our top two execs are secretly mother and daughter, salary offer was lower than recruiter said, and more

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

1. Our top two execs are secretly mother and daughter

I work for a small marketing agency (about 14 people). Leadership consists of two people: the founder/CEO and a chief innovation officer (CIO). Every decision about the business is made jointly by the two of them.

Recently, the agency lost a large client and some employees were laid off. While talking with one of these employees, she shared with me that the CEO and the CIO are mother and daughter and that some people at the company know but others have no idea. I was definitely one who had no idea. We work remotely, so I’ve never seen the two of them together in person. They go to great lengths to avoid anything that might hint at a family relationship. For example, the CEO (mother) recently celebrated her mother’s 100th birthday with a large party and posted photos after the fact; the CIO (daughter) said nothing and was not in any of the photos. Neither of them talked about her attending what would have been her grandmother’s party. In a couple of weeks, another sibling in the family is getting married — the CEO is being very open about the wedding and all the prep, while the CIO has just quietly taken the same days off as her mother but has never said why or even that her sister is getting married.

(It was suggested to me that maybe this mother/daughter relationship isn’t true but some not super sophisticated internet sleuthing confirms that it is true.)

I guess I’m writing because I’m not sure how to feel about this situation. I don’t know that it’s exactly unethical. However, it seems wrong that only some people know and that if they were to go to the CEO with an issue about the CIO, they wouldn’t know they were talking to the CIO’s parent! When I brought this up to the person who shared the information with me, she said, “Oh, you can’t tell one of them anything like that. There are no secrets between them.” I guess they only keep secrets from their employees, not each other.

What is your take on this situation? Would there be any way to remedy the situation or are we just stuck living this lie?

That’s incredibly bizarre. Why wouldn’t they just be open about it? It’s fine to have a family business as long as everyone knows you’re employing family. It’s much weirder and more problematic when it’s hidden.

In your shoes, I’d just mention it to your coworkers so they know. Just because the leadership team is being covert about doesn’t obligate you to be (and it doesn’t sound like they’ve asked you to keep it quiet), so I’d look at it as protecting your colleagues from undermining themselves at work by unknowing complaining about the CIO to her mom. Don’t tell people in a gossipy/“here’s a big secret” way, but mention it matter-of-factly … which could be “I just learned this, was surprised I didn’t know, and thought it was something useful to be aware of” or even just “Jane and Kate have a family wedding they’ll be out for next week.”

One note: If your CEO isn’t the company owner, then it’s really sketchy if whoever is doesn’t know about this. I’m assuming that’s not the case, particularly in such a small company — and if it is, that wouldn’t be yours to remedy anyway — but that would take this beyond just “weird and problematic.”

2. The salary listed in the offer letter was lower than what the recruiter said

I wanted to ask a question about an experience I had applying to a job last year. I applied to a role and requested a specific salary (I want to say around $70k). The company emailed and asked if I wanted to be considered for a different position, and I said okay. In another email, the recruiter wrote, “We’d likely be in the low $60Ks as a starting point plus annual performance bonuses and raise reviews.” Not what I wanted, but okay, I’ll take it.

I go through the hiring process and I get an offer. The thing is, my offer letter says my salary will be $58k after a training period. Feeling blindsided, I express my concerns to the recruiter who says that “low 60s” included salary, benefits, and moving expenses (they give you $5k to relocate). Is this normal? Am I in the wrong for assuming “low 60s” would be my salary and not the entire package?

What on earth. It’s not normal — it’s weirdly deceptive and outside of any known norms for discussing pay in the U.S. When an employer says “We’d start you at X,” it does not mean “X minus benefits” and it definitely doesn’t mean “X minus benefits and moving expenses.” X in that sentence is understood as salary and salary only. I suspect your recruiter is well aware of that and was just looking for a way to explain away the discrepancy after the fact. It’s BS.

the salary I was offered was a bait and switch
can I include the value of my benefits when I talk about my current salary?

3. Should I hang a poster with a gun in my office?

I work as a lawyer for a state government agency. I have some blank wall space in my office, and was wondering if a framed movie poster which has a character holding a firearm would be problematic (I remember the “target shooting” question previously and didn’t want to cause a similar situation). Also, not sure if this matters, either, but think more “James Bond” or “film noir” style poster rather than “the Matrix” or something more modern/violent.

It would probably be fine … but I would still not do it. At some point someone with personal experience with gun violence is likely to end up in your office and why take even a small risk that it’s going to make someone uncomfortable going in to see you?

4. What to expect in a 30-minute interview

I’m really excited to say that I did a major overhaul of my resume and cover letter after poring through Ask a Manager, and I have two interviews with my current workplace scheduled that are a huge step forward for me!

When I checked the meeting time, I realized that both interviews are scheduled to be 30 minutes long. Is this normal for a first round of interviews? My field doesn’t normally have multiple rounds of interviews so this is a first for me! What could they possibly ask that would only take 30 minutes?

If they were external interviews, and especially if they were by phone or video, I’d say to expect mostly basic screening questions — stuff that probes into the key experiences and skills they’re looking for, as well as anything logistical (like if they need someone who can start by X date, they might check on that) since it doesn’t make sense to invest time in longer interviews without that kind of initial screening first. In addition, short initial screens are a chance to just get a basic sense of you, spot any obvious deal-breakers, and answer any initial questions you have.

However, since these are internal interviews, there’s a good chance that the meetings will be less of that and more to tell you more about the job and answer any immediate questions you have — but it could be either or it could be a mix of both.

Prepare for it just like you’d prepare for a longer interview, though, since it’s also possible it will just be a regular interview but shorter.

5. Should I mention the onboard person’s terrible writing to my new boss?

I am starting a new position in just a few days. It’s in the education sector, so there are a lot of tasks (like clearances and background checks) that needed to be completed well ahead of my start date. I’ve been working with the onboarding specialist to get these things done. Unfortunately, she’s been hard to communicate with. Her emails are riddled with typos, and are full of seemingly conflicting information. Some of them are just unorganized. For example, there was one with a paragraph of instructions (instead of bullets) that were in the wrong order! I need to read her emails multiple times to grasp what she’s trying to say, which is incredibly frustrating. I’ve had other people read these emails and they’ve agreed with me.

Her boss is the person who hired me, and I’m tempted to mention this to him. My concern is that I don’t want to come off as a complainer at the very start, especially as I will not need to interact with her regularly after next week. Is it worth mentioning? If so, how do I say this in a professional way?

Wait until you’ve been there longer. You haven’t even started yet so you don’t know what politics might be at play. Maybe it’ll turn out that your manager loves the onboarding person and can’t stand hearing any criticism about her and it won’t be worth bothering, or everyone is making allowances while she recovers from a TBI, or your manager’s writing is even worse, or who knows what. (Maybe they’re mother and daughter, à la letter #1!) It’s probably not going to be anything like that, but the point is that you don’t know because you don’t have the lay of the land yet, and it’s not so urgent that it must be brought up right now regardless.

Wait a few months and then decide whether it’s worth mentioning.

{ 494 comments… read them below }

  1. Reaganomics Lamborghini*

    LW3, I’ve worked as a government lawyer for over a decade and haven’t seen a single movie poster on anyone’s office wall, let alone one with a gun included. Ditch the poster and hang your diplomas like everyone else.

    1. Jade*

      Exactly. Hanging a poster with a gun, James Bond or not, would make me question a professional’s decision making.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      I’m not a government lawyer… if you want to brighten things up, maybe a nice nature photo or landscape, or a print of a classic painting. Or a cityscape of your city. I work in a government office and we have a few of those around.
      If you do the print of a painting, it should be something that’s not weird in any way. Like a nice Monet landscape instead of a Picasso. Or a Diego Rivera would be good.
      Before the art aficionados start, I’m thinking of paintings that would not be distracting to people who are not into art. :)

      1. Totally Minnie*

        And since LW is in government, they may even have an arts and culture department that would loan some paintings or photographs to the office. A lot of government agencies I’ve worked for have done that.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Agreed – I think art is a good way to go. Landscape/cityscape, reproduction of a non-controversial classical piece (no nudity or battle scenes… Hokusai’s wave or Millet’s Gleaners would be fine, but I’d avoid Liberty Leading the People). Other good options are photographs of nature or local history, an interesting map, or decorative abstract wall-hanging sculpture.

      3. TeaCoziesRUs*

        My immediate thought is Thomas Kincaide. Non-invasive, pretty landscape, and easy to rest eyes on and dream of a time in which phones aren’t ringing, clients aren’t maddening, judges aren’t circuitous, and decisions make sense. :)

    3. Root beer float*

      So glad someone said this. Movie posters are for dorm rooms and man caves, not the client-facing office of a professional in a conservative field!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, agree. We have an original Return of the Jedi poster from 1983 inside the door of our movie room/library (projector with up to a 100 in screen and a 7.1 surround sound system). My husband uses that room as his home office sometimes, and I guess the poster could be visible when he’s on camera unless he uses a background or blurs it. But he’s an engineer in a technical field, so I doubt the poster’d raise many eyebrows even if it could be seen. He’s also a buyer.

        1. Allonge*

          Also, expectations for a home office can and should be a bit different – not that it would be advisable to put up anything but a lot more personality should be ok than for the office.

          Plus, as you say, blurring is an option where in real life it so rarely is.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Depending on the kind of government lawyer, the OP may never have people in their office who aren’t coworkers. I’m also a government lawyer, and I would not be shocked if I saw one of my coworkers had a framed movie poster on their office wall, depending on the movie, because we do not see clients or any outsiders at my job. But it would be so easy to pick one that makes people uncomfortable that I just wouldn’t do it.

        1. Margaret Cavendish*

          Sure, but OP wasn’t asking if the poster would be considered tasteful. They were asking if it would be considered problematic, which is not the same thing.

          For another example, let’s say we were talking about religious artwork. Regardless of how tasteful it is, or how beautifully done, it would be problematic in a government office. The religious content would likely be a no-go, plus a lot of religious art from the Renaissance art includes nudity and violence. You can appreciate both the art and the subject matter all day long, but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for a publicly funded workplace.

          1. Eliot Waugh*

            The person I was responding to made a sweeping generalization about the use of movie posters AT ALL.

          2. Res123*

            but the comment being replied to said posters are good for dorms and man caves. which kinda implies that they are not appropriate decor even at people’s houses that other adults can see. which absolutely is a ridiculous statement.

        2. somehow*

          Agree; ridiculous. I know an elementary schoolteacher who has posters of several children’s movies, and she’s used them for introducing several subjects to her students, namely, reading and art. The kids love them.

            1. Margaret Cavendish*

              Exactly – context matters. If it didn’t, OP’s James Bond poster would be just fine in a kindergarten classroom, along with Pulp Fiction and Amateur Porn Star Killer.

              So *some* movie posters are appropriate for *some* workplaces, but it’s clearly not true that *all* movie posters are appropriate for *all* workplaces. It depends on the movie, and the poster, and the workplace. Which means that OP’s question should be interpreted as “is *this specific* poster appropriate for *this specific* workplace?”

              1. Eliot Waugh*

                You’re going on about context while failing to miss the specific context this person and I responded to.

                1. Margaret Cavendish*

                  You’re right, I did miss that. Although I posted both of my comments before you pointed it out, and my second comment was a response to an entirely different poster – I’m not making a point of arguing with you specifically.

                  I agree with you that “Movie posters are for dorm rooms and man caves” is a broad generalization that isn’t useful in this context. And I stand by my point that children’s movie posters in an elementary classroom are a very specific example that is also not useful in this context.

          1. Observer*

            What does this have to do with the question at hand? The OP is not a teacher, much less a *children’s* teacher. The OP is a lawyer in a *government office*. The environments are soooooo different that there simply is no point in trying to draw parallels.

            1. somehow*

              Commenter: Movie posters are for dorm rooms and man caves

              Another commenter: This is ridiculous. Movie posters can be just as tasteful as any other decor.

              Me: Agree; ridiculous. I know an elementary schoolteacher who has posters of several children’s movies, and she’s used them for introducing several subjects to her students, namely, reading and art. The kids love them.

              The problem here is…?

          2. Ace in the Hole*

            Context is very important!

            I work at a garbage dump. We often decorate work areas with interesting items found in the trash… ranging from antique road signs to scrap metal sculptures to a giant Styrofoam alien. That’s fine for us and sometimes even helps with public education on waste diversion. However I would not expect it to go over well at, say, a bank or a law office.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Hard disagree. Vintage, original movie posters can be highly valuable collector’s items depending on the poster artist and the film advertised.

        That said, I’d think twice before hanging one in a government lawyer’s office, because of any inadvertent — or completely intended — messaging that could be interpreted by others.

      1. Thank God (or something) I no longer work there*

        I’m thinking a few photos of the cats but, yeah, especially a waterfall in the area or that you’ve actually visited works better than a movie poster, gun or no gun!

    4. Lacey*

      Yeah, I don’t work in that sector, but a movie poster seemed like an odd choice for a lawyer’s office.

      Honestly, I’d find it slightly odd even in my own field (advertising/marketing) where people can be quite playful with their office décor.

      1. zuzu*

        I think a lot depends on the poster. If it’s a highly stylized art poster vs. photo poster, it will look a lot better.

        You can find a lot of really interesting takes on movie posters on Etsy, Society 6 and other sites; some of these are original art that will riff off iconic movies (I have a few pieces from The Film Artist that I got from Etsy; she also has her own site with more stuff). I also like looking up, say, Polish movie posters, which will often have different artwork, sometimes by local artists. So again, it’s a movie poster, but it’s a different take on the same film and not just the same old thing you saw at the theater. And of course, frames or some kind of hanging system beyond thumbtacks are a must.

    5. Baron*

      Agreed. I’m a paraprofessional working with lawyers, and I would find a movie poster…immature?…in this context. And due to recent gun violence affecting a loved one, I would be uncomfortable enough with the gun that it would throw me off my game and make me feel bad, but not uncomfortable enough to walk out or even say something to you.

      I don’t think this is such an obviously terrible idea that you should be judged for asking, but you did ask, and I would steer you in a different direction.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        I don’t think this is such an obviously terrible idea that you should be judged for asking, but you did ask, and I would steer you in a different direction.

        This is where I land as well. It’s not the worst idea in the world, but it’s not ideal – you should really aim for something more neutral. There’s a reason that hotel room art is the way it is!

    6. theletter*

      You can tell a lot about a person from their movie taste, and I’d think a government lawyer would like that information to remain a mystery in the office.

      Any art in the office space should be either motivational or calming. Lots of people appreciate lighthouses or interesting abstract art.

      1. MassMatt*

        It would be more office appropriate, of course, but I loathe motivational posters. There’s a fun site that makes satirical DEmotivational posters that’s been in business a surprisingly long time. The visuals are typical but the tag lines are things such as “Meetings: Because none of us is as dumb as all of us”.

        1. Verthandi*

          With you on the motivational platitudes. I loathe them, and the posters on the Demotivators site never fails to make me smile.

          1. AnonORama*

            Ha, I love despair.com and although a poster would be over-the-top in my office, I do have the “meetings” one as a mug. I did admire whoever put up a Demotivators poster over the front desk at a previous job, without management ever noticing. It was the one of a salmon jumping out of whitewater with a huge bear waiting above and said something like “A journey of a thousand miles…sometimes ends badly.” LOL!

            1. JustaTech*

              My husband had that one in college (because even in college he could see that some meetings really are useless).
              I am *very* tempted to get it for my boss (who apparently just discovered the site last week) but something tells me it shouldn’t be hung up at work!

        2. Not Your Sweetheart*

          Thank you for introducing me to this company! “Motivational products don’t work. But our Demotivator (r) products don’t work even better.” I love them already!

      2. TeaCoziesRUs*

        In my former government office we had a LOT of de-motivational posters around. But we were / are cynical idiots…

    7. Miette*

      The fact it’s a movie poster would make me pause anyway, though I doubt I’d clock the gun immediately. Such a thing would stand out as unprofessional to me in this context–better to stick with workplace appropriate (read: boring) imagery or personal photos/diplomas like so many other government folks.

      1. Billy Preston*

        Wow, I’m surprised that so many people would see a movie poster as unprofessional. If I saw a movie poster (especially a vintage one with great design) I’d want to talk to this person more. But I’m a movie fan and love good poster design. One where the focal point is someone pointing a gun at you? Not cool. But some of these ideas are good: nature or a cityscape of your city/a favorite place would be my choices.

        1. Antilles*

          Seems a bit odd to me too. Maybe it’s just different industries, but I wouldn’t think much more about seeing a movie poster any more than I do at seeing a framed photo of the sports team winning the title or a bobblehead of the mascot on your desk; those latter things are so common enough that it’s basically background noise.

        2. Yoyoyo*

          For me, movie posters read more dorm room than professional decor. It’s probably a BS opinion, but I don’t think I’m the only one whose mind goes there.

        3. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Yeah, I mean, are we talking a Saul Bass poster, like for Exodus, which includes a stylized rifle? Or maybe a classic film noir from the 1930s or ’40s with their 1930s and ’40s aesthetic? Lotsa pistols and unsavory characters on those posters. But I think it would be hard to argue that something along these lines would be wholly inappropriate or even notable … other than perhaps, “Wow, how much is the taxpayer paying a government lawyer if they can afford to hang an original 1941 Maltese Falcon movie poster for their office?”

          First Blood (Rambo), on the other hand, might be communicating an unwelcome message.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            The Saul Bass Anatomy of a Murder poster is iconic. I could see it used in a DAs office… No gun in it, just a form of a body. Spike Lee used the idea for Clockers.

            Vertigo poster again by Saul Bass in a psychiatrist’s office who deals in phobias… (too on the nose? Triggering to clients?)

            Saul Bass did a lot of posters, very distinctive style, very cool. The one for Rear Window is pretty cool with the binoculars on the city but that might be a “tribute” one. A lot of people use him for inspiration (for better or worse.)

            It sort of pigeon holes someone though but it does give people something to talk about….

        4. MigraineMonth*

          I think there are lots of things that would be interesting and make me want to talk to someone that would still detract from a professional reputation. I’d want to talk to a man who hung life-sized photos of his six cats in his cubicle, but it still risks becoming The Thing he is known for (as opposed to his work).

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I would keep asking him when it’s bring your cat to work day. Because I would want to get to know his cats. And yes, it would be the Thing he is known for.

            1. Military Wife*

              My husband’s secretary has made Friday bring her kitten to work day. Luckily, hubby is a cat lover! I keep hoping other days of the week become bring your cat day.

              And before the dog lovers get offended, there is a lovely mutt who comes in pretty frequently so the people who can’t have animals in their living spaces still can snuggle and love on the pet of their choice.

        5. Donkey Hotey*

          It’s context. In the Navy, working anti-submarine warfare, a copy of Hunt for Red October is fine. In a law office? Even if it were something like 12 angry men or to kill a mockingbird, I’d question it.

        6. I Have RBF*

          In tech, if you are lucky enough to get a cube instead of just a bare desk, movie posters are par for the course. SF&F or Action/Adventure are the most common themes.

          But in a lawyer’s office? Unless they were in IP/patent law I would see it as odd. People want to see lawyers as stodgy, true blue professionals. They’re not, but that is the public image invoked.

        7. Jim Dandy*

          It’s the context of him being a government lawyer that makes it not a good choice. Agreed it would be just fine in many, many workplaces. But the MIB quote “We at the FBI do not have sense of humor we are aware of” is accurate and applies to many/most government agencies.

          OP, do what the rest of us government drones do: Go to Homegoods and find something tasteful on clearance.

        8. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I think to me they read as “quirky”, and not everyone has the desire or standing to be known as “Movie Poster Guy/Gal”. There’s someone in my organization whose office is literally chock full of Star Wars memorabilia, and they’re in a highly visible role where literally every new hire has to visit their office, but they have both the tenure and personality to overcome being “Star Wars Guy”.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            And field matters, too. Lawyers don’t typically want to be known for their hobbies or humor more than their expertise and gravitas, which a movie poster detracts from.

          2. Military Wife*

            Hubby is The Venture Brothers guy. He even has a picture of David Bowie from the series, stickers on his water bottle, etc.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I put a movie poster in my cube when I started my job. It was a really big space with across from a window, so I decked it out. It was not a “big deal” employee handbook-wise. It just set a tone for me, Not Tom is skews young and less professional, Not Tom is “the oh, you really like movies” one dimensional person.
        I am less professional because I didn’t realize this till my department moved into tiny crap spaces on different floor and I met new people who didn’t have an instant impression from me.
        We moved again. Got a big cube again. Personalized it. Again understanding that I don’t care.
        I have no interest in moving up. I love my work and my level of responsibility.
        You are a manager. Don’t do it.

        1. Verthandi*

          Before most of us went remote, most of my coworkers and I turned our cubes into homes away from home. Personalities shone through, and the cube farm was like a neighborhood. Only a few people had bare, bland workstations, and some of us (including me) went all out. The knickknacks I got as gifts migrated to the office, as I had nowhere to put them at home. I ended up with dragons, potato heads, legos, spaceships, and cat pictures. Going fully remote meant trying to find somewhere to put everything.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            Oh, on this point…
            I have a note in my personnel file stating that if I, Not Tom, am unable to return to work for any reason, (dead, fired, won the lottery, abducted by aliens to rule as their benevolent monarch) please dispose of all personal crap err umm, items currently in/on/under my workstation. Give it to my colleagues or throw it away.
            Please do not box and ship anything to my house.
            Seriously, I don’t need the extra phone charger, a cup of spare change or sheet of 20 Scooby Doo stamps if it means I have unpack a box of knickknacks, plushies and novelty pens to find them.
            I can do that at home, already.

      3. Elsewhere1010*

        I was present during a workplace shooting that occurred 28 years ago in which 12 people were killed. You never know who in your workplace will have undergone a similar experience, or what effect the represention of a firearm in an office decoration might have.

    8. Hurricane Wakeen*

      I’m a government lawyer. My wall in the office has a poster of our state legislature’s names & faces, and a map of districts in the state relevant to my work. I do opt for art-style calendars (eg Frida Kahlo, Mucha) to add a little office-appropriate personality to the wall. The guy next to me gets a calendar with generic Labrador puppies every year. (He did make himself a fancy poster of the Red Dead Redemption map to see if anyone pays attention to what it actually shows — they don’t.) For whatever reason my office doesn’t even bother with diplomas.

      When I have meetings and I’m WFH I use virtual backgrounds specifically to cover up a Pulp Fiction poster on the wall behind me.

      1. Hurricane Wakeen*

        Ooh, I almost forgot. My boss at my first government job – state AG’s office – had a literal shotgun framed on the wall behind his desk. So YMMV.

      2. Jim Dandy*

        Oooh, time for my “cool story bro” since I missed Mortification Week and I’m not sure if this rises to that level or not. But a few jobs ago, I wanted a wall calendar for my cube. I was going to order one but one day someone was handing out free wall calendars outside my Metro stop. I was like, oooh, free calendar and hung it up. It was up there for months before I noticed it was a promotional calendar for a very aggressive religious group that is known for hanging out outside of train stations and on street corners.

        I wonder how many of my coworkers noticed and what it said about me!

    9. JustMe*

      My wife works with government lawyers. It’s pretty standard to have an extensive “I Love Me” wall…diplomas, awards, certificates…all framed to show how great you are.

      1. PGY-whatever*

        I have never thought of that sort of spread as braggadocio, more like ‘here are my qualifications for the job.’

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yeah, they’re probably just used to doing it because in private practive, at least in my state, you are required to put those qualifications up so that clients can see them. It is not bragging.

          As a government lawyer, I don’t have to display mine, But the reason I don’t is because I’m lazy and could never get around to bringing them up to the office (they’re heavy).

      2. Temperance*

        It’s actually incredibly common for attorneys and doctors to show their qualifications. It’s not “i love me”.

        1. umami*

          It’s just a term for what that display is called! I have my own ‘I love me’ wall with my diplomas, awards, certificates, etc. That stuff has to go somewhere!

          1. Verthandi*

            Back when I was in IT, my team and I shared a room. I started the Wall of Fame. Whenever one of us earned a certification, we made a copy of the certificate and taped it to the wall. Eventually that wall got papered.

        1. Pulpish Fiction*

          It’s the “I went to Hahvahd” wall, nothing more, nothing less, unless you went to Stanford or (Goddess forbid) Yale.

      3. SnappinTerrapin*

        It’s fairly common in government jobs to post qualifications, commendations, etc. I’ve heard it referred to (and have used the phrase myself) as the “I Love Me” wall.

      4. Princess Sparklepony*

        I once went to a fellow students home and he had a They Really Really Love Me Wall. A large wall filled with framed certificates for completing anything. I swear if I looked long enough I would find one for completing traffic court. He had school diplomas from elementary school to college. Certificates of finishing courses in word processing, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. Seriously, there were like 50 framed certificates/diplomas on that wall. It was kind of insane.

    10. Sarah*

      I’m a government lawyer and the lawyer in the adjoining office has a framed Reservoir Dogs poster hanging in his office. We handle appeals, though, and rarely need to meet with anyone in our offices.

    11. She of Many Hats*

      Unless you work for a gun shop, artwork or replicas of guns does not belong in a workplace and definitely not in a government office. There are too many political connotations, too much gun violence in the real world & brought into the workplace, and too many survivors of gun violence for there to be any need to bring reminders of it into the workplace. As others have said, display another piece of art that brings you enjoyment – such as that great photo you got on your last vacation. You may also want to check with your facilities person in case there are guidelines on artwork used in the office.

    12. ZugTheMegasaurus*

      When my dad worked in legal, he had a 3 Stooges poster on his wall that was perfect: it was a photo where they had a nameplate saying “Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe – Attorneys at Law.”

    13. Killer tomatoes*

      I don’t disagree, but as an aside, I do remember someone (though not a lawyer) very, very high up in the federal agency I once worked at that had a 70’s b-movie poster in the office space (can’t remember the connection but it was apparently loaned from the agency’s art collection) … didn’t seem strange at the time, but it was my first job!

  2. throwaway*

    the gun poster dilemma reminds me of an early internship i had an a prominent, progressive art museum in a major city. the security director, a very nice older man and ex military if i remember correctly, had up in his office what appeared to be one of those large paper targets you put up at a gun range, framed. printed on it was a caricature of a middle eastern terrorist complete with keffiye sort of clothing item. it was one of the most bizarre thing i’ve ever seen in a workplace, and as far as i’m aware it was never discussed or brought up. i’ve been to a gun range so i know they have those sort of, let’s say, glib designs for paper targets, but i was properly shocked that someone would have it in an office

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Yikes, that would really bother me on multiple levels. I see a target thing as different from a poster, as it seems more “real world” and the specifics would make me think “racism”. Having grown up in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s, the idea of stereotyping a nationality or ethnicity as terrorists would make me extremely uncomfortable (I would hope I’d be uncomfortable with it even if I hadn’t grown up in a country that stereotype was directed at). I honestly don’t think I’d feel comfortable working with a person who would have that. I would very much read it as them hating people from the middle east and assuming them to be terrorists and I would probably also read the person as one of those excessively macho types who boasts about how they’d kill anybody who crossed them.

    2. Princess Sparklepony*

      Just curious, was it his best shooting ever or just a target? Was he touting his excellent marksmanship or something else, or both…?

  3. LinZella*

    OP # 3: No. Just don’t. Images of guns (even the type you’re describing) are simply not appropriate for an office.
    You may think it’s an innocuous photo, but it’s still a gun. Guns are made and used for shooting.
    Undoubtedly there will be many people (more than not) who would come in your office and see it and be very uncomfortable, to say the least.
    Use it at home instead.

    1. LinZella*

      To add to my comment – if I saw someone displaying a photo/poster of a gun in their office, I’d turn around and walk out.

      1. Heather*

        it’s not a poster of a gun though, it’s a movie poster. would you walk out of the movie theater if you saw a cutout of James Bond?

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Not comparable. Work isn’t a movie theater.

          One place it can be reasonably expected and serves the purpose of advertising the goods.

          The other it serves no purpose other than an employees desire to have it there.

        2. Observer*

          would you walk out of the movie theater if you saw a cutout of James Bond?

          People *choose* to go to James Bond movies. Or not. If you are going to movies that are similar to James Bond, then you can’t really complaint too hard if that theater also runs James Bond movies, and puts up posters. But you also don’t have to be there, and neither your job or other necessity requires you to be there. And Movie theaters don’t really have a requirement to welcoming to all, as long as they are accessible on a non-discriminatory basis (and, if they are sensible, to anyone who enjoys what they sell.) If you don’t like what they are selling, don’t show up.

          Government offices and workplaces are a different beast. People go to work because the *need* to, by and large. And government offices have an additional obligation to be open and welcoming to all people, regardless of their tastes and the things they enjoy.

          it’s not a poster of a gun though, it’s a movie poster

          So? It’s a movie poster featuring a gun – and anyone who knows anything about these movies, knows that they are not just props but heavily used in these movies (generally with lots of gore.)

      2. L-squared*

        Seems a little excessive.

        I’m not gun nut or anything, but I can’t imagine a picture of James Bond eliciting that type of reaction

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Would you really have this reaction to something like a James Bond movie poster? Like, I’m not saying they should have the poster, but I find it a bit extreme to act like they’re putting up a picture of literally just a gun. And to refuse to be in an office with a movie poster?

      1. Lilo*

        I am a government lawyer and it’s extremely outside of the norm to have a movie poster up at all, so I’d almost wonder if this is more deliberate. Particularly if a colleague both did something outside of the norm like that and then specifically called my attention to the firearm aspect.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Where do you assume the OP would specifically call your attention to it in person? You can’t extrapolate that from them asking about it in an advice column. If it’s anything like most posters or prints people have on the wall, it’s put up and never discussed unless a newcomer asks, and then usually not in detail.

          The only conversation I’ve had with anyone at work about the standard wall decor is the one print that’s gone askew inside its frame, and the discussion was whether it could be realigned without taking the whole thing apart (probably not).

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I didn’t understand how that is supposed to dilute the image of a gun at all though! If you find the image of a gun to be upsetting, or to be in poor taste, you aren’t going to care that James Bond or a noir actor is hovering around too. Then, the comparison with the Matrix is an extra head scratcher. Something being used in a modern or non vintage context doesn’t make it more or less of a gun; if anything James Bond films have a pretty high kill rate and the posters tend to feature blood and target-range style art. I get that the context is supposed to say ‘this isn’t real’, but I think that’s dismissive of different people’s experiences, especially if they see it somewhere unexpected; OP is right to listen to their instincts here.

        1. birch*

          This. Also there are things about those examples that would make me second-guess, too. The James Bond films are infamously misogynist, racist, etc. and the whole franchise is literally about assassins. I’d wonder if this person thinks guns are cool but also how they feel about anyone who isn’t a straight white man. The fact that the film style is “vintage” doesn’t make any of that better! Of course we all have problematic faves, but that’s a nuanced conversation for close friends, not something to put forward at work.

          1. Teach*

            Great point — OP, you need to think not only about the gun, which is bad, but also what the character of the protagonist says about you. If it were James Bond, for example, your boss, clients, and other visitors might think, “Does this person believe they’re a maverick who gets to make their own rules? Are they a sexist alcoholic with no regard for human life?” Of course, other movies have different moralities, but a protagonist who holds a gun on the poster is probably going to display at least some traits that are less than ideal for an employee/coworker.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              While I think it’s bizarre for someone to suggest that having a movie character on their wall means they agree with or share all that fictional character’s vices, I do hope OP3 reads these comments and sees there are people out there who will make that leap.

              1. Tedious Cat*

                I don’t think it’s a leap at all to see a man proudly displaying a Bond poster at work and think “well, this one’s probably not comfortable working with women.”

                1. Eliot Waugh*

                  For one thing, again, Bond was just used as an example.

                  For another, maybe a person just really likes Daniel Craig.

                2. ThatGirl*

                  On the one hand, I agree that Bond posters are generally not a good idea for a public-facing workspace.

                  On the other hand, I know several men who are Bond movie buffs – across the decades – and they’re absolutely not misogynists. They’re just movie buffs, who recognize both the place in pop culture they hold and the intensely problematic aspects of the franchise.

                3. Tedious Cat*

                  Daniel Craig also thinks Bond is a misogynist bully. Actual Craig fans are far more likely to have a nice Knives Out poster.

                4. Parakeet*

                  Did LW3 specify somewhere that they were a man?

                  I think it’s a leap regardless of the LW’s gender. A lot of people like Bond movies without thinking Bond is someone to emulate.

                  Bond is a red herring anyway, as that was just an example of the style of movie and movie poster we’re talking about.

                5. Pulpish Fiction*

                  Put up a LAYER CAKE poster, if anyone questions it you can say you just really like lemon chiffon.

                6. Lenora Rose*

                  I’m midling, on the one hand, it’s not the biggest leap, on the other, it’s not a given truth, since I’ve known feminist women who like James Bond.

                  On another axis, I’m finding myself deeply wary of most people who still have serious Harry Potter memorabilia around, on the other, one of the people who still does in my personal life is themselves non-Binary and the opposite of transphobic. I don’t take the presence of the memorabilia itself as evidence even when it means I am perhaps more cautious in getting close.

              2. birch*

                It’s not about assuming the person shares all of the fictional character’s vices, it’s about putting that question into people’s minds when it doesn’t need to be there at all. How much we should consider the author’s own values when considering the art is a huge and complicated debate, and that applies to showing fandom as well. Not everyone is aware of these conversations around specific pieces of art, and as I said, each person’s decisions about how to interact with it have a lot of nuance. The problem is, making a public-facing proclamation of fandom by using something as decor doesn’t allow for any of that nuance. With the James Bond example, the worst case is that the person with the poster is a womanizing gun enthusiast with a cowboy complex. Probably that’s not the case, but many people can’t take that risk. Of course it’s possible that someone with a boringly decorated office could be a bigot as well, but if OP isn’t, then there’s no reason to put that question in people’s minds, and anyone in that position who is publicly appearing as part of a fandom needs to be aware of how it can be perceived–that’s about having good professional judgment.

              3. Allonge*

                Eh, as you say, the risk is too great for something that should be very very optional even if it’s a person’s favorite movie.

                But especially because it’s very optional, and there are millions of movie posters to choose from (not to mention other posters), the thought will come up sooner. If someone tells me they like James Bond movies, it’s whatever, if they put up a poster of one in an otherwise conservatively decorated office, that’s a bigger target. So to speak.

              4. MigraineMonth*

                I don’t know that I’d be that concerned about a film-noir poster, but I would feel very uncomfortable talking with someone with an American Psycho or Clockwork Orange poster proudly displayed in their office.

              5. Observer*

                While I think it’s bizarre for someone to suggest that having a movie character on their wall means they agree with or share all that fictional character’s vices

                It’s also possible that person with the poster is ok with it, which could be a problem. But that’s not event the whole issue.

                More fundamentally is that if a gun reads as violent, so will James Bond. Maybe even more so. And that’s going to be true no matter who the protagonist is. If it’s an image of someone holding a gun, especially in a shooting stance, it’s going to read as violent. If it’s being held by a recognizable character who did a lot of shooting or killing (even for “noble” causes in “proper” ways), it’s *still* going to read as violent, possibly more so than just a gun itself.

              6. Teach*

                “Bizarre” is a bit harsh. In an office where nobody else puts up this kind of decoration at all, and someone has chosen to use it to represent themselves? You don’t think it’s likely to associate that person with the values of the movie?

              7. Pulpish Fiction*

                While I think it’s bizarre for someone to suggest that having a movie character on their wall means they agree with or share all that fictional character’s vices, I do hope OP3 reads these comments and sees there are people out there who will make that leap.

                This is the thinking that gives us bland corporate-speak and least-common-denominator products. Fortunately, companies like Apple ignored it. The above poster lives in a Microsoft world.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              MI5 has been open that James Bond does not have the emotional intelligence to hack it as a spy.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                It’s also very much not how spies work. I can’t see Bond successfully cultivating local assets for longer than a one-night stand.

              2. kayakwriter*

                I have a (now long retired) relative who worked for MI6 as an intelligence officer. Multilingual? Check. Posted to exotic locations? Check. Armed with various firearms and gadgets? No. Licensed to kill? No. Bedding everything in a skirt that wandered into his orbit? Not on his wife!

        2. Calanthea*

          I think this is a really good illustration of why LW 3 should not hang that poster up!
          For most people, its would be a “huh, unusual” response, potentially for _any_ movie poster, and maybe give the impression the poster-owner was not as wholly professional as they might be. Not a problem in some offices!
          And then for a small group of people, it would set off quite a strong response, as you describe Ellis, and then those people have to do the work of surpressing that reaction to have a “normal” response in a professional setting. Most people don’t want to give their colleagues that kind of extra work, and those who do are probably not nice people.
          (There was a british MP who used to keep his tarantula at work, deliberately to creep people out. He was by all accounts a horrible person and has been investigated for bullying. You don’t want people to think you _might_ be that kind of person!)

        3. Monkey Princess*

          If it’s a vintage Bond poster, there’s likely a scantily clad actress somewhere on there in a sexually suggestive pose. It’s telling that the LW is more worried about the gun than about how that would come off. If I walk into a lawyer’s office and the first thing I see is Ursula Andress in a bikini, I’m gonna form some not-great opinions about the lawyer’s understanding of professional norms.

          1. Shiara*

            In the absence of knowing the exact poster, this seems uncharitable to the LW. LW is clearly using James Bond as a standin, and even if it actually is James Bond, there are posters with guns and no scantily clad ladies.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, I interpreted the reference to James Bond to be more an indication of the style of the poster – just the hero of the film posing with a gun, not pointing it in a threatening manner or a scene from a war film with bodies all around or anything gruesome. I wouldn’t necessarily assume it meant that the poster also included stuff like scantily-clad women.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Bechdel had a comic about the position of the gun in so many of those posters.

                (OP, I hope the various speculations as to design and possible meanings here are convincing you to go with a nice photograph of a waterfall. Art carries symbolism, and it’s easy for people to not even register details that read as mundane and unremarkable to them, and notable and offputting to someone else. So it’s good you asked! And the answer is to go more North by Northwest, or a pleasant landscape. I like film noir, but there are places that are weird to encounter it and your office might be one.)

            2. Ahnon4Thisss*


              There is some massive leaping going on in these comments that is extremely uncharitable to the LW.

              LW3 did not say it WAS a Bond poster, they used it as an example to give the idea that it was an action movie type poster with the main character holding a gun so that we knew the gun wasn’t the main focus of the poster.

          2. Celeste*

            It’s not “telling” because there is absolutely no indication that there are any scantily clad women involved. This is a big leap.

        4. Totally Minnie*

          Let’s add to this that for a lot of people, going to a lawyer’s office means they’re already in a pretty bad situation. What you don’t want to do in that case is remind them of other bad things that have happened to them.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Right, if the only reason people enter your office is so that you can give them a bag of money and a heartfelt compliment, that’s a different emotional space.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            That’s heavily dependent on the type of lawyer, I would think. A government lawyer who reviews contracts will rarely see people at their lowest.

      3. DataSci*

        I work for a company that, among other things, makes movies. Most of us are open-plan, but I’ve never seen a poster with a gun in the hallways or conference rooms or offices. So even in a situation where movie posters in general are acceptable, depictions of guns are not.

        1. Velma*

          +1. The only way I (might) find this acceptable is if the OP had something professional to do with producing the movie–negotiating contracts, music IP, or the like. Then it become a fun story–but even so, I’d choose a poster without the gun.

      4. Julia*

        I recently had this question when I was creating a film noir display in my public library. Many famous stills from the movies have guns in them. I ended up deciding to not have guns on the poster. There are plenty of images that were visually interesting and don’t have guns in them. The library is a weapon free zone and I decided it was reasonable for that to include marketing materials.

        I would look for a stylish vintage movie poster without visible weapons.

      5. Observer*

        Would you really have this reaction to something like a James Bond movie poster? Like, I’m not saying they should have the poster, but I find it a bit extreme to act like they’re putting up a picture of literally just a gun.

        Considering just how violent James Bond movies tend to be, it’s not really much better than just a picture of a gun.

          1. Former_Employee*

            “Jackie Brown” is one of my favorite movies. I would never put up a poster from that movie in a public space.

    3. ldub*

      No guns in the office. I was once part of a professional organization that passed around a life sized cardboard cutout of James Bond to the current chair, and when I had it, I printed out a photo of a life sized bouquet of tulips and taped them over the gun so he was holding flowers instead. Maybe OP #3 can hang his movie poster with some flowers over the gun if he wants?

    4. I'm fabulous!*

      Yes. I live 20 minutes away from Newtown and had a fatal robbery happen in a family-run store not too far from where I used to work. I would be very uncomfortable seeing a poster like this in a professional setting.

  4. Sue Wilson*

    #5: I understand what Alison is saying, but I think its just as likely that you’ll never need work with the onboarding person again and then it’s going to seem both weird and moot to bring it up later. If that’s the case, and that email was properly confusing, I would just use the email to address it with your boss, by forwarding it with a note like: “Hey Boss, I was a little confused by this email [the onboarding person] sent me and I wanted to make sure that my understanding was correct. Does [your understanding of the steps] seem correct? I already emailed [the onboarding person] last [date your emailed them] and haven’t gotten a response yet. Please let me know if I understood it correctly.”

    With that, you’ve alerted your boss to the problem without impinging the onboarding person. Also, email the person you’re working with about your understanding before you go to your boss, so it makes sense why you’re asking your boss too. If your boss isn’t her boss, your boss will know who to ask. I don’t think that type of email should ruffle any feathers unless feathers are very easily ruffled….and I’d want to know that before I got invested in a job, not after some time.

    1. nnn*

      But why? Since they don’t really need to ask for help what’s the point in doing that other than to get a co-worker in trouble before they even started the job?

      1. Sue Wilson*

        To be quite frank, it’s not clear to me that OP does in fact not need to ask for help. They think they’ve understood, but I personally wouldn’t want to rest on that for onboarding. If my healthcare, for example, got screwed up because my onboarding person wasn’t organized enough to tell the right steps in the right order or give me the right date, and I’d just assumed I could figure it out and was wrong, I’d be pissed and for what? when I could just ask for clarification. That’s why. And frankly, “getting the coworker in trouble” is a weird concern. I didn’t say email over spelling, I said, email to solve an actual instance of confusion (after emailing the onboarding person first), and that allows everyone to ignore what they want to ignore.

        1. Higgs bison*

          My wife’s coworker was never given health insurance paperwork and was new enough to the workforce that he didn’t ask until he was scheduling some appointments or didn’t get a card in the mail after a month or something. I don’t know if he ever got insurance that year. It can totally be worth escalating in some cases where the confusion isn’t being resolved with the onboarding person.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              For once all caps was entirely intentional. Your new manager needs to know because if there’s a mixup in your paperwork it could take your attention off learning your new job. If it’s bad enough? People have been known to leave new jobs over pay&benefits bait&switch.

        2. learnedthehardway*

          Good point – this is one of those situations where “you don’t know what you don’t know” AND the person who is supposed to tell you what you don’t know isn’t communicating clearly.

          That said, I would first follow up with the onboarding person and have a conversation to see if she could clarify the instructions. If she’s not responsive, then escalate to the hiring manager.

      2. bamcheeks*

        At some stage, it might be a colleague of LW’s being recruited, and it doesn’t give a great impression of the company.

        LW, every time I’ve got a job, my manager has asked me how the process went. That’s when I’d bring it up.

        1. LW5*

          LW5 here – you’re closest to the mark. I’m concerned that the on-boarding specialist presents as a red flag to people. With the current teacher shortage, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for a highly qualified professional to walk away from a position if they uncover concerns about the organization during on-boarding. They would be very likely to find something else almost immediately. Personally I’m not in this position as my background is pretty niche, but I would like to have good colleagues!

      3. ceiswyn*

        Raising a serious issue with a colleague’s work is NOT ‘trying to get them in trouble’. It is trying to fix a problem – and that is a good thing to do!

        In this case, I too disagree – the best time to raise issues with the onboarding process is when you are being onboarded. And it doesn’t really matter WHY the employee is doing such a bad job – what matters is that the job is not being properly done, and it is up to the boss to figure out how to address that, whether that be extra support or what.

        Also, even if OP has correctly figured out what they’re meant to be doing in this particular set of instructions, the OP doesn’t know if they’re missing important processes because the disorganised onboarding employee hasn’t mentioned them or done them, and that could come back to bite OP further down the line.

        This isn’t just being picky about typos.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Don’t set out to criticise the onboarding person deliberately, whether openly or trying to be subtle.That’s rarely a good start

      However, if there is any ambiguity in the onboarding items, then forward her EM to your boss listing all your questions.

    3. Czhorat*

      I’m with Allison on this; not only are there potential political issues, but coming in with guns blazing to fix the place up is not a great look for a new employee.

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Chances are the boss knows this person’s writing is terrible. So bringing it up will accomplish what exactly?

      If you have specific concerns that you have not gotten information you think you need or might not have gotten the paperwork right, you raise that. Not the person’s terrible writing. Focus on the issue at hand, not fixing this person you don’t even know.

      1. Sue Wilson*

        I can’t tell if you’re agreeing with me or not, especially since I’m pretty explicitly not talking about the writing being terrible and pretty explicitly talking about the instructions being confusing enough to want clarification on, but yes, I do think if you’re going to say something it’s to clarify confusion rather than any actual comment on the onboarding person.

    5. Pink Candyfloss*

      Yes, I always go with the “can you help me understand this, am I missing something” approach – it’s neutral, and leads the person you’re asking to do a more critical look at the materials themselves, whereupon hopefully (most of the time) the problem then gets handled appropriately.

    6. Olive*

      I agree that it would be weird to bring it up months later.

      Hopefully, there will be a one on one meeting fairly quickly and the boss will ask how onboarding is going. That’s a good time to mention anything positive about the experience plus “but I’ve had some trouble interpreting some of the onboarding emails. Some of the instructions have been out of order or have had conflicting information. I wanted to let you know so that maybe the onboarding process could be made easier for new employees in the future.” And then be ready to drop it and move on. Answer any follow-up questions honestly, but don’t keep bringing it up if the boss doesn’t seem interested.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        If the company actually cares about this sort of thing, it’s likely someone: the boss/hr/who knows, will ask new hires for feedback on the onboarding process 1-2 months in. So they may already have the opportunity to raise it soon-ish but not immediately that gives them the opening to give the feedback they’re thinking of.

    7. ariel*

      I think it’s possible that OP5 will have a chance to bring it up at a later date – maybe a new person is coming and needs to be onboarded, or they’re working on something that they learned about in onboarding. Or even “Oh, we should include this in onboarding” – a little awkward but a little by the way could happen relatively easily IMO.

  5. Sue Wilson*

    #1: honestly it sounds like to me that the pair believe that not mentioning the relationship is a way to maintain distance and promote their separation (like spouses are sometimes told to do) and don’t realized that being that close together in the hierarchy means that isn’t enough and is going to feel odd or even shady to anyone who finds out later. like it feels like they’re trying to adapt common advice for relatives who work together and don’t realize that not appropriate for boss-subordinate of any kind.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I previously worked in a small organisation which had a mother and daughter on staff. They were super professional about it and both of them were great to work with – but everyone knew that they were related!

      The situation is this letter is just weird. It’s the kind of weirdness that happens when you feel too awkward to be open about something, so you lean into the awkwardness and accidentally wind up digging yourself into a huge, inescapable hole.

      1. Redactle*

        My professional norms are normally ok (honestly!), but I could have ended up in this situation – my last job was in a small office that was part of a much bigger organisation and when I started my uncle had been working there for years. For some reason I thought it would be best if we kept this quiet?!! When I turned up for my first day my uncle had already told everyone we were related after they were told I was starting.

        I was a bit miffed (wanted to stand on my own two feet, not be known just by my relation, etc). But in retrospect I’m so glad he did because doing it my way would have been weird and ended up in this sort of situation. And I ended up telling people anyway if it looked like they wanted to complain about him to me, so they were aware of the relationship (we were in completely different reporting lines, by complain I mean more informal gossiping about not putting a mug in the dishwasher).

      2. UKDancer*

        When I was 16 my mother employed me for a year or so as a Saturday assistant in the shop she managed. Her regular assistant quit and she needed someone at short notice so I was press ganged into the role. I said I’d only do it if she didn’t work the same days as I did. Mum didn’t usually work Saturdays so we were never in the shop at the same time. She also told her staff that I was not to get any special treatment and if I screwed up they should deal accordingly and let her know. It was pretty obvious we were related because of the name and the fact we looked alike. I only did it until I went to university.

        Her staff were actually really nice and supportive people and I learnt a lot about the working world so it worked out. But I could see how it wasn’t ideal and could go wrong.

          1. Allonge*

            Huh? People are only ‘nice and supportive’ to a new colleague because they are forced to be by the threat of a manager? That’s a strange way to look at the world.

            UKDancer is not saying everyone was ignoring their mistakes and buying them ice cream, they are saying that the team worked professionally.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes. My mother was not very indulgent and she was pretty clear that I was to do what was asked of me. She was also pretty clear to them that I got no special treatment and if I wasn’t any good she’d find someone else.

              My mother’s staff were lovely women, they were just like that with everyone. They taught me about stock control and customer service and how to stack shelves and arrange a display window. When I got things wrong they explained how to correct them and I learnt a lot from them about how to deal with people.

              I stayed in touch with some of them while I was at university. One of them died when I was in my second year at university unexpectedly and I went to her funeral. Another one shared with me her recipe for tea bread (in strictest confidence).

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I worked with/for my mom for a few months too. She was a kindergarten teacher and the school had a grant to hire some literacy tutors. The original hires backed out so the principal’s niece and I got hired because we were in the midst of our teacher training programs and at least had some idea of what we were doing. I was more scared of my mom than worried about people’s reaction, to be honest. She had very high standards for teaching and professionalism and if I messed up, I knew I was going to hear about it.

      3. Armchair Analyst*

        lol imagining an AAM letter “we started off not telling anyone we’re mother and daughter not just CEO/CIO but fifteen years and hundreds of employees later it’s become this weird secret what do we do?”

      4. BrookeFromTheOffice*

        Sometimes it’s just so “common knowledge” to the people who have been there a while it’s not even worth mentioning. My boss employs several family members and because they have a common last name and they all act professionally, new hires always somehow never know until months after working with them. It’s no secret, just something no one talks about because we assume everyone knows it.

      5. Orange You Glad*

        Yea, when my company acquired a smaller company there was a mother & daughter on staff – each a manager of a different unrelated department. They had different last names and I probably wouldn’t have recognized any resemblance right away but each one was upfront and told me they were related in my first conversations with them.

        My company grew out of a once small startup into a large corporation so we still have a lot of family relations among our staff, especially people related to our CEO (the early days of hiring were mostly family and friends). It’s not a secret and everyone is professional about it but it is also good for other employees to know so we don’t inadvertently cause an issue.

    2. MK*

      Frankly, I think common advice for relatives who work together to not mention the relationship is bad, as it can lead to awkwardness and make others feel uncomfortable, often without being able to verbalize why they feel so. Be professional, sure, don’t go out of your way to mention the relationship; but if the other person comes up in conversation, it’s safer to say you are related.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I’ve mentioned this before, but I worked one place in which a brother, sister, and mother all worked in the same department (all had different jobs). I found out about the siblings early on only because they told me themselves; they behaved completely professionally. Didn’t find out about their mother for over six months – I’d seen all three interact on multiple occasions and had no inkling.

      If you’re going to hire family members or work in a family-owned business, this is the way. Sounds like LW1 has some good examples of professionalism at that company.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I dunno. The reason most people are leery of joining family-run businesses is that it’s not uncommon for the business to exist mainly to provide jobs for the family. If you’re not a member of that family, you can pretty much expect to be sort of a second-class coworker. So having this place actually be a family business but then trying to hide it from the other staff, while still exhibiting some of the issues that people are wary of (like the two of them having a special relationship and apparently sharing everything) is sort of dirty pool, IMO. I completely understand why the daughter doesn’t want the appearance of nepotism but … it IS nepotism.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          But a family-run business is not the same as a company that employs multiple members of the same family! (I agree with the rest of your comment, but it didn’t really address the setup that Mockingjay brought up.)

          1. Sloanicota*

            A very small marketing agency founded by a woman who then put her daughter in the second-top spot – over all the other employees – is straddling the line at best IMO!

    4. Observer*

      honestly it sounds like to me that the pair believe that not mentioning the relationship is a way to maintain distance and promote their separation

      That was my first thought.

      Of course the fact that some people know and others don’t does make it a bit weird, but I don’t think it’s necessarily shady. Given how the OP found out, it doesn’t seem like they are hiding it per se, but more trying to take pains to keep it out of the office.

  6. Mari*

    I can honestly say that, aside from my sibling’s company (they work for a studio you’ve absolutely heard of) where movie posters are all over the place, the only office I’ve ever been in where it worked was my mom’s boss.

    His last name was Hook, and someone had found him a copy of the teaser poster for Spielberg’s ‘Hook’ movie – the one with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman? The poster was literally just the hook, in all its spectacular detail (the costumers who made it were geniuses!) – no text, no title, nothing – and it hung on the wall behind his office door, so it wasn’t terribly noticable, in a really simple silver frame under glass. It looked like an eccentric piece of art, unless you knew what it was.

    It worked, but it was VERY specific.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Five years ago I started working for a guy whose last name was Stark. It was a pretty casual office – lots of people had minifigs and tchochtkes on their desks – and his office was full of GoT stuff, all of with STARK in big letters. None of it was sexual or particularly violent (which I suspect means people were being very careful) and the connection was amusing. That is the only office I’ve ever worked in where that kind of thing would have been appropriate, in large part because we never had external meetings there so only our employees saw it. He also had a bunch of Iron Man paraphernalia which at first I didn’t understand because (hangs head) I hadn’t yet seen the movie.

    2. RagingADHD*

      They are extremely helpful to people / cultures who use humor as a coping mechanism, which is a very well-established and productive way for societies, groups, and individuals to process collective or personal trauma.

    3. cleo*

      Years ago, when I taught undergrad art and design, my boss (the dean of the department) had a couple classic movie posters in their office – The Matrix and maybe The Godfather. It never struck me as odd but that’s because it made sense in our very specific context – we had a big graphic design department and we also offered a lot of video classes. Plus the dean was a huge movie fan.

  7. Sue Wilson*

    #3: I wouldn’t care about an obvious movie poster about a very popular socially acceptable movie. but its clear people would and I agree that I think it’s not the type of personalization that makes sense professionally. I wouldn’t hand my favorite actor up in my office either you know?

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      this. like if everyone has a favorite football team and puts team stuff in their office that’s different

      the fact that you need to ask kind of implies no here…

  8. RedinSC*

    LW5, The HR liaison for my new-ish job is just terrible. She really is, so difficult to understand, she doesn’t follow up, lets things drop, etc. Really terrible.

    I decided to wait for a bit and see how things were going at the office before I mentioned something. So now, there is a personnel action for her, they’re putting her on a PIP and doing their check ins around her work. when asked I gave my examples of her poor performance, and then let it drop. (The only reason I know all this is that my boss was leaving and they wanted to promote me so I could manage this person). I declined any promotions, I really don’t want to manage any one, especially not a problem union employee.

    So, waiting it out is, I think, good advice. You’ll see how her coworkers interact with her and you may be asked to provide feedback.

    1. Pierrot*

      I am in a similar situation with the HR/onboarding person at my newish job. The issues with her are different than what the LW is mentioning-she is not very competent at her job and seems to make up excuses when she makes a mistake instead of owning up to it. I waited 3 months to tell my supervisor, and I think that the HR person recently made a significant mistake with payroll and lied about it, which might get her on a PIP if not fired outright.

      Anyways, I think that in LW’s situation, it probably depends on the culture of the organization and whether the onboarding person is well liked or not.

  9. Jade*

    You haven’t started the job yet. Start complaining about grammatical errors about staff and you may not. Don’t be so quick to turn someone in.

    1. Teach*

      Generally agree, with the caveat that the mixing-up of instructions goes beyond grammatical error to a basic comprehension issue. It sounds like LW sort of already knew what to do? But if they were at all uncertain, that’s the point at which you need to follow up with the onboarder, and if their clarification still doesn’t make sense, it’s time to forward the issue to your future boss or someone else you will actually be working with going forward. But I agree that if the writing was non-standard but comprehensible, I’d let it go.

      1. BatManDan*

        I’d seriously question the competence and worthiness of my time / employment, of any org that would allow someone who can’t do their job well to stay in a position that doesn’t work for the people they are supposed to serve. There is a 100% chance they the OP will run into more of this type of nonsense as time goes by, at that employer.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          yeah they will run into more of it. Everywhere. My experience has always been that most places are “employment at will” in name only. Most companies/organizations have people that are sort of, well, not performing. Or doing their job at half potential, but never get let go. I’ve seen it everywhere. Giving employee onboarding to someone like this is the exact type of task you’d give that person. And before people push back about how important it is, I agree, I am not diminishing it. But many companies have gutted operations and middle management and it’s a choice between giving a lower performer onboarding paperwork or typical projects like “research how we can automate more Accounting processes, make a list of questions to ask potential vendors, and get quotes for me” or “ speak to big customer about why they’re looking for alternative suppliers” and “process an employee onboarding.” Then they do the onboarding.

      2. LW5*

        LW5 here. Yes, for the most part I was able to figure things out, but they took drastically longer than they should should have. My concern is that this may hinder the organization from retaining qualified candidates as they can easily find another position in this teacher shortage.

        1. Welcomingcommitteeofone*

          I’m the onboarder at my job. Just for context, we have a hybrid onboarding process, half pre-hire instructions by email and half done electronically first day via HRIS (Bamboo). At the very end of the Bamboo part, they give the opportunity to rate and comment on the entire onboarding process, and pertinent comments/ratings get passed on to my team.

          All to say, the standard today is good companies value feedback like yours, as it affects talent acquisition and employee retention. But without an explicit avenue for delivering such feedback, you’re more likely to be perceived as the problem. That’s why I’m a fan of a good onboarding system.

        2. HonorBox*

          I think it is probably worth saying something once you’re on the team. You might just tell your boss that you found the instructions super confusing. I don’t think I’d offer the typos as evidence, though for me it would be like nails on a chalkboard. Just mention that the onboarding process left you a little confused and raise your worry about the potential for losing qualified candidates through the process, especially if they’re weighing multiple offers.

        3. Also-ADHD*

          Designing onboarding is part of what I do for a living and quality onboarding is crucial to employee retention and engagement, so that’s a great point. However, it sort of depends if you are in a position where it makes sense to give this feedback and it absolutely doesn’t need to be about the individual (as I said in another comment) if onboarding can be treated like a system. It sounds like this is a small organization (onboarding is tough in these) possibly but if it’s large enough to have Employee Resource Groups or surveys, that could be a good neutral space to raise these issues.

        4. MassMatt*

          I sympathize with you, I had a terrible manager years ago who was also a very poor communicator. Whenever she sent out an email about how to do something, it would be riddled with errors (not just spelling and grammar, though there was plenty of both), and often very unclear/ambiguous. She was the type of person who would routinely leave out the “don’t” or “not” when telling us not to do something, as in “Be sure you hang up on customers”.

          This was a job that required lots of precision re: rules, tax laws, etc and it drove me absolutely batty that whenever she sent out an email it had to be followed up with multiple corrections and clarifications. Oh AND, she always used lots of different fonts and colors, ugh. Yes, including Comic Sans. It was like getting emails from The Riddler.

          All this said, while the fact that this is in the educational field is a point in favor of saying something, you may not be in the position to do it unless you tread very carefully. I raised the awful emails from that manager (and this was the least of her problems) and no one cared. In fact, they promoted her twice, and every department she moved to suffered dramatically. She’s probably a CEO any now.

          1. Former_Employee*

            “It was like getting emails from The Riddler.”

            Hilarious to read but awful to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The issue is when grammar choices affect meaning.

      As an example, the mixedup instructions in an old Saturday Night Live skit (which is actually funnier as a short writeup than the full thing now that I’ve seen it again).

      “You can’t put too much water in a nuclear reactor.”

      Add more or don’t?

      1. MigraineMonth*

        That’s a good one!

        I’ve actually had to go back and forth with the simple question “Can you do X?” I’m never entirely sure whether they want me to do it or if they want to know if that’s something that I’m capable of doing. I had one manager get annoyed with me because I tried to do it instead of giving her a “yes” or “no” answer.

    3. Observer*

      Don’t be so quick to turn someone in.

      What on earth is that supposed to mean?

      If the mistakes are minor, then it’s not something the OP should bring up regardless. If they are significant, and having a negative effect on their ability to get things done, it’s not nitpicking and “being quick to ~~turn someone in~~” And that phrase really does not make any sense in a reasonable workplace.

      Sure, it may be smart for the OP to wait and get a better sense for the situation, but that’s a different issue.

    4. Former_Employee*

      This is about looking out for future co-workers as well as their employer.

      If someone else doesn’t figure it out and ends up with the wrong plan or misses out on a benefit they were entitled to, the employer may get sued under Employee Benefits Liability.

      A jury looking at the incorrect/confusing instructions is unlikely to expect that a new employee would be able to put things in the correct order or otherwise divine the meaning of what sounds like a haphazardly created email.

  10. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – this would happen often – I’d discuss a salary range during the interview cycle, and when the offer came through, it was a lowball offer. As Nancy Reagan would have said = “Just say NO”.

    You’re either going to get a counter-offer shortly OR they’re gonna walk away from you.


    1. DJ Abbott*

      Wouldn’t you question the ethics of an employer who does this, though? It’s probably not even legal in states that have laws about salary transparency.
      I would not be comfortable working for an employer who routinely tries to cheat me. I know this is considered normal in corporate circles, but it’s predatory and evil.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        I feel like this has happened to me a lot. even with salary. but for example “low 60s,” and then the salary is $58,875 or something that definitely rounds up to low 60s. and at that point I’m exhausted and about to start and kind of mad and also don’t even care. I’ve had jobs that say “$45/hour” and it’s really “$44.57” or something ridiculous. like should I really have been pushing back on all of these? if so that would in part explain my poor salary progress over a 20-year career but I just feel like this is such a combination of BS and petty and how does one even begin to question this. what does a normal company say back?
        what does every other company actually say?

        1. Observer*

          Yes, you probably should have. Because “rounds up to $60K” is absolutely not the same as “low $60s”. Even rounding up to the nearest dollar on the hourly is inappropriate. But this is way out of line.

          Reasonable companies don’t do this. A company that just made a mistake will at least acknowledge it, if they are decent. A company that is deliberately BSing you? Walk if you can.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          58 is not “low 60’s.” It could be honestly described in a lot of ways – “around $60K,” or “high 50’s,” or even “well above 55.” But “low 60’s” very clearly refers to something at or above 60. I would be going into that expecting somewhere in the $61-64 range, and even 60 would feel like a bit of a lowball. To describe it that way and offer a thousand less than the absolute bottom of the stated range is absolutely dishonest.

          Same goes for an hourly salary. I might overlook a few pennies. If it’s advertised as $45/hr and the offer is $44.98… fine. Not good etiquette, but I probably won’t make a fuss. But if they’re going to be offering almost 0.50 less, they should advertise as such. Why wouldn’t they list the pay as, for example, “$44-45/hr”? Because they know they’ll be less attractive to applicants, but people are more likely to accept a bait and switch once they’ve invested all that time in the interview. That’s dishonest.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        The detail that dials this back for me is the amount of communication that seemed to come through a recruiter. Personally I hate working with recruiters for exactly this reason – these things can get muddled or misunderstood.

        If I came in expecting 70 and was offered 58, that on it’s own would most likely be enough for me to turn down a job. However I don’t know if I’d go straight to “evil untrustworthy employer” if it came through an intermediary.

        1. MassMatt*

          Yeah, it’s entirely possible the recruiter is the one at fault here, saying whatever needs to be said in order to try to get the commission. It’s sleazy but hard to say who the sleaze is.

      3. Arden Windermere*

        I agree that this is a huge red flag. I had this happen to me when I was still early in my career – the salary listed was $10-15k lower than what I was offered and when questioned, the employers (the two guys who owned and ran the business) said the advertised amount included health insurance. They ended up “accidentally” putting me on payroll for months as a contractor to save themselves from having to pay their share of taxes. They were super shady and when I left 8 months later (because they bounced my paycheck and then yelled at me for not being grateful for being paid ever) I filed a complaint with the state. It’s been about 15 years and they still haven’t paid me the money they owe me even though the judge found in my favor. I would hope that most people wouldn’t have things go this sideways from a job listing that “secretly” included benefits in the salary, but I think it’s a huge red flag and definitely means the company is purposely trying to be shady from the start.

    2. Sloanicota*

      It’s funny, I went down the rabbit hole of “you may also like” and found the post about increasing salary between jobs (I’ll put the link in my next comment) – it was from 2011. I bet these days the blog would be much more positive about the opportunity to increase pay and how it can/should be done, rather than saying “it can indeed be hard to get a raise far above 10%, but it does happen … it’s also true that many, many employers play the salary history card.” Now we would be firmer that it’s nobody’s business what you used to make, may in fact be against the law to ask, and *should not* be a factor.

    3. Wilbur*

      I wonder how the company would like it if their employees decided they would work “around 40 hours” a week, including lunch, breaks, commuting time…

    4. LW2*

      I think a few commenters (not just you!) have missed that this took place last year. No, there was no counteroffer. I walked away.

    5. Two Pop Tarts*

      Just had this happen.

      Gave them a number during initial interview. They said it was in the salary range.

      5 interviews later (including two grueling, 2 hour technical interviews) they make an offer that is 20% less and tell me that is the top of their salary range for the position.

      I suppose they thought they would wear me down with the interview grind and then I’d jump at anything because “I’ve put so much work into this I can’t turn it down.”

      I turned it down.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’ve never understood why an employer would want to start a relationship with a new employee on such a bad note just to save a couple thousand dollars a year. You’ve pissed off your employee before their first day!

        I once agreed on a salary, and just before starting my new employer finished a compensation study and bumped my salary up by a few thousand dollars. That bought them a lot more goodwill and loyalty from me than the company probably deserved.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I wanted to weigh in on the “oh but low 60s included benefits” piece – I heard this line before and IME it is exactly what it sounds like, a line of BS.

      Detail: I was leaving a job during a mass exodus in our department, and on one of my last days there, our scatterbrained boss invited me into his office for a chat, during which, he said “and we managers were in this office late last night making lists of all positions needing to be filled, what we’d offer to pay etc” and gestures towards a whiteboard behind his back. On the board was a list of open positions (including mine) and starting pay for our replacements (mine was 30% higher than I was being paid). When I blurted out something “wow, you guys paid us X but are willing to pay our replacements Y?” boss turned pale, confessed that he was supposed to have erased the board and had forgotten to do so, and begged me not to tell anyone. So I only told two people and swore them to secrecy and then I left. As I expected, they told everyone. There was an uproar and an all-hands meeting that the CEO flew in for (iirc) Anyway it all fizzled out after in the all-hands meeting people were told that the replacements’ starting salaries that I’d seen on that board *included the employer’s share of insurance premiums and the 401K match and PTO*. Everyone knew they were being bamboozled and the starting salaries included no such thing. But there was nothing they could do to prove that, so despite my expectations, no salary adjustment came out of all that. And this was the only time I ever heard anybody claim that a salary being offered also included the employer’s share of benefits. Anytime I’d get an offer, I’d be given a number and then on my starting day, that number was my salary. Forget lowballing, they are straight up lying to OP and that to me is even worse (I’ve been lowballed myself, ironically at that same job. Even more ironically, that was the only job I had that made a big deal of sending out emails at least once a year about how they’d done their annual research and once again, our salaries were found to be on the high end of the market reference point, haha nope.)

    1. korangeen*

      That’s also how I first read the title, haha. I was like “What?? How? Is it maybe a nail gun or something?”

  11. Allonge*

    LW4 – this does not have to mean anything major. Two times half an hour can work better in some cases.

    Maybe they had some scheduling issues and went with dividing the interview into two instead of having it a month later. Maybe they separate the get to know each other + behavioral questions part from the technical questions part because an expert needs to be there at the latter. Maybe they want to give you questions at the first interview to think about between the two.

    Or maybe they are just bad at scheduling. Don’t plan to do anything immediately after!

    In any case, no need to read too much into it (as an overthinker I know – easy to say!) The best you can do is prepare for the first interview as you would for any, and then adjust for the second based on what you hear there.

    For what it’s worth, I interviewed people both internally and externally – internal can go faster in many ways. A lot of the context and structure does not need to be explained (for both sides) or not in detail, in smaller orgs you may already know each other so it will not take time to get names right, working conditions are likely to be the same or similar to what you know etc.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing. Even for internal candidates, there may be an initial screening interview – simply to keep things equitable for all candidates, and/or because there are questions that need to be asked before a formal, hour-long interview. (eg. are you willing to commute to the site, do you have x/y/z specific experience required for the role, etc. etc.)

      1. Malarkey01*

        For internal candidates when we have a very large pool it’s typical for me to do 30 minute interviews to get the list narrowed quickly and to give everyone a chance to interview. Within 30 minutes I can see who communicates well (essential for our work) and who has a basic grasp of the work versus exceeding all metrics and still have time for questions (since it’s internal they already understand the culture and norms).

        After that the second round is my targeted and longer. Internal candidates also interview on the clock with us so having multiple rounds is less a hindrance. With external candidates I try to get everything possible in a short screen and longer interview.

        1. 3o Minute Interviewee*

          That’s what I’m expecting! It looks like our upper management is interviewing a larger pool of internal candidates for round 1 to give everyone a chance to interview and will narrow the pool down for a more in-depth 2nd round later. I’m still expecting a couple of big questions crammed into those 30 minutes, so I’m preparing like I would a regular interview.

    2. Anne of Green Gables*

      It’s unclear to me if *all* the candidates are internal, or just the OP. In my department, we do the process the same regardless of internal, external, or a combination. There’s a 30 minute “phone” interview to get a feel for candidates and decide who to move on to the 2nd round, which is much more robust and involves multiple sessions, including a presentation. A 30 minute interview with an internal candidate would involve the same questions as an external candidate would be asked–we also have to get our questions approved by HR and ask the same questions of all candidates.

      1. 3o Minute Interviewee*

        The majority are likely internal candidates, but there might be some external candidates sprinkled in. I expect it’ll be the same questions for both though due to our union and HR dept.

    3. 3o Minute Interviewee*

      Thank you! I’m still stressed, but I’m definitely preparing as if this is a longer interview. It looks like the interviewers are bringing in a broad range of folks for the first round and narrowing it down for the 2nd round.

      I’m so sorry for not being clearer– these are two jobs posted at my organization that are 30 minutes each. I have two 1st-round interviews coming up that I’m preparing for!

      My biggest concern was knowing what the general “vibe” would be and how deeply I should prepare for what I’m expecting to get asked. These will be the first interviews where the CEO is one of the interviewers, so I’m trying to make The Best Impression.

    4. korangeen*

      I’ve actually had good first-round 15-minute interviews that covered a lot of ground. If people are organized, efficient talkers, and get to the point, I don’t think interviews need to take very long!

  12. Pierrot*

    #3- The poster does not seem like an appropriate decoration for an office, especially in the context of working for the government. I work for a legal organization that has a more laidback culture than the government, and I can’t think of any examples of people with movie posters in their office. Typically I’ll see artwork, family photos, and sometimes work related humor, but I think that a movie poster would be pretty unusual, with or without the gun.

    1. Jackalope*

      Would it be bad without the gun, though? I can only think of one place where a boss had a movie poster up, and it was because the movie was about the line of business they were in so made sense. So it might seem a bit unusual. But if my boss had a movie poster up I would just consider it one of her quirks, and not a big issue.

      1. MK*

        I think a poster of “A few good men” or another courthouse/legal drama would make sense in a goverment lawyer’s office. James Bond, not so much.

      2. Angstrom*

        There’s a reason “corporate art” — the stuff compnies buy to decorate public spaces — is generally bland. The goal is no controversy, no offense. Bring on the landscapes and abstracts….
        I understand wanting to add personality to your office, but it’s a workplace first.

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          agreed. a line I read on another lawyer blog (corporette) was that esp. for govt atty, a day at the office to you might be the worst day of another person’s life. do you want them to have that day in your office in-person or zoom with a James bond poster in the background?

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This has come up previously re appropriate entertainment (“Should we take everyone to Sausage Party?”) and appropriate food.

          Public art (like in front of a museum) can sometimes be eyebrow raising. (Google “statue of goats.”) Art in an office is expected to hit closer to pleasant background.

          (Will note that for framed movie posters that would fit into a generic office I tend to picture Hitchcock.)

    2. Myrin*

      That’s what I’ve been thinking.

      When I read the question, I wondered about the focus on the gun in this context, but then I realised that’s probably because I’m from a place where “regular” people (i. e. not military or police) don’t generally have guns or even access to them so they’re “far away” in my mind and a movie poster featuring, among other things, guns (my mind kept going to “Men in Black”) wouldn’t stand out to me any more than one featuring other accessories.

      But a movie poster of anything would seem out of place to me; I work in the local townhall and all the offices here have drawings/paintings of landscapes or buildings hung up, which are area-appropriate and general-public-appropriate.

      1. AnonORama*

        I think old film noir posters and things like that are super cool, but they would definitely pull my eye. Without the gun it doesn’t seem inappropriate, but it could easily distract people coming into the office. (And hey, that might be a plus! Unlikely, though.)

  13. Pucci*

    I have worked with someone like LW5 refers to. In a conversation she would say all she needed to say, but it was as though each sentence was written on an index card, the index cards thrown in the air, picked randomly off the floor, and then read. It was a challenge to understand anything she said.

    1. JustaTech*

      I had a boss like that: his thoughts and his mouth ran at different speeds so he would often skip words. The really hard part was that the words he most often skipped were nouns, like *which* thing you needed to analyze, clean, split or present.
      I was glad when he left.

  14. ceiswyn*

    I’ve written and posted long comments twice now, and they haven’t appeared. What’s up with that?

    1. Green great dragon*

      Sometimes things get stuck in moderation for absolutely no reason I can see. I think Alison releases them once she’s awake. It’s happened to a few of mine – seems to go in waves – and they’ve all come through untouched eventually.

      Sometimes when it looks like different people are making the same point unnecessarily, that’s what’s happened.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      They’re in moderation. There are certain words that trigger moderation though I’m not sure what they are.

    3. doreen*

      I’ve had comments either not show up or show up hours later a few times. There weren’t any URLs or words that I thought would trigger moderation.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I hit moderation with a brief comment about stewed prunes this weekend, so it really is hard to tell what gets it excited.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Wow! In that case, sorry Alison, you have two long and not very interesting responses to read that aren’t even juicy :)

    5. Seahorse*

      The browser can affect it too. If I post from DuckDuckGo on my phone, comments may or may not show up for a while. If I post from Chrome on my phone or Firefox on my computer, they reliably appear.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For me it seems that the third or fourth comment I make will go to moderation. Makes me stop and think when a topic interests me… can I condense several comments into one?

    6. Well...*

      I get worried sometimes that I got put on insta-moderation for being too spicy in the comments (I try to keep it light & water-cooler-y but my argumentative side gets the better of me sometimes). Other times, it seems to be a word I used or a set of words. Politically charged words or words that have strong meanings in certain contexts seem to trigger it, but sometimes I can’t figure out why at all, so it seems like it’s a wide net (probably for the best).

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I’ve always assumed it’s glitches. Internet is full of them- witness what the ads do to the site.

  15. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #2 They are trying to hoodwink you before you even start.
    Big red flag. You don’t know if it’s just the recruiter being dishonest, so what other surprises would you find out after you started work there?

    I’d turn it down unless you desperately need to pay bills now, in which case accept, but keep looking for a better job, even while you’re there. With any org this deceitful, don’t hesitate to cancel your acceptance even the day before your start date, or leave after a couple of months.

    If moving expenses are included, that’s worrying: relocation takes you away from the area & people you know and is a stressful time suck, making it more difficult logistically to job hunt.
    Also, check if you have to repay that 5k if you leave within a year or so.
    Another red flag if so, which could in practice keep you trapped there if you don’t have sufficient savings to cover 5k plus maybe moving back home.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      check if you have to repay that 5k if you leave within a year or so

      I agree that anyone who gets a signing bonus or moving expenses from a company should check if there is a repayment clause and understand the terms before agreeing to it. I disagree that the presence of a repayment agreement is a red flag. In my experience, they are fairly standard.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Given 21st c economic weirdness, I would want clear statement that it’s NOT due back in a layoff.

      2. Anon in Canada*

        All relocation packages have a repayment clause if the employee quits within a certain time frame (usually 1-3 years, sometimes prorated in the second or third year). Repayment should however never be required if the employee is laid off or fired without cause. I’d refuse relocation assistance and pay to move myself if a relo package did not exempt such situations from repayment.

      3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Sorry, I expressed myself poorly: I meant it’s another red point in the “NOPE” column for the OP, because the option of working there for just a couple of months while job-hunting would be expensive if she has to pay back the 5k.

        Maybe I’m too cynical, but I wonder if employers are more likely to bait & switch candidates who would have to relocate and then repay a large sum if they dump the job quickly.

    2. Antilles*

      100% agree, OP should absolutely not take this job unless there’s no other fiscal choice.

      That said, I’m laughing at the recruiter’s framing of this because if you really think it through, it’s just hilarious from a math standpoint. There’s a $58k salary but including everything else brings you up to “low 60s”? This supposedly includes the salary, benefits, and moving expenses. Well if the salary is $58k, the relocation bonus is $5k, that puts us at $63k…so by definition, they’re saying that all the other benefits are effectively worthless since there’s not much more (if any) space in “low 60s” to include health insurance, retirement plan, etc.

      I’ll also note that if it’s really total compensation than logically, the annual percentage raises should be based off all of that, but if you ask the recruiter *that* directly, I’ll bet you get a very strange silence and then some awkward backpedaling.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        “the annual percentage raises should be based off all of that”

        Oh I wish I had thought of that when a former employer pulled that stunt on me. It was an internal move and HR had told me and another employee applying for the position had told me that the job paid $85K.

        But when I got my offer letter, it was for $75K.

        My new boss told me – with a straight face – that the original $85K had included benefits.

        I replied that nobody talked about salary that way – NOBODY – and started looking for a new job the next day and had an offer for a true $85K in five months.

        One of the best days of my professional life was the day that the CEO of that org was fired by the board.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      Also, employers who try to play cute with salaries by folding benefits in can go pound sand. My (horrible) ex-employer used to give everyone these letters once a year that claimed to break down your benefits and then added it to your salary and claimed that was your “total compensation package.” It was always done right before performance reviews so people would feel worse about trying to advocate for raises. I can’t pay my mortgage or buy groceries with stuff like them being willing to take pre-tax dollars out of my paycheck to apply to my subway card or whatever figure the HR person pulled out of their butt.

      I’m not saying it’s not helpful to have an overall view of your benefits package, but it was very much framed as “don’t ask for a raise because we have to pay $X for your insurance coverage so really you’re getting $Y per year per our fuzzy math” and I found it incredibly disingenuous.

      1. Anon in Canada*

        “Salary” and “total compensation package” are not synonyms.

        If the recruiter or hiring manager says a dollar amount without immediately saying “that’s total compensation, including benefits”, the candidate is entitled to interpret that as meaning salary.

        The practice mentioned in LW’s letter is deliberately deceptive, and one has to wonder what other deceptive tricks this company will pull, such as advertising “20 vacation days” but then the fine print says that 10 stat holidays come out of this bank of “vacation” days. (I understand that’s how it’s always been advertised in the UK, but it’s not how it works in North America.)

        1. CommanderBanana*

          It was definitely done to try to discourage people from asking for raises and the wording of the letters conflated benefits with salary, and was just one of the various gross and misleading practices this organization engaged in around compensation.

          1. LW2*

            OH! You just reminded me that when I declined the offer I said I would reconsider if the $58k salary could be negotiated, and they said they don’t allow salary negotiation for “equity reasons.” I blocked that out of my mind when I wrote in to Alison.

            1. Anon in Canada*

              Not allowing salary negotiation is perfectly legitimate, because negotiation does result in inequity.

              I wish all workplaces would operate like government ones do when it comes to salary – plug your experience and education into a formula, here’s your salary, take it or leave it.

              This strays from the topic though, and does not in any way excuse compensation gimmickry like claiming that the listed dollar amount includes benefits when you didn’t immediately say so the first time you named that number.

        2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          When I worked in the UK, the promised vacation days never included statutory holidays, so it was always >20 vacation plus stat hols. Maybe it’s field-dependent.

          In the EU countries I’ve worked in, stat days are not included either. e.g. FinalJob in Germany gave me 32 vacation days + stat hols (+comp days)

          1. Anon in Canada*

            Interesting. I had always heard that UK employees get “28 vacation days” but that really meant 8 stat holidays + 20 vacation days.

            1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

              I just checked a few UK employement advice sites to refresh my memory and it is as I thought:
              Almost everyone gets at least 28 days vacation plus stat hols. 28 days is the legal minimum, but only a few very dodgy employers include stat hols in this.

              The employment contract would specify vacation and anyone can reject an offer beore signing, if the contract doesn’t match the verbal offer – pay, vacation, job title, duties etc

              1. londonedit*

                That’s not quite right – it isn’t ‘dodgy’ if your employer gives you 20 days plus bank holidays. It’s just the legal minimum, and it’s fairly common – I definitely wouldn’t say most people get 28 days PLUS the 8 bank holidays (which in England are New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the first and last Mondays in May, the last Monday in August, and Christmas Day and Boxing Day). That would be seen as quite generous. Many employers offer more than 20 days plus bank hols (where I work we get 25) and many also offer extra days for long service (for example an extra day’s holiday at 3, 5 and 10 years or whatever), but 20 days plus bank holidays is the minimum standard required. It’s fairly common for companies to close between Christmas and New Year, and in that case you might also get those 3 days as part of your holiday package.

      2. Anon in Canada*

        “Salary” and “total compensation package” are not synonyms.

        If the employer names a dollar amount and doesn’t immediately follow it up by saying “this is total compensation, including benefits”, the candidate is entitled to interpret this as meaning salary.

        Who knows what other deceptive tricks this company will pull – this is similar to companies advertising “20 vacation days” but then the fine print says this includes 10 stat holidays that come out of this pool of “vacation” days, so it’s really 10 days. (I understand this is standard in the UK, but it’s not in North America.)

        1. Anon in Canada*

          oops sorry posted twice, first post didn’t immediately take and I thought I didn’t click submit.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          This is apparently standard in the hospital systems in the US. I first ran into it when a friend was talking me into applying for an open position on a team he was on at a (large local hospital chain). While singing the place’s praises to me, he said “and we get 28 days PTO a year”. I thought it was extremely generous, until he added “of course, that includes the 12 holidays when all offices are closed.” He then followed that up by saying that you HAD to take the holidays off whether you liked it or not, because, well, offices are closed. He THEN followed THAT up with a story about his most recent new teammate, who started right before Thanksgiving and was immediately told that he was required to take six days PTO over the following six weeks (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, two days each) out of his PTO bank of… zero. Took a lot of talks between the guy’s boss and the (HR? accounting? both?) to have them make an exception for the guy and not force him to take the PTO that he did not have available (how did they even expect him to do it? unpaid? No idea.)

          I then checked with friends and this is apparently standard practice when your employer is a hospital.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        two years for only 5k? Mean buggers.
        I’ve only come across that long a period for considerably larger sums.

        A former coworker would have had to repay pro rata if he’d left within 3 years , but that was for ~120k (sending him with his family to the US for 1 year, to study for a very specialised qualification).

  16. Liisa*

    LW1: my biggest worry in that sort of situation would be the concern that the family members aren’t going to be effective/objective at managing or rating each other’s performance – the same way that you often aren’t allowed to have people in romantic relationships be in each others’ reporting chains. To me, it would be a LOT less worrisome if they were open about this. If they said something like “hey, yup, we’re family, this is a family business, but if you have any concerns about that/with one of us please do X and Y” – that would at least indicate that they’ve THOUGHT about the potential conflicts of interest (or the appearance thereof). But the lengths they’re going to to conceal it would make me really worried that they aren’t going to be in any way objective about that, that they don’t understand WHY it might be a problem, which just doesn’t bode well for their competence as managers. Given that, there’s probably no way to remedy the situation (because they don’t even see it as a problem).

  17. Monkey Princess*

    The gun is the least of the issues with hanging a James Bond poster at work. Especially for a government lawyer. The basic foundation of those movies is about a misogynistic, racist agent who doesn’t have to follow any rules and goes to extremes to blow stuff up. If that’s what appeals to you in your free time, whatever… we all have cheesy things we do for fun and escapism. I’m an avid reader of romances, for example. But I wouldn’t hang a bodice ripper poster on my wall at work. It would give the appearance that it’s not just cheesy escapism, but something that I take real seriously and have hung up as some sort of proof of my professional ideals.

    1. SAS*

      I assumed (given the job) it was something more like The Untouchables. Still wildly unsuitable of course.

    2. Nancy*

      “James Bond” and “film noir” was used as examples of the style of poster, they aren’t saying it’s James Bond.

      LW3: Personally, I don’t care about a popular movie poster in someone’s office. I probably wouldn’t even notice. Other would, so maybe hang it in your home office instead?

    3. Snowday*

      This was my thought. A lot of the tropes of film noir remind me of little boys playing dress-up and doing what they think adult men do. I tried to rewatch LA Confidential a few years back and it was so cringy I gave up. That isn’t to say there aren’t good examples of the genre or that it is only enjoyed by immature misogynists. I have some guilty pleasures that I know are completely unrealistic and self indulgent, and that I know are not meant to represent the real world. I just wouldn’t hang posters of them at work because that context wouldn’t come through.

  18. Still Job Hunting*

    I had a 30-minite interview 2 years ago. The leaf panelist spent 20 minutes reviewing the position requirements, org chart, expectations and such. I got 10 minutes to answer 4 questions, and ask my own questions.

    The job went to an internal candidate.

    1. 3o Minute Interviewee*

      This is exactly what I’m worried about!! I’m an internal candidate, so at least I have that? Both positions are brand new and are due to a lot of organizational change, so I’m definitely interested to see how the interviewers are going to split up their time. Wish me luck!

  19. Irish Teacher*

    LW4, in my field (teaching in Ireland), a 30 minute interview would be on the longer side and I have never had two 30 minute interviews for the one job. There are a few teaching jobs in Ireland that do two interviews, but for those, the first one is 10-15 minutes.

    The longest interviews I have ever had have been 45 minutes. One of those, the deputy principal was really deciding between me and another candidate and I think he was trying to find something to make a decision on (I didn’t get it) and in the other, it came up that I have a particular interest in autism and the school was about to open an autism class the following year, so the principal started asking me if I’d be interested in also being considered for that if I didn’t get the job she was interviewing for. I doubt either of those was originally intended to be 45 minutes; they just ran a bit over.

    The norm is one 15-30 minute interview. They decide who gets the job based on that, your CV/application form (schools vary in which they ask for) and presumably your references.

    And you can get a lot asked in 30 minutes. Conversations take a lot less time than we think. While they aren’t job interviews, I’ve often been had long discussions on the phone, then checked and found out I was only on for a minute or two.

    Generally, they will begin by giving a brief description of the job: “We are looking for a teacher of English and History (for a maternity leave/career break/full time job). The job will be 22 hours a week,” then they will ask something like “talk us through your CV,” and then they will ask more specific questions like “what did you think of this year’s Leaving Cert. exam?” “tell us about a discipline problem you had to deal with,” “what is your approach to giving homework?” “what extra-curricular activities would you be interested in organising?”

    1. 3o Minute Interviewee*

      Thanks! I’m realizing in the comments that I was very vague in the original email to Ask a Manager– these are two separate interviews for two different positions within my organization! I’ve interviewed at this level before (externally) and the interview was an hour and a half and included a presentation.

      1. SG*

        My employer typically only does one round of 30-minute interviews before hiring, even for upper management. This is local government, so the written applications are extensive and thorough, but I was also always surprised at how much ground they could cover in 30 minutes. The questions were detailed and nuanced, too!

  20. T*

    #4, I usually need less time with internal candidates as we usually can skip some of the getting to know you questions. The job I just started does 3 rounds of interviews and puts internals automatically to round 2. Be prepared for delving into your skillset and why you want to advance. My last job (terribly) often asked if people were just trying to get promoted for money.

  21. cabbagepants*

    #4 — I’m curious about what the norm is in other fields for length of an interview. In my field (a STEM subdiscipline, in industry) it’s common to have many 30-minute interviews, up to 10 in a day! (Yes it’s exhausting! It’s typically done as part of a site visit and would be the last stage in the interview process.) Longer individual interviews are less common.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I actually gave a fairly long answer on my field but it’s in moderation. I’ll give a short answer here. The norm in teaching in Ireland is one 15-30 minute interview. (Depends on the school. Some do 15 minutes, some 20, some 30.)

    2. Colette*

      Yeah, IME a 30-minute interview isn’t unusual (and it’s also not unusual for it to go longer).

    3. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      Also in STEM, and it varies. We used to book 1 hour for technical screenings, now it’s more like book 2 hours, but usually don’t use it (gives time to uplevel someone, or move a maybe to a yes or no, or deal with software issues for a remote interview)

      I’ve had 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours for tech interview. Then usually a behavioural/manager interview that is 30-60 minutes.

      It all depends. I’ve had an all day set of interviews, and a brief 30 minute chat. Usually it’s a total of 2-3 hours of interviews.

    4. 3o Minute Interviewee*

      My last interview at this level was an hour and a half, if that helps you! It was just one interview and involved 10 (multi-part) questions and a presentation that I had to prepare ahead of time.

    5. londonedit*

      I’m in publishing, so a very different industry, and in my experience first interviews usually take the form of a chat through your CV and your skills and interest in the role, with a couple of senior staff members (usually the person who will be your line manager and another senior member of the team) which will be around 30-45 minutes, and then for the specific job I do there will most likely be an editorial test of 15-20 minutes after that. Second interviews will be with the line manager and someone above them in the hierarchy (so maybe the editorial director for the specific area of publishing or the head of the umbrella division – say the editorial director of wildlife publishing, or the head of the science and nature division). The second interview again is usually 30-45 minutes but that’ll be it, just a chat through your experience and what you can bring to the role. Decisions are usually made after the second interview – I’ve never had more than two interviews for a job.

  22. 5th Wheel Travel Trailer*

    LW3: my boss favors short interviews. For both internal and external hires, he schedules only 30 minutes. Mine was scheduled for an hour, presumably because there were other higher ups on the call, and would have ended at 30 minutes if I didn’t have so many questions for them. He asked regular interview questions, just… very few.

  23. Well...*

    I’ve done 30 min “long list” interviews for professor positions. They were all remote, and they involved a few questions like, “why this job at this uni? What classes would you want to teach and why? What is your favorite paper you wrote, why is it your favorite, what was your contribution? Why is your research important? What’s your plan for funding? What are you going to do to advance EDI here? Questions for us?” They hit all the big categories in a rapid-fire way, but didn’t have much follow-up. Some of them involve a 10-15 min prepared talk about your research.

  24. The Scrivener*

    #2: Something similar happened to me! My field publishes “salary tables” which are 25th/50th/75th percentiles for different ranks and geographic locations (think: Northeast, Southeast, Mountain West, Pacific Coast; not state-level). It’s not much but at least gives you a foothold when you are a new grad negotiating your first position.

    Anyway, one place I interviewed, and which was my top choice, lowballed me several thousand dollars below the 25th percentile for starting salaries in the region. When I pointed this out, the hiring manager (no recruiter) said those published tables was actually “total compensation” and included benefits like health insurance. Um, I can see the survey methodology at the front of the document. Bonuses, sure. Benefits??

    There were lots of other red flags, but this was a major one. I went elsewhere.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      “so, what benefits does your company offer that would bring this number more in line with industry and regional standards?”

  25. Also-ADHD*

    For LW1, isn’t it possible the daughter just doesn’t like to talk about their personal life at work? I know that might seem odd in a family business to a degree, but it sounds like the Mom/CEO talks about personal/family events and the daughter/CIO does not and that’s the main basis that it is a “secret”. If some people know, they might (wrongly) assume everyone knows. And if you work remotely, is the daughter even in the same location? She may not have been in the photos because she wasn’t at the party. I guess it depends what she does say, but I’m unclear how any of the examples were them hiding stuff as much as the mother talking about things the daughter doesn’t. I’m also guessing they have different last names (like the daughter is married and changed her name) or else I’d assume they figured everyone knew.

    1. Rachel*

      I am coming at this from the perspective of an open secret.

      They don’t talk about it outright but don’t deny it or say “this is not my daughter.”

      Open secrets are a divisive concept, I think.

    2. umami*

      I pretty much land here. If anyone knows, the assumption would be that everyone knows. Not talking about the relationship openly isn’t the same as actively keeping it a secret, people should allow to be private without it seeming like a Big Thing. I’m more concerned about OP sleuthing about this and drawing their own conclusions than anything the CEO and CIO are doing.

    3. Paulina*

      Staying out of the family celebration pictures that her mother posts seems like a bit more than just not talking about the event herself. Though perhaps the daughter doesn’t like to have pictures of her circulated anyway.

      However, I land on the daughter not wanting to get treated like she’s just a nepotism hire. The circumstances of someone getting a job can get in the way of viewing whether they’re doing it well.

    4. Belle Jolie*

      This is how it is at my company, where all the kids of the CEO work here (it was a startup and grown significantly since then). I don’t know if “open secret” is the right term, but nobody denies any of the relationships (and some of the kids still retain the last name). They just don’t actively talk about it and the kids all refer to him by his first name at the office. But everyone knows, or are told, they are related.

  26. Also-ADHD*

    On LW5, I agree with waiting but also if/when you do address it, I suggest framing it as improvements that could be made to the onboarding process rather than criticisms of the person. A lot of those directions could be templated for the person so their individual writing skills aren’t as much an issue.

    1. Angstrom*

      Agree. “I found these instructions(see attached) to be confusing. I think they’d be easier to understand if presented in this(example) order.” comes off very differently than “X’s emails are poorly written.”

    2. kiki*

      Yeah, I think bringing it up as a process improvement is the best bet. Especially if you can include the original confusing emails and let them speak for themselves.

  27. Unfettered scientist*

    Wow I’m surprised about the comments about the movie poster. I would also suggest letter writer not do it because it’s likely distracting, unexpected in a corporate office, and might even come across as a little childish depending on the movie. But that’s more because it’s a movie poster and likely large and because they work in a conservative field not because it has a gun.

    Movies (the fictional ones, anyway) aren’t real and depiction does not mean endorsement (to me). I would not think anyone who likes the matrix is pro gun or anti gun control. If someone liked marvel movies I wouldn’t think they like violence (even though there are fights in those movies). Am I missing something?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I think it’s less about endorsement and more about the fact that you don’t know anybody’s history and if somebody had say been threatened with a gun in the past or had immigrated from a warzone or worst case scenario, had been in a situation where there was a mass shooting or something, seeing guns could be triggering for them.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        I understand that particularly if you deal with the public. Lots of things in images make people feel uncomfortable or triggered though. Like a poster of Barbie could also be very triggering to someone who is trans or who has body dysmorphia. Art with a dog could be affecting to someone who has been attacked by dogs. I guess I see movie posters as already pretty bland since they are presented to the general public including children. And maybe the stance is ok no posters or anything but the most bland art of landscapes because it could affect someone. I get someone taking that stance or an office doing that but I do think that’s a bit in the extreme direction.

        1. trans anon*

          “a poster of Barbie could also be very triggering to someone who is trans”

          Um. What?

          I get that you are trying make the point that anyone can theoretically be made uncomfortable by anything, but it comes off as really weird (and, tbh, kind of playing into common transphobic rhetoric) to suggest that trans people are likely be “triggered” by…an image of a stereotypically feminine woman? Please reevaluate whatever your thought process was there.

          1. Different trans anon*

            I’m also trans and recognize trans people have different takes on this stuff, but I interpreted that as “Barbie can be triggering to AFAB trans people” because having dolls forced upon you as a kid by a society that denies your identity can be pretty upsetting.

            1. Billy Preston*

              Yep! And if I saw a Barbie poster I’d wonder if that person was going to be a typical “girly girl” or “mean girl” and would we get along?

              But I also wouldn’t be triggered by it, just it would give me pause.

              1. Eliot Waugh*

                Why is girly girl inherently associated with mean girl? I’m high femme and I literally save silverfish in my home.

                1. design ghost*

                  I disagree with Billy Preston, but the concept of a “mean girl” is not about being kind to animals (???), it’s about being a very specific type of bully many women, especially butch and gnc women, experienced in their childhoods. When people talk about “mean girls” they’re talking about the girls they went to high school with who bullied them, in many cases specifically for not being feminine enough. I’m sure many of those girls also saved spiders or whatever.

                  It’s not fair to carry that trauma forward to the point that you assume all “girly girls” or anyone who likes Barbie(???) are that specific type of straight woman who enforces a very strict gender conformity among their peers. But this reply is absurd.

                2. Eliot Waugh*

                  Associating “femme” with “mean girl” is sexism and it isn’t absurd to note that.

              2. Well...*

                Huh, I wonder why it matters whether you’d get along with a “girly girl” at work. Is the implication that people should try to suppress that side of themselves to be professional? Because…no

            2. ceiswyn*

              Though that would also be true of many cis women who simply had interests that weren’t stereotypically feminine, and kept being given dolls instead of train sets.

              It also seems a bit far fetched.

          2. Not Again*

            I just wish these types of comments were balanced. If Barbie could be triggering, so could GI Joe.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              GI Joe has a gun, so that fits in with the already much-discussed example from the letter.

        2. Allonge*

          If any kind of advertising poster is bland, it’s not doing the job it’s supposed to do, so I really don’t agree with you there!

          Even if you mean something like ‘sanitized of anything unacceptable’, the bar seems to be fairly low. And in a government office that same bar tends to be higher.

          So, yes, a univeral no-movie-posters rule is not out of line here – especially as it’s unlikely to cause major distress. Print a smaller version and put it in a frame / put it on your desktop OP, if it’s something you would really like to see every day.

        3. ceiswyn*

          Why would a poster of Barbie be triggering to a trans person? And when you say ‘trans person’ do you mean that trans men and trans women would be equally triggered by a plastic female doll? That seems… weird.

          Now, if you’d argued that a poster of Barbie would be triggering to conservatives and MRAs… (it’s OK, guys, you are Kenough)

        4. Temperance*

          One of the actors playing Barbie in the movie is literally a trans woman. What a weird comment.

    2. Unfettered scientist*

      Maybe a better example is something like; if someone had an Oppenheimer poster, I wouldn’t think they support the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    3. Heather*

      Exactly. By the logic of this comment section, noone should ever have a picture of a sports car as their desktop background since so many people get killed in cars.

      1. Well...*

        When writing fictional scenarios for tests, I always avoid car crashes. It’s one of the more likely scenarios to trigger a trauma response.

        I think a picture of a car (as opposed to a car crash) is fine though, because we see them every day. Also guns are instruments whose only purpose is violence, whereas cars have many functionalities.

        This reminds me of the BS freakonomics example of guns vs. swimming pools. You’re not really making exactly the right comparison.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          Exactly this.

          You can’t try to predict every potential trauma trigger when you’re choosing office art, but you can acknowledge and avoid the major ones.

          And as someone who’s been through a dangerous and terrifying experience with a gun, sometimes I find gun imagery triggering and sometimes I don’t. Mostly, that’s a matter of context. Am I at a movie theater? Am I at home about to turn on an action movie or show? Then yes, I’m going to expect there to be gun related imagery and seeing it is probably not going to surprise or bother me. In my colleague’s office at work? There, I’m not expecting it and it’s going to be much more startling, and more likely to trigger a reaction.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      The person I see for shiatsu has three art pieces up: a framed poster of a forest scene, a framed poster of tumbled rocks in water, and an impressionist painting of flowers. A lot of other med-type offices I’d describe the art as “… probably there was art on the wall? Maybe in pastels?” But these are especially meditative to look at and they have really locked in for me over multiple appointments.

      I describe this because sometimes stuff fades into the background and sometimes it really hits us. Different people react differently, and it’s helpful to be aware that art that barely registers to you as wallpaper might carry more meaning to someone else.

      So if we were describing office decor for a conservative field, for me some framed Hitchcock posters would seem to convey “I like this classic aesthetic, and may be a film buff,” and as we progress through film noir to Bond to blaxploitation the possible message being conveyed changes. In a space where you might be talking to victims of gun violence I’d avoid any admiring depictions of guns–even if you both might enjoy watching The Maltese Falcon in other circumstances.

    5. Well...*

      I mean, I think it’s fine, but I get the argument not to. It’s getting harder to use gun imagery even for a joke/obvious fiction as gun violence affects more and more people. I don’t see how it matters that it’s not the Matrix, that movie poster seems pretty tame to me.

      I don’t read it as distracting or childish either, but I suppose that depends on your workplace. Lots of adults like movies, and honestly boring/empty walls don’t make me feel super productive either.

    6. Eliot Waugh*

      Yeah, the comments are really strange to me. My favorite movie is Green Room and while I wouldn’t hang a poster for it at work, it doesn’t mean I endorse taking a hacksaw to fascists.


      1. Eliot Waugh*

        And I’d happily hang different nicely framed movie posters in my office, but I’m not a lawyer.

      2. Well...*

        I agree that the reaction is strong and not realistic to most workplaces I’ve ever been in.

        That being said, the pro gun poster people are saying pretty absurd and illogical things and cloaking it in logic, which is making me want to rip down whatever poster is nearest to me and throw it onto this trash fire.

    7. Also-ADHD*

      The visual of a gun can evoke trauma even if fictional. It isn’t not understanding fiction vs reality so much as natural brain association.

      1. Eliot Waugh*

        Sure, but there ARE people saying they’d assume someone with a James Bond movie poster can safely be assumed to endorse gun violence and misogyny and frankly that’s bizarre.

    8. Cat Tree*

      In the United States, many many people are victims of gun violence. The poster wouldn’t be interpreted as being “pro gun”, but it could be interpreted as being *flippant* about a very serious issue that affects so many.

    9. Teach*

      if this person’s job was making, producing, or writing on movies, then I would certainly agree with you; the Wachowskis are not pro-gun, they are creative professionals telling a story. But this lawyer is very deliberately choosing to use this image to represent them in a space where that is not common, expected, or necessary. It means something to them.

    10. Observer*

      Movies (the fictional ones, anyway) aren’t real and depiction does not mean endorsement (to me).

      Well, some people do think that way, and that has the potential to have a negative impact for the OP. But also, even if everyone knows 100% for sure that the OP is not pro-gun, it’s still a gun. And the picture is still somewhat violent, even if there is no gore etc on the poster. Because these films are generally quite violent, and the poster is something that the OP could expect visitors to recognize.

      Am I missing something?

      I think you are. See the rest of my comment above.

  28. Gemstones*

    “If your CEO isn’t the company owner, then it’s really sketchy if whoever is doesn’t know about this. I’m assuming that’s not the case, particularly in such a small company.”

    LW mentions that the CEO is also the founder, so I don’t think it’s the case here.

  29. Delta Delta*

    #3 – I probably wouldn’t put this up, if I were you. I’ve long been a fan of poster art, and I probably wouldn’t give a second thought to seeing a movie poster on an office wall. The other thing I assume is that OP’s poster (if they decide to hang it) would be appropriately framed, and not hung up with thumbtacks or poster putty like in a college dorm room.

    Other thoughts – does the organization have rules about appropriate decor? Maybe check that out. Second, is this really something that’s worth it to do? I understand liking the poster or the movie and wanting to have something a little different than run of the mill office art. Many of my favorite posters, art-wise, are old advertisements for various kinds of liquor. Those probably wouldn’t be appropriate, either, for this kind of workplace. (a bar or a liquor distributer would be okay; a government office probably is not)

  30. Purple Halo*

    LW1 I’d be tempted to go with a comment to colleagues along the lines of – oh my I feel silly, I never realised Gertrude and Mabel Smith are mother and daughter. I just thought it was funny that their names matched.

    Or hey – are Gertrude and Mabel family? I’ve heard a few comments lately that make me think they are – I’d hate to get that wrong and say something out of line.

    It might be a secret – or just not heavily advertised.

    It could be that they think everyone knows (it sounds like a family business) – but keep their personal lives out of the office. Not so much hiding – but not flaunting (if they did advertise some would gangs a problem with that) Yes there’ll be some bias there – but that’s a reality of a small family business. Also the case when a few friends start a business together. Or even when a small business has had the same few employees for 15 years and then expand.

    But I can’t imagine what you expect you could do about it. Are you thinking you could make them sack the two of them? Or one of them?

    Family businesses are often started to benefit the family. And the family is more important than the other employees. Not that poor behaviour should ever be tolerated. But really if I ran my own business and was choosing between my kid getting a role and another – if I believed my kid was suitable to the role, and I was training them to take over the business in future – then random employee being better won’t mean anything.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      They may also not have the same last name which may make it less obvious.

      On the other hand some names are so common you don’t even suspect them as related– I worked in an office once with 4 Smiths and 2 Nelsons, no relations.

  31. Peanut Hamper*

    LW#3: Aside from the gun violence aspect, hanging a cool movie poster on your wall to make your room look cool is very much something teenagers do. It is quite possible that some people will view as somewhat immature as a result.

    When it comes to an office environment, banal is better. (Think of the Windows XP background image “Bliss”, which is the ultimate in banality.)

    1. Eliot Waugh*

      There is nothing inherently immature about a nicely framed movie poster. This really depends on your job and office environment.

    2. metadata minion*

      I agree that it’s a bit casual for a lawyer’s office, unless they work with film companies or something, but plenty of adults enjoy movies. Especially if it’s framed or otherwise not just taped sloppily to the wall, that says “film buff” to me, not “dorm room”.

    3. Nancy*

      There are many well-designed, beautiful film posters and having one nicely framed on your wall is not immature. All it says is you like said film/artwork.

    4. Picket*

      It’s really frustrating how many comments there are here hitting this same point. A lot of people are passionate about movies as an art form, and many film posters themselves are beautiful. Seeing those people dismissed as immature and juvenile is really judgmental and narrow-minded.

      I don’t think there would be nearly as much support for a commenter who thought that the YA novel she saw on a coworker’s desk symbolized the coworker’s immaturity and lack of professionalism.

      1. Critical Rolls*

        I get the frustration, but a poster is an intentional display, whereas a book that happens to be out isn’t. There is a strong association between movie posters and young people because they’re inexpensive, visually interesting, and you don’t have to know anything about art to choose them. It’s a formula for decorating teenage bedrooms, dorms, and first apartments. Of course adults can have a great interest in movies! And maybe commenters are reacting to the image of a tacked-up print rather than something framed. But office culture varies a lot in how much of your personal interests are expected to be reflected in the workplace, and “government lawyer” seems likely to be very far over on the “impersonal space” side of the continuum. So I think what’s setting people off is the combination of “movie posters in dorms” and “not reading professional norms.”

        1. Angelo*

          That would be a lot more understandable if commenters hadn’t had some other frustrating ideas about “professional norms” in the past.

          Wearing pajamas to work and falling asleep in meetings? “None of that should matter. Only the work you produce should matter.”

          Hanging a movie poster in your office? “Ew, what are you, a teenager? Grow up.”

          Sometimes, it feels like it ultimately comes down to “anything that appeals to me is inherently professional, and anything that doesn’t appeal to me is inherently unprofessional.”

          1. hardy*

            None those were things the majority was saying, it’s unfair to take something said by a minority of people and characterize the whole community that way.

    5. umami*

      I have a Tombstone acoustic movie panel in my home theater, it’s one of my favorite movies and looks amazing. I wouldn’t think to put it in my office (and if I did, I would not have given any thought to the depiction of guns). You are right that individual motivations for hanging posters can differ, but if a lot of people see it as immature or promoting ‘X’, then it’s probably best to leave it at home.

      1. circlecitybelle*

        One of my favorite movies as well. So well acted, though of course Val Kilmer steals every scene he’s in.
        I work in higher education and would not put up a poster from the movie, though. We have had active shooter alerts and lockdowns, and of course so many other university campuses have been the sites of this same thing and worse.
        I have, however, put up posters from concert tours (think John Mayer, Mumford and Sons, maybe Taylor Swift if we can get tickets) because those are often conversation starters with my students.

  32. Lacey*

    LW1: I’ve worked so many places where family members owned & ran the business, or it was mostly the same family in management, or even where there are several families with multiple members (children, spouses, in-laws) who worked there.

    And while they were all pretty careful to keep things professional in the work place – everyone was well aware of the relationships and no one tried to hide it.

  33. HonorBox*

    LW1 – I’ll second Alison’s advice to casually mention it to others in the office. It seems like mother/daughter have done a great job of maintaining a good working relationship, and barring other evidence that they’re doing something that would be a conflict of interest, it is probably OK. It isn’t weird that a small business has this kind of setup. It is just weird that they’re incredibly secretive about it. Everyone knowing the relationship helps everyone understand the dynamics at play, so it would be a kindness to everyone to be aware.

  34. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Go for bland posters at work if you must have them. I successfully got rid of a load of ‘motivational’ ones at our place because while some might see ‘hey look at this disabled athlete go!’ as inspiring I sure as heck see it as offensive.

    Windows Desktop wallpapers are legion here.

  35. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    #1 – it might be a family business. But if CEO and CIO are making all the decisions, people should know they are family. People should know that family relationships may be influencing decisions.

    You’ve already been told that you can’t go to one about the other one because they tell each other everything. People need to know that.

    Both of these things affect how you approach your work and whether you want to continue there or not.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Well, one person has told LW1 that the CEO and CIO share information, and that is a laid-off employee, who is likely lashing out. That’s what the C-suite is supposed to do, discuss details about the business, including employee performance or issues. It’s a small company, they lost a client, and had a layoff. It happens; I’m not making light of the situation. I am a federal contractor and I’ve been laid off when contracts haven’t been renewed at all or we lost the recompetition bid, despite the best efforts of management to keep the work.

      LW1, you found out about the relationship, then looked closer at the two people in question, for…evidence of something wrong? All I see are two related people acting very professionally. If your daily work is not affected by this relationship, let it go, and focus on doing your best work (to help retain and gain new clients).

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

        Even if that co-worker was not laid off, I wouldn’t have trusted that they were right saying that “they share everything” because that just sounds so gossipy. If multiple people are having problems that would be different. However, in the case of talking to the CEO about a problem with CIO, Of course the CEO would talk to the CIO about it. That’s a boss’s job. If I went to my boss and said that I was having problems with getting information from a coworker, they would talk to the person to see what the miscommunication was. That’s what a good boss does. And of course the CIO and CEO would talk about everything. That’s their jobs. I don’t think there is anything really wrong going on. I think they just wanted to try and make people comfortable and show their is no bias. It might also be that everyone knew and then as new people came no one thought to inform them, and so it became this thing that isn’t a secret but some people know and some don’t.

      2. umami*

        I think it says a lot that it wasn’t obvious they have a familial relationship but also that it wasn’t secret, to me that sounds healthy and professional. It’s one thing to know it and then be thoughtful about how you are communicating, but it’s quite another to assume they share things in a way that is detrimental to employees or the business. It was years before I realized one of the executive assistants I worked with was the daughter of the CEO’s executive assistant, not because it was secret, but because it was never obvious.

  36. Yellow Dreams*

    My boss is a biathlete, and has a medal along with her last competitive targets (including bullet holes of course) up in her office. If she wrote in to ask the same question, would you recommend she take that down? Is it important enough that you recommend I bring it up with her?

    1. Firecat*

      I wouldn’t risk bringing this up to your boss personally. It’s not a hill I’d be willing to ruffle feathers for.

    2. metadata minion*

      There’s a previous question along those lines if you look in the archives. The comments got impressively heated.

      I would find it a bit uncomfortable to see shooting targets in someone’s office, but it would definitely make a difference whether they were generic bull’s-eyes or human sillouettes.

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

        I think if they are in a display case with the medals and trophies it would be different than just pinned to the wall. For me showcasing their winnings from a competitive sport is different than someone just showing off their target from the gun range. It just sits differnet.

      2. Phony Genius*

        If I recall correctly, the targets in the previous letter were person-shaped. Competitive shooting targets are generally just plain circles (some biathlon targets don’t even look like bullseyes), so it may not be comparable.

    3. AngryOctopus*

      I mean, the medals seem fine, but the targets being displayed AT WORK is what pings my “you shouldn’t do this” radar. Why have the targets up? Why not just the medals, and she could have a collage of photos of her competing in biathalon? Someone having shot at targets in their office, basically devoid of context to an outsider, is not a good look.

      1. Michael W. Scottified*

        …you think photos of her holding and firing firearms is better than targets?

        I know it’s an Olympic sport and everything, but some people’s sensibilities are just so sensitive I am not sure what to suggest. I guess it’s like if she was a boxer or did judo. Fine to do right, but do you need your coworkers to know about it? Why bring that into the office?

    4. Mockingjay*

      These kinds of questions – and answers – are context-dependent. In the case of LW3, they work for a government agency, which carries an expectation of public welcome throughout regardless of the employee’s role. This is the reason for “office bland” decor; the focus is supposed to be on the agency’s work and services for the public.

      It’s one of those unspoken, unwritten societal agreements that can never be quantified: how much can I “express” myself at work without treading upon another’s sensibilities? Most of us know this line instinctively; I suspect LW3 knows too, but wrote in hopes that maybe the line can be shifted a little? (No.)

      1. Angstrom*

        Context…I work in an area where hunting is common, and it’s not unusual to visit someone in their cubicle and see a small photo of them or a family member in camo with a firearm and dead animal.
        Differences to the OP’s case is that they’re not poster-sized, not visible to someone passing by, and the roles are not public-facing.

    5. umami*

      Personally, I don’t think that’s appropriate in an office, and I say that as both an athlete with lots of medals, and as an expert marksman with plenty of souvenir targets from the range. It’s an odd thing to want to put in your work office and feels a bit braggy for something that is a niche sport. Now, that is without knowing the context, like if the items are in a display case or otherwise designed as artwork, it might read as more appropriate (I did this as part of a competition and won) than just displaying a target with holes in it (I like to go to the range on my spare time and want you to see how good a shot I am). I display my medals in the guest room, and the targets … aren’t displayed anywhere, because why?

    6. Head sheep counter*

      I wouldn’t be happy if my boss had targets with bullet holes just up on the wall. If it was a display with the metal and other ephemera… that would feel like it was at least in context and I’d probably ignore it.

    7. Observer*

      If she wrote in to ask the same question, would you recommend she take that down?

      In most contexts, yes.

      Is it important enough that you recommend I bring it up with her?

      Probably not. Of course it does depend on what kind of work you do, and what her position in the organization is. But for most situations I can think of, no.

  37. Thurley*

    LW 2, I’m applying for jobs in tech and I have been given numbers that include benefits and other compensation, but the amount is expressed as a “total package” or similar to communicate that this isn’t just base pay.

    1. Firecat*

      I wouldn’t risk bringing this up to your boss personally. It’s not a hill I’d be willing to ruffle feathers for.

    2. LW2*

      Funny you say this because this position was at a particular healthcare tech company. If they had said “total package” upfront then maybe I wouldn’t have been so incensed.

  38. Baron*

    LW5, learning disabilities are also a thing. I worked for a boss with such severe dyslexia (and dyslexia isn’t just transposing letters) that you could send him an e-mail, “Hey, boss, should we do (thing)?”, he could write back “Yes”, and then his whole staff would have to spend the whole morning huddling: “Does this mean ‘yes’? Do you think maybe he mixed up ‘yes’ and ‘no’ again?”, because sometimes he did that.

    Ideally, your workplace would have something in place to make sure that onboarding materials were readable. But it’s totally possible that there’s an LD in play here.

    1. ceiswyn*

      But if there’s a LD in play, it should be being accommodated in such a way that the colleague can actually do the job they’re being asked to do.

      If someone actually can’t perform a particular task to a reasonable standard – which in this case they can’t, because they’re not just misspelling words, they’re giving instructions that can’t be followed – then that is a problem that needs to be addressed.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, an accommodation doesn’t mean that the person can’t do routine parts of their job and everyone else just scrambles to figure it out for them.

    2. listen up fives, a ten is speaking*

      Your boss routinely mixed up “yes” and “no?” That seems like a serious issue. I hope it got resolved.

  39. DramaQ*

    I just did an internal interview. HR requires the same format and questions regardless if you are external or internal. It’s four interviews 30 minutes each and they have to ask at least two canned questions.

    It was weird for everyone but we went through the motions that took about 10 minutes.

    Since we didn’t didn’t have to engage in getting to know you/the company talk we spent the next 20 minutes talking shop. This is where I really shine in interviews so I milked that opportunity.

    Also being internal I now had questions to ask I wouldn’t have thought of as an external candidate.

    So while the format may be weird having 30 minutes each to work with may not be a bad thing

  40. Anonymouse*

    There are times when I’m reminded that AAM is not representative of the real world, and the response to LW3 is one of them.

    Someone being offended or afraid because of a James Bond poster because he’s holding a gun is, to borrow a popular phrase around here, bananapants. LW isn’t even outing themselves as a gun owner, just someone who likes action movies, which is an incredibly mainstream taste in films.

    Is it immature? Possibly, but no more immature than any other personal adornments someone might put in an office. But to say it’s offensive is more than a little off the wall.

    1. Eliot Waugh*

      I’d rather see some cool movie posters (without guns, I agree on that aspect) in someone’s office than an extensive FunkoPop collection.

    2. Baron*

      There are lots of different “real worlds” out there, is the thing. If you’re in law enforcement or something, guns are a very normalized thing. I’ve never seen a gun in real life nor know anyone who has, except for the various innocent bystanders I know who’ve been shot.

      I don’t think Alison, or anyone, said that “it’s offensive”. Just that some might be upset by it. And some might. The fact that others do love guns is already well known.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Right? Or Humphrey Bogart. He’s holding a pistol in a whole bunch of his posters, including Casablanca. In the Maltese Falcon, he’s got two.

      I would assume the poster indicated the person was a movie fan, not a gun fan.

    4. Pink Candyfloss*

      Where I live “in the real world” hanging a poster depicting use of a firearm would not be permitted for exactly the reasons you think are bananapants.

      It’s a good time to remember that each of us lives in only a small part of the world and sometimes you have to expand outward to get a wider point of view. Reading all the comments here shows the range of experiences we all have.

      In this case the wisest course of option is to keep a (psychologically) safe working environment for fellow employees and clients which means “don’t keep something so controversial that it even sparks repeated debate (some heated) in the comments of a management blog, visibly displayed in your office”.

    5. Totally Minnie*

      Can you please not frame an involuntary trauma response as someone “getting offended”?

      As I mentioned in a comment above, I lived through a dangerous and terrifying experience with a gun. My friend did not. I’m in a place in my recovery now where an image of a gun in the wild won’t always trigger a trauma response, but that certainly wasn’t the case earlier on in my journey. And because of insensitive comments like this one, when I had a trauma response to something other people would categorize as “innocent,” I felt a good bit of shame and self loathing about that, because why couldn’t I just be mature enough to categorize it like other people did?

      This kind of rhetoric that waves away trauma as immaturity and looking to take offense at every little thing is just as damaging to trauma survivors as the violent imagery is. Please stop and think before you speak (or type).

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Support here. I do not like images of guns for reasons I don’t want to disclose and generally I expect to not see them at work, at the doctors, at home, out shopping or the other places I tend to be.

      2. Anonymouse*

        As someone with trauma of my own, who is currently working through it in therapy, I understand that my involuntary trauma response isn’t the fault or responsibility of another person’s innocuous actions (in this case, hanging a movie poster). If I assign blame to that person, and demand they alter their behavior based on my involuntary trauma response, then yes, I am choosing to get offended.

        I wish you the best in your healing journey, as I hope you’ll wish me the best in mine.

    6. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      You obviously have never experienced trauma. Good for you. But do not insult people who have by calling them crazy. If someone is triggered by seeing a gun, that’s not something they are choosing to do.

      I once sat next to a colleague at a conference. Unexpectedly they did a weird balloon popping thing and my poor colleague started and dove under the table. Because of his PTSD. He was terrified and then he was humiliated because it happened in public. He was not offended. I was not offended. But I definitely gave feedback to the event organizer.

      Be kind instead of judgmental.

      1. Anonymouse*

        Copy and pasting my previous comment because it applies here too.

        As someone with trauma of my own, who is currently working through it in therapy, I understand that my involuntary trauma response isn’t the fault or responsibility of another person’s innocuous actions (in this case, hanging a movie poster). If I assign blame to that person, and demand they alter their behavior based on my involuntary trauma response, then yes, I am choosing to get offended.

        It’s really disheartening to have people invalidate you by saying “you just never have experienced trauma” because my reaction doesn’t jive with your notions of how someone like me should think and react. You should also be kind instead of judgmental. Just a suggestion.

      2. Diocletian Blobb*

        >You obviously have never experienced trauma.

        That is not even kind of obvious from their statement, lol

    7. Well...*

      Yea, I agree that in most workplaces this would be fine. I think it’s odd that people are saying it’s immature — lots of adults like movies. I read AMA’s answer as like, “okay, just to be safe, don’t include it” which I think is fair. If you’re working with a wide range of clients, or clients that might be more likely to be triggered, then there’s nothing to lose by just not putting it up.

      I am also pretty convinced most people wouldn’t clock a movie poster as referencing gun violence just because guns in movies is such a common thing. If you say it without the direct question of, “are guns okay though,” most people would just not notice. The thing is, now we did all notice, and people are going to have feelings about it.

      Maybe the takeaway is that if you do put up this movie poster, don’t start talking about how it references gun violence but that should be okay because (insert irrelevant and misleading stat).

      That doesn’t mean guns are innocuous things to show imagery of or that guns are no worse than anything else. I just don’t think the movie poster is that big a deal.

      1. Baron*

        Doing a quick control-F, I’m one of two people here who’ve said that hanging a movie poster seemed “immature”, and I wish I hadn’t used that word. It’s not precisely what I meant, and I apologize for using it. I more meant “slightly off-kilter from what I see in most lawyers’ offices”, and even that, not as a pejorative—it’s okay to not be exactly the same as everyone else!

        1. Well...*

          hah, I actually missed your comment and wasn’t trying to call you out, but someone else did say “childish” and I replied directly there as well, so it seems there are more than two people who’ve said it. Anyways I agree with what you say now: it can feel out of place if not necessarily childish/immature.

    8. Legal Beagle*

      At first thought I agreed that it would be surprising to see a movie poster in someone’s office at work, but when I really thought through the things that I and other colleagues keep in ohr offices, including deal toys, candy jars, desktop games, drawings and art projects by kids, a movie poster really doesn’t seem that far outside the mainstream.

    9. Stuff*

      I mean, I’m actually a gun collector, not just owner, and I also work in both local government and education. While I actually can see myself putting up movie posters at work, I wouldn’t choose anything with a gun on it, because it is actually a deeply sensitive issue right now. I’m far more likely to choose fictional travel posters (Come visit Ba Sing Se, Coruscant, Whiterun, Baldur’s Gate, Qo’noS), guns just don’t belong in school or City Hall.

      What exactly is the “real world”, anyway? Is my field in my city, which had a mass shooting a few years ago that killed people in my field, who some of my coworkers and interagency contacts knew, not the real world?

    10. Head sheep counter*

      I think that the real world… is a place where movie posters and lawyer’s office… do not often find common ground. Movie poster with a gun so prevalent that one writes to and advice column would definitely be outside the norm especially for government. It might be so far out of the norm as to actually be in the guidelines for decor in the office. As a government adjacent employee there are quite a number of guidelines for office decor that include such things as needing to be apolitical and non-offensive.

  41. Coyote River*

    LW3 reminds me of something! Not that long ago a contractor started at my office, and told the office manager she was very distressed by what was written on my whiteboard.

    The offending writing? I had been writing in Russian Cyrillic, and seeing it had reminded her of the ongoing war. She wasn’t Russian or Ukrainian herself, but nonetheless felt triggered by seeing it because the whole situation had been stressing her out, despite being on the other side of the world. Poor girl needed a break from the news, I think.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      So how did you respond? Did you take it down or did you tell her to take a break from the news?

      1. Coyote River*

        By the time I found out about I’d already cleared the board, but my response would have likely been the latter. That is not to say I’m not compassionate to the situation in Ukraine, I am, and very much so. But I think her reaction was a little over the top.

    2. Ali + Nino*

      It’s giving “empath”
      – she’s not personally connected to the war
      – it was a writing system (not inherently connected to war/violence, etc.
      Sure, she can take a break from the news. That’s something she can do on her own time. To go out of her way to tell the office manager she was “very distressed?” Sorry, how does she function in the world?

  42. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #5 – I had a lot of concerns about the person who interviewed and onboarded me at my current job, both in terms of professionalism and conduct. I raised it maybe six months after I’d been hired, when we were hiring new staff. I broached it as “oh by the way have we looked at ___ process? I had some concerns when I went through it and maybe we can clean it up a little for the new hires.”

    Boss had no idea there were problems, and deeper issues surfaced when it was looked into. I’d recommend saying something, even if it’s just a nudge to take a look.

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

    #1 I wonder if the mother-daughter duo was just trying to be extra professional or something and it’s just gotten weird? Like I understand not wanting to seem like favoritism is happening or anything but they are just taking it far

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If everything seems to generally be running smoothly, that would be my guess.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My first thought is the daughter doesn’t want to be seen as a “nepo baby”.

      (Actually, that was my second thought. My first thought was this was Star Trek Lower Decks
      – very by-the-book captain is Mom, rules-breaking devil-may-care junior officer is daughter.)

  44. MCMonkeyBean*

    LW1 is very odd–my first thought is whether the people who know have mostly just been there longer? Like maybe initially it wasn’t so much that they were trying to keep it a *secret* but more that they were trying not to really talk about it and keep their relationship professional at work–and that happened to turn into newer people just not even knowing?

    If they didn’t want to talk about their relationship at work, it seems like the mom should probably just not talk much about family stuff like her mother’s birthday or her daughter’s wedding (or at least not share pictures; sharing only pics that don’t include her daughter is definitely the most actively sneaky thing in the letter). But maybe since she is the boss, it’s actually the daughter who asked her not to bring her up in family stuff because she’s worried about not being taken seriously or something?

    I agree with Alison about letting more people know, but trying to do it in a not-too-gossipy way. Less “omg can you believe they are mother and daughter!?” and more just “oh, huh, I didn’t realize they are mother and daughter.”

    1. umami*

      I wonder if working remote also plays into it – if you aren’t even sharing an office space with them, I can see it just never coming up. The circumstances as described really don’t seem too concerning, IMO.

  45. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    While putting up a movie poster doesn’t constitute endorsement of everything in the movie, putting anything up in an office will constitute a statement about one’s values. What we choose to look at all day does say something about who we are.

    In some offices, sure, a movie poster might be fine. One with a gun is likely to send a message about the person displaying it, though. There are a lot of classic movies with the theme of justice and if the LW really likes the look of classic movie posters, they may want to consider “Twelve Angry Men” or “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Erin Brockovitch” or “Selma.”

  46. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    My husband and I had the exact conversation as LW#3 when we found some vintage Bond posters recently (Connery era films, and my husband is a big fan of Bond in general). But decided against using them as office decor because 1) scantily clad women and 2) guns.

    But I will say I’m very surprised to hear a sense of categorical “no” to movie posters as “professional” decor. I wouldn’t blink an eye if someone had, for example, an original trilogy Star Wars poster on display in their office, especially if it was framed. It’s the kind of hugely popular, long-term franchise where learning a coworker is a fan of it is actually pretty unremarkable.

    In fact, I would consider a lot of older, vintage posters to be a form of artwork in their own right. While I generally agree that the type of movie and the context in which you work matters, I think it’s maybe too harsh to compare a (potentially framed?) vintage film poster to dorm room decor.

    1. Eliot Waugh*

      Even modern movies can have beautiful poster artwork worthy of display. I challenge anyone to take offense to my poster of Paterson (the blue version, not the one with a couple laying together).

      1. umami*

        I was about to say the same about my Casablanca poster, but lo and behold, Bogey is holding a gun! It hadn’t really registered. So if that is the poster in question, I wonder if it would still seem inappropriate to have such a classic poster on view. Based on the comments, I am guessing yes, but I don’t know that I would have thought that before.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think the older the movie, the more the poster reads as symbolic of the zeitgeist of the time and film.

          That said, I wouldn’t display a poster for The Jazz Singer and assume the only possible zeitgeist someone could take from that is “dawn of the talkies.”

      2. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        Agreed! I really like the illustration style on older posters, which you don’t really see today, but there are definitely contemporary posters that are really striking and well done.

    2. Picket*

      Yeah, I didn’t realize that my Singin’ in the Rain poster meant that I’m unprofessional and immature. I’ll have to let all of my coworkers know they’re wrong about me.

      1. umami*

        I have that poster too! Love the movie, but also the colors look great in my home theater. I picked not just movies I like, but ones that really pop against the peacock blue paint on the walls. And this one looks great!

        1. Picket*

          I’m not, but I do work for an investment firm that still requires business formal for all employees (to give you an idea of the general atmosphere). I even have clients in my office regularly.

          Hmm, do you think I should tell my VP that he’s made a huge mistake by letting me keep the poster?

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I think a lot of the people saying it’s unprofessional aren’t saying that as a general rule for all offices, but as a response to the knowledge that the LW is a lawyer at a government agency. Law and government both tend to be more formal and conservative than other professions and a movie poster would look out of place there in a way it wouldn’t in, say, a library or a marketing firm.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, like accountancy: conservative fields where “I am a boring, buttoned up, and just thinking some work thoughts” is reassuring to people before they bare their souls or give you access to their bank account.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I agree that people brought their conservative hats to the party today. A vintage “Singing in the Rain” movie poster wouldn’t really register with me. But I also agree Bond and movies of that ilk are a no-no for the office.

    5. bamcheeks*

      Honestly, I’m just kind of weirded out by the idea that anyone would decorate or hang artwork in their *office*. yawning cultural divide!

      1. CTT*

        Can I ask why you find that weird? I feel like decorating space you spend time with is something people like to do (obviously WHAT you decorate it with is up for debate)

        1. bamcheeks*

          I don’t see it as a personal space, but a public space. I *love* decorating my personal space at home, but an office isn’t “my” space and I don’t feel any need or desire to make it look mine.

          1. UKDancer*

            Same. I mean we’re in an open plan office so it’s fairly hard to personalise (I mean you don’t have walls). But I’ve never felt the need to personalise it. I personalise my personal space.

            I’ve never lived anywhere with enough room for a bespoke office (London flats are not very roomy) so if I have Teams meeting people either get the view of my lounge behind me or a standard Teams background if I remember to switch it on. If I had a home office I’d probably personalise it with a nice picture of the countryside because that’s the type of art I like.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Same. For me it goes beyond that too though, I think. It’s not just weird to me because I think of it as a public space, but also because in all my jobs, I’ve never seen someone “decorate” like that. Posters or artwork on walls was always in some way directly related to the work, or not present. People have interesting mugs, or photos of their family or vacations on their desks, but specifically putting stuff on the walls isn’t something I’ve encountered. Not that I think my experience is the be all end all, but it is part of why reading the question my thoughts were roughly:
            1) Well before you even get into the firearm angle, is it normal to hang your own stuff on the wall that isn’t a degree or certificate or similar thing that’s directly related to work?
            2) Is it normal to hang your own stuff on the wall that is a movie poster?
            3) Is the firearm image itself problematic?

            Since #3 is literally what the LW asked, I get why so much of the discussion hinges on it. And to a lesser extent that it spread over to #2, but I’m more in a “wait, that’s a thing?” place myself.

          3. londonedit*

            Same. Wondering whether it’s another UK/US divide? I’ve never worked in an office with ‘cubes’ or where anyone but the top brass have had an office to themselves – my experience of workplaces has been large rooms with banks of desks, and everyone sits next to each other so the only bit of space you have is your desk space. Nowadays we’re hybrid working and we can’t keep anything personal on our desks at work as they’re shared spaces, but even beforehand the most anyone would do would be to have a funky mug as a pen holder or a particular desk calendar or whatever. Maybe a plant. It would be unusual if someone had a ton of trinkets and photos and personal stuff on their desk, and it definitely wouldn’t be possible to hang up your own movie posters on the wall.

      2. Eliot Waugh*

        If I have to be in an office, I’m going to make it comfortable and more fun to be in for me. And I like indicating my personality.

        1. JustaTech*

          Yes to “indicating personality”!
          I have a few “strictly fun” things on my little half-wall including an XKCD comic (“Degree-off, #1520) and a picture of Dr Frances Kelsey. To people in my industry, this says some specific things about me. To anyone else they’re just some random printouts.

      3. Sloanicota*

        So funny you say that, I was just having this debate with a friend. It might be something that has changed very recently, with the invention of “hot desking” and the push towards open offices. I wouldn’t have previously thought twice about decorating an office – in the past I know people who brought in rugs, furniture, giant plants, art! – but lately I wouldn’t want to have more than I can carry out in a box if I’m either kicked out the door one day or demoted into the bullpen because someone else is getting my space. Even decorating cubes used to be a thing, and now I wouldn’t do it again beyond what I could carry.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Also I’d now feel weird having an ornately decorated office if 75% of the staff is in open cubes. Almost feels like rubbing it in or something. But, I’m probably on the extreme end because my last job before going remote had VERY STRICT “no personalization” rules because they wanted the shared deskspace to look “clean and modern” (it was a terrible working space. Just literally shared benches in one room, we were right on top of each other. Of course the two decision-makers had private spaces. Note that I stopped working in offices at all after that job).

          1. I Have RBF*

            The university job that laid me off during covid had an open plan. While we weren’t quite on top of each other, it was still open plan. When we moved in they even took away my ergonomic chair because the crappy chairs that they standardized on were supposedly ergonomic and fit “everybody.” (They did not, in fact, fit everybody. They sure didn’t quite fit me.) They also had a “clean desk” rule and tried to ban “drink container forests” and other personalizations. They even tried to ban books on your desk, but also allowed no bookshelves. I disobeyed both of these inane edicts.

            It was bizarre how much they went for the “assembly line, bland drone” look in that office, and it was demoralizing as hell.

            They even whined about the coat rack that I put in our area – they wanted us to use the lockers (halfway across the building) or hang stuff over the backs of our chairs, but the chairs were ill suited for it. My boss, who sat in the open plan area with us, used it as much as I did. I left it for him when I left, because he liked being in-office.

        2. umami*

          I’m not much of an office decorator (I had all my ‘I love me’ plaques and awards in boxes for about 5 years before finally unpacking and hanging some stuff about 6 months ago), but I had a direct report who got a new position at another location that was a promotion. I remember her saying she was going to pack up her office (with ALL the things you mention above) and leave it in her car so she could unpack it at her new office. I suggested she might want to check out the culture there first, and also make sure her new boss was OK with it. I didn’t care – I thought it was rather excessive personally, but it wasn’t my space, and it was her private office. But I felt it would be beneficial for her to know that might not be the norm somewhere else before she showed up with rugs and art and sparkly accent pillows.

        3. bamcheeks*

          this is so wild to me! I had bosses with her own office who had a bunch of motivational-type quotes on her wall that she’d obviously put up herself, which, you know, fine, wouldn’t be for me but OK, but that was very unusual and I’ve never heard of people bringing in furniture or art or *rugs*.

        4. Chidi has a stomach ache*

          I bet this is field-specific, too. In higher ed, it was super common to see profs invest in their office space (this ranged from idiosyncratic decorations, to hacks to improve bookshelf space). When I was in secondary ed, teachers had shared offices, but they did some things to jazz it up (classrooms were of course decorated, but that was not about the teacher’s likes so much as the subject/students). My husband just got an office in his engineering firm and I get the sense he’s doing a bit more to nest in it than his colleagues — but he’s ultimately keeping things pretty neutral (artwork of the Grand Canyon; extra lighting; a nice clock).

      4. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Interesting! Everyone at my job has highly personalized offices. A small number of people are in cubes but those are also decorated.

      5. Goldenrod*

        I feel like the wise thing to do in this situation is err on the side of caution and refrain from putting up the poster.

        But on a side note: I have a friend who loves to decorate her office, she has the weirdest shiz up, and no one has ever said a word. They don’t even seem to see it! For example, she had a Southwestern theme at one point and had an actual cow skull on her wall – she was laughing as she told me this – and everyone just seems to accept it at face value.

        For what it’s worth, we work at a university – there are students and faculty in and out of her office all the time. But it’s one of the more arty subjects, so maybe that’s why….

    6. McGill*

      I keep thinking of Wilson’s office on House: the character was an oncologist (as serious/vulnerable a setting as a lawyer’s office) and he had framed vintage movie posters on his wall. To me, it showed his interests and personality and offered a possible point of connection for patients. The show was awash with inappropriate behaviour but the posters seemed fine!

      I don’t know if they’re okay in a government lawyer’s office but I think they can be okay, even in a serious setting.

    7. CTT*

      I mentioned this site already in another comment that hasn’t come through yet, but I love going to the Film Art Gallery site, and would really encourage the “ew, movie posters” crowd to take a look. Movie advertising is an art in of itself and I would consider it similar a framing a poster from an art exhibit. Obviously that depends a lot on the movie and your particular office, but it’s not inherently unprofessional.

    8. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I wouldn’t blink at a Star Wars poster in a home office; I’d definitely think it was weird in a workplace office. We don’t have the same expectations around decor at home vs work and unless there is something truly unprofessional going on in the background, we generally don’t expect that people will modify their home spaces to remove all traces of their own personality.

  47. RagingADHD*

    Is it possible that the family relationship in #1 is tacit knowledge that they assume the staff all know already? If they are under the impression that it is common knowledge, then avoiding making a big deal of it could be an attempt to maintain professional boundaries rather than an attempt to keep it secret. It’s not necessarily a good plan, since the LW just found out and was surprised. But it may not be intentionally covert.

    I would never assume that one member of the C-Suite would keep business-related secrets from the other anyway, even if they weren’t family members. If I had a complaint about one, I would assume that they are likely to discuss it with the other. How else would they do anything about it?

  48. Educator*

    LW4, in my experience, 30 minute interviews do not always give me a ton of time to ask my questions, so I always go in with a prioritized list of the things I really want to ask so that when they say “do you have any question for us” 28 minutes in, I am ready to go. I have also seen a lot of 30 minute interviews run over. If you are mid-flow at the end time, don’t worry about it. They should tell you if they have a hard stop.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree that if I saw an interview was scheduled for 30 minutes, I’d assume it was my own questions that were going to be cut off (because they tend to occur at the end of the interview). If I had a burning question, I’d plan to get it in early – interviews are a two way street after all, whatever the company thinks – but I’d also ask if there will be another opportunity to ask my questions if I’m advanced.

    2. 3o Minute Interviewee*

      Oh yes!! Both of these positions (it’s two interviews for two separate jobs) have a little more backstory to it that I won’t get into here, but I had the opportunity to ask a bunch of questions before the jobs were posted.

  49. LW3 here*

    LW3 here. Thank you to everyone for the comments and thoughts. I appreciate the varied perspectives and different reasons why a movie poster generally, and one with a gun specifically, might cause issues. Message received loud and clear—no movie posters will adorn my walls!

    1. This_is_Todays_Name*

      Solid choice. At home our basement rec room has lots of movie and concert posters, but at the office, strictly family and pet pics and bland artwork.

  50. CzechMate*

    Re #1: years ago, I worked at a company where the CEO was investigated under…very nebulous circumstances. (I still don’t know what it was all about, to be honest.) As part of the process, I was interviewed by an employment attorney who was acting as an independent investigator. During our interview, he said, “Some people have told me that Fergus [CEO], Jane, and Mary are kind of like a clique–that they’ll have private meetings in their office and share all this information with each other.” I said, “Well, sure, Jane is the COO and Mary is their key strategy person–doesn’t that kind of make sense?”

    Point being–the family relationship bit of this is a little weird, but I don’t necessarily think it’s THAT weird that the CEO and CIO work so closely together/share so much information.

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      The senior leadership team are a clique? That is a new one in the Annals of Deep Misunderstanding of Office Roles.

  51. Dinwar*

    #3: The question is, is the picture OF a gun, or does it INCLUDE a gun?

    I’ve seen a lot of people with photos from tours of duty that include guns, ranging from side arms to Jeep-mounted or C130-mounted machine guns. I’ve also seen law enforcement officers (active and former) with photos that include their firearms. And I’ve seen photos of employees’ kids holding a rifle or shotgun at a hunting camp or Boy Scouts event. In each of these cases, the gun is not the focus–the people are, and the gun has as much significance as the person’s hat or the trees behind them. In those cases, I think you’re fine. For that matter, I doubt most people would notice the gun. I’ve seen coworkers do this with their desktops on their computers, and no one says anything. (Culture will obviously play a HUGE role in this–a law enforcement group is going to be more open to including a fire arm than, say, a group supporting abused women.)

    If it’s a photo of a gun, I’d think it’s weird. Maybe if it was a particularly noteworthy gun that related to some subject I knew you were interested in–say, a brass long 9 pounder, and I knew you were a Patrick O’Brian fan. But if it’s a photo of a Winchester .22 carbine, or a standard 9 mm pistol, I’m going to think it’s very strange. It’s the equivalent of putting a photo of your dishes on the wall, or framing a blank gray t-shirt–something so ordinary and mundane that celebrating it in any way indicates there’s something very strange going on.

    I’ve been the victim of gun violence multiple times, ranging from individuals with high-powered rifles targeting me to groups with automatic weapons trying to kill me, to a drug deal gone bad (I wasn’t buying or selling, I just happened to be walking the dog), to some much worse things that I’m not at liberty to discuss (never served in the military or law enforcement either; field geology is a rather wild career). For my part, that doesn’t factor into my reaction. C’est n’est pas une pipe, savoire? The picture of a gun–and knowing you have one–simply isn’t something I care much about; I vaguely assume most people I work with have them. Everyone’ll be different of course, but that’s how I would react.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      For what it’s worth, I would 100% notice the gun in all those scenarios you describe and would question why of all the pictures this person has of them and their loved ones, those are the ones they chose to display in the office.

      1. Dinwar*

        For the cops and military, it’s part of the job–a gun is more out of place in such scenarios than a hard hat or safety vest would on a construction site (and in many cases NOT having it would be a violation). I have a cousin that’s essentially a brother to me, who’s also a cop. If I take a photo of him and he happens to be in uniform, he’s gonna have a gun on his hip–by law. And unfortunately, given his work schedule, most of the time I see him these days he’s either coming off or going on shift and stopping by to chat before he goes home. Am I not allowed to take a photo of him and his daughter merely because he happens to be carrying a tool he’s required to wear for his job? Similarly, if I served in the military and had a group photo in front of the vehicle I served in (I didn’t, but this is a common thing in the military), am I not allowed to display what may be the only photo I have of the whole unit merely because it happens to include tools of my trade?

        As for hunting, chalk it up to cultural differences. I grew up in a relatively poor area where hunting was often a significant source of food for families. A kid’s first deer is a significant milestone because it represents him or her contributing meaningfully to the sustenance of the family. Things have changed, but cultures carry inertia and a fair number of people still hold that view, either consciously or unconsciously. Such photos are common enough in the circles I travel in to excite no comment, at any rate–it’s like having a photo of your kid in a football uniform (an activity I consider far more dangerous, because there’s no way to make it safe and where we are literally encouraging children to scramble their brains for our entertainment).

    2. LilPinkSock*

      Phew, this comment makes me really glad I’m not great with sciences–field geology sounds out of control!

  52. This_is_Todays_Name*

    For the onboarder, I had similar issues with the onboarding personnel at a huge company. Fortunately, a week or so after I was fulling “oriented” I got an email with a survey about the onboarding process and the chance to provide substantive feedback. So, perhaps you’ll get the opportunity to provide feedback, as well.

  53. CTT*

    LW 3, although I agree with Alison that the sort of painter you suggested probably isn’t the best for work, you are not doomed to be stuck with bland art. This is definitely a “know your office” situation, but look around and see what other people have up and I bet you can find something you can work with.

    Also, check out Film Art Gallery – they have some fun vintage posters. I splurged on a poster from a 1980s Japanese rerelease of Breathless – I have it up in my room office now (and I’m a female lawyer, albeit at a firm – movie posters aren’t just for boy’s basements!)

    1. umami*

      I love that site! But they are so pricey *sigh*. I’m hoping my husband will get me a vintage Empire Strikes Back poster for Christmas.

      1. CTT*

        Just made the mistake of checking on that and found a Russian poster for A New Hope that is a few thousand dollars but SO COOL.

  54. She of Many Hats*

    LW5 – some organizations do a review of their onboarding processes with new hires after they’ve settled in or at the end of the probationary period. That is the time to give the feedback. If the onboarding person also does other HR duties that require you to interact with them or is only doing onboarding, then, as Allison said, get the lay of the land before mentioning it to your manager or the onboarding person’s manager.

  55. Johannes Bols*

    Hanging a poster of a gun in your office is asking for conflict and confrontation. Remember, it’s not your home and could potentially damage your reputation because people WILL talk behind your back. It’s the MAGA equivalent of a rainbow flag.

  56. K*

    I don’t know why OP #1 thinks they’re keeping a secret and not just that she didn’t know they were mother and daughter. They’re all working remote. It’s not like there’s a break room where everyone sits down and chats. Sometimes you just don’t notice stuff.

  57. AssumeNormalInterviews*

    op4, if a company has candidates interview with several people individually these interviews are mist commonly 30 minutes each. In my experience you are more like to have 4-6 of them sequentially as a single longer interview than have them scheduled separately, but I have had a few scheduled at 2 or 3 separate times.

    Unless they tell you it’s a phone screen rather than an interview I’d assume it’s just like any other interview. Also, when scheduled separately they are more likely to run long so I’d allow at least an hour if at all possible – if you’re having a good conversation it’s to your benefit to keep going unless your interviewer ends it.

    Good luck!

  58. SomeEmployersDoThis*

    op2, sadly that’s incredibly normal for a subset of employers who think that you’ll change your mind when you have an offer in hand or who think they offer other things that will make their salary offer more palatable.

    I’ve had the difference be much more significant a difference than what you call out (as much as 40k different believe it or not). It’s also possible they think the ~2k difference you call out is more like a rounding error that shouldn’t make much difference.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but either negotiate, accept it, or walk away. If you take an offer from them read everything all the time and watch out for other types of shenanigans. Also be aware that almost everything in an offer can be changed later so be on the lookout.

  59. ENFP in Texas*

    I always understood that “salary” is “how much I can expect to be guaranteed in cash that I can use to pay my bills”. I can’t pay bills with benefits.

    Salary = how much you are paid via paycheck for time worked.

    Total Compensation = the total value of your salary, benefits, and any bonuses.

  60. anon #5*

    LW if it’s any consolation, the hierchy of my company is
    * CEO who used to date the VP
    * VP is married to the 3rd in command
    * Sales manager is the brother of the 3rd in command/BIL of the VP
    * 3rd in command used to manage brother but decided that was just too nepotistic (:

  61. Lobsterman*

    LW2, the only thing I would add is that this is apparently a standard tactic now. Job seekers who aren’t in a field with full salary transparency should expect this to happen a double digit percentage of the time, going forward.

  62. Goldenrod*

    In response to OP #1, I know of a very similar situation! In fact, it’s so similar, that I wonder if it happens to be the identical situation (but probably not).

    In the scenario that I know of, the CEO mom was a marketing professor (married to another marketing professor at a prestigious school) and their daughter was….not very smart. In fact, she got suspended from graduate school for cheating on a test! In my opinion, she should have been kicked out. I saw a sample of her writing and was shocked – to me, it looked like 4th grade level and definitely NOT someone who could earn a graduate degree.

    Anyway, short version is that the parents had high expectations that their daughter follow in their footsteps – but she clearly lacked the ability – so eventually the mother founded her own marketing company and hired the daughter into an executive position. I looked at their website and was surprised that there was NO MENTION of the family connection on the site at all (and mother/daughter have different names).

    In this case, it’s clear to me that the mother is essentially creating a prestigious job for her daughter, and doing all the work herself, as a way of…saving face, I guess?

    They would clearly want to hide this because, if the truth were to get out, the incompetence of the daughter would be revealed (i.e. she didn’t earn this position and is likely not very good at it). And they don’t want to lose clients.

    Not sure if this situation is similar but this is one possible explanation…

  63. girlie_pop*

    In response to LW1: The last company I worked for did this ALL THE TIME and it was so weird. A new HR employee was hired and they went out of their way to avoid revealing that she was the COO’s cousin, and the owner and CEO’s son-in-law was hired in some fake operations role and of course they never said anything, and the SIL even went out of his way to make it seem like he had been headhunted when I first met him.

    It was especially weird considering nepotism hiring was a huge thing at the company. It was very common for salesmen’s sons to work there and take over their dad’s book of business when they retired, and the company was never weird about that. Just when they were in leadership positions, I guess.

  64. Petty_Boop*

    I guess I am confused by the first letter, and Alison’s response. I didn’t think it odd at all or that they were “hiding it” so much as “not flaunting it”. People act weirdly sometimes when they find out that colleagues are related to each other. You inevitably start thinking, “Well of course she can…[….] she’s his/her daughter/wife/mother/aunt. I think just going about business at business… is the way to approach it. I mean if someone asked and they DENIED it, that’d be weird AF, but I’ve never looked up my company leadership on FaceBook to see if any of their family worked here or anything. I just think they’re keeping it low key to avoid drama, most likely.

  65. Ollie*

    I am an artist and I sell my art for home use mostly but I do sell to lawyers and doctors for their office. My marketting line is that people in lawyer’s, dentist’s, and doctor’s offices are often stressed and my work is meant to be peaceful and calming. I don’t know what kind of lawyering you do but if it’s possible that people are stressed go for something peaceful and calming, certainly not a gun.

Comments are closed.