fast answer Friday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

by Ask a Manager on January 18, 2013

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It’s fast answer Friday — seven short answers to seven short questions.

1. What to put on your resume when you have no job title

What do you list on your resume if you have no job title at your company? I work for a very small company and while some people have formal titles, many of us do not. I am more or less the only person in my department, so I manage the department but don’t manage any people. I can come up with a title that I think adequately describes my position, but is it deceitful to list an informal title on a resume? It’s not the type of place who would come up with a job title for me if I asked, either.

List whatever title you think is most accurate. The key thing is that it needs to be accurate enough that won’t be refuted if a reference checker calls your employer.

2. Can I work with my new boss?

I just started a new job (January 14), in a leadership position that requires me to supervise a small staff of 6. The previous person put a bad taste in my supervisor’s mouth, so I think I’m having to suffer. My boss, who is the CEO, has very high expectations for me and has come by my office on several occasions and subtly mentioned that I need to keep in mind that I need to make some sort of changes within my 90 days or I’m gone. He also mentioned this in my interview and I should have run then. But it’s only been a few days and now I’m starting to feel like if I can really do this. I’m walking into a mess and learning my job at the same time and having to deal with him, his high expectations and subtle threats, I’m seriously thinking about putting my résumé back out there. I like the job and I can see myself doing it, but I’m not sure if working with him is something I can do. Please advise.

It sounds like you and your boss need to get aligned about how you plan to proceed. He’s antsy because he feels changes need to be made in your department, and he wants to see signs that you agree and have a plan to do it. Sit down and talk with him and let him know what your plan is — for example, maybe you’re going to spend a few more weeks getting the lay of the land, and then you’ll begin developing a strategy for how to move forward, and you expect you’ll begin implementing that strategy in X amount of time, etc. In other words, communicate with the guy and see if that changes anything.

3. Have I been blacklisted?

I was laid off from my job 3 years ago. I’m in constant contact with headhunters who tell me that things are slow, yet I see their job postings that I’m very qualified for all the time. When I call them about these posted positions, they completely ignore my question of whether or not the job is still available. Is there a “blacklist” between headhunters? I can’t recall upsetting anyone. If there is, how do I get off of it? It is so frustrating seeing all these jobs pass me over, for reasons unknown.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ve been blacklisted. What’s more likely is that you’re not coming across as an especially strong candidate for the jobs you’re contacting them about. In a tight job market like this one, it’s not enough just to be qualified — in many fields, you need to be extremely strong to get much attention. It’s difficult to give nuanced advice without knowing a lot more, but this post may help.

4. My boss’s memory and detail-orientedness are making me feel insecure

I’ve worked in several different work environments and for many different bosses. In previous environments, I was always the “go-to gal” and the “overachiever.” I was usually the one who kept on top of my boss’s calendar, to-do lists, etc.

About a year ago, I started working a new job and came to find out that my boss has a wonderful knack for remembering tiny details, catching any type of error, and an amazing memory! Although she’s overwhelmed by work most of the time, anything she does is essentially flawless. You would think this would be a good thing … but it makes me feel inferior and a sub-standard employee. She’s not necessarily a micromanager in that she directs everything, but she is a devil in the details type of person. She also can recall important dates, times, numbers, etc. at the snap of fingers, while I’m still saying, “I don’t recall” or “I’ll have to check that report.” Perhaps she’s a robot?

I’m grateful to finally have a boss that doesn’t slack on their work, but find that myself and others in the office have this same issue — feeling less than. I don’t think my boss has ever blatantly said that she expects us to be the same as her. But there’s definitely a feeling of insecurity.

Why not sit down with her and ask for feedback about how you’re doing? You might find that she thinks you’re doing a great job, and that your fears are only based on your perceptions, not hers. Frankly, if you have a good rapport with her, you can tell her a little about what you’re feeling — she might be able to set your mind at ease.

(And I have to say, I’m someone who remembers things like a robot most of the time, but I don’t expect others to be the same. You probably have something that you’re great at but which you don’t look down on others for not having equivalent talent in themselves, right? Same thing here.)

5. Rejected for a job in the office I do contract work in

I have an odd situation. I have been a long-time contractor (by choice) for a branch of the federal government. I am self-employed with years of experience and command a high hourly rate, so I’ve been happy doing contract work. However, some of the work that I had been doing, and which I enjoy the most, was bundled together into a full-time job, and I was invited to apply for it. I applied in October, interviewed in December, and one month later was getting a nagging feeling that if they wanted me, they would have notified me. As it turns out, they have offered the job to someone else. Needless to say, it is quite awkward around the office. We’re all trying to be professional, but I am embarrassed and feel somewhat betrayed, which is sort of irrational, but sort of not when you consider that I have been contracting with this organization for almost a decade, have never received anything but stellar reviews, and am the go-to person for many technical questions, even though I am not an employee. I have scheduled a follow-up with the person who did the hiring in hopes of getting some constructive feedback about why I was not chosen for the job. What specific questions should I ask?

Well, first, don’t be embarrassed. Great people end up not getting hired for jobs all the time, for reasons that really don’t reflect poorly on them — often someone else simply is a better fit in one way or another: They have more intriguing experience in X, or helpful connections in Y, or expertise in Z, which wasn’t even part of the job, but it’s going to be helpful to have it so that was the deciding factor, or all kinds of other things. Most hiring managers will tell you that they regularly end up with multiple candidates who they’d be glad to hire, but when they only have one slot, they have to reject all the others. So there’s no shame in this. But if you act like you feel awkward about it, others will feel awkward too, so be as matter-of-fact about it as you can.

When you meet with the hiring manager, avoid demanding to know why you weren’t hired. Simply ask if she has any advice for you for how you can make yourself a more competitive candidate for similar jobs in the future.

6. When your school changes its name

How important is it to keep up with name changes of schools attended years ago on your resume? Of the schools I’ve attended, one has grown from a college to a university (fine), the other from an institute to a college (fine). The second one mentioned here has also moved to a different state (okay) and as of this year has completely changed its name. Do I risk not appearing “current” if I don’t make this name change on my resume and LinkedIn profile? As it is, no one has “found” me or otherwise associated with me with the name as is. No one has directly asked about my education during interviews. Would something like this matter to a hiring manager, or could I leave things as they are and just mention during an interview “when I attended, it was ‘ABC Institute” in Mytown, NY, now it’s called ‘Best University Ever’ in Timbucktu, AZ”?

It’s not really a big deal either way, but I’d change it to its current name, because I like accuracy. That said, you’re not obligated to track its name changes proactively — but if it happens to come to your attention that the name has changed, I’d update it on your resume accordingly.

7. Toilet trauma, part 2

I work in a small, technical library in a private college. The office consists of me (the head librarian — female) and a part-time assistant librarian (male). There are two rooms in the library. The front room has the service counter, our collection of materials, copier, and desk for the assistant librarian. The back room has two work counters, a micro-fridge, my desk, and a small private bathroom.

The assistant librarian, with whom I have several managerial issues, is rather socially awkward, which brings me to my particular problem. The private bathroom is 4 feet from my desk and not terribly well insulated. Several times a week, he will retire to the bathroom for 10+ minutes to do his “business.” Now, I’m no delicate flower. I grew up with two older brothers and have two young boys and a husband at home. Everybody poops. The problem I have is that it feels like he is sitting right there in my office firing away. He has no qualms about this, but I feel very uncomfortable sitting there waiting for him to emerge. I will usually try to busy myself in the front room once he goes in there, but that is not always possible. On more than one occasion, I’ve had a faculty member, and even the Provost, come to speak with me in my office while he is in there (unbeknownst to them) only to have him come out mid-meeting, in a cloud of Lysol. On many mornings, after he has worked an evening event, I find reading materials from my reference collection on the shelf in the bathroom. I realize my discomfort is probably compounded by my other issues with him, which could fill up a whole other email.

Is there any way to deal with this without coming off as a prudish, bathroom fascist? (“You cannot use my bathroom for number 2. Ever.”) Should I just break the tension with humor? (“SO! How did that go in there?”) All I do now is vent to my husband, who finds this hilarious.

Gross. I hope this is the last bathroom-related question I receive FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

In any case, is there another bathroom he can use? If so, your choices are to (a) say something to him, knowing it’s going to be awkward no matter how you word it, or (b) say nothing and accept this is part of having a bathroom right by your office. Personally, if I was going to say something, it would sound like this: “Dude, sorry to be gross, but I sit right by this bathroom and am sensitive to Lysol. Maybe the other bathroom is better to use?” That’s seriously how I’d say it. Reword as needed to fit your comfort level.

But more importantly, if you have managerial issues with this guy, start dealing with them. That’s the more pressing issue here.

{ 132 comments… read them below or add one }

SCW January 18, 2013 at 12:15 am

Re #7: It is refreshing to see that even very small libraries have toilet trauma! I have worked in various size public libraries and have found that it is impossible to escape dealing with some type of toilet issue, both with the public and with staff. Personally, if it were me, I’d get a lock on the bathroom door and don’t share the key. I’m assuming there are other bathroom facilities in the building.

Also, be grateful he only shares the smells–lately I’ve been hearing lots of stories of library staff members and inappropriate sharing.

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Elise January 18, 2013 at 12:52 am

#5 – Don’t take it personally. It could be as simple as politics. Unions play a big role in most federal jobs (I am in a fed job myself). I expect the job probably went to an internal candidate. For most fed jobs, if there is a qualified internal candidate they will get the job, even if the outside candidate is more qualified.

It can get even more fussy. In my branch, all candidates for all jobs below executive level are reviewed and scored by the HR department. HR then only sends their very highest rated choices to the hiring manager and the hiring manager cannot choose from outside these preselected choices.

It’s supposed to help avoid favoritism and promote an equal chance for all, but it ends up being about who knew the right keywords to add to their resume.

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V January 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

There could be other factors at play too. For example, I believe the federal government’s hiring process gives a (small) preference to veterans. So you very well could have been extremely qualified fo this job, but if a similarly strong canidate was a vet, that canidate would have to be the one hired.

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Ash January 18, 2013 at 10:14 am

Not just a small preference, major, major preference. Most state and local governments (and some corporations) do as well. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but just saying that it has a greater precedence in hiring than you think.

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Laura L January 18, 2013 at 11:26 am

Yes, vets get 10 points in the preliminary resume screen when it comes to government jobs. Which means you have to be a really strong candidate (and do very well on any tests) to advance to the interview stage. (Assuming veterans applied for your position. They may not have.)

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books January 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm

“You were found qualified for this position and, based on your responses to the questions listed on the vacancy announcement, were rated as best qualified. Unfortunately, due to the number of veteran applicants with higher scores, you were not among the list of candidates referred to the selecting official as best qualified.”

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 10:17 am

I was thinking the same thing – an internal candidate or another “preerred” candidate like a vet. Not knowing where you are, my experience in Ottawa was that his could happen a lot and sometimes skills that seem to have no bearing on the job may be the tipping point. This almost happenned to me and the only thing that saved me is the director of the organizatino convinced the hiring manager that , since 3 of employees were all francophone, having an anglophone with passable french but amazing office skills would be workable , so maybe they should change the job posting from “French and English required” to “fluent bilingualism preferred” after not finding any suitable candidates.

And, while I did handle some calls in French, they all either required answers that I was more than capable of answering in French or were complicated enough that I would have had to transfer them to someone else anyway.

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Chinook January 18, 2013 at 10:18 am

Sorry, I didn’t mean to post anonymously.

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mozandeffect January 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

#5: I thought about replying from the perspective if it was a Fed job but it sounded like it was within the contracting office.

But that is true with internal candidates. Boy, do I know all about that. I must have applied for at least 5 jobs that I know I was qualified for, in an attempt to get out of contracting job and I got nowhere. My mom used to be a Fed so at least she was able to make me feel better by saying, you know, it’s not you, it’s not that you weren’t qualified, but the government has to put these job notices publicly, even if they’ve already groomed someone in-house for it.

I would also add that not only is it keywords but also who you know and if you KNOW someone in that department and you are from the outside, chances are your name will go up higher in the pile.

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NUM January 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I think you are all missing the point.

They took her assigned responsibilities (the work she had been doing successfully for years and enjoyed doing the most), bundled them into a new job, and then gave (her) job to someone else. WTF!?!

Is the new hire going to be coming to her for training on how to do the work? What will be the OP’s responsibilities in the future? Does the OP even have a job anymore after the new person starts?

Seems to me it is time to work on the resume and begin putting feelers out within your contractor organization and elsewhere.

So sorry. That’s awful.

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Forrest January 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm

But she’s a contractor, not a full time employee. That’s one of the risks you take.

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NUM January 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

True.

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Lily January 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm

She could have put her foot in her mouth big-time during the hiring process. I was ready to hire someone when she asked me many questions during a meeting about an issue which we had resolved privately. After the meeting, I asked her privately, if she had forgotten that we had already discussed it and resolved it and she said, “no”. So, why bring it up publically? I felt she was trying to show my present employees who would have become her future employees that she would stand up to me and decided I didn’t need someone rebelling against me for the sake of appearances.

I’m not that assertive a manager and I told my coach that someone else could probably be able to work with her and he said that others wouldn’t want to. I would like to ask other managers whether you would have taken the risk?

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Ask a Manager January 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

There’s no reason to hire someone who has already shown that they don’t know how to work with you effectively and who’s willing to undermine you / sow conflict.

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KarenT January 18, 2013 at 1:26 am

#1

Can you think back to when you were hired? There must have been a mention of a title at some time. How did you hear about the position? Were you contacted by a recruiter? Referred by a friend? Found something online? I can’t imagine any scenario where a job title wouldn’t be mentioned at least once.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 6:54 am

I can – kind of. I took a job once where the job listing was System Analyst/DBA – but the System Analyst portion wasn’t even accurate – it was a System Admin (this is why non-technical people shouldn’t be allowed to write ads for technical positions).

Anyway, when I got the job I was given a job description and offer letter which both referred to me as the IT Department.

Technically true, as it was just me, but not the type of phrasing you usually hear describing a human being. I asked for clarification and there was some dragging of feet because “titles don’t matter here” – I had come from a more corporate setting so this was disconcerting to me.

I heard my boss refer to me as “the IT Manager” and so I sent an email confirming, forwarding it to HR to have my record changed. Sometimes you have to bypass HR and do their job for them.

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Chinook January 18, 2013 at 10:27 am

I hate the “titles don’t matter” mind set. I am dealing with that at my current place of employment. Yes, we are all “teammates” and no one is more important than anyone else, but there is a world of difference between being an assistant to the President or the Vice president (who is the same person but has 2 different titles in different companies), an executive assistant and a project assistant, especially when communicating to the outside world. If I need something from a vendor ASAP or a teammate in another time zone who has been ignoring me, I find calling myself “Assistant to the President” gets things done a lot faster than saying I am the “Assistant to Vice President.”

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KayDay January 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

I agree that the idea that “titles don’t matter” is really annoying (However, I would agree that “titles aren’t everything”). Titles are the fastest and easiest way to convey what you do, and can really help when dealing with vendors and external contacts when you just don’t have time to even get into a 30 second elevator speech.

For example, a former co-worker was really badly mis-titled; she received all sorts of external inquiries that should have gone to a different person. A more accurate title would have easily fixed some of these.

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I understood what you meant by the end, but I just wanted to say I got a chuckle out of the thought that an “Assistant to the President” at Company 1 is the “Vice President” at Company 2.

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Lulu January 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Ugh, yes, I remember discussing this in another post awhile back – while not having a strict hierarchy can be nice sometimes, having a title that reflects your actual job duties so that other people understand where you fall in the scheme of things really can be important! For both practical and morale reasons. (Still struggling with this on my resume AND in my head.)

I did actually have a very short-lived job at an extremely small company where I don’t think I had a specific title. For resume purposes, I came up with something that seemed to make sense for both the outside world and their contexts were anyone to call them. Particularly if they’re as laissez-faire as you describe, I wouldn’t worry too much about this as long as you know for sure they don’t have you on the books as something they haven’t shared with you, or it wouldn’t seem totally off base to someone there. I think there are managerial positions that don’t involve being someone’s supervisor, and the body of your resume would clarify this as well, I would think.

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BeenThere January 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Oh bugger, what’s the best way to explain this sort of title difference?

In my case I was a project engineer, every part of my job was project engineering. I was the first in a team made up of service engineers that were trying to build a projects group. However my position was only approved from the senior service manager level as a test case so on payroll I was a service engineer…hmm. Never through about this being an issue but if someone called the HR I have no idea how I would appear.

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FormerManager January 18, 2013 at 8:48 am

Titles can be tricky. I once worked for a small company where the title made sense within the company but if I told someone outside the company my title, I always received confused looks.

Eventually, I would list it on my resume followed by the actual role in parenthesis so it looked like.

Unique Company Title (Role: Content Writer)

(Later when I built up some credibility and moved in to management, I helped convince our director to change the title into something more standard.)

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#1 asker January 18, 2013 at 9:13 am

I had sent my resume unsolicited, so there was no specific job title. In my original job offer, it was a department that was mentioned. I’ve now been here for 6 years and my role has significantly changed from what the initial job was. Being a small company, I also wear many hats so it’s hard to find a title that adequately describes my position.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

It’s amazing how often this happens. When we were in the process of ISO certification I wanted every position to have a title for ease of org chart and job description accuracy – as well as my training and requirement matrices.

Oddly enough “Guys in the X Room” didn’t work me as titles went.

Took us forever to hammer out titles for people who’ve worked here 30+ years. This is unthinkable in a large corporate company – but small places – you aren’t a title – people just know what you do.

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Anonicorn January 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

I was in a similar position a few years ago. I applied for a specific job at a very small place, and was told they were hiring someone else for that job but still wanted to hire me. They never mentioned the exact job title, but any work was better than no work, so I took it.

After a few months, I went to my boss and asked if they could clarify my title. That’s what I suggest you do. Just say, “When I talk to clients/whomever, I call myself a Time Lord. Is that appropriate, or do you have another title in mind?”

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Elizabeth West January 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

I want to work in a place where “Time Lord” is my actual title. :)

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the gold digger January 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm

How did the interview go? (Wasn’t that yesterday?)

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Anonicorn January 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I know, right? I’d work there in two hearts’ beats.

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Lulu January 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Ah yes, Time Lord! Although you might have to work in HR or something… In a fit of frustration, I once suggested “Princess of the Universe” to my boss. He actually said I could use that (this was part of the ‘what does it matter, you have to do the same things anyway’ conversation), but I never achieved quite the level of audacity to send that one in to HR for new business cards.

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HL January 18, 2013 at 9:43 am

Perhaps checking with payroll might help – they may need to have an actual “title” entered into their system for you. The title may even be on your pay stub.

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#1 asker January 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

There isn’t even an HR department here. Payroll lists only two departments – basically office and non-office.

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Natalie January 18, 2013 at 9:44 am

Obviously you don’t want to tell your boss you’re updating your resume, but if there any other pretense you could use to check with them on your proposed title? I’m thinking of something like ordering business cards or participating in a professional organization, or even getting on LinkedIn.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

Professional org or linked in are great. Heck they ask for titles when you just attend expos and conferences and stuff – tons of innocuous ways to bring it up.

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ES January 18, 2013 at 1:45 am

I had a boss like #4. Maybe didn’t recall numbers/dates perfectly, but never seemed to forget a single tiny thing we talked about, and it was impossible for me, even with diligent note-taking, to remember absolutely everything. I feel for you, OP. It got to the point where I really felt like I was being micro-managed due to all the corrections and reminders. I now have a boss who’s almost the complete opposite (soooo laid back), and I wish there was a happy medium.

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CatB (Europe) January 18, 2013 at 2:05 am

I one had a boss that relished in knowing all the sordid details about his employees (and we were about 80!). He would often surprise me (I was a sales director back then) with questions like “Do you know that the forklift operator at branch X is banging the AA?” or “How come you don’t know that the warehouse keeper at branch Y (halfway across the country) was walking his dog yesterday at noon?”. Then he would proceed to explain me what a sorry loser of a sales director I was for not knowing that. Or he would ask me minute details of no importance whatsoever and then threaten to fire me for knowing by heart (on the other hand, we had an unannounced visit from one of our suppliers and he called me from his car, parked in the parking lot near the entrance, to ask me the turnover we were making off this guy’s brands). All that made me feel straight out incompetent. For a while.

I ended up shrugging and sticking to knowing the important facts. He never acted on his threats.

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Elizabeth West January 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

What a jerk.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 7:16 am

The remembering conversations thing, I think my boss hates this about me.

One word of advice – the OP shouldn’t actually use the word robot when speaking to her boss. It’s not always taken as flattering.

The OP’s answer to not having the same memory is fine – that you’ll check the report. As long as you do this and get back to her that’s all you need. I was asked during an interview once what one of my biggest pet peeves was at work and I said “people who won’t admit they don’t know everything off the top of their heads. No shame is saying you don’t know but you’ll find out.”

That was one of the reasons they hired me, I found out later. They liked the answer.

As an example, someone asked me the other day how long we need to keep a certain controlled record. I told them to check page 3 of the record matrix and there was also a reference in SOP-XXX-XXX clause XVI because it relates to ISO standard X.X.X.

It was actually funny because it sounded wicked impressive – but I am in and out of those procedures all the time. And I wrote them. Of course I would have a greater familiarity with that than someone who doesn’t often pull them up.

If you have a good memory sometimes it’s irritating when other people treat it like a party trick. And I know this will sound asshatty – but I know there are some things that come much easier to me than to most people and I don’t expect people to be like me. I’ve trained enough people to get a feel of what’s reasonable to expect.

On the other hand when I need someone to explain directions to me like I’m a 4 year old, or help me when anything requires coordination or power tools (yikes!) I have no shame in that either. Okay the direction thing is a little embarrassing – because I’m criminally bad at that – but I just figure everyone has their strengths and deficits…no one is perfect and most people are generally pretty awesome at something(s).

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the gold digger January 18, 2013 at 8:50 am

That was one of the reasons they hired me, I found out later.

I’m with you. I’d rather say I don’t know but I’ll find out rather than try to BS an answer, but I had an interview with a consulting company once where I said, “I don’t know – I’d have to do some research” and they told me that’s why I wasn’t going further in the process. I wish I had known that the right answer for all consulting company questions starts with, “The population of the US is 380 million….” and then you derive whatever it is (market size, cost) from there.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

I still have no idea how to calculate the number of window panes in NYC – I hate those kind of interview questions…so I’d just explain how I’d go about researching it since if you want me to pull bs answers out of thin air I’m not the one you want to hire anyway.

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the gold digger January 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm

If pressed, I would start with, “Let’s assume the population of New York City is eight million. Between home and work, let’s also assume ten windows per person. So 80 million windows at an average of four panes per window leads to 320 million panes.”

Which is something I know how to do because I’ve had 20 years to think about the answer. But there’s no way I could do it under pressure. And this answer is probably nowhere near right anyhow.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Better than I would have done.

Seriously I’d have a hard time keeping that look off my face – the look that says “what’s next – the problem of how to transfer 5 gallons of water into two uneven containers if you’re on a desert island with no measuring equipment?” Love logic puzzles on a snowy Saturday snuggled on my couch. Hate them under pressure in an interview.

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fposte January 18, 2013 at 9:38 am

For me, a lot of the stuff I’m good at this way is a combination of the inborn and the honed. I wouldn’t expect somebody with less experience to have developed the focus–they haven’t gone through the process the quadjillion times I have. It’s true that some people have brains that are more geared to this (people don’t tend to practice the “remembering conversations” thing, after all), but a lot of the job stuff is experienced-enhanced, and a boss will likely have had a lot more opportunity to advance that skill than a subordinate has.

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Reader January 18, 2013 at 5:04 am

#7: It sounds like the problem is that the bathroom is essentially in your office, I didn’t see anything that the employee could do differently unless there is another bathroom that he can use. Maybe he assumes as a staff member that he should be using a bathroom that he identifies as a staff bathroom?

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 6:48 am

ITA – he didn’t design the space and he’s using it for it’s intended purpose. It’s not his fault its essentially in the OP’s office.

Either direct him to use another bathroom or ignore it – I definitely wouldn’t joke or call attention to it. That’s just rude – he doesn’t have a digestive system for the sole purpose of annoying his boss.

I used to work in a place where the bathrooms were directly next to my desk and it was awkward – but I ignored it. This place had a microwave and fridge in the men’s room – don’t ask me why – harder to ignore but I didn’t use either so wasn’t my problem.

The one thing I would address is the reading materials in there – that’s gross. When you find them in there next time just ask him if he knew how they got there and let him know he shouldn’t do that.

When I have broader issues with someone everything they do bothers me, at times, seems like that’s what’s happening here. I’d definitely address the performance problems you have with him – but the location of the bathroom isn’t his fault.

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Eric January 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

A microwave and a fridge in the bathroom??? Amazing what businesses that aren’t food service can get away with.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 9:00 am

Seriously – it was disgusting – I have no idea how grown civilized people could wait outside a bathroom and then go in to heat and store their lunch.

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BW January 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

Eeeeww! Why would anyone think that was a good idea? *gag*

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Ellie H. January 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

EW. Gross. I am surprisingly unsqueamish about the association of food with gross environments but that is really too much for me.

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ChristineH January 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

This place had a microwave and fridge in the men’s room

Wow…and I thought having supply cabinets in the bathroom at one place I volunteer at was bad!! (it’s a handicapped bathroom right in the office suite because several employees and volunteers have physical disabilities).

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RF January 18, 2013 at 7:25 am

Yes, exactly. I am not sure what he is supposed to do differently here (other than not storing books there?).

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

It sounds like it’s not “your” bathroom; it’s the office bathroom. That’s too bad that it’s right by your desk, but it doesn’t sound to me like he’s doing anything wrong. I’d just live with it without saying a word, and start addressing the other issues you have with him.

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

I don’t understand why he regularly poops at work…. I mean I get having to once in a while, but really?

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KellyK January 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Umm…..Probably because it’s a normal bodily function and it would never occur to him to totally rearrange his eating schedule or and/or change his diet to *avoid* pooping at work.

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fposte January 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Yes, I’m perplexed by the suggestion that this is usually planned.

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Julie K January 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I don’t plan my bathroom use, but I understand it, though, because I have a friend who WILL NOT poop in a bathroom outside her home. WILL NOT. I don’t get this, but clearly, some people feel very strongly about it.

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Good_Intentions January 19, 2013 at 12:56 am

KellyK:

I would not suggest that anyone rearrange his/her eating schedule to suit a job. However, I would be incredibly troubled to have an employee leave the restroom in a cloud of Lysol when I had someone like the provost in my office.

My thinking on this is that the most feasible solution is for the OP and her employee to reach an agreement. The assistant needs a schedule of when his boss is meeting important people and it might be a good idea if he excused himself and used another facility in the building.

He can take care of his business and his boss will avoid embarrassment and disgust.

One last thing, please, please, please tell him to only take his books into the bathroom and to collect them after he washes his hands. Seeing the library’s books in the bathroom is really off-putting and should be avoided.

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The Other Dawn January 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

It’s unusual to go everyday? Most people I know run like clockwork, and it’s usually around the same time everyday, like 3 PM.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm

It’s official – I know WAY more about you guys and the people in your lives than the people in mine! :)

You all crack me up!

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The Other Dawn January 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm

If I don’t post at 3 PM, you’ll know why. ;-)

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KellyK January 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I think (because I read this on WebMD, not because I’m the work bathroom monitor or anything–ew) that anything from a couple times a day to once every three days is normal.

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JT January 18, 2013 at 7:29 am

Just to be pedantic – using the current school name may be more informative, but it’s not more accurate. The school by the new name didn’t exist when the OP was there.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 7:34 am

If we worked together and you had chimed in with this kind of observation while I was having meeting after meeting writing ISO procedures it would have been all I could do not to jump over the table, hug you, and badger my boss to put you in my department.

If you had any idea how long I spent explaining the huge (when it comes to ISO audits) differences in must, shall, and may you would understand how people like you being pedantic fill my heart with hope.

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A Bug! January 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Can you explain the difference between “must” and “shall” in that context? In my work the two words are effectively interchangeable and I’m really interested in hearing the distinction.

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Henning Makholm January 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

There seems to be different conventions in different fields, but based on my experience reading technical specs it seems that when a difference is made, “shall” is used for commandments backed by the authority of the spec itself, and “must” is used for declarative statements about facts that would exist with or without the spec, or (sometimes) when talking about something you can’t directly control, but can check is true.

So if you write “the lid must be removed before dye is poured in”, it just says that, well, duh, otherwise the dye would splash all over the lid.

If you write “the lid shall be removed before dye is poured in”, you’re implying that it would be physically possible to pour with the lid on (perhaps there’s a separate opening for that), but you’re hereby declaring that that’s not how we do it here.

You could also write “The teapot inspector on duty shall verify that the pot is fit for shipping: … 42. The lid must be on.”. Then it’s not the inspector’s fault if there’s a pot without a lid on; he’s just supposed to find out if there is.

But this usage is not universal. For example, in Internet standards published by the IETF, the style mandates a capitalized “MUST” for authoritative requirements, and “shall” is not used at all.

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OP#6 January 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

Thank you Alison, for including my question today.

This is exactly why I am torn on the issue. Like Alison, I appreciate accuracy, but the school that exists now is not the school I attended (and then served as a staff member).

When I arrived as a student, the school just completed a move to a new campus (in the same state). During my time there, there was a segment of the Alumni who just couldn’t/wouldn’t accept this (giving plummeted – there were constant efforts to “woo” them back). At the time, I just didn’t understand the way this Alumni though or felt. Now that the same school has moved to a different state and changed names twice – I get it. The connection is gone.

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R January 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

Hi OP– Can you write something like: College of Chocolate Goodness. (Currently University of Chocolates)

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OP#6 January 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

Ah – another good idea. Also, please see my reply below to Eric.

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Eric January 18, 2013 at 8:59 am

Why not Teapot College 1988-1992 (now known as Teapot University)?

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

That’s how I’d do it.

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OP#6 January 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

Eric:
I’ve already included this type of change, e.g.:
ABC Institute (now College), Mytown, NY (now in Timbucktu, AZ)

I suppose if I do move forward with the change, it may look like:
ABC Institute, Mytown, NY (Now the Best University Ever, Timbucktu, AZ)

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

I like that format. It’s totally clear that it’s the same school with a name and location change.

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KayDay January 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

The second example is what I would recommend.

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Coelura January 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

+1

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ChristineH January 18, 2013 at 10:00 am

Maybe the OP could put ABC Institute in Mytown, NY (now known as XYZ University in BigCity, AZ)?

P.S. Jamie – You would love me…I had to look up “pedantic”, and I’d say that describes me :P

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ChristineH January 18, 2013 at 10:02 am

And I see OP#6 already beat me to it before I posted my suggestion.

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Or the opposite, following a convention of sorts that I’ve seen where you’d put the more recognizable (or in this case, more current at least) name first:

XYZ University, BigCity, AZ (formerly ABC Institute, Mytown, NY)

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 7:43 am

#7 I used to work at a company where my manager and I were the only women, and we did bookkeeping and office work while our male coworkers had to do shop work (ie dirty, physically demanding, nasty solvents). We were tucked away in a corner and had a bathroom sort of to ourselves. It wasn’t anything too fancy, but my manager would put a few feminine touches in it.

One of the male managers decided that he liked that bathroom for doing #2 because it was quieter and cleaner. I was fine with this–it wasn’t an imposition to me and he was respectful of the cleanliness–but my manager viewed it as the first step on a slippery slope of losing our bathroom. Thus began the Great Bathroom Wars of the 90′s, lmao. The two of them would constantly try to outwit each other. IIRC, it ended when my manager put a lock on the door, and would guard the key. If she wasn’t around, I would have to go use the ‘nasty’ bathrooms.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 7:54 am

Wow – talk about a fight without a winner.

Male co-worker was wrong because you don’t use the ladies room just because it’s cleaner. Either clean yours or deal with those who are messing it up.

But locking you out of your own bathroom? Because if you were the only two women essentially it’s a ladies room. Why didn’t she just get two keys made?

I’m assuming these are individual bathrooms and not stalls – because then they would be officially segregated by gender. Why didn’t your manager buy a couple of signs saying “Men’s” and “Ladies” so she could have legitimately kept him out.

There is something so primal about this – marking territory, protecting territory from being marked….ick.

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HL January 18, 2013 at 10:17 am

This.

Op#7 has “managerial issues” with this assistant librarian. Her post reminds me a bit of the op who worked with someone who was purposefully aggressively flatulent (she ended up leaving the job).

Perhaps the assistant librarian is doing sort of the same – responding to another issue by performing the “big #2″ in the bathroom near her desk (for 10 minutes+). A passive aggressive response to some request/requirement she has made….

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fposte January 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

Eh. It’s the private employee bathroom as opposed to the public stalls. That seems a pretty natural preference on his part to me.

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Elizabeth West January 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

Yes, except he shouldn’t be taking the reading materials in there. That’s nasty.

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fposte January 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Yeah, she’s totally within her rights to tell him he can’t do that (and to tell him he can’t take library materials either, I suppose, but some people who check them out are going just do the same).

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm

“Why didn’t she just get two keys made?”

Probably so they don’t walk in on each other! (yes, I realize that the door could have a latch on the inside, but given the one-key situation, I’m thinking that’s not the case)

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Not So NewReader January 18, 2013 at 7:59 am

OP#1. Is there something that describes how you spend the bulk of your time? I would aim for a lower sounding title that way you cannot be accused of exaggerating. And you can explain all the various responsibilities you have.

OP#2. Perhaps if you touch base with him every other day or so to let him know what you are working on today. “I am learning about X system today.” Or “I think I can get some minor gains with situation Y so I have decided to focus on that this morning.” I think that some level of acknowledgement would be of help. “Yes, I see the cause for concern here and I am willing to work on it.” It could be as simple as reassuring him- “we will get through this.”

OP#4. Personally, I love bosses that are on top of their game. It sharpens me. BUT. The first year or so with them is EXHAUSTING. I need track shoes to keep up. Try asking the boss for some sources that you can use so you do not have to bog her down with these details because you can go to the source yourself. Don’t worry about the “one of a kind” corrections- try to target the corrections that are recurring and see if you can get a handle on some of them. Also take a look at what is actually happening- is she ticked off and berating you? Or is that just a feeling inside your head? It’s nice to have coworkers to commiserate with but sometimes sharing misery makes matters worse not better. This is because the coworker is not looking for a path out of the problem.
I am optimistic that you will be okay having a talk with your boss- because you do not indicate she is saying there is a problem. Frankly, she may be the way she is because that is her definition of being a good boss. It sounds like she drives herself hard but realizes she cannot push other people that hard.

OP#7. Some people do not care that they are hogging the bathroom and making all kinds of noises etc. I have female family member that grunts. SIGH. The only part of the problem I was able to effectively target was the hogging the bathroom problem. I tried saying that I might need to use it, too. Deaf ears. So I switched tactics and pointed out that reading in the bathroom can be a contributing factor to hemorrhoids. If you Google “reading in the bathroom and hemorrhoids” you will find a few articles like this one:
http://www.esquire.com/features/answer-fella/toilet-reading-1209
If I were in your shoes I would be very tempted to print the article out and leave it in the bathroom. Nothing like bleeding from a bad place to get a person’s undivided attention. And yes, this did get my family members to stop hogging the bathroom.

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Amouse January 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

I can’t handle another bathroom thread. I’ll see you all on the next one lol

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

#4 – I am kinda like your boss, I have excellent attention to detail and am cursed (yes cursed) with the ability to see mistakes that others miss. Why cursed? Because I am constantly – literally every day – finding mistakes that others make. Guess how popular you are when you are always pointing out errors? Or when your memory of something is nearly always correct as to the details? I know this sounds goofy (oh poor me, I’m always right) but it’s not really about being “right”, it’s about having an eye for detail and a strong memory, which aren’t things I can really control. I don’t think we can control our ‘natural’ strengths and weaknesses – I am uncomfortable and not good at public speaking, it does not come naturally to me — but details and memory, those things do come easily to me. Just the way it is.

My point is to just present the flip side of the coin to the OP – that’s it’s not that fun being the one who can get perceived as a know-it-all. If your manager isn’t snotty about it and is happy with your job performance, then it should be fine,

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

Does your company have an internal audit team? That’s what I look for when recruiting – if you’re interested in that kind of think you might be a natural.

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Elizabeth West January 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

I have excellent attention to detail and am cursed (yes cursed) with the ability to see mistakes that others miss.

I do this too, except it’s more like pointing out potential problems with something. I try to frame it in a positive way, to ease the development of a project rather than just coming off as critical. It’s like defensive driving–I drive along normally, but if I keep watching and am aware of crazy stuff that might happen, then I’m all ready to deal with it if it does.

Over time, I’ve learned also to be careful about not doing it in meetings, etc. WHEN you point out stuff like this is as important as WHAT you point out.

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Rana January 19, 2013 at 2:59 am

Yup. It’s something I have to be careful of. Otherwise I’m moving grown-ass adults’ water glasses away from table edges like they’re little kids or something.

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fposte January 18, 2013 at 9:32 am

Alison, on #5, can you give any advice on the hiring side? I’m often working with people who were unsuccessful job candidates. I have occasionally said something directly (“We really do think you’re terrific and we’re glad to have you–we just needed to go a different way here”) but more often not, just making sure I stay friendly and welcoming to them. The relationships vary, so it’s not necessarily a one size fits all situation, but I’m suspicious of my own avoidant tendencies here.

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Ask a Manager January 18, 2013 at 11:06 am

Yes! Let’s see:

1. Proactively address it with them — don’t wait for them to ask, because some people won’t or will resent that they have to.

2. Be as frank as you can be with them about why they didn’t get the job (within normal reason), and if there are things they could do to be a stronger candidate next time.

3. If there’s likely to be another opportunity in the future and you genuinely think they have a good chance at it, talk to them about that. (But don’t lead them on if you really don’t think that.)

4. Tell them what you appreciate about their work, and make it clear that you think they’re great (if you do).

5. Know that they might feel awkward for a while anyway. Some people will take it as a nudge to start looking for work elsewhere. Some of that is inevitable.

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fposte January 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

Terrific, thanks. It’s such a variety of situations (people who we only met later, people who work elsewhere in the department, people who stay where they are) so I was a bit thrown by all the possibilities.

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fposte January 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

By the way, I’d love to hear from anybody else on this too–I certainly would welcome the input!

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Anonicorn January 18, 2013 at 9:42 am

OP #4 – Boy can I ever relate. Dates go in one ear and out there other. While it seems like a flawless memory isn’t your greatest strength, you did mention you’ve had a solid work ethic otherwise.

Although she’s overwhelmed by work most of the time

So rather than trying to help remember dates for her, which she clearly does not need, you could try helping her with other aspects of her work. And if the dates and details are that important to you, try keeping good notes with all those facts, so you can at least say “I have all that information in my notes.”

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ChristineH January 18, 2013 at 10:12 am

#4 – Sounds like you have my twin as your boss! ;) I’ve sometimes thought about doing QA work because I am such a stickler for having all i’s dotted and t’s crossed. When I was reviewing grants over the summer, some of the proposals included reports from state auditing agencies, and you wouldn’t believe how nitpicky they were (for good reason, since any nonconformance could impact a client’s wellbeing). The nonprofits would hate me, but the auditing agencies would probably adopt me for life. lol. (unless I did internal QA).

Oh, and I still get teased about my knack for remembering certain dates. Ask me the date of my very first concert years ago, I could tell you without hesitation. Ask me what I had for dinner last night….that needs some thought. lol.

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AnotherAlison January 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

#2 – My boss, who is the CEO, has very high expectations for me and has come by my office on several occasions and subtly mentioned that I need to keep in mind that I need to make some sort of changes within my 90 days or I’m gone. He also mentioned this in my interview and I should have run then.

I’m confused. He told you in the interview that he expected whomever took this job to make changes. Now he’s reiterating the need for you to make changes, and presumably giving you the power to make said changes. What’s not to love here? I understand it’s your first week & you’re still getting your feet wet, but I think this is a very good situation. Like Alison suggested, I’d talk to him. Ask him what his top three priorities are for things that must change and develop a plan & timeline for doing that.

I’d love to be in your shoes. . .Instead, I get charged with “making changes” with no power & having to deal with a delicate flower employee who we can’t do anything with. Change everything while changing nothing. . .

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Anonna Miss January 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I thought I was the only one who was tasked with changing things, while having no power. I also have a delicate flower employee who not only refuses to change, but cries or argues when anyone suggests that she needs to. I suspect her default is to argue, and then when that doesn’t work, she’ll cry to the (male) who just wants to avoid dealing with a crying employee, so he caves everytime.

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Ask a Manager January 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Tell her boss that you’re no longer going to manage her if you’re not given authority to actually do it.

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Lily January 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I also had a delicate flower who my boss protected. If that should happen again, managing up is just as important as managing the delicate flower. I would tell my boss that I can’t be responsible for her work without neglecting my own work. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t suggest that he manage her because that would be promoting her to my level. How else can you deal with protectors of delicate flowers?

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mozandeffect January 18, 2013 at 10:44 am

#4: I don’t mean to be facetious, but man, what I wouldn’t give to have a boss like that! *I’m* the one telling my boss all the details that she always forgets. I can’t tell if she just has a brain like a sieve, or she doesn’t care. Having a memory like an elephant can be a blessing and a curse, though. She is way too reliant on me.

But in your situation, since she has never called you out or complained about forgetting something, I would not worry. Most bosses are very clear and generally make their employees know full well when they are made to look bad or are embarrassed by the actions of one of their employees.

We are all human. I agree with Alison that you should ask for some feedback – at least then you’ll know which areas you need to pay close attention to and which ones you don’t need to stress over as much.

#5: It’s not clear if you had applied for another contracting job or a government job, but I’m assuming the former.

First of all, while it’s natural to be discouraged, don’t let it eat at you. I worked in a govt contracting firm for many years and was considered one of the department’s expert. When I applied for a managerial job in our department that opened up, only to be passed over by a guy with a PhD who’d never been in contracting in his entire life. Needless to say, I was pissed. I asked the hiring manager what the deal was and he was entirely vague. (He didn’t have to say it, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out on my own that they wanted someone with a “Dr.” title and a man to head the project, even if he hadn’t a clue how to run it.) So asking the hiring manager may not help you.

However, in your case, it sounds like you wanted to go from part time (“self-employed”?) to full time, or at least be considered for a bigger role? Maybe it is time to not only talk to the hiring manager but your own manager. If you’re highly productive, your own manager should have already recognized this and if you put forward that you are interested in such jobs, it’s more likely you’ll get a heads-up in the grapevine earlier for the next one, or better yet, maybe your manager will offer you a position outright. I wish you luck!

I personally didn’t find government contract satisfying but those kinds of jobs are plentiful in the DC/MD/VA area. I wasn’t fully appreciated once I reached a certain high level of expertise. Overworked, underpaid, and refused promotion, I eventually I left when I hit a glass ceiling on salary. With some satisfaction, I found out that shortly after I left, without me there they lost the contract. So that validated that I should have gotten the position I applied for. I wouldn’t say that revenge was sweet, since my leaving was for my and my career and not purposely to hurt them, but it is nice to know to be able to say “I told you so!”

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Frances January 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

What concerns me about #7 is that he’s taking books from the OP’s desk in there — it’s not clear to me whether these are the OP’s personal reference items or items that are part of the library collection, but in either instance that is NOT sanitary and really shouldn’t be happening. If he wants to get his own books all germy that’s his problem, but a coworker’s (or the library’s) should be off limits.

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Sam January 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Yeah, that’s freaking gross. Anyone remember that Seinfeld episode where George was forced to buy an expensive book after he took it into the bookstore bathroom?

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Sam January 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Oh, Dianne below beat me to the Seinfeld reference!

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Dianne January 18, 2013 at 11:14 am

I’ve worked in a few libraries and have yet to find one without some bathroom quirks, sadly.

Taking reference materials into the bathroom is just wrong, if you want to be immature you can put a TV or laptop in the bathroom and play the Seinfeld bathroom book episode on a loop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NygOFsExGMU

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Elizabeth West January 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I’m really surprised they don’t just take their phones in there and surf the web while on the toidy anyway.

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 11:25 am

#7: This is kind of an offshoot
We have a woman who full out brushes her teeth in the bathroom 6 times a day. I’ve run into her brushing her teeth several times in one day. There is a private bathroom on floor up. Someone (not me) got fed up with her swishing and spitting and posted a sign “Please brush teeth in the private bathroom.” There was a hoopla about it and a lot of people said they felt bad for the woman. Is it me or is brushing your teeth 6 times a day at work WEIRD? I’ve started using the bathroom on a different floor, so I’ve solved any problem I had with this, but…. still…

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 11:41 am

I don’t know why that’s a problem. I’m assuming people just go in to do their business and leave – why would anyone care that she’s brushing her teeth?

And six times a day is a little much – I typically do 2 at work, though. After coffee in the morning and after lunch. Sometimes 3 if I’m going somewhere directly from work.

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Ask a Manager January 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

Six times during the work day is weird, but I don’t quite understand why anyone was bothered by it.

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KayDay January 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

I always think it’s a bit weird when people brush their teeth at the same time someone is using the bathroom….something about combining cleaning one’s mouth at the same time someone is doing something else is just a little gross to me. That said, weird is very different from bothersome, and I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with it. I just wouldn’t do it myself.

Brushing your teeth six times at work seems a bit extreme, too.

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AnotherAlison January 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

While I haven’t seen people do this 6x/day, I’ve seen people spend a good amount of time in there. It *is* bothersome. Sometimes, you need a little extra privacy & when that moment comes while someone else is spending 5 minutes brushing away, you feel like the coworker that OP#7 wrote in about, infringing on their personal space. (Then again, I was raised by someone who had major issues about public bathrooms & was taught a very narrow range of activities were acceptable in the company of others.)

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

The space is for 2 sinks, but it’s pretty narrow and she REALLY brushes her teeth. You have to stand next to this woman swishing and brushing and spitting. Kinda gross (but then again we are in the bathroom).

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A Bug! January 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I don’t think I’d be too bothered by it because I’m not easy to gross out that way, but the only thing that comes to my mind is that brushing too often can actually be bad for your teeth, because it can wear the enamel down.

I know a gal who ended up having to get veneers or something because she brushed too often and too vigorously. I think an electric toothbrush was partially to blame as well. (How awful would that be? You’re so concerned about your oral hygiene that you go to great lengths to take good care of your teeth only to end up with a dentist telling you that you actually screwed them up permanently?)

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Anonna Miss January 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm

I did this. Not to the point of needing veneers (yet), but i definitely brushed some holes into the enamel of a few teeth because I used to brush my teeth when I was at home and nervous. (Date in a half hour? Brush teeth. Killing time while he’s five minutes late due to traffic? Brush teeth. Meeting friends of friends for happy hour? Brush teeth. Rinse. Repeat.)

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Ellie H. January 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I brush 2x a day at work, sometimes 3. I frankly admit that I brush more than the average person and probably a little too much (as my dentist warns me) but I brush pretty fast, in fact, probably not long or thoroughly enough, which is not really good from the dental hygiene perspective and unobtrusively. We have shared bathrooms with 2 or 3 stalls and I almost never see anyone in there when I’m brushing my teeth. I know some people consider it a bit weird but it’s not too weird, hopefully. When I worked at a bookstore we had a little shelf in the women’s bathroom where people all kept their toothbrushes in cups, which was nice.

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Jamie January 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Yes – I love the fact that we have a private bathroom and each of us have a drawer in the cabinet for toiletries. Best perk of the job.

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BeenThere January 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Maybe she has invisalign trays to straighten her teeth? You are supposed to remove them before eating and drinking and brush teeth+trays afterwards before reinserting. The only thing you can ingest with the trays still on the teeth is water. So add a few coffees, sodas, snacks and lunch. You might get up to six times, just sayin’ :)

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Anonymous January 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

That makes sense. I didn’t make the sign, still think it’s weird. I’ve had to wait in line to wash my hands while she was swishing and brushing a couple times, but like I said I’ve just started going to another bathroom.

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Natalie January 18, 2013 at 11:47 am

It’s a little odd to brush that often, but it is so much more odd to be that upset about it and demand that she use a private bathroom.

Some of my co-workers brush their teeth and work, and they usually don’t even go to the bathroom down the hall – they just brush their teeth in the kitchen. It’s never bothered me.

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Elizabeth West January 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Eww, I wouldn’t do it in the kitchen sink. There’s something about spitting into the sink where people put their dishes….blargh. It’s perfectly fine to do it in the bathroom sink, as long as you rinse it out afterward and don’t leave any toothpaste blop all over the place. If Six Times a Day Lady is cleaning up after herself, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

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Natalie January 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Well, we have a dishwasher so we don’t put many dishes in the sink. Plus, half of the usual office dishes have already gotten someone’s spit on them in some manner, so it’s not like it’s a sterile environment.

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Lulu January 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I definitely was more comfortable with the bathroom brushing than the kitchen brushing. I mean, our department frequently felt like the Brady Bunch house, so it wasn’t as out of place as it might have been elsewhere but still… office kitchen. Disconcerting.

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Jane Doe January 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I’d guess she either had some kind of OCD-related need to brush her teeth, or she has a medical condition that makes her breath smell bad and she’s trying to control it. Otherwise it’s a little excessive.

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Rana January 19, 2013 at 3:01 am

Could be worse. She could be flossing, too.

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cas January 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Thank you for including my question today (#3).

I will re-visit my resume and see what can be changed to reflect the positions I’m applying for.

cas

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Lily in NYC January 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Regarding post #3 – I doubt OP is blacklisted. In my experience, recruiters often post jobs that don’t really exist because they are trolling for resumes.

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Lulu January 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Yes, I’ve heard a lot of this, and realized that many of the positions I see listed by agencies are so ambiguous that they could cover many jobs that might come through someone’s office (“fantastic work environment! right-hand person!”), so I imagine some actual headhunters might do the same. When you’ve been looking for a long time it’s easy to start getting paranoid there’s something personal going on that you’re somehow oblivious to, and while that could be the case for some people, the market really is That Bad. I have not been in a position to work with recruiters/headhunters, but I imagine their scope is even narrower than the general market, so I wouldn’t read too much into it beyond that they aren’t a particularly useful group for you at this point.

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OP#7 January 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Question 7 OP here.

There is a private men’s room 1 floor up as an option. That is what the previous person in his position did without ever being asked. I guess I can deal with the discomfort, as the genie is out of the bottle, but it’s really embarrassing when I have someone in my office for a meeting and he’s in there *almost* the whole time. (On one occasion, he came out and offered to shake hands with the clearly uncomfortable faculty member. Ah, memories!) I do have to say, if the tables were turned, I would never do that in my boss’ office.

The other issues with him are less tricky and may become moot, as we are planning to upgrade the position and re-post, pending a budget approval process. Meanwhile, bombs away!

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Ask a Manager January 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Is there any way to say, “When I’m meeting with someone in my office, would you mind using the upstairs bathroom? I know it’s the only staff bathroom on this level, but it’s a little strange when we’re in such close quarters in a meeting.”

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Cassie January 19, 2013 at 12:30 am

#4: I can remember the most random trivia, but my bosses (being in STEM fields) are insane with their memories. They talk about conversations 20-some years ago when this or that happened. And they can do calculations in their head while I have to pull out my calculator.

Rather than try to “remember” some detail that they are asking about, I go back to my files and check. I hate having to tell my bosses “I was wrong when I said XYZ earlier; it’s actually ABC” or worse yet “You were right about it being ABC; I was wrong.”

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ME January 19, 2013 at 11:28 am

As per #7, I work in an office of 12, and 2 of the guys either have IBS or just unhealthy bowels because I can’t even go in there after them, the smell is not only bad but so strong, as if 15 people just went to the bathroom. Of course, they eat whatever they want, love coffee and beer. I very much want to give them a talk on digestive health.

One day I caught another guy (not one of the 2) open the door and choke, and he looked at me and said “I can’t do it” and we had to talk to the ladies and explain our issue and fortunately got permission to use the ladies’ room when such issue occurred, which can be daily.

These guys need probiotics big time!

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Sara January 20, 2013 at 11:36 am

#7. At my last job, the bathroom was a few feet away from my desk and the sink was right outside the dor/next to the sink. Since I opened/closed, I didn’t mind using that to do #2… as far as I can recall, it was used maybe once or twice by others for that purpose throughout my time there. Luckily, I was given a set of keys to another building right next door where if anyone needed it, they could use the bathroom there, and my staff was allowed to take the keys to the restroom.

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Guy January 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I work at a small retail shop that has a bathroom located in the center of the store. The management has posted a sign above the toilet that addresses the issue of foul smells and small workplace by asking that the restroom be used for peeing only, and that any number two deposits be done in the public restroom located nearby.

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