Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: How can we get out of hanging out with our boss after work without offending her?

Any tips on how to thwart after-work activities? Our boss keeps bringing up ideas for us to all have fun together in the evenings. No one, I mean no one, wants to do anything when quitting time arrives except bolt for the door and escape. This, coupled with some 25+ mile commutes for some of us, just makes us cringe when she brings this up. No, I don’t want to go to a bar/restaurant, or a baseball game, play bingo, or any other activity in the evenings. My commute eats up enough of my time.

I’ve already made up my mind to say “no, I have other plans” if this rears its ugly head again, and if my boss pushes it and tries to make it even semi-mandatory, I’m going to request time and a half pay, since I’m non-exempt and a work activity has taken me away from my home. That should end the discussion. I know some of my coworkers who live locally will go along to get along, but quite frankly, that’s on them and I have zero interest in any of it.

Read More: Are mandatory happy hours just part of working in an office?

A: You know, enough people dislike this kind of thing that any manager who brings it up really needs to be attuned to signs that people aren’t into it.

It’s really the same thing as any social invitation — if you keep making social overtures to someone who keeps turning you down, you’re supposed to get that message after a couple of times trying. Throw in the power dynamic when it’s a manager doing the asking, and it’s really inappropriate to keep pushing.

If your manager were here to talk with us, I’d bet she’d point out that it’s not purely a social invitation — that there’s work benefit to getting together as a group for “fun,” that it makes your team more cohesive, blah blah blah. I happen to mostly disagree with this — there are lots of ways to make your team more cohesive that have nothing to do with bowling or happy hours, such as doing actual work together in the course of your normal jobs and ensuring you have a functional, healthy work culture. But even if she’s convinced that you need this kind of team bonding experience, there’s still no excuse for pressuring people to do it in the evenings. If it’s important enough to her to pressure people, it’s important enough to do it during the day, as part of your normal work hours. (And suddenly bowling seems less important, I’d bet!)

It’s not reasonable to ask people to give up their evenings for activities meant to benefit their employer, unless (a) it’s truly 100% optional, with no frowning or sad eyes or “needs to connect more with colleagues” on your next performance evaluation, (b) you’re paid for the time, or (c) it’s part of a job where it’s understood up-front that that’s part of the work.

So, ranting aside, what should you actually do here?

One option is to just keep turning down your manager’s suggestions, as in “Sorry, I have plans I can’t break” or “I have commitments most evenings after work.”

Another option though, if you’re up for it, would be to address it more broadly and say something like, “I’ve noticed you’ve made a few suggestions like this. I think a lot of us have long commutes and other commitments after work and just don’t really want to extend our work days like that.” Or even — if you have the right kind of relationship with her and a comfort with bluntness — something like this: “I think most of us want to keep work at work and not have social events outside of the office. Thanks for offering to put it together though!”

And if she continues after that, just keep turning things down. If she starts acting like there are penalties for doing that, then you’ll have to decide how strongly you feel about not going … but if it gets to that point, you’ll definitely want to have made her aware that not everyone is clamoring for the opportunity to play bingo with their coworkers.

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Q: How long should you stay in an entry-level position?

I would like to know what your opinion is on how long someone should stay at an entry-level position? Seven and a half months ago, I started working at a radio station as an on-air news anchor, and announcer. I love the job, but it’s typical entry-level for the industry (part-time, work weekends, operating the board for remote broadcasts, fill in when the full-timers are sick/on vacation). I feel like I’m ready for the next step up. I get glowing reviews, and feel comfortable with the work I do. There’s no chance of promotion in the near future with my station, or its parent company. Do you think it’s too soon, or in poor taste for someone in my shoes to apply for higher positions?

Read More: When is it time to leave your first job?

A: This varies by industry, but in general you’d expect to stay in an entry-level job for one to two years. Seven months is generally much too early to be looking to move on.

That said, go ahead and send some applications out and see what happens. If your industry is okay with that timeframe, you’ll know because you’ll get interviews. If it’s not, you won’t. Just make sure you’re ready to stay at the next place for at least several years.

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.

 

 

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