to hire her with the “Please tell me why you’re considering her and what your timeline is for hiring her.” It is just the first interview. I think Jane overstepped. I’m also worried that Jane convinced Susie to withdraw being that she withdrew her candidacy.

      1. Annony*

        I think whether the message was appropriate or not really depends on if there is a rule that OP wasn’t aware of. If OP should have contacted Jane before offering the interview, then I think Jane’s message was fine and essentially trying to get OP back on track for the correct process. If there is no rule about that then I agree that Jane either should have waited to reach out or done so more gently.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        If I were the OP, I would be leaning hard on whatever the policy actually is in my reply to Jane. So, if the OP is fine to proceed, something like “Oh, your mention about being inconvenienced really concerned me, so I checked if Susie is eligible for internal applications and we don’t have any policy about people with short tenure applying for other posts. Apparently the company doesn’t consider it disruptive to the wider organisation! So, that’s the reason she’s been allowed.” If the policy also doesn’t contain instructions to loop in the other managers on progress, I’d be giving as little information and downplaying it as much as possible: “As to keeping you updated on the interest in Susie specifically, the only thing I can tell you is that she’s one of 500 applicants and it will take us a while to look through them all and consider how many of them we want to interview. If we ever seriously consider her as the leading choice, I can let you know at that point when it’s not a high number of possibilities we’re juggling.”

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Is it too cheeky to add: “The fact you consider her a valuable addition is interesting, and noted!”?

    10. Tupac Coachella*

      I wouldn’t necessarily read too much into Jane’s message either. The majority of my coworkers tend to be very straightforward communicators because the nature of their professional work requires clarity and defaults to firmness-think attorneys or police officers. From that context, I read it as “this will require some planning on my side if Susie gets the job, so I want to know how seriously I should take this.” I agree with OP’s instinct that there’s not really a need to bring this up with Susie. Jane didn’t try to sabotage her application, she asked about things that might impact her department. Whether that’s appropriate depends on the workplace culture, and her delivery was clumsy either way since OP was left with Questions, but it wasn’t an affront on Susie that she needs to be aware of. If this communication style is characteristic of Jane, it probably wasn’t personal to OP or Susie.

      1. Rae*

        I like your note about fields. I work in fundraising so charm is part of our job and no colleague would ever send me a note like this.

    11. kiki*

      “Internal hires have their current manager weigh in because sometimes their department needs are greater than the hiring ones.”

      I think this is a good point. My company had an issue where all the great new employees in one department were being poached after 6 months and put into other departments. While the other departments were happy with this (these employees would come in exceptionally well-trained for their new role) and the employees getting the transfers were happy, it was creating a brain-drain for the original department. They put in a policy that required that the new employee not be poached by another department for 6 months AND then that original department got to increase their hiring capacity, knowing that quite a few folks would likely be leaving after a year.

      1. Antilles*

        Theoretically, it makes perfect sense.
        In reality, how it often works is that managers who are allowed to deny transfers on the basis of “my department can’t afford to let you leave” end up making that excuse too often and/or too long. So the employee who wanted to transfer just ends up frustrated then leaving the company entirely.

    12. Parenthesis Guy*

      I agree that Jane has given her insight into Susie. But I’d say that it’s largely good things. After just a few months, Susie has proven to be a useful member of the team. Jane wouldn’t care if Susie wasn’t producing.

    13. Pescadero*

      There is a problem with that strategy… when you block internal moves, the person just leaves the company – they don’t just suddenly decide to be happy and stay in their current position.

    14. Tiger Snake*

      While I don’t think my company has limits on how long you need to be employed before transferring internally, it is one that requires approval of the current manager. I’d have expected to be notified before she got offered an interview

      And I can definitely see how I’d be reluctant to give that approval, or ticked if I hadn’t even been asked, given that timeline. External hiring is expensive, and internal transfer is cheap (or at least where I am).
      So disregarding Susie herself – at six months in, I just spent all this time and money on an external hiring process! I just got Susie, I’ve just finished training her so that she now understands processes and the company expectations! That feels like someone else has just poached money and effort directly from my pocket instead of their own budget.

      And I’m sure none of that is where the OP is coming from, or what they intend. But it’s still not a good feeling.

      1. blerg*

        And having people leave unexpectedly soon after hiring is a thing that happens. Do you want Susie to leave the company entirely, only 12 months later? I think that’s what’s going to happen if she isn’t at least considered for the position. She likely expected to be low-key job searching once she graduated and then this opportunity opened up at her current employer so she threw her hat in. She maybe should have run this by her own manager before applying but if she’s new to working she may not have thought of it. Or she may not feel comfortable running it by her manager for reasons we don’t know about.

        And she’s only just applied and been scheduled for an interview, it’s not like she’s guaranteed to be leaving her current position right now. The assumption that OP has already made a decision and has a timeline for Susie is presumptuous and a bit paranoid. She may be feeling put out at the prospect of replacing a new hire so soon, and may be feeling out of the loop, as if a decision that effects her has already been made without her, but it hasn’t. It’s just an interview, not a sure thing.

        Even if OP does decide to hire her, there’s plenty of time to work out a timeline and plan for that transition, including holding off until Susie’s replacement can be found. The manager is seriously jumping the gun with her assumptions.

        “So disregarding Susie herself” is exactly the manager’s mistake here. A manager has to be able to see the employee’s perspective and to put the company’s interests ahead of their own department’s. Susie’s application for an internal promotion this soon after hire, and OP’s consideration of it, is concerning to her but it’s also both understandable and predictable if one does not disregard Susie’s interests.

        If the company decides it’s easier to move this recent hire into a stretch position and hire a lower-level employee to replace them than it would be to hire a new person into the higher-level position, that’s a sound business decision however inconvenient to this manager. But the decision isn’t even close to being made.

        1. Tiger Snake*

          Sure, but none of that relates to or contradicts my point: It’s not about what Susie does. It’s that having your own peer effectively take advantage of your budget for their gain without even talking to you beforehand is not a good feeling.

          OP asked why it’s her problem to handle, and that’s why. OP also asked what she needs to do about it, and I feel like Jane’s actually explained the solution she’d like to prevent that from happening in future: Just let Jane know ahead of time that the Susies of her team applied for a position and that they’re a strong candidate because x,y,z.

  2. BabylonCandles*

    Regarding LW4, it does seem unfair that the in-office days are not at least rotated between teams. In my city, Mondays are a nightmare to go to the office on (much MUCH more commute, cafeteria fully booked before noon, no conference room available etc…) and fortunately my manager takes it into account while organising “in-office days”

    1. AnneMoliviaColemuff*

      Rotating wouldn’t be a good solution for a lot of people – organising after school child care on a different day each week would be a real pain for me.

      1. IchKriegDieKrise*

        Would having longer rotations be an option? One team works a specific weekday for 3 or 6 months, for example, and then the day rotates? It does mean you’d be stuck with a bad day for a long stretch, but you would still know it only lasts so long, and it might still work with setting up plans for childcare, etc.

        1. Ali*

          Why not treat your employees like adults and let them come in the days that work for them! That’s what we do and it works just fine. I usually work similar days each week but can mix it up if I need to based on life things or meetings I need to be in for.

          Or have one core day that everyone has to be there if you really need to.

          Not really a helpful comment, but the policy is dumb.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Same–I love the core day. It’s usually in the middle of the week, although it depends on the local office. Mine is trying to get people to come back (not mandatory).
              I keep Monday and Friday as WFH days since hardly anyone comes in on Fridays, and I’d rather gear up for commuting on Tuesday since I have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to catch the bus.

          1. Testerbert*

            If the drones have agency, it makes it harder for the overseers to enforce their will upon them.
            Or, more likely, they want to avoid a mess arising where everyone chooses not to be in on Monday/Friday, or facing a situation where half of a given team travels into the office only to dial into remote meetings with the other half who aren’t in that day and leading to a general attitude that being in the office is pointless (“Why should I commute in only to sit at my desk in virtual meetings, I get nothing done which I couldn’t at home…” etc)

            1. JustaTech*

              Or better, the company chooses to not set up conference rooms to mesh well with the video conference software (ie, no camera and no microphone), so even the people who are on-site can’t all call into a meeting from a conference room if they wanted to.
              (Our meetings are with people at another location, so no matter if you were in office or WFH you’d still be calling in to the meeting.)

          2. Magpie*

            It sounds like the reason for the in office days is so teams and sub-teams can work together. If everyone is coming in on different days because that’s what works for them, the reason for the in office days is negated.

            1. rayray*

              Yeah, exactly. The whole point of going into the office is for that team collaboration, not just to be seen or to keep seats warm.

          3. DataSci*

            There’s no point going in to the office if the local members aren’t there on the same day. It could be a group decision, but if I’m the only one who wants Monday there’s no reason to be there.

          4. Gemstones*

            In this case it sounds like these are two core days. One for the entire team and one for each subteam, so I don’t think it would make sense for OP’s husband to have the opportunity to choose his day. They have to all be there on the same day.

          5. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Guaranteeing coverage for tasks that require physical presence? (customer visits, etc.)
            Less likely it’s hot-desk availability because the whole team can be in-pffice on Wednesdays.

          6. Irish Teacher.*

            I assumed they were going in for meeting or jobs that needed them to work as a team. Like “the designers will be in on Monday, to discuss and work on design plans, once the parts that need collaboration are done, they will continue their individual parts of the design at home, then the full team will be in on Thursday, so the designers can present their design to the sales team and the pricing team. Meanwhile, the sales team will be in on Tuesdays and clients will be told that this is when they can meet the team in person.”

            I’d guess the work that needs to be done in person either requires collaboration with the rest of the team or needs the manager to be present. If none of the rest of the team is there, there might not be much they can do that they couldn’t do at home.

          7. The Person from the Resume*

            Let’s say the whole team is in on Wednesdays, then the subteams are each assigned one other day.

            More people take Fridays off, so for those in the office there’s often some slack that needs to be picked up, which isn’t as prevalent on other days.

            The point is that a whole subteam is there on their assigned subteam day for collaboration and in person meetings. Each person picking their own day doesn’t meet the intent. And if you let each subteam pick their own day, then it’s likely no subteam would pick Friday (the most inconveneient day) and no one would be in the office to pick up any of the required in office duties on Friday.

          8. Loulou*

            Because it sounds like nobody would choose to come in Fridays, but they need some number of people there in Fridays

          9. Fish*

            Employees at some companies don’t act like adults. I worked with a gaggle of those at a past employer.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        I agree rotating the subteam days in is fair because it is unfair that one subteam bears the brunt of the least popular day to have to be in the offie. You need to fix a long term set schedule, though, so everyone can organize their lives knowing that – plan vacations, child care, and just life plans.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I think any time a company becomes aware that a certain assignment is undesirable, it behooves them to switch around who does it. Yes, Fridays are a work day, and in a rota system like this, someone’s always going to have Friday assigned. But because it was arbitrarily assigned to this team once in the beginning, that doesn’t mean it should always have to be that team for all time and they just have to suck it up. This is a pet peeve of mine because my old office space always gave my team a very undesirable cube location, and when they moved offices and a much more desirable space opened up (with windows) – they gave it to the team that had previously already had the best space, and put us in the basement again. It was not good for our morale.

      1. NeedRain47*

        Oof, you’ve reminded me of That Time they rearranged the department so units could sit together and I had to move from a cube with a “garden level” window to a cube far away from any windows.
        (desks had previously been kind of randomly assigned based on what was available.)

    3. kiki*

      I’m wondering if there’s a reason each sub-team needs to be in the office on different days? I thought maybe there was a shortage of space, but it sounds like the whole team comes in together one day per week. Do they actually need coverage in the office?

      In my experience, people are most willing and able to come into the office Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. A lot of folks end up missing Mondays and Fridays due to vacations anyway. Is it possible to make Tuesday-Thursday in-office days for everyone across teams? Or maybe look at if having a flex in-office schedule with one core day (Wednesday) could work.

      1. Gumby*

        And *because* most people come into the office Tues/Wed/Thur, I usually arrange my in office days to be Monday and Friday. Traffic is lighter! (Did I use estimated times from Google maps and also track it over a few weeks to verify? Yes, yes I did. There might be a spreadsheet somewhere…)

    4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I think the easiest solution would be to take Friday off the table as “work from the office” day. Just open the office Mon-Thurs and rotate teams through those days. Every point the LW makes is accurate and applies equally well to managers and support staff. just make Friday a universal WFH day, then no one has to deal with the extra awful commute or loss of weekend time. Including any upper management that might need to sync with the unlucky Friday team.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        My office just did that, except only during the summer. No more coming in on Friday.

        That said, we have to sign up for in-office days and you’re required to do one Monday a month and one Friday a month. I usually do the Fridays because I don’t live out of town compared to most everyone else, so a sloggy commute on Friday isn’t an issue for me.

      2. londonedit*

        Ours is the same – we have core days when we’re supposed to be in the office with the rest of the teams in our department, but no one is expected to be in the office on a Friday. It started when we first reopened after the lockdowns, so that the offices could be deep-cleaned every Friday, but now it’s just the norm. Plenty of people work four days a week anyway and don’t work Fridays at all (a four-day week is very common with people who have young children) and we also have Fridays designated as no-internal-meeting days, the idea being that it’s a chance to wrap everything up and actually get on with some work before the weekend.

  3. Temp Anon*

    LW1–Having to give negative feedback, deal with correcting/improving employee performance issues, and of course firings are the hardest and most unpleasant things a manager has to deal with.

    Alas, it comes with the territory. As for advice: Try to keep things factual, don’t get personal, lay out what is happening and what needs to change. Practice what you are going to say. If you are anxious, remembering to take deep steady breaths can help.

    You say you just “fell into” management recently, I hope your organization offers training and mentorship for new managers even if you haven’t had much yet. Is there someone you can go to (maybe your own manager?) for some advice? Perhaps a role play would help.

    Whatever happens, after the feedback think it over, debrief with yourself or your manager. What went well, what could be improved? It will get easier as you get better. Good luck!

    1. John Smith*

      I’ll second that. Too many managers (mine included) take things personally and act like the manager/report relationship is more master/servant. Ita grating and makes an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable job an abaolute ball ache.

      I’d add that if you act fairly, consistently and openly, you’ll find people respecting you which is far more important than being liked (which seems to be my manager’s main aim).

      1. TootsNYC*

        The first time I had to tell someone they weren’t doing their job well enough, it helped me so much to realize:
        it’s not about me.

        it’s about the job, and what it needs.

        that’s the actual language I used. “The job needs you to be more diligent, to move more proactively, and to communicate proactively if you can’t, for some reason.”

      2. blerg*

        Another way of taking things too personally at work is to act like the manager/report relationship is just two friends agreeing to do things together. The necessary superior/subordinate dynamic is erased and both of their jobs get a lot harder as expectations or priorities aren’t communicated well, instructions become unclear, and decisions become tied to emotional responses.

        My new boss at my last job tried to be my buddy. It made my own layoff 5 months later a lot harder for both of us than it should have been. I know it was a business decision and likely the right one. But now I feel betrayed and resentful while he likely feels guilty and it’s all completely unnecessary.

    2. Snow Globe*

      Keeping things factual is important. When explaining where performance isn’t meeting expectations, you need to be able to define expectations very clearly, so you and the employee can know if the expectations are being met.

    3. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      Agreed with all these tips! Another one (that’s especially helpful for any big convos or ones you’re particularly nervous about) I’ll add is thinking through potential avenues the conversation might go.

      For example, if employee responds like X, I’ll say Y. If they respond with B, I’ll say C. What are the potential follow-up questions they might ask or reactions they might have and how would I tackle them?

      And by planning out the conversation, it helps you feel more prepared. Obviously you will sometimes get reactions you don’t expect but this can be super helpful if you’re someone who (like me), gets nervous thinking on your feet.

      The downside of this is you can spend too much time overpreparing — I do NOT use all the responses if someone doesn’t bring up things bc then I end up babbling and sharing things someone didn’t ask for. But the upside is you get a lot of practice thinking through how to respond to different questions and it can help you feel more confident having these conversations!

  4. Rob Whelan*

    To add on to Alison’s good advice to LW#1: 100%, it’s so damaging when managers imagine themselves as parents or teachers.

    I think of it like this:
    • there’s some negative result I’m seeing, and it looks like their behavior is related
    • they should fill in any details I don’t know, and together we need a concrete plan to fix things
    • It’s my job to help them and be sure they know risks clearly — including telling them if a problem is just “this can be a bit better” vs “this is bad; I might need to fire you if we don’t figure this out fast”
    • if my coaching doesn’t help — it might not! — I’ll need to know so I can improve

    But in all this, to steal a metaphor from Theresa Huxton’s “Let’s Talk”, my report and I are on one side of the table, and the problem is on the other.

    1. One HR Opinion*

      Just a little clarification – her name is Therese Huston – in case anyone wants to look up the book online :)

    2. Clorinda*

      So, speaking as a teacher, teachers should approach it that way too. There isn’t a danger of firing, of course, but “you are not on track to pass this class unless we figure something out.”
      Punitive consequences NEVER work.

    3. TootsNYC*

      i also often think: “They have a right to know that something is negatively affecting their reputation at work. It’s my responsibility to them to make sure they’re aware.”

  5. John Smith*

    re #3. If you get pushed back or get no response, I’d follow up with a politely worded deadline to collect, stating the furniture will be disposed of after that time (assuming US law allows for this), and don’t be guilt tripped by them either should they try it on. I’m sure there are charitable organisations that would happily take take the furniture if you or your former employer didn’t want them. My experience is that most (larger) employers simply find it easier to forgo stuff like this (but weirdly, get upset if you don’t return, for example, safety shoes).

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      the safety shoes just reminded me of the most hilarious thing. My mom ended up working as a job coach (someone who helps and monitors handicaped folx at their job sites) and one of the sites required specific shoes. He company had to purchase the shoes, which were basically hiking boots. My mom wore them outside of work to break them in, because she knew if she hadn’t broke them in the first day at the new site she would have blisters and her feet would be sore. She ran into the office for something and her boss chewed her out stating she can only wear the shoes at the site and no wear else, even other work sites because they paid for them only for work. My mom looked at her like she had 3 heads and said something to the effect of “Judy, These are hiking boots. I have to break them in before next week. Do you want me to end up with foot pain and blisters that cause me not to be able to stand?” And then she just left. The boss never said anything and when she left a year later she still had the boots.

      1. Storytime*

        I once traveled by company car to meeting location. Lunch was not provided. I used the company car to go to lunch and return to the meeting. I was chastised for using the car to go to lunch. I was only “allowed” to take the car to the meeting. When I responded “Am I allowed to eat?” no response was provided.

        1. Daisy Daisy*

          My former employer paid for employees to have the monthly unlimited-use bus pass as part of a transit incentive. But every once in a while someone would post an intranet message “reminding” staff that the bus passes are only supposed to be used for commuting to/from work. Which a) is not part of the policy, and b) makes absolutely no sense- they didn’t choose the plan with x number of dollars or bus trips on it, they chose the monthly unlimited pass.

          Everyone ignored these messages and just thought they were idiots.

          1. LJ*

            That sounds like a tax compliant CYA move… your employer provided a transit benefit for you to “get to work” and not for any other purpose *cough cough cough*

    2. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      Giving the company a deadline to retrieve the furniture is a great idea. It can be light & brief, “Please schedule with me a time to retrieve the office items by (date) as I’ll be unavailable after then.” This way you have documentation that you tried to return it in a reasonable time. Or follow the advice of posters who suggest the fair market value of used furniture might be within your price range to buy it. I’d totally lowball or counter their offer. Maybe they just don’t want the hassle & expense of trying to retrieve it.

    3. MJ*

      Alternatively, if you like the furniture and will continue to work from home with the new company, would they consider buying the furniture from the old company for you? (Not directly, just giving you the funds to buy the desk and chair from the old company.)

    4. Polly Hedron*

      I disagree. Don’t remind them, don’t give them a deadline, don’t say you’ll dispose of the furniture: you’ll probably need it for your next job.
      I agree with Triplestep below:

      Office Designer here. Wait until they ask … chances are they won’t.

      1. Triplestep*

        I just posted “Rethinking my original comment and seeing those of others, I now agree with those saying LW#3 should mention it for most of the reasons given. (I think I was coming at this from the perspective of someone whose job it would be to deal with this thing and would prefer not to.)” The chances of them wanting this back are SO SO low that LW#3 will be off the hook and won’t ever be thought of negatively for just assuming she gets to keep the desk.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          OK, LW3 can send one email about the furniture for a written record. But after that, since LW3 would be happy to keep the furniture, LW3 does not have to nag the company, give them a deadline, or say LW3 is about to dispose of it.

          1. Triplestep*

            Totally agree. She does not need to chase them, but she said above that she is grateful that someone went to bat for her, so maybe that is the person to contact.

            1. LJ*

              Or alternatively, it would saddle that person with the responsibility of getting the company to explicitly let go of this furniture. Not OP’s problem, but certainly something to mind if the point is OP is grateful to this person

    5. econobiker*

      If the company does not usually supply furniture for work at home, it is probably not set up for reclaiming it or dispensing with it remotely. Return all of their technology required and OP should just mention once that they cannot return the furniture because of the size/distance/disability etc. so let them know how they want to handle it. It might be that the company will let the OP have it or will send someone more local to the OP’s residence to pick it up in order to dispense with it.

      Or OP can ask to buy it as mentioned by others.

  6. nodramalama*

    LW2 where I work internal transfers and hires are definitely discussed and worked out between managers of the teams, so this doesn’t seem that abnormal to me that Jane would reach out.

    Yeeeah LW4 I would not mention reasons 2-4 when asking to shift days. Those will likely read as “I want more free time on Fridays”, which is not going to go over that well, and is true for pretty much anyone who would work on the office on Friday. Not wanting to have to be the person to do it isn’t really asking for more equitable treatment.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I don’t see how not wanting to be the one who always comes in on Fridays is not asking for more equitable treatment. They could rotate among teams, they could exempt everyone from coming in on Fridays (assuming this is not a coverage-based office), they could give everyone who works Fridays an hour early departure to make up for the commute. All sorts of things.

      Also, while I get why the weekend-based reasons wouldn’t sound great to some employers, I think we should de-normalize that. It’s just a butts-in-seats approach. People are entitled to breaks and rest and work-life balance. If people said this to me about Fridays, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

      1. Trotwood*

        It also seems like it’s just a fact that people use the majority of their vacation on Fridays and Mondays, and if the objective of having people in the office is to collaborate with the majority of the team, you’d be better served by having those days be Tuesday-Thursday. You’re just going to have a lot of people using time off on Fridays anyway.

      2. I have RBF*

        Thing is, Friday commutes are bad because is seems like everyone and their brother is trying to leave town early. So working from home on Friday means that you don’t add to that mess of a commute, and you can work a full day without worrying about the drive home! IMO, it’s a win for the environment to try to WFH on days when the commutes are worst.

      3. Nodramalama*

        But we don’t know if it’s JUST a buts in seats mentality. You’ve made an assumption that there is no valid reason why they need people in the office on a Friday

    2. umami*

      Same. The message was worded a bit aggressively, and the ‘Please tell me why you’re considering her’ when it’s only a round 1 interview is a bit out of line, but in general it is a common practice among colleagues to discuss whether you are considering hiring from a different department. I have a couple of entry-ish level positions that are great for training people up for other opportunities in my organization because there aren’t higher-level ones in my area, and I always encourage good employees to consider transferring after a couple of years. But poaching staff and disadvantaging other units is definitely something good managers should consider when hiring from other teams.

      1. Bang Pow*

        Poaching staff is not a real thing. We are not deer. We have agency in looking for positions. We stay or leave according to that agency, not bc a hunter carried us off.

        1. umami*

          And yet, I have specific instances where someone outside my division has approached a member of y team about a vacancy. My area is well known for hiring excellent professionals, and because I have more lower-level positions than mid-management/director level positions, there are more opportunities outside my area for those who want to advance. In each instance, the affected employee has let me know that they were told about an opportunity and wanted to pursue it, and of course I advocated for that. In 4 instances it meant losing stellar staff, but to better opportunities. It’s an odd assumption to think that because you haven’t been approached for an opportunity that it … is not a real thing.

          1. Pescadero*

            “And yet, I have specific instances where someone outside my division has approached a member of y team about a vacancy. ”

            Yes, and that is “recruiting” not “poaching”.

            Poaching requires a violation of rules, and is based on the idea that someone (the king, the state, etc.) owns the thing being poached.

    3. blerg*

      It’s also true that the Friday commute is just as difficult for everyone else as for OP. The reasons why working in office on Fridays aren’t really relevant since they apply to everyone. The issue is the undesirable shift only being worked by one person.

  7. LA Traffic sucks*

    LW #4 – i think it’s a reasonable conversation to have. There are probably a number of qualifiers to this, including who needs to be in the office and the commute of others. In my office we are supposed to have one or two people in our dept in each day. I live in the LA area and traffic can be a nightmare. My boss is pretty conscientious and asked me to go in on Fridays because I have a 5 mile, no freeway commute. The other manager drives in from 30
    miles away, which can mean two hours on a Friday after ooon. My commute remains 20 min or under regardless. I’m ok being the manager who goes in on Fridays. I have an especially aware boss. But not everyone is aware. So bringing it up is okay. In an area where traffic is bad it’s likely to be understood that it’s a traffic thing and not a slacking thing. So bringing it up seems okay to me.

    1. Youngin*

      I somewhat agree with you but if Friday is generally terrible for everyone then it doesn’t really make sense to bring it up. You situation is great, there seems to be a pretty obvious difference between commute times and it makes sense that you would be the one to come in on a Friday. But OPs situation doesn’t seem to have that obvious difference and it looks like everyone would be inconvenienced on a Friday.

      The set up that would make it most equitable would be to have a rotating schedule, everyone gets new in office days, lets say every Quarter. So that way if you are stuck with Friday, it wont be forever.

  8. Triplestep*

    LW#3: Office Designer here. Wait until they ask … chances are they won’t. Your standing desk does not match anything in the office, and office furniture matches for many reasons: It works together in a modular fashion, it is easy to get repaired, replaced or added to by the furniture vendor, it is easier to get installed by the installation team, it is all on the same warranty, it is stored an inventoried more easily … and oh yeah, it looks better.

    Random pieces of furniture are a pain in the neck. They need to be stored, and are often forgotten about. If they are not forgotten about, the designer (in a company that doesn’t give special request furniture has to play judge and jury to figure out whom to give it to without appearing to play favorites. In my opinion the only reason your company would want this back is to be petty, but they might be.

    1. cncx*

      I came here to say this. Depending on the office interior design, they might not want the furniture back at all. I kept my chair from the pandemic.

    2. Snow Globe*

      I agree they probably won’t want it back, but I’d also mention it and ask to be sure. I’d rather not have that hanging over my head, wondering if someone will remember a couple of months later and ask for it back.

    3. Some words*

      Or there are a few people in the office who have asked for a standing desk of their own and told “no”. In which case, getting the furniture back might desirable.

      My office moved to a new location and installed standing/sitting desks for everyone. Before then it was a HUGE deal for anyone to be approved for one. If a previously used one had become available there would have been a number of people asking if they could snag it.

      1. Roland Deschain*

        100%. It sounds like someone in the company went out of their way to purchase this item for the OP. It is selfish and irresponsible to not mention it when you leave when someone may be able to make use of it.

        1. thoughts*

          I agree. The head of the company made an exception and went to bat for you to get you the furniture. There’s a good chance they won’t want all the trouble of taking it back, but the classy thing to do is to offer them the option. (And you’ll sleep better, knowing you asked.)

        2. Triplestep*

          It is not “selfish and irresponsible”. Rethinking my original comment and seeing those of others, I now agree with those saying LW#3 should mention it for most of the reasons given. (I think I was coming at this from the perspective of someone whose job it would be to deal with this thing and would prefer not to.) But “selfish and irresponsible” is not on the list of reasons to mention it – that’s just histrionic and frankly mean. And as I explained in the top comment here, it is very unlikely this will be given to someone else to use.

        3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          I think “selfish and irresponsible” is overstating the case, but I agree you should mention it. That said, I’d mention it as neutrally as possible: “Hey, how do you want to deal with this furniture?”

          It gives them the option to just say, “oh keep it, we don’t want to deal with it.” If they say they want it back (and you want it) next step would be ask if you could buy it. If they don’t want to sell it or ask too much, then put your foot down on: “okay, let’s arrange a day and time for you to pick it up”.

          Once they realize the trouble and expense involved in *that* they may again drop back to you keeping it, or selling it to you for cheep. I’m firmly in the “don’t be dishonest, but give them every opportunity to let you keep the furniture” camp.

      2. Triplestep*

        You basically just gave examples for all the reasons I said they likely would NOT want it back.

        Furniture is typically handled by the Facilities Management department (or whatever it’s called at the company in question) and it’s overseen by the in-house designer if there is one. If there isn’t one, it’s delegated to a coordinator level person and in either case, dealing with unique pieces is a pain.

        Storing used non-standard furniture comes with it’s own set of problems. Storing standard furniture is problematic, but the way they all fit together when in use makes them easier to take apart, store, stack and inventory. Storage is costly. It might be costing money, or it might be costing space that could be used for something else.

        Lots of companies have invested in standing desks when that used to be a HUGE deal because the price as come down. But before that the people who want to snag something special are the people I was referring to when I said the person responsible for furniture needs to be judge and jury when deciding who gets it. (Or has to take it away from the snagger due to policy.)

        If someone got a unique heavy piece of furniture at home, I’d overlook it and not take it back. The only way I’d take it back is if it was the STANDARD desk for people who fight and get permission and I could use it for the next person who did that. But that does not seem to be the case for LW#3. I read this as a unique piece.

        1. LW3*

          Yep, it’s a unique piece! It would only work in an enclosed office, and most people have modular cubicles. There are many empty offices with desks already in them, too, so there’s lots of options for people who work in the office.
          If they don’t specifically mention the desk, I’ll ask how to proceed.

    4. LW3*

      LW3 here! The point about the standing desk not matching anything in the office is true. Most people sit in cubicles with modular desks, and the only folks with unique items are those with offices where modular desks are not possible. My own workspace at the office (I go in every so often) is a cubicle which already has a modular standing desk.
      At this point, we have more empty offices with unused desks in them than ever before, so there’s not a dearth of desk options should someone want a new one. There’s also talk of moving to a smaller office space soon-ish, with only modular options, so this desk would be useless unless someone else wants to haul it home for their home office (which, if that’s needed, I’d be more than happy to help coordinate the pickup and re-delivery).
      Regarding other comments, yes, the head of my company really went to bat for me in purchasing this desk, and I’m very grateful. Even if I resign and no one asks about the desk, I’ll still mention it and see what they say.

  9. The Rafters*

    #2, I work in an agency that has no restriction over when someone can transfer. The only time I’ve ever seen a manager try to prevent a transfer is when the person was good at their job and they didn’t want to lose them, or more frequently because the manager was a bully who loved to lord power over others. In my experience, the only times managers reach out before the employee has even been given an offer, screams that the manager is a bully. I’m not saying that is the case here, but it is something to think about. BTW – the bullies in my agency rarely win.

    1. Catabouda*

      This was my thought too. Her current supervisor is trying to sabotage the process.

    2. Snow Globe*

      I work for a company that does require the current manager to be informed before someone on their staff is interviewed, but I’ve never known that to prevent someone from transferring. (For myself, that’s usually been a help, my managers have been great about supporting my career path.) There have been a couple of times I know of where the current manager has requested that a transfer be delayed for a few weeks, if the timing could impact a critical project.

    3. allathian*

      Thankfully in my agency managers are evaluated on how they support their reports’ career development. This means that selfish managers who try to stop their reports transferring internally get dinged on it in their evaluations.

      I interviewed for another job three years ago and I was able to use my then-manager as a reference (I got on the shortlist but they chose another candidate). I would’ve been stuck if I hadn’t been able to do so, I’ve worked for my current employer for more than 15 years. My first manager knows nothing about my current professional skills (I’m a career switcher and I was a raw beginner when I worked for her), my second manager retired and we’re not in touch. My career experience from more than 15 years ago is utterly irrelevant to any jobs I might want now.

    4. teapot analyst*

      Yeah I will never forget the company for which I worked where I kept getting declined for internal roles with no explanation. I didn’t understand why until the manager who finally hired me into another team told me that my old manager had called her when I applied to say I was bad with details. My new manager told me that it made her wonder why, if I was so bad at my job, my old manager was so anxious to keep me.

      After that I made a rule – if I applied for three jobs internally and didn’t get any of them, I left the company because it meant either I was a bad fit or my manager was deliberately sabotaging me.

      1. umami*

        Yeah, that doesn’t make sense! I once had a colleague reach out about one of my direct reports who had applied for a job (my direct report had already told me she applied), we had talked about her looking for a higher level position), and I did share with her that while her experience didn’t seem to align with their needs, but she was a quick learner. The colleague ended up going with another candidate, and my direct report ended up with a position that better aligned with her skills and interests. I can’t imagine saying something negative about an employee; if you notice a deficiency, it’s your job to coach them!

  10. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I’m confused about Alison’s advice to talk to the applicant about the situation when OP interviews her. The candidate has withdrawn herself it sounds like?

    Should the OP tell the other supervisor this?

    I think the OP should tell the other supervisor she withdrew and should let the other supervisor know OP’s philosophy about transfers, employees who want to leave will leave anyway so letting them interview is a way to retain them and OP would have looped other supervisor in if the employee advanced to the next round. Assuming there are no company policies that say something different.

    1. umami*

      The whole thing is strange. It seems like the employee let her supervisor know about the interview ahead of time, so she didn’t do it behind her back. I’m leaning toward not responding, because I assume Susie already told her manager she withdrew, or just responding with ‘Susie has withdrawn’ and no more. I wouldn’t want to get in the middle of whatever Jane’s issue is.

  11. Chilipepper Attitude*

    #4 in office days: we all work in office bc we are client facing. But we don’t need all of us there for this. We could easily rotate so 2 people are in the office but we don’t. And to top it off, we hold most of our meeting via zoom though we all sit in our own offices just a few feet from each other!! I appreciate that for COVID reasons but it is so odd! Just wanted to add this story to the convo about scheduled days in office.

  12. I should really pick a name*

    Assuming that Fridays are generally undesirable, not just for your partner:

    They could suggest that no one comes in on Friday. Instead, there could be some weekdays where more than one sub team is in the office.

    1. umami*

      There’s no real way to say you don’t want to be the one coming in on Friday, because you are essentially saying you want someone else to have to do the undesirable thing. There’s really no other way for that to come across. Presumably, OP’s spouse is WFH on Mondays, so there’s a team who is going in on Monday that probably would rather not. Doing a rotation is probably a bit more problematic, because it’s generally harder on folks to have an inconsistent schedule. Maybe have the Mondays and Fridays be the only rotating days, and schedule teams on those days for at least a month at a time (i.e. Team Tuesday is always Tuesday and Wednesday, but every other month they swap with Team Monday. Team Thursday is always Wednesday and Thursday, but every other month they swap with Team Friday. IDK, something like that so it’s fair but also somewhat consistent and not overly complicated.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        Did you intend to reply to me?
        I suggested that no one come on-site on Fridays.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            I find it’s worst on mobile. While you’re swiping, it brings up the comment window, then when you try to add a new comment somewhere else, it shows up in the previous location.

  13. AlsoADHD*

    LW1, I think things like write ups are also less stressful when you feel like the employee should know they’re coming (unless it’s for a sudden big infraction they may not realize was caught but that kind of thing would be stressful to all involved, like if you have to deal with stealing or something big).

    Performance issues shouldn’t be secret judgements that suddenly become write ups. If you’ve had discussions about someone being late or turning in sloppy project work that has the same problem over and over or whatever, they know they missed the mark again, etc, they might be surprised anyway, but they *shouldn’t* be if you have expressed expectations, corrected, and they’ve not met the requirements. I feel like that can hopefully bring good managers piece of mind if they’ve been communicating expectations persistently.

  14. Anony Mass*

    For #2: I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem that the current manager reached out. As Alison says, you should talk to the current manager anyway if you’re thinking of making an offer. What I do think is a problem is how they worded the message. “Please tell me why you’re considering her”? That’s out of line. As a manager, I’d absolutely never say that under these circumstances. Sounds to me like Susie is trying to escape a bad boss situation.

    That said, you should consider political implications. Jane’s inappropriate comment indicates to me that she would hold a grudge.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      It’s phrased a little awkwardly but I don’t understand how that question is out of line.

      1. Bess*

        The overall tone is expressing displeasure at the employee being considered at all, and asks that particular question as if the LW doesn’t have a right to consider Susie (and that Susie doesn’t have a right to be considered).

        I empathize with the feeling of potentially losing someone so recently hired, but it’s the responsibility of the manager to keep that feeling in check and be professional in employee transitions.

        If I were to message someone about a situation like this I would be a lot more neutral in my phrasing and make it clear I wasn’t trying to torpedo the process for anyone involved.

      2. umami*

        The point is that while there can be a reading that is more generous toward Jane, a lot of other people can easily read it as being overly aggressive. Once you write something down, it is open to the reader’s interpretation because they cannot intuit your meaning behind the message. The OP doesn’t really owe Jane an explanation about why she is interviewing Susie, yet Jane’s message suggests OP is about to make Susie an offer and owes her an explanation as to why.

      3. Anony Mass*

        Because another manager isn’t entitled to information about how you’re evaluating your candidates.

        If she phrased it that way because she’s trying to express disbelief that you would consider her employee (because of lack of experience or, say, a performance issue), it’s not the appropriate way to express that sentiment.

  15. LW#1*

    LW#1 here! It’s funny that you’re comparing this to a teacher role, because that is the field I left for this one.
    Thank you for your insight. In this instance, I do still think of this particular situation as discipline, because this employee has been spoken to about their behavior towards others many times – snapping at people, getting inordinately angry at peers and clients in a public setting. I was also dreading this because this person does not react well to these situations – there is always a “reason” for the behavior, and their takeaway is often that this is someone else’s fault (“the other staff is tattling on me,” or “you’re looking for me to mess up”). It probably feels adversarial because this person makes it so.
    My goal is 100% to coach this person away from the behavior and give them the opportunity to share frustration with me in a private space rather than in front of and towards others.
    Coaching rest of the staff is never this challenging.
    Thanks again!

    1. Colette*

      Here’s the thing – you don’t get to discipline adults. That’s not a thing (outside of the court system). It doesn’t matter what they’re doing.

      You do, however, have the ability to lay out what you need from them and part ways if they can’t deliver it. But if you have to fire them, that’s not a punishment.

      If I hire someone to walk my dog every day from 1 – 1:30 because that’s the time I need her walked, and they repeatedly show up at 2, it’s not disciplining them to point out that wasn’t our agreement or find someone else who can work with my schedule.

    2. One HR Opinion*

      Not sure if this will help or not, but if things go south, one thing I remind our managers of is, “We don’t fire people; they fire themselves.” This isn’t true everywhere, but here we really try to understand what is going on and give people reasonable leeway. So if we get to the point of final warnings or termination, they’ve had every chance to redeem themselves.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, this.

        I’ve seen a lot of letters on this site where someone has a coworker who is pretty much just pure evil and wants to know what to do, but they don’t want to say anything to management because they don’t want to get them fired. But reporting someone for bad behavior is not what gets them fired; it’s the bad behavior itself.

        And also resign yourself to the fact that you may indeed have to let this person go. As a teacher, you are committed to educating every child that comes through your door, but as a manager, you don’t have that same commitment. There are times when it’s best for the tree as a whole to prune off a single branch.

    3. Aelfwynn*

      Those conversations are the WORST because you know they don’t react well to things and that’s the exact thing you’re talking to them about. So much harder than “you needed to produce 10 teapots but only produced 5.”

      How did the conversation go?

      1. LW#1*

        They argued and then acquiesced. We brainstormed ways to avoid the behavior going forward. I reiterated the positive aspects of their performance but reinforced that fact that poor behavior would not be tolerated. The goal is to see positive changes in behavior.

        1. Silver Robin*

          Not bad! Fingers crossed for you that you see the improvements you need from them

        2. I should really pick a name*

          Did you define what “not be tolerated” means?
          It can really be helpful to clearly state “X is what will happen if Y happens again”

    4. Sandi*

      When I read Alison’s reply I was thinking that it would be less relevant if someone really needed discipline.

      I have worked with difficult people who were hired for their technical skills but they ended up being big trouble because they couldn’t work effectively with others. Some of them stayed for a long time because their managers never addressed it directly. Many of them left when they were finally confronted about their bad behavior. Their reaction in the meetings, by the way, was to become very aggressive and defensive when the competent manager asked them to improve their quality of work. We assume that that aggression has worked in the past because most people want to avoid confrontation so their managers would back down and leave them alone. Thankfully I am seeing more managers who address problems directly and as soon as it became clear to the problem employees that they were being held to the same standard as their coworkers they suddenly found other opportunities or retired. It boggles my mind that they found it easier to move to a different job rather than be kind to coworkers and do a minimally good job, but it was the best resolution for everyone. I also have coworkers who do a good job and yet can be a bit difficult, and they tend to respond well to a manager who is clear about expectations and points out when they are unusually grumpy.

      I know it’s difficult, but remember that the employee is creating the confrontation and you are only responding to it. Most importantly, know that you are doing this hard work in order to retain the good employees who will otherwise leave if they have to work with someone stressful.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I still don’t think that situation calls for “discipline” (and continue to think that’s a concept that has no place when dealing with other adults). It calls for information-sharing — “I need to be really clear with you that if X continues, I will need to end your employment with us” or “if you do not do Y, the next step will be Z, and that’s the final step before firing” or so forth — but it’s not discipline. It’s letting them know “here’s what we need to change, here are the consequences if it doesn’t happen.”

        And if they respond to that with aggression, that becomes part of the conversation too — “the way you’re responding right now isn’t acceptable because of X, your options here are Y and Z.” Or if it’s severe enough, you just wrap things up and fire, which would be a natural consequence of severe aggression. All of this is about natural consequences, not discipline or punishment.

        1. doreen*

          I think some of this is due to varying definitions of “discipline” – it absolutely refers to punishment sometimes but that’s not the only meaning. When someone is called “self-disciplined” it doesn’t mean that the person is punishing themself.

          But I think some of it also has to do with issues specific to an employer. At my job , supervisors and managers would counsel employees – this is what happened and this is what I expect in the the future – and then write a memo documenting the conversation and any response by the employee. That’s it. Employees called this “being written up” and often referred to it as “discipline”. There was actually a separate disciplinary process – but that was because you couldn’t just “wrap things up and fire”. This particular job was in the public sector so the law prohibited that sort of firing but even private sector unionized jobs generally have to follow a disciplinary process. None of the private sector non-union jobs I had (or that my family members have had ) had any sort of disciplinary process , not unless you consider “if X happens again you will be fired” to be discipline

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “It boggles my mind that they found it easier to move to a different job rather than be kind to coworkers and do a minimally good job.”

        Sometimes people need coaching on soft skills the same way they need to be coached on presentation skills or how to use excel effectively. These are still situations I would approach from a coaching mindset. And if that hits a wall, outline expectations and let them know I’m available to help, but it needs to change one way or another. None of that is discipline, it’s communication.

      3. Colette*

        “It boggles my mind that they found it easier to move to a different job rather than be kind to coworkers and do a minimally good job”…

        I guarantee you they don’t see it that way. They’re thinking to themselves – and telling others something like “I’ve been doing this job for 20 years, and then they brought in a new manager who had it in for me”.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      You can push back at that by explaining that regardless of the reason, their behaviour has to change and THAT is the focus of the discussion, how to improve behaviour.

      1. Silver Robin*


        the rest of the coworkers might be horribly rude and annoying and whatever else, according to your report. But the issue is not whether being annoyed or frustrated is a valid/reasonable emotional response. The issue is maintaining professionalism. People are going to be annoying, can they handle it? You, LW 1, need to see them handling it, no matter how irritating Samantha from Llama Grooming is.

    6. Jackalope*

      It sounds like you’re on top of this bit, but I wanted to point it out anyway. This is one of those issues that Alison points out a lot – it’s easy to downgrade “soft skills” but they are just as important as – arguably more important than – “hard skills”. She has a lot of posts about how to talk with an employee who is being a jerk to the people around them (coworkers, clients, or both). Maybe read over some of those posts if you’re trying to get an idea of how to say this, and how to word the soft skills discussions.

      One comment that you can take or leave – I’m not sure that having the employee “share frustration with [you]” is the right goal here. It may be a better option than dumping their frustrations on coworkers and clients, and in some fields it’s reasonable to do that with your boss. But in most cases that’s going to be more of a role for a spouse or good friend; you don’t want to have them take the negativity they’re dumping on everyone else and make you the dumping ground instead.

    7. MassMatt*

      Hmm, that is likely to be a tough meeting. In my experience behavioral issues such as bad temper, poor attitude, etc are much harder to improve upon than technical knowledge or skills.

      It sounds like this employee deflects/shifts blame, so I would go in determined not to let that happen: “No, I want you to succeed in this role. No, we are not discussing someone “tattling”, your behavior there was unacceptable and they were right to call attention to it. Let’s get back to what you need to change”.

      It might help to think of your duty to manage not just this person who sounds… unpleasant, but the others on your team. They deserve to have a coworker that isn’t hostile, as do your customers. When you deal with a problem employee, it can help to think about the OTHER employees this person affects. This is something missed by managers that avoid dealing with problem employees.

      Honestly, it sounds as though this person is not a good fit for the job. Maybe he has other great skills but to me it sounds as though he’d need a LOT of behavioral changes to stay there. If the meeting goes poorly, I would explore replacing him if possible.

      Thanks for commenting, and I hope you will follow up, whether with good news or not!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep, it’s highly likely you need to fire this person, LW. The issues you describe aren’t ones you should give extended time to work on or have multiple conversations about. That might be why you’re dreading it — the conversations aren’t working but you keep trying them anyway. It’s time to escalate how you’re handling it and move toward letting them go.

    8. just a random teacher*

      This is one of those times when your teacher training may not be doing you any favors, unfortunately. Since we pretty much are stuck with our students for a year even when they are behaving in wildly inappropriate ways that create negative impacts for others, we all develop a bunch of skills about coaching and incentivizing behavior, trying to make it work with the kids we have since everyone needs an education, even that kid, and we don’t get to pick which students deserve to learn, and we just nee to make it through the year learning as much as possible.

      Jobs held by adults are not like that, and sometimes you have to transition from trying to find a way to “get through the year” with that person (who will otherwise be there much longer than a year…) to trying to get that person out of there entirely. This can be a big mental shift in terms of managing adults rather than a classroom. I’m, not saying that your person is definitely there yet, just that any holdover teacher instincts may not be doing you any favors here. If you don’t occasionally remove difficult people, your workplace will see others leave until it’s an “oops, all difficult people” situation because it’s much easier for people who abide by workplace norms to get new jobs where they don’t have to deal with jerks than it is for jerks to find a new place that will tolerate them.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, while I think it’s a positive to see managers want to work through things with employees, it’s also important to remember that you and your workplace have boundaries and limits. Coaching is important, but it’s not you or your company’s job to work with your employee on their anger management issues. Especially if they are creating a bad work environment for folks they work with in the meantime.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        There are aspects of teacher training that still work though, you just need to know which ones are more kid-oriented to leave out. The concept of reward/punishment has to go, but it’s pretty common to have an open and factual discussion about performance/soft skills like behaviour with a student, and to give them options linked to consequences that they then choose. Every behaviour training I attend seems to actually incline more towards this discursive model, and to actively discourage anything punitive, as time goes on. You’re right what you’re saying about being stuck with a badly behaving kid for a long time, but that’s simply because kids need a longer coaching period and gentler consequences than being rejected before they can have a chance to learn. With adults you can skip straight to setting them free if the job isn’t a good fit, if they’ve had the run down on what’s required to stay.

    9. Littorally*

      Hey LW1, this is all really good stuff to think through. I feel you 100% – pre-gaming difficult conversations in my head and imagining the worst versions of them is something I do very consistently, and while it’s sometimes helpful, it’s often maladaptive. (Apparently this can be a symptom of anxiety… who knew?)

      Something I’ve found helpful is to spend time writing down answers for myself for how I’m going to answer those difficult questions if they do come up. Like, just building out a script for “if he says A I’ll say B, if he says C I’ll say D” etc. Writing it down makes it feel more like, okay, that plan is in place and I can let it go, versus playing things over and over in my head. And then it is helpful, because if the conversation does go down those negative paths, I’m not completely flat-footed.

      In my current role, I’m not a direct people manager, but I discuss with people’s managers when their employees have done things wrong and talk over how to improve performance with both the manager and the employee, and approaching it from a very collaborative perspective is helpful. One of the things I focus on a lot is outcome and expectations — someone can have a perfectly fine reason for why they did what they did, but the outcome was still pretty bad and we need to avoid that outcome in the future. And, even if they said something that wasn’t technically wrong, if it led to incorrect expectations on the part of our client, then it was still functionally wrong. Some people are much more open to conversations when you validate how they felt about them before you go into why that still can’t happen again. “Your reasoning seems sound, but here’s how your action led to this undesirable outcome. So in the future, let’s remember that downstream it causes problems and adjust the approach accordingly. I’d recommend X, but you can adapt that for what works for you. Just bear in mind A, B, and C that it looks like you didn’t have in the forefront of your mind before.”

      1. Bang Pow*

        In the past when I have had to have these conversations, it always goes better than my imagination was creating ahead of time

        “Apparently this can be a symptom of anxiety… who knew?”

        Yep. Although, we should make a distinction between symptoms and behaviors and actual conditions. Just as every cough is not the flu, every catastrophizing thought is not an anxiety disorder.

        The LW asked for the right advice–how to prepare better to ease their mind. LW, engage less with the catastrophizing thoughts. They are just thoughts, and poor outcomes are just one possibility. It’s good to prepare for a poor outcome like defensiveness so you are not thrown if it happens, but give equal prep time to good outcomes. If you spend all your time preparing for and expecting the worst, you go in with that mindset. It colors your interaction and makes a bad outcome more likely. Prepare for any outcome, and go in with open expectations, neither good nor bad.

  16. Madame Arcati*

    In my agency, a lateral move (which it sounds like this is?) cannot be made until you have done 18 months in post. However if it is a promotion, that doesn’t apply – I guess because continuity is desirable but it shouldn’t be at the expense of someone’s career advancement (and pocket). So your manager can’t stop you applying for promotion. But equally – mostly they wouldn’t even if they could; so I think this might be a cultural difference. Here we don’t really have that concept of needing to hide that you want to move on lest you be mistreated or pushed out, and that applies internally too. It’s just not a thing; internally as well as for leaving the whole place. Your manager is supposed to support and help you with career development – mine has just given me advice on a promotion application that would take me to a different team and it wouldn’t occur to him not to. Similarly at appraisal time we discuss career development abs try to actively help staff we manage with internal moves that might help them.
    So Jane’s behaviour is weird to me – trying to stymie someone’s transfer by going to the prospective new manager would get you a grievance here.
    BUT culture differences aside and assuming OPs business allows for managers to object to their staff transferring, I feel it is wrong of her to go behind Susie’s back to try to torpedo her application. If she wants to speak to Susie to try to persuade her to stay, see if there us anything Susie is unhappy with that she Jane can fix, then that would be ok if she is nice about it and doesn’t put her under pressure/make her feel like if she isn’t successful and has to stay she’ll be punished for having the temerity.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. I work for a governmental agency in Finland and it wouldn’t be a thing here, either. I could use my current manager as a reference if I apply elsewhere, and have done so previously.

  17. Zzz*

    “Would they possibly want me to pay them to keep the items? (I can’t afford that.)”

    Do you mean that as in “I can’t afford the used fair market value of the items”, or as in “I can’t afford to buy a bar of chocolate, let alone heavily discounted furniture”?
    If you mean the latter, this won’t apply, but if it’s the former, consider thinking about what you would be willing/able to pay for the furniture anyway. That way if your company has a good offer, you know whether you want to accept. Some companies are very laissez-faire towards valuing such property and you might be surprised by how little they’re willing to accept. (I know someone who got their tablet that was €1000 new last year for €50, for example.)
    (And be prepared for the furniture to be an all-or-nothing deal; if they’re arranging pickup for one anyway, they may not see the benefit in leaving the other with you for a symbolic amount.)

    That’s assuming you’d like to keep the furniture, of course.

    1. LW3*

      LW3 here. I mean the latter – these furniture items are simply out of my budget’s reach at the moment, even heavily discounted. I’d be fine keeping the items but also fine having them picked up and taken away, depending on what my company says.

      1. Boolie*

        Honestly just hang onto it. Yeah it’s feasible that it’s for a disability accommodation but ultimately it was done as a favor to you as opposed to a legal/organizational obligation…consider it a gift. You must have known when you asked for it that it would be a financial, physical, and logistical hassle for them to take it back and you are probably going to use it in your next job. Pat yourself on the back for the finesse.

  18. thoughts*

    LW4: Fridays should be rotated. If people don’t want a rotating schedule, they can just do Friday all the time. In our office, we have to come in 4 days a week. The manager’s pets get every Friday off. The next set on the manager’s favorite list get every Monday off. This creates a huge amount of resentment, and is one of the reasons why we have high staff turnover. (Well, not so much the Friday issue itself, but the managerial favoritism underlying who gets every Friday off.)

    I agree with others who said you should only bring up the increased commute and maybe the fewer people around to pick up the slack. Everyone knows that Friday WFH probably results in a shorter workday than otherwise, but I wouldn’t bring up anything remotely touching on that concept as a justification for the request.

    1. I have RBF*

      So, every month we start a certain process on Friday evening. We all WFH. So, no, Friday WFH doesn’t resort in a shorter workday on those days.

      The thing about commuting on Fridays is that the evening commute in an urban area is worse than any other day of the week. Why? Two reasons: 1) The people who are taking weekend trips out of town are rushing to get out of town, and they may ordinarily not commute very far, and 2) The people who come in to town during the week, stay locally, then drive the longer drive home to where they actually live are also trying to get home on Fridays. These two factors can easily double anyone’s commute of Friday evening.

      It’s not that people want to knock off early on Friday by WFH, it’s that they want to be able to put in a full day without the double commute at the end.

  19. El l*

    OP5: You have the right phrase right in your note: “My situation has changed.”

    All you have to say is, “I didn’t apply for it because my circumstances at the time didn’t allow for a commute – but those circumstances have changed and I can do it. Is the position still open?”

  20. pookie87*

    LW 1-When I first started doing write ups I got nervous too. I started to remind myself that they aren’t confrontational and that helped my not be nervous about them anymore.

  21. kiki*

    LW #3 I would definitely bring up the furniture to your employer before you leave and ask what they plan to do about it, but don’t take ownership of getting the desk and chair back to them– assist and be flexible with dates and times they can be picked up, but definitely don’t offer to arrange movers or shipping or anything. I say that just because I’ve seen too many folks end up responsible for something like this and then a couple months into their new job they’re still trying to schedule a move date or get reimbursed for setting up movers.

    And before you say that you can’t afford the desk and chair to buy it off of them, it might be worth asking how much they’d want for it. Moving large equipment is expensive and unless they have another use for it, it might make just as much sense to sell it to you at a fraction of the value as to move it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were willing to let you keep it for free.

    1. LW3*

      Yes, do plan to bring it up if they don’t. I imagine they will not want to arrange for a pickup, as we’ve all been told to cut expenses and keep spending to the bare minimum. It doesn’t strike me as something they’d be especially eager to shell out a bunch of money for!

      1. Global Cat Herder*

        LW3: What I did was send a list of “this is the company-owned stuff I have – mobile phone, laptop, monitor, keyboard, desk, chair, big clunky printer, and half a ream of paper – since I’m in another state, please arrange pickup for the things you want returned”.

        I had to keep saying “you need to arrange pickup” before they got it. I can’t drop it off I’m in another state you need to arrange pickup. The finance system can’t pay employees who’ve left so I can’t ship it and claim reimbursement you need to arrange pickup. I’m not physically able to carry the printer let alone the desk & chair to the UPS store you need to arrange pickup.

        They finally sent an empty box via FedEx, I put the phone & laptop in it, and FedEx came to my house the next day to pick it up! Super easy! They didn’t want anything else back because the cost of picking it up was too high.

  22. BellyButton*

    #2 “HI Jane, Susie applied and I see that her almost completed degree is very inline with this role. I think that whenever an employee applies for an internal positing we should interview them. I will let you know how the interview goes. If I want to move forward, I would like to get your thoughts on her performance, career goals, and how a transition so early into her new role would effect both you and the team.”

    This is showing her the respect as a colleague, but also making it clear that ultimately this is your and Susie’s decision.

  23. Sneaky Squirrel*

    LW1: I feel this on a very personal level. I get such anxiety at giving ‘bad’ news to clients/staff members. It’s a very natural feeling and unfortunately the best way to overcome it is through experience.

    For the immediate situation, you can plan what you are going to say and anticipate questions and pushback. You may have heard of the situation-behavior-impact model, this model can help frame your thoughts. Make sure you stick with observed situations and facts and don’t make it personal. For me, it helps to write out my script. Also know that with bad news, people are often seeking a resolution; the resolution here is that the employee and employer can work together to come up with a plan to address these concerns.

    You nailed it on the head that this could be a stage fright issue too. If you get stage fright in other situations, a toastmasters class or conflict resolution classes might be a long term solution towards getting the practice you need to feel confident.

  24. BellyButton*

    LW1 – (with the added info from your comment above) in a situation like this you need to balance feedback- focusing on their past poor behavior, with coaching- which focuses on future behavior. Some tips on framing these two very different things.
    Coaching is inquiry-oriented. Feedback is scrutiny-oriented.
    Coaching stems from developmental needs. Feedback stems from judgmental needs.
    Coaching is about assisting employees reach their goals for the future. Feedback is about helping employees understand what prevents them from reaching their current goals.
    Coaching is more about helping employees grow. Feedback is more about helping employees not fail.

    One of the most effective approaches with coaching is to give the person the direct feedback — “I have witnessed your {insert poor behavior}” then ask them questions around this behavior
    “How do you think that {tone/attitude/insert whatever} is perceived by others?”
    “How does that type of response affect your relationships?”
    “how would you approach this differently in the future?”

    The answers to these questions helps you decide what they need- are they completely unself-aware? Do they know this is how they are perceived and how to impacts their relationships? Do they have the skills/knowledge to change this behavior? What do they need from you to being behaving differently?

    1. BellyButton*

      One more note– notice I didn’t ask them WHY they responded the way they did, because the WHY doesn’t matter. It is unacceptable behavior and this also steers them away from making excuses. If they do start to throw blame and make excuses- steer them back to how their response impacts relationships/perception.

  25. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    #1: Disciplinary action is only if the person did something flagrantly wrong: like violation of safety rules, fighting/harming others, sexual harassment, theft, etc. But then those would probably get them fired anyway and thus are punitive actions. Writing up for poor performance should be more feedback-oriented with solutions to improve. Many companies treat both the same though.

    1. Bang Pow*

      Even then, I would call that less a punishment and more a logical outcome of their choices.

  26. JustMe*

    LW 1 – I don’t write up employees in my job, but I work at a university and sometimes need to have VERY difficult conversations with students and professors (i.e. You must leave the university because of x; You violated your immigration status and must make immediate plans to leave the US, etc.). It’s not FUN to have those conversations, but this is how I prepare.

    1) I remind myself that it’s my professional obligation to let the person know when there is an issue and to discuss what can be done to remedy the situation. I tell myself that the person may be upset or angry, and that’s okay, but my goal is just to make sure that they understand what is happening and why and what their options are to solve the problem.
    2) I make sure I have all necessary documentation to back up what I’m saying. This could be email communications where the person was explicitly told not to do The Thing, regulations or policies that outline what the consequences are for doing The Thing (ideally with their signature), etc. I often don’t use them, but if the person I’m talking to says, “This isn’t fair because…” or “I was never told…” you can calmly show them the supporting documentation. (I’d stress the calm part of this. Recently, someone very testily said, “It would have been great if I had been warned about this!” and I just pulled out the timestamped email he’d received very lightly said, “Well, we sent you this.” He backed down right away.)
    3) I take notes during the in-person conversation and send the individual an email after the fact outlining everything we’ve discussed–this is to account for the fact that the individual may be feeling a lot of emotions and may forget some details, and also to ensure there is no misunderstanding about what is going on and what the expectations are going forward.

    Good luck!

  27. Bang Pow*

    Part of the problem is probably that you’re thinking of it as “discipline,”

    I can’t speak to LW’s work place, but at my last work place, write-ups were actually called “disciplinary actions,” and yeah, they were a form of discipline, no warnings or conversations first. That place was oddly infantilizing other ways, too.

  28. emmylouwho*

    LW4: Looking at this glass half full, many employers are requiring return to office either full-time or much more than 2 days/week. I personally wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and try to argue that there are some people getting more weekend time/easier time to travel by not working in office on Fridays – I think it would be viewed as if they’re saying that the people working from home aren’t working as hard on Fridays and they would like to as well. I personally would just be glad to not have to come in every day, which is what their company could be requiring anyways. And for the travel thing – is there a big difference between getting 3 days via Sat/Sun/Mon or Fri/Sat/Sun?

    1. I have RBF*

      Actually, in urban areas there is a major difference in the evening commute of Fridays. When I was in the office I used to mutter imprecations at the Friday evening traffic, because it could easily double my commute time.

      So yes, there is a “big difference between getting 3 days via Sat/Sun/Mon or Fri/Sat/Sun.” The having to commute on Friday actually is often a horrible waste of time, gasoline and exhaust fumes.

      I don’t miss Friday evening commute, or the Friday travel rush.

  29. K in Boston*

    re: LW#4, I recognize this is completely besides the main point, but just want to add my two cents to the reading commentariat that I actually used to love working in the office on Fridays, back when I had a hybrid schedule of three days WFH/two days in the office — I found that everyone and their mother either took it off or worked from home, so traffic wasn’t as bad (this is, as my username would have you believe, in Boston), and people tended to be a little checked out by Friday afternoon/were willing to give it the ol’ “it can wait until Monday,” so the likelihood of me having to stay late was lower than any other day of the week. It also helped that I had a lot of friends in the city, whereas I lived much farther outside of it, so it was easy to transition to Friday-night activities because I’d already be where they all were (back when we were all a bit more…youthful). People were always baffled that I would voluntarily take Friday as an in-office day, but it was precisely because so many people balked at it that it actually made it a real boon for me.

    Again — I know this is a completely different situation from LW4, so not apples to apples, but wanted to hype up going into the office on Fridays for those for whom it might be advantageous!

  30. That kids Mom*

    LW #2- Is there an unwritten protocol in your office that you contact a manager before interviewing one of her reports? We have that here in our office, but it is very casual and no one needs to sign off on a transfer. We have multiple offices in the US, and are lucky to have great communication almost across the board. Unless specified not to by the applicant, the hiring manager will speak to the current manager about needs for their department/office, how the employee is faring and any other insights. I don’t find Jane’s questions off-putting other than a little abrupt, which may be her communication style. I would also want to know why you were interested in Susie. If nothing else, to help her find more opportunities to develop and advance in her field if not hired by your department. The timeline question makes absolute sense for job posting and hiring a replacement if necessary.

  31. DJ*

    LW4 I agree with Alison and go the Friday’s have the worst commute for most so should be shared around. Does the whole team have to be in together on the 2nd day? If not then they could try calling for volunteers to go in on the Friday as their second day as some may prefer to get in this location on a Friday (for going onto Friday night activities, they are close to home so aren’t affected by the worser commute etc)

  32. Computer-Man*

    #5 – we offered a job to a guy who was super keen and he accepted… then pulled out for family emergency reasons.

    This wouldn’t have been so bad… if he also hadn’t done this to us half a year earlier…

  33. Raida*

    4. Asking for a different in-office schedule

    Something to keep in mind is: you’ve just listed out reasons nobody wants to be in the office, not reasons nobody *needs* to be in the office on Fridays.
    So asking to not in in-office Fridays, because it sucks and all these people not coming in on Fridays makes more work… Means he’d be asking to *be* one of the people creating more work, but expecting someone else to pick up the slack, as long as it’s not him.

    Best approach is to either frame it as a specific, personal reason reason he is extra-inconvenienced by Fridays (don’t lie), or to suggest that since it sucks, could Fridays rotate by team.

    Of course, not everyone actually wants a changing schedule, so asking to change other people’s work days can be hard.

    Perhaps, the suggestion could be more around to see *if* anyone would like to swap days, and then from the preferred days list create a new schedule.

    Also, is there flex time? Can he jump out of bed super early on Fridays and get into and out of the office with a better commute?

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