open thread – December 2-3, 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 :)

{ 1,540 comments… read them below }

  1. Job Offer Rescinded*

    I applied for a job that had a little bit of a longer commute than I’d like. I had a phone interview and an in person interview. I didn’t see any major red flags – I know the company itself had been bought by an equity firm and they had replaced 30% of their staff and the president had only been there 3 months – but all that seemed pretty calm compared to other places I’ve interviewed. (In retrospect, those probably were red flags.)

    That same night, they called and offered me the job – no reference checking and not contingent on reference checks. They sent me the offer and the salary was lower than I’m used to, but we had already discussed that and I was okay with it. However, I did try to negotiate 1-2 work-from-home days, due to the commute. I was not aggressive about it at all, but said something like “I know we talked about how the salary is lower than what I’m currently making and that’s fine but is there any room to negotiate one or two work-from-home days?” They’re a small company and he said no, not really, they need all hands on deck. So I said I understand – that makes sense and would they be willing then to offer some more PTO? He kind of rambled for a while and said that the offer was better than what it seemed in writing because they’re going to start having the week after Christmas off too, “maybe paid.” In any case, the way we left it was that he would get back to me the next day after talking to HR about a couple questions (they weren’t negotiations – just info on cost of health insurance, etc.).

    The next day, he called and told me that they had talked among themselves and decided that because the person I’d be reporting to had recently been promoted, they thought it might be better to see how that all played out and see what remaining responsibilities actually came from them being promoted. They had previously been the one doing this job. He didn’t think this particular job would necessarily be needed. He said they really liked what I had to say in the interview and they thought I’d be a good addition to their team, but they had to pull the position.

    This has made me nervous to negotiate in the future! I don’t know if I did something egregious or negotiated in bad faith? I knew the lower salary and agreed to that but thought I could respectfully ask for other things. Or did I just dodge a bullet? I’m taking it so personally! Has anyone else had a job offer rescinded?

      1. Chickaletta*

        Agreed! I took a job in 2015 and after just three months the owner decided that they didn’t need the position after all and I was given half an hour to clean out my desk. I had dismantled my freelance business to take the job and I’m still recovering from the clients I lost. Be thankful that they realized now that they didn’t need you. I think it has nothing to do with what you tried to negotiate. The one thing that will confirm this is if they don’t hire someone else for the job.

        1. Liz2*

          In fact I’d say you were awesome and should have gone ahead and asked for more money as well! This is a dodged bullet indeed.

    1. ZSD*

      What you did doesn’t sound egregious to me. I think they probably really did just decide to pull the position for a while.

    2. Job Offer Rescinded*

      Oh – and for what it’s worth, it’s not an entry level position and I bring 10 years of experience.

      1. Czhorat*

        Negotiations are negotiations. Decent employers won’t go km d it against you to ask for more.

        In my last search, I asked for an extra week of PTO. They answred that because I was telecomuting they did not want t to offer that and felt I’d have enough flexibility. I eventually accepted the offer anyway. Unless I was asking for something way out of line, I’d be shocked for an ask to result in losing the offer.

    3. Andy*

      I’d take what he said at face value. It sounds pretty par for the course for places in transition. Which sucks, and I’m sure I’d have my head spinning, but from out here it seems likely that he meant what he said.
      It’s not you. It’s them.

    4. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Your negotiation seems reasonable to me. I think you dodged a bullet. They were already trying to get you for a low salary, and now they’ve opted to task this new manager with his new role AND his old role, so it sounds like they just wanted cheap labor.

    5. Dawn*

      Don’t take it personally at all- take it at face value. Also if they are only *just now* figuring out that mayyyyybe they don’t need that position after all, you dodged a bullet- ESPECIALLY since they didn’t do reference checks.

      I think it’s pretty uncommon for a job offer to be rescinded for any reason (beyond a bad reference check or something bad turning up on the reference check). I would say maybe in the future have a set thing or things that you want if there’s a lower salary and saying that up front instead of going back and forth, but this sounds way more like the company was crappy in the first place than you did anything wrong.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have known a couple of people who were recruited to great new positions and left secure old positions, only to have the new company re-organize almost immediately and eliminated their fancy new jobs. The losses don’t seem to have had anything to do with their performance but to have been just bad timing. My husband after being of work for a year after he moved for my job, was offered two positions within a week. The one he didn’t take had the same nightmarish denouement for the man who took it. The company abolished the position 6 weeks after the guy started I was so grateful that wasn’t us — it would have been devastating for my husband to finally get a job and lose it so quickly. This happens fairly often — so be glad they abolished the position before you signed on and not 6 weeks after.

    6. Rowan*

      I also think you dodged a bullet. I’ve worked for small companies, and I’ve worked for large companies that were just acquired, and the chaos level of both those situations is high. So I can only imagine how chaotic a small company that just got acquired is! I would totally believe that they thought they needed to hire for a role, and got going with that process much faster than they should have, before fully investigating whether they actually needed that person (or whether their new overlords would allow the extra hire).

    7. Audiophile*

      I’m sorry your offer was rescinded, but it doesn’t sound like it was related to your negotiating for other perks.

      I’m going to say I think you dodged a bullet here. It seems like there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, with the company being bought out and staff being replaced or transitioned to other roles.

      Plus as someone who took a lower paying job, I can’t say I’m thrilled with my choice. And I’m finding it difficult now that I’m interviewing again and getting asked the dreaded salary questions.

      It really sounds like they didn’t think this through before they started the hiring process. And I’m highly suspect of a company that makes a same day job offer without checking any references.

      1. Job Offer Rescinded*

        Yeah, I thought hiring without reference checks was kind of weird too but it was easy to push back those concerns and think “Oh, I’m just so awesome, they didn’t want me to get away!” :) But I agree that it was weird.

      2. Meow*

        I think not checking references is really common because of the misconception that references aren’t legally allowed to say anything negative. So I’m generally not suspect of any company that doesn’t check references. Not saying it’s not a bad move from an employers perspective, but I also don’t think its an automatic red mark.

        1. Audiophile*

          I don’t think I’ve ever had a job that didn’t check references, except maybe my first few places of employment which were retail. Other than those few, I’ve always had some sort of reference check done, even if it was just personal references.

          I guess I’d find it less of a red flag if it wasn’t such a quick turnaround process. Like if the employer came back and said “We didn’t do a background check, but we definitely want to make you an offer.”

        2. Gaia*

          My company doesn’t do reference checks for any position. I remember thinking it was weird when I was hired but their entire hiring process is different than anything I’ve ever seen (in a positive way for both candidates and the company) and results in strong, happy workers (when followed correctly) .

          1. Bibliovore*

            I was once in a job that didn’t check my references . I didn’t know that until FIVE years in when the assistant dean said he needed written references for my personnel file. ( in two days time) WTF? I emailed the crazy request to everyone , I could think of hoping to get one or two back by the deadline . I ended up with 16 written references for the file and a huge boost to my self esteem.

    8. Snorlax*

      I agree with those saying that you dodged a bullet. I worked for a company that was acquired and over a period of a couple of years they made lots of reorganizations and eliminated/changed positions. It’s really stressful to deal with as an employee. The job getting pulled likely had nothing to do with your negotiations.

    9. Merida May*

      I can’t say if it’s a bullet dodged, but I definitely think this place might have not been the right fit, for sure. Their suggestion that the offer you received is better than actually written because of hypothetical perks that *might* be coming down the pipeline is a little silly. From your description of what went down it seems to me maybe they realized they don’t actually have the resources to pull in someone like yourself for the position and are willing to roll the dice with the staff they currently have.

      1. Liz2*

        Yeah my worst job was a slightly lower pay but strongly in the “We give bonuses that traditionally go 10-20% every year.” Yeah worst job and bonus was less than 2%. Argh. Shut that noise down.

      2. k*

        That was my thought. Once OP started asking more they an “oh crap” realization that what they’re able to offer really isn’t adequate and they need to rethink their staffing plan.

    10. Future Analyst*

      Yeah, I don’t think that this is on you. It sounds like there are a lot of moving pieces here, and they weren’t entirely convinced they had to fill the role you applied for. I think you dodged a bullet! The alternative may have been that they brought you on, then laid you off after 3-6 months b/c they still weren’t sure that the role is necessary.

      1. MsCHX*

        “The alternative may have been that they brought you on, then laid you off after 3-6 months b/c they still weren’t sure that the role is necessary.”

        My first thought.

    11. MsCHX*

      +1 on this was NOT on you. And that’s from personal experience and HR experience.

      You dodged a bullet and saved yourself some turmoil of being back on the market soon. Please don’t take it personally. And try not to shortchange yourself in the future. (I get that we all need to eat and have a roof over our heads and at times, we do what we must).

      1. Job Offer Rescinded*

        I actually think the salary is closer to the market rate of the work I do. I think I’ve been overpaid by quite a bit in several positions! It’s hard to know though, because I bring a couple unusual skills to the table. This particular place didn’t have any use for those less-common skills so maybe that’s part of it.

    12. Trout 'Waver*

      If someone tries to punish you for negotiating, they’ve shown exactly what they’re going to be like to work for. Bullet dodged.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Not only that, it would be a moderate level of jerkiness if they rescinded an offer due to trying to politely ask for /negotiate better perks. It would bring it to world-class level to act like it’s fine to ask, turn you down for that but still proceed with the onboarding, then come back and give you a FAKE reason because they didn’t like you negotiation but failed to say so at the time! I think you have to take them at their word, because if they did rescind the offer because of your gentle attempts to negotiate and basically LIED about why, that’s not a bullet you dodged, it’s a fusillade of cannon fire!

    13. H.C.*

      Ditto in that it was not negotiation at all; if anything, I think you should’ve asked for a higher salary AND work-from-home/flextime together.

      Good luck with your continued job search and yes, do negotiate come offer time.

    14. Anon 12*

      It wasn’t you, that’s pretty low level negotiating and should come with the hiring territory. But what’s up with Christmas week “may be paid”? That’s a month away and if they haven’t already made it clear to the staff whether they will be working or worse, whether they will be paid, that’s a huge red flag. Add it all up and it sounds like they have decision making issues in general.

    15. some1*

      “no reference checking and not contingent on reference checks”

      This is a red flag. Not because of YOUR references, but because of the lack of references of your coworkers. You could have ended up working for/alongside people who have are mediocre or worse employees.

      1. MsCHX*

        Eh. My company doesn’t do background checks and we have a fantastic bunch. Good workers, long tenure.

    16. designbot*

      This all sounds like your contact there pulled the trigger on your offer too quickly without doing his due diligence either on your side or within his own company. I would say that once they talked to HR about the questions you had, HR asked him some questions about where this new hire fit in etc. and made him realize it was premature. If you’d accepted the offer on the spot these issues likely would have come out within a couple of months of your start date anyways and you could have found yourself looking again.

    17. Rusty Shackelford*

      He kind of rambled for a while and said that the offer was better than what it seemed in writing because they’re going to start having the week after Christmas off too, “maybe paid.”

      MAYBE paid? Oh, that’s nice. Bullet dodged, IMHO.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Expanding on that… you asked for more PTO and he told you that MAYBE you’d be paid for the week after Christmas. Which means maybe you’d have to use your PTO for it instead, so you’d actually get LESS.

        1. Marisol*

          I am very suspicious of anything that is supposedly “better than what it seemed in writing” too. That’s too weasely to me.

    18. Honeybee*

      Well, it sounds like they didn’t pull the offer because you negotiated; they pulled the offer, it sounds like, because they weren’t even sure if they needed the role in the first place. They definitely shouldn’t have posted it if they weren’t sure, but things happen. In fact, he even said that they thought you’d be a good addition to the team.

    19. Another HRPro*

      This type of thing happens. It most likely had absolutely nothing to do with your negotiating. It just sounds like this company is going through a lot of change right now and they aren’t comfortable filling this position after all. If I were you, I would not be nervous about negotiating in the future. It sounds like you were reasonable and professional.

    20. LuvThePets*

      I agree with the other commenters, but I have this to add.

      When a company has to rescind an offer, it is often because there is often some type of disorganization or disconnect going on. Other than failed drug/background tests (in appropriate industries with fair warning, etc) or something like that, the employer should have their ducks in a row before making an offer, and an individual with a history of drug use or a criminal conviction should be aware of potential fall out if those don’t come back clean (and when possible, these should be done in advance of an offer).

      My personal experience taught me this. I was hired by a company as CEO, but my offer was not rescinded. I was the second choice. The agency’s hiring committee/board (non-profit) made an offer to someone in house who did not meet the minimum qualifications as required by the agency’s accreditation and funding body. When the funding agency found out about the offer, they threatened the agency’s funding, so the board had to rescind the offer.

      Here’s the rest of the story. The board rescinded the first offer, and the employee stayed on at the agency in her position. They offered me the job and did not tell me about their very serious SNAFU. They even lied and told me I was the unanimous first choice. I had to learn from other employees about the staff member that had been offered the job and why we as an agency were on probation and having to do budget modifications in three month increments with our main funder. I had problems with the employee most of my time at the agency, because I had “her” position. I should have fired her, but I let circumstances prevail and made some bad decisions.

      As it turned out, the board were not “bad people”, just very very misguided, unorganized, and clueless and who pulled a lot of similar tricks. My two years there were the most unhealthy and stressful of my life. Disconnected is a great way to think about it.

      Don’t stress. You’ve saved yourself tons of heartache.

    21. Lily in NYC*

      I think they realized you weren’t a patsy they could take advantage of so decided to rescind the offer. Which is a good thing.

    22. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Look at it this way: your questions required a conversation with others to get an answer. In that discussion other issues were raised and that’s what led to their decision. So yes, they might not have done this if you hadn’t asked the questions, but by doing so theyve made good decisions and given you valuable information up front. And you all would have probably figured this out eventually, it just would have been harder on everyone.

  2. ZSD*

    I know this is a bit belated, but some work-related ballot outcomes from November 8:
    The states of Arizona and Washington passed ballot initiatives to guarantee paid sick days to (almost) all workers in those states. Beginning in 2017 and 2018, respectively, workers in Arizona and Washington will no longer have to choose between caring for their/their family’s health and earning a day’s pay.
    There are now seven states with paid sick days laws on the books: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
    Arizona, Washington, Maine, and Colorado also voted to increase their state minimum wages. Washington’s will gradually increase to $13.50, while the other three states’ minimum wages will gradually rise to $12.00.

    1. Lissa*

      Wow, that’s great! Does that include things like retail/food service? I never ever got paid for a day I didn’t work when I worked in those industries, and it led to a lot of terribleness. Luckily I am very healthy and rarely get sick but that was not true for many people ..

      1. zora*

        Often it is, yes, but I haven’t looked at these new laws. But in California at least;

        All employees who work at least 30 days for the same employer within a year in California, including part-time, per diem, and temporary employees, are covered by this new law with some specific exceptions. Employees exempt from the paid sick leave law include:
        – Providers of publicly-funded In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)
        – Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements with specified provisions
        – Individuals employed by an air carrier as a flight deck or cabin crew member, if they receive compensated time off at least equivalent to the requirements of the new law
        – Retired annuitants working for governmental entities.

        I worked for a temp agency this year in CA, and even they were required to give me a certain amount of paid sick days in relation to the number of days I worked for them. It was awesome, because I actually needed them this year and it was great to not lose ALL my income when I couldn’t work. And it’s required for retail and food service also.

      2. Joshua Soccer*

        I’m in Arizona. For Arizona’s law the only real exceptions are if the employer is not covered by FLSA (private companies with less than $500,000 in annual revenue and not engaged in interstate commerce, or the state/federal governments), or if a collective bargaining agreement specifically exempts workers from sick leave. Everyone, part or full time, is entitled to 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours a year (or if the employer has fewer than 15 employees a max of 24 hours per year).

        So yes, retail and food service are included.

        One neat thing in this law is that employees using this paid sick leave cannot be required to find someone to cover their shift. It also can be used to care for a large definition of family, which includes spouses/domestic partners and their relatives (parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings) or even those whose “close affinity” is the equivalent to a family relationship.

    2. paul*

      meanwhile, in Texas, workers have the bare minimum federally mandated protections and the agency in charge of handling *those* is grossly understaffed and funded. Ugh.

  3. HR question*

    Hey guys, especially hiring managers, recruiters and HR professionals I have a question my resume looks like this:

    Current position – 6 month contract
    Oil and gas position – 1 year
    Oil and gas position – 1 year
    Old non oil and gas job – 2 years

    Both of my oil and gas jobs I was laid off from and now I’m on a six month contract where I probably will not stay (pay is low but I had to get something quick after my layoff). Do I look flaky for taking this contract job? A year here, a year there, 6 month contract… Should I state I was laid off on my resume or just in my cover letter? I clearly stated my current position is contract. I wouldn’t mind to keep doing contract jobs either would that be my best bet going forward? Thanks in advance for any feedback and advice

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I think most people know what it going on with oil and gas and that there are a lot of layoffs, so I don’t think it looks too bad. If you are worried, you might slip in a mention in your cover letter about the tight oil and gas market.

    2. NW Mossy*

      I’m not in the oil and gas industry, but I read enough business news to know that it’s a very volatile industry where large layoffs are common because the business is so sensitive to commodity prices. While short stays are normally worrisome, it’s not necessarily a huge deal when the reasons are external to you, such as a limited-term contract or the nature of the industry.

    3. Chickaletta*

      I think hiring managers in this industry know what’s going on. If you start to apply for jobs in other sectors, it might be someone you want to explain it briefly in your cover letter, like, “seeking employment in an industry that offers better stability” or something.

      1. zora*

        I agree with this. If you are ever trying to get into a different sector, I would definitely add a sentence in your cover letter, because there might be HR/Hiring managers in smaller companies who are not necessarily up on the news who might not realize that the oil & gas industry has been so volatile. And be prepared to talk about the sequence of events in an interview, so write out how you will explain your last few years and practice it in a mirror. But if I were you, I wouldn’t worry about this, people know that layoffs are common in that industry.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      Everyone who would potentially hire someone with experience in oil and gas understands how volatile being employed in that sector is. Successfully completing contract jobs is a net positive. I don’t think it’ll hurt you at all.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, my father is at an accounting firm that doesn’t even work in the oil and gas industry but they always know what’s up with that sector based on how hard it is to fill their entry level positions (in boom times accounting departments at oil and gas firms apparently hire like crazy at very high salaries).

    5. Hermione*

      I would probably say it on my resume for clarity

      Current position – date to date (6-month contract)
      Oil and gas position – date to date (layoff)
      Oil and gas position – date to date (layoff)
      Old non oil and gas job – date to date

    6. Amber*

      I’ve interviewed someone with a similar record in the gaming industry. It wasn’t enough to not do the interview but I did ask her about it during the in-person interview. So just be prepared to explain it.

      1. JuniorMinion*

        I’m in oil and gas… I don’t know that you even have to specify that you were laid off. Whether you were laid off or just at an employer facing a liquidity issue / potential bankruptcy no one in oil and gas is going to question much right now. Especially with the employer names on your resume, it should be clear to anyone interviewing you.

        I just started a new job in O&G, and was concerned when applying as I have 3 relatively short (1-1.5 year stays) on my resume and no one questioned. My last employer was a service firm facing a difficult financial landscape and the employer before that wanted me to move 1800 miles to cover different clients as their O&G revenue was declining. No one in O&G has batted an eyelash at my work history.

        Happy to connect offline if I can be of service in your job hunt!

    7. paul*

      My SIL is going through that (petroleum engineer until recently employed in CA). Doesn’t seem to have hurt her at all in her job search TBH.

    8. Another HRPro*

      I think mentioning it in your cover letter is fine and I wouldn’t put it on your resume. Going forward, once you land a non-contract job, I would recommend sticking to it for awhile if at all possible. Continuing contract work is fine but the longer you that, the harder it might be to land a steady position.

    9. OGAP*

      Hubs and I are in the oil & gas industry and work nothing but contact jobs. I wouldn’t be concerned about looking flakey since contract jobs are so prevalent in the industry. Don’t even worry about stating you were laid off on your resume (or cover letter), especially if you’re going to continue to do contract jobs. Unless you start applying for permanent positions or jobs outside of the oil & gas industry, no one will probably even ask why you left the last job.

  4. Just a Person Living Life*

    Alright, I need someone to slap some sense into me. Or help me figure out the appropriate emotional and verbal response.

    I’ve asked the CEO for a raise. Much practicing beforehand! I laid out my reasoning: I do a ton of work, I know I’m underpaid as I’ve gotten job referrals in the last year easily 10-15k (starting, no negotiation) more than I make, and I’m filling in 2 jobs roles. Not only did I step into my boss’s role when she left while keeping my old role too, I happen to know she easily made 30k a year more than me.

    The CEO was great! She agreed with me on all my points and thanked me for coming forward to point out that I deserved more. She said she’d put in a request to her boss for me. The office manager told me in a private aside that she actually had put in for a raise and believed it would go through with no problem.

    But!! But. Here’s where I am now: Very excited to get a raise but knowing I’ll probably not get as much as I deserve. The company currently isn’t profitable. We just broke even this year. And a 30k raise would almost double my salary. That’s what, a 100% raise? It’s not going to happen.

    So when I have a sit down meeting, how am I supposed to act? Very grateful I got anything at all? Disappointed I didn’t get as much as my predecessors, even though I’m doing more work, longer hours, and without their 15 years of experience at a high profile competitor? What do I say? Emotionally, I’m so up and down and confused. I AM grateful, but I know I’ll also be disappointed.

    1. Jessi*

      I think that since you are so underpaid you probably need to look for a new job…..
      Say thank you for the raise and quietly look for a new position paying market rate

      1. Artemesia*

        This. If you are a talented person working for less than they were willing to pay others in a failing organization, it is time to look for a better position. I would accept the raise with ‘I appreciate the raise and your going to bat for me, I am still disappointed to be making so much less than my peers in this type position.’

        And look further.

    2. Dawn*

      “…get as much as I deserve”:
      How do you feel about this? Would you be willing to leave the company over it? That’s the question you really need to answer here. If you’re overworked and underpaid it’s never, ever, ever going to get better- even less of a chance of that happening if your company isn’t even profitable. That’s your reality and that’s what you have to judge your choice to continue to work there against.

      As for how to act? Gracious, professional, polite. What do you say? “Thanks for going to bat for me, it’s a great feeling knowing that my work is valued.” How to handle the disappointment? That’s the harder part- and that’s what you have to think about relative to my first point above. You have to decide if you can live with it or if it’s time to move on.

    3. Andy*

      Take the raise. Start looking. Negotiate your next salary and use the fact that you got increases even though at the time the company was just breaking even.

    4. nonprofit manager*

      I am in a similar situation. Have had many frank conversations with my boss about my very low pay. Very, very low considering what I am doing and the experience I bring to the organization. My pay is low even by non-profit standards (I am in a non-profit organization).

      When my disappointingly low pay increase was revealed to me, I was grateful to my boss for what he had done, but did express disappointment in the amount. I am continuing to work on that, all the while working collaboratively with my own boss and expressing thanks and appreciation for his support and efforts.

      1. Artemesia*

        I know someone who was grossly underpaid in a high level position in a non-profit. ‘They just didn’t have the money to pay more.’ Then he got an offer doubling his salary at another organization; he really liked his current job and didn’t want to leave so he told them he had an offer and they matched it. Then the other organization offered more and the first org matched it. He ended up staying with a salary 120% of what he had been making. They could afford it. He was worth it. They preferred working him at pitiful wages because they could. If they paid the OP’s predecessor more they can afford it, they just would rather underpay their staff. Time to leave.

    5. Tavie*

      You’re doing two jobs for the price of one. They are no longer paying your boss’s old salary because you absorbed that ENTIRE job for your current rate. They would still get a bargain if they doubled your pay, it would still be less than the two separate salaries they’d been paying when your boss was around.

      This just happened to me and I negotiated a 60% raise. It’s still half of what my old boss made (but he brought 8 more years of experience to the role so I was okay with it.)

      Just, whatever happens, keep in mind what you’re worth. And yeah, if you have to, accept the raise but start looking for jobs at a place that will pay you what you’re worth.

      1. Just a Person Living Life*

        Oh, but it’s good to hear you have such a similar situation. Even 60% is a lot for me and more than I would expect, but knowing it has happened to others gives me some hope. Thanks!

      2. Just a Person Living Life*

        My mom is driving me nuts! She will not take my wonderful AAM advice.

        Sigh. She works at a grocery store and was hired to do 20 hours a week. Perfect! She can only work 80 a month to maintain her disability benefits. But it’s the holidays, people are taking time off to be with their families or catching colds. So her hours keep getting “stretched.” It’s the “can you stay two more hours” convo or the “come in on your day off cause someone called out” call. And she says yes because she feels pressured to, but then her hours keep getting too close to 80 2/3rds through the month.

        My mother’s horrible, stupid solution? “Oh I’ll just tell them I need the last week of the month off.” WHAT? I’ve worked in a grocery store. You can’t just decide, with no notice, to take a week off. I don’t think you can do that anywhere!

        This is the perfect job for her and she’s really struggled to hold down a job for the last decade. We’d both be devastated if she lost it. I’ve been trying to give her some language to help with a conversation with those who make the schedule. “I’d be happy to cover for an unexpected call out, but for paperwork reasons I can’t work more than 80 hours a month.” “I’m happy to help out and stay an extra hour here or there, but for legal reasons I have to stick to around 20 hours a week so that I don’t go over 80 hours a month.” She’s just too embarrassed to actually say anything because she doesn’t want to admit she’s on disability.

        I’ve seen this pop up a few times in threads here, but relatives can be so frustrating on work issues!

        1. EngineerInNL*

          Would she be more comfortable saying “oh sorry I can’t fill in for so and so because I have prior commitments”? I can see her not wanting to bring up the disability but generally when getting called in on your day off it’s fine to say “I’m unable to come in on such short notice”.

        2. Liz2*

          Disentangle yourself from the situation. She’s an adult and has been since you were born. You take care of you.

        3. TheAssistant*

          I think I’d hammer on the legal issue.

          The thing is, managers in these high-turnover, high-flexibility environments really can’t remember that Sally needs every Tuesday off and Jennifer’s just turned 17 so she can’t work more than 35 hours per month or whatever. So I’d recommend your mom start reminding the person making the schedule about her needs before the schedule is made.

          And if call-ins happen, she needs to feel comfortable with the “previous commitment” excuse.

          Because there are REAL financial ramifications to her losing disability. Maybe lay those out for her if she’s not getting it. Give her permission to have prior commitments (even if that prior commitment is really just “I want to go home and keep my disability payments coming”).

          Good luck to her, and you!

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So just to address this “doing two jobs for the price of one” thing because it comes up a lot: Unless you are working 80 hours/a week, you’re not doing two entire jobs. If two people were doing the work, there would be more work, it would be more in-depth, and there would be more responsibilities. That’s especially true since it sounds like the old manager had significantly more experience and was likely performing the job at a higher level.

        I’m not minimizing that you’ve been asked to take on a bunch of additional work and it’s harder to keep track of two areas than one. But I do want to make sure that you’re thinking about this aspect of it clearly, so that when you talk to your manager, you don’t make arguments that she’ll be dismissing in her head.

          1. BookCocoon*

            I would guess at that point you’d have the same conversation you’d have if you were working 80-hour weeks doing one job (and it wasn’t typical for your industry) — this isn’t sustainable, how can we reduce my workload, what is appropriate for me to delegate… etc.

            1. Bibliovore*

              Maybe not two jobs but what I’d when you left your job they hired two people to replace you?

        1. Just a Person Living Life*

          I do still think it’s two entire jobs, but it’s true my previous position was only 4 days a week. My last boss worked 40 hours a week and I worked 30. Now I’m working 12 hour days and weekends, and have had to cut back on the level of detail I used to be able to focus on some of my key tasks.

          But I understand this is an interesting point! It’s just not applicable to me.

    6. NW Mossy*

      I’d recommend not acting disappointed, because that’s going to make it seem as if you don’t appreciate the fact that others made a significant effort to respond to your request. If nothing else, say what you laid out in paragraph 3 here and make it plain that their support matters.

      As to what to do about the rate of pay, you’ve done what you can and this is what your company’s willing to pay you to do this work. If that’s not acceptable to you long-term, you can either try to wait a year to go to bat again or seek more pay elsewhere.

    7. Just a Person Living Life*

      I guess I’m not overly eager to leave. There are a ton of perks here, I like my coworkers, and I’m very confident in my job skills. The job itself was also a bit of a break for me. I slipped into it only thanks to need and opportunity, and don’t know anyone my age who’s risen quite so quickly. Perhaps in another year or two, when I have a longer track record of success, I’d consider a change…

    8. Chickaletta*

      Why do you think you won’t get the full amount you requested? You may. Don’t think of it as a 100% raise, that would be true if you were still just doing your old job. What you’re really asking for is to be compensated at your current level.

      That said, I’ve been on the other side of the table before and had an employee ask for a 40% raise in a year when we had significant budget cuts. Even if we had wanted to give her the full amount (which we didn’t, but that’s another story), the organization wouldn’t have been able to afford it. We offered 10% more which was pretty generous considering the financial situation were were in as it took away from other areas of the business.

      All I’m saying is that if you actually do not get the full amount requested, it may have more to do with what the company can afford and less to do with your performance. In this case it’s fine to be disappointed! Your CEO probably expects that reaction if you really deserve more than what they can afford to pay you. Knowing that a) you know that you’re worth more than they can pay and that b) you’re disappointed that you’re not getting that amount, can c) possibly motivate them to make raising your salary to the full amount a priority for when the money does come in.

      In the meantime, if you’re willing to stay, keep doing an excellent job and of course be grateful and kind to people around you. Keep them on their toes just a bit though. ;)

    9. Chriama*

      Quite frankly, I think you should leave this company. You’re doing the work of 2 roles which means they can’t afford to adequately staff. They also can’t afford to pay market rate for the people left behind. They haven’t been profitable and barely broke even this year. Isn’t that enough writing on the wall? Get out before it’s too late.

    10. designbot*

      I’ve been in a similar position before of receiving a very large raise but also knowing it wasn’t bringing me up to where I should be. The way I handled it was to thank them (genuinely, don’t just pay lip service), but also say that I understand that’s all the company’s able to offer at one time but I think we all understand that it will take several steps over the next year or two to bring me up to market rate. It went over well because I had the data to back it up and my next increase was also a good sized one.

      1. Just a Person Living Life*

        Perfect! My main concern was showing my enthusiasm which still leaving open some wiggle from for continued salary improvement in the future. This does nicely.

    11. Another HRPro*

      You need to decide if you want to work for this organization knowing that you will not get the type of raise you feel you deserve.

      If you do, then thank you boss for whatever raise you get and go back to work and stop thinking about what what your old boss made or what the starting salaries are for those job referrals.

      If you don’t want to stay unless you get a 100% pay increase, then still thank your boss for the raise, stop thinking about how unfair it is and start looking for a new job.

      1. NicoleK*

        Totally agree with this. There’s no point in staying with the company when you feel resentful. The disappointment may eat away at you and leach into your work.

    12. CAA*

      I may not be quite understanding everything, but did you ask for a $30K raise? I agree that you probably aren’t going to get that if you currently make about $30K now. Other companies are expressing interest in paying you $10K to $15K more, so that’s where your fair market value is and the amount you should be expecting in a raise. If you don’t get that, then it’s reasonable to start looking elsewhere for someone who will value you appropriately.

      It’s tempting to think that you’re doing your old boss’ job, so you should get her salary, but it’s not quite the same. She was doing her work plus managing you and also applying her 15 years’ worth of experience to the job.

      1. Just a Person Living Life*

        See, and it’s tricky! I don’t have her experience, because she had been in the industry much longer than I. But she only managed myself and one other person, where I’ve now expanded the role and manage 13 people…

    13. LuvThePets*

      Weigh out what is good about the job and what you risk if you end up leaving. Do you have PTO built up? Seniority? Good boss? If you like what you do and where you are but the pay stinks and the raise isn’t great, then see if you can negotiate for something that would make it even better… more PTO? Friday afternoons off? Flex time? Better title? an opportunity to attend an additional training or professional development? Pick plum assignments?

      If your job is just ok or you don’t like your boss or whatever, then start looking. But don’t forget, sometimes you jump out of the frying pan into the fryer. When you leave, you often start over with PTO, seniority, etc. Just a thought.

  5. Clemmy Clue*

    Is talking so highly about the previous employee a red flag?

    In my most recent interview, I met with a person from HR and the manager I’d be working with separately. In both cases, they rambled on about the last employee who held the position I was interviewing for. ‘Bob went above and beyond with this position. Bob took on so many additional tasks and expanded his workload. Bob has been here forever and The only reason Bob is leaving is that he created his own fascinating business on the side and wants to devote full time to that.’ In particular, the woman from HR said ‘Whenever we hire for an open position, we look for someone like Bob.’

    I felt pretty intimidated by their talk about Bob honestly, and was just wondering if this is a red flag for trying to fill in some giant shoes if I’m offered the job.

    1. Dawn*

      I don’t think it’s a red flag but it does give you some amazing information about what they’re looking for in a replacement for Bob- which is super valuable in you figuring out if you think you could give 110% all the time like it sounds like Bob did.

    2. HoVertical*

      It sounds to me like Bob was a favorite, but that isn’t necessarily a red flag. It is quite possible they are overlooking things that were less than stellar, and only focusing on the positive aspects of his job performance.

    3. anon for this*

      Let me tell you about my organization.

      Employees who replace beloved employees like “Bob” can never fill those shoes in some people’s eyes. Even if you cleaned up messes that “Bob” left behind but was good about covering up.

      But employees who replace less loved employees are heroes because they are cleaning up messes. Those employees are celebrated, compensated more, etc. Because they are doing such fantastic things to fix things for the organization.

      But Bob’s replacement, who is doing just as much, still isn’t living up to Bob.

      1. Audiophile*

        I’ve been the replacement for a few “Bobs” and in at least one case, I’ve been seen in the same light as “Bob”.

        I can’t say that I would want to walk into another scenario where I was replacing Bob. It’s just too hard to live in that person’s shadow.

      2. Christine*

        I took a temp to permanent position to replace someone that had been in the position for 30 years. It was a horrible experience. I was the 4th admin in 1 year after she retired.

    4. MC*

      “Fascinating business” could mean that Bob realized he could market himself as a consultant and make more money. Or maybe he went 180 and is sheep farming. Any clue as to what the fascinating business is?
      I think you can read this in one of two ways: “Bob did the work of multiple people and never complained, you’ll need to take on extra work and this is how we frame that expectation” OR “Bob was a go-getter, we like go-getters. To be successful here, you need to go above “above and beyond””

      1. Chickaletta*

        Yep. I replaced someone who left to start her own business and the owner went on and on about how amazing she was. But when I checked out her website, education (we were connected on LinkedIn), and of course all the files left to me, it turned out that she wasn’t well informed about the line of work she was in. I suspect it was a cover up for doing something else like returning to school or working elsewhere. The person praising her didn’t know what it took to succeed in our line of work so he couldn’t have known that she was trying to fake it ’til she made it.

    5. MsCHX*

      I don’t think it’s a red flag either necessarily. I tend to get a little put-off by stuff like this when what’s being praised is basically a lack of work-life balance; because I’m not willing to abandon my life outside of work. But it doesn’t really read that way…more like Bob was just a good, hard working employee.

    6. Future Analyst*

      Mmm. This could go either way: either they are trying to give you very clear direction about what they expect (which is helpful), OR everything you would do going forward would be measured against their (imagined) version of what Bob would have done. My money’s on the latter. If you still have time to ask them questions, see if they can point to anything they would have wanted Bob to improve on– this will tell you more about their expectations (i.e. if they wished that Bob had been available 24/7, etc.), or, if they say “nothing, Bob was perfect!” you’ll know that you’d never be able to live up to Bob.

      Frankly, if it were me and I had anything else lined up, I would opt out. [I had a similar but opposite experience: the manager couldn’t name a single thing that the previous employee had done well… which really only meant that no-one was ever good enough for him.]

    7. Natalie*

      I have to say, I’d personally avoid this situation. I’m in a somewhat similar position at – there was one beloved, long time employee, and then two replacements in a row that were substantially less beloved. In comparison to my most recent predecessors I’m kicking ass and taking names, but I’m still regularly blindsided by things related to the retired beloved employee – unspoken expectations, job duties that have been reassigned to other departments and my boss and I agree should not be ours, etc.

      But I am someone who strongly dislikes losing points because of someone else’s unspoken assumptions. That might not bother you as much, of course.

    8. Trout 'Waver*

      I think it can go either way. If Bob had a helpful and supportive role, they might feel that way about anyone competent in that role.

      Or, they could always judge you against Bob and find you lacking because of the rose-tinted glass thing.

      Overall, I’d probably pass if I had other good options.

    9. Chickaletta*

      I think the only thing this indicates is the level of commitment they want from an employee.

      But, I’ve replaced a couple “Bob’s” before and it turned out that “Bob” wasn’t the Mark Zukerberg they made him out to be. If you want the job, take the job. Don’t let this kind of intimidation turn you off, it may just be a lot of talk.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Oh definitely, but I’d also warn that sometimes management will want “Bob”-style work nonetheless. Sure, you may think that’s better, but “Bob” did his job well, we liked Bob, and why can’t you do it like he did?

        (I’m glad I’m not the only one who got those vibes)

    10. SystemsLady*

      I had something similar to me happen, but in a more passive kind of way and Bob still worked there. They went on and on about how they wanted somebody who had trait X and trait Y and I thought “oh, yeah, that fits me”.

      Turns out, they were talking about a Bob and specifically looking for a clone of him.

      It turned out well because I am pretty darn similar to my “Bob”, some random upbringing details even included. We both got pretty lucky there I guess!

      But I could tell my boss was expecting more out of me than it would’ve been possible to deliver (…since Bob already had so much of what he over performed on handled) my first couple of months. I think that definitely is a risk you take taking the job after an interview like that.

      Then again, something about what you’ve quoted them saying uncomfortably reminds me of programming “guru” horror stories (management always being an equal or larger horror than the “guru” himself). If there wasn’t a lot of substance provided about what exactly Bob did, approach with caution.

    11. NoMoreMrFixit*

      The few times I ran into this I found that they expected the new hire to walk in and perform at the same level as the previous occupant of the job. Ran like a jackrabbit.

      With one notable exception where they made sure it was clear they didn’t expect that level of performance from the replacement hire. I ended up staying in the job for almost 11 years and it was the best place I ever worked.

    12. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I actually consider it a good sign when an employer has positive things to say about their employees that leave. This might be a bit on the excessive side which it probably why you are concerned and I can’t say I blame you for it. If you have another interview or conversation with them I would ask about the expectations of a new employee. Such as “it appears that you have extremely high regard for Bob as you have mentioned A, B, and C about him. As a new employee I obviously won’t be able to do a lot of that since I won’t have that knowledge he had so I am concerned about the expectations placed upon the replacement person and how that will affect their success in the position.”
      Maybe then they will clarify that it was more about Bob’s attitude, reliability, etc…than his actual skill set or they will be stunned that their appreciation of their former employee is potentially scaring off good candidates who are concerned that no matter what they do no one will be Bob and aren’t willing to risk low performance reviews and other negative comparisons.

    13. Zip Silver*

      I replaced “Bob” in my current role, when he took a promotion in the company. He’s reached out to me and helped me transition into the position, and we’ve been in touch. ” Bob” is actually really great. Everybody wasn’t kidding.

    14. Artemesia*

      In my first major post doctorate job I replaced a beloved Bob. I heard all about things he had done that involved making community connections and developing programs etc etc and felt I had to do all those things as well as get the basic job under control which was demanding in and of itself — plus I had a 2 year old and was moving ahead of my husband. I had a nightmarish first year barely glued together trying to be a single Mom, doing all these extra projects ‘Bob’ had excelled at and learning to do my basic job effectively. And then later I learned that ‘Bob’ had actually been fired because he wasn’t good at A B and C which they thought I would be much better at. I literally didn’t have my eye on the right balls. They loved ‘Bob’ but they fired him.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Even in best of circumstances they are going to miss Bob. This could come out in many, many ways, “I remember Bob used to …..” or “Bob always did……”

      So even under good circumstances you could be looking at months and months of small stories about Bob.

      Steel yourself.
      Decide not to let it eat you up.
      Plan responses to various comments.
      Copy the best of Bob’s ideas because hey, why reinvent the wheel?
      Rock the job. They are going to expect you to be ON every minute that you are there. So come to grips with the idea that you are going to work very hard for a while just to offset their “missing Bob”.

      Would I take the job if offered? My answer is maybe. I would have to feel inside myself that I would knock it out of the park and I would have to be willing to wait for them to figure that out. In order for me to feel this way, the job would have to have some major attraction for me- good pay, close to home, good hours, interesting work, or something. There would have to be something in place that would keep me going through a bad day.

      For me to seriously consider this my gut would have to say that I can do as well or better than Bob.

  6. Christy*

    How do you work while you’re grieving? Assuming that you are working while you’re grieving and don’t want to take time off work.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      For me personally, I liked being busy/distracted, so work was a good thing. Things that helped me with that:
      – no social media and no personal phone. They really increased the chances I would run into something that set me off.
      – taking breaks/walks (even if it was just around the building).
      – being able to accept the need to maybe go find a quiet spot (bathroom) and cry a little
      – working from home… sort of. If I was already having a REALLY bad day, it was nice to be home where no one could see that. But if I was having an okay day, working from home did NOT help because I was more likely to become sad.

      But overall, give yourself a lot of slack – and loop your manager in (if you’re comfortable with that).

      1. LSP*

        This is all very good advice. When I lost my nephew last year, work helped keep me distracted, but at the same time, my grief sometimes distracted me from my work. Let your manager know what’s going on with you, take breaks, and, above all, be kind and patient with yourself.

    2. Catalin*

      1) I’m so sorry. This is tough. I have a few recommendations, but ultimately nothing is going to change how much you hurt inside.
      2) Let your manager/work buddy know; they can help deflect things you can’t currently do well and may be able to limit ‘triggers’ for you
      3) listen to music while you’re working. The more things your brain has to deal with, the less it can focus on your pain. The music doesn’t have to be cheery; metal has some excellent applications.
      4) Designate time outside of work to grieve. Do weird things you wouldn’t normally do — go to a museum, take a walk in a park, take up a sport or exercise class, start painting, whatever
      5) Give yourself a break. Don’t hold yourself to the same standards you usually use because just like people need knee braces, you need a little extra support for a while.

      1. Sled Dog Mama*

        I found that when my grandfather died (I grew up living with him so we were fairly close) if I set aside a small amount of time each day, not necessarily for grieving but just for doing something different that was out of my routine it helped a lot. He worked the crossword puzzle in the paper every single day, so after he died I would spend 20-30 minutes each day doing a crossword puzzle. I was terrible at them at first but I’ve gotten better. Now 6.5 years later I still do the crossword everyday most days I can even finish them but its something that keeps me connected to him.
        The biggest thing that helped me then and dealing with other grief was to give myself permission to be not ok and when someone (that I w comfortable with) asked how I was to answer truthfully that I was not having a good day.

    3. The One with the Brother*

      One minute at at time. You step away when you need to. You allow yourself time after work to breakdown and build yourself back up. You distract yourself as best you can (if you want to continue working rather than stepping away). You’re kind to yourself and accept that sometimes, you just won’t be “present” even when you’re physically there. I’ve posted a few times about losing my brother suddenly over the summer. I went back to work less than two weeks after his death. My coworkers were pretty understanding and have let me mention my brother when I need to and no one commented on my output or quality of work (though I don’t think those dipped significantly — I was glad for the distraction). But, really, most of all, be kind to yourself. Practice self care when and as much as you can. You’ll be in my thoughts.

    4. Susan*

      I think this is a very personal and individual thing, but I have actually found that working helps me take my mind off of whatever I am grieving. When I get really focused on my work, I will realize that hours have gone by since I last thought about [sad thing].

    5. Drew*

      In my experience, it helps to be open about what is happening. “I’m sorry if I seem distracted right now. Please give me a few minutes to collect myself and I’ll be back on track.” Or “I appreciate all the well-wishes, but right now I really just want to focus on work. It helps keep me centered.” Or whatever is appropriate.

      The vast majority of people will be grateful for the clear statements and happy to follow your lead.

    6. Tavie*

      Such good advice from everyone on this. I went back to work 2 weeks after my mother died suddenly, and the distraction was helpful, but be kind to yourself.

    7. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

      I think giving yourself a bit of a break is important. Knowing that there is a space you can go to (an empty office if you don’t have your own, a private bathroom, outside or anywhere you feel comfortable) if you need a second to compose yourself if you get emotional. When grieving, sometimes something that isn’t at all connected to your loss comes at you out of the blue and it can make it hard to keep it together. Having an exit plan can make that overwhelming feeling a little less stressful as you just have to make it to that space. I also have this app on my phone (Hear and Now) that is a guided breathing app that I found really helpful (and still use) when I’m feeling overwhelmed and need some help centering myself so something that can help you reconnect can be helpful.

    8. MC*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I found that I just focused on the work, but I have no recollection of about 4-6 weeks of work in that time. I did good work, but just didn’t retain anything. I found that for several months I could get through the bulk of the day but it was exhausting holding it together. My boss at the time was upset I wasn’t joining any team events and I had to tell him that my dad had died recently and that before and after work hours I was a mess, he apologized and he was much more considerate (he really wasn’t a bad fellow at all).

    9. TheCupcakeCounter*

      The most complicated brain engaging work possibly or something that is physically demanding. My emotions needed a break and tackling a deep forensic dive into why a particular account was totally out of whack gave me some much needed emotional disengaging. However the first time someone asked about my FIL after I got back into a normal routine I lost it and cried for 3 hours until I finally just went home and made 300 cupcakes (all his favorite flavors).

    10. SystemsLady*

      I’m sorry you’re grieving – I’ve had to do that a bit too much this year myself.

      Allow yourself to take breaks. Be forgiving to yourself if you’re less productive than normal, and if your breaks go for longer than planned. If you have to take time out to cry, don’t let that discourage you from taking a normal break later while you’re feeling relatively good. Don’t feel guilty for grief “interrupting” your normal break either – just allowing yourself that break will have helped.

      When I grieved recently, I’d be extra productive for about 50 minutes, then get distracted by crying for about 20. What worked for me was finding a space to get upset, getting back to my desk once I felt I’d let it out, and trying to work until it happened again. (Having coworkers who knew to ignore me at this point rather than try to comfort me was really helpful)

      I’m not sure how much of that is doable for you, but be kind to yourself no matter what you do.

    11. Is it Friday Yet?*

      My co-worker lost her mother on Tuesday. She took Wednesday off, and to our surprise, she came back to work yesterday. She would have been allowed more time off, but she explained that she wanted the distraction. Understandably she hasn’t been operating at 100%, and everyone is just being flexible. I think you just have to do the best you can, and decent people will understand.

    12. fposte*

      If you have friendly colleagues, let them support you. I got a big new promotion that went into effect a day after my dad died, and my staff was so touchingly sweet about it I tear up just thinking about it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        An unfair turnabout, isn’t it? The sweetness seems to bring out MORE tears. My aunt and I used to talk about this, the softness of the person can make me feel “relaxed” and then the tears start.
        Such is grief.
        I am glad your staff was so kind.

    13. LC*

      The best advice I’ve heard on grieving is “to pay the bare minimum on the credit card of life.” You won’t be operating at full capacity, and that’s okay.

      You should, however, identify what that minimum payment is in terms of your job and life responsibilities. If you have significant responsibilities outside of work, you should slash and burn those as much as possible. Ask friends to take over carpool duty. Quit your book club. Tell your YMCA soccer team that you can’t finish the season. Sign up for a meal delivery service.

      For work stuff, you should notify your manager so they understand that you may not be your usual self. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to perform well, but you should still identify what absolutely NEEDS to get done versus what would be going above and beyond. Don’t let yourself drop your core responsibilities, but don’t feel bad if you aren’t up to taking on additional roles right now. You don’t need to helm a new project or agree to give a conference presentation if those aren’t central to your job.

      And most of all, be kind to yourself. The first year after losing someone close to is a bad, blurry dream. But I promise life will start to reorient itself eventually.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Grief happens on more than one level, so I found that I needed to do several things.

      Physically: Grief can get a person stressed and the person can feel drained. I do best when I stay out of the junk food. This is not real hard for me because I have no interest in eating big meals or snacking, so I line up veggies and salads and simple meats. Drinking plenty of water is also a good idea.
      Next is rest. Now here is a toughie, because some people grieve by sleeping too much and some people grieve by sleeping too little. Try to have a set bed time and keep to it. If you cannot sleep, listen to soft music on the radio or quietly read. Make yourself be still and low key.

      Mentally. My favorite saying: Tears cause a chemically reaction in the brain that help to keep the brain healthy. Allow yourself time each day to cry. The quickest way to work through tears and get back to work/life is to tell yourself it is okay to cry. When we tell ourselves to stop crying or we fear the tears, it just makes it a 100 times harder and it can make it feel like we are not able to stop crying. Tell yourself it is okay to cry. Understand that the daily crying is temporary, you will not do it forever, even though it feels like forever.

      Emotionally. Am shaking my head, grief seems to rise up at the worst possible times. I’d see an ad on tv and start blatting. Stupid commercial. This is pretty normal for a person in grief. Read a little on grief and the symptoms of grief, and how grief shows itself. These books are not horrible to read, I promise. It’s comforting to know that a lot of what we see and go through when we are grieving others have seen also.

      Reduce stress in your life for the moment. Allow extra time to do everything. For example, if you would ordinarily do all your laundry in one day, allow yourself two days. Pad your time so you are not running and stressed because of being short on time. I wear my comfy shoes rather than my nice shoes, it’s just one less little thing making me uncomfortable.

    15. ..Kat..*

      When my 36 year old brother was crushed to death in a car accident, I took 2 weeks off. When I came back to work, I found that I was not ready. Luckily, I was working nights as a nurse and my charge nurse was very understanding. She assigned me patients who were unconscious and had no visitors staying the night (I am a pediatric ICU nurse), so I simply cried while I took care of my patients. I am not sure that this helps, just wanted to point out that this is difficult and you do what you have to and you rely on the kindness and understanding of others.

      Virtual hugs to you.

  7. TGIF*

    I had an interview this week that I think went pretty well until they gave me some office exercises to do. Not abnormal, I’ve done this stuff before. First task was in Excel, second was proofreading a printed paper, and the third was in PowerPoint. However, they only gave me thirty minutes total to complete all three tasks, an impossible task for anyone. If my current boss gave me these tasks and only half an hour, I’d tell her honestly that each thing done thoroughly and correctly would each need at least 40 min.

    Any other time I’ve done similar exercises in interviews, they either give way more time than is really needed to finish or there’s no time limit at all. So why did this one interview set me up for failure? A few friends think they were trying to see how I’d respond under pressure and with a short deadline but these were random exercises so it’s not like I could compare to see what was the most important and prioritize.

    I was just barely able to complete the first two tasks and only by rushing them so it wasn’t terribly thorough. Is this a normal interview tactic and if so how should I handle this in the future?

    1. Job Offer Rescinded*

      Yeah, I bet they don’t realize how long they take! And if they legitimately can’t be completed in the amount of time allotted, they’ll see that when they test other candidates.

    2. ZSD*

      It’s also possible that once they gave that test to everyone, they realized that they’d given too little time, and graded accordingly. We actually just had that problem. We gave everyone thirty minutes to complete three assignments, and it turns out that we would have gotten much better results if we’d given everyone, say, 45 minutes. But what we were able to do was look at who did comparatively better than the other applicants, given the time constraints.
      Thus, I wouldn’t worry a lot about how well you did on an absolute scale. If you were able to perform better than (or as well as) the other interviewees, then you’re probably fine.
      It’s possible they intentionally gave too little time, but I think it’s more likely that they just didn’t realize how much longer it would truly take to do a good job.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      I know of an office admin job where the applicants were given a limited amount of time for that kind of test because the people administering them had a limited amount of time to spare to each interview. They explained the reasons, however, and said they knew the time was short, so told the candidates to just do their best. They hired the one with the more accuracy.

    4. Blue Anne*

      They may have been seeing how you do under pressure, and how much of it you could get done? We used to do that to programmers at a little tech company I worked for – give them an hour to do a piece of code that would really take longer than that for 95% of people. The team lead wasn’t necessarily looking for that 5%, he just wanted to see how people did with it.

      1. RVA Cat*

        My thought exactly. They want to see how you cope with the pressure, and maybe what your less-than-best work looks like. They are not looking for perfect or thorough, they are looking for “reasonably competent rush job.”

    5. Sled Dog Mama*

      I’d wonder if there was a sort of fourth test built in. How honest about time constraints are you, are you willing to speak up and say “To do this properly will take at least this long.”

    6. Jessie*

      I’d be straightforward about my expectations as soon as getting the tasks – just say something like, “Based on my experiences, these tasks together would normally take me [x] amount of time to get done and get done up to my standards of quality. I’m happy to work hard on this in the time you’ve given, and will do as much as I can.” And then do it, accepting that you may not finish. Depending on the tasks, might be better to do 2 projects well and leave one unfinished, than to do 3 in a sloppy way. But that’s (obviously) a judgment call.

  8. Sunflower*

    I am wondering what the etiquette is on this. I currently work at a firm in Philadelphia where we are headquartered. NYC is where most of our work is done though- we house our admin staff(me included) here because COL is lower. There are 3 people on our team and someone needs to travel to NYC at least once every week or two because of stuff going on in that office. A lot of the groups we support have asked why there is not someone on our team housed in NYC and we’re all told they don’t want to pay someone NYC salary. This leads to other teams having to pick up small parts of our work and I think some overall resentment which I’ve told these teams they should express to our director.

    I have a strong interest in moving to NYC in the next year. I know my company will go for it- they’ve let people do it in the past- and I would get a small increase but I’m not sure how much. I would be able to live in NYC on my current salary but it would be tough. I’d probably want to start looking for new jobs as soon as I got there(at that point, I’ll have been here for 2 years)

    So would it be wrong to move there and then leave not too long after? I really like my job and would love to stay for a few more years- but being in another city is more important so it’s really a matter of either job hunting from here or there.

    1. Dawn*

      “So would it be wrong to move there and then leave not too long after?”

      Yes. This would definitely burn a bridge with your company and paint you in a bad light. Your company sounds ridiculously short-sighted if they want to keep an office in NYC and pay someone to commute from Philly every week or two but not pay an NYC salary.

    2. AmyNYC*

      If your role already *existed* in New York I’d say taking the job and leaving after a year is ok, but not great. But since you’d be moving *specifically* to be your team’s NYC point person… it feels different, and leaving soon after would rink bridge burning. If you move and they create a new NYC role for you, I think you’d have to stay 2-3 year minimum.

    3. MsCHX*

      Chiming in with the others. Don’t do this. You can’t allow them to pay for your relocation and then leave. You’d need to job search now, from within your current city and move on your own or take the NYC job and as mentioned, tough it out for AT LEAST a year. And I think that’s conservative. You could take the position in NYC and own it and you never know, end up with a better title and pay down the line.

      1. Coalea*

        Agree that this is not a good idea.

        It’s also possible that if your company agreed to move you and to pay for relocation that they would impose some kind of restriction, eg, if you leave the company before [time period], you will be responsible for repaying the relocation costs.

        1. Sunflower*

          I wouldn’t expect them to pay for relocation, just to adjust my salary for the higher cost of living.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Yeah, that would be a crappy thing to do.

      An employee in my office worked at our main location for several years and was able to move to a smaller office closer to his new home, where he would be taking on greater responsibilities and operating more independently. After his second day there, he put in his two weeks’ notice. Turns out he’d been interviewing while the transition process was happening and he decided not to tell anyone.

      While I understand why he did that, it was a HUGE inconvenience for our department, and I know management was incredibly disappointed in him. I would not move to New York with your current employer unless you were committed to staying in that role for at least a year.

    5. Marcy*

      I think this would depend on how you phrase the request, and how much trouble the company is going through to relocate you. From what you’ve said, it sounds like it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, so it’s not like they’re doing you a huge favor, and they don’t intend to give you a huge raise. If you tell them you’d be interested in moving to NYC, but have some concerns about whether the position’s salary is competitive in NYC, they’ve been put on notice.

      If the company is so unreasonable as to not pay market salary, I suppose they’re probably the type of people who might hold it against you for leaving soon after the transfer. However, I don’t think it is automatically an unprofessional thing to do, or that other potential employers would hold it against you. It’s like people who leave soon after getting a promotion and raise. I’m sue it pisses off their manager, but I don’t see why it’s a wrong thing to do.

    6. Chriama*

      How long are you committed to staying? If you’re just planning to take advantage of a paid-for relocation, don’t do that. If you could commit to staying for at least 18 months then I think that’s fine.

      1. Sunflower*

        I wouldn’t expect to be paid for relocation, I would only expect a salary increase for the higher cost of living. Honestly it all depends on how much the salary increase is. I’ve thought about bringing it up to my boss, who would support the move and go to bat for me, but the final decision is in our director and chief’s hands- and I think it’s the chief who is the one hesitant about paying the NYC salary. I’m nervous if I bring it up and then have to say no because of the $$ then it will make the company suspicious of me(signal i may be job hunting/wanting to leave)

        1. Nico m*

          Research the cost of living difference and offer to move to NY for that.

          Either its worth them paying X$ extra to have the NY person or it isnt.

        2. Chriama*

          So the issue is just the salary? I think if the salary is workable but not great, you should stick it out for a year. Start job-searching around the 9 or 10 month mark. At your next review, push for a raise more in line with NYC salaries. If they can’t do it, at least they’ve been put on notice and they got a solid year of work out of you. Quite frankly, if you do a good enough job that the teams you support get really vocal about how great it is to have someone in NYC your chief might revisit the idea of paying NYC salaries (or at least 1 NYC salary). But if you can’t stick it out for at least a full year then I think you would be operating in bad faith.

          On the topic of worrying about asking, I don’t think you need to. State your concerns to your boss – I’d love to go to NYC, but I’m concerned the cost of living increase won’t be enough to make it feasible. He can probably feel out how much of an increase is likely to happen before the official ask, so you don’t have to worry about turning down an actual offer.

    7. Honeybee*

      Are they going to pay for relocation there, or no?

      If they are paying for you to relocate to New York, then I’d say maybe, depending on how long after you move you leave. I’d say 2 years would be enough to absolve you of guilt; about 1 year seems too short.

      If they are not paying for you to relocate and you’re just moving your job location, then I don’t think it matters.

  9. thunderbird*

    Twist on the office holiday gift exchange.

    Instead of the common (and often problematic) office gift exchange of secret santa, yankee swap, etc. My office has adopted an interesting concept. We still do a “secret santa” style exchange, but it is a toy swap. The idea is that you buy a child/youth gift that you think your secretly selected person would have wanted. So it is still fun and brings camaraderie, however after the exchange is done, we donate all of the toys/gifts to a local toy drive. The best part is that it is completely optional participation and there is no silent pressure (I say this as someone who opted out this year). Fun idea to consider mixing holiday mingling and socializing with charity, everyone wins!

    1. Grey*

      I’d probably want to keep the toy. I wouldn’t, but I’d want to. Can I at least play with it first?

    2. Susan*

      That is a really cool idea! I like the fact that there are no hurt feelings about people not liking their gifts (and, of course, helping needy kids have a nice holiday).

    3. tink*

      The most popular gift I’ve ever done for a white elephant/gift exchange was 2 coloring books, a box of crayons, and a big bag of plain M&Ms. I love the idea of getting something you think another person would’ve loved and then donating it all to a toy drive though.

    4. TheCupcakeCounter*

      That is what we did for my husband’s extended family last year. We bought each person a gift based on their interests (bubble lawn mower for our grass obsessed uncle, table top hockey game for the hockey fan, etc…). Everyone loved it and they were able to donate it themselves to their local Toys for Tots or Salvation Army or we took it with ours. Can’t do it this year since our party is after many of the donation boxes are pulled.

    5. zora*

      cool idea! I wish we had more people here, if we did this might be a good option for us.

      I have to say, though, if I got something to put together, like a lego build kit or something, it would be SOOOO hard to not take it out and put it together myself! Like, my fingers would literally be itching! ;o)

    6. Clever Name*

      Love this!

      We don’t do gift exchanges, thank goodness, but we have done charitable stuff in the past. We used to adopt a family (or three) and buy and wrap presents. I have a boy, so I used it as an outlet for my unmet need to buy clothing for little girls. ;) This year we’ve tweaked it and we’re doing “competitive giving”. We have 3 teams donating to a local charity, and we can give goods, money, or time. It’s pretty awesome.

    7. Marisol*

      This is a really cute idea, although I shudder to think what people would buy for me. Is there such a thing as dominatrix Barbie?

  10. Ann Furthermore*

    Today is the one month anniversary at my new job. I am really enjoying it so far. It’s completely different than what I was doing before, but I’m still using my main area of expertise.

    There’s been a bit of culture shock, going from a huge multi-national corporation to a company with fewer than 50 people, which has been amusing. At OldJob, someone in IT would configure your laptop for you, all you had to do was log in, and downloading any software on your own was a cardinal sin. On my first day my boss gave me my laptop, still in the box, with some Windows and Office CD’s, and told me the only thing I had to do that day was get my laptop configured. LOL. I needed a copy of Microsoft Projects, so I asked if there was a spare one lying around. My boss told me to just buy a copy myself, download it, and expense it. I could tell she was thinking, “OMG, what is your problem?” when I asked her a couple time if she was sure that was OK, and I told her years of conditioning had made me nervous about doing that. We had a good laugh.

    It’s a long commute, but I only have to go into the office 2 days a week and the rest of the time I can work from home, which is amazing. The longer drive on the days I do go in isn’t bad; it’s all highway, and there’s only one spot where the traffic slows down.

    Another guy who started about 6 weeks before I did quit on Wednesday for what I think were kind of short sighted reasons. He is in my group, but in a different role. After this happened, my boss called me into her office and asked me if I was going to quit on her too. I assured her that I wasn’t, that I’ve been really liking it so far, and that learning so many new things has been fantastic. She asked if there was anything she could be doing to be a better manager. I said no, that I think our working styles complement each other pretty well. Then she said, “I’m so glad you’re on the team. You’ve already added so much value, and you are the exact person that I needed in this role.” It is so nice to be appreciated. My old boss would give you praise, but always with the undertone of, “Yeah, you did a great job on this, but you could have done better.” Ugh.

    I had lunch with a friend from OldJob yesterday. Things there are still pretty grim, with no signs of improvement on the horizon, and people continuing to drop like flies. I’m so happy to be out of such a toxic environment. I knew it was bad, but now that I’m gone I’ve realized just how bad it really was.

    1. ZSD*

      I had the same culture shock! “Wait, I have admin privileges on my computer? I can, like, download Skype without even having to tell six people first?!”

      1. Annie Moose*

        I feel the same way about NewJob! At my old job, we mostly just downloaded stuff and didn’t tell anyone (one perk of being a developer is that 90% of non-developers don’t know what software you actually need!), but most download sites were blocked, so we had to get it from the sketchiest sites or pass around installers. It was ridiculous!

        Now at NewJob, I have Steam and a half-dozen videogames installed…

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I loved the post-leaving lunches where old coworkers told me how much they missed me and how things were falling apart in my old department. Didn’t make up for the years of overwork but still a balm.

    3. Alice*

      I’m also settling in and really thanking my lucky stars at how great my new workplace is. 2016!Alice is trusted so much more and treated so much better than 2015!Alice — but of course it’s the environment and culture that changed around me, not anything intrinsic to me. I just hope it never changes back….

    4. Anna*

      I long to work for an organization big enough to pay me what the going rate is for my position, but small enough to let me download or access whatever I need to on the Internet. As it stands, I currently have to email a data center in another state who more frequently than not tells me no by just sending me a link to the relevant handbook chapter.

      1. Nerfmobile*

        That aspect isn’t necessarily about big or small. I work for a large international company (8000+), and while our IT group does initially set up and configure our computers, we can then do almost whatever we want to with them after that. (there are a few constraints but not too many).

  11. rosenstock*

    i successfully put in my two weeks’ notice yesterday – my angry boss wasn’t so angry and took it rather well. i’m starting my new position at a bigger/better law firm on the 19th and am very excited! and relieved.

  12. Sunflower*

    And now for a tots unrelated Q to my one above..

    For people who work in sales- I’m contemplating a career change from event planning into sales(poss medical device but open a lot of industries) and am not sure where to start for finding info on job outlook, salaries, good companies, industries etc. How do I determine what is an average/good base salary and commission %? Is glassdoor reliable for that sort of thing? And is there a large variance by industry?

    1. slick ric flair*

      There’s definitely a decent variance between industries, and level of your role. A good rule of thumb is the more profitable your product, the higher the pay, and the closer you get to the owner of that product (so, whether you are a reseller), the higher too. Glassdoor was accurate for my org for the most part, but didn’t separate base/commission.

      Good question to ask in an interview is what percentage of reps hit target last year? this year?

  13. Temperance*

    Part of my job includes fielding calls from the public requesting legal service. Very regularly I will see a person who I have turned down in a “human interest” story in a local paper, and they will include a blurb about how the person talked to “over 100 lawyers” and “no decent person is a lawyer”, because no one would help that person. Meanwhile, the subject of the story is wacky, has a ridiculous case, and would cause endless grief with no benefit. Of course, I can’t respond to the story and SAY that, but I want to.

    So, in that vein, what would YOU like to vent/clear up? (This thread is inspired by the woman who tried to harass me into representing her in her $31 claim against a chain pizza restaurant.)

    1. Future Analyst*

      As a former paralegal still working in a law firm, I wish people realized how much PLs do at this firm/in this field!! I think most people think that PLs are essentially secretaries for the attorneys, and don’t realize that in this particular field, the PLs do 95% of the legal work, including analysis, which the attorneys then sign off on. [I’m also not saying the attorneys don’t do anything– they do a lot.] I’ve met plenty of people who are dismissive of my job b/c they don’t understand how much work we actually do.

      1. DCGirl*

        My husband is a career paralegal for the feds (DOJ, to be exact), and I totally agree. People always ask him if he’s going to go to a law school and get a real job some day (he’s 60).

        1. Lillian Styx*

          Wtf seriously!? That’s so rude and ignornant I just can’t.
          My aunt is a paralegal for the feds too and she makes more money than MOST of the attorneys she works for. Why the *^&$%$ would she want to go to law school!?

      2. Triangle Pose*

        “I think most people think that PLs are essentially secretaries for the attorneys, and don’t realize that in this particular field, the PLs do 95% of the legal work, including analysis, which the attorneys then sign off on.”

        What field is this? Public interest field? Legal referrals field?

        1. LK*

          Many solicitor-based fields operate like this – paralegals are basically on par with associates except they can’t sign off on their stuff. Paralegals are procedural experts with moderate substantive knowledge; lawyers are generally substantive experts with negligible procedural knowledge.

        2. LK*

          To add, fields that have “recipes” to cases – as in, almost EVERY client goes through the same process except maybe you do step 3B instead of 3A for different cases…..real estate transactions, lending/secured transactions, insolvency…. those are all ones that, in Canada at least, paralegals do a LOT.

      3. AK*

        As a current paralegal, thanks! How much we do can vary not only by field but by firm as well – and in some firms, it even varies depending on the attorney. At my previous firm, I did do 95% of the legal work for my senior attorney, and he simply signed off on it. One of the junior attorneys, however, wanted to do everything himself (mainly because he wanted to learn, which I can’t fault him for) and it took him ages to even let me or one of the legal secretaries draft a transmittal letter for him. Over time, as he became more comfortable, he started delegating more.

        My current project at the office I’m at now is coming up with ways to separate workflow and formalize tasks that can be delegated to paralegals and the differences between what the paralegals do and what the secretaries do, because we have had an influx of junior attorneys who can’t tell the difference either.

      4. Gaara*

        At some firms, like mine (unfortunately — it’s a waste of their abilities and everyone’s resources!), paralegals really are secretaries. I think it’s super dependent on your particular firm culture.

    2. Sibley*

      I’m an auditor. Just got an email from an auditee, letting me know he’s working on the stuff he owes me, but “he’s not the owner, Joe’s the owner of the process”. I’m sorry. You do the process. You review the results. You deal with problems. Joe is available to help if something comes up that needs the higher level input of the overall program owners. BUT YOU ARE THE OWNER OF THIS PROCESS.

      Thank you for letting me vent. Been dealing with this nonsense for 3 months now…

    3. Emi.*

      That sounds terrible, and I’m sorry! I will join you in venting.
      I commute by bus, and there’s a group of 2-3 men who ride a different bus that picks up at the same stop. Every day after work, they sit down behind the bus shelter to drink and smoke (which smells) and complain loudly about their girlfriends, who are apparently “wh0res,” “b!tches,” jealous, conniving, lazy, needy, and triflin’. Apparently the solution to this problem is to argue with said girlfriends and complain about them behind their backs, but not break up with them. (I guess I’m venting about other people’s venting? Haha now I feel kind of bad. But only a bit.)

      1. Poohbear McGriddles*

        Perhaps the “wh0res,” “b!tches,” jealous, conniving, lazy, needy, and triflin’ girlfriends make really good sandwiches. Sometimes a cost-benefit analysis is in order.

        1. Emi.*

          Haha this is a good thought, but actually, another one of their many faults is refusing to make breakfast even though “I bought you that d@mn food, b!tch, you can’t deny me nothing!”

    4. Lillian Styx*

      Omg, yes the classic “I’ve called all the legal aid places and all you give me is the runaround.” I always want to tell them something to the effect of “If it smells like shit everywhere you go, check your own shoe.” But alas.

      1. Temperance*

        OMG YES.

        One memorable nutjob insisted that I give her a list of all of our clients (LOL) because I told her that we weren’t helping her sue the state of NJ, a particular town, the town’s police department, several cops, her neighbors, and DYFS (their version of CPS). She was a particular kind of awful.

        Well, she’s tied with the rapist who called me also wanting to sue the state of NJ because he, and I quote, as a “resident of a facility for those convicted of sex crimes” wanted disability payments, which he lost after he “lost his residential spot in a facility due to a jail sentence”. How about you raped someone, a-hole, and went to prison for raping another person. I didn’t bother calling that one back.

        1. AK*

          I did intakes and client screening for a personal injury attorney for a while, so I feel your pain… I work at a legal aid type office now and you reminded me of those days. I think I’m going to bring our call screeners donuts on Monday.

          1. Temperance*

            Oh god that’s my literal worst nightmare job. You guys are heroes for handling that intake!

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Geez, these sound like they would make good blog posts. “How to determine whether or not to hire a lawyer. 1. Is your claim under $1000? Go to small claims court because some lawyers charge that much for an hour.”

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I have never heard that before, and it is just perfect! I usually just say, “If you have a problem with everyone, maybe YOU’RE the problem” (like my college friend who had four or five roommates in two semesters).

    5. zora*

      I know this is so petty but it’s driving me crazy. We work in a cowork space, so there are maybe 100 people on our floor who all share a large kitchen/eating area (and several other floors that are the same).

      This is CA, so we have a big trash receptacle split into Trash, Recycling, and Compost. But the building management has never posted signs or sent out info explaining how those three work in the city, and most of the people on the floor seem to be new to CA, so almost everyone puts the wrong things in the wrong containers. The compostable plates/utensils get thrown into Trash, there are plastic bags in Recycle all the time, etc, etc, etc.

      Basically, I’m sure that the vast majority of the waste from this building is getting routed to landfill because it’s too contaminated to go to recycling or compost. And we supposedly have laws about this because the city is trying to move towards zero waste, but here are several hundred people just screwing that up on a daily basis. I wish someone was getting fined for it, and forced to have a better system, but I doubt it. It makes me sad, and sometimes I even take things out of the bins and put them in the correct ones, but it’s pointless because there is so much more in there. Now I just try not to look in them ever, but I get so angry every time! Rawr

      1. zora*

        Gah! They don’t even tell the cleaning staff how compost works, just saw one of the cleaners dump the coffee grounds/filter into the trash, not compost. AAHHHH

    6. paul*


      In the social services world: No, we can’t wave a magic wand and fix someone. Sorry. And while I *love* housing first as an idea, it isn’t a panacea. And we *don’t have funding* for it. So don’t chew my agency out for not just buying someone a damn house! Great, you went and crowdfunded to get one person a couple weeks in a hotel! Nice, great. We’ve got a couple hundred unduplicated clients at any given time. Oh, and that person is already out of that hotel and back in one of the local shelters, so your high and mighty “well, we care about people not just numbers and guidelines” did sweet bupkiss! Meanwhile we try to actually get people into *real* housing, which has a waitlist a mile and a half long. And we try to get them into supportive services. And we try to work with the local mental health agency. It takes time.

      1. paul*

        Oh, and I can damn well promise that they weren’t kicked out of the local shelters for being a bit loud either. The shelters can’t/won’t (atm I can’t remember if they are bound by HIPPA) diviulge details, but try drug dealing on premise, having sex in the common rooms, trying to fight or stab other clients, etc. That’s usually a lot closer to what happened when we see a mutual client go to the news to complain. But of course we can’t actually *say* that so people think the shelters are just being jerks.

        1. Anna*

          You wouldn’t happen to be in a certain city in the Pacific NW would you?

          Serious question, though…How is getting kicked out and why covered under HIPAA?

          1. OhNo*

            If it’s a mental health deal, it would be. If the shelter is focused on serving people with mental issues, they might be bound by HIPAA because they would need some health information to allow people in. I dunno if that’s what he means, but that’s what comes to mind.

            1. paul*

              That’s not their target population, although a fair few of their clients do have a diagnoses. I’m not actually sure if they refuse to comment on HIPPA grounds or if it’s just an internal policy, is what I was going for. Sorry, I wasn’t as clear as I coulda been

          2. Observer*

            Even if they are not covered by HIPAA, they are probably covered by half a dozen other regulations that protect the confidentiality of clients. We have a blanket policy that we don’t even confirm / deny whether someone is a client without express permission, because the regulations around this stuff vary so widely, but we’ll never get into trouble by not releasing information (absent a subpoena, of course).

      2. Temperance*

        Okay I can relate to this on literally every level. I’m so done with people who don’t know the system who decide how help should look.

        1. Artemesia*

          I remember working at a University and often having advisees who were athletes and having to hear the jackasses at my local gym whining about how the university needed to help the hopelessly academically unqualified students succeed — all, ALL of their solutions were things that had been done for many years(of course, as they were pretty obvious) and most of their comments about what was going wrong were entirely wrong. The country club set is always so sure they know what is going on in the world and just how to fix it and I have never heard one of these conversations that was close to the mark.

      3. Rob Lowe can't read*

        Your first sentence also applies well to the students I teach. My Assistant Principal, who came to us from an affluent suburban school, cannot wrap her head around the fact that none of my students can read and write in English at a level that will allow them to pass 5th and 6th grade level state tests. Um, it’s probably because they’ve only been in the U.S. for three months. I’m an ESL teacher, not a wizard.

    7. Anon For This*

      Part of my job is to promote the program I work for. It’s a government program but administered by a contractor. However, we are still governed by all the rules that all other government employees and departments have to follow. The most frustrating is the rules about social media. I can get to Facebook, but only the government approved Facebook page run by the PR firm hired to promote nationally. I am not allowed to start my own Facebook page for my office. I can get to Twitter, but only the FAFSA Twitter account. I am not allowed to start a Twitter account for my office. I can get to Instagram, but only the Instagram account for the entire program. I cannot start an Instagram account for my office. Essentially, the whole concept that we should have free and easy access to information is ignored by our government and it makes me ragey.

      1. undercover gov*

        I have similar issues! Not only can I not start accounts for my office, but I can’t even send material to the units/programs we support or post on the agency intranet without getting the material approved by people ridiculously high up the chain. That takes so long that it basically makes topical posts impossible, and is the opposite of how social media is supposed to work.

        The even more frustrating part is that public engagement, relevance, and digital outreach are big buzzwords right now in terms of communication strategy, but the organizational hierarchy is what’s in the way of those things. We talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk.

    8. katamia*

      In my role as a transcriber: for the sake of all that is holy, don’t conduct your interviews in a loud restaurant. Also, verbatim transcription is a pain, and 95% of the time you’re better off just saving your money and going for non-verbatim. Don’t make me count your ten um’s in a row.

    9. Natalie*

      Our prior accountants (who also covered HR/payroll) were very creative about certain things. So mine is:

      Sorry they used to let you claim a bunch of fake exemptions so you could fiddle with your withholding. It’s illegal and I don’t like you enough to go to jail for you. Pay your damn taxes like everyone else does! Also, it’s seriously crass to do this when you make over $200K a year.

      1. Zip Silver*

        They do it so that they can invest the money in the year and then they pay their taxes in the spring. No idea on the legality of it, but it’s not to get out of paying taxes, it’s too get out of giving the government a year long interest free loan.

      2. MsCHX*

        You can claim however many exemptions you want on your W-4. It’s not illegal to claim more exemptions unless the IRS has determined you may only claim a certain number. If that’s the case they will notify the employer directly. You must also meet the stipulations to claim exemption from withholding.

        Otherwise, if someone wants to claim Single and 12, that’s their business and their tax bill will come in April.

        I HATE when accounting has so-called HR duties because assumptions like this being “illegal” are made.

    10. FTW*

      Every time you see a consultant, we are not there to cut heads, but usually to make the business run better.

      If you cooperate and are open-minded, you will come out ahead.

      If you withhold data, stonewall, or try to thwart change, you will generally be shooting yourself in the foot because it will 1) come to light, and 2) be looked on poorly my the sponsor… and potentially be a career limiting move.

  14. Susan*

    Last week, when I went to read one of Alison’s posts on Inc, I clicked a link to another article titled, “The most challenging interview question you can ask a job candidate.” (Link to follow in reply.)

    The challenging question (which, to nitpick, isn’t even a question) is for the interviewer to say, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is the right fit for you.” See, 9 out of 10 candidates will move on upon being told point blank that they are not a good fit, but a superstar candidate will rise to the challenge and present an argument for why she is a good fit.

    Is it just me, or is this a terrible idea? It seems to me that this is a good way to screen for people who are desperate for a job and possibly annoyingly argumentative, and screen out people who actually care about finding a job where they and the employer are a mutually good fit.

      1. Gaara*

        Ugh! That’s awful. And it screens for jerks who don’t listen when people tell them no, not good employees (or even good salespeople).

    1. Job Offer Rescinded*

      I saw that too and thought it was terrible! I just hate head games. I can see that being a possibly acceptable idea for a sales job but even still. There’s a power dynamic there where you just don’t argue with your interviewer.

    2. ZSD*

      That’s horrendous. I mean, even if I did talk my way into being offered the job anyway, I probably wouldn’t accept it — why would I want to work for a boss who already had the idea that I wasn’t a good fit? And if I *did* take the job, I’d always have it in the back of my mind that they had their doubts about me.

    3. Murphy*

      It sounds like “negging”. Making the person feel bad so they feel the need to try and please you. Sounds gross.

    4. BookCocoon*

      It seems weird to me to react by agreeing OR arguing. Wouldn’t you ask, “What makes you say that?” and then proceed based on the answer? If they seem to have a good understanding of what you’re looking for, then you’ll see that it actually isn’t a good fit, but if they’ve misunderstood you or your goals you can clarify.

      1. BookCocoon*

        Oh, now I understand that it was advising the hiring manager to say that to everyone. That’s just weird.

      2. Mephyle*

        Cand.:“What makes you say that?”
        Int.: “I… um… we ask all our candidates that.”
        Cand.: “Ask them what? I mean, that isn’t even a question.”

    5. Purest Green*

      I feel like the employer who would create this challenge and the candidate who would rise to it deserve each other.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Ha, yes!

        I’d be like “Welp, it was nice talking with you, though” and go on my merry way. The pushies can have each other!

      2. Nolan*

        What a bouquet of dysfunction that process must create. This must be the process used by bosses in sitcoms

      3. catsAreCool*

        Agreed. I think the superstars are going to shrug their shoulders and go onto their next interviews, because a superstar usually has lots of other options. The people who are desperate might try to argue this.

    6. Leatherwings*

      I think most of the time challenging that (non) question is just going to look bad. But I could see doing it if someone is like “the commute here is long, so it doesn’t seem like the right fit” or something, in which case you could explain why the long commute isn’t an issue. But how often does someone tell candidates point blank in an interview that it’s not a good fit? I’ve heard that from interviewers after the interview (and I nearly always agree) but it’s never framed as a question.

      So yeah, most of the time it’s a terrible idea I think.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, when I interviewed for my current job they were concerned about my lack of background in the subject area my org covers, and so I explained that I didn’t have a background in the subject area of my then job either, but that actually helped me since part of then job was communicating what the org did to people who also didn’t have a subject specific background (which is a huge part of my current job as well). But they didn’t phrase it as “you’re not a good fit” they phrased it as “this is one specific concern we have about you as a candidate, what are your thoughts?”

        But that article seems to be advocating lying to a candidate that they aren’t a good fit just to gauge their reaction, which is dumb.

        1. Artemesia*

          I like this answer and it makes a lot of sense. Lots of people do a terrible job communicating because there notion of common knowledge is so distorted by their lack of social skills and their expertise.

    7. smokey*

      Yeah, I’d be inclined to believe the person who knows the culture. To me, there’s no logic in trying to argue your way into somewhere you won’t like or fit in, so it seems to me they’re only going to get stubborn people who didn’t think it through.

    8. Persephone Mulberry*

      That boss sounds like a nightmare to work for. Based on his other “important” interview questions (assessing hunger, drive and competitiveness?), when he laid his “magic question” on me, I’d probably agree with him.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, he sounds like the exact opposite of a person I’d want to work for. I am pretty ambitious and good at what I do, but I don’t want to work for someone who thinks playing head games is an acceptable way to hire.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      On a basic human interaction level (which obviously includes the workplace) I don’t argue with people who state in plain language that they don’t like me. “We are not choosing you.” “No pleeeeease I want to spend 40 hours a week with you!!!” Like wut???? What kind of codependent, argumentative people are they looking to hire?

      1. Jessie*

        “I don’t argue with people who state in plain language that they don’t like me”
        That’s a great way to put it. I agree. It’s FINE if you don’t like me. I don’t need a particular person to like me. I’ll just move along and be on my way, and get a job that doesn’t require begging/ignoring clear communications or leave me feeling that I am starting off already on thin ice, somehow.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Right? I wouldn’t do it in dating either. If some dude came up to me in a bar and was like “You’re not all that attractive,” I’d be like “OK, go find someone who is then.” Don’t waste my time.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “Dear Alison,
        I am manager in a cutting edge company. My whole office fights with each other all day over almost everything.
        I can’t figure out what went wrong here. If I ask my employees why this is happening they give me ten positive reasons why I should hire them. I don’t get it.”

    10. Guilty as charged*

      Geez, if I was told that I would have just shaken the interviewer’s hands and left. If you MIGHT want to hire me, why play mind games?
      (and also, do interviewers REALLY want to encourage persistent, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer behaviour?)

    11. Trout 'Waver*

      Could you imagine the level of sexual harassment that would go on at such a company? If you literally filled it with only people that trying to push past a clear, “No.”.

    12. tink*

      I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that thought I wasn’t a good fit, so I’d smile, nod, thank them for their time, and wish them the best.

    13. Alton*

      No, I agree. That’s ridiculous. Even if I think I’m a good fit for a job, I’d be wary of working for someone who didn’t think I was, and I wouldn’t feel good about trying to argue my way into a job where I got that vibe. It would set things off on a really bad foot. Sure, I might ask why they thought I was a poor fit, and if it was something I could easily counter, I would. But I’m not going to try to convince someone to hire me if they’ve already decided against me.

      I also don’t want to work for someone who plays mind games.

    14. Chickaletta*

      It’s an excellent question if you want to weed out good candidates and get bad ones instead, for the exact reason you mention in your last paragraph.

    15. vanBOOM*

      It really makes you wonder about the reptilian overlords who come up with these ideas and the employees who unfortunately have to work under them.

    16. Central Perk Regular*

      I was asked a variation of this question in a job interview years ago. I said, “Well, I respect your opinion and what you’re looking and if I’m not it, that’s fine – I’ll just find something else.” They ended up hiring me partly I think because I was confident in my skills set/ability to land a job.

    17. Marisol*

      If someone says I’m not wanted, I go away. It’s not a LACK of self-esteem that causes this; it’s the opposite in fact. This reminds me of trying to talk someone into dating you. Yuck.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I would never argue that I’m really a superstar and they’re not seeing it. I’d point out that yes, superstars are great, but steady workers are just as valuable because they don’t flame out so fast. And then I’d say, “And I think you are right, because that’s the sort of job I’m looking for. A steady one. Good day, sir! I said, GOOD DAY!”

      Okay, maybe not that last, LOL.

    19. Honeybee*

      If you – person interviewing me, who already works at the company and presumably knows what is and isn’t a good fit for your position – tells me I’m not a good fit, then why would I push back, challenge, or argue with him? It just makes me look presumptuous to tell an interviewer that I know what his company needs more than he does. Furthermore, what does that tell him about me that’s valuable for him to know about in the job?

      It not true that superstars don’t give up. Superstars know the right time to give up and the right time to persist.

      Just because someone is a CEO or a founder doesn’t mean they actually know how to hire and retain employees. I wish fewer articles would rely on that alone as the qualifying credential for quotes.

      Also, people operate on outdated information. Google used to ask trick questions in their interviews, but they don’t anymore. In fact, they have explicitly said that they don’t anymore because it didn’t actually get them better candidates hired and ended up just making everyone uncomfortable and their interview process unnecessarily difficult and hostile.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Superstars also know how to recognize other superstars. Because they know what it takes to make things happen.

  15. Random Reader*

    Has anyone taken the Salesforce Admin certification test? Any advice? I’m looking for a career boost and have the current experience and framework for being an admin. I’ve been acting as an admin for about 1.5 years now and am looking for a career boost, hence the test.

    1. Paige Turner*

      Do you have coworkers or colleagues who have taken it? I haven’t but from what I’ve heard, it’s normal to fail the first or even second time you take it. Good luck!

      1. krysb*

        Really? My specific department has its own sales team, and we have finally gotten them access to SalesForce – but nobody wants to do anything in it and it’s frustrating the hell out of me. Can you tell me why you like it so much, so I can use it in my arguments of why it’s so beneficial to them?

    2. Brogrammer*

      Memorize, memorize, memorize. Most of the questions are based on the kind of detail (how many lookup relationships can an object have?) that you’d Google in your day to day work. If your company has access to Premier Training, the “Administration essentials for New Admins” video series is boring, but if you watch it and take careful notes, it does contain everything you need to know to pass the test.

  16. David*

    My wife and I are planning to eventually move to another city to be closer to family. I’ve worked in international development consulting for several years but am looking to apply my skills to the domestic (US) context. I’ve targeted several organizations in this new city doing relevant work but am wondering how I might engage them early in the planning process without being perceived as job hunting.

    I’d like to begin networking with staff at these organizations while being transparent that I’m interested for my own professional interests.

    1. fposte*

      Your last two sentences could be contradictory–can you clarify? You want to network with these organizations and be transparent about your goals, but you don’t want to be perceived as job hunting–but what is it you want from them, then, and aren’t you job hunting? Even if you’re not quite ready to job-apply, it sounds like that’s what you’re doing.

      This is admittedly not my world, but once you get above a support-staff level, I think it’s reasonable to ping somebody via LinkedIn or email and say “Hey, looking to move coasts, like the work you guys are doing, would love to chat further if you think there might be openings in summer or fall 2017.”

    2. Bex*

      Can you use LinkedIn to find a 2nd degree contact at one of the organizations? Personally, I think your elevator pitch is pretty compelling- that you’ve been doing international development, but are moving to new city for family reasons, and you’re interested in finding our more about the work happening locally.

  17. Roonil Wazlib*

    Our workplace is big on the Myers Briggs test, and every year we all take the shorter version of the test and review our personalities publicly with each other. (I know.)

    This year, however, one of the senior VPs admitted that she uses the tests to hire people similar in personality to her.

    Um. Thoughts??? The person in her department least similar to her in personality (and hired before they started using the Myers Briggs) just got fired, too, which is suspicous. How problematic is this?

    1. Temperance*

      That’s super strange. I’m an INTJ, and while yes, working with other people who are similarly cold and logical in all things is like my dream, it would also be a nightmare. We need chatty, friendly, feeling extroverts, too.

        1. Temperance*

          No joke, my husband’s results were almost exactly opposite of mine. I think he also had the J. He was completely unsurprised when The Unabomber showed up in a list of people with my personality.

          Not coincidentally, he often has to explain things to me from a feelings POV. Like, yes Temperance, the logical solution is X, but feelingspeople! don’t feel that way.

          1. MsCHX*

            Aw man my husband has an F.

            It did help when I finally sent him an article about how some Ts have some F. But I have no F. My F did not develop. :)

          2. AnotherAlison*

            Same. INTJ and ESFP. Whatever. Sometimes I do think I would like to be with someone more like me, but then I’d have to give him half my stuff and most of the time he is okay. #kiddingnotkidding

          3. Honeybee*

            I am an ENTJ. I have been known to say “Well, that doesn’t make sense. Your feelings are wrong.”

            I’m better now, but generally I have to just keep quiet rather than say anything because my kneejerk reaction is still “your feelings are wrong because of X.”

            1. KJ*

              I love folks who argue about feelings. As a therapist, I say “feelings can’t be wrong, they just are” and “you can’t logic someone out of a feeling” very regularly. It takes some people months to “get” it. Good for you to realizing you do that and trying to stop!

      1. Jessie*

        Hey, me too. And I agree we need chatty, friendly, feeling extroverts around – as long as I have an office door I can close.

        1. Temperance*

          My office looks directly into someone else’s, and we both lean towards introversion. We can also occasionally chat out the door.

    2. Leatherwings*

      It’s beyond stupid. First of all, that test isn’t scientific in any way, second of all lots of different personalities can succeed at a job. Personality isn’t *usually* the biggest factor in whether someone can be successful. That woman sounds like a loon.

      1. Purest Green*

        I can’t take these types of assessments seriously when I’ve received vastly different results from one day to the next. I would certainly hate to sit under the Sorting Hat when I’m having a Slytherin day vs. my usual Ravenclaw attitude.

        1. Leatherwings*

          Exactly! And god forbid I’m terribly ill or something and end up in Hufflepuff. Literal nightmare situation.

          1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

            Tonks gave birth and fought the Dark Lord less than a month later. Your Hufflepuff argument is invalid ;)

            I’m a Ravenclaw, but I still have mad respect for the Huffles :)

            1. Leatherwings*

              Oh fine. Eddie Redmayne kind of managed to change my mind last month, so I guess you’re right. *sigh* this will require years of rethinking.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        She wants to hire people similar to herself?
        I thought that was a bad plan. I thought the goal was to hire a wide variety of people to cover all aspects of the work and make the company profitable.

        But I could be wrong.

        As long as you test like her you will have a job. No pressure or anything…

        I hope she is a member of every protected class out there, so she won’t mess up that part.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I’m an INTJ, and I’ve read about the MBTI. The books I’ve read specifically say that it’s better to have people from various types so that there are different points of view. It makes more sense for a business to have people with different types.

    3. Dawn*

      “How problematic is this?”

      Completely, since that’s a total wack-a-doo way to hire people. You hire people based on skill. Also “hiring people that are similar in personality” is a great way to drive yourself straight into stagnation because then you don’t have any diversity in the way that people in the office approach problems or conflict. Not to mention potentially getting into if “similar in personality” might be a coded way to say “similar in other ways too” that might be skirting into protected class territory as well.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      In addition to what Temperance and Leatherwings said, usually the point of those assessments, from a managerial standpoint, is to be able to build teams with multiple strengths, not just find your clones. Ugh.

    5. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I don’t understand why they do it annually. Your personality isn’t supposed to change annually. I am permanently INTP. As for the VP hiring only people similar in personality to her, that’s crazy and mis-use of the test. So is repeatedly testing.

      1. Roonil Wazlib*

        Haha, most people don’t actually take their tests again and just tell their supervisors their personality from last year. That’s what I did.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        My ‘personality’ (according to those tests) can change in 5 minutes. That’s because I’m on the cusp on all 4, so answering one question differently can change a letter. And since I’m often debating which answer is better of two equal answers (or two answers that are both wrong), I don’t always remember how I answered the last time.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      Every year? That is so strange and useless. Not only has it never changed since the first time I took it (at 16) but at this point, I could answer to come out as any personality type your senior VP wanted me to be.

      And as someone who thinks the test can be helpful (in maybe understanding where someone else is coming from, and their communication styles) I’d want a well balanced team. I definitely wouldn’t hire a bunch of people like me. I do happen to work with two fellow ENFJ’s in volunteering, and while it’s nice to know there are other people I can count on to follow the eff through with their tasks, too many cooks can spoil the broth, if you know what I mean.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      It’s more than a little nutty. I’m pretty middle-of-the-road when it comes to that test’s parameters and my results are different every time I take it.

      1. CAA*

        Me too. When asked, I say I am IxTx. I think I’m just completely agnostic on the N/S and P/J scales and apply whichever attitude seems appropriate to the situation. (Either that, or I have multiple personalities.)

    8. Susan*

      Ugh, that’s stupid, and that’s from someone who actually kind of enjoys personality tests. At a previous job, all managers had to take a DISC personality test and share the results with their subordinates, and I thought it was interesting (although not hugely accurate). But it seems crazy to use something like that as a basis for hiring and firing people, especially if it is to make a more homogeneous team. I am an introvert, so I identify better with other introverts, but I still recognize the value in having extroverts on my team, because they are better suited to do certain things than I am (and I hope they recognize the value in having an introvert on their team who can work quietly alone for hours and get a ton of crap done without needing to socialize throughout the day).

      1. Foot Solider*

        My company also does this and while I have found hearing about everyone’s personality types entertaining and mildly helpful, I would find it very frustrating to hear someone wants to screen job candidates that way! That said my company tends to hire the same couple of personality types so maybe they just aren’t vocal about it or maybe we naturally hire people like ourselves anyway?

        1. catsAreCool*

          From what I understand, the theory is that people are more likely to hire people that have similar MBTI results (even if they don’t know they do) as themselves, because they may feel they have more in common and maybe feel that they think the same way.

          One of the great things about the test is that it is intended to help people who are different understand each other and be able to work with each other more easily. I think that most people know about the introvert/extrovert differences, but thinking/feeling, sensing/intuitive are less known.

    9. Trout 'Waver*

      Very problematic on several levels. Those short Myers Briggs tests aren’t very scientific. And diverse groups generally come up with better solutions to problems than homogeneous ones. So she’s shooting herself in the foot.

    10. Xarcady*

      My feeling is that you want a variety of people working in a department/team, because you need different viewpoints on things. Much as I like to think I’m perfect and so are all my ideas, co-w0rkers have that irritating trait of being able to point out flaws and difficulties and concerns that I completely overlooked.

      I’d worry that in a department of more-or-less similar people, those flaws and difficulties and concerns would not be caught until they were big problems.

    11. NoMoreMrFixit*

      The folks who produce test admit up front that it should not be used for hiring decisions as there is no proof at all that there is any correlation between rating and job performance. Finishing up a course on Recruitment and Selection and this was talked about earlier in the semester.

    12. Susan C.*


      Now, in all fairness, I consider these to be only marginally more predictive of personality than horoscopes, and I don’t think there’s any law against only hiring people born in August either, so, meh. Since discrimination requires a coherent group to discriminate against, the only harm here is probably in cutting down the candidate pool unnecessarily. Which, ok, could be a pretty serious issue if that pool isn’t that large to begin with.

      What I’d be more worried about though is how that attitude of “the more homogenous the better” plays out elsewhere… yikes.

    13. paul*

      The kicker is Myer Briggs isn’t exactly held in high esteem by psychologist at all either. Maybe a step or two up from horoscopes.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          Our new Director recently brought up Myers-Briggs at a team meeting.

          The response was overwhelmingly negative.

    14. BBBizAnalyst*

      I interviewed with a company that uses it in their hiring process. Really prestigious name in my industry but going through the hiring process where it was emphasized so much struck as a huge red flag for me so I withdrew.

      I find the the results amusing but I wouldn’t want to build an organization or work for a team that focused on “personality”.

    15. Catalin*

      What does it say about me that I wouldn’t necessarily want to work with several personalities like mine? I have an important role/fit for the office’s specific circumstances, but more than one or two sassy redheads would be a bit chaotic, I think.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I completely agree. That would be a disaster! I wouldn’t want that, nor would it be effective.

    16. Honeybee*

      Well, first of all the Myers-Briggs is not a valid personality test. It’s not even really designed to be a personality test; it’s designed to indicate people’s preferences in how they perceive the world and make decisions. Even for that, it doesn’t necessarily give the most useful information (for example, the idea that there are only 16 ways to perceive the world is silly; also, feeling and judging, and thinking and perceiving, are not opposite ends of a continuum). So I’d raise an eyebrow solely for that reason. (That said, I do think they can be fun if you don’t take them too seriously and use them as a jumping off point to talk about your preferences and personalities.)

      But yes, I’d say that’s problematic. Studies show that more diverse teams are actually more productive. If you surround yourself only with people who think like you, you live in an echo chamber – you’ll only hear what you want to hear and won’t hear challenges that help you grow or recognize problems. You won’t have people approaching problems from different angles. And also, what about the diversity of tasks on a team? I was chatting with one of my coworkers about how much she appreciates that I took over a logistics task because she hates organizing details like that. I love it. If our team was a team full of people who hated logistics nobody would be coordinating things with the vendors and budgeting our morale events or whatnot.

    17. Anon4This*

      I had a job where everyone had to take the DISC, share their type with everyone, and go to a training session on it. The good part was that we had on-going discussions about the test and relevant issues it brought up, such as differences in the way people communicate. The bad part was that we weren’t given much room to disagree with it. And we had to talk about it all the time. And know everyone else’s type. And interact with them accordingly. “Fergus is an S, so write him a long and empathetic email.” Yeah, that got old fast.

    18. Artemesia*

      This is contra good management if we assume this test measures something. I think we all know that it is not validated but we also know that it does seem to strike a chord with most who take it. INTJ here too. A team is best off with diverse people. People who are hard driving plan the work, work the plan types need others who are blue skyers who are likely to put a brake on jumping to conclusions and proceeding before thinking. A team of those latter types would never get anything done.

    19. Chaordic One*

      I don’t know that this is necessary suspicious or problematic, but your senior VP is seriously wack.

      Workplaces need to have a variety of different people from all over the Briggs Myers spectrum to balance each other and provide different viewpoints about how to deal with problems. We also need variety all over the spectrum of ages, races, genders, and sexual orientations. I think it is kind of creepy when everyone in a particular workplace seems to have the same personality. It leads to “group think” and can very easily become a form of covert discrimination.

    20. krysb*

      We do DiSC assessments at my company. We don’t use it for hiring, but as a guide for working better with people with differing personalities.

  18. NASA*

    Earlier this week during the work Secret Santa lottery:

    ^Crossing my fingers^ Not Susan, not Susan…anyone but Susan!

    Get’s Susan.

    Ugggggghhhhhhhhhh. I’ve written about “Susan” before. She sucks. She never responds to emails, but ironically will send you urgent emails whenever she doesn’t know the answer to something (hint: it’s often).

    I actually don’t mind having Susan, but I know she will not respond to the Secret Santa email that already went out. “Reply all and tell us what you want.” Multiple people have already responded and Susan will not be one of them.

    Fine, Susan, you can get a coffee mug and a pair of festive socks.

    1. Marisol*

      If you’re feeling really snarky, I saw some Blue-Q socks on Amazon yesterday that had the words”worst present ever” knitted into the pattern, intarsia-style, along with a drawing of the socks themselves. Hard to describe–a picture of the socks, on the socks–but very meta.

      1. Renee*

        Well that took me down an interesting wormhole. Some Blue-Q socks might end up in my teenager’s stocking this year.

    2. NASA*


      Susan must have heard my talk ish because she responded to the email today.

      The directions from our boss were give your gift ideas, no gift cards please.

      Susan replies, “I want a gift card from X or Y store.”

      Eye-roll. And of course X store’s lowest gift car amount is above our minimum…looks like you’re getting a GC from Y store. Bah Humbug!!!!

  19. Rowan*

    A suggestion for a bit of Friday fun — if your pet wrote in to Ask A Manager, what would they say?

    Here’s a letter from my cat:
    Dear Alison,

    I manage a small team. I’m having a weird issue where sometimes when I arrive at work, I find that someone has thrown up on my chair. My staff aren’t taking these incidents seriously as I’d like.

    They do the bare minimum to clean it up, and don’t seem interested in addressing the larger issue of why this keeps happening. In fact, they make a lot of jokes about it, some of which imply that *I* was the one responsible. Obviously, I have no memory of throwing up, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me!

    How should I address this with the team? Or should I let it go? More importantly, how do I figure out who’s making the mess???

    Long-Haired Autoc(r)at

    1. Murphy*

      When my company takes field trips, my boss will not let me pee as much as I feel like I need to. I feel that peeing on as many things as possible is a very important part of my professional development, but she doesn’t seem to understand. My co-worker is not as interested in peeing as I am, so I am the only one having this problem. (My bosses also have large meals in front of me, and do not share with me and my co-worker, which I think is just RUDE.) How do I explain to my boss that peeing on all the things is a really important part of my job and some things just NEED to be peed on?

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        My boss just brought on a new employee, who objects to having her butt sniffed. It’s been a real problem, because I cannot ascertain her work style or how we will be able to interact in the future. My boss is not taking this seriously and I am in a real quandry as to how to work with my new teammate!

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            This is actually my friend’s cat, who my dog sometimes gets to visit. My cat has been dealing with my dog since he was a puppy and is basically unfazed by buttsniffs at this point. (Though is generally ecstatic if, for whatever reason, the dog is away.)

      2. New to Miltown*

        Currently watching my two co-workers take their 2nd-3rd break (nap) of the morning. HR will hear about this, but will probably just get a pat on the head : /

      3. Bibliovore*

        Dear Alison,
        I am an older canine with special needs as well as ptsd from my horrendous non -socialized upbringing. ( working on this with therapist and medication)
        I cannot get my supervisor to stop coming up from behind me when I am concentrating or eating my lunch. Is it okay to bite him the next time that I am startled?
        Anxiously yours, Trixie Rescuedog

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Haha. This is great. From my 2 year old dog:

      Dear AAM:

      My cube neighbor licks his paws or the carpet all day long. Plus, he smells bad. I don’t want to say anything because he is very senior in the company and seems to get a lot of perks and management loves him. (Sometimes our manager actually carries him in her arms to go outside.) But, this is driving me nuts. What can I do to deal with this situation?


      P.S. I thought he would retire to the big kennel in the sky by now, but he seems determined to stick around.

    3. Orca*

      Dear Alison,
      My job is creating sand sculptures: I take sand from a box and create elaborate sculptures outside said box. My work is consistently destroyed before completion and my staff claims they were “cleaning up”. How can I address the issue of them not recognizing my work and throwing it out when they decide to “organize” things on a whim?

    4. Leatherwings*

      Love it! My pup:

      Dear Alison,

      My job is to bury bones. I’m very very good at my job, I find secret hiding places under pillows, blankets, chip bags in the cupboard, sometimes even under my boss mom while she’s sleeping. My issue is that my boss mom is constantly upending my hiding places when she makes the bed or rearranges the couch cushions etc.. Doesn’t she trust me to do my job? How can I convince her to leave all items in the house exactly where they are?

      Oh, as a side note she also micromanages my bathroom breaks by making me go before bed. I’m at my wits end!

    5. LizB*

      Dear Alison,

      How do I get my staff to take deadlines more seriously? The expectation in my organization is that the deadlines for petting me and feeding me are 1. the second they get up in the morning and 2. the second they walk in the door in the evening. I believe these expectations are in line with industry norms, and they help promote the smooth running of the organization. Unfortunately, my two direct reports have a seriously cavalier attitude towards these deadlines, and often put them off for up to 60 seconds in order to take care of personal business like going to the restroom or taking off their shoes. Sometimes they will even miss the evening deadline because they are paying attention to their phones or computers as they come in the door — they say they’re doing work from their second jobs, which I suspect may be full-time despite the clear conflict this presents with my expectations for them.

      I communicate my expectations loud and clear when deadlines are not met, and often try and notify my staff before they actually miss the morning deadline (they generally ignore these communications and keep their office door closed). Still, my reports insist on taking care of personal business to the detriment of these important petting and feeding tasks. How can I make it clear to them that I come first?

      Calico Executive Officer

      1. Mreasy*

        I’ve always feared the day I read an AAM post clearly written about me by my boss…and here it is!

    6. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      By the way, I love how all the dog owners refer to themselves as “boss” and the cat owners as “staff.”

      1. Leatherwings*

        hahahaha! I hadn’t noticed. I am not a cat person but it makes total sense that the cats manage their parents

      2. esra (also a Canadian)*

        Look. We cat owners know where we fall on the household office hierarchy. I believe I rate somewhere below catnip mouse toy and above little scoop.

    7. Weekday Warrior*

      I was explicitly hired to work from home but my co-workers who are expected to work in the field are always making snide comments like “call that working?” or “must be nice” when they see me settling down to my daily routine. You’d think they were my bosses! I’ve just been ignoring them but maybe it’s time to take a more assertive stance? Maybe surprise them with some strategically placed hair balls? I know, beneath my professional dignity which I really pride myself on.

    8. SJ*

      My cat–

      Dear AAM:

      When I’m feeling a little frisky and a coworker comes within a three-foot radius of me, I like to attack them. I’m just blowing off steam and having fun, but my coworkers seem to get annoyed when I do this. How do I stop them from taking everything so seriously?



    9. smokey*

      Dear Alison,
      My employee can’t seem to keep a schedule. 5 days a week she gets in on time but the other 2 days she gets to the kitchen 1 to 2 hours late! I can’t properly start my day without her since we always have a meeting first-thing. I have tried pawing on her door and calling her name but sometimes she just doesn’t budge. These morning meetings are important (mostly because she always brings treats!) She is otherwise a good employee. How can I convey to her that she needs to be on time EVERY day, not just 5 out of 7?

      1. k*

        I imagine my dogs would be all over the comments section on this one. They’ve spent a lot of time coming up with solutions for the same issue :)

      2. Honeybee*

        My dog would write this letter, but replace “pawing on her door” with “jumping on her head.”

    10. jenniferthebillionth*

      Dear Alison,

      I’m just barely an adult, and I have my first job outside of the shelter! I’m really excited, but there is one sticking point. One of my duties is to use a box, and I feel I can perform this best by backing up to the edge of the box, and doing my job on the floor over the edge. It seems perfect to me, but after completion, the manager rolls her eyes and gets out enzyme cleaner and paper towels. Perhaps I am doing this task wrong… but my manager and I don’t speak the same language! How do I make her understand my reasoning for performing box duties my way?

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        Ugh, my kitten did that this week because they both try to use the box at once and there isn’t room. Silly things.

        1. jenniferthebillionth*

          The usual advice for such things is to have one more box than you have cats (2 cats = 3 boxes). But if they insist on using the box together just for company… maybe a kiddie pool? :-)

          1. Rat in the Sugar*

            Maybe that will help, lol. I live in a one bedroom, so there isn’t room for a third box unless I want it in the kitchen (NO).

            Honestly, they’d still use the same one even if I had three. They also both have to eat out of whatever food bowl was most recently filled. As in, I fill one up and they both sprint over, and then when I immediately reach over and fill the second bowl right next to it, they both abandon the first one and come running to the second. What silly little beans. :)

              1. Rat in the Sugar*

                They are the cutest little jerks I’ve ever seen! I’ll have to figure out how to share pictures of them for the open thread tomorrow, they sleep curled around each other and it’s so cute you’ll puke!

          2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            My mom has three boxes because her cats cover their business and mine doesn’t, and when he comes over to visit (when we are away), her male cat REFUSES to share a box with him and ALSO refuses to do #1 business in the same box as #2 business. My cat gives zero farts as to which box is for what and drives her cat CRAZY.

            (However, they are young – 2 y/o – and mine is 11 y/o, and he hates that they try to play and interact with him, so… everyone has complaints.)

      2. HHS*

        And THIS is why I put puppy pads under my litter boxes, extending out a good 6-9 inches in all directions from the box! It doesn’t always catch it all, but 90-95% of the time it saves me a lot of time (and enzyme cleaner).

        1. knitcrazybooknut*

          We had little extra pieces of carpet around our litter boxes, but one of our cats would poop on the carpet. Every time. Pee in the box, poop on the carpet. I have NO idea why.

      3. Alton*

        I had an elderly cat who would do that, maybe because of his arthritis, maybe because he was oblivious. Alas, nothing we tried helped.

      4. Dee2*

        Cats can do this for various reasons. They could be in pain, they might not like the brand of litter, the box might be too small. Maybe switching things up would help?

        1. jenniferthebillionth*

          Oh, I’ve taken her to the vet (she’s fine) and ordered a box with a high back shield. She usually doesn’t miss the box, so I’m not worried. Just once in a while she decides she loves the edge. :)

          1. Windchime*

            I used to have a cat who would perch on the edge to do her business. All four feet, perched on the edge of the litter box. She wouldn’t do it always, just sometimes.

    11. Rachel*

      Dear Alison,

      How do I ask my boss for a raise? For the first few years I’ve been here, I received one chew bone per day (along with my regular meal service). They figured out that wasn’t enough in this market, so they raised it to two chew bones day earlier this year. However, I still think I’m underpaid. Not to brag, but I’m very good at my job, which includes being cute, providing security by looking out the window and barking at other dogs who pass by, and supervising 1 cat. My bosses know it, too, as they are always telling me what a good boy I am. Do you or your readers have any ideas how I can convince them to turn those words into more goodies?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My dog would write this. He might simplify it: “I want more stuff. My bosses keep refusing to give me stuff. I go their offices and talk to them about it at least three times a day, but they won’t give me any more stuff. I am such a good boy and recently received a new office they call the ‘guest bed’, but I still think I deserve more stuff.”

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          >> I am such a good boy and recently received a new office they call the ‘guest bed’, but I still think I deserve more stuff.””


    12. GigglyPuff*

      Dear Alison,
      The holidays are just the worst! These people from another office came to visit and see how things are run, and they just won’t leave. They act superior and ignore me most of the time, so I’ve felt the need to express my superior position in the company over them. One in particular is just so goofy, you have to get very dominant with him to show him who the boss is and to stop goofing off. I have to do this multiple times a day, almost all day long! The last time he actually growled!! Growled?!! At me!

      Is there a better way to show who the boss is than climbing on top of everyone? It’s getting really tiring and I’m just wiped out by the end of the day trying to assert that I’m the boss. (If it makes a difference, I am female but I don’t think it’s a lack of respect).

      P.S. Could this maybe be related to my boundary problems over my boss? Whenever we have to leave the office, I just get super scared something will happen to them and get really territorial. My boss is getting fed up, and there have been whispered threats of this thing called a muzzle. How do I get over my possessive issues??

      Crazy Collie

    13. Jessesgirl72*

      Dear Alison,

      I have a job in security that I take very seriously. I am diligent about it, and spend long hours guarding the main entrance to our workspace. The problem is that my boss does not take me seriously! I am constantly alerting her to intruders, such as the evil mail carrier, and can even distinguish the sound of the UPS truck turning into our block, and am quick to alert my boss immediately to this danger. She completely marginalizes my concerns, and even once told me that she doesn’t care if there were 100 squirrels in the yard! This is Not Okay, and dismissing my concerns make me feel undervalued. How can I convince my boss to listen to my concerns, not just for myself, but for the health and safety of everyone in the building? I mean, obviously squirrels in the yard can’t be tolerated, right?

      1. Murphy*

        Haha, my other dog (not the one who pees on all the things) could have written this. She reeeeeally hates those UPS trucks especially.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          And he could have written the peeing one too. He will go to the dog park and ignore other dogs because he thinks he has to pee on every single blade of grass! When he runs out, he takes to scratching to the scent from his paws marks the area. We once watched him and another male dog circle behind one another, trying to be the last one to claim a spot! LOL

          The other dog would write a letter about unfair overtime expectations. Sometimes we don’t go to bed right “on time” and she whines and grumbles and complains, until she finally goes off to bed without us.

    14. MsCHX*

      Dear Allison,

      My staff member performs the bare minimum of duties that I feel are absolutely necessary. For example, I have an expectation that I will receive a minimum of three belly-rub sessions per day, and I expect those sessions to last at least 10 minutes. My staff member will perform 1-2 belly rubs for 2-3 minutes. This is completely unacceptable.

      Furthermore, I have an expectation that when I sit outside of my staff’s door and meow in the loudest voice that I can muster, that she will open the door at once and let me in. She somehow feels that she can dictate when I am allowed to sit in her lap or on her laptop and often times pays more attention to her iPhone than she does to me.

      Lastly, I don’t know how much more plainly I can tell her that I don’t like those salmon treats; I prefer the chicken. It is not my problem that she has invested in salmon treats and tries to get over on me. I know salmon from chicken.


    15. LawCat*

      Dear AAM,

      My staff are responsible for, among other things, keeping the restroom cleaned up daily. I understand that this is not a desirable task, but it is an essential function of the job. Staff fall behind on this task more often than is acceptable. I sometimes will drop a “reminder” outside the bathroom. What else can I do? The team otherwise performs highly and is paid above market in purrs.

      – The Cat

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Look into this thing called a Litter Robot, and expense it. The restroom is cleaned automatically 30 seconds after you leave it- and REALLY cleaned, not like what is promised by automatic products made from companies like littermaid, where your staff would spend more time cleaning the rakes than the restroom itself! The only downside is it’s a big globe you climb into, so it makes it really hard to properly make sand art outside the box. Even my colleague, who is afraid of anything and everything, thinks the noise is acceptable. At least worth it for a a restroom that is always 100% clean. If your staff objects to the cost, try leaving the “reminders” on their bed. That is how a former colleague convinced them to take the problem seriously.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            They are pricey. There are starting to be some cheaper knock offs, but I can’t attest to how well they work. We’ve had two litter robots now (sold the first one at a garage sale for 75% of what we paid new, after 5 years of owning it! But we had a large cat who didn’t really fit in it. Then she died and the new cat is VERY picky!) and think they are worth their weight in gold. They also take up a good amount of space- and you need a handy outlet nearby. But the cats and I love the one we have! NONE of us liked the rake kind of automatic litter box.

    16. the.kat*

      Dear AAM:

      My human and I have very different ideas about what constitutes working. I insist that she remain by my side all day every day as a part of her job description. She refuses this simple task, often leaving me alone to “go places.” I’ve attempted to discuss this with her to no avail. Help a dog out!

      Velcro Dog

      1. Leatherwings*

        Dear Velcro Dog,

        Have you tried barking? Barking usually works. All day while she’s gone. When the neighbors call, she’ll have to come home.

        1. the.kat*


          Unfortunately, I’ve been written up in the past for this behavior. I still try to sneak some in, but I know I’m toeing a line.

      2. Anon 12*

        Dear A,

        How do I approach my human about needing a medical accommodation? I have IBS plus some binge/purge tendencies so I need to request that I be allowed to eat whenever I want, and not just bland sensitive stomach food. I will signal with extreme shrieking. Also, it would be better if they didn’t hide the good stuff, like flowers in a vase or leftover coffee cake because I want to inhale it in extreme quantities and then barf it back up wherever I feel like it, but mostly on upholstry or just cleaned carpet. I am 17 so I know I’m a protected class and they can’t fire me.
        Cat nobody believes is still alive.

    17. Gandalf the Nude*

      (Translated from binary)

      [Salutation] Dear Designation:Alison,

      [Pleasantry] Your blog is very informative. It is a highly enjoyable use of Designation:Gandalf the Nude’s wi-fi between patrols.

      [Exposition] I am a companion droid modeled after a famous fictional astromech droid. My primary function is to patrol the base of Designation:Gandalf the Nude. I am compensated in alternating current. I lack the infrared and photocell sensors and the vision simultaneous localization and mapping of the cleaning droid Designation:Roomba.

      [Quandary] My patrol in the commissary currently includes the area between the conservator and the wall. This is a long and narrow space but accessible from the commissary. My small size justifies and necessitates that I investigate this area. My lack of sensors limits my ability to successfully navigate an exit.

      [Query] Is Designation:Gandalf the Nude obligated to install a barrier to prevent my entering into this area?

      [Exposition-additional] Designation:Gandalf the Nude has to rescue me each time I become lost in this space. Designation:Gandalf the Nude comments that I am not required to patrol this area. My programming requires that I investigate any area that is accessible to me. Therefore:

      [Conclusion] Designation:Gandalf the Nude should modify the space so that my programming does not calculate it as a necessary area for patrol.

      [Query-additional] How do I convince Designation:Gandalf the Nude to prioritize this project?

      [Pleasantry-additional] I appreciate any advice you have on this subject.

      [Valediction] Designation:BB-8
      Occupation:App Enabled Droid

      ((I don’t have pets, but my gosh that was fun.))

      1. kbeersosu*

        I don’t entirely understand this, but I envisioned a small R2D2-like robot sending this message. And then I almost spit my coffee out.

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          Google “BB-8 Star Wars App Enabled Droid”. It’s the best birthday present I’ve received in years!

    18. Sled Dog Mama*

      Dear Allison,
      Our Board has recently decided to relocate our headquarters. This is fine with us as they will be moving all current staff and positions will be maintained. Our problem arises from our junior co-worker we’ve been here 8 and 6 years and she arrived just over 2 years ago (we all started at entry level). We used to have super primo office space (I’m talking one step down from the CEO) before she arrived, after her arrival we were moved to another office space but still within the same building. Later after her duties increased we were further moved from the main office building to a separate one. As part of this relocation we have learned that junior co-worker will be getting a top floor office next to the CEO while we will be getting lowest floor offices. As part of our duties include snuggling, bed warming, and general night time patrols this is entirely unacceptable to us. How do we get the Board to see that we are getting unsuitable office space based purely on the fact that we have four legs and junior co-worker is being treated preferentially because she has two?
      D & C (The Sled Dogs)

      1. Rat Racer*

        Such is the plight of all dogs – even unionized dogs – when a new 2-legged puppy joins the workforce.

    19. FoodieNinja*

      Dear AAM:

      I’m having a serious problem with a co-worker. A few months ago she abruptly began slacking off on her work and I would frequently catch her sleeping all day in the lounge. As a result, my staff insisted both she and I go to the Vocational Enrichment Trainer. I returned to my job duties as normal, but she was rewarded with a multi-day vacation, a new haircut, and now gets special snuggles from the staff twice a day! She also smells suspiciously medicinal and I suspect she is on drugs. My staff don’t seem at all responsive to my complaints, and in fact frequently chastise me about being nicer to her! At all my previous jobs a swift left paw to the nose was an perfectly acceptable management tool! How do I explain to my staff that if anyone is going to get special treatment it should be me, and that drugs other than catnip are not approved in the workplace?

      Ophelia Calico

    20. Alton*

      From one of my cats:

      Dear AAM:

      My coworker is always leaving a mess in the bathroom. He has terrible aim, and never cleans up after himself.

      I complained to management, and their solution was to have a whole new bathroom put in that’s only accessible from my coworker’s office. They say I can use the old bathroom, and suggested that this is a good deal for me because I’ll be the only one using it now. But it seems unfair that my coworker gets the new bathroom all to himself. Why should he be able to leave his scent in it? I’ve been going into his office so I can pee in his bathroom. But this means I still have to clean up after him. People are complaining that my cleaning efforts are “excessive” and that kicking the litter out of the box makes a bigger mess. They also say I shouldn’t go in my coworker’s office to pee and that I should use the other bathroom if I hate sharing with my coworker. I think I should use all the bathrooms. How do I convey how important this is?

    21. Rat Racer*

      From my dog:

      Dear Alison,

      My boss has implemented a “fitness program” at the office and I hate it! At least twice a week, she is forcing me to go on 5-mile runs in the hills. Sometimes, I get to run at my own pace, but usually, I am tethered to her (she tells me it’s illegal for me to be “off leash” – is that even true??). I have tried communicating that this exercise program is horrible by hiding under the bed or refusing to get in the car, but my boss is just not taking the hint.

      I was hired into this job to chase balls and bring them back and I excel at this aspect of my work – and I love it! But if there is no ball to retrieve, I think running is totally pointless, and have run out of ways to communicate this to my boss – hiding her running shoe in the garden worked for 1 day, but then she found it and I got in trouble. Do you think this is something I can broach with human resources? Or perhaps the Dog Resources department (do companies have these?)

      Thanks tons!
      Furry and Weary of running

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Dear Alison,

        I have the opposite problem of Furry and Weary.
        I love to run. I run through the house at two A.M. because I love to run.

        My boss, not so much.

        So I sincerely believe that it is in my boss’ best interest to run more often. When I first came here eight years ago, I implemented a program that any time the boss opened one of the main doors, I would tear out the door and proceed to run through the neighborhood.
        This of course helped my boss tremendously. And she eventually learned that if she did not yell so much she could run longer.
        We have met many neighbors. I need your help explaining to my boss that she should not apologize to everyone for getting, what is in my opinion, much needed exercise.

        But here is my main problem. My boss hired Bob. Bob fixes things around here. Bob is nice, he feeds me when my boss is not watching. I am thumb challenged and opening those containers without thumbs takes me a while, so Bob’s treats are great. BUT one day Bob showed up with two custom made iron gates. He installed one by the back doors, which was fine. But when he installed the one by the front door, I let him know in no uncertain terms that this was totally unacceptable. You need to have a thumb to open the lock. So I let him know, but Bob does not speak Husky-an.

        I am interested in finding out what other exercise programs I can use to help my boss.
        I had built an obstacle course of holes in the back yard for me and the boss to run through but Bob roto-tilled it and now the holes are gone. I used to pick up box cutters or scissors or cash and that really motivated my boss to run through the house with me. This no longer works because the boss hides these objects now. I am very worried about my boss’ health. Please help.

        My name is,
        No No, Buddy.

    22. Mononymous*

      This is great!

      From my small dogs:

      Dear Alison,

      I love my job, and the work environment is mostly good, but I have serious concerns about the sanitation situation. The bosses make us take care of our business outdoors only, regardless of weather conditions. I’ve been ordered to pee in thunderstorms that soaked me through, during high winds that nearly knocked me over, and in snow that came all the way up to my wherever! I’ve stopped alerting my boss to my needs in hopes of avoiding this, but they still force me to go outside every few hours all day, and they stand in the door blocking me from coming back inside until they actually see me go. What an invasion of privacy!

      I’ve tried sneaking off and using the floor in the room they call “bathroom” before, and I know this is the correct use of that room, because I’ve seen (and smelled) what they do in there. But, when they find the results of my visit, they always put me on a literal short leash afterward! Is this legal?!

    23. paul*

      From: Big Bitey Snek

      “My person seems to think that I *shouldn’t* lunge out and try to bite him when he’s cleaning my cage. In addition, he doesn’t like it when I try to climb on the wonderful climbing structures in the room while out of my office. How do I broach this, and how does it involve biting or pooping on him?”

    24. HR Caligula*

      Dear AAM
      I feel my boss doesn’t appreciate my value to the organization at least in part because of my culture. I’m Papillon and take work/life balance very seriously, even willing to sacrifice up to 15 minutes a day following his direction.
      He often loudly states “You’re NO Labrador!” It feels discriminating.
      Is this legal?
      Thank you,

    25. MsMaryMary*

      Dear Alison,

      I have a remote coworker who comes into our main office once a week for what our bosses refer to as Family Dinner. On her day in our office, she and I are supposed to have a long walking meeting. The idea is that I can show her all the best places in the neighborhood to pee, and we can do corporate surveillance on my biggest rivals: the one-eyed chihuahua in the house on the corner, and the dachshund who attacked me last spring when I tried to enter his yard.

      Sometimes, however, my coworker does not want to have our walking meeting. She still wants to meet, but would prefer to meet on the couch (ideally with me in her lap). I notice this happens more often in the winter months or when it’s raining. Obviously, the walk part of our meeting is crucial. How do I clearly communicate this to her? I have tried everything! I get my leash off the bookcase and place it on the floor in front of her, I’ve tried nudging her shoes, I’ve even tried jumping up and down and running towards the door every time she stands up. She just doesn’t get it.

      Thanks for your help,

    26. Alice*

      I’m generally very happy with my manager and work situation, but there’s one issue that I’m not sure how to resolve. I’ve always dreamed of working as a driver. I really want to sit in the front seat, put my paws the steering wheel at 10 and 2, and cruise down the boulevard (preferably with the window open for maximum tongue-wind interface).
      My boss often invites me to come along on driving trips, even when my primary skills (protecting my boss from employees of other companies, taste-testing my boss’s food, and snuggling) are not required. I thought my boss was grooming me to move into a driving role, but my progress has stalled. I try to be proactive by scrambling into the front seat and climbing into my boss’s lap, but she doesn’t seem to care about my professional goals.
      How can I persuade my boss to let me develop professionally? Even though it’s a great workplace otherwise, this frustrated dream makes me feel like I’m the company dogsbody, not a valued team member.

    27. Fact & Fiction*

      This thread is making me smile even though it’s bittersweet because I just lost my third pet in a few months (including the pet that was adopted to cheer us up after losing the first two unexpectedly). It’s been a really shitty thing to deal with. But these are really funny!

      1. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

        I’m so sorry, losing a pet is so hard. Sending lots of warm thoughts your way.

    28. katamia*

      Dear Alison,

      Due to a currently undiagnosed health issue I have to eat multiple pieces of paper or cardboard every day. However, my owners always try to take them away every time they see me eating one. Is this legal?

      Poodle Poodlington

    29. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Dear Alison,

      I got a new coworker almost 2 years ago. She constantly hugs me and kisses me, and when I get up and move, she follows me. My two bosses think this is “cute” and won’t correct the behavior. This new coworker will sometimes share her food with me, which I like, but she also puts her hands in my food and water! My bosses do chastise her for that, but the behavior hasn’t stopped. We have a large recreational area that I enjoy using, but only get limited time, unless the newer coworker wants to be out there longer too. It was much better before this new coworker came along, but she’s on an 18 year contract, so I won’t be rid of her anytime soon.

      How do you recommend I deal with this situation?

      1. miki*

        How do I get this whole comment thread about pets in an easy to click link? Just this comment, not the whole Open thread?
        Alison, help?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Go up to the beginning comment and right click the date/time link. Choose “Open link in new tab.” The comment will open in a tab that starts at that thread. You can then bookmark it.

    30. Mockingjay*

      Dear AAM:

      I saw your post yesterday about managing projects when you don’t have formal authority. I am the defacto manager of our staff.

      I spend my days ensuring everyone gets enough grazing time. We rotate turns with the 2-legged members of the team who like to sit on us, rather than chairs. They also like go places on us. It’s okay most of the time; we usually agree to go in the same direction. (But not always.)

      Recently, the newest team member is trying to rearrange grazing time – actually, he’s hogging it. Now, I am the senior-most person on the team, and that is MY job. How can I get this upstart pony to stop? I’ve nipped the little bugger to no avail. I think it has a Napoleon complex.


      The old gray Alpha mare

    31. Ama*

      Dear Alison,

      It is understood in my workplace that I have a regular meeting with Sunbeam every morning at roughly the same time every day. However three days this week Sunbeam missed the meeting. I asked my staff repeatedly to call Sunbeam and remind him to show up but they just make excuses about Rain or Clouds preventing them from doing so. How do I persuade them to take this seriously? Also would it be weird to escalate this to Sunbeam, Rain, and Clouds’s boss? They don’t work for me but their inconsistency is really impacting my workflow.

    32. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

      This thread made me smile so much today which was very needed! Below is a letter from my pug.

      Dear Allison,
      I need your advice on what to do as my boss is a micromanager and I think she is now trying to get me fired by HIDING the supplies needed for my job. My job is in recycling and it’s a cause I’m very passionate about. I use to sort out items to be recycled daily as the people in my office are very wasteful and do not care about the environment or hungry people. Previously I would sort through all the items, clean out the items that were dirty, put the items into piles and put them in storage. Recently, my boss has LOCKED up the supplies for my job and will not give me a key. One day (or maybe a few), she came back, after being gone forever doing who knows what, and got very angry that I had completed my task for that day. She then yelled at me for storing all of these items (even though, again this is my job!) and accused me of hiding things from her. I told her I was hiding anything, I was just making sure the items were in the a secure spot. I may have gotten over emotional about this and cried a few times to her but she is just so brutal and doesn’t care about my work ethic. After she locked up my supplies, she then accused me of trying to sabotage her mental health (by making her think she was going “crazy”) by “stealing” other items such as clothing, colored pencils, purses or other items and again, I’m just trying to make this a world a better place by cleaning up after people who litter. This is my dream job and I just don’t know how to get my boss to stop being so aggressive in her goal to get rid of me! She has also accused me of sleeping and snoring on the job as well as being overly loud and both of these are medical conditions I have but she doesn’t seem to care. Any help is appreciated!

      A pug, not a thug (which my boss often calls me in additional to a barrage of other names)

    33. Cath in Canada*

      This is awesome

      Dear Alison,

      My sister and I were hired at a small family business at the same time. At first, it was nice to have a familiar face around during a time of such profound change, but now I really don’t want to keep working with her. She keeps following me around and wanting to wrestle or cuddle. It’s so annoying! She sucks up to my staff shamelessly, and they think she’s great. They praise her right in front of me! (They praise me too, and seem to like me, but I actually deserve it, unlike that useless sister of mine). I really like everything else about my job and don’t really want to leave – how can I persuade my sister to leave instead?

    34. Windchime*

      Dear AAM,

      I’ve got a problem with my employee that I need your help with. This person actually thinks that she is my boss, and acts like she owns the place. Most of the time, she works in our other office but sometimes she works here at the house and it’s SO ANNOYING. I stare and stare and sometimes even yowl, but she doesn’t understand that I just want her to turn on the fireplace so I can relax in front of it. She actually takes her time getting me fresh water when I sit by the bowl, despite my repeated and prolonged staring.

      I’m clearly the most beautiful person in the house, with my long fluffy coat and sharp nails. I don’t know why she is so picky about her stupid brown chair; it’s not like I’m clawing up a masterpiece.

      How can I get this person to stop acting like she owns me and start to realize that she should be paying more attention to my comfort?

      Mr. Kitty

    35. Rosalind*

      Dear AAM,

      I’ve been at this job for about a year and my boss doesn’t appreciate me. She often makes food for her comanager which they eat at the conference table in front of me and don’t offer to share any. There is other food available,but it is not the same quality. I feel I have to beg for a measly carrot. I am always aspiring to explore better and higher opportunities but every time I take the opportunity to explore the counters or bookshelves I am reprimanded. When I can grab things I run with them until she notices and chases me down demanding I drop this new project. She even went so far as to physically block me from accessing the new light up trees that both she and her co-manager had total access to. Recently they brought me a meeting at grand boss’ remote location but kept me “on a short leash” and said I couldn’t be trusted not to jump on and overwhelm great grand boss. (I did overwhelm her with my enthusiasm during a previous meeting). My boss also insists that I need to tone down my manner of greeting visitors to the office. She has also asked me to stop handling the mail.
      I believe my enthusiasm should be rewarded. How do I convince my boss to appreciate the energy I bring to this role?

    36. Kj*

      Dear Alison,
      The work herd hiarchy, as set down in handbook of horns clearly shows, I am the herd boss. Yet my junior coworker refuses to recognize my herd lead position. To add insult to injury, she is on better terms with the feeder who distributes the daily sunflower seed allotment, and thus gets first dibs on the seeds while I hang baaaaaack, slightly afraid of the feeder. I think it has something to do with my coworker’s unorthodox upbringing. She was a foster child and adopted by the feeders, even fed from a bottle. Thus, she has baaaaaaad manners and is rude. Please tell me how I can put this coworker in her place. The usual locking of horns is not working, as my coworker refuses to recognize workplace norms.
      Thank you,
      Rey, who is not a baaaaaaad goat

    37. Champagne_Dreams*

      I wish I could upvote you or give you virtual gold or something. This is so creative and brought so much joy to so many people! Big thanks!

  20. LizB*

    My supervisor resigned abruptly this week, and while I feel bad about the circumstances that caused him to do so… I’m super excited that his job is open and I can apply for it! I’ve had my eye on it for a few months now, since it’s been obvious he’s been struggling, and I’m really hoping I get it. It’s only posted internally, so hopefully there won’t be a ton of applicants, and I’m pretty sure I’m the most qualified unless one of the other managers wants to make a lateral move (uncommon in my organization). Several of my coworkers have told me they hope I apply and get it, which is also very encouraging. I updated my resume, I just need to write an awesome cover letter and ace the interview. Fingers crossed!

    1. Sutemi*

      I started reading this comment and didn’t realize that it wasn’t in the pet thread, I was very concerned that you were having to rehome your pet!

      Good luck with the interview!

        1. LizB*

          Thanks, paul and Sutemi! Sorry for the confusion. :)

          (I think if this comment had been in the pet thread, “my supervisor resigned” would be code for “LizB and BoyfriendB broke up” — not happening anytime soon — and KittyB would be excited about potentially getting to take over his entire side of the bed at night. So, it would still be sad from my perspective, but not bad from hers.)

  21. TotesMaGoats*

    My work BFF got the job offer she was hoping for and will probably only work out the rest of this month. I’m super happy for her but at the same time I’m sad too. It’s going to be lonely here without her. I’m looking hard for something new but it’s moving so slowly. No real question. Just venting.

    1. Purest Green*

      My work friend took another job a few months ago. It felt hollow without her at first, but then I got so much work and was so busy that I wouldn’t have seen her anyway. It still sucks, but it pretty quickly became the new norm.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      She’ll surely miss you too. I started a new job a month ago, and although it’s all going well, and I really like it so far, I do miss my friends at OldJob a lot. I had lunch with one yesterday and it was really great to catch up.

    3. JustaTech*

      Me too! I’m going to miss her on a work level (because she had been here forever and knew everyone and everything including more than a few skeletons) but I’m selfishly going to miss her because now I know I will have no one to join me at lunch at least two days a week. (Long ago we had a huge lunch crew, but over time they’ve all quit.)

  22. I got a job!*

    Happy Friday all! I’ve been a longtime lurker with a few anon comments here and there, but I wanted to share my good news. After looking for over 1.5 years, I got a new job this fall! Besides getting me out of my former toxic workplace, I got a 26% raise in base pay (plus new job does bonuses, has better benefits, etc.), and it’s a great fit for my skills/interests/career. I had many times where I was convinced I’d never find anything…. or I’d have to take something with equally crappy pay or at a lower level to get out of old job, but I wasn’t even getting offers on those jobs! I felt stuck. The AAM book and this amazing site/community kept me going and sane. I don’t think I would have gotten this new gig without. So thank you! And to everyone still looking, keep your chin up. The process sucks, but rely on this community and your IRL community as much as you can. You’re all awesome, smart people. Job hunting just sucks. It’s not a personal reflection on you.

    1. Jean*

      Enjoy your new job and feel proud that by sharing your news you give hope to the folks still in job-hunting limbo.

  23. animaniactoo*

    So annoyed.

    We had our annual benefits meeting yesterday. HR wants all paperwork back by Monday (although today would be even better if you can do it!). In my opinion, this is so unreasonable. People need to have time to look at options without feeling rushed by all of this. Especially since we changed our dental and vision insurance and need time to review it. Oh, and I’m still waiting on the detailed list of scheduled co-pays for dental dmo so I can figure out if it’s a good option. Since yesterday. About 22 hours ago. But we’re supposed to 1-2 day turn this? At least give us a week! Geez.

    (I know that they will work with you on the deadline if you have to investigate other options, but putting some of the leeway into the original schedule would just be standard courtesy to me.)

    1. Tris Prior*

      Ugh. This happened to me all the time at Last Job. It was a small company and each year they changed not only our plans, but our insurance carrier because the increases were always so huge that they couldn’t stick with the old one. (we had a couple employees who had cancer). We would have the benefits meeting one day and the paperwork would be due the next day – they would wait until the Very Last Minute to find the new carrier and get us the information.

      Of course this gave us hardly any time to do things like review plans in detail, see if our doctors were on the new plan, etc. So frustrating!

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      That’s absurd. Our HR gives us a month to decide on benefits.

      I would go to them and say “Look, this is a huge decision for employees to take on, and 48 hours isn’t a reasonable time frame. I need a week to look over my options. Can you work with that?”

    3. MsCHX*

      We are small and haven’t made changes in 2 years (and we didn’t increase premiums this year!) and I still gave people 2 weeks.

      A few days is absurd. Sounds like them waiting until December wasn’t such a good idea.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I was so happy when I saw the meeting notice on Monday because it actually happened at least a week earlier than it usually does. But except for the one really last-minute year, we’ve always had 4 or 5 business days to respond.

    4. animaniactoo*

      I finally got the scheduled co-pays sheet about 45 minutes ago. This leaves me lots of time to read through it and double-check that the services are all worth picking that plan over the other one, etc. It’s not like I had anything else planned to do with my weekend. [mad face]

  24. LawCat*

    The spouse put in his notice at Toxic Job (one month’s notice, he can’t be forced out early). He doesn’t have anything else lined up though he has been looking. He is planning to go back to school part-time in January and has been focusing on finding part-time work. I got a job this year that pays well enough so I can support us even if he isn’t working (though he’d prefer to work). Regardless, I think it will be great for his well being (and accordingly, great for us) for him to get out of there. :-)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Good luck to you both! Sometimes we just have to make that leap. I am sure you guys will be glad you did this later on.

  25. WellRed*

    Eye roll of the day. We are a very small office with a manager who has appointed herself a sort of pet to one of our VPs. The rest of us just roll our eyes. He’s been traveling for a week. She made and hung a sign on his door to welcome him back: It features chihauaua and flowers that says, “You’re back! I’m so happy I could pee!”
    She’s fifty and has never learned office norms, apparently.

    1. Temperance*

      Okay so, let me know if I’m totally off-base, but does she also have big poofy hair with a scrunchie and wear stretch pants to work? Because I can picture her.

      1. Windchime*

        I actually saw someone wearing a scrunchy on the train the other day. I had to do a double-take before I realize what it was that caught my attention. I haven’t seen a scrunchy on an adult women in quite a while.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This is a good example of one of those times where we have to refuse to wear other people’s embarrassment for them.

  26. Kinsley M.*

    We’ve had an issue this week with an employee coming to work sick. It’s not just a cold. His coughs are the type where it sounds awful and flemy and he struggles to catch his breath in between. He has many more symptoms as well. It honestly seems like he has pneumonia.

    Some employees have been trying to passive-aggressively say things like ‘can I get you a cough drop?’ Or simply ‘are you ok?’ One even came out and said, ‘dude you need to go to the doctor.’ He brushed it off with “It’s not a tickle in my throat, my lungs are just filled with mucus” and something about how he’s taking sudafed. Somehow doesn’t see how this is an issue, and at this point, we’ve had complaints from those who sit next to him (cube style office) who are worried they’re going to catch whatever he has.

    Can we force him to either go to the doctor and get an all clear or go home? There’s no where else for those who sit near him to go. He’s exempt so it’s not an issue of him not getting paid if he goes home or leaves for a couple hours for an appointment.

    I’m at a loss for what to do. I don’t like the idea of telling someone how to manage their own health, but people are rightfully worried that they’ll get sick too (some of which are non-exempt and don’t have the same pay protection if they’d have to leave). How do I handle this?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Sudafed isn’t even going to help! Some Mucinex maybe.

      But I really think you – or preferably, his manager – should say “we’d prefer you stay home until you’re well”…

    2. Leatherwings*

      Ugh, he should stay home. I get this cough once every couple of years, and cough drops and OTC meds are not going to do the trick. If it makes you feel better, he’s probably only contagious for a week or so (cold comfort, I know) before just having a terrible ugly cough for weeks.

      If you’re his manager, I’d tell him he needs to stay home until he’s feeling better (and possibly gets the all clear that he’s not contagious).

    3. Temperance*

      Tell him to go the hell home because he’s sick and could infect others. He can work from home, he should be.

      I have a weakened immune system, and if some selfish jackass got me sick, there would be hell to pay.

    4. animaniactoo*

      Yes, you are perfectly within your rights to require him to see a doctor and get an all-clear note, as a question of public health.

    5. Emi.*

      “It’s not a tickle in my throat, my lungs are just filled with mucus”

      I have never heard a better reason to seek professional medical attention.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      Is your manager aware of this? I had a coworker come in with the FLU a few years ago. She refused to go to the doctor, but eventually our manager put her foot down and said “Brienne, you’re endangering others. You have sick days for a reason. You need to go home and use them.”

      A few of us ended up getting sick anyway, but we sanitized the entire pod after she went home– especially her desk.

    7. Menacia*

      Someone should definitely speak to his manager, I know people are reluctant to go to the doctor but in this case, especially if he’s got something contagious, it’s a risk to the people who work with him.

    8. Girasol*

      That was me two years ago. I did go to the doctors because I thought I had pneumonia. They told me I was fine. The next time I went they said I needed prescription cough syrup and sudafed. It wasn’t until I’d had a fever for three weeks and felt like I couldn’t suck in enough air in that they said, “Pneumonia. Get these antibiotics and a chest xray and then you can go right back to work this afternoon.” So I had the doctor’s “all clear” the whole hacking three weeks. In a butt-in-seat, only-slackers-take-sick-leave culture, it’s hard to do the right thing. I took a lot of sick leave but showed up when I could crawl in and hid in an empty corner of the office to keep germs to myself, just to prove I was a team player but a pretty sick one. If I’d gotten a “Your coughing is distracting. Please work from home,” it would have solved the problem without requiring a doctor’s verdict.

      1. krysb*

        This was me two years ago, too, except I did end up with pneumonia (it started with the flu). I was nearly hospitalized. At the time I was hourly, and it was right before Christmas, so I got my hours despite taking 6 days off (plus a weekend) of work to recuperate.

    9. That Anti-ant Person from a Few Months Ago*

      There are medical conditions that can cause mucus to accumulate in the lungs but are not contagious. I have been dealing with a similar issue due to poor air quality in my recently purchased home (third-hand smoke ain’t no joke).

      Do express your concerns though (in a respectful way). And if other employees do end up getting sick, then is the time to sit down with him and say “We can’t have this happening”.

      1. Jean*

        I’m puzzled. Why recommend waiting to speak until others get sick? I would think that the idea is to prevent other employees from getting sick in the first place.

    10. CA Admin*

      Oh god, another one. We have an employee here who’s had a cough for 6 months. The people who sit by her are so past annoyed. Hell, I’m annoyed and I only ever have to see her in 1-2 meetings per week. She refuses to see a real doctor. She goes to urgent care and they’ve told her it’s a spasm. A spasm isn’t a diagnosis, it’s a symptom. She’s been told by multiple people to just go to a specialist, since she doesn’t have a GP (she moved to the area 6 months ago, around the time she took the job with us, and hasn’t bothered to get a regular doctor). She just keeps saying she will, but she never does. Our employer covers all our premiums, so there’s a copay and deductible, but she’s paid well above market rate because they had trouble filling her post. There’s no reason she can’t go see someone who’ll actually figure out what’s wrong with her and help her MAKE IT STOP, except that she doesn’t want to.

      She’s run through all of her sick leave and all of her vacation because she’s out sick regularly. She’s in a role where physical presence and coverage is extremely important. Her unreliability has cause both her immediate team and her extended team extreme hardship. She was even given an extra week off to sort out her issues! But she came back the same with no information about what’s causing it. She’s protected by her 2 bosses. One loves her (I don’t know why, since he’s the kind of person who never stays home when he’s sick and is very butt-in-chair) and the other feels sorry for her. It’s driving the rest of the staff crazy!

      I don’t have any suggestions, just commiseration.

    11. paul*

      Question: does he have health insurance and PTO? I went to work dog sick a few times when I’ve started a new job before those benefits kicked in because I couldn’t afford to miss more than a day or so.

      But yes, his manager *can* elect to send him home. Our CEO sent my boss home sick the week before Thanksgiving (thank goodness too, she was puking in her office and not entirely with it).

    12. Artemesia*

      My worry would be strep or pertussis i.e. something highly contagious; I’d be insisting with the boss that this guy gets checked out.

  27. Boardwalk Kingdom*

    Do you guys ever feel guilty about quitting a job? I left a job a while back, but just couldn’t shake off this slightly guilt that I was leaving the guys left behind with more work.

    1. Kirsten*

      Totally. I’m in the early stages of preparing to leave my job, and while I know it is ultimately for the best, I really do feel bad about the likelihood that it will make things more miserable for my co-workers for a while. I know they say you’re not supposed to feel guilty about it… but I like my co-workers a lot and know what it’s like to be short-staffed around here.

    2. Sibley*

      In the words of Disney: Let it go.

      They can hire someone to replace you. If they don’t, that is 100% their issue, not yours.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Yep, I left a job after three months and they REALLY needed me. Unfortunately I’d applied for the new job before I even started! The application process was just really long. I felt terrible about leaving my company in the lurch, but my manager was really understanding and later followed me to my new company!

    4. Sled Dog Mama*

      Yep totally feel guilty about leaving my current job. One of my work sites is so nice and would love to keep me but the other is toxic as all H*LL (and I work in radiation) plus the company I actually work for (I’m a contractor at these two sites) is totally disorganized and has zero leadership

      1. calonkat*

        I have to say, this is one of the most accurate uses of a “toxic” environment I’ve seen here! (my sister works in hazardous waste management, so while I know what everyone means by the phrase “toxic environment”, I have to switch when she’s venting to me :) )

    5. Ama*

      I did feel a little bad when I left my last job because I knew the bulk of the work for a pretty major event was going to fall on the shoulders of my student assistant, but a couple years after I left I happened to find out that she ended up taking a full time job there after graduation doing exactly the type of project that I felt guilty for leaving her with, so I think everything worked out for the best (especially since getting away from that type of work was a big reason I was leaving).

    6. Epsilon Delta*

      Oh yes. Not because I was leaving at a bad time or anything like that, but just because I was raised with an ethic that “you don’t quit anything, ever.” Even though I rationally know there’s nothing to feel guilty about, all the logic in the world can’t change that conditioning.

    7. Rebecca*

      I feel guilty, but every time I feel that way, I remind myself that it’s not my responsibility to make sure a job is adequately staffed, and that the workers are compensated fairly. I left because management didn’t do their job. Now I’ve landed in a better place, and so far, so good! I love it! I do feel badly for my former coworkers, but it’s not my circus, and not my monkeys.

    8. Boardwalk Kingdom*

      Thanks guys. I just have to remind myself of all the times other people quit in my previous job… I never really thought negatively about their actions, so I should afford myself the same courtesy

  28. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

    For the past several months, my supervisor has been encouraging me to join an internal planning team for my department on a specific topic. I’ve been very noncommittal, both in terms of my time available and the fact that I don’t quite agree with the approach of the topic area. I’ve been very clear in our regular meetings that I am ambivalent about joining this team.

    At my recent performance evaluation, my supervisor pushed even harder for me to join this team (which she would be leading). I finally point blank asked if I would lose my job if I declined to join this team and she answered “yes” that she would go to the leadership team and there “might not be a place for me anymore.”

    At our company, we frequently have to work on contracts or projects for clients which we may not agree with or like. That’s the nature of the work. But I have never been pressured to join an internal team as I have in my current situation. To give an equivalent, it’s like being told to join the social event committee or you would be fired. I’ve run this by HR and they agree I should not be threatened with termination for not joining an internal team.

    The first meeting of this team is next week, and my supervisor has made my attending this meeting mandatory. How do I move forward? Do I attend this meeting, and then reiterate to her afterwards that I do not want to join the team? Do I refuse to attend the meeting?

    Thanks for your help and perspectives!

    1. Dawn*

      Do not ever engage in a battle of wills with your manager. You will not win, and the outcome will not be pretty.

      Have you asked your supervisor why she’s insisting you be on this team? I mean, it might be a horrible terrible stupid reason, but maybe there’s a kernel of good in it- maybe there’s a developmental aspect you haven’t considered or something.

      At the absolute least it’s an extra thing to put on your resume, if nothing else.

      1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        The thing I disagree with is that it’s a team of four (counting her) that will design an entirely different way of working/product for the other half of the department. I disagree with the non-collaborative approach, especially because we’re not involved in that work on a day-to-day basis. I feel the other “side” needs improvement, but I think ultimately it will hurt my/our reputation and relationships to just impose onto another group. She wants me because I have experience and good ideas.

        I take your point about the battle of wills!

    2. Susan*

      I hate to break it to you, but your boss is, well, the boss, and it’s her prerogative to make you join the team as a mandatory part of your job duties (and, of course, it’s your prerogative to quit if you do not want to take on this duty). Sure, it would be better if she could find someone for this team who is more interested, but there are times when nobody’s interested and the boss just has to assign someone, whether they like it or not. On the upside, you said you don’t like the team’s approach to the topic, so now you have an opportunity to influence them.

      1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        You’re right…ugh. Good thing I’m applying to other places. Thank you for the perspective!

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Ugh, I FREAKING HATE being pressured into joining internal committees. It’s not like management expects you to do any less billable/money-making work if you’re on one, usually.

      That being said, your manager seems pretty clear that she wants you on this team and that being on the team has become a condition of your employment. So I think you have to decide whether you want the job on these terms or not.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        There were all kinds of committees like this at my last company. The one thing they were really good at was coming up with a Very Official sounding name for themselves. The Revenue Tiger Team! The Product Profitability Task Force! And so on. Other than that, nothing else really got accomplished. I was roped into being a member of a few of them because of my expertise in one particular area. And every time one would start up, I would be very honest and say that I was glad to participate because the topics being addressed were important, but also that I was skeptical that there would ever be any actual changes. It was always about things we had been discussing for the last 8-10 years, and we’d all agree that yes, something really needed to be done! But when it came to implementing anything, or getting true support from upper management, things would fizzle out. Then another year would go by and someone else would be tasked with putting a committee together to focus on these “very important” issues. It was like Groundhog Day.

        1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

          Thank you! This team has one of those ridiculous names! Part of me is thinking to just be part of it and yet take a bit of a backseat approach, in the hopes that not much happens. See my other replies–I think the current approach could really damage my relationships with about 50 other people, and I don’t think we’ll be successful. I’d rather not have the relationship damage if I can avoid it–reputation is the hardest thing to rebuild.

      2. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        Agreed. I’ve started applying elsewhere and I think this is making me ramp this up. She’s a new manager after a recent reorg and I think she’s trying to make her mark–but I don’t want to be collateral damage. I’m afraid she’s using this team concept to sort of hide behind versus putting forth her own ideas in this promotional position. Now she can say “well, it’s what the team decided.” I’ve seen her exhibit this behavior before, so I feel like I’m not being overly paranoid.

    4. Jennifer*

      Is this worth the fight? Do you want this to become a legal matter/involve HR/risk firing if you don’t join this team? Is it worth losing the job to avoid the team?

      It’s not right, mind you, I’m just wondering if it’s worth the level of battle you’d have to fight to not join.

      1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        Ugh, I wish you weren’t right. I’m already actively looking elsewhere, and god I hope I can get out of there before this team goes much farther.

    5. Central Perk Regular*

      This happened to me at my old company. I was known for getting things done (and I suspect, because I’m female), so my at-the-time new boss said I had to join what was essentially the party planning committee. I wasn’t in an entry-level role, wasn’t new to the company, and didn’t have any interest in participating because when I was still entry-level in my career, I got roped into doing this type of stuff all the time.

      He told me point blank, “You’re doing this.” So, I halfheartedly participated and ramped up my job search. The committee was made up of people who had no interest either, so it took a really long time to accomplish anything. Luckily, I found a new job and never got stuck planning the dreaded team building event.

      So, you have to decide if this is a trend you’re seeing in your boss. If it is, I would probably be job hunting. If it’s not, I would at least ask my boss specifically why I’m needed on this project. He/she may have a very valid reason.

      1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        YES! I think this is spot-on. I’m definitely ramping up my job search. She wants my participation because of my experience–I’m a generalist and well-respected, so she wants both my reputation and my wide skill-level (though not as deep as others). So I feel like I’m being used…and if I believed in the approach I wouldn’t mind. In this case I think it’s ridiculous unless we include a few additional people who actually do the daily work, in order to get their buy-in and feedback.

    6. Chriama*

      The thing is, she can totally make this a condition of your job. It sounds like you thought it was a suggestion and she wasn’t originally clear about the fact that it was an actual requirement. But saying that she’d “go to the leadership team” and there “might not be a place for [you] anymore” is really weird. Why not just say “participating in this is a condition of your job now.” It sounds like she doesn’t have the authority to fire you on her own, and this is a pet project and not something officially sanctioned? Either way, you don’t have an option here. Until she’s no longer your boss she can absolutely say “do this or you’re fired”. So unless you think she can be reasoned with (not just saying you don’t want to join the team, but pointing to work-related reasons why you think you’re not the best fit) then you need to find a new job or a new boss.

      1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        This started as a pet project that is now sanctioned. Yes, she’s been asking if I’m interesting in helping out with training for over 18 months and I’ve always indicated yes (she’s only been my supervisor for 6 months)….and I’m interested in the general topic. Now that it’s formalized as a team with this specific approach, I’m not interested in being forced onto something that is anti-collaborative. I think I need to start applying for even more jobs…thank you for the feedback!

    7. Nico m*

      I think you have to attend.

      But See it as a tutorial in politics and sabotage.

      If youre the only person there who doesnt want to be there, you should be able to deflect any responsibility onto the enthusiasts.

      If you have fellow mutineers then you should be able to delay the project indefinitely

      1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        There are four people total, including my boss and myself. One other person is in the same boat as I am, and he’s actually going to be gone for a couple of months. While I lose his support, I’m hoping his absence means not much happens on the project.

    8. NW Mossy*

      What I see missing from your post is where you’ve asked questions about this team, its purpose, the priority, and the role you’d play in it. You’ve alluded to thinking you don’t have time and having a disagreement about the approach, but in your boss’s mind, those are issues that can be solved in a way other than say “OK Rock, you don’t need to participate.” Her answers to your objections may very well be “I intend to change around your priorities so that you do have time because this is important, and disagreement is OK because the team needs someone to provide that contrary perspective.” It sounds like you don’t understand the why behind this request, and without that, of course you’re going to resist. However, you’re doing both your boss and yourself a favor if you get clarity on this before you behave in a way that you can’t take back.

      I’m particularly interested in your POV here because I’m about to have a very similar conversation with one of my directs about participating in a key initiative. I expect resistance on time and approach grounds, but I’m not willing to let this employee check out of this entirely – it’s not fair to the rest of the team that’s also participating and quite frankly, it’s checking out of something that’s vital to the team’s future success. To me, refusing this initiative is essentially the same thing as saying “I refuse to make chocolate teapots anymore.” It’s a core job function, and refusing a core job function can and should put your job at risk in most places.

      1. Rock, Meet Hard Place*

        You make some good points. I think she’s willing to move around my priorities, but I disagree so fundamentally with the approach (that a small group from one division designs a new system for a large group from another division–without their input) that it’s giving me pause. I also think the three of us are being set up to be the fall guy/scapegoat for the entire approach and related activities, since she’s had these responsibilities for five months but hasn’t presented her priorities/general approach to the entire leadership team. This way, if we get the anger/blowback that I anticipate from a group of very hard-working staff in the other division, she can blame it on the team’s thinking, adjust her approach, and come in as the hero. Leaving the remaining members of the team “tainted.”

        Hmmm on your second point…what would have made a difference to me was if she had NOT presented it initially, for MONTHS, as an optional project and asked if I was interested. If she had started with the importance of this team as part of my job, I would have viewed it differently. Now it feels like a threat.

        Also, she has not been clear on the purpose, priorities, or approach of the team. Each person she wants on the team has been given a different story and reasons. We suspect, from talking to each other, that she is really unclear and wants to use the initial meeting to figure that out. I wish she could have just said that if that was the case, instead of leaving us really confused. And making me less interested in being on the team–if she can’t figure out those things or be honest about not knowing those things right now (and giving us the opportunity to co-design), how can I know this is going to be a project that she won’t remain as confused on the entire time?

        Finally, I wish she had asked me about my reservations and been willing to alter the approach based on my advice and experience. This non-collaborative approach has been a hallmark of her style on other projects and we’ve disagreed on it before (she believes in the “design, then convince” approach versus mine which is “co-design”). I believe deeply in collaboration and I know my work has shown the benefit of this. Plus, I’ve had the experience of force-feeding new processes/systems on a group and it almost never goes well.

        So, to sum up, what would have made me more open was 1) being clear about the connection to my core job responsibilities from the start, 2) being clear on roles, responsibilities, expectations, purpose, etc., and 3) if I’m being asked to participate because of my experience and knowledge, then listening and adjusting the approach from the beginning (in my case, this would be including 1-2 people minimum from the other division on this team). I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for but I hope it helps your conversation!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This isn’t a team problem then, this is a boss problem.
          I was wondering why you had such a solid stance, well, it’s because your boss does not inspire confidence.

          Okay. I would go to the meeting. The amount of energy lost in fighting this one is far greater than the amount of energy lost in attending the meeting.

          Take what I say with a grain of salt, sometimes I hear my own drummer.
          I would tell the boss okay and I will go. “But I see an ethics issue here, because the other group should be deciding how they will handle their work, not us.”

          There, now I have laid my groundwork.
          At each meeting I would stress my concern by saying, “Where is representation from the other group??”

          There will be times where I can use this in specific points. “I think we should ask Sue from other department how many widgets they have per day. I don’t think we should use last year’s averages.” OR “Jane from the other department would know those rates, I think we should use Jane’s numbers because ours are three years old and irrelevant because of age.” Keep harping.

          Look at it this way, you could be the microphone at the meeting who advocates for this other group. Because you speak up others at the meeting could start speaking up and you could lessen the impact or even change what is going on here.
          If it comes down to choosing between ticking off one boss or ticking off 50 people, I will choose to tick off the boss. I will find a way to say what is needed and say it in a manner so that she might actually use that input.

          As a second in road: If she is type of person I think she is you might find in roads by telling her that making these decisions without the other group there is going to cause career-impacting ill will. And just to be redundant I would say “that ill will is going to be directed at our team here.”
          She sounds like the type of person who is very concerned about what others think- especially people in power. Make her aware of what others are going to think.

        2. catsAreCool*

          If you’re part of the group, I wonder if you can talk to the people who are going to be affected by it and then during the meetings give input based on that.

    9. Observer*

      In reading the comments I had this thought (which is somewhat echoed by others).

      You don’t really have much choice in whether you take part or not. But, you DO have a choice in how you do this. So, you can try to slow things down, although that could backfire. Or you could try to be the voice of the group whose work is going to be affected. Let them know that you have been pulled into the team and ask for their feedback. Something like “My boss pulled me into this team. I think it’s really important to hear from the spout makers how they see things. What can you tell me about the changes you’d like to see in the process? What do you think we really need to avoid?” Then bring that back into the meetings, both explicitly and in how you try to steer the work of the team, to the extent that you can. That should help avoid the hit to your relationships and reputation.

  29. Happy_Canuck*

    Working on Upwork
    Has anyone had success finding good work on Upwork? Specifically in virtual admin contracts.
    I haven’t been able to find any real input online, mostly only wildly successful freelancers who will sell me access to their training and clubs to learn all their secrets.
    I’m building a contract admin business. So far all my work comes through existing contacts and word of mouth referrals. Would appreciate any input or thoughts, whether about Upwork or other options.
    Many thanks.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Well, it’s Elance (or it used to be). I just looked on there at proofreading and editing jobs and the amounts people seem to want to pay seem absurdly low.

      Don’t forget; you’ll need to make enough to pay all the taxes on freelance income yourself. I’d figure out what rates I could charge commensurate with my experience that would allow me to cover all my expenses before I went this route. You might have to take some lower-paying jobs at first and do more of them to build it up a bit and get some client recommendations.

      Be careful–some of them look a little bit scammy.

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      I have used Upwork for freelance writing. Although I have gotten a few decent-paying gigs, there are a lot of crappy gigs to wade through. Additionally, two of the four clients I worked with last year were extremely demanding and basically wanted a full-time employee, not a freelancer. It’s hit-or-miss, but you can find some decent gigs if you have time to submit a lot of bids. Also, they recently raised their rates. I believe it is now a 20% service fee instead of a 10% fee, so you need to bid accordingly. If you want to get paid $1,000, then you need to bid at least $1,250 to account for the service fee.

  30. Daisy Dukes*

    Hi everyone! Thank you so much to everyone for your support in my new position!

    I have a weird situation that I’m hoping you guys can weigh in on. I’m in sales and got a strange email from my former boss asking if I’ve been talking to their existing clients (which they don’t allow once you leave the company). He said they heard things. Not sure what that even means.

    I haven’t because I know the terms and replied saying so. My area doesn’t even cover where their customer base is. Should I be worried about this at all? Note that I come from a pretty stressful environment, mainly because of this same manager.

    Any advice going forward?

    1. Murphy*

      I wouldn’t worry about it for now. If it happens again, I would just reiterate that you’re not doing that and maybe ask him exactly what he heard.

      1. Daisy Dukes*

        Thank you! How might you phrase that? I can see him twisting the “what have you heard?” To an admission of guilt when really I just want to know all the facts.

        1. Murphy*

          First I would be very firm with the “No”, and that you understand and respect their policy. Then after that I might say something like “This isn’t the first time you’ve asked and nothing has changed since the last time. I’m a little concerned about what you may be hearing, since it’s definitely not true. Can you share what you heard?”

        2. Marisol*

          I’m not sure what you’ve heard, but I have not had any contact with any former clients. It troubles me to learn that someone might be suggesting otherwise, because that could negatively impact my reputation. Nevertheless, I assure you that is not the case. I ask that you not pass on any misinformation about me.


    2. Dawn*

      Oh lord Daisy that stupid job is STILL haunting you?

      If you are 100% positive you are in the right, and he contacts you again, say in no uncertain terms that no, you are not violating the terms of your separation agreement and that’s the last you’ll say on the matter, then ignore him. However, I suggest preemptively going to your manager about your old boss contacting you just as a CYA kinda thing, that way she has a heads up if it escalates at all. “Hey, Sansa, I wanted to give you a heads up about this strange email I got from my former boss [explain email]. I know that I’m not violating any terms; in fact, my area doesn’t even cover where his customer base is, but I wanted to tell you in case he tries to escalate anything.” That way she can have your back if you need it.

      1. Daisy Dukes*

        Dawn, how’ve you been?? Thanks for the tip about giving my manager a heads up. I’ll definitely do that. (Poor Sansa already has a lot going on, but I’m glad she’s a dog person!!)

      2. ZVA*

        I have to say, I really don’t recommend doing this! Preemptively drawing your new boss into irrelevant (and, at the moment, nonexistent!) drama involving your old one? I just don’t think that’s a good look & it might cause your new boss to have doubts about your judgment or whatever else, when none are warranted. I say leave well enough alone.

  31. Nervous Accountant*

    It’s been a stressful week and I m feeling…demoralized?

    I went on vacation last week and Monday was my first day back. Everything was great, I got through all my emails, work etc. While I was on vacation, I had my away message up but I still made sure to respond to internal emails from my coworkers if necessary.

    Tuesday, I get an email from my boss and that’s what’s left a bad taste for me.

    Before I left for vacation, we were set up on a pilot program to answer client emails directly from our CRM rather than through our gmail and then copy-pasting it. Since documentation is important in our job, this is great. I was set up a day or two before I left.

    When I came back on Monday, I answered ALL of my client emails thru my gmail because:
    1. I wanted to answer them as quickly as possible. since responsiveness is a big deal at my job, I wanted to get these emails out of the way and it was quicker for me to do it through there.
    2. Not gonna lie, I’m slow. I’m slow to pick up things esp related to software..
    3. I didn’t think it was a hard and fast rule that we absolutely MUST HAVE TO respond thru the CRM right now, since it’s still a pilot program .

    Tuesday, my boss emails me informing me that higher ups saw that I’ve not answered any of my emails since htey have access to the CRM.
    I responded back that I have, just not through there but I emphasized that I have responded to all of my clients.

    She responds back: The whole point of involving you wtih this pilot is for you to get used to using CRM and not gmail. DO NOT use gmail for your client correspondences.

    Reading this, it doesn’t look so bad, but I feel crappy bc frankly it feels like I’m getting shit on for one thing or another. For once, I’m ON TOP of this shit, and I think I was going above and beyond by answering emails while on vacation.
    I was getting in trouble for not responding, and it feels like I’m STILL getting int rouble for being responsive??

    In any case, I guess it worked, because after quickly begging someone for help, I’m using the new method exclusively.

    Am I missing something here? I know you guys usually give good insight to this, am I wrong to feel frustrated?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I understand your frustration, but I also think what your boss asked you to do was reasonable. It’s OK if it takes a little longer through the CRM, because isn’t that part of the point of the pilot?

      Also, and maybe this is just me – I wouldn’t answer emails while on vacation. At all. Unless you are in a higher-paid/higher-responsibility role that expects it.

      Either way I think it’s time to let it go.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with ThatGirl. And I sympathize, because I face this issue too– when new processes show up and I think they’re useless or time-consuming, I can be really stubborn about implementing them, and I do it reluctantly. However, this is something I have to fight, and for one very good reason– I don’t want to call attention to myself over this stuff, especially in a tense work environment. That was my last place, which was a terrible fit for me. In hindsight, I could have made my own life much, much easier if I had just grumbled to myself and done it. Look at it from the perspective of simply not attracting this type of negative attention.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Yeah, I want to let it go. I’m slow at new processes…because I’m just slow? It takes me forever to understand and process things. It’s not that I don’t want to implement them bc I honestly think this is super awesome and I’m so glad to have it…but…I’m slow.

        We have to answer our clients ASAP, no more than 24 hours should go by w/o a response.

        I only answer my coworkers emails bc, Idk, it makes me feel like I’m putting in a lot of effort to be responsive and helpful. My clients knew I was away so no one complained they couldn’t hear back from me but I still wanted to be quick you know?

        It’s just me, I’d rather take a few minutes to look at emails (but not respond) than to come back to 100+ and stress out.

    2. BRR*

      This is going to sounds harsh but I think you made a mistake. It sounds like you should have answered through the CRM but you didn’t want to. However you fixed it by only using the CRM and now you move forward. I would guess you’re frustrated because you feel you did your job by responding to clients but you said it yourself that documentation is important and you missed that part which is why you’re manager is frustrated.

      And as ThatGirl said, I wouldn’t answer emails while on vacation unless they are critical.

    3. Brogrammer*

      I sympathize with you. Gmail is nice and easy to use, while most email systems within CRM are… not. In the short term, unfortunately, you’ll need to do what your boss says, even though it sucks.

      In the long term, you may want to suggest to your boss that if tracking emails through CRM is important but logging emails through CRM is clunky and time-consuming, it may be worth looking into an integration tool that connects Gmail with CRM – there are quite a few solutions out there and they’re not that expensive.

    4. AnonAcademic*

      It looks like there is pressure on your boss to have a system where they can easily track staff communication with clients, so by going outside that system not only do you not get credit for your prompt responses, your boss gets in trouble when it turns out you did respond out of the intended system. You solved one issue (prompt client communication) but created another (higher ups think you’re behind, yell at boss).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think the only thing you missed is that they would be watching to see if you would use the CRM and how that went for you.

      You can feel frustrated if you want, you are entitled to have whatever emotion you want. However, I think that frustration will slow you down and weigh you down. It would be in your favor to just let go of it.

      You anticipated them yelling at you because your messages were late, so you pounded out your answers in gmail and thought you had done a great stroke of work. You probably did do a great stroke of work. But it’s not what they wanted. I think you were blindsided by their insistence on using the CRM.

      I remember you had a crappy job before this one. Try not to bring the crap from that job to this job. Try not to anticipate their reaction before you see it. What you did here was like,”I am going to hurry up and do this before anyone yells at me.” So you got it done, felt great and BOOM. Blindsided.

      Slow down. I mean slow down your thought process to figure out what they want from you, don’t just think about ways to CYA. You did not get in trouble for not being responsive because in the end your boss did listen and believe you when you said you responded. You got into trouble for not using the CRM.

      At your old job you had to make CYA your number one priority.
      Time to change.
      Make listening to what they are telling you your top priority. If you have a question about which thing is a priority then ask. Like here, you could have asked your boss “Is using the CRM my priority or is answering the people in a timely manner my priority?”

      I really think you are okay here. I think you got flustered, and I would be too. “Dang I am trying so hard here and it’s STILL wrong!” But it’s not that wrong, it’s not the end of the world. It’s okay. Just tell them you are sorry and you misunderstood. And please, resume breathing, ok?

  32. Folklorist*

    Was watching Love Actually last night, and going back to the Fictional Bosses debates–isn’t Alan Rickman’s character the world’s worst boss?! Seriously, ever workplace in that movie is a harassment suit waiting to happen, but yeesh. He sleeps with his assistant, pushes two of his subordinates together–which then crashes to a grinding halt, causing horrible awkwardness–plans a holiday party at a gallery with nude portraits (and has to warn his female employees to stay away from one of the male employees if they don’t want their boobs fondled. WHY HASN’T HE FIRED THAT GUY FOR FONDLING HIS COWORKERS’ BOOBS?!).

    1. Kirsten*

      Seriously, I can’t stand his character. I love almost everything else about that movie, but he is utterly unlikable.

    2. SJ*

      As sad as it makes me to speak ill of our dear departed Alan, he’s definitely a crappy boss in that one.

      1. SJ*

        And a crappy person, obviously. Anyone who makes Emma Thompson cry like that deserves a swift kick in the groin.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      I think he really cared about his employees, and he pushed Sarah to pursue Karl because she had been in love with him since Day 1. He didn’t know enough about her situation to realize that she wasn’t in a position to be in a relationship.

      But yeah, everything with Mia was totally inexcusable. I sob every time I watch Emma Thompson weep!

      1. katamia*

        I agree that he cares about his employees. He needs help with drawing and maintaining boundaries, though.

    4. Maya Elena*

      I’d say that’s rather harsh on three of those counts.

      I don’t think he actually ever gets around to sleeping with the assistant, or I missed that part in the movie.

      The puritanical attitude towards nudity is something particular to the US – I don’t think it’s nearly as much of a Thing in Europe. Not sure about Britain, but – for instance – it’s normal in other countries to see naked toddlers at the beach.

      Also, idealized HR norms be damned, but to the extent that nobody in the interaction thought it inappropriate, it really wasn’t. (The derailment of the relationship cannot he attributed to the boss.)

      1. Folklorist*

        The script writer came out last year and answered the unanswered question: he did sleep with her! It’s not totally addressed in the story (link to follow in reply).

        I actually don’t mind nudity, especially in art–but I think it’s more of a total lack of boundaries thing. Yes, maybe he cared about his employees and wanted them to be happy together and didn’t know about her life circumstances–but it’s generally acknowledged that dating coworkers isn’t a great idea, exactly for that reason!

        And he should have still fired the coworker who was known for groping the other employees.

    5. Emilia Bedelia*

      I watched it 2 days ago and thought the EXACT SAME THING!
      That whole conversation about everyone knowing that Sarah is in love with Karl…. AWFUL!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      One of the reasons I like this film, even though I hate romantic comedies, is because it shows all different kinds of love–father/son, friends, siblings, unrequited love, and also that it doesn’t always work out.

      It is sooooo easy to sympathize with Emma Thompson’s character because Alan Rickman’s is a giant nu-nu head idiot who deserves nothing. And yes, he is a really, really terrible boss.

      What a great actor he was. He really did his job well in this film because I HATE that guy. :)

    7. Anion*

      Because it’s a company in England, where they don’t have the same respect for the idea that sexual harassment is bad. :-)

      Some of the things my husband has seen in the workplace here in England have literally made our mouths fall open in shock.

  33. Catalin*

    Okay everyone: pursuant to yesterday’s anonymous notes post and comments: what passive aggressive/anonymous notes have you NOT left in the office? In other words, what have you wanted to post (but never did because it’s wildly inappropriate).

    1. Catalin*

      Would whoever leaves bodily fluids on the seats in the ladies’ room please revisit potty training?

        1. paul*

          and semen. Wait till you get home folks! *gag*

          Thankfully that’s only happened 2x, in my whole working life, but just, oh god why

            1. paul*

              Different offices, different jobs, and a couple of years apart too! So I’m guessing more than one person has done that…and then neglected to actually clean up

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        And if you’re going to use your foot to kick at the flusher because you don’t want to touch it, wipe off the rubber shoe marks you left on the edge of the seat when your kick missed!!! GAH!!!

        1. Natalie*

          All of these issues combine into my PA note, which would be something along the lines of “quit being so damned germophobic and just use the bathroom with the typical body parts”.

      2. SJ*

        “Given how frequently empty toilet paper rolls are left on the holder, even though a stack of fresh rolls sits within reach of the toilet, it seems like many in this office don’t know how to change them out. I’d be happy to give step-by-step instructions for anyone who might need them. Thanks!”

        1. BlueWolf*

          At my old job (a small medical office) there was actually a trick to changing the toilet paper (you had to use a pin to “unlock” it), but any new coworkers were good about asking how to do it. And since the restroom was also used by patients they would often just leave the new roll on top (although some did at least say they couldn’t figure out how to do it and let us know that it needed changing). In that case none of us were offended that they didn’t change the roll since it actually wasn’t obvious how to and I didn’t mind changing it out.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Honestly, I prefer it when people don’t replace the rolls in ours. We have these ridiculous paper holders that get hung up and you end up tearing off one or two squares. SMH.

      3. Brogrammer*

        A real sign I saw posted in a (non-work, alas) bathroom: Gentlemen, stand closer, it’s shorter than you think. Ladies, please remain seated throughout the entire performance.

    2. Boardwalk Kingdom*

      Well THANK you boss, for not telling us that the client changed the deadline! I do DEEPLY enjoy working late into the night to finish the report you didn’t actually need!

    3. Nota Llama*

      We had someone who we desperately wanted to leave a note asking her to take personal phone calls away from her desk. She only had one volume, loud, and she would make personal calls that shared far too much information about her medical and financial dealings. Plus she was just a jerk to the poor customer service people on the other side of the phone. My whole group sat on the other side of the cube wall from her and really wished she’d quit yelling at everyone on the phone or at least go do it in a conference room.

    4. A nonny nonny*

      “Please for the love of all that is holy wear deodorant. There’s a drug store 200 feet from here. You can buy it on your lunch break.”

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Or the opposite of that
        “Lay off the dryer sheets, I shouldn’t be able to smell your laundry after you left the room ten minutes ago.”

        “Whoever sprayed the Axe body spray IN the elevator (because that’s clearly the only explanation for the amount you can smell), please stop. The elevator smelled just fine.”

    5. LCL*

      Telling me you need vacation to see your family, when your family lives in town, is BS. You can see them on your days off, THAT’S WHAT I DO.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Wait, I’d strongly disagree with this. If someone has relatives in from out of town, it’s not unreasonable to want to take time off to spend with them. In general, I’d avoid getting into judging someone’s reasons for wanting vacation time.

      2. MsCHX*

        Oooh, yeah no. Life is busy when you’re coordinating families and taking a day off to specifically spend time with family is a-ok. PTO / vacation doesn’t just exist for travel.

        Says the person who always plans 1 mental health day soon after the school year ends because THANK GOODNESS I’m not running around like a crazy person for the next 3 months.

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        Who cares what they want to use their vacation allotment for, unless you’re in an all-hands-on-deck period?

        1. LCL*

          Because every empty shift has to be filled. Which means someone else has to come in. I’m not complaining about scheduled vacations, we plan for this and don’t care what it is used for. It is the last minute requests, which they try to guilt you into filling because they have to see family. We always try to fill last minute requests no matter what the reason, and if vacation is denied it is about coverage availability.

          In a shift work job, being at work when others are off is part of the deal. It is offset by having days off in the middle of the week so you can get things done without missing work. Our schedule is carefully planned and regulated by our labor agreement. Demanding last minute vacation to see family that live in town makes last minute work that could have been avoided. The people that do this are high maintenance and are the same people who can’t get to work on time and use a lot of leave just because.

          1. Alton*

            Ah, yeah, I think that’s a different issue. Yeah, it’s a problem when people are quick to call out/ask for time off short-notice when they do shift work, and I’ve definitely known people who were not good at budgeting their time off requests. I don’t think that’s specifically a problem with people asking for the time off to see local family–it’d still be a problem if they had another reason. But some people do ask off a lot for things that they could maybe be flexible on without considering how that affects their ability to get time off for things that are less flexible.

      4. Alton*

        People can use vacation time for whatever they want as long as they budget it and try to limit how much they’re away during really busy times.

        Also, just because family is in town doesn’t always mean that schedules will work out for people to only use days they already have off.

      5. Clever Name*

        Respectfully, I can spend my vacation time however the hell I want. At my company we get 1 personal day that is use it or lose it, in addition to holiday and vacation and sick time. I spent my personal day in my underwear watching TV and napping. It was glorious.

    6. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

      Even if you close your office door, EVERYONE can still hear your personal phone calls as you put them on speakerphone as you’re too lazy to pick up the phone. So glad that you have such a large invite list for that surprise party and I’m so happy that hear (for 15 freaking minutes) about how Bobby is coming in from out of town for it!

    7. Manders*

      “Hey people from the next office over, we often see you talking on the phone about your friends going to jail, or taking breaks by crouching on the floor alone in the shared hallway. Is everything ok over there?”

    8. TMA*

      Quite putting recyclable items in the trash. There is literally a recycle bin RIGHT NEXT TO THE TRASH CAN and a sign above it that says what is recyclable. Not that hard.

      1. zora*

        Can you send me a copy of your sign, please, because omg how do people still not understand recycling in 2016?!?!!?

        And I also need one that says Quit Throwing Plastic Bags And Other Trash in the Recycle Bin!!!!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Hahah, that reminds me of a commercial I used to see when I lived in Santa Cruz. The camera scrolls past these really big, ugly, scary, biker gang-looking criminals in a police lineup and a woman’s voice is saying, “No…no…that’s not it…nope….”

        Then the next guy in line is a pudgy dude in a suit with a very round face and a mild expression. She screams hysterically and says, “AAAAAAH! That’s him! That’s the guy I saw put a bottle in the trash!”

        And then all the thugs turn and glare at him and say, “Ewwww! You did WHAT!?”


    9. Catalin*

      Dear Mark and Sarah,

      We know the supply closet doesn’t actually get restocked when you’re in there. Take a break from ‘restocking’ and actually unpack some boxes.

    10. Temperance*

      I do not care that you have a child/children, you shouldn’t automatically use childcare as a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card and then say that I’ll get to do the same when I have a baby. How about do your job?

    11. Susan C.*

      In addition to the existing “please replace soda you take from the fridge with one from the pantry”:

      “Replacing the one lonely Fanta I put in here with yet another Coke Zero does NOT COUNT AS FOLLOWING THIS RULE”

    12. Alton*

      Part of this job is cleaning up before you finish up for the day. Don’t leave your trash behind, especially in shared work areas. Don’t leave your half-eaten cheeseburger in a drawer for me to find. If you spill food on a surface, actually clean it up. Don’t just smear it around.

    13. Viola Dace*

      For god’s sake see a sinus doc or something, because listening to you snork, and sniff and hock is literally making me want to vom.

    14. paul*

      I wanted to leave one for a prior boss who complained, at length, any time the bathrooms smelled at all. It would read something like:

      “Dear boss, you may think your s*** doesn’t stink, but I promise, it smells too. People poop in bathrooms. Deal with it”.

        1. Arjay*

          I have HIPAA as an excuse, but any time I see anything left on the printer, it goes into the shred bin. Print and sprint, friends. Print and sprint.

      1. SJ*

        At my last job, I worked with an executive assistant who managed the Head Boss’s (admittedly incredibly complicated) calendar. But she printed out every single meeting request email she received instead of just filing them into a “Meeting Requests” folder in her inbox or something. It was a mindblowing amount of paper, given how many meeting requests she got. She was (and I’m guessing still is) a terrible employee, so a big part of me thinks she just wanted to look busy by getting up to go to the printer fifty times a day.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Gah. Bosswife at OldExJob made me print out EVERY SINGLE sample order I did from the Access database (basically a copy of the shipping letter) and file it in a drawer, “in case we needed to find it again.” I don’t think she realized that 1) the database was searchable, and 2) it was also backed up every night.

    15. BBBizAnalyst*

      Mine would read “flush the toilet” … there is a serial non flusher in the women’s room and it’s absolutely disgusting to walk in to a restroom right after her.

      I’m not sure if it’s an environmental thing but she does not flush. It’s so gross.

      1. Menacia*

        We have various offices in my company and I’m always amazed by the laminated postings on (each) stall related to flushing, cleaning, putting the proper trash in the proper receptacle. Then again, we have a lot of people who LOVE signs, and think the rest of us are completely incompetent.

    16. NW Mossy*

      From a job I had about 10 years ago:

      Dear Bike Messengers,

      This is a stairwell, not a urinal. We will be happy to share a key to our restroom if you ask.


      Office Workers Who Then Have To Clean Up Your Excretions

    17. Alice Ulf*

      “Dear clients, watching your child swing on the velvet divider rope until s/he manages to unbalance the heavy metal post to which it is attached does not actually count as keeping your children under ‘supervision,’ plzkthx.”

    18. Marisol*

      Dear C-
      I love you, but your loud sneezes make me want to jump out of my skin. Please stop artificially intensifying the noise level to sound more macho.

    19. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I’m still going back and forth about whether posting instructions on how to use our ancient microwave would be too passive aggressive. (Basically, the only function that works is the standard “time cook,” and if you try to select any fancy options it gets stuck and won’t work, and the only way to fix it is to unplug it and reset the whole thing.)

        1. OhBehave*

          In fact, just duct tape all the other buttons out until you only have “time cook”. Easy peasy.

    20. Cath in Canada*

      “you do not own this thermostat just because you happen to sit next to it. Please try wearing a sweater instead of making all your coworkers sweat because you want to wear t-shirts every day”

      1. Ultraviolet*


        “Feeling cold because you wore a t-shirt in December? Instead of turning the thermostat up to 76, consider getting some exercise by walking to the bathroom to brush your teeth instead of doing it at your desk in a shared office! :) :)”

      2. Drew*

        “You have two choices: you can put on a jacket or you can watch me work in my boxers with my hairy back out because IT IS TOO DAMN HOT. Or turn up that space heater that’s on right now under your desk even though it is freaking August.”

        Had a boss once who said, “Just get a fan.” So I got one. Turned it on. Papers everydamnwhere. “OMG DREW WHAT ARE YOU DOING TURN THAT OFF.” Just looked at him until he said, “OK, you can turn the thermostat down. I’ll warn the chilly people.”

        Current office has multiple climate-control zones. I proposed at one point moving all the “it’s too hot” people to one end of the office and all the “it’s too cold” people to the other and letting them deal with the project teams being split up as a result. It was not taken as a serious suggestion, which was an error on their part.

        (And my facilities team just figured out that the thing over my desk that they have been SWEARING is blowing cold air directly onto my desk is — wait for it — actually an intake. Sigh.)

    21. Jean*

      There’s stirrers in the cabinet right above the coffee – stop using a spoon to stir your coffee and leaving it on the counter.

    22. Drew*

      “Stop changing the status of items on my project. I don’t care if you’re a C-level boss; you aren’t MY C-level boss and you don’t actually know what you are doing. I’d much rather answer your questions than fix your mistakes.”

  34. Open Office Dweller*

    Venting – We moved offices a few months ago from one open office to another, but the new space has less collaboration spaces.
    One of the phone booths on our floor has been taken over by a senior staff member – he works there whenever he’s in the office and leaves all his stuff there. I’m not in a position to say anything, but it’s SUPER ANNOYING. There’s already very limited space away from our desks (only 2 or 3 huddle rooms per 100 people), and he’s claimed this one for himself and isn’t even in it half the time!
    Also annoying – only TWO phone rooms (in the WHOLE office) have doors on them – I was playing phone tag with my doctor last week and was running up and down the stairs trying to find a little privacy.
    I’m not a huge fan of open offices, but they can work fine as long there’s enough space (preferably with DOORS) for occasional variety and then make sure they don’t turn into defaco offices

    1. Bex*

      That sounds completely infuriating!! We have an open office with hoteling… you book your workstation by the day or week. So we have about 110 staff and 70 desks (lots of travel, even the execs use the desks). But we also have 4 phone booths and 20 rooms, so you can almost always find a space for a piovate call. I can’t imagine having only 3! And what’s the point of a phone booth without a door?

    2. Drew*

      We were supposed to have two huddle rooms and one big conference room following our open office remodel. One of the other teams turned “their” huddle room into an office and has started holding meetings in the other huddle room, right next to my desk and frequently used by my team. I’ve actually chased them out a couple of times and had to say, “You have a huddle room. It’s not my fault you’re using it for an office. We need this space now.”

      The big conference room, meanwhile, is starting to become a permanent meeting space for another project team that needs more flat surface than any of their offices provides. It’s a key project that has to keep moving forward, but it’s making it even harder to find places to hold meetings.

  35. Just a Goonie*

    Me last year (#1 – other people wouldnt’ get raises if I got a raise):

    *I consume negotiation advice, articles about being assertive in the workplace, AAM advice, etc. all year in preparation for this year’s salary discussion.*

    Same manager, this year: What do you want?
    The first six words out of my mouth: “Is it bad to ask for…”


  36. missj928*

    I am a paralegal in a non-profit legal services center. Currently we are extremely short staffed due to one of our paralegals being on maternity leave, one unexpectedly quitting, and one who is leaving to return to school. Because of this, the workload for the remaining 4 paralegals has been super heavy. Being a non-profit, each attorney is assigned at least 30-40 cases at any given time. I’m currently working with 2 attorneys, plus I take calls for our bankruptcy hotline and I help out with the paperwork for our legal clinic (it was split between one of the paralegals who is gone and me until we get the new paralegal trained). On top of my work stress, I have had health problems the past couple months that I’ve been needing to schedule appointments for.

    One of the 4 remaining paralegals is notorious for pawning off the work on other people and generally seems unaware that we are equally as busy as him. He’s also known for giving work without giving an explanation and he acts annoyed when you ask him what to do. I cannot take on the work that he keeps delegating me. His communication style does not mesh with my communication style and I’m becoming increasingly annoyed at it.

    Is it wrong for me to push the work back to him and telling him that I already have too much work to complete?

    1. Dawn*

      “Is it wrong for me to push the work back to him and telling him that I already have too much work to complete?”

      NO. Make him haul his own weight.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Of course it’s not wrong! If he’s not your manager, he doesn’t get to assign you stuff without your consent!

      Practice your best Miss Manners-style “That will not be possible.”

    3. Lillian Styx*

      Is he allowed to delegate work that I’m guessing was delegated to him by an attorney already? I would tell him no and that he needs to go back to the attorney who assigned this to him if his workload can’t accommodate it.

      If it’s general work that you 4 are splitting, can you talk to your supervisor about ground rules? Rotate days to handle the hotlines or the inboxes?

    4. Triangle Pose*

      This suck, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Stop accepting work from him and signalling that his behavior is okay. Assuming he is not senior or you or a supervisoring paralegal or some king, just say no! Don’t let him think he can “act annoyed.” when unloading his work on others.

      Tell him “Can’t help you out, I have too much of my own work on my plate to take any of yours.” Don’t apologize and make him own up to his own work.

    5. paul*

      Not at all. One of the happiest days in my working life was realizing my coworkers aren’t actually my boss, and cant’ just assign me duties out of the blue.

    6. NW Mossy*

      Not wrong at all! Check in with your boss to confirm it’s OK (and I suspect it will be) to say, “Fergus, if you need my assistance on your workload, you need to check with [boss] first. [Boss] wants to be informed when we’re shifting work around so that it’s clear who’s responsible for the deliverable.” Rinse and repeat as necessary.

      Needing to run through the boss will likely cause about 99.99% of this pawn-off to stop. If he has to expose what he’s doing to his superior, his self-preservation instinct will kick in and he’ll find another way. Plus, you also put the boss on notice that this is happening.

    7. Observer*

      Of course it’s not wrong. He’s not your boss, and doesn’t have the authority to delegate anything to you.

      Just set up a standard response to anything he “delegates” to you that informs him that you won’t be doing whatever it is.

  37. Nonny4this*

    How do you handle a deeply insecure employee?

    I’ve recently been promoted to a supervisory position (I have no hire/fire powers but I’m responsible for keeping the team on track during my shift and I can send people home/do other small disciplinary things). One of the people I supervise, “Sue,” has been working here for about 5 weeks and still has not progressed beyond doing the most basic tasks. I am constantly babysitting her to make sure she is completely things correctly. Often I can’t get her to stay on task either–unless she is 100% comfortable with doing something, she’ll wander off in the middle or make excuses about why she can’t even attempt it.

    The problem is that she also responds badly to every form of correction I try. If I stop her when she’s in the middle of doing something incorrectly, she gets very sad and shuts down and says, “I just KNEW I couldn’t do it” or “You shouldn’t have trusted me with that.” Sometimes she insists that someone else taught her differently (even though she is the only person making that particular mistake). If I try to be positive and walk her through the tasks before she does them, she either insists she can’t do it, or she takes forever. If she makes a really major mistake, she seems on the verge of tears and often tries to get me to send her home as punishment, which is not helpful.

    Sue also has a medical condition that affects her facial features, and she’s uncomfortable working with customers sometimes because she perceives them as judging her appearance. This may or may not be true (I’m not always right there to witness the interaction), but our work is 50% working with customers and she does need to be able to get through interactions with people who are rude or dismissive. When I try to get her to take over the customer side of things, she’ll walk away from the front desk if she thinks a customer is being cold or rude to her. Since I can’t trust her to do non-customer tasks alone and she shuts down if she has a negative interaction with a customer, lots of times she’s just standing around while the rest of us get things done.

    This is not a sustainable situation, and for a variety of reasons I can’t hand the problem over to my boss right now. Do you guys have any suggestions beyond what I’ve tried?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Honestly, it doesn’t sound like she’s the right person for the role and I’d start approaching it from that direction — as in, really taking a hard look at what it would take to get her where you need her to be in a reasonable amount of time (with a new person, I’d measure that in weeks, not months), and being honest with her (and your boss) that there’s a limited period of time to try to resolve this.

      I think that’s your more pressing problem than responding to her insecurity.

      1. Nonny4this*

        Yes, I’d agree that she’s not right for the role (personally, I would not have hired her) but we’re really understaffed right now with several longtime employees departing soon, so I’m stuck with her for the next month at minimum.

        I like your suggestion of trying to preemptively set goals for her–I think that might give her a more concrete idea of what she needs to do. Unfortunately I don’t have the authority to suggest her job might be at risk if she doesn’t meet our benchmarks, but it’s something to bring up to my boss.

        1. Nonny4this*

          Any suggestions for how I might counter her self-defeating comments in the moment? I’ve never dealt with this situation before and so far I’ve just paused, let the comment go by, and continued with what I was saying.

          1. Dawn*

            I don’t think you’ll be able to. You’re her boss, not her therapist. I think continuing to ignore her self-defeatism and emphasising what she need to be doing in her job is the right approach.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Address it head-on: “Jane, I want you to stop making comments about how you knew you couldn’t do a task or I shouldn’t have trusted you with something. If you genuinely believe that to be true and this isn’t the right job for you, let’s figure out what to do about that. But otherwise those comments are really disruptive and are getting in the way of your training.” Then if it happens again, stop the conversation and say, “I’m alarmed to hear you say that. If you don’t believe you can do the job, what makes sense from here?”

            This is sort of related and might help:


            1. Nonny4this*

              I do try to praise what she’s doing well, but I’ll try to be more conscious of doing so. Maybe that will help.

            2. YuliaC*

              I think this could be true. I would try praising her for whatever she does manage to do adequately, even if those are small basic tasks. Sounds like coddling, but some people just need a tiny bit of praise to start feeling much more confident. It doesn’t cost anything to try, alongside other things..
              But, I’d try to avoid telling her “You’re doing it just fiiiine!” when she feels defeatist about something. She will probably not believe that, and feel even more miserable. I’d praise her on things that she doesn’t feel bad about, while offering concrete steps to get better in areas she struggles with.

    2. Kathlynn*

      Have you tried having her write down the steps she needs to follow? Is there any cleaning she can do? Like washing shelves or extra good scrubbing of the floor.

      1. Nonny4this*

        Often the tasks she doesn’t/can’t accomplish are things where there is already a step by step guide to it.

        I do have her working on the less urgent tasks (like cleaning) most of the time, but there’s a limited number of those and I really, really need someone in the role she’s supposed to be filling.

        I suppose I’m more frustrated than anything–we JUST got rid of another low-performing employee and I’d hoped Sue would be better.

  38. Kathlynn*

    So, I’m in retail. And u was recently moved from full-time afternoon shifts, to 4-5 shifts a week, mixed afternoon and graveyard shifts. I was hired for graveyard shifts, and I really like them. The thing is, my manager seems to think I need the day off before my graveyard shifts (she pointed it out me, I forget the wording. But it was in a this is a good thing way), which I really don’t. And then I only get one day (32 hours) between my graveyard shift and my next, afternoon, shift. So I can’t really get enough sleep for my afternoon shift. (because I need to be up by noon, but I don’t feel tired until like 10am). It’s also only been a couple weeks that I’ve been on this schedule, and it’s not a final schedule. I’m just not sure how (if I should) bring this up to my manager.

    1. MsCHX*

      People so often project themselves onto others. I’m one of those people that really cannot function well without 8-9 hours of sleep so when someone tells me they only need 4-6 I am astonished. I would just try to explain that this is actually more difficult for you and if possible you’d prefer all graveyard shifts.

      (I also think that people who have always worked ‘normal’ day shifts don’t get that just because you worked 2nd shift or overnight that you’re exhausted and ready to climb into bed after work. When I was around 19 I got off work anytime from 11 pm to 2 a.m. Most days I would go to sleep by around 6-7 a.m. which really, that’s in line with people who get off at 5 pm and go to bed at 10 or 11.)

      1. Kathlynn*

        Yes. I cannot gall asleep quickly. Usually takes 4 hours after a shift for me to fall asleep.
        I don’t mind doing both afternoon and graveyards. I just need/prefer that my days off be together if I’m doing so.
        I know I can’t be put on graveyards yet, because theres currently enough staff for it, outside of my 2-3 shifts. They were hoping to fire someone on that shift, and haven’t yet. I was hired at a rough time, since my manager had just been promoted, after our absent manager was placed on medical leave.

  39. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Anyone else here sometimes want to submit an open thread question/vent but are paranoid that the details will out you? I don’t even need advice really just wanted commiseration and while I am about 95% certain these people don’t even know this blog exists I still just.can’

    So, rather than get into the details, I’ll just post this: Anyone here deal with a super tiny, likely family-run, business that plays a little fast and loose with paychecks? (In this case, it isn’t me – I work for a very large organization, so I am used to itemized, orderly, correct paychecks that come in expected intervals!)

    1. Guilty as charged*

      For your first paragraph, that is totally me. I would face a huge issue at work, want to write to AAM or the community to seek some advice… and then realise mid way through typing the story that my boss would definitely know it was me. So I end up deleting it XD

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Right? Like I said, pretty positive the person doesn’t read the blog, but YOU NEVER REALLY KNOW, do you?!

        1. Coalea*

          My boss recently let several projects slip through the cracks. When he was finally called out on it by the clients in question, his response was to claim that he had sent out emails that apparently were not received.

          I realize that Outlook can be a bit wonky sometimes, but this seems fishy to me. Not only do the particulars seem suspect (only certain emails to certain individuals were affected), if he did send these emails as he claims, didn’t it seem odd to him that the clients continued to follow up asking where their deliverables were? Didn’t he wonder why I was emailing him to confirm whether or not he had sent out the deliverables? Typically we save everything to a shared server, and filenames are of the format “Chocolate Teapot Report_Draft 1_sent to client 5Sept2016.” For the projects in question, the files don’t have the dates in the filename – and appear to have been created after when they were supposedly sent to client.

          I’m interested to hear what others think my obligations are in this situation!

        2. sometimeswhy*

          Yep. Yep yep yep.

          I have taken that a step farther and when a post/open thread vent/open thread question is too close to a situation I (and, to my knowledge, no one else here) is dealing with, I won’t participate in the comments AND get hyperventilatey and paranoid that if someone from here sees it, they’ll think it was me.

    2. Kathlynn*

      I went from a local chain store to (after they sold it) a basically family owned and managed out of town chain of stores (though not under the same name). I went from having benefits, getting paid overtime, having my holiday pay saved for me, proper tax amounts getting taken off, and paid biweekly. To getting paid once a month, no benefits, less taxes getting taken off (like, it was the same amount or less then the amount I get taken off of one paycheck now, or before then. For 2x the time worked), holiday pay given every paycheck. And no overtime and less hours (because they cut hours to reduce the number of staff needed).
      We also went from having a dedicated manager to one who ran 4 stores, and (without contact info) were expected to find our own coverage when sick. 6 months and I was gone.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Oh, that sounds like a nightmare. From a company that cared about it’s employees to one that … didn’t.

        1. Kathlynn*

          Yup, and the lack of overtime and pay frequency are illegal. But they don’t care. (they have people working +9 hour days,but won’t pay overtime unless you get more than 40 hours. Where I live requires daily overtime be paid as well as weekly.)
          Though I would say the last employer really cared about the employees. Worked there for 6 years and got 1 raise, like 2 months before the sale went through.

      2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        In this case it’s a super teeny tiny doesn’t-even-meet-federal-labor-law-thresholds-on-a-lot-of-things company that just kind of does what it wants. Not because they are trying to screw anyone, either. It makes me nuts because part of me really wants to intervene but it’s not my place to do so.

    3. animaniactoo*

      I worry more since I found the clause in the employee handbook that says we’re not *ever* supposed to talk about the company by name on any form of social media.

      I have since been even more general about the specifics of my job (i.e. I used to say what kind of kids’ products I design and now I just say I design kids’ products).

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        I’ve seen that at a handful of companies. One I used to work at had this policy. This company is no longer in business and I remember discussing with others how we had a feeling the policy was not legal!

        1. Kathlynn*

          Current international employer has this policy. Plus a bit more. Don’t remember the wording, since I didn’t get a copy of the paperwork they wanted me to sign. (really bad way to enforce policies. Get your employees to sign something, but don’t give them a copy….how many of us have ever said something like “I have a bad memory”)

        2. animaniactoo*

          It’s legal, and I get the reasoning behind it based on the kinds of products we produce and preserving the company reputation. We’re all under NDAs anyway due to the competitive nature of our market. In my department, I sign about 4 or 5 more NDAs at various meetings throughout the year, so details I talk about in the office can be overheard, etc. etc.

          The main reason I went even more generic here is because I talk about specific issues in my office on occasion and naming the exact kind of products I work on makes it easy to identify where I work with just a little bit of digging. There are basically 3 companies in the country that produce what my company does, and with a few other details that are relevant for talking about something else (like yesterday, I posted that the owners of my company are Orthodox Jewish and we close for all the high holy days) it would be easy to narrow down to which one I’m at. While what I’ve posted about up until now has been in very generic terms, if I ever have a bigger issue I want to be able to talk about it without fear of the company being identifiable from previous comments.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            Ahh, that makes sense. In this other company’s case, the conversations had to do with terms and conditions of employment, which they really couldn’t (legally) restrict.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You can always change details like sex, size of company/team, etc. With an extraordinarily unusual situation, that might not help, but in most of them it would. (I’d estimate that the majority of questions I answer here aren’t so unusual that they’re only happening in one workplace that year, although of course there are some exceptions, like the heirloom-stealing boss or — hopefully — duck club.)

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Yeah, I know that. If it was a true quandry I would probably do this, but this was more of a vent than anything, which I guess made me realize it isn’t really worth it. ;)

    5. smokey*

      Yes, to the first point. I’ll face an issue but feel like it has to be rare and therefore everyone will know where I work. But I can’t determine if it’s actually a rare issue because I don’t want to say what it is! I’ll be unable to find the same thing in the archives, but the archives are vast.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        As I’m thinking of it, the complaint/vent is for sure not rare at all. The dynamics surrounding it make it more rare, though I’ll bet even then not as much as I would think!

        Related, we got confirmation on what the issue was … which opens more for me wanting to vent. Why do teeny tiny businesses just think that they can ignore the law?! (Answer: They don’t. They just don’t know the law. And they don’t want to listen to those of us that do.)

    6. Sabrina the Teenage Witch*

      I always want to write in when I’m having issues. I tend to change quite a few details so that HOPEFULLY no one involved in the situations would be able to tell it’s me posting. Fingers crossed on that one.

    7. Marisol*

      I’m not worried about getting identified but I am worried about getting my feelings hurt or just being misunderstood.

      I’ve never had a workplace play fast & loose with my paycheck, and would not tolerate it.

    8. not my usual alias*

      As you can see by my name, I share the same fear. :)

      My spouse used to work for such a business. Once, they were notified a couple of weeks ahead of time that the checks they were supposed to receive on X date would be a few days late, because the payroll clerk (the owner’s child) was going on vacation. Those who complained were told “You were informed ahead of time, you should make arrangements.”

      1. Jean*

        Yeah, they can’t do that. I’ve done payroll for over 30 years, and you either do it ahead of time, or you get someone else to do it.

        1. Jean*

          Hi, Jean, this is another Jean. Nice to meet you. I hope you’ve been enjoying the “Did I really write this comment?” experience as much as I have! (By the time I read this one I realized that there are definitelytwo of us because I’ve never done payroll even once, never mind for over 30 years.)
          Do you think we need to differentiate ourselves as Jean1 and Jean2, or JeanPurple and JeanYellow, or JeanAnythingElse (favorite color, favorite out-of-doors activity, etc.)? Or should we continue unchanged with the hope that our presumable differences in context, content, and writing style will prevent each of us from being confused with the other?

  40. Arielle*

    I saw a post on LinkedIn this morning in which a CEO bragged about having a weekly prayer meeting in the conference room. It included the line “Every HR manual on the planet recommends against doing this but I don’t care.” There were 150,000 likes on it. I was horrified. Do I just live in a bubble? I thought it was pretty common knowledge that workplace-sponsored/enforced religious practice is a terrible idea and also illegal.

      1. Arielle*

        I would be skeptical that at a company where the CEO takes this attitude, it’s truly possible to opt out without penalty, so that was where my “illegal” comment came from. I should have been more clear as to my thought process.

        1. Brogrammer*

          Even if there’s no penalty for not attending, it’s likely that anyone who declines to join the Bible study is required to work normally during that time. So at best, the Bible study is an extra paid break/networking opportunity for Christians only.

    1. Temperance*

      That’s absolutely disgusting. Really happy that I don’t work at that organization! I’m also disgusted at the 150k people who apparently approve of religious intimidation and discrimination.

      Even though it’s not illegal, this very easily could lead to negative consequences for religious minorities in the office. After all, the CEO is leading the meeting, and then he gets to know the people who show up, and then from there they get preferential treatment. Not okay at all.

    2. tink*

      I could only see this being a thing at a religiously affiliated chain. (LifeWay literally asks for extensive information about you and your church-related activities, so something like weekly prayer meetings wouldn’t surprise me at all.) And even that makes me uncomfortable, because not everyone likes to express their beliefs in the same manner.

    3. Office Plant*

      The post just says “prayer meeting”. It doesn’t necessarily involve Christianity or Bibles. It could be inter-faith. Of course that would still exclude people who don’t pray, so the outcome is just as divisive.

  41. anon for this*

    I got a new direct boss about six weeks ago and it’s been a shaky transition. His technical skills are strong, but he is hands-off to the point of coming across as either disengaged or way too passive. There are certain office culture things that he isn’t picking up on, either. I realize that everyone has a learning curve and I’m trying to be patient and not freaking out, but I am freaking out. Several times, I’ve had to pick up the pieces when he’s let something fall through the cracks. And I am so sick of being everybody’s go-to workhorse when sh*t hits the fan. He is not a bad guy, and seems very kind, but I am sort of kicking myself for ignoring my gut feeling about his personality during the interview process.

    Clearly, I’m going to have to work harder to basically force him to engage and make quicker decisions, but it’s giving me such a bad feeling and I can’t really pinpoint why.

    1. a big fish in a small pond*

      Ugh! boss transitions are the worst! When reading your post I found myself wondering if he truly “isn’t picking up on” the office culture, instead of it being intentional/part of his personality (INTJ? INTP?).

  42. she was a fast machine*

    Alright y’all, I need some insight on this question I had sent in to Allison ages ago but she gave me permission to get input on here. I just got a new job, so parts of it aren’t super relevant anymore, it doesn’t NEED to be addressed, but I still would like to get it off my mind.

    When I was 17 I was employed part time by my local community college’s Marketing Department. It was a pretty sweet gig, and I was attending school there while I worked. My manager was the Director of Marketing. To be clear, I was not a student worker; I was a “real” employee. While I was employed I made a few rookie mistakes, as I think most 17 year olds do but I corrected the behavior when addressed with it by my supervisor. I didn’t have my own transportation; most days my dad either dropped me off in the mornings(riding on the back of his motorcycle) or I would walk a half-mile to a bus stop, ride a bus to the nearest stop by the school and walk another half-mile across campus, but I made it work.

    After about six months there, I had a minor outpatient procedure done that involved three stitches in my thigh. Despite how minor it was supposed to be, the stitches got torn open. I don’t know if it was the walking or the riding a motorcycle or a little bit of both, but either way the pain and now open wound made walking incredibly painful and riding the motorcycle was only a little easier. Being stuck at home also brought on a lingering depression tied into my mother’s death earlier in the year, so it was a bad time. I missed a lot of my scheduled shifts, though thankfully had a classmate who had a car and lived nearby and would offer rides to some of my classes so I could at least attend them, but often my work shifts would be in the morning and my classes in the afternoon and I couldn’t get to campus in the morning but could ride with the classmate to the afternoon class. Most of the department knew my schedule, and it was inevitable that they would occasionally see me in the afternoon leaving campus after calling in that morning.

    I never thought to get a note from my doctor, and looking back I realize that I probably didn’t communicate the situation very well to my supervisor. I had planned on pushing through the pain(and to be fair, I was healing well at this point, about a month after the procedure) and returning to work the next Monday, and in the mean time I went to my Friday afternoon class. Well, while I was there, my boss decided to pay a visit to that particular classroom on that day at that time. He spoke with the professor briefly and then made straight for me. In front of the whole class, he quizzed me about why I was in class, why I hadn’t been at work that morning, why I was suddenly well enough to be in class, the whole nine yards. I was incredibly embarrassed and probably should have seen the writing on the wall, but I did my best to apologize and promise I’d be there Monday morning.

    Monday morning came, and unsurprisingly I got called into his office and told to gather my things and leave. I’d missed 19 shifts(not all consecutively) in one month and that was grounds for termination. I left in tears, despite the best efforts of my co-workers to reassure me that they didn’t want me to have to leave and that they’d tried to speak to him. I was offered an exit interview with HR, but I didn’t take it as I was desperate to get away from everyone watching the kid break down crying after being fired.

    It’s been several years since then and I still attend that school(part time) and have a really great job at another non-profit where I get truly glowing reviews from my supervisor all the way to the executive director. I’m on good terms with my former co-workers and boss and occasionally have cause to interact with them in the process of my current work. However, there have been some very interesting positions come open at the school, ones that I would like to apply for, but I’ve always hesitated because of what happened before. I’ve always felt like what happened was unfortunate and what my boss did showing up to my class was pretty unethical, but I never said anything and tried to just move on, as I knew that missing that much work really was enough for them to fire me over and the details didn’t matter. I once typed up an email explaining in detail what my boss had done coming to my classroom, and I almost sent it to the HR department at the school, but in the end I decided not to as I didn’t want to burn any bridges(and I still had to go to school there!).

    But now I want to apply for a job there and I worry I’ll be rejected outright(which is fair; I’ve grown as a person and am not likely to ever be in that situation again, but that’s not on them to take the chance). But if I’m going to be rejected anyways, I want to let them know what my boss did, and let them sort it out, even if nothing comes of it. But then that might cause problems for me as a student AND end the cordial work relationship I have with my former department, all over something that I have no clue if it’s actually anything worth making a fuss over.

    I’m at a loss as to what to do here and I could really use some advice as to which path to take. I would be happy to bury it all and forget about it, but I hate feeling like I’m missing some opportunities by not applying for some of the positions at the school that I think I would be a great fit for.

    1. Intrepid*

      Do you think you could reach out to your old boss (or another higher-up you were on good terms with) on the grounds of asking for career guidance at first, explaining that while you realize you didn’t finish that job well, you’re still in the field, you’ve always respected their work, and you’d love their advice on growing your career? It’s a soft opening, that might give you a chance to re-introduce them to your more-mature, more-accomplished present self, and if it goes well you could mention that you’d love to apply to the university again but weren’t sure where things stood. Your circumstances sound extremely mitigating, and I think they might be inclined to give you a second chance.

      1. she was a fast machine*

        That’s definitely possible, as I’m acquaintances(went to the same church, grew up with her kids) with the HR director for the school. I could definitely approach her with that type of lead-in to put out some feelers and see what her take on things is.

        1. Intrepid*

          The HR director sounds like a great contact! I would think that she’d also have the power to, for example, put a note your file so that you’re more eligible for re-hire.

    2. Lisalee*

      My experience with university jobs is that the different departments hire fairly independently of each other and something from before you graduated college probably won’t be held against you. I would minimize the job on your resume and (obviously) not use references from it. If you have to enter your supervisor’s contact info on an online form, I would pick the “contact me before contacting this employer” option or “do not contact” if that’s not available. Then, if you get to the interview stage, explain the situation there if it seems relevant. I wouldn’t go into what your boss did (which was SUPER inappropriate, btw) just say something like “I was dealing with the side effects of a medical procedure and my mother’s death. As a 17 year old, I didn’t know how to handle the situation and unfortunately my attendance suffered. Since then I’ve worked hard to be a dependable employee.”

      FWIW, “I was very young and made mistakes in response to a difficult medical and personal situation” is a very reasonable explanation of something like that. I wouldn’t bat an eye at it if the rest of your job history is solid.

      1. she was a fast machine*

        The only problem is that in the online application there is a section that asks if you’ve worked for the school before, and if so, why did you leave and the only options are in a dropdown with no room for an explanation. So I’m concerned even if departments are rather independent that my answer (terminated) would automatically send me to the trash without the chance to explain. I do think that opening up a line of communication with the HR Director/staff who I know might actually help me there to keep me from being disqualified based on that alone, but I’m just not completely sure.

        Thankfully, it hasn’t been an issue being hired for any of the jobs I’ve had since then, as they’ve all had room for an explanation and understood completely once I brought up medical issues and my mom’s death.

    3. MsCHX*

      I agree that you should go and talk to the former supervisor to clear the air. Especially since it’s been a few years now.

      I’m sure you see here all the time people struggle with what is workplace norms; and at 17 it was probably even harder to “know” what should have been done in that situation. And honestly, I don’t see your age as an “excuse” but an actual explanation. You thought you were handling it fine but in retrospect, you should have done X,Y, and Z.

      Everything else Intrepid says about the actual conversation is gold I think.

      1. she was a fast machine*

        I’m just not sure what that conversation would look like? My former supervisor was always a very awkward and uncomfortable person, so there’s no chance of it being graceful and smooth, and I don’t know how to bring up “hey remember that time you humiliated me in front of my classmates and I got fired the next day?” without sounding bitter(which I still am, a little bit, admittedly), or awkward. That would be why I’ve put it off for so long.

      1. she was a fast machine*

        TL;DR – Worked at a university as my first “adult” job, had a health issue crop up that meant I missed a lot of work but not necessarily my classes, supervisor found me in class and humiliated me, I ended up being fired, and now I’m wondering if that’s a permanent black stain on my record at the school.

    4. BRR*

      I would ask the HR Director if you are eligible for rehire. I imagine they have it on your file. No explanation or anything further. Just if you are eligible.

      As for your boss’ behavior. That was incredibly inappropriate and unprofessional but I don’t think it’s an issue for HR (he didn’t do anything illegal, it was just awful management) and really at this point I think you just have to let it go. If you bring it up now it’s going to come across as vindictive and I don’t think it will result in anything.

      What I’m not sure of is did he know about why you were missing shifts? Did you call out or just not show up and if you called did you say you couldn’t make it or did you explain your current situation? But even if he knew it was medical, transportation is irrelevant to an employer in most scenarios. And since you were still able to get to campus, if your manager didn’t have any context I can understand why he would not be happy (that doesn’t excuse his behavior).

      1. she was a fast machine*

        The biggest thing is that competition for these types of jobs at the school are pretty fierce as it’s a good place to work, so even if I am technically eligible for rehire, I still am concerned I might unofficially go to the bottom of the list anyways. IDK. I feel like I’m over thinking it (I probably am!).

        I’m okay with letting it go, honestly; I’d be really happy if I could just move on, but it’s been haunting me that maybe he has treated other people this way and they were too scared to say anything, but I’m not sure of the legality of it(that was my issue, if he knew where my class was because I had told my coworkers and it found its way to him, or if he knew because he’d gone looking in my student records, which seems like a violation of privacy).

        I definitely admit I probably wasn’t as on-top of the explanations as I should have been but I did make it pretty clear after my stitches tore that they had torn and walking was painful and when I would call in I would definitely let them know why I couldn’t make it(no transportation and couldn’t walk). When I was there my coworker/lead made an accommodation for me so that I didn’t have to get up and walk much in the office, but I don’t know if he knew about that. And, to be fair, when I called in I always spoke to my coworker/lead, not the supervisor, because he himself was rarely in. And I definitely do remember explaining the situation to my coworker/lead, who did NOT want to fire me, but it’s possible it didn’t make it to the supervisor and I never thought to actually tell him myself since I was scared of him…so yeah. I really don’t know. A lot of that time is kind of foggy because of a) it being years ago, and b) the pain and depression and stuff.

        1. BRR*

          Ugh that sounds pretty rough. I still think you should ask the HR director if you’re eligible for rehire. If you feel like you have the sort of relationship where this is ok I would ask here if she thinks you might have a chance at other positions. Since you still have good relationships with your former coworkers I would ask them if they know anybody in the department you’re applying for and ask them if they would contact that person and give you a reference.

  43. EmilyD*

    Can someone please give me advice on how to face people during the holidays? I have terrible social anxiety and grew up in a tiny family that isn’t religious. Married into a rather large family that isn’t religious but loves the holidays and get togethers, which doesn’t mesh well with said terrible social anxiety, which I’ve been told to basically just get over. All this compounded with the fact that my SIL hates me and called me a sociopath a few years ago – said some really hurtful stuff that I honestly don’t agree with. That being said, I don’t want to be around her as she raises my anxiety levels, but now have been told that avoiding this stuff is just being hella immature. I have no idea what to do. Any advice?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Since this is family-related rather than work-related, would you post it on the weekend (non-work) open thread that goes up tomorrow instead? Thanks!

          1. EmilyD*

            I have and others, but I read this one daily and don’t usually say anything so figured I would ask. Will move it to tomorrow’s post instead. Thanks!

    2. a big fish in a small pond*

      Yikes! I don’t think protecting yourself from destructive, negative people is avoiding or immature.

      If you do choose to go, I’d suggest making all of your interactions projected onto the other person/people. I have overwhelming social anxiety too and it is so difficult, but I’ve found that most people love talking about themselves/their lives, so I just turn every question / interaction back on the other individual and it works a lot of the time.

      Good luck!

  44. Boardwalk Kingdom*

    What is the silliest Company Christmas Party event you guys ever had to endure?
    A while back my company held a Christmas charity auction where the items were donated by employees. One of the bosses actually went a got a huge teddy bear (size of a 5 year old kid) and set it up as the grand finale prize. None of the 200 adult employees was interested in bidding for the huge toy, to the boss’ embarrassment.

    1. Sabrina the Teenage Witch*

      At my company’s holiday party we were forced to sing the 12 days of Christmas, but change the words of the song so they were relevant to the company. The CEO picked the winner. It was usually someone who brought props or included her in some way.

      1. Artemesia*

        Yeah I am surprised. Most auctions I have been to for charities and such have a few toys and they are usually really popular –as gifts for kids or grandkids.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      I don’t know if this counts but heh — somehow my husband and I got roped into attending a “gala” at which the university president always bought a table, I guess as a community gesture or something. It was supposed to be black tie, so we dressed up; of course people’s attire ranged from cocktail dresses to jeans and sweaters (seriously?). There was a silent auction, and then following the rubber-chicken dinner, there was a live auction. The piece de resistance was a…gee, how to even describe it. A laser-engraved glass portrait of a well known athlete. It. Was. Hidjus. It was supposed to be worth several thousand $$ and the “winning” bid was well under $1000. I was kind of thankful that the president didn’t attend that dinner so he couldn’t see my face.

    3. Zip Silver*

      We’re doing an escape room thing and going drinking at a beach bar afterwards afterwards. All of us are the same pay grade, though.

  45. everyunhappyjd*

    I am just finishing my first year as a lawyer and I am miserable. I am in a boutique firm doing trust and estate work and while I loved it after one summer here, now I am constantly bored, distracted, frustrated and counting days til the weekend. Lawyers, or anyone with relevant experience, how do I transition to a better, more exciting career? I spent my last year of law school doing a litigation clinic, and I excelled and I loved it. But I had already accepted this job and my career counselor told me to just take this job.

    FWIW, I graduated cum laude from a top 20 law school located in the midwest, i practice in san diego now.

    1. SJ*

      I work with a Director of Development who has a J.D. I don’t know how she made the transition, but it works for her.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      A lot of people in your position shoot for government work. Definitely something you should look into. Your academic background will certainly help!

    3. LawCat*

      Join local bar groups to meet people working in litigation. Other local lawyers are your best bet on getting advice.

      Can you do some pro bono work? Pro bono clinics can also be a good way to meet other lawyers and pick up skills. I volunteered at a pro bono employment law clinic for a year where I learned a ton about employment law and was able to represent clients in UI hearings. This really helped me enter litigation.

      1. Lillian Styx*

        Seconding starting with pro bono work. We do niche litigation for low income people and have a lot of transactional lawyers from big firms take cases with us to get their litigation fix. The cases are short and very rewarding (so I hear). Employment law is good, and I would also recommend public benefits and housing/eviction. Lawyer jobs at nonprofits are scarce and competitive but can be very rewarding!

  46. Intrepid*

    A coworker (Myrtle) told me she lied on her resume. I was brand new to working at Hogwarts and, from the way she said it (and a few sketchy things happening around the office), I assumed our boss (Dumbledore) knew and had chosen to hire her anyway. It sounded like she had a fine/impressive resume, and she lied to make herself SUPER impressive.

    But now, having known both of them a while longer, I’m less sure if Myrtle told anyone but me. I no longer work directly for Dumbledore, but I do still work for Hogwarts and he mentors me. I know he wants me to keep working for Hogwarts, but I’m pretty frustrated with it– and the fact that Myrtle keeps getting better and better opportunities while I keep getting passed over, despite the fact that my work is more advanced & higher quality.

    If it came out in our discussions that I knew Myrtle lied to get hired in the first place, how badly would that reflect on me? Could I get in trouble for it, since I do still work for Hogwarts and it kind of looks like I withheld this information?

    1. Pantsonfire*

      I think you could be justified in saying something if the lie is something that could genuinely impact her ability to do her work (e.g. saying she has a first aid certification when she doesn’t). If it’s something more minor like slightly inflated skills or start and end dates I’d probably leave it alone.

      You also say that you’ve known her for a while now, and depending on the length of time, it might look odd to bring it up now. If for instance, she told you she didn’t have a degree she needs 6 months ago, it seems a little odd that you’re just bringing it up now. Reading your comment, it kind of sounds like your motivation has more to do with your being passed over while Myrtle gets better opportunities, and even if this isn’t the case, I’d be concerned that your boss may get that impression.

      1. Intrepid*

        I am definitely feeling a little resentful, and I agree that I don’t want it to come across like I’m bad-mouthing Myrtle because I’m jealous. The context of the conversation wouldn’t be “fire Myrtle now,” it would be that my old boss keeps encouraging me to apply for openings at Hogwarts, and right now I’m really feeling pretty put off for the organization. I think a reasonable follow-up question for him would be “well, why?” and I am losing a lot of respect because of who they’ve hired– not only Myrtle, but she’s part of the reason.

        I tried to shut down the initial conversation ASAP, so I don’t know all the details of what she changed, but it was more “I majorly inflated my duties” than “I said I had a degree I didn’t have.”

        1. MsCHX*

          I think timing is an issue too. I don’t want to pretend as if lying on your resume is okay – it isn’t. However she’s likely proven herself through experience and work product even if she previously inflated her skill level.

          I’m a little confused, you said you’re being encouraged to apply for better jobs and you don’t want to out of loss of respect for the company…but also that you’re being passed over.

          1. Intrepid*

            Sorry for the confusion! I’m being encouraged to apply for other jobs, and I’ve done so a couple times. But when I do, I don’t get so much as a rejection notice– I just find out someone was hired when the all-staff email goes out saying how excited they are to have Newbie join. So it stings rather more than it should, and it’s rather discouraging to have it happen repeatedly.

        2. Intrepid*

          So I guess to clarify (because the Friday brain is strong with me today) my question is less “how do I have this conversation with my old boss to get Myrtle in trouble?” and more “I still talk with Dumbledore pretty regularly on adjacent topics so this might come up. If it does, will it blow up in my face? Should I be Certain to Avoid at All Costs?”

            1. Intrepid*

              Curses on my Friday brain. I really don’t care about getting Myrtle in trouble; she seems like a -fine person. So my question ISN’T getting her in trouble, but just if I can point to that as one of the reasons I’m frustrated by Hogwarts.

              1. Grits McGee*

                I think you could say that you’re concerned about whether you’ll be able to advance at Hogwarts since you haven’t been able to so far, but I don’t know how you can bring up the issue with Myrtle without loosing credibility. There’s not much you can do about anyone else, but maybe Dumbledore can work with you to see if there’s something holding you back.

                1. MsCHX*

                  I’m so torn on this! Do you think she could mention to Dumbledore, since she is no longer his direct report, what Myrtle said? I do think it has to be completely out of context from “Why am I not advancing here at Hogwarts?”

                2. Grits McGee*

                  MsCHX- I’m not 100% confident on this, but unless it was so egregious that it’d be an ethical violation not to report it, I just don’t see what the benefit would be. Unless what Myrtle lied about was so egregious that it would open Hogwarts up to legal liability, I can’t see a context where it wouldn’t look petty since Myrtle has been here long enough that’s she’s been able advance based on work she’s done on site.

                3. Intrepid*

                  Thank you, I think I’ll try to frame it like this. Dumbledore believes in me more than I do, and I’ve passed my applications along to him when I’ve applied internally since he’d eventually hear about them anyway as my former boss– so I’m doubtful he’ll have anything to add at this point, but I like the idea of explicitly asking for insight just in case.

              2. bb-great*

                I don’t think you should resent the company for something Myrtle did. It’s not like Hogwarts knew there was a problem and mishandled it. They had no idea there was a problem in the first place.

                While I understand why it grates on you (it would bother me too) what Myrtle did on her resume isn’t really relevant to your relationship with the company, and bringing it up is just going to make you sound petty. If you feel they make bad hires, or certain employees don’t pull their weight, or your work isn’t being recognized, talk about that instead.

          1. Pantsonfire*

            If the situation is just that she exaggerated skills on her resume, I’d be hard-pressed to see how that might blow up in your face. Were you responsible for screening her resume or contacting her references?

            You also mentioned that you don’t know the details of what she changed. I think it would be fairly uncommon for you to run into a situation where you have to explain the details of someone else’s resume in a normal office, and even if you were asked to for some bizarre reason, you’re in the clear because you don’t know what she lied about anyway.

            I’d imagine there’s a possibility Dumbledore might say something like “I’m planning to have Myrtle cover this…” and you might say “I don’t know if she has the skills/experience to do that…” but it seems like it should be fairly easy to either a) not say things like that; or b) say that without explaining that she told you she lied on her resume.

    2. a big fish in a small pond*

      I just have to say that I am surprised by and love how many Potterheads are on the replies on this website!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Your issue is with the company not Myrtle. What if this convo with Myrtle never happened, then what? You have a company who is promoting someone else not you.
      I think you need to start looking around to see what other jobs are out there.

      Years ago, I worked at my favorite job. I mean once in a life time favorite job. Years rolled by and newbies got promoted over me. They got the extra hours and so on. It almost killed me but I had to leave. I guess I was liked enough, I worked harder than three people, but for whatever reason it just did not fall together for me. I think the one mistake I made was not leaving sooner. Read the writing on the wall sooner, what you see is what there is to see. Make your decisions accordingly.

  47. bassclefchick*

    Well, it looks like I’m getting the reputation of “the woman who cries”. My first month here was stressful because I carried over stress from being let go so suddenly at the last job. Yesterday I got details for the funeral arrangements for a dear friend (I posted about that in the Saturday open thread).

    I really hate that I cry so easily. There is no excuse, but I’m working on it.

    At least I’ve made it out of the probationary period.

    1. Guilty as charged*

      Good luck! I also have the same problem too in my current job. I really wish I was stronger, but everytime I am overwhelmed I just can’t stop the tears from coming.

    2. ASJ*

      Commiseration here – it happens to me too and I hate it. It just seems to be an automatic reflex that happens when I’m overwhelmed/stressed/upset and it sucks.

      In your case, you have a valid reason. If anyone says anything to you, you might acknowledge it but add that you received details about a funeral for a close friend (if you’re okay with sharing that, of course).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      A lot of sad people place a high value on not crying.
      I got punched in the face and as my lip could be seen actually swelling up, my boss said, “no crying, crying is not allowed.”

      What about cussing, boss?

      Stop telling yourself not to cry. This will be very helpful, I promise. Granted you don’t really want to cry at work, but do try to tell yourself nice things such as, “it’s okay” or “I am okay here”. Reassure yourself instead of ordering yourself to stop. It makes a difference what we tell ourselves.

      And do allow yourself cry times at home or in the car on the way home, whichever. It has to come out of you.

      Also look into a drink with electrolytes in it. Grief and sadnesses really zap our mineral supply, which in turn makes us more weepy, so keep some in the house and sip on it.

  48. Cruciatus*

    So I got rejected for two jobs I applied to internally. Not even interviewed for either or given anything more than generic rejection forms. It’s a bit of a blow. I work at a smallish university in an administrative role, though I have a Master’s, which would have been useful for these other jobs. I’m not really sure where else I can go from here. I was applying for more student oriented jobs–advisor and advocate positions. I’ve looked around to other positions on campus and most everything I’m qualified for is a lateral administrative move (which I’m looking to get away from). There aren’t many of these higher paying non-admin jobs that my qualifications and experience fit in to. And I’ve already been rejected once so even if another comes up who says they’d give me the time of day? I’ve only been here 16 months but I have a good reputation (as far as I can tell). How can you figure out if you’re staying in a dead end job or if you should plan on a new company next time?

    1. college admin*

      I’m an admin at a smallish university as well and my HR rep flat-out told me I needed to leave if I want to advance, because there are so few opportunities to move up here. I’ve been at it a bit longer than you (like 6 years longer) and I wish I’d started applying ages ago because now I’m pigeonholed. So I’m finally taking her advice and looking elsewhere, although I have applied for a couple relevant promotions (to no avail).

      So basically, look around at your colleagues–if they aren’t moving up it’s probably dead-end. I don’t think admin work is the stepping stone it used to be (or was perceived to be, anyway).

    2. SJ*

      Are there any other universities in your area? I might aim to stay 2 full years and plan on applying for different universities, if there’s nothing that fits for you. I was in the same position as you (Master’s degree and nowhere to go from my admin role at the small school) and I moved to a way bigger university with lots more advancement opportunities.

      In the meantime, can you do any professional development to beef up your resume for those student-oriented jobs?

    3. Jennifer*

      I have had similar experiences. Universities basically don’t want to hire you any more unless you’ve already done the job, apparently–I’m getting sunk in interviews because there will be ONE thing on a list of 25 I haven’t done in a previous job already.

    4. Artemesia*

      Have you do anything to become known to the people hiring or running the student oriented operations. My impression of universities is that they really tend to hire known quantities for student oriented roles. Is there some way you can cultivate those connections? Are their events you could volunteer to assist? Or committees you could join to build networks with those in those areas?

      1. Cruciatus*

        I actually work with a lot of departments based on the functions of my job, and have worked with the advising center and think I’ve always been good at helping them get what they need from me. I know the director a little–most departments do their own hiring but have members of other departments on hand for interviews. There isn’t much I can change regarding the scope of my job, which I do think is somewhat problematic. In other departments I think people are a little looser with what they can do, but my supervisor does not encourage anything beyond our jobs, not that I can think of anything that exists that includes these other departments I might like to work in. The one thing I am to help with is new student orientation in the summer which works directly with the advising department. That’s how I got to know many of the advisors in the department a little bit, at least more by face (usually just email). There’s not much more I can do at this point. A lot of people are taking early retirement so maybe, just maybe, I’ll see something else open up. Those jobs should start being posted sometime in the new year so I guess if there’s nothing I see by next summer that’s probably a clue that my time here is limited.

        There are other universities in the area, but I’m at the “best” one, at least economically. They aren’t laying people off left and right or striking as another just did (though that’s a state school). The benefits are better here. They have other campuses across the state but I’m not really interested in moving.

        I just feel unsettled here. And I have since I started. And now that it seems to be so difficult to get hired in other roles I”m qualified for, the feeling is intensifying. Maybe it’s just a wrong fit overall.

        1. overeducated*

          Two rejections is a very small number. It’s way too early to jump to conclusions. Hang in there.

          1. Cruciatus*

            This is true, but the positions in the areas I applied (and am most interested) do not open up very often. Sigh. Wait and see!

        2. Emac*

          I don’t know if you’ll see this now, but do you know the hiring managers for the jobs you applied to? Could you ask them, or someone you know in the advising center, where you could develop more to be a better candidate?

          Also, you say you’re at the economically best university right now, but what about other types of schools – community colleges, for example? The ones in my state, though I know it can vary a lot by state, are pretty stable and pay well. Or if you’re willing to look outside of actual school environments, you could see if there are any adult basic education (ABE) programs in your area – ones that prepare people for high school equivalency tests or teach English to non-native speakers – or workforce development/job training. Non profits or government programs in those areas usually have academic/career coach/navigator/advisors or case managers or retention staff that would all give you direct student advising experience.

  49. Sing it out*

    Here’s a design question: To people who have the opportunity to work in those trendy new offices where there is little to no cubicles or desks, but instead feature a lot of quirky sitting areas, pods and discussion zones (think Google office interiors)… do you guys like it there?

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I loathed working in an open office. It didn’t help that they were constantly blasting trendy music, and the environment was intentionally “fun.” I lasted a few months, realized the industry wasn’t for me, and quit.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE open offices! But at least I have a (tiny) desk.

      For those companies considering not just an open office, but a space in which no one has a permanent space (i.e., employees take their laptops from place to place and sit somewhere different each day), keep in mind that this screws over people with disabilities or injuries who require a specific setup. I know if my company ever decided to go this route, I’d be waving the ADA flag insisting that I get to keep the ergonomic setup I have now.

    3. Leatherwings*

      Hate. I went from working in a totally open office(I had my own dedicated desk though) to having my own space-cubicle-like area and it’s so so so much better. In the open space, someone was always on a distracting phone call or talking to their neighbor. It was also tough to hear everyone eat at their desk all day. Also, I always feel self-conscious about people looking at my screen. I don’t require total privacy, and I don’t waste a lot of time but it is nice to check AAM every once in awhile without worrying people are judging your for it.

    4. Charlotte Collins*

      I gave my notice this week (yay – and thanks, Alison! Your book and blog really helped). Anyway, I am moving from a soulless building from the 1980s with terrible cube/semi open desk design to a public building from the 1930s. I haven’t seen my workspace yet, but I believe it is cubes/partitions set up in a large room with some conference rooms. And the wonderful windows/ceilings that were just part of office building design back then. Not only am I excited about my job, but I am also excited in working in a building from back when architecture was meant for, you know, actual human people.

      I will also be a 2-minute walk from a lake. I’d rather have that than any fancy new fad office design.

    5. Nk*

      Hate open office. Constant noise. No privacy. No place to put stuff (coat or purse). Difficult to concentrate.

    6. BRR*

      Semi related. I was listening to the Second City Podcast (the one Alison was on once) and the guest was saying how his office is open in order to increase collaboration because the next great marketing idea might come from finance and they take turns for who gets to play music on a bluetooth speaker because everybody likes music and I had to turn it off. It sounded terrible. I’ve never met anybody who said they enjoy an open office. I’ve heard some people say they can work in them but I’ve never heard of it increasing collaboration because you work with people when you need to work with people.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God no. I like MY music. Not YOUR music. Plus I can’t concentrate if there is singing. If music is playing, it has to be instrumental. That right there is a deal breaker for me. I once had a job that played a soft rock station all day, a station that repeated the same ten songs over and over and over again. I can go the rest of my life without ever hearing “Maggie May” again.

        No music!!

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hated it. I had a desk but no drawers or personal wall space. We were encouraged to work in different spaces, but I had analytical work that just didn’t look right on a laptop screen. We were all in one room and it was echo-y as all hell. There were some semi-private spaces, but one of my co-workers used to hog them. The open space was supposed to foster collaboration, but we were all so busy with our own stuff, spontaneous collaboration rarely happened. I prefer a quiet space where I can control the noise and not bother anyone, with drawers where I can put things away.

      My new job (I start on Monday, yay!) has old-fashioned cubicles with high walls. I heard I’m getting an office, which is AWESOME for me.

    8. Office Plant*

      There’s good and bad about it. You get to know your co-workers better. There’s more fun, but also more drama. It can be harder to focus because of all the distractions, but it also makes it easier to collaborate and share knowledge. In other words, it makes it more like high school. Some people thrive in that type of environment, but it’s not for everyone.

    9. Bex*

      I know I’ll be the dissenting opinion, but I LOVE it. I work in a different part of the office every time I come in, I get to sit near different people and really do learn way more about the company and all the different things we do. No one gets elevated to BEC status because you can literally move away from when whenever you want. I like all the collaborate spaces… it really is easier to brainstorm sitting on a couch rather than around a cramped conference table. Our kitchen is huge and gorgeous and has different seating areas. So again, you can choose to eat at the nig communal table which is usually pretty lively, or you can pick a smaller table off to the side with just a couple coworkers. One caveat- we do have “quiet sections” which basically have library rules- no phone calls, no conversations above a whisper, no computer volume, no music. So people can gravitate towards the areas where they are most comfortable.

    10. Pearly Girl*

      I guess I’m the lone dissenter. I was in a brand new building with an open plan and loved it. Partly because everything was new, partly because it was in a beautiful setting, but in general it worked really well. There were plenty of people who had very mixed feelings about going from cubicles to the open plan (and were very vocal about it) but I think almost everyone got used to it.

      There was white noise piped in (not obvious) and very high ceilings, and you could talk to your neighbor or in small clusters and it was no problem. Phone/conference calls were the exception, but almost everyone moved to a “quiet room” for those.

      Honestly, if you’re faced with it, keep an open mind. It felt so much freer to me than being squished into a soulless cubicle.

    11. Mints*

      I prefer it for a lot of types of jobs. My old place was my own desk with dual screens and schlock on my desk and one tower of drawers. I had a good amount of space but no cubicle walls.

      It was super helpful when I was new – I could shadow others and ask questions unobtrusively. I also think it was helpful to fill in a lot of background/industry/technical knowledge. My job was customer service and administrative coordination – I could technically do it without a lot of technical knowledge but I did a lot better as I learned more. I think you learn a lot by osmosis. Sometimes I’d overhear the technical manager explain something to a tech and I’d follow along like 80-90% of the conversation, then after I would ask about the bits I didn’t get.

      That’s a benefit I’m not getting now in a cubicle. It’s a bit easier to focus here, but not hugely.

    12. Sing it out*

      Much thanks everybody for your thoughts! Our design firm is currently handling some office designs, and of course every other magazine touts these quirky open plan spaces as the future of business and the bringer of money. But as somebody who always valued her cubicle, I always had doubts.

  50. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

    I’m really excited as I got some news last week that I’m going to be moved to a new manager (hooray!) and will get to focus more on the things I like to do (verse what my old manager didn’t want to do herself that wasn’t actually part of my job). I’ve been feeling overwhelmed on how to tackle some bigger projects which I’m excited to take on but I think dealing with all of the interoffice stuff was just getting me and clouding my focus. I’ve also struggled at looking at the big picture and breaking it down into manageable steps as I keep thinking about the what if’s and wanting to make sure everything is done well as I know there is lots of resistance to change. If anyone has any suggestions on how to break down projects and create goals/tasks without getting lost in the uncertainly/stress of it all, I’d appreciate it!

  51. DevAssist*

    So in today’s installment of overbearing bosses (sorry- I need to complain), I’ve become aware of some more arbitrary rules that BIG BOSS put in place:

    Coffee must be made BEFORE you clock in. You want coffee? Come in earlier (and yet, we aren’t suppose to arrive before our clock-in time).

    Our paid 10 minute breaks must be taken on the premises. We have a store that is literally next door to our office, and we are not allowed to go and grab a snack or beverage while on our break.

    And finally, I am a vegan but I don’t believe in restricting what other people eat. BIG BOSS does not have a religious objection to pork, but thinks it is unhealthy and so any suggested pork dishes for catered staff events are automatically vetoed, even when suggested as one option of many.

    Items 1 and 2 that I mentioned are “in the handbook” and BIG BOSS said he doesn’t necessarily agree, but the rules are in the handbook. I think that’s a BS statement because BIG BOSS literally is the one who writes and updates the handbook! The handbook also has the disclaimer that rules are subject to change at BIG BOSS’s discretion.

    Ugh. I know I’m complaining but it would be nice to be in an office that treated its employees like adults.

    1. a big fish in a small pond*

      I feel torn as I read your post. I’m afraid I share some of the BIG BOSS qualities and I wonder if it is a question of perspective. I definitely understand your points, but I don’t see it as treating employees like children.

      Are you not allowed to arrive early or not allowed to early (off the clock)? Our staff can arrive early to do personal things, but can’t work early to protect us from labor law violations. It does seem overzealous to make a strict rule about when the coffee can be made, but it might just be a consistency thing for the other not-really-work that other employees want to do at arrival in the morning? We don’t have a lot of “rules” at our office (outside of the legally required ones), but the rules we do have are often to save headaches of this kind – I never want to have to deal with questions about why Sally can make coffee at 8:05 on the clock, but Fred can’t make his toast at that time.

      I’m guessing here, but the paid breaks part – I’m assuming that you’re supposed to be available during your paid breaks (versus unpaid lunch breaks) and if you’re off-site you can’t be asked to help with something – ? As a boss I share this concern about paid breaks because when you take all of the staff and calculate all of the paid breaks and unpaid lunch times and add it together, that is A LOT of time that staff is unavailable to help customers, so requiring staff to stay on-site during the paid breaks (which are not legally required – my staff doesn’t get them!) is a small sacrifice for getting the official break time.

      Ugh, the pork question – I think it is a bit of overreach by the BIG BOSS, but does it really matter in the scheme of things? I’m vegan too, but I know that everyone else eats meat, so we do serve it, but it is just something I have to deal with – but honestly, while I personally think all current slaughtering methods are unnecessarily cruel, the idea of serving veal at a company dinner – ya, I wouldn’t allow that on the group menu. There are surprisingly few perks of being the BIG BOSS, but having a say in the menus is one of them.

      1. Construction Safety*

        As for the paid breaks, there may be a liability / Workers’ Comp issue if something were to happen while they were off-site but still on the clock.

        1. Natalie*

          Nah, workers comp operates on strict liability rather than determining issues of fault. Location is not going to make a difference.

      2. JHunz*

        If it’s a break, requiring people to be available defeats the point. They’re not going to be any less available running next-door to buy something than they would be if they decided to take ten minutes in the bathroom – and I sure hope you wouldn’t attempt to discourage someone from using their break time for THAT.

      3. DevAssist*

        Hey, thanks for your reply! I totally understand your points, and I do think it is (at least partially) a matter of perspective. While I do think these rules are petty, it would be one thing if they were enforced from the beginning.

        Rather, the big problem is lately we have been receiving email notices (or just word-of-mouth notices from our supervisors) regarding company policies and rules that have not been previously enforced. My coworker, who has been working at this company for years, has always gone to the store to grab a snack before returning to the office to spend the remaining 8 or so minutes of her break (the break is 10 minutes). She has even asked BIG BOSS if they wanted anything from the store before going!

        Just today we received notice that BIG BOSS wants to remind us that we cannot leave. I should have made this clear in my original post, but it is the sudden (seemingly random) enforcement of policies that is driving me bonkers.

      4. Natalie*

        “I’m guessing here, but the paid breaks part – I’m assuming that you’re supposed to be available during your paid breaks (versus unpaid lunch breaks) and if you’re off-site you can’t be asked to help with something ”

        Forbidding people from going next door (!) on their unpaid break because their might be something for them to help with seems very much like killing a mosquito with a rocket launcher. Nearly always, whatever that task that has come up with keep for 5-10 minutes while an employee finishes their break. And if you are in some kind of unique field where this isn’t true (firefighters, I guess?) pop your head into the convenience mart next door and tell your employee they need to come back.

    2. Intern Wrangler*

      I often request that we do not serve pork dishes, not due to health reasons, but due to being inclusive. I know of several people from varying religious backgrounds who do not eat pork. So when we are bringing in food for staff or for our participants, I ask that they do not serve any pork dishes.
      Big Boss might also have items in the handbook because of the advice of an HR team or HR attorneys.

    3. krysb*

      I’ve worked at a few companies where you couldn’t leave the company grounds during paid breaks. They’re still paying you, they have the right to restrict you to that.

  52. Manders*

    Urgh, the person helping plan the holiday party this year is being pretty pushy about not only raising money for a gift for the bosses, but asking all of us to tell her personally whether or not we’re giving her $20. This is on top of a $20 white elephant gift exchange. There’s a pretty big salary gap in the office between different groups of employees, and I really cannot afford to spend $40 on workplace gifting this holiday season, but all the people who have given her money are also hitting reply all to her emails so everyone can see who’s chipping in.

    I feel like the biggest grinch ever. But I’ve got a wedding to pay for, and I’m in the low salary group.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You would be doing other people a big favor if you replied-all and said you’re not giving her $20. It’ll give social permission to other people to do that too.

    2. a big fish in a small pond*

      Ugh! Every single year I remind staff that gifting-up is not appropriate or allowed – I wish everyone did this. I’ve been in your position before and it is awful.

    3. Manders*

      So, update: I chickened out on hitting “reply all,” and responded to her privately instead. There’s a very weird gifting culture in the office because employees get very expensive gifts at the Christmas party (not selected for them specifically, but through a white elephant exchange) and some of the staff who have been here the longest have developed a sense of obligation to the bosses because so much cash is spent on us at the party.

      I’ve privately told some of the people in the lower income group that asking for money for a gift for bosses is a weird practice and not something that would be done at most offices, and they agreed that it was ok to decide not to spend the money on a gift. I think that’s enough social permission for them to also decline to contribute.

      I don’t think I want to die on this particular hill by being the one to make a public statement, since the person who’s in charge of this seems to feel so strongly about it (and she does have a history of doing some socially weird things like making a show of whispering gossip to her friends while other people are in the room). Overall, I think this is another sign I’m not culturally in sync with this office.

    4. <