open thread – January 8, 2016

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 :)

{ 1,163 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon for this*

    I am completely gutted by something I found out this week.

    It turns out that one of my references has been giving me absolutely terrible references behind my back. She agreed to give me positive references, my performance reviews from her are all fantastic, and then WHAM! I got a call from a job that I was recently turned down for, and they said they felt I should know that one of my references had given me an absolutely terrible reference.

    I asked her about it this week, and she swears up and down that she gave a great reference and would never give me a bad one. I asked around to two other recent applications, and they confirmed that there were “anomalies” in my references but weren’t willing to go into detail.

    1. Audiophile*

      I’m sorry this is happening to you.

      Is she a current manager or supervisor?

      Is there someone you can swap her out with?

    2. Sadsack*

      That is terrible! You were fortunate to find out about it. Is this completely out of character for her? I guess no matter what she tells you, you can’t trust continuing to use her as a reference.

    3. Coffee Ninja*

      That is unbelievable. I will never understand people who lie to your face like that. I guess she thought you wouldn’t find out?

    4. Spooky*

      Could you have a friend pretend to be a recruiter and call her? More information about exactly what she’s saying could help – maybe it’s possible that she’s mixed you up with a bad employee?

    5. Doriana Gray*

      Wow! Do you have any idea why this person would do that?! It’s unbelievable that people act this way, but I agree with the others who say at least now you know so you can stop using this person as a reference. (Or at least try to find other references that can counterbalance her negative comments.)

    6. Not Karen*

      Yikes! I’m sorry to hear that. If you’re interested, you could ask a friend to call her pretending to be a employer checking references and then the friend could report back to you exactly what she said and you could you report that back to her. It might be better to let it go, however.

      1. Adam V*

        > If you’re interested, you could ask a friend to call her pretending to be a employer checking references

        Do this, but with all of your references (just in case it turns out to be a different reference instead).

        If nothing else, it might give you something to go back to a couple of these companies and say “I’ve since learned that she has been telling people that [X], but in fact all of my reviews from my time with her say exactly the opposite, so if the process is still open, I’d be happy to forward you those reviews, signed by her.” Not sure they’d take that under advisement, but getting that email would certainly make me think “well, if her other two references were good, and we didn’t see any red flags during the interview, and it’s just this one person who’s an outlier, then maybe it’s worth seeing these reviews.”

    7. Dan*

      I’d get a friend to call and check what she says, if she’s lying about you, that’s legally actionable.

      The boss can tell the truth if it’s bad, and there’s nothing you can do. But I can’t figure out how you go from fantastic performance reviews to “absolutely terrible reference.” The things she would say that were negative would be much more nuanced, and not cause for someone to call you and tell you that you’re getting “absolutely terrible” references.

      1. TowerofJoy*

        Right – I’m wondering if there’s something negative she could say about you that you know of? Or is she just answering questions in a less than eloquent manner? I’ve had some reference checkers ask me some difficult questions I wasn’t prepared for. Now I am, but the first few times? It might have sounded like a bad reference when I didn’t mean for it to be.

      2. Anon for this*

        I do know some of the details of what was said, but I can’t say them on here without outing myself completely.

        Suffice it to say that I don’t agree. That said, if my performance is bad then SAY SOMETHING TO ME. We’ve had three straight performance reviews come back stellar, there haven’t been any off-the-cuff concerns, and when asked directly about it, she said I’m doing great!

        What. The. Actual. @2&3&37:7:8! (Sorry, my frustration is coming through)

        1. Dan*

          If you can “prove” it, take the proof to a lawyer and see what he has to say. I’m not usually one for quickly running to the legal system for employment related issues, but if any situation warrants a lawyer, this one seems to.

          Disclaimer; I only play lawyer on the internet, because IANAL. But this is really worth a consultation with one.

          1. fposte*

            There’s a qualified immunity in giving references. Unless the reference is knowingly lying–usually on the criminal accusation kind of level–there’s no illegality in giving a bad reference, even a surprise bad reference.

            1. Dan*

              See my comments through the whole thread, I’m not suggesting she sue over a bad reference, I’m suggesting that if the reference is knowingly lying, there’s something worth talking to a lawyer over there.

              I can’t comment on the case law surrounding this issue, but the statutory language doesn’t appear quite as strong as you indicate:

              (A) The presumption of good faith established in this title may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence that the information disclosed was knowingly false, disclosed with reckless disregard for the truth, deliberately misleading, disclosed for a malicious purpose, or in the violation of a civil right of the current or former employee.

        2. pieces of flair*

          Is she your current supervisor? Is it possible she’s giving bad references to sabotage your job hunt because she doesn’t want to lose you?

        1. Dan*

          If it’s a lie, it’s slander, and if she’s losing jobs over it, there’s certainly arguable damages.

        2. Chriama*

          Telling people something you know is false, when it causes harm to the party you’re speaking of, is libel or slander (depending on the medium). This is illegal, although can be tricky to litigate.

    8. the_scientist*

      WOW, that is truly terrible. I think it would be worthwhile to find out some more details about what exactly this reference is saying. Not to doubt the person who said “terrible reference”, but I’d be curious to see if she’s talking about specific details of your performance (which are easily refutable on a performance review) and about truly terrible things vs. maybe being a bit mealy-mouthed or sticking to things that wouldn’t be on a performance review.

      Either way, you can’t use this person as a reference anymore, but I’m curious- like if this reference is saying things that are demonstrably false and inaccurate, what is the next step? Do you confront them with the discrepancies and ask them to stop? Do you get a lawyer to write a cease and desist letter? I’d have a hard time letting this go, personally, because it just seems SO underhanded and sneaky.

      1. Anon for this*

        I have NO idea how to proceed from here, and I can’t say I’m having an easy time letting it go either. Then again, it’s only been a couple days…

        1. Bea W*

          Finding out someone not only lied to you but lied to everyone else sabotaging your chance at multiple jobs is not exactly the kind of thing one just lets go easily. So don’t be too hard on yourself over your totally normal feelings over being betrayed and viciously stabbed in the back. It really is as awful as you think it is.

          1. JDrives*

            Cosigning this. Anon, I am sorry you found out about this sh*tty thing, and I really feel for you.

    9. Bowserkitty*

      That is horrible!! It’s too bad you found out this late, but it’s good you found out, period, so you can change this going forward. :(

    10. Grey*

      I’d be tempted to call her out on it. Say, “Great! Acme Supplies is expecting your call to correct the misunderstanding. Thanks!”

      1. Anon for this*

        Actually, that’s exactly what I did. She said she would, but I’m not sure how much stock to put in that at this point… Sigh.

    11. Snow White*

      Urgh that sucks. I had something similar a few years back.
      I found out that whilst out to lunch with a recruitment agent who was a contractor for the company I used to work for, my successor was giving awful and infactual references/statements about me and my abilities! I hadn’t even met her!
      At the time, I was struggling to find work despite having great experience – wish I had pursued my hunches to find out who else she had been speaking too.

    12. Sunflower*

      It might be pretty far off but is there a chance they called someone who wasn’t on your reference list? Like an old supervisor you didn’t have a good relationship with? I would take the reference off the list for now and have a friend call the reference pretending to be a recruiter. I’d even go as far as waiting a couple months and then calling back in case she’s changing her tune temporarily since you’ve confronted her.

    13. Bea W*

      Wow. That’s beyond horrible. Why is this woman sticking it you like that? Are you currently working for her or the same employer? I am sorry this is happening to you and hope you can get an awesome job now that you know not to use her as a reference.

    14. JustMe*

      I had a former boss do this because she was very vindictive and angry that I left. I had moved on to start my own business and left on good terms, even agreeing to stay on two additional weeks past my resignation date because they hadn’t hired anyone. After leaving they never filled my position, and with the economic downturn ended up closing their location. I think she either somehow blamed me, or was just angry and wanted to sabotage my job search.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Wow, this is like everyone’s nightmare come true. I am so sorry this is happening to you. Are you able to contact her boss, or is she the top person in the organization? Did you know her to lie about things, or is this uncharacteristic? If it’s uncharacteristic, this has to be like a double shock for you. Please keep us posted on how things are going.

    16. mkb*

      Since you currently work with her, do you think this is a sabotage type thing? Maybe she doesn’t want to lose you as an employee and thinks this is how? Regardless of her motivation I would never use her again as a reference and once you leave the job cut all ties.

  2. benefits schmenefits*

    Open thread please help – I need advice badly. This is going to be really long, sorry.

    I work at a large public research university in Canada. Part of my compensation package is a tuition benefit – after 3 months of working you are eligible to take any class you want that the university provides and it does not have to be work related. The only requirement being that if a class happens during normal working hours you get permission from your manager to leave work to attend. Otherwise, you do not need permission to apply for the tuition benefit. I read the entire website and called the HR office in charge of this benefit and my management association to confirm the process to make sure you did not need permission and that the course does not have to be work related. They confirmed this for me. The process is to apply online for the benefit. The request is automatically approved and you are registered in the course.

    There is a woman in my office who controls everything, including all of the finances. I have been told that she never allows anyone to use their tuition benefit. Your department pays for half of the cost of a course and the university the other half. Whenever she gets a request she will automatically deny it and will only allow people to get courses that can be funded through the university’s general PD pool, which is only for things that are directly related to your work. I have also been told that if you go through the process that HR has set up and she gets the request she will automatically deny it. She will then punish you by making your life very difficult for trying to follow university policy and for circumventing rules she has created in her head. If you try to go around her and get to be able to take the course, from then on she treats you like absolutely shit afterwards and makes your life a living hill. She will take away perks of the job (ex: she will micromanage your time down to the minute, even though we are all salary employees). She has done this to multiple people in our office – all of them but one backed down and did not take any classes. The one who did fight for it is treated terribly by this woman. She hasn’t given her a raise in years, and threatens to fire her every day for “infractions” (such as not saying “Hi _____” on an email, this apparently is unprofessional & disrespectful enough to warrant a firing).

    I wanted to take a continuing studies class that happens outside of work hours. I did my due diligence to find out the process and then followed HR’s guidelines set up on the website. I did not know that this woman (who I have had runs in with before) needs to approve the request and will get it a few days after, or that I would face repercussions for following the university policy. My tuition benefit request will arrive on her desk on Monday.

    My boyfriend told me that I cannot fight for this, and not to go to HR and our management group to file a complaint. He told me the best way would be to admit to her today that I did this, to apologize for breaking her rules, and to tell her why I wanted to take the class. That if I showed her respect and deferred to her she would be more likely to approve it. And if she still denies it, at least I tried. He told me not to pursue the issue with HR because they will not care about this, and that if I do will be seen as a troublemaker. I have had issues with my team in the 6 months I’ve been in this role and I had to file a complaint with my managers about incredibly racist remarks made to me by my coworkers. He said that it doesn’t matter how well I do my job, if I can’t get along with people and I’m seen as a troublemaker my life will be very hard. Especially because this woman has managed to get so much power (she controls every single aspect of the entire department, including what things people are allowed to put into their offices. She has also decided she supervises several employees even though it is not in her or their job descriptions, including doing performance reviews and giving raises. I still do not understand how she is allowed to do this.), I cannot make an enemy of her. He also says because I am the youngest person in the office the rules are different for me and I am already under harsher scrutiny.

    I had planned on fighting for my benefit, but after my conversation with my boyfriend I think he is right. This situation has me very depressed and down, and honestly I’m starting to wonder if the professional working world is for me. I’m terrible at playing politics and pretending to respect people to get my way. My boyfriend says I cannot survive in the working world without doing those things.

    What do I do? Do I fight for the benefit? Do I just give up? I’m already severely underpaid and unhappy in my role due to a very toxic work environment, and this benefit was one of the bigger perks for why I took this position. Having to be in this situation now is stressing me out. I want to take the class, but I also don’t want to make an enemy of a person who has power and control over everything in the department and can make my life miserable even though she is not on my team, nor does she supervise me in any way. I don’t want people to think I am a troublemaker and hard to work with either, or harm my professional reputation. I am also still on probation and my job isn’t secured yet, and I am scared I will be fired if I raise this issue.

    All in all everything sucks and I could really use some advice to perk me up.

    1. Iamrequiredtouseanamethatisnotanonoranonymous*

      The class is a red herring. I would skip worrying about the class and start looking for a new job.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yup- sorry there is a ton of advice I could give you but at the end of the day this is NOT something I would want to deal with. In the meantime, I don’t think you should apologize. If she denies it, just let it go and focus on finding a new job- maybe switching to a diff department would be a good option?

      2. benefits schmenefits*

        I should have mentioned in the OP that I’m trying to find a new job but what I do is very specialized and finding similar roles is difficult and slow going.

    2. Golden Yeti*

      Honestly, it seems like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

      You can try to talk to the manager and explain why you wanted to take the class (though it should probably be a pretty strong case), but there’s no guarantee that will sway her.

      If you aren’t happy there, and the only reason you are staying is for a single perk that won’t materialize, that reason to stay is essentially gone–you’d probably be happier elsewhere. You could also quit and take the class you wanted out of pocket. But in the meantime, definitely start looking for something else.

      1. Jinx*

        I’m really confused about the hierarchy being described here – OP says this lady has no managerial responsibility over other members of the office, but is giving out performance reviews and raises and is routinely threatening to fire OP’s coworker. So… who IS the manager here, if it isn’t her? And does she boss him/her around too? I don’t get how she’s throwing this much weight around unless she is a few levels higher than everyone else.

        OP, at any rate, I agree with everyone else here – if this lady has the amount of control over this office as you say, your boyfriend might be right that fighting it will just make your life hell. It sucks that you can’t use this benefit, but it sounds like your HR and management folks aren’t willing to control her behavior. Which doesn’t leave you many options other than leaving.

    3. Kassy*

      First I would say: Start job-searching. You are underpaid, unhappy, your coworkers are racist, your boss is a nightmare, and the one benefit you were looking forward to is going to be hard/impossible to use.

      I think your boyfriend’s response amounts to you having to be a doormat, and I don’t like that at all.

      I have a follow-up question: Is the woman your supervisor according to the paperwork/org chart? If not, I would approach that person and express your concerns to them.

      Does your HR department have an anti-retaliation policy? Most do. If you fight for this course and win and subsequently get treated terribly, go to them. Give them a chance to resolve the issue.

      Is it possible that your department is limited on funding and that is the reason behind the tuition denials? If so, there may not be much you can do.

      I definitely would not “apologize for breaking her rules.” If you weren’t told her rules, by her, how were you to know that they weren’t hearsay?

      I realize that none of this really helps you avoid the wrath of your so-called boss, and I apologize. Don’t get down on yourself about your fit for the professional world just yet. Not all jobs are this bad. Yes, you will have to have some degree of tact and respect no matter what job you land in, but the sorts of games you are having to play here are by no means universal.

      1. Observer*

        Does your HR department have an anti-retaliation policy? Most do. If you fight for this course and win and subsequently get treated terribly, go to them. Give them a chance to resolve the issue.

        If what the OP heard is true, then there is every reason to believe it won’t help, and could make things worse. Keep in mind that HR told her that she does not have to ask for permission and her request should automatically be honored, yet they are allowing this woman to block requests. In other words, they already know she’s breaking policy, and are allowing it. Why would they intervene about a non-retaliation policy?

        The university is lucky if they intervene when there is a legal issue, which I suspect this one is not.

      2. benefits schmenfits*

        Is the woman your supervisor according to the paperwork/org chart? If not, I would approach that person and express your concerns to them.

        No, she isn’t my supervisor or in a role that in any way relates to mine. My supervisors are the Directors of the centre that I work for, but they both have full time jobs doing other things, so I rarely see them. If I were to bring it to them, I worry that they would think of me as a troublemaker or bad in some way, because I’ve had very little contact with them and all they would see of me is negatives.

        1. 42*

          I’m concerned about your repeated use of the word “troublemaker”. You’re not a troublemaker for inquiring genuinely about something that is clearly spelled out as permissible. That woman is the troublemaker, not you.

          Would you be able to approach your supervisors and ask them? No mentioning of that woman. Ask as if you’ve never heard anything about her douchiness. Just ask with the mindset that you know this is allowed, but you just want to triple check with them on this policy before you go ahead and register for the class. Short and sweet. Nothing about doing that says “troublemaker”. Please think about it.

          1. Jinx*

            Or you might use one of Alison’s scripts for when you are told one thing and someone tries to flip later – “I’ve contact HR and upper management, who all assured me that I can sign up for this class. But my request was immediately denied – what can we do to resolve this?” Then if she gives you grief, go back to them. “I know we already discussed that it’s okay for me to take this class, but I’m getting a lot of negative pushback from X because of it. I don’t think it’s a good idea to punish people for using their benefits, so I wanted to let you know.”

            I know we advocate going to the person first if there’s an issue, but it honestly doesn’t sound like that would do any good. And this approach will only work if you find someone willing to manage that woman, which from your descriptions seems unlikely. :(

    4. Jules the First*

      If you’re at a university, at least one of you is unionised, which means you have advocates and support.

      Your boyfriend is wrong wrong wrong – this is your benefit, you’re entitled to it, as long as you follow HR’s rules, and someone needs to stand up to this woman.

      Don’t apologise, hold your head up, and if she refuses the course, go straight back to her and play the innocent ‘I see you refused my application for tuition benefit, Jane, and I’m confused because I thought I’d followed HR’s guidelines, but I clearly made a mistake somewhere. Can you help me correct the problem so I can resubmit it properly and start classes?’

      If she gives you crap on it, then you go to the HR person who wrote the policy and do the same there: ‘I was hoping you could help – I thought I’d done the forms correctly but Jane has rejected my tuition. Can you help me figure out what’s wrong?’

      Oh, and start job hunting – this is pretty toxic!

      1. question op!*

        i have a management association and am not part of the various unions on campus. i don’t know if this woman is union or part of my management group, but if she is union i have heard it will be next to impossible for anything to do be about her.

    5. KR*

      Honestly, if you’re already considering getting another job I would go for it. But act like you don’t know any of what you just told us. Play dumb. If you go in there with guns blazing, she’s going to fight back. If you go in there with a genuine problem and she acts like an evil fruit loop, she will be the only one at fault.
      So when she denies your request, ask her why in a very non-confrontational tone. Force her to give you an honest explanation of why she doesn’t want you to use your benefits.

      Did you sign a contract or a written offer? If it included the benefit of the free classes, I would approach it then as “This was communicated to me as a benefit of working here, and I’m a little confused at why it’s being taken away this late in the game.” Approach it like a problem you’re trying to solve (both with HR and with her), rather than a me vs. you argument. I’m not sure how far this will get you, but my general attitude to people like this is to kill them with kindness so that when they act like jerks, they look like the foolish ones and your butt is covered.

      Also, your boyfriend is partly right that office politics are a part of being in the work force, but you do not have to be disrespected in order to survive in the working world. There are a lot of people who don’t act like this in the working world and don’t tiptoe around whoever has the biggest ego in order to work in peace. You deserve respect, you deserve to be treated as an adult and as a professional, and you deserve benefits that were offered to you when you took the job. This job might not be the one for you, but that is because this woman is a tyrant and a bully. I would encourage you to look for a job that you will be happier in because you deserve it.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        It can be easier to gain forgiveness than get permission.

        You submitted something for which you had a claim to. If “Jane” is a secondary check on whether or not your request is approved — you didn’t know that. It wasn’t communicated to you when you were hired. You did what you thought the procedure was after researching it. If “Jane” is that much of a tyrant, I would suggest you start documenting everything that happens to you. Look for a new job and when you leave, let them know why you’re leaving. If this woman is not the manager and has taken all these responsibilities on herself, that is not cool. The HR department may be able to tell you why this situation exists or they may not be aware of it.

        But honestly what I’d really like to see is every single person in that department go to HR on one day with an application to take a course. Jane is a bully, pure and simple. Whenever one person does something that is outside of her rules, she makes an example out of them so that everyone else knows what to expect if they go against her. She singles out people for abuse and everyone else says “Gee, I don’t want to be on the receiving end of that.” So they put their heads down and tell themselves it’s OK. But it’s not. If she was confronted by a united group, she’d crack like a walnut. What’s she going to do? Fire the whole department?

        1. Observer*

          Jane is a bully, pure and simple. Whenever one person does something that is outside of her rules, she makes an example out of them so that everyone else knows what to expect if they go against her. She singles out people for abuse and everyone else says “Gee, I don’t want to be on the receiving end of that.” So they put their heads down and tell themselves it’s OK. But it’s not. If she was confronted by a united group, she’d crack like a walnut. What’s she going to do? Fire the whole department?

          You are right that she’s a bully and uses bully tactics. And, in the US if a group went to her and then to HR to complain, retaliation would be illegal. I don’t know if that’s the case in Canada, though. She doesn’t need to retaliate against the whole group to win, though. All she needs to do is to retaliate against a significant minority, and people will likely fall in line. And HR seems spineless enough that it it’s not illegal, they will look the other way.

      2. question op!*

        thank you! what you have outlined was my original line of attack. follow the policy given to me by hr, and when (if) she rejects it to politely ask for clarification why and approach it as a problem that needs to be solved. if she continued to deny it i would then report the situation to hr & my management association. but after the conversation with my boyfriend (who is older than me and had worked in corporate environments longer than i have before becoming self-employed) i started to doubt myself and my plan.

        thank you for confirming my original thoughts on the matter!

        1. Observer*

          The thing your boyfriend is correct about is that if she does deny it and your polite approach doesn’t work, fighting it is likely to backfire on you. A polite “I’m confused” type of inquiry to HR might work, but from what you said, fighting it is likely to make your life miserable.

          Is getting free classes really worth this? Is it worth the rest of the toxicity you describe? I really would be looking for a new job in your shoes.

      3. Kristina L*

        “my general attitude to people like this is to kill them with kindness so that when they act like jerks, they look like the foolish ones and your butt is covered.” This!

    6. Amtelope*

      Look for another job. You work for a terrible manager, this work environment is toxic in other ways, and the pay is bad. I don’t think it’s worth fighting for this benefit — it sounds like other people have gotten bad results from doing that, and that it may affect the reference you get from this job. If your request is denied, let it go; if she complains that you shouldn’t have requested this benefit, say “oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know;” and get your resume out to other jobs ASAP. This isn’t a problem with “the professional working world,” it’s a problem with a particular terrible job. There are better jobs out there, and you should look for one.

    7. Observer*

      You can’t survive anywhere without learning to be respectful of people who you don’t respect. Also, “playing politics” is part of all aspects of life, not just the work world. That doesn’t mean that you need to turn into a syncopatic hypocrite who just uses people. But, it does mean that you learn the power dynamics in a situation and try to use them to your best advantage in an ethical manner. Sometimes the best thing you can do in that kind of situation is to decide that you want no part of this mess and start looking for an exist strategy.

      I think that this is one of those situations. It sounds like your boyfriend is correct. If HR policy is that you don’t need permission to take these classes, then your request should not be coming to this woman for approval or denial. Yet, it is and HR is letting her deny the requests. Which means that they don’t care that she’s abusing her power.

      That alone would be a major red flag to me. The other issues you mention make it clear that this is the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, your best bet would be to start looking for another job. There are places that are not as dysfunctional. Even a different part of the university might work, if you can get a transfer.

      I don’t think that you are wrong in your complaint. And I think HR and this person are totally out of line. But, unless you have some fairly strong allies in the organization who would be willing to go to bat for you, you don’t have the leverage to influence too much. So, don’t waste energy on that, and start looking for another position.

      1. question op!*

        You can’t survive anywhere without learning to be respectful of people who you don’t respect.

        i should clarify this a bit. i have no problem for feigning respect for people to get things done/have a harmonious working life for myself and others. what i don’t like is having to respect someone because she is seriously power tripping, when she has done nothing to earn any respect. she is in no position of authority of me in the org-chart, and all of the “respect” she has is because she is a major bully and uses fear to control people. i don’t want to back down on this because someone needs to stand up to her for anything to change (everyone is unhappy because of her and our dept has a turnover rate of 55% a year), but i’m also unsure if this is the hill i want to die on.

        my other plan is to find another job and when i leave file a complaint against the entire department for the racism i faced, and the other issues that impacted my job. of course, i could never use anyone from here as a reference, but considering how toxic this place is, that may not be a bad thing.

        1. Observer*

          i don’t want to back down on this because someone needs to stand up to her for anything to change (everyone is unhappy because of her and our dept has a turnover rate of 55% a year), but i’m also unsure if this is the hill i want to die on.

          That’s really at the heart of the issue. She sounds like a bully who has been enabled by her employer. Which means you need to figure out whether this is the hill you want to die on – knowing that you might get shot down, but still not significantly change anything.

          my other plan is to find another job and when i leave file a complaint against the entire department for the racism i faced, and the other issues that impacted my job. of course, i could never use anyone from here as a reference, but considering how toxic this place is, that may not be a bad thing.

          :( Unfortunately, I have to say that this sounds like a sensible plan.

          Lots of luck!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Still waters run deep, OP. If you keep following this you may find bigger issues. It jumped out at me that the department is billed for part of your course that you take and that is why she does not approve things. I’d LOOOVE to see the books for your department. I think this person is doing something that she does not want other people to find out. A strong offense is a good defense.

          Meanwhile, I would be tempted to ask TPTB why they offer a benefit that no one is allowed to have, at least in your department. I would ask several people so that no one person could keep me down. Heck, if I am going to go down then I am going down in a blaze of glory. Which brings me to my point, you take this on then expect a drawn out thing. Are you up for it? I don’t take on every injustice I see, because I just. can’t. do. it.

          My question to you is, can you quietly look around at other openings on campus and transfer to a kinder department? (I have done this one too and found that some places are just plain uncivil in every department OR other places had departments that were okay.)

    8. LibraryChick*

      benefits schmenefits, You stated, “This situation has me very depressed and down, and honestly I’m starting to wonder if the professional working world is for me.” First, I am happy to confirm that not all workplaces are like the toxic one you are currently dealing with. Second, you need to decide what consequences you can live with. You seem to have a good grasp of the situation, so you need to decide what is most important to you in this situation. Unfortunately, fighting for the benefit you really want could result in an extremely unpleasant work environment or even getting fired (this is especially true if you are still on probation).

      It is strange that this woman has so much power in the department. You may never know what the circumstances are which are allowing that to happen, but it does not sound as though it is something that is unlikely to change anytime soon. The fact that you are already underpaid and unhappy in the position tells me that you should get out of there as soon as you are able.

      1. Mike C.*

        I really wonder if her political power is really just a factor of the university being large and no one saying anything before now.

    9. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      I agree with those that said don’t apologize and approach it as a “how can we solve this problem”. But also, if you’ve already had to complain about racist remarks being made, then her denial (if she indeed does deny the course) could be seen as retaliation and this is NOT the can of worms any company/institution wants to open. Especially if they prior incident was documented.

      Yes, you definitely should be looking for another position, but I would also be prepared to go back to HR to discuss the (impending) denial of benefits. I (personally) would also have an attorney on speed dial and document, document, document. Wishing you the best of luck!

    10. Mike C.*

      Your boyfriend is way off base, and you need to start gathering allies outside of your department.

      Look, as others have pointed out, these classes are part of your benefits. Would it be ok if people complaining about light paychecks where treated like crap? Would they be trouble makers?

      Go back and read all of the rules, policies and other stuff and know it like the back of your hand. If you are treated poorly, document it. In fact, I really see no reason why you couldn’t take your current concerns to an HR rep or your management group right now, telling them what you’ve told us. It doesn’t have to be a huge spiel, but just a one on one where you start by saying something like, “I have some serious concerns about this individual and what happens when my coworkers have tried to use these benefits”. Take a bullet point list with you if you’re especially nervous about this to stay on track.

      If nothing else, you’re going to feel better about your situation because you have an outlet to try and deal with it. Managers like these aren’t helping the company, and given that you’re not in the United States her actions may raise actual legal flags as well.

      It sounds like to me that the reason you’re unhappy is this person, and in large organizations they really, really don’t like to see this sort of thing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OOOH, this is a great point OP, make sure you are on friendly terms with quite a few people outside of your department. Take walks at lunch if you have to, in order to accomplish this. There is a hidden power in knowing people outside of your department. Learn people’s names and what their job is. Collect up as many friendly faces as you can. Being friendly and being known provides a layer of protection that you can’t find any where else. What I like about this method is it requires taking a sincere interest in others. Be real, be sincere, you know, all the things your department does not do.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          I agree with all of this. I did this at my current company and was able to get a new job in another division (and a promotion to boot!).

          benefits, schmenefits, please Not So NewReader’s advice and get the hell out of your current department. That woman sounds nuts.

        2. question op!*

          i worked in another department at this org before moving into the role i am in now. my role is unique because it involves a lot of cross campus collaboration – i know and work with a lot of people in a lot of different departments in the university. i’m slowly becoming more acquainted with and making friends with more and more people, which is some small measure of comfort.

    11. F.M.*

      I read the first 2 paragraphs and stopped there. Do you really want to work for an organization that offers a benefit but will never let you use it? Do you really want to work somewhere that management will treat you like crap? There’s your answer.

    12. HarryV*

      First, don’t make it personal. As with most educational perks, it requires managerial approval. The HR lady is denying or overruling the approval. I would first get your manager’s approval then approach HR lady why everything is getting denied. Is it a budget issue, then find out when the budget is released. If the benefit was pulled from someone higher, then find out the reason. As with any company, if the benefit is listed then you are right to assume that you made your decision to work there on the basis of it. With that said, each company and operations go through expenses and one of the things that usually gets cut are educational expenses. If such decision is made, then there isn’t much you can do. Good luck.

      1. question op!*

        Educational benefits work differently at universities because a core perk of working at educational institutions is the ability to take courses that are offered by your school. Also, the benefit is in my collective agreement and cannot be taken away in cost-cutting measures without rewriting all of our contracts and renegotiating the collective agreements.

        I called Central HR and my management group to get the entire process as well as the website – no where is it listed you need managerial approval to use your tuition benefit (unless the course falls within working hours). The woman who would deny my request is not hr. From what I was told by our finance office & hr is that the request cannot be denied if it is valid (which mine is), the approval step is to ensure that the course isn’t related to my core job duties and could be covered by the PD fund instead. In that case the request would be denied and the funding routed differently – but it would still be approved.

        She is denying requests because she likes to control people and write her own rules – there is most definitely money in the budget to fund our tuition benefits.

        1. the_scientist*

          OP, you reference collective agreements, but claim that you are not in a union. I think you should do some more research on that because collective agreements are, to my knowledge, used almost exclusively in the context of union environments and people not in the union would not be covered by collective agreements. Do you pay any sort of dues? Even if you don’t receive or aren’t entitled to, say, the same pension and benefits as other union members, if you pay dues, you are part of the union and you are entitled to the same representation. (This happened to me- I was in the union, and paying dues, but I was a contract employee so I had to wait 12 months before being allowed to opt in to benefits and pension).

          Also, you say this woman is not an HR manager, not your manager, not any kind of manager and has no official authority other than the authority she grants herself. So who gives a shit what she says or does- can’t you bypass her entirely? Figure out who the paperwork needs to be sent to and email or hand-deliver it yourself. If she gets on your case play sweet and innocent “oh, sorry, I didn’t know I had to give this to you, the manual says I can send it straight to HR”. If she starts retaliating against you, start documenting it, and tell someone with actual authority.

          If you’re covered by a collective bargaining agreement and you are being denied a benefit which was spelled out in your contract, this university is looking at potential legal action. Canada has significantly stronger worker protections than the US and those protections are especially strong in union environments. Your union steward DEFINITELY wants to know that people in your department are being denied a benefit to which they’re legally entitled.

          1. Schnapps*

            A lot of organizations with management associations in Canada have something akin to a collective agreement.

            OP, wrt to not having to get manager’s approval, I think you may be wrong. After all, they are in charge of the departmental budget. You may want to check with your association rep on that. If the university itself were paying for the course completely then that would be another matter, but since part of it comes out of departmental budget, and expenditures from departmental budgets usually require a manager’s approval, it follows that you do need to check with your manager so that they will release the funds for your use. The money side is a business function and I don’t see any public institution giving up allocation of money to any sort of collective agreement.

            The problem with collective agreements is the published one doesn’t include any arbitration that has occurred in the meantime.

            That said, your association may be of more help in navigating this. I would contact them for an exploratory meeting and see what’s going on.

          2. Jetta*

            “If you’re covered by a collective bargaining agreement and you are being denied a benefit which was spelled out in your contract, this university is looking at potential legal action. ”

            All CBAs have grievance procedures. Find out who your union steward is and get that ball rolling. This sounds like a class action grievance. In the US Federal gov., all workers in the bargaining unit are covered by negotiated agreements covering the bargaining unit whether they pay dues or not. Benefits are non-cash compensation and arbitrary denial of benefits is reducing the compensation you reasonably expected to have when you took the job, OP. If your managers are out of touch with day to day matters, they may not even know about that tyrant woman’s shenanigans. Document, document, document, the racial issues also. Good luck!

    13. Weekday Warrior*

      These departmental dragons are depressingly common in universities but they do sometimes get their comeuppance. For all you know, wheels may be turning behind the scenes already. I’ve also known some retired dragons who are hurt that former colleagues don’t get in touch, ask them for coffee,etc. Seriously?

      What you can do is work at your job as if the dragon is a reasonable person. Follow policies, act professionally, and don’t worry about possible drama. If/when it comes, explain that you were following policy, etc., and be willing to go along with the dragon’s edicts but calmly, not apologetically. Own your calm power, be respectful and kind to the dragon just as you woul be to any co-worker.

      No one at a Can research university can be fired for email salutations so don’t over worry about this person’s power. Often petty tyrants lack real power so compensate by trying to control all the small things.

      Learn what you can in this position and start preparing your move to another. The dragon’s days may be numbered but you don’t want to waste your time waiting for it to happen. Sometimes Depts reorg. just to lay a dragon off !

  3. Bend & Snap*

    My company is in the middle of a bloodbath of a layoff–hundreds and hundreds of people. It’s…unsettling.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      My SO went through that a few years ago. He wasn’t laid off but many of his teammates were and it was rough.

      I went from “This company never does layoffs!” to “We’re doing layoffs and it’s you!” in like a 3-week period, and that was even more rough.

      1. ali*

        I went through this 3 years ago. “We never do layoffs!” to “Sorry, you’re being laid off!” in the course of a month. Oddly enough, I’ve been back in the job I was laid off from for two years now, which is longer than I was in it originally. Weird how the world works sometimes.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          I was laid off once (while being technically still a temp) and was brought back five weeks after the layoff, and then eventually hired on as a permanent employee and stayed for two years and seven months. Yes, the world is strange sometimes.

    2. Dasha*

      Been there, done that. I’m so sorry, I know it’s really stressful. Positive thoughts sent your way.

    3. Dan*

      BTDT, and if your skills are marketable, you may very well be better off.

      My last employer (government contractor) paid us rather low, but had a lot of VPs. So our billing rates were high. The company kept telling us “our rates are very high, it’s hard to win contracts”. The subtle implication was, “don’t ask for a raise, our rates go up even higher, we won’t win work, and you’ll be out of a job.”

      I got laid off, went to a competing employer in the same space, and got a 25% pay raise. I told my boss that story, and he just gave me this blank “WTF, doesn’t compute” look.

      I showed up at a happy hour not too long ago, and ran into some of the old VPs. They tried “apologizing” for my layoff, and I told them not to, I was much better off.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I’m sure it’s small solace now but I had the same experience. Being laid off was the push I needed to get out of a situation that wasn’t right for me. I make the same salary but work about 2/3 of the hours, with a boss who is a better fit for me. It’s letting me pursue a side hustle I’m really excited about!

    4. Adam V*

      I was laid off the Monday after Christmas in 2008 (a couple of months after I got married). Best of luck to you.

    5. Bowserkitty*

      Much good luck and thoughts to you. This happened to me last year but it was the biggest blessing in disguise. My mantra is from Harold and Kumar of all movies – “In the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should.”

    6. RKB*

      My father’s company is the same. He’s an electrical engineer for an oil and gas company… There’s 8 people left in his building. He is so depressed… Says walking through those halls is like walking through a cemetery.

    7. Jillociraptor*

      I’m so sorry. This is so hard. It’s hard to live with the ambiguity about your job, and hard to live with the suffocating cloud of tension around as people you like (and even people you don’t really like) are headed out the door. I hope you make it through this icky moment quickly, and with whatever the right outcome is for you.

    8. Bend & Snap*

      Thanks everyone. My job is safe right now but who knows what’s around the corner.

      I’m sad because I lost some great colleagues and I absolutely love my job, my boss, my team, my commute, my work/life balance…everything…this has been a dream and I don’t know if I’ll ever find something as wonderful.

    9. Survivor*

      I survived a Friday bloodbath (with severence fortunately) with the help of therapy, but I had PTSD from it for years after I found a new job. If you have the personal e-mail addresses of people who get laid off, send them a kind note about how much you appreciated working with them and how you’ll miss them. They’ll appreciate it.

    10. TotallyNotMe*

      Ugh. My company is about to announce layoffs. We have had several rounds in the past few years and this one is going to be bad for people at my level (mid-level management). I’ve never worried about these in the past for myself, but this time I am worried. Even if I survive, it will be so hard. Work loads, which are already very high due to the past layoffs, will double. Sigh… Time to brush of the old resume.

      1. Bea W*

        Sound like where I work. New CEO came in and restructured the business in a spectacularly massive way. We have layoffs every year, but the latest round will hit management the hardest as many of those positions were victims of the restructuring.

    11. Rachel*

      Oh, have I been there. In a previous job I survived two rounds of layoffs but not the third. It’s no fun to be in any part of this. Crossing fingers for you.

  4. notice question*

    Hi everyone! I have a happy question for this Friday morning!

    I just received an offer letter for a new position. I had been waiting for the official offer letter for a while and am positive I am going to accept the position. I am now trying to decide if I should give notice today (this afternoon) or wait until Monday morning. I am working from home today, so, if today, would have to provide notice by phone. In some ways, I would prefer to wait until Monday morning when I will be in the office and can speak with my supervisor face to face. On the other hand, we have our weekly check in meeting today, and think it might be strange to go through that whole meeting and not mention that I am leaving.

    What do you all think?

    Either way, I will plan to provide 2-2.5 weeks (which is standard), so the timing doesn’t matter much from that perspective.

    1. Delyssia*


      I think either is fine, but personally, I would wait and have the conversation in person on Monday.

    2. KathyGeiss*

      I’d wait until Monday and do it in person. I wouldn’t look back on the Friday meeting as strange if you resigned Monday and I was your manager.

      Doing it Monday morning as opposed to Friday doesn’t actually move things quicker and this way your manager gets a weekend without worrying about how to replace you. :)

      1. some1*

        “I wouldn’t look back on the Friday meeting as strange if you resigned Monday and I was your manager.”

        Right. Plenty of people wait to give notice after accepting an offer. Once I waited two weeks.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Also, unless you say “I accepted this last Friday” they don’t know you had the offer letter in hand then. It’s really not a big deal, as long as you can get t hrough the meeting today without something weird in your tone or responses. (Even that’s not that big a deal, just a little strange if it happens.)

          1. notice question*

            right! espcially cause its a phone call, I can probably get through it without being strange. Just didn’t know what the appropriate etiquette was.

      1. finman*

        I went through this same thing (WFH Fridays, gave notice Monday). It is always more professional to do something like this in person.

    3. INFJ*

      Are thre any contingencies still on the offer? (background check references) If so, you should wait anyway.

      1. notice question*

        No, as of the official letter, its all finalized. That’s what I was waiting for until now.

  5. Crispy*

    I have really been struggling with my job lately. It’s stressful with long hours with no hope of a raise or promotion so it seems like I’m burning myself out for no reason.

    I’ve tried to handle things better I’ve been trying to exercise more and I’ve been reading a lot of self help books and this site but in the end I work at a small company and my boss is a ghost boss. She’s the owner and comes in maybe three days a month. If I bring up anything or have concerns she just says things like I dunno get it done and has unrealistic expectations of how long it takes to get things done which have caused me to work on weekends several times. Even though she only comes in a few days a month she always assigns me big projects before I go on vacation or have a day or holiday off and then just before the recent holidays she had a bunch of stuff to do- I thought at first it was just a coincidence but it’s been a pattern. Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th, thanksgiving, etc…

    I’ve been here a year and two months but due to my other positions at other companies in the past (I’ve been through a major restructuring and almost laid off at two companies) I look like a job hopper with two years here, a year there etc

    I had a major meltdown in my car earlier this week. I felt so taken advantage of, stepped on, and stressed. I’ve been trying to push back more and I got chewed out by a manager (I don’t report to him but he was asking me to do something that I don’t handle or even have access to and when I pointed him to someone else he got nasty). Luckily it was lunch time and I was able to go to my car where I drove a few minutes away and just broke down. I cried for about 30 mins so hard I could barely breathe. I normally handle things much better and I don’t know what my problem is… I normally don’t have meltdowns. I guess I can’t pushback that much and no one has my back?

    There are a lot of other problems in the company but this post is way too long already.

    I’m just wondering how do I know if its me or the job? And I don’t know that that’s an answerable question either. Maybe I’m just not handling things well?

    My career has been all small companies that have had varying degrees of family involvement and I have moved around a lot. Are there questions I could ask myself to tell?

    1. Dalia524*

      I don’t think spending at least a year at jobs makes you a job-hopper, unless you’ve been in the adult work force for two decades and all of your jobs have been like that. Go out and apply! Just don’t take the first one that’s offered you just to get out.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      If you are close enough to any of your co-workers, ask them how they feel about the work environment. You can even ask this to former co-workers. If people say that it is/was a terrible place to work, it is not you. If everyone says that they didn’t have any problems in the workplace then maybe you should talk to a professional.

      Good Luck with it all.

      1. alice*

        I second this. Sometimes people are really good at hiding how they feel, especially at work. You might not be the only one.

    3. katamia*

      It definitely sounds like an environment a lot of people would struggle in. I don’t think the question of whether it’s you or the job is really a relevant one, though. Either way (though I suspect it’s a combination of both–people are better suited to different environments), it sounds like this is a bad fit for you. I get a sense that you’re blaming yourself (for not being able to handle it), but it’s not your fault that your boss assigns you a bunch of work before holidays and doesn’t answer your questions.

      Seeing a therapist (I don’t know what “long hours” means in this situation, but if you have time) might help you get through this, or maybe even calling some sort of helpline to talk, although I’m not sure which ones might be best for your situation. But it doesn’t sound like an environment where you should stay much beyond the two-year mark. It’s probably too early to start job hunting now, but maybe when you reach 1 year and 9 or 10 months, depending on how long hiring usually takes for your field and how much notice you’re required to give.

    4. Golden Yeti*

      It sounds like a toxic environment to me. Especially if your boss is in rarely, she should be willing to go over anything you need help with when she is in–that’s just common sense. And specifically, methodically assigning you projects just before you go on a break? That sounds super sketchy to me.

      Based on your (understandable) physical reaction to all this accumulated stuff, you may want to check out the signs of burnout:

      Therapy may be helpful in the meantime, too, but I would second Mando Diao above: start checking out other jobs.

    5. Artemesia*

      If you think it is ‘you’ it might be a clue to get some therapy which might make it easier for you to roll with the punches. But it sounds like regardless of that, it is also ‘them’. Having to work in a setting where people jump down your throat has got to be unpleasant. Maybe looking to see if there is anything else out there without the pressure of job loss would be helpful. Work on yourself but also work on improving your position or at least exploring that option.

    6. Mimi*

      I’d work for a few weeks until I got my finances figured out and then I’d work part-time, remotely, from Hawaii.

    7. new reader*

      Did you have these types of meltdowns as a reaction to stress in previous jobs? All jobs have some level of stress, but if in most work situations you’re able to cope except for now in this job, then it’s probably the job. If you supervisor isn’t providing guidance, prioritization, or assistance with an overwhelming workload, they aren’t managing.

      I previously had a similar work environment where I would wind up quietly crying in the ladies room or be reduced to tears on the drive to work by the mere thought of all I had to face at work. The supervisor was no help, with unrealistic expectations and offering similarly useless advice to just get it done. I stuck it out for quite a while because I really did enjoy much of the work I was doing and many of my co-workers. But it eventually became too much and I went job hunting. Almost three years later I’m in a much better work environment with more reasonable work expectations. And I’m a much nicer co-worker and person to be around.

      You can explain in a cover letter the earlier job changes that resulted due to company restructuring and potential layoffs to counter the perception of job hopping. But staying in a toxic environment just to counter that perception isn’t healthy.

    8. Sunflower*

      Every small company I’ve worked for has been dysfunctional in so many ways. Yes larger companies have their problems and it can take forever to get things done but that doesn’t even compare to the dysfunction I encountered at smaller places. Especially if there’s family involved. Not EVERY small company is like this but small companies certainly come with their own set of intricacies. Once I started working at a larger company, it really opened my eyes to see what a job could and should be like.

      You can certainly speak to coworkers about their feelings about the company but your coworkers are NOT you. What works for them may not work for you. It doesn’t sound like this environment is working for you. I was so miserable at my old job- like would have rather had a dentist drilling into my teeth for 8 hours than be at my desk. While most people admitted the place was dysfunctional, a lot of them had been there for 10+ years and had no plans of leaving. Some perks of a small company were not worth leaving over to them- for me, those perks didn’t matter. I think you should be job searching and thinking about the kind of place you think would work for you. What do you feel is lacking in your current job? What kinds of things would need to happen in your current job to make you want to stay? What kinds of benefits do you have that you could do without?

      For me, being in a larger company has done great things. Yes it’s still stressful and fast paced and I’m running around a lot but I’m on a team, my boss is super supportive and the fact that there isn’t just one person calling all the shots helped me a lot. There are a lot of people who have said this place is terrible and they’d never come back- you have to know you and trust your gut feeling.

      That being said, it could be a little ‘you’ as well. I like my new job but I still have problems and meltdowns. I still go to a therapist. I have anxiety and it creeps into all parts of my life. Sometimes I leave work and continue to stress about things I probably shouldn’t stress about. It sounds like your gut knows it’s the workplace, not you, and I would trust your gut in these kinds of situations.

    9. Glasskey*

      I’m sorry. For starters, may I recommend what is undoubtedly some well-deserved time off if you can take it (and by that I’d like to suggest not when it’s necessarily most convenient for everyone in the office…..You obviously aren’t feeling well so think of this more as sick time.) It will help you think through your next steps with a clearer head. Second, consider whether there are some parts of your assignments that just need to get done but don’t have to be done particularly well–that’s something that’s been an epiphany for me in my current job, which sounds oh-so-much like yours. Third, I couldn’t tell from your post whether you’ve had an annual review–is that part of the plan? You deserve one.

    10. Dynamic Beige*

      Even though she only comes in a few days a month she always assigns me big projects before I go on vacation or have a day or holiday off and then just before the recent holidays she had a bunch of stuff to do- I thought at first it was just a coincidence but it’s been a pattern. Memorial Day, Labor Day, July 4th, thanksgiving, etc…

      Others have said it but… get out. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen with other people who were working under toxic or outright abusive managers. One person I know would book her vacation months in advance and then a couple weeks before it was going to take place, her manager would tell her that she couldn’t go because Manager was going to be away that week. As it happened pretty much every time she asked for time off, it was not a coincidence.

      You’ve been there a year. Can you honestly see anything improving? If you can’t see your workplace getting better and you hate it, it’s time to get out. Staying there for longer so you can say you were two years at some place is only going to cause more damage to your sense of self worth. Besides, if you start looking now, it may take a while to find a new job.

    11. Panda Bandit*

      One year or two years at a job is fine and doesn’t make you look like a job hopper.

      Your current job is the problem here. Your boss sounds like a really bad mix of petty and uninvolved. The best thing you can do is look for something else.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      “I’m just wondering how do I know if its me or the job? And I don’t know that that’s an answerable question either. Maybe I’m just not handling things well?”

      This is what being overwhelmed looks like. Your work situation is overwhelming you. If it were me, I would hate-hate-hate working in isolation so much. I think most people would be crying in their cars. Can you find ways to weave people into your work day? Those ways could be for work purposes or just to have a friendly face to say HI. Start there.

      Next I would try to do something with the ghost boss. I have no idea how she communicates with you-phone, email, in person- but two weeks before your next time off, contact her and let her know that you would like to plan out your time so things are not left hanging. You want to make sure you have everything done that she wants. Tell her the last minute rushes concern you because you want to do your best on these things. You will probably have to do this several times before she hears you once. I have had to do this with GOOD bosses and they had to be told several times. Some bosses are so focused on their stuff (lots of reasons) that they actually do not know they are burning out their staff.

      If none of this makes sense in your setting, then your best bet would to be start looking for something else.

  6. 42*

    Honest question!: I’ve thought about this in the past, and now with Saturday’s Powerball and all…

    What would be the best etiquette when one gets a windfall – like winning the lottery – and you’re going to leave your job? Would you give notice? Just call in and say “sayonara”? I’m completely torn, because I wouldn’t want to leave my team in a bind. How would you handle it?

      1. Doriana Gray*

        See, I was going to say I’d get ghost, but then you went and made a reasonable comment. Yeah…knowing I’d have financial security would make it easier to deal with my toxic workplace for two more weeks.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I’d give notice. Actually, no. I’d call out that day (“Hey boss, I won the lottery! I’m spending today getting drunk on champagne in my pajamas!”), then keep working for a few months while I settled my financial planning, set up trust funds, and so on. After that, I’d give notice in a regular way so that I could move to a job aligned with my post-lottery goals—I’d want to start an organization doing work that I care about, but would need to learn more about the field.

      I’ve given a surprising amount of thought to what I would do if I won the Powerball.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Actually, I really like your plans. It is considerate and very professional and makes a ton of sense from a financial perspective. I know I wouldn’t quit a job until I had at least the check deposited in the bank and it was sure that it had cleared. Also, this gives your boss a few months to find/train a replacement.

        I do have one question for you, Turanga Leela. What is the champagne doing in your pajamas and how does it not leak out? :-) Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        I’d call out for a day or two, maybe plan ahead for a long weekend, depending on any urgent projects, explaining to the boss that I was too distracted to work.

        Then I’d spend the time until my check was deposited slowly reducing my workload. I’d probably ask if I could be kept on for small, bite-sized projects just to stay connected.

        Then I’d set up an art trust and get to work looking for buildings and staff to found my experimental low-cost-living arcology.

        Finally I’d rent Disneyland out for a party.

      3. MP*

        I think your only mistake is telling people you won the lottery… no-one needs to know and I think it makes you a target for all kinds of people who want that money (even if they have the best intentions). If you need to explain a sudden change in fortunes, inheritance is a much better way to go.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Exactly what I was thinking! No way I would let my coworkers know that I had gotten a windfall. (I don’t play the lottery, even when the jackpot is a big one. I don’t have any rich relatives either. So I don’t know where this mysterious money would come from!)

      4. Boop*

        1) Lawyer
        2) Financial planner
        3) Claim winnings
        5) Continue working while setting up trust funds, etc.
        6) Quit working for a while to travel and build dream house
        7) Eventually wind up working somewhere as a volunteer, or part time

        1. NJ Anon*

          Everything except #5. I would work up until I got everything in order and then claimed the winnings.

        2. RLA*

          Your plan is exactly like mine. My friends and I were discussing a while back how we would spend our time if we didn’t have to work, and I was saying I’d find a part time thing/volunteer somewhere related to animal rescue. Ah, to be wealthy and play with puppies all day….

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Tax lawyer! In American lotteries, you don’t get to keep all the money, but in Canadian ones, you do.

      5. MAB*

        Your plans are pretty close to mine, only I would keep the whole winning the lotto thing quiet until I got the money in order.

        I already have plans if I ever win that involve a not for profit, paying off my parent’s house and some school loans for family/friends and staying at my job until I got stuff going and they found a replacement.

      6. AdAgencyChick*

        Hahaha, me too, even though I almost never play.

        Good boss/company would get several months’ notice as you describe. My last boss would have gotten a Xeroxed copy of my bare behind.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I won’t tell anyone that I have won. I will give two weeks notice and quietly “retire” to…Aruba!

      I’ll need the two weeks time to change my phone to a new unlisted number, hire tax accountants and lawyers, and all the other incognito chores you should do before claiming wealth. [I’ve thought about this A LOT. Ha ha.]

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Although if it had happened when I worked at a University I’d see out the semester. But I would not be announcing the big win if I could manage that. Since the odds are less than being hit by lightning, I am not going to devote too much time to the plan — but occasionally when I buy a lottery ticket, I think about it.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      If I liked my job I’d offer to do it until a replacement can be found. In my current position I’d like to resign by post card from some where in the Caymans. In reality I’d give two weeks notice and probably only work what I absolutely had to.

    4. Mando Diao*

      I’d give 2-4 weeks of notice. It would take a while for the money to clear and for me to build my dream home and all that.

    5. Audiophile*

      I’ve often joked that I’d just call in and say “see ya!”. Now that I’m in a job that I genuinely like and people I enjoy working with, I’d probably give 2 weeks notice. This way, on the off chance that, there’s a worst case scenario down the line, I’d have a positive reference.

      1. Ama*

        I really, really like my current job and my department is currently understaffed, so I’d do something along Turanga Leela’s lines only with a very generous replacement time and an offer to stay for a set amount of time to train my replacement (I work in nonprofit so depending on the size of the windfall I might also arrange for a big gift on my way out the door).

        My last job I would have handled things professionally and given notice but I would not have offered any post-replacement training or a donation of any size. I actually would have been sorely tempted at that job to just call in and say “I’m not coming back,” but we had a colleague do that — not for lottery reasons — and although I didn’t like the job much I liked my colleagues enough not to do that to them twice.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’m in a nonprofit too, but brand new basically. Today marks 1 month! There’s no point in my offering to train someone, because well there’s nothing for me to impart.

          But I definitely wouldn’t just up and quit, without notice. I’d absolutely give a donation and a sizable one at that.

    6. Who Watches the Watcher's?*

      I wouldn’t give any kind of notice until I had all my new financial ducks in a row. Taxes, savings, trust funds, etc. And then once I had everything all settled up, I’d give notice. Probably a longer one than two weeks, I’d probably give four.

      But, I’d still want a job. Probably a part time one.

    7. Lily in NYC*

      Ha, we were just talking about this in my dept. I told everyone I would only give notice so I can walk around the office and show off my new fancy solid gold shoes and dress made out of diamonds. But honestly, I would probably give notice but I doubt I would be able to be very productive.

    8. GOG11*

      If I were to leave my job, I would give two weeks’ notice. You might not need a reference from them, but I’d feel like it’s the right thing to do (and besides, who knows, you may find yourself bored and want to go back to work to fill your time, realize you found your work fulfilling and are missing that, run out of money, etc.).

    9. Sascha*

      I would wait until I am absolutely certain the money is my possession before quitting, because I’m just that kind of paranoid person. At that point, I’d probably give 4 weeks notice – a little extra so my team could get a replacement and I could have some extra time to document everything, but I would definitely not stay longer than that. Then I’d build my bamboo farm.

        1. Boop*

          Pandas eat bamboo. Koalas eat eucalyptus – and live in Australia which is probably where I would go live!

            1. Sascha*

              With that much money, I could have a panda-bamboo-koala-eucalyptus farm! Now how do I import some pandas…

    10. Dasha*

      This is a fun question! I hear if you do get a windfall not tell anyone but like your parents and SO (or you will be swarmed!). I would give two weeks notice out of professional courtesy even if it wasn’t a great job. I think I’d just be super duper vague about why I was leaving and I wouldn’t mention the lottery thing.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I think that the swarming is going to happen, one way or the other. Whether they have your address or not.

        If I were managing someone who just won the lottery, I’d probably just tell them to go, use their vacation time and get out. Not because I’d be unhappy for them, but more because as soon as it hit the news, there would be phone calls, people dropping by, looking for the lottery winner and the easiest thing to say would be “I’m sorry, Jane no longer works here, for obvious reasons.” Also, their mind just would not be in the game. I know mine wouldn’t be.

        As for having a job — with that kind of money, you could make whatever job you wanted for yourself. Keeping your old job wouldn’t be necessary, unless you want to buy the company. ;)

    11. Red Wheel*

      I would call in the day following actual receipt of lottery funds and tell them that I am never coming in again. Never ever.

    12. LizB*

      Honestly, I don’t know if I’d quit my job even if I won the lottery… I get terrible cabin fever if I have to go more than a week or so with nothing to do. I might ask to drop to part-time, or try and negotiate for a leave of absence in a year or so to do some traveling. If I did quit outright, I’d still give two weeks’ notice, because that’s just the polite thing to do.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        I was looking for someone else to say this. I’d just keep on like usual except I’d take a lot more weekend trips to everywhere and eat out a lot more! I wouldn’t even tell anyone. They can find out when they read the will, haha!

      2. Shannon*

        Well, remember, you wouldn’t have to stick with your job, either. You could volunteer, go back to school for your dream job, or even get a different job that you’d always wanted to try.

        1. LizB*

          I actually like my current job a lot! It’s exactly what I want to be doing right now. It would be nice to know that if I ever got bored or didn’t like it anymore, I could quit and not worry about searching for something else to pay the bills, though.

      3. Oryx*

        Yup. I like my job and I think I’d like it even more if I knew that I had the financial security to quit at a moment’s notice if I wanted to, but I’d totally keep working.

        1. LizB*

          True, and I have them, but I would go equally stir-crazy doing cross-stitch or playing board games for most of my week. :) I like my job.

    13. Adam V*

      I would probably spend a couple of months setting everything up (trust funds, accounts I can’t touch, etc.) and then give notice once everything was done. What’s two more weeks when you won’t have to work again the rest of your life?

    14. ThatGirl*

      I like my manager and my team a lot, so I would quietly let them know I was planning to leave, but not give notice until I had my financial planning all set up.

      1. De Minimis*

        I would give a few weeks notice, though I would also follow the advice to put the money in a blind trust and never go public as a lottery winner. I wouldn’t even tell them the real reason I was leaving, I’d just say I decided the job wasn’t for me and am going to pursue other opportunities.

        I’m also fairly new in my position though, and my company seems eager [perhaps too eager] to hire temps for a lot of the work, so I guess they could just do that.

        1. Adam V*

          > never go public as a lottery winner

          Unfortunately in a lot of cases (I think especially in multi-state lotteries) you have to agree to some amount of publicity if you win.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Unfortunately Adam V is right, in many states you have to agree to some publicity to claim your winnings. So I’d also be ready to take an immediate vacation after collecting the money.

          1. De Minimis*

            I guess I’ve always lived in states where you could remain anonymous, though I think what happens is you basically create a trust that claims the prize.

        3. Someone Else*

          If you take a lump sum, you have to agree to the publicity that they have on the lottery site, if you take the annuity payments, you can remain anonymous. I’ve spent a lot of time researching this since my biggest pet peeve is fair weather friends.

          1. Someone Else*

            Except in a few states that mandate that the lottery release the info to anyone who asks. :( My state is one of these.

    15. Noah*

      I think I would keep working. Maybe request to slowly move to part-time or consulting instead but I would want to keep working. I enjoy my job and career.

      I would however make full use of my vacation time and have awesome vacations.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        My lotto dream would be to quit my job, but then work as a small town librarian.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I think I would go the “anonymous benefactor” route with it :)

        1. Doriana Gray*

          OMG, that is my dream too! I loved working at the library when I was in college. I really should have tried to make a go of that as a career (getting my Masters in Library Sciences).

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Me too!

            I often wonder what I would be doing if I had gotten an MLS instead.

            1. Doriana Gray*

              Yeah, I just came across a job posting for a Youth Program Coordinator at my local library and was so sad my little 2 1/2 years of part-time librarian assistantship experience would never qualify me for a position like that. I’d love to be a teen librarian. Or a reference librarian (I’m obsessed with research).

    16. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      My former boss hated people saying, “if I got hit by a bus” in conversations about documentation and cross-training, so she requested we all said, “if I won the lottery.”

      If I were still in my former positions, I would give notice and stay on as long as they needed to hire someone, but in my current situation I’d probably send a “bye Felicia” email and never come back.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        We say “abducted by aliens” because one time the person I was taking over from DID get hit by a car!

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          Oh! That’s a good one! I always felt like most people who won the lotto would give notice, so it lost the immediate impact.


    17. Person of Interest*

      I think I’ve heard that lottery winners who handle it successfully don’t make any big changes for a while – like several months – until you have your ducks in a row and have time to really think about what you want to do. I would probably commit to staying in my job for a few more months before thinking about making a big change (but I love my job and it’s a small nonprofit, so I wouldn’t want to just up and leave anyway.) I might quietly give up my salary though, knowing how much it matters to our small budget.

      1. Red Wheel*

        Makes sense but I would still spend that time thinking at home, in my PJs. I would sooo not come into this office ever again.

        1. Red Wheel*

          Also, my ultimate goal would be to establish a charitable foundation so I would spend that time, in my PJs, researching ways to implement the foundation and brainstorming the best ways to reach the underserved populations that I would want to help. By continuing to report to my current office, I would only be helping my employer continue to make obscene amounts of money and current employer is definitely NOT a charitable foundation.

          1. Artemesia*

            We made our bit plans for the lottery 30 years ago when our kids were young and we were visiting a state with a lottery and bought a ticket. The kids were basically spending the money so we talked about how we would handle lottery winnings. And the plan is still in place: we would have is dispersed in 5 shares — one for each family member and one for a charitable trust. And in those days, the kids share went into trust with them having X amount to blow on anything they wanted. Silly — but if we win 500 million this weekend, that is what we would still do (I bought a couple of tickets for Wednesday — not a single number match — I am not making specific plans for the 500 million but will probably buy a ticket — I always think of the tickets as contributions to the state education funds)

      2. Turanga Leela*

        Right, your first call if you win the lottery should be to a reputable financial planner. You invest your money, make sure you’re set for retirement and your kids’ college,* and have the planner put you on an allowance. You do maybe one big, fun splurge purchase, but generally make sure you’re living within your means. Otherwise it’s easy to wind up broke and/or unhappy.

        *My biggest initial expense would be college funds for many, many kids I know. Friends’ kids, my nieces and nephews, a couple of former students… My favorite lottery-related fantasy is being able to call my friends and tell them they don’t have to worry about college savings or financial aid ever again.

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          I figure at least half of my winners would go into a scholarship trust fund for future generations of my family.

        2. Hlyssande*

          I’d pay off my parents’ debts first, then my brothers’ and mine, and buy a new (moderately priced) car. The rest can go into savings and sit there for interest. Yesssss.

    18. Anna*

      I think it honestly depends on the job I’m in. I love where I work, so I’d give notice and probably work until they had a new person and I had trained them completely. If it was at my former employer, my notice would have been “I won the lottery and will not be in ever again, ever.” And then I would have taken my coworkers out for a fabulous dinner, because the job sucked and my boss was crazy, but I liked the people I worked with.

    19. Jubilance*

      I’d give notice and act normal. If I did win a huge lottery, I’d keep my entire life normal, and I wouldn’t tell anyone except my lawyer and financial planner. Once the check clears and I have my money, I’m dropping off the grid. So I’d work my notice period and pretend that I’m moving onto a new position, when really my next job will be to travel and knit all day.

      1. Jennifer*

        I think I’d do something like that, but I wouldn’t give notice until I had the check first.

        I wouldn’t want anyone to know I won, but I do worry about how they publicize it.

        But since I don’t play and don’t think I would ever win if I did, it doesn’t matter :P

    20. Betty (the other Betty)*

      I’m self employed doing graphic design. If I won half a billion dollars?

      I’d stop taking on new projects and would let all my clients know that I was closing my business. I would hire people to do the work I was already committed to while I organized my new wealthy life (I could supervise). Shouldn’t be a problem getting quality help since I could pay a good amount (and not worry about how much the client was paying me).

      I’d refer clients to other designers I know to take on on-going work. I have some clients on monthly or yearly service contracts, so I’d probably pay someone else to finish those out.

      At the same time, I would hire other people to help close out the business and send info and files to clients or to new designers.

      It would probably take about a month and I would be done! Then I’d start on setting up my foundation, first to pay for college for all the kids in the family, then to make the world a better place.

      Clearly I have also thought about this a bit too much.

    21. F.*

      Based on the experiences of other winners of very large lottery payouts, I wouldn’t tell anyone other than my husband, not even family (we have some drug addicts, etc.) We would quietly and quickly get all of our financial and legal ducks in a row, too. Knowing how slowly my company works to fill open positions, and being the entire HR department, I would give four weeks of notice. I would hope that would give me a chance to work with my replacement for more than the NINE HOURS of training that I received. I genuinely like and respect most of my colleagues here and wouldn’t want to screw them over. I wouldn’t tell them why I was leaving, just to “pursue other opportunities.” Then I would not be employed another day in my life! I have many interests, charities and hobbies, and would have absolutely no trouble staying busy the rest of my life!

      1. F.*

        I think another thing I would do with some of the $500,000,000 is buy the company from my current employer. I know he’s had offers, and I think I know how much it would take, so it would be entirely doable. I work with a lot of good people, and I’d like to be able to give them a chance to succeed and to build the company into the vision that my immediate boss and I and another colleague have to make it very successful. (boy, I must REALLY be dreaming!)

    22. Lucky*

      I love this question, though now I’ll be daydreaming all day.

      I would call out for the day – probably from the state lottery office, just to make sure it was official. Then, being that I like my job and care about the company and my reputation and connections, I’d offer to stay on part-time, with occasional days off for historic mansion-hunting, spa visits and charitable foundation planning, until my replacement was hired and trained, and since my company is non-profit-adjacent, I’d donate my salary to one of our charity partners.

      Then, I would start my international jet-setting life. How many vacation homes is too many? I don’t want to appear gauche.

    23. Dorth Vader*

      I honestly wouldn’t leave my job. In fact, it would give me the ability to stay as long as they need me to since money wouldn’t be an object. I’d also be taking the installments instead of one lump sum (something about so I don’t spend it all on yarn) so I could work my way up to paying off debt, buying working cars, buying property, building my dream house, etc.

    24. ali*

      I’d take a week or two of vacation as immediately as I could without seriously hurting my coworker, but I don’t think I’d quit entirely. I’d have to think long and hard about what to do about health insurance and all of the group benefits I get through my job. I probably would ask to reduce my hours to whatever the minimum is for keeping benefits.

      But I really like my job, and I feel good about doing it. I would be bored without it, no matter how much money I had.

      1. ThatGirl*

        You could easily afford health insurance and other benefits if you had a crapton of money…

        My husband once told his coworkers he’d want to keep working for awhile even if he won the lottery, and one said “but wouldn’t you want someone who needs the money to have the job?”

        1. 42*

          >>but wouldn’t you want someone who needs the money to have the job?<<

          That's actually an excellent angle that I hadn't heard of.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Right? I mean, not that anyone should be guilted into quitting, but this was during the recession and he thought “yeah, actually, that’s a good point…”

        2. Turanga Leela*

          Eh, I’m not a fan of that kind of reasoning. There’s no finite number of jobs in the world, and even if you want to think about it in these terms, there are a lot of other considerations you could take into account. My partner and I could probably afford to have one of us quit and just live off the other one’s salary, but we are good at our jobs and it helps our employers (and the communities they serve) to have us on board. We give a fair amount of money to local nonprofits.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            Argh, got cut off. Point is, I don’t think it’s helpful to think about whether you should have a job in terms of who needs the income more.

          2. ThatGirl*

            There were a finite number of jobs at his workplace, though.

            I mean, I’m talking circumstances where we win hundreds of millions of dollars and would absolutely not need either of our salaries. Not “well, I guess I COULD quit…”

        3. Persephone*

          I would probably invest in my company (it’s a small company) so they can hire more people.

        4. ali*

          Affording health insurance and qualifying for decent health insurance are different things, hence needing to think long and hard about it first. I definitely do not qualify for life insurance outside of group policies, although I suppose if you win enough, you don’t need life insurance. While I can get health coverage on the marketplace, I can’t get coverage that is of the same quality I can get through my workplace. I guess I’d have to move to a state that has better marketplace options. Even with a crapton of money, I’d prefer to spend it on things like giving to charity than giving to pharmacuetical companies.

          But that is a good point about people who need the money more. I already spend a lot of time doing volunteer work, I guess I could quit my job and do more of that instead.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          That presumes the only reason people have jobs is because they want the money. I know plenty of retirees that totally hate retirement and take a part time job just to fill up their time and get to see people.

          Annnd I read a study one time that suggested a connection between early retirement and early health issues. People who retire younger get sicker sooner.

          If a person feels that conflicted about taking a job away from someone else, a person could do something with their new wealth to create jobs for people. In the process of doing this, the person would also create work for herself because someone would have to watch the new venture.

    25. Professionally Anon*

      I was thinking about this after I bought my ticket this morning. Most likely I’d still work because I enjoy what I do even if I hate some aspects of it. I would be willing to donate some money to my University only if it was used in a way (repairing buildings, hiring necessary personnel, etc.) that I recommended instead of burning through it in other ways.

    26. Elizabeth West*

      I wouldn’t give notice right away. It would take a few weeks at LEAST, probably more like a couple of months, to get everything sorted–financial planning, deciding on annuity vs. payout, actually getting the money, etc. I would tell no one. I wouldn’t want anyone to know because then they’d bug me for money. Only when all my ducks were in a row would I give notice.

    27. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      If I were leaving (which I wouldn’t do at this point – I genuinely enjoy my job! – although I may ask to reduce my hours or something), I’d give a very extended notice. Like, three months or something. Give them time to do whatever reorging or hiring they want to do, help with the hiring process, etc.

      My work is rather cyclical, so if I were in a key part of the cycle I’d wait until that ended and THEN give an extended notice.

    28. katamia*

      It would depend on how much I won. A million? I’d keep working unless I really loathed my job but invest some in rental property or a side business or something. 100 million? I’d give my notice pretty much right away unless I really felt motivated to stick it out a little bit longer (like if I were tutoring, I might wait until the end of the school year).

    29. Anonymous for this*

      I actually dated someone who’s mom won a substantial amount of money through an office lottery pool (I think it was just over a million a person, split among 12 people?). So certainly enough money to make you not really have to worry about money, but not, like, “retire to a private Caribbean island” money. A couple of things I learned based on that experience:

      1) It can take a fair amount of time to actually get the money, especially if there are any issues with how many people are entitled to that money. In this case, since it was an office pool, there were people who hadn’t bought tickets for that jackpot, but then thought they should get a cut because they were part of the pool. Legal issues like that take a long time to sort out, so you’re looking at about a month before you actually get the money and therefore a little while before you know exactly how much money you’re getting (after taxes etc.).

      2) Related to number 1, if you do participate in an office lottery pool, make sure you’ve got some iron-clad rules for that pool, and ideally, that everyone has signed something stating that they agree to the rules. Otherwise you’ll be in for a world of drama.

      3) Winning a lottery jackpot can change people, often for the worse. But I watched a hard-working, middle class family turn into the worst sort of entitled, snobby elitists because of a windfall they did nothing to earn (other than being extremely lucky). We broke up shortly after the lottery win basically because of this. For that reason, if I was to win the lottery I’d work really really hard at maintaining a reasonable standard of living and not going crazy with luxury cars and designer clothing.

      4) I would tell as few people as possible about it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There are ways to handle money so that one does not become a snob. The problem is that it takes time to learn how to do that and most people would rather just spend the money. Many lottery winners do not make out well in the long run.

    30. 42*

      These are all great replies, thanks for joining in on my thought exercise.

      I’m getting my ticket tonight, so if I happen to split the pot with any of you, let me know and I’ll save you a bar stool in Rio.

    31. Carrie in Scotland*

      That is so strange as the UK lotto is over £50 million for the jackpot just now…

      As for the money: would work my notice (4 weeks) at some point after winning. Would not be doing a no show/no call

    32. Clever Name*

      We actually have an office pool going, and we signed a contract where one of the lines was something like, “If we win, don’t be a jerk and sue your fellow employees”. If I were to quit, I guess I’d stay and transition/finish all of my current projects, but honestly, I really love my job, so I’m not sure I’d quit. I’d just enjoy not having to worry about money and vacation in Hawaii every year. And get a new car. And fund a trust for my son’s education. And remodel our bathroom and make a man-cave in the basement for my husband. :)

    33. Analyst*

      I’m in a pool with my whole department. Our boss said we can’t all quit on the same day when we win. I’d do an honest two weeks.

    34. LibraryChick*

      I would give two weeks notice. I would definitely not tell anyone that I had won the lottery. Then, I would leave the country for a while so no one could contact me while I made decisions about what to do with the money.

    35. Glasskey*

      I would compose a very professional resignation letter, which would arrive scrawled on a coconut sent by private jet, smeared with sunblock and smelling of Dom Perrignon, plumeria, and mangoes. (Thank you for asking; I now have a big stupid grin on my face.)

        1. Windchime*

          I agree. I think any amount over $1M would probably blow my mind anyway. I can’t conceive of having much more than that–it would stress me out.

    36. Minion*

      You know, I think a lot about what I’d do with my lottery winnings, which seems kind of strange because I’ve never played the lottery in my life and have no intention of ever doing so. Doesn’t stop me from dreaming, though.

      I think I’d give a 2 week notice. I probably should give more, but I’m not feeling particularly charitable about my organization right now. But, like someone said upthread, I’d definitely call in on the first day and spend it sipping champagne in my jammies.

    37. Bea W*

      Depends on the kind of relationship you have with the people you work with and whether or not you care about burning bridge or leaving a good/bad impression.

      If it were me, and I decided to stop working I’d give notice and take time to transition everything. I’ve thought about this though and I’m not sure I leave my job or at least not right away. I would have left the last one in a heatbeat though. It was toxic.

    38. Retail Lifer*

      If happened during my previous job, I would have finished out the current week and then told them I’m done. Taking off and never coming back wouldn’t have affected the people that I wouldn’t mind screwing over; it would have affected my own employees, who I liked very much. I wouldn’t tell them I won the lottery, though. There are so many people and causes who could desperately use some of that money, but I’d keep it under wraps until I decided what to do with it. Ideally, I’d pay off my debt, buy a house, help out some family members, donate some, and invest the rest. Then I’d work part-time, get back into volunteering, and maybe finally travel somewhere.

    39. Kassy*

      I think because of your concerns about leaving your team in a bind, giving notice is probably best. I would even do it if that were not the case, because you never know if you might want to return to working someday- people do it!

    40. Lizabeth*

      First, I would continue to work, either at the current place or start a job search.
      Second, I would set up some sort of trust or holding company (not sure if these are the right terms) in order to protect my identity before claiming the winning ticket.
      Third, I would wait 6-8 months before claiming the winning ticket. During that time I would be thinking about what type of non-profit charity to set up to use some of the money.

    41. Small town reporter*

      Despite the fact that I LOVE what I do, I am not 100 percent in love with where I do it. If I won the lottery, I’d keep working until all the legal/tax implications were taken care of the, money was properly invested, etc. I’d help train a replacement for my job here, because this is a great community. And then I’d head back to the tropical paradise where I lived for nearly a decade, buy a house in a cute town, enroll my kids in the best private school I’ve ever encountered (the kids there routinely go on to interesting careers and outstanding colleges, but what I like the most are the cool, hands-on learning projects they do and the fact that I’ve never interviewed a kid who went there who wasn’t fantastically articulate and incredibly interesting) and then start my own independent news blog covering the news there. The newspapers I worked for there were sold (which is why I left) and the quality has declined. I could hire my old editor to be my boss again and we could muckrake without need to sell ads. I would be busy, engaged in the community, working with someone I respect in a place I love and I could go to the beach every weekend.

    42. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Wouldn’t quit.

      Might see if I could invest and build a globally dominating teapot company called “Wakeen’s & Me Teapots, Unlimited”.

      Would DEFINITELY stop saying “I’ll never retire” though!!

    43. Ghost Town*

      Husband and I have talked about this sort of thing, and the plan varies according to the projected payout, but in general, for a large windfall, they involve paying off debt; lawyers/financial planners; trusts for child[ren], nieces, and nephews; paying off homes for family members; and donations. The amount dictates whether or not we’d keep our jobs.

      Even if we got the super windfall, I’d give at least 2 weeks notice b/c I like where I am, and staff are thin on the ground.

    44. Not So NewReader*

      Kind of a random thought, but I think it would be sooo cool to read in the paper about a family losing their home and be able to call someone and say, “Get that family a house, I am paying for it.” Or read of a kid that needs spendy medical procedure and just sit down and write a freakin’ check- that would be so awesome.

    45. Menacia*

      This is funny because almost the entire IT department went in on Powerball. Even the head of the department (who is also the head of HR). Of course she could not resist in telling us that if we win, we can’t leave until we’ve found our replacements! ;) This is the same person who wished out loud that she could clone me…um, yeah, I ain’t spending my winnings on *that*! I can honestly say I’ve never dreamed about winning the lottery, I’m just too darned logical.

      Good luck to everyone who bought a ticket!

  7. Momnonymous*

    I think this is a work question—at any rate, it’s a working parent question…
    Just put my kid in day care, and I’d love advice from anyone who has been there. He’s less than a year old and has been having trouble napping there. He wants to be cuddled while he sleeps, and if you put him down, he wakes up and starts bawling. We can’t let him cry it out in a room full of other napping babies. When he doesn’t nap, it throws off his whole schedule, he gets too tired to eat, and he comes home exhausted, hungry, and cranky.

    My schedule is more flexible than my partner’s, so if one of us has to come pick him up early, that winds up being me, and it’s just not an option anymore—I’m already feeling behind at work. Any thoughts (general or specific) on starting your kid in day care as a working parent?

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      What’s your son’s sleep behavior like at home? You mention he wants to be cuddled while he sleeps, and that you “can’t let him cry it out” at daycare. Do you do these things with him when he naps/sleeps at home? If so, you might have to begin acclimating him to a different routine. If there is a way you can create more consistency between his home & daycare environments, that might help.

      1. Adam V*

        This – during Christmas, my wife took our son out of town and he had trouble sleeping unless she would hold him. Once we got home, this behavior continued, so on January 1 we started forcing him to fall asleep on his own – at first we’d check in on him after he’d been screaming for a few minutes, to make sure he had a pacifier and to lay him back down, but gradually we lengthened the time between visits, and now we try hard not to go in there after he’s down.

      2. Momnonymous*

        At night, it’s cuddling, then I put him down, he cries briefly (usually less than five minutes), then he falls asleep. The day care employees, who are wonderful, would be happy to cuddle him while he falls asleep; it’s the few minutes of crying when they put him down that’s the problem.

        During daytime naps, we often hold him the whole time, which I realize is going to have to change. It’s going to be hard, though. Even at home, he sleeps better and longer when he’s held (90+ minutes held vs 45 minutes in his crib), he’s happier afterward, and we love holding him.

        1. Guam Mom*

          My kiddo did the same thing from about 3-5 months (he’s now 8 months); napped best when held, woke up after 45 minutes during daytime nap, was a very light sleeper during the day. What helped was treating each daytime nap like his bedtime. We dimmed the lights, put on his nightlight, sang his good night song, and then let him fuss for a few minutes. I think it took about three weekends, but eventually he was napping regularly and for 90-120 minutes, twice daily, even at daycare. If he woke up at the 45 minute mark (which I think is a full sleep cycle for him?) he got pretty good at going right back to sleep without fussing. Now he’s on a schedule and he just starts to get sleepy at the same time of day, so we can skip the longer routine for daytime naps, give him a quick cuddle to relax him, and then set him in his crib. He occasionally rolls around or babbles to himself for a few minutes, but no crying. The key for us was finding that sweet spot between sleepy/relaxed but not yet asleep for transferring from arms to crib–my guess is that it makes the transition less jarring than being transferred after falling asleep? But who knows–my kid speaks this made-up language that I just cannot understand despite hours of study :P
          Good luck, though, and hang in there.

          1. Momnonymous*

            I have to get better at finding that sweet spot and sticking to it. I was really disciplined about it a few months ago, when I was teaching the kid to sleep in his crib at home, and it seemed to work. More recently, I’ve been letting him fall asleep while I hold him, which I agree makes the transition more jarring. (And I read in some book that moving kids when they’re totally asleep is also confusing for them when they wake up, because they wonder where you went and how they got in their crib.)

            1. Guam Mom*

              That makes sense. We call our car the “baby time machine” because he always falls asleep in it and wakes up at another time and place :)
              Good luck with everything. The first few weeks of daycare/work were exhausting for me, but it got a lot better around the one month mark. Hang in there!

        2. Observer*

          That definitely needs to change. Even if you didn’t have to get him used to day care, it’s really not a great thing for a child not to be able to fall asleep without being held. (I’m not talking about a child who is not well, obviously.)

          The fact that he cries when you put him down says that he’s actually NOT sleeping all the well when you hold him. So that’s another issue as well.

          1. Momnonymous*

            I don’t know that the second part is true. To put him down, I have to lift him over the side of the crib and then lower him 2-ish feet onto a fairly firm mattress. He can feel that he’s being lowered and that there’s a shift in temperature. I’d wake up if someone tried to move me in my sleep.

            1. Observer*

              I’m fairly sure that in day care that’s not how they are putting him in his crib. Also, even the way you describe it, I would expect hos to not wake up enough to start actually crying. Maybe a mewl and then back to sleep.

              1. Momnonymous*

                I don’t want to be snarky, but that is in fact exactly how they are putting him in his crib.

                1. Observer*

                  They are lifting him that high and lowering him that low? Very surprising that the cribs are set up that way.

                  In any case, the second half of what I said still stands.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Maybe acclimate him to napping on/with a fuzzy blanket — first, put it between you and him and cuddle him at home, but eventually the feel of the wubby might be enough.

        1. Momnonymous*

          I may try this. The teachers also suggested leaving a shirt that I’ve worn for him to snuggle, so that he can be comforted by my smell. I don’t think that’s the issue—he’ll fall asleep on anyone—but I’m willing to try a bunch of things and see what sticks.

    2. Betty (the other Betty)*

      Just some ideas: is the daycare close enough to work that you could go there on your lunch break? Time the lunch break with nap time so you can help him get to sleep?

      Work on sleep habits at home: Could you start to ease off on cuddling while he falls asleep at home? You could still be there, just try to get him used to falling asleep without you actually touching him the whole time.

      Also make sure your day off schedules are similar to daycare day schedules, so nap time falls at about the same time.

      Will the daycare let him nap in a swing or one of those vibrating bouncy seats? Sometimes the motion helps put babies to sleep. It worked for my kiddo (at home). Unfortunately the swing we had was a wind-up one (not plug in or battery operated), so as the swing started slowing, I had to wind it back up as fast as possible and hope to get it going again before the wind up noise woke him up. Fun times…

      1. Momnonymous*

        Meant to reply to this earlier: Thanks for the suggestions! I don’t really get a lunch break, so that won’t work, and anyway I’m not sure my presence is helpful. I’m not any better at putting the baby down than the teachers are (in fact, I think they’re better).

        I’m laughing at the image of the swing. He had something like that when he was younger and loved it. I think they’re going to try something similar in the day care, although at this point he just doesn’t like being put in things and will cry briefly but loudly at the transition regardless—swings, seats, crib, high chair, car seat… I’m making him sound like a difficult kid, but he’s pretty sunny, just independent.

    3. 42*

      I’d start by incrementally tapering the cuddling at sleep/nap times at home, so he can settle by himself. I know that’s a tough one; I went through it myself, but the payoff was wonderful.

      1. HobbitFan*

        These are all good suggestions. My input is to make sure the problem is only differences in approaching his nap habits. To make a long story short, my grandchildren were in a daycare for over 3 years and cried every day. After switching to another child care provider (a wonderful woman who watches children in her home), everything changed for the better and the tears stopped. I don’t believe the children were happy at their particular day care and did not feel safe and secure. So I guess I’d want to rule out any other factors that might be adding to his displeasure. Hope things work out good for everyone soon!

    4. Kyrielle*

      Bouncy chairs/swings helped my kiddos. But also, the daycare *dealt with their needs*. In point of fact, staff at this day care (it is a large center with rooms by age) often take breaks in the infant room so they can cuddle the really little ones, because they find cuddling a sleeping baby calming. :)

      Working on sleep schedule at home, etc., may help – but also, I’m just boggled that the day care can’t deal with it and make it work….

      1. Momnonymous*

        I’m hoping they can get it to work eventually. There have to be other kids who have had trouble with this. However, some of the tricks I’ve seen them use with other kids won’t work with my kid—he sleeps lightly, so he’ll wake up when you move him, and pacifiers do nothing for him.

        The funny thing is that I’m used to thinking of him as an easy, good-natured kid. He mostly is! But apparently the naptime routine at day care isn’t a good fit right now.

    5. Mockingjay*

      It depends on who drops off and who picks up. My husband and I worked it out, based on working hours.

      I went into work later, so I dropped off.
      He went into work earlier, so he got off earlier and did pick up. This minimized the daily hours our baby was in day care.

      The other thing we did, was to keep the same wakeup, meal, nap, and bed times on the weekend to keep her sleep cycle consistent. [We alternated sleeping in to give ourselves a break – I slept in Saturdays while he got up with her, then he slept Sundays.] This made a HUGE difference on Monday mornings!

      And, starting daycare is a hard adjustment for a little guy. He’s going to cry until he learns to block out the noise and fall asleep by himself. Remember he’s warm, fed, and safe, even as he wails. Give it a week or two, and see how he does.

    6. Perpetuum Mobile*

      Unfortunately my family has only one recipe: the best daycare you can find and/or afford. By “the best” I mean the best possible ratio of staff to children (for his age group I’d be shooting for 3/1 as ideal and 4/1 or 5/1 as less ideal but acceptable but no more than 6/1), and of course the most wonderful, kind and understanding teachers who if they can (see my previous point) wouldn’t mind giving your son some extra time and efforts. It’s very much a matter of luck, in addition to availability and affordability.

      My kid was at home with me for 3 months while I was on maternity leave, then with our wonderful neighbor for almost 7 months so she was 10 months when our circumstances changes and she had to go to daycare. We were super happy that by that time she was used to a certain independence, e.g. no cuddling to fall asleep.

      1. Momnonymous*

        I will say I love my son’s teachers and the general atmosphere and philosophy of the day care. The ratio at this place is 4/1. We didn’t have a lot of options for infant day care, but we are very happy with this one (and it was, in fact, more expensive than the alternatives).

    7. Analyst*

      No advice, just sympathy. This was us three years ago… my kid was a stubborn mule about sleeping at daycare and had to be held. We had an extremely sympathetic staff, 4/1 ratio, and they did commit to holding her as much as possible. There were still some times especially earlier on where I’d get a call around 3pm or so that she hadn’t slept yet. So the husband or I (usually me) raced out of work to her and brought her home and of course she passed out at home no problem. That happened maybe 5 or 6 times total.

      Hang in there; it gets better. FWIW, I could’ve sworn I was a terrible employee during that time… exhausted, leaving early, kid who was sick frequently… I got a stellar performance review about 6 months into that. I hope your boss is a parent who gets that this stuff just happens sometimes and the baby stage in life is brief.

      1. Momnonymous*

        Thanks. My boss is also a parent and has been very flexible and sympathetic. I also feel like a terrible employee, but my boss says I am doing great work, which is confusing but gratifying.

    8. Angela*

      Hmm…what are the ratios like in the rooms? The daycare that my kid’s went to did nap time all together and it seems like there should be enough daycare workers on hand to help your little one fall asleep with the others laying down. And it could be that environment is not for him. I switched my kid to an in-home daycare because I thought it would be better for him to have less kids, and it turns out he needed the rigid structure of a center that you don’t always see in a home-based care provider. So I switched him back, and he went back to his normal self.

    9. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      You say that the daycare workers have a problem with him crying while sleeping. But babies cry! It’s what they do!

      I’ve been there, and I find this odd. When mine was wee and in the infant room, each provider held, rocked, swung, or just rubbed a baby’s back to get to sleep. Crying was not a problem. It was accepted. Kids have all different routines, and it takes time for any infant to adjust to the daycare schedule. They aren’t giving your baby a chance to get comfortable with the new space, the new faces, and the new routine.

      I’m not certain if the daycare workers are out of line, or if you are feeling so attached that you don’t feel comfortable letting your baby cry it out in daycare. If it’s based on comfort level, then that’s completely understandable. You’ll both get through it, but you’ll need to let him get used to the daycare routine so he can settle.

      1. pieces of flair*

        You know, this is what I was thinking. It’s really not unusual for babies to need a few minutes of crying before they fall asleep. They daycare should have strategies for dealing with different sleep needs, such as putting the child who cries down a few minutes early, putting the light sleeper in the crib farthest from the door, etc. I wouldn’t waste any emotional energy feeling guilty that your child is “ruining naptime”; he’s just being a normal quirky human baby in a facility designed to care for human babies. If the daycare staff is telling you that they “can’t” let him cry it out in a roomful of napping babies, and therefore he doesn’t get to nap, it’s not a very good daycare.

        Anyway, he will probably adjust to the daycare routine relatively quickly. I have a toddler who will only nap while being held at home, but she’s learned that daycare has different rules and she naps on her cot there just fine. Give it a few weeks.

        1. Momnonymous*

          I think they’re going to try putting him down first next week. I’ll be back to let people know how it goes…

        2. Momnonymous*

          Thought I’d add: it’s not that they’ve said he can’t cry, it’s that I’ve observed them not letting him cry. If he starts to cry, they scoop him back up so he doesn’t wake the other babies, which means that he doesn’t get to transition from crying to sleeping. They do the same thing with the other babies, but they seem to sleep more soundly, which might be innate or might be due to other circumstances (some of them have higher cribs because they can’t stand yet, some of them use pacifiers, etc., etc.).

    10. overeducated and underemployed*

      How close to a year is he? We are having issues with our one year old getting to sleep at night sometimes, and the only way we’ve been able to get him to sleep without holding him is by putting him in the crib in a calm mood and getting him to play on his own with a book and a soft toy. He sometimes gets mad briefly when we leave the room, but he will NOT put himself to sleep with one of us there watching him. If he’s on the older side, could your kid start to get used to the crib/cot at day care as a quiet play place while awake, without having to nap?

      1. Momnonymous*

        He’s about ten months. That’s worth trying. Mine won’t fall asleep with me in the room either. If I’m nearby but not holding him, he just gets upset that I’m not picking him up.

        1. overeducated and underemployed*

          Sounds familiar! Honestly he started napping at day care on his own a lot more easily than with us, but our provider wasn’t putting him down asleep, she was putting him down sleepy and he somehow learned to get to sleep on his own there many, many months before he would do that at home. So if he feels safe and ok about being in the crib awake, it might help. Good luck! This is rough. It may pass soon, you guys just have to get through it.

    11. J.B.*

      Neither of my kids napped in the baby room at all. It sucked and we made up for it as much as possible on the weekend. They are just high energy kids and were too interested in everything going on. They survived and it resolved itself in the toddler room when all kids were napping together. Sorry.

    12. Small town reporter*

      My older son was just a bad napper, period. He would only nap when he was held, and at 18 months took a six-week nap strike. It was pretty awful. When it was done, he was a great napper — two hours, every afternoon, on the bed by himself (this was at our house). So maybe your son just needs a bit more time to adjust and be ready to sleep on his own?
      My younger son, from the minute he started daycare at about 13 months old, would lay down on command and sleep. He’s now 2 and still won’t do that for me, but naps like clockwork at the sitter’s.

    13. Yetanotherjennifer*

      You’re getting lots of good advice here. I’m wondering if he might like to be swaddled. Usually no one but a newborn has time for that but since he loves to sleep while being held it might help.

      I also have a little trick from when my daughter was small and used to wake when she was laid down. The trick is to press your arms/hands down into the mattress as you lay your son down. Keep your arms pressed down as you slide them out from under him. The idea is that he will be supported by most of the mattress while you slide your hands out and won’t notice the mattress bouncing back as much as he notices having to adjust while you remove your arms.

      A couple other things: Keep trying. Even keep trying the same thing before trying something new. I gave up far too easily as a new parent; it can take time to adapt to something new. Sure he may dislike broccoli at the first bite but he will learn to like it. Or someday, the true grown-up skill: learn to eat it even when he doesn’t like it. Second, I like to interpret this type of crying to mean “this is different” vs “I don’t like this.” It’s a small mindshift but it implies that familiarity will improve things. And finally only slightly related: don’t take anything seriously until it happens three times in a row. This mostly applies to sleeping through the night or other behaviors we parents love. The first time he changes a behavior you like, you will worry that he’s given up this behavior forever. But babies are chaotic events and I’ve found that it’s no use fretting until you’ve seen a definite pattern of change.

      1. Momnonymous*

        Thanks! I love the mattress trick, but his mattress is too low (and I’m too short) to make it work. We’re going to try swaddling if he’ll let us, although we haven’t swaddled him since he was tiny.

        I am definitely going to keep trying things! It’s so easy to fall into the mindset of “He doesn’t like broccoli” when he’s tried it once, or “Maybe he didn’t sleep well because we did X yesterday” when there is no way to know. I actually asked my aunt to stop speculating about what caused good/bad nights because it was making me crazy.

    14. Jen*

      How long has it been since he started? Kids can take a while to transition. Mine was in daycare since 3 months, but we switched centers at 18 months and it took 2+ months before she was truly settled.

      Try your best to curb the “snuggle to sleep” behavior at home, both for daycare reasons as well as your own sanity. Mine used to have to be nursed to sleep and as soon as we did cry it out, I kicked myself for not doing it months earlier.

    15. Momnonymous*

      Thank you everyone for the great advice and the sympathy! I’m trying to chill out, remember that an adjustment period is normal and the teachers should be able to handle it, and re-jigger my son’s routine at home. I really thought about overeducated and underemployed’s point about quiet playtime in the crib, and I realized that my kid always, without fail, cries if I put him in his crib, regardless of the time of day, the circumstances, or his mood before. That’s probably because if I put him in the crib, that always means that I’m about to leave him by himself. Today I put him in his crib with some toys and sat with him, and he cried very briefly but then settled in and played. I’m going to keep doing that so that hopefully he can get used to the idea that the crib can be a fun, peaceful place. We’ve got a long way to go (with that, cutting back on cuddles, and getting used to day care), but I will let you all know how it goes!

  8. katamia*

    Anyone familiar with SCORE, especially their mentoring services? A friend of mine mentioned she was thinking of trying to get a mentor through them, and I’m curious about them. Link below in comment.

    1. katamia*

      Not sure if my previous comment with the link posted, so here it is again in case–anyone else getting “duplicate comment” notices when their comments aren’t actually duplicates?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think you got the duplicate comment notice because the system had already accepted your first comment, but it was in moderation due to the link.

    2. Ad Girl*

      I think it would really depend on the chapter of SCORE – I know they can be very different based on who is running the location and what type of mentors are involved.

      Back in 2014 one in a college class that did pro bono work for various area non-profits. Some of classmates worked for SCORE (I fortunately did not) and found that the chapter in my college town was incredibly difficult to work with. Most of their marketing materials/website were incredibly outdated, but they refused to change anything (not sure why they wanted to be a part of the free services if they wouldn’t accept any help). I know they were struggling to recruit younger mentors/engage with a younger audience, but that could’ve just been an issue with this chapter, not others.

  9. the sugar plum fairy*

    I’ve been in my job for six months. My company is in the process of being acquired by a competitor and it’s expected to close by this summer. Since I joined my current team, half of our team members have left the company. We have the same amount of work to do but less people. They are not filling positions as people leave.

    I’m looking for a new position outside of the company. I’m struggling to stay motivated to do my work because I literally have no help and it just feels so fruitless. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I do. I’m also tired from living in limbo, trying to figure out if I’m going to keep my job – it’s mentally exhausting.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      It’s really hard to do your best when everything is up and down :(

      I hope you find a great job soon!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t let your self-care slide. Find ways to put good things in to you and your life. Good foods, plenty of water and as much rest as you can get. Yes, laying still counts as rest, even if you do not sleep. You will do this for a while, not forever, then things will change. Hang tough and be strategic. Decide that you are not going to keep your job and that will help you to feel a tiny-tiny bit less exhausted. It will also protect you if, worst case scenario, they do have to let you go because you have planned on a new job anyway.

  10. Coffee Ninja*

    I’m getting my first direct report! I’ve been supervising some specific job functions for a lot of people over the last year or so, but I wasn’t anyone’s actual boss; so this is my first real management opportunity. Any advice? I bought Alison’s book, but I’d love to hear anything you all think would be helpful!

    1. hermit crab*

      I have no advice but I’ll be following this thread! I’m getting my first direct report soon too and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

    2. Joie de Vivre*

      Spend some time thinking about the bosses you’ve had — the good and the bad.
      What made the good stand out? Can you pattern elements of your management style after them?
      What made the bad stand out? What did you learn not to do from watching them?

    3. Not today*

      I’m in a similar place, but I have about 8-12 months before I likely become manager here. Current manager is (finally) putting the non-performer in the group on a PIP to either shape up or ship out. We are starting recruitment to get an experienced person in to backfill my position; luckily, we have an open position.

      I’m reading Alison’s book, it’s been useful and will be more in the future.

    4. Mirabellaninani*

      For me, one of the most significant shifts from employee to manager involved realising that not everyone is like me! Sounds silly and obvious, but actually it’s really important to be aware that other people won’t necessarily motivated by the same things you are, won’t get stressed by the same things, and will have different strengths and weaknesses. Observe them, take an interest and ask questions and you will learn about them. Also, set clear expectations and make sure they understand what good and poor performance look like. (Don’t whack them over the head with this but setting expectations is sooooo important if there are issues later)

    5. some1*

      Get ready for difficult conversations. Alison has great posts in her archives about how to talk to an employee about everything from turning down a vacation request to telling someone they have B.O.

    6. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      When I was promoted to my first management position, my boss had me read two books, “You Can’t Fire Everyone” by Hank Gilman and “The No Assh*le Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” by Robert I. Sutton.

      He then had asked me what kind of boss I wanted to be. It was incredibly helpful.

      He also had me spend a lot of time thinking about time management and rethinking my own time management strategies. I went from being solo to managing 8 people, so it was quite a jump, but it’s weird when you have to begin thinking about someone else’s schedule and workload in addition to your own. I learned to budget an extra half hour into my tasks due to interruptions.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        I second The No Asshole Rule. I also rec Bob’s book, Good Boss, Bad Boss. It gets into some really good examples about how people perform under good bosses and bad bosses, and how bosses consider their effectiveness versus the employees. It’s fascinating and somewhat counter-intuitive, and one that Bob enjoyed researching and writing.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          Oh! That one has been in my “to read” pile for awhile now, I’ll have to move it up!

    7. new reader*

      Check with your company’s HR department to find out if they have any resources for new supervisors. Find out if HR will provide some training on company policies and processes. My first supervisor role came with many surprises with what I was allowed to do and not do. For example, I could deny an employee’s request for time off if there was a compelling business reason, but I couldn’t ban cell phones from the office. Every employer is different, so it’s important to understand your company’s policies.

      Also, is there a supervisor in your company that you respect? You could ask that person to be a mentor. It can be helpful to have a trusted, confidential peer to use as a sounding board or for advice.

    8. Development professional*

      Be direct. Also, you have to start remembering that it’s your job to convey information – your direct report is not inside your head. So, what do you know or think that they also need to know? What *don’t* they need to know or be thinking about? Deliver positive feedback and negative feedback, but don’t serve a “compliment sandwich” – this is in Alison’s book.

    9. Rex*

      When I first started supervising people, I thought through the things that made my good bosses good and what bad bosses were missing. Some of the key things:
      1. Setting clear and consistent goals and expectations
      2. Making sure I got credit when I did good work
      3. As needed, protecting me from higher ups who weren’t as good
      4. Paying attention to the quality of life stuff
      5. Making sure I wasn’t in the dark as to how I was doing, and if there was something I needed to improve, being really clear about it
      6. Not shying away from tough conversations as needed
      7. Modeling good work habits

      Just off the top of my head. Definitely worth thinking through yourself!

    10. Soupspoon McGee*

      One thing I realized is that if my direct report didn’t do something the way I wanted, I needed to explain my expectations better. I always started by assuming that the issue was with clear communication. It made me more patient, and my reports better able to ask for the information or tools they needed.

    11. Jen*

      Is this someone you are hiring/is very new to the company? Or someone transferring over to you? Entry level or mid level?

      Asking as I have managed all of the above and some guidance is very, very different for an entry level new hire than it is for a mid level transfer.

      One critical theme no matter who you manage: be clear about expectations, check in, and reward them for meeting/exceeding expectations and goals. Fight for them / be a useful point of escalation when things out of their control are impeding their success. Brigitte out what motivates them (praise? Visibility? Flexibility of schedule? Independence?) and work with it. One person may want to hear “nice job” after every good project; one might want a “you are really killing it” lunch or note once a quarter. One may value a work from home day to beat traffic if s/he demonstrates reliability.

  11. Francesca*

    I started a new job at the tail end of last year, and I love it. It’s such a vast improvement on my last job, in terms of the work, the people and the commute (I can walk to work now!) and I didn’t realise what a huge difference it would make to my quality of life. After being hugely overworked and under-appreciated in my previous role, I really feel happy and at home here and have already had an opportunity to register to attend a fantastic conference in the summer as well as a few other work perks.

    I have also been told that they knew immediately after my interview (I was the first person they spoke to in person) that they wanted to hire me, and that they thought I came across extremely well. There were a lot of applicants for the role, so I’m thrilled with that feedback. I credit AAM’s interview prep guide and all the brilliant insights of the wonderful commenters over the year. I’m still early in my career and this site has shaped how I see the work world, which has definitely served me well.

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      Congratulations! It sounds like you found a wonderful fit. Being able to walk to work must be awesome!

    2. GOG11*

      Congratulations on a great year! And thanks for sharing – reading stuff like this reminds me that things can change for the better :)

    3. Doriana Gray*

      I walk to work and it is wonderful (and the main reason I accepted the position in the first place). Congrats on the new job! I hope it continues to be all that you want it to be in the new year.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Good, now you can join in the conspiracy to make the work world a better place. ;) Congrats!

  12. HR Recruiter*

    I’m used to receiving an abundance of applications from people who clearly didn’t read the job description, especially when posting on job boards. But I totally did not expect it from HR professionals! I’m currently hiring an entry level HR position and the resumes I’m getting are awful. I made sure it was very very very clear it was an entry level position. I have people applying with 10-20 years experience who clearly think they are applying for a higher level position. And their resumes are just awful, not formatted, don’t make sense, no order. WTF ppl!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I used to work in a college career center (a really good one, I swear!) and would always be amazed at how bad some of the resume/cover letters we received for career counselor openings would be. People, how can we trust you to provide quality resume/cover letter/job hunting advice to our students if you can’t even submit a proper resume yourself!?

      1. HR Recruiter*

        Yeah that is bad! If you look at resumes all day you should be able to write one or steal one from someone else! I’m part of a group that gives job advice to people with disabilities. One of the guys said to the job applicant, “Did your mom right your resume? This is crap it looks like someone’s mom who doesn’t know how to use a computer wrote it.” He had come in late so he didn’t know the person’s job coach wrote the resume (and she was sitting there when he said it). The job coaches are the absolute worst at writing resumes.

      2. Gandalf the Nude*

        We had some of that last year when we were hiring an HR Director. One dude called multiple times to ask how to get his foot in the door, even after I’d told him to stop, that we’d call him if his candidacy was strong. But he kept calling, saying he just wanted a leg up on the competition and could I please just make sure they took a good look at his application. At that point I went to the hiring managers and told them they should discard his application if they wanted to retain me (they did), and I thankfully never had to find out what he would have been like as a boss!

        1. Kelly L.*

          I’m now picturing you frantically trying to close a door on his literal foot as he keeps trying to push it in! :D

      3. College Career Counselor*

        I feel your pain. I’ve seen some TERRIBLE stuff from experienced career services professionals.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Are you sure that they think they are applying for a higher level experience?

      I was in the tech industry for about 20 years. I moved to a rural part of the country (due to my wife’s job) where there aren’t many tech jobs. About 4 years of living there and still working for my former employer in the tech industry (I worked from home) I was laid off.

      I ended up taking a job as an entry-level secretary just so that I could have a job to pay the bills. I am now applying for entry-level/little-experience-needed tech jobs which require only 1 or 2 years of experience at the most so that I can get back into the tech field. I know that they are entry level. I am not expecting the salary, responsibilities, nor the prestige of a high level position. I just want to get back into the tech industry and I am willing to start from the bottom again.

      Are you sure none of your applicants are in the same situation? They may have 20 or so years of experience but may be willing to go to an entry level position for any number of reasons.

      However, all that doesn’t excuse an overall bad resume.

      1. HR Recruiter*

        Yes, I thoroughly vetted each one and talked to some over the phone and doing so I’ve discovered some are clearly just idiots.

      2. NJ Anon*

        This should be discussed in your cover letter. I had CPA’s applying for a part-time bookkeeping position but not one of them submitted a cover letter explaining why.

        1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          Thanks for the suggestion. I do this to some extent explaining that I want to get back to an IT role. I may need to be more explicit.

    3. Angela*

      We had someone come in to apply for HR manager in sweatpants and a messy bun. We are a very casual environment (jeans/tshirts everyday, entry level can get away with sweats) but I would never have expected someone that was seriously applying for a HR position to show up in sweats.

  13. Wendy Darling*

    In the ongoing tale of This Recruiter Sucks, she finally got it into her head that I wasn’t available last week because I was abroad. I told her I was available this week any time after 11am.

    Next thing I get from her is a calendar invite (an Outlook calendar invite, which of course does not work right with my gmail account) for a phone interview at 10am. She also forwarded me my own resume, for reasons I do not understand but I guess at least I know what I sent them.

    My phone interview is in a couple hours, so I’m practicing how to say “So, what’s up with the 1.5 stars on Glassdoor, cos it’s a bloodbath over there and everyone who is not obviously making an attempt at reputation management has the exact same three gripes?” in a polite way.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Oh man, she sounds a tad disorganized…good luck with that phone interview, keep us posted.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Yeah, the first time we spoke I told her the dates I’d be unavailable, and she came back and asked me when during that time period she could set up an interview… twice.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I went with:

        “I’ve been doing some googling about the company and I noticed that the Glassdoor reviews are trending very negative. I’m curious what your take is on that and what the company is doing to address it.” Half of that was cribbed from a very helpful old AAM post:

        He was shockingly candid and actually persuasive enough that I’ll actually go to an in-person interview if one is offered. I’m still deeply suspicious, because the other thing I’ve read is that the pay is almost offensively low, but we’ll see.

    2. KR*

      I remember one part time job I gave my manager my availability and the only times I was not available as Tuesdays and Thursdays…. and the first week on the schedule I was working only Tuesday and Thursday *face palm*

    3. Jotojo*

      That actually leads me to a question.. when an employer has horrible ratings on Glassdoor, how do you approach the subject or ask them about it? I once had a interview at a company, read the comments on Glassdoor right before it and they were horrible. I went to the interview anyway but I think I definitely had my eyes open looking for red flags and I found them. But would I have noticed those things or would they have been an issue if I had not heard the reviews on Glassdoor first?

      1. Biff*

        I think you would. I went to an interview recently and I was looking for some very specific red flags. I didn’t find them, but I found a massive red flag basically hiding in plain sight. If you go into an interview with a mental ‘red flag bingo card’ you should be able to spot at least two or three you’ll need to think about.

        (In my case, I was looking for disconnected management, because that’s what the glassdoor reviews said, what I found was a big brother atmosphere.)

      2. Small town reporter*

        Probably depends on what the reviews said and which red flags you’re looking for. Or maybe it’s just my experience, which was different because I was interviewing with a company via Skype for a job far away from where I was living. The Glassdoor reviews were a huge red flag, they had a good answer (but one that could have totally been untrue, no way of knowing for sure). But some other stuff they said (not mentioned on Glassdoor) became another red flag and I turned them down. Subsequent reviews and turnover in the position made me feel really good about the decision.

    4. Biff*

      I recently talked to a place with a bunch of red-flags on Glassdoor. I was very matter-of-fact about it. “When I researched your company online I noticed a swathe of fairly negative Glassdoor reviews. Can you tell me about them?”

      They were really honest with me — they had a division that was not doing well, which was also undergoing several major, necessary changes that were unfortunately unpopular with the staff. (A very expensive location was being shuttered and moved to an inexpensive locale.) They knew about the issues and they were working on it, but they understood it was a pain point.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Yeah, this guy was VERY honest and candid, which is the ONLY reason I’m still considering this job. If he’d been defensive or dismissive or acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about I’d have withdrawn from consideration, but he was honest and upfront and explained what he did to try to protect his team from the issues people were complaining about and also what the company was doing to improve the situation.

  14. Remote Control*

    How do you work best with a manager that’s not only out of state, but also very hands off?

    My teammates and I are all remote. Our manager lives a few time zones away. We are left to our devices most of the time, including handling responsibilities that technically our manager is responsible for. He is very hands off. Like a question posed earlier this week, if we ask a question, it turns into a long-winded teachable moment. I respond to directness/getting to the point, and I’m thinking about telling my manager this during our annual performance reviews.

    1. Remote Control*

      I should also mention that I’ve been in my role for 4 months and have had no guidance or assistance in learning my role. I can usually figure out most things on my own but it’s still frustrating.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      Is there anyone more experienced on your team that you can reach out to?

      In one of my early positions I was a remote employee doing work that was in my field, but nothing I had done before. My boss was too busy to give me the 1:1 attention I needed (8 out of the 12 employees he managed were brand new), but I was able to find a mentor in one of the more senior employees.

      1. Remote Control*

        The person with the most seniority on my team just celebrated their 1-year anniversary. :( I’m the only person on my team that does the type of work that I do. I did have two teammates who did the same type of work but they’ve since left the company.

    3. GOG11*

      My manager for the past year and a half was pretty hands off. Here are a few strategies that helped me, and may or may not helpful to you/YMMV

      – Sitting on non-time-sensitive requests: I tend to have more of a sense of urgency than the culture here is used to and that’s great sometimes, but I discovered that things don’t always need to be figured out, decided on, solved, etc. right away. Sometimes waiting a day or two and going at it again with fresh eyes helped me come up with solutions on my own.

      – For items that I felt like were in manger’s domain but that ended up being left with me, I’d map out my plan (revise/make more concise, rinse, repeat) and then send it to manager. I’d include something like “this is what I plan to do (in appropriate level of detail). Please let me know by [date] if you’d like me to handle any of that differently.” This kept manager in the loop and allowed them to weigh in and course-correct if needed.

      – If I’m checking in about something I know I’ll end up doing again, I may also include a note about my plans to follow this procedure moving forward. Over time, this can cover quite a bit of what you do and then you’ll know what to check in about and what you have authority to tackle on your own (though this only works well if you know your manager will back you up if needed).

      – I try to determine if there is ANYWHERE else I can get need-to-know info. If it’s only from my manager, I sometimes ask if they know where else I can get it. I’d look at it from a problem-solving perspective. “In order to get the teapot contracts over-nighted I need to have [info boss has] by 3 p.m. If we don’t overnight them, we can’t meet the [production deadline of date] and have to pay the rush fee, which isn’t in the budget. How would you like me to handle the [info boss has] in order to get everything in on time?”

      You could also try to have a broader conversation about the level of involvement he wants. In my case, I outlined our budget procedures and got on the same page about which situations to bring my boss in on and which ones I should handle on my own.

      Another thing that worked for me was reaching out to another person who had worked under my boss and asked about their preferences that way. Is there someone you know and have a good rapport with that you could reach out to?

  15. the gold digger*

    Yesterday, the company where I used to work until July 2014 (with horrible CEO NotSergio in NotArgentina) closed the US office. Everyone here (15 people) lost their job. The horrible CEO, who spent tens of thousands of dollars on an office renovation last year, removing all the doors and the cubicle walls because he wanted open space – except for the office that was built for when he was in the US, still has his job. Can’t figure that one out, but man did I dodge a bullet there.

    1. TowerofJoy*

      Good for you! I’ll never understand how they justify it… unless maybe the horrible CEO has another friend up high that believed that was the right move to try?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Some of these people are hired to fire. They fire everyone, because that is what the company wants. Once everyone is gone, they get fired, too.

      Yeah, bullet dodged.

  16. Sarasaurus*

    I’ve been waiting for this all week!

    I’ve been at my (awesome) job for 6 months now, and asked my boss for some general feedback on how things are going at our last one-on-one. She had a lot of really positive things to say and seems to be happy with my performance overall, which was great to hear! She did give me a couple of things to work on, as well, and I’m a little unsure of how to tackle one of them.

    In short, she said she wants me to take more ownership over my projects and establish myself as the project leader, rather than taking direction from others. She gave a couple of examples, including a meeting where I asked two senior staff members how they wanted to approach a project. She said that ideally, she’d like to see me making those kinds of decisions myself. She also mentioned that she gets the sense that I feel uncomfortable saying no to higher-ups or telling them when their ideas don’t make sense, but that I’m the one responsible for the success of the project and she wants to see me own that a little more. This is a huge disconnect from my previous job, where I was expected to just do what was instructed and was definitely more of an implementer than a planner. I think part of the problem is that I’m still stuck in that “here to serve” mindset. The other issue is that I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge of the industry or our clients yet to make educated decisions – especially when a lot of the staff has been in the industry for 20+ years and this is only my second job out of college.

    I guess I understand what the goal is, but I’m not sure how exactly to get there. How did you all reach a point in your careers where you felt comfortable calling the shots more? Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Dang*

      I seriously could have written this! That was the feedback I received at my 6 month review also. Now that it’s been a few more months, I feel like I’ve gotten a much better grasp on my job and as a result have more confidence in making decisions.

      I think a lot of it comes with time and as you get more acclimated, you’ll build more confidence. But in the meantime I tried to figure out a scenario that came up somewhat regularly and a decision I could make/direction I could take independently (or a way to respond to someone, or whatever), kind of outline it for my boss and confirm that it was the correct approach- not on a regular basis, but every so often. Just to confirm that it was the correct direction and build the confidence. I’m a really passive person who struggles with initiative, so even breaking off a small piece of what I do and trying to figure out a way to own it has been pretty helpful.

      1. Sarasaurus*

        This is really reassuring, thank you! I like the idea of coming up with a decision on my own and then running it by my boss. It seems like a good stepping stone to becoming more autonomous.

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Can you bounce ideas off your boss for a while until you get more confident?. I’d frame it as I’m new to this so for a little while I want to run things by you first to make sure I don’t sound crazy. Or something like that.

    3. Mark in Cali*

      I’m in a similar position and I think it’s just as important to tell your boss how you feel. Thank them for the trust and responsibility, but remind them that you know yourself and that you will need some coaching to get there. At the very least, say thanks for the responsibility and you’ll try your best, but help her understand that a change like this doesn’t come in one quarter or even one year. You can also remind her that there may be a very real fear of making a decision on your own but then getting backlash for doing so even though you were told to do so. I know that happens in some places.

      For me, I think requesting more frequent 1:1’s is the solution because I bring to my manager right away the final decisions I’m about to make. It’s not totally autonomous because I get feedback 50% of the time what to do differently, but this can be agreed on as part of the process to become autonomous.

      1. Sarasaurus*

        Thanks for the advice! I definitely like the idea of more frequent 1:1s. She has a very open-door philosophy, but is so busy that it can be hard to catch her in the moment.

        1. Mark in Cali*

          Yeah same here. My 1:1s often get cancelled. I’m not that busy and I wish my boss would delegate some of her work to me so she had more time for our 1:1s. I don’t get it sometimes . . . Often I think going back to barista life may be nice . . .

    4. ThatGirl*

      Try to shift your mindset away from asking others how they want to approach a project, and instead think of ways **you** would approach it. You can still ask for feedback or clear it with more senior team members, but it’s taking leadership instead of asking for direction – and with time you will get more comfortable with making suggestions and taking the lead.

      Also, if something doesn’t make sense to you, start pushing back or asking more questions – even if it’s a little later, like, something occurs to you after a conversation, that’s ok. Just go back and say “I was thinking about this teapot design, and here’s something I have a concern about…”

      It’s a process, but starting to trust your own judgment and come up with your own ideas will go a long way.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Yes, this. Try to imagine yourself as a consultant on these projects, brought in for your expert advice. This is how I slowly turned myself from a “here to serve” mindset to a leadership mindset.

    5. KR*

      I’ve been trying to work on this in the past couple of months! Before, people would make requests of me and I would take them at their word and try to make it work (not always the way it is done in IT where people make unreasonable requests all the time that they don’t think through). Now, though, I am trying to be more confident in myself. A lot of it came from knowing that my supervisor would back me up so I would sometimes run what I wanted to say by him or ask him what he thought of my actions in a particular case so that I knew for future reference if what I was saying was okay.

    6. TCO*

      Sometimes I can be prone to not taking credit for my own ideas, which can make it appear that I’m making fewer decisions than I am. I often do need to get input/permission before moving forward, so I’m making an increased effort to bring ideas to those meetings so that my questions are more about getting permission to implement my solution, rather than asking for solutions. I’m trying to do a better job of saying things like, “I think… and Jane agrees” instead of, “Jane and I think…” to make it clear that I’m developing solutions even if I need input before moving forward.

    7. BRR*

      I’m in a similar position myself. I think of it as an opportunity to finally do and say all of my thoughts that I couldn’t do at my last job because I was the most junior team member. I’m no longer an implementer but the so called “expert” on what I do for my department.

    8. Glasskey*

      Thank you for asking this as I am on the flip side of that issue, managing an employee that is still fairly new whom I’d like to see take more ownership of his work. Your question helps me think about how I might communicate that to him in a way that is helpful and clear. What caught my eye (struck a nerve?) in your case was your description of meeting with senior staff to ask them how they wanted to approach a project. That seems like a pretty unstructured, open-ended question. So I have to ask: Did you do some prep work before this meeting, ask some questions around the office, draft up some possible scenarios, target some areas for discussion in order to demonstrate that, even though you are new, you have mastered a certain level of fluency about the organization, the project, and your role? In other words, did you do something to contribute to the discussion?

      1. Sarasaurus*

        Thank you for responding! Seeing this from the other side is really helpful. I should clarify: I was really asking about one small detail, rather than the project as a whole. I presented a few options and asked for their opinion, rather than saying “I think we should go with option A over option B, because reasons XYZ.” I realize now that’s what I should be aiming for. I think I’m having a hard time, because I don’t always feel like I know what the best option is.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Study your reasons. If you chose A what would be your reason? Now look at B, what would be your reason?

          Of the two reasons which one is the strongest, the most persuasive? Sometimes a reason stands out above all others. If it is abundantly clear to you, it will either be clear to others or you will very easily explain why this is the route to go.

          Okay, let’s say that A and B are close, they are both pretty strong. Look for a secondary reason that might tip the scales. For example, you are choosing between A and B materials, they are both about the same on every point, except there is more of B available to buy than there is A. That might be your tipping point to chose B.

          Now, pretend the choice is reeeally tough you are just not sure, no matter how many angles you look at the situation. Then pick the choice that is the easiest to correct if it is wrong. This could look like, you chose material B but you order a small batch so you can run some samples before ordering a couple truck loads of it.

          It might be helpful, too, to realize that even the long term professionals are just guessing. When I go to the doctor and get a med, he is guessing that it will work for me. Yes, he has a lot of background and he has broad basis for his opinion, but in the end he is still guessing. One doctor gave a family member penicillin. She went into seizure. He guessed the med would help her based on what he knew about her. He did not know it would trigger a seizure for her. Likewise, yourself, you are doing your best and you will have some learning experiences along the way. I found that once I became very determined to fix my own mistakes that really helped me to become better at making decisions. It’s a subtle thing, but it was one of the most helpful things I found.

    9. Angela*

      I really struggled with telling anyone senior to me that they were “wrong” for a while. It helps to be sure you know exactly what you want to say and all the points you need to cover figured out in advance. For me, this means I address in email. This works well for me because I have a remote position and email is my normal means of communication, but if you need to have the conversation in person, I’d probably still write everything down and just go over it in my head. Helps me to keep from just agreeing when I know that I need to be sure that someone is understanding the issues that I’m seeing.

      What I do, is I run with a plan, get all my bases covered, and then send to everyone that needs the info and ask for feedback at that point. Generally with wording that says, “Here is an outline of how the project is anticipated to run. If anyone has any concerns, comments, or feedback please let me know. Otherwise, we will implement on (date).”

      I totally get what a challenge it is to make the mental switch from doing what your told to running with your own plan. My former supervisor was very much a micro-manager, so the only good plan was her plan. My current supervisor has really allowed me to grow into a much more independent employee. With time, you’ll get there too :)

    10. misspiggy*

      I agree with what people are saying here, but it is essential to ask people, especially senior people, for input. The difference might be in how you communicate what you do with their input. So feeding back decisions after consultation might be the key: ‘I’m hearing that you want this and you want this. There’s also x factor to consider, so overall I’m proposing that we take such and such approach’. Then you look all leader-y, but you’ve checked that key people are happy and therefore won’t be likely throw a spanner in the works further down the road.

  17. Winter is Coming*

    Has anyone ever used a PEO for benefits administration? I have a broker who is telling me he could align us with a PEO and save money on health insurance & worker’s compensation. I just don’t know enough about them to feel like I’m making an informed decision.

    1. MaryMary*

      I am a broker and consultant. A PEO is a Professional Employer Organization. The PEO takes over payroll, benefits, and workers comp by actually becoming the employer of record for your company’s employees.

      First of all, make your broker give you more information. She should give you more details than “hey, it’s cheaper!” The PEO should at least do a sales presentation for you.

      Assuming the PEO sales pitch covers the pros, here are the cons (in my opinion). You give up a lot of autonomy in a PEO. Your claims experience is usually combined with the other groups in the PEO. So if your employees are healthy, but theirs are not, your still pay for their claims. However, it can work in your favor if your employees are the ones with high claims.

      You will be limited to the carriers and plan designs offered by the PEO. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to get exceptions made or have any flexibility on administration. Depending on the PEO, it can be a challenege to get information on some of the plan details, or to escalate if your employees are having a claim issue. It can also be very difficult to leave a PEO because your claims experience is pooled, making it difficult to quote other options.

      It may make sense for your organization, but I would defnitely push back for more information from the broker and PEO.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      My org uses a PEO! They make my job a jillion times easier and I love them. The only real downside for us is that the service fees are huge, especially considering we are a small non-profit. We end up paying them as much as another employee’s salary. But, the ‘savings’ come from my ability to focus more on other aspects of my job and of course the savings in med insurance, etc. for us and our staff.

    3. Clever Name*

      My company just started using one. I guess it’s okay, from the employee side. We are a small and fairly unique company, so some of the PEO’s canned language on company documents actually goes against our culture and how we do things. It’s still new, so I’m trying to bring up this stuff as I come across it, and HR has been pretty good about getting stuff like the employee manual amended so we aren’t beholden to something we don’t want to do.

  18. LizB*

    Has anyone else ever had a lack of confidence in your manager? How have you dealt with it?

    My manager is brand new to managing, and our program is also brand new, so I know he’s got a lot on his plate right now. I’m sure he’s doing his best, and I don’t think he’s stupid or incapable of doing this work — I think he’ll eventually be a good manager for this program. But that doesn’t totally help me right now, when I feel like going to him with questions is just going to make my life more difficult.

    Problems I’m seeing: he’s not very clear in his communication; sometimes he’ll completely contradict himself within the same sentence, and when we ask for clarification we get yet a third answer. Often when I send him an email or IM message, it’s like he’s reading something totally different than what I’m writing, and his response will make no sense based on the details I gave. (I’m working on writing my emails more clearly, and providing context that is obvious to me but that he may not remember — I know this one is partially on me.) A lot of the suggestions he makes about how our program should look moving forward seem to conflict with the program goals or be just plain unworkable, and I feel kind of awkward asking so many questions and disagreeing with him so much. There are a lot of questions I still have about how we should be doing things, but I feel like if I ask him, he’s going to totally misunderstand the question and either suggest something that doesn’t make any sense, or pass it on to the higher-ups and completely miss-state the question so the answer we get back doesn’t match. I absolutely don’t want to go to the higher-ups myself, because that’s his job, but sometimes I feel like that’s the only way I’m going to get any clarity.

    Any suggestions? Do I just keep my head down and tough it out until he finds his feet, or is there something I can do differently to make this easier?

    1. Former Student Employee*

      I experienced this as a student employee in college. New managers came in and not only was I having issues, but the rest of the student staff as well. Because my position worked more closely with the managers, I and the two others in similar positions called a meeting with the new managers and explained some of the trouble spots. It wasn’t done particularly well and I learned a lot from it — should have used more specifics, should have had two separate meetings with the two managers — but it looks like you’ve got specifics already. Although it was executed poorly, I was under the impression the managers generally appreciated the information. If you’re working directly under this person, I suggest requesting a meeting to check in. If there are other people working directly under him, ask if they want to be included — either in person or relaying messages for them. Just be careful not to “gang up” on him (so, use language carefully, don’t include too many people in the meeting, maybe choose a location that is more “his territory” than “yours.”).

    2. Development professional*

      When you have to ask about something (and I’m assuming from what you wrote about this situation that you’re only going to him with stuff when absolutely necessary) is it possible to suggest the answer in your question? Instead of asking “which teapots do you want us to make each week this month?” I would say “I’m planning to focus on chocolate teapots this week, strawberry next week, and vanilla for the last two weeks of the month. That means we’ll delay the mint teapots until February when mint is in season and we don’t have to switch flavors from day to day. When we finish the mint, do you want us to go back to chocolate or should we move on to something different?” If you’re disagreeing with him this frequently, then you must have some idea of what you think the answers should be much of the time. Try setting him up with your answers and see if you get a better result.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I see more than one problem.
      You both are learning the job.
      You are both learning to communicate with each other.

      Until you become more familiar with each other, I would try to do more communication in person if possible. It won’t take long and you both will understand each other a whole lot better.

      The other thing I would do is ask a wrap up question if I am unclear on what he just said. Let’s say I am asking if I should do X or Y and he gives me an answer that roams around and meanders all over the place. When he winds down I would say, “So I think you are saying you want me to do X not Y, right?”

      Be kindly/gently consistent about this, because you are showing him what you need from him. Make sure your tone of voice and body language are not off-putting. You are just asking for clarification so you can do a good job, that is all you are asking.

      It sounds like he is dealing with a little bit of panic/worry. Once he gets settled in a bit more, this problem should straighten out. For the time being, if you can think of ways to help him that would also help you. For example, I have had new bosses that I have told, “Oh, I will have the xyz report for you on Thursday.” I would not say that to an established boss, because he would know every Thursday I would have the xyz report. A new boss, however, seemed to find such statements helpful. I only made these almost obvious statements for a few weeks, until they got used to the drone of my voice talking about xyz’s on Thursday. That is an example, you will probably find other ways to pass along little prompts.

  19. Not Karen*

    I’ve been covering some projects for a coworker on maternity leave when she decided not to come back to work. Would it be out of line to ask if there are plans to hire a replacement?

    1. Christian Troy*

      I don’t think so. I remember asking when my manager’s position was going to filled after she resigned because it impacted my workload. Unfortunately in my case, they claimed they were interviewing people but never filled the role.

    2. Audiophile*

      You can absolutely ask if they have plans to hire a replacement. If this is a recent announcement, be prepared that they may not have an answer for you.

    3. Natalie*

      Totally not out of line. I got my current position because I covered a vacancy for a couple of months, and when they were finally ready to hire I threw my hat in the ring. It’s totally normal.

    4. Rebecca*

      Yes, you need to ask now.

      I’m the victim of “oh, we need you to cover for Jane while she goes on maternity leave for 6 weeks” and then Jane takes another job in the company, her stuff becomes my stuff, on top of my regular workload, and now 22 months later I’m still struggling. Turns out it’s cheaper to torture me than to hire another full time person with health insurance and vacation benefits. :(

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think you can be pretty direct about this: “Given Lupita’s decision to resign, what are your plans for managing her projects? I’ve really enjoyed working on XYZ, and I’d love opportunity to incorporate that into my role permanently, so I’d love to discuss what else we could move around to make that happen.” Or, if you want to offload the projects, “Given Lupita’s decision to resign, what are your plans for managing her projects? I’ve been glad to help with XYZ while she was on leave, but I’d really like to get back to focusing on ABC. Can we talk about a plan or a timeline for shifting XYZ back off my plate?”

    6. KR*

      We have a person on our team who hasn’t been coming to work for almost a month so I’ve been doing her duties on top of my own. I don’t mind terribly, but there are certain things that aren’t getting done and we’re all kind of waiting for something to be done about it. Unfortunately the person in charge of the whole operation is on medical leave off and on until March.

  20. Golden Yeti*

    Guys, after 5 years of searching, I got my first job offer Wednesday…and I had to turn it down. *bangs head against wall*

    It was with a startup, and the whole process was done hurriedly (24 hours), and it was contract, and there were several reasons I couldn’t take it. But I hated the irony. When I emailed the guy my rejection, he didn’t even write me back; I hope he wasn’t too upset.

    I just wish the whole job search thing was easier. I hate that I’m starting yet another year in the same place (and I’m sure I’m not alone).

    1. Christian Troy*

      I have been job searching for a year and a half and it really sucks. There is no way around it. I had to turn down a position last year because the pay was just too low to move for and it physically pained me even though I knew it was the right choice.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same thing happened to me before I got Current Job. I wanted the position and I liked the managers, but it was untenable from a financial standpoint. After doing the math, I realized I’d have like $14 left after paying all my bills each month. I could see myself getting trapped forever or having to leave as soon as possible.

    2. Dang*

      I’m so sorry. I hate it when things work out that way- I had a long job search too, and I turned down my first offer for various reasons and hated having to do that. But it’s great you’ve gotten an offer and I’m sure there are more to come.

    3. Anna*

      I’m sorry. That’s tough. The bright side is you didn’t accept an offer you weren’t completely sure about simply to get out of where you are.

    4. moss*

      It would have sucked. Startup culture can be tough and it sounds like they are displaying symptoms of being the cr@ppy kind of startup: disorganization, permanent temporariness, lack of adherence to business culture (like acknowledging your email). Consider it a bullet dodged and you did the right thing.

      1. Golden Yeti*

        They did end up writing me back a nice reply (I just got it now), but you are still right. The thought that you could go from viewing someone’s resume to interviewing them and offering them a job all in a single meeting 24 hours later is a little dizzying to think about.

    5. Mirilla*

      I feel your pain. I had to turn down a second interview because the place was really disorganized (among other issues) and I really want a new job so it was frustrating.

  21. hermit crab*

    On the flip side of yesterday’s post about a culture of mentorship, my company is trying to resurrect a defunct mentor system (an official program where people are paired up). So, I now have a mentee! Has anyone participated in a successful mentorship program at work? What recommendations do you have for a new mentor?

    p.s. Spellcheck wants me to change “mentee” to “tenement”!

    1. NotherName*

      Shouldn’t the person being guided by the mentor be called a “Telemachus”? (Just wanted to show off my knowledge of ancient Greek literature…)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I still wanna go with manatee. I think that correlation will be stuck in my head for a bit.

    2. katamia*

      You don’t say what industry you’re in or what you’d be mentoring them for (something specific like accounting? something vague like leadership?), so some of my advice might not apply, but here are some things you might want to keep in mind:

      Listen to what your mentee wants and seems to respond to. Explicitly ask them what they want to work on and if they have ideas on how they should go about it or things that have worked well for them in the past. Some people like to learn on their own and may not want much beyond your availability to answer specific questions as they come up, while other people need more guidance early on and might want something more formal and structured. Give your mentee a chance to say what they like and dislike, and whenever possible, try to do things in a way that works for them.

      Not everyone is going to know all that about themselves, though. If you get someone who’s less navel-gazey than, say, I am (you want my learning styles? I can describe them all in intense detail, for all the good that does, lol), they might not be able to articulate how they learn best. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to do some different things with them up front (talking to them, mayb watching them work, maybe sample problems, etc.) to get a feel for how they think.

      Also, try to avoid being judgmental if your mentee turns out to learn very differently from you, especially if your way is something that’s seen as “better” by some. I’ve been in environments where most people were very independent, and there was a little bit of eyerolling when someone who was new turned out to work better with more guidance up front than many others did. The less you judge, the easier it is to keep that judgment from negatively affecting your relationship with your mentee.

    3. aNoN*

      Oh man that is exciting! congrats!!

      my company has attempted to resurrect it’s dead finance/accounting mentor program. I joined it and got paired up with a director who I feel awkward around. He is very quiet and I dont feel like I can be open around him. I want someone to help me understand what possibilities there are in the company and if my attitude/perspective is on the right track to help me achieve my goals. My ideal mentor gives me feedback outside of the corporate jargon to pick from the annual review “how to” guide book. Talk with your mentee about what he/she wants out of their career (if they know). Help the person assess their strengths and weaknesses and more importantly, be open about your own experiences. My mentors in the past were very open about their career including their failures and I found that to be inspiring.

    4. it happens*

      Congratulations on becoming a mentor!
      A few small tips – before your first meeting think about what YOU want from this relationship. There are a lot of things you can get from it – all the way from pay-it-forward-feel-goods, to the inside scoop on what’s going on in another part of the company. Once you know what you want it will be easier to manage your own expectations over time. Ask your mentee to go through this exercise before your first meeting as well. When you meet you’ll each be able to tell the other why you’re doing this and be able to decide if you’ll be able to help each other or not, and if not, adjust expectations (oh, you mean you aren’t mentoring me to promote me to manager in your department?) or get a reassignment. A clear definition of the relationship up-front makes the whole thing much better (kinda like work in general.)

      Let the mentee run the relationship – this person is coming to you for help, you are not the manager of their mentorship project, you are the resource that they need to manage.

      Set meetings up in advance on a regular schedule (once a month has worked for me.) Ask the mentee to send a few items for discussion a few days before the meeting so you are prepared to have an intelligent conversation.

      Depending on the mutual goals, you might want to discuss business articles from management or industry publications, or sit down with people in the company working on specific projects that could help both of you.

      Be willing to answer any kind of question – it’s amazing how frequently people have unstated assumptions that they are afraid to test for fear of looking stupid. (like, how do we really make money here? or how do people get promoted, etc.) And be willing to say that you don’t know the answer to a question if you don’t.

      Also, take some comfort in knowing that the company is experimenting (‘trying to resurrect a defunct’) and whoever is running it would likely appreciate your (and your mentee’s) feedback as you try to find your way through this. Now go be a great mentor!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Never underestimate the power of sharing stories. That means have her tell stories, also.

      If you find yourself at a loss, ask her what she is working on currently. “What did you do today?” That can be a very powerful question.

    6. JJtheDoc*

      The biggest take-away from managing a corporate mentor program: Remember that a mentor is a resource and a guide, and not the google. Brainstorm. Mind Map. Network. Don’t answer the question!! In fact, peel the onion and ask the deeper, harder questions that help your mentee understand both the process and the answer. Too many mentors ‘flunked out’ because they set themselves up to be the all-knowing answerer, and the mentees didn’t learn.

  22. Devil's Avocado*

    Has anyone ever had a coworker on their team with the same title and same first name? I’m starting a new role where this will be the case. How did you avoid confusion? I think we’re probably going with calling each of us by our first name, last initial. But I still worry it will be confusing for people calling in or emailing us to remember who’s who.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I was on a team with two other people with the same first name and two of us had easily confused last initials (they sound really the same when you say them, say D and T), so we ended up numbered in order of hiring. Wendy 1, Wendy 2, and Wendy 3. Eventually we just ended up going by number (“Oh I think 3 is handling that.”)

      Outside our team we were referred to as Firstname Lastname, so I was Wendy Darling and 3 was Wendy Testaburger.

      1. Devil's Avocado*

        I don’t love the numbered option because it feels to me like a ranking… but maybe I’m overthinking it.

        Our last initials don’t sound the same, so that is probably the option we’ll take. I’ve just never had this happen before! :)

    2. cuppa*

      There’s three of us on my current team (and I have a common, but not super-common first name). There is some confusion sometimes, but you just laugh it off and say, “oh, sorry, you want Cuppa Smith, and I’m Cuppa Simpson.” (yes, two of us even have the same last initial!) Overally, it’s just not a huge deal.
      The best is when people ask you about things gossip wise, and it turns out it’s about another Cuppa.

    3. Red Wheel*

      I deal with a somewhat similar situation. When the other Red Wheel Is involved in a matter I always refer to myself as “Red Wheel S.” ( for Smith) and refer to the other guy as Red Wheel J”(for Jones). It has encouraged others to do the same.

    4. Daisy Steiner*

      My advice would be to proactively lead this one. Get people calling you “Devil’s S” and “Devil’s R”, before they can default to something like “New Devil’s” and “Old Devil’s”, or even worse, “Young Devil’s” and “Old Devil’s”.

      I’ve been in a friend group with another “Daisy” who, even before I joined the group, was often playfully referred to as “Young Daisy” – and did happen to be younger than me. Even though there was no correlating “Old Daisy” for me, I still didn’t care for the implication!

      1. Devil's Avocado*

        Luckily (?) we appear to be roughly the same age, height, hair colour, etc… so there’s no physical or age characteristics to differentiate us, which help me avoid those awkward options.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          We have two people with the same name on my team, and two boss-types with the same name in the offices that surround us, and until recently there was also another pair of same-names on my team (along with a boss-type who also shares that name and yet another whose name is spelled the same but pronounced differently, for a total of four) and another pair of same-names among the boss-types. Put another way:

          Two A’s on our team
          Two B’s among the bosses
          Until recently, two C’s on our team (and another C and a C’ among the bosses, who are still here)
          Until relatively recently, two D’s among the bosses

          It works out with a combination of nicknames, full names, and last names. The two A’s we just call by both first and last name more or less all the time. The two B’s generally use different forms of their name – Dave and David, for example. (They are not both named David.) The two C’s on our team (I am one of them) used our last names or both first and last, depending on the circumstances; with the boss types, we generally use first and last if it’s not clear whom we’re talking about from the context. The two D’s used different nicknames (Rick and Rich, e.g., though they were not both named Richard) and often just used their last names.

    5. hermit crab*

      I worked on a team once with two name pairs! Like, Sarah A., Sarah B., John C., John D., and me. The two women pronounced their first names differently (it wasn’t actually Sarah) so for them, it was at least easy to specify who you meant when you talked out loud. But we definitely called the men John and Other John for a while. There was definitely some email confusion (sometimes people would even email me instead of one of the Sarahs), but I don’t think it ever interfered with anyone’s work.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My SO had like three people with his same name at his company, so his display name on email and IM was his name + team — ‘Peter Darling (NEVERLAND)’ to distinguish him from ‘Peter Darling (POOH CORNER)’.

    6. Sascha*

      I’ve not been in that situation, but even if you put photos of yourselves in your email signature, people will still probably confuse you. :) I got called by my coworkers’ names all the time, even with different names and different titles, because there are about 5 of us who are 30s-something women with dark hair, so we all just kind of blend together in people’s minds.

      That being said, I think doing something like Sascha S. and Sascha V. is fine, or you could just use your last names with each other. My husband has the same first name as his director so they just go by their last names.

      1. Devil's Avocado*

        I like the last name option, but I’m not sure if it would come across as odd in a professional context. (I was in the army reserves for a few years, so I respond quite readily to my last name. My friends from that period of my life actually still call me by my last name.)

        1. K*

          We have 4 Jason’s in my office. Two of them are primarily referred to by their last name only (they have both been with the company a long time), the other two are usually referred to by their full names.

    7. MaryMary*

      I used to work with a plethora of Jennifers. We started calling them by their last names. There were so many we couldn’t use Jennifer Last Initial, and our teams grouped and regrouped a lot by project, so numbers and nicknames didn’t work.

      1. Jennifer*

        Happily, I haven’t worked with any other Jennifers in a long time (we have one Jenny). Though at one point we had three Chrisses at a job so we had Christopher, Chris, and C.

    8. KTM*

      I’m on a team of 5 and two people have the same name, which is also the same name as my SO (who does not work at the same company) but it leads to some occasional funny miscommunication! We use last names for the two on my team and I tend to say ‘my SO’ when referring to my SO to avoid confusion. I also share a first name with someone else in our small office (but not on the same team) and we went by KTM #1 and KTM #2 in order of who was hired first as kind of a running joke at first but then just stuck.

      Just be prepared to get a lot of emails meant for the other person and vice versa.

      1. Devil's Avocado*

        I actually just got an email yesterday (I haven’t started yet) from my soon to be manager. She had obviously meant to copy the other Devil but her address book autofilled my name instead! That’s when I began wondering whether this would be a problem.

    9. Gene*

      Every job I’ve had has had at least one other Gene around, luckily none have had the same job. We’ve used the Gene A. and Gene B. method most places. Though one was Boy Gene and Girl Jean.

      The biggest problem for one where we both got regular calls from the outside was “Which Gene?” when the caller would say something like “Gene!” The receptionist would have to play 20 questions to figure out which of us to page.

    10. F.*

      At Old Job, we once had FIVE Michaels and THREE Brians at the same time! Fortunately, some of the Michaels went by Mike, but we still had to use last names to differentiate. The last name just became part of their name, all run together when it was spoken, like Michaelsmith, Mikejones, Mikebrown, etc. For some reason, the Brians just went by their last names.

      Reminds me of when I was a child and I had a difficult to spell last name. For quite a while I was under the impression my name was Plufferton-P-L-U-F-F-E-R-T-O-N, all one word! (not real last name)

      1. Development professional*

        OMG me too!!!! it’s just second nature to begin spelling my last name immediately, in the same breath.

      2. Afiendishthingy*

        My full first name is long and very, very unusual, and I go by a diminutive of it- i.e Fiendy, short for Fiendishthingy. When I was little I thought everyone’s name was actually nickname for a long name ending with the same last two syllables as mine- Ashleythingy, Betsythingy, Mamathingy…

    11. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      I was in this same position and I tried the Larry (not initial for the last-name) and LarryD thing but it didn’t stick/work for some reason. I am glad it worked for other people though.

      I would suggest that you pick a nick-name (such as your middle name) and just use that exclusively. You can even ask to have your email set up using your nick-name and sign your emails that way and introduce yourself that way, answer your phone that way, sign your name that way, etc. You should only use your real name for signing official documents.

      1. Devil's Avocado*

        Hilariously, my middle name is the same as my new manager’s first name. (Also I love my first name and it’s not nickname-able. )

        1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          Then just try and pick another name. At a previous job, the COO thought my name was Darryl. It stuck and everyone at work called me Darryl. I would have used that name if I had thought of it at the time because I was used to answering it. Has there been a name that you have always liked? Choose it.

    12. Rusty Shackelford*

      I was the only Rusty for a long time, but we recently hired another Rusty. We go by Rusty S and Rusty A. It’s not perfect but it works.

    13. CheeryO*

      Yes! We have two guys with the same first name in our department of 13 people, and to make it even more confusing, one of them has the same last name another guy in our department (no relation). They typically get the first-letter-of-the-last-name treatment, but one of them happens to have the same full name as a famous actor, so a lot of people think it’s amusing to call him by his full name.

    14. Ineloquent*

      We’ve got two guys with the exact same name (first and last), except one is spelled Luis and one is Louis. They are in the same department and do similar work. We just warn the crap out of everyone that they need to be sure to send stuff to the right guy, and they are good about sending stuff meant for the other to the right person.

    15. nerfmobile*

      My manager has the same first name (let’s say it’s Kelly) as the VP of our group – there’s one layer of management in between them, but it’s still close enough that there is confusion at times. The name isn’t easily nicknamable, so usually if it’s needed people use lastname initials to distinguish them – Kelly R vs Kelly J, for instance. Although within the people reporting to my manager, we sometimes call her “our Kelly”.

    16. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Between Laurens and Jennifers, it sometimes seems odd to *not* have two people with the same first name and job title at Wakeen’s.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        Oh, and we have to do full name, “Lauren Smith”, “Lauren Jones”, because last initial wouldn’t work. It’s so common, we don’t think about it. It’s like “Mary Sue”, or “Bobby Jo”.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          We have not one Kate. Not a single one.

          I can’t remember ever having a Kate….wait, had a Kate about 10 years ago.

          Isn’t that something.

    17. Lee Ann*

      We’ve got a Michael and a Mike who’s username is michael, so it’s natural to refer to him by username and then correct it to Mike because Michael is the other guy – and then another Mike.

      Still not as bad as my team at Apple with three Steves in the immediate group, not to mention *the* Steve at the top :)

    18. Aardvark*

      Yep–and we looked roughly the same from the back, too! We also worked on a team with another name pair and a bunch of other similar name combos, so much so we did a skit about it at a team-building thing. We did the last initial thing and that worked out pretty well. I still use my last initial on internal emails even though we’re on different teams now. We still get each other’s emails sometimes, but use those as an excuse to catch up and say hi.

    19. Clever Name*

      For some reason we tend to hire people with the same names. We have two sets of people with the same first name, and a set of four with the same first name. (We have less than 100 people in the entire company) We tend to do Firstname L. or Firstname Lastname, or Lastname, or in one case “ICindi” because we had a “Cindy” with a Y.

    20. Tammy*

      I used to work on a team with *six* pairs of identical first names (out of about 30 people)! I used to tease our recruiter that she clearly needed to start putting “must be willing to change first name” as a contingency in offer letters. :-)

      Seriously, though, in many cases it became obvious from the context which “Matt” you wanted because of job roles within the team, but when it wasn’t obvious we’d usually use first and last name. There was still a lot of “Oh, you’re working on the chocolate teapot project, so you want Anna Smith and not Anna Jones”, but it was actually not a huge ordeal.

  23. SMT*

    I had a Career Development meeting with HR this week, and I actually feel pretty positive about it. After explaining that I really wanted out of the hospitality division for work-life balance (I was scheduled to open at 6am on Jan. 30, and to close until 230am on NYE – my body couldn’t handle that in college.), she said she’d share my resume with the person hiring for personnel records, and check on some other HR entry level positions I had applied for and am apparently still being considered for, according to the system.

    I’m also at least getting moved from the area with special events almost constantly to an area with a lot less. So in the meantime, I might be able to get an occasional weekend off :)

  24. NarrowDoorways*

    Well yesterday was terrifying.

    My entire department was laid off–except for me. I’m taking on their duties (go figure) and got a slight promotion.

    Feels weird though. When it was presented in a staff meeting, I felt terrible. Like, instead of getting a promotion because I rock, there’s this aura of getting it just to fire some dead weight. Almost like I didn’t deserve it.

    I am happy with the promotion and confident in my abilities, but I keep getting flashed of terror. Deep breaths are necessary.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Oh wow. I can totally see why you feel that way – it’s kind of like survivor’s guilt. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve your promotion – if you didn’t you would have been laid off with everyone else.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      That’s understandable…they thought you were the one worth keeping out of everyone, and seem to have confidence that you can handle a huge increase in responsibility…but it sounds like they are also pretty reckless and callous when it comes to layoffs. If my company had to do that, they would explain why that department no longer needed its previous staffing level, try to transition people in that department to other roles, and for those who couldn’t find something internally, they’d try to help them find something externally.

  25. Not Karen*

    When you have a team lunch organized by your manager (as opposed to a casual get-together with your coworkers), does that count as work time or not? Our time is billable and tracked so it makes a difference.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d definitely clarify with your manager, but my feeling is anything that’s mandatory is work time.

      1. Not Karen*

        I don’t know if it’s mandatory or just expected. I’m just afraid to come off as lazy if I ask. At LastJob we weren’t allowed to count any work events – even ones during the work day – as work time.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          There is a kind of a delicate balance there. If you attend absolutely no “optional” work events, you do come off as not invested in the organization. At the same time, if you’re expected to attend all “optional” work events, they’re actually mandatory and not optional at all.

          I would pick my battles. If it’s something I didn’t really want to go to, I’d say “Is this a work lunch or a get-together?” If your manager says “It’s not a work lunch, but I’d like you to go,” then I would go and then skip out on some other “optional” thing.

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      Super dependent on your job. At mine it’d be fraud but we are funded by Medicaid and have really strict restrictions on what is billable.

  26. Kai*

    So I have a coworker is calls off sick really frequently. Usually once a week, if not more (this week was nuts for us, we knew it would be nuts, and she’s been out three of five days). She does have health issues, which I completely sympathize with and don’t blame her for at all, but it’s getting increasingly frustrating. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t really depend on her, especially during busy times–and this is a front-desk role where we really need to have her around consistently.

    I think our boss is finally going to sit down with her and talk about where to go from here. I don’t want to come across as unfeeling about her circumstances, but it’s a crappy situation all around.

    1. Not Karen*

      That’s unfortunate, but really if you have health issues you shouldn’t be in a role where you’re required be present at certain times. There are jobs – such as mine! – with flexibility so it’s not like she has no hope of a job. (If I’m running low on spoons and I get to work at 9:30 instead of 9, no one even notices! The computer code can wait.)

      1. Kai*

        That’s what I’ve had rolling around in my head, too. It’s an hourly job with set hours and certain times of year where it’s predictably swamped, so unless something drastically changes it’s looking like just not the right role for her.

    2. Professionally Anon*

      I feel your pain. Our front office person tends to call off when we all know it’s going to be insane and the rest of us have to pick up her slack on top of getting our own work done. Your manager really needs to get to the bottom of the situation and, as Not Karen stated, figure out if it’s the right role for her.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not sure what the legal issues are here, if any, but my feeling is if she regularly can’t commit to full-time work, maybe she shouldn’t be a full-time employee, which means your boss should hire someone part-time to fill in the (regular) gaps… or replace her with a full-time employee who can physically commit to the work.

    4. Trill*

      I’ve been in this situation and it sucks! In my situation, it was also job where an unplanned absence caused a pretty big disruption. My coworker also had health issues and although I don’t know for sure, I always assumed it was he was covered by intermittent FMLA leave. It was really frustrating because my coworkers and I had to cover his work, and when he would return he has always full of energy and had no signs that he had been ill. I know that my manager was frustrated too, and I know that had many conversations, but when its a real documented health issue, everybody tried their best to give him the benefit of the doubt and to be accommodating.
      At one point he voluntarily reduced his hours, and my manager was always supportive and gave us extra staffing when he could to help, but we still felt the effects of his frequent absences. For us, there was no perfect solution. And I can’t really offer any great advice other than to remember that your sick coworker is probably/possibly even more frustrated with her illness and feels badly about having to miss work. Also, while stressful, I did feel proud at my ability to handle our stressful days, and my manager was good about recognizing this as well and praising us for it.

      1. Kai*

        Thanks! Honestly that’s one thing that would make a big difference–if she would even acknowledge that this happens, I would feel better. Certainly she doesn’t need to apologize for being sick, but just saying hey guys, this is a busy week and I wish I could have been here…that would be nice. But it doesn’t feel like she really cares.

  27. Anon for this*

    I am asking on behalf of a friend who has a terminally ill parent and will likely have to have this conversation with her supervisor in the coming months: How do you tell your manager that you need bereavement time off/attend a funeral? Is email an acceptable form of communication or should this be an in-person conversation? I imagine it would be better to communicate this in person, but my friend admits that she cries very easily and is mortified at the idea of crying in front of her boss. I guess they don’t have the best relationship either, so that is added stress for her.


    1. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t see why this can’t be in email. If she feels weird about it, maybe she could actually write something about it in the email – like: “I apologize for not talking to you in person about this but I worry that I won’t be able to remain composed.” When it was time for me to go home to my dad’s deathbed, I lost it when I told my boss and ended up crying in his arms while he hugged me.

    2. Dang*

      I really think it’s fine to email. Reasonable people understand that this is a tough time and it’s a really hard thing to communicate.

    3. LCL*

      The way this works here, is, people tell me their relative is ailing and they will have to leave on short notice. Then when it happens, they just call and tell me. And I am always very accommodating, though I do vent on Ask a Manager if it causes us to be really short staffed. But I never give the employee a hard time about it.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I’ve had to do this too much in the last three years (all of my grandparents are now gone) and I’ve always done it over e-mail because I don’t want to cry while telling my boss. It’s also a bit more private. I see no problem with that.

    5. 42*

      I’m sorry your friend is going through this.

      I think I would send an email, in this case, and then perhaps follow it up with an in-person discussion. This accomplishes 2 things: It documents the request and gives her boss a heads up, and it also gives your friend a little room in her mind that the news has already been presented to her boss, which may take the sting out of having to break this terrible news in person, and then the emotional response that comes with it. While your friend still may cry – and understandably so – the topic has already been opened up, in the email.

      For the record, I don’t think ANYONE would hold it against her if she cried in a situation like this. She shouldn’t be mortified if it happens. We’re human.

    6. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I am in a very similar situation, and also cry very easily, so it was best to keep it very short. “Boss, I need to let you know that my dad is very ill. I may need to take some time off in the near future, possibly with very little notice. I will try to keep things as up to date as possible in my files, but I can’t give you any certain dates.” It was fine. My boss said just to keep him notified when necessary.

    7. KR*

      I’m sorry for your friend. It’s hard watching your parents die. There’s no reason this can’t be done via email. Most people are very understanding when parents die because they can’t imagine their own parents dying, or have gone through it already. If her boss gives her a hard time about it, the boss an insensitive jerk and your friend shouldn’t worry about him.

    8. new reader*

      How does your friend normally advise her manager when she’s unexpectedly out of the office (sick days, etc.) or is there a company or office policy/procedure? If email is a normally accepted method of communication for time away from the office for sick days, it should be perfectly fine for bereavement leave.

      If it isn’t normally accepted at that work place, I do still agree with the others that in the case of bereavement, sending an email and using terminology such as Lily in NYC suggested shouldn’t be a problem.

    9. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I actually texted my boss when my father-in-law unexpectedly died. I let her know I would be out of the office and would call her when we had details sorted out. When I called her a couple of days later, I was much more composed than I would have been if I’d had to talk to her that day.

      I think if your friend is concerned that she’ll cry in front of her boss, it’s perfectly reasonable to email and even mention the reason she is emailing rather than having the conversation in person. Any normal person would be fine with that and would much rather not have to unexpectedly comfort a crying subordinate.

  28. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We kicked off the year with a work retreat for all of the people with my title. We’re a small group and we went to a beautiful place, so for the most part it was a good trip– more of us are on the same page about challenges and issues than I expected. We did a lot of PMAI work, figuring out our archetypes, and while I normally dismiss that kind of thing as psychobabble, I learned a lot about myself, including some very positive affirmation that I am in a great position to expand on some of my strengths.

    Sounds great, lots of momentum, heading into 2016 all fired up, right? Well, on our second day, we learned that a senior person was let go. This is someone I consider a friend, so I was upset on that level, but he managed/mentored one of our departments, and the people in that department– with whom I work very closely– are devastated. They’ve lost their leader with no warning*. He was blindsided, too, so no inkling for anyone. I feel a huge responsibility to make sure their workload is manageable; recently, it hasn’t been, so the “crutch” was to go to their boss and ask him to take some tasks off of their plates. We don’t have that option now. I’m also a little bit miffed that I was the only one of us who asked about the day-to-day plan moving forward– I think that’s because the rest of the group knew that management wouldn’t like that question, but damn, it’s necessary. I get accused of wasting too much mental energy on details. I think, “So… who do we go to for this stuff tomorrow” is a pretty freaking important detail.

    Does anyone have any advice for how I can help to ease this transition for them? I can’t do their jobs– I’ll just say it, they’re data analysts– but I assign them tasks. I feel like all I can do is assure them that I understand their anger and frustration and that I will push back as hard as I can and expand timelines as much as I can. Is there anything else I can do? Luckily, I have two projects going on right now that don’t need any data work at all, so I’m trying to stretch those out as long as I can.

    *I feel like this is a “hit by the bus” scenario, but if he had (G-d forbid) passed away suddenly, I don’t think anyone would have been so professionally upset.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You could ask them what would be meaningful to them that is within the realm of doable on your side.

      I think that recognizing their sense of loss is powerful. And advocating for them in whatever ways make sense, is something you should do, definitely.

  29. Jessen*

    Any psychological tips on not letting the discouragements of job searching get to you? I’m trying to make the jump out of retail to a more professional position. I’m simultaneously over and under-qualified for most jobs out there, so it’s probably going to be a hard search. And I’m terrible at not getting discouraged when things don’t come through.

    1. Red Wheel*

      I took time off mentally by not job searching, thinking about my career or how much I hate my boss and my job from Thanksgiving until now. I was putting all of my mental energy into the strategizing and managing the situation and I really needed a mental break and needed to give myself permission to not think about it for a while. It helped. I also took some advice that I have heard elsewhere ( and I originally thought was silly): I focused on other things in my life that I enjoy and that I was happy with and reminded myself that although I hate my job, at a minimum it is financing my ability to pursue some hobbies and other things I enjoy.

    2. Kai*

      I’ve been job searching for a few years now and I get bummed out about it all the time. I try to put extra focus on things going on in my life outside work, like my friends and going to fun events and getting involved in clubs, so that it doesn’t feel like my job is the only measure of my success or happiness.

      Applying to lots and lots of jobs regularly also helps me, although I think that could easily work the other way–but it allows me to still have a lot of hope even when I get rejections from this place and that.

    3. Person of Interest*

      Ugh, I have been there – a year of unemployment and relentless job-searching. I stayed sane by stepping up my volunteer work, since I had more free time than other board members; by working toward a new running goal (ran a 10K!); and by having frequent coffee meetings with people in my network, just so I had a reason to get dressed up and head downtown for something productive. Good luck!

    4. Retail Lifer*

      I was discouraged for the majority of my job search, which lasted over a year. I don’t know if this is realistic for you, but I had to take a month off from applying to stuff. The constant rejections or lack of a response at all just got to me and I needed a break from it. Once I had some time away, I felt better mentally prepared to continue. It really is draining.

      1. Mirilla*

        That’s what I just did. I took a month off to clear my head. The job search really is a part time job in and of itself so you need breaks now and then. I agree it is draining!

  30. Deadline what deadline?*

    One of my colleagues was diagnosed with cancer just before Christmas, and is due to start chemo on Monday. She wants to keep working from home during this time, and the office has accommodated her in that.

    Anyone got any suggestions how we can best support her during this? (I’m not her manager, but I can certainly suggest things to her).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Check in with her occasionally, but avoid long, “How are you feeling?” conversations. She’ll get that a lot. If you like her and have a good relationship, text or email her with fun office stuff, like, “The coffee pot in the breakroom burned again today!” or, as we would in our office, “Today’s sandwich special was super gross and you’re not missing anything.”

      Professionally, keep an eye on your own workload– don’t default to, “Jane has cancer so I should take everything off her plate!”, but if you can handle something, offer to do it. If she says no, don’t press. If you’re set up in a way that makes this possible, let her know that if it gets to be too much, she can delegate stuff to you, but it’s her call.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Excellent advice!

        And good on your company for accommodating her work from home request, Deadline. The division I currently work in gave one of my coworkers permission to work from home when she was going through chemo, but then our boss told her she had to come back in and work from the office – after the company had already set her up at home.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      How close are you? Maybe you can coordinate an office “thinking of you” gift? For example, a card and a basket of candies, luxury bath/spa items, etc.

    3. LCL*

      Ask her what is her preferred mode of communication, phone or email. Strongly encourage email, because people receiving chemo often have trouble staying on top of things. Likewise, scheduling things with her will be harder, follow her lead on this. I know this sounds judgemental, but I don’t mean it that way. She will be tired and may be forgetful, is all.
      People having chemo will often feel awesome for most of the treatment, then hit a hard crash near the end. She may say she is feeling great, and she will work a full load, then the next day it will hit her and she will have to go to the hospital for short or long term stay.

  31. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

    So, I have some very exciting news on the job search front — thank you to everyone who offered sympathy after my last crazy interview! I am having my third and final interview for a position next week. So I have an interesting question regarding thank you notes, as I am in an industry that still likes handwritten thank you notes.

    Interview #1 was a phone interview with Sansa and Arya. At the end of the interview, Sansa said, “we definitely want to bring you in, and I will be in touch by the end of the week to arrange a time.” They also shared they were looking to hire mid-December and have this person start in January. So I sent email thank you notes.

    Interview #2 did not happen nearly as quickly as Sansa had suggested. I was brought in to interview in mid-December  I met in person with Sansa and Arya (who I really enjoyed talking with!). Because the institution is closed over the holiday break, I assumed I would not hear from them until January, but at the end of the interview, they mentioned trying to rush to the final meeting with the VP before the break. So I again sent electronic thank yous.

    Interview #3 is coming up next week, and I have inside knowledge that they are still on an ASAP mindset, even with the delays. This is with the VP and an AVP, who are the final decision-makers. However, I also have no clue if I am the first or last interview.

    Do I send an email thank you to everyone or do I risk it and do mailed thank you notes?

    1. Lily Rowan*

      You could do both? I think it’s overkill, but if you know the handwritten notes will be well-received, it might be your best option.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        It’s so crazy, in my field they are pretty out-dated, but in my industry they are considered pretty standard and have been party of the hiring conversation.

  32. Dan*

    So… my company (non profit) actually kind of sorta takes employee surveys seriously. At least, they’re paying overhead money to put together teams to look into the weaknesses in our department and see what we can do to improve.

    While in some senses these things can be lip service, I told my boss that I know money talks, so they’re somewhat serious, and it doesn’t go completely unnoticed. My last job had somewhat similar issues, and management didn’t even want to talk about it. So there’s that.

    1. Clever Name*

      That’s good. I think it’s really important to get buy in and feedback. So many places just bulldoze initiatives through.

  33. Bowserkitty*

    I was an OP from a post last week regarding the coworker who forwarded stuff separately to my boss and seemed cold every other time – things seem back to normal now, we had a really friendly conversation earlier today about her week and it was like how things were my first few weeks here. Maybe she really does just have other stressors outside that sometimes get to her here…

    1. Dawn*

      If she’s being nice now and things have changed, maybe ask her about it? Not in a prying sense, just in a “Hey, I noticed you seemed stressed (at these particular times). Is there anything I can do to make your life easier in case that happens again?” That’d set you up well for if it happens in the future, and your co-worker would probably appreciate it!

  34. Grey*

    There was a discussion a couple of weeks ago about putting degrees and certifications in your email signature but it doesn’t address the question I have. Where should it go on your resume? Can I put “Stanley Roper, CAM” at the top of my resume where my name is? I’d like it to be one of the first things noticed. Or, should I just list it in the education section?

    1. Master Bean Counter*

      Certifications yes. Especially widely recognized ones. Degrees, no, there should be a education section to list those out on your resume.

    2. Doriana Gray*

      I list my designations in the education section of my resume per the advice of my former manager, but that may be industry specific.

    3. Treena*

      I would put that in the profile section, if possible. If it’s something that is absolutely required no questions and/or not relevant, then it doesn’t need to be so prominent.

  35. Puffle*

    I’ve been unemployed for several months now and I am getting so sick of the job centre staff. Whenever I talk to anyone- literally anyone- outside of the job centre about being unemployed, the attitude is, “It happens to all of us from time to time, there’s nothing wrong with it, etc etc”, but as soon as I set foot in the job centre I’m treated like I’ve been shoplifting or something. I’m applying to jobs left, right and centre, I’m getting interviews and call-backs, I’m doing research and writing cover letters etc, yet the staff act like I’m some parasite leeching money from the state.

    On the bright side, everyone else I meet has been very sympathetic and helpful, and several people have gone out of their way to help me, so I guess I just have to focus on that. I just find it ironic that the job centre is supposed to help me find employment yet every time I leave there I feel so down and demoralised that I can’t focus on anything.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      Are you in the UK? I had exactly the same experience three years ago and it is truly horrible. The attitude can be nasty. Yet it is other people’s unemployment that puts them in work so they might stop and think about that. You have my complete sympathy.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I hate that. I wonder if they just get burnt out seeing so many people who are frustrated, worried, etc. or if they don’t like dealing with it because it could be them.

  36. Relosa*

    Ok, so, for one: HI EVERYONE! I know I haven’t been here for months. My job took up a ton of my time (and energy, mostly). It was just 40 hours but without a car I was Metro commuting 2 hours each way. Blah!

    Bad (good?) news: got laid off on Sunday, with of course zero severance, after having a lot more furlough during the holidays than I planned on.

    Good (Great?!) news: a company I have tried several years to work with started recruiting me two days ago (!) for the exact type of position in my field that I’m looking for (!!) that NEVER opens up (!!!) I’m still applying to other places of course but when your field is as niche as mine, it’s really hard not to get hyper-focused on an opportunity. I’m especially trying to remind myself that the recruiter (internal) seems a little bit green still. During our conversation yesterday, we talked about how they actually have three of these types of positions open because of growth and expansion plans. One is more senior than the other two. He said he wanted to recommend me for the senior spot, but even if that wasn’t viable that they “Definitely had a spot for me somewhere” <~~ that kind of concerns me as much as it makes me happy because the interview went so well. I'm okay with either the junior or senior positions because the salary is fair and there are full benefits besides so I'm not complaining :)

    OKAY that's about all I had to say for now. Squee!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Welcome back! I’m so sorry to hear you got laid off but it seems like serendipity that you are being recruited for something you really want to do. Good luck!!!

    2. Retail Lifer*

      I’m not one who believes in fate, but if I did this would totally be it! Keep us posted on this and maybe I’ll change my mind.

  37. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Another question! But this one is broader and, I hope, more fun and interesting.

    I learned yesterday that a client is very happy with the way two recent projects have gone. This is great, of course, because at least one of them was a giant beast and I thought it sucked, so their happiness is very gratifying. However, this happiness means that they now want to give us more work (terrific!), including repeating this giant beast on an annual basis (not so terrific!) and giving us several more projects. So we have a Catch-22– happy client = more projects = more work = the inability to take on other projects unless we want ALB to totally burn out by June = ALB doesn’t get to work on other clients more in line with her experience and expertise.

    What are your work Catch-22s? What’s come up that sounded super awesome but turned out to be not so great?

    1. Tris Prior*

      I had a similar one to yours. Get assigned tough project, kick serious ass at it, client is happy… resulting in getting assigned the toughest projects with the most ridiculous deadlines because “you’re so good at this and no one else could handle it as well.” Result: Tris pulls 80-hour weeks for a good four months, working every Saturday and Sunday, while Four, Caleb, and Christina all leave at 5 p.m. and take long vacations because their projects are easy.

      Current catch-22: Company has layoff. We try various things to get sales up so that maybe we can hire people back. That works; sales go up. But we don’t have the staff to keep up with orders, much less continue doing the things that got sales to go up. Result: sales go back down, and now the company’s closing. :(

    1. Not Karen*

      I’ve had interviews that lasted all day – two interview panels in the morning, lunch with prospective coworkers, less-structured meetings with higher-ups in the afternoon.

        1. Not Karen*

          I’ve had two all-day interviews (different companies) and was offered one of the jobs. Yes, I was ready to collapse by the end of it. Unfortunately I had to get on a plane instead!

    2. Merry and Bright*

      Four hours. I felt like I had sold my soul by the end. That was in 2013.

      (I haven’t heard back yet so I assume I wasn’t successful!)

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      My longest interview was two hours over Skype in thirty-minute sessions back to back with different teams of people. That was the worst! Couldn’t get up or stretch, constantly had to make sure I was in camera view and listening for audio when the video connection went fuzzy… so awkward. Plus, two hours is just long when you have to be on the whole time.

    4. Honks*

      I once had an 8 hour interview made up of a one hour job talk, twelve 30 min one-on-ones and a one hour lunch with two more people.

    5. BRR*

      I had one go from 9 until 3:30. This was after a 30 min phone screen and 2 hour skype interview.

      Two challenges are tied for first
      -I was asked a question by an HR person which while part of my department in no way relates to what I would be doing. I really wanted to just reject the question .
      -I had an interviewer who acted like I killed her family. Right from the moment I walked in she was bitch eating crackers. Her email to schedule the interview was probably the most well written too. She also started off by asking if I had any questions which I can handle but I hate.

    6. Tammy*

      When I interviewed for my first role at my current company (I’ve been promoted twice since I’ve been here) I had five interviews before I was hired: phone interview with recruiter, phone interview with hiring manager, in person interview with hiring manager and department executive, in person interview with the team I was joining, in person interview with the CEO. This was a mid-sized company when I joined and is much larger now, but I was pretty senior even in my first role, so the CEO wanted to meet me. In all, those five interviews probably added up to about 10 hours of total time by the time I was done.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I was once flown to LA for a 20-hour stay. My flight landed at 2am. I reported to their office at 10am and left at 3pm. I met with about 6 people, including someone who had no clue how to interview (I basically led the conversation). I had a lunch meeting with my potential boss, which I hated because I was tired AND had to eat AND had to talk. Everyone was pretty cool, though.

      I didn’t get the job. Apparently, no one listened to me when I told them on the phone that I wasn’t a data analyst.

    8. A.J.*

      I had an interview a few months ago for a *contract* position that went almost 6 hours. And since this was for a contract role (as a floor manager that would be managing up to 50 people), they did not offer me lunch half way through like the company would do for full-time candidates. In fact, they couldn’t even offer me water or any snacks because apparently they had just moved into a new building and didn’t have cups or vending machines. Of course they saved the meeting with the hiring manager for last, and by then I completely crashed and lost all mental focus, and my stomach was growling really loudly. I have since learned to always bring snacks and a water with me to interviews since you just never know. Funniest part is that I got into a different contract position with that company that had only a 1 hour interview for a role I was better suited for anyway.

  38. Amber Rose*

    Husband’s horrible, sexist, rude and verbally violent manager was demoted and replaced yesterday. So good things do happen occasionally. Still have crossed fingers that he gets a job offer Monday though.

    I am running out of toolbox meeting topics. Next week is fatigue. After that, I dunno. How am I supposed to do these for years? :0

    1. Betty (the other Betty)*

      What were some of the other meeting topics? How long are the meetings?

      Keep in mind that you can repeat topics, especially yearly but maybe even more often if you take a different angle.
      Fatigue: how it affects productivity.
      Fatigue: 10 easy tips to reduce it.
      Fatigue: Is coffee the answer?
      Fatigue: Just tired or dangerously sleep-deprived, how to tell the difference.
      Fatigue: Stretches and breathing techniques to help you wake up.
      Fatigue: Come discuss what works for you!
      And so on…

    2. Clever Name*

      I love workplace justice. I got some that was 2 years in the making. It’s pretty sweet.

      Toolbox topics: just rotate the topics. Keeping them seasonal is good. Here’s a good one: I fell in the field a few times last month, and I think I fell because I was coming down with a cold. I wasn’t feeling great and my sinuses were jacked up. So maybe discuss how feeling ill can impact safety.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Congrats! I’ve still got five days to go before I start my new job so I know the feeling of glee :)

  39. Lynn*

    I’m going back to work after a few month break (of my own choice) in employment and I’m working with a staffing agency to start temping and get back into the groove of going to work again. They ask for the contact info of my three most recent supervisors. I’m not worried about two of them, but the third I’m nervous about since I left with a not great performance history. I’m sending the three of them a courtesy email so they aren’t surprised by being contacted if people check references. I’ve never used any of them as references before, so I have no idea how they will go, but I don’t know if anyone has advice or well wishes, I’m glad for anything! Meeting with the agency on Monday afternoon.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Is there any way you can contact the person you’re worried about and ask what kind of reference they’d give? If she sounds less than enthusiastic about being a reference, is there a way you could negotiate what she says about you in the event she gets contacted anyway?

      Good luck!

  40. squids*

    Waiting to hear back on a job I interviewed for in December. One of two candidates they’re considering. Having everyone go on holidays immediately after has dragged out the process … This is the first opportunity I’ve had for advancement without moving to a new town in a long, long time and I’m really hoping for the best.

    1. Emily*

      Good luck! My boyfriend is in a similar position (in his case, he was the first interviewee AND he interviewed a few weeks before the holidays), so I understand your desire to hear back. Hopefully things go well for you.

  41. Smelly Employee*

    About a month ago, I spoke with one of my employees about the fact that she smelled unpleasant and wasn’t meeting our dress code expectations. It went well and she made significant improvements the next day, and has been appropriately dressed ever since. The odor was resolved too, until we went on holiday break. Now that we’ve returned, it’s so bad again. Like, I can smell her from more than five feet away. How do I deal with this conversation a second time? Is it the same conversation as the first, or do I approach it differently? This is so awkward – it was bad enough to have to have this conversation once, I am dreading having to have it a second time.

    1. Adam V*

      I’d hope it could be straightforward – call her in and say “we talked about this a few weeks ago, and it got better, but since your return from the holidays the unpleasant smell has returned. You need to fix this permanently this time, because this is your final warning about this issue.” Depending on how your company does things, you may need to have her sign a written warning (a lot of companies have a verbal warning -> written warning -> serious consequences setup for issues like this).

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m not great at this stuff, but you can try to approach it from a positive perspective. She implemented some changes that worked, so can she try those again? I wonder what it was about break that made things regress.

    3. Clix*

      Does she have an underlying medical condition? Not sure on the type of smell but we’ve had IBS folks before who really couldn’t help some things, the same with a morbidly obese man and a woman with a recurrent vaginitis (only at a certain time of month) due to medication allergy that took a while to resolve – in a small office it was… Oy.

    4. TCO*

      As with any other performance issue, it’s important to point out the pattern. Praise the progress she made, but then be very clear that this pattern can’t keep continuing.

      If you have an EAP, you can also mention that as a general resource if it’s possible that the problem is related to medical or mental health, lack of laundry/shower facilities, etc.

    5. BRR*

      I would add to the original that you’ve discussed this before and if it keeps happening you’ll have to proceed down whatever path your company has for disciplinary procedures.

    6. Jen*

      Dress code is easier than odor. It’s a policy; employ is violating it. Give her a formal verbal warning “this is a formal verbal warning; the next step is a written warning.”

      Odor…have you met with HR? Could this be medical in any way? Always best to get a gut check on this before proceeding to understand the risks. If you get the green light, I would do this as a f/up to the dress code point and let them know there is an unprofessional odor, let them know of any resources, schedule a check in to follow up on both issues. At check in you can say, “going great! Keep it up!” Or not.

  42. Anon for this*

    I work in direct social services, and this week I got physically threatened by a client when I was alone in the office. Thankfully I made it out unscathed, but I was very shaken by it. Almost worse, in my conversations with management about it, they’ve never once said anything like “I’m so sorry that happened” or even “That must have been scary.” I don’t know if it’s a lack of empathy, a lack of social intelligence, or if they specifically don’t say sorry because of fears of liability. In any case, it’s been very demoralizing. Overall I like my job, but it’s making me want to find a new one. =\

    1. LizB*

      I’m so sorry this happened, Anon for this. Your management should be way more supportive than they’re being. Those types of situations are very scary, and I can’t see how they would be opening themselves up to any liability to say so. Are they at least taking steps to make sure similar situations are less likely happen in the future (changing staffing procedures, moving this client to another worker, or whatever makes sense)?

    2. Lily in NYC*

      I have to believe it’s due to liability worries – my office acted the same way when an EVP trapped his assistant in his office and tried to punch her. They treated her like a criminal even though he admitted trying to hit her. It was the absolute worst way they could have handled it because she felt completely demoralized, and it made the depression she already had much worse. All she needed was some compassion. Have you thought about asking them why they seem so unconcerned for your safety? Put them on the defensive.
      I hope you won’t have to see the person who threatened you again. I’m so sorry about what happened. And it’s such a shitty feeling when no one validates our very reasonable feelings.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*

        I suspect it’s also partly that the aggressor was an EVP and the victim an admin. Some places take the attitude that the higher-ranking person is always right and that lowly non-superstars should just meekly take any abuse they get and just be grateful that they’ve been generously provided with a job.


    3. Lyric*

      Ugh, that’s so scary. I work in social services too, and I’ve been fortunate that none of the incidents with my clients have ever gone past the level of unnerving, but I know too well that feeling of just…a general lack of support from higher-ups. As if coming to work wasn’t difficult enough without wondering whether or not your physical safety is going to be compromised.

      In my dysfunctional workplace, liability is definitely the reason behind the cold response by management, but I hope your agency is a better environment. :/

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think they just figure it’s part of the job. What scares me here, is that they did not instruct you on proper documentation nor did they say anything about how to protect yourself in the future. And that would push me toward the door.

      I think management sometimes gets so far removed from direct care that they do not know/remember what it is like.

      Go back in again, and ask them what the plan is to prevent these situations. Remind them that they could have a workmen’s comp case, bad publicity in the paper and a number of other unpleasant things. Tell them it is in their best interest to have documentation, procedures etc on hand. Everyone should be well-versed on the paper trail and action plan any time an instance such as your comes up.

      If you are in a union, go to your union rep.

      Knowing what I know about human services, I’d probably have to leave. So no, your not overreacting at all.

    5. Paige Turner*

      I’m posting on Saturday so I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I’m also sorry this happened! I’d say the least your employer can do is to make sure that an employee is never alone in the office with a client. That just seems like Safety 101.

  43. weasel007*

    Ughhh, today I have to submit my self assessment for my performance review. This is one of my least liked activity of being a working adult. I’ve had manages in 3 years, so each time I have no idea how much detail they add. One wrote paragraphs and had kept a listing. My 2nd wrote one sentence on each section. I have no idea how my new manager will do it. Ugggghhhhhh.

    1. Adam V*

      What I usually end up doing is to look back on the previous year’s and update a few things here and there, along with including some of what my manager suggested I work on.

    2. KR*

      Got my self assessment paperwork the other day and I have until the end of the month to do it. Really not looking forward to it. Half the stuff on the page barely applies to me.

    3. Doriana Gray*

      I sympathize – mine is due the 22nd when I’ll be in a new division with a new manager, but my soon-to-be former manager will get to complete this. Ugh.

    4. Beezus*

      Mine wasn’t too bad this year. Last year I had two jobs and six (!!) different direct managers over the course of the year, haha!

  44. OriginalEmma*

    We talk about how women are conditioned to be soft, nice and considerate. We use too much self-depreciating language in e-mails instead of just asking for what we need. Well, Google has a solution to that problem where it relates to e-mail. The “Just Not Sorry” app underlines words like just and sorry, among others, to alert the writer to the fact that they may be acting overly deferential. I love it!

    What say you, commentariot?

    1. Golden Yeti*

      The email writer could also be Canadian. :)

      Good idea, though. Sometimes it’s easy to fall back to the path of least resistance without realizing it.

    2. overeducated and underemployed*

      I think it depends. Sometimes, I consciously do adopt that overly hesitant “feminine” tone because it helps build rapport with people in certain positions and paves the way for polite requests. Often, I try not to, because I want to be seen as direct and competent. But the fact that women are told to be deferential and self-deprecating means that sometimes people expect it, and respond positively to it, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t use that as another tool in the box in the right context.

      1. Bangs not Fringe*

        I appreciate the blog’s POV.

        But personally, I find myself apologizing for things and self-deprecating at work, especially by email, without reason… It’s unnecessary. And I don’t believe it should be a “woman’s behavior”. As an intelligent professional I take responsibility for my actions but there is no reason to soften the blow of innocuous and routine emails.

        1. BRR*

          I do that too (I’m a man) and my manager is coaching me to stop. I cam across a great article that was about instead of saying sorry, say thank you. So instead of “sorry to interrupt” say “thank you for taking a second to listen.”

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        YES. Traditionally “masculine” behavior is often rude, egotistical, and inconsiderate. I’d much rather see men socialized to be nice than women socialized to steamroll over everyone and stalk around the office angry and self-important. Why is it that women are always the problem?

  45. Mimmy*

    I have a bit of an ethical quandary. I’m trying not to identify myself and the related groups, so apologies if the vagueness is confusing.

    I’m on a government-appointed state-level council, which collaborates with a network of associations in my field of interest, some of which we have paid membership to. This includes having exhibitor tables at conferences.

    There is a conference coming up in March that we usually exhibit at that I am interested in attending this year. However, we do not have a paid membership with the hosting association. At yesterday’s monthly meeting, which I had to miss part of due to a prior commitment, the group apparently discussed applying for membership so that council members can attend the conference, probably in my response to my expressed interest in attending.

    I think membership in this association, as well as attendance at this conference, is very appropriate given the council’s work. However, I have to admit that part of my interest in attending is for my own professional interests (networking and CEU credits) and an interest in seeing one of the keynote speakers. So yes, it’ll be very beneficial for the work of my council, but I feel bad that this is for my own professional benefit as well.

    I’m thinking of disclosing this to the council chairperson but am worried of poking the hornet’s nest and creating unnecessary problems. We’re a small group and are all friendly with each other, so that helps.

    1. katamia*

      It’s hard to be completely certain without more specifics, but it doesn’t sound like this is anything you should feel bad about. It doesn’t sound very different from, say, wanting to learn a specific software program that will help your employer but that will also help you down the road if you decide to change jobs. Conferences are always going to be networking opportunities. Most people understand that.

      1. Shan*

        I agree and that’s a good analogy. I work for a membership association (and we are part of other membership organizations too) and I don’t see any reason to disclose that. There are multiple reasons and benefits to joining and organization, for the group and its individuals. OP, the problem is that you see networking, hearing the keynote speaker, and CEU credits as your own professional interests, but I think you having those things will also benefit your council, too!

        1. Shan*

          I gotta add, I think it would almost be weird if an employee said, “But I’m going to benefit from this membership in my personal professional interests too, is that okay?” Especially since, as you note, it’s very appropriate for the council to have membership in the organization anyway. It’d be different if the council didn’t have an interest or anything to gain from membership in this particular organization and you signed them up anyway for your own gain.

    2. LCL*

      Is the council you are part of a non profit/charity? Because most of us hope that the work we do is for our professional benefit, as well as for the benefit of the employer. Nothing to feel guilty about, as long as you go to the conference and participate. Now if you go to the conference but don’t actually attend sessions and spend your time in the bar and on the golf course instead you should feel guilty…

      1. Mimmy*

        It’s a little confusing to explain – it is an entity IN but NOT OF a particular department in the state government. However we are also considered a non-profit (not a charity though).

    3. cuppa*

      I don’t really see any reason to disclose this, honestly. I also don’t see any reason to feel bad about it. I work for something that is publicly funded, and I’m very involved in my state level organization. A lot of times, the benefit for the library and the benefit for myself can’t be separated, and I think that’s ok.

      For instance, if I present at a conference about a project my place of business is working on, I’m serving both the organization and myself. I’m sharing ideas and collaborating, building relationships and partnerships, and I’m bringing those things back to my work to share with others. Sometimes a relationship comes from that which creates a job opportunity for myself as well, and I think that’s ok too.

    4. Mimmy*

      Thanks for the input so far! This helps a lot :)

      This is not part of any paid employment–it is strictly volunteer but we do get reimbursed for any money spent related to meetings and other council work, such as gas mileage or (in my case) use of public transportation / taxis.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You are fine. People do this all the time without batting an eye.

      The only thing I would do is stay on topic. Like if I was talking to someone who I hoped would hire me in the future, I would not talk about job openings, because that is not what we are there for. HOWEVER, if I applied for a job I would not have any problem saying, “We meet at X conference 18 months ago and we had an interesting discussion on Y situation. Perhaps you’ll remember me from that time.”

  46. TheIntern*

    Officially began “The Great Job Search of 2016” January 1st. Already had 2 phone interviews so I’m feeling pretty positive! :)

  47. acmx*

    I have an internal interview next week! I’m hesitantly excited about the prospect. I’m really new to the company so I don’t have the internal network as other candidates. Rumor has it that the job I essentially for someone who already does a similar job and for this customer. So, I know I’m a decent candidate overall, I’m not sure I would be picked over someone essentially already doing the job.

    But I will give it my best shot in the interview!

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Good luck! You never know what will happen so stay positive – the other person could be so confident she’s going to get it, that she screws up royally.

  48. Gene*

    Most enjoyable part of the week for me, the 2-day long “discussion” over Reply All email I got to watch about whether or not to move from disposable plastic flatware at get-togethers (Potlucks/Retirements/etc) to washable stainless flatware. It was a great comic relief to returning to work after 10 days off.

    1. Hlyssande*

      We had a fun one a few weeks back that devolved into memes from people all over the world. I may have saved a bunch of them for future use.

      1. Gene*

        They are still accepting donations of old flatware. And evidently the main opponent has had a box of plastic flatware left in his office with a “Sanitized For Your Protection” band around it.

    2. CheeryO*

      I have an “LOL” folder in Outlook that gets 90% of its content from Reply-All incidents.

  49. AnonymousaurusRex*

    Okay, so I have my dream job, pretty much. I love what I do and the people I work with. I have a great time at work, excellent benefits, I feel like I’m getting recognition for my position, etc. I get every other Friday off, and I work at home on Wednesdays. I’m living the dream.

    However (A BIG however) I have two problems with my current employment:
    1) I have a 30 mile-each-way commute, that in LA traffic can take 1-2 hours each direction. (I can’t afford to move closer, see #2)
    2) I am not really making as much money as I’d like to be making, and that I think my skill-set could command at the right company. By lets say 30%. (Current small company has been in financially unstable, so a raise, even just a little one, is unlikely anytime soon.)

    I applied to, and interviewed for, a new position at a big, well-paying company. It is easy biking distance from my home. I can definitely do the work. I would be at least adequate at it, but the work will not be nearly as fun and engaging as my work is now, and rather than working with a great team, I’d be on my own quite a bit. I might like the work okay, or I might hate the work, but there is little chance that I’ll get the joy I get each day at my job now.

    If I get a job offer from this company that meets my requested salary (30%+ more than I’m making now) do I take the job? Would you?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I absolutely would. It’s great to get joy from your job (but also somewhat of a luxury) but for me, the improved quality of life outside of work (by having an extra 2-4 hours a day and a higher salary), would also make me joyful.

    2. ThatGirl*

      You have to decide what is most important to you. I know, I know, weasel answer?

      Does the commute suck the life out of you? Would you be able to perhaps get another work at home day? Are you feeling financially strapped?

      After being recruited for a high-paying, high-stress, long-working-hours job, I realized that what I value right now is a good working environment, a good boss, and flexibility in my workday and week. I would take another, higher-paying job with a shorter commute IF the commute was drastically shorter (to make up for not being able to work from home), the job seemed interesting and like something I would actually get satisfaction out of, and the company culture seemed like a good fit.

      But doubling my salary while expecting me to work 55-hour-plus weeks in a high-stress environment plus a commute? That’s not worth it to me.

      1. AnonymousaurusRex*

        That’s the problem. I *do* feel kind of financially strapped (and my partner and I are trying to make it one one income since she’s back in school) and the commute is definitely impacting my life negatively. I initially assumed that I’d do the commute for a year, and then we’d either move closer or away altogether. But moving closer isn’t a financial possibility, and after a year and a half it’s kind of killing me (and my 1977 Benz, which isn’t the most comfy commuting car).

        At the same time though, I get the feeling that the time I save commuting at the new job might be eaten up by extra time *working* at the new job doing work I am not thrilled about. (Glassdoor, if it’s to be believed says work life balance isn’t so great there).

        I feel like I couldn’t turn down the job if it was offered though, mostly because of the money…I oddly find myself hoping that I don’t get the job, but at the same time fantasizing about what it would be like to ride my bike to work every day…

        1. overeducated and underemployed*

          If you’re hoping you don’t get the job…you know what you want. Whether it’s what you should do financially, I don’t know, but that’s a sign.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I agree with overeducated, if you find in your gut that you’re hoping you don’t get it, that might tell you something.

          Work/life balance can vary between departments, too. So take glassdoor with a pinch of salt. And remember that you might be able to take the job, sock away the extra money you’d save, and move on to something else in a year or two.

          1. AnonymousaurusRex*

            Yeah.. I mean, I’m more hoping I don’t get it so I don’t have to make the decision, not that I’m definitely dreading taking the new job, just making such a hard decision.

    3. Jubilance*

      I’d take it in a heartbeat, but that’s because of what I value. I hate long commutes, and after being a finalist for a job in LA and seeing the bad traffic, I know there’s no way I could stomach a 1-2hr commute each day. I also value $$$, or should I say, making a market rate salary for my skills and experience that allows me some flexibility in my lifestyle. Are those things of value to you? If so, then you know what to do. Best of luck!

    4. Doriana Gray*

      I get bored easily so I’d stick with the job I already have assuming I wasn’t struggling financially. More money is great, but if I’m not enjoying the work or interacting with good people (especially during stressful situations), it wouldn’t be worth it to me.

    5. overeducated and underemployed*

      I think your gut will tell you then. The question is whether the 2-4 hours you spend commuting is bad enough to outweigh the portion of your 8 hours at your job that actually brings you joy, and honestly, I think that’s a “heart” decision, not a “head” decision. I wouldn’t do it only for the money if you don’t *need* the money.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      As others have mentioned, you know to figure out what your own priorities are, but since you asked “Would you?” I wouldn’t. Your current job sounds great. I’ve had commutes in the 90-120 minutes range, so I know that can be horrible, but you’re going in 3.5 days a week (one day at home every week, another day off completely every other week), and you actually like your work. I would stay.

      1. AnonymousaurusRex*

        Yeah– the fact that I have the flexibility to not do that commute 5 days/week is what has allowed my current job to be sustainable. I’d lose my mind, otherwise. :)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I think you are asking us to convince you to take this job when you really don’t want to.

      There. I said it. Did you suddenly feel relieved? If yes, then that is your answer.

      If no, you still feel in knots then consider how long would you stay with Boring Job? Can you do a three year sprint? Can you keep your promise to yourself to get out of there when the time comes?

      What does your other half think you should do? Yeah, that is important to get what the SO thinks into the mix.

      As for myself, I would not do the commute you have, period. Just no. No job is worth a slow death and that is exactly how I would frame it in my head.

    8. mkb*

      I don’t think I would leave a job I’m truly happy at for more money, especially one with the perks you mention.

    9. Soupspoon McGee*

      Consider option 3: keep applying for jobs that are in line with what you want to do, closer to your home, for a competitive salary. You said that people with your skillset make 30% more elsewhere, so look at the competition for possible openings. That means staying at your current job a while longer while you look.

  50. NurseTeachy*

    So I recently moved to the midwest, and as a nursing instructor I looked around to apply to a bunch of nursing colleges around here. This particular application blew me away, and made me laugh so hard I thought I’d share it with you all:

    I previously taught at a Catholic institution, but their form asked nothing about my religion, my pastor, or (my favorite question from that application) how I would describe my relationship with Jesus. A large part of me wanted to apply and say something like “Oh yeah, the J-man and I are bros, we have D&D night every Thursday.” but I was convinced not to by my husband (who is obviously no fun at all).

    Just thought it’d bring a bit of humor to you all as well – I thought I’d seen it all with academic applications, but little did I know the…unique-ness of the applications here in the midwest!

    1. TowerofJoy*

      It’s Mennonite. Pretty standard stuff. Schools that religious generally don’t expect outsiders, or at least not ones that don’t have a clear understanding of what their religion entails.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mennonites are very much like the Amish, with some leeway in permitted activities (driving, some clothing differences, etc.). Both are somewhat common where I live. The Amish make dandy rural neighbors. :)

        One of the Christian colleges here has a very similar application page (it’s not Mennonite but still rather strict). They say no fornication, no homosexual activity, no cursing, and no dancing. When I saw that last, I started singing the title song from Footloose, LOL.

        1. TowerofJoy*

          Now its stuck in my head! Haha. But yes, its a big stretch from the Catholics who are a little more fast and loose with the rules. I mean, summer festival fundraisers at Catholic churches often involve beer gardens and gambling.

          1. MsChandandlerBong*

            Yeah, that was a surprise to me. I’m Methodist, and I don’t think we’re all that strict, but my church doesn’t do bingo night or raffles because they constitute gambling. I went to the Catholic church downtown for a special event, and here they had the whole basement set up with bingo pull cards, table games, and open betting on horse races. Someone put a statue of Jesus in the freezer to make room for a roulette wheel!

        2. Canadian Natasha*

          Have you heard that joke (substitute whichever appropriate conservative religious denomination fits):
          Why do baptists forbid premarital s*x?
          Because it might lead to dancing.

          Note: Self-directed humour. My family used to go to a baptist church and are currently mennonite (although a very different sort of mennonite, more the “hipster” meet in pubs and coffee shops and big on social justice issues variety. Yes that exists)

          1. Canadian Natasha*

            Also, there are Mennonite hospitals? We have some Catholic ones here but I didn’t know that other branches of Christianity did that too. Interesting.

            1. Canadian Natasha*

              Aaand I re-read the thread and realized the mennonite specification wasn’t part of the original comment. Nvm that…

        3. ThatGirl*

          Sorry to butt in but most Mennonites are indistinguishable from anyone else, and also we were around before the Amish. You must not know any urban Mennonites.

      2. NurseTeachy*

        Gotta admit, I hadn’t previously encountered Mennonites before. It just gave me a giggle – wasn’t expecting that on an application for a nursing job.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Hi, I’m late to this but my parents both went to Goshen. The thing is, while faith is important there they are not that conservative. Mostly they want to know that you respect Mennonite theology.

  51. lfi*

    How would you all handle being given a “coaching notice” at work for a mistake you made in your first 3 months of a new job when it was your first time handling it and being the sole person in your role after your counterpart quit?
    My boss said that it won’t affect my raise or bonus (which the document states – it just won’t let me be promoted within the next 60 days). I fully admitted to the mistake (which my boss made two weeks prior), fixed the mistake, and will ensure it doesn’t happen again. We’ve also really taken the time to look at all of our processes and procedures to tighten everything up.
    Boss was not thrilled about having to document it. Everyone else I’ve spoken with seems to think it’s BS, and I’ve been advised to write a statement of my own.

    How would you handle this?

    1. Rex*

      It’s hard to give you solid advice on this without knowing the politics of your employer, since this sounds like politics — since your supervisor was obligated to do this even though they aren’t happy about it. If you have a colleague whose judgement you trust, I would discuss this with them.

      1. lfi*

        i’ve spoken to our HR rep in the office and she was the one who considered it BS.

        i think our department is being heavily scrutenized right now so they almost had to do it to make a point/example. my previous coworker was also written up for a similar mistake… but others who have made them don’t even get a verbal.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I would either write an explanation underneath OR I would write “My signature indicates receipt of this document, only. It does not mean I agree with the contents.”

      And I would say something to the boss, “I guess this means I should not attempt anything new if no one is around. I do not want to risk another write up.”

  52. Cath in Canada*

    So, I’m a relatively competent computer user, but any time I have anyone watching me – and especially if my monitor’s being projected onto a big screen during a meeting – I turn into an absolute clumsy eejit who’s never typed before, can’t remember keyboard shortcuts, and has to click ALL the menu options before finding the right one. It doesn’t help that I use a MacBook at home, but non-Mac laptops at work meetings.

    This hasn’t been a huge problem until now because any time I’m in this situation it’s either been in meetings with my own team, where we all just laugh about how none of us can use a computer in public, or I’m running a meeting with VIPs where all I really have to do is load other people’s slides. But I’ve just inherited a project where the meetings tend to get more complicated: I often have to type long URLs, download documents, search my email or our online ticket system, etc., all on the fly, in front of bigwigs. I’ve tried to get people to send me their materials in advance, but there’s always something extra that comes up during the meeting.

    Any tips for improving my performance when computer use becomes a spectator sport? Just practice, or is there more I can do?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Are you mirroring your display or using the projector as an extended desktop?

      If you’re not already doing so, I’d recommend the latter. That way, you can do thigns (type URLs, download documents, search email, etc.) on your private laptop screen, and then when the stuff is ready, drag the items over to the projector screen for people to see. It may make you less self-conscious.

    2. Natalie*

      I have a suggestion cribbed from performance – slo o o o w down. Most unpracticed people talk way too fast in front of an audience (you might have noticed this during wedding toasts) because our perceptions change when we’re nervous. I’m guessing something similar happens using a computer in front of a group. Breathe evenly and move more slowly and deliberately than you think you need to. Your audience probably won’t notice a thing.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I’m sure you’re right now I think about it! (I definitely talk too fast a lot of the time). I have a relatively easy meeting in an hour so I’ll try slowing down and see how it goes. Thanks!

    3. Computer Guy Eli*

      Control + C Copies
      Control + V Pastes
      Alt + Tab Switches windows
      Control + F searches through (almost) any window
      Control + Tab flips through tabs on windows.
      I can’t really think of anything that can help you specifically though, Maybe try memorizing those? I’ll keep thinking though.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I know all of these and use them all the time – when no-one’s watching! When I’m being watched I invariably hit the wrong buttons. Part of it’s due to different keyboard layout compared to my home laptop and work desktop, part of it is because of being watched…

    4. Windchime*

      No suggestions, because I am the same way. I type about 90 wpm when I’m in my cube by myself. But some kind of typing anxiety comes over me when people are watching me type and I am just like you; fumbling for the keys and unable to do anything that makes sense. It doesn’t help that I’m usually also typing on a strange keyboard and everyone is watching the (huge) monitor on the wall. It’s very nerve-wracking.

  53. Not Today Satan*

    Something that’s been frustrating me about my job–I’ve heard from like four people, multiple times, how highly management thinks of me. And don’t get me wrong, it’s encouraging. But…. I never actually get praise from management directly. In fact, feedback in general from my manager is practically nonexistent. I don’t need constant praise, but a simple message from my boss about exceeding expectations would be very encouraging.

    1. KR*

      Ask! Schedule a meeting with your supervisor and ask them for an idea of how you’ve been doing recently.

    2. TCO*

      Are you familiar with the concept of appreciation/love languages? It might that your manager sucks at feedback, or it might be that how they show approval (for example, by giving you new projects or encouraging you to head out early on Friday) is out of sync with the kinds of approval that are most meaningful to you (like words).

      I don’t mean to question whether your manager sucks at feedback, but it could be something to consider.

  54. CrazyCatLady*

    How many emails do y’all send and/or receive in a day, on average?
    I’m usually around 75-125 for both sent and received.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’m around 50-75. That feels like a reasonable amount. I’m not drowning in it; I can prioritize and handle it without it becoming all I do.

    2. MaryMary*

      I’d say 50-75 received, but fewer sent. I have a lot of clients who call me, and at the same time I have several who will send three emails in quick succession instead of instead of combining their questions into one email. Many of my coworkers also prefer to talk in person.

    3. Jen*

      I probably receive a few hundred, 200 on a slow day, 400 on a heavier day. Respond/send probably 75-100. Am on senior management.

  55. TheLazyB (uk)*

    Fixing all my Excel probs with web searches yay! First I was trying to copy dates from one spreadsheet to another but they kept shifting by four years and a day. It was driving me mad. Turned out to be an error where excel can use two different date systems (I’ll reply with a couple of links, one why, one a fix that works!)

    Second i regularly get Excel data which has dates, most of which are fine but there’s always one set that doesn’t work – they look like date formats but won’t work as such. I fixed that one by using text to columns.

    This last one, it turns out I didn’t need to do, but still excited I did it: I had a column that was a date and time and stripped out the time data so that I could calculate the difference in days between two dates!

    Love it when you have a great week like that :D

    1. TheLazyB (uk)*

      Dates shifting: this was interesting but the fix didn’t work:

      I ended up fixing it by adding 1462 to the dates:
      Incidentally if anyone understand these things – why 1462?! That’s four years and two days. Makes no sense: there are no leap years between 1 Jan 1900 and 1 Jan 1904.

      For the dates that aren’t dates:

      To strip the time stamp from the date, the first answer heredidnt work but the second did:

      And just to top it all off my vlookups worked. It was a bloody great week :D

      1. Evan Þ*

        “Makes no sense: there are no leap years between 1 Jan 1900 and 1 Jan 1904.”

        In the original version of Excel, there was! It was programmed with the simple Julian Calendar version of the leap year rules, and then every subsequent version needed to be backwards-compatible with it. So, Excel’s “1 January 1900” is actually 31 December 1899.

        Yes, it’s annoying.

        1. TheLazyB (uk)*

          Thank you! I feel better for knowing this. Annoying, but great for small talk with fellow excel nerds :)

  56. SL #2*

    I’m getting eyestrain when I’m at work. Only at work, might I add. The symptoms start about an hour into the day and continue on (no headaches, just dry eyes and trouble focusing my vision). I already use f.lux for controlling my monitor’s light and color, but part of me thinks that it’s just the office lights being SO MUCH BRIGHTER than the screen (especially because I have no symptoms at home when I’m using my laptop). And I’m definitely taking any chances I get to not be in front of the computer so much Any other tips for alleviating the symptoms?

    1. Meg Murry*

      Are you in a private/semi-private office where you could turn off the overhead lights and put in desk lamps and maybe a torch-style light or two?

        1. Schnapps*

          Are they flourescent lights? Get them to remove one of the tubes.

          After I had laser surgery, I had them temporarily remove the tubes from the light right above my desk and it really helped.

          1. SL #2*

            Yes, fluorescent lights. One of the tubes actually died about a month ago and they recently replaced it… but my eyestrain problem was happening even with the blown tube. Maybe you’re right about getting all of them taken out…

            1. Natalie*

              There are also filters and gels that can be installed over the fixtures to mute the light or change the quality of it somehow. Ask your maintenance people.

    2. Headachey*

      Do you have an overhead air vent blowing on you? I’ve been having trouble with my eyes, too – red, dry, itchy, trouble focusing – and realized that the vent is essentially blowing very dry winter air right in my face. I’m going to pick up an air vent deflector from Home Despot to see if that helps.

      1. SL #2*

        No overhead vents! My coworker who does have an overhead vent constantly complains about it being cold, but I never feel the drastic temperature shifts because it takes a while to get to me in the first place. I didn’t know air vent deflectors existed, though!

    3. Lily in NYC*

      I do what Meg suggested. I still have some eye problems but it helps immensely to have fewer florescents over my head. Also, it couldn’t hurt to make an appointment with an eye doctor – digital eye strain can lead to dry eye that no over the counter eye-drops can help. I have an appointment next week for this exact reason! But for now, make sure you look around at other things every 20 minutes and don’t just stare at your screen for long periods of time.

      1. SL #2*

        I can’t control the lights because I’m in a cubicle :( and it’s funny because now that I think about it, my eyestrain stopped at home after we removed the overhead fluorescent light (we only had 1) in the living room. But you’ve got a point about the optometrist; it’s been about 2 years since I’ve been (no insurance last year) and I’m pretty sure if nothing else, my contacts prescription is getting a bit out of date and my glasses prescription definitely is.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’d suspect your prescription first if you haven’t been in that long. Go get your eyes checked, and then if the problem persists, maybe you can approach your job about the light thing.

          I have a light right over my cube and I hate it. But my contacts were messed up–I had one focused for far away and one for up close, and they didn’t quite meet in the middle when I focused close-up. I told my doc about it recently and he changed my prescription to accommodate, since I spend most of my waking hours on the computer. It helped immensely.

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          Definitely get your eyes checked, but since it sounds like you can’t change the lighting as it would affect more people than just you, can you at least keep it from hitting YOUR eyes by rigging up an awning over your cube wall with posterboard, or even going the oh-so-sexy route of a visor or ballcap or something? I totally sympathize with eye issues. For me, dry air is the worst, and I live in a desert, so I seem to be in a constant state of not-happy, but when air blows on my face directly, in the car, from overhead vents, and even from my foot heater, up over my lap and into my face, it’s worse. Then add in overhead lighting, and THEN the fact that I face windows that look out to a parking lot, and the sun GLARES off the car windows (desert, remember), it’s just bad. Hope you can mitigate the factors you can control, even if you have to control them at your level rather than by dealing with the fixtures themselves…

        3. Lily in NYC*

          I’m in a cubicle as well – I’m in a very open area and the facilities manager actually gave me a hard time about it but I knew he had no power so I took them down myself. I left one light tube there and took 3 down. When he came over to yell at me the next day I told him that I had a medical reason for it (I’ve been having a difficult time since I had ocular shingles three years ago) and to feel free to complain to the higher-ups if he had a problem with it. He did nothing.

        4. Kristina L*

          If they let people wear hats at work, try wearing a hat that shades your eyes from the lights.

    4. Hlyssande*

      Fluorescent lights are the absolute worst. I don’t have problems with glare off monitors, but direct light from fluorescents can give me horrible headaches along with the same symptoms you’re having.

      One thing I do on the bad days is wear a plain visor. We have low cubes so it’s visible, but as a doctor suggested it to me they let me keep it. Basically, the idea is to block the light that directly hits your eyes. It might be worth looking into.

    5. Former Student Employee*

      If you can afford them, computer glasses. My boyfriend is a coder and has two pairs of computer glasses (they’re like sunglasses with yellow lenses). He gets a headache when he doesn’t wear them and finds them immensely helpful. I don’t know what the price ranges are — he tends to have expensive taste — but I imagine there are less-expensive options out there! Good luck!

      1. SL #2*

        Huh, I’ve never heard of that (and I worked in the tech industry for a bit too!). I’ll have to check it out!

    6. Z*

      Computer glasses! I use them almost every day and they are super helpful at preventing eye strain and headaches. I like the Gunnar ones, but there may be other brands I’m not familiar with.

    7. irritable vowel*

      Does your office or building have a maintenance person or super (or a janitor who has access to a ladder)? When I moved into a new office where the light right over my desk was way too bright, our maintenance person helped me by putting some aluminum foil over one of the fluorescent bulbs in the fixture. It’s really helped cut down on glare. (He’s also helped us in the past by rigging up diverters made of cardboard that keep the freezing cold air from the vents from blowing right on people.)

    8. 42*

      I would try getting a a small incandescent lamp anyway. I have one in my cube, along with a fluorescent light high above (we have very high ceilings, so it’s not directly over me a few feet up), and the warm glow from my lamp completely nullifies the harsh fluorescent. If you google ’18” window pane shoji lamp’ from Oriental Furniture, you can see it. It made a big difference for me, it’s worth looking in to.

    9. Nanc*

      My eye doc talked me into computer glasses a few years ago as an option to going bifocals. WOW! It makes a huge difference, no more headaches, my eyes aren’t so tired and they make me look 10 years younger (not really, but I always like the 3-reasons bit!). If you haven’t seen an eye doctor for awhile it might be worth making an appointment.

  57. Hlyssande*

    I love my supervisor, I love my supervisor, I love my supervisor. I didn’t think the previous one was bad, but omg.

    I was out for two weeks over the holidays and OF COURSE I GOT SICK while I was out. On Monday I was still absolutely miserable and she let me work from home all day instead of coming in. I felt like I could work okay (at least deal with email backup from when I was out), but there was no way I could’ve handled a day in the office. I also didn’t want to come in any possibly get anyone sick. I am so grateful that she let me do that. I honestly shouldn’t have been working at all, but it meant that I didn’t have to start off the new year burning a sick day.

    She’s so understanding about things, like my depression and thinking about getting a new job, etc. I really feel like I can trust her.

    1. Red Wheel*

      I too was out for about two weeks but got sick the day I was to report to work. I went to work as planned, miserable and sick and then took the following day off. Why? because I felt like I had to “prove” to my supervisor that I was really sick the day after a holiday and not just trying to extend my time off. So, I did start the new year by coming to work while sick AND burning a sick day. BTW, I hate my manager.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Ouch, that sucks. Sorry your manager’s a jerk and that you had to burn a day. I hope you’re feeling better now.

        That feeling of needing to prove that I was sick is why I came in on Tuesday when I really shouldn’t have. She would’ve let me work that from home too, I know. I’ve been here 10 years and I’ve never actually needed to prove anything, but I can’t shake the need to do so. For years I’d get up really early and send an email to say I couldn’t be in to make it seem like I’d been up all night because I was terrified that I’d get in trouble for not being sick enough.

        I hate this job, I hate this company…but my supervisor is fantastic and the manager above her is good. That’s part of why it’s such a comfortable rut and I’m scared to go elsewhere.

    2. KR*

      I understand where you are coming from. I was having a really hard time getting out of bed today (mostly anxiety related) and have been needing mad amounts of sleep recently meaning I’m not in the office until past 9am. My supervisor is really accommodating as long as I put in enough hours a week. So nice.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Hurray for accommodating supervisors. Seriously.

        I’ve really been struggling with sleep too, mostly related to depression. It sucks walnuts.

  58. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Today my boss called me by the wrong name. Twice. Two different names. In the same conversation. Neither was close to my own. I’ve worked here over two years. How demoralizing. Happy Friday to all!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      That sucks. My mom called me her dog’s name when I was home for Xmas! And my worst boss ever called me Eve for his first three months at work – I have no idea why he kept calling me that. I stopped correcting him after a month.

    2. Bangs not Fringe*

      I definitely think my boss does this on purpose sometimes.. But I honestly call people the wrong names sometimes. Sometimes our train of though can derail! Maybe don’t take it personally?

  59. Master Bean Counter*

    This week I had something very bizarre happen. Well maybe not that bizarre. The owner came into my shared office with a furniture guy and started taking measurements. My hopes of getting a desk that is actually bug enough to do my work on were quickly dashed as they were discussing adding a third work station in this office. Okay… They leave before I can question or say anything. Later I ask my office-mate about this. Not only are they adding a third person in this office, but they’ve already hired the person and they start on Monday. And this is how I found out about it.

    In other news I got contacted by a recruiter for what looks like a very nice position. So I prepped my resume and wrote, and I quote, “An awesome cover letter.” Now the waiting game begins. As much as I want this position I’m trying to remind myself I might have better odds at winning the lottery.

    1. AnonForThis*

      I had something similar happen with a new co-worker – I went on holiday for two weeks, and came back to find out that a new person had been hired and it was their first day the day I got back! This was a team of 5, and she ended up sitting directly across from me, so all day I would confuse myself trying to remember why she was there.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      LOL this has totally happened at my office. We usually find out when an IT person shows up with a computer to set up.

      1. KR*

        Lucky for your IT department! Half the time we just get an email after the person has been hired and is already working and we have to go through the whole thing with what access they will need and to where and all that. All we want is an email from HR whenever they hire someone!

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      Woohoo! The recruiter called me back. I’m going to have an interview next week and she’s going to give me prep questions. Definitely one of the better recruiters I’ve worked with.
      And I got my first private client this week. Things are definitely looking up!

  60. Semi-nonymous*

    So this is work related, but running your own business work related, so I’ll probably post more about the personal aspects on Sunday.

    Has anyone here ever declared your own business (LLC) bankrupt? Obviously, I know step one is to talk to a bankrupcy lawyer rahter than just people on the internet, and that’s in the works. I’m just looking for some general information about lessons learned/what you would have done differently/what surprised you or even just “yup, been there, it sucks” commiseration.

    For background, my husband and father-in-law run a contracting business. My FIL ran it as a side business for quite a while, and then he and my husband left their regular jobs, formed an LLC and starting running this business full time. Both of their names are on the LLC paperwork as 50% owners.

    My FIL is now retirement age and drawing Social Security, and has had a series of health issues that have made it difficult for him to work steadily for quite a while now – it’s been a few years since he was physically able to work a full 40 hour week, and some weeks he couldn’t work at all, while others he was only able to work for a few hours here or there. FIL keeps saying he’ll be good to go in a few weeks after [latest issue] is dealt with, but the rest of us (including MIL) have acknowledged that there will pretty much always be something either keeping him from working or looming just around the corner. My husband has been holding it together as long as he could, but this is the kind of work that really needs 2 people – but there isn’t enough work for him to hire and train another employee.

    Long story short, the business is somewhere between $30,000 and $60,000 in debt, with some of that being very high interest credit card debt, and the business also has a lot of fixed monthly expenses (expensive umbrella insurance policy, phone bill, etc) that basically means that it’s time to throw in the towel. Luckily, my in-laws came into some money that allowed them to pay off their house, etc, so my FIL no longer working will basically just affect their vacation/fun money budget, not their food/roof over their head budget. This also means that my husband has to find a “real” job while wrapping all this up, so that will be interesting as well.

    Anyone got any “been there, do this and don’t do that” advice?

  61. Jessica Jones*

    Alison, feel free to delete if this is better in the weekend open thread.

    Thoughts on job hunting out of state when you’re also trying to conceive? My husband and I are ready to start our family, and we also want to relocate to another state. I was actively job hunting and had some interviews but nothing that felt like a great fit. My company does provide 14 weeks of maternity leave which are covered under short term disability (I’m assuming I’d get 60% of my pay during my leave). I’m enjoying what I’m doing at work this very moment, but my company has gone through significant restructuring this year, and just this week 2 high level executives were fired. My dept is in a state of flux and it’s possible that my job will change again this year.

    Our long-term plan is to be in another state and we can’t move until at least one of us has a job. If I get a new position but I’m also pregnant, or get pregnant immediately after starting, I’m not guaranteed maternity leave. I’m wondering if I should just stay put where I’m at and try to ride out the craziness in the office, and wait to job hunt until after I have a baby. Thoughts?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I wouldn’t base anything on whether you might be pregnant or not. It may take you a while to conceive, and I’d only stay if you were willing to put up with any craziness for what may end up being a longer duration.

    2. anon for this*

      What I have learned through 3.5 years of trying to conceive is, you have to just go ahead and live your life. If you don’t look for a new job, or don’t move to a new state, or don’t take that vacation you’ve been planning, etc., because you’re expecting to get pregnant or have a new baby around that time, you’re letting something that isn’t entirely under your control determine how you live. And let me tell you, that sucks–when things aren’t going as you’d hoped AND you don’t feel like you’re able to move forward in other areas of your life because everything’s on hold. If you need to move on professionally or geographically, don’t put a “maybe” ahead of those needs. Good luck to you in all your endeavors!

  62. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    What should I consider and what should I ask about when looking at a job that is listed as 6-month temp with the possibility of going permanent?

    I’m in the job market, and I just heard from a recruiter who is looking to hire for a job that sounds like it’s right up my alley, but the position is as I listed above, and I currently have a permanent job (though with crap management that I want to get away from).

    Normally I’d automatically discard it because going from permanent to temp doesn’t sound like a good idea, but my wife pointed out that a lot of jobs, especially on the earlier rungs of the career ladder (I’ve been working full-time for about 6 years) are doing this now, and just outright avoiding anything advertising temp-to-perm is really going to hinder my job possibilities. Is she right about this?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yes, your wife may be right. (I am in a semi-creative position, started as a contractor and have seen a lot of these ads from recruiters.)

      That said, ask a lot of questions — in some cases the temp to perm thing is because they want that window to easily get rid of someone if they don’t work out, but they do need a permanent person in that position. In other cases it’s to see if or where you best fit in the company before they hire you permanently (but not necessarily in the exact same position).

      I would say consider temp to perm – be wary, sure, ask a lot of questions (of the recruiter) about how quickly and often they hire temps, but consider them.

  63. I am Dt Lennie Briscoe's deadpan humor*

    If I hand in my notice on Tuesday 12th, that means my 2 weeks is up on the 26th, right? Or is the 29th….?

    1. F.*

      If you gave it to me, I would expect your last day to be the 26th, two weeks from the date you are giving notice.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I think 2 weeks notice is literally means two work weeks so Tuesday until another Tuesday is what I expect as the bare minimum. You could choose to give more notice if you wanted to.

    3. Sara*

      I say the 26th, although my boyfriend’s last company insisted that “2 weeks’ notice” = 14 business days. (They also thought the idea of offering benefits to employees was overly generous and looked the other way when 2 different employees were attacked by 2 different dogs in the office, though…so maybe don’t take their advice.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I would count 1o working days. That means Tuesday the 26th if you ordinarily work M-F. Just to be abundantly clear, I would say, “My last day will be Tues, Jan 26th.” That way no one is left to guess what you mean.

  64. JJ*

    Related to one of the featured AAM posts this week, I’d like to hear from people who have dealt with a manager that can’t ever seem to focus enough to answer simply questions. Are there “managing up” strategies you have used that helped improve the situation, even somewhat? I’m nearing the end of my rope here. To give an example of a recent exchange:

    Me: I’m trying to schedule dates for X but would like to know if our on-site visits are going to conflict with these. Here are the dates I’ve proposed. Are these dates fine, or do I need to change them? (Note: My manager is the only person who fully knows the dates for these visits and has not disclosed all of them to us.)
    Manager: Ooh, I like the layout of this calendar! Very nice! This reminds me, I have 8 very important things I need to discuss with you right now…. *goes through 8 things as quickly as possible, including off-topic tangents, before almost literally running out my office*

    This…happened yesterday afternoon. Ugh.

    1. Argh!*

      My suggestion is to simplify: What is the schedule for the on-site visits?

      The clutter in the answer suggests you & your boss don’t meet often enough. You could suggest a meeting to discuss the schedule. Now that the other 8 things have been discussed, the special-topic meeting shouldn’t get de-railed.

      You have my sympathy. I have to manage-up for different reasons and it’s a scary proposition. I need to get what I need without criticizing my boss’s style or making her angry. Even though she *should* be able to handle an employee asking for a different response that doesn’t mean she can. I don’t want to find out the hard way.

      1. JJ*

        Yeah, I do like to give context for my questions (mainly to refresh busy people’s memories first), but I think you’re right in that it may be overkill for some attention spans. I’ll try simplifying and see if things get better.

        I would be incredibly anxious if my manager was quick to think that I was criticizing her or became easily angered. That sucks. I feel for you. On the one hand, I’m wondering if she’s like this regardless of how the question is posed (e.g., in person versus via email; I know email doesn’t prevent all aggression, but for some people it gives them an opportunity to compose themselves first rather than feeling pressured to respond immediately and, apparently, angrily). On the other hand, even if you are afforded some “protections” by choosing the right medium, that’s just a band-aid and some of your requests will be time-sensitive I’m sure. I wonder why she interprets your requests as critical….

        1. Dawn*

          “Me: I’m trying to schedule dates for X but would like to know if our on-site visits are going to conflict with these. Here are the dates I’ve proposed. Are these dates fine, or do I need to change them? ”

          1) Send it to her in an email as well as ask in person.
          2) Make all interactions with her involving questions be about you making statements instead: “Boss, I am going to schedule these dates for X. Let me know if there’s a conflict”. Don’t ask permission, just go ahead and do things and wait for her to tell you not to (within reason, of course). Feel free to keep following up as needed if there’s things you’re pretty sure she needs to pay attention to but hasn’t.
          3) Bullet points are your friend. Make everything as short and to the point as you can, and leave out any superfluous writing in your emails. She’s got a short attention span so you have to say what you need to say as fast as you can!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Try to work things around so you can get to a place where you can say, “Sure I will look at that with you, then I really need you to review this X with me.”

      Try to think of her as a nervous person. So first reassure her, “yes, I will help with your concern.” Then restate your request.

      1. JJ*

        Ha, I like the idea of thinking of her as a nervous person! She’s definitely a can’t-focus one-on-one person. It’s funny; she’s confided in me before about her frustrations with how her own supervisor forbids her from looking at her smart phone, laptop, etc., during meetings…and I’m sitting there thinking, “Uh, you are ALWAYS distracted by your smartphone, lady. Take a hint from all of us! Please!” If I was in any kind of equal or superior standing to her I would just be blunt with her about it, but unfortunately I don’t think there’s a good way for me to help her out as one of her subordinates…

  65. Daenerys T*

    In a fit of career related anxiety, I stayed up late one night last week and took the Foreign Service Officer practice exam on the Department of State website.

    My score said there was a 95% chance I would pass the “real” test (70% on the general knowledge section, 99% on the English language section).

    Has anyone taken the FSO exam? Is the practice test actually a good indicator of how I would score?

    1. Jberry*

      I’ve taken the exam. The questions on the practice exam are very similar to the type of questions asked on the actual exam. I didn’t find the test all that difficult, but I have a social science and arts background and lived overseas for a number of years. Still, I’m not the strongest writer, at least not for the type of essays the test requires, and though I’ve always passed the writing portion, I’ve had to re-work how I think to be able to do so.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Hi, it’s the oral assessment that truly weeds people out, not the written exam. And please be aware it takes 6 months to a year (I’ve even seen a 2-year wait) to get the results of the orals back. And many people make it through and then fail the health or security checks. I went to a university that is well-known for churning out diplomats and my BIL is a professor in their foreign service school and I have tons of friends who took the exam. I do have one friend who took the test on a whim (he was a history major) and passed the entire shebang and he was not expecting to pass the orals at all. So I say go for it! My friends who are now diplomats are all really happy with their careers, except for one dude who got posted to the Ivory Coast.

    3. LabMonkey*

      I’ve taken it a few times, and your score matters, but less than you’d think/hope. I consistently scored great, but didn’t have a lot of experience to back it up, and couldn’t get to the group interview. Same with everyone I know. It is very difficult, even with great exam results.

  66. Should I Stay or Should I go*

    Happy Friday! I apologize in advance for the length, I just want to provide enough background information.

    I’ve been an admin at my company for 10 months. I took on the position to get a better idea of what career path I wanted to take. Since I started, I’ve determined I’m interested in project management and marketing.

    During my interview, it seemed clear that I’d have support if I wanted to internally apply for other jobs. A marketing position has come up, but now I’m not sure I’d have the support if I wanted to apply.

    I work with 3 other other admins, two of them (including my boss) are executive admins, and my direct coworker and I are assistants. Because of this, I spend 95% of the time covering the front desk. I’m fine with this arrangement, but coverage is basically impossible if my coworker and myself need to be out at the same time since the executive admins have refused to cover. While this is a rare occurrence, it was problematic last week when we were both really sick.

    I’m worried that if I apply for an internal position that it would be difficult to interview without my boss or my coworker knowing about it, since if it’s during work hours, I’d need to be away from the front desk.

    Even if I managed to hide it and got the position, I feel like it would cause a lot of tension between my boss and I, which is an issue since we are both on the social committee together.

    Aside from the issues always having to cover the front brings, I’m happy in my role for the time being. I don’t have plans to apply externally, as I am hoping to grow within my company.

    This leaves me with 3 questions:
    1. Is 10 months too early to apply for internal opportunities?
    2. Am I better off not telling my boss if I do decide to apply?
    3. Is it considered burning a bridge if I don’t tell her?

    **Sorry if this seems scatterbrained, it’s hard to determine if I’ve provided enough information**

    1. JJ*

      1. If being an admin is not what you’d like to do, then no, that’s not too early. You weren’t sure before and now you are.
      2. Is it possible for you to request time off around the time period when a hypothetical interview would occur? Your boss may find out anyway if the marketing people want to use her as a final reference prior to extending an offer, so I think that as long as you don’t interview on company time and gave plenty of notice for your admin team to figure something out, that shouldn’t be a problem. Yes, not being at work may have created problems recently, but that’s just what happens when people inevitable get sick around the same time.
      3. People leave jobs every day. It is a very normal thing and, assuming that adequate notice was given and efforts were taken to make the transition go as smoothly as possible, there is no reasonable justification for a boss becoming angry over this. In fact, if your boss ends up being like that, it is better for you to find out and get out now before you dedicate additional time, resources, and energy to that person. Remember that quitting is normal and being that possessive of employees is really *not* normal.

    2. F.*

      1. Unless you have prior work experience or a recent degree in PM or marketing, it is too soon. It is a large step from front desk admin to those positions. Many large companies have a minimum time-in-position restriction on applying for internal promotions/transfers, so check your company’s policies.
      2. Tell your boss if you do decide to apply. First of all, it is the courteous thing to do. Secondly, the hiring manager is absolutely going to talk to your current boss anyway. Don’t blindside them with this.
      3. I wouldn’t call it burning a bridge, but it sure won’t help your relationship with the boss.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I wanted to chime in on your response to #1, since I meant to expand on mine more before hitting submit.

        I tend to agree with you on the PM work. You probably need to be doing some of the work before you’re managing it and front desk doesn’t really expose you enough.

        On marketing, I agree with the qualifier that it depends on your degree & the position. I’d almost say any related degree + the 10 months of experience should be adequate to apply. (Not that the OP will get it). Our entry level marketing folks have the following backgrounds: 1. a degree in mar/com, 2. a degree in engineering + 1 year work, 3. a policy degree + intern experience in other industries. We just got a new marketing admin who will do part-time admin and part-time marketing, and her experience is in admin/no degree/no marketing experience. There can be a huge range in qualifications for marketing, and I really do think your best bet is getting support from your current boss.

        We’ve had many, many admins move to non-admin roles, but they do that by making it part of their development goals and having their manager’s support.

        1. Should I Stay or Should I go*

          Thanks for the feedback so far.

          As for the PM track, I definitely agree that it’d be a long path to get there, which is fine and understandable. I think that’s part of the reason this marketing position (which is entry level) seems so interesting to me. I graduated 2 years ago with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in marketing. I also had a year-long marketing internship in college. I know the person I’d be working alongside within the department, so I’m going to ask her what the expected qualifications for the position are.

          F. – you make a great point about the minimum requirement before an internal transfer, so I’ll definitely look into that.

          JJ – Because of the coverage issue, it’s more difficult to take time off to do the interviews. If anything, I have some time off scheduled next month that I might be able to use.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            10 months is too soon. I hire admins and it drives me nuts when they start angling for new positions after a few months. If we needed a PM, we’d hire a PM. We need admins who will stick to their positions for two years. And your boss will almost definitely find out. I have been here 12 years and have only seen 3 admins get promoted to PM positions (but ours are very specialized and tend to need advanced degrees). However, I’ve seen more admins get promoted to marketing or HR roles. But never in 10 months.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      1. No
      2. Do not hide this. Enlist your boss as an ally in getting the new position, if possible.
      3. Hmm. Possibly. I have been with my company 10+ years and moved four times to entirely different functions. Time 1 and 2 were fiascoes for various reasons (related to opps outside and trying to get similar opps inside instead). Time 3, I talked to the hiring manager, and the HM told my manager, even without me applying. Time 4, I talked to my manager before I applied, and he was very supportive and willing to put in a good word or whatever was needed for me to get the new position. In hindsight, times 1-3 should have burned bridges because of how it all happened. I would never, ever do an internal transfer that way again.

    4. Doriana Gray*

      1) 10 months would be way too early at my company – we have 12 months as the standard time when you can begin applying for internal opportunities.
      2) You should talk to your manager about it. At my company, you have no choice but to tell your manager you’re applying for a new position because HR sends the manager an email where the manager has to basically sign off on the whole thing.
      3) If your company doesn’t require notifying your manager upfront, and you don’t say anything and just apply, if you end up getting the job, yeah, you’re manager’s going to be pissed. If you’re manager’s a lunatic, I could see why you would hesitate to say anything; however, if she’s not, be honest. If things don’t work out with the internal transfer and you didn’t say anything about wanting to leave prior to applying for the new gig, your manager may consciously or subconsciously start punishing you for keeping her out of the loop going forward. You don’t want to make things awkward for yourself in your current role.

      1. Should I Stay or Should I go*

        Thanks for your feedback!

        I’m definitely going to find out what the time period for applying for internal opportunities is.

        My manager is definitely quirky, but not a lunatic. That’s a good point about the conscious or subconscious punishments, though. If the transfer doesn’t work out, I’d definitely want to stay in this role and wouldn’t want it to be awkward.

  67. Biff Welly*

    I submitted a resume for a position – the process was online and did not have anyway to leave a cover letter, was basically just submit resume and check a few boxes. I’m interested in the position and want to try and reach out to the recruiter – but don’t want to seem to LinkedIn stalker. Any recommendations on the best way?

    My skills are relevant to the job, except my recent experience is not in the industry (alhough I have extensive experience in the relevant industry that I do not currently include on my resume.)

  68. Anon-TottalyNotYourUnfriendlyPhlebotomistAtAll*

    Vent- work is crazy stressful right now, we’re so understaffed I called out sick yesterday and feel so guilty but I shouldn’t because it’s not my fault that we don’t have adequate staff for coverage.

    Patients are being so rude today, now twice I have been yelled at. once because someone’s insurance doesn’t participate and the other because they forgot their blood work order at home and I couldn’t draw the test. (their Drs office isn’t open Friday, I couldn’t get a fax)

    I’m trying to get my photography business up and running but that’s unbelievably frustrating. I’m so burnt out, my doctor has added two additional anxiety prescriptions but i’m still struggling.

    1. Soupspoon McGee*

      That sounds so frustrating! I work as a CNA, and I get the brunt of people’s anger sometimes. To them, I’m the face of Everything They Hate About Being Sick. One lady routinely yells at me because she’s got dietary restrictions, and I’m the person who has to tell her no, she can’t have whatever she wants.

  69. Tagg*

    I’m in the process of looking at moving into a different job with my company (a large healthcare provider). Unfortunately, the electronic application system our company uses has no spot for a cover letter. Any suggestions on how to handle that? (It also doesn’t have a spot for references, weirdly, so I tacked them onto the end of my resume).

    1. coffee or tea*

      In those situations I’ve put my cover letter and resume in one document and submitted it that way. Or, if they have a box for “additional relevant information” (or something similar to that) I’ve copied and pasted my cover letter there as well. Best of luck!

      1. Tagg*

        Thanks! I spotted an opening today that I think I’d be a great fit for (and it would be a significant pay boost to boot!) Fingers crossed!

  70. Natalie*

    OMG you guys, I’m starting the new year off right. I aced my last accounting class despite being so swamped at work that I had to miss all the classes after Thanksgiving, I crushed my year end close, and I’ve been hearing about a ton of job openings from a new recruiter. But most importantly, our company is reorganizing again and I will no longer be working with the Remote Office of Passive Aggressive Jerks. They are going to train their admin to be their part time bookkeeper and I will only handle my old clients plus 3 new big clients. And this time it will actually happen on a definitive timetable, as my Ur Boss understands we have to hand off before the new clients come on line in February. And we are adding staff so my direct manager will no longer be the same manager of ROPAJ, who is THE WORST at managing.

    [Still looking for a new job, as I definitely learned first hand that I don’t want to be job searching *after* I’m so burned out that walking out seemed like a viable option. It’s hard to interview well in that situation.]

    1. some1*

      It’s hard to interview well and makes it more likely to accept a job that isn’t a great fit just to GTFO

  71. Jillociraptor*

    Any advice for supporting a manager with a new baby? My boss has a 6 month old, and he’s hitting one of those “sleep is for pansies” stages of babyhood. She’s powering through like a champ, but there are moments when she looks like the walking dead. I manage her calendar so we’re already talking about how to structure her time so that she gets enough breaks, but I’d love any suggestions of other things that might be helpful for her (even things that are helpful to say/not say).

    1. Adam V*

      Stay away from any statements about how she looks, I’d say – you don’t have to tell her she looks short on sleep!

      I wonder about suggesting increased break times for her? Just a chance for her to turn off her phone, ignore her email, sit back with a nice cup of coffee or tea and just relax? I know when I get home to my 8-month-old, all my wife really wants is for me to take him and for her to be able to go into the bedroom and shut the door on me, the baby, and the cats, and just sit in the quiet for a while.

  72. Ruth (UK)*

    Soo I’m going through some continuous thought process about the idea of changing careers rather drastically. (I realise when I say ‘changing’ it sounds like I actually have a career when in fact I actually just have an admin job but I can’t think of a better phrase).

    Anyway, I seriously am considering applying to train as a paramedic. I wonder if anyone in that or a similar job has any advice for me (I also realise that some things might be different between uk/america/other countries, especially when it comes to medical related stuff cause of the NHS here).

    Anyway, it’s not quite as random as it sounds and also I’m not quite as ill-informed about the job as I might otherwise be… I currently work in a hospital in an administrative role so while I don’t practically do anything medical or have experience of that type, I have reasonable insight into the types of injuries people manage to do / get done to themselves… and enough to know I don’t get disturbed by gore / vomit / bodily fluids / etc. My housemate (a nurse) has also helped me talk through some stuff.

    Actually a thing that most worries me is driving… I’d need to get qualified to drive a heavy / emergency vehicle. Also, the application requires I have a full driving license and 2 years’ driving experience which I do – technically. I passed my test back in 2008 but have never owned a car. I’ve driven on one-off occasions approx once every 18 months or so, since I passed my test, and took some refresher lessons last year. So while I meet the requirement on paper, I am not a confident driver.

    I’m also considering spending a year (or more) volunteering with something like St John ambulance (a first aid charity) to get some experience in administering first aid to give me a better idea if this is a good career path for me. . .

    1. Elizabeth West*

      From what I’m understanding of the state of paramedic services in UK currently (especially in London), they really need people. I like the idea of volunteering first. It’s a good way to see what it’s like in the trenches, so to speak. It will also give you time to get more confident driving–is there a way to take a commercial vehicle course or get some practice with the charity organization?

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I’m thinking about joining one of those rental car club things so I can try and use it for some stuff where I currently would get a lift or do public transport…

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Yikes! Is the driving what it takes just to get the job, so you can be trained to drive the ambulance later, or could you start driving immediately?

      If it’s the latter, the whole idea scares me. I have 24 years of continuous daily driving experience and wouldn’t want to be driving an emergency vehicle against the traffic lights at a high rate of speed in slow traffic. If it’s the former, and you would go through a few years of only riding along on the vehicle (and doing other EMT things) and would have additional driving training, then maybe it’s not so bad. I’d assume you’ll get the training you need through the job, and I wouldn’t be too concerned that you’re only barely meeting the entry threshold.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        yeah, you also would be trained to drive a vehicle of that weight category, and to drive an emergency vehicle. They wouldn’t just say “oh cool, get in and drive :D”

    3. FatBigot*

      Can I suggest the TraumaQueen blog? Written by Kal in Scotland, it is a fascinating read detailing his journey from being a clerk in the Scottish Patent Office, and volunteering at first aid events, to becoming a paramedic & ambulance driver. Kal took down most of the posts a couple of years back, and my web advisor won’t let me go back there, stating it is an “Attack Site” but there are many pages archived at the wayback machine at and enter into the search box. Very many anecdotes about real life as an emergency responder. A single example is here:

    4. Jez*

      If I can be completely honest, I would be really uncomfortable if I knew that the person driving my / my loved one’s ambulance had only intermittent experience driving a car at all, let alone driving a heavy vehicle.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        that wouldn’t happen. You (general you) would also need to pass an additional test for driving a vehicle of that weight category and for driving an emergency vehicle. It’s just that it says at the time of application you should have been driving for 2 years. But by the time I get that far I should have close to that experience if I sort out starting to drive now. It’s just if it ends up being like 1 year and a half or something, on paper I still have over 2 years since I passed my test 8 years ago…

    5. it happens*

      Don’t know if this will help you or not, but I heard an interview on fresh air Tuesday (Jan 5) with Kevin Hazzard, who wrote a book called A Thousand Naked Strangers about his ten years as a paramedic. He worked in Atlanta, which is not the UK, but the first story he told was of being on the first day of his first ambulance job he was having coffee and then suddenly handed the keys to drive to an emergency.
      Good luck with the career change.
      (You can listen to the Fresh Air interview online – won’t post link to avoid moderation…)

  73. Chameleon*

    I am finishing up my PhD (molecular biology) and am looking around for teaching jobs in community colleges. Most of the online systems say to upload either a CV or a resume. Which should I submit?

    Obviously, my CV has more detail and can talk in more detail about my accomplishments. But I’m afraid that submitting a 4 page CV is going to be harder to wade through than a 2-page resume (I don’t see how I can possibly put education, research experience, and teaching experience on one page…)

    Anyone in this field have opinions and/or pointers?

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      I have been told that if you’re looking for a faculty job, you should always upload a CV, but make sure to front load your teaching experience and make it the most visible thing on the CV for community college jobs. If you know anyone working in such a department, or anyone comments here, I’d even ask whether you should consider highlighting departmental/professional service before research experience.

      1. Chameleon*

        Thanks. I definitely have my teaching experience up front. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot of it, as my PI was VERY resistant to my spending any time outside of lab. I don’t think he quite gets the concept that someone might want a PhD but not go into research. I know that’s going to be a big handicap to me going forward. :(

        1. blackcat*

          A 4 page CV isn’t really that long.

          Education goes first, and is short (BA/S, institution, year; MA/S, institution, year; PhD institution, thesis title, advisor name, estimated defense date).

          Then, put your teaching experience (so it starts on page 1). Make 2 versions.
          1) For jobs with a slot for a separate teaching statement and/or portfolio, this can be shorter. List teaching activities (including TA-ing/tutoring), and responsibilities.
          2) For jobs without such a slot, add a lot more detail. If you have student evals, include summaries or results (eg, “Overall rating 4.4/5 versus department average of 3.8/5”). Include 2-3 sentence course description if you actually taught the course. Note anything innovative that you did in any teaching-related job. Note any teaching activities that went beyond assigned responsibilities (Ever organize a TA discussion-lunch? Mention it). Don’t worry if this makes your CV longer–no one will really read past this section anyways, so it’s ok if it fills the 2nd page of your CV.

          Then you can have other employment (including RA-ships).

          I’d follow that up with other service/memberships (particularly if you belong to an org with a teaching focus). End with publications. No one will read about the pubs. That’s fine.

          One thing to address in your cover letter is if you can teach intro chem (or organic chem). Some CCs are small enough to have “Science” departments, so showing a willingness/ability to teach in multiple fields is good.

    2. AnonInSC*

      CV for sure for an academic position.

      You may want to check out Confessions of a Community Collage Dean ( He’s talked about the difference in applying for positions at community colleges and about what they look for in hiring. It may be helpful to you.

    3. Ultraviolet*

      I’m about to link to an article from Chronicle of Higher Ed on a very similar question. The author (a community college professor who writes a lot about that line of work) basically advises everyone to submit a CV rather than resume–even if the posting actually asks for a resume. His reasoning is that the word “resume” was almost certainly added to the posting/application by a centralized HR department rather than by the faculty reviewing the applications, and the faculty would rather see a CV.

      I don’t have enough CC background to judge how sound that advice is. I didn’t see any comments to the article that disagreed though.

      At the end there’s a link to another article on making your CV “community-college friendly.”

    4. Anxa*

      Do you have 18 credits in chemistry? 18 credits in anatomy and phys?

      Check individual colleges’ requirements on how many credits you need in each discipline, and then make it clear that you can teach those classes as well, if it’s applicable. A lot of community colleges science departments are dominated by courses required for health sciences and other more vocational classes.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      Former CC instructor here: Get some teaching experience by adjuncting. Tutor. Try to get on committees that focus on textbook selection and curriculum development. Be familiar with the kinds of students your regional community colleges serve, the issues they face, and the best practices for teaching them (do they tend to be urban or rural? veterans? straight out of high school or changing careers after layoffs?). Participate on a project that focuses on helping low-income, underserved students prepare for and succeed in the sciences–and put that on your CV. Your institution may have a federally funded program like Student Support Services or Upward Bound that could use tutors and volunteers.

      And yes, submit a CV, not a resume.

  74. Shan*

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH Alison and AAM readers! Your advice and comments have helped me take the high road when dealing with a stressful situation at work where I kinda got thrown under the bus, make plans to job search, land and nail an interview for the perfect job in the industry I’ve dreamed of working in, and GET the job and successfully negotiate salary and benefits (and get exactly what I asked for). And you also helped me navigate giving notice, because my boss didn’t handle my previous coworker’s departure very well…mine went much better. I’m so excited to be making the first job change of my career and couldn’t have done it without ya’ll. My health, wealth and happiness are going to improve a ton.

    It’s my last week at my current job. Right now, I’m listening to my coworkers interview my replacement across the hall and I’m a little annoyed they didn’t ask me to sit in on it. Plus, it doesn’t sound remotely like my interview for this company. Listening to this one and comparing it to mine, I would not have guessed she was interviewing for the same job at all. My boss is asking for skills that the organization didn’t even have until I came along and brought them…but that’s kinda the reason I’m leaving, I just felt undervalued. Whatever, I’m ready to get outta here :)

    1. Argh!*

      Congratulations! Don’t take it personally that you’re not involved. Most jobs don’t interview until the employee is gone, and if they don’t like the ones they’ve met so far you wouldn’t be able to continue with interviews.

      It’s not unusual for a job description to be tweeked between employees. Times change and the boss may want to change the job in ways they couldn’t do while you were working in it. Don’t take it personally.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Agree with all of this, but especially the congrats! All of these new job success stories are making me so excited for my new job start date (come on January 18!).

          1. Doriana Gray*

            Cool! You’ll have to post in that week’s open thread to let us know how your first week went.

      2. Shan*

        Thank you! I guess I overreacted in my comment because it really doesn’t concern me much and I’m not taking it personally at all :) When I was typing, I didn’t think annoyed was the right word, but couldn’t find a way to describe what I’m feeling. Maybe confused or curious? They have always had people leaving the company interview their replacements, so I guess I was wondering why that changed, but I’m not offended.

        And I agree that job descriptions change, and honestly I think the skills they’re asking for now is exactly what the organization needs to grow! But I think they’re offering WAY too little salary for what they’re asking for. I was getting paid 30% less than my peers at other organizations, and now they’re asking for more skills from the next employee, but are planning to pay them even less than me. It just makes me sad they value certain skills but don’t show it or pay appropriately. That’s none of my business now though :)

  75. AnotherAlison*

    I don’t look at my pay stub very often, but I was looking at my last 2015 check this morning. This is always kind of a mind-boggling exercise (the amount of my pay that I never see + the employer benefit cost).

    This led me to a question. . .if anyone is self-insured, what does it cost on the market, particularly if your income is such that you pay full price? According to my stub, the employer portion of our family plan (medical, dental and vision) is about $15,000 per year. If you count my portion, total health insurance plan costs $17,000/year, plus the $3500 in out-of-pocket costs I paid. I know health care costs aren’t a new topic, but dang, $20,500 for 4 healthy people is so much money.

    I’m mostly just curious, but my husband is self-employed and I would hate to be paying this much for a plan myself.

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      Our marketplace medical premiums for a family of 3 (no dental or vision) are set to be about $10,800 per year for 2016.

    2. MaryMary*

      You can go out to the ACA marketplace and look at plans and rates without purchasing them. Start at, it’ll reroute you if your state runs its own marketplace. You should only have to give high level information, like your zip code, gender, and age.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Thanks, I tested it out, and it does indeed look like it would cost about what my company pays to have a plan comparable to what I have now. We could pay less than half that and get coverage, so that’s good to know.

    3. MsChandandlerBong*

      My marketplace plan (two adults, both in our mid-to-late thirties) costs $331 per month, so it’s about $4,000 per year.

    4. Anxa*

      I live in an unhealthy county in the south. I’m 29 and single.

      The cheapest (low premium, high deductible) plan I can buy is $426 with a 6k deductible and qualifies as a silver plan.

    5. asteramella*

      The ACA instituted an employer tax on high-cost health plans that is commonly referred to as the “Cadillac Tax.” It was supposed to take effect in 2018, but the recent budget bill pushed it back to 2020. The tax was supposed to apply in 2018 to plans that cost more than $10,200 for individual coverage or $27,500 for family coverage. Everything is relative, of course, but that was the definition (pegged to inflation) of a “high-cost plan” according to the ACA.

  76. overeducated and underemployed*

    My new job situation is a mess! I started a new temp job working for a former supervisor Wednesday. Aaaand…the project is getting rescheduled/restructured as of yesterday, so I got sent home after a half day, and today I’m basically waiting around on call to hear from the boss about what to do. That means I am literally going to lose money for this job this week. I was contracted for 20 hrs/wk, I have to work 15 to break even on gas and day care, and so far I’m only up to 12. Now what was going to be a 4 month, 20 hr/week job looks like it may turn into a 6+ month, ?/hr week job (same budget, fewer hours). That really sucks!

    In addition to the fact that we prepaid for day care for the month based on the contracted hours, I’m also frustrated because I was willing to commit for the 4 months, but I really don’t want to stop searching for a more permanent job until July, especially since whatever it is I’m committing to is changing so suddenly. I guess I’ll keep looking and hope this doesn’t end up turning into a bridge-burning situation. Aaaargh.

  77. PinkTeapots*

    I’m leaving my current position at the end of the month (again, thank you everyone who helped with my ‘giving notice’ anxiety), and we are required to have an exit interview. I was sent the invite this morning. It’ll be the day before my last day. How exactly should I handle it?

    I have no problem telling them where I’m going, etc.. but I don’t know how to deal with why I’m leaving in the first place. There are a ton of problems, mainly I was being horrendously underpaid, they let a coworker continuously get away with not doing any work, and we are all misclassified as exempt. For example, if I work 7 hours instead of 8, I get an hour pay dock, but if I work 9, I don’t get an extra hours pay. I’ve gotten pay docked at least three times this year, all for under 2 hours missed for the week. A coworker got her pay docked when she left two hours early because her mother died. Yet somehow, they still classify us as exempt and don’t pay overtime (I worked over 100 hours overtime this year).

    Is that even something I should say in an exit interview? I’m not terribly worried about references, my direct supervisor is also attempting to find a new job for the same reasons and he will give me a reference, but I also don’t want to completely burn bridges either and confrontation has never been my strong suit.


    1. Shan*

      I’m in a similar situation. I haven’t been asked to an exit interview but I’ve been a little nervous, because if they did ask me, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I had the same issues regarding being extremely underpaid and having to pick up coworker’s slack, among issues with my boss just being awful. My mentor in my industry told me to focus on keeping things vague and stating that the career move was best for me professionally, and mentioning the money issue if they pressed or asked about it specifically. (I’m sure someone else can chime in and say if this is good advice or not.)

      But misclassifying you as exempt is a big problem and something they can actually change, so if I were you, I’d bring that up. Alison has lots of good scripts but they normally say something like “I’m concerned laws are not being followed and it could be detrimental for the business and employees.” After all, it’s not like they’re losing tons of money…if you were exempt they wouldn’t pay you that overtime anyway, they just wouldn’t be able to dock pay.

    2. Ineloquent*

      Well, not really what you were asking, but go to your state’s labor department about that overtime thing, and provide any and all documentation you have. 100 hours is too much to lose, and they probably think they’re getting away with something. Not acceptable. You are legally owed that pay, so fight for it and don’t roll over.

    3. asteramella*

      I would recommend you write a detailed complaint to the Department of Labor regarding the worker misclassification. DOL is very keen on making examples of employers who do this right now.

  78. thunderbird*

    Anyone have advice on how to address my manager who is condescending and dismissive?

    Apparently this is just his communication styles, and others have told me this is just how he is even out of the office on neutral topics and it is really hard to get used to. I wonder if there is a way that I can address this without causing problems. He is not a great manager for many reasons, but lately he has given the staff duties and expectations beyond our positions and when we bring him ideas he is very quick to dismiss it and often doesn’t even have a suggestion to help us. In those instances asking him for suggestions or what he would prefer seems like a fair way to approach it. But in general his tone just sucks and I don’t know if there is a way to address that, managing up, or if he would even realize he does this and has the insight to improve it.

    1. AdminSue*

      I am sorry you are going through this. The owner of our company is the same way, so I know exactly how you feel.

    2. Soupspoon McGee*

      Do you have any reason to believe he’d change if you realized how his tone affected people? And do you have any reason he’d believe YOU? If you think he’s responsive and not punitive, they call him on it: “Rodderick, I’m sure you don’t intend it this way, but when we discussed summer teapot designs, it felt like you were frustrated with the team for making suggestions, rather than with the ideas themselves. It can be demoralizing to discuss ideas or ask for help because of this.” If you think he’d scoff, then your answer is that he sucks and won’t change.

  79. SalaryNOhourly*

    I took a job that was sold to me as salaried. When I arrived, I was told it was actually hourly. The hourly salary ends up totaling the salaried amount, but since it’s hourly, we don’t get paid for time we take off. We do get overtime, but they balk at people getting overtime much. So for the recent holidays, we were not paid and they were mandatory days off so we didn’t get paid for two full days. We are all professional employees with master’s degrees and licenses issued by the state. We’re in Texas. I believe that if we’re told it’s salary, that is what it should be. Thoughts? I otherwise like the job, but having small paychecks is really irritating in terms of budgeting. I’m wondering about the legality of a job that is advertised as salary, but is actually hourly. I’m sure it’s legal as most of these things are, but I wanted to check.

    1. AdminSue*

      Did you tell them you were told it was a salaried position? What was the response? Sorry, that really is a crappy thing to do to someone.

      1. Ashley*

        How so? Yes, this is legal.

        Salary is just a payment method – what really matters is if you are exempt/non-exempt. It’s never illegal to be considered non-exempt, which this OP is.

        1. Adam V*

          It sounds illegal to lie to an employee (or lead them to believe) that a job is exempt, and it’s actually not (or vice versa).

          1. Ashley*

            Oh ok, well in the US it is not illegal. Perhaps in other countries it would be, though. Absent a contract, job terms can be changed at a moments notice in the US.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      That sounds sketchy. I’ve been exempt my entire working career until my current job. I’m now non-exempt and full-time (and earning hourly one of the higher-paying salaries I’ve gotten), but I still get paid holidays and sick days.

    3. Natalie*

      I’m not sure why this would be illegal? It’s only illegal to treat someone as exempt when they are actually non-exempt, not the other way around. And there’s no law mandating paid holidays. Even if you had started as an exempt employee (and thus couldn’t have paycheck deductions) they could have reclassified you as non-exempt the next week. You don’t have a contract.

      FWIW, lots of non-exempt jobs are advertised with the approximate annual salary rather than the hourly rate.

    4. Ad Astra*

      It’s fairly common for non-exempt positions to be advertised in terms of annual salary, particularly if they’re white collar or professional jobs. It’s certainly legal for them to not pay you for holidays and other mandatory days off, but I’ve never personally encountered a company that does that to full-time employees because it’s pretty crummy.

      1. BRR*

        That’s what I was thinking. White collar jobs tend to have people think in terms of annually salary. And it’s just shitty to not pay for holidays in this type of position. There’s also not legal definition of salaried and hourly. There are only definitions of exempt and non exempt.

  80. Retail Lifer*

    I haven’t been on this site much lately because I FOUND A NEW JOB! AND IT’S NOT IN RETAIL! I got a great job leasing apartments, and if I can find time to get a real estate license, there could be lots of opportunities in the future for me here. Thanks to everyone here for putting up with my complaining and offering me advice. Now I guess I need to change my user name?

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Yey! I’ve been following your posts and know that you were done with retail and trying to get into HR.

      May this job be everything you hope for!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Are you going to change your name so that we can still tell it is you? And congratulations!

    3. Doriana Gray*

      Congrats on the new job! Have you also considered looking into property management certifications?

    4. BRR*

      I’m so happy for you. I know how long your hunt was and how hard you worked. I know you’re going to thrive.

    5. Jean*

      Way late to this party, but Mazel tov! (That’s Yiddish for “congratulations!” Literally translated, it means good luck.) I am happy for you. I hope you have many professional adventures in your new job and that all of them are good experiences.