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I am having a difficult time understanding what my manager wants. He is always polite when he speaks and in his words he said “I totally support you going on this trip, family is important so you should spend some time with them but this is a red flag to me”. I don’t know what he means by supporting me in going if he thinks that I shouldn’t go?

I am a new grad and I started my job few months ago at a big company. They are one of the sponsors of an annual conference and all employees can go there on company expense so basically it’s considered a business trip. Due to recent budget cuts all business travel was canceled except this conference. But my manager missed a couples emails from the director with upto date information on the policy so he told me I had to cancel this travel. But then another manager at my company reached out to me and helped me talk to my manager so that I can attend this conference. However I had a feeling from the beginning that my manager knew about travel not being canceled for a non-refundable trip (because he told one of my other teammates to book a non-refundable trip a couples weeks in advance). This conference also had special exemptions because it’s aimed towards diversity. In reality, he might not have wanted me to go because of my performance. He never said that tho.

Context: I have not finished my onboarding yet, which I should have already so I am behind. Partly because I didn’t take my 1st month too seriously. And we had several feedback sessions where he let me know that I should work harder, I always work on the feedback he gives me and try my best to improve.

After I came back from the business conference, I was ill but only took one sick day. Again he was okay with it. But then I decided to meet my family abroad at the end of this month. So i will be taking a 2 week (10 working days) vacation only after 4.5 months of taking this job. My manager was a little upset and he said “You’re going on a vacation after you just came back from the conference, which you insisted to go on, and then you were sick. It gives the impression that you don’t take this job seriously. Or this job is a second preference to you. I totally support you to go but you should know that this is what it makes me think”. I am new to corporate world so I don’t know this, is going on a business conference seen as leisure travel? This conversation was last week, 20 days before the vacation date.

I totally realize that I clearly need to put in more work and I am, but should I cancel my trip just to make sure I don’t upset my manager? I thought since I have a month between when I came back from conference to when I am leaving for vacation it should be acceptable? (I feel like everything is getting kinda messy but I really wanna meet my grandma as well)

I don’t know what should I do about this situation now. I am new so I don’t feel safe to reach out to anyone about this. I don’t want to start off my career on the wrong side of my manager by going to a vacation when he has clearly raised concerns over my performance. To make it worse, I insisted that I really wanted to go to Conference but then my experience was sub par. My manager keeps saying that he’s supportive of me going but does he mean that he will approve my request but there will be consequences?

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  • What country are you in? Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 20:42
  • @DaveGremlin United states
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 2:53
  • You mention 'red flag' at the beginning but not in your later quote. Could you clarify? Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 22:32
  • @user2705196 i am not sure what my manager meant by that. He later said that it seems like im not taking my work seriously so maybe red flag for that?
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 12:59
  • Don't go. The manager is warning you. Listen to him.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 13:25

4 Answers 4

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I think you've made a few mis-steps, they aren't irredeemable though.

1: being sick after a Conference - this is always a tricky one, especially if you are legitimately sick. Sometimes, it's better to go into the Office - be seen to be actually sick and sent home, rather than calling in Sick. Especially if there are circumstance such as - you've been away at a company Conference.

2: Taking Early holiday - this is a tricky one, generally, I'd advise against it - since it does look bad. If you haven't pre-booked any leave and advised the company upfront in the Interview, then I would say not to do it.

However, you mentioned that this is a Religious Holiday and you don't celebrate Christmas. My advice would be to let your Boss know that this holiday has religious significance to you. Big corporates get a lot more pliable when you raise issues that could be grounds for discrimination under protected characteristics (such as Religion)

But! You don't want to just pull this card, you will also want to smooth any ruffled feathers. So let him know because your religion doesn't celebrate Christmas - you will be happy to be rostered on during that time so that other team members can take that time off.

3: Poor adjustment to Corporate life. Some people make the transition very easily, others enjoy a little too much Freedom and goof off - by your own admission you didn't do as well as you should have done. Here's what I would recommend you do: Put your nose to the grindstone, spend your personal time in getting up-to-speed - make sure every task you've been given is properly done before the deadline - you need to show your worth to your boss.

If you don't have any projects or deadlines - go be proactive and find something to do. Initiative is a great way to turn things around - especially if you let your Boss know that you've realised your mistakes and talked to some Mentors and you want to make improvements.

Finally - in one of your other comments, you mentioned that your company policy is that first year performance isn't considered. I'm pretty sure I know what this is intended to mean, but here is what I would do: I would ignore this policy and act as if your career depended on your first year performance. If your Boss is already having words with you about poor work ethic and performance, they are already thinking about starting the process to exit you from the company. Your first year performance is absolutely being considered.

Normally policies like this are in reference to Employee yearly reviews for things like Salary increase - I can virtually guarantee that they aren't in reference to giving you a year to twiddle your thumbs and you won't be fired.

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  • Thanks alot! I finally understand what went wrong and what needs to be done. I am already putting in my personal hours for two weeks but i can do more. Also thanks for the proactive tip! I will definitely follow everything you’ve said to show my manager that i care about this job. (I wish I could go in physically, i had covid)
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 3:35
  • 2
    I very much wouldn't advise point 1. If you have a good employer, that will give you negative points. You risk infecting coworkers and thus creating much more damage to the company than just you being out sick.
    – imsodin
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 13:10
  • @imsodin Generally you are right - however, if there are questions being raised about your dedication to a role or if there's circumstances where people might question if you are actually sick - coming in and looking like death, then being sent home can be beneficial as people won't question your commitment or if you are actually sick. Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 22:07
  • @TheDemonLord I would really appreciate more insight. I will avoid taking a vacation right now but will I further offend my manager if I ask to use my work from anywhere weeks instead? I already confirmed that my company allows to work from the country I will be traveling to. I originally wanted to ask my manager for work from anywhere but then changed my mind last min so im happy to do that if that will be safer to do in this case.
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 1:26
  • 2
    @Sojoru Wait till you are back in the good graces of your Manager - Work from anywhere is more of a Perk and it's something that you don't want to use if questions are asked about your performance. Once you've demonstrated your work ethic, that's when using these things is fine - but not before. Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 3:07
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Do whatever you want with your vacations and sick leaves . You need to try to perform on your job at an acceptable level however .

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Should I take a vacation ?

If this vacation is actually an urgent trip because someone in your family abroad is seriously ill and needs you to be there, then it is OK to take it provided that you explain everything clearly to the manager.

However, if this vacation is not an emergency, can you wait for 2 more months till Christmas ? Usually, most companies give people a few days off between Christmas and New Year (assuming you work in the EU, USA, Canada,...) So, by Christmas time, if you can arrange to take from 1 to 1.5 week of vacation, then you can have a 2-week vacation. Generally, from Christmas to New Year, many companies would somewhat ease the intensity of their productions, and allow workers to take more time off.

The other main reason for this suggestion is that your manager seems to indicate that you need to improve your job performance.

he has clearly raised concerns over my performance

Usually, when a manager is not happy about your performance, you should spend more time to improve. Otherwise, your job security may be at risk down the road.

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  • It’s not urgent. It’s for a religious holiday, we don’t celebrate Christmas but this holiday is a lot like Christmas for us. That’s why I thought it might be okay since everyone gets a Christmas break but religiously this holiday is more important to me. About job security, my performance review is just that i need to spend time really learning tech stack. I don’t have actual projects or deadlines right now. And per company policy, your first year performance is not considered. But I don’t wanna upset my manager either. I will be using a little more than half of my annual paid time off.
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 2:51
  • 1
    "per company policy, your first year performance is not considered." This is the first time that I have ever heard of that. How interesting ! :-) Also "I don’t have actual projects or deadlines right now". It seems you are so lucky. :-) Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 2:56
  • Not yet, i will be assigned a project at 6 months mark which is why I thought this might be a good time to go, avoiding to leave soon after im assigned to a project. I should clarify, i have been told multiple times that my first year performance is not important so I shouldn’t stress about it too much and just focus on onboarding. It might not be company policy.
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 3:04
  • It sounds like you are generally on thin ice. I agree with other people about your passive aggressive boss. I think the safest course would be to postpone your vacation and plan for your next, more secure job. A little bit of personal experience though--I worked somewhere where I told them I'd need a week off for my wedding quite early after starting (I mentioned this in my negotiation). They gave me a warning anyway. This pissed me off so much that I looked for a new gig immediately and struck this job from my resume. It all boils down to your leverage.
    – Eee
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 4:48
  • @Eee I am sorry about what you experienced. Happy that you found a better place to work at! Congratulations on your wedding:)
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 2:39
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The conflicting messaging from your boss is known as "passive aggression." He and the company could care less about your vacation time with your family. They care about your performance and revenue-generation. For your part, your job should certainly be your "second priority," as it only exists to enable your personal and family life (but don't tell him that).

With that said, your best leverage in this type of situation is making yourself incredibly valuable to the company, so that:

  1. they find it difficult to lay you off for any reason, and

  2. you can be confident in your prospects elsewhere based on the skills you offer

It sounds like you have not yet succeeded in that, partly due to being new, and partly due to (apparently) not putting sufficient effort in. It is difficult without knowing the full details to ascertain if your performance truly needs to improve, or if your manager is simply finding fault needlessly - but I would assume the former, and make it your top priority to perform as well as possible. Complete any tasks given to you ahead of schedule, as soon as you can. Actively inquire to your manager or more senior co-workers if there are more tasks you can do, or things they may need help with. Always show eagerness to learn new things.

In addition, show up a little early in the morning and dress well, perhaps a little better than you think is necessary. These seeming trivialities will reinforce your commitment to the role.

Regarding this immediate vacation, perhaps compromise and make it only 1 week long, or forego it entirely if you are willing. Either approach will convey to the manager that you take his feedback seriously and are working to improve.

Good luck.

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  • Thanks for your suggestions about how to improve my manager’s opinion of me. I am seriously unsure weather i am really performing as bad as he’s making it look. I have improved quite a lot since he first said that I need to a couple months ago but he hasn’t recognized it at all.
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 4:50
  • I suggest asking for honest feedback from a more senior co worker you trust, especially if it's someone who is in a leadership role, but is not best buddies with the management/establishment (this is common). You can confide if you like that you've received some performance feedback from the boss and are looking for ways to improve.
    – RC_23
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 5:14
  • -1 It sounds like the manager is very justified in their opinion of OP. I understand new grads having a hard time ramping up. But not taking it seriously? For a month? I would be pissed.
    – Jim Clay
    Commented Oct 13, 2022 at 13:03
  • I want to emphasize that it doesn’t mean I didn’t do work, it just means that I was focusing on the wrong things (not on purpose) and I didn’t think too much about finding out what were the right things. But also we don’t even start on our team in the first month and are just suppose to attend group sessions to learn about random things which mostly aren’t even related to my work so everyone said to not worry about it when I started, which is why I didn’t worry too much. Also I think everyone can have some low productivity times and im putting in extra hours every day for weeks to make up.
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 1:17
  • @RC_23 I think you were right, cancelling my trip might have been necessary to show that im serious about this job. He came to the office yesterday and saw me working till late. Today he messaged that he’s still 100% fine if I decide to take the trip.
    – Sojo ru
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 1:20

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