DEAR AMY: My supervisor, “Angie,” works hard at her job. She provides me with much valuable support and guidance. She is also the mother of a toddler, and as such she has negotiated to work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; she takes care of her child on Fridays. A few times a year, we have multi-day team retreats, and Angie is never able to attend on Fridays; she rarely attends meetings or events in the evenings or on weekends, which happen at least a few times a month. More important, Angie has been on our team for over a year, and has yet to complete 40 hours of mandatory training, because she has not been able to make any of the sessions work with her parenting responsibilities. Now it’s annual review time and I have the chance to give feedback on Angie’s performance. (We have a practice where feedback happens in both directions, not just from supervisor to staffer.) I would like to raise my concerns, which are that A: It’s hard for me to feel that she is fully invested in our work if there are certain events and all-staff time that she never attends, and B: Her lack of certification through the mandatory training technically puts our entire organization at risk, should anyone choose to look into it. I would never want anyone to prioritize their job over their family, though I don’t think that’s what I’m asking for. And I certainly don’t want to be a woman putting down another woman for her personal and professional choices. Am I out of line, or could I make these comments anonymously and respectfully on the evaluation form?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: First, I think you should assume that your evaluation, while offered anonymously, will not necessarily stay anonymous. Don’t say anything anonymously that you wouldn’t also say to “Angie” directly. She negotiated this schedule with higher-ups, and surely they are aware of the conflicts that arise because of the schedule they negotiated with her. She may be such a valued (and valuable) employee that they are willing to assume the impact of her absences.
But yes, anything about your supervisor’s schedule that has an impact on the performance of the team should be disclosed, as long as it has an actual (and not just perceived) impact. The way you phrase your concerns, “It’s hard for me to feel she is fully invested in her work . . .” sounds purely subjective, petty and personal.
I wouldn’t weigh in on her failure to complete certification training, because — well, that doesn’t seem like it’s really your business to disclose.
DEAR AMY: I had been unemployed for nearly two years and materially drawing down my savings account while helping a family member navigate consequences resulting from long-term cancer treatment, when I made a difficult financial decision. I chose to give a cash wedding gift of $1,000 to a newlywed couple in their late 20s, because I wanted to support a good start to their new life together. I do not regret my difficult financial choice, but was disappointed to receive a subsequent thank-you note sent as a text message. Among the generational differences I am working hard to accept are the choices regarding formality by others when acknowledging a material gesture. Should I accept that younger generations have generally chosen texting as the preferred communication channel for informal and formal communication and just move forward?
DEAR FORMALLY YOURS: Your gift was quite extravagant; you describe it as a “tough financial decision.” Even though you say you don’t regret it, I’m wondering why you did this, or what result you might have hoped for. Regardless of your motivations, yes, you deserve a sincere handwritten note.
Text messages have NOT replaced a politely written note. But text messages are a great way to respond quickly: “Wow — we just opened your card! Thank you so much!”
Texted thank yous seem to have filled in a gap for people who probably wouldn’t have contacted you at all (before this technology) to thank you for a gift. Polite and grateful people still pick up the phone and/or write notes on paper.
DEAR AMY: I appreciated your advice to “Guilty in NC,” the dad whose daughters had been mean to “Carrie” at the pool, except when you suggested that Carrie might be “on the spectrum.” It is not your job to diagnose people.
DEAR UPSET: You are 100 percent correct. Thank you.