nude drawing as a work social event, resigning coworker is upset that she wasn’t invited to a conference, and more

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

1. Nude drawing as a work social event

We have a group of people in our office responsible for planning work social events. They need to seek approval prior to booking any events due to previously breaking activity guidelines.

Recently they have asked for approval to hold an event doing a life drawing class. My immediate reaction is that this would be inappropriate as a work event, in the office or even outside of it, but am I just being a prude? I know there is nothing inherently sexual about life drawing, but something about nudity at a company-funded event sits uncomfortably with me.

There is nothing in our activity guidelines about this kind of activity, just that events should promote our firm’s culture, be inclusive, and not push people outside of their comfort zones.

Assuming we’re talking about an unclothed model, you’re right that it’s inappropriate! “Company events shouldn’t include nudity” is a reasonable and useful line to draw. You should want everyone to remain clothed at company events, including non-employees.

I’m curious about the history with this group since you mentioned they’re already getting more supervision because of previous problems! Without knowing more it’s hard to say, but I wonder if there needs to be more of a shake-up there. (But either way, I’m very interested in hearing what else they’ve suggested!)

2. My team member wants to use the Myers-Briggs test to understand each other

I’ve got a new person seconded into my team. She’s great, really pleased to have her on board. This week she asked me something that threw me. We’re on a deadline presenting to have the opportunity to move wooden dollars around the organization and I can see she’s getting very stressed by my boss and I basically winging it, so I had a chat with her, apologized for it being so up in the air and not the way that she likes to work, and promised to take a different approach with her the next time this needs to happen and said we’ll work to make the rest of the day work well for her. But then she asked me what my Myers-Briggs type is, as she had talked to my boss about his and she can see how they fit and work together.

I’ve got quite negative opinions on MBTI-type things, especially in a context where you use it with more seriousness than a magazine quiz. I have never (to my memory) done one, and I want to be careful about not using this sort of persona shorthand in my team as a norm, but I also don’t want to undermine someone who has had a bad day and is getting used to a new team. What’s a good way to not “well actually” her?

“I don’t know my Myers-Briggs type; I’ve never taken the test.” If she suggests that you do: “It’s not my cup of tea, but I’m glad you found it useful.”

If she pushes for the whole team to do it or otherwise to use it more officially: “I’m glad it’s been useful to you. That type of test can be controversial and enough people aren’t comfortable doing it in a work context that it’s not something I’d want to make a team activity. But if there are things you want me to know about how you work and communicate, or that you want to know about how I do, that’s absolutely a conversation we can have.”

3. My coworker announced she’s quitting and now is upset that she wasn’t invited to a conference

I work on a small team with a manager, two leads, and five other employees. I’m a lead and I have some say in what our team does but ultimately most decisions come from our manager.

One employee, Helga, announced that her boyfriend was finally assigned his final posting for his military stint and she was moving there to be with him. Of course we’re all thrilled for them both — it’s been a long journey for him and she’s been in limbo while he jumps through all the hoops of his specialized training. She’s very excited for this next step and constantly talking about it — where will they live, what kinds of jobs are there, what kinds of parks and activities can they do, etc.

Our team also has a big work conference coming up where our boss plus two other employees will go and present some of our work. Our supervisor sent out an email to everyone except Helga asking who’d like to go. His thinking was that while she’ll still be employed with us, she’ll be departing soon after and it would be a waste. In the end, our boss picked the other lead and one of her peers out of eight of us. Now she’s upset that she wasn’t even invited and is doubting her life announcement to the group. Who is in the right? Our boss, who is being strategic, or Helga, who right deserved to be invited even if she was planning on leaving several months afterwards? I guess this also touches on how close should you keep your personal life out of your work life.

Helga is in the wrong. Conferences are a mix of networking and professional development, and it’s reasonable not to make that investment in an employee who’s about to leave — particularly when it would mean someone else wouldn’t get the opportunity to go. Helga is being unrealistic in thinking your company should continue investing in her to the same degree when she’s about to leave.

That said, your manager could have avoided the whole thing by just sending the email asking who was interested to the whole team and not making it so obvious that he wouldn’t consider Helga.

4. Employee worked unauthorized overtime

I work on HR. A report of mine from one of our satellite offices is very close to the business, to the point that she often acts on requests without reflection.

The last example happened two weeks ago when the business needed background checks run on six people. She volunteered to work eight hours on a Saturday to make that happen quickly, due to an audit that would happen the following Tuesday. She asked me for approval via email and I refused to approve the extra hours, as working on a Saturday would make no difference to the actual end result (the vendor running the background checks would only start working on them on Monday anyway). Additionally, these are processes that take at least two weeks, so results would not be ready in time for the audit. She worked on that Saturday regardless and now she’s asking for compensation hours, claiming someone from the business approved them.

How would you manage the conversation? I appreciate her willingness and at the same time I can’t afford her to put hours on every single demand from the business, specially if there isn’t a strong business case to justify it.

Since she’s saying someone approved the extra hours after you explicitly told her no, you’ve got to find out who she says that was, and why she sought approval from them after you’d already told her no. Either she’s lying about someone else approving it (which would be a very big deal) or she went around you after you’d already told her no (which is also a big deal, although not as bad as the lie would be).

But beyond that, the conversation is: “I need to be very clear: you cannot work extra hours without my explicit permission. I appreciate that you’re coming from a place of wanting to get work done, but your eagerness is costing us money that there’s not a business case to spend. Going forward, you cannot work extra hours without my written approval. If I am unavailable, I will deputize a specific person to give you approval in my absence. No one else is authorized to okay it. Can you confirm that you understand that policy and will follow it?”

Aside from the unauthorized overtime, it sounds like this employee also needs some coaching around judgment, prioritizing, and smart decision-making. To tackle that, start by naming the areas you want her to improve in, give some recent examples of things she should have handled differently, and explicitly say you want to work with her to build those skills. Often in situations like this, the employee sees the behavior as a strength (“I act on everything immediately!”) and it can be eye-opening to realize that their manager doesn’t see it that way.

5. My former manager keeps contacting me after I changed jobs

I left a toxic work environment right before the holidays. I work at a university and started a new job in a different department right after the new year. My former manager, who I don’t hold in high regard, has been emailing me asking me to confirm whether I completed certain tasks before I left. I gave her updates on everything in process multiple times leading up to my departure, created a detailed spreadsheet about the task she is most concerned about, and completed everything I could before I left.

Because I still work at the university, do I have any obligation to answer her emails? I obviously don’t want to burn any bridges, so I have been directing people who write to me regarding my former job to the proper contacts, but I really don’t wish to speak to my former manager. It feels a little like she is attempting to continue to exert control over me. One of my biggest gripes about the manager is her extremely overbearing and micromanaging style. While superficially I left on good terms, there had long been tension and issues I brought up that were never resolved.

If you didn’t still work in the same organization, you’d have zero obligation to respond and could simply ignore the emails. (I’d still recommend one or two polite responses making it clear you were unable to help, just for bridge-preserving purposes, but if she continued after that, you’d be free to ignore it). It’s tricker when you’re still in the same organization. Depending on internal politics, you still might be able to ignore the messages, but generally in that situation you do have to finesse it a bit more.

First and foremost, though, don’t answer right away. Let a few days go by (so she sees she can’t rely on you for instant answers) and then reply with versions of, “It should all be in the documentation I left” and “I’m so busy with my new role that I’m not in a position to be of much help, but I left really extensive documentation on the X drive and you should find everything you need there.” If it continues after that, let your new boss know what’s going on and see if you’d have her support to draw a firmer boundary.

how long after resigning should you still answer questions?

{ 668 comments… read them below }

  1. nnn*

    The weirdest thing about #1 is it’s just as easy to do exactly the same thing without the nudity aspect! (Possibly even easier, because there are almost certainly more people in the world willing to model clothed than naked).

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      My first thought was that I wouldn’t want to do a model drawing type of activity regardless of nudity because it feels like it requires more talent/practice than I have… it wouldn’t be as fun as a lower stakes art event like those sip n paint classes. Maybe I’m wrong but my assumption that it’s for “serious artists” or the product is actually supposed to look good would be enough to scare me off even before the model gets naked lol.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I took a drawing class last year and developed a severe resentment toward curved objects, of the types used in still lifes.

          Cubes all the way! You can draw them with rulers!

          1. Vio*

            I tried drawing with rulers but the rulers didn’t all get along and had the people they rule start fighting each other instead. I told them I drew the line at that kind of behaviour but they turned against me and I was overruled.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        My thought is similar. As well as the fact that life drawing would probably push a lot of people out of their comfort zone, especially at work, there is also the fact that I am a really terrible artist (probably related to aphantasia) and drawing a model badly would bother me in the way drawing a landscape or bowl of fruit badly wouldn’t. My drawing is like a 10 year old’s and laughably bad isn’t so funny when it’s of an actual person in the room with you.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, same. I used to be pretty good at drawing (A- or B+ in my art classes up to middle school, I didn’t take art in high school), but like any skill, you lose it if you don’t use it. Given how much my handwriting has deteriorated through lack of use, my drawing skills are no doubt even worse.

          That said, I did enjoy the “mix, pour, paint” session we had during our departmental offsite in November.

        2. Queer Earthling*

          I know artists with aphantasia (including my partner) so there isn’t a correlation. That said, some people just aren’t artists, and many people don’t want to be, and many many people are embarrassed at their drawing skill. It’s a weird choice for a work activity, nudity aside.

          1. TechWorker*

            It’s not competitive though, not sure it’s worse than basically ‘any other social activity’ (quiz, bowling..) if you do anything other than like, eating and drinking, some people will be better at it than others.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              What would bother me wouldn’t be the competitiveness so much as the “this looks like I was trying to mock them by making their ears/arms/whatever so out of proportion.” Completely butchering a picture of a landscape is funny. Completely butchering a picture of a person feels a bit more awkward. And I know that anybody who models would be used to a variety of results and realise that people are more likely to simply be poor artists than be trying to mock them, but it still feels a bit awkward.

              There are so many other things one could draw if they want to do drawing as an activity. A person is both a difficult topic and one that people might be a bit more self-conscious about messing up.

            2. ecnaseener*

              I think it’s the use of a model that makes it more fraught than it needs to be. (Even switching the human model out for a still life or a cube or whatever.) Everyone is drawing the same thing, so skill disparities are more obvious than they would be if it was a “paint whatever you want” activity.

              In general I feel like a work bonding event should be in the “just for fun” realm rather than a class.

            3. Michelle Smith*

              Right but there’s “better at it than others” in a fun way, and “better at it than others” in an embarrassing way. In my experience with workplace outings with competitive activities (like bowling or trivia), people tend to group accordingly (more skilled/competitive people together, others playing in a separate area/lane or opting out to hang out by the cheese tray instead). I find it’s harder to opt out of activities where everyone is supposed to be sitting down and working on a project separately, like with the drawing idea.

            4. Dark Macadamia*

              Yeah, but there’s a difference between being the worst player at mini golf vs a professional golf lesson. Some activities can be fun even if you’re bad at them, and some would be completely miserable – and it varies between individuals! Doesn’t matter if it’s competitive.

            5. TypityTypeType*

              It’s different because drawing ability — really, almost any artistic ability — is sensitive for a lot of people.

              Life drawing (even of clothed models) is closer to “Everyone get up and sing a song” than it is to “Let’s all go bowling.”

              1. Golden Girl #7*

                I find every single time there’s a post about company activities, someone has a reason that a person can’t do basically every activity on the planet. For example, I expect the next comment to be “not everyone can bowl due to wrist problems!” In the past Alison has suggested just doing a variety of non-controversial activities and not making them mandatory. Both drawing and bowling would certainly make that list….

          2. Cyndi*

            I have an entire illustration degree! I had to do two semesters of life drawing to graduate! And I never got good at it or learned to enjoy it. I found it intensely stressful, because I was hard on myself about most art things but life drawing in particular made me anxious. I rarely draw now, and only for fun, but even then I almost never draw human figures at all.

        3. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. If the rule is “and not push people outside of their comfort zones” then this isn’t it.

          Sounds like these people are boundary-pushers. Nevermind that it’s not explicitly stated in the handbook or rules, it’s very reasonable to tell them to find something else.

          1. HonorBox*

            Was thinking the same thing. If the guidance is not pushing people outside of their comfort zone, it doesn’t have to specify that “no nudity” can be part of a company’s outside activities. There are plenty of reasons that this may push people outside their comfort zone … nudity for one. But as others have stated, people may feel uncomfortable with the activity. While art is pretty innocuous itself, asking people to create art with their peers may (will) make people uncomfortable. I’ve done art stuff with my wife, but I’m not sure a painting or drawing class with my coworkers would be something I’d enjoy.

          2. Ama*

            Yeah picking this specific activity for a work event, given that this group seems to have had some previous issues (although not clear what exactly from the letter), feels like they intentionally picked something borderline to test what their new supervision will tolerate.

            1. Margaret Cavendish*

              Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking. But you didn’t SPECIFY nude drawing wasn’t allowed, how were we supposed to know????

          3. goddessoftransitory*

            I would really love to know, along with Alison, what they’ve suggested in the past that makes “life drawing with naked model” seem feasible in a workplace! “Planning the Perfect Murder?” “How To Steal Office Supplies Workshop?” “Don’t Pay Taxes Day!”

          4. Festively Dressed Earl*

            It’s not about whether you win or lose. It’s about how many pages you add to the employee manual.

        4. Dek*

          Honestly, I feel like aphantasia would almost be an advantage in life drawing (or still life drawing).

          My professors often called it “learning to see” because one of the main things it helps with is learning to draw what you SEE, not what you think you see.

          When it comes to commissions, my usual preference is “I don’t draw anyone who I might have to look in the eye.” (I had a much bolder classmate who did caricatures as a summer job, and just…hard no). But with life drawing, no one really expects it to look like the model. Long poses aren’t the norm–usually just some short 10-30 second gestures to warm up, then some 5-10 minute, and maybe an hour if it’s that sort of session. But for the most part, no one is expecting a rendered face, and models really aren’t offended by the drawings (if they even look at them–also rare)

          1. Sssssssssssssss*

            Yes, that’s exactly how my daughter does it. Short gestures leading to longer ones. And for this term, all nude, at least once a week.

          2. Ace in the Hole*

            Aphantasiac artist here: it is absolutely an advantage! I always got excellent marks in life drawing classes.

            However I 100% agree with everyone saying this isn’t an appropriate work social activity… unless you’re working someplace where artistic nudity is already routine. Not only is there the issue of comfort level and professionalism being around nudity, many people are also extremely uncomfortable drawing even a clothed model. Most people are self-conscious about their artistic skills and feel even more insecure if there’s a chance the person they’re drawing might see the picture!

        5. ferrina*

          This sounds like pretty much any other work social event- there isn’t anything that’s really everyone’s cup of tea. The models are generally professionals who are paid to be there- they are absolutely used to people doing terrible drawings and they won’t mind any lack of ability.

          fwiw, I’m also a really terrible artist and I love drawing. There’s a local group that does wildlife walk-and-sketch sessions, and it’s amazing. That might be a cool work activity, but it would run into the same issue as any physically-based work social activity.

      2. MK*

        Yes, this doesn’t sound particularly inclusive, or fun for that matter. A more general arts class where several mediums on offer and people allowed to goof off would likely go down better,

      3. Pennyworth*

        I did life drawing as part of an art diploma, and it was introduced after we’d done several terms of drawing objects. I think if we’d tried LD at the start, it would have been frustrating and the results would have been dire. As it was, I never mastered faces! Drawing a clothed person is much harder than a nude.

      4. Honestly, some people’s children!*

        Flowers or a photo of a nature scene seem a lot more neutral. Even bring a pet’s photo if you want to try your own fur baby!

      5. Nea*

        I was about to recommend paint and sip as well. They’re still a sort of “art class” but the compositions are created to be easily duplicated in a low-stress environment and without the “sip” part are work-appropriate.

            1. Nea*

              Every time I go to a paint and sip, I have only three goals:
              – Not dunk my brush into my drink
              – Not absent-mindedly drink the paint water
              – Not flip the paint palette onto my clothes

              1. Cyndi*

                My mom and I both have art degrees but my dad was a lit major, and he was APPALLED when he found out how much paint water we’ve both ingested. When you spend that much time up late with both a cup of coffee and an identical cup of muddy paint water in front of you, accidents are inevitable.

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              This is why I have a hard rule that rinse water never goes in a beverage container – it goes in tupperwares, jars, or bowls. Only drinkable things are allowed in cups or mugs. One swig of paint water was more than enough for my lifetime.

      6. The Original K.*

        Yeah, I don’t want to draw anything. I’m terrible at drawing. A paint and sip would probably be okay – that feels more low-stakes. But a real deal drawing class, no.

      7. Dek*

        I know it’s my bias as a former art student, but I think it sounds very nice. And, tbh, much lower stakes than a sip n paint class, where everyone’s end goal is supposed to look more or less alike, and everyone is going to SEE the pieces, and then at the end, you’re left with a Piece Of Art that you’ve got to either hang, stow, or throw away while feeling guilty.

        Life drawing, for the most part, is far more about the process than the finished product. You don’t have to actually worry about whether or not it looks good. Most sessions start of with 15 minutes of short (10-30 second) poses to warm up–you just sort of loosely sketch out the “line of action” (think a stick figure), then move into 1 minute poses, 5 minute poses, and then maybe a few longer 15 minute poses, or one very long post. For pretty much everything except the very long pose (and then only sometimes), it really doesn’t matter what it looks like. You’re just trying to get an idea of it. And really, no one should be looking at what you’re doing (except a teacher, IF you’re doing an actual class)

        It gets kind of zen after a while. We used to have a lot of available sessions on Fridays, so I would hope from one to the next all day, and by evening, I would just be sort of pleasantly chill (but would also start seeing perspective grids in my head whenever I looked down the street).

        I could see it being a very pleasant activity, IF the model was clothed (or better yet–costumed. See previous comment about our life drawing session with a model dressed as Dolly Parton with an appropriate playlist), AND people actually wanted to do it. But not if folks went in thinking they had to Make An Art.

        1. wanda*

          I am Bad At Art (my mother was a thwarted artist and took over any homework that had to do with art, because of my being bad at art), and what you are describing sounds way, way, way too difficult and stressful for me.

          1. Dek*

            I guess everyone’s got their comfort threshold. To me, life drawing where it doesn’t matter if what I make looks good or accurate is much less stressful than doing a sip-and-paint where I get frustrated if it doesn’t match up.

        2. Pennyworth*

          There are quite a few warm up activities which would be fun in a group setting. Drawing with a non-dominant hand, drawing with charcoal on the end of a stick, drawing your face while looking in a mirror and not at the paper. Because you expect the results to be crazy you don’t feel any pressure to ‘draw well’. Speed drawing was fun too. We would be given 15 or 30 seconds to capture the essence of a live model with a few lines.

      8. Lenora Rose*

        My first thought matched nnn’s (some “life drawing” models can be clothed, though the art gallery will provide a nude or partly nude model even for teen classes as long as all students are 16+ and parent permission forms are signed), and my second thought was that clothes can be even harder to draw from everything but the comfort perspective; human bodies are a series of curved lines at their simplest; clothes move differently and it’s better to have to practice drawing drapery and cloth as a separate lesson. Altogether, it’s better to have a quick art lesson without a human model at all.

        That being said, the models pretty much never check the artists’ work and tend to have no opinion on their success at likeness. They also often expect you’ll elide the face.

        NB: I’m a fine arts graduate. Not only did I do several life drawing sessions, I knew one of the models socially, though not in a way where I would otherwise ever have expected to see her naked. It’s less awkward than you think — but still not a good choice for a workplace.

        1. Dek*

          I wound up knowing one of the nude models at our sessions socially, about a year after he modeled for us.

          My manager at my new college job and I kept trying to figure out why we both thought the other person was so familiar…

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          A lot of these expectations are variable. At many of the life drawing groups I’ve participated in, the models did like to look at the artists’ work – although I’ve never seen a model be at all judgmental about it or offer commentary on likeness. I’ve also never encountered an expectation to elide the face. Artists often do, especially in short poses, since they’re more focused on gesture and large shapes. But for longer poses it’s quite common to include the face.

          Similar to you, I’ve taken quite a few life drawing classes for school and knew several of the models in other contexts. It wasn’t at all awkward for us since it’s a very normal experience in an arts program… but it’s not at all appropriate for a typical workplace!

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I don’t think eliding the face was something the models expected for themselves, but more as you say; many of the artists got focused on drawing the body parts they don’t normally get to focus on (torsos and limbs) and the poses. If an artist wants to practice faces specifically, there are a lot of places and times to see them.

      9. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Not that I think they should do life drawing, but one of the key elements is that they don’t actually have to be good! It’s about practicing and gesture more than it is about capturing a likeness, for instance. I’ve done lots and lots of life drawing in my time, and especially with intro classes you tend to get much shorter poses where literally no one in the class is going to get a likeness.

        This isn’t an argument for making people do it if they don’t want to, I just don’t want anyone to shy away from a class like this in their personal life if they think they need to be good at it or that it requires a particular talent.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          As someone who has done life drawing, I get what you mean about the drawings not needing to be good but I think the class would need to have a good facilitator to communicate that because as shown by many comments that’s not everyone’s understanding. I also think it’d be better to do a still life in this context since the goal seems to primarily be socializing.

    2. Tinkerbell*

      Is “life drawing” always nude? I have to wonder whether the OP is making an assumption here (because a class on “drawing a clothed person” wouldn’t be the worst group activity – still not something I’d go for, but at least it’s not exclusionary of body shapes/disabilities/etc. like so many we see on here!)

      1. Glass Trainer*

        I have never heard of a life drawing class that did not involve a nude model. That is the standard definition of life drawing! I imagine it is possible that someone has created clothed “life drawing” classes, but I’d certainly expect that to be specified clearly in any information provided about the event, since the default assumption with life drawing is nudity.

        With that in mind, I think it’s entirely reasonable for the OP to make that assumption, and it’s on this committee to communicate clearly if the version they have chosen is not in fact the typical life drawing class but a clothed variant. (And given that they have apparently chosen inappropriate options previously and are being monitored because of that, they should be extra aware of the need to clarify this context if it exists.)

        1. Em*

          I did lots of art classes in HS and uni and we had clothed models as well as nude. It’s not that unusual, at least in my experience.

        2. Dek*

          My first year of college at a general university, we had clothed models. Also, my advanced art class in high school did clothed models as well.

          There’s also AdorkaStock online, that offers life drawing slide shows of clothed and unclothed models (and so many varieties and categories. Love AdorkaStock).

          I agree that eventually nude drawing is going to be essential if you’re really serious about it, but there’s plenty of ways to do a clothed session and get a good learning experience out of it.

        3. Princess Sparklepony*

          I just looked it up – models with clothes on is called draped drawing. It can be clothes, a fabric drape, or costume.

      2. virago*

        No, life drawing can also be clothed. I have a friend who belongs to a weekly drawing group, and many of the drawings I’ve seen are of clothed people from the neck up or the waist up.

        1. FormerLifeDrawingModel*

          So, naked but wearing a balaclava?

          Sorry :) I get that it was a typo but the idea is hilarious — maybe a loophole for the event in question!

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        A friend of mine teaches life drawing classes and said he teaches how to draw human anatomy – parts and entire figures. Students draw hands, feet, arms, legs, ears, eyes, faces/face shapes, and other body parts that don’t require nakedidity. They also draw body parts that do require disrobing. And they draw the entire human form, clothed and unclothed.

        None of that sounds like a good team-building event for work.

      4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        When we did life drawing in high school, we drew clothed models, generally in short poses.

        Short poses — a minute or two, or even 20-30 seconds — are great! Because the time is so short, it takes off the pressure to make it look like the person, and you concentrate on getting the lines of the pose, instead. (This also helps to make up for the fact that clothing does a lot of complicated stuff that can be hard to draw.)

      5. morethantired*

        No. In my college drawing course we had many life drawing sessions and not all of them were nude. I would say only about 40% of them were nude because our college was in a very small town and usually it was students getting paid to model.

      6. wordswords*

        Yeah, that was my thought too. It’s not at all clear to me from the letter whether they’re explicitly asking to do a life drawing class with a nude model, or if they’re asking to do a life drawing class and OP1 is assuming a nude model without actually confirming that.

        If it’s a clothed model, that sounds like a totally reasonable group activity, even though it’s one that not everyone would go for (but what activity is?).

        1. sparkle emoji*

          I would normally give them the benefit of the doubt, but given they have picked inappropriate activities in the past, I am less inclined to assume it’s definitely clothed models. They could be deliberately pushing the boundaries if this is a pattern.

      7. Ace in the Hole*

        Technically it can be any drawing from a live model. In practice it almost always refers to drawing from a nude model (occasionally with a sheet draped over them or some props, but not intended for modesty purposes).

        I’ve had life drawing classes/sessions that involved a clothed model, but if it doesn’t specify you’re safe assuming nudity.

    3. Elan Morin Tedronai*

      My first thought on this is that they’re choosing this activity specifically to see how far they can push the envelope. For such people, I’d deal with them exactly to the letter of the rules/policies/guidelines because they’ll take any flexibility as a pass to go further.

      1. münchner kindl*

        Yes, this. It’s not going to be fun unless the group has extensive training on drawing models.

        For contrast, one of my local malls did fun events for adults, because an event planner offers creative activities for companies, brides’ groups etc.

        These people are trained to make a few hours painting fun for even untalented people: they give you a small linen or cardboard piece, bright acrylic colours and an easy topic like sun set over ocean with palms.

        Last time, it was a new technique where a loose net with small squares is put over the linen, and then you just stub your paint-loaded brush onto it – you are deliberatly not trying to paint recognizable things at all, just some paints shading into each other to give a nice end product.

        That’s fun and easy, not painting a real model.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          That’s what I was thinking too. I would have no interest in life drawing whatsoever. If I wanted to be taking drawing classes, I already would be.
          I think OP’s colleagues are looking for ways to stir up trouble.

        2. Lenora Rose*

          My kids’ school has periodic adult painting classes. There’s always a set subject and style, usually very simplified, often meant to teach a single new technique. People with more skill can stretch and elaborate on the subject if they want, but even if a painter literally follows the directions step by step, they’ll still result in a decent painting.

          They sound much more like what should be tried here than life drawing.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Agree completely with you. It sounds lke this activity planning group need to be either disbanded in favour of fresh members or have a rule that every year there must be a turnover of at least half new members for the sake of getting fresh ideas and perspectives.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        They’re choosing this activity specifically to see how far they can push the envelope.

        Sadly I have to agree. Sounds like a few people picturing malicious compliance while everyone around them sees an exhausting rules lawyer. Possibly who is about to become the reason the rest of us can’t have nice things, like “Raise morale with simple carbs.”

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Yes. Its right there in the policy already. You don’t have to create something new. Having people possibly deal with nudity — even in the name of art is way out of people’s comfort zones.

          I was gonna give the same advice as AAM, this group needs to be shaken up. They already need pre-approval because of past ideas. Now absolutely no one said this would not be a good idea before it got to the asking permission stage? This is not a group with good judgment. Yes its hard to find people to serve on these committees, yes its hard to find inclusive fun ideas. But in this case it would be better to have nothing than the inappropriate ideas that aren’t going to happen anyway because they won’t be approved.

          1. HonorBox*

            Yep. Clearly this group has either run out of ideas or is trying to be troublemakers, or a combination of the two. It would make sense to change the makeup of the group from time to time for a variety of reasons, and this is the perfect moment to advocate for a change.

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              I try to assume there’s no ill intent when groups come up with ‘out there’ ideas for team building. But in this case, it’s hard to assume they’re just trying something new or that a member of the planning committee is eager to share their passion for drawing with the team.

        2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          That was my thought too. It’s not unreasonable to expect that nudity is outside people’s comfort zone.

      4. Antilles*

        It’s definitely this.
        If you’re just Googling something generic like “art activity for groups”, you’d find plenty of generic wine-and-landscapes art classes. But the organizers specifically chose *this* one out of all those options…which ties right into the context that the group has already pushed the boundaries before.

      5. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. I think this is a deliberate choice, perhaps because they’ve been reprimanded before. I think if they can’t figure out what’s “work appropriate” this committee needs to be disbanded or have new members who will suggest workable activities.

    4. londonedit*

      Where I live there are companies that put on evenings with painting and drinks – you go along by yourself or with a friend or in a group, and you paint a picture (usually it’s a specific scene – you’re given step-by-step tuition on what to paint when) and you have drinks while you’re painting. Similar thing, no nudity involved!

      1. RowdyRed*

        In a former life, I was one of the instructors at those “Paint and Sip” parties…oh, the things I have seen!

        True, not everyone can paint a sunset beach, but as a fun group activity, it does bring out a different side of your co-workers. Some people goof off during the event – and that is totally fine; others really, really want something to hang on their wall they can feel good about. (side note; yes, I have had my painting stolen by the manager that paid for the event. Also, I have seen managers get totally smashed at these 1.5 hour events. Might be because I do like to ring the bell signaling you should drink up, buttercups!)

        I have also taken life drawing classes – and you really have to know your core group. While some can handle the nudity (if there is any), some of those positions the artist goes into (to give the artist a different perspective on muscle definition) can leave the viewer with an eyeful if you are positioned on the wrong end of the butthole. Just sayin’.

        Nudity is a complex subject for many, with varying degrees of comfort. Some will act out due to their discomfort. Not a good team-building activity, in my humble opinion.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          ‘While some can handle the nudity (if there is any), some of those positions the artist goes into (to give the artist a different perspective on muscle definition) can leave the viewer with an eyeful if you are positioned on the wrong end of the butthole. Just sayin’.’

          Not too long ago I saw a video article about Iggy Pop posing au naturel for an art class or some such. He plopped down on a table, seemingly at random and without instruction, with his legs wide apart and his personalities out there for the students to see. From the look on several faces, no one was ready for the sudden display of Iggy bits.

          1. RowdyRed*

            It can be startling!

            Some people have no inhibitions.

            With my username, you would think I would – but I come from a long line of prudes.


          2. New Jack Karyn*

            I sort of feel like, any instructor who invites Iggy Pop to model nude should have expected just such a scene. Whether they transmitted that awareness to their students . . .

          3. Media Monkey*

            i remeber iggy pop performing on TV (in the UK and a lot of years ago) in see through plastic trousers. so this outcome should not have been unexpected!

        2. Sloanicota*

          As someone who does attend life drawing sessions I can’t think of anything worse than a bunch of coworkers who are there to “push the envelope” presumably being silly and disruptive during the sessions. And how disrespectful to the model if they’re laughing and being social! Not to assume that’s the case for this crew but I don’t have high expectations.

    5. EngineeringFun*

      I started attending life drawing classes in the basement of a church at the age of 17. The model was June a 60+ lady who liked hats and heals(I remember my surprise 30 years later). This was suggest by my HS art teacher and I went on to art school. Where we had weekly life drawing classes. I’m over the nudity at this point. But no, not with coworkers!

    6. Dek*

      Heck, my freshman year of college (prior to art college), the life drawing professor was actually willing to stick to clothed models because of the comfort level of the students. Which worked out nicely, because his usual model also had a lot of really fun costumes that would bring. That was actually my first exposure to Dolly Parton–one session was her as Dolly, while we listened to her music.

    7. S*

      Coming to say just that. A team adjacent to mine recently did a “Santa life drawing” social event. Just like a life-drawing class, but the model was in a Santa suit. It was hilarious and work-appropriate!

    8. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I agree that it’s inappropriate for work, but assuming what they’re organizing is buying some sessions in an existing class, then they would be near impossible to find one with a clothed model. I’ve done life drawing on and off for years, and it’s pretty much always a nude model.

    9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      What part of “not push people outside of their comfort zones” does this group not get?

    10. Anonyjane*

      I’m an artist who works in an art-related industry, and figure drawing classes have been a common perk at the companies I’ve worked for. There are some areas of industry (specifically animation) where attending them is a job requirement. Most of the time the model wears a bathing suit to respect professional norms while still exposing enough of the musculature to make it useful. But I wouldn’t blink at nude models. I did enough of that at art school that it became normal.

      1. Spiders Everywhere*

        Yes, I actually did attend a sculpting class with nude models at my work one time, but it was at a visual effects company where it was a relevant skill. If it had been a social event at like an accounting firm I could see it feeling kind of weird.

    11. White Dragon*

      Am I the only one who thought the boundary crossing committee wanted their coworkers to draw EACH OTHER nude????

    12. The Rural Juror*

      My company is in a creative field where most folks would have needed several art classes to finish their degrees. We have a drawing club that meets every other month or so. They did a live model once, but after office hours and they were wearing skin-colored undergarments (a tank top and briefs). They posted the drawings in the break room and they were beautiful.

      It can be done tastefully and when most colleagues aren’t around. Sounds like the LW doesn’t have confidence that’s what would happen.

    13. Princess Sparklepony*

      Or just do a still life drawing class. You wouldn’t have to hire a model, just buy some fruit so it would be cheaper as well.

  2. Daria Grace*

    #1, that’s a new workplace nightmare scenario I’d never considered as possible. I wouldn’t nessisarily object to doing life drawing in other context but at work that’s so much yikes.

    #2, another pushback you can use is that getting the most accurate possible results and drawing useful insights from tests like this takes an amount of time, thought and self awareness that most people won’t be willing to put in, don’t have time for at work and shouldn’t be expected to disclose the conclusions of involuntarily. If you’re just racing through a bunch of questions without thinking deeply about how you engage with the world, you’re getting nothing much of use out of it and you may as well be doing Buzzfeed quizzes.

    1. MassMatt*

      For #2, you could even more easily get to know your coworkers by instead spending that time working and talking with them without the woo factor of personality types etc. Astrology and pseudoscience are nonsense, regardless of how much time and effort people invest in it.

      1. MsM*

        Myers-Briggs itself might be pseudoscience, but I do think it’s helpful to know if colleagues are extroverts or introverts who are working hard to be social but would really appreciate more space when possible, or if they’re deadline and structure-driven versus go with the flow. Those characteristics don’t have to be tied to specific types (and certainly not the labels Myers-Briggs puts on them), but it can be a useful shorthand sometimes.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Or you could just, y’know, ask people directly what they need. Not “are you an introvert who is trying hard to be social?” but rather “are you more comfortable working independently or as part of a regular group?” or some such. There’s nothing a MBTI can tell my boss/colleagues about me that is as relevant/useful as just saying, “should we do regular check-ins or just meet when everyone’s finished?” when we start a new project to determine what we all need at that particular moment; the MBTI is at best descriptive and neither prescriptive or predictive.

        2. Willow Pillow*

          The issue there is that people have preconceived notions of what introverts and extraverts are, and individuals are more complicated than that. Shorthand turns into stereotyping too easily.

        3. Anticoyote*

          The Myers-Briggs test IS not science. You might as well read a Ouija board and if I suggested that, you’d knock me back in a second.

    2. MassMatt*

      Also for #2:

      “We’re on a deadline presenting to have the opportunity to move wooden dollars around the organization”

      What does this mean?

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          I was about to ask the same thing. I can’t tell if that’s autocorrect or business jargon I’ve never heard before.

      1. KateM*

        Some kind of internal credit, I think. I go to an art group in a community centre where county pays for teacher and rooms, and for all exhibitions that we do to in local public spaces and volunteer workshops and the like we get some kind of internal credit once a year and can turn it into nude models (that’s what we have NOT done actually) or special inventory or outside workshops or excursions to art museums, but we can’t just ask for cash.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “Wooden dollars” refers to how money is allocated internally but just on paper, with no real-life meaning. That’s why the OP and her own boss weren’t taking the exercise terribly seriously. The sentence means, essentially, “We’re on a deadline to do a presentation for something that won’t matter in the end.”

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Thanks for the explanation. I was unfamiliar with that phrase and now I understand what the letter writer was saying.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          That’s what I understood from the context, but I am happy for the clarification.

          I thought you weren’t supposed to take any wooden nickels, but maybe dollars are OK?

        3. MassMatt*

          Thanks, I gathered it was something one the “useless activity” spectrum, but that was at odds with the deadline and the coworker’s sense of urgency. Which was likewise at odds with the coworker’s bringing up a personality test; not what I think of where deadlines are concerned. The coworker seems a bit scattered.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            It seems like the coworker was trying to troubleshoot communication issues, which would be valuable done differently. I wouldn’t use the Myers-Briggs test to do so, but I can see asking for the best medium for communicating urgent issues or similar.

            1. Melody Powers*

              That’s how I see it too and I think it could be valuable if no one gets stuck on the particular terminology and there is a genuine attempt to listen.

              Years ago I was at a job that had us do the Myers-Briggs test and discuss it as a team building activity. I was wary since I agree with the criticisms of it, but it was actually very useful as a jumping off point for discussing the different ways we approach things and communicate. We had all the fluffy descriptions of the types and would pick out bits that we thought were a useful way to frame things for us. It actually helped me a lot in dealing with someone who I had clashed with previously and we talked over some of the conflicts we had before, and she became one of my favorite people to work with afterward. I don’t remember what type I got because I still don’t respect MBTI generally but it started a conversation that we wouldn’t have had otherwise without this invitation to talk about these things and help getting words about topics we didn’t often discuss flowing.

              LW2, if you can focus on the different kinds of communication styles your new coworker may be trying to get at without letting yourself get bogged down in the details of MBTI, you may still get something out of it.

        4. Prismatic Garnet*

          Interesting! I’d never heard that, including in like eight years of reading this site! Appreciate the definition, that might be a useful phrase.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      Yup, I do the VARK learning styles (also something that isn’t entirely scientific) with my students and some find it really resonates. Others are clearly unsure of what they’d do and obviously then, it tends to come up with something completely different from what I see in class.

      I also don’t decide how to teach a student based solely on that. I use it because it has two benefits. The main one is self-esteem. I’ve had a couple of students who were really struggling in an area and on doing that, I could see the light coming on – “I’m not bad at English and History because I’m stupid. It’s because I don’t learn by reading and writing and those subjects involve a lot of that.” And it can also clarify things I’ve been wondering about, like a kid who never followed along in the textbook when I was reading and who got a clear result of learning by listening, so he wasn’t looking out the window because he was distracted. He just found it easier to follow what I was saying than the book/PowerPoint slides.

      But deciding how to teach them or to communicate based solely on a questionnaire would not be good because these things are far from scientific.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        With the VARK, the students who get most out of it are those who both have a clear preference that corresponds to one of the options and who have the insight and self-awareness to be able to recognise what they would do in various situations. A lot of people don’t have a clear learning preference, I suspect some people may have preferences that aren’t considered and a lot of people are very poor at predicting what they would do (I can see some students just picking the option that most people would pick or the most obvious one and while these are 13 year olds and adults generally have more self-awareness, that isn’t to say that all adults are absolutely self-aware and insightful either).

        I don’t know much about the Myers-Briggs but I suspect it may be similar, that some people would find none of the categories really suit them and that some people won’t really answer accurately, so deciding how to communicate with somebody based entirely on the result of a test is, in my opinion, not a good idea.

        I do think those kind of tests can sometimes provide a good stimulus for discussing various communication, working or learning styles and can remind people that there are various options (I think the last is the most useful to my students, especially those who are struggling, to help them understand that we all have strengths and weaknesses and that struggling in a class can be an indication not that they are simply “bad at the subject” but can simply be a mismatch between the teacher’s teaching style and their learning style), but that’s about it.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I tend to land right in the middle of almost every axis on the personality tests I’ve taken. (IIRC my Myers-Briggs is I???.) That makes all the follow-up exercises pretty useless, but it’s gratifying that no one can put me in a box.

        2. Clare*

          My learning style at school was ‘has heart problems and so learns best when active so that there’s actually blood flow taking oxygen to her brain’. Unfortunately ‘are you lethargic and miserable right before break and attentive and happy after’ wasn’t a standard question on any test, and my heart condition was only diagnosed in my 20’s. “Do you remember written or spoken facts better?” “No.”

          Thinking back now, some of my best and favourite teachers let me wander around the classroom as peer support helping other kids with their questions. This happened at two different schools. I wonder if they picked up on the dynamic without knowing what it was? I know I’m biased, but good teachers are the jewels of humanity.

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            Man. So much sympathy for how that must have played out for you, but it’s a fascinating example of the complexity involved in things like “learning styles” – and why a lot of these systems and their unavoidable oversimplification can be a problem when people take them as gospel.

      2. Sparkling*

        I remember taking those learning styles quizzes in secondary school and always ending up with a) radically different results (once even within the same year!) and b) never the result that is actually correct. The teachers were very amused by this (not sarcastic, they genuinely thought it was funny and used it as a teaching moment that while these tests *can* be an aid they can also be very very wrong)

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          So true! By the way the questions are worded, too much of it is variable based on how the respondent is feeling in the moment.

        2. MassMatt*

          No offense meant, but TBH it really sounds as though your school was wasting a lot of time on this. Multiple quizzes? Some in the same year? All because the teachers found it funny? What were you supposed to be learning? Did they run out of languages, math, history, or science to teach?

          1. sparkle emoji*

            Can’t speak for Sparkling, but there was a few-year period during my school experience when learning styles were the biggest fad in education. The teachers were being evaluated on adapting to different learning styles(which there’s only so much room for when they have to teach to a standardized test, but I digress), so many teachers just gave the test to check the learning styles box.

          2. Sparkling*

            Those tests don’t take all that long to take tbh, and I actually took them in multiple languages (as was the case with twice in the same year – it was in different language classes. Sometimes I wonder if the teachers were specifically trying to see if different languages influenced the result).

            And like sparkle emoji mentioned, these things were all the rage at the time. Even if the teachers weren’t trying to see if these tests gave different results in different languages, might as well use whatever the latest ministry improved fad is to improve language skills.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        In and out of education, I think so often this follows a path from “Done thoughtfully, at a level 3, and integrated with other tools, this can really be useful” to “So done generically at a level 10 and as the only measure, it will be EVEN BETTER! MORE DATA!”

        Around 5th grade my son did an online learning styles test and asked me to do one. We were in opposite quadrants of the graph, an insight that did help me to adapt how I explained math problems to him. I would note I literally gave birth to the person who asked me to do this.

      4. Phryne*

        At the place where I work, college students are asked to do the Meyers-Briggs, but it really is a tool for self reflection. They do not teach it as some sort of science, just as a tool.
        They are fresh out of secondary school and will suddenly have to spend a lot more time working both independently and constructively in a group and it is just to give them a place to start to find what works for them and how that may influcence how a group works. It is not meant to typecast them so others can label them, and as far as I know it is as useful a tool for that as any.

        1. ferrina*

          I love this approach and the one described by Irish Teacher.
          I find the personality/work-style tests to be a really useful tool that can be used to spark open communication about how we collaborate. It’s not a be-all-end-all, but it can be a useful framework.

          Myers-Briggs can be a decent one; one team I was on even did a Harry Potter House Sorter that was weirdly useful. Most of the team was Ravenclaw (tracks, because we did a lot of work that required careful study and attention to detail) but the top managers were Slytherins. It made terrifying amounts of sense, since those managers had to constantly play politics with the VPs above them.

          1. anotherfan*

            Oddly enough, we have a bunch of HP fans in the newsroom so of course have taken one (or several) of the tests. We have an overwhelming number of Hufflepuffs, which we translate as “generalists” without any particular ax to grind!

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I would add that Hufflepuffs are loyal, hardworking, and community-oriented. The world needs more Hufflepuffs!

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          The problem I find in the workplace is that we humans loooove our labels. Enough people will use them to pigeonhole others that it makes such tests completely annoying. Don’t even get me started on workplaces that encourage people to put their results on their cubicle or office wall!

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I knew someone who had the same Myers-Briggs type as her manager, and actively campaigned to have everyone on her team with a different type *fired* because they were obviously wrong for the job.

            Ironically, she didn’t actually do her job; she bragged to me about secretly paying someone in the Philippines to do it for her. Which showed she had great management skills, obviously!

          2. Phryne*

            I actually have done it with colleagues, but it was a completely voluntary workshop on an end of schoolyear development / relax day. The workshop was given by a coworker, she gave example question and we had to position ourselves on a line and we would discuss why we vier a spot and then make up our own profile and share it with others. It was a hilarious 1,5 hours, laughed my head off at the stories prijs tijd to explain their personalities, got confirmation that my result checked out and promptly forgot what my profile was. And then we weer to the party and it was not mentioned again. Fun times.

            1. Phryne*

              Well, autofail did a number on that one, got it’s languages mixed up again. Sorry about that.
              ‘vier’ should be ‘chose’
              ‘prijs tijd’ should read ‘people told’
              ‘weer’ is ‘went’

      5. trust me I'm a PhD*

        As an FYI, learning styles as a model have been debunked. (I’ll put a link in a comment.) While obvs, things don’t need to be exact, replicable science to be useful, like the MB, as we’re all discussing, learning styles make me uneasy since I think they trap students into “I can only learn in these really specific ways.” And tbh, to some degree, MB does that too –– I can only do XYZ because I’m an introvert, or because I’m a thinker not a judger, or whatever.

      6. Calpurrnia*

        I’m not at all familiar with this particular quiz, but I just wanted to observe that it totally threw me for a loop because I’m studying Afrikaans and the word “vark” means “pig”!

    4. bamcheeks*

      I’ve done training to administer Myers-Briggs and they are very insistent that you never use the word “test”, because it’s not the “answering questions” bit which is important but the process of going through each part of the type with a trained facilitator, deciding which most suits you, and (if you’re doing it as part of a team), discussing how you communicate and your preferred working styles with your colleagues. Getting one result from the questionnaire and deciding you’re something else when you’ve talked through what the different letters mean is perfectly normal!

      1. Shalon Wood*

        Really? When I took the Myers-Briggs thirty-odd years ago, it was a bunch of multiple-choice questions (as in, fill-in-the-bubble-so-the-machine-can-score-you sheets). There was one person for, oh, thirty of us. (To be clear, this was at the Arkansas Governor’s School, when I was 17.)

        1. bamcheeks*

          I did the training in the UK, and the owners of the test in the Europe and the US are different. So it’s possible that it’s marketed very differently in the US, or how it’s marketed has changed in 30 years. But yeah, they were adamant that we could never use the word “test” and that the questionnaire should never be done as a standalone without the facilitation and explanation. That was one of things we had to answer correctly to get the facilitator accreditation!

          1. Lora*

            That’s because you can sell counseling sessions. You can’t sell easily copied multiple choice tests with a score card.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Yes, absolutely, and if the criticisms were about the fact that it’s a commercial product and how it’s sold, I think there’s plenty to be said! But most of the criticisms are that it doesn’t do stuff that the owners don’t claim it does.

          2. sparkle emoji*

            Yeah, I wonder if the different owners are factoring in. I was required to do the MBTI in a US high school and there was no facilitator to discuss with unless you count the health teacher. We just did the quiz on a computer through the official company website and got our type with a short blurb about what it meant. I think it was also connected to a career recommendation tool from the counseling center, which doesn’t seem to fly with the philosophy you describe.

    5. Busy Middle Manager*

      For #2 I think the exact opposite! My office did it on a bit of a whim years ago, with a few people opting out. It was so eye opening for me, I think people who think they are woo-hoo (a term used below) haven’t taken them after being in a job for a while.

      As per your comment, the fact that we rushed them IMO led to better results. No time to think about the “correct” answer.

      There are many data scientists in that group, INTJ would be the socially acceptable correct and prestigious answer for that role. The fact that people rushed through it meant they couldn’t curate answers carefully to become INTJ on paper. In fact only one person was INTJ.

      THAT was actually eye opening for me BTW, which is why I think the test has so much value. To learn that so and so person who chose a very technical and dry role is driven my social status and being part of a group, and being the informal leader, was actually eye opening at the time. I had been communicating and trying to give them projects as if they were, well, an INTJ. One might think these things would obvious, but if you work with someone in a limited capacity and they don’t talk a lot, then you don’t know what’s going on in their heads. The test results led me to engage them different. I could still dump things on the INTJ with no explanation because they’re the truth seeker and would be annoyed at the wrong account I gave them. But the other people (Forgetting what they were)? I stopped doing that and instead would get them to the data part using a more meandering social way of communicating that apparently clicked in their heads better.

    6. Butterfly Counter*

      For number 2, exactly. I’ve DONE the Myers-Briggs (twice, I think) and really have no idea what my 4-letter combo is. I never took it as something deeply ingrained into my personality or something that reveals something important about me. I’d worry about someone who takes this as seriously as an astrological sign in a place of business.

      1. Ftp*

        I had a boss who was crazy about Myers-Briggs. I did it twice for her, and then about four further times, as I was intrigued by the fact that I got a different result EVERY SINGLE TIME. To be fair, I tended to sit right on the cusp of every category. I like to think I work well with everyone… :-)

        Also I’m totally Ravenclaw.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Myers-Briggs. It treats the traits as a dumbbell curve when they’re more likely a bell curve. Most folks will have at least one axis that they are on the cusp of, and so will have a different result when they take it again eight weeks later.

          1. Sopranoh*

            My brother and I were just talking about this. He knows they are unscientific, but thinks they are fun. He was saying that his results changed dramatically after he got his anxiety under control.

  3. Rd*

    LW4, I’m curious why it would take 8 hours to do 6 background checks when, as she said, they hire an outside company to do it. We have an outside company do our background checks, and it takes no more than 5 minutes per person to submit the information.

    1. PNW cat lady*

      I agree. From my experience, it’s just a matter of providing specific data- DOB, SSN, maybe addresses or college info, and first, middle and last me(s). An hour- spending 10 minutes on each one should do it?

    2. Myrin*

      Since OP didn’t question that assessment, I assume that at least that part of her report’s actions was reasonable (if you ignore for a moment that she did every part of it unauthorised) – possibly depending on where exactly OP works, there’s certain related procedures required beyond “send ten data points to outside firm and then be done with it”.

    3. This gazpacho soup just burned my lips*

      The LW actually said the company takes 2 weeks, and the employee’s 8 hours on a Saturday were immaterial to that time. My work uses a company that subcontracts for a background check and it maybe takes a couple of days, which includes time zone differences between us and the two companies.

    4. Dinwar*

      Depends on the level of checks. I’ve had background checks that took all of five minutes (literally “Does this person have any active warrants?”–and I’ve seen people fail those). I’ve also had background checks that took hours to fill out, and weeks to conduct, including interviews with various people. And I’ve never had security clearance or worked anywhere top-secrete or anything of that nature; those get a LOT more intense. I’ve also had to take part in a three-hour meeting about informational security with Homeland Security (environmental compliance puts you in some weird situations).

      Without knowing more about sort of checks being conducted, I’d give the LW the benefit of the doubt here. Sounds like something more thorough than a simple credit check, but not as thorough as what I’ve done.

      1. Antilles*

        When it comes to government security clearances, yeah, it can get wild. I had a randomly assigned college roommate who I lived with for one school year before we went our separate ways. He applied for a security clearance several years later and I got an interview call. Mind you, we had no connection before the university’s random number generator put us together and we hadn’t spoken since living together (nothing wrong, just didn’t have anything in common). Honestly, when the background checker spoke with me, that was the first time I had even thought about ex-roommate in at least a year.

        That call was a solid 15-20 minutes long asking all sorts of things about confirming how I knew him, what I thought about him, if I knew about any ties outside the United States, if I had any reason to suspect his loyalty, blah blah blah.

        So yeah, what a “background check” consists of can definitely vary.

        1. lyonite*

          I did one of these for a (much closer) friend, and the last question the interviewer asked me was if I could come up with any more people for him to talk to, and kept asking until I got to a name he didn’t already have. So it’s possible that you were called because some mutual acquaintance just wanted to get off the phone.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            I think roommates are a different issue. Living with someone confers more knowledge about their background that friends or acquaintances.

            I had a friend applying for a government job and she had to list all of the roommates that she had had in the last 10(?) years along with their information. She was having a very hard time finding a number or address of a girl she had lived for a summer. It was a 6-people sharing a 4 room apartment situation where you had friends and friends-of-friends coming in and out of the place throughout the year. My friend’s application would not be considered unless she had the name and contact information for EVERY person she’d lived with in that time.

          2. Pescadero*

            That was how my FBI background check for a job at a nuclear power plant went.

            They talked to friends, friends parents, high school teachers – none of which I gave them, and all they got through the above method.

            1. Fanny Price*

              My father had to be background checked for a bottle-washer job when he was in high school. He lived in a rural community. They asked him for references of people who knew him – and then they interviewed every person on his street EXCEPT the ones he had listed.

      2. blu*

        Is this from the perspective you being the one to complete the check? Asking because OP says they have a vendor who needs too weeks to complete the work and won’t begin until the next business day even if the request comes in during the weekend, so it doesn’t sound like the employee is doing the legwork here.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      That part actually makes sense to me.

      Current role, a weekend on-call rotation has collapsed down to just me. When I log in, I don’t just knock out the SLA tickets; I’ll handle anything else that would end up in my queue anyway so I go into Monday without an ambush of triage waiting for me. I did the same thing in my previous role and the role before that; if I have to give up a weekend day, I try to get my value back from it in QoL improvements for the following week.

      Of course, the critical differences are that I’m required to, salaried/exempt (and my time therefore has no value), and I’m not defying a refusal to agree to such days.

      So I expect she spent 1-2 hours on the background checks and the balance of the time on other work that’s either been waiting for “a slow stretch” or trying to get ahead of the work for the following week. It’s completely possible she drug the task out or wasted the balance of the time, but those aren’t the only (and in my case default) explanations.

    6. Left Turn at Albuquerque*

      As others have noted, the background checks could be more involved depending on the industry. I used to work in the conflicts department for a global law firm with assignments (mostly incoming associates) that generally took 3-4 days to assemble all the necessary information into a report, which would then be forwarded to the analyst for review.

      1. blu*

        It sounds like this person isn’t doing the assembly. Sounds like they outsource this and this persons role is to kick off the process which usually mean putting in limited details to send a link the the individual where they fill in all their details directly with the outsourced background company.

  4. Anonychick*

    I feel like the simplest answer to the question posed by LW1 is actually found in the letter itself:

    “events should […] not push people outside of their comfort zones.”

    Whether or not the nudity is sexual (and I agree that, in this case, is it not) it seems like any event involving naked people—let alone an event involving SEEING NAKED PEOPLE WHILE SITTING NEXT TO YOUR COWORKERS!—is going to push many (reasonable!) people outside of their comfort zones!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      First: WTAF???
      So, even though I’m an events planner, I don’t have to plan our (totally optional) staff social events. I appreciate that it’s difficult to think of potential staff events, but even if this one is totally optional, it’s SO incredibly inappropriate that they should fire the wbole events committee and make sure they are never asked to plan another event.

      Honestly, I wonder if they came up with this event so they would all get fired from the planning committee. But I have seen enough badly planned events that it’s more likely that one or two people had an incredibly bad idea and the rest of the committee just couldn’t squelch it. Abolish the events committee – or at least, put it in a deep freeze due to sudden, convenient budgetary issues. If there are no more staff events for a while, so be it.

      1. Sopranoh*

        My first thought was that someone or more than one person on this committee was trying to get these things shut down. Granted, I’d side eye a place with an events committee; I don’t like my work life bleeding into my free time too often. How often do these events happen? How mandatory are they?

    2. DyneinWalking*

      Yeah, I was coming here to mention exactly that.

      It’s possible that this might be countered with something like “But in Finland they they have naked sauna sessions and everyone is fine!” but that could be replied with “Yes, but that’s a different country with a different culture. It’s not the same in a culture where nudity is considered inherently sexual.”

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, people’s “comfort zones” can be highly culture-dependent. In a culture where saunas are common, they are likely within a person’s comfort zone, but I think for most Irish people, going to a sauna with one’s coworkers would be outside a person’s comfort zone, because it isn’t something done here and people would not be used to it.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        And in Finland people don’t all strip naked in the boardroom because, hey, we have saunas here.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      And honestly if they really want to do an art themed outing – Still Life drawing sounds amazing.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – the words “ if they really want to do” were carrying a lot of weight in my sentence. Personally, the art activity regardless of what they’re drawing doesn’t sound all that fun to me – but then I appreciate art instead of creating it in these formats.

          A bowl of fruit is a lot less problematic for most folks than a person without clothes.

        2. Dek*

          Honestly, I’m kind of inclined to agree. Still life is one thing that stays still for a long time. You definitely feel like it Should Look Like The Thing when you’re done, and it’s easy to get discouraged or frustrated.

          Life drawing is short, dynamic poses, and it doesn’t matter if what you drew looks nice

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        When my daughter was a toddler she would help her dad play a computer game where you had to shoot the rectilinear solids, which were bad, and collect the spheres, which were good. I argued this was going to give her some weird ideas about geometry.

        25 years later I take a still life drawing class, and quickly come to hate the displays of curved shapes, while embracing perspective drawing with its straight lines and actual rulers. If I could have shot lasers into those displays of skulls, pottery, and fruit, I would have.

    4. Sparkling*

      Yeah, this is where I land. I’m fine with nudity, would totally do a life drawing class if I had better drawing skills than the average 3-month-old, but at work. Nope nopity nope nope nope.

      It sounds like this is a team that likes to push the boundaries so I would be extremely firm with them. Even if they claim that everyone is okay with it – well, everyone may say they’re okay with it, but I’m not sure someone who is uncomfortable with the idea would be willing to speak up.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding this.
        There are some ways where it is okay and necessary to ask people to be uncomfortable (certain DEIJ training activities). But this is definitely not one of them.

        There is absolutely no need to push boundaries at a work social event. I would argue the opposite- a work social event should be a low stakes, low pressure activity where people feel comfortable. Social events are meant to humanize and build relationships, not forge trauma bonds!

    5. Hlao-roo*

      That was also my first thought when I read the letter. This is outside of a lot of people’s comfort zones (including the letter-writer’s), so this is an activity that can be denied approval under the current guidelines.

    6. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah, that’s my thought, nude figure drawing is definitely going to push people out of their comfort zones.

      I did some figure drawing in college and the professor warned us in advance that we were going to draw nudes so that people could prepare themselves mentally, because obviously it does push you out of your comfort zone to be in that situation even if you’re expecting it. So even if the event information says NUDE in big letters in all the emails/flyers/etc there still may be people who miss that or are made uncomfortable by that.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And it’s not like it’s a Scandinavian sauna or Japanese bath… which also can cause discomfort for people from outside those cultures. (There have been letters in the past.)

  5. Magic Mike*

    RE #1 and nudity in the workplace – in the early 2000s, someone organised a male stripper for the work baby shower morning tea for a colleague who was 8.5 months pregnant and about to go on maternity leave. This event was held during work time, on business premises. The stripper was “dressed as a doctor” before he performed his act.

    1. tg33*

      That is even more inappropriate than #1, which is saying something! I like the idea of doing life drawing, but not as a work event.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Oh man, that mental image is cracking me up. I can also picture some employee pulling the, “What!? It doesn’t say anything in the employee handbook about no strippers at work events! What’s the problem?”

      And people wonder why HR has no sense of humor.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I know why they have no sense of humor at work. I’ve worked with far too many folks who thought it was their mission to create new “you cannot do this” statements in the employee handbook…….

        Some people just are convinced that unless it’s expressly forbidden it’s allowed. Never fun to work with those folks.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      … What on Earth? Since when does a surprise naked random dude in his 40s go with opening gifts of tiny hats with ears?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If the naked dude is 4 weeks old, or 4 months old, it is conceivably within the theme of the baby shower.

        2. Zona the Great*

          hahah this was a hilarious response. I guess a 21 year old doctor wouldn’t be believable?

    4. Generic Name*

      Yeah, circa 1997 a stripper performed at a coworker’s birthday party (I think 50th) in a conference room at work. It was awkward.

    5. Turquoisecow*

      I have been to several baby showers and heard about many others and I have never heard of a stripper being at any of them, never mind a work one! Did someone have it confused with a wedding shower/bachelorette party?!

    6. Critical Rolls*

      In addition to the impressive variety of other issues with this, I feel like the person responsible may have been confused about the baby making process.

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      In the late 90s, my employer had to send out a company-wide email explicitly stating that the client entertainment guidelines did not include strip clubs after several principals took a major client to the gentlemen’s club a few blocks away from the office and the evening ended badly on a few levels. I worked with one of the client development folks, who muttered more than one time, “I cannot believe we have to explicitly state not to take clients to strip clubs!”

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        Honestly, I’m more surprised that your coworker was shocked this had to be stated. Maybe it has something to do with me working in a male dominant field, but I’ve worked with many men who’ve been taken to strip clubs when visiting customers, even as late as the mid-2000’s. I know a lot of men who said this was common in the 80s and 90s. Even at the last trade show for my field that I attended back in 2019, I still see many companies who employ attractive women at their booth to hand out swag and help bring in clients. If I saw an attractive woman working at a booth that I wanted to stop at, I always approached her first and almost every time, the woman would tell me she wasn’t the person I needed to speak with and would pass me along to one of the male salespeople. While it’s not the same as visiting strip clubs, companies still use tactics like this and I still hear the occasional story about connecting with some company at trade shows and being invited out for the evening entertainment. It’s much less than when I entered my field 20+ years ago, but it still happens.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Someone did an A-B study on the effect of “booth babes” (models hired to work booths) on sales and found that they actually reduced sales compared to staffing the booths with older women who knew the product well.

          His theory is that people who are interested in buying the product are intimidated by professional models or frustrated because they can’t answer detailed questions about the product. On the other hand, the men who are only there to hit on the booth babes don’t buy.

        2. Texan In Exile*

          In the early 2000s, I was at a poultry trade show. I commented to a male VP that based on all the booth babes there to sell equipment for transporting eviscerated chicken corpses across the factory floor, they should just offer blow jobs in the booths.

          In my first job out of college, my male co-workers took clients to strip clubs. In the poultry job, a male co-worker told me that some salesmen took customers to prostitutes.

    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      This is so inappropriate, but am I the only one who is especially disturbed by the fact that it was during “morning tea.” Mornings are hard enough to get through without this kind of nonsense.

    9. Observer*

      in the early 2000s, someone organised a male stripper for the work baby shower morning tea

      Uh, the point? That there are a lot of severely inappropriate people in the world? That the Op should “take it easy, because it could be worse”?

      I mean, yes that’s utterly insane. But it sounds like the kind of event that could have caused the policy now in place in the OP’s workplace.

    10. ThursdaysGeek*

      Ours was in the early 90s (I think), and it was a birthday and a Miss Piggy doing the tease. But underneath the boa and fancy clothing was an anatomically correct pig suit. So no actual nudity, but it was both awkward and memorable.

  6. Nia*

    1. I desperately need to know what activity they booked that caused them to need prior approval before booking things in the future.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Given their current lack of judgement, it could be pretty straightforward. Booked activities at a venue that wasn’t accessible, organized an office pub crawl, had happy hour drinks but at Hooters, arranged single-gender events, had events that were religious or political in nature…. There are quite a lot of things that are perfectly fine on your own time, but aren’t appropriate work work sponsored activities.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes!! Honestly it sounds like they’re trying to use the company social budget to pursue their own interests for free… life drawing just feels kind of specific and unlikely as an option with wide appeal.

      1. geek5508*

        “Honestly it sounds like they’re trying to use the company social budget to pursue their own interests for free…” – ding ding ding, we have a WINNAH!

        (I hate it when people try to pull this)

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      There is a fascinating office sit-com/docudrama story in there. In which a whole bunch of people are incorrectly stating “Well obviously I am right and everyone else is wrong.”

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I desperately need to know why this wasn’t an immediate NO! Because it’s a clear violation both of their rules and common sense. Yet it was evidentially debatable enough in this workplace that OP wrote in to Alison about it!

    5. Emelius*

      Me too. they’ve been told that they have to get approval for all activities because they chose something inappropriate in the past, yet they still at this time think that it would be appropriate to have everyone draw sketches of a nude model! I can’t even begin to imagine what the other activity must have been.

    6. Observer*

      I desperately need to know what activity they booked that caused them to need prior approval before booking things in the future.

      I’m not sure I want to know anymore. See the comment above about a baby shower….

    7. Throwaway Account*

      Same Nia! I want to know about the other events, how they reacted when there was pushback, and how old the members of that committee are!

      1. Clare*

        Agreed! I was going to suggest also the people who run events like the big naked winter solstice swim in Hobart, Australia – but even then the event isn’t a work social event, it’s a social event run by your work.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      You would think! But it sounds like this committee has demonstrated really bad judgement in the past, so they apparently are just in love with their own dumbarse ideas.

    2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      Not everyone’s naked, though: one person, who isn’t part of the company but has been specifically hired. (Not saying this is good judgement! But I can see how you would think this was some sort of pure/acceptable nudity, the way you could have an event with Michaelangelo’s David)

      1. RowdyRed*

        Yes, but you also don’t know the degree of comfort the models have with their own nudity!

        First life-drawing class for my inexperienced freshman-self, the nude male model hoped off stage at break and went around (still nude) to check out everyone’s work.

        Imagine my mortification!
        Suddenly there is a large appendage by my side; I did not request it and certainly wasn’t prepared for it.

        Nude model was completely comfortable in his glory (as he should be).

        A warning to the models to not approach co-workers might need to be issued – especially if you have those “fun” co-workers who think it would be a lark to smack a bare bottom! (You know someone would!)

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Paulina Porizkova wrote about an event that happened when she was 15 years old.

          Fifteen, y’all.

          “I watched in the mirror as the photographer sidled up behind me and placed something warm and yielding on my shoulder. I kept smiling. The thing on my shoulder looked like a large brown flower in the reflection, and I got a whiff of something food-​­like, soup-​­like. A soft, heavy pretzel? Pantyhose stuffed with mashed potatoes? The room was silent except for the pop of an umbrella flash followed by a high-​­pitched whine as the photo assistant tested the equipment nearby. The makeup artist moved aside a little and laughed. Her laughter assured me this was funny. I joined in, giggling, although I had no idea what I was laughing at.”

          She had never seen a penis before.

          This would not be appropriate at any age – but she was a girl.

  7. Twix*

    Out of curiosity, if the employee in letter 4 is either lying about getting approval or got it from someone who wasn’t actually authorized to grant it, is the business obligated to pay her for those hours?

    1. Nia*

      I’d think so? She did do work for them and you don’t want employers to be able to falsely claim they didn’t authorize overtime to get out of paying.

      1. MassMatt*

        On the other hand, you can’t have an employee just decide they want to work overtime hours whenever they want and come in on a Saturday to get 8 hours of OT for what frankly seems like an hour of work.

        1. BubbleTea*

          Legally, they still have to be paid. They could be fired for not following a clear instruction, but they worked so they have to be paid for it.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          You must pay them for time worked.

          You should subsequently bust them for working OT that they were specifically told was not permitted, as well as for either going around the boss to get approval from someone else or lying about having done so.

        3. Observer*

          On the other hand, you can’t have an employee just decide they want to work overtime hours whenever they want and come in on a Saturday to get 8 hours of OT

          True. That’s why you *can* discipline them. Up to and including firing.

        4. Kevin Sours*

          The rules have gotten strict because companies have a long history of abusing them. A common gambit is to assign workers nine hours of work to complete on an eight hour shift. The managers aggressively write up and fire anybody who doesn’t complete it. Or anybody who works overtime to complete it. Of course workers are told they’re strictly forbidden from working of the clock — but nobody gets fired for that unless regulators notice they are doing it.

      2. The other one*

        Could they fix this by having her take comp time? I guess it would depend on what day their workweek normally started. if it starts Sunday, give her a stern warning and Monday off.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            There are laws against comp time between weeks, but in the same week, you can have someone work Saturday, and have a day in the middle off; lots of people work 40 hours a week or less on non M-F schedules. It would depend on how the company defines their week, though – if it’s Saturday -> Monday, they’d be okay, Monday -> Saturday, they couldn’t do it.

            1. Labrat*

              Actually I was referring to using comp time in lieu of overtime… Comp time at my work is allowed if schedueled in advance, but if it’s a crazy shift and you wind up leaving an hour late, you can’t leave early later in the week. It was explained that it so the company couldn’t weasel out of overtime pay, which makes me think it’s a legal requirement, at least where I am.

              1. ecnaseener*

                I think in some jurisdictions (mainly CA?) overtime may be calculated on a per-day basis, so working >8 hours in one day gets overtime even if you don’t work >40 hours that week.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                It sounds like she might in fact be saying “So now I have an extra 8-16 hours of vacation PTO, since I worked on Saturday.”

              3. Rusty Shackelford*

                Unless you’re in California, shifting hours for this exact issue is pretty common. In a former life, part of my job was to run time cards Friday morning and let everyone know how many extra minutes they needed to take off at lunch to make sure they didn’t get into overtime.

                1. Texan In Exile*

                  Which – ugh. Extra time at lunch is not the same as extra time at the end of the day when I want to be home.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @Texan in Exile: Fair enough, but this wasn’t people who were asked to come in on Saturday when they weren’t normally scheduled and then take a longer lunch on Friday. It was people who were just a little late clocking out every day. So, presumably not in a big hurry to get home. :-)

              4. Twix*

                It could be a law where you are or it could be something like part of a union contract. But in general (in the US at least) overtime rules are week-to-week and it is both legal and very common in some industries to send people home early to avoid having to pay OT.

                1. Twix*

                  It is however generally illegal to “pay” a non-exempt employee in future comp time/PTO for overtime hours worked. (E.g. if an employee worked 45 hours in a week, you can’t pay them for 40 hours and give them 5 hours of PTO in lieu of paying out the 5 hours at the OT rate.)

              5. Goody*

                Comp in lieu of overtime is absolutely not legal in my state. When I was much younger and pregnant with my first, I took a job with this arrangement, not knowing it was illegal but desperate to have some semblance of an income on maternity leave. A few years later, another employee complained to EEOC over something completely unrelated, the company was audited and my comp/OT arrangement was discovered (I was still employed there during this process). The company had to pay me all of those hours at the OT rate, despite having also already paid me those hours at straight time while I was off work post-partum, plus penalties. It made for a very nice windfall at a perfect time.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If she’s not an exempt employee, yes, overtime, or time off in the same week she worked the extra hours (so as to not go over 40 hours). An an employee can’t exempt themselves from those laws.

      Which is why doing this is such a big deal, and why it’s not unusual for new employees to not realize that it can get you fired.

      1. Artemesia*

        If she lied, she should be fired. If she weaseled to get someone not authorized to approve it, then she should be on a pip like warning i.e. if this happens again you are gone. If it were a vague offense — generally people need authorization but she just did it, well softer — but the OP TOLD her ‘no’ and she did it. This needs to be escalated to code red for her.

        1. Lilo*

          I agree, I would fire an employee who lied about authorization. if she found someone else to authorize it after being told no, that’s still potentially a firing offense but depends on her performance otherwise, but absolutely a final warning issue.

          You don’t keep someone around who lies about being authorized to work.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          OP is trying to see this as just enthusiasm instead of the spectacularly bad judgment that it is. She needs to treat this as a serious performance issue. As in no means no, not show your gumption by doing it anyway. But the report might have enough other redeeming qualities that its worth salvaging with a little effort. It needs to be clear — this cannot happen again, you are on thin ice. I wouldn’t even point out that once you are told no it means no. Because then this person might just act because then they aren’t ignoring a no. They need to be told they cannot jump in without express approval.

          1. ferrina*

            Exactly. This kind of gumption quickly gets companies into trouble. She was told no, and immediately looked for ways to circumvent that. That’s a big problem. Unless this employee shows genuine understanding of what they did wrong (not just “I’m saying sorry so you can drop it”) keep them on thin ice, but otherwise it’s definitely time to let this person go. They will be more trouble than it is worth.

            See also:

          2. Observer*

            OP is trying to see this as just enthusiasm instead of the spectacularly bad judgment that it is. She needs to treat this as a serious performance issue

            I agree. Now, if she’s lying, that goes beyond bad judgement, to total untrustworthiness. But if she “just” weaseled someone into giving her permission, it’s still spectacularly bad judgement and the OP should treat it as such.

    3. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      In the US, yes. (At least that’s the case everywhere I’ve lived; I believe it’s federal law.) They can fire her for working unauthorized OT, but they have to pay for the work—and it’s time and a half.

        1. honeygrim*

          Is AcademiaNut correct that they could make her take a different day off in the same week to keep her under 40 hours? I didn’t think that was allowed, but I work in government, and Congress is really adept at exempting itself from employment laws it passes, so my job does tend to offer comp time in lieu of overtime.

          1. doreen*

            Legally, they can under Federal law. There might be local laws that prohibit it but those would generally be laws requiring about notice of a change in schedule . For example, a law that requires two weeks notice of a change in schedule might prevent telling the employee on Monday that because they worked Sunday they must take Wednesday off. It’s not really comp time if it’s in the same week – it’s a schedule change.

          2. Retail*

            I work at a business that’s open 7 days a week. If I’m asked to come in Tuesday and I was off Tuesday and Friday, they can say we swapped and you’ll have Thursday off.

            Saturday, no wiggle room. She has to be paid, there is zero debate there.

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            They can, as long as it’s in the same pay week. So if the work week ends on Friday, and she schedules herself for Saturday, they could take her off the schedule for a different day before the end of the week. But if the work week ended on Saturday, or if it ended on Sunday and she wasn’t scheduled to work on Sunday, there’s no legal way to move those hours around.

              1. honeygrim*

                Thank you, Alison and everyone for clarifying. I thought I got it but wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

    4. Reality.Bites*

      Putting on my fake lawyer hat, I’d say they’re not legally obligated to pay someone for working unauthorized hours, but they’re unlikely to refuse to do so.

      1. PNW cat lady*

        They do have to pay it. Let’s say you make a mistake that comes to light at 5pm on a Friday. If you are non-exempt and want to fix it before you leave for the week, it will be OT even if you as the employee think, but I made the mistake and I have to make it right. And even if you work for a non-profit and you think, oh, I just have 2 more hours and this will be ready for the event we’re hosting tomorrow. I’ll just donate the time so we don’t have to deal with OT. I should have gotten it done by 5 anyway. You can’t volunteer for your non-profit place of work doing something you are normally paid for.

        1. ABC*

          Exactly. If anything, I think it makes more sense the other way around: companies would be far, far more likely to refuse to pay unauthorized overtime if they weren’t legally obligated to do so.

    5. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, overtime worked must be paid for – even if she is then immediately sacked because of doing so without permission.

    6. The other one*

      Could they fix this by having her take comp time? I guess it would depend on what day their workweek normally started. if it starts Sunday, give her a stern warning and Monday off.

      1. ecnaseener*

        If the work week starts Sunday, then you can’t comp time from Saturday after the week is done.

        My understanding is that if the work week started Saturday, you could cancel her Monday shift to keep her from going over 40 hours in the upcoming week, but that wouldn’t exactly be comp time.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        They *can* shift her hours. That’s not considered comp time. Comp time would be “rather than paying you overtime for Saturday, we’re going to give you a day off next month to make up for it.”

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Nope. They have to pay her overtime for Saturday if working those hours Saturday put her over 40 hours for that week. They can say “now you have to take off 1.5 days next month” so it washes out the payroll budget, but they can’t not pay her for work she worked if she’s nonexempt.

    7. Cat Tree*

      Yes, they have to pay her legally and it should be that way. Think about the alternative. If employers could get free labor by claiming the overtime was unauthorized, very very many of them would either say they approve it verbally and then deny it, or say the overtime is denied with a big wink and making it clear that the work needs to get done anyway. And then not pay the overtime. In fact, the second scenario is already too common because employers either don’t know the laws or are banking on their employees to not know them. We definitely don’t need to legally empower employers to exploit their employees even more.

      As others have mentioned, the employee can legally be fired for this reason or almost any reason. But yeah, you have to pay them for the work they actually do.

    8. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      At the org I work for how to get approved for OT is explicitly spelled out in your onboarding process, and you sign a paper that goes in your file with HR saying you understand the process.

      OP 4’s person at my job would get paid – and a formal first and last written warning that the next occurrence would result in termination.

    9. Observer*

      if the employee in letter 4 is either lying about getting approval or got it from someone who wasn’t actually authorized to grant it, is the business obligated to pay her for those hours?

      Yes, assuming she’s non-exempt.

      They could fire her afterwards, but they would have to pay her.

    10. Anticoyote*

      Yes, you MUST pay employees for all hours worked. You can fire them for working unauthorized overtime or write them up, but they must be paid.

      In fact, I worked at one place where the employee worked unauthorized overtime and they company simply docked her. After a year she quit, filed a wage claim and won all the back wage (which she carefully documented).

      The arbitrator’s first question is, “if you knew she was working overtime, it should’ve been addressed immediately. By not doing this you were in effect authorizing overtime.’

      This is a very important thing payroll often overlooks. You can file a claim at the federal level for three years AFTER leaving a company and some states allow as much as five years after leaving.

      And to make matters worse, when you file a wage claim, the auditors almost always audit EVERYONE in the company, not just the complainant.

      I have seen this happen a lot. So the bottom line is always pay, then write up or dismiss employee, but ALWAYS pay.

  8. Scroller*

    At most of my workplaces, I have done some sort of DiSC type personality assessment and they have often been pretty helpful for working in teams.

    Why is the Myers-Briggs controversial when other personality typing is acceptable?

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I regard them all as woo; thankfully none of my workplaces have indulged pseudoscience

    2. Ariaflame*

      I suppose because it’s considered pseudo-science because it’s not based on any actual meaningful data. Written by two laypeople jung fans. I don’t know of any acceptable personality typing though.

      1. sparkle emoji*

        The “personality test” that does meet the psychology field’s baseline to be considered scientific(ie it has validity and reliability) is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory(MMPI). It’s like 200 questions so it takes forever. There’s also the OCEAN(openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism)/CANOE concept which is an analysis of different traits in positive or negative amounts. Neither one is a simple test that pops out a cute little “type” which I think is the main goal for the personality tests used in the workplace.

    3. glt on wry*

      From my experience… Myers-Briggs wants you to seem ‘exclusive, like only 16% of people’ when you do it. I have taken this test twice and, because I know how to game it, come up with two different labels. It’s like high-school labels from The Breakfast Club, that you then have to defend (like seriously, defend your personality?) because someone can’t believe you were INTJ! It just pigeonholes everybody.

      It’s like those paper fortune-teller things in the ’70s when we were kids — you just have to land on the right spot.

      I don’t know about any other formulaic tests, but I’d rather watch my colleagues (or employees, not my realm) work and decide instead of predict how they might act based on a wing and a theory.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        My type makes me laugh because supposedly it’s the Rarest Type Of All and I’m a super special little pumpkin, but SO many people I know have gotten the same result. Either we’re just extremely drawn to each other’s super special rareness, or the whole thing is mostly nonsense :)

        1. glt on wry*

          @Dark Mac: I *paid* for this test the first time (I was incredibly naive). Wow, they wanted to make me seem unique, and I was just looking for a job:)

        2. darsynia*

          A family friend had to take one for work (back in the 90s) and managed to come up with a result that was completely down the middle for all four. I was a teenager and thought it was the coolest thing ever, almost as cool as being born on February 29, lol.

          1. Cj*

            I had to take it at my job about 2 decades ago. I can’t remember. what my letters were, but I’m sure the description was not at all helpful to my manager or team members. the whole thing was stuff like “sometimes tackful and diplomatic, sometimes tactless and blunt”.

            everything said sometimes this and sometimes the opposite thing.

            1. Fractal*

              Not to defend the MBTI, but humans often behave differently depending on the circumstances (and the difference in circumstance could be as small as being before or after lunch).

              1. Observer*

                Yeah, well that’s one of the major problems with most of these tests. People behave differently in different circumstances, so the idea that there is ONE “personality type” based on the responses given at one moment is time about what they “would” do or how the “feel” in a given moment is silly.

          2. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, that’s been me when I have taken it — or at least down the middle for three of four, but I don’t remember more than that, since it’s been decades.

          3. Filosofickle*

            I have taken dozens of MBTI tests and while there are some patterns my results vary widely — one time I found a test that gave percentages for each dimension and indeed I was near 50/50 on all of them! Within 60/40 on all. Which actually really fits me.

            I started taking these tests for a class that was all about knowing yourself. And the more I got different results and saw how badly most were written, it became a bit of a hobby to take as many as possible for entertainment value :)

          4. ThursdaysGeek*

            I can take it two times in a row and come out with completely different results, because I’m so on the edge. And also because so many of the questions are either: yes to both of these so which shall I pick? or no to both of these, so which shall I pick? I guess it tells me I’m well balanced.

          5. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, my only result was “slight introvert” and I landed practically in the middle on all the others. So my type seems to be I??? and none of the follow-up activities were particularly helpful.

      2. Annie*

        I have done lots of online personality quizzes, mostly for fun, but a few for job appications. I never paid for any myself, though.

        These range from the quizzes in the Open-Source Psychometrics Project, to make-your-own-quiz websites, to whatever came up in search for [topic] quiz. With that experience, I can state that personality quizzes generally have very little utility in a work context.

        The worst one allegedly from a credible organization I ever took was a career aptitude test I had to take in high school. The test gave you various job tasks one by one and asked you to rate your inclination towards each task on a numbered scale. Of course the results meant nothing to me because I had no work experience at the time, much less any experience (work or volunteer) with the tasks I was asked to rate.

        The quizzes on the make-your-own-quiz sites fell almost entirely on the humorous side and said more about how they were made than about me.

        The rest were a mixed bag. If you wanted to find out if a particular tendency of yours was normal or indicative of something wrong according to the quiz makers, you’ll get a straightforward, if surprising, answer. The love language quiz and the attachment style quiz were also insightful though not in a work context. Everything else was a matter of “you get out what you put in it”.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I might have taken the same aptitude test! One of the statements to rank was: “I enjoy grinding glass for lenses.” How the heck would I know!?

          Many years later, someone pointed out that the questions sounded like the test had been developed to decide aptitude for wartime tasks during WWII.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I took a career aptitude test when I was in a period of burnout, and it suggested that coroner was the perfect position for me.

            I’m so squeamish I don’t think I could have made it through college bio.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              In some places, that’s an elected position and separate from a medical examiner or pathologist. So it’s also a kind of amorphous role.

              1. UKDancer*

                ayes in England and Wales the coroner is responsible for holding inquests to determine cause of death in a court setting. Post mortem are done by pathologists. Coroners are either doctors or solicitors (more the latter).

                That said while you’re not dealing with cadavers you do need to read the medical reports from the pathologists

        2. Hannah Lee*

          The one I had to take, during my first temp job right out of school, was when I was working in a mailroom for a tech company.

          The head of HR sat down with me to review my results and basically said that while on paper and in person I seemed to have “potential” management was disappointed to see my test results which indicated that I primarily saw my work as “picking thing up, putting them in boxes, and moving them to the next process step” rather than being more IDK imaginative, intuitive or take charge. And the slotted me based on that into a dead end “path” or whatever that test was intended to set up as an HR-y next step.

          I was young and naive so I was like “okay, I guess that sounds about right”. Only later did it dawn on me that I answered that way because that was LITERALLY my primary job: Pick letters up, sort them by putting them in slots, boxes and then deliver the sorted items. When I wasn’t busy I was reorganizing stuff, pitching in all over the place in other departments, collaborating, taking initiative and doing all kinds of upwardly mobile stuff. But the way the thing was worded it didn’t ask about that. Ah well.

          Also, any time I’ve been at a place that rolls out this kind of testing, it inevitably just becomes another way for management to justify doing what they always done (giving opportunities to the loud aggressive white guys who the managers see as “he’s like I was when I was starting out”)

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        “Only 16% of people” seeming rare in a classification system with 16 options seems like it’s designed to appeal to people who are bad at statistics. That would be one of the larger categories!

    4. Catherine*

      I think that all typing based on personality quizzes is inherently unreliable due to self-reporting allowing for falsehood and bias, as well as the way most quizzes fail to distinguish between inclination vs actual behavior. I would not want to use any of that in the workplace.

    5. Artemesia*

      they are all of dubious scientific merit BUT many people find them useful. I have used them in an adult learning class as a fun activity (and easier quicker tool than the MB) and a way to talk about different decision making and leadership styles. And actually the MB was extraordinarily help with a board I once served on that could not get anything done. When the two of us who were action oriented decision makers were at one end of the room and the entire rest of the board huddled in the touchy feely corner, it became clear why we were not effective. Unfortunately it is often used as if it were as valid as a thermometer and to label or dismiss the contributions of some. I know people who have used this stuff like this in the hiring process as a way of excluding and including — So can be useful if not taken too seriously but damaging if treated as if it were a strong and valid measure of something important.

      1. Daria Grace*

        I think the key thing is not that the types in any particular system are magic or even that accurate, it’s that done well engaging with the process gets people mating a lot more attention to how themselves and others thrive

      2. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, you just have to understand that it’s not scientifically validated. If it feels useful as a descriptive tool for understanding yourself then great (it does for me!) but you can’t count on it being accurate or meaningful for anyone else, it’s just for fun.

    6. John Smith*

      I’ve had a similar experience, but found that managers obviously ignored the results or didn’t understand them – it was treated as little more than a quiz and I’m pretty sure a result “an obvious nightmare” would have led to employment anyway.

      To those claiming these types of tests are hocum – I undertook one and it turned my life from upside down to the right way up. Finding out I am extremely introverted made me realise just why I didn’t get on in my previous roles and led me to a career change. I returned to university, earned a degree in a completely different field and started in my current role shortly afterwards. Still there 15 years later (despite toxic and dysfunctional management – i really do love the job), and all thanks to the test I undertook.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the test is as accurate in detail it claims to be (apparently I’m the same type as Mahatma Ghandi but I doubt he took the test) but as a generalisation, it’s more or less a good guide.

    7. INTP (on a good day)*

      I find Meyers-Briggs helpful! IF people can keep an open mind – it can explain that someone who reacts different from you isn’t necessarily a jersey, or out of touch, just different. But if you’ve already decided it’s “Woo” before you have even taken the test, we’ll, that’s kind of close-minded, I think. It’s NOT science, anymore than a filing system is “science”. It’s just a way of categorizing, that makes information easier to retrieve and analyze. In this case, the “information” is about people, and accessing it can help you anticipate – avoid getting blind-sided by -reactions that are different from your own, as well as help recognize strengths others may have. . . . anyway, it can be helpful. And it’s because it’s more nuanced (4 separate measures, each of 2 pairs, 16 different possible results), both less judgemental than other (usually 4 category) personalit systems and less “Woo”. But I would think that. I’m a “P”

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        I’ve also been called close-minded for dismissing astrology and homeopathy, because they have no evidence either for their claims.
        Woo can be actively harmful if used instead of evidence-based science.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          When I was an instructor, I told my students that if they kept their minds. open enough, people could pour all kinds of garbage in them.

          I think they can be useful for people who are not naturally introspective, only because they force you to think about your own personality, etc. But that doesn’t mean the assessments are accurate or even useful.

        2. osmoglossom*

          Evidence-based science is frequently biased and harmful. See: Caroline Criado Perez’s book, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.

          1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

            That does not mean non-evidence-based woo is valid though. This is not the counterpoint you seem to think it is. Having an open mind does not mean taking in every piece of information with no judgment or discernment.

            Evidence-based science that is biased, is, wait for it, not actually evidence-based. If you aren’t open to your theory being wrong and you discard inconvenient facts that would disprove your theory, then you’re not actually doing science, you’re just confirming your biases.

          2. Former Hominid*

            Of course, but the answer to “science has biases” is to improve science, not discard it for something objectively false and harmful and with no basis in reality. If a pill was designed badly and doesn’t work on women, the answer is to take a different medicine, not go on a juice cleanse and take silver pills you know?

          3. Pescadero*

            Evidence-based science is frequently biased and harmful.
            The alternative is almost always more biased and more harmful.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Honestly, one doesn’t need to take a test to know whether it is scientific or not. In fact, I would say taking it is likely to bias people. Somebody who likes their result is likely to think it valid regardless of what the research says whereas somebody who dislikes their result is likely to think it invalid regardless of what the evidence says. You won’t learn whether a test gets accurate results from taking it. At most, you will learn whether your result is accurate enough and that only if you are self-aware enough to evaluate it accurately.

        Actually, paying attention to the research rather than basing one’s opinion on a test on their own experience of taking it is the opposite of closed-minded.

        The issue is that you can’t really categorise people, both because they tend not to fit neatly into categories and because any attempt to categorise is likely to be based on self-reporting which is going to be pretty inaccurate, both because of people who don’t have self-awareness and people who don’t trust their workplace and lie in an attempt to get a result they think will be viewed positively.

        Yes, it is good to be aware that there are different personality types and that people who react differently than you do are not wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is any evidence that people’s personality types match with those the Myers-Brigg creators came up with.

      3. Myrin*

        I think my problem with this in genral – and I say that as someone who wouldn’t ever have heard of Myers-Briggs if not for the internet; I’m not in the US and I don’t think it’s particularly well-known here, so I honestly have no real thoughts on it – is that
        1. you can learn that people who are different from you usually aren’t different AT you and that it’s often a best first course of action to assume someone isn’t acting out of malice without ever doing a personality test
        2. likewise, you don’t actively need to sort people into letter-categories to realise over time that Tom is bad at emailing but very eloquent while talking on the phone or that Julia always needs a day to warm up to a new system or that Andrew’s first instinct is to question everything but that he reacts well to logical explanations.

        I don’t know if I’m expressing this correctly but I generally reckon that if you pay attention to your surroundings, including the people therein, you can recognise people’s strengths or avoid being blindsided by different opinions all without officially sorting people into categories (I say “officially” because I think it’s pretty normal to sort people into categories regardless, like Alex is “the flaky one”).

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          THIS. They aren’t being different AT you and talking about what works for you is better than having some label that becomes shorthand instead of actually working with the issue.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Exactly. Also, people with the self-awareness to come up with useful results on one of these tests frequently have the self-awareness to answer a question such as “how would you like to collaborate on this project” or “what’s the best way to reach you about an urgent matter”.

          If you want to know how best to work with someone, maybe just ask?

        3. sparkle emoji*

          Yeah, if someone uses the MBTI to remind them to empathize with others and change their behavior/expectations to better collaborate with the people around them, that’s fine and I’m glad that they found something that works for them. But the ability to consider things in that way isn’t unique to the MBTI. One could just as easily sub in astrological signs if the goal is to have a label that acts as a reminder that people are different from one another.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m honestly blinking at 16 results being less judgmental than a mere 4 results.

        (I would think this because I’m a Ravenclaw.)

      5. ceiswyn*

        …except that Myers-Briggs *is* woo, because its categorisation – the thing you are supposedly using it for – is bobbins. Even when it manages to reliably put individuals in the same category each time they take the test, the things it then tells you about the strengths and reactions of people in that category are basically made up.

        The reason that people have stronger reactions to Myers-Briggs than to other tests that are similarly woo is exactly this comment; the number of people who are certain it has actual value, and are doing themselves and their colleagues a disservice by basing actual decisions on it.

        1. Andromeda*

          Wait, “made up” how?

          Full disclosure: I am one of those Myers-Briggs apologists. It’s a fun magazine quiz which asks interesting questions and at least attempts to produce consistent results. Yes, results can vary depending on the mood you’re in at the time, but I mean it’s a personality test based around self-reporting, so what do you expect? I also don’t see the results as 16 different rigid boxes — to me it’s more like clusters of behaviour patterns that people can fit more or less closely. Might I be doing a bit of stretching to make this even function as a framework? Maybe! But even the most well-known online test puts you somewhere on a spectrum between two values when you get your results, so it’s not all like “THIS IS THE ONLY THING YOU DO AND YOU DO IT FOREVER”, it’s just saying what you prefer.

          Humans like archetypes, and we have done for pretty much as long as we’ve been alive. I wouldn’t use MB for work as much as I wouldn’t use tarot cards for work, but I think both have a purpose in “using archetypes and narratives to help “read” a situation that you might otherwise not have much insight into”. We don’t take Freud’s theories as psychological fact any more, but I’ve been in English Lit undergrad seminars where we studied his work as literature and I think that’s the perspective shift I’ve had here too.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            If results can vary based on the mood you’re in, then it doesn’t produce consistent results–and it’s failing at the thing you say it’s attempting.

            A fun magazine quiz that might give you a little insight into yourself? Fine. Using it in a work context? I’m running the other way.

          2. Also-ADHD*

            It was literally made up by two women with no psychological training, based on anecdotal experiences. While it references Jung’s archetypes, that aspect of Jung isn’t even that useful from a psychological perspective and is more applicable to a humanities study. The women who made it did think it would be helpful for women entering the workforce during WW2, but it was basically like a magazine quiz or more recently a Buzzfeed quiz. There’s no real science behind it—it’s more intricate than a magazine quiz, but frankly less intricate than astrology (also no science— well incidentally astronomy factors in but not in a way that creates accuracy).

          3. ceiswyn*

            ‘Made up’ in the sense that… they were made up? Those categorisations and their strengths and weaknesses were invented out of whole cloth by laypeople with no training or experience in psychology, based purely on their own intuition and stereotypes. There was and is no evidential basis for them at all.

            Now, if you are genuinely using Myers-Briggs as you would use tarot, or astrology, or ‘what GoT house are you’, and being honest with yourself and others that that’s all it is, then I have no bone to pick with you.

            If you’re using it in a professional context and claiming that it in any way accurately represents personality or behavioural traits, then we have a problem.

            1. Andromeda*

              Ah crap, I spent so long re-editing that comment that I forgot the part where I explicitly say that it is THOROUGHLY not appropriate in a work context. I’m actually pretty against all personality quizzes for work — it was amazing how much my results changed in a (non-MBTI) working-style test after I moved jobs and stopped working for a boss who made me really anxious. And when these things measure values like “conscientiousness”, and your boss can access them, it can tank both your confidence and harm your boss’s attitude towards you.

              I still do think *any* test that involves self-reporting subjective stuff like pain, self-perception, mood etc are likely to be unreliable, and don’t really get the MBTI-specific hate. I didn’t know the degree to which the Myers-Briggs types were made up though!

      6. biobotb*

        I’m kind of boggled at the idea that someone would need a test* to understand that other people have different perspectives and reactions. If that’s someones first introduction to the idea that not everyone is like them, they’re going to need more than a personality assessment to navigate interpersonal relationships.

        *totally unscientific categorization system that categorizes people differently based on their mood when they take the “test”

        1. Filosofickle*

          You’d be amazed. Professionally I do a ton of customer / user research and most people underestimate how fundamentally different their perception of the world is compared to others.

      7. Laura*

        Okay, but a) you don’t need a test to understand that someone who reacts differently than you is different and not a jerk or out of touch, b) sometimes people ARE jerks or out of touch, and c) I reject the entire classification system. I don’t think it’s helpful and I don’t think the way they come up with the results really works since every question is just a binary choice.

    8. DyneinWalking*

      To answer your question, I reckon that Myers-Briggs is simply the most commonly known of those tests, so it gets the brunt of the disapproval.
      It’s hard to gripe about something that you don’t know exists.

    9. Lilo*

      I had a former boss who used to love these as part of management training and I just hated them. Absolute waste of time. People’s personalities and styles aren’t binaries and aren’t static. I haven’t run into one of these where it wasn’t very obvious what answer you’d get from what question, so they’re extremely easy to manipulate the results (which, frankly, I’ve done after the third time or so I was asked to do one of these because it makes the post discussion easier if you get the “right” type.

    10. Keymaster in absentia*

      Because you can vary wildly on the results based on your mood that day, whether you’re interested in the results, if you’re answering honestly, if you’re using your work persona or home persona etc.

      I can fill out a personality test twice and get a totally different answer.

      The best way to judge personality work styles is through observation and communication.

    11. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to use any of them to decide how to work or communicate with workmates. For one thing, it’s really not possible to categorise people into neat groups and for another, to the extend that they are useful, they are going to depend on people answering accurately and a lot of people don’t have much insight into themselves or self-awareness and also some people are going to lie in order to try and get the personality type they want their workmates to think them.

      I don’t think it’s specifically that the Myers-Briggs is controversial. I think it’s more that these are really just fun. They have no scientific basis. Yeah, they can be interesting for getting people thinking about how they work/learn/communicate, but they aren’t something to base your entire understanding of another person on.

      I see them as similar to the Harry Potter house tests, fun to do and yeah, which one they identify with often does tell you something about people – it at least tells you how they want to be seen – but hardly something to base your whole impression of somebody on. It’s more a “see if this test can guess me right” kind of thing.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think what Myers-Briggs is useful for is *facilitating* the conversation about team communication and preferences. I’ve done it a couple of times in different teams (and been trained to administer it, although I’ve never actually done that because I left that job before it came up) and it’s a pretty good structure for facilitating discussions about how you like to plan, communicate, working style, receive feedback, what you find easy and what you find hard etc. I also really, REALLY like the MBTI definition of “preferences”, which is that whilst you have a preference, all that means is that it’s easier for you and you probably default to it, it doesn’t mean you can’t do your less preferred style, you just need to take into account that it’s going to use more energy and leave you tireder. I use that a lot in all sorts of settings!

        I mean, you may have someone who is really determined to be an INTJ, no matter what interacting with him actually shows, but that’s just a natural part of working with humans. And the MBTI system doesn’t really map onto “desirable” and “non-desirable” traits or roles, so I don’t think there’s much incentive for people to actively try and seek a particular “type”– which I do think is more of a thing with eg. Belbin team roles.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think the problem arises when people start seeing them as the one true magical way of understanding your coworkers rather than as a tool to encourage discussion and open people’s minds to the wide variety of ways in which people work.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            This 100%. We have had two well-facilitated sessions at work – one based around MBTI and another based around DISC. It was made very clear to us that these had limitations, including self-report, and were not any sort of diagnostic tool and mostly to help you learn your own preferences and how to adapt those to working in a team.

            I cannot deal with people who treat their “type” from any sort of test like this as a diagnosis and act like their type is an excuse for not doing their job or for behaving in difficult or unprofessional ways. That’s not the point at all.

        2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          Yes, I think Myers-Briggs preferences are a surprisingly useful model! I pretty reliably type as an INFP, but my job requires a fair bit of extraverted thinking and I do an excellent job at it – it just requires some real focus and effort.

          I do think there’s some pressure out there to be a certain type (the corporate world likes ESTJs and ESTPs; academia likes INTJs), though. I can see how folks could think there’s a “right” answer.

    12. Good Enough For Government Work*

      I personally hate all personality-typing ‘tests’: they’re stupid, pseudo-scientific, faddish woo and they’re used as crutches by people who can’t manage.

      In the case of Myers-Briggs specifically, it was designed by a couple of eugenicists. Screw THAT.

      1. Andromeda*

        wait what

        If that’s the case then I am decidedly iffy about the intentions behind the whole thing (to be clear, it is not scientific, but I have used it as a fun Buzzfeed quiz-style tool).

    13. Xyz*

      MBTI is unreliable in the strict sense of the word: taking the same test several times is likely to get you different resultaten every time.

      1. anon for this one*

        I know these tests aren’t scientific and don’t take them seriously, but I think personality tests are fun so I’ve taken quite a few. I’m always a little surprised when I read that most people’s results vary wildly depending on when they take them. It’s clear that I’m in the minority here, but I’ve taken the test multiple times over the past 20 years and have always gotten the same result.

        It’s just… not hard to answer how I’d respond on a typical day, regardless of my mood at the time I’m taking the test. Sure, sometimes I can enjoy a big noisy party, but most of the time I don’t and would strongly prefer a small, quiet gathering. I know that about myself.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I agree. MBTI is consistent in that if I give it the same set of answers, I get the same profile back every time. Two different administrators using the same questions and getting the same answer set produce the same profile every time. However, I can see for an individual that the answer set may change frequently and/or significantly, and the model has nothing to reflect that.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          The problem is that the tests are catnip to a certain type of inadequate manager who’s looking for a crutch that they can use as gospel. The fact that lots of people can use the tests with a pinch of salt and be proportionate isn’t a regular enough occurrence, for the test results alone to be relied upon. The fact that some people can also be really reliable, unwavering self reporters isn’t the most common scenario either.

      2. starsaphire*

        This is where I fall; I have never gotten the same result twice.

        Like, I’m just being me, I’m not trying to “game” it, I have no idea how I answered last time – but every time it’s different.

        Thankfully, at my work it’s considered “interesting but totally optional,” and while a few people have their results posted, most of the rest of us just ignore it.

    14. Shalon Wood*

      Because the Myers-Briggs is bullshit?

      But that might just be my opinion because I’m an INTP.

    15. bamcheeks*

      I did the MBTI facilitator training about ten years ago (although I never actually ran a session because it didn’t come up before I left that job), and the claims that people make about it and the claims that it makes about itself are wildly divergent. The claims it makes for itself, how it should be used and what it can actually do are way more modest than the public perception. We were corrected every time we used the word “test”, for example, because the “answering questions” bit is supposed to be the least important part, and that’s just an indication of what your type might be. Deciding what type you actually are is supposed to be a facilitated process with the administrator explaining what the different letters mean and how they interact, with lots of smaller exercises and discussion, and if you come out of that thinking you’re a different type to what the questionnaire said, that’s absolutely fine and you should stick with that.

      We were also told repeatedly that we should never participate in using it as a tool for deciding hiring or promotions, only self-awareness or team-building. And I think it’s as useful a structure for that kind of activity as anything else– I’ve done it as a participant in two different teams, and I did find it useful for thinking through how the team functions, people’s preferences for communication, receiving feedback, responding to deadlines, motivation and so on. I have no idea what “type” people were, but I still remember that Ann needs LOTS of positive affirmation in her feedback alongside anything that needs to change, and Natasha would roll her eyes if you tried that on her and just wants you to get on to the actionable part. That’s useful information!

      (Also I’m always a bit *side-eye* at the “they weren’t REAL psychologists!” bit. Like, have you SEEN what real psychologists were doing in the 30s, 40s and 50s?! Meyers and Briggs’ work stands up a lot better and has fewer ethical problems than a lot of “real”, employed-by-universities, inside-the-gentleman’s-club psychology of the period.)

      1. Insert Pun Here*

        But the standard shouldn’t be “was it good science for back then.” It should be “is it good science for right now.” (It’s not.)

        1. bamcheeks*

          Only if you count it as science? I think that’s the bit I’m always baffled by– I see MBTI as like any other coaching model or team-building structure. I genuinely never have come across anyone claiming it as SCIENCE except to decry the fact that it’s NOT SCIENCE, and I just don’t really know where that comes from. Unless it’s marketed wildly differently in the US than in Europe.

          1. Insert Pun Here*

            Psychology is a science (you compared the MBTI to psychology in your own comment, even.) There is real actual scientific research around personality, and the MBTI is, at best, wildly out of date given that.

            1. bamcheeks*

              yeahhh, I don’t know if I’d agree fully with the statement that psychology is a science. You can do a BA in psychology after all, and psychology includes and branches out into tons of stuff like coaching, counselling, marketing, linguistics, sociology etc which are much harder to subject to objective and replicable experimentation, as well as the branches and areas of knowledge which depend more heavily on the scientific method.

              “It’s either science or it’s nonsense” feels like a categorisation error to me.

              1. bamcheeks*

                (Realised that last line sounds like I’m putting words in your mouth, and I didn’t mean it that way!)

                1. bamcheeks*

                  Huh, I don’t think that’s true in the UK: there’s a pretty robust distinction between BSc in sciences and BAs in social sciences here. Psychology and Geography both fall between the two and universities will often offer both depending on whether you do more quantitive or more qualitative modules.

                2. Laura*

                  Ahhh, didn’t realize you were in the UK and assumed you were just using BA as a catch all for all bachelor’s degrees. I went to a small liberal arts college (it’s a specific type of college) in the US and every single degree was a BA. I was a psychology major and at my college, psych was in the science division and very science-focused. We spent a lot of time learning how to do psychology research.

                  I know that at some colleges or universities that are much larger than mine, the psych department is big enough that students can take a clinical track where they’re learning more about the therapy side of things. That probably doesn’t involve learning about research as much. But also many clinical psychology techniques are based on science.

              2. ceiswyn*

                There is definitely robust, statistical, scientific work being done on personality in psychology, though. I studied a Bachelor’s in Experimental Psychology back in the late 90s, and believe me the researchers who tutored me were doing everything they could to design good experiments, use appropriate statistical analyses, etc etc.

                And yet here’s you comparing the modern science to two women making stuff up.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  That’s kind of what I mean about category errors: I don’t think the options are “science” or “making stuff up”. There are loads of models which can’t be scientifically tested but which are still useful for helping individuals and teams think and talk about how they can best work together. I don’t think something needs to be scientifically valid to be a useful team facilitation exercise!

          2. Pescadero*

            Most coaching models or team building structures are ALSO completely unscientific woo with no basis in fact or criterion validity.

            They are largely useless and provide no value – except to the folks selling it.

      2. Observer*

        Meyers and Briggs’ work stands up a lot better and has fewer ethical problems than a lot of “real”, employed-by-universities, inside-the-gentleman’s-club psychology of the period.

        The first half is just not true- their work doesn’t stand up, so it cannot stand up “more.”

        On the ethical issues – you do have a valid point. But it still doesn’t make their work valid. It just means we need to think very carefully about the most of the work from that era.

    16. AGD*

      The one that academic researchers normally use is OCEAN (or CANOE) (or the “Big Five”), but even then it has to be handled carefully. The rest don’t hold up under scrutiny, but people start trying to interpret everything in light of their unrealistically broad and unrealistically rigid divisions.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think “unrealistically broad and unrealistically rigid” goes to the heart of the problem in application, even for a test that can give you some useful “So Bertie learns by listening and Clarence by studying several examples” insight when used in a thoughtful and limited way.

      2. Bee*

        And OCEAN doesn’t lend itself easily to a work-friendly discussion activity, since finding out that you’re, say, low in conscientiousness or high in neuroticism doesn’t lend itself to a positive self-description in the way that most of these personality typing systems do.

        1. Filosofickle*

          It’s my least favorite for that reason. Most typing tools attempt to make the outcomes neutral — INTJ is not inherently better/worse than ENFP. But these are loaded!

      3. Laura*

        The actual test is the NEO-PI, I believe. And it doesn’t give you a “type,” it tells you where you land on the spectrum of each personality trait they measure.

    17. Earlk*

      I’ve also found things like this helpful. I don’t understand when people make it their whole personality but having more insight in to how someone likes their work organised is really helpful. Especially when managing a team.

        1. Earlk*

          Your team is how it should work but sometimes the dynamics are off an a facilitated discussion using a tool like Myers Briggs helps get a productive conversation going.

          1. Filosofickle*

            In my experience a lot of people can’t answer that question directly, especially early in their careers. They don’t know themselves, they don’t know what the possibilities are, they don’t know how to ask for what they want. Lots of people struggle with articulating what they want/need. It doesn’t have to be a personality test, but some sort of guided conversation that gives them something to react to is really helpful.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        What I would be concerned about is whether it gives accurate information about how a person likes their work organised, especially since some people here have said the same person can get very different results if they do it more than once. Plus, some people are suspicious of anything done at work (sometimes for good reasons) and will pick the answers they think are the “right” ones rather than the ones they really identify with and a lot of people have poor self-awareness and won’t give accurate answers, even if they believe they are doing so.

        I agree that insight into how people like their work organised is useful but I think that really, the only way to find that out is either to ask them (which still won’t be 100% accurate because of people who are suspicious of questions like that and people who lack self-awareness) or to learn from interacting with them. I don’t think any test is going to give you accurate information. Not for everybody and in order to tell who it’s accurate for and who it isn’t, you are going to have to do one of the previous things anyway.

        I don’t necessarily think personality tests have no benefits. I think they can encourage discussion and can open people’s eyes to the different working styles and help people recognise them when they see them, but I don’t think that hearing a person’s result is going to necessarily tell you what a person’s working style is any more than hearing somebody got Ravenclaw in a Sorting hat quiz will tell you they are intellectual and better at theoretics than practicalities. It could be true, but it isn’t always.

        I think the problem with such tests is that people think they have given them insight into others’ preferences and makes them work on that rather than on what the person tells them or what they see. Like I mentioned the VARK and learning styles above. This has been heavily criticised due to a period when it was taken too seriously and teachers worked on the premise of “oh, Johnny is a visual learner. That means we must ensure he has visuals of everything” to the point that Johnny starts refusing to read the information in his textbook because “I’m a visual learner. I don’t learn by reading. I’m just going to look at the pictures.” When…it’s not that simple and you can’t categorise people neatly like that. Johnny might find visuals helpful (or alternatively, he might just have clicked answers at random and the result may be completely inaccurate) but it doesn’t mean visuals are always going to work for him or that nothing else will ever work.

        1. SarahKay*

          Years ago I had to take something similar to VARK before a training course. I came out very heavily skewed towards ‘give me a set of written instructions and let me work through them’ – skewed enough the the person running the training commented on it.

          The results were spot on for how I *prefer* to learn. But as Irish Teacher says, it’s not as simple as that; to no-one’s surprise it turns out preferences are one thing, but I’m actually perfectly capable of learning by someone talking us through the work instead of me reading it.

          (Note: the trainer did apologise to me before we started, because that wasn’t how her training was being run and we weren’t getting the written info until the end of the course – not her choice; that was how it’d been set up for her).

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think this is an important distinction–when my 10 year old and I did the learning styles test, I adapted how I taught him to something more useful for him. And the test was a way to generate a discussion of learning styles between us–as Bamcheeks says, the answering questions part was the least important, it was figuring out what to do with the information. As the adult, I shifted how I explained things to better match his style, rather than mine.

            He now has a math degree, and I imagine would score differently today on a test of math learning styles.

        2. ceiswyn*

          Also, there is the very real possiblity of a person internalising the information that a test administered by an ‘authority’ gives them about themselves, and reinterpreting their own feelings and behaviours in light of ‘knowing’ that they’re, say, a Hufflepuff.

          If what they have been told about themselves is utter made-up bobbins, that could result in making suboptimal decisions.

      2. Pescadero*

        The problem is – these personality tests provide no insight… just false boxes to categorize people into which masquerade as actual insight.

        They’re basically a way to avoid doing the actual work to get real insight.

      3. Observer*

        but having more insight in to how someone likes their work organised is really helpful.

        Assuming it’s accurate, which is not a given. And also, there are other ways to assess people’s learning, behavior and communications styles.

        Like, to take the example of this coworker, I don’t need their MBTI score to know that this person works best with clarity, (probably) some precision, predictability, and order.

      4. Joielle*

        I did one as part of a leadership training (I forget the name but it categorized people into club, spade, diamond, or heart) and have found it somewhat useful. The most interesting takeaway was that the two people I work with most closely had taken the same test and they’re both different categories than me, with one being an ideas person, one being an implementation person, and me in between. Which helps explain why the three of us butt heads sometimes but also work well together overall.

        I mostly take it as a reminder that someone with a different style 1. is not doing things differently to spite you, they just see things differently and have different priorities, and 2. is valuable to the team because of their different perspective.

    18. Harper the Other One*

      It’s funny you mention the DiSC because I just took it for the second time in six months and got a very different profile.

      And that’s the problem with all of these; they’re not generally replicable. Can they give you some interesting insights? Sure. But do they actually represent some sort of permanent state of your being? No, not really.

    19. ISTJ*

      We did MB at work and I did get some insight out of it, specifically that I don’t like surprises. Who doesn’t like surprises? But after thinking about it, I realized that a lot of anxiety at work came from “surprise” projects. My boss took that into account and starting letting me know about things earlier. Before, he’d wait until he was 100% sure it was going to happen, but I’m more comfortable knowing that something might happen far ahead of time so I can chew on it a bit. There are also some typical weaknesses for my type that ring true so I try and keep that in mind as I’m working: “Is the way we’ve been doing this still the best way or am I defaulting to being stubborn and inflexible?” It was a fun ice breaker exercise when we had a large influx of new hires but no one was expected to rearrange their lives around the results. If it gave you some insight, great, if not, then consider it entertainment.

    20. Plain Jane*

      We did the DiSC assessment for our team as well, and it was a good team-building and insightful activity. we’re pretty close knit already, so there wasn’t a ton of new info but the whole thing did actually help us think about who should do what and how we work together. honestly the whole day was based around team building and this was just one aspect of it. oh, and we were told to fill it out from a “work persona” standpoint, rather than how we are with friends.

    21. Dinwar*

      Far as I can tell, because they got popular, particularly among certain groups. There seems to be a knee-jerk counter-reaction to be hostile towards things that were popular but aren’t anymore.

      Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to object to. Any time you try to put any biological system into neat boxes with hard boundaries you run into so many examples that don’t fit that the system quickly becomes either so complex as to be useless (see attempts to re-design nomenclature in biology according to cladistics), or serves to obfuscate more than it reveals. Put more bluntly, the Jeff Goldblum line “Life, uh, finds a way” is more profound than most realize. The idea of putting personalities into categories is hardly novel–introvert/extrovert has been around forever, for example–but any attempt to deal with this with anything approaching the appearance of rigor is going to run into this fundamental aspect of biology.

      As an aside, can we please stop use the term “woo”? It was created as a pejorative against practices that many people find sacred. It’s the equivalent of calling Catholics Rosary-rattlers, or dismissing a woman’s opinion because “she’s on the rag”.

    22. Coffee Protein Drink*

      Isn’t DiSC a communications and work style assessment vs a personality assessment or am I thinking of something else?

      I think personality assessments are a terrible idea. Too many opportunities for people to judge you on something that may not even be accurate. I don’t know how many times I’ve looked at these questions and say, “None of these come close,” but having to pick one anyway.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        That is how it is sold, for sure. And DiSC is the only one of those tests where I really saw myself in the profile they gave me, so I’m not mad that my job uses it a lot. I still figure it’s basically hokum.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yes, when we did DiSC at my work the facilitator must have said “communication style, *not* personality” a dozen times.

    23. Student*

      If you learn some fortune-telling basics (meaning here: how to put on a show that will convince some people you can tell the future or read auras or similar), then you quickly see the parallels and techniques being applied to the personality tests. All of them.

      You need to say things that sound profound and specific, but are actually very open to interpretation and client projection. It’s the Hello Kitty technique, but verbally or written. Hello Kitty has no mouth so that you can project your own feelings on her, but otherwise looks pretty specific.
      You need to invoke experiences that will feel very personal, but are actually very common. Death, love, difficult times, family tumult, money, bad co-workers, hard-to-please boss, deadlines, etc. Invoking strong emotions also often clouds judgement.

      You need to make the client feel special. Tell them a good story about themselves, or tell them how they have something in common with somebody famous, or tell them success is just around the corner, or tell them there’s a trick to make it easier to get what they want out of others.

      You need to sound like you are selling a solution to some sort of problem, but have some hook that ensures you keep getting more money from the client. Either they need to keep checking back in with you for more solutions, or to cleanse bad energy, or you’ll need to keep sending everyone you ever work with to them to get tested for how you can compatibly work together.

    24. ONFM*

      I don’t think other personality typing is acceptable in the workplace, either. YMMV.

      Very Biased Experience To Follow: In my last job, our HR department forced employees to find their Enneagram types at the start of any conflict mediation process, and then ended up blaming the actual conflict on a conflict between E types without taking action on the real issue. For example, I made a complaint against my direct supervisor for sexual discrimination (disparate treatment); rather than consider evidence or conduct an investigation, HR informed me that my Type 1 personality conflicted with his Type 7, and we needed to work on THAT. (Surprise surprise, he was fired within a year for misappropriating funds and hiring relatives without disclosing the relationship to HR. Turns out you can be crummy in more ways than one!) A friend on another team at that company had a similar experience on a team level; basically, everything was called a personality conflict and no action was ever taken. Maybe that company got a Groupon on Enneagram tests or something, ha!

    25. Observer*

      Why is the Myers-Briggs controversial when other personality typing is acceptable?

      Your question is based on an incorrect assumption. Most people who know and care about this stuff will tell you that almost none of the existing “personality assessments” are useful or accurate.

    26. fhqwhgads*

      None of them are acceptable, but lots of them are popular and happen anyway, depending on if the higher ups at a particular place have bought into it.

  9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #4 I’d suspect she really wants the overtime money, not just the rep as a can-do person.

    Since this causes budget problems for the OP, she needs to tell her report very clearly never to do overtime again without the OP’s specific permission and not to go around the OP for permission from anyone else.
    If she has actually lied about having permission from someone else, that needs a serious warning.

    1. Annie*

      I myself wondered if there might be another work task or something going on outside of work the employee is trying to deal with or avoid, hence the comp time request.

      It wouldn’t hurt to remind the employee of any available EAP resources, regardless.

    2. Twix*

      Imo ignoring your boss’s instructions on something minor or getting caught in a lie over something minor or thinking it’s okay to go behind your boss’s back to get someone to overrule their decision all warrant a serious warning. Doing all 3 at the same time warrants a lot more than that. Having an employee’s judgment or trustworthiness be in doubt is bad, but having both be in doubt is a way bigger issue than the sum of its parts.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > ignoring your boss’s instructions on something minor or getting caught in a lie over something minor or thinking it’s okay to go behind your boss’s back to get someone to overrule their decision all warrant a serious warning. Doing all 3 at the same time warrants a lot more than that

        I don’t agree that this always follows. There can be genuine reasons to go against instructions or get someone else to approve something “behind the boss’s back”. [There’s no evidence that she lied anywhere here.]

        The reason I say that is on the assumption (because OP would have said so to the contrary) that she is an otherwise good employee and not prone to lying, insubordination, etc.

        When someone acts outside of expectations, we need to be asking “what is the root cause of that” rather than “what category of disciplinary action does this fit into”. And in my experience there will always be a reason. Not necessarily one that you agree with, but it’s always there. Then you tackle the reason rather than the manifestation.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Delieberately going against your boss’s (legal) instructions will usually get you into serious trouble with her, even if your decision is better than hers. You’d have to hope the boss was about to be demoted/fired so you can get away with it.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            That was a past letter, Betty and Veronica, where the employee wanted to do X to a client’s website, her boss told her no, and so when the boss was out of office she went to the grandboss–who knew a lot less about the project specifics–in a “hey just need you to sign off on this great idea since boss is out” way without mentioning that boss had said a firm no to the great idea.

            When boss returned, and they had to undo X, and it came out that the person who knew more about the details had already said no for good reason, and the employee’s response was to find a way to go around–it did not end with continued employment.

          2. Anticoyote*

            Most of the time I have seen this the boss that gave approval, doesn’t care on iota and the employee knows they can do it, so they do it.

            In the past, when I was non-exempt and I said I would need overtime, and the request was denied, I simply emailed or left a note for my boss’s boss stating, the job could not be done due to refusal of overtime request and that is why it wasn’t completed.

            It never took long to get sorted out, but I did not go against instructions.

            However, too many times I have seen employees go over someone’s head and get approval. Which leads me to think, “Why does the boss’s boss never see his/her “middle manager” is not making decisions the big boss would approve of.

        2. Snow Globe*

          If the employee went to a higher authority to get approval, did she tell the other manager that the LW had already said no? If she didn’t, then that is another lie of omission. It seems likely that *if* another manager approved the OT, they likely didn’t know the LW said no first.

        3. Magpie*

          Even if there were a genuine business need for the overtime, her actions were still inappropriate and need to be addressed. If business felt the overtime was actually necessary, the next step would be for OP’s employee to bring that up with OP so there can be a conversation. It’s never ok to go directly against your boss’s direct orders unless it’s an emergency or a safety issue or something like that. This situation definitely didn’t warrant insubordination.

        4. doreen*

          Really the only situation where are genuine reasons to do this is when there has been a change in the circumstances that wasn’t known when the instructions were given. Like maybe my boss told me I couldn’t work overtime today and after she left the person who was supposed to relieve me was late or the boss’s boss decided he needed something before I left for the day.

          You are right that there is always a reason but often the reason for unauthorized overtime is as simple as wanting the extra money and you can’t really do anything about that reason.

        5. Twix*

          I don’t agree that this always follows. There can be genuine reasons to go against instructions or get someone else to approve something “behind the boss’s back”.

          Sure, I would agree that this doesn’t always follow. But the times when it doesn’t are edge cases, like when your boss’s instructions were based on information that is no longer accurate or when your boss is preventing you from doing your job. That’s not the case here. (Also, I said “behind your boss’s back” because there’s a big difference between going over your boss’s head to raise a concern and deciding to ignore your boss’s instructions because someone else gave you different ones rather than bringing that to them and asking how to proceed.) And you’re right that there’s no proof she lied; I was responding to the hypothetical raised by both Alison and Vulcan.

          I don’t think “What is the root cause of that?” and “What category of disciplinary action does this fit into?” are mutually exclusive questions to be asking. Again, I was specifically talking about if it were to come out that the employee lied about getting permission to work overtime. In that case there are any number of possible root causes, and some would warrant different action than others. But lying to your boss about having permission to do something you were explicitly told not to do because you wanted to is a major issue regardless, because part of the reason it happened is that you thought it was okay to do that. Properly applied, disciplinary action is part of addressing the reason.

      2. Sloanicota*

        My first thought is, if she has to be paid for overtime (which is true in many places) and was specifically instructed not to do it, and then did it anyway, that is essentially … stealing money from the company. Maybe if OP expresses it that way to the employee they’ll get why this is a big deal. And if they used to work someplace overtime was not comped, like my salaried job, maybe (*maybe*) they didn’t get this. Now they do.

    3. The other one*

      Could they fix this by having her take comp time? I guess it would depend on what day their workweek normally started. if it starts Sunday, give her a stern warning and Monday off.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If she’s non-exempt, they can’t legally give her comp time in lieu of overtime payment. They are legally required to pay her in money.

        If their work week is something like Tuesday-Monday (which it’s probably not), they could have her not work Monday so that she doesn’t exceed 40 hours … but given that the overtime was worked on Saturday, it’s probably too late for that.

        1. doreen*

          It’s probably not Tuesday- Monday but I think there’s a pretty good chance it’s not Sunday-Saturday or Monday-Sunday and any other work week would have Saturday and Monday in different weeks.

        2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          You’d be surprised. Mine is actually Thursday-Wednesday (and, yes, we encourage new employees to start on Thursdays!), so in this case, if it was me, I’d be telling her not to report on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to make up the hours.

          But in most cases, you’re right. Most places have normal work weeks!

          1. doreen*

            I don’t know about “most” – I’m not even sure that people in a M-F 9-5 job would necessarily know what their work week is unless they fill out some sort of timesheet but I know that even in my M-F jobs, the workweek was always something like Sat-Fri or Thurs to Wed , never Sun to Sat.

            1. Peter the Bubblehead*

              Where I work we have the lead company (who I work for) and a sub-contracting company (who half my co-workers are employed by) all working under a government contract.
              My company’s work week is Sunday-Saturday.
              The sub-contactor work week is Monday-Sunday.
              This makes cost estimates interesting when my team goes on work travel (typically Sunday to Friday) and the sub-contractors have to spread their estimate across two separate work weeks [with overtime their second week unlikely] and the primary is all in one work week with overtime being very likely.

        3. Anticoyote*

          One important exception is government. The federal government exempts itself and allows comp time. So do many state government and some union contracts also will override and allow comp time.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think she wanted time off in lieu rather than payment (“She worked on that Saturday regardless and now she’s asking for compensation hours” – I’ve interpreted that as comp time rather than pay) so it isn’t necessarily a budget thing as such. In many companies including mine though, comp time is the exception (usually it’s paid as overtime to those eligible) because it’s more disruptive when the time off then has to be taken- especially when the overtime correlates with a busy period, like potentially here with the audit.

      OP seems to have overlooked the possibility that the employee already has a lot to do in the upcoming week in addition to those background checks, so the intent with the Saturday work was to “catch up ahead” rather than so that the check company would immediately start work on it.

      Someone (I assume known to OP who it was) in ‘the business’ approved it. Assuming she didn’t lie about the circumstances, this means someone in the business agreed it was necessary. Perhaps OP needs to revisit their department’s relationship with ‘the business’, not in the way OP thinks (too close to the business) but actually, whether they are responsive enough to the business.

      In OPs shoes I would be having a discussion with the employee about why she was so adamant that it needed to be done on the Saturday and go from there. Getting approval from someone else etc is clearly secondary to that.

      1. Colette*

        I don’t think that’s the issue at all. It doesn’t matter why she thought it had to be done on Saturday; she was directly told not to do it. Ignoring that and going around her boss to get approval (if she in fact did that) is a big, big deal.

        If she really thought there was a good reason to do it, the time to raise that would have been when the OP said no.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I really think you need to allow for the possibility that the employee got a no from the manager who knew the most about whether this was desirable or reasonable, and went shopping for someone who knew less and thought they were signing off on a normal thing because OP was unavailable.

        Also the possibility that when the employee said “someone in the business” rather than “Lucifer” that was because she made up the permission.

      3. HonorBox*

        IF (and that’s the operative word) the employee was trying to catch up ahead, the place to make that case was with the OP when the request was made initially. OP is going to be the person who is going to know and understand that best, so they’re the one that needed to hear the reasoning, if there was reasoning behind it. But even if that’s the case, there may have been other ways to address someone being swamped in the upcoming week rather than having them work 8 hours on a Saturday.

        IF someone else approved the overtime, it probably is less likely that the person who approved actually knows and understands whether there is a real need to “catch up in advance.” Nor are they likely to have known that OP denied the request initially. Think about it. If someone else had authorization to approve overtime, they’re probably in a position that is equal to or above OP. If the employee told them OP didn’t approve it and then went on to make a case, that person probably would have reached out to OP.

        It is far less likely that OP and their company are not responsive enough to the business and far more likely that the employee straight up disobeyed their manager and then lied… either to someone else who did authorize the overtime OR to the OP directly when no one authorized the overtime.

      4. Observer*

        OP seems to have overlooked the possibility that the employee already has a lot to do in the upcoming week in addition to those background checks, so the intent with the Saturday work was to “catch up ahead” rather than so that the check company would immediately start work on it.

        Where are you getting that from. The OP says that the employee wanted to get this done in relation to have this ready for an audit. There is no reason to believe that the OP does not know what they are talking about.

        Furthermore, if the issue was that the employee was swamped, it was their job to say that. The OP doesn’t need to start guessing additional motivations before making a decision.

        Someone (I assume known to OP who it was) in ‘the business’ approved it

        What is your basis for that?

        this means someone in the business agreed it was necessary.

        Maybe. But it’s a lot more likely that that other person did not have the context or know that OP had denied permission and why.

      1. amoeba*

        If she wanted comp time instead, I’m actually wondering whether she needs some time off in the next week and this was a trick to get that without using PTA…

  10. Ants in her pants*

    #5 – we have a long running excel spreadsheet that has a very small, inconsequential glitch that whilst annoying can be worked around, and no-one knew how to fix it. My boss thinks a former colleague is responsible for the glitch, he left the company a year ago. Recently the boss was very antsy about it and asked me to email him to ask him what he did to the spreadsheet. So I had to, and I did it, and all I got were crickets – rightly so. Which made her even more antsy because she doesn’t like being not in control.

  11. Boof*

    life drawing could potentially be clothed; but yah often naked and agree not appropriate for a professional/ tangential activity if indeed the nude sort

    1. Not Australian*

      Yup, I don’t understand why OP jumped to ‘nude’ just from the expression ‘life drawing’. Personally I’d want to at least clarify that before I started to feel uncomfortable about it.

      1. Jules the First*

        I wonder if it’s a cultural thing…my creative-industry employer in the UK does life drawing as a social event (and has for many years, as have many of my previous employers in the same industry). The models are most definitely, emphatically, dressed.

        The one that turned out to be most controversial is, strangely, terrarium building…perhaps with hindsight giving a room full of competitive perfectionists alcoholic beverages, long tweezers, and a table full of plants to coax through narrow holes was a poor choice…

      2. Dek*

        Unless I knew that whoever was suggesting it was actively trying to be a jerk, I would assume that they meant clothed if they were suggesting it as a work event.

    2. Flight of Ladybugs*

      I’ve never heard of a life drawing class that didn’t involve a nude model. It’s the only definition of that term I’ve ever encountered.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Same, I’ve never heard of a life drawing class with a clothed model. Anyway, LW is wrong that it doesn’t violate company guidelines, because being around a nude person at work will definitely put some people “outside their comfort zone”.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I know that my mom went to at least one that had a clothed model. I only remember because it was a kid who brought a pet snake with her, and I found drawings of a snake to be much more interesting than most of the things mom got to draw in her art workshops. I’m not sure if the snake was the “model” and the girl was there as the handler or the girl and the snake were both considered models, but the girl was clothed and the snake was not.

          Life drawing is such a weird thing to do for a social or team-building activity, though. It’s something mom might have done with one of her art groups, and I suppose given that she was trying to sell her paintings and so was the rest of her art group that could very loosely be defined as “job-related” (or at least “side-hustle-related”), but presumably the OP would have mentioned it if their work were actually some kind of artists co-op where classes on art techniques made sense generally. It just seems like something where different people would be at such different levels of both skill and comfort, and also something that requires a lot of individual focus. I can work on art around other people, but I am not socializing with those other people at the time and am probably completely tuning out anyone other than the model and maaaaybe the instructor.

          1. tg33*

            My impression (based on nothing in particular) is that life drawing is something you do as someone as an intermediate or advanced artist, not a beginner, which again makes it unsuitable as a social activity.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              Oh no, it was part of Drawing 101 in college. The students of course were rather artistically inclined, having chosen to take an art class, but at the point we did figure drawing we’d only been in class a few months and it was considered “beginner level” by the school.

              1. Lyudie*

                This was my experience as well. I was originally majoring in art in college and the figure drawing class with nude models was in your second semester as a freshman.

            2. Dek*

              Nah, life drawing is really one of early steps. It’s very ideal for a beginner, and serves as a good warm up.

              I think a lot of people seem to have an idea that Life Drawing is only like it is in movies and tv-shows–a nude person holding a single position for a very long time while everyone tries to accurately draw that person, with shading and a face and everything. But that’s not accurate at all. And clothed models aren’t uncommon at all.

              The best virtual life drawing site AdorkaStock has loads of clothed models (I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of their material was of clothed models, actually), so I’m really surprised that so many folks seem to think it’s Just Not Done.

              1. Cyndi*

                I’m really surprised by how much other art-experienced people in these comments seem to be taking for granted that people who don’t draw would somehow be familiar with the conventions of figure drawing practice, and what mindset you’re supposed to be in, and what tools you use and what you’re supposed to get out of it. I wouldn’t even expect people who haven’t taken drawing classes to have ever thought about any of that.

                Like Punk said somewhere, if you just plunk someone down with an easel and materials and a model and no understanding of what comes next, I’d more likely expect them to go “…okay and now what?”

                1. Dek*

                  I mean, I don’t expect that people who don’t draw would be familiar with it. That’s why I said that I think most people’s idea of how it works is informed by how it’s usually portrayed in movies and tv shows, and why I’m trying to correct those assumptions, because yes, someone who’s never taken an art class probably wouldn’t know any of that.

                  I wouldn’t think that a work event would just plunk folks down and not give them any instruction or context, anymore than the paint-and-sips just hand you some paint, show you a finished canvas and say “do that.” I would think it would be like any other work event that revolves around a specific thing–you get an explanation, you get some guidance, etc. It seems more the kind of “let’s all kind of learn about something together” sort of work event. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but fun to have sometimes as an option.

          2. bamcheeks*

            the girl was clothed and the snake was not

            I appreciate this clarification. Although now I am inevitably picturing a snake wearing a collar and tie, Richard Scarry-style.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              My dog goes ballistic if she doesn’t have a scarf on, like races frantically around the house, and settles right down when we put a scarf back on her. We joke that she is a big fan of the “no nudity in the public areas of the house” rule.

            2. Queer Earthling*

              Lots of people make snake sweaters! It doesn’t really warm the snake but it looks cute, and many snakes love going through tubes so it’s still good snake enrichment.

      2. Kit Franklin*

        Life classes often use clothed models. Artists in general often use clothed models; your average romance cover may had a guy dressed in a kilt as a reference. The life refers to the fact that the model is there alive rather than a photo or a prop. It was an odd jump to go from life class to nude model. It is often good to check a reference or ask a specialist when faced with something novel. “Noun-life class – an art class using a live human model.”
        It might still be inappropriate to have a non employee on campus for security and other reasons and art classes might be viewed as non inclusive by those employees with motor skills problems or other disabilities, the visually impaired, those who have religious issues with being in mixed sex environments, those who object to depictions of the human form etc.

      3. boof*

        Technically it just means you’re drawing from “life” not a photo etc; it’s usually naked, sometimes a sheet, but clothed is possible (and, frankly, I think good practice as well)
        It’s very reasonable to wonder, but if it wasn’t explicit worth confirming I think

  12. Just…*

    #2. Save me from people trying to force Myers-Briggs on everyone (and then requiring employees to put their type on their badge!). The last place I worked people used the results to excuse bad behavior. “Brad knows I am a XYZB, so it’s his fault I punched him in the face for wearing the color purple. I can’t help it – it’s just what XYZBs do when they see purple.”

    1. Artemesia*

      And here we have exactly why these things are unfortunate in the workplace although they can be a useful tool in some contexts.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I actually find MBTI and similar things useful, as long as we continue to recognise that they are a framework and approximation rather than a literal definition of a person. I’ve caught myself thinking “they must be an extreme Judging type” or “they have type x traits so I will need to focus on facts and details rather than just broad ideas and possibilities when I talk to them about this project” etc when interacting with certain people.

      I think the key to it is people who engage with these systems in the way they’re intended, are also engaging in a level of self-awareness and reflection that probably has more influence in having successful interactions than the ‘type’ does in its own right.

      1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

        “They must be an extreme judging type.” Sure, on that day. Take it again a month later and get a completely different result.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          Do you not find people tend to have consistent patterns of behaviour over time? I certainly do…

          1. MsM*

            Depends on the person and the category. I’ve taken Myers-Briggs multiple times, and the first three results stay pretty consistent, but I can either be a J or a P depending on the day and my mood. In practice, I’ve sorted out that means I do better with structure but can have trouble following it, but someone who just hears whichever type I give them isn’t going to know that.

            1. Lady_Lessa*

              Because I, too, vary between J and P, I was delighted to read a section on one of the many books about Myer-Briggs that talked specifically about those who have weak tendencies in that aspect.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            That are perfectly captured and reflected in their various online quiz results? No.

            These questions are usually mushy, and so slight differences in wording, or in how I’m interpreting the wording this afternoon, will make a difference. It’s not like height. (Which decreases during the day, most notably for very tall people.)

          3. New Jack Karyn*

            Many, many people get different results on the Myers-Briggs. Even when they take the test again after only 6-8 weeks.

        2. Gold and Jade*

          I’ve taken it several times throughout my life and every single time I’m firmly an INTP. Who are all these people getting totally different results every time?

          1. RussianInTexas*

            *raises hand*
            I get INTJ or INTP usually, even though their descriptions do not resonate with me that much, and I have gotten some other I before.
            I’ve taken various personality tests in my life and I have not found a single one that would really resonate in the “yes, this sounds like me” way.
            Except the Hogwarts Houses. Totally a Ravenclaw.

    3. Testing*

      I recently came across a CV where the person had put their “type” in a quite prominent place and in a large font…

      I wish people would understand that since these “types” are not particularly robust and replicable, they are woo. It doesn’t matter that a few people found them “useful”, next time they might be very unhelpful or even harmful.

      1. Pita Chips*

        I’ve seen that on a resume recently myself. My mental response was WTF.

        I can’t call these things accurate at all. Someone said above that there are questions that just don’t apply or you want to answer something else altogether. “Well, just pick the best one,” is not helpful when none of the answers are realistic for me.

  13. Sleve*

    Letter #1 has the answer contained within it: “not push people outside their comfort zones”. There are many valid and varied reasons why life drawing might be outside of someone’s comfort zones, and plenty of those reasons would be difficult to guess and inappropriate to force someone to disclose. Body dysmorphia, religious upbringing, assault trauma and educational background are just a few that come off the top of my head. The likelihood that one or more of the people at this company will be made extremely uncomfortable by this is off the charts. Hence, life drawing is ruled out by the activity guideline rules.

    1. zaracat*

      From my point of view the issue is not the nudity, it’s the drawing. In my experience, drawing the human figure is not easy – it takes skill and practice even for trained artists. I wouldn’t plan an activity that might lead a large proportion of attendees to feel like they’re failing in front of their colleagues.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Unless you like stick figures which is the best I can do, it sounds like an actitivy that requires a background in at least some basic drawing skills and many people just don’t have that.

      2. boof*

        I think a clubwhere a very random variety of things are tried COULD be fun (and you are not expected to be any good)
        (clothed) figure drawing for one, a visit to the natural history museum for another, tea ceremony for a third… IDK random ideas I’m sure there’s a ton of reason why any ONE idea won’t work for someone, just make sure to rotate ideas so everyone who wants to participate has a chance to do something of interest (again, the point is not to be good at it, but to do something interesting as a group I should think)

      3. Phony Genius*

        Often, the students in a life drawing class are seated in a circle surrounding the model. I wonder if certain angles are more difficult to draw than others. I would think that the back is easier, but I have no experience.

    2. Observer*

      Body dysmorphia, religious upbringing, assault trauma and educational background are just a few that come off the top of my head

      You don’t even need any of that. I would say that the majority of people who have reasonable boundaries and understand that work is not the place to meet ALL of their needs, would be made uncomfortable with this, at lease in the US.

      1. Clare*

        Agreed, but then, if someone wants to be really pushy about this for some odd reason, that’s a handy list that’s hard to argue with – no matter your country.

  14. Maria*

    I work in an industry with artists, and it’s pretty common to have groups of folks do life drawing sessions, and they are generally open to all who would like to attend, not just artists. Sometimes this has been done on-site, sometimes at a nearby location that normally offers this sort of class. Importantly, these are opt-in. So there are certainly some sort of workplaces where life drawing isn’t horribly out of place.

      1. Billy Preston*

        Yes! I am totally comfortable attending life drawing classes with other artists. Cause we’re there for the art & know what to expect- we’re focused on that and aren’t all “ooh nudity tee hee”. But I wouldn’t want to do this with coworkers who aren’t used to life drawing classes.

      2. Maria*

        I agree that this distinction matters! I didn’t see any info in the letter as to whether that applied here. Also, just providing some insight into why it’s not inherently weird or out-of-place in ALL workplaces.

  15. Clare*

    Alison is so right on #3. Helga is wrong, but the properly strategic thing for that manager to have done would be to keep all of his thinking inside his head. He might not have been truly considering Piet or Elena either due to seniority but he still emailed them. A little tact goes a long way towards preventing these kinds of reactions in advance.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Or the boss could have beens straightforward with Helga to begin with and had a conversation with her like “just so you know, we’re going to send some people to this conference, I’m telling you because unfortunately as you’re leaving it doesn’t make sense for you to go at this point, but I want you to know it isn’t a slight”.

      Also I am not sure why it’s “strategic” to invite other people who (due to seniority or whatever) you won’t consider. That’s just a waste of time for everyone. Just talk to the pool of people you actually want to go to the event!

      1. Clare*

        I apologise for the confusing comment. I can see I didn’t properly explain my thinking. In my mind, the strategic part isn’t inviting people you won’t consider, it’s making sure you don’t leave one person out without addressing it in some way because people are irrational beings with irrational feelings that can get hurt over illogical things.

        Your way works strategically as well. You can either not leave them out, address it, or do something else neither of us have considered. But the outcome makes clear that something needed to be done beforehand to head off hurt feelings, and it’s only sensible and logical to head that off before it became an issue – especially because there are some very low effort ways to do so.

        The strategy here is to implement a little risk management. Implementation will vary based on context and practitioner preference. I think we’re probably both in agreement that while there might be different ways to approach this, the real moral of the story is: it’s better to pick a way to tactfully avoid hurt than to do nothing.

        Thanks to anyone down here who’s gone to the bother of reading my clarification.

    2. animorph*

      Especially as it sounds like Helga is leaving because of relocation, not because she’s unhappy with the job/workplace. Being excluded while you’re still in the team hurts, even when it’s not personal but pragmatic.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I agree that it could have been handled better, but Helga needs to also see that it’s a work thing for people who will be there after the fact. I didn’t go to conferences that didn’t pertain to my role, even if the rest of the team attended. I knew it was just business. The manager might want to talk to Helga to help make the last few weeks of her time there productive, given how she’s feeling right now.

    4. Smithy*

      This is correct, and I also want to flag for all the Helga’s out there – this is just one of the 9742 reasons you don’t announce you’re leaving at work until it’s logistically necessary. Whether military relocation, another spousal profession, graduate school or whatever – this is a completely normal reaction by a supervisor, especially when it’s known that not everyone from the team goes.

      Helga may have had to announce for other pragmatic reasons, but provided that no one at work necessarily needed to know or would have inevitably found out – sharing this information this early will rule you out. And this goes without saying that obviously the relocation might be delayed further, might get pulled in favor of a local promotion, etc.

      I get that in really supportive work places when these types of moves feel like they’re a 95-99% done deal that there’s no reason not to share. However these are the pragmatic realities that come with sharing. And while not sharing to increase your chances of going may irk some people, this is where I say it’s not unethical to take primary care of yourself and your own professional development.

      1. Orange You Glad*


        I had a coworker whose husband always seemed to be looking for the next big opportunity. I know he jumped around jobs in our area quite a bit, but he would also travel to interview with big-name companies like Facebook and Google. We would mainly hear about these interviews because our coworker would take a few days off to travel with him.

        Only later when talking to our boss about this coworker’s development opportunities did I realize how much she talked to him about her husband’s job prospects and possibly moving across the country for him. Our boss had it firm in his mind that the coworker would be leaving soon so he did not want to put her forward for supervisory roles and was reluctant to sponsor her for training conferences, etc.

        Eventually, I mentioned the issue to the coworker as a friendly heads up and she was surprised. I think she assumed whatever happened, we’d offer a remote job (this was pre-covid and even now our type of work is hard to do 100% remote). I’d recommend keeping your cards close to your chest until any plans to move on are finalized. You never know how your needs will change.

  16. Red*

    #1: Did the class advert say it was explicitly a nude life drawing class? Every life drawing class I’ve taken through a community opportunity or even community college was either with a clothed model or it wasn’t even a life drawing of a person it was objects/animals. I know places can vary, but just checking since it’s not automatically a nude model and heck if it is you can probably ask the artist leading the session to have a clothed model or specifically request objects.

    1. Onion Baker*

      This is bizarre to me! I’ve never seen or heard of a life drawing class which did not involve a nude model. It’s literally the only meaning of that phrase I have ever encountered. I assumed that was universal. I just took an impromptu poll of the 17 people currently in my office and everyone said the same – life drawing = nude model.

      Is this an American thing? Have they taken the nudity out of life drawing too? I’m baffled by this.

      1. Virginia Lady*

        Not the original commenter but I am an American. I also assumed that “life drawing = nude.”

      2. Artist With A Day Job*

        I’ve been a professional art model (large US city/metro area) for a few years now, and honestly it depends on the location/drawing group. Sometimes nude, but for children and teenagers I’ve been asked to model in tight fitting clothes (think sports bra and bike shorts or tights). I’ve also worn tight fitting black clothing for fashion design classes at a university.

        The only time that I’ve raised an eyebrow over the “please wear clothing for the modeling session” was for an adult class taking place in the evenings at a local high school. The high school hosting the classes specifically required models to remain clothed.

        1. Observer*

          (think sports bra and bike shorts or tights).

          Not really appropriate for a work event. But also, note that it seems like the *assumption* was nudity, but the organizers essentially asked you for a reasonable exception.

          I’ve also worn tight fitting black clothing for fashion design classes at a university.,

          That sounds a bit different than what is commonly meant by “life drawing.”\

          1. Clare*

            I don’t know, but I’m assuming the students were learning how to draw human figures Barbie/Ken doll style as the base for fashion design templates and that the tight clothes were to doll-ify the models, not that the tight clothes were fashion pieces. If so, that seems pretty similar to life drawing to me.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Not every weird or prudish thing can be blamed on Americans. I’m American and also have only ever heard of life drawing as being of nude humans.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          Yeah, Americans tend to get the short end of the stick with these stereotypes; we’re either too prudish or deviating too far from traditions.

        2. Billy Preston*

          same! I went to art school and all life drawing was nude humans as you’re focusing on anatomy. But I’ve never done a community life drawing course. They could be different.

      4. Gingham Altar*

        I’m Canadian and attend a weekly life drawing session with a clothed model. Nothing to do with prudishness, it’s just way easier to find a willing model that way! Plus we get to practice clothing and drapery.

      5. metadata minion*

        American here and while I’ve certainly heard of clothed life drawing models, by default I’m going to assume the phrase involves nudity.

      6. nopetopus*

        I have the same understanding of the term “life drawing”. When it’s objects and not nude people, it’s typically labeled as “still life”.

      7. Turquoisecow*

        I’m American and I was in college 20 years ago but we used nude models then and my friends who were art majors or took art classes definitely also did. I don’t know if it’s changed in 20 years – maybe in more conservative universities or areas of the country they use clothes? But drawing fabric and the way it drapes is different from drawing bodies and the way they move so while I assume a model could wear like a skintight bodysuit or something, the idea of life drawing is to understand the human body from an artist’s perspective, and that’s easier when you can, ya know, see the body.

      8. Red*

        There are nude drawing classes I’m sure in America. I know that’s a thing at Art School etc, but for community stuff our models were always clothed in some fashion. From a toga/sheet thing to full on costumes, but always covered the generally contested bits. It wasn’t in a particularly conservative area. If anything I’d assume it was because the class was open to anyone 16+. And same goes for the art class at the community college. That one I took as an elective and they had the models wear tight fitting underwear and bras. Like someone else mentioned down thread I think it was because it was easier to find models. Especially since the college didn’t really offer an art degree, just a certificate.
        I know the art department at my 4 year school did have the completely nude life drawing course but at that point I’d drifted from fine arts so never took one of those.
        Since then I’ve taken one life drawing art course. One of those wine and paint things. We had a male model wearing a speedo and holding grapes lol. That one may be down to the fact that it was at a business with full windows so no nudity there either lol
        But all of this to say, did they check with the artist offering the session to confirm if this was actually in fact nude? And it’s not necessarily a terrible team building activity, they can ask that the model be clothed in some way.

      9. Ellis Bell*

        Im in the UK FWIW and think there may be some confusion between “still life” and “life drawing”. Still life is objects and life is human figures. But you don’t have to have the model be nude for it to count as a drawing of human figures; obviously being unclothed helps to draw the entire form, (so it tends to be more common) but you can still capture a human figure in some clothing.

      10. sparkle emoji*

        I’m an American and my default assumption for “life drawing” is nudity, but I have done clothed ones in high school– other students did the modeling, so staying clothed was necessary for obvious reasons.

      11. raktajino*

        Chiming in with another “it varies.” In high school (American, 90s) we had clothed models in various degrees of clothing. It wasn’t as laser focused on anatomy; the models often had props. At that age I also took a class through an art supply store that had a nude model–I think you had to be 15+ or something like that. It was seen as “for serious art students (who are still in high school)” rather than “fun extra curricular.”

        And in college, I took a figure drawing class that again had a mix of clothed and nude. That one was explicitly figure drawing, though since it was 101 and also 20 years ago I don’t remember how much anatomy instruction we got.

        A community or casual education level class with clothed models does not seem strange to me at all. And actually I just looked up the course description for my local community/junior college figure drawing class: a mix of nude and clothed. Same with their “painting the human figure” and “sculpting the human figure” offerings.

    2. Makare*

      There’s an art collective in my city that does life drawing sessions, and many of them are actually themed with the models wearing costumes, so definitely not necessarily nude! (Think Greek mythology, steampunk, or the Zodiac, themes like that—it’s super fun) I’ve come across other life drawing sessions that were clothed or draped in some way as well—sometimes you want to practice drawing clothing/fabric, too! (And this is in Europe, so it’s not American cultural mores at play here)

    3. Observer*

      I know places can vary, but just checking since it’s not automatically a nude model

      Given how prevalent the definition include a nude model is, I think that the OP is on safe grounds here.

      heck if it is you can probably ask the artist leading the session to have a clothed model or specifically request objects.

      Hard no. This is a group with a history of bad judgement, and which is still showing bad judgement. I would absolutely not trust them to do this right.

  17. Chocolate Teapot*

    3. At a previous job new employee wasn’t working out (I think he resented reporting to a much younger boss), and as he was still in his probation period, it was agreed he would be leaving the following week. It had already been arranged that he would be attending a relevant local industry conference, and to the boss’s surprise the employee was present at the conference.

    The employee was sent back to the office, and had their computer access suspended, before being informed there was no need for them to come back to work.

    1. Shalon Wood*

      …Why? Based on what you said, the company had presumably already spent the money. If the employee was someone the company didn’t want representing them, presumably they would have spelled that out. What was going on here?

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      What? At what point was the departing employee told they would no longer be attending? This seems like a BEC situation – “I can’t believe Fergus went to the conference we paid for and told him to attend!”

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yeah this sounds like the boss’s mistake, expecting the employee to read his mind. A big overreaction too to terminate him early over that – you can just say “oh there must have been a mixup, we actually don’t need you at this conference since you’re leaving, please go back to the office and continue transitioning your tasks.”

      1. Expelliarmus*

        Agreed; if he had left the company before the conference, I could see it being the employee’s fault, but if he was scheduled to leave after the conference, the boss definitely should have specified that the employee shouldn’t go to the conference beforehand.

    4. Kesnit*

      About 15 years ago, I was working for a government agency and was signed up to go to a training and conference. The conference was in May. After the arrangements were made, I was accepted to law school and would be leaving in August.

      I asked if they still wanted me to go to the training and was told since the arrangements were made, to go ahead and go.

    5. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      This doesn’t sound so egregious. Presumably his attendance was already approved and paid for, correct? He probably saw it as a good way to “waste” a day while he was working out the rest of his tenure with the company. Free food, maybe some interesting speakers, maybe some swag giveaways….I would have done the same thing.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        It was while ago, and I think the boss had said something the day before along the lines of “Since you are leaving, there’s no need for you to attend the conference.”

  18. vombatus ursinus*

    I’ve been to life drawing classes a few times (not for work!) and I think they’re great, but I also don’t think they’d work very well as a social or teambuilding event even without the nudity aspect. It is actually hard work for models to hold the same pose for more than a minute or two (anyone here done yin yoga?)! So in my experience you usually have a lot of quick 30-second poses, then fewer one-minutes, two-minutes or five-minutes, and finally one or two poses at 10-20 minutes. So everyone is spending the whole time very focused on trying to sketch and capture as much as possible before the pose changes. It’s not very conducive to conversation! For a social event it would be much better to have people working on a still life or something like that.

    1. Ochre*

      Yes, I modeled for life drawing classes in college and this was typically the structure. Many 30-second poses to allow students to try to capture a general posture (the curve of the spine, the extension of the legs etc), then some short poses where you’d want to try to start with the spine but then get some basic proportions of the limbs, then a longer pose where you try to work this up in more detail. I had dance training and was much more flexible than I am now and being the model (a paid campus job) was fun! But I took a couple of the classes too and even with a good instructor setting the tone of the room and the goals for a 30 second drawing versus a 10 minute, it’s a hard skill to build and you’re likely to come away with 30 “spines” and a weirdly-proportioned blob, all in pencil, on your first time out. Much more satisfying to blend 5 acrylic paints step-by-step and paint a sunset.

    2. Angstrom*

      That was my experience — capturing the short poses required a LOT of concentration and working quickly, and there was no social chat. Still lifes are far more relaxed — you can get up, wander around, see what other folks are doing, etc.

    3. sparkle emoji*

      Yes, this was my thought too. Even assuming it’s clothed, life drawing requires a lot of focus. The point IME is to practice one’s drawing skills, not to produce a piece of art to hang on the wall. Unless this workplace has a lot of artists, many may not care much about working on their drawing skills. If they do socialize, is that respectful to the model? If they don’t socialize, has it fulfilled the goal of a work social event? A paint and sip is a low-stress art-themed social hour and seems better suited to their needs.

  19. BellStell*

    OP2 on Myers Brigs: my team did this a couple of years ago. It is interesting to understand a bit more about each other BUT it is useless if you do not have strong managers who actually know how to manage and appreciate nuances of each person’s skills and traits and reactions to stress etc. I am the outlier type on my team of 10 people and the myers brigs stuff sometimes gets used to point out my faults (I analyse things well and can tell you what will work and what will not work, which the boss sees as being challenging to her so yeah….ugh), which is so wrong, and I know it is wrong but I am not the manager here. Also the points Alison linked to on controversial aspects are good to note too. I find in some places of work the myers brigs tests are red herrings to show that management cares yet still does nothing about poor performers or managers who play favourites etc.

  20. Llama Llama*

    For 5 do you have to put in your time for a specific department? I find people freak out that their budget is messed up, (because you rightly changed them th 15-30 min of help). Maybe that would stop them in their tracks.

  21. Yellow sports car*

    Re LW3 I completely get the decision, although agree that the simplest option would be don’t advertise. It’s not like she couldn’t have just been not selected like about everyone else that applied

    The decision to advertise so plainly that Helga is now on the outer somewhat and not fully considered part of the team may mean (1) others will learn and announce life changes/departures last minute, and (2) Helga may be far less invested in the team and possibly leave feeling sour towards a company/team she previously liked.

    Helga may already be uninvested in the team, but if she’s known for some time (a year? More?) that she’s not going to stay and has been a good employee she’d probably stay a good employee until she left.

    1. Angstrom*

      If Helga was a major contributor to the work being presented at the conference, that would be a valid reason to be upset at not attending.
      Not sending her may have been the best choice, but it was poorly handled.

  22. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

    I know Myers-Briggs gets a lot of hate, and I think I understand why. But my only experience with it in a workplace was extremely positive. My results were amazingly accurate, imo, and I felt like they actually helped me better understand myself and others on my team.

    The best part for me personally was learning that being an introvert was perfectly okay. I already knew I was introverted but had always regarded it as a negative quality that I should be trying to change. Myers-Briggs was the first time in my life I was given a message that being introverted was merely a characteristic, rather than a “flaw” that I needed to feel guilty about, and that was literally life-changing.

    I know that doesn’t cancel out all the things that people feel are “wrong” with it, but it bugs me when people say it’s totally worthless and always a complete waste of time. I think a lot probably depends on how it’s administered and how the results are explained and interpreted. In my case, person who administered the test to me and the rest of my team did a stellar job, and we all ended up with a better understanding of our own and each other’s quirks.

    1. bamcheeks*

      being introverted was merely a characteristic, rather than a “flaw”

      Yes! I really like that aspect too, although for me it was the idea of working up to deadlines being a characteristic rather than a flaw that was a relief. I also really like the message that goes alongside that that a preference/characteristic doesn’t mean you can *only* work that way, just that working against your preference will take more effort/energy, and you can factor that in. I use that idea a lot both in my own work and in training and teaching others.

    2. Angstrom*

      ” I think a lot probably depends on how it’s administered and how the results are explained and interpreted.”

      Which is what bamcheeks said earlier, and which makes sense. As a starting point for properly facilitated discussions, M-B or similar “tests” could have value. Without that discussion the test itself is of little use.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        I agree with Grizabella, and is okay to have a positive comment repeated when there are forty eleven comments repeating the opposite opinion.

    3. Busy Middle Manager*

      Agreed. I wrote on it being helpful above. Not sure what people find to be “zodiac” about it, as I’m seeing in other comments. In fact, I retook one for fun on personal time recently and it asks questions like “I’d rather be alone than at a bar” or “I do not care if I get recognition for projects” and if you say yes and yes, it tells you you are introverted. Not exactly groundbreaking conclusion! I don’t get how that is “zodiac” to use a work I see elsewhere

      1. sparkle emoji*

        Part of the “zodiac” element is that people use the MBTI categories in a predictive and reductive way, the same way people do with horoscopes. Additionally, some questions are vague and people will often get different answers each time they take it, which makes it particularly bad for predicting others’ behavior. If you use it differently and find value in it, that’s great. The zodiac-like parts are unrelated to the fact it uses terms like introvert and extrovert, which are concepts that exist independent of the MBTI.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        But what if your answer “it depends?” This is how I get different MB types. Really.
        Because sometimes I am ok to be alone in a bar, and sometimes I am not. Some projects I want to have recognition for and some I don’t care about.
        I also don’t see how “wanting recognition = extravert”.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          In re: it depends. Like, am I at a chill bar with a jukebox, a pool table, and nachos on the menu? Or at a huge club with super loud techno and flashing lights? Am I with friends, expecting friends to show up soon, or flying solo?

          Questions like these are part of why people dislike personality tests.

    4. Dr. Rebecca*

      Your results were amazingly accurate because it’s a test built on self-reporting. If used correctly, all it does is give a common language so that self-reported personality traits can be discussed within a group. It doesn’t reveal anything about anyone, it merely clarifies.

      To put it differently, I’m not a cranky loner with occasional superiority/authority issues *because* I’m INTJ, I’m INTJ because I’m a cranky loner, etc., etc.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Your results were amazingly accurate because it’s a test built on self-reporting. If used correctly, all it does is give a common language so that self-reported personality traits can be discussed within a group. It doesn’t reveal anything about anyone, it merely clarifies.

        I agree, and I don’t feel like MBTI is all that secretive in its methodology, either; it’s essentially a mirror that just reflects back what you show it (by way of the questions).

    5. Antilles*

      The reason it gets so much hate, especially on a workplace blog site, is because companies tend to use it in a really crappy fashion. The department reads the short box description for ENTJ as “strategic, logical, efficient, outgoing, ambitious” and decides that’s clearly the best personality type for management promotions unlike those loser ISFP “gentle, sensitive, nurturing, helpful” types. Or they prefer to hire personality type ____ because that’s what the manager values. Or that they use it dismissively, of course you-the-introvert hates the idea of more outreach, that’s just your personality type. Even though the test itself doesn’t mean ANY of this, that’s how it tends to get used in the workplace.

      As for the tests themselves, I will agree they have value. Frankly, even if people believe the test results themselves are questionable, I’d argue that for plenty of people there’s value merely in the act of honest self-reflection involved in answering the questions and reading/evaluating whether you agree with the results.

    6. Cynical B*

      I find it interesting that you were given the message that being introverted was not a flaw. My experience is just the opposite. I’m happy for you and wish that could be the kind of acceptance all introverts get.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*


        My family still thinks a year or two in sales would fix whatever they think is wrong with me.

        1. Cynical B*

          Oh I’m sorry! Some people just don’t understand.

          I think if I was to work in I would quickly find myself addicted to a recreational substance to help me cope.

    7. ConstantlyComic*

      It gets flak the same reason you thought being introverted was a flaw–the world as a whole, particularly the working world, is hugely biased against introverts, and someone testing as one gives people an excuse to act on that bias.

  23. Good Enough For Government Work*

    Oh God, not Myers-Briggs. All personality tests are just zodiacs for people in suits, but that one particularly irks me because people act like it’s some kind of science and not what it actually is: pseudo-scientific woo peddled by a couple of eugenicists.

    Manage the person, not the cute little ‘box’ you’ve decided they’re in, for God’s sake.

    (Fun fact: I was required by work to take a MB test, answered the questions honestly, and got a result that my line manager and I both agreed was nonsense. So LM asked me to take it again. I did so, again answered as honestly as I knew how… different (but similar) result, still nothing like my actual personality. LM did not ask me to take it a third time, and our office fad for MB quietly died a death shortly thereafter.

    I tend to ‘break’ astrology the same way. Allegedly I’m a virgo… except I’m nothing like virgos are ‘meant’ to be.)

    1. Sparkling*

      I allegedly don’t break astrology (I don’t know anything about astrology but have been informed by a colleague who has looked into this), but the Myers-Briggs I’ve definitely broken in exactly the same way.

      Turns out humans don’t fit into neat boxes, what a surprise.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I mean, I’ve never heard of an astrology enthusiast knowing a person (but not their birthday) and correctly deducing the sign. It always goes the other way–if you know the category the person is supposed to be in, you can point to something or other as proof. Either it’s the top thing you do, or it’s not and so it’s a hidden underlying aspect that can only be deduced via astrology.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        There’s also some science behind the face you present to others vs. how you actually work. I’ve done the test in many different settings (including an official, business-sponsored setting, not just an online quiz), and I am always solidly ENFJ. I’ve had people be surprised that I am J vs. P because I tend to be indecisive, but I am actually someone who won’t decide/commit until I am absolutely sure (at which point I am unlikely to change my mind).

        (Also, I hate party planning … because I usually don’t have the bandwidth for the emotional labor it takes most of the time … and ENFPs don’t really use bandwidth for that!)

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Something in what you wrote reminded me of something I said to my brother: “You are a Chaos Muppet disguised as an Order Muppet, and I am the exact opposite.” He agreed.

  24. INFJ*

    At a previous place of employment we had a CEO who loved the Myers-Briggs test so much he allocated bursaries for further studies for employees or promotions based on how close you matched to his type.

    That wasn’t all that was wrong with the place, but something I get reminded off whenever someone mentions Myers-Briggs.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Temporary re-assignment to another role or part-role. Can be in addition to all or part of your existing duties or a full changeover. But the implication is that it’s interim/temporary, either for a defined fixed period (a six-month secondment) or until something happens, (“seconded to Celine’s old job until we manage to recruit a permanent replacement”).

      Also, if you haven’t heard it said, the “o” is pronounced, so it’s “seh-COND”, not “SEC-und” like seconds/minutes or first/second.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It can also be a try-out for doing the role permanently. My team recently had someone who was seconded from a different department for a role needing coverage and they who wound up staying on. It’s a concept that seems to be a lot more common in the UK – never came across it in the US, though I’m sure there are employers who have it.

  25. Rachel*

    1: this is not about art or teambuilding. This is somebody on your team who enjoys pushing boundaries.

    We can go on and on all day about the sliver of organizations that would happily host this as a workplace activity, but that is letting the exception prove the rule.

    They know a workplace activity involving nudity is inappropriate. Functional adults know this. They want to make you say it, and that is the real problem in this letter.

    1. Pikachu*

      Yeah, I feel like it has all the makings of a coming out party for the workplace creepers who haven’t been identified yet.

      “Well it didn’t bother you when the model was nude! Why does me being nude bother you now?”

      Hard pass.

  26. Heather*


    I know Alison already said this, but— step 1 is to find out who authorized it! “Someone else in the company” is not an answer. If someone did authorize it, then it’s an easy first step to speak with them and clarify who can and can’t authorize extra hours. If nobody did, the employee should be fired on the spot— your conversation in which you told her not to was via email. So there’s no possibility it was a misunderstanding or she misheard you.

  27. Also-ADHD*

    For 4, it might be too kind a read, but I would first check to see if someone else was pressuring the employee to start the checks immediately (especially a higher up, who could approve the OT). I feel like HR departments are often wedged oddly into organizations, so I could easily imagine a higher up boss type insisting they do it right away who had theoretical ability to approve OT. Obviously it isn’t necessarily that, but I could see others thinking starting the process right away did matter/help and pushing someone in HR to do it, even though LW in HR knows it won’t actually speed things up. When I worked in HR (not currently there), the biggest fuss we got was everyone wanted everything faster, it’s pretty commonly an issue. Background checks are an issue frequently because until they complete, many people won’t give notice, so managers often have a position open, go through months to get the job posting, hire the right person, and then want them to start, but if the background check takes another 2 weeks (on the longer side but what LW said, I think, and not uncommon with third party BC), then that’s another month you’re waiting for anyone good.

    1. Punk*

      Plus the employee is in a different office. It’s completely plausible that someone she sees in person every day told her to work overtime. That kind of dynamic can disrupt the technical hierarchy of the org chart.

      1. Chris*

        That was my thought. Having an employee who is located in a branch office and spends most of her time doing work that supports that office, but who is managed by someone at a different site with no shared chain of command until you get much higher in the organization is the sort of thing that could easily be a recipe for trouble. The employee could easily be subject to conflicting demands between the people she sees and does work for every day versus the person who is technically her superior but she hardly ever sees in person.

        To the remote manager this might come across as someone who, “acts on requests without reflection,” but it may be more of a reflection on the work setup than the employee.

        Not to say it can never work, but I’d think it would take a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination between the remote manager and whoever is managing the local branch.

    2. Pinta Bean*

      That letter reminded me of a situation I had with an employee and unauthorized OT. There had been an email in the chain from my grand-boss (so my employee’s great-grand-boss) saying that she wanted everyone to do “whatever it takes” to get a situation resolved as soon as possible. The employee took this to mean that she had authorization to work overtime. She is otherwise a good employee and I truly think she thought this was a valid authorization (I never had any reason to think she was lying about this, or trying to hide behind it).

      We had multiple conversations about why this wasn’t authorization. When the grand-boss says “whatever it takes,” it’s just an expression. The grand-boss doesn’t even know what “it” is, in an operational sense. To this day, I think there’s a decent chance that the employee still believes she had authorization and her manager (me) was being unreasonable.

      I think your point is a solid one, that the LW might want to see if someone else asked for OT, implied there would be OT, or could have said something that may have been confused with actual approval for OT.

  28. LifeBeforeCorona*

    A very hard no to LW1. For personal reasons public nudity is uncomfortable for me and would be problematic even in an art class. There are also people who for religious, modesty or a trauma background who are also uncomfortable staring a naked human form and attempting to paint it. They may feel uncomfortable having to disclose this or having to pass on a team building exercise. There’s nothing wrong with the class, it’s just something that a lot of people will decline just as they would bungee jumping. It’s fun but not my kind of fun.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, or you’d actually be fine with it and still prefer to not do it with colleagues (like myself)!

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        No you don’t because there are many reasons for why people are uncomfortable with public nudity, I was mentioning a few.

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Not to digress, but didn’t Jack Paar (or someone) write a book titled “Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver”?
      I always thought that sounded like reasonably good advice … can we draw a parallel to naked people in the office?
      Just checking.

  29. Honestly, some people’s children!*

    Years ago one of my bosses decided we should all do the MBTI and share the results. The HR person who worked with that made the sharing voluntary but most of us did. The two big things I took from it were once again I was an INTJ and for a job associated with extroversion and INTJ being a rare type there was an unusual number of us working there. I’ve always thought it’s more fun to do than of any serious value, but I think that of anything that says “here’s how you fit and what it means”.

  30. Mrspotatohead*

    I used to model for life drawings. the nudity was never sexual on my part but sometimes people drawing would get weird. that said, there’s no need for it be nude, so you could absolutely do it in a work place. the folks I did it with had ballet dancers who would wear their leotards, people who would wear swim suits – but plenty of the artists would practice by drawing people in the households just sitting there doing stuff (one guy had a series of drawings of his wife reading, for example). however you would have to specify that it was clothed, which I think is awkward in a work place (“come to our clothed life drawing class!”). you also don’t need to be a good artist to do it. a lot of it is practice on drawing quick shapes and poses, so I would do quick warm ups that were 30 or less for several minutes, then move on to one minute poses, then five, then sometimes it would be longer (ten to thirty minute) poses. anything over ten minutes and it was reclining because I would invariably fall asleep. but even the best artists were drawing stick figures for those warm ups.

  31. Kelly*

    We did MB or something similar at one of my summer jobs and it did not go well. The results for two of us were the same and made us sound cold and almost sociopathic. I specifically remember the results saying we had trouble telling people we loved them which is NOT information my coworkers need to think they know about me. That whole job was a nightmare honestly (tried to fire me instead of accommodating my disability when my coworkers would steal the one mobility device we had to share) and I don’t think doing some pseudoscience personality test made it any better.

    1. ecnaseener*

      …was it INTJ? My friend got INTJ and we teased him mercilessly about it, the description (on the unofficial online version) really is like “a total lone wolf, these guys sometimes forget that other people’s feelings matter, and also they think everyone else is stupid, but don’t let that make you think they’re not nice people!”

      1. Alex*

        Engineer who in college was forced to take this with a pack of other engineers as part of some first year intro seminar. I don’t remember the details anymore, but pretty much the entire room of us (minus the random facilitator person) came up INTJ with a few I-something else-TJs sprinkled in. The following lecture about how such a wide range of personality types could learn to work together was kind of remarkably mismatched.

  32. Evil Queen of Dysfunction*

    Once upon a time I was MBTI certified as my boss at the time wanted it done. He felt like it was a feather in his cap to have someone on his team with that credential, and I liked having a week away from my dysfunctional work site. (to give you context on how long ago this was, my youngest child had not started school yet and now he is a junior in college.)

    While I do not practice, I have found it useful as a way to help people understand how different people approach things at a basic level.

    For a short period, I taught a college class on team building and interpersonal skills and we would use it as a framework to talk about different ways members on your team approach assignments .

    Prime example was “Js” who when they got an assignment went home and did it RIGHT NOW. While Ps if it wasn’t due till 11:59 pm, then submitting it at 11:56 pm meant it was early. Have a P and a J on a team, who don’t understand this is a difference of approach and not the other person deliberately trying to sabotage the project, that’s when there are fireworks.

    It sounds like the new person just wants to understand how the members of her new team functions to help her adjust to different work styles. This is not a bad thing. Just maybe help her find another way to learn this information.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      “I have found it useful as a way to help people understand how different people approach things at a basic level”

      This! Exactly this! You can probably tell from my username that I have no problem with MBTI personality tests, but they are not the “be all end all”of who a person is. It is just a way to know what their general preferences may be. It has helped me understand my struggles with detail-oriented, repetitive, rote job tasks. It doesn’t mean that I can’t do them, it just means that it may not be as fun/easy for me.

      Your example of J vs P is spot on.

    2. Observer*

      Prime example was “Js” who when they got an assignment went home and did it RIGHT NOW. While Ps if it wasn’t due till 11:59 pm, then submitting it at 11:56 pm meant it was early. Have a P and a J on a team, who don’t understand this is a difference of approach and not the other person deliberately trying to sabotage the project, that’s when there are fireworks.

      You don’t need a “personality assessment” to figure that one out. Also, there are number of different types who would do what you say the P person would do, but who are actually INTENSE planners, totally not open to winging it. So, they have their schedule planned out to the minute and if you tell them that “When I said COB Thursday” that did not mean 4:59, it meant immediately after lunch” they are going to ask you how you expect them to read their mind.

      A favorite relative of mine was a lot like that. If you told them that their doctor’s appointment as a 10:am, they would be at the office at 10:001m precisely, with no time for the paperwork unless you told them that they needed to come in 15 minutes early to do the paperwork. Because in that 15 minutes they would do / finish a different task. (and Yes, they were *very* good at gauging how long stuff would take. It was almost unheard of for them to ever be late to anything.)

      The point here is that even when these types are somewhat accurate, they don’t actually tell you that much. Because different “planner” types plan differently.

  33. Delta Delta*

    MB – I did the MB before I went to law school. Nobody really told us what the results meant. I remember going to a session where there was a square with 16 little squares taped off on the floor, and we had to stand in our boxes. I took nothing away from this. Had this been done differently, though, it could have been helpful for me to know that I’m an INFJ, and as I go forward and practice law, I can use certain aspects of my personality to be effective doing X or Y. I don’t put a ton of stock in it, but I can see how it might be helpful for planning things like this. Or standing in a tape square.

  34. Jam Today*

    LW2 — while I agree that MB and other personality tests shouldn’t be treated as sacred text, I do place them a few steps above astrology in the “things I should pay attention to” hierarchy. My department at my last company did something similar (not MB) and what it turned up was *extremely* interesting information about communication styles and needs, specifically that the three people who had the same job title communicated in exactly the same way, and the person who was our leader was the complete opposite.

    That this was the case was totally normal — his job was as a division leader and he needed information delivered in a particular way for his own purposes, but it was important for us to know that about him and also very important for him to know what we learned about *us*. In our case it was when asking for information from us, give us the context along with the request. Its historically been seen as a stalling tactic, I had been scolded multiple times for asking for context for a question that could have multiple answers, but the reason we needed that was to make sure we were getting him the information he needed as soon as we could; it was essential to our ability to help him and make him look smart in front of exec leadership!

    This is my very long winded way of saying that it would be helpful to you as a manager and to your new team member to understand working styles and communication styles, so that people can adjust their expectation, manage their anxiety, and maybe adapt their own behavior to get the best out of their colleagues and the team overall.

    1. Observer*

      hat it would be helpful to you as a manager and to your new team member to understand working styles and communication styles, so that people can adjust their expectation, manage their anxiety, and maybe adapt their own behavior to get the best out of their colleagues and the team overall.

      I feel a bit like a broken record, but you really do not need these assessments for this purpose. And as I mentioned above (hasn’t posted yet, I think), even people in the same “category” can behave, communicate and mange their feelings differently.

      The OP is pretty explicit here that they are in fact cognizant of different working and communications styles and also to making changes in how they manage things to make it easier for this employee. So that’s not the issue here.

      And they have a very valid point in how this “shorthand” can box people in. Now if you have someone who simply cannot get their head around the concept that these differences just *are* – that they exist and are not actually *moral* categories, I suppose that and “assessment” like this could help. But for anyone else? No.

  35. WellRed*

    I’m genuinely surprised at the number of comments from people saying they can’t draw so this is a bad work activity. Whether it’s a bad work activity or not (and yeah, in this case it is), I really don’t get that reasoning? I suck at bowling but that doesn’t make it a poor choice for the group. It just means I’m not going to win.

    1. Colette*

      Ideally, a social activity should be something you can enjoy even if you’re not skilled at it. Drawing people is not beginner-friendly – many people are going to find it frustrating at best, and completely discouraging at worst. Bowling, on the other hand, can be fun even if you’re doing badly.

      1. BecauseHigherEd*

        I disagree–drawing can be fun even if you’re bad at it, similar to having a paint night or doing pottery (especially if you have a glass of wine and no one is taking it too seriously). Has no one here played Pictionary?!

        1. Colette*

          Drawing people is not the same as drawing in general. Obviously, there is a difference between pictionary and drawing a human.

          1. Dek*

            Sure, but life drawing isn’t really “drawing people.” The goal usually isn’t to make an actual finished piece of art that looks like the model.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Your examples are pretty unusual and high skill though! Painting and pottery is not a regular thing for most people, and are also going to met with befuddlement as to what they should do and what an end result should look like. Pictionary is a stick figure you do quickly, you can’t drag that out long enough to fill out an entire art class. I myself love to draw and sculpt and paint and I made the mistake as a new teacher that all kids – ALL! – would love to do it as well when we need a brain break. Though there’re definitely poor drawers who are happy to just make a hash of it, there’s a higher number of them who really aren’t happy to be set up to fail so visually. I can picture some of my former students in a workplace setting, and being asked to do bad drawing in front of the boss? Nope.

      2. The cranberry usurper*

        Actually, bowling is not fun for everybody. Gutter ball after gutter ball, while everyone is scoring points is not fun. Tastes can vary.

        1. Colette*

          Sure, it’s not fun for everyone, but it’s fun for a larger percentage of people than skilled drawing.

        2. Lady_Lessa*

          the last time I went bowling, I turned around after a gutter ball and fell because my kneecap dislocated badly. I was taken by ambulance to the local ER, and even that doctor had to call for an specialist to help him get it back in position.

        3. The Prettiest Curse*

          I’m abysmal at bowling, but I find it really fun! I think the key to making all this stuff enjoyable is to make it entirely non-competitive and laid-back, which unfortunately is not a vibe that exists in every workplace. So it’s very much a “know your event aim and attendees” issue. If an art class is designed primarily to show off Susie’s ace drawing skills or bowling to highlight that Dave is a great bowler, obviously it’s going to be a lot less fun for everyone else.

        4. Dek*

          I mean, I found out this weekend that I am BAD at minigolf (as in, I now have a busted up knee and am down one pair of sunglasses after desperately leaping to retrieve my ball from the tiny river), but I still had fun playing it.

          Tastes can vary, but I think there are very few activities that everyone is going to be good at. There’s something to be said for being able to enjoy playing a game or doing a thing without being Good At It.

        5. Laura*

          I was about to say this. I’m not good at bowling, but I do like it. But if I’m having a really low scoring game, it just isn’t fun.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, it’s not a contest! (Unless that’s explicitly stated in advance.)
      I am absolutely terrible at drawing, don’t really enjoy it (other than doodling) and wound up in some kind of remedial class at school because I’m so bad at it, but I wouldn’t particularly mind doing it as an activity, assuming it was optional. It might be fun to see if any of my colleagues have hidden artistic talents.

      I imagine that the people who would be very upset to do this as a mandatory activity are worried that their colleagues might laugh at what they drew – but most people don’t have much artistic talent (in the same way most people can’t act), so I think the people who can’t draw well or at all would be very much in the majority. So, again, any event like this should be entirely optional and non-competitive (and not involve any nudity.)

      Maybe it’s the drawing aspect that has people concerned, because that’s generally regarded as more difficult than painting. If it was one of those paint and sip classes, it would probably seem less stressful.

        1. Dek*

          I think karaoke is a good comparison. It’s Not For Everyone, a lot of folks think they Can’t Do It because they’re bad at singing/drawing, but really nobody actually expects anyone to be be Good.

          Like karaoke, I don’t think it’s inherently tone-deaf to suggest it as a social work activity. But if most folks don’t want to do it, then it should be nixed, and no one should be pressured into doing it if they don’t want to.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      As someone who likes art and has taken some art classes, there can definitely be a judging the work aspect that would fit in poorly with the pre-existing power dynamics in an office. Whereas for the art class, these people are both strangers, and peers whose opinion of me carries no particular implications for my financial solvency. If I praise Gertrude’s pear more than I praise Elspeth’s pear, it doesn’t mean anything going forward.

      Someone upthread described doing art class type stuff as a team building activity, and it’s very much “we make a neat finished product that can be interesting” rather than “we teach you a skill, with feedback on where you’re screwing up.”

    4. Punk*

      You might be assuming that the baseline for natural skill is higher than it is. If you sat me in front of an easel and told me to draw something, I wouldn’t know what to do. Or i’d go through the motions of drawing a stick figure and then sit there for two hours. And as someone who has never been in the world of visual arts, it’s not appropriate to expect someone like me to be tapped into how to shade a stranger’s private parts.

      1. Dek*

        “it’s not appropriate to expect someone like me to be tapped into how to shade a stranger’s private parts.”

        Fortunately, that usually isn’t something that happens in life drawing

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Not being art majors, most of us don’t know that and don’t want to go to a life drawing class (for work!) in order to find out.

        2. Lyudie*

          That actually does happen in life drawing. In my figure (life) drawing class, sometimes we just did loose gesture sketches and sometimes we did realistic shaded drawings of the nude model, and you were expected to draw all the parts.

    5. The Person from the Resume*

      I think the sip & paint classes are much more novice friendly than a life drawing class. You start life drawing once you’re further along in your artistic journey.

      Is it a life drawing class (1 time experience) or a series life drawing classes (once a week or set period of time)?

      But any sports type activity to include bowling or darts will favor the folks who do them regularly or at least have past experience at it. Although these sports and most sports allow for people to interact with team mates and opponents. Drawing is a solo activity for most of the activity so it’s a bit of an odd choice.

  36. Am I Missing Something Here?*

    In reading responses to #2… So many of these “I discovered X about my coworker!” would also have been “discovered” had the person taken the same time that had been used to fill out a personality quiz to instead just…pay attention. Let your brain do some non-gamified work to assess.

    Or, you know, ask the person about preferences and workstyles.

    1. Colette*

      That’s a really simplistic way of looking at the world. A lot of times, people think their way is the right way – which makes every other way wrong. An exercise like personality typing – done well – can change that.

      1. Allonge*

        In a team exercise, it can be helpful as a shared framework for discussing preferences (or just getting some people to realizt theirs is not universal).

        Getting to know a specific person is never a question of getting the info of ENTJ, Virgo, Questioner or anything like that, you can have a discussion or five, ask questions on how they like to operate and so on. For me that is the biggest issue of the orginal question.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Yeah, knowing someone has a different MBTI type, zodiac sign, or Hogwarts house can be the reminder someone needs that other people are different from them. If the MBTI helps someone understand why others feel differently, that seems fine to me. The destination is more important than how they got there. But part of that destination is understanding that their tool isn’t the end all be all, which LW’s coworker seems to be missing.

      2. Observer*

        An exercise like personality typing – done well – can change that.

        Not necessarily in a good way. Because these “types” are fluid, changeable and encompass huge ranges. And a person like that is going to lump all “J”s together and expect them all to react the same way to deadlines, even though that’s completely unrealistic.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        I seriously doubt personality typing changes that at all. If someone thinks their way is the right way, knowing other people have other ways won’t change their mind. They’ll just know who to assume is “wrong”. Knowing how someone else works is only productive if the person is open to the concept of it being different than their way. So whether they find out from some quiz or just by asking the person what they prefer, either way, that’s only going to be useful if they’re willing to, you know, use it.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Some of it kind of comes across as “this person’s wasn’t acceptable until the the test said it was”

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I thought it was equally powerful with just “this person wasn’t acceptable until the test said they were.”

      1. Planetary*

        I think many people have tried to be kind by offering what they’d like to be given (like more options during planning, more socializing, etc). Sometimes it’s what the other person needs and sometimes it isn’t.

        It can be hard for humans to recognize that kind of mistake just by observing.

    3. Dinwar*

      “…instead just…pay attention. Let your brain do some non-gamified work to assess.”

      Most people, I’ve found, are far worse at observation, especially when it comes to people, than they think they are. If they didn’t, this blog would have had like three entries, and gone silent ages ago! Having a framework of some kind can help, if only to point them towards things that they should be paying attention to. Even a bad framework can help here, because the framework itself serves as something you can pay attention to. If you find it’s consistently wrong, you can adjust your framework accordingly. (This is fundamentally how science works–and personality type quizzes are hardly the weirdest theoretical framework I’ve seen–so it’s rather hard to argue that there’s no value in it.)

      “Or, you know, ask the person about preferences and workstyles.”

      This is probably even worse. People lie, both to others and to themselves. It’s one reason why “What’s your greatest weakness?” is a crap question–anyone with the social aptitude of a toddler will find a way to weasel out of honestly answering it. Culture in the USA at least values the lone-wolf type above any other type of personality (look at any action movie), and who’s going to say they’re an inferior specimen by their culture’s standards?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yep. Observation can be hard, so we use tools for it. MBTI isn’t a validated tool so it’s not great for the purpose, but it’s not inherently a useless idea.

        1. Dinwar*

          There ARE no “validated tools” as I understand it. While differences in personality are obvious, psychology does not, to the best of my knowledge, have any sort of standardized way to differentiate between them. I think part of it is that psychologists view personality not as a thing, but rather as a suite of traits, sort of like intelligence, and thus anything that can quickly summarize it is inherently flawed.

          Still, that goes back to what I said about the framework being something you can look at carefully. Even a bad tool can be useful IF you acknowledge its limitations and are willing to tinker with it.

          1. ecnaseener*

            I believe some Big 5 instruments are validated (which of course doesn’t mean they’re proven accurate, but they have been checked for various forms of statistical validity)

          2. sparkle emoji*

            Both the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory(MMPI) and the Big Five/OCEAN/CANOE are considered valid assessments of personality by the psych field, but neither is particularly suited to the way personality tests are used in the workplace.

      2. Allonge*

        For your second point – this is I think a bit different in an interview and in normal daily co-working situations.

        I agree that a large-scale question on overall working style is unlikely to work, but with someone on your team, you can get more into the details, as in prefence for longer term planning or winging it, what planning looks like for you, do you like email or phone more etc. In these cases, the relationship between two people working together should allow for quite some observation too. I personally at least don’t think that saying ‘I’m INFP’ is a good replacement for this.

  37. BecauseHigherEd*

    LW 1 – What I will say is that I think the type of organization does factor into this as well. I would say at MOST offices this is inappropriate, but I’d say it’s a little less weird if you work at, say, an art museum that displays nude paintings, or if this is for the support staff in the art department at a university and it’s the kind of thing the art students do in class at that same university. Group of all male finance bros drawing a nude woman when none of them have any artistic inclinations? More suspect.

  38. Sydney Bristow*

    I work in an area related to art (this is key!) and a nude life drawing class can be a perfectly professional activity. But that’s only if everyone else in that professional environment sees it that way! And that would not be the case in 99% of workplaces.

    1. Billy Preston*

      Yes, this is a big part of it for me. I trust fellow artists/art students to be professional at a life drawing class- it’s about the art and you’re focusing on the art, not nudity. But with a mixed bag of coworkers of different comfort levels with nudity- oh no way I wouldn’t want to attend that.

  39. Come On Eileen*

    I’ve never heard the term “wooden dollars” before and Google isn’t helping to explain it. Can someone put it into simple terms that I can understand?

    1. Ray Gillette*

      I’ve heard “wooden nickel” more than “wooden dollar” but it refers to something useless and/or fake, because a wooden coin is counterfeit.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      AAM answered in a different comment thread above. Copy/paste of that answer:

      “Wooden dollars” refers to how money is allocated internally but just on paper, with no real-life meaning. That’s why the OP and her own boss weren’t taking the exercise terribly seriously. The sentence means, essentially, “We’re on a deadline to do a presentation for something that won’t matter in the end.”

  40. Tundra dweller*

    Not inviting someone because she was leaving due to her husband being transferred would be illegal in my jurisdiction, as discrimination based on family status (in this example, she is being treated differently than she would be if she wasn’t married to that person).

    I realize it’s not an illegal case of discrimination in all jurisdictions of course, but something to think about as Op doesn’t say where she is from.

    1. sam_i_am*

      The reason for not inviting her is that she’s leaving, not that she has a husband. That’s not discriminating based on family status.

      1. Tundra dweller*

        Courts treat discrimination for family status very expansively. I’ve seen similar examples in my career, even for deployed spouses like in this example. If she wasn’t married to a service member, she’d be considered for the conference? then she needs to be considered for the conference.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          If she’s *ever* gone to the conference (or been considered for the conference) in the past while having this same boyfriend, and the year she’s leaving is the only year she’s not considered, she’d have a hard time proving it was because of the boyfriend.

        2. HonorBox*

          No. If she wasn’t moving, she might be considered. Her marital status doesn’t matter here. She’s leaving so the business is choosing not to send her. That’s reasonable.

          The boss made the error in not including Helga in the email invitation, but not an illegal error. A tactical error. It would have made much more sense to either include Helga in the email invitation and then just not extend the actual invite to her (since more than one someone would get left out) OR have a conversation with Helga about the conference and the need for her to stay and wrap up her work OR have a conversation directly with just the two employees the boss wanted to invite.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I don’t even know that I’d call it a tactical error, since I don’t think any reasonable person would have assumed they’d have to tiptoe around Helga’s feelings on this one. I agree if she were out of the running for different reasons (doesn’t play well with others, might get fired soon, etc.) that it would be best not to say “we don’t feel like wasting professional development dollars on you,” but in this case it’s just unexpected that Helga would even think she should go.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          If she WASN’T LEAVING, she’d be considered for the conference. The reason she’s leaving is not relevant.

    2. CTT*

      But this isn’t about family status (and even if it was, LW said it was a boyfriend, so I don’t think that’s protected) – they didn’t invite her because she’s leaving the company. It happens to be because her boyfriend is transferring, but it could be that she decided she needed a different climate, or got her dream job somewhere else, and the result would still be the same.

      1. Tundra dweller*

        Ah ok, good point, perhaps we could wiggle out of it if she wasn’t common-law. I’d assumed she was, but you’re right, that would make a huge difference.

        1. CTT*

          There’s no wiggling to be done – it is not discriminatory to not invite her to the conference because she is leaving the job. Also, LW said that of a team of 8, only 3 will go, so there’s no guarantee she would go regardless.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          If they’re in the U.S., and she’s calling him her boyfriend, they do not have a common law marriage.

          1. Tundra dweller*

            Oh, I wasn’t aware of that. Obviously whether it is legally discrimination is very context dependent and depends on the specific elements, and I am not familiar with American common law statutes.

          2. Pescadero*

            There are still 8 common law marriage states in the USA.

            Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

            1. sam_i_am*

              One of the stipulations of common law marriage is that you hold yourself to be married. Calling your partner “boyfriend” runs counter to that.

      1. Tundra dweller*

        It seems I cannot paste links to jurisprudence here.

        Perhaps an analogy to something that I imagine is a protected ground in your jurisdiction might be helpful here? Like pregnancy.

        If an employee was pregnant, her employer might decide that it made sense, from a business perspective, to not offer her attendance at a conference. She is leaving, she won’t benefit from the training or the professional contacts as much as someone who was planning on staying with the company, and resources are limited. Of course that is all true… but a court will view it as “you have a policy that pregnant persons are given less opportunities than non-pregnant.” That is prima facie discrimination.

        It doesn’t even have to be the main factor in the negative treatment, just a factor.

        Well, this in my jurisdiction of course, not yours. I just mention it because the LW doesn’t say where she is.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          But in this example, you say the pregnant employee is leaving. If that’s true, and it’s been announced already (as in Helga’s case), the employee isn’t losing the opportunity because she’s pregnant. She’s losing the opportunity because she’s leaving. If she hasn’t already announced she is leaving, and the employer is just making an assumption, then I agree this would be discrimination. But that’s not a good analogy to the Helga situation, since Helga *is* definitely leaving.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You’re mixing up two issues. The employee is not attending the conference because she has resigned. It doesn’t matter if she’s also married/pregnant/religious/disabled. She is not attending because she is leaving the company.

          If you’re not in the US, I can’t speak to your laws, but this is not a legal issue here.

  41. Observer*

    #2 – Myers Brigg

    I beg of you, please hold firm. Allison’s verbiage is perfect. I get that she’s having a hard time, so you want to be as gentle as you can be. But she is also someone who has a clear need for clarity and structure. So you need to be completely clear and unambiguous.

    Hold firm if she pushes. Also, in that case you could point out the her that you, as a group, need to be able to figure diverse communication styles in many contexts where you are not going to have an MB score anyway. Might as well start now.

    I think it’s also worth looking at the rest of her issues. It looks to me like there is more going on here than communications styles. And in theory the assessment would uncover that as well. But you can see those issues already on the one hand. And on the other hand, even if the result were solidly grounded, it would not be all the actionable. Because it would almost certainly require a more fundamental change to the way you operate. Which may be a good idea (or not), but regardless, a much bigger shift.

  42. Observer*

    #4 – Unauthorized overtime.

    One thing that Alison left out. If your employee is non-exempt, you have to pay her! It doesn’t matter that you denied permission – she did the work. Which makes it all the more important to find out who supposedly authorized it.

    Now, if she’s exempt, I would not give her “comp time.”

    1. BethRA*

      Came here to say this – I have run across managers who think they can legally withhold pay if they didn’t authorize the work

  43. mr manatee*

    LW 5… If we didn’t work together before the holidays I feel terrible for another person stuck in an equally rough situation. Good luck in your new department!

  44. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I’ve had coworkers try to argue with me because they don’t believe I’m my MBTI type. These things are exhausting.

    1. Observer*

      Why is this even a discussion?

      Like who cares what your “type” is? I’ll assume that you consider it an accurate representation of who you are, but why do other people need to know? Why would they argue about it?

      The whole thing is very, very weird to me.

  45. Oysters and Gender Freedom*

    Nudity is not the only problem. I suspect these people haven’t really looked into the logistics of such an event. Most professional models have specific working requirements. For nude models, these include ensuring the room interior cannot be seen from outside, and that there is a screened off place for the model to change and to retreat to during breaks. There is no photography, which probably means no cell phones. There also can’t be any risk of people not in the group opening the door and coming in.

    Models can and pose clothed or costumed, though I don’t know the protocols around that. For all models there are break rules.

    To really make life drawing effective and enjoyable, you need the correct room set up, with a set off area for the model to pose (art studios usually have a model stand and available props, like cushions for sitting and reclining and poles or other aids for posing). You need strong directional lighting to create effective shadows. You also need the right set up for the artists, which would mean a number of smaller tables you can arrange in a semi-circular fashion with supportive chairs, which may not be most office chairs. In addition, office-friendly media and beginner-friendly media are diametrically opposed, with pencil and pen being too fussy and frustrating for beginners, and charcoal — a beautiful, malleable medium — being utterly filthy in an office environment.

    Finally, you would need to ensure that the model is treated well and with dignity by everybody present. A model, clothed or nude, does not deserve to have someone who shows up just to gawk or make small talk. Yes, the model is being paid, but posing is hard work physically, and their very presence is a gift. Don’t put a human being in a situation that could be awkward for them and might reflect badly on your company.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t think there’s any indication this class wouldn’t be offered by a studio that holds such classes and the company simply pays for it and goes there. If they’re talking about purchasing the class from a vendor that offers it, none of the above is relevant. Only the nudity aspect is.
      But yes, if they’re trying to cobble together the entire event themselves from scratch, they probably don’t know how to do that.

  46. ConstantlyComic*

    The college I went to on my first attempt at undergrad used Meyers-Briggs as a factor in assigning roommates. The roommate I ended up with was a minor part of why it was my first attempt.

  47. Immortal for a limited time*

    #2 – I’m not even opposed in principle to things like the Myers-Briggs test, and I enjoyed taking it as a team-building exercise after joining my first IT firm a couple decades ago. But even I know it brought zero value to our work. Less than zero value, when I consider the billable time we spent not doing billable work. It was a curiosity that made no difference to the way we related to each other while doing the work we were expected to accomplish each day, week, month, and year for our clients. Show up in the workplace like conscientious adults who treat their colleagues, superiors, and underlings with respect. No personality “type” gets to do otherwise.
    #4 – this is another example of a manager asking how to handle something for which they don’t have a written policy…? Put the policy and procedure for getting approval for overtime or comp time in writing, and make your employees sign it.

    1. HonorBox*

      I disagree a little with your assessment of #4. Whether there’s a written policy or not, the employee disregarded the ‘no’ that OP gave. You don’t need a policy for that.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Agreed. It would be different if the employee mistakenly believed she didn’t need to ask permission, but she asked and ignored the answer. You don’t need a signed policy for that.

      2. Observer*

        Whether there’s a written policy or not, the employee disregarded the ‘no’ that OP gave. You don’t need a policy for that.

        Totally. Some things just don’t need a “policy.” Doing as you boss says (assuming legality, safety, and basic ethics) falls under that heading.

  48. HonorBox*

    OP4 – Several easy steps here, it seems.

    1. Sit the employee down.
    2. Ask who approved the overtime.
    3. Wait whatever length of time it takes for them to give you a specific answer.

    If there’s a specific answer to 3, then

    4a. Give the employee a written warning because they disobeyed a directive from you.
    5. Talk to whoever gave the approval to figure out what they were told and find out if they were told that specifically said no to overtime.
    6. Depending on the information you gather from that, you might need to proceed with terminating the employee. If they hid that you’d told them not to, or if they gave incorrect information to make the case, they’ve not only gone behind your back, but they also misrepresented the situation to someone else.

    If there isn’t a specific answer to 3, then

    4b. Terminate employee. Not only did they disobey a directive, they’ve lied to you. They can’t be around any longer.

    You said no. That should be the end of it. If they went around you and someone approved it, you may have a case to keep them around, but if they’ve misrepresented ANYTHING either to you or someone else, that’s two quick strikes and that’s not something that can continue in your workplace.

  49. Kristin*

    #5 – “My former manager has been emailing me asking me to confirm whether I completed certain tasks before I left.”
    No wonder you don’t hold her in high regard. I wouldn’t either.
    If she can’t tell that it wasn’t done, then it WAS. And that’s what, after a few days’ silence, I would tell this manager who doesn’t seem to be able to manage anything. And then no response, ever, after that.

  50. Sssssssssssssss*

    My kid is in a college level art program and for this term, for life drawing all the models will be nude. They were told if this was going to make a student uncomfortable to please reach out to a teacher (but not sure what the workaround would be). And this for a group of students who know well in advance that this would be part of the class.

    I fail to see how this is a good idea as a team-building activity with coworkers if even art students can feel awkward around it.

  51. Baffled*

    Disclosure: I’ve used Myers-Briggs for years in team building and personally believe the test is more than just a magazine quiz in effective practices and understanding behaviors. Because of my lived experience, I have a positive bias in its use within teams.

    First of all, the indicators that MB picks up are around how we build relationships and connect with people. Those indicators are often misunderstood. They reflect more about how we think, not what we think. For those interested, here’s a breakdown of how the test is interpreted and used:

    Extraversion vs. Introversion: This is how your derive and expend energy around others, not a measure of being shy or outgoing. Extroverts derive and thrive on social interactions and exchanges of ideas and often like to recharge among others. They like to think aloud. Introverts can interact in social situations yet prefer solitude and disengagement at times to recharge for the activities. They tend to think first, talk later. On my current team, this plays out when we have long, large meetings that we intentionally invite introverts to share their thoughts and give them space so they aren’t overlooked.

    Sensing v. Intuition: This is not about being an empath or reading minds. Sensing people tends to reflect and react based on reality and experience. They sense the world around and incorporate that input into their thinking. People who intuit are much more abstract in thinking and tend to think in terms of patterns and trends. These pair well in partners – the Sensing person reacts to the data to create models of known behaviors; the Intuitive person interprets those models for trends and opportunities. I see this in product development every day.

    Thinking vs. Feeling: This does center around empathy, yet more around how much empathy has an impact on thinking. For the Thinker, facts take precedent and while empathy is employed, it is not a driving factor in decision making. Feelers use emotions and behaviors as higher factors, giving higher priority to people over processes. This plays out in how we trust people. For example, a Thinking person might need to see a set of kept promises before extending trust to that person based on experience. I Feeler may tend to extend trust from the beginning of the connection with another person until there is a reason not to.

    Finally, Judging vs Perceiving: This is more around how we expect the world to run. Judging people are drawn to structure, routine, and data-driven decisions. Perceiving people are more flexible and tend to deal well with ambiguity. Judging and Perceiving are not connected to making value judgements about people yet are often taken that way by those with surface understanding.

    When incorporating MB into team building, it’s not enough to give labels. There are certified instructors out there who do more than assign types but delve into how to use those types to create effective teams. I have seen instructors generate insight and prompt working agreements within teams based on MB input, and I have seen managers encourage the test, hand out the assignments, and create dysfunction by creating boxes and using MB to explain and ignore that dysfunction.

    Personally, I’m ENFP. A previous partner I worked with was the opposite, ISTJ. His ability to take my grand ideas and break them down into achievable goals helped both of us achieve more than we would individually. Our manager, a certified instructor, matched us to build on our strengths and we excelled based on that match.

    Previously, I was an ENFP on a software testing team of ISTJs – they used their majority to dismiss the improvement ideas I had for automation over manual testing because they didn’t fit the testing rules; in this case, effective use of matching different types would have created a more flexible atmosphere for innovation.

    The linked test in the response is not MB. Doesn’t look like it in the slightest and is a misleading indicator of MB’s potential value. It’s a superficial connection that leads to a mistaken connotation.

    Rather than judge a test that the OP has never taken to make a value judgement on a relationship building tools, perhaps the OP might open their mind to this employee’s previous experience and do some cursory research about how to apply the results in building strong teams.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The problem is all those traits are self-reported and people are not actually good at answering binary questions about themselves.

      1. biobotb*

        Exactly. Plus context will shape behavior. MBTI-type assessments drive me nuts because my answers will vary wildly on context that’s never included in the question.

        1. Coffee Protein Drink*

          I’m not takign another personality test until they include a None of the Above as an answer choice.

      2. Angela Zeigler*

        While that’s true, it’s still going to provide more insight compared to asking someone to describe their working methods- an open-ended, loaded question, which would be exceedingly difficult for most people to answer- or nothing at all, where people just make assumptions about the other person based on how little or often they answer emails, how much they talk in meetings, etc. Which usually just leads to one-sided assumptions about other people without considering other perspectives. So something more standardized and structured is better than nothing, usually.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Okay, but that’s why you ask a specific question like “What’s your preferred method of communication” or “How much do you like to check in about projects”. The answers to those tell me a lot more than someone telling me “I’m an INTP”.

    2. Bread Crimes*

      Yeah, those… don’t work for me. Or for a lot of people. Like the Introvert/Extrovert bit, which clearly describes me as an introvert (I get exhausted being around large crowds of people, I need alone time to recharge) and then gives a bunch of conclusions where I’m an introvert (I often think out loud, I’m chatty in person, in long meetings the problem is getting me to stop talking–I have to self-correct on that a lot!–and I’ll come across as high-energy high-enthusiasm the whole time, just be utterly exhausted afterward). So on the most basic level a lot of the “You have X trait so you must act in Y way” keeps breaking down, in my experience.

      1. Angela Zeigler*

        It’s not just about outward actions, though- it’s more about how that person thinks and approaches situations. It’s not about how often someone talks in a meeting. It’s all about what kind of process a person usually goes through in order to come to those solutions, which can be valuable in working better with other people. (Especially people different from ourselves.)

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          ‘Baffled’, the progenitor of this thread, uses Myers-Briggs a lot in team building and says it has a ton of value. They add the detail, “On my current team, this plays out when we have long, large meetings that we intentionally invite introverts to share their thoughts and give them space so they aren’t overlooked.”

          I’m having a hard time reconciling that with your assertion that “It’s not about how often someone talks in a meeting”.

    3. biobotb*

      “It’s a superficial connection that leads to a mistaken connotation.” seems like it describes the MBTI and other personality assessments perfectly. They often rely on erroneous assumptions about what personality traits are connected and build on that to erroneous conclusions about how people with some of those traits operate.

  52. Joan Crawford's Jello Mold*

    Unless the workplace is an animation studio, I can’t imagine what the organizers of the work events in story #1 were thinking. And even at animation studios the models would most likely be clothed because of the whole “being at a work event” aspect of it all.

  53. Pikachu*

    #1 – I once did a certified Bob Ross painting class and it was AWESOME. It was just like the show and miraculously as easy as he makes it look! I still have mine hanging in my house.

    Bob Ross certified instructors are $$$$ and the materials are too (and I know there is some drama with the Bob Ross brand, dunno, haven’t seen the documentary) but I’ve done paint and sips, make your own pottery, etc and this was hands down the best thing like this I’ve ever done.

    If you have the budget to do it, Bob Ross has my vote. The instructors teach virtually now too.

  54. Sylvia*

    My very dysfunctional former company had us take Myers-Briggs tests and post them on our office doors, presumably to enhance our working relationships. My supervisor’s results were inconclusive, and the test proctor (also an employee) accused him of lying on the test. In retrospect, she was probably right.

  55. Artsygurl*

    I am an art historian and spend literally hours of my day viewing nudity in art as part of my job (often with colleagues) and even I would be uncomfortable being forced to take part in a life drawing class as part of a work activity.

  56. Phony Genius*

    I just realized that #1 does not specify whether the model would be hired from outside, or actually be one of the employees. Both are inappropriate, but one even more so.

  57. RetiredNerd*

    For #2, there’s probably stronger language against using Myers-Briggs that you can use based on recent research.

    One alternative that might actually be helpful is the DISC assessment. The folks over at Manager Tools have done a *slew* of podcasts on it, and what the different results mean. They also discuss how to communicate between people with different attributes, from a “this is more effective in getting the results you want” perspective. They also have material on managing people with different characteristics. It’s way less “woo” than Myers-Briggs, by far, and more useful in a business context.

  58. My Two Cents*

    Oooh – strong disagree that Myers-Briggs isn’t useful or isn’t any better than astrology. My company 15 years ago was big into it, and we all took full, paid-for tests. I found it extremely helpful in understanding why I might respond to things in a certain way, and differently than some of my coworkers. I take the free tests every once in awhile, and I find it useful as a personal mental barometer – when I’m doing well, I’ll be an E, when I’m not doing great, I’ll slide over into I. I also took the DISC test with a different company more recently, and found it less useful than Myers Briggs, but not terrible. Also *really* useful in understanding how I fit (or this case do NOT fit) in with my coworkers. I am a misplaced extrovert creative type in a sea of introverted accountants. We split up by our DISC groups and I was all alone in my group. I knew the job wasn’t going to be a good fit personality-wise, and this confirmed it. But I’ve been really happy and moderately successful because I know my co-workers are just different, so I don’t get upset (or try not to) when I clearly am really different than they are. Also, I’ve seen the test be useful in identifying un-trustworthy people. During that DISC test, one woman switched her results from one grouping to the group that had most of the managers. Only a few of us knew that she had done that. This was early on, and I noted that she might not be someone to trust, and yep – that turned out to be *very* true.

    I guess I just find these tests really fascinating because I find people really fascinating. I have always been interested in understanding how people different than me act, think, live (I also love archeology, anthropology, sociology, etc). As a more extroverted person, I also find it really helpful with some of my introverted friends and family.

    Glad for this post, I’m going to take a Myers Brigg test now and see where I’m at! ENFJ by the way in case you were curious (unless I’m depressed and then it’s INFJ).

    1. Observer*

      when I’m doing well, I’ll be an E, when I’m not doing great, I’ll slide over into I.

      Do you realize that this is perfect proof of how little this would tell *other people*. You have basically confirmed that you are a “different” type depending on how you’re doing at any given time. Which means that any other person who sees any give result has learned next to nothing about you.

      I am a misplaced extrovert creative type in a sea of introverted accountants. We split up by our DISC groups and I was all alone in my group.

      And you really needed an assessment tool to tell you this? I’d be willing to bet that none of your accountant peers were surprised either.

      because I know my co-workers are just different, so I don’t get upset

      Again, why do you need a “test” or “assessment” to tell you this? People are different, and you really should not need a label to recognize this.

      Also, I’ve seen the test be useful in identifying un-trustworthy people. During that DISC test, one woman switched her results from one grouping to the group that had most of the managers

      This has nothing to do with the test per se. Sure, this particular event gave you a chance to see her behaving in an untrustworthy manner. By why is this any different than seeing her change her seating card with someone else’s to get into the “managers table” at a workplace dinner, or any other unethical action? What she did could have happened at any other event where she had a chance and motive. On the other hand, it’s obviously not all that good at exposing untrustworthiness, since only you and a couple of people even knew that she did this, and thus only a few people knew that she was untrustworthy, Never mind that it was not her answers that exposed her, but her behavior – otherwise the results would have been different. Clearly there is nothing in the test itself that shows whether someone is ethical.

  59. Angela Zeigler*

    #2 – I’m surprised at all the emotionally charged responses to the test? I always thought of it like getting sorted in Harry Potter – It’s a fun little thing, can tell you some general things about a person in a quick and efficient way, but with the understanding that people don’t adhere to a set list of characteristics 100% of the time. It can help give some insight that might explain how that person might generally work, which can be really helpful with any kind of collaborative communication. Unfortunately, people aren’t usually self-aware enough or articulate to just explain how they actually work and the best way to handle them.

    – Signed a Ravenclaw with a devious streak

    1. biobotb*

      I mean, if someone isn’t self aware enough to understand their own working style, a personality assessment that assigns them one based on inaccurate assumptions won’t help.

      1. Angela Zeigler*

        It’s like handholding- in a vacuum people wouldn’t know how to answer, but if they just have to answer a set of specific situations and questions, they can think and answer them one by one. If everyone’s answering the same standard set of questions, the differences between people and their approaches will be very obvious very quickly. It’s a lot clearer than wondering why Bob acts the way he does in meetings beyond assuming ‘he’s just hard to work with sometimes.’

      2. My Two Cents*

        I’m incredibly self aware, thank you very much. That’s why I like these tests so much. I put a lot of thought into my answers, so I get a lot out of them. Maybe the people poo-pooing them are the ones who aren’t self aware, and just breeze through them without much thought.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Maybe the people pooh-poohing them actually ARE self-aware, and don’t need a statistically invalid test to gain more personal insights.

  60. Algernon*

    For #4 Alison, I agree with your advice but I’m wondering, does the company have to pay her for the Saturday hours she worked?

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Yes. She worked them, so she must get paid. It’s theoretically possible they would be the last hours she got paid for, because she’d be fired for going against LW’s direct order, but she’d be paid.

  61. AFWife*

    The response to 3 makes me sad. I’m a military wife who’s career ended the moment I married, and not by my choice. Military spouses are too often considered unhirable, or if they are, that there’s no reason to support their career advancement because the perception is that they’re going to leave at any moment. Nevermind that anyone could up and quit at any moment, or that the military often says things like “you’re definetely moving at the end of the month” only to keep you there for 2 more years (happened to me twice). We ended up staying in our last cityfor 7 years before moving, and we were in the one before that for 5. I do get that businesses need to make decisions that work for them, but I also hope that Helga learns to never share that aspect of her life if she wants a career of her own.

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