open thread – June 16-17, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,060 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Jimbo

    I have an upcoming interview that I am excited about. This position will be a move up for me professionally and includes supervising people for the first time in a number of years. I have been mostly a project manager and technical person for most of my career and my last few positions have been progressively increasing in responsibility, complexity and size of projects. The individuals interviewing me this round will be people whom the position will supervise.

    I’ve directly supervised people before but not for a while. The last time I managed staff was 15 years ago and that was one entry level person and prior to that, part-time student workers in a workstudy program.

    In this prospective job, it will be two highly skilled and experienced manager-level, technical staff who I will potentially manage. I appreciate tips and advice on how best to prepare and what to anticipate as far as questions they may likely ask or issues they might look out for.

    Reply
    1. KiteFlier

      I’d imagine they will ask about your management style. Even if you haven’t managed people directly in a while, think about how to manage your relationships with internal teams – how do you gather information from them, etc.

      Reply
    2. Anon Anon

      In addition, to the management style, I know one question that I have received from people who would report directly to me is what type of mentoring and development I can offer the individuals in the department. I find that many people who are reports want to know what they can learn from the person they report to, and what opportunities might be available for them to learn and grow. At least this is a question I’ve been asked on several occasions.

      Reply
      1. Gabby

        Related to this, a good friend of mine interviewed her potential future bosses recently, and her key question was how they would think about growing the department. I think the goal was to understand how her role would shift as new employees were hired and the direction in which the boss wanted to take the department (business development at a small but growing startup).

        Reply
    3. Jimbo

      Thanks both! I am curious Anon Anon — how did you answer questions about mentorship and development in the past? I ask because I don’t know the policy and budget for professional development that the organization offers and I don’t want to answer in a way that will be wildly inaccurate or unsuited for their budget or internal arrangements.

      Reply
      1. Anon Anon

        That’s actually a question I try and ask HR or the hiring manager, what sorts of professional resources and budget is available for all staff. If the answer is nothing or no one really knows, then it’s a red flag for me as an employee and a manager.

        So I generally have a decent sense of what types of things (tuition reimbursement, association memberships, etc.) the organization will cover. However, I typically answer the question that I am supportive of professional development and growth, and then discuss how in the past when I’ve gotten new reports that we sit down and discuss what their professional development goals are (if any), so that we can determine together how I can best assist them to reach those goals, or even if that is a possibility. I like having an honest conversation about what the person wants to achieve. If there are opportunities and skills that I can help someone build so that they can better perform in their current job, or that will give them the skills to move up, then I want to do that.

        Generally, that sort of response has gone down quite well for that sort of question.

        Reply
    4. Angelinha

      They may ask you about the first change you’d anticipate making. That was a question we asked when I was part of an interview panel for a new director. It got us some good insight about the candidates, especially about the woman who – honestly – said she worked best with people she’d brought on herself, so she’d take a look at people’s performance and see who should stay or who may not be the right fit. Um…..glad you said that, but hello, the people you’re talking about are the ones interviewing you!

      Reply
      1. BWooster

        This is the reason I wonder if it makes sense for subordinates to interview their manager. A clean sweep might be the right approach and it’s never going to get past people who are likeliest to be effected.

        Reply
        1. John B Public

          This department sounds like it’s functioning well, so why would you throw that away? That makes as much sense as throwing away your old tools because you got a new toolbox.

          I’m not saying there aren’t valid instances where you’d do a clean sweep, but this doesn’t seem like one of those situations. If the true value is the team, then it makes sense that the new manager would need to be interviewed by them, since they are the value-makers and the role of the manager is to increase their value-making.

          Reply
  2. TCO

    I’ve been working full-time for about ten years now and I’m trying to move into my first management role. I’ve been very well-regarded at my jobs and have been told often that I’m smart, personable, and a strong leader. I know I’m ready for the next step up.

    My ambition is to continue moving into higher leadership roles throughout my career. My concern? I don’t think I’m “visionary” enough. I’m good at developing new programs and projects from scratch with limited resources. I’m creative. But I think I’m too pragmatic and I struggle to “dream big.” I know that holds me back sometimes. I’ve seen it play out in both my professional and volunteer lives: other people have the big, courageous, long-range ideas that our organization needs, and my mind just doesn’t work that way. I can appreciate that being all vision and no implementation is a problem, but isn’t the reverse a problem, too? I’ve seen that when leaders think too small, their organizations stagnate.

    I work primarily in the nonprofit sector, where success requires a mix of strong management skills and a bold vision to keep adapting to challenging circumstances. Management skills I have. But do I need to be more visionary to be a great leader in this field? If so, how can I develop those skills?

    Reply
    1. Me too

      I don’t have any advice, only commiseration. And I’d love to hear how others are handling it. My pragmatism is one of my strengths, but I know that strategic, visionary stuff isn’t my strong suit at all.

      Reply
      1. Sue

        It takes a mix of talents to make a project work. There are lots of people with big ideas and little follow through. Being a pragmatic thinker who gets stuff done is highly valuable. Don’t sell yourself short.

        Reply
    2. Leena Wants Cake

      Are you able to surround yourself with people who do think big? Are there any visionary thinkers you trust to give you recommendations? As a manager, you don’t necessarily have to come up with the big ideas yourself–but you should be able recognize worthwhile ideas when they come along and foster a culture where innovation is valued so people feel empowered to share big ideas.

      Reply
      1. Jerry Vandesic

        I absolutely agree. The best management idea I ever learned was to surround yourself with people smarter than you. Find visionary people to work for you that can fill in the gaps as well as teach you.

        Reply
    3. misspiggy

      I’m exactly the same. One answer is to cultivate ideas from people in your team and from your bosses. My superhero boss would do this all the time, regularly having strategy meetings for the team and asking us for big-picture ideas in response to the latest external development or management priority.

      Reply
    4. KR

      When I took Intro to Business, my teacher said something that really stuck with me. He essentially said that we can’t all be the next Steve Jobs, master programmer, engineer that designs something groundbreaking, great innovator, ect. Some people are really good at making things happen, managing processes, or just doing their part in the machine that is a successful company. And that’s okay. He was a guy in logistics and distribution. He didn’t do anything no one had ever heard of and he probably wasn’t the best, but he did his job well, formed good business relationships, worked hard, and eventually he moved up to senior management. This is the advice that made me go into business whereas before I was so convinced I should be an engineer when I really wasn’t excelling at the classes for it. Someone has to make the visionary stuff happen and it looks like you’re in a great position to do that. Don’t give up and I wish you success.

      Reply
      1. starsaphire

        This, exactly. Every D.D. Harriman needs a George Strong (or two) to make the big ideas happen. What good are the ideas without the planning and effort to bring them to fruition?

        Reply
        1. DArcy

          What made Apple successful is that they pretty much built an entire company around supporting a single genius visionary. The purpose of everyone else at Apple was to hold Steve Jobs’ coattails and do all the nuts-and-bolts work of building out his ideas.

          Reply
    5. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

      I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for the last seven years so I actually really appreciate a manager who is not as much a visionary but has a more realistic view. I’ve had senior leadership come up with the most impractical, unnecessary ideas and sometimes I feel like I’m alone in my thinking that it just won’t work because all of the leadership are visionaries. I’m someone who overly practical which can hurt me at times and when I need to think a little larger, I create a wishlist where I can’t say no to anything off the bat. I then will sit down with someone else and discuss which may actually be possible as sometimes other people think larger than I do. I think it probably depends on what department you work in but where I’ve seen people be really successful is putting together a team so you don’t have just someone who thinks of great ideas but can’t execute and someone who can manage a project really well and can take those ideas and make them happen.

      Reply
      1. paul

        Yep. And don’t get me started on board members with grandiose plans…when they’ve never actually navigated the social services sector. Oy vey.

        Reply
    6. NW Mossy

      It sounds to me like the right next step for you would be a front-line manager role in a decent-sized organization. They primarily manage individual contributors and focus on developing their teams and working on projects, usually in conjunction with their peers and subject matter experts. It’s a good intermediate point to see if leadership is truly for you and give you a chance to see how senior leaders develop a vision and learn from them.

      From the outside looking in, it can sometimes seem like senior leaders are hypercompetent visionaries who spend their time building great constructs of ideas. But in reality, they’re people too – they face struggles with their work, sometimes the ideas don’t come or don’t work, and sometimes they’re just plain wrong. Having a perfect vision and executing it perfectly is generally not required; an open mind and the ability to build good relationships with others is. The best senior leaders draw a lot of input from various places and sift it to a decision, and that’s something many people can learn to do well if they focus on it.

      Reply
    7. Didi

      I’m not a visionary either, so I hear you. But you know what? Visionaries are notorious for not getting things done. They have great ideas but lack the ability (the focus, the time or the skills) to see things through and make their ideas actually happen.

      I learned to OWN my ability to get things done. It’s a valuable skill to have and much appreciated.

      It’s hard to learn to be visionary. You can get ideas by networking in your field and staying on top of technology.

      Reply
    8. Kimberlee, Esq.

      Yeah, agreed with others that I don’t think this is necessarily a problem. But I think you can also improve! One thing to do is read books that help you see things differently, to expand your ideas of what’s possible. A great one I read recently is William C. Taylor’s “Simply Brilliant” which is about a bunch of different types of companies that do incredible things… the main thrust of the book is “don’t let what you know limit what you can imagine.”

      Reply
    9. Blue_eyes

      The pragmatic people are the ones who make the “big ideas” happen. It sounds like moving into project management or operations might be a good fit for you. Chief Operations Officer is a C-level job too! Most organizations need people who dream big AND people who Get S(tuff) Done.

      Reply
    10. College Career Counselor

      I’m not sure how much advice I have for you either, but I have struggled with this as well. But here are a couple of possibilities:

      1) Try to remove financial and staffing constraints from your thinking when doing big picture/visionary. *
      2) Try to envision what it would look like for the entire constituency (clients, students, colleagues, whatever) to have access, training, information, resources, etc. through this new idea you have.
      3) Try to think of what ONE thing (ie, transformational) will make the situation you work in better (that can be visionary)
      4) Failing that, try to figure out what series of incremental actions or processes might be grouped together under a larger “visionary” heading (even if it’s stuff you’re already doing, sometimes the framing will help take things to the next level).

      Hope this is useful!

      *Admittedly, the pragmatic part of my brain that says, “well, they’re never going to give you five million bucks to do this thing the way it needs to be done” gets in the way.

      Reply
    11. Not So NewReader

      Vantage point comes in to play here, also. People closer to the top are privy to more information that helps them craft their vision. It is harder to do this when you are not in their position.

      The people who hire for these positions can sometimes pick up clues as to the person’s ability to do the job. They could decide that you would grow into a position based on how you have done with your current work.

      The term bold vision can sound pretty intimidating. Honestly, I think it is over used. What does bold mean? Outsmarting the system and the regs? Getting there before a competitor does? Launching a high risk endeavor?

      I think LEARN your arena. Know it like you know how to breathe. Meet as many people as possible, know what it is they do. This becomes your foundation that you will work off of. You can’t have a vision if you do not have a good handle on 1) what is out there already and 2) what resources are available and this means human beings as well as materials. Then you start looking around. Where are there needs? And typically, we have to start small. Identify a need, figure out a solution. It’s in doing this repeatedly that we learn how to solve bigger problems and we gain a vision of bigger ideas. We have to handle the smaller stuff to see the interconnections and the disconnections.

      While it’s true you may not be a visionary on the grander scale you may be darn good at mapping out plans for several years from now.
      Conversely, you may decide that having visions for future projects is not something you actually enjoy. And you lose interest in developing more visionary skills.

      The path is not always clear. We want to walk a mile down the road. But there is a curve and we can’t see the last half mile of road. So the solution is to get as far as the curve in the road and see how things look at that point. Then decide whether to continue on, stay put or take a side path. A pearl of wisdom I have held on to is to do what you see in front of you. Get that done and look around for what new things you now see in front of you. The rule of thumb is if we try to skip steps or try to go out too far we will have a hard time figuring out what to do next. We should keep looking at what is right in front of us, because that does change and it’s important to follow those changes.

      Reply
    12. BRR

      No. My previous manager was a “visionary” and that was about her only good quality. It was also what made her a source of major stress in my life. I would have given anything for a manager who could implement ideas.

      Reply
    13. Thinking Outside the Boss

      OP, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      I became a supervisor in 2010 and a manager in 2013, and for both jobs, my agency wanted to know what I’d do differently to make my agency a better place, i.e. they wanted me to outline my vision. I had the same concerns as you and I came up with enough good ideas to get the promotion.

      Once I promoted, my bosses could care less about my visions and more about whether I could implement whatever vision the agency had, regardless of who was the author of the visionary ideas.

      Go forth and prosper!

      Reply
    14. Observer

      In the short term, this is not a problem. The ability to get things done is gold. In the long term, though, it could hold you back, depending on where you want to wind up.

      A few things that can be helpful.

      1. Keep honing your ability to get things done, and done better, differently and under different circumstances. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it really helps. For one thing, it gives you credibility when you come up with “big” ideas that are “out there” or very different from what has been done before. When you say “I think we can do this” your record of getting things done will help. Also, as you broaden your experience you’ll begin to see different things that can be done, and you’ll begin to see more opportunities and holes that could stand to be filled.

      2. Become friends with, and learn from “big thinkers”. Look at who is a big thinker and gets things done, who is a big thinker who gets other people to actually get things done, and who is a big thinker whose ideas don’t go anywhere or only get somewhere once someone else has taken it over.

      3. Leadership is not about being able to do everything yourself. Learn how to tap big thinkers on your team(s), even if only on smaller projects. Especially as you develop you skill at figuring out how to get new and different things done, you’ll be in a good position to take those ideas and make them happen.

      4. Make it a habit to look at every annoyance, hole or problem you run into as an opportunity to think of a way to fix or solve that issue. Ask yourself what it would take, at a birds eye level, to fix this problem? Is it worth it? Why or why not? For every 2nd or 3rd “worth it” idea sketch out a plan of action. This will help you develop the vision you’re looking for.

      Reply
  3. Mixing Work and Volunteering

    I recently started as an administrative person in a sales dept. I’m bottom of the totem pole but really enjoying it so far. I’m also a volunteer with a local event that is in line with the kinds of clients my sales dept wants. My dept works with other events that are identical to the one I volunteer with, which is growing and promising to be around for a while. My dept has services that I think the event could definitely benefit from.

    As far as I can tell, the two have never connected and I can’t decide whether I should try to connect them or not. I’m administrative so it’s not actually my job to make sales but I know the founder of the event pretty well (I’ve volunteered from the first year so he recognizes me on sight and by name, rare for the giant group of volunteers, and we’re social media friends who talk online on occasion) so it would be easy to ask if he was interested in talking to my company. But I worry about mixing my job with my volunteering if something goes south in either direction. Plus my company policy won’t allow mixing that might be financially beneficial to me; though I’m an unpaid volunteer now, I’d love to become staff some day (not a full time job that would force me to leave current job, it would only occupy a few of my weekends) but my job may not allow that if they’re working together. However, if I don’t say anything and my job finds the event on their own, it would be easily known that I volunteer with them and my boss might wonder why I didn’t do the connecting myself.

    So should I bring this information to my boss to see if he wants to be connected with the event founder or should I just leave it alone?

    Reply
    1. Lizard

      I think if you feel like this has the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship it would be totally reasonable to reach out to the founder and see if he’s interested in being contacted by your company, and if so, let your boss know that you think this is a potential client and that the sales folks should get in touch. If you limit your role to making the introduction I don’t think there’s too much of a downside there other than the potential limitation on paid work with the event. On the other hand, if you decide not to, I wouldn’t worry too much about your boss being upset that you’re a volunteer and didn’t try to make the contact–you’re admin, not sales, and it’s totally reasonable to try to keep your work and personal life separate, especially if you say you were worried that it might be a potential conflict of interest.

      Reply
    2. ZVA

      I would definitely bring it to your boss and see what he thinks! Can’t see the harm in that. But I wouldn’t bring it up with the event founder without talking to your boss first. (Context: I’m in sales, and while I know I and my managers would appreciate a tip like this, I don’t think I’d want a non–sales colleague reaching out on my/the company’s behalf before bringing it to me.)

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. John B Public

        Who you talk to first depends on who you have the bigger relationship with, or the one you value the most. If you approach the founder, take care not to make any promises about what your company can accomplish, instead use examples of what your company has done in the past and ask if those are the sorts of things the founder is interested in.

        If you approach your boss, emphasize how valuable your relationship to the founder is to you, and ask about how to preserve it if your company begins a business relationship with the event.

        Reply
  4. Amelia Bedelia

    So, I’m 99% sure my supervisor is getting fired in the near future. It’s frankly long overdue. The problems are deep in both her poor attitude, and performance (I can attest especially to the misery she casts upon the office with her downright horrible attitude and rudeness).

    Long story short, earlier this week, I gave big boss (per his request), pages and pages of documentation on supervisor. Today, big boss is meeting with his boss at corporate to get the ball rolling, and go over all the documentation (mine and others’) that they have on supervisor. Based on the meeting big boss had with me regarding his plans for supervisor, I have no indication that they’re not going to let her go. She’s already had several warnings and been put on performance plans (according to big boss) over the past year.

    However, my only fear is that somehow, supervisor will convince big boss to give her another chance, and that supervisor will retaliate against me for all the documentation I wrote on her (we are in a small office, so it’s inevitable that when big boss brings up issues with her, supervisor will know it was me that “tattled” on her.) Although big boss claims that others have brought him documentation on supervisor as well, 90% of our employees are salespeople who only have to deal with supervisor on a minimal basis, so I’m certain I have the most extensive, and blunt documentation on supervisor.

    I voiced my concerns to big boss about retaliation, to which he assured me I “had nothing to worry about there”, and repeatedly drove home the point that he “wouldn’t allow that.” However, even assuming that they do fire her, I’m very concerned about my safety in the office. Supervisor has shown incredibly alarming behavior time and time again with her short temper and jarring outbursts, so I certainly wouldn’t put it past her to come back to the office and cause harm. (Especially to me, since I’m the one who works most closely with her.)

    My company traditionally has fired employees on Fridays, so since big boss is meeting with his boss today to get everything set, I think the earliest they will fire supervisor is next Friday. Still, I’m already concerned about the possibility of retaliation. We are a small office, so we don’t have security or anything. How can I ease my mind?

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I wouldn’t suggest this to the person doing the firing, but you’re not that person– can you take the day off when they do it? If so, I would recommend doing something very nice for yourself, like going to a museum or the spa or the movies, something that might take you out of the situation for a few hours.

      Reply
      1. Amelia Bedelia

        I had considered that, and still may ask big boss about that. He knows the discomfort and awkwardness I’ll feel when he addresses my documentation with her (and subsequently lets her go), so I’m hopeful that he’ll encourage me to take at least part of the day off when she is being fired.

        Reply
    2. Turquoise Cow

      It sounds like the big boss is pretty set and determined to fire her, so I’m sure you’re not alone in thinking she’s a horrible employee, supervisor, and all around person. I don’t know what your security is like, but I don’t think any other employee would let her in if that was required. Also: It’s not “tattling” if you brought big boss evidence that he asked for – she dug this hole herself.

      Congratulations on getting rid of someone horrible! I’m sure that many of us here have suffered (/are suffering) with bosses or coworkers who are horrible and kept on for way longer than they should be. You’ll soon be free!

      Reply
      1. Amelia Bedelia

        Yes, I’m SO relieved that it’s the end of an era here with her (almost certainly) being let go. She’s been a dark cloud over the office for years. You are pretty spot on that she is a horrible employee, supervisor, and all around person. I know that everyone here will be breathing a sigh of relief when she’s finally let go.

        Reply
    3. Katelyn

      Since you’ve been speaking with the supervisor’s boss directly, if Supervisor manages a hail Mary and stays on for one last shot if there is any retaliation, or really anything that shows she’s still keeping all her old habits, I’d say document and discuss with Boss. Be sure that it’s not petty things, unless there’s so many of them that it’s an obvious chain of harassment, but things like not giving you what you need to complete your work for the company, I’d go directly and immediately to Boss about it.

      Reply
      1. Amelia Bedelia

        It’s funny you should say that – she actually ALREADY withholds information that I (and other employees) need to complete our work.

        Reply
    4. mamabear

      Ooof. I think you’d be perfectly justified in taking vacation on or around the day your boss is fired. I’m really sorry. I went through this just a few months ago and it was a rotten few weeks (the time between when I knew it was going to happen and when it actually happened). And, of course, I couldn’t talk to my team about anything that I knew.

      I would also ask your supervisor what his/her plans are for the fired employee. Are they getting let go and escorted from the building on the spot, or will there be a transition period? Because I think it’s reasonable to request to work from home during the transition period.

      In my case, I was very honest and upfront about my concerns and leadership decided to let my fired boss work from home on “special projects” during the transition time. They also minimized the contact I would have with this person. I think we exchanged two emails about the project and that was it.

      Reply
      1. Amelia Bedelia

        Thank you for your sympathies! It will certainly be a tough time between now and when the trigger is pulled, not having more information on the details. I think she will be done once she’s officially fired, though. I don’t think they will ask her to stay for any period of time.

        Reply
    5. designbot

      I’d follow up with Big Boss and briefly express your concerns. Say hey, I know that you and I haven’t spoken about what the outcome of these discussions will be but if keeping supervisor on is a possibility, could you proceed with some mindfulness about the outcome for me? I’ve been very open with you and a lot of that information would be easy to identify the source of, and the more I think about it the more I realize the damage that could do to our ability to move forward together.

      Reply
      1. Amelia Bedelia

        I actually just followed up with him this morning, he reiterated that I “don’t need to worry about that, because we’re moving on from her.” I think I needed to perhaps express more of my concern for safety, even AFTER she’s gone. I think big boss’s thinking is that it won’t be an issue because she won’t be employed here anymore, but I think it still potentially could be.

        Reply
        1. designbot

          oh gosh. Yeah I hadn’t gotten that from your description. Is there a specific reason for that concern?

          Reply
          1. Amelia Bedelia

            She’s just shown behavior that indicates some serious mental issues. The smallest things cause her to go absolutely insane to the point where everyone around just kind of just freezes in awe of her overreactions. Based on that, I can’t even think about how strongly she’ll react to being fired, especially knowing all the information I provided big boss with.

            Maybe I’m being overly cautious fearing that she’ll come back to the office and retaliate with the intention of physically harming employees, but based on the behavior I’ve seen, I tend to think otherwise.

            Reply
    6. Michael Carmichael

      I had a boss like this, and had similar fears about both the possibility she could talk her way to a second (fifth?) chance, or that she would react inappropriately if let go. The day she was actually let go was SUPER AWKWARD because after she met with big boss, she stomped into her office (feet away from where we were all working) and started literally throwing things into boxes. The moving out process took a loooong time and we couldn’t work for the stress but had to look busy, we were all so afraid she was going to come out of her office and shout/throw things at us – I heartily second the person who said Take A Personal Day that day. If at all possible.

      Reply
      1. Amelia Bedelia

        Reading this is actually scarily real for me. EVERYTHING you’ve described here sounds exactly how I anticipate my supervisor acting. Like, if I could paint a picture of how it will be, your description in spot on. She has A LOT of stuff in her office, including many picture frames, paintings, and even decorative plates on a hanging wire rack. I could definitely see her smashing things, kicking boxes, throwing stuff, etc. Taking a personal day is sounding like the best solution.

        Reply
        1. Michael Carmichael

          I feel for you. In my situation, nothing actually happened – she didn’t end up speaking to any of us at all – but I just felt sick to my stomach the entire day, and it was a complete waste of a day, workwise.

          But, once she was gone it was amazing, so I will hope for that for you also! We didn’t even HAVE a manager for a while but everything was so smooth and conflict free, we happily pitched in and got things done until we got our new manager (who was not insane).

          Reply
          1. Amelia Bedelia

            That’s great! I am hopeful that it’ll be amazing once my manager is gone, too. I think we may be manager-less for a while as well, but it’ll be worth it to (hopefully) have a less insane manager in the future!

            Reply
        2. RVA Cat

          If that’s the case, honestly I wonder if it might be wise for your employer to have someone (not you!) pack up her office as discretely as possible while she is in her termination meeting.

          Reply
          1. Rick Tq

            Exactly what I was going to suggest. BigBoss should hire professional movers come in to pack her office while she is in the termination meeting.

            Even more importantly, IT needs to be notified as soon as the meeting starts to boot her from the network and disable her user account(s).

            Once she is packed site security can escort her to the door and collect badges and keys. If she is that big a loon perhaps even having the building re-keyed so any copies she may have at home won’t work.

            Reply
            1. LKR

              I have a friend/excoworker who was fired. She & I both worked as secretaries at a law firm. They didn’t escort her out, & she went back to her computer & deleted all of the work she’d done that day. Luckily, it was retrieved from the server or I would have had to redo her work.

              Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      Encourage the boss to set up an emergency plan. This could include keeping your cell phone in your pocket at all times. Maybe the boss could decide that there should be x number of people in the office at all times for a while. Implement a buddy system. This would mean shifting work loads around or moving outside meetings. There are many simple things that can be done to help.

      Having gone through some kind of wild situations myself, I would like to reassure you that most times what we fear never happens. Of course, not all the time, so prep is wise. One thing I have done is let people around me know there is a potential problem at work and would they keep an eye on me, my place and my vehicle. Honestly, I think that these things help create an air about the situation. It’s a no nonsense air, where the angry person realizes there are just too many people watching to see what happens next.

      Getting everyone on the same page is important. Have some idea of how you will take care of yourself, a half baked plan is better than no plan.

      Hold on to this thought: When dealing with angry people, it’s good to look for common ground. Look for something you both agree on. So let’s say she stops at your desk and starts screaming at you about how unfair things are etc. Listen to what she is saying and find something that you can agree with. In this example here, you might decide that you agree her job was hard. So you say, “I do agree that your job was a difficult job, there were lots of moving parts and that made it hard.” Notice that the agreement here is with a very limited part of what she is saying. However, validation is a powerful tool and it can be used to defuse tense situations. Meanwhile you are furiously dialing 911 on the cell in your lap that she can not see.

      Reply
  5. Cass

    I’ve got a phone interview next week for a job that would be more senior than the role I’m in now, but it would mean a cross country move. I’m super excited about the location, but really hesitant about uprooting and leaving if I were to get/accept an offer. It’s crazy, right? I’d love to hear from anyone who went through this. Any tips on addressing the location issue in the interview? For context, I’m married with no kids, but we do have a young dog. Happy Friday!

    Reply
    1. the gold digger

      Unless this would be a huge, huge increase in salary, I would not pay for a move myself. And even when they are paying for the move (I have had four corporate moves), it is really, really hard to move. Your life completely starts over – new doctor, new dentist, new grocery store, new friends (which get harder and harder to make the older you get).

      However. You asked about bringing up the location. I assume they know you are not in their city? If so, I would wait for an offer before asking about a move package. (And it should include not just the packers and the movers but also a relocation allowance to cover things like new drivers licenses, registering the car in another state, cancelled gym fees, etc. My last corporate relo was in 1999 and I got $10,000 in cash in addition to their paying all the move expenses and they grossed everything up for taxes.)

      Reply
    2. Ms. Mad Scientist

      I did this five years ago. Husband and I moved to a new city 1000 miles away. Move was extremely rough though. My husband stayed behind to sell our house. I came back once the house was sold and made a the drive to our new home with our three cats. Still at the same company and have been promoted. For the most part New City is great other than the real estate situation.
      If at all possible, try to negotiate short-term housing, maybe a few weeks or a month in an extended stay hotel. We sat on the floor for ten days while we waited for the moving company to show up. Plus it will give you a chance to check out the area and see what neighborhoods you like.

      Reply
      1. Mirth & Merry

        Hugely agree with trying to negotiate short term housing. (or even just a vote to consider that initially) My company put me on a project in a new location in the middle of January in a very small town very old town in the mountains. I was on the edge of a mini breakdown trying to find a place to live that was even livable (very small, very very old town with very very very old houses ) and they even gave me a few weeks. Spring/summer is a much better time to move though so fingers crossed you have much better options!

        Also totally dependent on your personal situation but even just a few months in you will learn about the areas and figure out where you like to go/what kind of lifestyle you want. I actually ended up on the other side of town from my initial “target area” and am happy I don’t have a lease that I am stuck in/have to break/sublet/whatever or with a mortgage in a house I hate.

        Reply
    3. De Minimis

      I’ve done it, I would only do it if you were really excited about the job and the location.

      It also depends on how hard it would be to move, how attached you and your spouse are to where you’re at now, and other things.

      Our dogs had a tough time adjusting when we moved, something about the new location didn’t agree with them and they were sick all of the time. May have just been the stress of moving. They were also older, a younger dog might have an easier time.

      We had a similar situation to what was mentioned below, one of us stayed behind to pack up and sell the house, and we ended up being apart for over a year.

      We ended up moving back to the state we came from a few years later. There just wasn’t enough job opportunity for my wife in the other place.

      Reply
      1. Cass

        Thanks for the input. I imagine the time apart was rough. Yeah, we need to make sure that we’re really in love the new location on its own and not only the idea of a new adventure.

        Reply
        1. Kimberlee, Esq.

          Eh, I don’t think you need to be in love with the new location, you just want to make sure you don’t love your _current_ location so much that it will pain you to move. I’ve been in DC for about 6 years now, and it took me probably 6 months to a year to really love it… but not loving the places I’d lived before helped, and now it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else!

          If you truly love where you are now, it might not be worth the move. But if not, it might be worth the adventure to try to find out if you might love the new location!

          Reply
    4. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

      I moved my family (husband and 4 year old daughter) from New York State to Wisconsin in 2001. Moving so far from family was hard but it turned out to be a great move for our family and at the time my career. We love where we live and even though I’ve switched jobs a few times since then, the area I live in now is much larger and has more opportunity than where we used to live. My husband and I agreed that if we were going to make a move, it needed to happen before our daughter started school, so for us it was our one chance so we went for it.

      It does take a lot of readjusting, and I think also depends on how much of a support system where you are now that you’ll be losing. We lived hours away from our families even in New York, so being 100% on our own once we got to Wisconsin wasn’t too overwhelming. It did take a while to sell our old house, and even longer for my husband to get a job in his field, but 16 years later I don’t have a single regret about moving.

      Reply
      1. Cass

        “My husband and I agreed that if we were going to make a move, it needed to happen before our daughter started school, so for us it was our one chance so we went for it.”

        Exactly. My wife and I have been talking about making a move like this for some time since we don’t have kids yet. We would be going from having my parents in the same city and several friends in the surrounding cities to being 100% on our own. Might be that we’re more in love with the idea of “Adventure!” Gotta figure that part out. Thanks for the perspective.

        Reply
    5. AnotherHRPro

      I’ve moved cross country 4 times with corporate relocation. It is difficult, but if the company offers relocation that helps a great deal. You don’t want to bring up relocation at this time as it is too soon in the process (just like you don’t bring up questions about health insurance coverage in the first interview). Once you get further down the road it fine to get a better understanding of what support the company provides to new hires that are relocating. Specifically: temporary housing, home sale or lease breaking assistance, pack and move of household goods, travel back and forth during the move process, etc.

      While doing a cross country move is hard, I personally and professionally found it worthwhile and would do it again. Good luck to you.

      Reply
    6. Rachel in NYC

      We did it when I was a little kid and my mom had a difficult time with the move. She isn’t something who moves someplace and just makes friends – so moving across the country and leaving her support group was really difficult, it wasn’t something she ever totally re-created.

      So where I’m going, is something to consider is how you and your spouse socialize and make friends and how that will impact your life in a new city. I have a cousin who’s husband is quiet and meets people slowly, but she’s the opposite and before a move has happened will have contacts ready to go in a new city. My sister has lived in her current city for almost a year and for the first several months, the only people she socialized with were my parents who had moved there to help out her and my BIL, because she doesn’t just make friends places.

      Reply
    7. Stephivist

      I moved my family 2000 miles last summer for a new position without relocation assistance (government – not an option w/ this agency). Me + husband + 2 kids (1 disabled in wheelchair) + dog.

      Some thoughts:
      -I moved in June and the family didn’t follow me until just before school started. Supporting two households was financially difficult. Our new home has a ridiculous housing market and we weren’t able to find any reasonable short-term housing options. I slept on an air mattress and owned 1 chair. It was hilarious and uncomfortable.
      -We emptied our savings and are still recovering from that blow. I expect it will take us another year to break even.
      -Our house didn’t sell until December. So we weren’t actually free and clear for six months.
      -I still don’t have any close friends in the new location. Acquaintances, yes. You might be better at this than we are though.
      -Moving doctors is something people worry about a lot, but is generally not a big deal. My son has 7 doctors. Even that went smoothly.

      Would I do it all again? Yes, absolutely. No hesitation.

      Reply
      1. Cass

        I’d love to hear more about what convinced you that it was the right choice despite the difficulties of moving if you’re willing to share. My wife works in a field with a high employment rate so finding a job for her wouldn’t be difficult. We’re renting but would need to break our lease if we left. And we would definitely be draining our savings to make this move if relocation assistance weren’t offered.

        Reply
        1. Stephivist

          In my case, the position was a huge step forward. I’m in my mid-30s working in a position that a lot of people would retire from. I also left a location where I had topped out career-wise. I could see the field of people waiting for someone else to retire – the competition for future jobs was going to be difficult. I’m very passionate about my career, so the ability to take this kind of position was very important to me.

          My husband works in tech, so knowing that he could find something pretty much anywhere was a plus, for sure. He isn’t in his dream job here (and he loved his last position, so its been a bit of an adjustment), but he found something quickly and has a lot of opportunity.

          Knowing we were going to have to drain the savings was the most difficult issue to overcome. We just starting running numbers and decided that the future payoff would be worth the hardship now. Of course, we are taking a gamble that we won’t have an unmanageable financial crisis in the meantime.

          Reply
    8. attornaut

      I’ve done this twice–once to a location I really wanted, once for a job I really wanted. Both times worked out well, but I was also moving from a small apartment with an easy-going spouse (and pets). Now, with a whole house to move… I don’t know. It would take A LOT to even consider it.

      Have you spent time in the new location? I think, for the purposes of the interview, just expressing a willingness to move (and if you do have any times to the new location, a brief mention) is probably fine. Once you have an offer, though, you’d want to seriously consider what relocation package is available, and whether your view of the new location is accurate/complete. I know a lot of people leave my (desirable?) location after about 6 months of discovering that it’s not actually as presented in movies when you are a real person working a real 9-5 type job.

      Reply
    9. New Las Vegas resident

      I just did this. As in I relocated at the end of February.

      It sucked. It still sucks.

      I moved out of my house of 20 years (with a big yard) into an apartment. I hate it. No, I CANNOT get a new house right now. Also I’m paying rent & morgage.

      My family is 1200 miles away. My dad is having serious health problems.

      I talk to my coworkers and my cat. I haven’t had the mental bandwidth to join any groups/meet ups yet. I still haven’t fully unpacked.

      For moving my cat, I put her on a leash and had a large, flat Rubbermaid container as a litter box. The box was open in the uhaul cab but I could put the lid on to move it into hotel rooms. She spent the first day looking out the wind0ws and the next 2 days hiding under the seat. I think she has adapted better that than I have. Helps that she likes walking on the leash! :-)

      This was the best move for my career. I’ll eventually adapt. Having a minor health problem turn into a serious, affecting my work, problem did not help. Totally, completely, wildly different weather is also not helping.

      I have a cat to pet. Ask me what I think in a year.

      After I received the job offer I asked about location assistance. It was added w/no problems. $5,000 reimbursed. This is a position they were having problems filling so….shrug. Also make SURE you know know exactly what they will and will not allow. Up to 30 days in a hotel but Airb&B(?) was not allowed. Stuff like that. And there are a lot of expenses that I had to swallow.

      My anxiety levels went through the roof and are still high.

      There are about a gizzilion decisions to think about and balls to keeps in the air if you move. Accept that you are going to mess up on some.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  6. CA Admin

    I put in my notice! I got accepted into a 12 week software development bootcamp that starts in the fall, so I told my office that I’ll be leaving in a few months. They’re sad to see me go, but excited that I’m pursuing this opportunity! It’s something I’ve been working towards for a couple of years now and I’m really scared and excited to be making the change. They told me that I always have a place, if I decide I hate it and want to come back. They also told me I’ve been the best EA that the group has ever had and it’s going to be really hard to replace me.

    What a week!

    Reply
    1. bluesboy

      That they tell you you’re always welcome to come back is a wonderful tribute to you, and also a very practical safety net to have! As someone who also changed line of work relatively recently I know how great that is to have, so much easier to focus on the new if you know that whatever happens you’ll always be able to pay your bills.

      Best of luck!

      Reply
    2. Windchime

      Wow, congratulations! I’ll be super interested in hearing how your boot camp goes. I’ve heard good things.

      Reply
  7. High Fiber

    I feel like I’m always one step ahead of my boss and he hates it. He’ll ask me to put the teapots in size order and I already did that yesterday and color coordinated them and he’ll respond “Oh I forgot about the colors, I guess you were right again.”
    He’s very distracted (not busy) and not involved much. Which is actually great because I am an incredibly independent worker. We’re rolling out a new product and I’m the lead. He always admits he doesn’t know much about teapots but says I’m an expert. But whenever I flex my knowledge he seems insecure. He compliments my work ethic but calls me a ball buster. I’m not being condescending, I just feel like he has a inferiority complex and now that I’m recognizing it I’m walking on egg shells.

    Reply
    1. Rowan

      Can you throw in some flattering languages, like “Great minds think alike!” or something like that? Just for your own survival…

      On another note, he actually called you a “ball-buster”!?! That is way, way, way out of line.

      Reply
          1. Liet-Kynes

            Oh. Oh my.

            Well, even so, I think it’d make sense to say, “I know you didn’t intend to cause offense, but calling me a ball-buster is pretty insulting to me, and I’d appreciate it if you characterized me differently.” Even if he’s got an inferiority complex, I think that’s where you stand up for yourself a little. You don’t need to do his emotional labor for him.

            Reply
            1. High Fiber

              Sorry, why is that phrase offensive? I never thought anything about it. Just thought he meant the way I am always “right.” I’m not of course, but he doesn’t contribute much and so naturally I have “all” the answers.

              It’s very laid back here and we curse and joke around a lot. His choice of language is for lack of education mostly.

              Reply
              1. Liet-Kynes

                It means you’re emasculating, domineering, and imperious in a way you’re not entitled to be. It carries the heavy connotation that you challenge his masculinity and rightful authority. It’s maybe a shade less offensive than just calling you a bitch, but that’s essentially what it means, with emasculating overtones. So yeah, misogynist and insulting.

                Reply
                1. High Fiber

                  Wow is this a geographic thing? We’re in NY and I never thought about this phrase being any worse than “tough cookie.”

                2. Liet-Kynes

                  Honestly? Don’t think so. It’s a pretty universal meaning. Googling it, most of the first page of definitions are similar to the one I came up with off the cuff.

                3. Emi.

                  Oy vey, I always thought it meant “hard worker,” as in “I’ve been busting my balls color-coordinating all these teapots.”

                4. Kimberlee, Esq.

                  Eh, I personally wouldn’t put it anywhere _near_ being called a bitch, just because “ball-busting” is usually used a lot more jokingly. Not to say it’s not or can’t be misogynist or insulting, but I would read “Ugh, you’re really busting my balls here!” as a jokey way of saying “you’re holding me accountable for what we both know my job is.”

                5. Liet-Kynes

                  Sometimes insults like this, or slurs like “gypped” can sort of drift away from their actual meaning and origin and become weirdly neutral.

                6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  Nooooo…. “ball buster” and “gypped” are NOT neutral. They are both offensive. You should stop using them.

                7. The New Wanderer

                  @Emi – the expression I’ve heard in your context is “busting my butt”. Busting balls has a specific derogatory meaning and is almost always someone else (female) doing the busting.

                8. Thlayli

                  I’m not American but I have watched a lot of American tv and I have definitely seen a lot of NY characters using the phrase “busting my balls” in a non-gendered way. Can’t remember if “ball-buster” is also used in a non-gendered way.

                  what is offensive and why it is offensive can vary geographically. High Fiber, you know your boss and you know the language used where you are. You’ve said he absolutely would use it towards a man so it seems unlikely he intended it as a sexist insult.

                  It’s certainly valuable to know that this phrase is used in a sexist way elsewhere, but unless you have another reason to believe he is being sexist, I don’t think you need to accuse him of being sexist or report him to anyone on the basis of one word that can mean different things.

              2. designbot

                Using such a highly gendered term is a big red flag that he might be responding to you differently than he would a man exhibiting the same behavior. He’d certainly never use that term for a man, and there isn’t really an equivalent, mainly because the behaviors that make you a “ballbuster” aren’t seen as negative in men. You’re a ballbuster, but would a man be a prodigy? or a rockstar?

                Reply
                1. High Fiber

                  I disagree, he absolutely would use that with a man. In fact I’m sure I’ve heard many men say it of both sexes. I feel like it’s a universal term, I’ve never heard it used only about women like “bitch.”

                2. designbot

                  I would say your office is using it in an unusual way then. It’s typically used in a way that turns something positive (competence! efficiency! drive!) into something negative (emasculation, assault). It takes the way you are and turns it into an attack on him–which from your initial question does seem to be an issue even if you don’t think the gender dynamic that phrase typically signals applies here.

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  It’s a gendered, misogynistic term. designbot’s explanation of how it takes something positive and turns it into a negative is right on.

                4. zora

                  Yeah, that’s weird if he really does use it with both genders. In that case, I guess you can leave it alone. But in my experience, it is a word I have only ever heard in reference to a woman and never to a man, so I would consider it sexist if I heard anyone say it at work and immediately take it up the chain.

                  But if you are sure it’s not gendered with him, then it’s up to you to let it go.

                5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  Really? He would use “ball buster” as a noun applied to men?

                  I have definitely heard applied to all genders as a verb (“Lee’s been busting my balls about that late report!”), but never as a noun (“Jim is such a ball buster!”).

                6. Fake Eleanor

                  This is interesting, because my primary association with busting balls is GoodFellas, where there are two scenes in which one guy accuses another guy of busting his balls. (It does not go well for one of those ball-busters.)
                  (Note: I’m not arguing that “they say it all the time in GoodFellas!” is a good defense about office suitability.)
                  So I googled a few variations — “he’s a ballbuster,” “she’s a ballbuster,” “he’s a * ballbuster,” “she’s a * ballbuster.” And the phrase is … frequently used with both genders, but more often applied to dudes.
                  I don’t think it’s office-appropriate, and it’s definitely not a word I’d use, but I’d need more usage evidence before declaring it misogynistic instead of just crude.

              3. Rachel in NYC

                The way he’s using it matters. If he says- you’ve really been busting your balls- that is totally different then if after you remind him of something him commenting “High Fiber, you are a total ball buster.” That said, how you take it matters. So you can just say- hey, just a heads up- it doesn’t bother me when you call me a ball buster- but someone else may take it the wrong way.

                Reply
                1. zora

                  Oh, good point. I’ve never heard it used that way, but that is different.

                  I have only ever heard it as “[Subject] is busting the balls of [Specific or general man].” And only ever referring to a woman.

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

                  I mean, we probably shouldn’t be discussing our balls at (most) workplaces. But, yeah, the noun is far more offensive than the verb.

        1. JamieS

          I’m not sure why whether or not High Fiber should escalate being called a ball-buster is dependent on her sex.

          Reply
    2. Business Cat

      I think the walking on eggshells might actually make it worse. You may have already tried this, but I think a direct, matter-of-fact tone and delivery is the best way to do this. Maybe also add a thanks at the end to make him feel looped in? Like this, “Got it! I arranged the teapots in size order and color-coordinated them as well. Thank you for checking in!” That way you’re not walking on eggshells *or* trying to massage his ego. You’re a) Responding to the action item, and b) Closing out the conversation politely and acknowledging the interaction. That extra “thanks!” at the end might assuage some of the lingering awkwardness.

      Reply
      1. Business Cat

        Oh wow, I missed the “ball buster” comment. I might be inclined to take that as a compliment, however, being one of those myself… :D

        Reply
      2. KR

        I like this. You don’t have to be like, “I already did that!” I feel like the “already” kind of makes it seem like you have a problem that he’s asking you to do it even though you already did it.

        Reply
    3. hbc

      Is it possible he misunderstands the term “ball buster”? I’ve heard people talk about busting their own balls to get something done, which lines up with the work ethic.

      Not that either way is great, but ball buster in the other sense is so negative that I probably wouldn’t use the same approach for both scenarios.

      Reply
      1. High Fiber

        I guess I’m misunderstanding the phrase! I thought it just meant giving him a hard time, something like “smarty pants,” I am a perfectionist. Does this actually mean something sexual?

        Reply
        1. NaoNao

          I don’t think it’s sexual per se, but it involves a sex organ so….
          Ball busting, to most people, means someone is overstepping their bounds and intimidating, mocking, or emasculating a *man*. This “someone” is almost always a woman; very rarely do you hear men call other men “ball busters”. Yes, a man can “bust [another man’s] balls” but this is a gendered slur kind of like when a drill sergeant yells “okay *ladies* let’s do laps!” to a group of men.
          It means, colloquially, that a man is “just trying to [do whatever]” and some woman somewhere is making him look bad, on purpose, in a rough, aggressive, masculine way. Like if a construction worker shouts at a woman and she yells back “do you kiss your mama with that mouth?”—she’s “busting his balls”. She stood up to him, called him out, embarrassed him in front of other men.

          It’s gendered and it’s sexist. It’s not sexual.

          Reply
        2. Kimberlee, Esq.

          Eh, I totally agree that its gendered but to me gendered =/= misogynist. Not appropriate for work, sure, but I’ve heard variations of ball-busting used by men and women talking to men and women. I don’t think it’s helpful to universalize it to “it’s only men saying it to women” when that’s not universally true.

          Reply
        3. Rick Tq

          I’ve lived in Boston, Chicago, Philly, and now LA so this is from a general viewpoint..

          Saying “I’m busting my balls here” or “You’re really busting your balls” means someone is working as hard as they can on this task, so to me it is positive.

          “Quit busting my balls” or “He’s a real ball buster” says you are making trouble for me out of proportion to the issue at hand so very negative, at least to me.

          Does your manager have any aviation background? Going “balls to the wall” means running full throttle/max performance for yet another positive connotation.

          Reply
    4. Iris Eyes

      I can think of two ways to go, perhaps saying “I though you might want it done that way, so while I was X I went ahead and did Y” OR you could try and address it from the direction of reinforcing that as the manager him trusting you to do your job is good management just like you trust him to handle the management aspects (dealing with other departments/hire ups, making sure you have the resources, providing a good environment, or whatever).

      Reply
    5. AnotherHRPro

      I have a similar situation. My boss is insecure and I have to be careful to not do things that she feels could de-position her. I know that she is threatened by me, so I make a concerted effort to make sure that she sees me as making her look better. If the focus is on how my work means she is doing a great job, she isn’t as threatened. Providing her compliments and telling her I did XYZ for her, openly sharing credit with her (even if she wasn’t involved) and building offer of what she says so she can think my ideas are actually her ideas. It can be annoying, but it makes my life easier.

      As for the “ball buster” comment, yes that is a sexist term but I know many people in corporate environments that use it in a non-gendered way (i.e., calling both men and women ball-busters). Really, when determining if the use of profanity and this type of comment is not cool is very much depended on how it is perceived by those involved. Are you offended by it? Does it bother you? If it does, you should say something. And even if you are not, you may want to say something like, “I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but I know that some people find that phrase offensive. I know you don’t mean it that way, but I thought you would want to know. I know I’ve said it in the past as well and now that I know it bothers some people I am trying to remove it from my vocabulary.”

      Reply
      1. High Fiber

        Yeah I can see it being annoying but I guess that was what I was originally asking. Ways to boost his ego. Changes my phrasing like Business Cat suggested.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          I am not sure that boosting his ego is going to fix your problem. Basically, he does not want to work and you do. You start massaging his ego and you will have to do that for the rest of your time there. He would feel better about himself if he applied himself more to his job. You can’t make him apply himself more.

          You can say things like “This is what you pay me for, Boss!” or “I am glad to be of help.”
          As far as “ball buster”, ask him about that. Tell him you are concerned for several reasons. Then listen to what he says. I am guessing but the sheer fact that you opened a discussion on it will cause him to stop using the term. He won’t want to keep having the discussion.

          Reply
      2. Savannnah

        I also have to do this with my boss, as he has 3 years in the field and I have 12, and I have to very careful about how to approach him with corrections or ideas on new projects. Group meetings are the worst because I will occasionally voice my opinions about the direction of the project if it does not meet industry standards and my boss will pipe in that he’s already approved it and let’s move on. Eventually he will have to correct it at some point and when that happens he gets turfy and withholds vital information about either meetings I should be at or future work projects. This continues until he calms down and I find opportunities to let him shine. It’s exhausting and annoying but as long as you are aware of your boss and their triggers, it’s manageable. To add a wrench to that dynamic his mentor in the field is my mother- so that makes for some political dancing as well.

        Reply
  8. Detective Amy Santiago

    This happened to me this week.
    (I shared it on Facebook, so I guess if anyone who knows me IRL reads AAM, they’ll know who I am)

    I was trying to call an associate and apparently we had a wrong number in our system. Dude who answered was like “what’s your name? you sound cute.” I said “I have work to do” and hung up.

    He CALLED BACK. I made [male coworker] answer. He asked “where’s that shorty who just called me? she sounds cute AF.” [male coworker] told him that he had no right to call here and talk that way.

    Reply
      1. Nea

        That is the perfect phrase for this kind of situation and I’m going to steal it.

        OP – OMG, I’m so glad that coworker had your back!

        Reply
    1. Gingerblue

      What the everlasting hell. Please, please report this to whoever is appropriate in his knucklehead’s chain of command.

      Reply
        1. Thlayli

          Amy was in the workplace. No reason to believe the guy she accidentally called was at work, it could easily have been his personal number.

          Reply
    2. Epsilon Delta

      Ok so I just took a mental inventory of my coworkers and figured out who I would ask to answer the phone for me if this ever happens. Unfortunately the one I think would shoot it down most effectively works from home a lot!

      Reply
    3. spocklady

      OH MY GOD. One of your own coworkers?!?!?!

      Sympathy to you (because seriously what even?!?!) and good for you for telling him off, and…solidarity maybe, as someone else who’s been on the other end of something like that [long story follows].

      Something kind of like this happened to me once — I worked as an admin at a place that provided court-mandated education, and part of my job was to call folks once we got their paperwork from various courts to get the process of signing up for a class started.

      I called the number on one of the forms and gave the standard spiel, which IIRC was just to say who I was and the company name and ask for the person whose name was on the paperwork (we didn’t want to embarrass people if someone else picked up their phone). The guy who answered told me he wasn’t [name] and I must have a wrong number. I double-checked the number with him and was getting ready to hang up when he said “you sound hot — you got a man?”

      I honestly don’t remember what I said, except I think it was something about apologizing again for having the wrong number and hanging up. He called back, with more of the same. I told him I was sorry we had inadvertently called the wrong number and I’d be making a note in the record, and I was going to consider the contact closed. Then I stared at the phone in disbelief for a minute before telling my coworker, “hey you will not BELIEVE what just happened.”

      Reply
      1. spocklady

        J/k, reading for comprehension. I missed the part where it wasn’t somebody at your company. I still think it’s awful that happened to you!

        Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          It actually sounds a lot like your story!

          Like… what do these guys think is going to happen? Has that ever really worked?

          Reply
  9. Jessica

    My last day is today at my job that I hate! I am so happy to be leaving! I have another job lined up and I hope I’ll be much happier at my new place. I did learn some things (life lessons) here that I will apply at my new job. But mostly I just feel so relieved to get out of this dysfunctional environment.

    Reply
    1. NJ Anon

      Me tooooooo! So happy not to have to deal with this place anymore! Doing yhe happy dance in my head all day!

      Reply
    2. Fictional Butt

      Another last day-er here! Although I’m kind of sad to be leaving this place. Not too sad to celebrate being done though!

      Reply
  10. Savannnah

    I have a question about sending in resumes and cover letters to companies with no open positions. My partner and I are moving across coasts for his job and I am going to have to look for a new one. I work in the global health field and would be applying to both educational institutes and non-profits. I’ve narrowed down the companies I would like to work for in the area and at the moment the top 3-5 do not currently have any openings. Should I wait to send my resume until a post opens up or send it ‘cold’? Besides recognizing a few names from conferences, I unfortunately don’t have much of a network cross coasts so am starting really at scratch 8 years into the field. We also are not moving until Jan 2018 which complicates things a bit.

    Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        Agree. I would probably wait until August or September before sending a resume cold. It might be too early, at least in the health field, to send resumes for a currently nonexistent job that you can’t start until January anyway.

        Education is different, though, if they try to start people at the beginning of a semester (I know it depends on the position, so might not apply to you), so maybe it’s not too early to reach out to those.

        Reply
    1. Emma

      Does your field have a regional conference? If so, maybe you can attend that (hopefully) before you move, and perhaps network there.

      Reply
    2. designbot

      people you meet at conferences can be decent contacts. That’s how I got my current job, through a guy I met at a conference 5+ years prior.

      Reply
    3. Chaordic One

      This is one of those things that varies among employers. I don’t think it would hurt to send some letters of inquiry and copies of your resume, but like JulieBulie says, I’d wait until August or September before sending them out.

      My previous employer where I worked in HR never hired anyone who just sent in a resume and while we kept them on file, in the two years I worked in HR, no one ever looked at them. Ever. You HAD to apply for a specific open position and if you were rejected and wanted to apply for another position you had to start over from scratch.

      If, after you’ve moved, you see an advertisement for an open position at a company where you’ve previously sent a resume, apply for the job as if you’ve never previously sent them a resume.

      Reply
  11. Susan

    In my department of 12 teapot makers, we don’t have individual projects; we all work to fill all the teapot orders. Our managers are pretty hands-off when it comes to work distribution; as long as we fill all the orders on time, they don’t care who makes which teapots or how many they make. Some people take major advantage of this and spend half the day surfing the web while the people who take pride in their work pick up the slack. Management knows this but won’t do anything about the slackers.

    I recently figured out how to run a report in our order tracking system to show how many teapots each teapot maker makes, and it’s very telling. The top teapot makers make more than twice as many teapots as those with the lowest productivity.

    The caveat with this data is that some teapots are more complicated than others. You can make a basic teapot in about 1 minute, or a premium teapot in 10-20 minutes, but you could spend an hour or more on a custom teapot, so the number of teapots you make in a given day doesn’t necessarily prove anything. We all have to make some basic, premium, and custom teapots, though, and I think over the course of a month or a year, each person’s proportion of basic/premium/custom teapots evens out, so the total number of teapots is probably a valid measure of productivity.

    I don’t think anyone else in the department (including the managers) knows how to get this data from the order tracking system. The data shows that I am, by far, the most productive teapot maker in the department. I don’t think this would surprise anyone because I am known for being a hard worker, but I’m not sure they know the magnitude of the gap between different teapot makers’ productivity, and I feel compelled to find a way to use this information. I’m not sure how it would look if I went to management with data that just happens to show that I am the best. I’ve thought about anonymously saving the report to the shared drive where I think they would see it. I’ve also thought about removing the names from the report, so it shows (without naming names) that some people do much more work than others, and perhaps it would prompt management to run the report themselves and see who is and isn’t pulling their weight. I’ve thought about saving the report (with or without names) to the shared drive in a folder where I know the other teapot makers would see it, and maybe it would prompt the less productive people to work harder. Or maybe it would just cause unnecessary drama and I’d be better off keeping it to myself?

    Reply
    1. Sadsack

      Maybe if you are inclined to ask for a raise or promotion in the future, then you can present a report in support if it. You wouldn’t be saying look how poorly everyone else does, but you’d be highlighting your output over all and on more complex projects.

      Reply
      1. Susan

        Well, I’d like to get a raise! And I think that since I am doing more than twice as much work as some of my coworkers who are getting paid about the same, I deserve one. Unfortunately, the only time we ever get raises here are during annual performance reviews (it is possible to get an off-cycle raise, but the manager really has to push hard for it and expend political capital to get it approved, and I know my manager isn’t likely to do that), so what I need is a good performance review to get a good raise.

        I’d also like management to do some actual managing and get the slackers to do more work and less web surfing.

        Reply
    2. Cambridge Comma

      I would save it for your next performance review.
      Generally, if I find myself coming up with complex ways of making something happen (in your case, that someone sees the report) it’s a pretty good sign that I know deep down iI shouldn’t do it.

      Reply
      1. Susan

        The way our performance reviews work around here, management gets together and decides on everyone’s ratings and raises, and then they meet with each individual employee to give us our reviews. The reviews are already finalized by the time we get them, so if I wait until my review to show management this data, it will not affect my review. If I want them to consider this information for my review, they have to see it before they get together to decide on ratings. So should I just randomly e-mail them the report or what?

        Reply
        1. KellyK

          If you know about when performance reviews are coming up, you can email it to them in advance. Let them know that you’d like them to consider your productivity information when they’re considering this year’s raises. I’d go a couple months ahead of review time to give them a chance to include that info in their decision, because they probably aren’t announcing to you exactly when they’re meeting to figure out raises.

          Reply
          1. Susan

            Yeah, they are really pretty secretive about the whole process. I know the general time of year the reviews are happening, but I usually don’t hear anything until my manager calls and says, “Come to my office in 20 minutes for your review.”

            I’m just afraid it will look kind of arrogant to send them some data, out of the blue, that shows how much more work I do than anyone else. I’m also wondering if they’d be skeptical or suspicious if the data that I’m giving them just happens to show that I’m the best. I could easily show them how to run this report themselves so they can confirm that my data is valid, but I’m not sure what they’d think if I just sent them the data.

            Reply
            1. TCO

              Your management doesn’t sound great. It might be time to get your high-performing self a new job on a high-performing team.

              Reply
            2. Mints

              I’d send them the data, and also send instructions. Like maybe send a chart of the past year, with like “If you’re interested in looking at other time periods…” And just send it a couple months before the reviews usually are like “I know reviews are usually in the fall, and I wanted to send you this information about my performance ahead of time”

              You’re the best on your team! You deserve recognition

              Reply
            3. designbot

              If you know that reviews are going to be in April or May and that they generally discuss them in the weeks leading up to that, then I’d send it in early to mid March and say something like, “I wanted to get this information in front of you as you prepare for annual reviews because I think it shows my value to the team very clearly and I hope you’ll take it into consideration when discussing compensation. I have the impression that this data may not have been taken into consideration in the past but it’s surprisingly easy to pull up.” That’s not out of the blue since you’re contextualizing it as prep work for annual reviews, and it invites them to ask how you found it without making the assumption that they don’t know what you know.

              Reply
        2. College Career Counselor

          If you know the date of your upcoming review, I would think you could send the report to your manager and say, “I’d like you to have this information ahead of the review process so you have a better understanding of my work output.” If you’d like to be more proactive than that, you could say something like, “I know reviews are coming up shortly, and I’d like to talk to you about my performance in the past year. I’ve taken the liberty of gathering some data about my work output. Can we set up a time to meet?”

          Reply
    3. TheAssistant

      I was in a similar situation at my last job. While no one was slacking per se, I kept data that showed I was outperforming my team by a landslide.

      I had regular 1x1s with my immediate supervisor, who was wonderful but didn’t have a lot of power. I used this data in one to leverage a flex time request (approved) and work from home (denied). I also used this for annual performance reviews/raise conversations – I came in at the higher end of the spectrum in terms of salary, but used productivity to justify continued raises. I also got first choice of special projects.

      Ultimately, while my boss couldn’t do much to even things out for me, it ended up in higher-quality work and some perks.

      I would not save the report anonymously – anonymous doesn’t usually end well, and won’t get you the results you want. Do you have regular check-ins with your supervisor? That would be a good time to discuss your findings and any outcomes you’d like. I feel like “getting others to work harder” isn’t a reasonable outcome , but maybe have your pick of cool special projects, negotiating a raise, or other short- and long-term outcomes are possible. If you don’t have regular check-ins, maybe it would be good to schedule a meeting with your boss to talk about departmental productivity and the outcomes you’d like to see.

      Good luck! At the very least, you have some excellent resume bullet points.

      Reply
    4. AndersonDarling

      Unless your management is terrible, I’d bet that they are tracking individual productivity. But they will likely be looking at more than just productivity, they may consider quality, thoroughness, QA skills, all sorts of factors that go into the value of an employee.
      I’m a report builder and I’ve had folks try to build reports for “gotcha” purposes and they miss chunks of information, so you would need to be 100% sure that your report is accurate. It’s possible you are missing a category or it’s possible that other workers code their work in a different method.
      If you want to do anything with the data, you should talk directly with your management. Purposefully leaving a report in a public folder for others to see would just cause drama. But you’ll need to decide what outcome you want. Like Sadsack suggests, if you want a raise or promotion, that would be a logical place to bring the information. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Susan

        Well, my management is terrible, and I don’t think they are tracking individual productivity in any clearly quantifiable way. They’re not around much, so they mainly pay attention only when there are problems — like missing a deadline on an order, or when an order is wrong. I’m sure they have a general sense of who the more productive and less productive workers are, but I’m not sure they have a clue how much more productive some people are than others. It’s possible that they think I only make, say, 25% more teapots than the slackers, and would be shocked to find out that I actually make more than twice as many teapots as most people.

        Obviously productivity is not the only measure by which we are rated, but it hugely important in our line of work, and really the main differentiation between good performers and poor performers. There’s not really a range in quality; there are specifications for every teapot, so we either make it correctly or incorrectly (and it’s very rare for anyone to make one incorrectly).

        Reply
    5. S-Mart

      I wouldn’t put it somewhere and expect people to see it, read it, and take away what you want from it. You lose control of the message, and the likelihood of it being seen and acted on by/how you’re hoping is pretty low (people won’t see it, will see the file but not read it, will read it but take no/different action, etc.).

      What it does sound like is compelling evidence to put forth to your boss as part of your next ‘I deserve a raise’ discussion.

      Reply
    6. TCO

      What about using only the data about your own performance, maybe in your next performance review? You could say something like, “I figured out how to run reports in our system, and I used that to start tracking my own performance. Over the last six months I’ve completed an average of 15 teapots a day, which is 15% of the team’s total output.”

      If you use a percentage, it can subtly highlight that you complete a disproportionate share of the work, while still keeping the focus on your own performance and not pointing fingers at anyone else in particular. A good manager would look further into this information and run some reports of her own. However, given that your management doesn’t sound interested in addressing performance disparities, they might not do anything. (In which case your performance stats could look great when you update your resume…)

      Reply
  12. Anon Anon

    Which job search tools do you use when looking for a job? I’m struggling with our HR department right now, as they only want to post a position I’m recruiting for on Careerbuilder. I’ve suggested posting on Indeed, Ziprecruiter, and our industry specific job board, but I don’t really know which websites are used the most by job seekers these days.

    Reply
    1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend

      As a job seeker, I’ve used Indeed A LOT. It’s always open on my phone, and I browse through postings on my breaks.

      Reply
    2. Rainy, PI

      I hear people talk about Indeed a lot, and in my area a lot of jobs are posted on LinkedIn apparently.

      The industry specific job board/s is/are likely to yield the most results, I would think, especially if it’s a bit niche.

      Reply
    3. Jimbo

      Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn Jobs, Idealist and niche job boards in my field. I have email alerts set for these platforms that regularly email me job listings that fit my criteria

      Reply
    4. TheAssistant

      I use LinkedIn a lot. Their algorithm for feeding you jobs gets really on point the more you use the search function. It’s how I found my current (amazing) position.

      Reply
    5. Kinsley M.

      We use LinkedIn, and our jobs are posted on our careers page of our website too. That’s it. I wish we’d use ZipRecruiter and industry specific job boards too. I don’t actually like Indeed/Monster/Career Builder. I find it too hard to weed through all the sales positions posing as what I actually want. GlassDoor has upped their game as well.

      Reply
      1. Anon Anon

        I’m trying to convince HR that Careerbuilder isn’t cutting it anymore. Our applicant pools aren’t very good. Right now I’m recruiting for a mid-level manager position and in the two weeks the position has been posted, we’ve gotten less than 15 applications and there is not one of them that merits an interview. So I feel like we need to cast a larger net.

        Reply
    6. Fictional Butt

      When I was job-searching, I pretty much only used Indeed, but that was because I didn’t have a clear idea of what kind of job/industry I was looking for. I would definitely use the industry-specific job board as well.

      Reply
    7. Jennifer's Thneed Needs a Job

      I checked out Careerbuilder recently after seeing it mentioned here, and I was really disappointed. For the record, I work as a technical writer.

      I used to use DICE and loved it, but it’s changed over the years, plus some of their searching algorithms are flaky and making reports doesn’t change anything. Example: get different results when searching by city name and by zip code in that same city.

      Nowadays, I use Indeed and Craigslist. (And don’t let anyone tell you there’s no such person as Craig. They’re cynical and wrong. His last name is Newmark.)

      What’s up with your HR? Is it a matter of having a contract with Careerbuilder and not wanting to spend money elsewhere? Maybe they’d be willing to try another board once, as an experiment?

      Reply
      1. Anon Anon

        It’s about the money. They don’t want to spend money on more than one job board, and the argument is that Careerbuilder also populates other job boards so we shouldn’t need to post it in more than one place.

        From my point of view it’s smarter to spend an extra few hundred dollars now to find the right person. Seems like a very small amount of money in the whole scheme of things.

        Reply
    8. Workaholic

      When randomly seeking jobs I’ve used Indeed and Craigslist. The company I used to work for only advertised jobs through Craigslist.

      Reply
  13. writelhd

    Stuck in an unproductive mental loop about management/interpersonal work situations.

    My job is hugely nebulous by nature, and many of my assignments depend on influencing sideways, upwards, and downwards within various departments in the company, while having no direct reports myself. It’s a tiring sea to navigate, at times. Right now I have two problems. One, a co-worker for whatever is giving me clear ice treatment when he used to be friendly, which has baffled me for months. This week it culminated in him ignoring my request for him to do something, so now it transfers from “annoying interpersonal inconvenience” to “affects our working relationship.” And my other problem is a coworker who constantly bullies his coworkers, usually in so subtle a way as to be difficult to call out, and he has his manager’s friendship (and makes sure everybody knows it) to the point where I’m sure said manager will not take complaints about small subtle things very well. I found out today that he bullied some staff that I’d been training (they’re still not my direct reports, though)–who saw through it and just rolled their eyes and ignored it–but it still irks me on their behalf.

    I end up mentally stuck on these things, in a loop of “should I do something/what can I do, I don’t manage these people/am I a bad manager because I’m at a loss for how to address this/But I’m not really a manager of anybody but myself/these people really make me angry but their transgressions are so small and subtle I should just focus on something else/but I’m stuck on my anger and can’t focus/because I’m stuck on this I’m clearly terrible at being professional/much of my work requires involves influencing people so if I feel like I can’t effectively influence them I’m not getting my work done/focusing on this just makes it worse, I need to stop thinking about it and get work done…bleh.

    Any tricks for breaking that mental cycle?

    Reply
    1. J.B.

      It’s not you, it’s them. Seriously if you aren’t getting the support to do these things they are expecting something no one can really deliver. The only recommendation I can make is if there is someone senior who you trust, go talk to them for ideas and strategies. Not from a manager fix this perspective but how can I navigate this best perspective.

      Reply
    2. over educated

      No tips for your specific situation, just empathy. Your first sentence describing your job is the most spot-on match for mine, and it can be really really tough to have to make things happen by influencing people you don’t have authority over. I wouldn’t say it’s being set up for failure, but it’s a challenge that has made me redefine my sense of what “success” can look like in this position. Good luck.

      Reply
      1. writelhd

        Thanks for the commiseration. Things like “set up to fail” (or at least burn out) sometimes come into my mind but I do I have one of the most awesome, supportive bosses ever who, though he’s got pretty darn high expectations, is a huge part of what makes my job great and the hard parts bearable. I can and have talked thru troubles with him before–my trouble there is a need to be wary of oversharing (I am quite unshy about being vulnerable and “talking feelings” with people I trust in my personal life, and my complete and immense professional trust in my boss puts me at risk for viewing him the same way I’d view a friend in that regard) and until now I’ve been hesitant to do it with such specificity (meaning, debriefing exactly the situation around Bob Sure Seems to Hate Me and Jane Told me That Wakeen told her this Super Unhelpful Kind of Bullying Thing…sort of a fear of feeling like a tattle tale or looking unable to deal with minor things myself.

        Reply
    3. designbot

      My tip would be to turn around your thinking about these people not being your direct reports. It sounds like you’re looking at that as a handicap, but if you chose to speak up about your second issue or anything that arises of a similar nature you could frame it as how you’re uniquely positioned to see issues because you work across so many different teams with people at different levels.
      As to the first issue, I would speak with the coworker directly about it. You don’t need him to like you, but you need him to collaborate with you and if there’s an issue getting in the way of that he should get it out in the open so that y’all can resolve it.

      Reply
    4. Jules the Third

      To break the cycle of thinking, mindfulness / meditation works for some:
      RECOGNIZE you’re having stressful feelings
      ALLOW the feelings to happen. Pause to let the thoughts and feelings happen
      INVESTIGATE the feelings, being kind to yourself. Labeling the feelings can help: Anxiety. Insecurity. Frustration. Anger
      NON-IDENTIFICATION with the feelings – ie, not going to the ‘I am a bad manager’ place.
      Google mindfulness and RAIN and you’ll get more details.

      Mindfulness helps me a little, but I am a very solution-oriented person, so what would make *me* feel better is coming up with some solutions. Here’s the ones I’d try for your situations.
      1) Icy Bob – I’d make a time to talk to him, saying, ‘I’ve noticed a change in our relationship. Has something happened?’ and listening thoughtfully. My goal would be to get to a good working relationship, so if he was offended, I’d give a sincere apology EVEN IF I didn’t see my actions as offensive. I *might* try to correct a true misunderstanding, but I’d focus hard on putting it as my error. Because I don’t have ego points to score, or a social relationship to grow, I just want stuff to work. Sometimes the influencing works because you’re the expert, but sometimes an expert admitting a mistake is disarming.
      2) Bully Bill – when you’re feeling calm, talk to your boss about it and get his advice on whether there’s anything you can or should do. Give concrete examples of phrases he’s said, and why it bothers you (ieg “Bill says Arya’s dumb. ‘dumb’ insults her rather than constructively addressing whatever is happening’). Focus on his unprofessionalism and work impact (eg, calling Arya dumb means he stops training her), write a list beforehand – that will help you stay focused and not do too much oversharing. MAYBE have an idea of what could be done (a team meeting on workplace courtesy or diversity? Coaching on ‘responding to unprofessional behavior’ for some of his regular victims?) DO NOT be apologetic for going to your boss. DO accept that if your boss says there’s nothing you can do, then there’s nothing you can do. Accept that the first time he says it.

      Whatever path you take, good luck!

      Reply
  14. LizB

    I just had the best vacation I’ve had probably in my entire life (will talk more in the weekend thread), and now I’m back at work for a leisurely half-day of catching up on emails and making sure nothing imploded in my absence. I feel more relaxed and happy than I have in… months? Years? Protip: if you have PTO, take it and use it for something just for yourself once in a while. It’s magical.

    Reply
    1. Rainy, PI

      All my vacation time for the last six months has been for weddings :/ I’m hoping we can do a weekend trip or something at the end of summer, because weddings (either I or my boyfriend were in all three) are not really a vacation for anyone involved!

      Reply
    2. MechanicalPencil

      I’ve reached that point where I’m eyeballing my PTO and wondering what to do with it. Caveat is that I don’t have a ton accrued and my finances aren’t at a point where I feel comfortable going somewhere, which is what I’d like. Hearing that it was beneficial gives me hope though. Look forward to your weekend post.

      Reply
      1. Katelyn

        I’ve had a good deal of luck doing “staycations” in my own city. I live in a large one, so I’ve decided to see what the recommendations are for tourists and try them. The hop-on-hop-off city tours really give you a different perspective of where you live, and can have discounts for other attractions in the area too.

        Reply
      2. tiny temping teapot

        Not just staycations – but if you can afford, even staying at a nice hotel for a weekend or four days can be super relaxing.

        Reply
    3. Elizabeth West

      Ha, this is the exact reason I took such a long trip to the UK in 2014 (nearly three weeks). I desperately needed enough time to truly wind down, and when I came back–barring some travel snafus–I felt amazing. Though I did get thoroughly spoiled, being able to use public transport to get around; driving to work again had become intensely annoying.

      Before that trip, the longest PTO break I’d ever had was a five-day staycation. The rest of the time I was tacking personal days onto holiday weekends, in order to visit a long-distance SO. Just when I would start to relax, it was time to come back. :(

      Reply
  15. Giles

    This came up yesterday in the “traumatic company” thread – if someone is on the clock, at their desk, from 7:30-5 (minus hour lunch), and they are only supposed to work 8 hours that day, is that .5 of overtime from a legal standpoint – or should one just not bother reporting that .5 on their timesheet because they spent an hour somewhere in that day on AAM or whatever? I frequently just “donate” my extra time because I know not all 8 hours was actual productive time, but now I’m wondering if that’s the right thing to do.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Assuming you’re a non-exempt employee (you are, right?), you should be paid for the hours you’re at work, so that’s an 8.5 hour day. However, in most jurisdictions that doesn’t get you OT–you have to be over 40 hours for the week, not over 8 hours for the day.

      Reply
        1. fposte

          I’m not sure what you mean by “basic schedule” there–can you explain? If you mean you don’t go over 40 in a week, then in most jurisdictions you’re not entitled to OT.

          Reply
          1. ssbb

            I think Giles is talking about being at work but not actively working. (Like surfing the internet when things are slow or for a break or whatever.)

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I understand that Giles isn’t working every hour of the 40; I’m trying to figure out if she’s *at work* for more than 40 per week.

              Reply
              1. Giles

                I’m at the office more than 40 sometimes, but not actively working every hour of that 40, if that makes sense – productively working.

                Reply
                1. Giles

                  I haven’t timed them, honestly. I’m sure I’ve been on AAM (for example) longer than that on some days because it’s slow, but shorter than that on others.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Well, that’s the answer — it depends on how long they are. It also depends on whether they’re truly breaks — are you genuinely doing no work? Or are you sort of surfing the internet while taking the occasional call and responding to emails? If it’s the latter, it’s work time. Possibly fairly unproductive work time that your employer wouldn’t be thrilled about (or maybe wouldn’t care; depends on the context), but work time that must be paid nonetheless.

                3. KellyK

                  The concept of “Engaged to wait” might come in here too. If you’re checking email or AAM on your phone while your computer loads up, that’s work time. If you’re waiting for work to do, that *might* count. I think it gets really fuzzy here and is probably a question for an employment lawyer, but if you’re available to do work and there just isn’t anything for you, that doesn’t necessarily count as a break.

                4. Natalie

                  @ Kelly, IIRC another factor is whether you are free to leave. So if you are expected to stay on the premises while you wait for work, that is paid work time even if you are doing no actual work.

    2. Friday

      It’s OT! Don’t donate that; the company legally owes it to you. Ask your boss that you just realized that you are owed this and what does she want you to do to keep the company in the clear regarding payroll laws. Either your hours adjust so you only work 40/week or you start getting the OT that is owed to you.

      Reply
      1. Cyberspace Dreamer

        Well . . . . .
        This reminds me of good friend of mine who was suspended for a week without pay for working “un-authorized” overtime.

        This is IT and he stayed after for about 5 minutes to wrap up his workday. He was on vacation the next day which was a Friday. The then boss asked his co-worker if Fergus stayed past 5pm last Thursday? He said yes and she said “I got him!!”

        He comes in Monday and they take his phone and his badge suspend him for a week without pay for “abusing lunch breaks” and “working unauthorized overtime”. I still have a copy of his write up. He never reported any overtime, nobody ran for the elevators at exactly 5pm and he never was counseled or warned about any voilations. It was utterly ridiculous and HR signed off on it. I resigned a week later for other reasons involving that same manager.

        Reply
        1. Susan

          Wow, for staying 5 minutes late? That’s pretty ridiculous (unless he was trying to get overtime pay for staying 5 minutes late, but if I understand correctly, that 5 minutes was “donated”). Most places round to the nearest 15 minutes, so 5 minutes should really be considered de minimis.

          Reply
          1. Cyberspace Dreamer

            Oh yes. It was a ridiculous time in some respects. A memo was sent out the day he was on vacation outlining a bunch of new rules. We both believe they were trying to get him to quit. This manager later was planning to fire him simply because another employee was giving them bad intel about many of us, but Fergus’ direct manager found out and proved that Fergus was doing a great job. I never met him in person, but did send him a thank you for holding his ground and doing the right thing. (He would get pushed out some time later though) So there you go. Fergus is still there though as well as the person who betrayed him. They really like this person and keep protecting that individual.

            On his write up it was said that his violations “caused hardship to the company”
            For what? Giving them a free 5 minutes? He was suspended and the department was not informed. Anyone waiting on work he was handling had to wait until he returned. The team was one person short. That was a real hardship. HR signed off on it, the executives and commissioners were aware of it and did nothing.
            I guess it was one of those “needs of the many” things we always hear about.

            Reply
          2. Not So NewReader

            Ugh. In retailing jobs in my state one minute over is right up there with a felony charge in county court. Management will make your life miserable over that one minute.
            The reason behind it is the DOL is on their case about working off the clock and OT pay. When the DOL steps in crap rolls down hill. Maybe that is what is going on here.

            Reply
    3. attornaut

      You can’t really decide to “donate” time to your employer; either you are getting paid correctly under the law, or you are putting your employer in a position to be violating the law–a position they may well be quite unhappy with!

      I would record your correct hours, at all times, and then deal with management on adjusting your schedule to avoid overtime or getting paid overtime. But “donating” a potential legal violation isn’t a gift to you or your employer.

      Reply
  16. Folklorist

    It’s your sort-of-kind-of-not-really-weekly ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST! Go do something that you’ve been putting off, something that’s been eating at your soul, and come back and brag about it!

    I’m coming off a few days of vacation grogginess and slowly shaping myself up to work a long conference next week, including putting together schedules and travel expense reports–all the boring administrative stuff that I usually try to avoid. Oh, and an invoice that I keep forgetting about. Right. That.

    Reply
  17. KatieKate

    Nothing is happening at work today because two babies were brought in :D

    And it’s even better because I just finished running a two -day program that went really well so babies are my reward. Good day!!!

    Reply
    1. LizB

      Last week my boss brought in her baby for a little while and my coworker and I got NOTHING done for an hour because we were in full baby playtime mode. It was the best.

      Reply
    2. Sparkly Librarian

      At work yesterday I got to hold a 6-month-old, uh, tiny chocolate teapot. Best perk of the job!

      Reply
  18. katie

    I’ve just accepted an offer from a new company, but they are being super slow with the paperwork (they have been slow with the whole process). My current job is moving ahead with me on a new project, one that will be intensive for the next few months and will be my sole responsibility. Starting the project and then giving notice a week or 2 in will screw them over. But I don’t have a clean offer yet (offer is contingent on background check). Would you tell your current boss that you are leaving? I’m not worried about the background check, I know I’ll pass. My current boss is a good guy, he won’t fire me on the spot. I’m just a nervous person and usually like to wait until everything is perfect prior to giving notice.

    Reply
    1. Rainy, PI

      I was just in this spot, and I gave notice, but there’s one major difference:

      The boss I gave notice to was my “new” boss for my “old” job, because my old director hired me for a new job to keep me in the department when it was announced that my grant was being moved.

      There is a major project due in 50 days that ordinarily I’d already be working on, but new boss said he’s fine doing it (I wanted it on my CV!!), so at this point I’m just attempting to document my processes and I’m going to hand my files etc over, help with transition (my director is very generous), and then sit back and watch what happens.

      In your situation I think I’d wait. Worry about yourself, not the project.

      Reply
    2. KellyK

      I think it really depends. The first thing I would do is ask your new company for a timeframe on the background check. They may not know exactly, but they should have an idea if it’s going to be closer to a week, a month, or six months. You can also check with them on notice, especially if the notice you want to give is contingent on whether you’ve started the big project or not. If you think it will come through before the point where you’d want to give notice to avoid screwing over your company, you can wait a bit.

      If that point comes and goes, or if they don’t really know, that makes it harder. If you really trust your boss not to screw you over, you can tell him that you have an almost final offer and should be leaving in the next month or two (or whatever you reasonably think the timeframe is), depending on how long their background check process takes. Because of the intense project, you want to minimize the effect of your leaving, so you’d like to talk about whether it makes more sense to put someone else on the project, postpone the project, or have you start it but keep really good notes for the next person, or something else.

      One thing to keep in mind is that an offer is never final until it’s final. It’s not *likely* that something drastic will change with the new company during the background check process, or that someone who shares your name knocked over a bank since the last time you had a background check, but it’s worth considering what would happen with your current job if you had to say, “Oops, the new offer disappeared.”

      Reply
  19. moving up?

    I should’ve added my most recent example to Alison’s question about how a toxic work environment warps your thinking, because I’m dealing with it now — TEN YEARS after the fact.

    I’m currently applying for an internal leadership position. It’s far enough above my current role that I have to apply for the job, rather than just be promoted. And it’s being listed externally. (Which I hate, and don’t even get me started.) I’m having massive, massive anxiety about putting together my resume and cover letter. Never mind the fact that I’ve been groomed for the position and I’m currently doing it in an interim capacity. I have a huge fear that this is the point where I’m going to hear that everyone hates me and I’m not cut out for the job. Basically, if I don’t get this, my career at this organization is pretty much done, or I’ll have to massively redefine my role.

    And why do I feel this way? Because 10 years ago, as a naive 25-year-old in an extremely toxic environment, I was in this same position. I was doing the role as an interim and I applied for the permanent position. Not only did I not get the job, but I got the same freaking form letter as every other rejected candidate, with not so much as a word from my evil boss. She hired someone older, with more experience. That person lasted all of three months before deciding to resign because the expectations were so out of whack. Then I held the interim role again, only this time I was smart enough NOT to apply and started looking for a better job.

    Man, that messed me up for awhile — and it’s messing with me today. Would love some advice on getting past my fears and anxiety about applying for an interim position, which kept me up until midnight last night.

    Reply
    1. CMDRBNA

      Job searching/resumes/submitting applications is a huge trigger for me. Not even kidding. It makes my depression and anxiety spike, I start having trouble sleeping, I start having suicidal ideation – it’s a massive trigger to my work-related PTSD.

      Captain Awkward has some helpful advice about how to deal with this. I think a big part of it is acknowledging that it’s a legitimate trigger and your feelings are legitimate, and working on some strategies to combat it because unfortunately it’s an unavoidable part of job searching.

      Reply
    2. Mouse

      I don’t have advice, but I really relate to this! A similar thing happened to me about a year ago and now I have really awful job app anxiety. I end up not applying to a lot of great jobs because I get too anxious. I haven’t really figured out how to get over it yet, so I’ll be interested to read the advice you get here!

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      Sometimes we have to walk through the center of the fire to get out of the fire.
      What this means to me, in order to overcome something that caused me great distress in the past I have to go through a similar situation again and wait for the outcome on the new situation.

      Understand that fear/anxiety are just emotions. We are allowed to feel whatever we feel. Also understand that you are applying any way IN SPITE of this tidal wave of emotions. This means that 50% of your problem is solved. The biggest concern would be if you allowed your fear to stop you from applying, that means your fear now has power. By applying you take back your power instead of giving it to your fear.

      Second thought to contemplate: just as you want a fair shot at this job, you need to give your boss (or other decision makers) a fair shot too. This means you can’t randomly decide that everyone is like your old boss. These are new people and they deserve a chance from you to prove themselves as fair-minded people.

      Practical suggestions:
      Self-care, self-care, self-care. Eat well, rest, hydrate, exercise. Keep it simple so that you do each of these. Maybe the best you can do is a 15 minute walk once a day. Get there, make that happen.

      Self-talk. Contradict yourself constantly. When the fear comes up, tell the fear, “That was in the past and that is not happening any more. This is a clean slate with new people and different setting.”

      Self-respect. You know, it’s one thing when people disrespect us. It’s a whole bigger issue if we disrespect ourselves. By applying you are saying, “Wait. NO. I BELIEVE in me. I am not going to think about what air-head boss did ten years ago. I believe I can do this and that is everything I need to know right there.” Understand that pressing forward is a show of self-respect. No one can give us self-respect that is a do it ourselves thing. And sometimes that is not with out pain, which goes back to good self-care that is another way to show ourselves our own self-respect. And the investment in good self-care helps to fortify us to face our monsters and push through that pain.

      Reply
      1. Panda Bandit

        This is really excellent advice. I have to face some things that terrify me in the near future and I will remember what you said.

        Reply
  20. AP

    Question about freelance work and rates. I have a full time job in marketing/social media, and sort of stumbled into a freelance opportunity a little over six months. A friend recommended me to someone, we met and she liked my pitch, so I started working with her company. She manages a successful business that is happy to pay my established rate and it’s been great. This past weekend she mentioned my name to a friend of hers who owns a small, independent business and is looking for freelance social media planning and execution. I met with him, and he has a ton of ideas, but expressed that he really wants help focusing the marketing effort and business expansion direction. It’s going to be a lot of work, but that’s an area I’m pretty strong in, and I think I can offer a lot. However, it’s a really small business. I gave him my rate card with my usual rate, but I know how much this guy charges for services and my rate seems high. I now feel kind of… guilty? Though I also realize that it’s a big lift and I don’t have unlimited time, so I really wouldn’t want to take the client on for less. I guess my question is: should I go back and talk about lowering the rate, or is this just a part of freelancing? I feel weird about it.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you wouldn’t want to take the client on for less, focus on that and don’t worry about it. You’re actually not doing him any favors if you suggest a rate you wouldn’t be happy doing the work at, since that’s the kind of thing that leads to all kinds of problems (pulling out early, giving him short-shrift on your time since he’s paying less, etc.). You were up-front with him about what your services cost. It’s okay if it’s out of his budget; that sometimes happens. You are not locking him out of marketing help forever; he can presumably look for someone who’s cheaper.

      Reply
      1. AP

        That’s a really good point, especially the potential pitfalls of quoting a rate I wouldn’t be happy with. And you’re right- he can totally find someone else if my rate doesn’t work for him. Thank you!

        Reply
    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      Also, a small business might need a written plan and guidelines more than a full-time social media person. If they’re going to operate on a shoestring, they’ll probably try to do it themselves as much as possible, so maybe just work up a plan, some sample posts/tweets, and a schedule? Like visiting a financial planner to establish a game plan rather than letting them manage your money. Maybe you can write up with a basic plan that they can implement, one that they can afford to pay you for at your current rate, and then do a couple of hours every week/month as a check-in/tune up?

      Reply
      1. AP

        I think that’s a really good idea, especially if he comes back and is looking to negotiate. Plus, it’ll get them started and give them the ability to see the return on investment.

        Reply
    3. Fictional Butt

      Not to paraphrase the terrible boss from yesterday’s letter, but: don’t negotiate with yourself! As the Cosmic Avenger says, you might want to start brainstorming ideas of what you can offer them for a lower cost, but don’t proactively lower your rates just because you think they might not be able to afford it. Let them be the ones to start that conversation.

      Reply
      1. AP

        Hah, thanks! It is good to have ideas on what my next move could be if he wants to negotiate, but you’re totally right! I gotta stand by my rate.

        Reply
    4. Koko

      I’ve dealt with this a lot as a freelance designer, and here’s my advice…sometimes it can be a good idea to go for a lower rate (but I agree you still have to be happy enough to do the work at the new rate) to get your name out there and more referrals. I almost entirely rely on referrals from clients, and industry friends, etc. I do charge different rates depending on the size of the business, my interest in the project, and most importantly to me, how that project would help me out, but I also have a rate I would never go below, regardless of who is asking.

      But what you’re asking specifically here, I would not go ahead and tell them you are willing to go for a lower rate until/if they say it’s a little high for them. I always stand by my first rate with a client, and do not negotiate, so I think it’s important getting it right the first time.

      Reply
      1. AP

        I’m thinking that some of it may be me not really know what getting it right the first time would look like. I kinda just came up with a number that seemed reasonable to me (based on a convo with a full-time freelance buddy who gave me some estimates) when I got the first gig, and am just running with that without knowing much about the actual cost of such services in my area. Might be a good idea to do some research.

        Reply
  21. Persephone Mulberry

    High/low of the week: I sent off an application last Friday – cover letter, resume and two writing samples, which I agonized over forever – and got a response back this week that they LOVE my experience and writing style and my resume is on the top of the stack for an interview…but the position is being put on hold. So close, yet so far!

    Reply
    1. Catty Hack

      :: hugs for you ::

      If it makes you feel better, this was me about six months back. Company loved my resume, I think I did really well in the interview and I got really positive feedback on writing samples aaaaannnnnddddd then a hiring freeze got announced.

      Reply
  22. Not Today Satan

    I’m supervising people for the first time in my career and I pretty much hate it. The people I supervise are in the type of position where they need to be here for specific times, follow specific rules, etc. and staying on top of them sucks. The worst part is, my manager kind of micromanages so I basically have zero authority when it comes to setting priorities or rules for my team. I’m so frustrated.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      If you have no authority then there is no point to you doing the job.
      I have said that to bosses in the past. If you want me to do the job then cut me the slack to do it. Tell me what you want over all and then let me do it. Otherwise there is no point to having me as the middleman.

      Yeah, with this setting most people would not want to manage other people.

      You might point out to your boss that riding people hard is not going to make them conform if they don’t want to conform. What will happen is the good people will leave and you will be stuck with all the low performers.

      Reply
  23. AliceBD

    How do I let go of thinking of a position?

    Most of the time I’m not super excited about positions I’ve applied for or interviewed for. It’s usually no big deal to put them out of my mind and focus on other things and apply to other jobs. The jobs would be fine but not exciting.

    But I interviewed for a position last Friday and the interview seemed to go really well. They definitely sold me on the position and made me excited to potentially work there. They said they would check my references (if they have no one has told me, which I would expect them to because they said they would) and said encouraging things in their replies to my thank-you notes. Of course nothing is certain until I have an offer in hand, but I’m having trouble putting it out of my mind even though I’m guessing they have decided not to go with me.

    Any suggestions are welcome.

    Reply
    1. over educated

      For me the best thing to do is just get excited about another one. Displace the feelings because when you’re really psyched they don’t just go away on their own.

      Reply
  24. Audiophile

    Happy Friday!!!!!

    I’m having a great day!

    My weekend will be spent packing for my move in two weeks.

    Reply
    1. Katelyn

      I move in three weeks! Good luck with purging and packing. I can’t believe how much junk I’ve accumulated in the back corners of closets and cupboards over the years!

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        Yes, I’m having a hard time parting with things I know I won’t wear again, like sweatshirts.

        I also have a ton of jeans that don’t fit that I’m trying to use for motivation to lose weight, but I’m sure I don’t need 10 pairs of “motivation” jeans.

        Reply
        1. Katelyn

          I know the feeling what works for me is to remind myself that they’re probably out of style anyways, keep the ones that are in great shape and donate the rest. I had to do that with a few spring jackets and about a million t-shirts (why do I have so many? no one knows! I think they’re multiplying when I’m not looking!).

          Also, if I moved things from my last house to this one and haven’t touched them since, then that gets donated unless it has truly significant personal value to me… and the things my brain has tried to tell me are significant are truly weird! Including old business cards from when I was unemployed with out-dated phone numbers on them… old school work for classes I hated and didn’t do well in… etc.

          Reply
  25. Bend & Snap

    Any tips to rectify burnout?

    About a month ago a really busy period at work wrapped up. I took time off after. But things went to hell at home (my entire housekeeping system collapsed and it’s such a mess that I haven’t had time to really dig in and get things back on track–like every stitch of clothing is clean but in baskets).

    So now I’m struggling with feeling overwhelmed at home and unmotivated at work. How do the AAM folks get back on track?

    Reply
      1. Bend & Snap

        I have one! But she just moves stuff so I can’t find it so I need to get organized before I have her back in. It’s not dirty in here, just messy.

        Reply
        1. Can't Sit Still

          How about a professional organizer? Just a couple of hours, while you’re feeling overwhelmed. Even if you are normally very organized, someone who isn’t attached to your “stuff” might be able to point out areas where changing things around might be helpful.

          Reply
        2. Anna Held

          Honestly, having all my laundry clean but not put away is a win for me. I’d give yourself a break. “Messy but not dirty” is GREAT, and sometimes you have to let the little things go and take care of what needs to be taken care of, yourself included.

          If it’s going to bother you though, carve out some time, make a list of what has to get done, then turn off your phone, crank up the music, and just go to it. Get take out to reward yourself for a job well done and avoid cooking and dishes.

          Reply
    1. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

      I get easily overwhelmed by the bigness of a project. Like right now, I need to do a deep clean in my house but the idea of doing that gives me major anxiety. I’ve set up a system where every week, I’ll tackle one area and each day, I’ll try and get one thing done in that area. So it may be one day is doing laundry, the next day is cleaning out my closet, the third day may be putting away the clean laundry, the fourth day may be donating things and whatever else is needed. I also do this at work but often in a more condensed timeline. You may also just want to give yourself a break as it seems like you have a lot going on. Being patient and kind to yourself can help!

      Reply
    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      In a situation like yours, I would take a day or two off, kick everyone else out of the house (in my case, it means partner goes to his office or the movies and the dog goes to daycare), and use that time to organize in manageable bits. For me, that would be about an hour at a time while listening to podcasts, but YMMV. I know you said you took time off afterwards, but if you can manage a day or two, do it. I know I’m at my worst when all I want to do is work from home so I can throw in a load of laundry or reorganize my drawers. Some things require more than just a weekend, which is usually filled with other obligations.

      Reply
    3. Gingerblue

      I’ve been there, and I really don’t cope well with a messy house, so my solution has mostly been to power through the cleaning even when I’m unmotivated. I agree with Temperance that if you can hire some help, go for it! But if you don’t want to spend the money or if hiring help seems like more work than just doing it yourself, can you gamify cleaning somehow? Put on music, give yourself a small reward for each task done, promise yourself something fun like takeout and a movie night at the end? It’s sucky but I’ve usually been rewarded by a burst of motivation and feeling renewed at the end, just because the mental drag of looking around and thinking about the dust and the laundry and the dishes in the sink isn’t there. (I also find that starting is the hard part. Once I do start, it doesn’t take that long and something mindless and physical can be a nice change from my job.)

      If you have a spare room, shoving stuff like unfolded laundry in there and closing the door is totally a valid strategy.

      Reply
    4. Bend & Snap

      I think my biggest challenge is that I’m a divorced mom to a toddler…so my “free” time still has a small needy child in it, and the time I don’t have her is spent doing things it’s harder to do when she’s with me. Her room is organized but that’s all right now.

      Maybe I need a mother’s helper for a day.

      Reply
      1. Emi.

        That would probably help! All the babysitters I know do mother’s-helper-ing as well, and usually for less $$. :)

        Reply
      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        This is the PERFECT time to hire a mother’s helper! Lots of qualified and eager students around, and many of them are biding time until their camp jobs start. I used to do this when I was in high school for a friend of my mom’s; she would take her grandkids for a few weeks and I would just come over and help out for a few bucks. See my advice above and hire a mother’s helper to take your kid to the backyard and run around. If you don’t have a backyard, her room or the kitchen will do.

        Reply
      3. KellyK

        Oh my gosh yes! If there’s a college near you, their career center might keep a list of families that are hiring baby-sitters and could add you to that list. You can also ask friends with older teen or college-age kids. Your area may also have a Facebook group for that sort of thing.

        Friends who like kids (either who have kids in the right age range, or who don’t have them and thus are looking to get their cute fix from other people’s children) might also be an option. Not necessarily hiring them, because that might be weird, but it’s definitely the kind of favor you could ask of good friends, especially if you can return the favor or take them out for lunch or something.

        Maybe I’m just weird, but if any of my friends needed a day of toddler-chasing on a day I had free, I’d be up for it. (See previous statement about liking kids, not having any, and needing other people’s children for a cuteness fix.)

        Reply
      4. kbeers0su

        Agreed with all this. We have our usual babysitter come over on some weekend days and pay her slightly less than normal ($10 is her usual, we pay $8 when we’re there with her). That way our toddler is entertained and hubby and I can get big things done. Right now we’re prepping for baby #2, which includes having to put a wall back in where the previous homeowners took it out to create a massive master suite. Construction, electrical, drywall…not easy to manage when there’s a 4-year old underfoot. Plus, the toddler loves her sitter, so it’s really more like a playdate for her!

        Reply
    5. Damn it, Hardison!

      I’m a list maker, so they first thing I do when I have to much to do (at work or at home) is to make a list of what needs to get done, prioritize it (what’s the most critical at home?) and then block of time to get it done. I often find that just taking control of it all on paper helps to minimize the anxiety.

      Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      I have a good mess here because of working on my house.
      My solution has been to do something for a half hour in the morning and something for a half hour at night. Then on days off I can do a bit more time.

      Here’s the key for me. I do the parts that are going to make me feel good. “Oh, if I could just get this table emptied off….” So I do the table. With each thing that I get done, more energy comes back and I can do more because I see stuff getting done.
      From what you say here, I would work on the clothes pile for one of the half hours each day until the problem went down or maybe I would just clean up all the clothes. My rationale would be, I can’t function without fresh clothes. I need them organized so I can not worry about that any more and do other things.

      Reply
  26. FriYAY!

    I have a 4th interview for a job this coming Tuesday. They’ve also requested that I complete two online assessments over the weekend. I’m excited about the job but I’m also beginning to think the process seems really long. There is potential for a 5th interview as well. This is a mid-level position with a non-profit organization.
    I’m hoping it works out because it is a great organization, the people I’ve met have been great and it is 32 hours/week full time with benefits which would be great because I’m in school part time in the evenings.

    Reply
  27. YeahNo

    Hi there! Lurker for about 6 months, first time commenter. I’m in a “rotational” program at a professional services firm, which means I do a different role every 6 months. So my team and manager change frequently, which makes it fairly easy not to be too perturbed by any weird dynamics in any one group. But yesterday, I had an episode with my current grand-boss, and it’s been bothering me ever since. This man has a reputation for being brilliant, which I suspect is simply because he has a very serious attitude and loves asking tough questions. He’s also quite moody, and his feedback on your work is unpredictable. Yesterday in a team meeting I presented a PowerPoint deck we will be using in a bigger meeting next week, and he had seen 80% of it before…and praised me on it. But yesterday, he was super critical, said it was unclear, needed to be “clean,” etc…like, constructive criticism is fine, but the way he said it was just…harsh. I know I should just move on and not let it bother me, but it pisses me off! I feel like people are constantly walking on eggshells around him, and he gets away with it because once he’s “nice” again people reward him by acting like nothing ever happened. But that doesn’t come naturally to me…once someone is rude to me, I don’t easily forget it. I don’t know if I’m just looking for commiseration or advice, but I thought I’d share. Thanks for listening!

    Reply
    1. Liet-Kynes

      He may be brilliant, but there’s this phenomenon I’ve noticed in our culture that I call the Steve Jobs Effect, where people who are actually or notionally brilliant demand, and often receive, a pass on being kind and decent human beings when it comes to delivering feedback, disapproval, or constructive criticism.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        I see this also, and I don’t get it.
        To me a truly smart person is well-rounded. They have people skills plus they know their topic. If a person does not have some people skills in place then they are not brilliant in my books. They will only go so far in life because they will manage to tick off too many people.

        OP, perhaps you can find comfort in thinking about the many aspects of intelligence. If he does not develop some people skills he is going to end up being that lonely old man in the nursing home who nobody wants to deal with. I pull out this mental image when I cannot think of any other coping tool for the immediate problem.
        People can be very popular in high school and go on to have a very drab life as adults.
        People can be very in demand at work and never have a good friend for their entire life time.
        A bigger picture perspective might help sometimes.

        Reply
    2. INeedANap

      It might help you to re-frame what’s going on here in your mind.

      It’s not that people are consciously rewarding him, and I promise that they haven’t forgotten he was rude! It’s that, especially in a work environment, there’s a cost-benefit analysis to be done about your interactions with other people that is kind of unique to professional environments. Honestly, I don’t know that it comes naturally to anyone – it’s just one of those things you learn through context.

      I find that I can move on from things like this much more easily if I mentally take them out of the “emotion” category – the emotion category being my internal narrative of, “This person was rude to me and I am angry about it, and that makes me feel frustrated because this anger is not going to have a satisfying resolution” – and then put them into the “business” category – with the business category being an internal narrative of, “I am being paid to work efficiently with Person; therefore, I will work efficiently by not mentioning the rude incident and making the changes I was told to, because I want to exchange my time and effort for money and this allows me to do that.”

      When I break down these types of incidents into cold transactions rather than interpersonal things, I find it much easier.

      Reply
  28. NJ Anon

    Do I need to wear my “interview outfit” when meeting with a recruiter from a staffing agency? Back story: I have been looking for a new job for quite awhile. Had a great interview a couple of weeks ago and found out today that I still in the runnung. This is Job A. Had a phone screen with the board president for a job I spplied to 2.5 months ago. She was upfront about the challenges of the position-basically resurrecting a nonprofit from the funk it is in. This is Job B. The interview on Monday with a recruiter for Job C which is a lower level position but good pay and very close to home.

    Reply
      1. NJ Anon

        Yeah, wasnt going the flip flop, tank top route but more business casual. Sigh, I hate getting all dressed up.

        Reply
        1. the gold digger

          I know no AAM reader would ever do that, but I did see that once in at a staffing agency when I was looking for work! I was in work clothes – and there was someone in gym pants and Crocs!

          Reply
    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

      I see interviews with staffing agency people in the same way as interviews directly by the employer.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth West

      Absolutely. I had to take clerical testing at a staffing agency for a job and I showed up in business casual. I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t taking it seriously.

      Off-topic but THEY HAD A DOG IN THE OFFICE. He came right up to me as I was sitting at the computer and begged for pets! :D

      Reply
      1. Jennifer's Thneed Needs a Job

        Did you ask them if THEY had any open positions?

        Friendly dogs are a seriously good perk.

        Reply
      2. Paquita

        I had a phone interview this week for a job with a dog and a cat in the office! They decided not continue with me though. :(

        Reply
  29. youremindmeofthebabe

    I started a new position, in the same company, nearly two months ago. It’s totally new to me, they’re training me from the ground up. I was ready for something new, but it’s so odd to be taking baby steps when I’m used to kicking ass. For almost a month I was doing both jobs, waiting for them to hire someone, and I thought I was doing a good job keeping up with everything while trying to absorb new things, until a co-worker told me they’d heard people saying I was forgetting things. I still don’t know what they were talking about, because everything got done. Regardless, a person was finally hired for the bulk of my duties and another person within the company was given some of my other duties. So, I’m training two people to take over my former position. I keep having to bite my tongue because they’re “doing it wrong”. I’ve been working for this company 20 years and at that position for 10. I crafted that position and now it’s been taken apart, pieced out…is it so weird that it’s kind of hurt my heart? I got taken off a distro list this morning for recruiting (which was part of my job for 8 years). I think that’s when it sunk in that I’m no longer doing any of that, or at least I won’t be after these two people get fully trained. The new person taking over the main part of my duties isn’t picking them up as quickly as they should and I hear co-workers mentioning things she’s forgotten to do. I’m afraid it’s reflecting badly on me as the one training her. It would have been so much easier to start with a new company. I’m trying to distance myself, focus on the new position and learn it, giving myself patience because it is new and not my normal. But where I was confident I could do it, when I originally accepted, I’m now slightly shaken up and doubting. In the grand scheme of things I know that a year from now most of this won’t matter, but it definitely matters today!

    Reply
    1. roseberriesmaybe

      That sucks, it can be difficult to see changes being made and not being a part of it anymore. Though I have to be honest, the main thing I came here to say was: The babe with the power

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      I could be totally misreading this but it seems like they are doing the same thing to the new people that they did to you. They keep pointing out what is wrong or what they think is wrong.

      It could be that your company has a culture of complaining. It could be that it’s just one or two people but they pass out their poisonous words to everyone.

      In general watch out for the word “they”. Insist on knowing names.
      Cohort: They said you were doing it wrong.
      You: Who is they?
      Cohort: Oh, department x.
      You: Who in department x?
      Cohort: Oh, Sue and Jane.
      You: Okay, thank you for telling me. The next time you hear Sue and Jane complaining ask them to come speak to me about their complaints. Let them know that I am waiting to hear from them.

      You will never hear from them. And in some cases the complaints will suddenly stop also.

      Reply
      1. youremindmeofthebabe

        In thinking back on all my years here, you’re right, there is a culture of complaining. Most of it happens behind someone’s back and is rarely addressed head on. Generally I try to stay out of it. That didn’t work this time. I like the script you provided and I think I’ll be using that if something like this comes up again!

        Reply
  30. Anonon

    I’m waiting to hear back about an interview and it’s so nerve-racking. It would be an internal lateral move. The actual 2nd interview was 2 weeks ago. They finished checking all three my references a week ago from today. All three references told me they gave glowing references. I’ve received 2 timeline updates this week – the first on Monday from the department contact saying they’ll have a decision early this week, and the next on Wednesday evening from HR saying they should have an update by the end of this week. I can’t figure out if it’s because they can’t decide on a candidate or if it’s because they don’t know how to deal with the lateral aspect. Or something else entirely. I know Alison always says to move on as soon as you’ve interviewed – but it makes it harder when they keep reaching out with updated timelines that aren’t met! Argh!

    Reply
  31. Bored & Ignored

    Well…the plot thickens and I can’t tell anyone at work about this so I guess you guys get the gossip.

    Recap: Boss and her boss have been having an EXTREMELY obvious affair for a few years. They’ve been caught kissing before and other canoodlings. They were talked to at one point by Great-Grandboss and it apparently put a stop to it temporarily. It’s still bad. They ignore me and just hang out together for 90% of the day.

    WELL. Apparently…the President was informed that it has not stopped. He thought that Great-Grandboss had taken care of it.

    Boss and Grandboss just pulled me into a meeting to ask what projects we’ve been working on. Grandboss told me has has a meeting next week with Great-Grandboss and President. He is assuming it’s about projects. Knowing the President……..it’s not going to be about projects.

    I’m weirdly optimistic that this will help my situation. I don’t think anyone will get fired. But I think being told to cut it out, again, will hopefully allow them to distance themselves and maybe start assigning me work and giving me some attention. It’s too hard to fill my days when I’m basically bored and ignored. Am I being too optimistic? Naive? Idk. Hopefully not. All I know is, I can’t continue with this the way it has been.

    Reply
    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      I kinda love that Boss and Grandboss are about to be blindsided. They’ve basically been given the green light to continue a public affair because everyone has turned a blind eye and not enforced Great-Grandboss’ warning. But now the President will step in and give a final warning. I bet Boss won’t take it seriously and will be out on his ear soon.

      Reply
      1. Bored & Ignored

        I’m mixed. I genuinely loved my boss for the first year or so. Things have changed drastically. She’s great 1-on-1…but…I can’t work like this.

        Reply
        1. WellRed

          Possibly they won’t fire anyone, but may do some shuffling. I agree, tjough. This sounds like a positive.

          Reply
  32. TSG

    Hey all!

    So. I feel torn. I love my job, great location, great coworkers, etc. But I am paid about 30% less than market value for my role and experience. For awhile I was okay with it because I liked the job so much, but my tasks keep getting shifted to deal with daily fires and I haven’t been able to actually do my real, desired work for two months now with no signs of it slowing down.

    I talked to my boss a while back about other opportunities in the company to do more and that have better salaries, etc. I was moved to a new position but the salary increase never came. But so he knows that I’m looking for more more, and at this point I just really need it.

    So I’ve only been seriously job hunting for two weeks and already have three interviews, which I’m thrilled about! But my boss wrote to me earlier this week to say they finally were able to find another position that may meet my needs here. Thing is, I know that no matter what, it’s still going to pay less than other places. A couple months ago I’d be fine still making less than market value as long as I was making more than I am now, but now I know I just need to get out of here.

    But obviously, who knows how long that will actually take? I’m supposed to meet with him on Monday to discuss the new job they want to offer me, and I don’t know what to say. I’ll be shooting myself in the foot if I’m honest that I’m job hunting, but I’ll feel like a jerk if I go along with this new role than give notice in a month if one of these new prospects ends up working out. But at the same time, if they didn’t want that to happen, they’d pay their employees a livable wage. .. idk. I really want to be honest because it would really screw them to go through the work of moving me if I leave and I don’t want to do that to the people it would impact who arent at fault for my low salary, but I also need to take care of myself and make sure I have what I need…

    Reply
    1. KR

      I don’t think you have to mention you’re job hunting but you could say something like, “I’ll be honest, even with this new position I would still be paid X% below market value for a position like this, taking into account my experience. I’m really looking for a yearly salary of at least $XX,XXX, especially considering this new position, my great work on Project X, and my skills in Y.” It’s worth a try and I think it subtly conveys how unhappy you are with the pay without outright telling him you’re looking (and hopefully he will be less surprised if you leave when/if he doesn’t increase your salary!!).

      Reply
    2. Research Assistant

      You take care of yourself! Seriously, if your company isn’t willing to pay you what you’re worth and they’ve strung you along for this long, you have no obligation to be loyal to them. You don’t need to be transparent; they’re not paying you enough.

      Reply
    3. Not in US

      What I’ve learned is you need to look out for your own career, because no one will do it for you. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot about something that “might” happen. You don’t know how long you’ll be there – these jobs might not be the right fit and it could take you 6-12 months to find something that is. It’s a hard lesson to learn but don’t leave until you leave – believe me I was guilty of this at times but you do yourself a real disservice. KR has a good suggestion about bringing up salary in the context of the new position and maybe you’re company will surprise you and if not, you keep looking.

      Reply
  33. WomanEngineer

    I do not have any direct reports. I’m a project manager and about two years ago began getting assigned junior level employees to work for me on larger projects. The junior employees work on multiple projects at the same time and likewise I have other projects in the works (some where I’m doing all the work and some more where I’m project managing others) Up until now I’ve bumbled along ok, I seem to do good work and so do the juniors. On my most recent project a guy that I’ve worked with a few times has consistently not been turning in the sufficient quantity of work as we have progressed leading us to be behind. I knew he was somewhat busy but he always assured me he was taking care of things etc… it wasn’t a long project either only 8 weeks. About two weeks before the deadline I panicked when I realized the state of the project, i asked him to give me back a task to complete and started reviewing things daily and I started giving more feedback/input and would even give him items to include, if I was able to easily pull what was needed together. I also gave him written lists of items I saw outstanding and stated, you need to take care of all these things. In the end the Friday before the project was to go out he left at 4pm without turning over all the final needed pieces of work. I emailed and got no response. he had said he was going to work the weekend but he didn’t go in and never emailed me. I ended up working a full day Sunday to try and finish what I could. Monday when he came in he worked on the project and gave me more stuff but I still had an incomplete project that went out. Now the deadline has passed we still need to wrap things up and most importantly I need to address these issues. But I am not his superior and I can’t say ‘you need to change or X will happen’ I also don’t even know if he or I will work together again this year so I can’t say ‘maybe next time we should do Y?’ How do I handle this? My supervisor is aware of things and says I need to ‘talk to him and find out what happened’ but again I’m at a loss for how to do this. We also have a really open plan office which makes it very hard to have difficult conversations. any advice?

    Reply
    1. Sadsack

      I think it’s fair to have a conversation where you tell him you had a deadline and ask what happened? Maybe letting him know how it effected you will make him realize he has to step up, but I am afraid that it won’t mean much if there are no real repercussions for him. I am not clear who his manager us, but that person should probably talk to him.

      Reply
    2. Imaginary Number

      If you’re in a matrix/project-oriented organization it should be totally acceptable for you to directly discuss your concerns with his functional manager. If you’ve worked with him several times and you don’t address it with his manager, they’re just going to keep assigning him to you and assume it’s working out. I would definitely sit down with him about it first, though. If you’re in an open office plan, are there huddle rooms that you can book to have a private conversation? I think it’s important to figure out if the problem is competency or time-commitment. Sometimes a problem looks like a time-commitment issue when it’s really a competency issue. Engineers often feel a lot more comfortable saying “I’m sorry, I was swamped with a bunch of last-minute things last week” vs. “I’m sorry, I didn’t actually know how to do half of the stuff you were asking”.

      Reply
      1. WomanEngineer

        Thanks for the thoughtful answers. he told me things just slipped through… and I said I needed the final bit of work to be thorough and complete. I think there is some technical competency and being overbooked stuff at play. And if the other work is easier, he chooses that. Which leads me this being something to be handled at the manager level. We have the same manager so I’ll have to get on that. Our manager was out for two weeks which was part of my problem and delay in addressing things. The last week really burned me out and it’s so frustrating that the project is still not complete. And ultimately I’m the one looking bad in front of the client.

        Reply
      2. Clever Name

        Yep. This is how my company works. PMs are supposed to address these types of issues as they come up, and if it looks like a pattern, they are supposed to loop in the person’s supervisor. Do you have the ability to pick who works on your projects in the future? If so, I’d pick folks who are reliable over this guy.

        Reply
    3. Thlayli

      I have been in exactly this situation a few times. Honestly the quickest way to sort it out is to go to their manager. However if you don’t want to do that at This stage a couple of other options are:
      1 ask for someone else next time he is assigned to one of your projects.
      2 micro-manage: break his work down into smaller pieces of work that can be done in a single day and follow up each day. This will at least let you know earlier if he is not getting through it

      Reply
  34. Ella

    Hi,
    First time poster here with a question. I am an admin on a team of four, with one other marketing/admin person. Our duties are super clearly split but for now we are working on it. In the past week or so, the other admin has been making a large number of small or minor errors — spelling mistakes, wrong times for events, not adding items to calendar, not sending all info in emails. This clearly reflects poorly on me as the other admin (as our boss isn’t always totally clear on who is doing what) and our team as a whole (sending marketing material to clients with typos). I’ve asked the other admin to send me everything for proofing but I don’t have time to check all his work to fix everything. I’ve talked to our other team member, because she mentioned to me that she had seen his work slip, but not the other admin directly or our boss. What should I do in this situation? Talk to the other admin? Talk to the boss?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. CA Admin

      As another admin, I get how tricky this can be. I’d say talk to your boss–you’re not the other admin’s manager, so telling her how to do her tasks is likely to go over poorly. If your boss knows what’s going on, then you don’t have to stress about it–he/she knows that it’s not your fault and who to talk to about fixing it, if it’s a problem.

      Reply
    2. SaviourSelf

      I agree, talk to your boss and be specific/give examples. If I were the boss, I would want to know if this was happening and especially if it wasn’t just a one-time-thing. It isn’t your responsibility to proofread all of his work (unless you’ve been told otherwise by your boss) and you don’t want his poor work quality to reflect poorly on you nor do you want your work to suffer because you’re busy checking his work.

      Talk to your boss.

      Reply
  35. MissMaple

    Thanks to everyone who gave me some input on badge flipping as a federal contractor a few weeks ago. I got my offer from the new contractor and have to respond by today. In the end, it’s basically equivalent (same salary, more vacation, benefits cost more) and it might be nicer to work for a bigger contractor rather than the small one that’s only local to where I currently work. I supposed it’s always good to have options within the company I work for if I need to move somewhere else.

    I’m trying to set up a meeting with my current employer today to let them know, but it looks like I’ll be badge flipping as of the end of the month.

    Thanks again to everyone who gave advice!

    Reply
  36. Imaginary Number

    The topic of “unwanted hugging from coworkers” has come up before. I know the right answer is just to tell this person I’m not comfortable with it, and I feel awful that I haven’t been able to work up the nerve to do it.

    The coworker in question always hugs female coworkers in greeting (never male coworkers.) We don’t work together, but are in the same program, and so see eachother at networking events a lot. I’ve tried to be subtle about it and go in for the handshake before he can hug, but it doesn’t usually work. He also kisses us on the cheek when leaving (not European.) He’s very involved with musical theater on the side and I know they’re a very touchy-feely bunch for the most part.

    I have no other issues with this person. He is very outgoing and gets along with everyone. I feel like it would be even worse to bring it up after nearly two years (I know, I should have done it sooner.)

    This would be so much easier if he was a jerk.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      Even if he’s not a jerk, he is treating women differently than men.

      That’s not okay.

      I hope you can get up the nerve to say something. Maybe frame it as how it might look to others that it’s gendered?

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      A lot of people are more comfortable doing it if they make it about their own hang-up: “Oh, I’m not a hugger!” “I’m not one for hugs, but I’d love to shake your hand.” “I barely even hug my mother, but it’s good to see you.” … etc.

      Really, these are things people say. It is fine. Be self-deprecating about it and no one will feel weird. (I want to be clear that I’m not saying you have to be self-deprecating about it, but it’s an easy way to feel comfortable about it when you otherwise wouldn’t.)

      Reply
      1. Imaginary Number

        Unfortunately, it’s not so much that I’m not a hugger. I have no problem hugging my close friends and there are a couple of coworkers who fall in that category. The part that’s uncomfortable for me is a) we’re not close friends, although we’re friendly and b) the fact that he specifically hugs the women as greeting.

        Reply
        1. Emilia Bedelia

          You don’t have to actually be a not-huggy person to tell him that you are- this is a situation where it’s acceptable to lie a little bit. He’s not going to call you out for hugging someone else and not him. And if he does, that is even weirder and you are allowed to give him a puzzled expression and move on.

          If it makes you feel better, you can imagine saying “I’m not one for hugging…….. you”

          Reply
        2. JamieS

          You can still be a non-hugger even if you let close friends/family hug you. Generally being a non-hugger doesn’t mean you never hug. It just means you’re not a promiscuous hugger.

          Reply
    3. Menacia

      Unfortunately, I work with someone (not closely and I don’t see him often, thankfully), who, even though I told him I’m not a hugger, always replies back “Well *I* am!” and just goes for it, kiss on the cheek and all. *sigh*

      Reply
      1. JamieS

        I’ve found that putting my hand up to stop them as they go in usually works. The two times it didn’t, loudly saying “unhand me you animal!” did the trick.

        Reply
    4. Shony

      I mean I was in theatre and yeah, there’s some touchy feely there sometimes, but it doesn’t exactly extend outside the group. It’s more a side effect of how intimate that work can be, when you’re working together basically 24/7, especially acting, where you’re playing off each other in ways that inadvertently become quite personal.

      Which is to say, that does not really transfer to a different work environment, and it’d be weird if someone assumed so. Aaaaaand I got a lot of hugs in theatre but not really kisses. That still seems weird to me, almost like an affectation he’s decided to take on?

      Reply
      1. Imaginary Number

        That’s really insightful that you said “an affectation he’s decided to take on” because I think you nailed it. He’s sort of made a brand for himself as the “exuberant and outgoing person who is best friends with everyone” (which works really well for the very social job he does.

        Reply
    5. Observer

      It’s ok to bring it up after 2 years. Although Alison’s scripts can make it easier.

      And, if he responds to “I’m not a hugger” with “Well I am”, then he IS a jerk. But “Well it takes two” is a perfect response.

      Reply
  37. Construction Safety

    Oy.

    We have a project where the client forbids all tobacco use on site. We are continually having problems with our workers smoking in the port-a-cans. Client is now aware of this & suggested putting locks on the doors & having an attendant to sign out keys & do a pre & post sniff for combustion by-products.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      Is client going to pay for this security?

      You might get away with a designated smoking area on the sidewalk, just off property- but please, provide ash cans.

      Reply
      1. Construction Safety

        Ah, negatory on the additional costs.

        It’s a big site, they’d have to drive off. Not going to happen.

        Reply
    2. Rebecca

      Well, it looks like the smokers will need to smoke only on designated breaks, and off site. I can’t believe they’d actually pay someone to be the Potty Smoker Police and lock the doors!

      Reply
    3. Liet-Kynes

      I mean, on the one hand, I have a microscopic level of tolerance for smokers and their smoke breaks and smoke smell and smoke obsession. On the other hand, wow, your client sounds so bonkers they make me look tolerant. I’d provide a designated off-property smoking area and make it clear they’re to use it on breaks only, and maybe establish a Nicorette stash for the desperate.

      Reply
      1. Savannnah

        My company recently fired our construction company in the middle of a who knows how many millions of dollar expansion because of smoking. We are a hospital network so there are state and federal laws at play but our replacement construction company had everyone sign a protocol that they would be 100 feet away from the campus to smoke on breaks, which given our proximity to schools and other hospital campuses basically means that no one can smoke during the day lawfully.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        Not bonkers at all. It doesn’t matter how someone personally feels about smoking. There are some good business reasons to ban smoking on site. And, if that’s what the customer wants, that what the customer gets. Smoking in the porta-potties is an additional problem aside from the general ban. These things don’t have decent ventilation, which means that they stink all day, and if there is anyone with sensitivity to smoke they can’t use it.

        Reply
  38. Jessesgirl72

    Well, it ends up my husband can’t work remotely while we are waiting for the baby to be born after all.

    His grand boss gave permission, pending what Security said. Security said yes, as long as he didn’t take over the company laptop. They spent a week setting up the VPN and VM- so he’d use his personal laptop through the VPN to remote in to a virtual machine created just for him that only existed while he was logged in, then remote from there to his office desktop, using 2 factor authentication (that step, as always) Everyone was agreed and set up. Then a VP said they needed to look into it more, but said it was up to Grandboss. Grandboss said yes. That wasn’t the answer she wanted. :P So she linked to a white paper that “proved” how dangerous Ukraine is, “because Russian hackers”- that all it said was that hackers were attacking the Ukraine government servers, but specifically stated that private internet was fine. Grandboss still said yes. So then she says that in order for it to happen, Grandboss and Great Grandboss had to sign something saying that they personally were taking responsibility if anything went wrong. Right. I don’t know why she just didn’t say no, outright, from the start of her involvement!

    Grandboss says yes, she’s wrong and ridiculous, but… and that rumor had it someone at C-level had been hacked while at a conference (not using any of these protections) and so they had a bug up their butt about it.

    Grandboss then didn’t understand why my husband wanted to fill out the paperwork for FMLA. But he did set up a meeting with HR, who explained it to him. I don’t know if HR explained the difference between surrogacy and adoption, though.

    So he has 4 weeks minus 1.5 days of PTO we can pull from, and 4 weeks of paid parental leave that kicks in at birth. We have to be there 2 weeks before the due date, and then it’s 2-3 weeks before we can bring the baby home. We should be fine- they won’t let her go that long before inducing, as we know the conception date, down to the minute- but wanted the FMLA in place just in case something goes wrong. The PTO has to be used before FMLA, but the Parental Leave is separate and in addition to it.

    It will be fine, and he’s been hoarding his PTO, since the parental leave was only announced a month ago, but it’s so frustrating! And what she is afraid of happening is more likely from our house- which everyone WFM on Fridays right now, at minimum- because it doesn’t have all the extra protections, and someone would have to be looking for him, and break encryption and then all they could get was screen shots!

    But my husband has made it clear that then it’s 6-8 weeks without him, and he won’t even be able to check his work email, since it’s so unsafe. ;)

    And he’s going to start job searching as soon as we get back.

    Reply
    1. MechanicalPencil

      Yikes. I’m sorry it didn’t work out that intended. I was hopeful that it would be bumpy sailing instead of this. It’s stressful enough on you to begin with without all this extra kerfuffle.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        Thank you. I really did add some unneeded stress! There is so much precedence, even in his department, for being allowed to work remotely, even while overseas. That’s why they had the whole process for it already in place. It’s just bad luck that it’s a combination of so much hype over “ZOMG RUSSIA!”(And we’ve had SO.MUCH.TROUBLE with even our bank, convincing them that Ukraine is not Russia!) and the C-Suiter being hacked when we need it.

        We felt better when we knew if anything got held up before or after, my husband would just keep on working. We knew we had FMLA to fall back on, but surrogacy is not inexpensive (1/3 to 1/4 of what it is in the US, but not inexpensive!)

        Even his boss says, best case scenario, he’ll be born a day or two after we arrive, and it won’t be an issue. I just wish we hadn’t rented a 2 BR apartment specifically for work space that can be shut off from the rest of the space. There was one we liked better with amazing views, but no workspace except the kitchen table in the main room!

        Reply
  39. Junior Dev

    I don’t know if someone already posted this in the thread on culture fit but it’s relevant. It’s an article about how casual workplace culture of the kind often found in tech can actually be destructive to diversity and work life balance, and how the most inclusive work culture focuses on work and doesn’t try to involve hobbies or working overtime ot going out to the bar together.

    Reply
    1. Liet-Kynes

      I think that is, whether by accident or intent, a feature rather than a bug. If everything is super chummy and there’s a slide and nerf gun wars and a beer fridge, that’s a cheap way to make people more okay with working 70 hours a week and dealing with tech bro Travis Kalanick types who have no perspective and think they’re on a mission to save the world with an app.

      Reply
      1. Junior Dev

        Yeah, the places I’ve worked or had friends work at where free beer was part of the workplace have also been notorious for hiring young people for below market rate and burning through them in 6 months or a year.

        Reply
    2. Mints

      That was interesting! I sort of disagree with the 9-5 argument, because flex time seems like a win for all types of employees. But I agree hard with the argument that culture should be about good work, not Rock Band or beer or whatever.

      Reply
    3. Ann O.

      I think this is mixing several things together that should be separated out. Also, I’m going to start with my standard disclaimer that Silicon Valley tech IS diverse. It’s simply not diverse across all axes of representation. These types of articles paint tech as all under 30-something white men, but large tech companies are more like 50% white, 30 to 40% Asian (both immigrant and Asian-American and across the continent), and then a mix of everything else. Tech jobs are HORRIBLE for gender balance, but the gender balance across tech and non-tech is closer to parity.

      Back to the article’s points. I LOVE the focus on professionalism at work and not implicitly requiring outside friendships/similar hobbies/etc. I don’t think that’s a cure all at all, and I don’t think outside socializing is at all a newfangled tech thing, but I think it’s an overall win. We don’t need to be friends with our co-workers. We need to be able to do our work with them.

      I hate the conflation of flex time, relaxed dress codes, and free food with this. Those are completely different things, and flex time and genuinely relaxed dress codes (i.e. no penalizing non-white folk for hairstyles, patterns, styles, etc.) are great.

      Reply
  40. Not Today Satan

    Does anyone have any experience hiring someone when you couldn’t get in touch with any real references? We recently interviewed some one who seemed okay but I had reservations. We didn’t have many good options, so we asked for her references. The only one we got in touch with was someone who worked with for 3 months 15 years ago and who is now her friend. We tried calling more recent employers and no one returned our (multiple) calls. Anyway, my boss was desperate and hired her.

    I get that there might be some innocent explanation, but it’s a major red flag to me. Any stories (whether with good endings or bad) from similar situations?

    Reply
    1. CMDRBNA

      I personally would think it was a red flag, BUT I also have several references that are good references but hard to get in touch with because they travel internationally a lot.

      Since she’s already been hired, it’s kind of a moot point, right? She’ll either do well or not. It may be worth looking at why you didn’t have many good options though (have you checked your organization’s GlassDoor reviews? Maybe the job description needs refreshing?).

      Reply
      1. Not Today Satan

        It’s a position that requires a specific skill and that the candidate speak a particular language. For the position that doesn’t require language proficiency, we had a much better time.

        Reply
      1. Not Today Satan

        Will do!

        Btw, you may have written about this type of thing before, but one of her previous employers wouldn’t even confirm that she worked there over the phone. We had to use sort sort of online portal that charged us a $40 fee for her title and employment dates. What a scam! lol

        Reply
        1. Susan

          My former employer used a service like this called The Work Number, and I believe there are some companies that make the use of this service mandatory, so HR is required to refer all inquiries about employment history to the service. I wouldn’t consider that a red flag in itself because that is a thing at some companies (though I agree it’s a scam).

          Reply
          1. Not So Bad Candidate

            Almost all of my former (and current) employers use The Work Number. It sucks. And in one case a friend I used to work with had The Work Number tell her new employer that they had no record of her. So that was a fun mess to clean up.

            Reply
    2. Cookie

      Well, if I had to give references now it would be a struggle. I’d probably give my current employer because I need a reference from someone who supervised me, but that isn’t ideal. My supervisor at my prior job is gone, but hr could verify my employment (and coworkers can vouch for me). Other than that, I have short term internships and professor contacts, neither of whom know me super well (and professors are probably not answering their office phones in the summer). So there could be plenty of legit reasons.

      Reply
    3. JulieBulie

      I worry about this kind of thing, because quite a few of my ex-jobs have gone out of business and I have no idea where some of my ex-managers ended up. Many are retired. Some are on LinkedIn, but others are not.

      Hopefully the people I work with now will give good references for me if I ever need them, but when I got this job, they had a lot of trouble reaching even the people from my last job, because the company had gone belly-up and its managers scattered to the four corners of the earth (okay, four corners of the northeastern US) in disgrace.

      Reply
    4. Ann O.

      Is it so unusual in this day and age? There’s so much job churn now that if you’re not connected via social networking, contact info and phone numbers can go out of date fast!

      Reply
  41. Audiophile

    I want to start incorporating dresses into my work wardrobe. Now, I mostly wear pants (Gloria Vanderbilt, Chaps, etc.) for work.

    I looked in Old Navy and didn’t find anything I liked. I’ve seen some cute things on Amazon from Miusol but they might be a little too heavy for summer weather, which is officially here in NYC.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Reply
      1. Audiophile

        I’ve looked at Ann Taylor (and Loft) since I have a store card with them. I’ll check out Banana Republic since I was just approved for the Old Navy Visa card, but haven’t been thrilled with the selection in the past.

        Didn’t even think of J Crew. I did see some cute things on ModCloth, just didn’t order anything.

        Thanks for the suggestions.

        Reply
    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      You could try Stitch Fix — they’ll curate some options for you. It could be helpful as you’re figuring out what styles/brands/fabrics/etc. you like.

      Reply
        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          No, I haven’t — I use a similar service that has a better model (but only offers plus sizes). Stitch Fix just recently started offering plus sizes and I haven’t checked it out yet.

          (The other service is called Gwynnie Bee and it is AMAZING. It’s like old-school Netflix for clothes — you pay to have a certain number of items out at a time, and when you send one back they send you another. I’ll post a link in a subcomment.)

          Reply
          1. Can't Sit Still

            I LOVE Gwynnie Bee! I’ve been able to wear clothes that I wouldn’t normally buy and returned clothes that I would have bought if I had just tried them on in the store without wearing them first. I’m pretty sure it’s actually saved me money.

            I’m trying Stitch Fix out. My first box was so close, but I ended up returning everything, since they didn’t listen when I said no sleeveless or button-down tops and sent…sleeveless button-downs. My next box looks more promising, since I set up a Pintrest board for them to refer to.

            Dia & Co. is another size 14 and up subscription box. I wasn’t thrilled with my first box, but I did end up with an amazing pair of jeans that fit perfectly, so I’m giving them another chance.

            All the emails I’ve been getting lately from Stitch Fix, Dia & Gwynnie Bee are about their great dresses for summer, so I think anyone looking for dresses is going to be in luck!

            Reply
          2. Audiophile

            Thanks for the rec!. I made an account and I’m adding dresses to my “closet” as part of the 30 day free trial.

            Reply
        2. Cardigania

          I’ve tried it and liked it! *Very* strict timeline on returns, so pay close attention to this if you try it.

          Reply
        3. Ama

          I got two really great work appropriate dresses from Stitch Fix a while back (although I’ll caution that my workplace is business casual and one in particular might not be that doable for a full business dress office).

          Also I haunt the Boden website — their dresses are expensive but things go on sale frequently and I have lucked into some 60% and 70% off bargains.

          Reply
        4. Bess

          I like Stitch Fix when I’m having trouble with a gap in my wardrobe–they’re good about sending you stuff you’d pass by online or in a store, but that actually works out well. They skew slightly casual but there’s lots of places for notes and you can say you want work stuff. If you get a pinterest board together and share it with them they get an even better sense of what you like, I think. The “look” cards they send with the pieces are nice if you need ideas for how to wear them.

          You won’t get a bargain on anything, and if you don’t keep the whole box I think you slightly overpay on some items, tbh, BUT the pieces I’ve kept I’ve ended up wearing over and over and over, so it ended up being worth it for me.

          They can get a little pushy about auto-scheduling you for a monthly service, so if you don’t want that, just be vigilant and cancel or move the dates.

          Reply
    2. Cardigania

      On a similar note – anyone have ideas for alternatives to cardigans to wear with dresses/short sleeves? I’m tired of constantly wearing solid-colored button-down sweaters, but haven’t found many blazers that work with my business casual wardrobe.

      Reply
      1. Stylishly Neutral Grad

        I got a really nice, smart jacket at Macy’s four years ago, but I don’t think they sell it anymore. Depending on the office, some of them could look sharp and professional.

        An additional suggestion for Audiophile: White House Black Market has a good selection and helpful staff and is a shade less formal than something like Ann Taylor.

        Reply
      2. Rainy, PI

        Unstructured drapey jackets and kimono-sleeve pieces can be really good.

        Also, if you are wearing business casual, try a shrunken blazer! I know it sounds weird, but for some reason a shrunken blazer looks way better with business casual than a proper blazer does.

        Reply
      3. Emilia Bedelia

        I like to drape a cardigan or shawl over my shoulders instead of putting the sleeves on. It’s just a little bit of a different look (and it’s usually cooler than wearing a cardigan, which is too warm in the summer)

        Reply
      4. Junior Dev

        If the rest of your outfit is super sharp you might be able to pull off a leather or fitted jean jacket.

        Reply
      5. over educated

        I have a couple of blazers and casual jackets that aren’t the “suit” type, but if I’m mainly sitting at my desk that day and it’s warm enough, a shawl will often do. I keep two on my shelf.

        Reply
      1. 2 Cents

        +1 love eShakti. Shipping can take awhile, but the one dress I bought so far fit perfectly, which never happens to me with clothing.

        Reply
    3. Rainy, PI

      I only wear skirts and dresses to work (not religious, I just prefer them), and I mostly buy from Modcloth, eShakti, and–I shit you not–the Target clearance rack. I have some Gap pieces as well.

      Watch out for the cute dresses–you need to make sure the stuff you’re buying is breathable, for summer. My workplace is pretty casual (we work with students) so I can wear a lot of long flowing jersey-knit skirts and that sort of thing, which is great for summer. Especially because the A/C in my office hasn’t come on in more than a year.

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        I’d never heard of eShakti, but I’m really intrigued by the pockets. I carry a purse, but carry my phone with me a lot.

        I’ve looked at Modcloth, but haven’t purchased anything. I need a few pairs of flat shoes.

        Reply
    4. Kelly

      I’ve bought some great items off ThreadUp.com. Lots of designer labels (if you care) at huge discounts.

      I also do a clothing/handbag/shoe swap with friends once a year. Everyone brings what they want to get rid of, you pick up things you like etc. As long as there isn’t that ONE person (I’m looking at you Anna) that wants to grab ALL THE STUFF.

      Reply
    5. floating

      I’ve had a lot of success at New York & Company. It can be super hit or miss and not everything is work appropriate, but when it’s hit, it’s a certifiable gold mine.

      Reply
      1. Lia

        I came here to suggest this. They have super cute fit and flare cotton dresses this year and they HAVE POCKETS. I bought four and get a ton of compliments on them. On sale, they are between $18 and $24!

        Reply
    6. AvonLady Barksdale

      Get thee to Lord & Taylor. On 5th Avenue. They have a HUGE selection of dresses of all kinds, for all sizes, and at all price points. They also have amazing clearance deals and sales. Pro-tip: go on a Saturday if you can’t go during the week. On Sundays, it’s usually packed.

      Reply
    7. Cookie

      I’m a big fan of New York & Co., particularly the Eva Mendes collection. If you subscribe to their emails, you’ll get half off notices all the time. And then you can get the card and build points and use your rewards on top of the 50% off…

      Reply
    8. afiendishthingy

      …now i’m online window shopping… my office is basically empty today for some reason and I am not feeling motivated…
      but I love the “outdoor” dress selection on 6pm.com.

      (I can’t tell whether or not I just commented? It’s not showing up but maybe it’s in moderation)

      Reply
    9. Jillociraptor

      I pretty much only have work dresses from Land’s End. It’s a little more than I would usually spend (usually $70-80 per dress, and sales aren’t super common), but I’ve had really good luck with everything I’ve bought there. They have a good selection of different cuts, colors, patterns and styles, and they have a pretty big range of sizes, including petites and plus sizes.

      Plus, they almost always put pockets in the dresses!

      Reply
      1. zora

        Was coming here to say Land’s End!
        And I find a lot of stuff from Nordstroms and other department stores. I specifically look for Karen Kane and Anne Klein brands. Halogen (Nordstrom’s house brand) and Vince Camuto have good stuff, too.

        Reply
    10. Iris Eyes

      I just picked up a great dress from the clearance at Burlington, they had a pretty great variety between more formal and more business casual. Also see if you can find a knit blazer especially something with quarter length sleeves. I believe the prevailing wisdom is that with skirts/dresses generally something that hits at waist or hip looks better than the longer blazers that you would generally get with pants, that could be what is throwing off the look.

      Reply
    11. voluptuousfire

      JC Penney. The Worthington line has a lot of cute summer dresses for work that are reasonably priced.

      Reply
    12. Gov Worker

      Evine.com. Great prices, fullrange of sizes (I’m plus size), easy pay option, and so very cute! Kate and Mallory is my favorite brand.

      Reply
  42. Lalaith

    I was supposed to have a (scheduled, unlike the question earlier this week) phone interview yesterday, and the recruiter ghosted. I don’t have her phone number so I couldn’t call her instead. I suppose I should have emailed her after 15 minutes or so letting her know I was ready and waiting, but I didn’t think of that. I’m willing to give her one more shot at this point, but I’m struggling with how to word the email. What’s a polite way to say “why didn’t you call?” The best I can come up with is “sorry we didn’t connect yesterday” but I really don’t want to say sorry in this circumstance.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      “Looks like we had a misconnect! I had us down for 1 pm yesterday for the phone interview–I’m guessing something came up or tech problems intervened. Can we reschedule?”

      Reply
      1. Lalaith

        Thanks! I cut out the middle sentence (I don’t mind sounding a bit cold), but the “looks like we had a misconnect” language is good. We’ll see what happens…

        Reply
    2. Precisely

      I’ve had this same situation occur and the recruiter was waiting for me to call! (Even though I didn’t have her number) so it really is worth reaching out, something like what fposte suggests except when you ask to re-schedule explicitly state that you were waiting for her call and that you would like to re-schedule a time for her to call you (to remove any possible confusion about how the phone interview will proceed).

      Reply
  43. CMDRBNA

    I’m super anxious about a job offer – I was offered a job at a place I’m really excited about, but when I got the offer it’s contingent on passing a background and reference check. Background is no problem, but I don’t know how in-depth they’ll go in hunting down references, and I left on bad terms with a manager two jobs ago (he was a not very functioning alcoholic and assaulted a coworker, and I left without turning in notice because I was afraid to work with him).

    I’ve already responded that I will have to give notice at my current job at XX date and will contact them before then to confirm they’ve conducted the checks to their satisfaction. This was two days ago and I’ve asked my references to let me know if/when they get contacted. No one has been yet and their HR contact who is handling this never responded to my email.

    I’m not comfortable turning in notice at my current job until this is resolved, but that would mean having to push back my start date and New Job is very anxious to have someone in the position before their annual conference at the end of July.

    Reply
      1. CMDRBNA

        I already accepted the offer, with the caveat that I’d be confirming with them that the background check and reference check was complete before finalizing leaving my current company. They have seven business days before that date.

        It didn’t come up in the interviews, I wasn’t there that long, and the job was several years ago and not the most relevant of my jobs to this role. It’s just frustrating that the offer was contingent – which the HR manager didn’t tell me before sending the offer letter. I do have references from that job, just not that particular person. They’re not even at the same university, having been invited to leave after so many lawsuits.

        I’m meeting with my new team next week so I’ll hopefully get an update then. I’m hoping the HR manager just gets her part done next week and this is settled.

        Reply
  44. desertfawn

    I’ve come to the realization that I can’t stand my new-ish co-worker.

    He’s gross, rude, lazy, and I loathe sharing a small office with him. I get to work an hour before he does and my stomach hurts when he walks through the door. Just before he gets here I put on big noise-canceling headphones because he’s yapping away as soon as he walks in…i’ve started becoming rude towards him and when he talks i’ll either ignore him or let him know i’m busy but it doesn’t help.

    He passes gas and belches constantly throughout the day and stare at me through the cubicle window trying to get my attention. We share work and he frequently says he doesn’t feel like working and watches Netflix on his phone. Today I’m working away and thought he wasn’t in his chair – nope, watching Netflix. I was startled when I got up and saw him because he hadn’t moved in 45 minutes. Supervisor knows all of this (had also seen it himself) and still gave him a perfect score on his evaluation and took him off of new employee probation.

    He used to frequently make comments about our female coworkers and blamed it on the culture of his last job. We work in the public sector/local govt and I told him we don’t talk like that here. When he didn’t stop, I went to my supervisor who sat coworker down and told him I turned him in.

    I can’t move offices and I’m stuck with him. I love my job but i’ve been looking at other opportunities lately. Sorry, I’m just venting. I’ve done all I can do and i’ve been shown that nothing will ever change and i’m just mad.

    Reply
      1. desertfawn

        I wonder the same thing every day. He said it was an issue with conflicting personalities and not an issue with a 44 year old man ripping farts in a small office.

        Reply
        1. Not Today Satan

          Wow @ that guy being middle aged. I was picturing someone in his early 20s (not that his behavior would be ok at any age).

          Reply
    1. Liet-Kynes

      “Supervisor knows all of this (had also seen it himself) and still gave him a perfect score on his evaluation and took him off of new employee probation.”

      Supervisor gotta supervise.

      Reply
      1. desertfawn

        He’s one of them “hands off” kinda guys. We come to him with problems even if he notices them himself. He knew the comments on women made me uncomfortable and waited 3.5 months to address it.

        Reply
    2. Gandalf the Nude

      Has he continued the gross comments about women? Take it back to your supervisor, and if supervisor still doesn’t handle appropriately, kick it up to HR. I’d be livid if I heard a manager had done that.

      Reply
    3. Emi.

      Your coworker sucks and isn’t going to change.

      Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

      In government, you probably have HR, right? Have you talked to them?

      Reply
    4. Canonymous

      Could you frame it to your supervisor as “I’m trying to get tasks done and meet work obligations, but Coworker isn’t covering his share and it’s resulting in delays (or whatever else). How would you like me to handle this?”

      If you’re asked for specifics, you can be blunt: he has stated he doesn’t feel like working; he watches movies on his phone for up to 45 minutes at a time; he stares at you to try to get your attention; etc…

      If you’re told that this is the way it is, and nothing will change, you could take it at face value and ignore your coworker, wear your earplugs, and communicate with him in writing only (so you don’t have to face him and watch him be annoying).

      If you hear him continue with comments about female coworkers, you could reply in cold tones like you have before: we don’t talk like that here; why would you say that; why would you think we would want to hear that; don’t talk about women that way around us; etc…

      Reply
  45. De Minimis

    I found out a couple of weeks ago I was turned down for the federal jobs at my previous agency. I guess they may have had another person in mind, though I haven’t officially received a disposition letter for one of the jobs. The HR person told me though that a selection had already been made.

    I’m more or less okay with it, I wasn’t really looking forward to relocating cross country again, but I’m still pretty disenchanted with my current job. I’ve applied for a position close to where I currently live, we’ll see what happens, though I’m starting to resign myself to maybe being in this position long term.

    The only thing that really bugs me about not getting the federal position is that this was probably my last opportunity to rejoin as far as my plans for retirement timing. I have nearly 10 years of service, but I’m old enough to where unless I rejoined within the next year or two, I’d probably have to work longer than I really want to in order to have a decent retirement from them. So it’s probably pretty much over with.

    My current job actually has really good retirement, but I don’t enjoy the work.

    Reply
  46. AdAgencyChick

    Fortunately, this turned out to be a hypothetical, but it almost wasn’t.

    An employee takes a week vacation, and makes an effort to “turn off” (i.e., not checking email or calling in). During that week, a meeting is scheduled for the first day that employee would be back in the office, for a start time earlier than people are normally expected to be in the office.

    Is it on the employee to find out about the meeting so that she shows up on time, or on the meeting organizers to make sure she finds out?

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      I think if the meeting organizer could reach out via phone, and leave a message on home voice mail, that would be OK, that way, when the employee gets home, they would find out. I know I’d appreciate that, so I didn’t have to slog through email, etc. on a Sunday night when I was trying to decompress from a week away. Plus, a good part of my vacation joy would be shot if I arrived at the office, at my normal time, to find out I missed a meeting and no one told me.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Ah, are we thinking of a situation where everybody knows the out employee’s plan and pattern? In my department nobody’d be keeping track of such a thing.

        Reply
        1. Rebecca

          I work in a small office, and I’d tell the people who normally back up my work when I’m out that I wouldn’t be online until I returned on Monday, for instance. Plus, my out of office message would read “out of the office until June XX with no access to email”. I was thinking if the person organizing the meeting knew, that would be a nice head’s up, or if a coworker caught wind of it, they could reach out as well.

          Reply
        2. AdAgencyChick

          At most agencies in my niche of advertising, people roll in around 9:30 AM, sometimes even a little later.

          This was a client conference call scheduled for 9 AM.

          Reply
        3. Thlayli

          If they use outlook they would be able to see that she is off until that day and also that she hasn’t accepted the invite.

          Reply
            1. Thlayli

              Oh I wasn’t saying all office’s are like that – I got the impression from your comment that you didn’t realise this is a very common thing and/or didn’t know how it worked, so I was just explaining that to you.

              Reply
    2. De Minimis

      Unless it’s some kind of emergency, they should schedule the meeting well enough in advance to where the employee would already know about it prior to the vacation. This is assuming the employee scheduled the vacation far in advance and that everyone knew about it, which is probably the case [my job requires people to have things like that on Google calendar.]

      Reply
      1. an.on

        I’m a project manager and lead approximately 30 projects at a time, and participate in an additional 10 or so a month that I’m not the lead on. We have a 3 week turnaround SLA from submission to launch and every project requires a handoff meeting with a group of approx 5 core partners representing different teams before we can start building out the project plan. I schedule about 15 meetings a week, usually with a 1-3 day lead time, and often when calendars are packed I am forced to schedule a 7:30 or 8am meeting for the west coasters. If I’m scheduling a short notice meeting that falls outside of a partner’s core working hours or if I know they’re out of office and may not see a last minute early morning meeting invite, I call them directly and email them to let them know and make sure I have confirmation they’re attending before wasting all of the other attendees’ time by holding a call where we’re not sure if everyone is coming. Saying that meetings should be scheduled prior to the employee’s vacation unless it’s an emergency situation doesn’t make sense in many work environments. My calendar for 2 weeks from now is literally empty aside from 3 weekly meetings that don’t change – but by end of next week, I’ll have three to six 15-30 min meetings scheduled per day for the following week. One size does not fit all here. :)

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Yeah, this is more what I’m thinking of, and I don’t have access to everybody’s schedule, either. This would be the time that got the most people able to make it; if Jane-the-vacationer’s presence was absolutely required, I’d have pinned that down in a side conversation with her, but sometimes we just have to go ahead and cross our fingers that the non-responders can make it.

          Reply
    3. Sualah

      I had a coworker who always takes a three week (15 work day) trip to California with his family every year. Uses a good chunk of his PTO, but that is his thing. Always does it. (We start with 23 days and increases as you get years of service and he currently has 28 days, so he has some for the rest of the year but it can get dicey around December.)

      Anyway, while he was gone, we moved from a casual to business casual dress code, and then on the day he came back, a VIP was also visiting the office so we were very nicely dressed. Coworker strolled in (straight from the plane!) in shorts and a T-shirt. Our manager did her best to hide him for the day.

      Reply
    4. Salyan

      It’s not on either. If the meeting organizers wanted the employee there, they should have scheduled better. It is not reasonable either to expect the employee to check in while she’s on vacation, or for the company to contact her outside of business hours (or again, while she’s on vacation).

      Reply
    5. Epsilon Delta

      I am planning a week long vacation soon and I can tell you that I will not be going through my emails on Sunday night on the off-chance that someone invited me to a meeting at 7 AM on Monday. My out-of-office message will be on, so they’ll know I won’t get the invite till I log in at my regular time. If they need me at the meeting, their options are (1) schedule it during my working hours as displayed in Outlook (and not first thing in the morning while I wade through emails!), or (2) reach out to me directly and ask if I can attend.

      Reply
    6. RJBP

      I work a later shift of sorts than most people here. I block off my calendar in the mornings as out of office. When I’m on vacation, I make sure my out of office message is set to trigger for the morning I return until my arrival time, and I usually specify what time I expect to be on. i.e., “I will return on Wednesday, June 21st at 10 am.”

      Given that? I’d hope the meeting organizer wouldn’t schedule something for Wednesday at 9. If they did, I’d put the responsibility on them to make sure I knew about it.

      Reply
    7. Snorlax

      When I take vacation, I block out my work calendar for the first couple of hours of the day I get back so people won’t schedule me for meetings during that time. I do that because I once had an experience like the one you describe, where someone sent me a meeting invitation while I was in vacation for a meeting to occur first thing in the morning in the day I returned. Even though I had an out of office auto-reply and did not accept the meeting invitation, the meeting organizer was surprised when I later told her what she’d done.

      Reply
    8. Thlayli

      If she is not normally in until 9am, I would take it that her holiday is until 9am. It’s totally unreasonable to expect her to call work just in the offchance someone has booked an early meeting.

      Even if they weren’t on leave if you are booking meetings at an hour people are usually not in the office (early, late or lunch) then it is on the meeting organiser to make sure people have actually been informed. Lots of people wait until they get in in the morning to see what’s in their calendar for the day. If I planned an early morning meeting I would check in with everyone the day before to remind them.

      Reply
    9. Not So NewReader

      To me this is a matter of logic. If the organizers want this employee there, then someone has to call him up. We talk a lot about toxic workplaces and some of the things we point to are that the employees cannot unplug on vacation and/or that the employees are supposed to know via telepathy that they need to show up early on Monday.

      If no one wants to call him, then the answer is to expect him to join the meeting in progress. Catch him up later.

      Reply
  47. lisalee

    I’m applying for a new job and I’ve run into two issues I’ve not had before…any thoughts?

    1. The listed salary range is huge (25k-50k). I would happily accept anything in the higher end of that range, but I don’t want to do a cross-country interview if the salary is too low. When is the right stage to ask for a more specific number? during the phone interview? If I am invited to an in-person interview? FWIW I meet 100% of their minimum and desired qualifications.

    2. My current job was originally meant to be temporary. I was hired as part-time and told it was very unlikely I would be made full-time. Surprisingly, I was made full time only a few months in. I’ve now been here 9 months, but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for and there are some changes coming down the pipeline that I’m not super happy about. Overall though, I have no big reason to be leaving (unlike if it was still part-time). How do I explain my quick departure? Is “this was originally a part time job I took while continuing to look for a position in my desired area of the country” a good answer? Should I just focus on why I’m excited about this new position?

    Reply
    1. lisalee

      ETA: There is an “anticipated salary” listed, but it appears to just be the middle of the two ends of the range. This position is at a university, so I am assuming that number is just a default/automatic average for the listing, unless someone knows more about how those things are determined?

      Reply
    2. JulieBulie

      Unless you have a grievance or observation that you want your employer to be aware of in your exit interview, it is better to focus on how excited you are about the new position. I guess you can say more if they really want you to, but they’re the ones who said you’d be temporary and part-time. It should not surprise them that you ended up being temporary!

      Reply
      1. LisaLee

        Ah, I meant how to answer the “why are you applying here after only 9 months at your old job” from the new place. Thank you for the advice though, I hadn’t thought about the exit interview!

        Reply
    3. Fabulous

      If they do a phone screen, I’d ask then. If they skip that part, I’d ask when they call you to schedule an in-person interview. You could say, “I’d love to schedule an interview! Before we set everything up, I have a question about the listed salary range. I understand that the final number will obviously depend on a person’s experience, but since the listed range quite a large, I want to make sure we’re on the same page. I’m looking for a salary of around $X. With my experience, does it make sense to continue?”

      Reply
  48. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    Self reviews. How do you treat them?

    I’m never sure what to do with my review. I’m a deeply self-reflective person and would love to use it to genuinely interrogate my year, take notice of things I would do differently, lift up the work of which I am most proud. Basically, I’d love to make it a real tool to improve my performance.

    But it’s directly connected to my bonus. I write my review, my boss uses it to write her review, and I get a score from 1-5 that translates directly into a percentage-of-my-salary bonus. I want the money. Without question, I deserve it. But the specific format of any review is imperfect and doesn’t capture the full value of the work I did; besides, if I use the review to scrutinize and learn from my failures that puts them in the forefront of my manager’s thinking about my performance.

    Our review process could be better, and the nuances of my past year create specific challenges (as would anyone’s specifics) of course, but I think this dilemma is universal. How do you handle it?

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      I just talk about each one of my goals and how I accomplished them. I think that is all your manager wants…then they don’t have to write it down because you did it for them.

      Reply
      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Ours are based around competencies, not goals (that’s a whole other conversation), and definitely intended to be reflective. :/

        Reply
    2. Susan

      Why don’t you do a full-blown, self-reflective review of your performance for yourself — and use it to improve yourself in the next year — but give a more positive spin to the one you provide to your boss? Obviously, don’t lie or claim to be perfect, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with presenting your performance in the best light to make a case for getting a good bonus.

      Reply
    3. De Minimis

      We’re supposed to at least write a page, though we have a format that helps guide the process [basically the series of different qualities that we’re expected to demonstrate, that are pretty much universal—cooperation, communication, initiative, etc…]

      As much as I would hate to go through the whole thing more than once a year, I think it would be more useful as a development tool if we could do it quarterly or at least mid-year, to at least give an opportunity to reflect over the course of the year. Right now it mainly serves to give goals for the following year. I’d like to just have something maybe a couple of other times a year where we could just write self-assessments of how things were going so far.
      Right now only new hires get that [a mini-evaluation at six months] , and sometimes not even then.

      One thing I did like about my private sector job was that people often had mini-reviews/evaluations at the end of any given project. All of that was compiled at the end of the year.

      Reply
  49. Danae

    I dropped out of consideration for a job that I likely would have gotten this week, and I am second-guessing myself like whoa.

    This particular job would have been a great opportunity for my career, I would have been making more money than I ever have, and I would have been miserable. I am currently attempting to wrangle massive, resistant-to-treatment anxiety that has its roots in a very high-stress job I had a few years ago. The manager for this position apparently really wanted me on board, but they were very up-front with me that the job is high-visibility and high-pressure.

    The thing is, I *could* do this job. No matter how bad my anxiety gets, I’m always functional at work. The problem is that being functional at work when I’m having slow-moving panic attacks every day means that I’m not functional in any other realm of my life–I stop seeing friends, I stop doing anything fun, I stop cleaning my house, and I stop working on my art. I end up basically living to work, which isn’t a recipe for a happy life for me.

    I’m trying to tell myself that this was the best decision I could have made, but the anxiety-troll in the back of my head is yelling “MISTAAAAAAAKE!!”

    Reply
    1. k

      I just took myself out of the running for a job as well, and I’m feeling the same way. There were a lot of red flags in the hiring process, and I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a good fit for me. Of course as soon as I did this, a bunch of things happened at my current job that were great examples of why I want to leave. I just have to keep reminding myself that I didn’t make this decision without putting a great deal of thought into it, and I had many valid reasons to make this decision.

      I have this thing very drilled into my head that you never turn down an opportunity. Which sounds good on paper, but in reality, not very opportunity is good. I’ve been coming back to the advice I’ve learned here on AAM that hiring is a two way process, that as much as the employers are picking us, we have to pick them too. From what you’ve said, it sounds like you made a good decision not picking this job.

      Reply
    2. No Name Yet

      The anxiety troll is trolling you. You clearly have a very good sense of how you function and how your anxiety impacts you, and I’ll bet you are absolutely correct about what would have happened. Put your energy now into wrangling your anxiety and living your life (where work is just one part of that), and in the future you’ll have a much better sense if you could do a job like that and still stay balanced. (Also, I love the term ‘anxiety troll’!)

      Reply
    3. Rainy, PI

      I just accepted a new job and have been doing the same intermittent freak-out about leaving my old role, which paid a lot better, but is being moved into a new department where I would be much less happy. In the early days after the move was announced, I didn’t like the way leadership in the new dept were talking about my grant and my team. I didn’t like the way they were attempting to sweeten the internal move for our external partner by promising cost cutting measures that are illegal and contrary to institutional and government policy. I didn’t like the fact that they were so ignorant about my grant and the program it funds that they kept asking the wrong questions and not listening to me when I’d gently try to provide the information they *should* have been asking for. I was offered a role that would let me stay in my current (amazing, functional, supportive, wonderful, collegial) department, doing exactly the kind of work that is my favourite part of my current role (and which New!Boss referred to dismissively in our first meeting as “value added, I guess, but we won’t be needing that”).

      I’m still freaking out a little. Though New!Boss’s reaction to my giving notice really did validate my decision, and my hope is that my departure will keep my team safer for a little while as they have all the institutional knowledge now, and I know I’m going to be happier all around…the pay cut worries me, mostly because I too have that ingrained “never go backward” thing. I keep telling myself it’s not a backward step in the long run–far from it, in fact–but it’s not helping my anxiety about having possibly made the wrong decision.

      Reply
    4. Gingerblue

      I think it sounds like a smart choice. Those other benefits–higher pay, career advancement–are ultimately things that sound good because they lead to a happier, more fulfilling life and career, right? If they come with a big dose of misery, that negates the benefits you would otherwise get from them. If you had a specific reason to take the job (you needed the money, it would be a necessary career step on the way to other jobs that wouldn’t make you miserable) and you knew you could start looking to move on after a year or two, I might say go for it, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

      I would be second-guessing myself too, but from this distance it sounds like you made a very rational and self-aware calculation of the benefits and downsides of this job. Not everone could resist the dazzle of more money even if they knew it was a bad idea!

      Reply
    5. Bess

      Sounds like you did a great job listening to yourself. The slow-motion panic attack is a great way to describe it and, yes, completely affects your ability to function in a healthy way outside of work.

      My last job was high-visibility, high-pressure, but high (for me) pay–I was still out of there in just over a year because it was wrecking the rest of my life in the ways you describe. If you know you have anxiety, I think it’s pretty smart to avoid those types of jobs, if you are able to decline that kind of a raise. I actually ended up using some of that higher salary to stress-shop, so it evened out more than it might have.

      Reply
    6. Not So NewReader

      Just because you can does not mean you should. Please consider this. I can come over tomorrow and clean your house top to bottom for you. But that does not mean I should. Nor does it mean I want to. It just means I have the ability to do this, I MUST chose not to offer and not to do it.

      And please consider your own needs first in decision making. Learn to take care of you. Learn to use the NO word. When we do not take proper care of ourselves and our surroundings we can leave ourselves wide open for problems with anxiety. I have read a lot about how clutter adds to feelings of anxiousness. And that is one example of how failure to do self care leaves us vulnerable.

      Your jobs were running your life, now you are choosing to run your own life instead of your workplace. Let life and living begin, again, I say.

      Reply
  50. New Bee

    I recently started a new job, and on Monday there’s a conference for all administrators (I’m part of a charter network with schools across the state). I saw the invite list and realized my mentor from when I first started teaching is now an admin at another school in the network.

    Years ago, she friended me on Facebook (not long after the mentorship ended, iirc), and posted something homophobic on her page. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but I know it was religion-based. I commented something like “Pretty sure bigotry isn’t very Jesus-like” and unfriended her. I was particularly pissed because one of her fellow mentors at my school site (and someone who’s was/still is a close friend) is a gay man, and I found it hypocritical how she talked so much about how she “loved X, he was so fun, they were so close, blah” while posting about his eternal damnation.

    Thanks to last week’s post, I’m ready to utilize Ms. Manners’ levels of cool, and it’s a tossup whether she’ll even recognize me, since I now have my married last name. Plus, avoidance should be easy enough given group size, but talk about a small world!

    Reply
    1. Iris Eyes

      You may want to do some introspection and question how reasonable it is to be so against someone for being against someone else. Throwing out a relationship just because they might disagree with you on something and holding it against them for years seems a little over the top, especially when you witnessed them behaving well toward someone that you assume they have such loathing for.

      Certainly be aware of issues that may come up where you know her thinking may be biased (she may advocate certain things about how to treat trans students for instance) and be prepared to push back on those as your conscience dictates.

      Reply
      1. KatieKate

        I’m pretty sure homophobia is an okay dealbreaker for a relationship. And I “know” plenty of “oh he doesn’t count” bigots. Still bigots.

        Reply
      2. New Bee

        I’m sorry, this is just a silly comment. Even if I were a homophobia apologist, the last person I’d make excuses for would be someone I spent 6 weeks with over 6 years ago.

        Perhaps this anecdote triggered some of your own beliefs about what bigotry looks like (and maybe the “don’t discriminate against me for being discriminatory” trope)–if you are interested in learning, there are great resources online about why that’s a problematic approach.

        Reply
      3. Sylvia

        I think it’s okay to “throw out a relationship” with a bigot, even if you’ve seen them behave decently when it suited them.

        I agree on being prepared to push back.

        Reply
  51. Tim

    Does anyone who uses Office 365 know a good alternative to google forms? Apparently only the educational version has something similar, so we’re going to need to do this differently and aren’t sure where to start.

    Our main use for google forms right now is account requests – vendor submits the info for their new employee, and that goes into a spreadsheet where they can see when the new account is processed. I need the standardized responses you can get from a form. Suggestions for doing this via Office 365? Part of the problem is we’re not sure yet what level of access the vendors will have, so ideally it would be something where they just need a link…

    Reply
    1. Amadeo

      I just checked my Office 365 tiles and there is a ‘forms’ tile there, along with a share button. The whole thing looks very similar to Google Forms, but I’ve not had call to use it yet. Maybe start there if no one else has a better suggestion.

      Reply
      1. Tim

        We don’t have access to that in our version, for whatever reason, and nobody really knows why. We’re trying to find out, but I don’t think the company would allow vendor access to it anyway.

        Reply
    2. an.on

      does it have to be Office? I’ve experimented with a lot of online form sites; google forms was a good starting off point for me when i first needed to create project intake forms but we grew out of it and I ended up using Formsite. It was really robust and I loved it! Not sure what’s right for you but worth a quick google search to see what free options are out there for you if you’re not limited to using Office. :)

      Reply
      1. Tim

        It’s supposed to be just Office, but we might have some leeway considering most people don’t actually have access to current versions of office on their computers and nobody knows when that will happen (it’s still Office 2007). I’ll look into it!

        Reply
    3. Clever Name

      We use outlook task requests and one department has created a macro-enabled excel form that generates an email (and presumably other things on their end) for requests.

      Reply
  52. Big Time Screw Up

    So I just screwed up big time and I’m a month into a new job. I agreed last week to cover a coworker out on vacation on a client call this Thursday and take detailed notes. When it came up on my calendar 7 days after speaking with my coworker, I didn’t remember exactly what it was for and I was working on an urgent deliverable for EOD, so I asked my manager why I was included and if I could focus on the urgent deliverable. She didn’t know why I was included and said to focus on what was due today.
    This morning my stomach dropped 10 feet when I realized what I had missed. I feel so awful that I had such a big miss during my first month! I don’t normally miss calls or meetings. I want to raise it to my manager and my coworker and apologize and see how I can make it right. I’m not sure how I could recreate the notes. The only other colleague on the phone is the Senior VP and I doubt the call was recorded.

    Reply
    1. NaoNao

      Contact the people on the call personally and explain the situation, without saying you dropped the ball, and ask for a few quick, key bullet points of the call.
      Some bullet points are better than none!
      Also, get in touch with the coworker and let them know what happened ahead of time, including the urgent deliverable, and apologize profusely.
      I would then include a “how I plan to avoid this mistake again” note; something like “I am so sorry this happened, in the future I’ll be sure to include a note on my calendar reminding me of the ask.”

      Reply
    2. Malibu Stacey

      When I do something totally new like that because I am covering for a coworker, I put that in the subject of the meeting: “Call in to North Region Teapot Meeting for Susan”

      Reply
  53. Nervous Accountant

    Is it bad that I don’t want to leave my current company yet? I’ve been here about 2.5 years (will be 3 in December). I know here that’s normal or job hopping but at my company it’s such high turnover that most ppl leave in 6 months-1 year.

    The thing is, that I’m just not looking to leave; right now I’m focusing on personal things and I just can’t take the disruption of a new job. I know I can make more at other places, but something’s keeping me here. Plus, I cherish the routine and comfort so far? I guess I”m just not as ambitious as I thought I was?

    It’s not like I’ve not gotten opportunities or I’m not searching. I got one from an old friend but I turned it down because it was in the middle of tax season.

    I just turned one down this week–I felt bad about talking to the recruiter, but I tried to make it up by offering to tell my other coworkers who are looking.

    Both times, they initiated contact, both had either commute or salary better than my current, and and we were in talks until it was time to meet for an interview. I feel bad about entertaining only to turn it down, but…idk. Should I talk to them? Should I go on interviews any way just to keep my skills up to date? I haven’t had to update my resume in about 2 years until now. Is it appropriate to pass this info to coworkers?

    Reply
    1. Sibley

      Is the personal life stuff temporary? I bought a house recently, didn’t want to make any big changes beforehand for that reason. If it’s more permanent, then it’s different. Don’t underestimate how much a better commute can help everything else.

      Yes, it’s fine to refer people you know to recruiters, either directly or indirectly.

      I just updated my resume for the first time in 3 years this week.

      And ask yourself – what does your current employer do to demonstrate their loyalty to you? You owe no more than what they show you.

      Reply
      1. Nervous Accountant

        Well, I’m trying to start a family, and a huge part of that includes fixing some underlying issues before I can even conceive and carry healthy. Ideally I’d really like to go on mat leave from here and then either come back or start fresh elsewhere.

        It’s not so much that I love my current company as much as I like the life I’ve built around having it so far.

        Reply
        1. over educated

          I think that’s a really good reason to stay put if you’re happy enough. One major life disruption at a time is plenty (says someone who has tried to do too many at once).

          Reply
        2. Bess

          Oh man, it’s fine to stay put while you deal with this very big other thing! That’s a huge reason not to add job-hunting/changing to your list!

          Sometimes you need routine and comfort in one area of life to balance another–doesn’t sound like a lack of ambition to me!

          Reply
    2. Camellia

      There is nothing wrong with staying at a job more that 2.5 years, especially if it is currently meeting your needs on other levels, and it sounds as though this job is doing that for you. Enjoy the fact that your job is comfortable (not stressful!) during a time when your personal life is not-so-much. And I wouldn’t even worry about ‘going on interviews to keep up your skills’. You read AAM! Your skills will be there when you need them!

      Reply
  54. Sibley

    I was traveling for work last week (at a really HORRIBLE time in my personal life), and asked to flex time on Thursday since I wouldn’t be home till late. While it eventually got approved, it was a massive hassle and they didn’t really want to. I’m a professional, I get my work done well and timely. For goodness sake, they promoted me a few months ago! This nitpicking on stuff is really driving me nuts. They’re really not WFH friendly, unless you’re mgmt of course, then you can do whatever you want. And while the pay is good, the non-health care benefits suck when compared to my peers at other companies. I get a full week less of PTO than all of my friends in the same field.

    Long story short, the camel’s back was broken by the insignificant straw. The weight is mgmt style. I updated my resume this week, am going to go over it again tonight, and send it to a recruiter I’m in touch with. We’ll see what I find.

    Reply
    1. Clever Name

      For me, flexibility is huge. I love that I can leave at noon on a Tuesday to attend my kid’s field day at school and make up the time later in the week. And seriously, not even allowing you to come in to work late the day after getting in late for work travel? That’s really crappy.

      Reply
  55. TheLazyB

    Most Fridays, if I email people outside of my team, at the end of the conversation I’ll say ‘enjoy your weekend when it arrives!’ Is this a) normal, b) slightly weird but nice, or c) I should stop?

    No one has said anything (other than “thank you you too!”) but I’m curious :)

    Reply
    1. Emi.

      I think the “when it arrives” is a little odd, but not in a bad way. I just say “enjoy your weekend” and assume that they’ll ave the good sense to put off following this instruction until the actual arrival of the weekend. ;)

      Reply
      1. TheLazyB

        I should probably have clarified: if it’s the morning I add that on. If it’s the afternoon I just say enjoy your weekend :)

        Your last sentence made me giggle!

        Reply
      2. Mints

        Ha! I think the wording is very slightly weird, but on the same level as “She really likes beets” meaning I don’t really care and doesn’t affect my opinion of you

        Reply
  56. VerySleepyPregnantLady

    Thank you all for the tips last week (maybe two weeks ago? my sense of time is all off!) on how to deal with being SO SLEEPY during early pregnancy while at work.

    Unfortunately, the problem shifted to vomiting all the time (even worse for work than fatigue), and now drugs to resolve that have made me extra sleepy. I ended up telling up to my boss WAY earlier than I intended–he started excitedly talking about plans for the winter/spring and I was making my “I need to not puke now” face. He asked me what gives, since I had been super excited about these plans when we had talked previously. I was too tired to come up with a good lie, and so I just blurted out, “I’m pregnant, but just very newly so, so there’s like a 80% chance I won’t be at work in February/March, and it’s really hard for me to not puke at this moment.” He’s been 100% reasonable about it, but it’s definitely been weird to have him be the first person to know beyond my husband and medical providers.

    Anyways, thanks for the advice! Early pregnancy is hard, and working during it is even harder :(

    Reply
      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

        Thanks! I just keep hoping I’m one of the folks who feels better before the end of the first trimester. I hear the fatigue lifts for some people around 11-12 weeks, and that’s only 4-5 weeks away!

        Reply
        1. Ann O.

          For many women, the first trimester symptoms of both fatigue and nausea go away once the fetus is connected to the placenta. Odds are in your favor! Good luck!

          Reply
    1. Friday

      Best of luck to you! I’m in the same boat and rounding the corner slooowly on the nausea peak. I’m adamant that I want to keep the news buttoned down until I get the genetic testing results back which won’t be for three more weeks.

      Reply
    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      I’d really love to see a poll on how many bosses found out their reports were pregnant from nausea. My direct boss found out when I had to dive for the trash can at his feet during a meeting. His eyes bugged out and he said, “I know what that is! You don’t say anything til you are ready, but I have 3 daughters and I KNOW WHAT THAT IS!” And my GrandBoss found out when I had to be hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum at 11 weeks.

      It’s a hard few weeks, but it does get better.

      Reply
      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

        The first thing my boss said was, “Oh [wife] puked at least 5 times a day for weeks and weeks during both of her pregnancies. The term ‘morning sickness’ is a lie.”

        My guess is a lot of bosses find out that way. So far, I’ve only puked twice at work, but I’ve been working from home a lot.

        Reply
        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

          Grandboss did suggest I take an afternoon nap on the couch in an office several times, so I suspect his wife had him trained when she was pregnant with both of their kids.

          Reply
          1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

            My husband has been SO SURPRISED at how hard the past two weeks have been on me. I 100% knew this was a possibility. I thought I told him. But I do think that a lot of people just have no idea how bad early pregnancy can be.

            Reply
      2. Witty Nickname

        My boss was in a different state, but two of my coworkers guessed immediately when I started wearing seabands to work to try to keep the nausea at bay.

        Telling that boss was really fun. I told him “I need to tell you something,” and then he panicked that I was giving my notice. Maternity leave seemed like the best news ever compared to that.

        Reply
      3. QualityControlFreak

        I worked on the upper floor of a building where the only restrooms were on the ground floor. My boss at the time had kids; he knew the drill. He later told me he was so sorry every time he saw me flying down those stairs. He worked in another building on base, but would check on my work group every day. If he was coming up the stairs as I was running down he’d just hug the wall. Hang in there, it does get better.

        Reply
    3. Another preggo lady

      I feel you. I had pretty bad morning sickness during my first trimester and was just short of bedridden for two weeks and ended up ‘confessing’ to my boss much earlier than I was intending to. And, yes, it was very weird having him know before my parents did!

      Reply
      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

        Yes, I’m telling my parents this weekend when I’ll be visiting them. In the meeting I just had with my boss, he asked if he could tell other people yet! And I said, “Nope!”

        But at the same time, it’s really hard to hide how sick I am…

        Reply
      2. zora

        I think pregnant humans have been being outed by their own bodies since the beginning of time. My former MIL figured out I was pregnant years ago when I wasn’t even sure yet, because she saw me and could tell how awful i felt and immediately guessed why. I think it’s a bit of a myth that a pregnant person can completely control the dissemination of that information, we can try, but there’s only so much you can do.

        Reply
        1. Another preggo lady

          I still think the ‘noticing because you’re sick’ still beats how my brother guessed though. When I called him up to tell him, his answer was pretty much “Congrats….although I already knew because last time I saw you, you turned down both wine and coffee and that’s, erm, let’s just say that’s very unlike you”

          Yeah, thanks sibling. (Although my boss also joked that people might guess because I was no longer drinking coffee so thanks all round, I guess…)

          Reply
          1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

            A real concern of mine is that someone at work could guess because my boobs are already noticeably larger. I’m trying to hide it with wardrobe choices, but I’m already up two cup sizes!

            I hope no one is looking at my boobs carefully enough to notice…

            Reply
    4. VerySleepyPregnantLady

      I don’t know to count this as a pregnant-at-work- win or a fail, but I just managed to not barf through my 3pm meeting and instead barf in the 15 minutes between that and my 4pm, still making it to my 4pm meeting on time.

      Reply
  57. Punkwich

    Do managers really view Friday or Monday sick days with suspicion? I’ve always extra avoided taking either a Friday or Monday sick even when I’m sick because I feel like my manager assumes I just partied too hard or want a long weekend – but do they actually? I mean like a once in a blue moon Friday sick day, not like consistent ones.

    Reply
    1. paul

      not if they’re good managers.

      I mean yeah if you call out a Friday or Monday every month people are gonna notice eventually, but once in a blue moon? Not if they’re decent.

      Reply
    2. Rainy, PI

      I’ve never had a good manager who was like that. And it would never occur to me if a report called/emailed in sick on a Friday or Monday that they wanted a long weekend. I assume they’d take vacation for that. Which I would approve of course.

      Reply
    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      Look at it this way – Monday & Friday are 40% of the work week. If 40% of your sick time is on those days, I’d say that is normal. If 90% of your sick time is Monday or Friday, then I would probably be suspicious.

      Reply
    4. Dead Quote Olympics

      I can tell you as someone who supervises that I would only notice if it became a consistent pattern. If someone on staff had already established that pattern, and you were new, then I might notice right away (fear of a repeat that I would then have to deal with) but if no pattern followed, I would stop paying attention. In my experience that particular pattern goes along with other slacker-related work issues also, so if you don’t have those, even less reason for me to notice.

      Parents of small children can confirm that they always run fevers on either Thursday night (Friday sick day) or Sunday night (Monday sick day). It is known.

      Reply
      1. KAZ2Y5

        Their fever/illness actually never starts until Friday at 5:05 when the dr’s office is already closed for the weekend. Ask any retail pharmacist.

        Reply
        1. Dead Quote Olympics

          Yeah, there’s that too — the gamble on Friday that the little cough/sniffle/fussiness isn’t going to lead to an urgent care visit on Friday night. Which leads to a sick day on Friday because you go to the pediatrician just to be sure. So glad my kid is in college now.

          Reply
    5. zora

      Ugh, seconding the “not if they’re good managers” … microbes can’t read calendars and they are just as likely to make you sick on any day of the week. Plus, sometimes I’m sick over the weekend, and that’s not very fair to me, either, so I have never thought twice about what day of the week it is if I’m sick and need to take a day.

      Reply
  58. openthreadrealness

    I am looking for some advice here. About 8 months ago, I was promoted from a receptionist position to an entry level project manager position. I was really excited about this opportunity and ready to learn as much as possible when I first started. I am still wanting to do well in this job, but now I am starting to have some reservations about it. I feel like I make way too many mistakes. I am often overwhelmed when I see the tasks I need to do. Let it be known that I want to do well in this position, so it’s not that I don’t care about my work its just that I don’t feel like I am as detail oriented as I thought I was. I seem to forget too many things despite my lists and Outlook task reminders. I don’t forget to do tasks, I just forget to do a step in the task. I’m starting to think I should only work as admin assitant positions and such. I need need to hear from people that have made a similar transition. My background (education, work experience) has nothing to do with my current position. Any thing that you weren’t doing that you realize you should have done earlier? I don’t know what to even ask. HELP!

    Reply
    1. writelhd

      Talk to your manager to prioritize what tasks need to be learned first, and, to the degree that you can, focus on those until you learn them (do the task, and all the steps.) Then, and only then, add newer tasks. Get your manager’s support on a reasonable timeline for this, and set time to check in on that timeline. Expecting to learn a bunch of new things at once IS really challenging and can make the whole thing look really overwhelming. Adopting new habits (which, honestly, is a lot of what being “detail oriented” is, building the habits of what details you need to orient to) takes time and focus.

      Reply
      1. Openthreadrealness

        Thank you! I like your thoughts on being detail oriented. I think reframing as new habits makes it seem more doable.

        Reply
    2. an.on

      This was me 15 years ago – I went from entry level coordinator to project manager doing senior level independent work very quickly, before I was ready and without a lot of training (and with an unrelated degree). Here’s something that helped me – I made myself the most INSANE checklists with every possible step that I’d need to take, no matter how simple or easy or “unforgettable” it was, and I did them for all of my recurring tasks. If the task was “get a drink of water” the steps would’ve been like “recognize thirst (alternatively, complete this task at least every other hour in order to stay hydrated before getting thirsty). stand up from desk. pick up water glass. walk to kitchen and navigate to freezer. fill glass halfway with ice. walk to water dispenser. fill remainder of glass with cold water to the very top. sip enough so the water doesn’t spill while walking. return to desk. (option to stop in restroom if necessary, see restroom process doc for task details.) place water glass on desk. sit down. resume work. set reminder task for calendar for 2 hours to get another glass of water.”

      and whenever I did that basic task, I’d look at my checklist as though I’d never done the task before, to make sure I hit every step. if I discovered some variation on the process I’d note it – like, if getting a glass of water on Friday mornings, add in option to also grab a bagel or muffin. I basically had a binder full of everything I needed to do at work, and detailed instructions for doing it all – I used it for a few months then didn’t need it anymore (but it came in handy when training new hires a year later, when that became one of my responsibilities! although, they all thought i was crazy and anal, but whatever. i trained people to be strong, detail oriented PMs!) Repetitive tasks become second nature after a while and you don’t need the reminders, and non-recurrent tasks become easier to tackle on an ad hoc basis because you already have a system and framework to break apart tasks into smaller manageable chunks.

      Good luck. :)

      Reply
  59. Myrin

    I have a question about preferences. That’s right, not references, preferences.

    I have no idea if I’m emotionally stunted or something but I’m someone who, when presented with two options, very often either genuinely doesn’t care one way or the other or who does prefer one thing but seriously doesn’t have any problems with the other, either.

    I’m like this in all aspects of life and I’m wondering about dealing with that in job interviews. I’ve encountered several times that an interviewer really pressed me for an answer where either I honestly couldn’t give one because both options are equal to me or where I ended up naming the “wrong” preference. (Just as a quick example: I have successfully worked in teams of varying degrees in all of my jobs and was completely fine with that. However, if you asked me to choose between one or the other, well, I like working by myself somewhat better than working in a team. Another example: I have one very big pro and one very big con on both sides of working at home vs. working in an office/place-that-isn’t-home. Both have one thing that really appeals to me and one thing that, well, doesn’t, and they offset each other pretty much completely.)

    How do I deal with this? Should I try to gauge what the interviewer is looking for and then pretend that it’s Absolutely My Favourite? Continue to remain “neutral” and risk interviewers not believing me/thinking I’m just trying to find an easy way out? Interview at the Headquarters of Indifference?

    Reply
    1. Sibley

      You’re not emotionally stunted, you’re just easy going and flexible in a lot of ways. People who aren’t like that often have a hard time understanding it.

      Reply
      1. Myrin

        It’s funny that you say that because I’m actually not flexible at all! I know that many people think that and that’s usually precisely because this “I don’t care either way”-attitude, but when I do have a strong preference/idea how something is to be done/schedule, I have a very, very, very hard time changing it up. I’m not at all spontaneous, either. Thinking about it, maybe that’s a different kind of flexible, but I have no idea.

        Reply
    2. Squeeble

      I would try to settle on one of the options given in these kinds of settings, and if you truly don’t care either way, go with whatever you think the interviewer or the company prefers. But you could preface it with, “Well, I think there are benefits to both, for example A gives me X and B gives me Y. But ultimately I’d prefer A, for Z reasons.”

      Unfortunately, I think saying that both options are fine and you truly don’t care either way is going to look like you haven’t really considered the issue or that you just want to appease the interviewer and get it over with.

      Reply
    3. Camellia

      I hear you, there are a lot of things that I just DON’T CARE about which one is picked. So I decided a long time ago that, in those situations, I would simply pick the second proffered choice. I pause for a moment, as though I am thinking it over, then say, “[choice two]!”. This works whether there are only two choices or there are more choices. Because most of the time it doesn’t matter which one was picked, what matters is that YOU MADE A DECISION and life goes on.

      Of course, if you do have a preference, no matter how slight, go with that one, but otherwise, you know, Choice Two!

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        Camellia, that’s… BRILLIANT!

        Sometimes I am in the supermarket with one can of tuna in the left hand and another can in the right hand, and I am studying the labels and comparing the calories and expiration dates as if I were deciding on the fate of the world rather than planning to someday make a sandwich.

        Or there are two items on a menu and I can’t decide between them. Again, world crisis.

        (I don’t know why both of my examples are food-related. Wait, yes I do.)

        It never occurred to me to just use something arbitrary to make a choice. Thank you, Camellia!

        Reply
  60. Samantha Wasp

    I am pursuing a degree in IT. Part of my web class will involve creating a LinkedIn profile, which I’ve never had before. Do you think I should give my supervisor a heads up that I’m only doing this for a class, so he doesn’t get wind of it and assume I’m job searching? Or is that protesting too much? I’m happy where I am and have no plans to leave.

    Reply
    1. Anna

      I have a LinkedIn profile, and I am connected to several people who are not job hunting – as in they have been with their respective companies for over a decade. They simply use it for meeting folks in their fields and keeping up with what is going on.

      Reply
    2. JulieBulie

      You can invite your supervisor to to link to you (LinkedIn will ask him to join if he’s not already in there), and you can explain in your invitation that you’re doing it for your web class. That will also show him that you weren’t trying to be sneaky.

      Reply
  61. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

    I’m a department of one and am finally going on my first vacation at my job. Because of this, I need to put together some (long overdue) documentation on my volunteer database. I’m feeling a bit stuck in screenshot hell right now but I’m not sure if there is an easier way to do it. If anyone has any good systems or tips for creating documentation, I’d love to hear it!

    Reply
    1. Anna Held

      Wait, what exactly are you doing? A process memo so someone else can do your job? If so, I think screenshots are something you might need to live with. The best advice, though, is to explain each small step clearly, which means edit edit edit, and have someone else proofread and ask questions so it’s clear to a non-user. Also, provide phone numbers and email addresses of anyone who might be useful, like the database’s helpdesk.

      Don’t forget to put this in your accomplishments list! This is a big task and can be crucial, but it’s often overlooked. So it’s a great thing to bring up at your next review.

      And enjoy your vacation!

      Reply
      1. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA

        I’m basically putting together a guide for my staff to on how to do certain tasks in the system that may need to do while I’m gone like set up a new event. I’m also just using this to push me to at least start this project as I’ve been pushing this off for awhile. Thanks for the good ideas and if we ever do reviews again, I can mention it!

        Reply
    2. WG

      Are you in an industry that shares? When I worked in higher ed, I found that universities are happy to share with each other. With one significant database upgrade, I was able to obtain documentation from universities with the same software that had upgraded before us. Their manuals already had many of the screen shots and we just had to revise the text to be our process steps.

      Reply
    3. KatiePie

      If you go into settings on your browser you can download a browser add-on called “Lightshot”. It has a purple feather icon. Once it installs in your browser it will also be listed in your program files. From the program list, you can right click it and pin it to your desktop menu bar. That puppy will screenshot literally any area you select on your screen, you size it. I LOVE THIS LITTLE GADGET WITH ALL MY PROFESSIONAL HEART.

      Reply
  62. Is it just me?

    I’ve been at my job for 10 years and my cubicle runneth over with tchotchkes. Over the years my coworkers have been generous with little gifts, and I appreciate the thought. But- snow globes with my name in glitter paint, bobblehead dolls, little figurines tied to inside jokes, plaques for years of service, miniature gizmos- they no longer give me joy. My house is small and I try to keep it clutter free. I feel guilty throwing it all away. What do you all do with such collections?

    Reply
    1. Anonygoose

      Look at Marie Kondo’s book – she’s great about getting over the mental hurdle of guilt for getting rid of things that others have given you!

      Reply
    2. Jessesgirl72

      I toss/donate, without a twinge of guilt.

      Remember, once something is given to you, it’s yours to do with what you please.

      And honestly most people aren’t going to remember the snow globe they gave you 4 years ago.

      Reply
    3. paul

      Toss them. Sometimes I’ll take them to the outdoor shooting range because reactive targets are fun (if they’re safe to shoot, not everything is).

      I’ve thrown away more random crap from work….

      Reply
    4. Sadsack

      I agree with the others here except to add…I have a very small collection of similar type gifts. I keep them off to the side on a shelf and have one or two more prominently placed in my work space. I switch them out occassionally when I think of it. You could try that with any that you have an especially hard time getting rid of.

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      I have gotten rid of all but a few. I was given lots of coffee mugs, since I actually use mugs I kept them. Someone gave me a little knickknack and later she passed away. I have kept that.
      I truly could not house them all and the amount of time necessary to dust them was more than I could spend.

      Reply
  63. Amber Rose

    This week’s ridiculous work drama was solved, more or less, with the purchase of three (3) generic grey blankets and a bag to put them in.

    So here’s the logic. According to legislation, a workplace may be either high hazard, medium hazard, or low hazard. Low is like, an office. High is like, drilling and mining operations, construction, and major plants with huge machinery, that kind of thing. Medium is defined as “not either of the other two” which is just great, really, so helpful.

    The official explanation guide for the legislation says that high hazard is “any workplace where there is a possible chance of a worker being struck by mobile powered equipment.” Not probable, mind you, possible. Important distinction there.

    A car, I would argue, is mobile powered equipment.

    Any injury involving a worker on company property is considered a workplace injury. That means, even if it’s not in the course of duties, or inside the building, or not company caused. If I get killed by a car in the parking lot heading to lunch during a work day, that is a workplace fatality under legislation.

    Therefore by that logic, the only workplace that ISN’T high hazard is one where you park off site, and hike to a place that is inaccessible by car, plane, helicopter, dirt bike or drone, and then sit at a desk and use nothing more risky than an ordinary stapler.

    The guide doesn’t even say the same things as the code. The code makes no mention of powered equipment. Why does the explanation add stuff?!

    Anyways, a high hazard workplace must have blankets, so we bought some damn blankets, even though I am not convinced that we are high hazard. The only time this building ever blew up was when it was owned by a t-shirt shop, for crying out loud.

    Reply
    1. paul

      ……the only time this building blew up? Don’t most places blow up once and once only? Or never? I think I’ve gone my working life without a building blowing up.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Me too! But this building used to be five separate bays with 5 businesses, and our company slowly bought them out and converted it into our one big shop. In the middle section there used to be a t-shirt shop, and I guess one of their machines blew up and wiped out their whole thing. Not so much that the building was destroyed, but yeah.

        It’s an in-joke around here a bit, because we store deadly compressed gasses in basically every part of the building, and we’re still less hazardous than a t-shirt printer.

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      I wonder how many taxpayers want this type of law/control?

      Anyway, doing the most conservative thing would be to guess that you are high level, buy the blankets and get on with life. This way if you ever get questions from an auditor or an insurance person this is taken care of now.

      Reply
  64. JustaTech

    TL;DR How to phrase “This is hard and it will take time and trial and error to make” professionally?

    Long version: I’m writing a training/guidance document on how to build templates in a piece of technical software. We already have documents (that I’ve revised) on how to run the software and use existing templates, but nothing on how to build new templates. I’m completely self taught on the subject, which is why I’m making this document. One of the things I really want to get across is that working with this software this way will take some getting used to and some trial and error. But I can’t figure out how to phrase that when the usual tone of these guidance documents is very formal and formulaic.
    Right now I’m the only ‘expert’ in this, and when I am long gone I want to save whoever has to do this next (because you only need to do it every few years) from thinking that it should be easy and that they’re dumb.
    The best I’ve gotten is “Note: Experience with using existing [SOFTWARE] templates will greatly increase success when creating new templates.” and ” If possible, practice creating new, smaller templates before making a larger template.”
    I just don’t feel like I can say “This is going to be hard and time-consuming and you’ll have to start over a couple of times. That’s normal, give yourself plenty of time to build it. Good luck!” in a formal document.
    Thanks already for your suggestions!

    Reply
    1. B'Elanna Torres

      I think the notes about “practice creating new, smaller templates before making a larger template” sounds good. When working with new tech I usually assume it will be potentially hard, and will require some trial-and-error. I don’t know if you need to document that specifically.

      Reply
    2. Undine

      “Template creation can be more complex than it appears, and it can be helpful to view it as an iterative process. You will usually get better results if you start with a simple template and deploy it to a limited number of users, then make changes and enhancements based on their feedback.”

      But, you know, you can’t save people with documentation. Especially if you have to keep it formal.

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        Oh, that’s brilliant, thank you! I know I can’t save anyone with documentation; I just want to let someone in the future know that the gap between using and making is *huge*. And give them something to point at if their boss is like “hey, make this thing by tomorrow” to bolster some push back.
        Iterative is exactly the word.

        Reply
    3. Emilia Bedelia

      Create a process flowchart, and really emphasize the “trial and error” sections (“Iterate as necessary until requirements for this step are met”)
      Add a “suggested time frame” to emphasize how time consuming it will be- something like “Allow at least XXX months for development”

      I second Undine, however- you can’t proceduralize people doing their jobs.

      Reply
  65. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

    I posted a few weeks ago about a writing assignment as a part of recruiting, before any interviews or even reading the applications. I did write the stuff they wanted, as I’m unemployed and I had spare time for that, so I thought there’s nothing to lose. To this day I haven’t heard back from them. It’s been long enough that I believe they’ve already picked who they want to interview and they may even have choosen already who got the job (if there indeed is a job and not only an attempt to get free texts). I’m not happy about this because I spent so much more time applying to them (writing assignment and application together) than I usually do. But on a happier note I had two interviews this week – though one of them was for a short time project job – and I was also contacted by a staffing agency where I had applied previously, about a temp job that isn’t 100% sure to exist yet but they may need people quicky if it becomes reality. So my situation looks much better than last week and there’s a realistic change that by the time the next open thread is published, I won’t be unemployed any more!

    Reply
    1. JulieBulie

      It is not safe to assume that they’ve already decided whom to interview. The place I’m at now takes a lot longer than that to get around to things.

      If it’s been a few weeks, it’s probably okay to ask if you’re still in the running.

      Reply
  66. Another person

    I just left a really dysfunctional workplace for one that seems so much better! Everyone seems nice so far but they also seem overly relieved to have someone finally filling my position (it was vacant for several months.) I worry on one hand that I’m going to end up overworked like I was in my previous role, but then I stop and think that’s just a holdover from my last job and I should give it some time and not make assumptions.

    How long does it take most people to “reset” after leaving a bad workplace?

    Reply
    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Congratulations!

      It can take a reallllly long time to reset. For my part, I’m 6 months in to a new job after leaving my old one 10 months ago, and I still carry a lot of baggage from the old gig. (See yesterday’s thread about altered thinking for a lot of these stories!) In my case, I probably would have managed a little better if I had more work to do, not less, and therefore more opportunities to see how things are different here. But every day it gets a bit better. I’m also in therapy to deal specifically with this, and I highly recommend that if you can swing it.

      Reply
  67. Manager-less and Under-utilized

    Today marks 8 months at my current job and I’m in a strange position: I don’t have a proper manager. My current “boss” is retiring and hasn’t spoken to be in 6 months (for context he is a bit of a jerk and the retirement is forced). Until his replacement is hired I’ve been instructed to work under a different manager. The problem is, this new manager has told me she doesn’t consider me to be a part of her team (our focus areas aren’t similar at all and she only communicates with me when she thinks I’ve done something wrong). So I’ve found myself in a strange manager-less limbo where I’m feeling increasingly isolated.

    The “big bosses” of the department have told me to hold still until the replacement is hired but have been strikingly mum/secretive about the hiring process. I want to stick it out and wait for the new hire- but I’m unsure how long is too long and how much this waiting is hurting my professional growth!

    Reply
  68. Anna

    I’m 50, recently divorced and heading back into the workforce after 15 years as a SAHM. I applied for a position at my old private high school. But, it is very likely that one of my children will be attending the school’s rival due to a significant learning disability that my HS just isn’t set up to handle. Since this job is all about connections to the school and history, I have a 15 year work gap to explain, and I will have to leverage my family management skills to even get an interview, the kids are going to come up. How do I handle the one going to the rival?

    Reply
    1. Stylishly Neutral Grad

      Explaining that you have a child with special needs/a disability that the rival school has staff specifically trained to handle should be fine. The school district I attended had a school board member whose child had multiple disabilities and attended a special school. No one thought any less of the family for it. I know it’s somewhat different from your situation, but educators understand the need for students with certain challenges to be in environments with professionals who are trained in how to help students with those challenges.

      Reply
    2. Friday

      After being a SAH for ~17 years, my mom started working at the rival high school while my younger siblings were still going to our high school. There was a little good-natured ribbing, but the principal she worked for was actually my old english teacher at my HS so he already got the brunt of the teasing. My mom had a successful career there for 10 years and still has good friends from there she sees socially. Best of luck to you!

      Reply
  69. B'Elanna Torres

    I’m a programmer in education/higher-ed, and have been for ~10 years. Like many others, since I’m good at what I do, I’ve been given leadership opportunities. For the most part I’ve shot them down because I have social anxiety, and I’ve feared that I would start hating my job, having to work with people. Plus the team I would be leading contains some tougher personalities, to put it simply.

    I have two questions.
    One. I’m thinking of reaching out to a counselor to help with my anxiety. It’s really holding me back in my career, and not just with leadership roles, but also networking and overall quality of life. Anyone else have success with this? Any advice?

    Two. I know one technique to help with social anxiety is to just start being more social. Talk to others more. Ask more questions. Get to know people, etc….
    And of course I’m anxious about suddenly being more social and what others will think. Best case scenario, people will notice and just figure “Huh, that’s interesting. B’Elanna is suddenly talking more. That’s cool.”.
    If a quiet, seemingly stand-offish coworker started becoming more sociable, joining lunches, etc.. what would you think?

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      Much like depression, anxiety lies to you. It whispers in your ear that literally any deviation from your norm will be noticed and draw attention and make people think things about you. THINGS!

      In reality, people will just be like, oh yeah, you can totally come to lunch with us sometimes, and won’t really notice anything different, or they’ll be happy because they don’t get to talk to you much or something.

      Anxiety has blocked me for years, like a 20 foot wall. I’m half a year into treatment and that 20 foot wall is like, a four foot wall. I can see over the top, and with a little boost, I can get right over it. It’s lovely.

      Reply
      1. zora

        Yes to they really won’t notice!! People think way more about themselves than other people, they are probably all in their own heads worrying about what you think of them, rather than realizing that you are being more sociable than normal!

        And DEFINITELY find a counselor! I put off getting help for my anxiety for many many years, and finally got myself to ‘just do it’ last year, and it is making such a difference already! I just searched on Psychology Today for someone with experience with anxiety and depression, who was located close to my house, and then grabbed the first 5 off the list and started contacting them. I go every other week, and have already noticed a difference in my first thoughts when I’m feeling anxious. The anxiety hasn’t magically gone away or anything, but I feel like I have ideas of what to DO when it happens, rather than just being at the mercy of anxiety-feelings.

        Reply
    2. fposte

      I don’t know that I’d notice; if I did, I’d probably just think your workload had shifted a little or you’d hit a bit of a groove that made it more of a possibility.

      Reply
    3. Bess

      So I have social anxiety that manifests in a number of ways, and I’ve had many jobs that are people and customer related. My current job heavily involves relationships and collaborative work with people, and the people (especially any type of conflict) are what keep me up at night and make me feel sick sometimes.

      So…each job has really been different, but for me it’s about the approach and what fits with your personality, and how you get around the barrier of the anxiety. I’m not a “schmoozer” at all, but I really like working with smaller groups of people, or, better yet, 1:1, because lots of them have great ideas and it’s really interesting what collaboration can produce.

      I also try really hard to stop and notice when I’m anxious about an impending interaction (because it’s such a critical part of my work now, and really many jobs). I make myself think about what’s making me so anxious, I run conversations through my head, I “practice” if it makes me feel better, and I just generally have started to tell myself “you can do this.”

      And…really…I just kind of fake it a lot, even if a conversation is terrifying to me–maybe the way you learn to appear comfortable in an interview even if you’re anything but. Like, I don’t take on behaviors or mannerisms different from mine, and I don’t fake enthusiasm or friendliness I don’t feel, but I try hard to put a face on and participate in the conversation as if the anxious feelings don’t determine the outcome. So it’s not fake, but it’s like a performance in the energy it takes and the way you have to separate from the feelings you have.

      Another helpful thing for me, when I’m obsessing about a blip in a facial expression and I spin into “so and so thinks I’m such a drip!” mode, is either to reality check with someone or just remember people are so busy with their own stuff that even if you somehow did sound awkward, they’ll probably forget it in 5 minutes. And especially chit-chat is just that, chit-chat. It’s a low-stakes way to start getting over that barrier, and you can tell yourself you’re just going to practice it, even if it feels awkward, to get started.

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      When people are quiet I tend to think that they are preoccupied with work or life stuff. I am always glad when they seem more like chatting.

      Reply
  70. Anonygoose

    I have an interview next week for a job and would be a huge step up professionally, but I’m not sure I would be able to take the job if offered. I’m currently in a low-level but stable union job at a university, with all the perks that that entails. This new job would be also at a university, but would be a 1.5 hour commute each way, and would only be a 12 month maternity leave cover, so no benefits or stability. It would be a 50% pay bump though. I’m just not sure what to do! Any advice?

    Reply
    1. Not Today Satan

      I would be very hesitant to leave a permanent job for a temporary one, unless you really hate your current job. Plus that commute sounds awful.

      Reply
        1. Anony Mouse

          As it’s only a 12-month contract, do you think the experience would help you to find a similar role at another institution (perhaps closer to home)?

          Only you can decide if the commute is doable for you. In my case, when I got married and moved from college town to capital city, I spent 9 months commuting an hour each way (60 miles, highway driving). Had a fulfilling job and amazing boss and coworkers, but the driving plain wore me out. On the other hand, it might be doable if you know there’s an end in sight.

          Reply
          1. Anonygoose

            Yeah if it weren’t for the commute I’d be all for this. But I really hate driving, and winter driving in Canada can be precarious, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

            I’m also having trouble because I used to work in that department working under the person who will be leaving the position. She thought I’d be a great candidate and referred me to the higher ups, so I’d feel weird cancelling an interview. But I also don’t want to waste their time if I wouldn’t take the job in the end.

            Reply
            1. Undine

              Part of going to an interview is determining if you really want that job. You don’t have to commit to the job beforehand.

              Reply
        2. WellRed

          But it’s not your dream job. It’s someone else’s that you cover temporarily. I don’t think it hurts to go on the interview to keep your options open. Also, 1.5 hours commute ach way?!!!

          Reply
        3. Anonygone

          There is no harm in taking the interview and seeing if it is worth it. If the interview goes well you might find that the drive would be worth it. Depending on your age and other obligations it could be a risk worth taking if it advances you in the career you want to be in.

          Reply
  71. Another AP

    I posted in the first May open thread about how to approach a conversation with my management about joining the Foreign Service and the background investigation.

    I met with them Tuesday about this and warned them to expect the call, and my management is on board. They’re excited for the opportunity, sad to see the possibility of me leaving happening, and said they’d be more than happy to help. Grandboss even said, “I see your time here as building bullet points on your resume for whatever next job you’re going to go kick ass at.”

    We talked for a little while about what the FS process is, and the extreme uncertainty especially in light of the State Department maintaining its hiring freeze at some level. There’s a lot up in the air over there and with my possibly joining, but fortunately I work for a very good company. If I do end up joining the Foreign Service, I’m sure I’ll be hard pressed to find as good a management team as I have where I am now.

    Thanks everyone who responded last month with your advice, it was very helpful!

    Reply
  72. IsobelDeBrujah

    My logical brain knows that annual company wide performance reviews are both annual and company wide as indicated by the name but the part of my brain that is plagued by memories from old, toxic jobs is in full on freak out “YOU”RE GONNA GET FIRED,” mode.

    I’m in zero danger of being fired. Everyone loves me. I do my job well. This knowledge is less helpful than one might think.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      State an affirmation each time this happens.
      “I do my job well, I have nothing to fear.”
      “I am well liked here, people tell me if they need me to change what I am doing.”

      This is a crock pot solution, there are no microwave answers. This is part of why Alison says to get out of toxic jobs, they leave scars in our memories that are really hard to erase.

      Write out a couple affirmations, tape them to the bathroom mirror. Each time you see the affirmations make yourself read them out loud. Yes, it’s a PITA. But less of a PITA than the Negative Nancy living in your brain.

      Reply
  73. Rebecca

    I wish a nationwide edict would be put forth “NO 3 KNOCK RING TONES ALLOWED IN ANY OFFICE, AT ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON!!” Honestly, I have to share an office with someone who texts with her kids all the time, and it’s “knock knock knock” over and over and over again. Gaa!

    Plus, thank goodness for air conditioning season. It makes it more difficult for the other one to clip her toenails at her desk, since she has to remove socks and shoes.

    Reply
      1. Rebecca

        Yep, that was a new one. Last week, I heard clip, clip, clip behind me, and thought really? I turned around, and she was leaning over clipping her toenails (she was wearing sandals). Sighs. Maybe I’d do that in the bathroom, if I had a toenail emergency, like I stubbed my toe and broke the end and a pointy piece was sticking out, but that type of grooming is best left at home, in my opinion.

        Reply
      1. Emilia Bedelia

        ESPECIALLY if you have a habit of leaving your phone on full volume, at your desk, when you’re at meetings.
        Not that I’m speaking from experience, or anything…

        Reply
        1. tiny temping teapot

          Here’s one for office culture – no one here would do that. Everyone’s phone is set to silent and I am just now realizing how much I appreciate it.

          Reply
    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Honestly, this is the primary reason for my fitness tracker. I get my text messages and call alerts on it so I don’t have to actually look at my phone unless it is urgent and my phone can stay on silent.

      Reply
  74. Alice

    Venting!
    I have a colleague, in a different department, that I liaise with. She only answers direct questions. She never updates you when the situation changes. She doesn’t mention if the situation is going to change soon. She just answers the specific question that you asked, with information that is technically true but not actually helpful.
    “Have you made progress on the teacup tool that we ask about every time we talk?”
    “We are working on it.”
    “When do you think it might be ready?”
    “I couldn’t say.”
    Surprise, three days later, “Here’s the new teacup tool!” OK, great, it’s available for us now, but why was it top secret? We’re colleagues, not spies.

    Or, “How’s it going with that in-progress coffee report we talked about in November, February, and April?”
    “We did that last month.” OK, great, but were you ever going to tell us?

    I try to remember that some directive to be so secretive is probably coming from her boss, not from any innate dislike or reluctance to cooperate. But it’s so frustrating to be out of the loop all the time! I have to psych myself up for meetings where I will run into her. Has anyone else maintained a good relationship with a colleague in a similar situation.

    Reply
    1. Rincat

      Reminds me of Jane Fairfax in Emma. Have you tried talking to her about the best way to get updates on things? Like, “Hey I need updates on projects/reports/whatever. What is the best/easiest way I can get those from you?”

      Reply
      1. Alice

        Does that make me Emma? :) :)
        That’s a good idea. Maybe I should be more explicit. Until now I’ve been saying “my department values your department’s contribution and we want to make it easier and better for you to work with us — how can we help you?” Clearly that’s not direct enough!

        Reply
    2. Mints

      Huh, do you think it’s because their department has been burned by “You said three days and now it’s been four days” rage? Could you ask for unofficial guesses, or call on the phone?
      I’ve had coworkers be way more frank over chat or calls than what they put in email

      Reply
      1. Alice

        I bet that’s true — not from my department to them but maybe they’ve gotten some stick from others in the past. And from my department, frustration when that department’s rep cancels a scheduled meeting with one of my department’s clients because she’s sick or traveling (reasonable) and doesn’t tell us or the client (not reasonable). Definite frustration there.
        I’ve tried chats, in-person meetings, calls, emails. She’s very on message (“I can’t say when”) no matter the context. She’d be good in PR! I am counting my blessings that pretty much everyone else I deal with is responsive and forthcoming.

        Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I had someone maintain a good relationship with me in spite of what my boss ordered me to do.
      We found areas of common interest to talk about. She like X, so did I. She was interested in taking up Y, well, me too. These were genuine shared interests. We’d both look at my boss’ orders and roll our eyes. What can you do? Not too much.

      Reply
  75. kb

    My boss has just left the company to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m so happy for her, but I’m a bit worried about her yet-to-be-named replacement. Former boss was extremely flexible about working with our personal schedules, but I don’t think she documented anything about about that. I am, by handbook standards, 5-10 minutes late to work every morning because I attend a group fitness class. My former boss enthusiastically approved. I love this class and really don’t want to have to stop going, but I don’t want my first impression to the new boss being “employee who thinks kickboxing is more important than work.” Any tips for phrasing this request in a way that doesn’t make me seem like my priorities are out of whack?

    Reply
    1. Victoria, Please

      “I have a long standing fitness class that makes me get in by 8:15 instead of 8. I always made up the time by (however you did). Mary was fine with it and I’d really appreciate being able to continue.”

      I know that I would be all Oh awesome, that’s great that you do that, just make sure if there’s a very important thing that we do need you in early for that you can do it.

      Reply
  76. hbc

    My colleague had two of his employees quit in the past two weeks, in a department of four. He was actually planning on firing them both within days.

    I can’t decide whether I’m jealous or horrified. I know an ideal situation is where everyone comes to the same conclusion that it’s not a good fit, but I think he might have put out the “I’m so done with you” vibes for months until they couldn’t take the environment any more.

    Reply
      1. Sadsack

        Yes, that sounds painful for everyone there. “Putting out a vibe” is a pretty crappy way to manage people.

        Reply
  77. AndersonDarling

    When a job ad asks for project management experience, do they mean full on project management?
    I’ve been looking at technical positions and some will ask for this, but when I think of project management, I think of writing charters, conducting roll outs, managing multiple teams of resources, weekly meetings to discuss process targets and ROI and working with $xx,xxx budgets independently.
    But they job could just need someone who can handle working on their own assignments and work well with other to get it done.
    Whenever I see project management experience listed, I always pass the job over. But then I wonder why would someone expect a mid level, non-management employee to be be a project manager? Opinions?

    Reply
    1. Undine

      I’m in software, and I think of something that falls between the two.

      For example, I know someone who does low-level project management for translations. She negotiates rates with translators (I think from a preset pool); coordinates between translators, programmers, and clients; and tracks project schedules and deliverables. But she’s a small cog, , it’s a fairly low-level job (not entry-level, but just one step up) and presumably all budget decisions go through her boss to be finalized.

      Or, frequently, a software company will have a single project manager who does not assign resources or budget, but holds weekly meetings to assess progress, keep track of the schedule, raise any issues with resources or roadblocks with the appropriate people at the next level.

      A third possibility would be someone who has been a project lead on a multi-person complex project, with multiple moving parts. So the day-to-day responsibility of keeping things on track, but with the ROI, budget, and personnel assignment handled by someone else. There it depends on the scope of the project and how much coordinating between different groups they had to do.

      I don’t think of a project manager as a management position.

      Reply
    2. writelhd

      Man, “project manager” is one of the vaguest terms ever, (kind of like “engineer” sometimes) because it’s used in a lot of industries. In general the ads are going to be looking for someone within the industry they’re in, not for example a construction project manager trying to get a project manager job at a software company…but sometimes it’s not even clear on the job posting what industry they’re in.

      Even in construction (where I work), someone with “project management” experience on residential projects does not often at all mean someone looking for a “project manager” on commercial projects is going to want to hire them.

      Reply
  78. Anon16

    Any advice for a boss who gives me his work to do? Is this normal, professional? This happens almost all the time and I get the sense that it’s because he’s 1) busy, and 2) doesn’t know enough about the industry to do it himself (he was hired to be the director of a niche field without any experience working in it, and hasn’t taken the time to learn much about it in the 8 or 9 months that he’s been a director).

    I’ll give some examples:

    1) I’m an entry-level project manager of a department that includes a couple of project managers and a director. There’s no sales/business development team in our organization. My manager is having us write RFP proposals without any training. He sent us a copy of the RFP and an outline and asked us to write it.
    2) He also asked our team to contact the administrative personnel of our clients to serve as references for the RFP proposal.
    3) We had an RFP proposal meeting. He had me call the organization to find out if it was canceled.
    4) I advised him to contact a major client of ours to potentially establish a contract with them and begin a contracted relationship. He asked me why I couldn’t do this myself.
    5) I had a question regarding a legal issue with our department. He asked me what I thought we should do. I have no legal experience or knowledge and am not in the place to give information about legal matters.

    These are just off the top of my head, but it’s things like this all the time. I feel like I’m doing part of his job without additional compensation or credit. In addition, it gives me less time to do my own job that I was hired to do. How do I push back on this? Is that at all possible? Sorry for the quick message, I’m trying to write this quickly.

    Reply
    1. Anon16

      I understand some of this is normal for a small organization but it’s frustrating to be asked to do this type of work without additional compensation, credit, or training. It’s also frustrating when it feels like he’s asking me to do it because he’s busy or can’t do it himself because he doesn’t know enough about the industry. This is also a small slice of everything he’s asked us to do.

      Am I being unfair?

      Reply
    2. LQ

      I guess this depends. To me a lot of these things seem like things they’d be done at your level. I’m not 100% sure what your job usually breaks down these tasks as but to me they all seem like project manager level tasks. RFP writing, contact admin to serve as references (ideally you’d already have those relationships), calling to find out if the meeting was cancelled. The only thing that isn’t is making a final decision on the legal issue, and that might be asking you what you think (my boss asks for my opinion on things all the time!) and then he might also go and get an actual legal opinion if that is what is needed, but getting your input totally seems reasonable.

      I wonder if there is other stuff, to me at least this seems normal project managery stuff?

      Reply
      1. Anon16

        Hmmm…it’s possible I’m biased because previous project managers under my previous director (who’s recently left), never did this type of work and were never asked. The director did it. He’s also not training us to do it, and this type of work wasn’t in the job description.

        Asking me to set up a contract with a major client, also, seems beyond my scope. Maybe I’m wrong, just trying to be more realistic.

        Reply
    3. writelhd

      Perhaps I don’t have a clear understand of what specifically is your job that’s different from those things (do you have your own projects to manage, and he’s asking you to do part of the management of his too?), but to me those look like pretty standard “project management” type tasks. Are you sure he’s not just giving you tasks to do so you’ll get experience doing them (and doing them in the specific way he/the company wants them to be done), rather than because he doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want do them? That’s a fairly common way to help entry level positions gain specific experience a boss might want them to have. Even if that’s not the reason, it is a boss’s prerogative to assign tasks throughout a department, so those examples don’t strike me as automatically weird for a department of project managers, though perhaps not a culture you’re into. It’s also relatively common in small or even mid-sized organizations to have people wear multiple hats and do business development type stuff (but not having a separate sales team is a little weird, depending on what it is you sell.) So for example learning how to do an RFP by following a sample outline and no other training, doesn’t strike me as strange or dysfunctional. It might not be the most effective way ever to learn how to do a super quality RFP and other places might have a different culture about how to impart new skills, but in my work I have definitely learned many a random business skill by being given a template and reading about it, so I would wager it’s not uncommon.

      Reply
    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      #2 and #3 are 100% definitely appropriate for you to do. It’s hard to say about the others without more context, but in general a boss assigning you “his” work is a normal thing. Managers delegate work; that’s inherently the job. Some of that work starts out as theirs, but it’s not inherently inappropriate for them to delegate it to others. Ultimately it’s up to him to figure out how to distribute all the work that comes his way.

      Reply
      1. Anon16

        I totally understand. I think my perspective is probably too influenced by my past managers who never asked project managers to do things beyond the scope of the job description (which was very basic tasks). All business-related tasks/business development tasks were handled solely by the director so this feels totally out of sync with my experience. I’m also not at all accustomed to a manager who’s typical response is “what do you think we should do?” My past manager made all decisions and asked for my opinion only when she didn’t have the knowledge/expertise to make a decision without…may be a symptom of little work experience.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That is actually a great question for managers to ask! The idea is to coach you into developing your own instincts and problem solving skills, rather than creating a dynamic where the manager has to solve everything. It’s good for both of you.

          It sounds like you might be getting much better experience under this manager. All of this stuff is great for resume building too.

          Reply
          1. Anon16

            This is helpful! My first manager was much more hands on, so that’s all I’ve known. She would give me some context for new tasks, such as “I’m having you do X because of Y. I want you to do A, B, and C to achieve X. This will help you gain [skills].” My current manager is much more: “Here’s an RFP proposal. I’ve written an outline. Please submit your draft by [X] date.” Totally different from what I’m used to. Aligning my expectations helps. The organization still has major issues, but I’m happy to know this isn’t totally inconsistent with a standard working world.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Keep in mind, too, that it’s okay to say things like, “This is my first time doing this and I want to get it right. Can you give me a sense of how you’d approach this? Are there particular things I should keep in mind/watch out for?”

              Reply
        2. writelhd

          That could beg the question for you, is this a management style that you like? Because even if what you’re experiencing is likely pretty normal, cultures and management styles do vary and it can be useful information for yourself when thinking about future career path to have a sense of management styles you do or don’t enjoy working under. Not that you always have a lot of choice in the matter, but it can be good to think about.

          Reply
          1. Anon16

            I like something in between both these things. I like a manager who provides a little bit of structure and aligns my goals, but gives me the freedom to make my own decisions and asks input when necessary. I’ve had managers on two extremes. I think I do lean towards liking more guidance but I totally understand the drawbacks of that and therefore want to become more comfortable with someone who allows me more freedom. Hope that’s helpful!

            Reply
  79. Bored and Confused

    I have just gotten a part-time position at a retail store that I love and have worked for before. They are fine with me getting a second job as they only hire part time and are used to helping to schedule around things. Although they are willing to work my schedule around a bit, I’m a little at a loss as to what to put as my availability on job applications. I do not have set hours and since I am still fairly new I do not even have hours that I am most likely to work. About half the places I have applied to are also stores that only hire part-time and have a section on the application that lets you note if you have other commitments (I would assume this is because they expect most applicants to be students or working multiple jobs). I’m just wondering how I should handle the other half that don’t leave a space for notes.

    I have worked multiple jobs at once before but I had applied for those at around the same time and gotten the offers within two days of each other.

    Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. ms-dos efx

      I think the best way to make something like that work is to decide that you will make one job your morning job, and the other one your afternoon job. Or one is your M/W/F job and the other is your Tu/Th job. You’d have to explain to your current employer that you got a second job so you won’t be able to work on certain days or a certain time of day anymore, and then kind of do that same thing for your new employer or on applications. Or when you are applying for second jobs, look for ones that have set days or hours rather than varying schedules. A lot of part time office jobs seem to be like that.

      It feels a little weird if you’re someone who is used to being flexible and accommodating of an employer’s needs, but for scheduling it’s the only way to really make it work that I know of.

      Reply
    2. KR

      What I did when I worked two jobs was have set days where I was available at each job. So for my office part time job I was available Monday through Wednesday all day and evening, Thursday just during the work day, and Friday mornings. That meant I was available Thursday evening, Friday afternoon and evening, and both weekend days for the retail job. The later part of the week and the weekend was the busiest part of the week for the retail gig (grocery store) and the office had evening work that I would occasionally need to respond to in case of technical issues – my boss took Thursdays when I was at my other job and I took Mondays. I would talk to your supervisor at your current job and say, since you’re trying to get a new job, you want to get a sense for what are the best times to be available for the business needs and what she needs you for. She might say she really wants you to be available Tuesdays for inventory, or if you can’t be here on the weekends it’s a problem because more senior employees have dibs on during the week. She will know best. Last thing – if you need a dedicated day off make sure you plan for it. My day off was always variable. It was usually Thursday but occasionally I wouldn’t get a day off with how my schedule worked out or it would end up being a random weekend day. It made it hard to make plans. If you don’t like that, pick a day and tell both jobs you can’t work that day at all.

      Reply
    3. Beth Anne

      I agree you need to make set days for each job. Otherwise you are going to drive your bosses or whoever makes the schedule at your jobs go crazy. I work at a restaurant and it makes it hard on my boss when she makes it and then has to move it around b/c of conflicts at other jobs.

      Reply
  80. ms-dos efx

    I had a beer with an acquaintance yesterday who works at a former employer I’d like to return to. She is in a totally different department than the one I used to work in, so I wanted to ask her a few questions about what it’s like, whether I should expect a pay cut if I go over there etc. I didn’t mention in advance that I was thinking of coming back, I guess because I didn’t want to make it seem like I only wanted to talk to her if she could help me? (I was genuinely interested in catching up with her too!)

    This morning she sent me a text saying it was nice to catch up with me but to please let her know in advance if I want to meet up with her for reasons that are not purely social because she was a little caught off guard.

    I’m very new to networking, so I wanted to get some outside perspectives on this. Did I make a faux pas by not explicitly telling her in advance that I had professional reasons for wanting to meet with her as well as personal ones? Or is this just a preference/quirk that she may have?

    I have another networking meeting coming up that I set up in a similar way so I want to make sure that if I am being rude, I can change the way I do things going forward.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. writelhd

      Oof. I think this is one of those ones where there’s no great rule because it depends on the person. There is probably a way to say “I genuinely want to catch up and also talk about this” ahead of time, and that is probably best, but there will always be the people who find that offputting or don’t believe the genuinely want to catch up part. So, I don’t know either, ,just sympathizing with the difficulty of how to attach situations like this.

      Reply
    2. Sadsack

      You refer to these get-togethers as networking meetings, byt it sounds like the person you met with thought you were getting together as friends. Either way, I don’t think it is wrong to ask questions about work since that seems to be how you know each other. It’s not like you pushed your resume in front of her or tried to sell her I Amway. I think her being put off is more about her being strange than about you being rude.

      Reply
      1. ms-dos efx

        Thanks for the perspective! :)

        Thankfully she really didn’t sound very bothered in her text to me. I just wouldn’t want to keep doing something rude, if I had been.

        Reply
    3. TCO

      I wouldn’t have reacted the way your acquaintance did–it was a little strange, given that it sounds like you spent most of your time genuinely socializing about non-work things. Whenever I meet up with someone I know through my profession, I assume that some “shop talk” might come up and that we might be talking about things like openings, salary, etc. even if we also want to talk about other things.

      Reply
      1. ms-dos efx

        That was my expectation as well. I’m very open and if I had been in her position I would have been surprised but not offended. Which, thankfully, is how she sounded in her text.

        Reply
    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Have you met up other times since you left that employer? Would you have asked to meet up with her if you weren’t considering returning?

      If not, I can see why she might feel a little misled about your intentions, even though you were happy to catch up with her as well.

      Reply
      1. MS-DOS EFX

        Thanks for responding! Those are good questions to help me kind of flip the script and see how the situation may have been unexpected for her.

        My husband, her husband, and I all used to work at this place before she worked there (tiny nonprofit life, amirite?). I left and she started in the meantime, but both husbands are still there. So we do see each other a few times a year and have hit it off, but never spent time one-on-one before. I think she’s fabulous and definitely would hang out with her regardless, but this particular time I did have specific information I wanted to learn from her. So when I imagine the experience from her side I can see how it would have been better to mention that I wanted to talk about work.

        I’m meeting with the executive director for coffee next week and went about arranging it in basically the same way. The ED and I also see each other several times a year at organization functions and have favorable opinions of each other, but we are too distant in age and status to ever really *hang out*. Because of that, I hope the implication is clear that I will want to discuss the possibility of coming back.

        Reply
            1. ms-dos efx

              I guess I thought it would since she’s a former boss of a boss and we’ve only really interacted in a professional context. Also we had messaged a little bit recently about my unhappiness/stress level at my current job. But I’m not very good at socializing so I realize now that my actions may not be reading the way I intend them.

              Should I message her again before we have coffee to let her know that that’s what I’d like to discuss? Or would that be weird?

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Nah, I don’t think you need to. She probably assumes that it’s in some way career related — like that you might want to pick her brain about career path or so forth. I just wouldn’t go in assuming she’s realized you’re interested in coming back, specifically. Plan to have to say it explicitly!

                Reply
                1. ms-dos efx

                  Thank you so much for all the replies, Allison. Can’t imagine what your inbox must look like.

                  I definitely will!

        1. New Bee

          Since you all have kind of hit it off, maybe she thought this was a direct overture to build a friendship (especially since your husband still works there so you already have an “insider”), which made it feel weird? I can think of folks I know who live in the “cool people” category in my head, but we haven’t been able to hang for various reasons. I could see myself feeling awkward if I cleared my calendar, got a sitter, etc., and then found out the person wanted an “in” at my job.

          Reply
  81. LQ

    I got a new…I don’t know! It’s definitely new work, though only part time (likely 20+ hours), so I’ll keep doing my regular work. I don’t know if this is a promotion or a raise or any of the details. But I do know that I’m going to be moving into working on a small team as a part of what I’m doing that’s going to be far more technical to a large extent. Well I’ll be the least techie person there, but still. So I’m really excited about that change in things I’m doing because I’ll be honest I’m bored out of my mind at some of the things I’m doing now. It wasn’t so bad but the last couple weeks have just felt so dull. (I think because I had a period of extreme “excitement” for the 6 months prior to this.) It felt like a lot of fighting the same battles and fixing the same issues. So I’m glad to pass that along to someone else and get to go fight new battles.

    I do want to know more about the actual details. (Like do I get a raise, do I get to move, do I get a new title, do I have new tasks, will it become full time new project after the other big thing I’m working on is done?) My director was really focused on the work part of it not the here’s the HR stuff part of it and this was as he was rushing out the door, literally, and he’s out of the office today.

    Reply
  82. social anxiety at work

    I’ve had issues with anxiety, particularity social anxiety, my entire life to some degree. Recently, as in the past few months, I’ve been going through a really bad patch with it (I think of it as a flare up). To the point where I’ve had some bad panic attacks, which hasn’t happened in close to a decade. I’m aware of the problem, and I’m taking steps to treat it. But that takes time.

    This hasn’t presented to much of an issue at work because the nature of my job doesn’t require interacting with many people in person. Recently my boss let me know that she was planning to assign me a project that is going to be a problem. It would require reaching out to a number of people, some that I don’t know at all, and sit down and interview them on a topic. Just thinking about this is making my heart race. Completing this project would be extremely distressing for me. And even if I do, the results aren’t going to be good. I have no background or training in interviewing people. I can ask a list of yes/no, close ended questions all day. For the purpose of this project we’ll want more conversational, story like details, not stiff facts and figures. How can I be expected to get people to engage like that in an interview when I’m concentrated on not passing out or letting my hands shake too much?

    Is ther a way to address this with my boss? I’m a very private person and do not discuss my personal life at work. While my boss is very friendly and open, discolsing my mental health issues would still be hard for me.

    Reply
    1. Frozen Ginger

      I don’t think you’d need to necessarily mention your anxiety.

      You could say something like: “Boss, I know you want me to work on Project, but I have some reservations. I don’t have much experience in interviewing, and thus I worry that my work on this project would come out sub-par. Perhaps there’s a way I could help Project in a different capacity, like X or Y?”

      Reply
    2. AnonyMouse

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I do like Frozen Ginger’s suggestion, but if that doesn’t work, here are some ideas for how to make the project more manageable, if you end up stuck with it.
      1. Can you interview over email instead? If your boss is open to it/doesn’t care how it’s done, you might be able to get all the information you need by sending a list of questions over email.
      2. If it HAS to be in person, prepare your questions beforehand, so you can just ask the next one on your list without having to think on the spot. I’d recommend having a notebook to take notes as a prop so you can keep your eyes on the page instead of having to make eye contact the whole time. At the same time, also consider recording the interview as backup so if you get super nervous and can’t take coherent notes, you have a recording that you can transcribe after the fact. (most people don’t mind if you just say, “Do you mind if I record this on my phone for future reference?”)
      3. Tips for the interviews (fwiw, I work full time as a reporter): Try to keep questions open ended: For story-like details, try “Can you walk me through the steps… ” “How did that feel?” “Why did you decide to do X?” Stories work best with beginnings, middles and ends, so you can ask things like “How did you start …?” “What was the most exciting/challenging thing you’ve experienced?” “What’s next for you?” Also if it helps, remember the whole point of an interview is for them to talk, not for you to talk, so you’re doing your job by not taking over the conversation. Silence is not a bad thing– people often give the best quotes when they have a little more time to think (sometimes I even pretend to be jotting notes so my interview subject has time to reflect more and, given silence, they almost always have something to add). I like to end with “Did I miss anything? Is there anything you’d like me to know that I didn’t ask about?”
      Good luck!

      Reply
  83. paul

    I loathe, loathe, loathe the reporting system for CPS in my state (yes this is work related, mandatory reporter here).

    It took me nearly an hour to file a report online yesterday, and there was never a field to just *describe wtf I saw that made me report!*

    I also still haven’t heard back despite giving them my personal cell, office number and the building admin’s number.

    Any day I have to file a CPS report is pretty much down the crapper to start with, for a variety of reasons. I think this my 3rd this year which is probably a record…and it’s only June.

    Reply
    1. LizB

      Ugh, so much sympathy. Mandated reporting is such a depressing responsibility as it is — I hate that it’s also a pain in the butt to actually make the stupid report on top of that.

      Reply
      1. Not So Bad Candidate

        In my state everyone is a mandated reporter. Luckily I’ve never had to report anything, though I would even if it wasn’t the law.

        Reply
  84. Zen Cohen

    I will be 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow. My maternity leave starts when I go into labor. I have a ton to do next week, but would it be horrible if I tried to take a mental health week for myself before the baby comes? It’s not something I’ve asked my boss for, and I’m a little nervous about ghosting.

    I am stressed to the max and have so little energy to do all the prep work that needs to be done before the baby gets here. All of my work will pretty much be wrapped up by the end of next week. I am just feeling so burnt out right now. And also, my office is incredibly hot and sitting at my desk makes my feet swell, so they look like bricks by the end of the day.

    Reply
    1. Rainy, PI

      I can’t help with the rest of it, but compression stockings! They are very popular with the pregnant ladies in my area.

      Reply
    2. Jessesgirl72

      Congratulations! Almost there! We hit 34 weeks tomorrow, and the vague panic is starting to kick in.

      It’s not horrible, but how would you frame it? And would you be using accumulated PTO or go unpaid or something else? Could you get your OB to “recommend” it?

      Reply
      1. Zen Cohen

        Oh, my OB would totally recommend it. Every time I go in (once a week now!) she gives me the side-eye when I say I’m going to keep working until I deliver. The leave is unpaid after I use up my accrued PTO. Basically I would be missing out on one paid week of work, but I kinda feel like it’s worth it. And I would have one less week of FMLA but my return will be flexible and I won’t ramp back up to full time in the office for a while.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          Then take it! The baby might decide to come early anyway. And she probably won’t let you go beyond a week late.

          Reply
    3. Rincat

      If you do a mental health week, they may have your leave start then. I think it’s fine to ask, just make sure you know what they’ll be doing with your PTO and leave.

      Also congrats! I remember 38 weeks…I wore sweatpants to work cuz that’s all that fit!

      Reply
    4. TotesMaGoats

      I took the week off before my due date and it was great. If you have the leave to spare then do it.

      Reply
    5. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Do you get disability? Your doctor can pull you out of work now and you should qualify for disability so you can at least get some of your pay.

      Reply
  85. ThrowAwayAgain

    Sorry if this is long, I just don’t know how to handle this! Before 2017 at my small workplace (under 10 people) we all are salaried and got 2 weeks vacation. Sick time was just ‘don’t come in if you feel unwell’ so technically unlimited but never specifically announced like that. No official doctors appointment policies were ever in place either, it was just make sure you don’t have them (or too many) in our busy busy season (Jan – Apr), make up your work if needed, make sure other coworkers wouldn’t be out as well. Work through lunch if needed. You know, normal handle it like a responsible adult kind of thing.

    In December our boss announced (via email) that we would get 15 days of PTO to cover sick and vacation. We’re all okay with that, there is a person who seemed to abuse the unlimited sick leave so I can see why he would make a change. One person asks “What about doctor’s appointments?” And the boss says those now must be made up. We tried asking more questions to make sure we were abiding by his rules and he got frustrated and the conversation petered off. (This was over skype and email and he has since put the assistant in charge of marking off time out and time made up for appointments, something she isn’t happy about and has received NO guidance on.) We believe he may think we don’t like his policies, but his policies require some way of tracking things and he has left us completely unguided! It’s very frustrating. We don’t want him to ask the assistant later in the year about people’s PTO and she not have any records. So us admins have been emailing her when we are out, when we make it up. But the professionals don’t even know that the appointment rule has changed. We waited until busy season was over to ask more specific questions and he won’t answer them. He said he’d respond in a few weeks. So we are half way into a year and no one really knows how our PTO system works for appointments.

    It’s frustrating because before we handled it like adults, and since this is the off season appointments are easier to make and you aren’t missing work you can’t make up the next day. We also work unpaid overtime Jan – Apr because he thinks we are exempt just because the admins are salaried. But we aren’t exempt (a whole ‘nother issue!) He says those extra hours worked then won’t cover appts had later in the year. Now he wants to micromanage us and our time out for an appointment but he won’t tell us how to do it. Half of us aren’t aware of the policies so later in the year he could add up their hours out of the office and say ‘That was 1 whole PTO’ day. Meanwhile the assistant can’t verify other than the emails we send that we actually are making up our time. I could say I’m staying until 6 instead of 5 but there’s no one here to actually verify I’m physically here and/or working. The professionals don’t even know they are supposed to let the assistant know when they’re out, and they work slightly later schedules than us overall, think 9-6 instead of 8-5.

    I’m at the point of walking into my boss’ office and saying “This is ridiculous. We are all trying to comply with a PTO amount that we think is fair but an appointment policy that you won’t clarify for us and it’s JUNE!”

    Reply
    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Do you agree with the policy? Is there a way you could talk to him in a way that is supporting his changes while asking for guidance? It seems like he felt attacked by negativity when he announced this and is now sticking his head in the sand.

      Reply
      1. ThrowAwayAgain

        You’re right I do think he felt attacked. But he likes to have every conversation over skype so I think he took our questions as attacking instead of as us asking for guidance.

        I am fine with the new PTO policy. I don’t love the “track every minute of time you are out of the office” because we are responsible adults not children, but I am happy to comply with it. He is the boss and signs my paycheck.

        Reply
  86. Lady Jay

    Today I need to vent a bit.

    I’m mostly frustrated with my manager (I’m a teacher, he’s my principal.) He says he’s really pleased with my work but never seems willing to listen to my ideas or consider alternatives to the very narrow institutional vision we follow. My school is increasingly standardizing everything, to an apparently greater extent than similar institutions, and ideas that run contrary to standard operating procedures are not worth considering. This makes me feel like a cog in the machine, and it’s difficult to accomplish my goals as an educator because they don’t “fit” with the institutional vision. It’s also difficult to feel that my ideas are even being considered.

    But to make matters worse, I sent an essay I was proud of to an academic blog & got it rejected for not having “depth” enough, whatever that means.

    I’ve felt for several years now that I’m having trouble getting traction in my career, and today is just kind of adding to that feeling.

    Thanks for listening, all. I’m back to work now.

    Reply
    1. Miss Anne Thrope

      What kind of academic blog was it? Rejection is hard, but as you know, academia is all about rejection. I’ve started to do public writings and even those can get rejected depending on fit

      Reply
  87. First Time Hiring Manager

    I’m very new to the HR recruiting world. I’m currently in a hiring manager position to fill a subordinate role under me.
    I did some research to see a potential candidate’s background. What would you do if you found out someone owed a ton of personal income tax (they were listed in a newspaper article on a list of people who owed an exorbitant amount of income tax ).
    The position this person would fill would have access to a company credit card for purchasing travel and other company related items, and also to some petty cash.
    I like the candidate and the individual is qualified for the position, but I’m a bit torn about what I’ve discovered. I don’t want to be paranoid, thinking that this individual would be dishonest because I don’t know all the facts. I’m also concerned about any legal guidelines I should be following (like I said, I’m new, so I don’t know everything!).
    What would you do?

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      Normally, what I see here is people saying that someone’s credit history, etc isn’t relevant unless they are going to have access to company credit/cash/resources.

      At minimum, I’d ask the candidate about it, and I’d make sure it’s really the candidate, and not someone with the same name.

      Reply
    2. De Minimis

      I wouldn’t care. Controls should be adequate to prevent theft unless there’s collusion of multiple parties. They may be on a payment plan, or they may be working out some other arrangement. And people can get into tax problems for all sorts of reasons.

      Owing money doesn’t mean someone is dishonest. I’d feel differently if you’d found out they had a criminal record for theft or something like that. How is someone supposed to pay their debt if they’re blacklisted from employment? I actually wouldn’t even care if someone had a bankruptcy on their record, much less tax debt.

      Reply
      1. First Time Hiring Manager

        Thank you for your input! It’s true, people get into money problems, and it shouldn’t be used against them. Really the position doesn’t have major authority with handling money, so yes, controls will be in place.

        Reply
    3. Jen

      There’s a reason you can’t get a security clearance if you owe a lot of money like that. I would definitely take this into account. Paying income tax is required by law. This either shows carelessness with financial requirements or some kind of attempt at avoidance. I would not draw a firm line here between personal and professional or just assume it applies to professional. I think you would not be doing due diligence if you ignore this. Not saying this is a deal breaker but you should have serious conversations with others in your org and with the applicant about how it happened before you go further. Applicant’s explanation may satisfy you but I think you would be wrong not to follow up on this. It is public information so you are not prying.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        Sorry I should say could show carelessness or avoidance. It could be innocent like a strange windfall yhat was mishandled (like how people who win gambling prizes sometimes mess up their taxes). But I do think investigation is merited.

        Reply
        1. First Time Hiring Manager

          I agree. We have pre-employment background checks, so a credit history and discussions within the org and with the candidate are necessary.

          Reply
        2. De Minimis

          There could be a massive change in circumstances from one tax year to the next. I could see how something like a job loss could create a big tax liability. Divorce also often can create tax issues, and one of the big ones is small business failure.

          You could possibly get a lower level security clearance [like public trust] with a tax liability depending on the reason, unless you were trying to get a job with the IRS itself [they have a zero tolerance policy about tax liability, with all their employees at all levels, both permanent and temporary.]

          Reply
          1. First Time Hiring Manager

            Thank you for the info. There are so many possible reasons. We are definitely no the IRS, lol…

            Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Check to see if there is any criteria for hiring people who have access to the company credit card and petty cash. Does your company do internal audits? Are there outside auditors or anyone who might be very picky? This includes some insurance companies. Will the employee be bonded? Is she bondable?

      Not the same as your story but just a caution: A friend of mine was hired at New Place, which is a well-known retailer nationwide. She gave notice at Old Place. New Place never mentioned doing a credit check. They ended up telling her they could not hire her because of her bankruptcy.She ended up with no job.

      If you did not know this person owed a large amount of back taxes, you might say that and be excused once. But you know. So for your own protection and your own understanding ask your boss/ other knowledgeable person if hiring this person is okay with SOPs.’

      Reply
  88. Jen

    I have a question about exit interviews and am posting for a friend. He is about to give notice in at his job. He is specifically leaving his job because of a toxic manager they promoted about 18 months ago. This guy is awful and my friend will be probably the fifth person to flee the company because of him. One person went so far as to tell this guy “no one likes you” when they quit. However friend is taking a job in a related company and while boss will have no power over him (actually kind of the opposite, sort of), he will have to work with him in the future. Boss is the son of a VP and is unlikely to be fired, despite his toxicity. So, in his exit interview friend is not sure how honest to be. What do you guys think?

    Reply
    1. Frozen Ginger

      I feel like there’s a way to balance your friend’s honesty with professionalism. He should talk honestly, but calmly and seriously and not bluntly.

      Not “Waqueen is toxic and terrible and that’s why I’m leaving.”
      But ” To be honest, I’m leaving in-large-part because of Waqueen. He has done things like X and Y that just made staying under his management unsustainable. I want to wish your company the best, but I hope you understand if I’m reluctant to work with him when I am at New Company.”

      Reply
    2. JulieBulie

      At my exit interview ten years ago, I was very emphatic that I was leaving the company in order to move ahead in my career, and that this place where I’d been the last five years was wonderful and it was good experience.

      I added, “HOWEVER, I recommend that the company should encourage Oldboss to seek anger management counseling.”

      Turned out I wasn’t the first person to tell them that. I was, however, the last. After some investigation, they demoted him and promoted one of his direct reports, so that Oldboss ended up reporting to a former underling.

      I realize it is different when he’s the son of a VP… but if your friend is the sixth to leave because of him, that might matter to the company. On the other hand, we read all the time on AAM about sucky bosses that do not get dealt with.

      Your friend needs to decide how he feels about taking a risk that this could worsen their relationship – keeping in mind that the relationship will already be changing since he will have a new boss. Honestly, I would go for it because I’m usually willing to take a chance on things getting better, but maybe I’m nuts.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        There is an additional issue that the boss is pushing this cya-and-nothing-else attitude, which is going to be very bad for the company long term. My friend actually consulted with me on some of it quietly because some of what boss was doing might have been illegal (if their teapot goes wrong, people could die) and he wanted me to check the regs.

        Reply
    3. Clever Name

      Your friend is not obligated to give an exit interview. I left my last company because of my awful boss. I left the exit interview form blank. If they insist on scheduling one in person, it’s perfectly acceptable to give bond answers. Often, being really honest in exit interviews can only hurt you, and often nothing changes at the company you’re leaving.

      Reply
  89. LyrasOxford

    I know it’s easier to find a job while employed, but how much of a difference does it make? I’m in a job that’s caused me so much stress that I have developed (diagnosed) anxiety, mild depression and a chronic physical disorder. It’s not as bad as some situations on the blog (not screaming red-flag run away now), but it’s been a poor fit since I joined in 2013, my manager is mediocre at best, and 3.5 years of very long hours in a very competitive atmosphere have worn me down. I’ve asked about moving within the firm, that’s not possible.

    I’m in a pretty niche field, so it takes a while for openings to come up, and my work hours are so long that it’s adding further stress (and the accompanying health effects) to be job hunting after a 12-hr work day. My husband makes enough to cover both of our expenses, so I think I can afford to quit, but I don’t want to hurt my chances of getting a next job, particularly in a small field.

    (If it makes a difference, I’m 27, this is my first job out of school. So I’d only have one full-time position on my CV — which is at one of the top ranked organizations in the field, but I’m not sure how much that helps– along with a bunch of internships.)

    Basically, I don’t know how to weigh sticking things out to improve my prospects as a job candidate, versus my general physical and mental health. Help?

    Reply
    1. Jen

      I am so sorry.

      I do think given what you said about jobs not coming up often, I would stay in your job, because you could end up with a big gap. UNLESS, however your job is stressing you out so much you will not be able to job search effectively or it will truly be bad for your health to stay. I would also would really sit down with your spouse and crunch numbers first, spouse is on your team 100% first and you can create a cushion in case something happens with his job. I would also consider if there is anything related or out of your field you could do short term in order to keep working but get put of your environment without the resume bit and to lessen the financial impact.