update: my boss expects me to respond immediately no matter what I’m doing

Remember the letter-writer whose boss expected them to respond immediately no matter what they were doing? Here’s the update.

I didn’t get a chance to implement all of your advice right away. Around the time I wrote asking for advice, I was promoted to a new hybrid role that crossed over into another department because I wanted to grow my skills after four years in my current role. To save me from reporting to two managers, they kept me reporting to my supervisor but moved my office into a shared space with the other department, which had zero employees at the time. Her interruptions of my work decreased since we weren’t sharing an office, and she seemed to not need to call me as much.

My annual review in late July was focused on my old position. She referenced my availability via phone again and asked if I needed a new employer-provided phone. I told her it was working fine, and she reminded me to be available. I told her that I try to return calls as soon as possible. In late September, I had a mid-year review for my new position (odd to have two months later, I know) with my supervisor and her boss. In the written review my supervisor once again said I’m difficult to be in touch with, especially when I’m working remotely, and that she expects me to be available via phone or Teams.

We got to the end of the review without discussing it when Supervisor’s boss asked if I had questions. I said something along the lines of, “In this review, it was mentioned that I need to do a better job of being available by phone and on Teams. Supervisor, I can think of two times recently I missed your call. The first time, I was driving and called back as soon as I arrived. The other time, I was on a personal appointment and texted you to let you know when I could call back. I’m also always logged into Teams when working and use it all the time to send quick messages to colleagues. Can you help clarify your expectations on response time?” She stumbled over her words and basically reiterated that she has had trouble getting in touch with me. I asked her for specific examples and what the standard should be so I could make sure that I was meeting expectations. She was tongue-tied. Her boss jumped in and said, “Supervisor, I think that sometimes you think things are urgent because someone higher up in a different division is asking for information. You want to hear from someone as soon as possible to get them what they’re asking for, when maybe in reality, it isn’t an emergency. I’ve found with my own boss that many times it’s quicker to ask for something using a Teams chat that they can respond to as soon as it’s convenient.” I think it was her way of simmering my supervisor down and attempting to set norms.

By the way, the two missed calls I referenced? When I was driving, she called because she couldn’t find an email I sent her two days prior and needed it for a meeting. I had to forward it from my sent items. The personal appointment was a therapy appointment that was marked on my calendar. She was calling because a new colleague looking for a home messaged her on LinkedIn asking about the traffic getting to work from a particular neighborhood. My supervisor knew I had more familiarity with that part of town and wanted me to weigh in. I did mention what kept me from picking up the phone when I called back both times, but that didn’t matter, I guess.

I’ve not had much success with the new job duties of my hybrid role, and my supervisor isn’t able to coach me and support me the way that I need. She has even admitted it. In addition, the department they moved my office to is being rebuilt from the ground up. I just got a new colleague in that department who is brand new to the work and is unable to guide or coach me. There is a lot going on internally and morale is down, so I’m quietly looking for a new position while doing the best that I can for now. I could also probably write in asking advice on whether to tough it out and try to be successful or look for a new position, but that’s for another day. Thanks to you and your readers for your advice!

{ 87 comments… read them below }

  1. Dust Bunny*

    I’m sorry this isn’t panning out the way you hoped but five stars for mildly calling her out.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah this was well done as long as you seemed sincerely open and asking for help identifying the issue, which it sounds like you did (although the boss may still resent you for “making her look bad” in front of another supervisor). Nicely done OP.

  2. Momma Bear*

    I’m glad you called her out. In the interim, I’d go to the grandboss and say that this arrangement hasn’t worked out great and see if you can report to the other manager instead or be moved under someone who makes more sense. Org charts change all the time and it would be more beneficial for you to be where you get the right feedback.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing – OP, there might be other opportunities at your current company where you can be successful, and getting out in front of the fact that there is no training available might even cause your grandboss to get you the training that would make you successful in the role you’re in currently. And at least your grandboss would be aware of the issues, so perhaps would be patient with you learning the role. Better than having people wonder what the heck is wrong and losing their respect for / confidence in you.

    2. Bonnie*

      At the very least, I think it would be a good idea for grandboss to know how truly petty and non-urgent the calls she referenced were. It sounds like grandboss knows that she’s the issue, but that’s pretty egregious. The fact that you had your phone on at all and texted during *therapy* is a huge problem – a bit yours, because boundaries are good, but overwhelmingly hers that she’s made you so anxious about answering immediately every single time that you were willing to do that over a completely and objectively minor issue.

  3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    I think you already know the answer for when to tough it or move on. Its right there — your boss can’t coach you and neither can the department. So how exactly will you get the training you need in this role? What is there to tough out?

    Your supervisor is only one symptom of a not altogether functional workplace. They created this hybrid role with apparently no plan to support it. Plus reporting to two bosses usually leads to trouble.

    1. Zephy*

      Seconded all of the above, but especially reporting to two bosses. Get out of there ASAP, best of luck with the job search.

    2. Jellyfish Catcher*

      Agree with all the advice to get out. Since they are not training you, do what you can and use the down time researching for a better employer.
      Trust your gut; this situation is beyond fixing.

    3. Rose*

      Agreed. OP, don’t assume your job is safe.

      They’re telling you they’re not going to give you what you need to be successful in the role. It seems like you’re focused on them not giving you what you need, but I would focus more on them not thinking you’re successful and what that might mean for you.

      Your boss might be telling you she can’t give you the support you need, but I think it’s pretty likely she’s telling her own boss you need more training and support than is reasonable, either because she believes it or because she wants to save her own neck.

      I say this as someone who was let go after an awful new boss came in, changed my role, and then gave me a bad review but could not articulate what my main goals/KPIs were or where I was falling short on them. She used almost exactly the same language about not being able to give me the support I needed. Unsure if experience has made me wise or just paranoid but it’s something to think about.

  4. Anon for this*

    OP, I’m so sorry this hasn’t worked out the way you hoped. Your supervisor seems unreasonable – it doesn’t sound as though you are consistently unreachable at all. Hang in there and best of luck to you.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      And it sounds like the supervisor needs some coaching on this stuff. Which is either not being provided or has not been effective.

      My guess is that supervisor has an image in her head that the LW is difficult to reach. The actual facts don’t matter, unfortunately. Any time the LW doesn’t pick up immediately is going to confirm that view, even if there are excellent reasons why she didn’t.

  5. Sloanicota*

    Sometimes it’s tough when a supervisor is stuck on a certain item of “constructive feedback” and keeps bringing it up. The forms sometimes require something, and once they identify one, they tend to like it. It’s really hard to change someone’s perception once they decide a certain thing is a problem – you could answer all her calls immediately 99.9% of the time and she won’t notice, but the one time it happens she’ll be thinking “here we go again.” Based on the fact that they didn’t give you a new supervisor when they moved you, I think moving on is the right call. Good luck OP!

    1. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      Right? It’s like when you say you like owls once and someone gives you something with an owl on it, and then everyone gives you things with owls on them and now you’re the “Owl Person” at that job and it will never, ever change.

      It’s a lot worse when that happens with a performance issue that isn’t actually an issue you have.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I once had a coworker insist that my hair was red, while standing two feet away from me with glasses on. My hair was/is brown, but it had been red when I first started working there… at least a year prior to this conversation. First impressions really do matter.

      2. Clare*

        Argh! I was the ‘owl person’ for years until I put my foot down and said “No more owls!”. I was drowning in them! So many owls! Where do people get all these bloody owls from‽‽‽ I mean, they’re cute, but so are a lot of other birds and animals. Just… why?

    2. Dek*

      Ugh, so much this.

      It really starts to feel a bit like “can’t win for losing” because it always winds up being the most uncharitable read of any situation.

    3. honeygrim*

      Especially when the feedback isn’t actionable and, in this case, seems to be based on… the supervisor having a different perception of reality.

      “You keep doing this thing!” “Can you give me examples of when I do the thing so I know to stop doing it?” “… uh, you keep doing this thing!”

    4. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

      YASSS! For some reason, my supervisor thinks I don’t say “no” enough and is always mentioning it to me! I always reply, “Uh…I tell people ‘no’ all the time. I know my limits. I’m not afraid to push back.” It baffles me and I have NO IDEA where she got that idea from. She never makes it sound like it’s A Serious Thing I Have to Fix Or Else. So I assume she just got that idea at some point and lobbed onto it because she doesn’t have any other feedback for me (because I’m awesome and near-perfect, of course!) ;)

    5. MigraineMonth*

      My first job out of college, I was told by manager 1 that I had an abrasive tone. (Yes, I am a woman in a male-dominated field, however did you guess.) Maybe it was accurate; I had a lot to learn about professionalism. Manager 1 left, but I think he must have discussed me with manager 2, because “tone” showed up on my evaluation as an area to improve. Really polite and curious, I asked for an example; manager 2 couldn’t think of anything, so he removed it from the evaluation.

      I applied to a new job and used manager 2 as a reference. Apparently, he told the hiring manager, manager 3, about my “tone problem”. I found out about this when manager 3 retired and mentioned in a meeting with me and my new manager that references from my last job mentioned that I had a tone problem, but he hadn’t seen it.

      Fortunately, manager 4 has no complaints about my communication style, and with any luck I can finally break the cycle.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        That’s insane, why on earth would M2 mention it in the reference call, and why would M3 remember it with zero evidence?

      2. niknik*

        So M2 picked it up by hearsay, dropped when asked about it, but brought it up again later for the reference anyway ? What a donkey.

        1. Enai*

          A donkey would never. They’re known to be stubborn because when bid to go somewhere, they’ll first look if it’s safe. If the manager were a donkey, he’d have checked if MigraineMonth’s tone really was a problem, noticed it isn’t, and ignored the first manager’s opinion.

  6. Shinobi42*

    It really says a lot about your supervisor that not being able to get ahold of you twice is something she is so focused on.

    I hope you are able to get the support you need or find a new role that is a better fit!

    1. Zephy*

      Twice for things that weren’t even emergencies! What working adult, in the year of our Lord 2023, doesn’t know how to search in their email or look up travel times on Google Maps?

      1. AS*

        I had a boss like this many years ago–when he was in transit his flight got delayed and switched to another gate, instead of navigating on his smartphone or asking an airport employee, he called his assistant thousands of miles away to ask for “help.” Stuff like this happened fairly frequently.

        He had multiple degrees/credentials/awards in a technical/quantitative field but still constantly wanted to be hand-held, fussed over, hovered over, etc. There was definitely some discomfort with tech, but I think it was mainly an ego thing. (This was, unsurprisingly, in higher ed.)

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Years ago, I was a temp employee at the World Bank. My duties including printing out my boss’s emails, giving them to him, then, when he handwrote his response on the printed copy, typing it into the email and sending it.

          1. Cascadia*

            OMG, an old grand-boss of mine also insisted on printing and handwriting all emails! absolutely baffling. He finally got with the program, but up until 2017 he was still doing this. WILD. He was in charge of an organization of 300+ employees.

      2. Leandra*

        I wish I were kidding about someone I knew, who can’t search emails if you can’t provide the email address or actual name of the sender.

      3. Gumby*

        I have to forward emails I’ve already sent to my boss semi-regularly. Sometimes even after I say “it has subject line [‘X’] and was sent around [time] on [date].” (Because I search my email while on the phone with him…)

        He is, honestly, a great boss in many respects so while I do find this quirk annoying I can live with it. He gets a massive amount of email. I mean, yes, search still works but I can see him being overwhelmed. What I don’t get is how he can survive without having his inbox in threaded mode but that’s his choice to make. The wrong choice but…

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Threads have lost information for me. When emails start to branch off, the software doesn’t always make the right choice about what to save.

      4. Rose*

        This is worse than non emergencies. It’s not that she really needed op but it wasn’t urgent. She didn’t need OP at all! And it’s fine to ask an employee for things but the fact that she was so unwilling to pivot and answer the questions herself is a bad sign.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I hope OP has started just rolling their eyes about it and letting all of boss’ calls go to VM every single time. Because honestly! It sounds like grandboss has OP’s back and it’s not like the boss can fire OP or write OP up just because they don’t answer the phone the second the boss calls. OP can just be “in the bathroom” when boss calls. Although if the boss is the kind of person who will just keep calling back if OP doesn’t answer, this won’t work.

  7. Dawn*

    Best of luck in your search, it sounds like that’s definitely the right move for you here, before the lack of support from the company’s side does damage to your professional reputation!

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yeah, micromanagement is the one thing that I just cannot make peace with in a job. I was doing vacation coverage for someone on another team several months ago, and their biggest client is the worst kind of micromanager – doles out information piecemeal when he thinks you need it (not when you actually do), sees suggestions for doing something better/more efficiently as questioning his knowledge/instructions/authority, does not understand that all the time he spends making you get approval for every single step of the process slows things down and jeopardizes deadlines.

      I’ve been doing this a long time, and my goal is to provide the best quality product we can within the budget provided. We sacrificed a lot of quality on that guy’s projects because he wasted budget hours on micromanaging the entire team. It’s really a wonder they get anything done on time.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        My absolute favourite was working under a manager who was a micromanager and also not knowledgeable about the project we were working on. (She started when I had been there 2 1/2 years on the same long-term project).

    2. Generic Name*

      Right? When you’re junior, it’s not so bad, but when you have more experience, it’s super demoralizing. I didn’t realize how bad it was until after I left my last job. Former boss would give me constructive criticism on how I sent emails (I have 20 years of professional experience). So unnecessary, and I always felt I was about to get put on a PIP.

  8. DinoGirl*

    Do have HR/can you alert them since you’re job searching anyway? It’s not uncommon for a manager to latch into unreasonable expectations and HR might be able to move the needle explaining what sounds like more a “them problem”.

    1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Where I work HR would just flag you as trouble. Because this isn’t something the company can be sued for, which is the only thing HR will alert on. Straight bullying is fine–it’s not illegal.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      Considering the boss’s boss was able to rein in and correct boss in the moment, I don’t think there’s any reason to involve HR.

  9. Lizzo*

    I think you did an excellent job with your pushback! I did the same with a new supervisor who was receiving complaints about me, and when I said, “Well, here are two recent challenges that come to mind, and here’s how I handled them. Were my responses satisfactory? What other specific complaints or concerns do you have that I can address?” she couldn’t come up with anything. I said, “Unless it’s specific, I can’t address it. Let me know if anything actionable comes up.” And that was the end of that!

    1. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ Same. My old boss pulled this too – negative dings but no actual examples when you asked for them. She also told me I needed to practice “active listening” but couldn’t actually tell me what that was, what she thought it was, what it looked like in practice, or provide any resources on it.

      Granted, she spent the year she “worked” for us out on medical leave with one manufactured medical “problem” after another and got canned not long after I left, but not before blowing up our department and costing the org a ton of money.

  10. Goldenrod*

    Dang, I’m impressed with the way you responded! You totally had your specific examples all ready to go and she had no good response. Good for you!

    The reason she couldn’t respond is because her need for you to always, immediately respond when she reaches out is 100% emotional and a power play on her part. I had a boss like this. She would FREAK OUT if she couldn’t instantly get ahold of me – even though I always returned her call in a timely manner. And – as in your example – it was NEVER a real emergency. She just had an irrational need for instant gratification.

    You can see where I’m going with this. I heartily vote for you to get out of there. They suck, they don’t deserve you, and you’re better than that. Get out on your own time frame and only when you find something better, but I recommend getting started on an exit plan right away. You’ll look back and wish you’d left sooner!

  11. Abe Froman*

    That response during the review was top-notch! Well done with being specific without accusing and asking for clarification.

      1. Phony Genius*

        Should that have been done in front of the LW, or after the meeting in private? I’d have been inclined to say “well discuss this item later” had I been the supervisor’s boss, to avoid the appearance of undermining her.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          I’m not sure I feel super strongly that it was a good choice by grandboss, but it did communicate to LW that grandboss didn’t see it as an issue. That part at least seems like a pro for handling it then and there, but I do see how it could have cons in other ways.

        2. birb*

          It doesn’t sound like the manager was letting it go. I can’t imagine another way for the higher manager to get the meeting moving productively again WITHOUT addressing it in the moment.

        3. I should really pick a name*

          If the LW isn’t being properly supported by their supervisor, I think it’s worthwhile for the supervisor’s boss to demonstrate that they DO have support higher up.

        4. Becky*

          You know, to me this actually reads more like the boss was giving the supervisor a gentle “out” for why their expectations are so unreasonable.

    1. K*

      So, as a manager, I have a question about this.

      I’ve had situations before where I am sitting down with an employee to have a performance conversation, and I raise what I see is a problematic pattern of behaviour — let’s say putting away the shears after shaving the llamas.

      The employee, like the OP, comes back and says “well can you give me examples of the times that I haven’t put away the llama shears?”

      As a employee myself, that makes perfect sense!
      As a manager, I feel like it puts me in a weird spot. I don’t want to then whip out a list out of my pockets that says, well “10 October, llama shears not put away. 14 October, llama shears not put away. 7 November, llama shears not put away. 20 November, discussion about not putting llama shears away, 28 November, llama shears not put away”.

      It feels petty somehow? And super belittling. But if I don’t provide any, or I flail and throw out a couple of examples like the OP’s boss did, then I look like I’m not serious.

      Is there a better way to be going about this?

      1. Sloanicota*

        You address it in the moment and then call out the pattern in the review. They are likely to remember the incidents better and you can say “I had to talk to you about this several times, like after the shearing event or before the big llama festival, and it’s still happening.”

      2. Missy*

        Ideally, if it is a big enough deal that you will be bringing it up in the review, you should be letting them know each time an incident happens, and addressing it along the way. The review shouldn’t have any “new” information. In your example there was a part about “20 November discussion about not putting shears away” so the conversation should start with that.

        So, instead of:
        “You don’t put the llama shears away”
        “Give me an example”
        “Here’s all these dates” or “IDK, but it happened a lot”.

        It becomes:
        We spoke in November about the llama shears not being put away but the next week it happened again.

        You are naming a time it happened in the conversation AND why it matters (because you’ve already talked about it and maybe tried to implement something) so the other person knows what you are talking about. In LW’s example, the boss could have said “we’ve talked about how it is important to me that you are immediately available. When I called you about the email I needed for the meeting it took an hour for you to get it.”

        This allows LW to come back and explain about driving at the time and maybe the boss would have some specific action item they want (like, if you are going to be driving somewhere call my first to let me know you’ll be driving for 30 minutes and if I need anything ahead of time). Now, that might not be a reasonable request on the boss’ part but at least at that point they are talking about specific factual solutions instead of a generalized complaint.

      3. Prismatic Garnet*

        Not a manager myself, but I would say, if you’re doing a performance evaluation, that won’t be the first time you’ve given them feedback about the issue. So being able to high-level cite the pattern would be the first step, and then, if they do press for examples, you’ll be able to say e.g. “We talked about this back in March, and then we had it happen again twice in April, so it seems like things aren’t progressing.”

        But then I would also say, come to that conversation prepared with the specific examples for when they do ask for it, if they press further. It’s not petty, it’s proof of a pattern, and they’re specifically asking you for a list of times that it happened. If you provide the examples in the tone of helping them understand the issue, rather than going all Ace Attorney on them, it won’t feel as weird.

        So I wouldn’t just bust out the list the first time they ask for more detail (too aggressive) but the middle step in between those two things is a more high-level analysis of the pattern like “We’re seeing incidents of the shears not being put away multiple times per month.”

      4. Cabubbles*

        I had a problematic employee that management had a log on; examples of entries: trained on llama shaving procedure 1/2. reminded that storing dirty shears in bucket is against procedure 1/4. was reminded the importance of professionalism while in front of customers 1/6. This all became necessary because they would lie every time they were coached. corporate wouldn’t let us term them without documented proof of coaching because they made an hr complaint that all 6 of their managers were being aggressive and playing favorites. Apparently, we weren’t allowed to reward high performers without acknowledging the employee was doing well as well… even though they weren’t doing well.

      5. Kella*

        I second the answers others have already given you and here’s another point to add: Being able to give examples is the most valuable for performance problems that are open to interpretation. “Difficult to get ahold of” is qualitative, not quantitative, so in order to define “difficult” and “accessible,” you need examples to illustrate the point.

        “You didn’t put the llama shears away” is very concrete and definable. So, if an employee asked for examples, I might first ask, “Is it your impression that you always put them away?” Because it would be very weird for an employee to say “Well, I don’t know when I’m putting them away and when I’m not, so I need you to tell me when I did that.” If their perception of how often they are doing something is truly out of sync with reality, then you might need to implement some kind of tracking system to make sure it gets done/record when it didn’t.

  12. RJ*

    OP, I’m very sorry that your current situation isn’t working out, but I think the way you handled the pushback on your supervisor’s comments was excellent. I have no doubt that your wonderful communication skills will help you land on your feet at a better position in no time. Best of luck to you and thanks for the update!

  13. I should really pick a name*

    Your response about being in contact was great.

    It showed that you were paying attention to the feedback from last year while simultaneously (politely) calling it out as bullshit.

  14. Dek*

    “She was calling because a new colleague looking for a home messaged her on LinkedIn asking about the traffic getting to work from a particular neighborhood. My supervisor knew I had more familiarity with that part of town and wanted me to weigh in.”


    what the actual crud?

    Like. That’s not even a work thing.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Right? This is the kind of thing you ask about as a casual conversation thing while saying hi in the morning, not the kind of thing you interrupt someone’s work day (or worse, medical appointment!) to call them about!

  15. Sorry again*

    I’m sorry, I know this is off topic but one of your ads is auto forwarding the tab to a scammy “you’ve won” site.

    1. Lizzo*

      In the comment box at the bottom of the post, there’s a “You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.” That’s the best place to submit this sort of feedback.

  16. Immortal for a limited time*

    Oh, yeah. I worked for a disorganized narcissist once in a one-person agency she ran (actually a satellite office of a bigger agency in another city). I kept seeing a “coordinator” position advertised, and I soon learned why. The job was really an assistant position; someone to “coordinate” her scatterbrained life, I guess. She had driven off at least two previous employees. Every day was a crisis (hers, not mine, but sh*t flows downhill). She threw me under the bus in a meeting with a big client, for something she had forgotten to do. I was unaware this client had asked her for this random thing, but it was my fault he didn’t have it yet. I resumed my job search that same day. I lasted five months, which was four months longer than my predecessor. The bigger agency cut her loose not very long after that. People like that will forever look for someone else to belittle or criticize. It’s never their failing; it’s always yours. Get out!

  17. Goldenrod*

    “People like that will forever look for someone else to belittle or criticize. It’s never their failing; it’s always yours. Get out!”

    THIS…It’s classic narcissistic behavior, and those types of managers can’t change.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      So tired of everyone instantly being labeled a narcissist for just being a fairly normal but annoying and lacking self awareness human.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “everyone instantly being labeled a narcissist for just being a fairly normal”

        I’m sure that’s true, but I don’t say it lightly. I think a boss getting upset every time they can’t IMMEDIATELY reach you, even when it’s nothing urgent, and then being SO upset about it that they bring it up in your performance eval…I think that IS a sign of a real narcissist. Sorry, but I don’t think a normal person acts like that.

        I had a boss who was textbook narcissistic so….this was one of the (many) things she did. Maybe if you can’t relate, it’s because you’ve been lucky enough not to work for someone like that. I can happily work for fairly normal but annoying people….it’s a completely different thing.

        1. Kella*

          I have dealt with textbook narcissists and I’m also tired of people using the term to describe selfish, unreasonable behavior. I think the thing that I dislike about it is that “That’s classic narcissist behavior” actually adds nothing to the advice. Which behaviors are a problem and why? What are the patterns you can look for to help predict or work around their behavior? What strategies are likely to be useful and which will be ineffective?

          I also disagree that it’s narcissistic behavior. The boss is being self-centered and has unrealistic expectations of the OP. But the boss did not react negatively to receiving constructive feedback from her boss, she just found that when asked, she could not effectively defend her expectations around availability. There were no personal insults and no punishing behaviors. Actually, if OP had a real issue with being easy to reach, the boss handled addressing that fairly well. The problem is just that the boss’s expectations are inconsiderate to the needs of everyone but her, and she isn’t displaying awareness that this expectation is unreasonable.

  18. HonorBox*

    Your feedback was great and it sounds like the garbage she was spewing was quickly recognized. I agree with Alison’s initial statement that 24 hour response time may be too much for some emails, but aside from that, your boss was being ridiculous. I mean, if you’re not responding regularly/promptly and things are falling through the cracks, that’s something. But if you’re waiting until you have completed a drive, or waiting until you’re through with an appointment, and then returning a call, that’s completely normal. Especially when the reasons for the calls that are being cited are NOT EMERGENCIES or answers that can be found elsewhere.

    I’d have probably let my tongue get the better of me and I’d have asked, “So if I’m pooping, you want me to pick up the phone?” You handled it much more diplomatically.

    I’m sorry that the rest of the situation isn’t working out well, and I wish you speedy success as you look for other opportunities!

  19. Ellis Bell*

    Argggh the boss who expects you to phone chat while driving. I remember having to explicitly tell my bosses that I wouldn’t be picking up while driving because… I was driving. Their response was “get a handsfree set up” and my response was still: “I would still be driving and I’m not diverting my attention from the road to a phone call while driving, even if my hands are free”. This was in a newsroom so they had a point about me answering phone calls quickly because of breaking news, but even then, they could wait five minutes for me to park up and call back. If I was on my way in and they needed to divert me to a story? Well if I couldn’t pull over, I probably couldn’t change direction either so it had no effect on the timeline of me getting the job done. OP has already done a great job of professionally pushing back, so I can totally see them explicitly spelling out that there’s no business case to take calls while driving.

    1. Donn*

      Or you’re in a neighborhood where there’s literally no place, street or parking lot, to pull over and park.

      I once had to explain to the rideshare company that I couldn’t text them back timely because I’d picked up my car just before the dealership closed, and literally had to go to the next neighborhood for a safe place to pull over. It was to avoid a no-show charge, after I couldn’t call the driver to say I’m on the subway station side of Landmark X. His company phone wasn’t working.

  20. Bookworm*

    I’m so sorry that this how it has gone, but I do wish you good luck in finding a new job soon!!

  21. Buzz Buzz*

    In your original letter, you said that your manager has ADHD. I also have ADHD, but she has *chaos* ADHD. In most cases, it’s a choice (either deliberate or unconscious) to swim in that water.

    It sounds like from your update that she lacks a system for noting things and coming back to them later — every time a new task or question pops into her head, it’s a dopamine fizz and she takes action, which obviously bugs lots of people around her. There’s also little to no mental Eisenhower matrix going on. I’m glad her boss is seeing this stuff, because it’s entirely Chaos Maven’s responsibility to adjust, not yours or anyone in her nimbus.

  22. Coffee Protein Drink*

    Well done in pushing back and trying to get those specific guidelines. I’m only sorry the new role hasn’t panned out. Best of luck to you!

  23. Festively Dressed Earl*

    OP, have you been happy with your workplace except for your demanding boss? If you have, it might be worth going to grandboss and communicating what you’ve said here (without the job search info). It sounds like GB knows about your boss’s issues, is trying to coach her about them, and values you enough to stand up for you. Would you feel differently about your new position if you were more supported?

  24. Zarniwoop*

    “ I was promoted to a new hybrid role that crossed over into another department because I wanted to grow my skills after four years in my current role. To save me from reporting to two managers, they kept me reporting to my supervisor”
    Maybe you can ask to be swapped to reporting to the new department’s manager instead.

  25. Guest*

    In my industry we have many freelance project managers that sweep in for a few months, effectively acting as “managers” for the staff during specific projects. This letter reminds me so much of one PM I worked with a few months back who was constantly complaining that employees didn’t IMMEDIATELY hop on last-minute Zoom meetings she set up. The employees in question were working on very skilled, detailed, fast-paced work and usually would check messages once an hour so as not to disrupt that, but she was angry they weren’t responding in literally 1 minute. I was leading the departmental team on the project, and she was constantly side-messaging me her complaints after literally less than 1 or 2 minutes! I think she also “trusted” me because I basically took on responding to her so the rest of the team could concentrate.

    She went to our grand-boss with all of this, suggesting that we get rid of our remote option if people weren’t going to be “responsive.” Thankfully my grand-boss rolled her eyes at the whole thing and that PM hasn’t been hired back since.

  26. Banana Pyjamas*

    If your car has Bluetooth, I would answer calls from boss explicitly to tell them you’re driving and ask if you can call back. She’s not reasonable, and you’re not staying, so keep the peace for an easy exit.

    1. Orv*

      Some phones also have a “driving mode” where the phone can auto-respond to text messages and the like to let people know you’re driving. That could be useful.

  27. Raw Cookie Dough*

    I’m surprised you called out your boss. In your first letter, you said you expected to have a 24-hour call return window, which was what your boss found difficult. Only referencing two legit times in your review seems a bit gaslighty to me. In this case, I think it would have been more appropriate (and honest) to say that you understand why your boss said that previously, but since then, you’ve been able to respond to her faster, since that’s what she preferred.

    1. MK*

      That’s not what the first letter said. In the first letter, LW shared an office with supervisor so frequently saw supervisor getting wound up over other employees not responding immediately. She used the 24 hour response to remind supervisor to give other employees some grace. For anyone who wasn’t sure about this interpretation, she further clarified in comments. There is nothing indicating that LW’s response times have ever been out of bounds, so saying that she understood previous complaints would not be reasonable.

  28. plantsoptimistically*

    Oh noooooo, haha. I worked for a supervisor for about two years who did this! If I didn’t reply to an email fast enough, he would text my personal cell phone (which he only had for emergencies allegedly) and message me on Microsoft Teams. Most of the time, I would literally be writing my email response as his follow-up messages arrived. It was exhausting, and I felt like I had to be glued to Teams. Once, he even confessed that he watched the color of my Microsoft Teams status to see when it changed!!! This was a grown man in his early 50s, and I was an employee with only excellent performance reviews. I spent two years essentially clicking on Microsoft Teams just to keep it green constantly. I left that position for a better-paying one, and my two roles since then have gone very smoothly with next-to-zero micromanaging behavior. In short, it’s your supervisor, not you, and I hope you find a new position soon, OP.

  29. Michelle Smith*

    I’m always up for hearing you write in with another update, but I don’t think you need advice on what to do next. You already know and have already started doing it and I commend you for that.

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