open thread – September 11, 2015

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 :)

{ 1,405 comments… read them below }

  1. BRR*

    What questions do you ask when you’re interviewing with somebody from HR but aren’t interviewing for an HR position? I always struggle to think of what to ask because my questions tend to be more specific towards the position.

    1. A Jane*

      Ask questions about the company such as culture, attrition. It’s fine to ask about the role too, they will tell you if they don’t know the answers.

    2. CJ*

      I would ask about culture, fit and the HR department. What are the top three things employees would say they liked (or disliked) about the company? How does the company handle conflicts between employees? What do you think the goals/purpose of HR are? These could all be pretty telling answers.

      1. Lizzie's Patronus*

        This is what I go with too, how long have you been with the company and what do you like most about working here are two of my go tos. What does the company value in it’s employees? General questions like that. GL!

    3. CrazyCatLady*

      I was going to ask this today! I just had a phone screen with HR (for a non-HR position) and I figured they wouldn’t know specific details of the position so I struggled to find questions to ask. I ended up asking about the culture, their growth, why the position was open (new or someone leaving) and who the position reported to.

    4. Meg Murry*

      I’ve found “what is your favorite thing about working here at MegaCorp?” Or “what initially drew you to MegaCorp and what keeps you here?” is a good question to ask just about anyone at any level during an interview – it looks thoughtful, gives people a chance to talk about themselves (which a lot of people like) and can tell you a lot about the culture or give you something to ask a followup question about – for instance, if they say they love the wellness benefit of getting $X off for a gym pass you can ask about that, if they mention work-life balance you can ask about flextime or typical hours, if they mention loving the people you can ask about the culture and whether its a super social place with lots of “group bonding”, etc?

    5. HR Recruiter*

      Any questions that aren’t too job specific are fine. I usually get asked about parking (downtown location), benefits, questions about the company, generic job questions and duties, scheduling/shifts, culture, etc. The questions that I or HR usually don’t know the answers to are really, really specific questions only relevant to that job. Yesterday I had an applicant ask me detailed questions about how our fire panel worked. It was a relevant question for the position but I have no idea how the panel works, I just know its one of the responsibilities for this job.

    6. KJR*

      To piggyback onto all of the above suggestions, always ask about turnover. You can often tell a lot about employee satisfaction by how long people stick around. And definitely ask why the position is open.

    7. Stephanie*

      I think it’s fine to ask about the role (provided it’s not something crazy specific no HR generalist would know). They’ll just tell you they don’t know. And a really good one will follow up or direct you to someone who knows.

      But keep in mind, this is an initial screen. You don’t need to get into the specifics of teapot glazing coefficients or anything. (Er, I’ve learned the hard way about getting too into the weeds in an HR phone screen.)

    8. SnowWhite*

      Culture, structure, objectives and how staff are supported/managed to achieve those objectives.,,

      Maybe managed is the wrong word – guided maybe?

    9. TootsNYC*

      I don’t actually -ask- the HR person about the specifics of the job, but I try to sneak them in this way:
      “Well, I’ll probably need to speak to the hiring manager to answer my questions about things like how much budget there is to hire freelancers, what the normal pacing of a crunch time is, how the communications work between this department and the others in the group.
      “So I guess my questions for you are more company specific: ….”

      This way, when the hiring manager says, “how was the interview?” the HR person can say, “The candidate is focused on the right things.”

      I figure that I’m demonstrating my knowledge of the job and its nuances, which is always good.

  2. Elkay*

    Anyone got any tips for how to write feedback on colleagues you don’t interact with much? These are all team-mates (we share a manager) but I’m in my first year in the role so short of saying “They’ve been helpful when I’ve asked questions” I haven’t got much to say.

    1. A Jane*

      I would imagine that it would be fine to just say that. Have you been asked to give more input than that? In that case ask your manager to expand on what’s required.

    2. AcidMeFlux*

      Be specific about how they answer your questions. Does someone go out of their way to get you an answer that’s not easy to find, are they always clear in their explanation, are they always pleasant and professional, are they sometimes proactive and check in with you before you need something, do they do any follow-up?….stuff like that . Little stuff counts and is a big part of professionalism.

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I think it’s okay to be honest!

      I had a staff member who had been on less than 3 months when 360s were due. She wrote very similar things. She did ask specific mentions like, “Jill has been very receptive to my questions on X, and helped me understand our process.”

      1. cuppa*

        I once had to write a review on someone I had only worked with for three weeks due to medical leave. I’m pretty sure I acknowledged that in the review. I did get a little bit of feedback from a previous manager, but overall, it was a pretty neutral review.

      2. Charby*

        I like the specifics. If they’ve answered questions for you on a specific project you can sprinkle some details about what exactly they did for you in there to add verisimilitude and to make your response longer if you’re worried it looks too short.

    4. LBK*

      Not having to interact with them a lot could be a good point – something about how you don’t need to get info from them that often but when you do, it’s concise and accurate so you don’t have to go back and forth a lot?

  3. Daisy*

    My husband got an out of state job, I quit my job, it didn’t work out, and we came back (to a new job in our home state). This all happened in about 4 months. How do I explain me leaving my job in interviews? I’m afraid him leaving a job so soon will reflected badly on me. Like somehow he was flaky and I might be flaky and leave a job quickly.

    The job I quit I was only at for about 9 months but other than that the 3 other jobs on my resume were all 3-4+ years.

    1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      I’m not sure how to address it during the cover letter, but during the interview I would think it would be fine to be honest e.g. “My husband took a job in another city, but it didn’t work out for him, so we moved back.”

      Best of luck.

      1. puddin*

        ^THIS

        You do not need to go into any more explanation. If you did so, it might make you look overly pre-occupied (within the context of job hunting) with your recent travails.

      2. WLE*

        Yes, or something along the lines of “My husband was offered a great position in ______, but after a few months we realized how much we missed our home state (insert a few short reasons why), so we are excited to be back.” I don’t think this would reflect poorly on you.

      3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yes, I don’t think you need to go into details. You could add, “We’re also glad to be back in ThisTown, and plan to stay here long term” to reassure them that you don’t plan to move back to that other city.

      4. Daisy*

        Thanks. I hope they don’t press any further than that but a job interview should be about me and not him.

    2. Courtney B*

      Was he laid off or did the job change substantially? Did he take an engineering job but it turned out to be a sales job? I’d think it’d be a good explanation of you moved for your husband’s job but the role had changed substantially from the role he was hired for and you moved back to your home state. Maybe someone else can word it better than me.

      1. Daisy*

        It was a change in his field (and he was recruited for the job) and a new position for them. There were a lot of factors that helped make this decision but it came down to they didn’t 100% know what they were looking for and it wasn’t a good fit or his dream job like he thought. It was a mutually agreed split and they even paid for the move back.

    3. A Jane*

      The way you’ve explained it here is fine.
      The fact that you have very steady roles previously and no other gaps shows that you aren’t flaky.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Maybe say something like, “we experimented with a move to another city, but my husband’s position was eliminated, so we’re back for good.”

      Or “my husband’s job took us to another city, but when that ended shortly after our move, we came back.”

    1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      Best: Mostly productive work week. Made some really good progress on a large progress.

      Worst: Slightly overwhelmed at work and had an awful mom-guilt flare up for working outside the home instead of being home with my kiddos.

    2. CherryScary*

      Best: Blog we’re launching is out of development and in approvals!
      Worst: Responsibilities I was interested in taking over now sound like they’re going to a newly created position instead. Not sure if I want to jump ship on that…

    3. June*

      Best: Really great recruitment event on Wednesday!
      Worst: A request for something that would have made life a lot easier for my event was denied by the higher ups.

      Bonus: Because of the Jewish Holidays, I get Monday and Tuesday off next week. Happy New Year, fellow Jews! :)

    4. Natalie*

      Best: I’m pulling myself out of this weird out of nowhere work slump.

      Worst: my evening accounting class was cancelled, with no notice, and that was communicated by posting a note to the door. WTF? It’s 2015 – send us a damn email so I don’t need to drag my butt over to the college just to find out the class is cancelled. I was able to register for a different section, which is good, but it takes place in the middle of the work day and I’m a little concerned that will become a problem. I guess we’ll see.

      1. Anna the Accounting Student*

        Well, you registered for an evening section and they cancelled it with no notice. That in itself should be sufficient to demonstrate good faith on your end. Just how much they care about the new section being during the day will probably depend on all sorts of stuff: if you’re taking this class to be better at your job it might not be much of an issue at all.

    5. over educated and underemployed*

      Best: it’s been a slow work week and I’ve just been trying to enjoy it and relax a little instead of get anxious about whether what I’m doing could be More Significant Professional Development. (There has been a lot of anxiety about the job hunt lately.)

      Worst: I got rejected for 3 jobs in the last 2 days, so I guess people are coming back from summer vacations, and I haven’t heard back from an interview last week, which is probably bad given that the hiring manager said she’d probably let me know by the end of this week. Two of the three job rejections were from the major university where my husband works, and where I really really really want a job, and one was even in his institute within the university, in a capacity where I have good relevant experience. (I asked him to mention that I applied to his acquaintance who would be the supervisor, and try to talk me up a little to get my resume seen, but I don’t think he did and it looks like my resume didn’t even make it past HR.) I’m totally despairing about getting a job at this university, which is one of the major employers in our area, because I’m getting interviews elsewhere but I haven’t even made it to a phone screen here.

    6. Rubyrose*

      Best: I gave notice. No more late night/early morning meeting with offshore. No more dealing with a difficult PM. No more 70 hr weeks for a straight 4 months.
      Worst: telling me immediate coworkers, who have been great.

      1. Rubyrose*

        Thank you, thank you!
        Yes, they have been what I call stupid hours, caused by an install project where everything went wrong. My health has suffered. And while I have learned that I can communicate with Indians with a variety of accents, it does take a lot of concentration. I’m in IT, and this was worse that Y2K.

    7. ACA*

      Best: I got my first ever business cards! (In previous jobs, I was too low-level to qualify.) It’s silly, but it makes me feel like a real Adult.

      Worst: Our dinner schedule’s been messed up all week, so there haven’t been any leftovers and thus I’ve been spending too much money buying lunch every day.

      1. CdnAcct*

        Best: I got recognized for some process improvement I did in my new job which came with a cash bonus!

        Worst: I’m getting anxious about filing taxes for my side job/project, not because I hate doing the taxes, but because gathering the required revenue/expense info is a slog and not clean. I’ve procastinated a lot on this and feel awful about it.

      2. Amber Rose*

        Oh, I’m not the only one! My cards came in last week and I was sitting there alternating between excitementhe , and feeling silly for being so happy. =P

        1. Amber Rose*

          Hmm, autocorrect has invented a new word. Excitementhe: the alcohol that gives you uncontrollable feelings of joy.

          Or the toothpaste that makes your tongue dance.

          Or… the gum that bursts into fireworks when you blow bubbles.

      3. CMT*

        Yay, business cards!
        I asked for some recently when I went to a conference (my first ever work travel; that made me feel like a real adult!) and I got a few sheets of crappy-looking cards printed by an Admin Assistant. :-/ Oh, well.

        1. Anx*

          I still hold on to my business cards from 10 years ago (oh my goodness how as it been that long?).

          They’re a really space efficient memento from that job.

      4. LabTech*

        I felt the same way about getting my business cards. I even (unprofessionally) handed each person in the room one, gleefully saying “Here’s my card.” I’ll handle it better next time…

      5. Katie*

        I hate when I don’t have leftovers! It’s so frustrating. We have like 3 options close to work, and they’re all practically a $15 minimum for lunches.

    8. InterviewFreeZone*

      Best: Got enthusiastic job offer.
      Worst: Had to decline job offer. Didn’t hear back from other job I was excited about. Also, old friend died of cancer.

    9. Pineapple Incident*

      Best: This is my last week floating around my organization. On Monday I will have a home department where I am not called “hey, uh, you…float girl”

      Worst: My organization has not attempted folding performance into how annual increases are determined, and I still only make $11.92 an hour. Will hopefully jump ship within the year to something better paying.. if I can get someone to hire me :/

    10. ConstructionHR*

      Best: Monday holiday, worked 10s on Tues/Wed/Thurs, took 2 hours of vacay today to make my 40. Been home every night.

      Worst: Looks like my next project has significantly lower pay grades (to the tune of ~$550/week less). :(

    11. Whatsername*

      Best: My weekly update that gets rolled up leadership was impressive. It’s been a long quarter so far, but seeing all my accomplishments listed out in one place is very satisfying.

      Worst: Mandatory fun is happening today…and it’s on a boat. I’ve opted out because I really don’t need my coworkers to see me spazzing over being on a boat. Obviously I’m working instead of going- but I’m still worried I’m being seen as ‘not a team player’.

      (It’s not even a normal boat! It’s a freaking slab of fiberglass a foot above the water! And no one can even tell me how many people they’re trying to pack on there! GAAAAAHHH.)

      1. Whatsername*

        Oooh, and we’re almost to ten passive aggressive emails from people about how they “really hope to see everyone there” at the boat-thing.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I hate passive aggressive emails with a passion. Reminds me of a time some years ago (same company, but different boss/role than I have now). I arranged with my supervisor to skip a company meeting because I had a lot of work to do, and was already taking some time off that week because my husband and I were closing on a house.

          And for two weeks after that, my supervisor’s boss made remarks in my hearing about how “motivating” and awesome the company meetings were. Never mind that I had a good reason for not being there – reason being that I was trying to GET MY WORK DONE. That I would almost rather remove my own eyeballs with a spork than sit in those meetings …that I at least had the common sense to avoid sharing with him. And of course he never directly asked me why I didn’t go. Because, you see, that would be too much like confrontation, and despite him being in a fairly senior management-type role, he could NOT handle confrontation. ::eyeroll::

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am not so sure that is passive-aggressive but I do see what you mean. I agree I hate that stuff. There was a news article about a boat that sank with too many people. Well, long story short, it was not so much that it was too many people. The boat was designed to hold x people who were averaging y weight. It was built decades ago and people are bigger now. So it not just the number of people, it’s also the average weight per person. FWIW, I doubt I would go, either.

          1. Whatsername*

            As far as the last email being passive aggressive, it came on the heels of another person saying there was’no justifiable reason not to go since it’s during the day, another reminding everyone that participants got gift cards, and then half a dozen ‘hope to see you there’ with trailing ellipsis and smiley faces. In hindsight, now that almost everyone is finally gone and I get to work in peace, it’s pretty funny.

        3. Camellia*

          Send them the puking emojie and go on and on about your motion sickness in excruciating detail. When they babble about Dramamine tell them it knocks you right out and oh, how terrible that would be!

          I know this because both happen to me. :)

          1. Whatsername*

            This is genius! It doesn’t even have proper railing, so obviously I would fall right over the edge and they’d have to fish me out and then everyone would feel awful and it would ruin everyone’s standing around on a slab of fiberglass fun.

        4. NJ Anon*

          I hate mandatory “fun.” Co-workers is trying to put together a fun, after work, on a week night event. Um, no thanks. Not mandatory and only one person besides the person responded in the positive, 2 responded in the negative and no one else responded. Well, there you go.

    12. TheExchequer*

      Best: Potluck yesterday and /hilarious/ misspelling on a website. (Said they installed truck /wenches/. Pretty sure they meant truck /winches/).

      Worst: There’s a project the president told me to do, but my immediate boss is /sure/ he meant something else. Of the two of us, I’m the only one who wrote something down and what I wrote down lends itself to my understanding. I don’t wanna go over her head, but I’m not sure if it’s going to get done otherwise and I don’t want the president to think I’m not doing it. :/

      1. CM*

        Oooh, I don’t know where our organization would be without those truck wenches.

        I, too, sometimes find myself in the middle of a disagreement (ahem, ”difference in interpretation”) between immediate supervisor/organization president. Awkward situation, to be sure. Good luck working that one out!

    13. Kyrielle*

      Best: I got my new feature working (twice).

      Worst: the first time I got it working, it literally broke more than 50 other things.

      …I love regression tests. At least I knew!

      1. BenAdminGeek*

        And that’s why I now test one change at a time. Nice work catching it fast. My first year doing coding, I figured that rule didn’t apply to me because I’m smart*, so I put all the requested enhancements in, then had to back them all out one by one until I found the bad piece of coding.

        *like seriously, I thought I was smarter than other people and wouldn’t make any mistakes. How quickly QA disabused me of that notion.

        1. Kyrielle*

          *sigh* Yep. This was one change! I had to get integration to scripting working. The steps I was given to do that, my first attempt, ended up breaking over 50 *unrelated* tests because it broke some piece of scripting they were using.

          It was a single include line that broke them. I had to find a way to do it that didn’t require including that module, in the end.

    14. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Best: My direct boss has been really vocal about how helpful and amazing I’ve been with a project, and that’s always nice to hear.

      Worst: Our company has a lot of new leadership, so everything’s changing…and my role is high-responsibility, low-visibility, so I don’t get to meet with the new leadership and actually learn what they want, even though I’m the one delivering everything. Argh.

    15. Calacademic*

      Best: Got the best-ever result for the current experiment we’re running.
      Worst: Broke a machine by reason of sheer stupidity. Yes, I did this (I also fixed it, but bah.)

    16. MAB*

      Best: I am 5 weeks into my new job, I like my boss, coworkers and employees. We may be picking up a new customer and our production is picking up.

      Worst: I have gotten nothing done on our audit prep and I feel like I am having a hard time picking up things like scheduling and time cards. But no one has complained yet though.

    17. Hlyssande*

      Best from actual job: Coworker McButts brought me a canteloupe from his garden. :D After we had lunch last Friday, I think we’re getting along better, which is great – but he’s still a sexist jerk and inappropriate in many ways. Also, got my work laptop and it’s so much faster.

      Best from volunteer thing: Returning lost and found items to their owners is seriously the best thing ever, especially when they’re high value things (phones, wallets – I got one with a hundo in it last weekend, etc). Super rewarding.

      Worst from actual job: Received my new work computer (laptop) and had to rearrange my desk to make space for it and the docking station which is unnecessarily huge. Also had to tweak all the settings of all the things and I still hate a lot of it (Outlook 2013 looks like so much crap to me).

      Worst from volunteer thing: The weather last Saturday and Sunday was absolutely brutal and I’m surprised we didn’t have any medical issues within the team. It definitely made everyone more grumpy and exhausted and affected our relations with the patrons (who were also suffering similarly, but with booze too). Also, someone brought an actual flintlock pistol that had to be confiscated (no gun replicas on site; we didn’t know it was real at first) and caused a hullabaloo with us and the safety team. He didn’t know it was real since he’d gotten it (and the POWDER HORN) from a friend who got it at a garage sale or something.

      1. Liza*

        Who takes a pistol to a renaissance festival, anyway? (I remember your volunteer thing from an earlier open thread.)

        1. Hlyssande*

          Well, it was the steampunk-themed weekend so I get it, but it was like NOBODY actually checked the website for weapon restrictions. MNRF is more of a fantasy faire. :P

    18. Hlyssande*

      Other worst actual job thing: At the quarterly webcast yesterday they announced that since oil prices are still dropping, more reductions are going to be made. =\

    19. Anna*

      Best: Applied for a job that is a step up in the field I want to stay in (rather than having to move focus to move up) and it comes with a pay rise.

      Worst: I didn’t follow the directions for the cover letter because I couldn’t bring myself to write a blow-by-blow cover letter outlining everything they could see in my resume and electronic application, so now I have a bit of paranoia.

      1. CMT*

        Is it for a government job? I work for state government, and to get past any kind of HR screening, you really do have to address all of their bullet points in your cover letter. It obviously makes for shitty writing, and not a normal cover letter, but HR and the hiring managers aren’t using them in the same way as other places do. When I applied for my current job, my cover letter was a little over a page and a half, and I think I actually used bullet points to address each of the qualifications they required.

    20. CV*

      Best: Settlement and Career fair that my Immigration Org had booths at was much better attended than expected (and I was on teevee! Doing my job!)
      Worst: six straight hours of resume critiques. Ow.

    21. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Worst: I have a cough that’s kept me on the verge of losing my voice all week. It’s painful to talk. I teach elementary school. :-/

      Best: Being back at school, in a world where children run up to me on the playground and hug me spontaneously. Also, I’ve had a few times this week where I taught something totally new and it went great – always an awesome feeling.

    22. CMT*

      Best: Wrote what I think is an awesome cover letter, thanks to all of the advice from this blog. (We’ll see if the powers that be think it’s as awesome as I do.)

      Worst: I didn’t really have anything I *had* to do at work this week, so I was pretty unmotivated and bored. I’m really going to work on not falling into that trap next week.

    23. Rye-Ann*

      Best: I had assumed that I was out of the running for a job, since training was supposed to start on the 13th and I hadn’t heard anything from them. However, I recalled a post on here saying that it’s fine to follow up a few weeks after the interview to inquire about their timeline. I did that, and they got back to me this morning saying that they’re still reviewing candidates and that they hoped to have a decision soon! TL;DR: Not as out-of-the-running for a job as I thought! :D

      Worst: There was even fewer positions to apply for this week than there have been in the past couple weeks. I unfortunately live in an area where my field isn’t all that big (though it does exist), so this wasn’t SUPER surprising. Still, I keep seeing things like “you should be sending out at least 10 applications a week” and that is just literally impossible for me unless I start applying for jobs outside my field and/or am overqualified for. Which I will probably start doing soon unless I get the job I interviewed for a few weeks ago. I am just dreading it, because a) I don’t know how to convince them to hire someone with a MS for jobs that only require a HS diploma, b) I don’t have any retail experience, so even though I’d be willing to do that I’m not convinced I could even get a job like that and c) everyone in my department at the school I’ve just graduated from expects me to have a super awesome career, and I don’t want to disappoint them. ;_; On top of that, I keep arguing with myself as to whether I should have just convinced my boyfriend to move to Boston (one of the best places in the country to go for my field). We both really want to live here though, and I’m not sure our savings would be sufficient to sustain us while we job-searched in Boston (higher cost of living).

    24. Daydreamer*

      Best: Working well with a colleague on various projects, and love to see how she’s blossoming in this role
      Worst: Feeling overlooked by my boss re meetings, opinions, etc. Fighting a cold.

    25. RidingNerdy*

      Best: My boss was absolutely A+++ awesome when I announced my pregnancy to him.

      Worst: The nausea and tiredness hit me like a Mack truck this week and impacted my performance at work.

    26. schnapps*

      Best: My kid started grade 1 and I didn’t cry. Also, she seems to like school now.

      Worst: Started back to work after 2 weeks off, report from hell to get out to the people who need it (we need to change this! no we don’t! oh yes, we need to change it but not in the way that we initially thought we had to change it! But Matlock has to weigh in! Matlock has to talk to Ferdinand! We’ll have the change yesterday! No, today!), two hour commute to get in – double my usual thanks to an accident on the highway, and no love from either of the jobs I applied for over the last couple of weeks (didn’t get an interview for one, didn’t make it to second round for the other).

    27. Elizabeth West*

      Best: Four-day week!

      Worst: It seemed like a six-day week. I didn’t catch a mistake and my boss did (augh), we had to sit through the longest most boring WebEx meeting imaginable yesterday–at which the sound wouldn’t work properly, and the weather has been wonky.

      But it’s Friday!

    28. Ruffingit*

      Best: Relatively easy day today so I’m able to do some catch up work.

      Worst: The environment still reeks like Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment.

    29. Angie*

      Best: had a patient call my boss to find out what office id be drawing blood at because im their favorite

      Worst: they must be handing out lists at the front desk today with my pet peeves and offering prizes to the patients who can manage to do more than 3 in the 3 minutes their with me. I cant tell you how many times ive been called a vampire or asked if id be drinking the blood, one person moved to get their phone out of their pocket while I had a needle in their arm, and THREE patients today have touched their arm to tell me where the vein was after I wiped it and uncapped the needle. Im so happy im out in an hour.

      1. Rebecca*

        Haha, you would love me! I stay perfectly still and try not to even think about the blood, let alone talk about it.

    30. BTW*

      Not so exciting over here.

      Best: Had a nice, relaxing week off! I’m a wedding coordinator so last week and long weekend was non-stop meetings, rehearsals and weddings.

      Worst: Didn’t make it to the next round of hiring for a job I really wanted.

    31. ThursdaysGeek*

      Good: I had an interesting dream about a work situation and in my dream decided it would be worth posting here on the open thread.

      Bad: I don’t remember what it was about.

      Better: You all are probably happy about that, because most dreams don’t make much sense when they are repeated in real life.

      Best? I’m now dreaming about AAM?

    32. GiGi*

      Best: My supervisor saying something about how far a problem would be “penetrating our backdoor” during a meeting when in fact she meant “our backyard.”

      No worst…pretty good week all in all.

    33. Carrie in Scotland*

      Worst: I’m not eligible for relocation like I thought I was…it is only for grade 6’s and above. I’m on a grade 4.
      Other worst: I’m still not entirely sure what I, or anyone else in my office actually does.

      Best: leaving work for the weekend.

    34. Aardvark*

      Best: Did some analysis, found out we’re doing great on something that was a huge pain point last time around (second best: added a new symbol to my note-taking system for tasks that have to be done at a certain time, makes getting everything done slightly easier)
      Worst: People keep doing odd things, and I get to clean up the fallout from those odd things on short notice and with tight deadlines.

    35. AW*

      Best: Finished latest projects & client seems happy.

      Worst: Now I have to find new work!

      Bonus: My husband got a new job and starts next week.

    36. aliascelli*

      best: our fall intern started! I don’t supervise the interns but I get to do a lot of their intro to the org and what we do, which is one of the most fun parts of my job.

      worst/funniest: was writing a recommendation letter last night and fell asleep mid-sentence. Woke up this morning still in the chair, still clutching my laptop. Every joint in my body is angry with me. oops.

    37. lfi*

      best: started a new job where everyone is SO thrilled that i’m here, which makes me feel good.

      worst: not sure there is one? aside from ants in our kitchen… :(

    38. CM*

      Worst: An emergency medical situation took me out of work for a week. I had the PTO to cover it… but this was the week I was planning on giving my one-month notice. Not the ”welcome back” conversation my supervisor is probably going to expect next week.

      Best: The week out of work, though unpleasant due to aforementioned medical reasons, gave me the distance and clarity I needed to think about the next step. So while the timing is unfortunate, any uncertainty I may have have before is now gone, thanks to a bit of perspective.

      Bonus Thoughts: It was so exciting to get the coveted ”real job” after graduation, but sometimes I sure do miss the simplicity of my barista days.

    39. Fish Microwaver*

      Best: attended an awesome PD day that lifted me out of the doldrums and has helped me reframe some things.

      Worst: have struggled all week with incipient flu and finally succumbed.

    40. asteramella*

      Best: started the ball rolling with my new side hustle (freelance editing).

      Worst: lost all confidence in the C-suite at my day job. Our busy season is winter and I will be seriously applying elsewhere by November.

    41. Anx*

      Job:
      Best: I’ve been so busy! I haven’t even had time to eat a snack or check my email some days. That may not sound like a good thing at first, but it does feel good to know my job actually needs me to be there. Plus, I find I can get into a good groove this way.

      Worst: We had Labor Day off. So I lost 25% of my pay for the week. Which not only stinks in a practical matter, but is even more frustrating because the higher-ups at work get a paid day off and don’t even seem to realize how frustrating a forced day off is if it means cutting back on groceries for the week.

      Volunteer:
      Best: I think I finally understand where a lot of my day-to-days tasks fit into the big picture. Also, every once in a while, I feel like I can actually do this work. At times I feel like I belong. For most of my life I’ve doubted my ability to do this work because I felt like I’d never have the stroke of genius I’d associated with it, but for the past two years I’ve noticed I had a lot of good ideas that I’d see published or explored a whiles after.

      Worst: I thought for sure I’d made a major blunder last weekend. I was afraid I made a mistake that would set us back a week or two and that could snowball into missed publications or patents and ruin my coworkers careers. It ended up being fine, but it’s obvious that I’m back to worst-case-scenario thinking and I am not ready to start making real mistakes. Oh boy.

    42. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: Had a faculty retreat at a very nice conference center in the middle of a botanical gardens. Got to take a walk downtown during the hour-and-a-half when we admins were not needed, and visited a museum.

      Worst: missing the Friday open thread!

    43. Dot Warner*

      Best: Got business cards at new job.

      Worst: One of the people who’s training me has subtly encouraged me to resign. I think I should, because it’s looking like either that or get fired. Now I wonder how to leave this job off my resume and still explain why I moved 2000 miles away…

    44. AgentScully*

      Best: 4 day work week

      Worst: After being promised pay increases for me and the staff I supervise, my boss suddenly refuses to speak to me about the increases. When I asked point blank what the status was (we’ve been waiting for 4 months) he told me that he hadn’t officially moved forward with them as “HR person hasn’t been in a good mood lately”. WHAT?!?!

  4. april ludgate*

    I share an office with my coworker, Ann. This is a private office, we don’t do any client-facing work and most of the time people treat it as such, they knock before entering, or pop their head in and ask if we can talk. Our office has an interior door that connects to Tom’s office, but his office has it’s own separate entrance as well, which most of our coworkers use. Lately, however, an employee from another department, Craig, has been frequently treating our office as a short cut to get to Tom’s office. He never knocks, just marches in and slams the door behind him, then he comes back through as soon as he and Tom are done talking. This is really annoying, as it interrupts our work, but neither of us are comfortable with confronting him since he does rank significantly higher than us, so we’re unsure what would be the best approach to stop this.

    1. Wanna-Alp*

      Does the door have a lock on it?

      Have you already asked him not to use your office as a shortcut? What did he say?

      1. april ludgate*

        The door does have a lock, and we considered just locking it, but we have enough people who come to see us for actual questions that it would be just as annoying to have to constantly let people in. Also, no one here locks their office doors unless they’re out, so it would definitely seem out of place if we started keeping our door locked.

        I’ve never said anything to him, but before I started Ann and the person previously in my position had talked to the department head because almost everyone, including Tom himself, was cutting through this office as a shortcut. The previous department head put a stop to it, but I don’t know if Craig has forgotten or is just rude.

              1. april ludgate*

                I’d love to do that, but unfortunately there are legitimate reasons that other people use the door, like our admin assistant brings the mail cart through that way.

                1. fposte*

                  Oh, then you’ve got an uphill battle, because it’s clear it’s a legitimate way to go. Really it’s your office design that’s at fault here.

                  What does your manager say about this? I might run it by her. Would you be okay if it the outcome was Craig remembering to knock and not slamming the door, even if he still used that entrance?

                2. Rex*

                  If there is some way to make it sort of inconvenient for Craig, like he has to walk around three tables and a potted plant to get to the door, while still not blocking it for the mail cart, that might be an approach?

        1. Charby*

          It might be worth trying that again (reaching out to the department head). Sometimes people really do forget and if no one is saying things to him he might think that it’s OK now that the department head has left. If the new person in that role reiterates that it might remind him and you wouldn’t have to confront Craig agian.

          1. april ludgate*

            That’s Ann’s thought. I know that on here people usually recommend talking to the offender directly before going above their head, but it was already addressed once by someone higher up than him and now he’s ignoring it.

            1. Charby*

              True, but my thinking is that Craig thinks that the rule was something that the old department head cared about (a pet peeve) and that since the old head is gone it no longer applies. If the new person reiterates it he might remember.

    2. Serin*

      I’d start by asking Tom to ask Craig not to do this.

      And then I’d rearrange the furniture so that the connecting door to Tom’s office is blocked by a credenza or something.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Or just a chair that they have to walk around…or, if you’re feeling particularly passive-aggressive, put the chair where they have to move it to open/walk through the door.

      2. april ludgate*

        I would ask Tom if I felt it would do any good, but the dynamics here are weird between our department and his right now and I really don’t think talking to him would help our case at all. But I would love to just block the door passive aggressively…

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I was thinking along similar lines. Do you have a task that involves spreading out a lot of papers or something? I’d borrow a table from somewhere and spread the work out, then plunk myself next to it. Hopefully, he would come barging in and I would be in his way. Of course, I would apologize for the road block and then point out- most people do not come this way so I thought it would be okay to set up right here. Depending on his reaction I might need my project table for weeks. Very P/A, I know, but it would be my last resort if nothing else worked.

        OTH, maybe you could ask the boss to have a pneumatic door closer installed on the door so it won’t slam anymore.

    3. TL -*

      Ideally, you should just mention it to him, politely but firmly, but you can try the below, too.

      When he walks in, you should smile and ask, “Hi, can I help you?” (or something along those lines.) (If you want to really firm, do it when he comes back out of Tom’s office too.)

      Do that every time and hopefully he’ll start realizing that you’re expecting that people who come in to have business with you.

      1. april ludgate*

        I like this idea! It’s definitely more productive than my initial instinct, which was to just follow him across the room with the stink eye each time.

        1. TL -*

          thanks! Just make sure you say it with a very friendly tone (you don’t want to be passive aggressive, you just want to make him think about what your expectations are when he comes into your office.)

      2. L*

        And if he says he’s just visiting Tom, you should be prepared to say (with a surprised face) “Oh! Most people just use the other door.” Then go back to working. Feign surprise/stupidity.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      Just ask him not to walk through your office, it doesn’t have to be (and in fact shouldn’t be) a confrontation. If you want to be polite then blame it on your own ability to concentrate when people are walk through the office.

      1. april ludgate*

        I agree that it probably wouldn’t be categorized as a “confrontation” I just couldn’t think of a better word. I just have pretty bad social anxiety (which I’m working on) and after the last time Ann complained about this, another employee told her to stop “bitching” about it, so I completely get why she’d rather just talk to someone else instead of approaching him directly.

        1. fposte*

          Do you mean the person Ann asked not to cut through the office asked her to stop bitching? Or was she complaining to a fellow co-worker? Because the latter is unpleasant but possibly understandable, and it has no bearing on what the person actually cutting through would do.

          1. april ludgate*

            Tom complained to another coworker (Donna) about Ann complaining to the dept head. Donna then told Ann that she shouldn’t have “bitched” to the dept head about it. (Which she did because Tom was the most frequent culprit of office-barging at that time and he has a history of treating women as being below him, despite the fact that he and Ann have the same rank)

              1. april ludgate*

                Yeah, she has a habit of getting into everyone’s business. It only took me about a week here before I pegged her as someone to never share anything personal with ever unless you’re cool with the entire office knowing.

            1. Not So Sunny*

              So basically, Donna made a negative gender statement against women by proclaiming that Ann’s complaint was “bitching.” Making Donna as bad as Tom. Nice.

    5. StillLAH*

      I’m sure Leslie has a color-coded binder that will have approximately 3,592 solutions. Check with her first. You could also install the remote controlled thing that closes Ron’s door and close yours when you see Craig coming.

      /unhelpful answer, but I couldn’t resist the Parks & Rec love!

    6. lowercase holly*

      is there something really wrong with tom’s regular entrance? i’m just having a hard time figuring out why people would want to go through two doors instead of one to get to his office.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Probably the OP’s door is closer to Craig’s own office than Tom’s regular door, so it saves him a few (perceived) steps in the hall.

      2. april ludgate*

        Because it takes a whole 10-20 seconds longer to walk to Tom’s actual door than to cut through our office.

    7. yahoo*

      Would it be rude to put up a sign that says “Do not use this door as a short cut” and have the original memo that stated that listed on that sign and have that sign on the door. If Craig comes in again, ask him to read the sign.

    8. Anonsie*

      Ohhh I kinda don’t want to go here but I’m doing it anyway: Do you think Craig maybe considers you and Ann to be assistants/support staff for Tom, so he’s acting like he’s walking through “reception” to Tom’s office?

      PS this is giving me a headache trying to picture because on the show, Tom sits right inside Leslie’s door and Craig is outside next to April and Ann has her own office so IT DOESN’T ADD UP *pulls hair*

      Sorry, I’m having a day.

    9. Rebecca*

      Haha, you could always pull a Joan Harris: “This is not a thoroughfare! Take the extra steps, you could use them.”

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I vote for creating a meme with Joan’s picture and this phrase and posting it where people can see it. Combine this humorous reminder with an actual reminder from the department head.

    10. TootsNYC*

      I’d start by asking Tom to sign off on the idea of you asking Craig, or whether he’d like to approach it himself.

      Because it sounds like you might need to get Tom on board, since he himself used to use this door.

    11. Jerry Vandesic*

      Peanut butter under the door knob. Vaseline is another option. Something that is gooey enough to stick. Extra points if it is difficult to get off your hands.

      Repeat as necessary.

  5. Wanna-Alp*

    Hellllp! I’d really appreciate some perspectives and possible responses on this.

    I’m the only woman on a team (programming & other techy stuff); generally my co-workers are ok to work with, albeit with a small but undercurrent of sexist microaggressions that I understand is a fairly typical experience for women working in tech.

    One of the team, B, sent out an email announcing that next week I get to lead an expedition to the nearest watering hole and officially become a [team name] drinker. We very rarely have a team social, and in recent years I have had committments elsewhere so haven’t attended any socials, and I think he was trying to encourage me to be social with the rest of the team.

    I really don’t like this email. I don’t like getting volunteered for things, and I’m very uncomfortable with the whole idea of socialising with the team in the first place, because I don’t feel 100% psychologically safe with them outside the structure of a work environment. In particular I’m not comfortable socialising with A, who has made it unpleasantly clear how irritating he finds my presence (B is probably unaware of this).

    1. Courtney B*

      I think it’s very inconsiderate they volunteered you for a social event without your permission. Especially for one that’s alcohol related. How do they know that the person they volunteered doesn’t abstain from alcohol for health or religious reasons?

      This really rubs me the wrong way. “Officially become a (team name) drinker”. Some people may be alcoholics in recovery and this just seems so disrespectful to those that may not drink for various reasons.

      1. INTP*

        Or for that matter, maybe the person just doesn’t drink and drive. I drink but never at work events because I don’t drink and drive, and I’m not paying for a taxi to work just so I can imbibe at happy hour. There are a million reasons why any person might not feel like drinking at any moment.

        At happy hour I can just say “No thanks, I’m so tired and need to stay alert for the drive home!” but with that sort of build up I’d feel very awkward showing up and not drinking.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I was just going to say this–if you do drive, then you can’t drink unless you get a cab, and then you have to leave your car and then go get it the next day, which is massively inconvenient.

      2. Honeybee*

        They don’t, but they probably don’t care. A lot of these tech teams made up primarily of young men have a very bro-y culture and they expect conformity. (Of course, not all of them are like that…but that would explain the insensitivity of it given Wanna-Alp’s comment.)

    2. UKAnon*

      I really don’t know what to say, other than yeek, I really wouldn’t like it either. Any chance you could move onto pastures better soon?

      Probably I would be tempted to come up with the most outlandish thing I thought I could get away with for why I couldn’t be there, I’m being abducted by aliens that evening, sorry, but it would be far better to say firmly that you don’t think it’s an appropriate social and won’t be attending, if you’re sure that won’t harm your credibility with the team. Unfortunately, it sounds from your post that it will, so I think you either have to put up with going or with taking the flak, which sucks.

    3. fposte*

      Can you clarify what you want to have happen? Are you trying to get out of the watering hole thing entirely or trying to negotiate it? Or is part of your question just figuring out what you might want?

      I’m not a drinker myself, but this sounds like an office where the social stuff matters, and it seems like B was reaching out to include you. In your position I think I would go and reconceptualize the “leadership” concept so the social stuff wasn’t all on me. (I’d also feel free to drink non-alcoholically, because that’s my general habit anyway.) And I’d probably drop in on every fourth social or so, even if I just was there for a short time before I bailed early, if the socials are important to the team.

      There is of course the other option of choosing not to take part; you could say “Thanks, B., but I’m actually out of town that evening–I officially nominate you to deputize for me.” I wouldn’t spend a lot of angst over the “voluntold” thing.

      1. Wanna-Alp*

        Part of it is figuring out what I want, and what might be possible.

        I prefer to keep levels of discomfort to a minimum all-round, both me and the rest of the team. (If someone else is uncomfortable, then I’m uncomfortable, especially if I have something to do with it, even if it wasn’t my fault.) At the moment I don’t know whether it’s going to be more uncomfortable to go, or not go. It might also be possible to clue B in a bit so he doesn’t make a habit of this. I’m sure he means well.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, there are a lot of parts here. Would socializing help me with the team? Is this the time? Is this the way? Can I socialize without making it look like I always do what B. says?

          FWIW, I was definitely picturing the kind of affable male-bonding thing where a guy who can’t go can just say say. Doesn’t mean people wouldn’t make good-natured jeering noises, but I read it more as a gesture of inclusion than a command of performance.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I love this answer. Or OP, shape it into the social YOU want. Choose a place that serves pizza and no alcohol. Or chose a family-type place that does serve alcohol and reserve a table for a limited amount of time. “We have a table at X, for 1.5 hours.” Start time can also help to control the event.

        I am not a drinker, so this social would not do a lot for me. I could stay for an hour and then be done with it.

        Putting your own spin on it, would be something to consider. I could also feel comfortable saying, “I am not much of a drinker, so I have no idea where people would want to go. As far as being lead group drinker, I can tell you right now, I will be a massive fail. It’s not my thing.”

        I am kind of frosted by the whole assumption that everyone drinks. And of the people who do drink some do not place much priority on it at all.

    4. Bend & Snap*

      Yuck. He should have talked to you about this first.

      I think you should take control of that email ASAP. Either turn it into a joke (I do my drinking at home!) or just deflect it from a scheduling perspective.

    5. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Yeah, this sounds pretty uncomfortable. Is there anyone on your team (B, even, assuming the social voluntolding was well-intentioned) that you can confide in/enlist as a wingman? Having someone in your corner who understands your discomfort might help make the event a little less awkward and can be a good buffer against others.

      …or, there’s always “Sorry, I have plans.”

    6. Ad Astra*

      Oh, I can totally see how this would bother you, though I bet B was trying to be fun and inclusive rather than demanding and presumptuous, which is how it comes off.

      If you want to be direct, you could tell B “I’d rather keep my work life and personal life separate, so I’m not going to be able to make it.” Or “I don’t like drinking with coworkers, so I’m gonna have to step out of this one.”

      If you’re not comfortable being direct, it’s totally ok to say you have other plans. It doesn’t matter that those other plans might be going home and watching TV.

      It’s hard to say without knowing the details, but the situation with A might be something you should bring up with HR. Lots of people prefer not to drink with coworkers, but not feeling psychologically safe around coworkers sounds pretty serious to me.

      1. Wanna-Alp*

        Yes I think you’re right, he was trying to be fun and inclusive. I appreciate his positive intentions.

        The situation with A was already brought up with HR (6 months ago), and HR were brilliant about the whole thing. That leaves A and I in a civil but minimal post-HR phase now. The psychologically unsafe thing is more about a culture clash (mine vs male-dominated tech) and a gut feeling rather than anything concrete.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If you do end up going, I’d just not drink. Especially if you have a gut feeling about not feeling safe. Because alcohol rarely makes anyone act better than they normally do.

    7. LCL*

      You are going to have to do some minimal team socialization, sooner or later. But it gets to be on your terms, B can’t command you go anywhere. I would first speak to B and tell him thanks but no thanks, I’m not going. Then I would tell the people on your team that I will be at the local coffee shop on a Friday, and would treat them to a cuppa if they will stop by. This gets socializing done, on mostly your terms, in a safe setting where alcohol isn’t the focus.

      Don’t talk about microaggresions, or how much of a jerk A is, or that you feel unsafe. You have every right to think what you want and make your best decisions for yourself, and YOU DON”T HAVE TO EXPLAIN YOUR REASONS TO ANYONE. (There is a time and place for the microaggresions discussion…)

      Your instincts are sound, to not drink with these guys. It sounds like you are still finding your way working with them. If you go out with them and put on beer goggles that usually ends badly, and usually only for the woman.

    8. Mr. Mike*

      Regardless of how you might feel about gender issues, this is indicative of typical male bonding behavior and they are inviting you to participate in it even though they may not be aware of the discomfort. While you are under no obligation to participate, your rejection of this activity may lead to distrust among the rest of the team as they will likely feel rejected (we men can be dumb like that) and there may be a more definitive wall between you afterward.

      On the other hand, you should prioritize your safety above their ritual. If you feel like this may be something that is not on the level, don’t do it. If you decide to participate, there is nothing to say that you can’t just get a sipping drink and then exit gracefully. However, the way you phrased it sounds like this is just their clumsy attempt at being inclusive.

      1. Wanna-Alp*

        Yes yes exactly! Your words express very nicely what I couldn’t: “this is indicative of typical male bonding behavior and they are inviting you to participate in it even though they may not be aware of the discomfort. While you are under no obligation to participate, your rejection of this activity may lead to distrust among the rest of the team as they will likely feel rejected”

        Exactly. I think B is trying to do bonding behavior because we are not very well bonded as a team (C said, to an earlier suggestion, that “Tuesday would be a good day to have it. I’m not in the office on Tuesdays.”).

        To a certain extent, it is damned if I do, damned if I don’t, although there are several others in the team who have walls up too. Our default seems to be to have a lot of walls up!

        1. fposte*

          I think you can control the damnation level some either way, though. You can go and stay cheery and distant from A.; you can decline the invitation but do so in a broad and friendly way that reserves a future opportunity; etc.

        2. Mr. Mike*

          Glad I could help. Is this an established ritual? From your post it suggests that it already is, but, if not, you could have an opportunity to establish one that can be passed on to the next person by you in a way that would model the better behavior. For instance, you can set the venue up then, instead of simply passing it to the next person (like was done to you), you can ask for volunteers for the next outing. However, if this is already an established behavior, it will be difficult to change.

        3. Anonsie*

          I’m gonna give C some props for the finesse of that burn.

          So I’m not sure if you think you can duck out of this gracefully or not, but if not, I would suggest a pub or somewhere else with decent food. The beauty of this is that most people will probably eat and not talk. The downside is it’s harder to bail out on short notice… Bring cash I guess >_>

          Alternately, make it somewhere loud with no seating where the grumpier ones will hopefully just slip away when they get sick of it.

      2. Honeybee*

        I was coming in to say the same thing. Particularly if you already feel like an outsider, attending this particular social outing might be kind of important for bringing you more into the fold. B was probably trying to be helpful and inclusive in an awkward way, and who knows – A might be irritated by your presence because of (unfounded) assumptions about you not fitting in, which might be remedied if you go out with them.

        I agree with trying to go and maybe leaving a bit early. I’d order water or Coke with a lime on the side so it looks like a drink (it often cuts down on the badgering about not drinking AND the badgering about “nursing”).

      3. Alma*

        (After my 20’s) I learned it was unwise for me to drink alcoholic beverages at any work related event. I will order tonic and lime, cranberry and seltzer with lime, etc and not hesitate to be truthful if asked: I don’t drink at work events – or – I don’t drink and drive – or – this is exactly what I want, something refreshing.

      4. Anonsie*

        this is indicative of typical male bonding behavior

        Who says getting sloppy isn’t female bonding behavior too, eh? I’m a pretty big fan of the slops.

    9. Coax or trick or drive or drag the demons from you*

      … my co-workers are ok to work with, albeit with a small but undercurrent of sexist microaggressions that I understand is a fairly typical experience for women working in tech.

      I’m sorry, but I do not believe that that is typical at all, at least not on a gender basis. Given the ego on the average tech guy, those “microaggressions” are targeted at everyone, regardless of gender.

      Regarding the invite: if you don’t want to go, then don’t go. You might optionally advise B that he should ask you first before assuming you’ll be free to “lead” such an expedition. But try to be nice about it, as it sounds like B may have thought he was being nice – you may disagree, but it sounds like he (and perhaps others) wanted you to know that they felt you were part of the team. Ref the musical Oliver.

      All in all, given your apparent feelings about your co-workers, I wonder why you continue to work with these people.

        1. Anna*

          She’s just being overly emotional, doncha know.

          Yeah, I’m going to go with the OP probably knows better what is actually happening since a) she’s experiencing it and b) this person is not.

        2. A Minion*

          What if she’s not experiencing sexism? While every claim of sexism, racism, bigotry, etc. should be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly, not every claim is valid. Issuing a blanket prohibition such as yours means that we should jump straight from accusation to punishment because if a woman alleges sexism, it must be true. Remember the post just recently about how incompetent people often have an overblown view of their own competence? Maybe an incompetent person can’t figure out why she’s not being promoted and comes to the conclusion that it must be sexism. Would it still be inappropriate to tell her she’s not experiencing sexism?
          Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying – I’m not making any statements about the OP here. I just take issue with the assertion that it’s “not appropriate” to question a woman’s accusation of sexism. It’s not appropriate to dismiss a person’s claims out of hand without investigation, but to suggest that something other than sexism may be going on here is not inappropriate at all. It’s just a different point of view to consider.

          1. Honeybee*

            First of all, sexism and microaggressions against women in primarily male workplaces (particularly in tech) has been well-documented.

            Secondly, women (and other minorities) have a long of history of people “helpfully suggesting” a “different point of view to consider” – aka that what they’re experiencing is not really sexism, but something else. It’s one of the ways in which sexism is subtly perpetuated: many people suggest or insist that it’s something else, and it does not get addressed.

            Thirdly, there’s a lot of research showing that perceived discrimination (whether or not it’s actually happen) is still really important for the perceiver. If you think you’re being discriminated against (and often with good reason), you’re still going to react in ways that impact how people view you, and you’re still going to be stressed out and hypervigilant about it (again, often with good reason).

            And fourth, I think the general consensus here is to accept LWs’ and commenters’ interpretation of events unless there’s something that indicates otherwise. She’s in the situation; we are not. Telling a coworker or employee whose work you see every day that her lack of promotion is not based upon sexism is completely different from telling a commenter on the Internet, that we don’t know and haven’t observed working, that maybe she’s not seeing sexism. Maybe it’s not sexism, but there’s nothing implausible about it being sexism, and suggesting that it’s not sexist microaggressions doesn’t really help either.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I think that last paragraph is key for our context. We’re not in a position where we have to do investigations and determine the truth. The OP isn’t asking for help in determining whether the sexism she perceives is in fact sexism and is problematic. She’s asking about a problem where sexism is a component. It’s okay for us to take her at her word about that.

              Sure, it’s possible that she’s reading it wrong and there is no sexism, but (a) we have no way of knowing that either way, (b) it’s highly likely that she’s right, given what’s known about the prevalence of this stuff, particularly in her particular industry (where it’s been extraordinarily well documented), and (c) the crappiness of telling her she’s wrong if in fact she’s right is much more than any potential damage caused by of giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming she’s right.

            2. A Minion*

              Maybe you didn’t read the part where I said very plainly that I wasn’t making a statement about the OP at all? My issue was with the commenter’s statement, not the OP. If the OP feels that she is experiencing sexism, I have nothing to go on other than her word and, like everyone else, I accept what she’s saying at face value.
              I also didn’t say, suggest or imply that sexism doesn’t exist or that it hasn’t been “well documented”.
              I took issue with the blanket statement that it’s “not appropriate to tell a woman she isn’t experiencing sexism.” There are contexts where you might tell a woman that and it would be entirely appropriate.

              So, let me just say this again in an entirely separate section here so it’s easy to read and interpret:

              I am NOT saying anything negative about the OP. I am NOT saying sexism doesn’t exist or that OP didn’t experience it NOR am I agreeing with the person who suggested it may not be sexism. I am taking issue with a specific statement that issues a blanket ban.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t think that statement (“It’s really not appropriate to tell a woman that she’s not experiencing sexism”) was a blanket statement on every possible situation — just in our context here.

                If I’m wrong, then I agree with you that that’s impractical; there are times when you do indeed have to say (for example), “The reason you didn’t get the promotion wasn’t because of sexism; it’s because you continually miss deadlines and lose client accounts.”

                1. asteramella*

                  Yes, sorry. I was typing on my phone and could have worded my comment better.

                  IMO the urge to answer “how can I deal with this problem that is complicated by sexism?” with “It’s not sexism, stop looking for microaggressions” is itself a microaggression.

              2. Honeybee*

                No, I didn’t miss that. I was actually responding to your comment.

                I meant my comment exactly the way that Alison interpreted it – referring to our context here, on a semi-anonymous Internet blog. Of course there might be a few situations in which it is appropriate to tell a woman that she’s seeing sexism where it doesn’t exist, but that’s hardly relevant here.

            3. A Minion*

              I went back and read my reply again and even though I did specify that I wasn’t talking about the OP, I see that it could look like I was referencing her when I said “What if she’s not experiencing sexism?” when I was referencing “a woman” in a general sense, not the OP.
              So, when I went on to talk about an incompetent woman, I wasn’t implying the OP is incompetent either.
              I do get sexism. I don’t know that I’ve experienced it. If I have, I’ve just been completely oblivious to it and dismissed it. In my professional life, that is.

              In my personal life, I definitely get it. I understood from a very young age that women can’t do certain things that men do because they’re not as strong, can’t handle it, aren’t capable of it, etc. That’s how I was raised and it impacted me quite a bit. I have 4 older brothers that I love and adore and I grew up in their shadows wanting to do everything they did, but I was constantly told I couldn’t do those things because they weren’t ladylike. Girls play with dolls, not trucks. Girls don’t climb trees and play baseball. Girls wear skirts, not pants or shorts. So, yeah – I get it. I would never, ever dismiss a woman’s claim of sexism out of hand, but I don’t believe in blanket generalities either.
              So, the issue is with the blanket statement, not the OP. And I apologize to the OP. I hope you didn’t take it that I was dismissive of your claims, but if you did, I am very sorry.

            4. Coax or trick or drive or drag the demons from you*

              Actually, I was suggesting that she might be experiencing something like this:

              https://modelviewculture.com/pieces/stop-acting-so-surprised-how-microaggressions-enforce-stereotypes-in-tech

              Perhaps I’ve led a sheltered life, but any discriminatory attitudes I’ve witnessed in the hard-core tech field have been based on “how good are you as a developer” – gender or race or religion never comes into the picture. (Admittedly there’s been this “Gamergate” stuff of late which I totally do not understand).

              Some people are saying that microaggression against women in tech is “well-documented” – I’d appreciate some actual cites that back this up – my own efforts turned up little (except that the very notion of “microaggression” is not universally accepted). Frankly, a lot of this “microaggression” stuff seems to be almost an innate artifact of the language (would it help if we all switched to Esperanto?). So if there is any serious evidence that gender microaggression is more common in the tech field than it is elsewhere – I would be very interested in reading about it.

              1. Elsajeni*

                But that article is about sexist, racist, and classist microaggressions in the tech world. It’s oddly non-explicit about it — lots of talking about people who “don’t fit the stereotype,” little discussion of what “the stereotype” is — but it does get there, like in this paragraph:

                There have been many candidates who failed to get that one high-ranking job, promotion, or investment on the basis of an uninformed gut feeling that usually sounds like, “I just can’t imagine this person becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.” Oftentimes, what’s truly difficult to imagine is the possibility that the next Mark Zuckerberg might be a person of color, or a woman, or anyone else who doesn’t fit the stereotype.

              2. Anonsie*

                gender or race or religion never comes into the picture

                Haha. Really? You sure about that?

                There is just a bountiful harvest of peer-reviewed research, publicly accessible reviews of said research, news and other articles discussing said research, and people’s responses to all of these above all out there already for you to harvest. If you want to argue about it, look them up and come up with a rebuttal yourself. It’s your responsibility to do your own research to back up your claims if you’re going to come in here and start arguing against a point that’s been made, alright? You can’t stroll in, make an assertion with no citations, and then insist everyone else bring offerings of journal articles to the alter of your disbelief.

              3. Honeybee*

                I do really suggest you do some reading on Gamergate, because that’s a pretty perfect example of gender bias in the industry. (Although that wasn’t so much microaggressions as overt, outright aggression).

                As for micro aggressions and discrimination against women in the tech industry, I’m going to avoid links, but I will post titles of scientific articles on it:

                “Voices of successful women advanced technological education graduates : counter narratives”.
                “Microagressions in Male-dominated Career and Technical Education Classrooms” – the research found that females experience non-verbal microaggressions, isolation, and differing teaching methods
                “Microaggressions” in engineering education: Climate for Asian, Latina and White women” – Microaggressions occur at multiple levels: at the institutional level, at the interpersonal level, and as jokes or humor that subtly deride women’s place in engineering.
                “Perceived Gender and Racial/Ethnic Barriers to STEM Success” – analysis of interviews showed themes of microaggressions, responses to microaggressions, and gender- and race-based support.

                There are more, and those are just the scientific articles about it. There are a lot of recent news articles and thought pieces about it, too. There is a reason that large technology companies are beginning to offer trainings on this topic and turning more attention to it. My own large technology company requires all employees to do a (really excellent, actually!) training on unconscious bias.

                Microaggressions are not innate artifacts of English language. Many microaggressions come from nonverbal communication anyway, but it’s totally possible to avoid them even if you speak English (or any language). There’s a really excellent book on them called Microaggressions in Everyday Life by Derald Wing Sue (one of the earliest researchers in the field, but the book is pretty accessible) if you are interested.

          2. Student*

            Specifically, it is not appropriate to question a woman’s assertion of sexism when you have no basis to do so. There is no information that one can make a judgement on, in this case – no facts of the matter whatsoever to discuss or consider.

            It makes you look defensive against and dismissive towards claims of sexism – i.e., sexist yourself.

            Would you do the same if it were a man who said simply, that his team mates were disrespectful of him? Would you say, “Well, maybe they aren’t disrespectful toward you.” Sure, it’s possible that they aren’t being disrespectful at all and anyone else would consider them normal; but you have no basis to contradict the assertion whatsoever, and it’s pretty dismissive of the person seeking help with an issue.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Euuw. That first bit was seriously, legitimately gross and uncalled for. As was the last bit. I have to wonder why you’re being so aggressive and confrontational.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Uh, “sexist microaggresions” doesn’t usually refer to “microaggressions when directed at a woman” but to microaggressions that are *specifically based on female gender and/or sexist tropes about same*.

        I say this as a woman blessed to work in places where, mostly, this didn’t happen – and I am also in tech, just fortunate – but they absolutely do happen sometimes and they *are* pretty clearly based on gender then.

        Remember, we tend to assume the OP’s information is accurate when incomplete here, too. :)

      3. Wanna-Alp*

        With regards to your first paragraph, discounting the lived experiences of women is itself a gender-related microaggression. Your own words are not exactly strengthening your case.

        Bazinga.

      4. Oryx*

        I….don’t even know how to respond to that first part. Are you seriously telling the OP she doesn’t know when she’s experiencing sexism?

      5. Ad Astra*

        I’m… not sure you understand what people mean when they’re talking about sexist microaggressions. It’s not that she’s getting the same ego-driven BS that everyone in the office is getting and it’s somehow sexist when it’s directed at her. It’s that the BS behaviors themselves are inherently sexist in nature, no matter where they’re directed.

      6. F. (another Frances)*

        I’m new to this whole concept of “microaggressions”, but if you believe you are going to be uncomfortable because you are constantly on the lookout for remarks that you perceive as sexist, then I am sure you will find them, and it would be best to politely bow out. (yes, I am female.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m confused about the “constantly on the lookout for sexist remarks” thing here. I’m sure you didn’t mean to be dismissive, but it sounds like you’re skeptical that there’s actual sexism being directed at her and more like she’s going out of her way to spot it? But this problem is really well-documented in tech (and other industries).

          1. F.*

            This is a general comment and is in no way about or directed to the op or anyone else here in particular.
            I work in the construction and civil engineering industry. I work at a company with 9 women and 32 men. I am paid a fair wage for my work, as are the other women in my company. I am treated with respect, and I give respect to my coworkers.
            I find it very sad that some people must always be offended and a victim. I could be perpetually offended if I chose to be. I choose not to be.
            I can see that I am not welcome here with my non-politically correct opinions, so I will no longer visit this blog. I wish all of you well.

            1. Marcela*

              It is truly a pity you didn’t have that early mathematical lesson about how from “I see a brown horse in a field” you can’t conclude “all horses are brown”, being in an engineering industry. If you have been lucky and never seen or suffer any sexism, that is truly fantastic. I’ve been very lucky too and the only sexism I had to suffer came from my professors in the university. But that doesn’t mean I can conclude from my experience that there is no sexism or people choose to be a victim or be offended. It’s truly sad you can’t see that.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              No one was attacking your opinion, but if you want to take it that way…..sounds like you’re suddenly offended. :P

              Maybe your workplace isn’t like that. If so, that’s fantastic. But just because you’ve never experienced something doesn’t mean it never happens. I’ve never been shot at, but I know people have that experience.

            3. lay your head down child, I won't let the boogeyman come*

              F., I wish you’d stay. If only because I could use some company. *grin*

              There really does seem to be a contingent of people on AAM who are quick to jump on anything that can be remotely taken as ‘sexism’. And then a week later they’ll join in the merriment talking about “man-buns”. *shrug* I mostly ignore it. But it does get old sometimes.

              > I find it very sad that some people must always be offended and a victim.

              I concur. And it is indeed sad.

              1. F.*

                “There really does seem to be a contingent of people on AAM who are quick to jump on anything that can be remotely taken as ‘sexism’. ” I have noticed this, too. But is it only ‘sexism’ if it is perceived as being against females. Numerous comments are made about males or older people, and they are blown off or even justified. I am encouraged to see that there are others here who find this narrow outlook disconcerting.
                I think it would help lend a little more rounded perspective to this forum in general if ALL opinions were welcomed without being put under a neo-feminist, liberal microscope. Otherwise, this forum will become just a another group of like-minded people agreeing with each other.
                I have reconsidered my decision to no longer read this blog. If anything, it gives me a perspective on what some women in the workplace are feeling, especially younger women. I also have learned useful things here (relational vs. results-oriented workers, for example) that are helping me understand life. So, yes, I’ll keep you company!

        2. Honeybee*

          I really, really don’t understand this sentiment.

          Generally, people do not like to feel uncomfortable. They don’t like to feel stigmatized, or offended, or like an outsider. Generally, people like to feel included and respected.

          So why would a reasonable person go looking for offensive remarks? Why would a person deliberately try to transform a remark that is innocuous into an offensive one, so that they can feel stressed out and worry and not feel like a full part of the team? Would people consider that folks facing this kind of trouble are not making something up, but are actually facing something real?

      7. Honeybee*

        Because people need money and jobs are difficult to find? Maybe she really likes her work and her coworkers just irritate her. She wouldn’t be the first person in the world in that situation.

        And gender-based microaggressions and sexism in predominantly male workplaces have been well-documented. That’s not saying that what Wanna-Alp is facing is definitely that, but it’s certainly “typical,” and not implausible.

      8. Artemesia*

        She probably ‘continues to work with these people’ (not after all afternoon tea we are talking about ) because it is her livelihood and tech environments are pretty much like this for women such that jumping to another job in this field is likely to bring a new collection of misogynist douche bags.

        1. F.*

          ‘misogynist douche bags’. Ah yes, I do believe that is a SEXIST remark against men. No double standard here!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            “Misogynist” isn’t a sexist remark; it’s a description of biased attitudes. “Douche bags” isn’t unreasonable when talking about someone who is misogynist, racist, etc.

            1. F.*

              A ‘douche bag’ originally was a bag to hold fluid used to clean a woman’s vaginal area, especially after menstruation. How this has become an appropriate term to use to describe a person is beyond my understanding. Women should find this abuse of the term especially insulting.

        2. Wanna-Alp*

          Bingo.

          I could see the sexism even at the interview stage for this job, but I had no reason to suppose that it would be any less sexist anywhere else.

    10. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … I might just do it, but not drink.

      But this is annoying. I am un an usual state (for me) that many of my evenings are spoken for by recurring events some of which I feel obligated to attend because I am needed there. If this conflicted with something, I’d feel perfectly fine to say that I couldn’t lead that night because of X, but you may end up leading another night.

      I guess, really, you need to decide if you want to do this or not. If you do go, can you go for only an hour and not drink and not cause negative ripples?

      Also it is totally fair to ask the guy not to do it again in the future, but still go along with this instance after being called out simply to avoid the “not a team player” label. That sucks, but if you think that’s an outcome you probably do want to avoid it.

    11. Viktoria*

      Was it a group e-mail to the whole team? I think my response would be to Reply All and say politely but firmly, “Actually, I can’t make it that night. Sorry for any misunderstanding, have fun!”

      1. Wanna-Alp*

        Yes it was a group email to the whole team, but he’s trying to avoid a “can’t make it that night” response by trying to get me to organise it.

        1. Chriama*

          I think the best option is to make a limited attempt and set your boundaries up ahead of time. Are there a few coworkers you could stand talking to for a limited amount of time? Can you prepare a few ‘safe’ conversation topics ahead of time (e.g. look up the plot to a new movie on wikipedia)? If you announce a casual “sounds fun, let’s all head to [local bar] after work on Friday, I can stay for an hour”, that might be enough. The hour would be excruciating but you can leave right afterwards, and you don’t need to take responsibility for planning the next event.

          If you really don’t want to go at all, I think replying to the email with “I’m super busy with [plans] for the next little while so I’m going to have to leave this one to you. Have a drink in my memory!” is a good way to casually refuse, but I don’t know if that will be better or worse (or neutral) for your relationships with these coworkers.

        2. AW*

          I’d just go with, “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible.”. You don’t have to say ‘why’ it’s not possible, just let them know you can’t do it.

          Any time you get a variation on, “Why not?” just say, “It just isn’t.”

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Or explain that you have regular commitments outside work that really prevent you from taking part. Lots of people have caregiver responsibilities, a second job, freelance gigs, or demanding community activities.

    12. Calacademic*

      Are you absolutely certain that this was mean literally? I’m one of two women in our group and have similar kinds of dynamics. One of the graduate students sent a note out to the list that I was going to be leading Journal Club on such and such paper later in the day (I was talking to him about it at the time) but it wasn’t real. (I think the graduate student actually would have liked to talk about the paper, but no one else did.) Is it possible that B has good intentions and just executed really really poorly like my poor graduate student?

    13. LadyMountaineer*

      Heya fellow techie! That sounds pretty gross and I’m sorry that you are experiencing this. Have you been to a Women Who Code or other type of tech meetup? It might help to get some perspective and see how other women have handled this type of day-to-day situation. Personally I used to keep an excel spreadsheet when I worked on a team like this and I counted the number of positive interactions with my teammates and my number of negative ones and it helped me get some perspective on how much weight I assigned the negative to the positive. It helped me get my wits about me why learning how to navigate sticky situations.

      So, back to drinkingfest. I know this probably sounds terrible to you right now but you really should go. Having control over where you go is actually a GOOD THING. I know being voluntold sucks but on our last quarter someone chose a tequila bar and it was a hot mess so on the next outing I chose a local microbrewery that also has a daily flavored sparking water. So, I could drink one ‘real’ beer and a sparking water. After about 20 minutes say “this was a fun event to host so who does it rotate to next time?” I do this all of the time with gender stereotypical tasks “oh yeah I’m taking notes this time so who does it rotate to next?” I would commit to four after work events a year and take a deep breath and go.

      Are there other women at your company that you could form a “women in tech group” with to go out to lunch or after work? They might have some insights or coping skills.

      The next time they say something gendered just say “wow” or “that seems like a weird expectation that you have of just women” or something that discourages the behavior. If you’re having trouble being heard try revisiting the topic later one-on-one. There are times when it’s appropriate to escalate beyond that and AAM has some really good strategies.

      Good luck! Let us know if it goes or how it goes.

      1. Wanna-Alp*

        I am hoping to go to a tech women’s meet-up at some point. I have a few fingers in pies although they haven’t come to much yet.

        But I have been put off other local tech meet-ups: A has a habit of attending them.

        1. LadyMountaineer*

          Once you’re comfortable and know the meetup community in your area it will get easier to avoid A.

        2. Nashira*

          Sometimes it’s possible to drive the As away, but it does take a lot of effort *and* group support. Finding your own places to go sounds like a great idea to me. He gets to keep “his” groups and you have a good time with people you enjoy!

    14. AnonAcademic*

      I am female and in a fairly technical research role that tends to be male dominated, in a field with a big drinking culture. I agree with others that this is a clunky attempt by B to include you in the culture, and if it were me I would go. BUT, I would pick a place where you feel comfortable (say, a wine bar instead of a Coyote Ugly style dive or something). If you have any coworkers you do have a good rapport with, bring them along as allies. Even better if they have feminist sympathies and you can warn them you’re worried A will say something off-color or whathaveyou so you can tag-team the situation (changing the subject, excusing yourself to get another drink, etc.). I would try to steer the conversation to neutral bonding topics- where did everyone grow up, how did they know they wanted to work in XYZ field, etc. And I’d stay more sober than A for sure, and be prepared to excuse yourself early. I’d stay at least an hour but not be the last one there.

      Good luck!

    15. lawsuited*

      I wish I had a better solution that this, but I’d recommend going to for one drink and arranging for a friend to meet you at the watering hole because you have “plans” for the rest of the evening. The only good thing about being voluntold is that that you can say “gosh, I wish you’d said something to me first because I’m actually already seeing my friend in a play that night!”

    16. LD*

      Lots of good advice here about participating on your own terms. If your concern is about maintaining cordial relationships, my recommendation follows what others have already said….go and drink non-alcoholic drinks. If anyone complains, you can always say you aren’t comfortable driving after drinking alcohol. If they jeer, then so be it…just agree “Yes, it may be lame but it’s safe,” or “Yes, I’m a real light weight when it comes to drinking.” Or some other agreeable remark. Think about what you’d be comfortable saying if there is some good-natured teasing. Maybe you can plan to meet a friend nearby or have some other plans that would require you to leave after an hour? And when you do leave, be sure to be friendly and say bye to the people who are still there. And it might even be good to say “thanks.” Again, if it’s your intention to develop good relationships with your coworkers, saying something along the lines of “Thanks for setting this up.” or “Thanks for including me…” might be helpful. “B” may feel like this is an attempt to help you acclimate to the team. Refusing may come off as you not wanting to be a part of the team. It is absolutely your call, and again, it’s what you feel comfortable with. Just think about the tone you want to set with your team. If you participate and are friendly at least once, that might go a long way to helping you get support from some of the more reasonable teammates. If you feel like you can trust one or more of the team, share that you don’t want to make it a big deal (unless it is a BIG DEAL) but you want to get along and work well with everyone, but that “A” has made some comments that made you think he’s unhappy with you being there. Explain that you don’t want them to approach “A” but that if “A” is rude or inappropriate, perhaps they could be available as helpful barriers.
      Good luck and I’d be interested in hearing how things go after the event, whether you participate or not and how the team treats you. I wish you success in whatever strategy you choose.

    17. blackcat*

      I am in a graduate program. I am the only woman in my cohort. I am one of only three women in the department, and the other two are in a different subfield which has more women. This means that 80% of the time, I am the only woman in the room. This is a field where drinking is A Thing. It was A Thing in my undergrad department. It is A Thing at certain conferences. It is A Thing in my current grad program. The departmental fridge always has beer. My main strategy for navigating these waters is to find a good ally: an ally to whom I can complain about being the only woman. And I only ever drink if that ally is with the group. I have found that this uniformly makes me feel safer in these settings, though I will admit that I have been very lucky that there has almost always been one good dude who I could peg early on as a solid ally. (And one of these good dudes now blogs about being a feminist ally in tech, readily admitting his mistakes and looking for ways to improve. He is a Good Dude.)

      My secondary strategy may or may not be available to you or something you are comfortable with: I invite my husband along when possible. This works because he is in a related field and he is a dude, so he automatically fits into the “dude” dynamic inherent in these social gatherings. Having him there helps, and he is now friends with many of the men in my program because of this. It is also easy to say “We have to go now” when that can be said by a second person. I could see this adding an icky layer of woman being protected by her husband, but it does not feel particularly icky to me. It at least makes me feel less icky than the two really, really icky dudes who I sometimes have to socialize with. I also think I am more comfortable with this dynamic because I am a rock star in my current department.

      Good luck. I know this is hard. I know that even many dudes who mean well end up being part of the problem. Finding a thoughtful dude who is willing to do the hard work to become less a part of the problem is the best strategy. I know that might not always be an option. You have my sympathy.

  6. aNoN*

    Seeking advice regarding government hiring:

    I currently work in the private sector and am looking to obtain a position with a government agency that surprisingly seems to have a lot of opportunities in my field. This is a specialized agency and the application only allows you to have three days to finish it from the time you start. I have not yet applied in order to give myself enough time to gather the application materials.
    I recently got put in touch with a recruiter from this agency who reached out in case I had any questions. I sent some basic questions such as elaborating on the position description, duties, tasks, etc as the role description was vague. I also wanted to know more about the work culture. However, I have not heard back from the recruiter for about 3 days and think I will just go ahead and apply this weekend regardless of whether or not they get back to me. I see this organization has a women in leadership initiative that makes me think I would be a good fit so here is hoping!

    Does anyone have any advice on how to prepare myself for the government application process? I heard it is a long and tedious process and actual hiring takes a long time.

    Any advice is appreciated!

    1. Mr. Mike*

      The application is the easy part. It’s the ‘behind the scenes’ bureaucracy stuff that takes the most time as your application probably goes to the state headquarters then back and forth, blah, blah, blah. I was actually recruited for a state job and it still took nearly three months before all the paperwork was finalized.

      Good luck

      1. Brett*

        “The application is the easy part”

        Except when it is 20 pages long, wants your entire address and work history for 10 years, and asks you questions like, “Have you ever been suspended from any school for any reason? Please explain each incident on a separate sheet of paper.”

        For aNoN, depending on the level of government, the applications tend to be a combined job application/background check in one. Without knowing which type of application it is, expect to have 10 years of work and address history (including dorms, etc if applicable) and have contact information for both a former manager and former co-worker for each position. Have personal references as well as professional references ready.
        My employer actually required me to list _all_ other job applications I had filed anywhere else in the last six months too.
        Also a really good idea to have a copy of your credit report and last tax return. You may be required to list all current debts and obligations as well as your current sources of income and financial holdings.

          1. LadyMountaineer*

            Actually I didn’t have to submit that kind of detail when I was a Fed. Now I’m in a high-level city position and I had to dig out of my brain which month in 2000 I received that speeding ticket in Florida (March) but no agency I’ve ever worked for ever cared about my financial information.

        1. Mr. Mike*

          Wow… 20 pages? Is this federal or state? At any rate, I think my statement still stands (relatively). The application is still the easy part…lol.

        2. fposte*

          But Brett, we’ve established that your employer is crazy even for government. I really wouldn’t assume this was the norm; it’s not with my state employer.

          1. Brett*

            Well, basically my employer included _all_ of the craziness in one application. But every government application has the potential to want any of the individual pieces of crazy detail.
            If you only have three days to fill out the application, having all the potential pieces handy would be a good idea.
            (I actually left off several of the most crazy pieces of our application. e.g. the K-6 school records.)

            1. Nashira*

              I can’t even… I mean, how do you get that stuff? What happens if you were homeschooled? That is so baffling.

        3. Mockingjay*

          Brett is spot on the level of detail required.

          You will probably need the actual day and month for employment dates, too.

        4. littlemoose*

          I didn’t need the tax and financial info when I applied, but I don’t have a security clearance or anything. I did need to provide every address at which is I’d lived and every job I’d held for the past (I want to say) 20 years, which as a 27 year old applicant meant all of them. I would take some time to at least compile that information before starting your application, because that was time-consuming.

    2. INTP*

      I’m not familiar with government hiring, so take my word with a grain of salt. However, when I was a recruiter I never spent much time answering questions or explaining the role to people who had not even applied yet. The vast majority of applications were instant rejections (for reason of location, visa status, not fitting our job description as well as they thought they did, etc) so it just wasn’t a good time investment to spend more than a minute or two on someone who statistically had maybe a 10% likelihood of being a viable candidate. (To be frank, I also found it a little off-putting – like “Your job isn’t worth my time applying when I don’t know if it’s one that I’d be super interested in, but I should be worth your time dealing with even though you don’t know if the company would be interested in me.” I’ve sense been made aware that many people are trying to tailor their cover letters, not scoop out whether the job is worth their time in putting together an application, but that’s how I felt at the time.)

      1. INTP*

        Crap, I forgot to include my actual point. The point is that I would think other recruiters handle this in the same way, so I would not count on an answer, and would go ahead and do the application.

  7. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Tips for applying for seasonal retail jobs?

    I have a full-time job I love but it’s not making my ends meet and we need the extra income. I haven’t had much luck in the past applying for part-time or seasonal jobs even with 10 years of retail experience. I realize having a 9-5 eats up most of my day but I am free on weekends and holidays (like black friday!) so I don’t really understand why I haven’t had more luck. The places near me that hire seasonal all use online apps.

    1. Serin*

      In my city, the women’s networking group is dominated by managers of retail operations. You might look for a networking group, go to a meeting, and get a chance to chat with some managers in an informal setting.

    2. AshleyH*

      I would go in person. Even if they use online applications, still walk in, ask to speak to the manager, explain that you recently applied for seasonal work online, and ask if you can do anything to further your chances.

      my last job was HR for a retailer- we would get HUNDREDS of applications for seasonal jobs, and a manager just can’t effectively sort through them. If you make the effort to make that connection, they’ll seek out your application. You might also be looking too early- I know most places don’t hire Winter holiday help until October.

      Also, I used to work seasonally in addition to my FT job for a few years in a row – I would typically work 5:30 or 6pm- close and weekends, usually about 20 hours a week. It was exhausting but a lot of fun, and a good way to make money. Also, I would highly recommend avoiding clothing stores- so annoying folding stuff. The best seasonal job I had was at bath and body works!

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        Oh good to know about the “too early” thing, most of my googling said to start applying in September which did seem early to me!

        I know from experience I really like that kind of work blitz- I worked at the US trials and a full time job which was just non-stop moving for two weeks. It was exhausting but also really fulfilling to be that busy but also know when the end was in sight!

      2. LBK*

        Noooo, I wouldn’t do that. Especially now while it’s back to school season, the store will probably be swamped and the last thing a manager wants to do is stop to talk to someone where the entire conversation can be summed up by “Go apply online because I can’t do anything about this in person and also I have 12 other people paging me right now for help so I’m only going to remember you as the person who wasted my time.”

          1. LBK*

            Somewhat, but it still marks the beginning of the busier season for most retail places. Either way, unless it’s a small store that doesn’t get too busy, there’s rarely a good day to bug a retail manager.

          2. Anx*

            I think it depends where you live. I never went to school before labor day all the way through college.

            I also don’t think my family ever bought supplies before school started. It always took a few weeks to get everything together.

        1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

          Exactly. When I worked in retail, the managers would ask some of us long timers to pretend to be the manager to take off some of the heat. Before online applications, I can see that stopping in would make a difference, but it is largely ineffective now. Unless it’s dead and you make an impression, managers are not likely to remember your name more than a day or so. So many times we were getting people trying to stop in and introduce themselves every hour between August and December that it doesn’t make one stand out. A lot of times, managers will only see the names of people who pass the test and can’t see if the person who chatted with the, applied. Or in some systems, those who stated they are available at certain times.

          Ever test is different, but read the values statements. Many places skew the ‘right’ answers toward the company’s values.

      3. HR Recruiter*

        Going in person doesn’t always work but managers are busy and don’t always welcome unexpected visitors. But I do agree actually talking to a manager and explaining your interest does increase your chances. Our area is holding numerous job fairs for retailers this time of year. See if there are any in your area and stop by with resumes and let them know you applied online but wanted to express your interest in person. If you can’t find any, you could try calling or stopping in person but be very considerate of the fact that managers are busy this time of year and have higher priorities.

      4. "Jayne"*

        I was a retail manager for nearly three years, and we would get a lot of walk-ins seeking to put a name with the face and all that. It was usually pretty frustrating, and I never thought once about relaying the name to the hiring manager, who I know would forget it anyway. We rarely hired based on whether we met them in person. We even had plenty giving us resumes — which usually ended up in the trash. If you weren’t in the system after applying online, you weren’t considered. There was no physical way of hiring that person if they didn’t apply online first.

        I know not all retail places are alike, but we were pretty frustrated with follow-up calls, too. The usual response was “we’re still reviewing applications” or “we’re not hiring, but your application is in our system, so when we are, we’ll look at them then.” The hiring manager told me that she decided not to hire a candidate, that she was originally considering for a position, based on the fact that he called too much. So, sometimes for retail, you just kinda have to apply and sit and wait. We chose interviews based on the scores from the test on the application.

    3. Isben Takes Tea*

      When I was looking at seasonal retail work, they required set availabilities, and if you couldn’t meet their random shifts’ hours, you weren’t considered. Also, they wanted you available almost full time (full time minus whatever time would actually qualify you for benefits) through the seasonal period.

      1. KT*

        This–seasonal work doesn’t usually mean a few hours a week and on specific holidays–they usually want commitments of 20-30 hours a week.

        Try Craigslist in the jobs section–smaller retailers (like mom and pops, bakeries, etc) may have more flexibility

        1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

          I mean, I can give (and expect to give if hired) a full 20 hours- it would just have to mainly be nights and weekends. The mom and pops suggestion is a good one though!

    4. rek*

      Check the schedule of events for your local mall, if you have one nearby. Ours has a job fair in mid-Fall specifically for mall stores hiring for the holidays. (Not sure of the time frame – maybe early October?) Like many job fairs it’s something of a zoo, but you do get a chance to identify stores that are hiring and you get to speak to someone in person.

    5. LeahS*

      Best: Had my first few solo shifts as a retail (assistant) manager. By the third day doing the office work solo, I was able to complete everything without my notes. I feel like I’m starting to understand what’s going on, at least a little.

      Worst: I’ve never done anything like this before, and I feel overwhelmed a lot.

      My new boss just doesn’t understand how my brain works at all, and sounds so irritated when I try to ask about stuff that I have just stopped asking. I know this is baaaad in the long run, but *huge sigh* followed by “I don’t understand what you’re asking” and *huge sigh* “What?” are not exactly encouraging responses when asking questions.

      And it goes both ways. I often have no freaking clue what she’s trying to say to me. It’s like my brain works in a clockwise direction and hers is going counter-clockwise. I feel bad for her, I am intelligent, but am not an easy person try to teach. Once it all clicks, I’m golden, but at this point she’s gotta think I’m hopeless…

      1. LeahS*

        Woah that was not supposed to go there!

        My advice to you would be to just stop in and ask for an application. Asking for a manager isn’t always a good idea- they are usually busy. But even if they just point you in the direction of an online app, if you are friendly to the person you talk to they are likely to remember and say something to the manager. Make sure you introduce yourself! There have been many times I’ve mentioned to my boss that someone came in asking for an application, seemed great, and passed on the name of that person. Also be sure to put down any and all hours you’d be willing to work on your application. Good luck!

    6. WLE*

      Perhaps it’s that they think you have too much experience and would be unhappy with what they’re willing to pay. I agree with what others have said. Definitely try dropping by.

    7. littlemoose*

      My two cents from working retail a few years ago – our applications had moved exclusively online, so we just told any in-person applicants to go there, and we usually started hiring for the holiday season around early October.

    8. KateAldasse*

      Retail supervisor here. Do start applying now. By the time your application gets through the online hiring system, and then a manager finally looks at the printout, and then they schedule interviews, then background checks/drug testing, then new employee orientation, it *will* be October by the time you actually start. Also, for seasonal employees the main thing we look for is availability. Check out the stores’ closing times and see if you can find out if they have extended hours closer to the holidays. If you say you can work their regular hours, they might assume you can’t work the extended hours and you won’t be considered.

  8. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

    Hello! For any lawyers out there–I’ve been fortunate enough to get a couple of judicial clerkship interviews (for federal district courts), and I’m not entirely sure how to go about preparing for them. I know that I should have answers to questions like “why do you want to clerk?” and “why do you want to move to x city?” and do some research on the judge’s opinions, but other than that, I’m pretty much flying blind. I am also terrified of being asked a lot of substantive legal questions–obviously I have to deal with those in my day to day life, but I usually have the benefit of having a database in front of me when I have to answer them. Also, what types of questions should I be asking? Any advice would be much appreciated!

    1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

      It really varies from judge to judge and a lot of what they’re looking for is based on whether you’re a good “fit” (someone they can easily work with). I externed for a federal judge in law school and then decided to clerk for a state judge after, the judge I ended up working with told me that every candidate who gets an interview is exceptionally qualified so it’s really a question of who’s going to fit in well in chambers. Although it’s nerve wracking, try to be relaxed enough that your personality comes through.

      I know some judges like to put people through the wringer so maybe be able to reference a specific opinion or justice that resonates with you and why. Friends of mine were asked questions about what laws they would change and why, what they felt were the biggest flaws in the judicial system, what policy matters they felt strongly about, etc. The judge I clerked for actually turned the interview around on me and asked that I question him. I was not at all prepared for that and was certain that I’d failed miserably…so I guess, as usual, expect the unexpected?

      I also remember googling how to prepare for judicial clerkship interviews and finding a lot of helpful material, several law schools have guides and of course there are forums- might be a good start if you haven’t already done that. One of the professors at my law school was very enthusiastic about clerkships and offered to hold mock interviews with candidates who were preparing, I found that very helpful. Maybe see if you have a mentor or professor who will help you prepare?

      Good luck!

    2. attornaut*

      Be prepared to go into a lot of detail on your writing sample, student note, or any other topic you specifically highlighted in your resume, as far as substantive legal questions go. But other than that, it kind of depends on the specific judge. Sometimes it’s just a personality check to see if you’d get along, sometimes it’s more of a gauntlet.

    3. bridget*

      I’ve only done appellate clerkships (state and fed), so YMMV with a district judge. I think you should research the judge’s judicial philosophy, to the extent its available. Is she a “do justice” judge, who is looking for the right result? Or is she a “follow the law” judge, who sees her hands as much more tied in terms of flexibility? I’ve clerked for one of each, and when applicants come in who are out of touch with that philosophy, it’s usually a pretty big black mark for them.

      In terms of work environment, judges differ wildly. Does the judge prefer to work in chambers or from home when she doesn’t have hearings? Does she like to work cases out verbally and debate with clerks, or does she prefer to just see final written work product without discussion? I find that I’m much more successful in the former environment; I don’t like not knowing how my judge feels about a case until I’ve written a final bench m emo or opinion.

      Judges also vary with regard to how much they like to mentor their clerks. Some see their role as a lifelong career mentor, and really go to bat for their clerks who do good work for them for the rest of their career. Others think it’s an honor/lucky for the clerks to have such a prestigious job (true) and don’t invest any personal attention in them. Obviously this won’t be an issue for you unless you get competing offers, but if you do, I’d take this seriously into consideration when choosing a judge (and even when choosing where to apply).

      That’s all pretty philosophical – my best piece of practical advice is for each judge you get an interview with, find a previous clerk who will talk to you about the experience and what to expect in the interview. Your law school almost certainly has a clerkship committee or other database where you can find out if fellow alums have clerked for the judge. I’ve made and received several calls like that. For example, one of my judges always has a skills test – usually a portion of an opinion to review, and expects applicants in about 30-45 minutes to make it both technically perfect and give substantive feedback. With my judge, it would be bonus points if an applicant said that the opinion was wrong and the “suggestion” is to change it entirely. Other judges would have the opposite reaction, and would only want you to correct spelling errors. You need the inside scoop. Former career or long-term clerks will be the most helpful, if you can find them.

  9. Art Education*

    Thank you all for the advice last week! I’m still thinking about it, but if I do it, you are all free to say “I told you so” in a couple of years. :P

  10. CJ*

    Just venting. I’m on week 7 of the job application process. The Hiring Manager was out on vacation for 8 days and just got back in today. Just a waiting game…and I can’t get the job out of my head. Frustrating.

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      Same here, although I’m only at the end of week 3. They said they wanted to get out offers by the end of this week. But the HR person was out most of this week and the head honcho is out all this week. Waiting is the hardest part.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I interviewed for a job at the start of June, and didn’t hear a cheep out of them until this week and it was a thanks but no thanks.

    2. Rye-Ann*

      Yep, I am in a similar boat – it’s week 4 for me if we don’t count any searching I did while in school/moving (since I wasn’t able to really do it well then). It’s frustrating.

      1. CJ*

        This is just waiting on one job… I have a job I’m happy with now, but it took me 6 months of searching and interviewing straight of out college to land this one. Good luck with your search! I hope it is a quick one!

  11. Stephanie*

    I’m up early enough for one of these! Yay!

    So I started my new job (same company) back in July and it’s been sort of slow going getting me up to speed. I sort of feel like Arya Stark when she was at the House of Black and White just sweeping, waiting to do something substantial. My boss realized last night he hadn’t really been training either me or my day shift counterpart that quickly and that we were about to hit our busy season. So good is that I’ll have more to do. Bad is that I finally have to go switch to overnight hours.

      1. Stephanie*

        Eventually! I’ve been on swing. Originally, my bosses figured I’d be up to speed in a month…except my boss hasn’t really been doing much training, so the switch keeps getting pushed back (which I am fine with).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ugh, good luck! I was on third shift a lot when I worked in a factory and later when I worked for a food service company that had cafeterias in local factories. It was very hard for me to sleep during the day, even with blackout curtains and white noise. Hopefully you’ll get moved back at some point.

  12. AshleyH*

    Any tips for the new working from home person? My husband and I recently relocated and he will luckily be able to continue working for his old job, just doing so remotely. He’ll spend about half his week doing site visits but the other half will be spent working from home. We have a second bedroom where we can set up an office space, but does anyone have any general tips? He’s concerned about it seeming like he’s not working if he goes out for lunch or has to take the cat to the vet (stuff that was fine while he worked out of headquarters). I’m concerned about him “unplugging” and knowing when to stop for the day.

    1. UKAnon*

      One big step is having the separate space – being able to just close the door and physically leave all of your work behind is a huge disconnect. Otherwise I think it just takes some practice and getting used to.

        1. Honeybee*

          Yes yes yes. Procrastinating by “just throwing a load in” or “loading the dishwasher real quick” is not only a productivity killer; it also blurs the distinction between work and personal life and makes it more likely that you’ll sit at the desk until 8 pm because why not?

        2. NacSacJack*

          we have a rule here at work. No doing laundry, vaccuuming, quick stuff, at home while working. When you’re working, your’re working.

    2. Rubyrose*

      Hopefully his company has some type of instant messaging system that everyone uses. If so, he should use that to indicate when he is gone for lunch, vet visit, etc. It is important to let your co-workers know when you will be back. Keep that Outlook calendar up to date and use the out of office function when gone.

      Keep a set schedule; start work at the same time every day, leave at the same time. Only leave the office space when needed: bathroom, answer doorbell, get coffee, etc. Doing that will keep the temptation down to do other things. And only go into the office space when needed – no weekend peeks at the office computer.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree. Try to treat the extra bedroom as an office. Spend his work time there and not in the rest of the house. At “quitting time” get up, leave the office, and shut the door. Shut down the computer even. I have heard tales of people working from home who procrastinate work by doing all sorts of chores around the house or even shopping. Don’t start that or taking a quick nap or watching TV for a few minutes because all of these can be a slippery slope of bad habits which reduce work output.

        It sounds he’s worried about appearances so the best way for that is to be responsive during work hours and let people who work closely on him know when he’s running “approved” errands outside like taking the cat to the vet and when he will be back.

        1. Honeybee*

          Yes, if he’s going to working from home full-time, I would even advise making the second bedroom *just* an office and not a combined office/guest room. I’m the type of person who would “just take a quick nap” in the guest bedroom if I was sitting in front of it for hours.

          (I also definitely procrastinated by shopping and doing chores. Ugh. Terrible.)

      2. AshleyH*

        Ugh, unfortunately they do not (I actually used to work for the same company and it was a pain point for me). I believe they’re testing one now, though, so hopefully they’ll have it soon!

        Some great tips here, thanks everyone!

    3. J*

      I dunno, I never think that when telecommuters go out to lunch or run an errand. Not my business. Can’t imagine why any boss would see it differently either. Working from home is so common now.

      1. Rubyrose*

        The problem is not with the folks that do not take advantage of it. The problem is with the folks who disappear for hours on end. I have some folks where I know if they have been out for an hour (indicated on instant messaging) they will be back online within 15 minutes. I have some who show as not online for several hours. And if you call them, because there is an urgent issue, they don’t answer their phones. When pressed afterwards, the excuses can be entertaining.

        At best, it is a common courtesy issue. When you are in the office you will probably let someone know verbally that you are running an errand. Same courtesy is needed when working from home, just a different way of doing it.

        At worst, there is a performance issue and unwillingness to work effectively with your teammates. And if they are putting in those unavailable hours as having been worked, there is yet something else to address.

        Better to be safe than sorry, and not get the reputation as abusing the privilege of home work.

    4. K5280*

      I work from home full time and have for the past 3 years. Prior to that, I primarily worked from home for about 2 years as my last position transitioned to another state after 13 years of working in an office.

      My job is quite flexible and that sometimes does contribute to me working later into the day than I normally would if I didn’t work from home. Those are the days when I might leave for lunch or run another errand, so I think it’s a good trade-off. I don’t mind wrapping things up later in the day when it’s quieter if it means I get to battle less traffic because I ran out during the middle of the day rather than rush hour.

      What has worked for me is to be very open with my team about my schedule. I manage three other people who also work from home and have varying schedules. We start out every morning with an email chain that continues throughout the day. We talk about what we’re working on, what our availability is (“I’ll be here and working until 4p today.”), the times we’ll be unavailable (“I need to head downtown by 10:45 for a lunch meeting at 11:30 with the client and should be back no later than 1:30. Please call or text my cell if you need me during that time.”), when we step out for lunch (I’m going to grab lunch and walk the dog – I’ll be back and working by noon.”) and when we wrap up for the day.

      I LOVE working from home and manage to do so very easily except when I’m on AAM, that is!!!

    5. Koko*

      Definitely get up, make the bed, put on clothes that would be appropriate for going out into the world, and then go to the home office space. (Clothes don’t have to be office-appropriate, just 7/11 appropriate – a hoodie and jeans would be fine.)

      I work from home regularly and some mornings I used to skip getting showered/dressed and just pull my laptop into bed with me. I don’t it much anymore because I noticed I was more inclined to start surfing the web when I was using my laptop in bed, or even at a desk but still wearing my pajamas. Something about making the bed (to signal there’s no returning to it), changing into appropriate clothes (to signal you’re ready to interact with the outside world, even if they can’t see you), and entering the office space (to signal work has begun) just really helps me to transition into working-mode. It’s probably some sort of Pavlovian conditioning/association at play.

      Also second what Rubyrose said about being available on chat and using his Away indicator whenever he has to step out. I am really bad about setting my IM to “away” when I’m in the office and go to lunch, but I religiously set it when I’m working from home because I don’t ever want someone to IM me and not get a response for 30 minutes and think I must never actually be at my computer.

      Assuming that his company uses an Outlook or shared calendar system, he may consider any time he’s not going to be available during core work hours, in addition to marking himself as “unavailable/OOO” on his own calendar, he also send a “meeting” invite to the colleagues he works most closely with (routine daily contact). Give it a name like “Fergus at parent-teacher conference” and set it to show as “available” so when they accept it, it doesn’t block off their own calendars, but then they can see at a glance on their own calendar, “Ah, Fergus won’t be starting until 11 today, that’s why he’s not on IM/answering my email yet.”

      As for knowing when to stop – well, this is a combination of personal preference and sticking to your guns. I actually work very long hours when I work from home, but after about 6pm I work with much less focus. I’ll take a long break for dinner around 6, then return to work around 7:30 or 8 while watching TV, etc. I do this because I like my work and I see my at-home day as my chance to be uber-productive, and I find that I can make a lot of progress on my projects during those quiet evening hours when nobody else is emailing me.

      To that end, I’d recommend that even if he keeps working into the evening, he doesn’t answer most emails that come in after core hours. Even if like me, he enjoys getting ahead on projects in the evening, he doesn’t want to set a precedent that he has gaping evening availability or it will stop being a choice. Occasionally saying, “I happened to see your email while I was making dinner, here’s the quick answer you need:” is fine, but for the most part, wait until morning to answer emails that came in after COB. I’m more relaxed about sending emails afterhours than I am about answering them…someone it seems like less of an invitation to expect me to be available at night when I’m sending emails about my own progress on my own projects than when I’m responding to a request. But he should pay attention to his company culture there – if nobody else sends a lot of afterhours emails, he probably shouldn’t either.

      1. littlemoose*

        I second all of that. Getting adequately dressed, even if not what I would wear to the office, is a signal to my brain that it’s work time, not laze about and surf the Internet time.

      2. Honeybee*

        When I was most productive working from home, I stuck to a strict 10-6 schedule. It helped that at the time I lived with my husband, so he would be coming in from work/class around 6 and I’d get up to start preparing dinner and spend time with him. Because I wanted the evenings to relax and be with him, I focused on trying to actually work from 10-6. Sometimes I would go back and do an extra short burst of work from 9-11 or something, but it was occasional, and I still saw 10-6 as my core hours.

        When I was least productive working from home, I’d put off starting until “whenever” because I was living by myself (I’d moved for a new position) and who cared when I worked until? The paradox, of course, is that I was always working and yet never working – so I’d be at my desk at 8 pm, unable to leave because I hadn’t finished what I needed to, but stuck there because I wasn’t actually working much.

        I’m terrible at WFH, lol.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Hee. I live alone and my job is super flexible and I constantly have to battle my inclination to start my work day at “whenever.” And that’s just for going into the office. I’m allowed to work from home but I almost never do because I get caught in the “always working and yet never working” trap more easily here.

    6. Honeybee*

      My general tip is doing a morning routine like you would if you had to go to work: getting up at a set time, brushing teeth and taking a shower, making coffee, etc. The important part is changing clothes out of pajamas into something different. It doesn’t have to be dressy clothes, of course – could be jeans and a t-shirt – but for me, the shower + dressing routine does something to my brain to transition myself over to WORK mode, even if I am working from home. Similarly, I change out of my work clothes into lounge clothes in the evening when I’m done.

      Part of the doing stuff in the middle of the day thing is psychological – if it was okay when he was at the office, it’ll probably be okay at home, too. But he could set up some emails to automatically send when he’s out at the vet or at lunch. Or he could just set it as a meeting on Outlook so it looks like he’s busy.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’d have to do this. I might even have to leave the house so I could “commute” back to my office.

        Like, go to the corner coffee shop and read the paper, then come back and go straight to the office.

    7. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      The most important thing is to have a dedicated office in the house. Not a combination office/guest room or other shared-use space. You and other family members/friends should not be allowed in his office.

    8. Newly Remote at Home*

      This is a very timely post for me as I am starting a brand new job on Wednesday and the job is 100% remote. There will occasional site travel but it will be limited. The interview process was also remote (conference call and skype) so I have not yet met ANY of my team or my boss. I posted this question to Allison and will read this comments closely.

      I think I have a good handle on the logistics (separate room, steady schedule, etc.) I think my biggest challenge will be establishing good working relationships with new colleagues sight unseen.

      1. cuppa*

        I don’t want to get too identifying just in case, but there was some anger and destruction of company property. Oy.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh man, I am sorry this happened to you. Having had some difficult conversations go bad, myself, I liked to do autopsies on the conversation. What would I do differently, what would I keep doing, what surprised me, what went the way I expected and so on. Sometimes analyzing it was helpful in minor ways. Don’t go into overkill on this, I mean maybe thinking about it for 15-20 minutes, looking for any insights you might find.
          It can be reeaaally stressful when a person gets destructive or scary like that. Do you have coworkers that you can debrief with? Or maybe just a person who witnessed the mess that would chat for a minute? Talking it out, even if it is just for five or ten minutes can be helpful, also.

  13. AnonyGoose*

    The Chicago AAM reader meetup group will be getting together tomorrow. If you’re in the area and would like to join, please email me (email to follow).

        1. CJ*

          Thanks, Alison! I feel like I had contact when a celebrity when you respond to my posts! ; )
          Now to find the Cincinnati foks!

    1. Anony-moose*

      I’m there in spirit! Bummed to be missing it (but I’m at a wedding tomorrow so I can’t really complain.) Next time!

    2. long time lurker*

      I’m in the area but missed that group getting set up. I might be interested in that kind of meet-up! How do I join?

  14. AV*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to “appear” more organized? I’ve been in my current position for about 9 months and the other day I something one of our admins said to me gave me a slight pause! We were chatting about our boss (all good) and just discussing what he likes to see in his employees, the admin pointed out how he’s a very organized man and that he looks for organization in his employees.

    Now, I’m a very organized person, but… I don’t think that I “appear” organized at work, if that makes any sense at all. My work-space is very busy, things are constantly being added to it and being removed (which is normal and fine with me)… but I’m afraid that my boss doesn’t think I’m organized because of this! What can I do to keep the natural workflow of my workspace, but appear more organized? I’m not even sure if this question makes any sense!

    1. Serin*

      Visually, people appear organized when their papers are contained — labeled trays are great for this.

      But to me the biggest signs of disorganization are less how someone’s desk looks and morethings like
      – how ready/able they are to answer questions
      – how quickly they respond to emails and how useful their responses are
      – how much I can rely on them not to lose or ignore emails

    2. CJ*

      Are you sure a change really needs to be made? Just be sure that you’re really wanting to work on appearing more organized. And organized doesn’t necessarily mean super clean desk. : ) I think there was a post or thread about this from Alison in the past.

      If you do want to “visually organize”:
      Find holders for the items that are being added/removed. Folders, dividers, trays, etc. Putting things in containers automatically makes it less busy looking. If you can’t do that, try to keep things in neat piles (consider a larger desk if necessary, but be careful that larger desk doesn’t just mean more clutter). : )
      Can things be digitized to get rid of the influx of papers? I’m not sure what you deal with, but a lot of things can be all digital and emailed (or google drived/or dropboxed/etc). Things like expense reports, forms (especially if they are not confidential, they can be done with Google forms – just email links), and other papers.
      Some of this might take trial and error or a bit of investment for setup, but can help in the long run.

    3. cuppa*

      Being able to formulate and articulate a plan and different steps in a process or project is a big part of organization to me. Being able to discuss the project as “first, we have to do this, and then we can do this” and so on shows to me that someone is organized.

    4. Jennifer*

      Unfortunately, I suspect the answer to this is “have an empty desk.” Since I like to have things instantly at hand for reference instead of having to dig through files/drawers, I look like a slob.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Having a clean desk is a really big deal in my office for some reason, and it drives me batty. When I put things out of sight, I tend to forget about them. Leaving stuff on my desk is an important part of managing my tasks. I’ve finally started using folders so that I’m not just throwing loose paper into drawers and filing cabinets.

        1. Jennifer*

          Any time I put something Away, I might as well have just flushed it down the toilet. I only put things Away if I have to hold on to it forever just in case but otherwise will never want it again.

      2. Ife*

        When I’m working, there’s stuff all over my desk. Before I go home, I put everything away in its appropriate folder/container, or at least put it in a neat stack. This takes less than two minutes on a really cluttered day. Most days, it’s like 15-30 seconds.

    5. KT*

      I am one of the people who is actually a slob and a disaster, but I have mastered giving the illusion of organization, the point where it regularly gets mentioned as a huge positive and new people are referred to me to get ideas on how to organize.

      Things I actually do that help keep me on track:
      -I am slightly ADHD, so I rely heavily on a Levenger notebook. I write down EVERYTHING. I date each page, then will write time of meetings, who was there, etc. If someone gives me a task–no matter how minor–I write it down and use a post-it tab to mark it. This could be everything from “Follow up with Wakeen” to “Email Percival about event”. If I don’t do this, those “little” tasks always slip my mind.
      -I keep a serious to-do list with several columns. Big project name, sub-tasks, task owners, due dates of each task, and status of task. After each meeting, I add that task to a running list with a deadline next to it and mark whether it’s part of a larger project. For instance, if I have a big event on Saturday, one task might say “9/11: Confirmed with Matt via email that tent will be set up. Next Steps: Call caterer to double food order (Jen to handle”)
      -As a scatterbrain, this has saved me when someone unexpectedly pops by to ask that status of a project. I’m able to quickly scan and see what has been done, what needs to be done, and who owns what parts.
      -When I run out of paper, I take out the pages and file them in a drawer with the date range and any key events/big projects that were handled during that time (i.e. July 1-August 15 2015, GIANT FUNDRAISER, volunteer event). It sounds OCD, but that has been a huge help when someone wants to know about a meeting that happened months ago.
      -I also keep a whiteboard on my wall with major events/deliverables (ANNUAL REPORT TO PRINTER, Place Event Invite orders)–this is more so other people who don’t work so closely with me can see what big things are coming up and they can see I’m on it

      Things That I do That Dont Really Help, but give the ILLUSION of helping!
      -Letter trays. I label them “in progress”, “complete”, “need approval”. I almost never use these, but people every now and again do place stuff in them and it’s one of those systems people in my company frequently cite as helpful
      -File folder and standing accordian file organizers: I hate them, but I labeled a bunch with our big events throughout the year and display them on my shelf. I have never ever used them and there is nothing in them, but people are always SO IMPRESSED to see it.

      Finally, clean space makes you look organized even when you’re scrambling. Every Friday before I leave, I straighten up. I throw out papers I don’t need, I put like items together in piles or put them away, and I leave out in a neat stack only what I know I need to work on for the next week. It makes my desk look clean but is still easy to work.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I’m the kind of person that needs to see it to remember it, so I use notebooks, Post-Its, and a whiteboard as reminders. I just went on the Levenger site after reading your post. I might invest in one of those.

        I also have letter trays that are just there to look good. They’re labeled as to what’s supposed to go in them, but I usually just dump everything I don’t have time to file right now into them. It’s still a mess, but it sure looks better!

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I love their notebooks! If you hand write a lot of notes like I do, they are wonderful. (They’re also great for writers.)

        2. KT*

          Staples has a knockoff of the Levenger called the Acer–they have different sizes and such and hole punches. Rollabind is another similar brand

      2. afiendishthingy*

        Now I really want to see your Serious To-Do List template. I have ADHD and struggle a lot with tracking all the tasks and subtasks for each project. I’ve been doing a bit better lately with an approximation of a Bullet Journal, but things still slip through the cracks sometimes.

        Also, I love your display of empty accordion files.

        1. KT*

          It’s just done in Word tables. There’s columns for Overall Project Name, Tasks, Task Owner, Status, and Deadline.

          Then each task within a project has a row –color coded to that project. So everything for the big January fundraiser is in purple, everything for the volunteer event is green, etc.

          I played around with it until I came up with something that worked for me and how I think. Pinterest has tons of templates/free printables!

      3. Slimy Contractor*

        These are such specific, concrete suggestions, thank you! This is a great starting guide for someone to look at and pick and choose the things from your list that would work for them. It sounds like you’re a good role model for other ADHD folks who might be looking for ways to work with that aspect of their brains.

      4. LBK*

        This is a fantastic list, and this one in particular cracked me up:

        -File folder and standing accordian file organizers: I hate them, but I labeled a bunch with our big events throughout the year and display them on my shelf. I have never ever used them and there is nothing in them, but people are always SO IMPRESSED to see it.

        I had a very intricate and impressive-looking system of folders at my old desk and in 3 years of working there I never filed a single thing into any of them. I find those kinds of filing systems really ineffective if you have ADD especially for short-term items, because as soon as you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist anymore. I’d much rather keep everything I need to do today in a pile next to my keyboard so I can’t forget it.

        I’m also a big fan of writing to-do lists on post-its for short-term items, then I have a long-term calendar I keep next to my monitor. The post-it notes are an absolute lifesaver for ADD; often when I have a ton of tasks to do in a given day and I feel like I don’t even know where to start, just jotting them down instantly makes it easy to prioritize.

    6. Not me*

      I keep getting compliments on time management and organization skills, which are average at best.

      Visibly working on organization seems to make a huge difference. I keep the surface of my desk clear. I leave a to-do list/schedule out. I keep my stack of random papers in a standing magazine file instead of flat on my desk. I have a little organizer tray in my top desk drawer. I keep my computer’s desktop mostly empty. It looks like I’m trying.

      But I spent about $5 on supplies in the Target dollar section two years ago and none of this takes any work.

    7. Dr. Doll*

      Along with all the excellent ideas so far — cleanliness. I have a team member who is kind of a disaster in many ways, and one of the ways is that their desk always has several empty water and soda bottles, scraps of paper and post-its everywhere, crumbs and such, and a lot of plastic ticky-tackies. There is a space approximately 8 x 11 inches clear in the middle. I can hardly bear to look at that desk.

  15. Dani X*

    I am posting on behalf of someone else, so while I am happy to answer any questions I might not have the answers. Basically Katherine discovered her husband Ned was having an affair. In her state you get more alimony for adultery so that is what she filed under. Now Ned is coming back and saying that if she files under Adultery he will get fired and then he can’t pay support for the little Starks and so she should change it to irreconcilable differences. Ned has more earning power then Katherine and she does need that support for now so she is very upset. I am saying this is all BS – while a company can fire for having an affair the chances of it happening is pretty small and I doubt they will go look and see what the divorce was filed under. Katherine is pretty upset about it and wants to know if there is a way to check and see if he is telling the truth. If she calls the company’s HR department will they tell her if that is a policy for them? Or is there another way she can find out. It’s not a small company – it has a global presence and it is a tech company so I doubt there is a morality issue (like say if this were a religious org).

    1. Squirrel*

      How would the company even know why he is getting the divorce? Would they even care? Would they actually look into it at all? He’s just trying to bully her into changing the reason so he doesn’t lose any money. Tell her to get a lawyer, then have her tell her soon-to-be-ex that he can direct all communications for everything through said lawyer.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Some companies still have morals clauses, although whether it’s any of their business is a topic for another discussion.

        Of course she needs to bring that to her lawyer, but my instinct is that she shouldn’t change how she filed until she has a written agreement specifying the support she’ll receive, because that could be a tactic Ned is using to try to reduce the amount of support he’ll have to pay.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, it’s absolutely a tactic, even if it’s true. And I think now is a really good time to start training herself away from listening to Ned.

          1. Dani X*

            Personally I would tell Ned he should have thought of that before he took his pants off, but I also don’t have little kids to think of so I can be harsh like that. I promised I would ask, but I also think this is a tactic to get out of paying money.

      2. Brett*

        The company might get a copy of the divorce decree when Ned files the qualifying life events for benefits purposes.

    2. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

      Does Katherine have a lawyer? If so, the lawyer should have better answers to these questions (and if not, it sounds like she’s going to need one, especially with little Starks involved).

      To me, the solution here is that they reach some kind of agreement where Ned agrees to pay the higher alimony rate in exchange for Katherine changing the filing to irreconcilable differences. I have no idea what state they’re in, but I can’t think of any situation where a court would prevent a spouse from entering into an agreement to pay more than required in alimony/child support/etc.

    3. Dani X*

      Katherine has a lawyer and I will tell her to talk to him and let this all go through. I was hoping there might be a way to get the answer for sure on the side (lawyer is expensive) – but this is definitely not something to play with. I do think he is trying to get out of his obligations, and if she does change it should play hardball and write in that she still get everything she would if this were and adultery case. I was hoping someone would say “yeah – the X team would know about that – call them” but so be it.

          1. K5280*

            I’m only halfway through Storm of Swrods but that was my suspicion. Didn’t think I’d have worry about GOT spoilers on AAM, though!!!

              1. K5280*

                That helps to know it’s just speculation, thank you! My husband, who has not read the books, is adamant that I tell him nothing about them until the show wraps. I try to avoid fan sites for the same reason. I had thought about the nephew possibility the other day and brought it up to him but had to be very clear that it was just my thoughts on the subject and not anything I read.

              2. Kelly L.*

                (Sorry. I thought the speculation was well-known enough that most people would have seen it–it was everywhere for a while a few months ago, though it’s been discussed in die-hard fandom for yonks. But Alison is correct, it’s not a real spoiler, it’s a theory.)

                1. K5280*

                  No worries – perhaps I am a little slow since it just came together for me not too long ago. We were late to the series since we don’t have cable and pretty much watched all the episodes in the past year so I avoided all speculation and conversations about the show until we got caught up. I don’t want to repeat the 1-2 years of unwarranted depression I had when my friend’s son had me convinced that Darryl on the Walking Dead had died. Devious brat!

            1. KJR*

              In the middle of the first book, and I’m dying to know what you’re talking about! But don’t tell me! :D

          2. Creag an Tuire*

            She’s doing Ned a favor by getting him fired from Baratheon Ltd. I hear that company’s going through some ugly management turnover.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I suspect that’s BS ploy. At first I thought Ned might be in the military, but even then that’s rarely prosecuted unless there’s other issues in the mix. I think its highly unlikely that a company – a large global company – will care. Honestly companies don’t track their people so closely. They rely on the employee to inform them of changes in personal life like marriage, divorce, children. They’re certainly not going to find out an employee is divorcing and then go try and discover the reason for it.

      It’s so unlikely I’d tell Katherine to ignore the threat unless the affair is with someone at work or the partner of someone at work. In that case the issue isn’t the divorce, but fraternization, favoritism, and mixing the personal with business. But even then I don’t think companies will hear a rumor of Ned divorcing and go hunting for information.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This–all they care about is how the divorce will affect his health insurance and W2; they typically don’t care about the reason.

        Definitely Katherine needs to have her lawyer talk to his. She shouldn’t be doing this herself.

      2. Creag an Tuire*

        I suppose it could be a problem if Ned worked for Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A or whatnot, but OP says he works for a tech company, and I don’t know of any tech companies that claim to be Deeply Religious. (It’s actually an amusing problem for anti-gay groups that try to boycott all LGBT-friendly companies and realize they can’t do it without going without any online presence at all.)

        Ned is almost certainly BS-ing, and if this an example of his behavior, Kat needs to lawyer up.

      1. Another HRPro*

        If that is the case, the company probably knows and would be terminating him. A divorce decree doesn’t matter.

        While almost all companies do have a morals clause, particularly for executives, they generally only get used when the person causes embarrassment to the company or their actions tarnish the companies image (think public affair, arrests, etc.). I seriously doubt his job would be in jeopardy for having adultery listed as the reason for filing for divorce (unless he is in the military), BUT she should talk to her attorney.

        1. Dani X*

          If that was the case I would assume the cause of the divorce wouldn’t matter – they would care about who he is sleeping with. I would be surprised if they say “well since the cause us adultery you are fired! If it had been ID then we would have just turned a blind eye”. Actually I would assume they wouldn’t care if there was a divorce at all since the problem is who he is sleeping with, not what the effect is on his marriage.

          1. The IT Manager*

            No you were clear on that. A military member getting a divorce won’t be investigated for why she’s getting a divorce either. I have heard rumor of angry spouse’s calling commanders about affairs and nothing happens. It’s really only prosecuted in conjunction with other messy stuff like theaffair partner being in the chain of command.

        2. Honeybee*

          Even in the military, they don’t automatically discharge for adultery. The Uniform Code of Military Justice addresses adultery that is not “discreet” and has a direct impact on the work of the servicemember.

  16. Retail Lifer*

    Any suggestions on a full-time job that would hire someone on quickly? The hiring process for halfway decent mid-level jobs seems to be getting longer and longer and usually lasts at least a month. I mentioned a few times that my boyfriend was laid off a couple of weeks ago, and trying to survive on his unemployment, which will be $8 and change, is going to be tough. Retail is always easy to get hired into, but there are virtually no full-time positions and they’re not going to pay more than his unemployment check anyway. Temp agencies haven’t been helpful for him thus far. Any suggestions?

    1. CJ*

      Factory line work? Hard to find openings? Depending on where you are, there are a couple of Amazon fulfillment centers opening and/or hiring. Warehouse work?

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Warehouse work is a possibility, as he’s done it before. The only concern is that they all see to be far out in the ‘burbs (we live in a downtown area) and I’m not sure if the pay would justify the drive. Someone else had suggested that to him a while back and he forgot about it, but now should be a great time because they’re all going to need extra holiday help.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          If that’s something he’d consider, this is probably the best possible time. We’re about to start ramping up our hiring and starting in mid October we’ll be offering overtime like crazy.

    2. Regina*

      No suggestions here, just sympathies. I haven’t found temp agencies to be helpful at all in 2015 either. It is SO frustrating how long the hiring process takes now for most jobs, and it’s equally frustrating how people who haven’t been on the job market in a long time don’t seem to understand (or even try to…). I put in an application for a job I am extremely interested in 5 weeks ago. Had an interview 16 days ago and I’m still waiting to hear back about whether I made the cut for a 2nd interview. They said their process takes a long time and as long as I haven’t heard from them, it’s still up in the air because they’re going to contact everyone yes or no at the same time.

      Best of luck to your boyfriend in his search!

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I REALLY wanted to get out of my current job before I get stuck working on Thanksgiving again. Even if I could land an interview somewhere tomorrow, the hiring process would probably still drag out past then. So frustrating!

    3. LCL*

      United Parcel Service? The majority of their jobs are part time, late evening or early early morning, which will allow him time to job hunt for something permanent. Working there 2AM to 5:30 or 6 got me through full time college.

    4. Sunshine Brite*

      Group homes tend to hire direct staff quickly. Around here you need a clean background, a driver’s license, and be over 18.

      1. Coffee Ninja*

        They require a special type of personality though, and can be very stressful positions (for not much money).

    5. puddin*

      These are all fairly entry level but I cannot think of too many mid-level jobs with quick turnarounds.
      Warehouse work like picking and packing.
      Driving jobs – nursing home shuttles, medical van service.
      Security guard.

      What are his skills or what job background does he have?

      1. Retail Lifer*

        His last job was pretty rare so I can’t mention it specifically, but it was an outreach-type job where he did a lot of things that an account manager might do. He’s done retail and warehouse stuff in the past.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        They pay better than many other similar places, but if it’s not full-time then he’ll be better off (financially, at least) just taking the unemployment check. I know a lot of people that have worked there, from baristas to managers, who have loved it though. It’s apparently a pretty good place to work.

        1. LBK*

          Starbucks does do tip jars, which may not sound considerable for a barista but I used to average an extra $2/hr from that and I didn’t work in a particularly tip-heavy area. I’ve heard suburbs tend to get better, usually upwards of $5/hr. Not sure what the base pay is in your area though – here it was $9/hr but it was a central city location. They do also start offering benefits at 20 hrs/wk, so even if the net pay isn’t much more than just taking the unemployment check he’d at least have health insurance if he can’t use yours. God forbid something happen, you definitely don’t want to be trying to pay a medical bill on top of everything else – one of the most common ways people go bankrupt.

    6. attornaut*

      Seasonal work at UPS, FedEx, USPS might be full time for at least a few months, and they’ll need to start hiring soon-ish to deal with black friday, christmas, etc.

  17. MF*

    I haven’t posted about my job search much on here, but I just wanted to share that I got a new job last week (yay!), and I feel like I owe a lot of it to Alison’s advice. From writing a substantive cover letter, to how to write an actually-good follow-up/thank you note, to a resume critique (when she offered it back in April), to salary negotiation and other little things along the way, my job search over the last few months was relatively painless, especially compared to last time (when I had just barely become an ask a manager reader). So, thanks, Alison, and all the commenters here for all your advice and knowledge! I’m super excited about my future position, and I can’t overstate how much I appreciate the community here and how much it’s helped me!

    1. ST*

      Congrats! This gives me hope. It bums me out to think about all the applications I sent out a few months ago before coming to AAM for advice, but I’m feeling more confident in my applications now. I’m glad it worked out for you!

    2. Dang*

      Congratulations! This community was a godsend to me also during my long period of employment and underemployment.

  18. Allison*

    I have a real problem with colleagues who send work e-mails from the car.

    If you want to check/answer work e-mail at night before you go to bed, fine. If you want to catch up before you leave for work, okay. If you want to do some work while at a cafe, or waiting at the doctor’s office, or on the train either to or from work, or on vacation, I can’t stop you. But for the love of god, stop doing it behind the wheel!

    I get that sometimes we have to make work calls from the car, and sometimes we need to fiddle with the GPS or music app, maybe we *check* messages at a red light even though we really shouldn’t. But anything that involves typing, unless it really is urgent, no! And if it’s too urgent to wait, it’s urgent enough that you can pull over to type it out.

    But I keep getting non-urgent e-mails from one colleague in particular that she sends from her phone while on her way to or from work. I’m sure she’s stopped at a red light or something, but it still really bothers me. My e-mail wasn’t important, she could have waited! Where we live, texting at a red light might not be dangerous but it is illegal, and it seems silly that she’s so plugged in to work, and so convinced she needs to be productive all the time that she’s even working while in the car to and from work. We even talked about this yesterday, she apparently didn’t know it was illegal but made some passive aggressive comment like “Ohh! Sorry, I just wanted to be productive.” NO! You don’t need to be productive while you’re driving! You’re allowed to unplug when you’re driving, and focus on DRIVING!

    Am alone in thinking that e-mail and driving don’t mix? Should I say something to my manager?

    1. CJ*

      You’re not alone. I don’t want to be killed by someone emailing work while driving…

      I don’t know if you can say anything to your manager? Maybe something like, “Jane replies so quickly to emails, but I’m concerned because it happens during the times she is normally driving. That could be dangerous for her and I’d hate to see anyone get hurt just because they were responding to a work email.”

    2. Squirrel*

      Email and driving don’t mix, but what would you actually get out of telling your manager about this? I think you run the risk of looking like a tattler, which is never a good thing. And if your manager does say something to your co-worker, she’ll get upset with you and it’ll affect your work relationship. I think this is something you just need to back away from.

      1. Allison*

        I’m sure my manager knows she’s doing this, too. She often includes things like “I’m on my way right now!” or “I’m in the car, I’ll be there soon!” But I have to wonder, if our manager has caught on, why hasn’t she said something? You’d think a manager should say “thanks, but you didn’t have to send that from the car. I admire your commitment, but I’d rather you wait until you get to work to respond to e-mails.”

        1. Squirrel*

          I agree that it is dangerous, but you realize that you’re suggesting that a company make a formal policy dictating what their employees do on their off hours (something that doesn’t actually have any bearing on the company)? It’s a slippery slope and can set a dangerous precedent. I realize that there are companies out there that do this, and I don’t necessarily agree with it in most cases. In this specific instance though, there is nothing that can actually be done to stop the employee. The only thing it will do is make her not reveal that she is in her car driving; it will not change her behavior. The OP also said the manager is likely aware of the situation, so if they haven’t said anything, why is it incumbent upon the OP to say something? I really think the OP will come off looking poorly in this situation if they say anything.

          1. Allison*

            I don’t think a formal policy is necessary, or even possible. But I think it’s a good idea for a manager to say “I’ve noticed you sometimes send e-mails during your commute, I don’t need you to work so hard that you risk a ticket and possibly a car accident, please wait until you get here (or get home) to respond to e-mails.” At least this way people feel encouraged to unplug.

            1. Squirrel*

              But that’s not your decision. You are not the manager in this instance. I don’t want to sound rude, but this isn’t really any of your business and does not personally concern you. You also risk looking like you’re trying to tell the manager how to do their job if you insist that they do something about this situation. Yes, this is dangerous. Yes, the employee shouldn’t do this. But ultimately, it has nothing to do with you. You are not the Behavior Police for your co-workers.

              1. Allison*

                OKAY, okay, I won’t say anything. It was just a thought I had, to bring it up during one of our weekly touch-base sessions as a concern, I wasn’t trying to tattle on her or tell her what to do. y main question was whether it was rational for me to be concerned about this, and I didn’t make that super clear, but I guess my concern at all makes me a busybody, so I won’t bring it up ever again.

                1. Squirrel*

                  I’m not saying you *are* a tattler or you *are* being nosey, I am pointing out that you could come across as those things to your manager. Being concerned about someone’s well being is never wrong, but I am being honest with you here. There’s nothing you can do and if you say anything, you do risk looking like all of the things mentioned above. You can always say something directly to your co-worker if you truly care about her safety. But in the context of bringing it up to your manager, I don’t think it’s a good idea.

                2. Allison*

                  I dunno man, your comments seemed to imply that by just *thinking* about talking to my manager about it made me a jerk.

              2. Allison*

                “I don’t want to sound rude, but this isn’t really any of your business and does not personally concern you.”

                People don’t normally say this unless the person they’re talking to is being a jerk and needs to be told off.

              3. TootsNYC*

                Actually, it would concern me–I’d have trouble sleeping if she killed herself because she was emailing me while driving!

                And I think I could say that directly to her.

          2. Viktoria*

            Lots of companies have device-free driving policies though, that encompass (in theory) non-work activities. Obviously it’s not enforceable if you’re texting your friend or whatever from the car on the weekend, and I don’t think it should be, but it seems like it would be perfectly enforceable to prohibit working while driving (sending e-mails is, after all, working).

            All that said, I don’t think I’d say anything to my manager. I might say something offhand to her directly, if we had a good enough relationship. “I see you’re often e-mailing from your car- I’m worried about you! Not worth risking your life for!” Ultimately, though, she’s an adult.

          3. catsAreCool*

            If someone is texting about work and gets into a crash, could that get bad publicity for the company? I think it might.

        2. AW*

          That only works when driving on company business. My employer actually has a policy about using mobile devices on driving and they specifically acknowledged that they can’t do anything about what people do on their commute. They encourage us to be safe and hope we will be but unless it’s on company business they can’t make us.

    3. Isben Takes Tea*

      Oh my gosh this would drive me crazy too, and I wouldn’t be able to let it go. I’m not sure how I’d treat it, though, whether it should be a talk to them directly first or go to their manager.

      I’d love an update one you decide!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It won’t kill them not to text or email while they drive, but it might kill them if they do.

      Worse yet, some innocent driver or pedestrian could be killed.

      As you can guess, I’m strongly against it, too.

    5. Charby*

      I understand your concerns; it really is dangerous to do any of those things while driving. Actually typing is of course dangerous but fiddling with the GPS or even opening emails is dangerous too. It’s amazing how much distance a car can cover in that blip of time, or what can happen on a road at the time. Most people who think they’re great at multitasking are really great at switching back and forth between tasks seamlessly — which is NOT the same thing as literally working on two separate tasks at the same moment in time.

      My main concern about approaching a manager is that you can’t really prove that she wasn’t pulled over or at a gas station or something at the time. If she’s feeling defensive about it she can deny that she actually texts while driving and then you’ll look like a “tattler” (even if she has previously admitted to you that she does text at red lights). That’s just my two cents, but unless you can prove that she’s texting while at a red light or while her vehicle is in motion (rather than while she’s parked, at a gas station, or some other place like that) it might not be worth it to go to a manager first. I would instead keep talking to her about it at first. Try a less accusatory tone to begin with and focus on the fact that your emails aren’t that time-sensitive that they have to arrive at the office before she gets to work.

    6. Natalie*

      “Am alone in thinking that e-mail and driving don’t mix?”

      Uh, absolutely not. If I was telekinetic a lot of people’s phones would have burst into tiny pieces.

      What to do though… that’s tougher. At a minimum, I’d personally refuse to drive with her if that ever comes up. I blacklisted two of my co-workers because they wouldn’t stop emailing while driving. I’ll rent a car and drive separately rather than end up wrapped around a tree, thanks.

        1. Allison*

          I’ll be honest, I send those too if I’m heading out to my parents’ house, but usually while I’m still parked at my building, before I actually start driving.

    7. asteramella*

      It’s becoming more frequent for companies to implement formal “responsible use” technology policies for precisely this reason.

    8. Almond Milk Latte*

      Eh. I send emails “from the car” all the time.. While I’m waiting in line at Starbucks, stopping for gas, waiting in line for a bagel, etc. She may not literally be driving.

      1. Shell*

        Yes, this.

        Also, it’s possible she’s using voice-to-text functions, so she might not be texting, just talking to the phone.

    9. K5280*

      For what it’s worth, I work with several corporations that give their EEs a company phone and they must sign an acknowledgement form in order to receive that benefit. There is a clause in there they they must initial that indicates that they are required to know and adhere to the local and/or state laws governing cell phone use while driving.

    10. ThursdaysGeek*

      At our company, she could get in serious trouble for using a phone while driving. And our managers would want to know, too. You don’t use your phone for company business or in a company vehicle unless the vehicle is parked. It’s also illegal and a primary offense in our state.

    11. Beezus*

      I would talk to her directly. Texting/browsing/emailing while driving is something I feel passionate about, and I never let it go without saying something. Nothing is that important that it can’t wait until you get to your destination. People don’t think. How are the people you’re reaching out to going to feel if something happens to you while you’re doing it? Can you imagine?

    12. Honeybee*

      My commute time is my time to get engaged or disengaged from work. I don’t want to be answering emails or anything. At most, I’ll think about my to-do list for the day, but mostly I just belt out songs from my Spotify playlist and relax. And drive.

    13. Rebecca*

      I’m with you, it drives me crazy! I’ll usually reply back to the email to say something like, “No hurry! Eyes on the road!” or something like that if it’s a colleague that I have a good relationship with.

    14. AnotherFed*

      Do you know she isn’t using a text-to-speech function? Or sending an “I’m on my way now.” email while locking her front door vs. while actually driving? Heck, in my old carpool van, the deal we had all worked out was that the shotgun seat had to be the driver’s designated texter/emailer – it was a way to make more people willing to drive and reduced the competition for the front seat/made it feel more fair (it was a captain’s chair and the back was bench seating, so it was a much nicer seat).

  19. Simplytea*

    How do you deal with people who are just absolutely lack self awareness? I’m talking about, think they’re the greatest coworker ever, helps everyone, does fantastic work, and yet literally can’t accomplish any tasks given to them?

    One of my superiors is like this, but one of my previous coworkers was as well. Is there a tactful way of calling attention to this whether or not someone is your superior?

    1. fposte*

      Unfortunately, no. There is no tactful way to call anybody’s attention to being the kind of person that bugs you. And it doesn’t sound like it harms you any–it’s just really annoying.

      So what you do is get better at ignoring it–or at finding it really (privately) funny.

      1. Simplytea*

        My whole team is trying–but she takes credit for everyone’s work, talks herself up to the higher ups, and ruins everyone’s morale.

        It’s mainly the ruining morale that’s the issue–and gosh it’s so annoying when people talk about how great they are!

        1. fposte*

          Okay, that may give you a little more to work with. How does she do this? Does she explicitly diss you guys and say she did all the work herself, or does she just never say that it was a team effort? (In which case the higher ups know damn well she didn’t do it all herself, so I wouldn’t worry.) Are there other specific things she does that ruin morale, or is it basically that you feel like all your work goes to making her look good and going nothing for you?

          1. Simplytea*

            Oof, where do I start? She gets forced to do things by the head honcho and then goes around telling everyone how nice she is for taking it off people’s plates. She sends lists to our boss (the head honcho) of ALL the things she does and how busy she is when we just do our work quietly. She says we’re ganging up on her because we disagree with her and cries to the boss. She nitpicks on every tiny mistake and says “come to my office” and beats you up for something that’s very small or a one-time random occurrence. She complains to the boss that we eat lunch together and don’t make her feel part of the team when of course we’re not going to eat lunch with her when she’s above us, that’s weird.

            Every time she’s given something she passes it on to someone else via delegation. She just hired someone to do the work we thought she was doing, and at this point, we have NO idea what she does all day. In fact, when the head honcho leaves she often leaves early or talks to her husband on the phone for an hour after complaining all day about how busy she is.

            And the list goes on and on and on and on and on…

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, that sounds like more of a problem than “she talks big about herself.”

              But I thought she was your boss. If she’s not your boss, what does your boss think? Does your boss do anything with these lists of how terrible you all are, or does she shrug them off? If the boss is forcing her to do things, the boss must have her on the radar.

              1. Simplytea*

                It’s weird–I kind of have two bosses? She’s a “superior”, but I don’t report to her. We both report to the same person.

                Our boss sometimes says strange things like “you guys gang up on her” and then ignores her but also takes everything she says into account. She’s been here for like 15 years. Boss says like “she’s abrasive but she’s fair” and then says something about how she’s going to do something about it and never does. Or she says “she made us XYZ money” and that’s why she’s here. Eh. I guess maybe I’m just here to complain. Not sure if there’s anything to do, really.

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, it sounds like something that your boss would have to manage and your boss isn’t really interested in doing that.

                  So I freely offer you commiseration, because she sounds like a royal PITA and an energy suck.

    2. Nanc*

      At OldJob I worked with someone like this. I finally took the Professor McGonagall to Gilderoy Lockhart route when she started reporting how much she was doing and how hard she was working on my project by turning it over to her and letting her hoist herself on her own petard. My department head kept pairing us up because the stuff would get done (by me!) and I finally said that I was too involved in other project and couldn’t do both and since Ms. GL wannabe was so fantastic she should take the lead.

      I had to clean up the mess, but I never had to work with her again. Alas, I am gone from that job and she lingers in another department, still in all her Gilderoy Lockhart glory . . .

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Heh heh.

        An old workplace contained someone who reminded me a lot of Dolores Umbridge. She was sweet, but a total sociopath. Except she could have given Umbridge lessons on how to slide under the radar.

  20. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    We had a visiting supplier this week and my boss did a horrible job of making him feel welcome. He didn’t bother taking him to lunch or dinner until his last night here, when my boss took his wife and 10-year-old son AND the supplier out together. He invited me and my coworker by saying “we’re having dinner tonight at 5:30, are you coming?” At 3:30 in the afternoon. No, I am not free for dinner plans with two hours notice.

    On top of that, my boss bragged about his fancy Keurig coffeemaker and said he was going to go make himself a cup of “nice Brazilian coffee” but told our supplier he was welcome to the drip coffee pot in the kitchen. How gracious to a guest.

    My boss also screwed up one of my appointments with the supplier, castigated him for not pronouncing the name of our city correctly, and yelled at us, the employees, for not doing something he had literally never mentioned in our lives. Oh dear.

    1. Anony-moose*

      This sounds like the environment where I work. Not sure if there’s really anything to be done. I had an interesting conversation with a coworker this week about how we lack a culture of gratitude and respect. It comes from the top down and as a result there’s been a lot of unchecked nasty behavior.

    2. the gold digger*

      Half of our team at OldJob was here for a week from Australia – and we scheduled NOTHING. I kept asking my boss if we shouldn’t organize at least one dinner, but he didn’t want to.

      On my own, I had invited two of my Ozzie co-workers to dinner on other visits – each of them had to be here for a month. Both of them told me that I was the only person who ever asked them to do anything in the evening.

      I was embarrassed and appalled for my office.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I was once on a business trip meeting with a team in another location, but since they didn’t like their boss, none of the proposed dinners and drinks took place.

    3. SherryD*

      The boss takes the supplier out to dinner? Shouldn’t it be the supplier treating the boss to dinner, to thank him for his business? That’s been my experience, anyway; obviously it could vary.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Usually we do both–our supplier usually takes us to lunch and we take him to dinner as a thanks for making the trip out to see us (in a different country) and general hospitality. Considering he was here for four days and all.

  21. Random Reader*

    Vent alert!

    It’s been a rough week at work. We implemented a new system with a lot of bells and whistles: unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as user friendly as our old system and doesn’t have a lot of the old things built. My boss is a hard worker, but an awful delegator- she wants everything to run by her, but there’s so much to do and she’s in meetings all day. I currently have a 2 page long list of process type things to run by her, but it’s hard when I only get 30 minutes a day at most. When we do have meetings, she’ll push them back or get involved in other things that interrupt our meetings.

    She’s looking to me to figure out how things work, but honesty I just need more guidance from her as she will be ‘abrupt’ about things not done exactly her way. The best example is a free program that usually costs $8,000. The free system works ok, but there’s no tech support and it’s difficult to work out. I finished my meeting with my boss fighting back tears as a problem that neither her or I expected popped up and it was my fault.

    I’m exhausted from my boss expecting perfection but not giving any guidance.

    1. MF*

      Ugh, that sounds so frustrating. I have a boss who works similarly in a lot of ways (not enough guidance, expecting perfection on new processes, and it’s always the fault of employees if we’re not able to read minds), and it’s incredibly difficult to deal with.

    2. AW*

      If you just need to hear from the outside that this is crappy and unfair, well, crappy & unfair is the nicest way to put it. I would be upset too.

    3. Fish Microwaver*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. My workplace has very unreliable technology (no uniformity of computer set ups, a very flaky house designed program that we rely on heavily but is prone to crashing, taking work with it, dodgy servers etc) and no matter what, it is always operator error. It sucks.

    4. Steve G*

      mmmm I’m not an expert but it sounds like its time to start making decisions on your own and dealing with the boss later. If she is in meetings all day, maybe she will never notice the decisions you made. If she calls you out on it, explain how she is never available.

      This reminds me of past job where first boss was very busy, travelled, and didn’t have the technical expertise to discuss the issues he wanted brought to him….and so I started making the decisions (which impacted larger and larger amounts of $$$) by myself, and it worked out well

      1. TootsNYC*

        can you start defining “umbrella decisions” for her? Either flat-out in front or her, or behind her back?

        She approves one thing, and you simply apply that approval to all the thinks loosely connected to it.

  22. Courtney B*

    How do you know when you are in the wrong career versus just the wrong job? My sister is definitely in the wrong job as per her own words. The management is terrible and have allowed several employees to remain employed that should have been fired years ago. She’s been job searching for 2 years but hasn’t found anything due to the economy.

    She’s been reconsidering her career choice and thinking if she’s in a totally wrong field. If she chooses to change careers she will do her due diligence and make a careful decision. I don’t want to steer her in any direction except to think carefully and do her due diligence. For those that changed careers how do you know when you are in the wrong career versus just a bad job?

    1. Jessica*

      I changed careers when I realized that all of my friends who were working in the same field but at different organizations all had similar complaints about their organization. I realized that even if I switched jobs, the new job would probably have the same problems I had with my previous job.

      Your sister could get a new job in her same field and then change careers if it turns out that she is in the wrong field. But if she isn’t finding anything after two years, she might need to switch careers out of necessity.

      1. themmases*

        This is how I think about it too. I’m changing between two related but definitely different career tracks (from clinical research coordinator to epidemiologist).

        I found that although there were things about my job that were uniquely terrible, there were some general things about the career path that I shouldn’t expect to change even if I moved or got promoted. I figured that out by seeing what my other options were as far as job openings and pay (and whether I even got called back for these not-great opportunities), and getting involved in a steering committee at my old employer.

        Another big question is whether you want the leadership or advanced individual contributor jobs in that career track. From my committee work I saw that people who were, to me, a big deal had the same problems I did and had people below them leaving for the same reasons I was thinking of leaving. It confirmed my sense that the jobs people worked long and hard to get in that career track weren’t interesting to me.

      2. Oryx*

        “I realized that even if I switched jobs, the new job would probably have the same problems I had with my previous job.”

        This. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge what issues are inherent to a field and what is specific to a job. I spent years working in my field and always thought what left me unhappy was specific to each job, but I recently switched to a related but very different career and have none of those same problems and am much, much happier.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Though….

          I stayed at a job where I was really “done” with it because I thought, “it’ll be the same boring stuff anywhere else, only the people will be new. And I won’t know the organization at all well enough to be effective. And if I stay here, the cast of characters changes every couple of years anyway.”

          It became horribly demotivating.

          Then I got laid off, got a new job exactly like the one I had before, and even t hough the same old stuff is going on, it feels OK. I’m happy.

    2. puddin*

      My philosophy is that I should enjoy 80% of what I do for a living – the tasks, meetings, goals, people. This is the fun stuff, the things that I always like to do, things that I am good at and make me beam with pride for a job well done. Does she enjoy 80% of her role? If so, maybe its just a company move.

      The 20% I do not enjoy is a ‘normal’ amount of work pain and what I get paid for – busy work, tech problems, that one guy who is a jerk.

      Recently my 20% grew to about 60-70%. Not Good. I wrote down everything I did not like. It was depressing but I plowed through it. When I looked at the list, I could see that really I needed to switch my role more than the company. It turns out that in order to switch my role I also had to switch companies due to lack of opportunity.

      That was my process maybe it will help…

    3. Honeybee*

      I think it’s a very personal kind of thing, and depends on the circumstances of the career. I knew I was in the wrong career, but I’m having a hard time explaining why in words. I was in academia, but I just didn’t like the pressures of trying to get a job in a super-tight field; of fighting on the tenure-track; of being expected to work “80 hours a week” (which is really working probably about 50 hours and just looking busy the other 30); and the work just seemed so pointless other than teaching – which ironically was the devalued part of it. Any job in academia would’ve been like that. Besides, as I told my postdoc before I left, my postdoc was actually the best possible situation: I had a lot of freedom to decide my own projects; I came and went when I wanted; I didn’t have to teach, so I had unlimited time to work just on my research; I had a pretty generous research budget and above-average pay for a postdoc. I was still bored and restless. That was my cue.

      I don’t know how to put that in more general terms. I guess on some level I just didn’t like the tasks I’d be expected to do in the majority of jobs in that field, and I was bored and restless with the idea of doing it for the next 20-30+ years. And looking at job descriptions in the field did not make me excited the way looking at job dxs in the career I switched to did.

  23. Regina*

    I’m working on a cover letter for a really exciting job opportunity at Doose’s Market, and the job listing says to email the cover letter and resume to Kirk Gleason in HR. I know from the description that the job, however, reports directly to Taylor Doose. So should I address my cover letter to Kirk or Taylor?

    Of course, my email will be addressed to HR Kirk, and the cover letter will be a PDF attachment. So if I were to address the cover letter to Taylor, the email still acknowledges that it’s going through Kirk first. But what if Kirk has major authority in the application sorting process and then I awkwardly have the letter addressed to Taylor? Would that make Kirk think less of my application?

    1. Jessica*

      I think you are overthinking it – not that I blame you, that is very easy to do. I would address it to Hiring Manager and be done with it.

    2. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      Ah, Gilmore Girls. So much nostalgia.

      And address it to Kirk since the posting said to. It’s not going to be a big deal to Taylor if it’s not addressed to him. Following application instructions is more important than extreme correctness.

      1. Regina*

        Thank you, everyone, for the input! I’ll address the letter to Kirk. I AM way overthinking this one, because I just relocated back to my hometown (lived in a expensive west coast city, wasn’t making ends meet, moved home for lower cost of living and to be by family, no job lined up when I moved, just had to get out before going completely broke) and there aren’t many job opportunities in my field here. I really don’t want to settle for something in another field, so I need to make these applications count.

    3. Allison*

      Kirk is the person who’s going to read your cover letter first, and if he likes you, then he’ll either interview you first or set up an interview with Taylor, or *maybe* he’ll send your application to Taylor to see what he thinks. But you’re sending the materials to Kirk, so address them to him.

    4. Audiophile*

      Regina, you’ve just become my new favorite for throwing in GG references. Too awesome!

      You are overthinking it a bit. Even when I know who the position would be reporting to, I generally address the cover letter to “Dear Hiring Manager” (formerly “Sir or Madam”). I usually put my cover letter in the email, unless instructed otherwise.

      1. Pretend Scientist*

        I dunno, Taylor was manager of everything in Stars Hollow. He wouldn’t appreciate it being addressed to Kirk!

  24. Jessica*

    Thank you, Alison! This week, I accepted a new job with a significant pay increase. I doubt I would have aced my application and interview without your guidance. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, advice, and time.

  25. Squirrel*

    Let’s all remember that we’re here to help each other and other readers of this website, not to make severe judgments of them, or insult them, or pile on them because we didn’t like their “tone” or their word usage or whatever. This has happened a lot lately, but it was most notable in yesterday’s thread about Jake the spying coworker. People were all over the OP’s ass for saying that she was competent and polished, and were insisting she had some sort of tone to her letter (that many people, including Alison herself, did not read at all), and then implied it was all in her head.

    Yes, there are times when it is necessary to be “hard” on an OP, and sometimes they do have a snarky/rude/shitty tone or an odd word usage for whatever reason, but there are better, more mature ways to discuss the issue with them, instead of insulting them or piling on them repeatedly. A few people in the comments section of the post even said they were hesitant to post in this open thread today because of the general feelings in the comments section, and people’s reactions to that letter. They thought they would then be attacked by people because of some sort of tone their post might have.

    I think a good rule to follow would be similar to Alison’s posts about tattling versus actually discussing a problem: Is your post constructive? Is it just there to insult/belittle/condemn the OP, whether necessary or not? Are you offering any insight or advice? Are you making an actual contribution to the general (or a specific) discussion, or just piling on? Let’s work to be helpful and informative instead of rude or insulting.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Thanks. I rarely comment on the OP in a negative way but I was one of the ones who read into her tone that way and you’re right in that it really wasn’t helpful, nor did it really contribute to the conversation in any productive way.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      Sometimes I have to force myself not to call people’s bluffs here. There’s a difference between, “Here’s a left-field example of a situation that seems strange, but I actually have experience with this, so I’ll throw it out there,” and, “I have a little bit of general knowledge about this subject, so I’ll act like an expert and shout down people whose insights are maybe a bit more relevant.” The commenters sometimes like to pick and choose what they take at face value, and in general, I don’t always agree with the general consensus here when it comes to reading people or certain real-world situations.

      1. Steve G*

        I concur…….(which is why I only comment if I’ve actually experienced something before, which is why my comments have been ebbing because there are so many new-to-me situations).

        It annoys me in other places where people use the internet to play expert. Not sure if people do it here, because I don’t know the readers, but on another blog or two, I’ve been called out for citing facts/news stories by people who clearly knew less on the topics than me, and it is awkward, and doesn’t happen in real life, and is annoying!

    3. LBK*

      I think there can be value in presenting another opinion – I was one of the people who commented about looking at things from Jake’s perspective yesterday. However, I think it should be done with the intention of helping the OP address the situation, not for the purpose of saying the OP is wrong or that their frustration doesn’t matter. In other words, it should be more like “Here is a possible explanation for your coworker’s seemingly irrational behavior that may help inform your mindset as you speak to this person.”

      I do also think it’s okay to question the OP’s read on a situation sometimes, but I agree there tend to be a ton of not-so-helpful “but the situation could actually have been X! you don’t know from the outside!” comments. It’s especially the implied “…and therefore you should just not do anything” that seems to follow those comments that annoys me. Okay, you may not know what’s going on, but that doesn’t preclude you from asking and then addressing whatever the answer is.

      1. BRR*

        I love the alternatives people present because some are things I never have considered. But they should be phrased more as “is it possible jake is doing this” vs “wow you just put down jake, he totally has a side in this story”

    4. BRR*

      Yes thank you. I feel like I’ve been stating things and saying they’re not all inclusive and somebody replies about how there are exceptions.

      Every so often as a comment base we tend to get fiesty and need a talking to. Not sure why but over the years I’ve seen it go down this way a couple times a year.

    5. F.*

      Another thing to remember is that we all have different communication styles. Some of us are more task-oriented and tend to get straight to the point without a lot of sugar coating. Others are more relational and deliver their point in a less direct and softer manner. When someone has worked up enough anger/frustration to write in, they have already thought about the problem quite a bit and may feel they have looked at it from every angle possible. That’s when other viewpoints come in. I tend to play devil’s advocate at times without coming right out and saying I’m doing that. Emotions may be raw, and offense may be taken where none was intended, as I think happened last night. I have also noticed a trend of hypersensivity to perceived slights being encouraged in American society, especially in the media and on college campuses. As humans, we are all going to be angered/annoyed/and even insulted at times by others. The key for me is to take away what is valuable from the exchange and let go of the rest without “shooting the messenger” who is telling me something I don’t want to hear or telling it in a way I don’t like.

      1. Squirrel*

        I agree that people are definitely hypersensitive, and that’s it’s being actively encouraged (for some weird reason), but in yesterday’s post, a poster specifically asked the OP if it was all in her head, in a very snarky way, and the rest of their post came off with a negative tone as well. There is absolutely a need to hear both side of a situation and to look at things critically from all aspects, but sometimes it’s either “care trolling” or just a lesson in futility. The fact that the OP specifically said that her other co-workers noticed this behavior *and* commented on it to her suggests that she wasn’t making any of this up, or misinterpreting Jake’s behavior. It seems silly–the me at least–to question the OP in that regard.

      2. fposte*

        I enjoy a bit of devil’s advocacy myself, but I think it’s worth contemplating whether we’re being useful by offering up Satan’s position. That’s not always helpful to somebody who’s concerned or perturbed about a sticky situation, and I think sometimes we lose track of being helpful to the questioner in our enjoyment of the conversation.

        And it’s the questioners that I get a little concerned about in this. That’s a hugely vulnerable thing to do, to write in to a big audience and ask for help, and they’re usually already stressed by the situation. I can do a lot of damage with good intentions in a situation like that, so I try to remember that to be truly helpful, I need to bring awareness as well as good intentions. I don’t always manage it, but I still try.

        1. fposte*

          The other thing that occurs to me, on the devil’s advocate thing, is that if it’s more than a single comment, it can be tough to distinguish from adversariality. Bring up a point once about something the OP may have overlooked? Sure, if it’s done nicely. Post repeatedly about it? That’s not what the devil is paying anybody to do.

      3. Honeybee*

        I don’t know, I feel kind of itchy about the term “hypersensitive” as it is normally used. I don’t think hypersensitivity is being encouraged so much as I believe that “American society” is becoming more aware of and more willing to discuss slights and microaggressions that heretofore were ignored or considered “status quo” or just regular interactions. I’ve also seen “hypersensitive” used mainly against people in marginalized groups (women, racial/ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, etc.) who are reacting to perceived discrimination.

        I agree that we are all going to be irritated with others at times, but I do think that we should think critically about that irritation/annoyance and decide whether it’s necessary. Like, if I intend to play devil’s advocate,should I announce it so that the person knows that’s what I’m doing? Do I even need to play devil’s advocate – is the “devil’s” scenario a realistic one that might actually help the person in question? Answering those questions can go a long way towards reducing the chances of offending or insulting someone – because why insult someone if I don’t have to ?

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s possible to be hypersensitive, but I also think it’s possible to be hyposensitive. If somebody gets upset at something I said, I think it’s worth considering if I wasn’t sensitive enough; the glitch isn’t automatically on the side of the reactor.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I do agree that American society has become a lot better about many, many things. I can remember growing up, it was normal to hear “Didn’t your mother teach you anything?” Well, my mother was sick so no, she did not. We are now much more aware that a person may or may not have a mother or if they do that mother may or may not participate in the person’s life for any number of reasons.
          Back then I can remember the question being ask dripping with snark and disrespect, coming from an adult that was supposed to be role modeling adult-like behaviors. Okay the person looked very, very foolish to me. What was disturbing was the number of adults that felt it was okey-dokey to speak this way to a younger person. It was a norm in that time frame. I don’t see or hear of people asking this question any more.

          I think, collectively, we are much more aware of other people’s different experiences than we have ever been in history. BUT. As we see right on this forum, we (society) have a looong way to go. We have only started to begin to learn what it is like to be someone else.

  26. kbbaus*

    Hi all! I found out that my position (Benefits Analyst) at my current org will be eliminated on Oct 2. I’m looking for advice on pursuing an entry level IT Project Management role that’s open in my org. I’ve done a lot of project work in my HR career including process documentation, recruiting strategy builds, and researching and documenting our benefit practices in the 14 other countries we operate in outside the US. But I don’t have real PM experience.
    Any advice on what kind of questions I should be prepared for in an interview and what kinds of things I should highlight from my own experience?

    Any thoughts and advice would be highly appreciated!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Do you know the methodology they use for project management, I’d start be finding that out and then do some research around that. PRINCE2 and waterfall for example are common methodologies and if your company use either of them you should be familiar with the terminology and definitions and concepts, you can also talk about being keen to do any certification associated with the methodology you’d be working with.

      Work through the job description and find recent examples from your work history that relate to them, When you’ve undertaken the projects you mention how much responsibility did you have for the final result? how did you keep stakeholders engaged.

      I’d expect questions about getting peoples by in and cooperation, how you have negotiated bottle necks, when have you missed a deadline or failed to deliver and how you keep on top of the project tasks (workflow software, spreadsheets, emails or a note book that sort of thing)

      Above all reach out to any other project manager who will talk to you over a coffee and ask their advise, I did this for an analyst job I’d applied for and it was really useful and made my interview so much stronger.

  27. Log Lady*

    Random email thing. I know a while back there was a letter about someone being annoyed about their boss emailing them with “Please advise.” My boss used to do that, but not it’s turned into when a customer needs something, he’ll forward the email to me, and all he’ll say is “Please…” I can’t explain why it irritates me, it just does. It feels like it’s weird and pleading, and I don’t feel like it’s proper to continue with the email trail with the customers with that in the middle of it. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading into it, but I’d almost rather him say nothing.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Hah! My recent peeve is people ending emails with “Please and thank you.” You are not Ron Swanson, and it feels very condescending, like you’re assuming I’ve already agreed to the request.

      1. Log Lady*

        Hahah, to be honest, I would love to work for Ron Swanson at this point.

        I just looked back and found one he sent that said “Help…” I remember my first reaction, that I avoided, was to to email him back to ask, “What? Are you stuck down in a hole?”

    2. Sara The Event Planner*

      That is pretty weird! It’s not like it would take that much longer to write “Please follow up on this,” or even “see below.” Just “please…” comes across as weirdly dismissive IMO, like the email equivalent of a “you’re excused” hand wave. That being said, it might just be one of those weird boss quirks you have to deal with. He more than likely doensn’t mean anything by it, and doesn’t realize how strange it comes across.

      1. Log Lady*

        He comes across as strangely pleading when he’s trying to be polite when talking to you as well. Like, when giving you a task, sometimes he comes across as an exasperated parent of a teenager, begging them to do their homework, when all he’s doing is giving you a task you do multiple times a day. He’s quirky.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      It does create such a weird tone! At PreviousJob ALL of the senior leadership team had the weirdest habit of ending statements with “…”

      “I think it’s too soon in the year to take that on…”
      “Can you schedule something soon…”
      “We should ask what Bob thinks…”

      The tone in my head is like they’re trailing off because what they’re responding to is so unspeakably stupid that they can’t even punctuate the sentence. It’s like the punctuation equivalent of a grimace and side eye. It was just an odd cultural thing but it does come across as so weird!

      1. Liza*

        My sister told me she used to work with someone who would often end sentences with an ellipsis because “it felt friendlier”. Maybe your old SLT wanted to be friendly?

        1. Jillociraptor*

          Yeah, I think it does come from a desire to not appear short or overly-directive. Softens the command a little bit.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            In person conversations, a person’s voice would trail off, allowing room for another person to speak.
            Unless the was a history of other problems with the boss, I would just figure the ellipsis was my opportunity to speak on the matter.

    4. LBK*

      Oh god, my manager has a really annoying habit of using a million ellipses in every email. I don’t think he’s ever used a comma or a single period. It makes every email come off really sarcastically, like “how could you even ask me the question…”

      It wasn’t until I sat behind him while he wrote an email that I realized that’s just how he writes and not to infer a tone from it. I’d try to do the same – just act like you’re reading an email in another language where “Please…” translates to “Can you look into this?” in English.

    5. Ife*

      I’m finding this to be oddly funny. I think it’s the way it comes off as lazy and pleading (and a touch sarcastic) that makes it seem so off, plus I can almost-but-not-quite picture my manager doing the same thing.

      I would just erase the word when I replied to the chain, so it looked like boss forwarded the email without comment.

      1. Log Lady*

        I never found it sarcastic because my boss doesn’t pull of sarcasm very well at all, but the thought of it being sarcastic has be giggling now.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I can see how that would sound like pleading. I would want to write back, “but your kidnappers have NOT sent a ransom note yet”.

      I think this type of thing is a handy substitute for the real problem. I had a boss that wrote “pls do x, y and z. TY.” You are asking me to do things that take hours and you cannot even write out the word please or the words thank you? Yep. BEC stage. There were many other things running in the background that needed to be addressed and never, ever would be. The “pls and ty” were symptoms of the problem but not the problem itself.

      I think the customers will just read it as is. They emailed him. He forwarded it to you for handling and he is politely saying please to you. People who handle a lot of repetitive work together, over time tend to develop a lingo all their own, usually just a word or two that means, “The same thing I ask you for with 2,000 other people.” My boss uses the word “envelop” and I know she wants me to do the well worn path of a particular 15 step process. I don’t need her to describe the process. I just need her to tell me to do the process. (I do not make the decision if the process needs to be done in each instance, she makes those decisions.) I was the one who chose the word “envelop” to give the process a name, using the name of the process saves her a huge amount of time/energy. “Do the envelop process here.” or she can write a post-it that simply says “envelop”.

  28. Holly*

    Update on last week: I still haven’t told IT Guy that he’s being inappropriate. Mainly because I’ve had a rough week personally and just didn’t want to deal with it too. He’s kept his distance, mostly out of being busy himself, but he did come by once and say that I looked beautiful and offered to come to my house one day and help me trim my cat’s claws. The latter wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for all the intense one-sided flirting.. sigh. And the “what’s shakin, good lookin?” line came back.

    Meanwhile, my actual boss accidentally replied to my email with the line “coming over to play with you…” which he meant to mean “coming to your desk to mess around with the ad in Photoshop with you” but you know. I replied saying “X, that doesn’t sound right – but I got your meaning!” I found it funny because I’d never think he was trying to be inappropriate. He’s super professional. He wrote me back a long, not necessary apology. I thought the comparison was interesting – one line from him and he’s bending over backwards to fix a non-issue, but meanwhile, IT Guy… sigh.

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      Thanks for the update…I totally understand needing to put things off in order to deal with the now. We’re rooting for you! Keep us posted.

    2. Sunshine Brite*

      Haha, IT guy sucks but your boss sounds pretty awesome. It’s so easy to make a phrase sound wrong nowadays.

      1. Ife*

        I’m a programmer. I always double-check my words before I ask anyone to do something with my (code) packages. :)

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I hope you can draw some appropriate boundaries with the the jerk from IT. Did he seriously say “what’s shakin, good lookin?” ? because WOW! I’ve got nothing to say to that, literally nothing , that’s not a great line anywhere but is so inappropriate to say to a co-worker

      At least your boss is acting reasonably.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Not only is it inappropriate, but it isn’t even correct. It should be “What’s cookin’, good lookin’?” I hate it when people are offensive, but somehow it annoys me more when they aren’t even accurate…

      2. Creag an Tuire*

        “…offered to come to my house one day and help me trim my cat’s claws.”

        ಠ_ಠ
        And to think that last week I was tempted to defend him as someone who may have just watched too many rom-coms and didn’t realize his attempts to make a “meet cute” happen were making you uncomfortable.

        Now I don’t want to be in a room with him, and I’m a 6-foot tall male.

        1. Holly*

          hahahaha. Well, in all fairness, we do frequently talk about our cats. But yes, an offer wasn’t extended by me, nor an implication that I wanted/needed help. I was a bit o.O myself.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The next time the IT guy says something like that, just deal with it really matter of factly: “Ick. Please don’t say that to me.” And then continue on with the conversation. Seriously, that’s all it might take and then this will be over. And if it’s not over after that, you say “did you not hear my earlier ‘ick’? Please cut that out.” Do it now, because the longer you wait, the more awkward it’s likely to be (and the less able you’ll be to address it with an in-the-moment offhand remark).

      1. CM*

        I have to say, one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had since I started following your blog is how it is totally okay (in fact, preferred) to be straightforward and assertive, rather than playing the self-doubt mind game of ”How on earth do I approach this uncomfortable situation without telling anybody else it’s an uncomfortable situation?”

        It has made me much more confident in my own life to stop second-guessing myself when something needs to be said!

        1. Clever Name*

          Totally. I have a coworker who would constantly comment on a pair of colorful pants I have. It was weird and creepy, so one time when I wore them I decided I’d tell him to stop if he made a comment. Predictably, he did, and I said something along the lines of , “can you stop talking about my pants? It’s getting weird”. It was awkward for maybe a day afterward, but I made a big effort to convey that I don’t hate him and we’ve been able to chat or joke about work appropriate topics.

          I also credit Alison for showing how you can be straightforward and maintain friendly relations with coworkers.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh.

      I know you know this, but you NEED to nip this in the bud as soon as possible. The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to draw that line, because in his mind, it looks as if your tolerating it means you welcome it.

      Your boss sounds awesome, so if you have any trouble with this creepasaurus, I’ll bet he’d have your back.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree. My wise friend said, “if you see a behavior three times, that means you have a pattern. A pattern needs to be addressed.” I have used his advice so many times. First time, is a free pass, second time is “okay, I am starting the count and this is number 2”, third time is time to have a chat.

        There are some things that you do not need to wait for three examples to speak up. Those are the things that are so clearly out of place or just plain wrong that they need addressing right away. But there are other things, where it is easier to wonder, “maybe it’s just me” or “maybe that person did not mean what I think”, etc and the waters get muddy. In those gray areas, I use my friend’s advice. I see x behavior three times and I know I must speak up on the third occasion.

        When I see it a third time, I start with a low key approach. “hey, I’ve heard you say x before, I got to wondering what you meant by that.” You can accelerate if need be. But I found that I very seldom needed to raise my level. Most people get what I am doing.

        1. A Teacher*

          Love this concept of 3 times a pattern! Need to use that in a teaching example with my students and remember it for classroom management. I think I probably knew that but you articulated exactly the way I can use it in the classroom setting. Thanks!

    6. acmx*

      “I thought the comparison was interesting – one line from him and he’s bending over backwards to fix a non-issue, but meanwhile, IT Guy… sigh.”
      You gave your boss notice about a poor choice of words but have you given feedback at all to IT Guy? Sounds like you haven’t.

      1. misspiggy*

        Because there’s no possible negative consequence from giving feedback to the boss. But giving feedback to the co-worker is going to make it clear that OP knows the co-worker is doing something unpleasant. In theory that should be fine – why shouldn’t the co-worker be called out? But women tend to get blamed in unwanted-attentions situations – so it’s natural to want to avoid bringing such a situation into the light.

  29. katamia*

    I’m having trouble adjusting to my job because it’s basically the opposite of my work style. I’ve always excelled in chaotic environments where what I’m doing changes all the time. I also freelanced before this job and absolutely loved being able to set my own hours. I never had problems getting things done or anything.

    The new job is in an office with very set hours, and I keep getting distracted just thinking about how much I want to Be Elsewhere and work on my own schedule. It’s also a veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery calm, laid-back office. No chaos at all, and I do exactly the same thing every day.

    Anyone dealt with anything similar? How can I make each day less awful? (It is an objectively non-awful job with nice coworkers where I can listen to music all day and wear whatever I want, including jeans and crappy plastic flip-flops, and nobody will care. I’ve been there a month now and I’m horrified at how much I hate every day there because it’s so objectively non-awful.)

      1. katamia*

        That’s what I’ve been thinking. It’s extra frustrating because the hiring process was so intense and I really worked hard and was excited about starting after I got the job. I knew it would be an adjustment after what I was used to, but I never thought it would be this bad.

    1. Vanishing Girl*

      I don’t have any advice, but I know what you’re going through! I have the same problems at my perfectly nice, good job that is way too chill for me.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I went from Hell to something very much like this, and all I can say is that you get used to it. I got used to Hell and now, if I had to work anywhere less laid-back, I think I would spontaneously combust.

      I think there was a previous post (or a comment thread, maybe on an open thread) recently about changing up your job and making it more interesting–mixing up tasks, giving yourself deadlines, etc. Maybe you could try that. Or if you feel like you’ve mastered your daily tasks, see if you can help someone else out or learn something new–though that might not be on your boss’s agenda after only a month.

      Either way, I’d give it a little more time–not to expect that suddenly raptors will invade the office, but that you’ll see more possibilities with it than you do now, once you get to know things a little better.

      1. katamia*

        There really isn’t much to mix up. :( I have almost daily deadlines, and it doesn’t make sense to do something that’s due Friday when it’s Tuesday, and it’s literally the exact same procedure for everything I have to do, other than a weekly check-in with the person training me (the highlight of my week just because it’s something different *sigh*).

        The person training me did mention that soon after my probation (3 months) ended, I’d probably be given some new duties because they were really happy with my work (nice ego boost, but I’m not going to get bent out of shape if that doesn’t happen because I don’t care and I don’t think the new duties come with a raise), but the new duties are very similar to the old ones, and, observing the people who do both what I do and the new duties, their days look basically the same as mine.

        Right now I’m holding on to how this will be great experience for when I go back to freelancing, but most days that just doesn’t feel like enough.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a job that was very fast paced with lots of unrelated things going on. We used to joke that we had gotten used to it and would not be able to work in calm, orderly place.

      I think there is a lot to what you are noting here. I went to work at another fast pace job but it was no where near as fast paced as the previous job. I listened to my coworkers complain about the pace and I kept my mouth shut.

      Now I am at a fairly normal job. It feels good not to go home falling down exhausted.

      You can set daily goals for yourself, even go as far as setting hourly goals. If you do not hit those goals find out why. Maybe the goals are not realistic or maybe you need to fix something you are doing.
      Take an extra interest in what is going on at work. Maybe there is a special task you can take on. Or maybe you can figure out ways to handle more of the repetitive stuff with even higher accuracy. Turn it into a game that you play in your mind.

      After work, find things to do with your extra energy. Maybe take walks at lunch or ride a bike after dinner. Take a look at your personal life- add interesting things to your time away from work.

      This last one may or may not apply to you. Chaotic environments are kind of tricky for these reasons:
      Chaos can feel like accomplishment (is it really, though?).
      The chaos can add a sense of importance where there would otherwise be no sense of importance.
      Chaotic environments can also cover/hide bad work habits. (Not saying you have bad work habits- noooo. But things that are acceptable in a chaotic environment might be totally UNacceptable in a saner environment. For example, you could be so used to repairing coworkers’ mistakes that you have forgotten what it is like to have coworkers that fix their own mistakes.)
      Some people derive energy from a sense of constant urgency. The problem with hopping from one crisis to another like this is that it burns a person out. You might be able to tell yourself that you are no longer relying on crisis hopping to get energy to go through your day. You will not burn out the way you did with previous jobs.

      If nothing here fits your situation and it does not trigger an ah-ha! where you think of tangent things, then you might actually be in a job that is not for you.

  30. Cruciatus*

    I could really use some tips on email management! I’m now a scheduling officer for a school within a university and it’s just nonstop. I’ve received more emails in the 5 weeks I’ve been here than in probably 1 or even 2 years at my last job. They are things that need to be done but just clicking the “to do” flag doesn’t mean I’ll look at it again. I’ve been leaving things that need to be seen again in my inbox but then I get 25 more emails after lunch and I don’t go looking again. If I put them into a folder I’m afraid it will be “out of sight, out of mind.” I may need to change some behavior here as well but does anyone have any recommendations? I have folders for things that I’ve done and want to keep record of but don’t want to see anymore. But how do I deal with the new stuff? For now I’m printing stuff so I SEE IT. But now I have huge piles (and I don’t like being a tree killer but until I have a better option I think I need to do it)! At least I see the work that needs done though. Help!

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Can you set up emails to automatically go to certain folders, based on subject line, etc? That way, you can prioritize what you are looking at, and a lot will be pre-organized for you.

    1. Natalie*

      I use folders and a clean inbox. When I get here in the morning or sit down after lunch/conference call/project time I spend time going through my new emails. I address anything that can be addressed in under 2 minutes (approximately) and then drop everything else into a folder. I check my to-do folders on a regular basis. I also found keeping an “Open Items” folder was really helpful – these are things that I know I’m going to need for an upcoming project, but they’re not really an action item, per se. I found they cluttered up my to-do folder and I would get overwhelmed, so quarantining them helped a lot.

      Ultimately, though, it sounds like a lot of what you need to do is develop habits. That takes a little time, so be patient with yourself. You *just* started this job.

    2. OfficePrincess*

      I use folders and labels for everything, then, to trick the system into listing specific folders at the top of the list I name them “!To Do” “!Follow Up” etc. I also set up filters to label messages from certain senders or subject lines so I can glance down and see what came in quickly.

    3. alter_ego*

      If you’re using outlook, I keep everything that still needs to be done in a folder labeled with a type of task, and I make sure that everything in the folder is marked as unread. This means a little number shows up next to the name of the folder, which makes it easy to keep track of how much stuff is in there that still needs to be taken care of.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I work with a shared email box – we also use subfolders labelled “Done” for things that are completed but that we need a record of. Also, we use dated subfolders as needed, too.

        1. Pipette*

          You can even set up Outlook to not mark e-mails as read until you have either replied to them or marked them as read manually.

    4. Rita*

      These suggestions are based on Outlook. I use rules to send certain emails to certain folders. I have folders with thousands of unread messages because I don’t need them unless I need to refer to something that’s going on. Then I have folders that are my critical ones that have top priority. My goal for those is to keep the unread count at 0 so I can easily see and address any new emails that come in.

      Also, Categories could be helpful also, so that you can label what you need with something in addition to the Flag. You can create colors and categories that fit your needs. Rules can also automatically assign categories, for example if there’s a keyword that you see a lot with import emails it can categorize them based on that keyword.

      I hope these are helpful. I know the feeling of changes from job with few emails to zillions of them.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Categories! Yes! The one really useful tool in Outlook!

        I create a new color category tag for each task, and a corresponding folder with the exact same title. I tag emails as received, and keep my Inbox sorted by category. By separating the emails on spouts from those concerning handles, it’s easy to see what needs to be done for which task.

        I use flags sparingly – too many tags (colors, subjects, and flags Oh my!) and you can’t tell the emphasis anymore.

        When I have completed the task, the categorized emails are dragged to the folder. Instant archive.

        1. Short and Stout*

          I do this too!

          Assigning categories allows you to organize emails while keeping those that require action in your inbox; this really helps me organize my time too, as I can close up all the categories except the one I want to work on and avoid task switching as new mail comes in.

        2. Renee*

          I have about seven colored tags that I use and then I move the email out of the in-box when it’s dealt with. I also have a “To Read Later” folder for articles.

    5. Dang*

      If I have something important that comes in through email that I can’t do, I add the email as a task with a reminder. It has helped me IMMENSELY- I used to add spots on my calendar but it got soo messy and looked like I was always unavailable.

    6. Liza*

      I need more email organization myself (so I’m going to be paying attention to this thread!) but I do have one tip I can add: for emails you don’t think you need to save forever but do need to keep for a while, make a folder with the name of the month. Keep each month’s folder for three months (or whatever length of time seems right to you) and then delete it or archive it.

      Right now I have 1507 July, 1508 August, and 1509 September in my folder list. (The number is two-digit year and two-digit month, to keep the folders in chronological order.

    7. BRR*

      Not entirely helpful but I use different folders including “archive” which is just basically stuff I want to reference but don’t want it in my inbox. I also use flags and reminders. I also keep anything marked unread that I need to address. So I might have to mark it as unread. My goal is to have nothing left unread.

  31. Yellow Flowers*

    I could really use the collective AAM brain for this one!
    I have an employee (that I supervise) that has been out on short term disability for a month. This is the longest time he has been out of the office as he usually takes a week of vacation at a time. Since he was out longer, a co-worker and I had to cover some of his responsibilities. I am finding out that a lot of his work is really not good. Lots of mistakes (not sure how some of them slipped by me), things thrown together seemingly last minute when there was lots of time to do them properly, just a real mess in getting to the final product, which was acceptable. I know that I have to talk to him about it, but how do I bring that up when he is just getting back? Do i let him settle in first, then talk to him about these bigger problems? Hit him with it when he first returns?

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      There can be some legal issues that crop up if someone feels that his/her employment status might not be stable right after returning from disability leave, even if your reasons are legit.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        but there is nothing illegal about managing the poor performance of an employee even if they are just back from disability leave not if there are genuine performance issues.

        Keeping good documents is a must in case there is a claim later but if the process is fare and reasonable there shouldn’t a problem.

        1. AnnieNonymous*

          That is definitely true. I was just cautioning against indicating too soon that the person’s job might be in danger.

          A friend of mine was recently laid off. The company had wanted to keep him, but they opted to keep someone who had just returned from disability leave, since the timing would have opened them up to lawsuits (laying off the one with the legally protected disability who only just returned to work).

          So yes, start with the assumption that things can be resolved, but also give it a bit of time before you start in with anything more serious.

          1. fposte*

            It wasn’t because it would open them up to lawsuits, though; it was because they were *worried* it would open them up to lawsuits. Those are two different things that sometimes get treated as if they were the same.

    2. fposte*

      I would wait until he settles in. But I would also consider if it’s necessary and examine the process and your supervision. If the final product ended up okay, does it matter what it looked like in the mean time and how it was completed? If it was okay because somebody else saved his bacon, what could you be doing so you would have known about that?

    3. Charby*

      Looking at the process is definitely worthwhile. I work in a field where there is a lot of emphasis on process and multiple layers of review before any one person’s work makes it to the final product. The way we get accountability is that if a reviewer finds a problem — even if it’s small — they send it back to the person who was in charge of it before to fix it. It’s possible that this employee doesn’t even know that his work is subpar because the problems are either being ignored or they are being fixed later on without letting that employee know.

      One thing that might help is to include him in that review process more — either by having him fix his own problems after they are identified or at least letting him know what he’s doing wrong. It’ll be hard to have this conversation at first — it’s important that he doesn’t feel like he’s being blindsided with ancient criticisms so I would frame it as an overall process improvement rather than a, “here’s why your work for the past several months is subpar” thing. Not only will it help this employee it will help you since you’ll spend less time correcting his mistakes and you’ll notice other problems with his work further in advance.

    4. Lizzy May*

      Not knowing why he was off is it possible that the issue could have caused some of the poor performance? I certainly don’t do my best work when I’m unwell. I’d let him settle a little and closely monitor the quality of the work he’s doing. If the problem is still ongoing then I would address it.

      1. Anonsie*

        I would wonder that as well. Keep an eye open for it going forward and maybe don’t do anything just yet. For one it may have been a temporary issue around whatever problem he’s having (even if you don’t think that’s possible due to the nature of his illness, don’t write it off as not possible) but also he’s already going to be under a lot of pressure when he comes back. Letting him get back to a normal pace is probably going to be important.

    5. BRR*

      This is tough because as mentioned, worrying about a lawsuit. I might ask HR for some guidance if they don’t suck.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like he needs to cut back on mistakes, use better timing so he can put more thought into his work and perhaps he needs some organization.

      On something this large, I have started by owning the parts that are my fault. “Bob, I should have been more clear. When you do A and B, I would also like you to do C at that same point. While you were out, I noticed that sometimes C was not done. Then I realized I had never told you to do A,B and C together.”

      This part will be easier to start with and he might adjust some of things he is doing, once he sees you are changing what you are doing. It could be that it works into a non-issue. It could be that he figured out you did not look at his work that much and now that he realizes you are, he will double up his efforts to ensure better work.

  32. Anony-moose*

    Anyone on Twitter? I’m enjoying the fact that #InAJobInterviewDoNot is trending right now (at the same time as the Friday open thread!)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t get on it until I get home because I can’t tweet from here, but I’ll look when I do.

      If I wasn’t tired of being piled on by meninists, I’d add:

      #InaJobInterviewDoNot -roll your eyes at your interviewer when you see she is a woman.

      Yes, this happened to one of my bosses at Exjob.

  33. Stephanie*

    Broadly speaking, I’m a number cruncher at an industrial plant of one of the big shippers. A big thing I’ve been doing lately is audits on our operation to make sure procedures are being followed., including checking the load quality of the 18-wheeler loads.

    So if I see a load that is bad, I am supposed to go in the trailer and talk to the loader and mention a couple of things he can do to improve (if there’s a good load, I’ll say something good to the loader and/or the supervisor). With the bad loads….I am unsure what to say sometimes aside from “Hi, just make sure you’re following the procedures from training class to avoid injury.” A lot of the guys in the truck are just trying to keep up with the packages coming into the trailer and don’t give a rat’s posterior about proper stacking and such. I think, too, it takes a lot to get even a warning, so most have picked up not much will happen if they do a poor job.

    I’m getting my big boss wanting to see improved numbers. Any suggestions?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      This sounds really hard for you to individually influence. It sounds like some parameters need to be put in place for performance–either incentives are penalties.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ugh, yeah. It’s hard to individually influence. Big Boss just wants the trailer utilization numbers up. Now, I’m a supervisor and not necessarily responsible for all the legwork, but I do need to try and coach when I can.

        We’ve got buy in from the floor supervisors (and have a few pilot loads we’re working on). But there aren’t really incentives either way for the loaders. It’s also a heavily unionized environment (not saying that’s a good or bad thing), so I think the loaders know that they have to really f*ck up to get fired or do something unconscionable like steal or punch a coworker. One of the supervisors said it took six formal warnings to let someone go. And I think the reward for doing well is….more work. (The people who do well do tend to get promoted into better jobs, if that’s what they’re interested in.)

    2. fposte*

      I’m with Bend and Snap–incentives sound like they’d be really useful here.

      Also, what’s the difference between the loaders who do things right and those who are just trying to keep up with the packages? Are the latter slower for some reason and are therefore scrambling, and is there an efficiency that could be taught to them? Could you ask them what they’d need to make correct loading easier?

      1. Stephanie*

        So that’s what I’ve been trying to ask. Management has a stereotype (that’s, um, sort of true) of being heavy handed and screamy, so I want to at least make it seem like I’m trying to get where they’re coming from.

        Well, first, no one will ever admit it’s his trailer. “Oh, I’m just covering for someone” or “Oh this is the day shift’s. See, this wall of packages is mine.” My boss is like “Only answer you’ll ever get. You could stand there for twenty minutes, watch them load, and ask and they’d say it’s not their trailer.”

        I think it might just be a work ethic thing? I think some of the longer tenured workers also have a lot of bad habits they’ve learned and done without any consequences.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t think it’s a work ethic thing. I think that no one has ever come up with a strong response to negate the power of that statement. They all know if they say, “It’s not my trailer.” then they are off the hook for whatever is wrong.

          Maybe you can find that strong response. “Well, it is your trailer right now, why did you accept the trailer in such condition? Why didn’t you tell the person before you that the condition was not acceptable?”
          Or maybe, “I know the trailer is not yours, I am asking you to fix Problem A. Will you do that?”
          This may/may not be a good idea: “Yeah, I know. It’s never anyone’s trailer. Everyone is just filling in. I am pointing out a safety issue/efficiency issue. Either ask the person who did it to fix or fix it for yourself.” In this example here you draw the problem out into the light of day, “Yeah, everyone says it’s not their trailer.” It has to be someone’s trailer. And it is impossible that EVERYONE is ALWAYS just filling in for someone. It sounds like a lot of ghosts work there and real people fill in for the ghosts who are never there. Once this excuse is shown to be no longer viable, you should start seeing differences. I am not impressed that your boss did not know to reduce the power that comes with saying “It’s not my trailer”.

          You are right, also, that if nothing happens for not following procedure then procedure may not be followed.

    3. OfficePrincess*

      No ideas, just sympathy. I’m not directly responsible for our load quality, but I am on the front lines for any blowback from the customers, and unfortunately stopping the floor to yell “Do it right, you fools!” doesn’t actually help.

    4. Beezus*

      Do you have latitude to be more assertive? I’m naturally a bossypants, so I’d be more likely to say something like, “Hey, stop, no, that heavy box is going to tip and hurt you if you load it that way, you need to lay it down” or “Whoa, wait, that stack is going to tip and get damaged, I need you to rearrange it.” I’d follow that up with more detail on why they need to do it the way I’m asking, and I’d work in a mention of the training class they should have learned this from. Words that are your friends include whoa, wait, no, stop, I need you to, you have to, you need to, you can’t, etc.

      What leverage do you have? I get that warnings probably aren’t going to happen – can you refuse to sign off on a load? Make a note of it on your audit sheet? Invoke your boss’s desire for better numbers? What about sending someone back to training if they persistently do it wrong? – nobody likes training, that could be a powerful motivator.

      You mentioned that a lot of the guys are just trying to keep up with the packages coming in and don’t have time to stack correctly, which makes it sound like the issues aren’t strictly performance/training based – that’s really important to know. Can you put some data together to show a correlation between package rate and audit results?

      1. Stephanie*

        Hmmm, that’s a good idea about comparing the audit quality and the volume. (I have data for the volume at hand as well.)

        I have some leeway to be more assertive (and they’d eat me alive if I wasn’t somewhat assertive tbh…women supervisors tend to get more pushback, unfortunately). Numbers I think are a little too academic for them to are about. Their supervisors do care about those–which seems to be the big motivator currently. I usually send out my results nightly and saw some improvement after a particularly bad night (when the Big Big Boss* emailed like “Ok, c’mon. Does this reflect your efforts?”)

        *Yeah….Big Corporate. Our management structure is definitely the hierarchical analog of those matryoshka dolls where your manager has a manager who has a manager who has a manager…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          How bold are you feeling? Maybe email big boss back and let him know that his email helped to bring on improvements. Ask him for more emails like that one. ;)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This is interesting to me, I have not actually loaded an 18 wheeler but I have been involved enough that I can kind of see what you are saying.

      Going back to the start- the boxes come down a conveyor belt(?) and get sorted on to trucks? Then you are supposed to check for load quality. I thought you were checking the items inside the boxes initially. Then I remembered where you work. So it must be loads have to be done in a particular manner, for example, big boxes on the bottom and smaller boxes on the top. And probably the boxes are fed randomly so it is a mix of different size boxes. And let’s at the pressure of “hurry up, work faster!”, also created by the company.
      So this is an on-going problem that is inherent in the system they are using and you are supposed to single-handedly solve it? (okay, I will roll with this.)

      Big Boss wants utilization rates to go up- I think this means packing the truck tighter. (oooo- is it possible to pack too much weight into these trailers?) Well, even sorting quickly one can still pack things pretty tight. Maybe you can say something on that. “Big boss is interested in getting denser loads on the trailers, do you see any good ideas on how that could be accomplished?” Draw them in to finding solutions. If you give them solutions, they may/may not use the solutions. But if they help to form ideas, buy-in might be easier.

      I really think that upper management has to be out there ahead of you, telling them this is important to do x, y and z. If you do not have the higher ups telling them first then it just makes your job rougher. I see no problem telling a boss that I need her to speak up and talk about Important Thing, in order to get people on the right page.

      Going back to the weight limit thing. Dunno if I can say this. A friend worked for Company. Company put very little into their trucks. The brakes were always marginal and in need of repair. The joke was do not be in front of Company’s truck in traffic because they may not be able to stop. You might want to find out if there are things like this going on that make the people even MORE reluctant to put a tightly packed load on the trailer. In my example here, a person could gain inroads with a crew IF that person advocated for their (seemingly) unrelated concerns about brake wear. Maybe this does not apply to your company, but my overall idea is to take a look, see how you can help them, this may help to break down some walls.

      1. Stephanie*

        So this is an on-going problem that is inherent in the system they are using and you are supposed to single-handedly solve it? (okay, I will roll with this.)

        LOL, basically. I might get my boss helping me out every once in a while.

        Boxes go down a conveyor belt, get sorted by destination and then sent to the trailers. The trailers I’m looking at will be say, a trailer of packages going to a Texas facility. And yeah…if I know what’s in the box, that’s a bad sign. :) Although when people ship marijuana (which happens all the time), it’s kind of obvious due to the smell from the plants/drug or the pungent substance used to cover up the marijuana smell (“Hmmm, this person is shipping 5 lbs of coffee or mustard seeds? Unlikely.”)

        Yeah, utilization is basically getting more density in the trailers. They had a pretty similar metric that the floor supervisors got and switched to one that’s kind of more confusing for the floor guys, but more precise for us. There is a specific method, which I learned and went to training for, just so I’d know what I was talking about.

        I like the idea of drawing them into finding solutions! The floor supervisors definitely get beat up a lot, so it can be good if it feels like they’re contributing positively and not being told they suck.

        Upper management is usually all for some new pilot metric, but it rare you’ll see them out actively championing it. *sigh*

  34. Bend & Snap*

    I have a workplace question from the consumer angle.

    My divorce lawyer blew through my $6500 retainer and produced no work. I’ve consulted with 3 other lawyers, all of whom think there’s some billing padding at MINIMUM happening with my retainer, and more likely I’ll have some recourse.

    I’ve hired a new attorney and my old one will be notified of the change next week.

    They’re chasing me for another $6500 to re-up my retainer in the meantime and it’s bordering on stalking. I’ve gotten 4 emails and 4 phone calls in the last 24 hours, sounding increasingly panicked.

    Professionally speaking, is this how lawyers act if they’re afraid a client is going to jump ship? I’m feeling stalked and stressed and since this is happening during business hours, it’s impacting my workday.

    1. Graciosa*

      Most bar associations have resources to help you in exactly this kind of a situation. Mind you, I think the simple thing to do is to just tell the firm you’re not happy with their service and are not prepared to provide another retainer. However I do understand that this can seem very stressful and hard to deal with – which is why the bar provides resources to help handle these types of issues (fee disputes, communication problems, whatever).

      But to answer your other question, no, this is NOT how lawyers generally act if they’re afraid a client is leaving. That’s another reason why alerting the bar association to how this one is handling it seems like a good step.

      Best wishes.

    2. Natalie*

      I’ve never hired a lawyer, so maybe the answer to this is obvious, but could your new lawyer tell your old lawyer to GTFO?

    3. Bend & Snap*

      Thanks both! I’m hesitant to tell them I’m done because I don’t want to tip them off that I’m having my new attorney examine their invoices. I’ve already had a couple of disputes with them over billing that they eventually caved to.

      I’ll look into the bar resources. It’s a family firm and they are coming off a little crazy.

      Natalie the new attorney will send them an official communication to that effect when my retainer check clears!

    4. Coax or trick or drive or drag the demons from you*

      I’m not a lawyer, etc.

      This is nothing you couldn’t find yourself, but

      http://www.lawyerquality.com/article_fees/

      I think it kinda comes down to the retention agreement you signed when you started working with this attorney, plus have they provided you with any kind of itemized bill? I believe that in general they are required to do so – and no, they can’t charge you for it, either.

      All that said: $6500 seems like rather a lot for an uncontested divorce. Although if there was contention over child custody or assets, the cost could easily go up quickly. Again: itemized bill. At $250/hour, he’s got 26 hours worth of ‘splainin’ to do.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        I have my itemized bill and it looks grossly padded. $27 for an unsolicited 2- line follow-up email. $900 to subpoena my bank records (which I just learned isn’t even a thing because I could have just printed them off myself).

        My ex doesn’t have a lawyer yet so this was basically 2 15 minute calls, 2 hour-long meetings, 2 draft UNFILED motions and that’s it.

        1. Chriama*

          I think you should talk to your new lawyer about possibly filing a complaint with the bar association for these current guys. If they’re padding their bills and frantically demanding retainers (and if your spouse doesn’t even have a lawyer yet, there’s not much work they need to do right now so I don’t get the panicked demands for another retainer — it’s not like there’s a bunch of time sensitive work they’re doing for free right now), there’s probably something weird going on and the Bar should know about it.

          1. Graciosa*

            On the other hand, you’re paying for your new lawyer’s time, and the bar association will normally have some time of free assistance available to non-attorneys who have complaints (my state has an entire function related to billing disputes). I would explore that option first before engaging your new attorney in billable work.

            1. Anonsie*

              Yep, my second attorney told me I could handle it all easily on my own and they were right. The bar association made it really simple, no other lawyer needed.

        2. Coax or trick or drive or drag the demons from you*

          > UNFILED motions

          And they’re probably based on templates, so it’s not like it took umpteen hours to write them.

          Again, I’m not a lawyer, but something to consider is: is your original attorney a solo practitioner? A Partner in a small firm? A Partner in a large firm? An Associate in a firm? Their motivation may be very different, depending.

    5. Anonsie*

      Look at the bar association where you are and see what their grievance process is. I had to do this myself under similar circumstances (though for considerably less money) and my new attorney was vehemently in favor of me submitting a complaint. In my state, they require that you contact the attorney you have the issue with and attempt to resolve it with them directly before you submit a grievance and they ask you to provide any possible documentation of that with it. You should check into it and see what the process is where you are and jump on it right away.

      Also, I don’t know how you’ve been replying to them about the new retainer, but the next time they contact you be extremely blunt. Extremely. “I am ending my relationship with Wanker and Dingdong, PLLC, effective immediately. Do not contact me about this again.”

    6. Anon Lawyer*

      Four e-mails and four phone calls is ridiculous. I am not a family lawyer, but this kind of behavior makes me sick, because it’s why people (including my own family) have such negative impressions of lawyers. I would certainly consider reporting this behavior to the entity that licenses lawyers in your state. Please know that there are a variety of bar associations, and some of them are voluntary (i.e., they don’t actually license attorneys). For example, Illinois lawyers are covered by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission; the Illinois State Bar Association has nothing to do with licensing. Also, local bar associations (google your city or county and “bar association”) frequently have resources available, including fee arbitration for unhappy clients.

      If I had to guess, your attorney was taking advantage of the fact that your soon-to-be-ex does not have an attorney (so no one on the other side to check bad behavior). I wish you the best in dealing with your situation.