the employee I just promoted wants to step down

A reader writes:

I promoted one of my employees to manage her department about 10 weeks ago. This is her first management job and she has done an amazing job in her new role — implementing much-needed changes and efficiencies while gaining the respect of her entire team. This was verified in a recent anonymous 360 review where her direct reports had glowing things to say about her and generally made it clear that she was much more effective in that role than I had been. (And they’re right — she’s fantastic! She’s accomplished more for the department in 10 weeks than I did in the 10 months prior.)

She’s now come to me saying she thinks she’s not doing well in the position, she believes the team doesn’t think she’s doing well, and she wants to step down from her management position. I’ve asked her to give me a few days before we decide how to proceed, but I’m at a loss on how to help her. I’ve given her regular feedback since she was promoted and passed on the kudos from other departments and her employees. We’ve worked together to address any tricky situations that have come up so she had an experienced manager backing her up for tough conversations.

My impression is that she’s letting “imposter syndrome” get to her and is about to step down from a role that she is really, truly phenomenal at. I’m at a loss about how to help her through this, gain self confidence, and believe that everyone around her isn’t lying about how well she’s doing. She has a bright future ahead of her if she can get past this, but how can I help her do that?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My employee calls me “buttercup”
  • My coworker wants to “standardize” email subject lines
  • How to tell a networking contact they’re not qualified for the job they’re interested in

{ 102 comments… read them below }

  1. Throwaway Account*

    Maybe tell your employee about AAM! I think this is an amazing space for a new manager!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Thirded! It would be a real shame if her anxieties terrorized her out of a job she’s so good at and is such a boost for her career.

    1. Saturday*

      Yeah – seems like more questions need to be asked to find out what’s going on. Does she want to quit because she feels like she’s not doing a good job when she really is, or are there other things that make her dislike the role?

    2. Lilo*

      Yeah, I was a temporary manager and absolutely hated it. I was rated well but I was horribly burned out and when the person I was covering returned from extended leave, I declined to move into another management position.

      1. Ophelia*

        Yeah, I wonder how much is that she has thrown TOO MUCH of herself into this role in the desire to excel. I have had small and mediumish management roles in the past, but moved into a significantly larger one about a year ago, and it took me several months to sort of recalibrate how much I needed to DO vs. how much I just need to know about. When I was trying to do both, I was completely overstretched and it felt impossible. If you’re able to dig into some of this with her, and help her set expectations for what she does and where she can step back into more of an oversight/advisory role, that might help her a LOT.

    3. Ivy*

      Agreed. This sounds more like she doesn’t like the role than imposter syndrome to me. I think the advice is on point though – it’s really too early for her to decide that it’s not for her.

      That being said, not enjoying a management position is so so common. An unfortunate amount of people stick with it because there’s no other way to progress in their career (often to the detriment of their employees). I wish it was more acknowledged and talked about across industries with ways to progress outside of managing people (we’re pretty good about it in IT).

    4. JM60*

      I was wondering if the employee wanted this promotion, or if she was promoted without seeking the role.

      1. Ann*

        Yes. My company has a policy of automatically promoting people who do well in their current job for a while. Some people (myself included) are clearly best at a certain part of the job and have no desire to be senior managers, and top management is aware of that, but their way of handling that is simply to delay the inevitable promotion by a few years. But the promotion happens anyway, like it or not. My latest promotion, a year ago, has really set me up to fail for many reasons, some of which are outside my control. It’s been a very frustrating and depressing year, and I’m thinking hard whether it’s possible to ask for a demotion or I should just move on.

  2. HonorBox*

    Regarding the standardized email subjects: I think there’s probably a middle ground. In a job where there are project codes, etc. it might save a bit of time if original emails start that way, and I don’t see anything wrong with someone requesting that. That saves time, decreases confusion and increases recognition of what an email actually is about, etc. But as Alison points out, there are going to be plenty of instances when it is not possible to control for that. If Bill’s opinion is needed on something, it is more likely that he’s going to get copied in partway through and it would be weird to change the subject line just to meet his requests. So if possible, people could start that way, but Bill is going to have to be open to receiving emails other ways, too.

    1. Laura*

      Some sort of standard isn’t the worst idea. In a previous job, I could send an email asking about the status of “X” and midway through the thread someone would toss in a question about “Y”. It was usually 1 of about 3 people who would do it…but try to find that later. At least subject lines would give a place to start

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I wonder if he was unclear in what he expects.
      Does he really want:
      Llama combs, model ABC, production month January 2024.
      and have messages about color change options, shipping, materials order that he has to sift through?
      or doe he mean:
      Llama combs, model ABC, production month January 2024: shipping delays
      or even
      Llama combs, model ABC, production month January 2024: shipping delays, rain in NE.
      Because the first one is truly absurd.

      1. Freya*

        This. I put a reference to which client it is I’m talking to in the subject header of my emails, but that’s because some of my clients tend to answer emails on the go and their phones don’t add the usual corporate signature, and I’m often sending emails on behalf of that client to people outside the business, so putting the business name in the header means I can search for and find emails relating to that client.

        But I also add enough detail so that we all know what type of email it is. Do I have a question about something that needs answering, or do I need them to pay a bill, or am I just giving them an FYI? Is it urgent or can it wait? Subject headers are supposed to help you prioritising your inbox!

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My industry does similar as standard ish – we switch between being client and supplier but it’s all collaboration really, and legal field subject to discovery.

      The absolute standard nowadays is that you always have file numbers in email subjects, eg “Llamapot project – Teapots 12345, Llamas ABC123”. If you add a new entity to the chain you add in their reference.

      This is incredibly important for us because we tend to have related projects that could be confused. We also have to keep very good records, and many firms have systems that will scrape for reference numbers to tag emails automatically so they can be found in the (paperless) case file.

      In that context it is absolutely reasonable and commonplace for a contributor to ask for (or even require) a particular string in the email subject. I’ve seen invoices rejected, for example.

    4. Unfortunate Admin*

      I agree, there are times where it’s a reasonable ask. For example, while in a support role, I had asked my team to include the relevant sponsor name in all emails regarding “Annual Llama Event”. The sales team would initiate contact with 50+ sponsors but would hand them off to me via email at a later stage. And so I had 50+ email chains where the subject line for all of them was something similar to “Annual Llama Event”. And while I could and did sort them into their own folders, it did just make it a lot easier for me when the subject line was “Sponsor X – Annual Llama Event” especially if I was using the search bar.

    5. Salsa Your Face*

      We had very strict email subject rules at a previous job – but once those rules were met, you could add whatever you wanted. So if you were writing to accounting about project 123, the email had to start with [ACCT] #123, but then the full subject line could say, for example, “[ACCT] #123 Invoice Status.” It was annoying to remember at first, but many of us were receiving hundreds of emails per day and needed to set up rules in Outlook to filter everything. If this coworker receives a similarly overwhelming number of emails, I think it’s fair to ask for *some* standardization so that filtering rules can be used.

    6. Justin D*

      My job has tried to do this (with templates too) and it’s just hard. For some jobs it works well but mine isn’t one of them.

    7. Random Dice*

      I read partner organizations as “You’re not remotely in the management chain of my people, you weirdo, no you can’t dictate what they do.”

    8. londonedit*

      I work in publishing and our Production department has standard email subject lines that they ask everyone to use. They have to deal with tons of emails about hundreds of different books, so they ask that everyone uses a standard format for subject lines (like ‘Smith’s Book of British Butterflies – final corrections for approval’ rather than ‘Here are the corrections’ or ‘RE: butterfly book’ or whatever). I can see how that makes things a lot easier for them!

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        That would get under my skin so hard. Buttercup…seriously.

        I’d just look at her and go “buttercup?” and whatever she said, my response would be an eyebrow and a flat “no.” And then an obvious subject change.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Yeah I once had a male peer say, “hey you” at me to get my attention. He knew my name and had referred to me by my name in every encounter before this one. I think maybe he thought it was cute or funny or charming or something? It was so insulting and offensive to me that I had zero control over my response. I shouted to never ever call me that, that I’m not a f*cking dog, and that he owed me a serious apology. He stammered out an apology to me and to all those who had witnessed it. Every time he said my name after that, it was like a child who had just learned to talk. I didn’t regret it a bit.

          1. another gov type*

            Wow! Were there other underlying issues with this coworker? In my neck of the woods, “hey you” is a pretty benign casual greeting, particularly for someone you know well and interact with regularly (There’s almost a subtext of *this isn’t the first and won’t be the last time we talk so we’re skipping formalities* to it)

            1. Unkempt Flatware*

              Uh, no. There were no underlying issues. I was simply publicly disrespected by a man at work. Do not speak to a woman like this as a man in a workplace. He might as well have snapped his fingers at me to get my attention. He would have gotten the same response from me if he had, I’ll tell you that. No one I know would ever say Hey You as a benign casual greeting where I’m from and I’m from all over.

            2. Bast*

              I was a bit baffled by the extreme response as “hey you” would be a common, benign enough greeting with a coworker that I am on friendly terms with, but then I stopped and thought about tone and who is saying this. “Hey you” being said in a more aggressive tone and/or by someone I am not as close with would garner a different reaction than a “hey you!” from a closer colleague. it’s kind of like how maybe I tell my friends to call me by a nickname, but it would be odd coming from someone who you are not as close with.

            3. Jaydee*

              I think it really depends on tone. There’s the cheery, “hey you!” when you walk into the room for a meeting and are pleasantly surprised to see one of the other attendees. There’s also the “hey you” as in “Hey you, nameless servant, come over here and do servant things.” I’m assuming from the response that Unkempt Flatware’s coworker was closer to the second than the first.

        2. wordswords*

          That might be warranted eventually, but it’s an awfully harsh response to start with.

          It’s possible that the co-worker is trying to condescendingly undermine her manager; it’s possible that she’s just an inveterate nicknamer who has no idea her manager minds this one; it’s possible that she’s going to double down and it will need to be escalated to flat shutdowns like this; it’s possible that she’ll stop immediately, but will be hurt and stiff for ages if harshly shut down vs friendly if face is saved all around. We just don’t have enough context about the personalities and dynamics involved to know. Given that, it never hurts to start with the most friendly, face-saving response that communicates what’s necessary, and scale up the sharpness from there if and as needed.

        3. WillowSunstar*

          I’d be replying “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” every time. Definitely not “As you wish,” though.

        4. tamarack and fireweed*

          I associate buttercup as a nickname with light-hearted alliterations or rhymes (“what’s up, buttercup”). In any event, whether there’s an actual intention to undermine, an inappropriate level of informality, or just something that’s grating, I would probably at the end of a regular, relaxed / non-confrontational one-on-one, with a smile, say something like “One more thing that I need to bring up: calling me or anyone else in the team buttercup is really not cool – it’s not the kind of tone I’m looking for and it rubs me the wrong way. Please just call me Jane.’

      2. Antilles*

        And frankly, even if they forgot your name, it’d still be super weird to use “buttercup”. Typically if you forget someone’s name, you can just sort of fake it by intentionally NOT using their name and relying on context/body language/eye contact to make it clear who you’re talking to.

        1. Bruce*

          I’m so terrible with names so I use that strategy frequently. I mis-named a coworker on a recent visit back to the home office, working remotely and people still wearing masks in the lab piled on top of my usual face blindness… he was a good sport about it and accepted my apology when I talked to him 1-1 later, but it was extremely mortifying to mis-name him in front of a group of people. But even I can remember my manager’s name!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      More likely the coworker started “what’s up, buttercup” as a friendly joke, which got repeated so often it became a Thing. LW decided that the coworker was trying to undermine their authority when what they needed to do was Use Their Words.

      Alison’s advice was right on; if the coworker kept up the “buttercup” thing or did other things to undermine them, then address that, but people don’t know what you don’t tell them.

      Personally I’d have started calling her Petunia or Snapdragon back, but I’m aggressively whimsical.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        “People don’t know what you don’t tell them.”

        Ain’t that the truth! That needs to be embroidered on a pillow, imo, along with “Use your words.”

        This concept is at the bottom of SO many of the letters Alison gets, as well as being key to successful interpersonal relations in general. Unfortunately, way too many people end up blundering through life without realizing how important this is, much less learning how to it appropriately and effectively, which really sucks.

      2. Dek*

        I would lay actual money on this being the situation, because the only other phrase where “buttercup” comes up as a nickname is “suck it up, buttercup” and if she’d said THAT to OP I think there would have been a very different conversation.

        I’ll be honest, I’d be delighted if a coworker called me Petunia or Snapdragon or something in response, and would take that as a sign that “Hey, we’re having fun here, this is our thing!” rather than a negative. Years ago, one of my coworkers would usually respond to my “What’s up, buttercup?” with a “Not much, cupcake.”

      1. Imtheone*

        Didn’t this employee ever hear “suck it up, buttercup “? That makes the nickname even worse!

        1. SarahKay*

          I’m in the UK , and we use that about equally with “What’s up, buttercup?” where the latter tends to be said in a friendly way when someone approaches you with a ‘I’m about to ask you a question’ expression on their face.
          Without context, it could be either.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      No, I don’t buy that. I have face blindness so I very frequently can’t remember who somebody is. There are a million ways to address someone when you can’t remember their name (or aren’t sure if you’re supposed to know who they are). You can just not use a name at all, or depending on culture you can say “hon” or “dude” or “man.” “Buttercup” is an absurd thing to call somebody else.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Hon, dude, or man would also not be appropriate names to use for your boss at work in most workplaces.

        1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

          Yes, but “hey, boss” would work just fine if you forget your boss’ name. Buttercup is…not cool.

  3. Llama Llama*

    Being a new manager is so hard. For my first manager of others job, I had two problematic employees. Both were new. One just could not understand the work. The other was great until she started not showing up to work. I thought because of those problems I was doing terrible too. Turns out my manager thought I was doing great but until I got that praise, I just thought I was failing.

  4. kiki*

    Something that’s really hard about becoming a manager is that you are going to fail at things, face limitations, not be able to prioritize some things highly, and leave some people relatively unhappy with an interaction. A lot of time as an individual contributor, you are given tasks that are screened by your manager to be achievable and they’re working with you to order tasks by priority.
    As a manager, there are some issues that are not possible to solve and some tasks that are possible but just not a priority. As Alison said, if you’re conscientious, this is really hard to adjust to! Sometimes you won’t be able to approve a PTO request because too many other folks have already requested off. Sometimes you won’t be able to fix a janky process right away because it’s not the top priority for you. It’s hard to tell people no, but it’s important that this employee understand that her reports by and large love working with her!

  5. Hiring Mgr*

    I wonder if new manager despite being good at it, just doesn’t like being a manager rather than having impostor syndrome. There’s alot about managing people that sucks.

    If that’s the case, can she go back to her old role without any repercussions? Something to consider rather than keeping an unhappy employee there for a year or so,

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If that’s the case, can she go back to her old role without any repercussions? Something to consider rather than keeping an unhappy employee there for a year or so,

      She almost certainly can; the question is whether she’s going to do so for LW’s company or for a competitor.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      Someone posted a link to an update–it was impostor syndrome, and they worked through it.

      1. Ann*

        I’m not quite getting the sense from the update that the new manager is now thrilled with her job. It sounds like LW has convinced her that she’s doing well and should continue to put up with it, but she may or may not still feel uncomfortable and unhappy in that role.
        I may be projecting my own feelings here. I’ve got a year’s worth of similar feedback from my boss after a promotion I didn’t ask for, but my own read of the situation is that I’m failing, and that I hate doing this work, and that it would be wonderful to get un-promoted to do the things I’m really good at. Especially since our staffing is a bit top-heavy, and an individual contributor is much more needed than another senior manager.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I went back and re-read it, and you might be right. I think ‘doing well at the job’ and ‘being happy in the job’ are two very different things. My partner was very good at her previous job, but was increasingly unhappy until she finally quit.

          If the new manager is doing well in her role, but still unhappy, she has options. She can figure out how to phrase it to OP (being her boss), be more firm, and ask to step back. Maybe to a different team, if that makes sense for all parties. Or she can look for a new job. I bet a lot of interviewers have heard “I was promoted into managing a team–I tried my best, but even with solid support, I found that I was much happier as an individual contributor.”

    3. MamaSarah*

      This was my intuition when I read the letter…you can be great in a role and not like the work at the same time.

  6. NotARealManager*

    For LW1 – A couple years ago I switched from working jobs where I was physically doing something all the time to an “email job” which has periods of ups and down so I’m not always necessarily doing something even though I’m still at work. I was so used to feeling like I had to be hands-on busy all the time that I felt like I was doing a bad job when I had downtime. Maybe switching from an IC to a management position is similar for her? Does she feel like delegating tasks instead of doing them herself is somehow reflecting poorly on her or that she’s not really doing a job anymore?

  7. workfromhome*

    Just because someone is good at a role doesn’t mean that they enjoy it.
    It possible that doing the things that make you successful in the role might actually make you miserable even if it ends with good results.

  8. Elle*

    I’m a newly promoted person that feels like I’m doing badly even though I get a lot of praise. A big part of my problem is the lack of training for a job that is very different from my old one. My boss assumed I didn’t want any handholding but nothing is written down and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. The bottom line for me is that praise is not enough for new managers and staff. Resources and training are incredibly important. It takes time but it prevents issues down the road.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      I have been at a new job for a year and still feel this way. I don’t know how to measure my progress because, well, it’s still a evolving role but I feel like I go to work as a failure most days and it’s really doing a number on my productivity and ability to do my work.

  9. Dust Bunny*

    She might be succeeding but find it so tiring and stressful that she knows she can’t keep it up. I was a supervisor for awhile at an old job and I was “good” at it but I loathed it and couldn’t wait to find a different job where I didn’t have to be a supervisor. The stress and headache wasn’t worth the sad little pay raise I got for taking the position, and even if I’d been paid better I wouldn’t have wanted to keep it up.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Almost like what teachers go through. A full marathon sprint is required every single second of the day and so much love is poured into the job until the person breaks.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I wouldn’t say I felt any love. I felt obligated to do a good job because, well, it was my job, but it was so not “me” and consequently so much extra mental effort that it couldn’t last.

        1. Bruce*

          Depending on the type of job a lot of “management” jobs have huge extra demands with a pittance of extra pay. My sister worked an hourly job and got promoted to assistant manager, she found herself covering weekend and evening shifts when people didn’t show up or call in. Her pay bump was 50 cents an hour. She was able to move on finally, but it was bad for her fragile health in the mean time.

    2. Anon for this*

      Yeah…. I was promoted into a vice chief role about 6 months ago and I despise it. I am tired of putting out fires that other people create. I was also promised a reduced productivity target (in recognition of the managerial demands) and a 7.5% pay rise, neither of which have materialized. I’m giving notice on Friday!

  10. Lauren*

    Ask her what parts of the job she hates and loves! Let her focus on the love list for awhile until she gets her bearings.

    Also, ask if the team is giving her any feedback on her at all. She may not be making it up or perceiving anything incorrectly.
    – Written (slack/ teams/email/text)?
    – Verbal tantrums (ugh .. sounds)?
    – Rolling eyes when she talks?
    Weed those people out with a conversation because whoever may be doing this is not worth what she is to your team / company. They need a sit down and point blank ask why they are acting like that.

    She is doing awesome, because she can read a room, know exactly what to do, how to do it, and gets results. Emotional intelligence is gigantic here! She probably is perceiving something and has decided to quit rather than deal with it. Get her to be real with you. Get all the details. Then ask her how to structure the role or handling the team in order to get her to stay in it.

  11. I should really pick a name*

    For #1, it may just be the the LW was trying to be concise, but I worry a bit that the employee might think that they aren’t doing a good job if the main thrust of the response was “we need a few days to decide how to proceed”.

    Hopefully during this meeting it was made clear to her that she IS doing a good job, but if there are other reasons she would like to step down, it’s something that can be discussed.

  12. Delta Delta*

    I don’t know that standardizing email subjects is necessarily possible, but I gotta tell you, there are a whole lot of folks out there who simply don’t understand email subjects. I get emails from other professionals with the subject line “hi” or “checking in” and the body is a hugely substantive email about a particular matter. It’s hard to find later, hard to index, and hard to track. So I get the lure of attempting to standardize. Just seems like what OP wants may not be exactly practical.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      My brother and I rarely plan activities with each other and mostly just email each other videos, articles, and carry on conversations via email. Several months ago I was searching for a particular email from him and noticed we had a LOT of email chains with the subject “Hey,” which cracked me up because that’s so like us and esp so like him. And it absolutely doesn’t matter what the subj of our emails are. However, when I email anyone about anything specific, whether work or personal, I always make the subj as specific and concise as possible. I agree that what OP’s coworker wants doesn’t seem at all practical, but maybe he was trying to combat all the “hey” emails he was getting.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      If you reply to the email with a more descriptive subject line, would that be well-received? You could then find it later by searching both inbox and sent messages, rather than just inbox.

  13. I Have RBF*

    Re Standardized Email Subjects:

    I can see situations where this could be needed/required. A consulting company where everything gets billed to a project might need all emails regarding projects to have the project code and name in the subject.

    But this is usually done at a corporate level, in the email policy, not just one guy demanding it.

    If it were me, I would want this in order to manage my inbox in such an environment. My current job gets email notifications of work tickets, but those are sent out by the ticketing system.

    Getting all contributors and clients to do this when it’s not done automatically by a ticketing system is like herding cats, especially since he wants “project number, location, and project title only.” You can reliably get one, the project number, if that’s all you ask for. If you ask for all three, you will get one or two, at random.

    IOTW, he should just ask for the project number, and filter on that.

  14. Forrest Gumption*

    I have to somewhat disagree with the reply to the “standard email subject line” response – doing so has HUGELY helped the staff at my company organize their email, and it has also helped with our client interactions. The fear that “20 emails will all have the same subject line” is unfounded – you can customize the subject line to the issue at hand, while still keeping the standardization. For example, one subject line would say “Jones Project May 2023 – invoice update” and another would say “Jones Project May 2023 – meeting reschedule.”

    1. Ashley*

      I have a customer that insists on the beginning of it being standardized and honestly I love it because we do multiple projects and it is so much easier to keep them straight. My less organized co-workers are driven batty by the practice.

      1. Bruce*

        Sloppy email subjects create huge confusion. Our team works on a lot of projects with a lot of contacts, while we don’t have real standardization I sometimes see the wrong subject being used for a new discussion and I see the chaos it creates when people don’t read carefully. So if someone changes the topic without updating the subject field I make a point to start a new subject and make sure people use that going forward.

    2. I Have RBF*

      Yeah, in a billable hours environment it is usually corporate level policy to include at the very least the project number/code in email subjects.

      This would look like:
      “[SRI0073506] Invoice Issues for May”
      “[SRI0073506] May Meeting Reschedule”

      The dates would be inferred by the send dates, and the project name would actually be redundant. But I’m used to ticketing systems that doing the part between “[” and “]” automatically.

  15. SusieQQ*

    I once did a hard pass on a managerial candidate who used “Buttercup” in an interview.

    I asked him what he would say to an employee who was having a hard time being engaged with their work. And he said he would tell them to “Suck it up, Buttercup.” It is probably the worst interview I’ve ever done.

    1. I Have RBF*


      The only place that kind of thing is even close to acceptable is in the military, where “embrace the suck” is a standard. It still isn’t great.

      If I had a manager tell me that in anything other than a joking tone it would be a resume generating event*. Otherwise it’s tacky as hell, and tone deaf, at best.

      * “Resume generating event” means “it’s time to generate a fresh resume and start looking for a new job in earnest.”

    2. Dek*

      I feel like that’s less about “Buttercup” and more about the lack of empathy presented as tough-guy humor.

      I’ll frequently greet friends (and friendly coworkers) with “what’s up, Buttercup.”

      tbh, outside of those two phrases, it’s kind of long to be a pet name, but I appreciate the advice to not assume it’s deliberately meant as an attack.

  16. miranda carlos*

    It is quite frustrating to me when I can’t read the response because Inc. requires a subscription :(

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The posts that link to outside publications (Inc., NYMag, maybe some others) are always posts at 12:30 eastern time. All of the other posts on this site are free, so skip the 12:30 eastern post if you don’t want to run into paywalls.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      Maybe you didn’t read the post carefully, but it says she is revisiting letters that were previously published here. This website has a search function that you’re welcome to use to find the original post and response, completely free.

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      Why would all of Alison’s work be available to us for free? AAM is already free (and these Inc letters were originally published on AAM anyway I think).

  17. Ann Mouse*

    I was promoted to management without wanting or even thinking I was being considered for the role and it sucked. I hated it. I tried so hard but it was an uphill battle against two employees who were not meant for the role they were in & against myself who is not meant for people management.

    I flamed out (aka had to fire one, the other rage quit when I declined to give him a raise that was double his income when he was failing at the basics & had a terrible attitude to boot) and was quietly shuffled off in a corner. So yeah I wish I could have asked to step down instead of dealing with all that.

  18. Mmm.*

    I feel like “Buttercup” is either generational, cultural (e.g., the South is often more cool with nicknames like this), or because the employee is bad with names!

    I may or may not be in the third category. Though I wouldn’t call someone by a pet name.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      I’m in the South. People say “hon” or “sweetie,” but I’ve never in my life heard someone call a coworker (or anybody else) “buttercup,” or any other flower name for that matter. That’s right up there with “cupcake” or “sweet cheeks” or something.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        The first and only place that I have heard/read “suck it up, buttercup” is in the Ann Landers advice column.

      2. Doc in a Box*

        A medical assistant at my workplace uses vaguely demeaning nicknames for the doctors. Buttercup, sugar, and in the case of one very tall guy, Gumby. I find it really irritating, but she is also the most efficient staff member, so … pick your battles.

  19. Karma is my Boyfriend*

    There is a specific department in my organization that requires a standard email subject. If you don’t follow it, it simply doesn’t get read/acted on. However, this department’s job is to act on these emails from my department, so I make sure I’m following their guidelines.

    If this other partner in LW3 is just being sent updates, I don’t get it. But if they need to act upon information in these emails, then maybe try to follow it?

  20. CallingItOut*

    Re: “buttercup” – it makes no difference what the ages are. Substitute “Black” and “White” for the ages. If it then sounds offensive, it’s also offensive from an age standpoint. AAM has plenty of older readers, and we’d be grateful if people would call this out more often.

  21. The Grinchess*

    I’m a fan of standardized email headers. I’m pretty known for them but I designed them to be findable in an Outlook search: Client Co. Name: Case # / Rep Last Name — Brief Subject Descriptor Tag.

    I do have a client who keeps demanding our company titles all the emails to them a specific way. We try to remember but it does sometimes trigger an internal eyeroll with staff.

  22. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    For the first one, it’s possible that one of the new manager’s reports had complained about some of her new ideas. She may have enjoyed all-round popularity before and is not used to getting flak for her decisions.
    If she knows what they’re unhappy about, you might want to brainstorm with her about how to explain the reasoning behind her ideas and maybe look at ways of getting everyone on board before pushing ahead.

    As for “buttercup”, I laughed because it reminded me of the comic Sarah Millican who regularly calls hefty blokes in the audience “flower”. OK in a business context it needs to be shut down, especially for a new boss. If it were my colleague calling me that, I would respond by calling them … (goes off to google “funny plant names” and finds all sorts including bogwort and b0llockwort… OK you get the picture, but I do encourage all readers to find the wiki page on List_of_wort_plants for a great laugh!)

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