I love frequent meetings, my employee won’t stick to a schedule, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I get apathetic about my job unless I have frequent meetings

I work at a job where I mainly sit at my desk in a windowless environment and get the job done. I’ve been doing the same thing for quite some time and lately with the environment and such individual work, I just feel apathetic towards it all. However, when I have meetings with other departments, I feel so alive and part of the business! Maybe it’s the break in the day or interacting with other people, I’m not entirely sure but I seem to care more about my job for a few days after.

The problem is I only have meetings once every few months and I don’t want to schedule meetings for no reason. Do you have any advice for how to re-create this feeling without scheduling pointless meetings? Or is that why people have so many meetings anyway, they just create meetings for the fun of it?

Most people definitely aren’t scheduling meetings for the fun of it. Some people schedule more meetings than they really need because they’re not good at making decisions or knowing how to best use people’s time — but that’s pretty generally considered a bad thing. (There is a reason that so many people hate meetings.)

Anyway, any chance you’re in the wrong job? It sounds like you might thrive on interaction, but that you’re in a job that doesn’t offer a lot of it. If that’s the case, I don’t think the solution is to try to have meetings you don’t really need — rather, the solution would be to think about moving to a job that offers you more of what stimulates you. There are other things you could try in the meantime, of course, like seeing if you can get assignments that involve more talking with other people … but ultimately I’d look at what this is telling you about how well matched you are with the work you’re doing.

2. My employee won’t stick to a schedule, even though it’s a requirement of her job

I am a manager of a newly formed department at a public library. When I was hired, there was already a team assembled with staff from other departments. One employee in particular is a hard worker and great with the patrons. I convinced management to promote her to full-time and she has proven to be a wonderful asset to the team.

She is a single mom and this job does not pay the bills. I worked with her to create a customized schedule that would accommodate her other job and parental responsibilities. However, she has interpreted my initial flexibility as flex scheduling and now she comes and goes whenever she pleases. The has created an issue with scheduling and her time sheet. When I spoke to her about the expectation that she would need to get permission to adjust her set schedule, she was taken aback. She feels that since she is a diligent, hardworking, and self-motivated employee, it shouldn’t matter when she at the library, as long as she gets the job done. While I do understand this rationale, we do not have flex scheduling at the library and I cannot make an exception for her. Do you have any advice on how I can handle this issue?

You need to be direct with her: “We don’t have flex scheduling here because of Reason X and Reason Y. I’m able to work with you to customize your schedule, as we’ve done, but I need you to stick to the hours we’ve agreed to. Are you able to do that with the schedule we’ve created, or do we need to revisit it and find one that you can do reliably?”

If she pushes back, say this: “You’re right that you do great work, but like a lot of workplaces, we don’t have flexible schedules I need you to stick to one schedule. We can change it from what it is currently, but whatever we settle on, those are the hours I need you to work. This is a requirement of the job and it’s not something I can change. Are you able to commit to doing that?”

And then if the problem continues after that, you need to treat it as a serious performance issue, because at that point she’ll flagrantly be violating requirements of the job that you’ve made quite clear.

3. Working with the recruiter who placed me when I’m leaving after two months

I recently left a job where I had been for six years, and, to move out of that job, I worked with a recruiter for the first time. It was a great experience — she was really great to work with, and I appreciated her expertise and her ability to find opportunities that I might not have had access to myself. It only took three weeks from the day that I sent in my materials to the day that I had my offer for my new job.

I’ve been in my new job for 2.5 months now, and I’m pretty convinced that this place is not a good fit for me. While I’m a naturally anxious person, and know that part of my feelings could be chalked up to this just being a new place, I also feel fairly confident that this place isn’t right for me.

I’d like to work with the same recruiter again when I re-start my job search, but I’m also aware that she also has a pre-existing relationship with my current job / boss, and that they will also likely be using her to re-staff my position when I leave it.

My instinct is to be completely open with my current boss, to let him know that I don’t feel like this company is the right fit for me, and that I’d like to start looking for a new opportunity, but that I’d be glad to assist them in the search for / training of my replacement. (Part of this is just me trying to be a mature adult and do what’s fairest for everyone, but I also don’t think that I could take time away from my current role to interview, etc., without it being obvious what’s going on.)

Does that seem like a reasonable plan, or am I being naive to think that I can be completely transparent with everyone and still have a good outcome?

Well, since you’ve only been there a couple of months, there’s a decent chance that they’re going to think that you and they should both cut your losses, and that rather than wanting to keep you on to help train your replacement, they’ll want you to leave right away.

If you’re okay with that outcome, then you could definitely talk to your boss now (and then would be in the clear to talk to the recruiter afterwards). But if you’re not okay with that, you’d need to job search more discreetly. If that’s the case, using that same recruiter is a risk, since she may feel her loyalty is to your employer (her client).

4. Asking for a start date four weeks out

I’m applying for jobs, and if/when I get hired, I would love to ask for a start date a month from the date of the offer, so that I’d be able to give my job two weeks’ notice and then take two weeks off. How many times in my life am I going to be able to have two whole weeks just for myself, with no work or family obligations? But I’m just not sure if that’s realistic or not. Obviously I wouldn’t tell them “yeah, I’d like to take two weeks of hanging out before I start this job,” but still, I worry that it would be enough of a turn-off that it might scuttle a possible job offer.

It’s so, so normal to ask for this. They might not be able to say yes to it (there might be reasons they need you to start sooner), but it’s a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to ask for, and no one is going to be outraged or rescind a job offer over it. Lots of people give three or four weeks notice to their current employer, and lots of other people want time off in between jobs.

In fact, all you need to say is, “Would a start date of X work for you?” You could add, “I’d like to have some time in between the two jobs to recharge” but you really don’t even need to explain that.

5. Responding to requests for salary history when that’s illegal

It just became a law in New York City that you can’t ask salary history in job interviews. But what if you’re currently job searching (like I am) and employers don’t know this? Also, are salary requirements the same as history because I just saw a job listing that asked for the former, but I feel like it still sort of involves my salary history unless I’m asking for something completely different from what my history is. My main question, though, is how do you politely decline to share salary or point out the law?

Salary requirements or expectations are a different thing, and the law doesn’t prohibit employers for asking for those. And really, when you come up with your salary expectations, you shouldn’t be pegging it to your past earnings — for the same reason that the law doesn’t allow employers to do that. You should base it on the market rate for the work you’d be doing.

But if you’re asked about your salary history, which will soon violate the law in New York City (and in Massachusetts), you can say this: “Oh, we actually aren’t allowed to discuss that anymore. The city recently passed a law banning employers from asking about it.” If you want to avoid an awkward pause after you say this, you could immediately add, “But can you give me a sense of what range you expect to pay for this position?”

(Keep in mind, though, that the law doesn’t go into effect until October.)

{ 201 comments… read them below }

  1. nutella fitzgerald*

    How does this work when your interview takes place outside the jurisdiction of the law? Like if I’m interviewing candidates for an NYC position at the company’s New Hampshire headquarters??

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      Also, just to be clear, the Massachusetts law doesn’t take effect until July 2018.

    2. Jeanne*

      I’m not sure that’s well defined in the law. (You’d have to read it or ask a lawyer to be sure.) I suspect companies will decide on their own how to handle it and any descrepancies will probably be decided in court. As workers, the hope is that companies will find it easier to stop asking in all states if they have offices in NY or MA.

      1. Antilles*

        As workers, the hope is that companies will find it easier to stop asking in all states if they have offices in NY or MA.
        True. Though this will work even better if other areas take note and start following their lead – California, Illinois, maybe a couple big cities, etc.
        If it’s only in NY and MA, it’s easy for companies to just change things locally for a couple offices. But if it continues spreading to different regions and cities, at some point, it’s not worth the hassle to maintain different policies, application forms, etc.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          If it takes over for the entire state, and not just NYC, that is enough for practices to change. Andrew Cuomo killed off Usenet with the law against offering it just with NY alone. Menus at many chain restaurants have calorie counts in them based on just it being law in NY. Adding California would make it a guarantee, but all alone, NY has a lot of influence.

    3. "Computer Science"*

      Alison’s covered how to push back on those requests before- you just wouldn’t quote the law as part of your reasoning. Some combination of having signed an NDA, you’re not comfortable releasing that information, and trying to flip the conversation towards the salary range you’re looking for.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      It’s complicated, but generally speaking, where the candidate is located determines that you need to follow the law for that location.

    5. Gaia*

      Typically, the law applies to people working in a particular jurisdiction. So it wouldn’t (in most cases) matter where the interview took place or where the HQ is located, it would matter where the position would be. That said, some of them cover anyone working anywhere for a company located in a particular jurisdiction. It can get pretty complex especially when laws conflict.

  2. Jerry Vandesic*

    OP3, when you talk to the recruiter, you need to be aware that your leaving the company so soon after joining will likely mean that the recruiter will lose his fee for placing you at the company. This means that the recruiter will have to pay back a sizable amount (25% of your salary, give or take). Hopefully they will be professional and understanding, but there might be some hard feelings.

    1. Bea*

      Pay back? I’d think the recruiter wouldn’t get paid until the employee was passed the probationary period, ouch! Still your point sticks that the recruiter is out money and may not be interested in sinking more efforts into finding a placement for you, given this one not working out. Though some may be willing to keep trying if they’re not swamped with people to place elsewhere of course. It’s all very much going to depend on the person’s mood and feelings given the lost fee.

      1. Recruit-o-rama*

        My payment terms were always somewhere in the 15-30 day range, not any longer than that and that is pretty standard, not after the probationary period, which is too long.

        1. Protein Muffin*

          For direct placement positions, recruiting companies usually “guarantee” the candidate for 90 days-when the placement fee would be made. If the candidate does not work out in 90 days, the recruiting company finds a replacement or forfeits the fee.

          For consulting positions, recruiting companies are paid a percentage of every hour the consultant works.

          OP definitely needs to consider how this action would affect the Recruiter’s commission. Best best would be to explain to the Recruiter why she is not a fit and give the Recruiter a heads up to find a replacement for the client and possible place OP in a new role. Double commission.

    2. Recruit-o-rama*

      Most contingency agreements are not “pay back”. Most of the time there is a time frame (something like 30-120 days depending on what was negotiated) where the recruiter or firm will replace the hire at no charge if the placement left on their own or was fired for cause. When I did contingency recruiting, I would NEVER agree to a pay back clause. I guess some recruiters would agree to that, but I would think it would be rare.

      1. Jesmlet*

        We have a 1 week money back guarantee and a 3 month replacement guarantee. If they need a replacement shortly after the 3 months, we’ll always work with them on reducing the percentage. We don’t do corporate placements but I can’t imagine it’s very different from this.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      That depends on the agreement between the recruiter and the employer. Saw this happen once in a previous workplace and the recruiter just offered a discount on using their services next time.

    4. Jeanne*

      It’s not just money. I think you are affecting the recruiter’s reputation if you leave that soon. They didn’t find a good candidate, a good fit. I would be very surprised if that recruiter was willing to work with you again.

      1. MK*

        I think the OP might consider this also. Their interactions with the recruiter might have been great, but the recruiter ultimately didn’t succeed in their job. Don’t invest too much in their doing better next time.

    5. Catalyst*

      Every recruiting company I have worked with – placing an employee in my organization – gives back a portion of their fee if the candidate doesn’t stay for the allotted amount of time (6 months to a year depending on the recruiter). In some cases, there is also a clause that the recruitment company can not work with the employee that they placed until that time is up as well. Just something to keep in mind.

      1. Graciosa*

        Ours had both these elements (refund of fee if the employee didn’t stay for a full year and a prohibition on working to place our employees designed to prevent poaching).

        I’m trying to imagine a recruiter from one of the firms we worked with being happy about a placement leaving so soon and not coming up with anything. We expected everyone involved to be working to ensure there was a very good fit before the person started.

        There were a few limited exceptions (for example, no refund if the person left early because the position was drastically changed) but not many.

      2. Natalie*

        That’s been my experience as well, either the recruiter pays back all or part of the fee or will find a replacement candidate at no cost.

        Also, from the candidate’s side, a recruiting firm placed me in my current position. Even though the company is closing in the next few months, they won’t place me again until I have a firm layoff date or I’ve been working here for a year.

        I’d say there is a really, really good chance this recruiter won’t be able or willing to place you again so quickly.

    6. OP3*

      Thank you for this insight – this is something I wouldn’t have thought of, and I definitely wouldn’t want to cause the recruiter any hardship!

      1. HR Dave*

        Another thing to keep in mind is that the recruiter may have a non-solicit agreement with your company. As a head of HR, I always put that into agreements I have with recruiters – that they can’t poach from my company. If your recruiter has an agreement like this in place, she won’t be able to work with you even if she wants to.

        Your best bet is to ask the recruiter up front if there’s anything that would prevent her from working with you if you should want to move on from your current role at some point, and let her answer guide you from there.

  3. Ellie*

    #4: Oh, how I wish I’d asked for that! My last day at my current job is Monday and I start my new job on Wednesday–and I’ve been burned out for months. Hopefully I won’t crash. But that sounds lovely.

    Anyway, it sounds like a reasonable enough thing to request, though it depends on your field and how desperate they are to get the new hire in.

    1. Leverage those Optics*

      I was in the same situation. I got a day between jobs, but really wanted a week. In my case, the manager was going to be on travel or at meetings for three weeks, so my start date has to be before that since she wanted to be in the the entity of my first week. It was hard, but I’m surviving since this is a much less toxic workplace

    2. Just J.*

      I once took a whole month off between jobs. I was so burned out from Job 1, that I really needed a few weeks to recharge. Job 2 did not care one whit that I was taking that amount of time off. I don’t think it was ever brought up. I simply said, as Alison suggests, that my start day will be X.

      In my industry (high stress, deadline driven), a week or two weeks off between jobs is common.

      1. Jb*

        I got a week in my most recent job switch. Would have loved 2, but couldn’t afford to be without a paycheck that long.

      2. Just Another Techie*

        I’ve known people in tech to take 6-8 months between jobs, especially if they’re coming out of a super-toxic environment like Twitter or Uber. Depending on the industry that can be 100% normal.

      3. Just Another Techie*

        Personally I’ve always taken about a month between jobs. It’s really the only way to get a nice loooong vacation or time for home improvement projects.

    3. Ama*

      At my last job switch I only got a standard weekend between and that was definitely a mistake — but the new employer had been super understanding about my ex-employer’s requirement that I give four weeks’ notice to get my vacation paid out even though they needed me for a conference that was in my second week on the job because of the extra notice, so I didn’t feel like I could ask them to wait longer.

      I really wish I’d risked it and told my ex-boss that I was making my last day a Wednesday (so a four-day long weekend between), but ex-employer was notoriously rigid about notice rules and I had a month’s worth of vacation days because I switched right after a period in which I couldn’t take much time off, and we needed the money because we also moved the week before I changed jobs.

      1. FlibbertyG*

        This is a big regret in my current job. I went straight from my old job on a tuesday to my new job on a wednesday. Do not recommend! This time I’m counting on two weeks or I might not be interested in switching, as I’m really burned out.

    4. Chicklet*

      I only got a weekend off last time I switched jobs. I wanted at least a week because I was completely burnt out, but the environment I was leaving was so incredibly toxic that I was terrified of losing the new position. They didn’t even want me to give 2 weeks’ notice (I insisted on doing so), so I was afraid to push for a start time 3 weeks out (notice plus my time off). Now I know they wouldn’t have pulled the offer, but back then, I was too afraid to risk it.

    5. Scarlott*

      I think at least a week between jobs is reasonable, because theoretically, you won’t usually be able to take a proper vacation for at least a year.

    6. Natalie*

      I took a week off between my last job and this one, not for any particular reason. I just knew I’d be overwhelmed my first few weeks and wanted to relax and get a jump start on house stuff. I didn’t give them any reason, I just said my available start date was 3 weeks from the accepted offer date. It’s really routine, in my experience.

    7. NPO Queen*

      A mentor once told me to take some time for you between jobs. I generally take a week, because it’s a bit too last minute for big travel, but just long enough for spas and massages and messing up your entire sleep schedule. This time, I’ll have ten days between jobs because of the Memorial Day holiday, and it’s GREAT. I change jobs every two years or so, and having no obligations for a week is the best advice I’ve received in a long while.

  4. Isabel*

    I’m so charmed by LW #1.

    We so often hear from people being driven mad by frequent, unproductive, tedious meetings. I laughed with delight when I you asked if people schedule meetings “just for fun.”

    Speaking of things often complained about, I think you’d do really well in an open plan office, especially at the kind of start-up where people are encouraged to move around, sit on couches, take ping-pong breaks etc.

    I’m a freelance writer and often work alone from home. I love it but when I am on contract in an actual office and attend meetings I too get invigorated. I love to hear people’s ideas and learn details about process, etc.

    This is also why I love this website.

    1. paul*

      I have to confess, the idea of liking meetings short circuited my brain. I’m going to understand quantum physics before I understand enjoying meetings. But hey OP, you do you…just don’t make us go to meetings that aren’t important?

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I enjoy meetings that have clear agendas and tough problems that require teams to solve.

        I don’t go to meetings without agendas any more.

        1. hermit crab*

          Yes, exactly. My close coworkers and I are all “figure it out by talking through it” types and we have really productive group brainstorming sessions. I enjoy those!

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yes, same! Meeting with my boss and the rest of my department to hammer out next year’s schedule or class assignments or whatever is really satisfying. My boss is generally Very Good at meetings and never ever calls one without a very clear reason. So much of it depends on how purposeful the meeting-organizer is.

          2. Manders*

            I’m the same way! I also find it easier to focus on a new project when it’s introduced in a meeting instead of bouncing emails back and forth for a day or two to figure out what your boss wants, or starting work and then realizing your boss had a totally different vision that could have been explained in a quick meeting.

          3. paul*

            We do a ton of one on one discussion and spitballing but I don’t know that I consider a 10 or 15 minute conversation with one or two other people to really be a meeting. The one on one stuff can be useful and interesting; I know it produces better results than us not doing it.

        2. paul*

          I can appreciate those types of meetings and recognize their importance; but they’re kind of like flossing and brushing my teeth. I know they’re important, I do them because they’re useful, but they’re not enjoyable.

      2. Agnes*

        I worked for awhile in a country where meetings were not part of office culture. It was really annoying – you never knew what was going on.

        1. Extrovert*

          In 5+ years at my company, we have never once had a strategy meeting, or even a “catch-up meeting” about what’s going on in the company. (Most companies in my industry have a weekly meeting.) It is infuriating. I learn about important business developments through the rumor mill.

      3. Fleeb*

        Yes, I would love to trade jobs with the OP. I work best when I can sit and focus on something without interruption, and I think s/he would dig this open floor plan.

      4. Just Another Techie*

        I enjoy meetings also, but my workplace is good about meetings being very on point and productive.

    2. The RO-Cat*

      Same here. I’m a freelancer that doesn’t particularly like meetings, but some of my best ideas and results have come from interacting with people (think of my situation as a contractor with a big company, called on projects but not required into office otherwise), using each other as a resonance box and building on each other’s conceptual frameworks. For OP#1, meetings just for the fun of it would make them unpopular quickly (I guess), but maybe there are parts of the job that do not require sitting alone at the desk? Or taking the laptop in a common area? If not, perhaps a job switch to a position with more people-to-people interaction might be the solution.

    3. Al Lo*

      I enjoy some of my meetings. My office’s weekly staff meeting — eh. Not so fun. It gets a little “too many cooks in the kitchen” with too many uninformed opinions when we try to update the team on what everyone is doing.

      But meetings around specific projects, with other creatives on it, with people I like, with an opportunity to combine productivity, collaboration, creativity, and a bit of socializing? Yeah, I’m all for that. Fortunately, a decent chunk of my meetings fall into that category. It’s partly the industry, partly the colleagues, and partly my personality, but I find a lot of those meetings really fun and inspiring.

      1. Al Lo*

        One of my favorite times of year is a 2-week period in July when my team plans our creative programming for the following season. 2 weeks, 8 hours a day, locked in a room together (figuratively speaking), with the sole purpose of being creative and inspired and coming out with an artistic product to share. I love that collaboration and the time when it’s just ours, before we share it to the rest of the team and how they flesh out those original ideas — and then I love the final product, when hundreds more people bring it to life.

      2. Leverage those Optics*

        My favorite meetings are the ones where we are transitioning from theory to practice and have to figure out how we are going to make something happen in the real world. It is so fun to try and figure out how you are going to get from high minded Objective A when the outcome relies on real people and real systems.

    4. Tau*

      LW #1 reminds me of me. I end up climbing the walls if I’m left to just to solitary work all on my own and find meetings really invigorating because it gets me in touch and hearing about what other people are doing. I will note that this doesn’t scale – after several meetings in a row I’m definitely experiencing the more typical “aaagh stop talking I want to get back to work now” feelings – but it’s rare for me to have more than one meeting a week, so it works.

      I have to agree with Alison that it sounds like this job isn’t right for you, and I’d seek out one with more interaction. I’m in an open plan and and part of a team, and usually grab tea with the two other teapot makers several times a day to talk about what we’re up to and any problems we’re having, so I’m generally not having the urge to schedule pointless meetings…!

      1. Another bureaucrat*

        Same here. I didn’t realize it until I left my old job (open-plan office, close work friends, frequent meetings) to this job (out-of-the-way office, off-site manager, scattered team). I could go days without seeing people if I didn’t wander the building in an excuse to turn in a travel form. And it seriously started to affect my job productivity, satisfaction, and even mental health.

        But I loved meetings because I saw people and always got a renewed sense of purpose/interest in our work.

        About 6 months ago, the powers that be moved a bunch of similar teapot makers & me into an open plan office. It’s made a world of difference. It’s not necessarily an easy fix, but if LW’s manager can arrange that, it could totally change her outlook. If not – I echo Alison’s suggestion of rethinking the job. It seems like a trivial thing, but it’s not when you need human interaction.

    5. Blossom*

      I really sympathise with #1 – and I say this as an introvert. It’s not just about the interaction – and I’d rather not work in an open plan office. A good meeting can make you feel closer to the big picture, and like you’re really getting things done. My ideal work pattern would be something like spending half of my time in a quiet office alone, a quarter working near other people (because I do need some casual interaction!) and a quarter in well-structured, productive meetings that are working towards a clear goal.

      1. Lori*

        OP #1, you could schedule “meetings” like lunch with a coworker or a friend. Also, it helps to be sure to get out and go to lunch even if it is by yourself as it is a change of surroundings.

      2. OP#1*

        Yes, this would be a perfect pattern! As a fellow introvert, I know I wouldn’t thrive in an open office plan, but am finding more interaction is going to be key to personal / career development.

        1. Extrovert*

          I am skeptical that your reaction to an open-office plan correlates well to extroversion or introversion. Granted, I can see how most introverts would dislike one, but I don’t think it follows that all extroverts like them. More important, I think would be N/S, followed by E/J.

    6. Leverage those Optics*

      I like good, productive meetings. Sadly, so few actually are good (well managed, well planned) or productive. At my old job, we had this zombie meeting. We were required to attend, nothing was ever decided, or, if it was decided, the outcome was forgotten and the issue rehashed at the next meeting. This went on for at least 3 years and could still be going on for all I know, since it was still going when I left. It is the only obligation that I used to deliberately schedule more pressing activities over as often as possible.

      1. Bea W*

        This sounds too much like my workplace, 5 years of zombie meetings. They aren’t all zombie meetings, but many of them are. The ones that are productive initially, like you said, the people in charge forget the outcome or get wishy-washy about it and insist on rehashing. We’ve been revisiting some of these things for nearly the entire time I’ve been there.

    7. Batshua*

      I was thinking perhaps the meetings break up the monotony of LW#1’s job, but either way, maybe if the LW had 1-to-1s or brainstorming or SOMETHING weekly with any relevant parties, that would help? Even if it’s just a checkin to say what they’ve been doing?

      1. OP#1*

        Yes, I think something weekly could be really helpful. As long as it’s relevant and not a waste of anyone’s time.

        1. CM*

          I’m coming in late, but yes, OP #1 — schedule weekly status meetings with your manager if it would be a good use of time for both of you, or get an accountability buddy who also is motivated by checking in with people. For the latter, every day (or however often works for you) you can have a quick check-in so you can both describe what you’re doing, what your goals are for the day, and whether you achieved your goals for the previous day. I can relate to what you wrote about, and I’ve done both of these things in the past. The buddy approach is nice because they’re not evaluating you and they don’t even have to be at your company.

    8. Government Worker*

      I was also charmed by OP1, but I think that Alison mislabeled the letter a bit! If the OP is doing solo work and has meetings “once every few months”, the OP doesn’t have any idea whether she would love truly frequent meetings. The people I know who seem to hate meetings the most often have several each day, so that it’s hard to find big blocks of time for getting that solo work done. Or they have to go to a lot of routine or poorly run meetings.

      My job right now is just about perfect for me – some weeks I feel like I don’t have enough meetings, and sometimes too many, but the balance is about right. I rarely have multiple days in a row without some sort of meeting or conference call, but I do have those uninterrupted days, or just full mornings/afternoons to do my work. I agree that some meetings really are invigorating – when you’re meeting with other people who are good at their jobs and who are engaged in the topic, meetings can be great. There are also horribly dull meetings, of course, but groups can sometimes make progress on a project in a way that people working solo can’t.

      1. LQ*

        Agreed! The every few months thing was a little …whoah! And the excitement from a meeting can last days. That’s looking at weekly, maybe 2x week meetings. Not 4-7 a day which is what I think of when I think frequent meetings.

        I’m not sure what field the OP is in, but a place that has less than monthly meetings seems pretty rare in the universes I’ve inhabited. It might not be going all the way to a frequent meeting, open work plan kind of place, but just sort of a half way spot in between.

        And it’s totally ok to understand, acknowledge, and go, eh not for me. Find something you are excited about.

      2. LBK*

        Agreed – meetings seemed exciting and very official when I only had one every few months. Now that I have 10+ a week they’re generally a nightmare.

        1. OP#1*

          Yes, I can see how too many meetings would be a chore. I just need to find some balance.

    9. Telly*

      #1 – I completely understand and I feel the same way. I feel so energized by productive, collaborative meetings with various teams, and if I go too long without a meeting I feel bummed out. One other thing that helps motivate me is to go to talks/seminars that are relevant to my field. In my city, there is at least one free in-person event a week that is relevant to my field, and I have a lot of latitude to choose to attend them. Going to these seminars and networking with colleagues boosts my motivation, so I’m good to go for awhile after that.

      1. OP#1*

        I love seminars as well! Unfortunately in my field, they’re maybe once a year if the budget allows.

    10. Lucy Richardson*

      I understand the OP’s feeling. I’m pretty introverted, but all my jobs have entailed periods where I had no business need to talk to anyone for days, and it can get lonely. Rather than looking for a new job, could you find a handful of coworkers to have lunch with every month? A rotating lunch date with a colleague once or twice a week might be enough to keep you feeling connected.

    11. Nervous Accountant*

      Same, I work in an open plan and I love it; I can’t imagine working all alone in a cubicle/office. I would hate to be all alone most of the time. I know most people aren’t like that.

    12. Stranger than fiction*

      I understand where the Op is coming from. These days, most people are frazzled by an intense meeting culture, but I spend 39 hours a week manipulating spreadsheets, so our one meeting a week is an awesome repreve and we get to catch up and chit chat as well as talk about ideas and stuff.

  5. Bookworm*

    OP #1: Consider changing roles! I had a very similar experience with my previous role. It surprised me, actually, because in my non-work life I’m a fairly introverted person, but after a few years, it became increasingly clear that interaction kept me energized and engaged. I ended up starting the path of a career change and, although it’s been hard, I’m incredibly grateful.

    I remember a few years ago, Alison posted a question to help brainstorm a career. I think it was something like “what can’t you NOT do?” At the time I remember thinking it didn’t work for me. I thought: ‘well, I can’t sit still, but that’s about it’.

    Turns out, that was a valuable insight. I only spend about half my time behind a computer now, and that balance is so much better for me and my work ethic.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Do you have a link to the Maxim article you describe in the second column? It sounds hilarious.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m the same way. I’m quite introverted at home, but at work I like to chat, brainstorm and I do my best thinking and working when I’m working with someone else on a joint project. So, despite my introverted ways, I really thrive on workplace interaction. Realizing that has shaped my choices in my job in ways that I never would have guessed. So I’d also encourage OP#1 to look for a job that allows her to really work the way she works best.

      In the meantime, maybe you can find someone at your current job to collaborate with. That might help, too.

      1. Bookworm*

        It’s a valuable thing to learn. When I was in college picking careers, I thought a lot about topics. But it’s really these sorts of things that have far more of an influence on happiness at work.

    2. Jen RO*

      I am also somewhat introverted in my personal life, but at work I need people! I am one of those weird people who actually *like* working in an open space office – I had an office to myself for a short period of time and I felt so disconnected from everyone! As soon as a desk opened up in the open space, I asked to be moved.

    3. Mookie*

      I wonder if LW1 is interested in (and has the capacity for) taking on a management, supervisory, or directing role in this department or one like it? Interaction, after a fashion, some of it certainly one-on-one + that occasional burst of euphoria when you’ve successfully orchestrated a complex project requiring a lot of intra-organization collaboration sounds like what they’re after. As an introverted person, it’s really reassuring to have such a manager, someone with practical experience who doesn’t find managing a drudgery and recognizes that technically proficient people are not always Big Picture types adept at coordination.

      The same caveats would apply, though. Formal meetings cannot be scheduled for the sake of socializing and need a purpose and plenty of structure.

      Depending on the LW’s field, they might look into becoming a member of or pursuing a leadership role in a related professional association, not only to access some possible networking contacts but also to meet with like-minded people (who may or may not work for the same organization) for some shop talk.

      1. OP#1*

        I haven’t thought of project management, thanks for the idea. And good to know my practical experience would be useful. I would certainly keep meetings structured as I don’t like to waste time.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          There are also certifications for this online and it’s one area where certifications do help.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      Absolutely agree here. OP#1, maybe consider project management. Instead of being the technical talent, you get to manage a project that requires other people’s technical expertise. Even if you don’t become a full project manager, there are likely projects around your company that require a project management approach. Look for projects like that and offer to help or (if you’re not stepping on toes) take them over.

      1. Lora*

        Yes! OP1, project management drove me FRICKIN BONKERS because it consists entirely of running around talking to people, and I really enjoy going long stretches of just doing my own thing with the occasional carefully chosen interaction for a few minutes here, a few minutes there. Even weekly 1:1 meetings are annoying to me – read the report I wrote, if I need something I will ask for it, jeez. I see my own employees most of every day, I know what’s up with them. But if meetings are your jam, then you will adore project management.

        On the occasions when I do have to have meetings, I get a lot of compliments on how brief, to the point and productive they are, because like most of my colleagues, I want to get the heck out of there and go back to my lair. It’s problematic the higher up I get, although socioeconomic class differences and gender expectations in the workplace is a long topic for another day.

    5. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I’m exactly the opposite! I’m quite talkative and social in my free time but enjoy jobs where I mainly do my own thing without constant human interaction. There are many reasons for this and I probably don’t understand all of them myself, but one reason is that often working with people requires you to be very calm and professional with them. I just don’t have that level of self control. So I prefer to do independent work though I’m quite bubbly and chatty in my free time.

    6. anna green*

      Same thing is happening to me! I work as a consultant and it’s very individual, and even when I’m in the office everyone keeps to themselves and everything is super quiet and it drives me nuts! And it took me a while to realize that my coworkers actually like it that way, they are more productive, whereas I need to walk around and talk to people and didn’t really understand how other people didn’t want to do that. Until I finally figured out that I think I’m in the wrong job, and that I would be better suited to something with more interaction. So I’m looking for something now and I’m pretty positive about moving forward, but I’m glad to hear there are other people like me and there might actually be something out there where I can be collaborative and not just a distraction.

  6. European*

    “5. Responding to requests for salary history”

    I’m from Europe and have been looking for a job throughout Europe but some companies have U.S. American recruiters working for them. It always puzzles me when they ask about my salary history. Of course it’s normal also here in Europe to ask about salary expectations, frequently they should be specified already in your cover letter.

    However, I find the question about salary history extremely invading and have only come across it in the last months, I think it’s a fashion that came here from the U.S. I have tried to argue that in Europe you don’t ever ask about the candidate’s salary history, which is true, but the recruiters seem undeterred. Not to mention that there are huge differences in salaries and costs of living between European countries, so moving between countries you have to consider that and adjust your salary expectations, so if I tell the recruiter I’m paid x in country 1, it doesn’t really mean anything for country 2. Add to that the fact that bonuses and additional rewards are common in some countries, but not so in others… I really hate being asked that question and normally don’t take recruiters who ask it seriously.

    1. The RO-Cat*

      Seconding this. I’ve done my fair share of recruiting and never have I asked for salary history. I wanted to know the candidate’s expectations and, depending on the situation, I’d mention a range or a number and see if it was in line with what the candidate was looking for, but that’s it. At least at the time it was just Not Done.

      1. Mazzy*

        I ask about salary so these types of rule perturb me. I know the consensus here is that asking about salary is truly invasive, but that is only true if you are using to to lowball or for other nefarious purposes. For me it is simply to see if the job is within the range we are able to pay. For the last role I filled, I had a bunch of candidates who wanted to make $20K more than the market rate for said position (and not an indication of what we pay as we pay well, but these candidates had to know that they were overreaching), which I took as them saying – I’m only going to move companies if I can get a raise. That is very useful information because no one is going to come right out and say “I’m not very interested but if I can get a raise I might be.”

        I’ve also had to up salary a salary offer because a good candidate made a solid salary already, so this doesn’t always work against candidates. If I hadn’t know how much she was making I would have offered her the standard salary for that role which was a good chunk of change left.

        For me, if someone is going to negotiate, it does help to know what their thinking is behind it. Knowing someone’s current salary, or at least roughly, helps me see if they are negotiating to negotiate or negotiating because taking the position doesn’t make sense otherwise. And honestly, I get too many applicants as it is to have to bother with the first scenario.

        So what I’m saying is, without information on what someone is currently earning, I’m still going to have to someone guesstimate where they currently are and why they want the requested salary anyways.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          You can ask what range they are looking for. That is all the information you need to know. If the range is outside of what you can pay, assuming that is in line with market rate, then don’t hire them. If you really want someone who asks for more than you were going to pay, make the decision to stretch for her based on her worth, not her current salary. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that people aren’t going to move for less money than they are currently making, so I don’t know why you think that needs spelled out. Or sometimes they are, for personal reasons, and you would reject them based on their salary history, as you’d assume they want more. Take people at their word when they say what range they would like to make, do your own market rate research that doesn’t involve asking your candidates, offer people the market rate, and stop playing these silly games based on their salary history.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I’m not understanding why any of this information needs to be found out via asking for current salary – like you say, there are much more distinct, specific, and “enlightening” questions to get the answers you actually want to achieve by asking that.

            (NB, I’m also from Europe and the whole concept of asking for [current or past] salary is entirely alien to me, so that might colour my view.)

        2. mreasy*

          I have said right out – “I’m fine where I am but interested in this position. It’s a big change, though, so I’d need to see that reflected in the salary in order to be able to make the move” or something along those lines, with zero pushback, and have gotten the job. (This was a 35% salary increase. & I didn’t share my history because I was being seriously underpaid at a tiny company.) If someone only wants the job at a certain rate of pay, that is all you need to know – it shouldn’t make them a less worthy candidate, if you can afford their desired salary. The idea that they should want to work for you without much of a pay increase, & that makes them a more “passionate” or “excited” candidate, is unrealistic and punitive toward those with realistic financial goals.

        3. neverjaunty*

          If you are basing pay on salary history, you are perpetuating any nefarious behavior by the candidate’s past employers.

          1. JessaB*

            Exactly, and the older the candidate the more likely that the nefarious behaviour was huge. It’s how discriminatory salaries keep happening. Women and minorities, or worse women minorities, have a history of low salaries compared to the norm. The habit of basing it on the last job, will bring that discrepancy across again.

            Market rate should be something known to the company, and if they can’t afford market rate, they should say so. They might be able to make it up in flexible schedules, better insurance, more time off. But pegging it to prior salaries, just promotes discrimination.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Plus market rate has a nice wide range usually depending on experience and breadth of scope for the specific role. So if you can only afford the lower end of the range, just state that upfront and look for candidates with slightly less experience or who are just plain willing to take that by asking their expectations.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Yep, it’s keeping incomes from rising and so so many people are underemployed after the recession that it just perpetuates the problem.

        4. Chicklet*

          By your own admission, you don’t need to know what they are currently making. You need to know what they would accept to take the job you are offering, so that’s what you should ask.

        5. NotAnotherManager!*

          This level of analysis seems unnecessarily complicated. You have a salary range in mind for the position, and the candidate has a salary range that they can accept in mind. You make an offer, they either accept or counter. You can decide whether your position is worth their counter. You can ask about why someone is looking to make a move — maybe lateral moves are the only way to get a pay bump, maybe they work for Bad Boss of 2015, maybe they are looking for new challenges. None of that requires their current salary or a salary history. You can talk about all of it, actually, without trying to ferret out their “real” motivations based on their current salary.

          1. Mints*

            Yeah I don’t get why it matters whether “they’re negotiating just to negotiate.” Especially if the candidate offers a range, you can ask about reasons for job hunting separately

        6. animaniactoo*

          But you don’t need to know the information if you work on other expectations – the issue here really sounds like you need to adjust your expectations so that you can work without that info.

          And without that info, your expectations would be:

          a) You don’t want to hire somebody for more than market rate unless they are an outstanding candidate and are worth going to bat for on that basis – because they’re not willing to accept less as an outstanding candidate AND you really want them that badly.

          b) If somebody is genuinely that outstanding, your basis for getting them a higher salary is that they are worth more than the market rate because they are going to be head and shoulders above market rate good/great candidates and the company will benefit financially in some way or the other by hiring that person. If the money end doesn’t make sense, then it doesn’t, no matter how outstanding a candidate they are – either they’re pricing themselves out of the market and they’ll learn that and adjust their own expectations for future, or they’re awesome but there’s just not enough in your budget to justify spending so much of it on their particular awesomeness.

          c) If you have trouble attracting good candidates for the “market rate”, then the market has adjusted and the market rate has just gone up to whatever will attract good candidates again and that’s what you factor into your thinking going forward.

          If you stick with these expectations, yes, you’ll have some frustrating moments, but not really more than the ones you have right now and you will be serving the company you’re hiring for better in how you are evaluating how worthwhile an above-market-rate salary is for a particular candidate/position.

    2. Annonymouse*


      Expectations are about “what do you want” (and can they afford you)

      Vs history which is what you used to be worth (and can we lowball you).

      Expectations are normal. Where I’m from we do salary listings in the job ad and ask your what do you want in the interview.

      Straightforward and everyone is on the same page.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m in the uk and it seems fairly common to be asked about salary history.

      1. European*

        Yes, I can imagine that, since the recruiting habits seem to be similar in the US and UK.

        However I don’t know any country in continental Europe where this is popular and I have lived and applied in 5.

        Also it doesn’t change my objection that this is incredibly invasive.

        1. Violet Fox*

          Where I live in Northern Europe, everyone’s salary is a matter of public record. If a company really wanted to know, they would just look it up, not ask you.

          This is something that is done to help prevent wage discrimination and income inequality.

        2. The Milk Is Not User Friendly*

          Well, it can and it can’t. I got lowballed for a job about five or six years ago because I was underpaid at the time in the then-current job. However, the company did adjust my salary during my tenure there, so whilst I got underpaid for a while, they didn’t let it carry on too long. Still, they shouldn’t have lowballed me in the first place!
          However, in my now CurrentJob, I gave my salary history because they were offering less than what I was making (but I hated ExJob, and I’d have taken a pay cut to leave, especially as my commuting costs went way down). But they actually went to bat for me with HR, and although I’m not ‘officially’ paid any more, I’m paid a market rate bonus (so same as salary, but not pensionable) that works out at a few grand more than ExJob. I did well out of it this time round (but then, this time round I’m paid fairly). I’ve never pushed back against the question, but I didn’t discover AAM when I was underpaid.

      2. EleanoraUK*

        I’m in the UK and I’ve never been asked about a salary history. I’ve had people ask me what I currently get paid, but I’ve deflected that by telling them the range I’m looking for for the particular role we’re discussing, and so far no one has pushed back.

        1. Blossom*

          Same – I’ve been asked about my current salary, but not the entire “history”. Talk about TMI; why would anyone even want to know?
          Tbh every job I’ve ever applied for has stated the salary range up front, and the range is always pretty narrow in my field. So I’m not even sure why my current salary matters – but for the same reason, it’s never bothered me too much.

    4. Thlayli*

      It’s really a silly thing to ask about because there are so many other factors at play. For example I am earning 10k less in my current role than my last one but this role is a better fit for me right now. In my last job I travelled all over the world, spent weeks in a row working mon-fri in another country, worked late most nights and was constantly on call.

      This job I have a 15 min commute and no expectation to work outside core hours whatsoever, and it’s also less responsibility. This suits me because I now have young kids whereas in my last job I was living the single life and flying all round the world was a perk, whereas now it would be a problem.

      When my kids are older I fully intend to get a higher paying job but right now I’m happy with this.

      Judging me on salary history would make it seem I took a step down but really in terms of overall life quality it’s a step up.

      1. Thlayli*

        And if anyone expected me to take a job similar to the old one for a salary similar to the new one then they could eff right off!

      2. European*

        I’m applying in a country with considerably higher salary levels (and considerably higher costs of living) than the country I’m currently employed in. Of course when applying I give considerably higher salary expectations that what I earn now. Otherwise moving to a new country would make no sense, since my standard of living would decrease dramatically.

        I have the impression some recruiters ask me about my current salary to propose me just a bit more that I get now, which drives me crazy.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      It’s silly in the US too. It’s a big place with a wide range of cost of living. The salary I’d need to live in Silicon Valley has no relation to what I’m making in a small Midwestern metropolis. So they aren’t asking that question because it’s so different in the US vs Europe- the only real difference is they get away with it more in the US. Or have, but laws are changing to prevent it, as the OP references.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Well it would be helpful if the employers would state what the range they’re planning to pay is up front–or at least the minimum. Then we could decide if it’s even worth applying. Otherwise, it’s a complete waste of my time to go through interviews and only find out at the offer stage that I’d be moving to a higher COL state for what amounts to a minimum-wage job. Or as I’ve run into here, driving across town for a job that doesn’t even pay for my gas money!

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          You can ask that question. I have. If they won’t answer it, then you probably don’t want to go any further in the process! (And yes, they should just advertise is up front! But they don’t always in Europe either!)

  7. European*

    “1. I get apathetic about my job”

    I think it may be simply about changing the tasks you normally do. We’ve known forever now that people need some variety in what they are doing to feel happy.

    Actually what you describe sounds like a case study from a lecture on dopamine. You do something you normally don’t do, so you get excited about it (the level of dopamine in your brain increases) and you feel happier because of that.

    It doesn’t mean the same would happen if you had meetings all the time.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes. I suspect that it is as simple as needing a different job that features more human interaction–the ‘jobs consist of tasks, and you want one with tasks you enjoy’ rule. But want to consider her second idea, that it’s the change of pace that perks her up. In that case this is boredom doing its correct chemical role, trying to push you out of a rut. If changing up work isn’t quick or easy, is there an outside thing you could change? Take a class, get a list of local tourist attractions and hit one per weekend?

      1. European*

        Add to that the fact that working in a small room without windows would be difficult for plenty of people (I couldn’t do it for more than a few days I suppose and I am an introvert, like working independently). So going out for a meeting to a, I suppose, room with windows may be a big event.

        So I wouldn’t go so far as to assume straight away that OP is an extrovert. First, her normal working conditions apart from the meetings seem quite difficult. Secondly, she has these meetings just once every several months. If she was missing meetings despite having them every day, I would think she’s definitely an extrovert. But just once in a blue moon… Come on, everybody would miss meetings working in such conditions and without human interactions most of the time.

  8. Raven*

    LW1, your enthusiasm reminds me of Leslie Knope!

    (although she loves the non-meeting parts of her job too, so hey.)

    1. OP#1*

      She’s my hero, I love that show! Wish I loved the non-meeting parts of my job as much as she does!

  9. Perse's Mom*

    OP2’s conundrum reminds me of a few coworkers of my own. My boss is tremendously flexible when she can be (some positions have set hours), but there have been a couple of people whose response to that flexibility is to have a flexible understanding of committing to an agreed upon schedule.

    Follow AAM’s advice, OP. Sit her down, tell her how much you value her, that you want to continue to be flexible. You can work together to figure out a new schedule, but that is then her schedule, and any tweaking of that schedule must be cleared through you. After all, schedule flexibility is a perk, not a right. Perks are earned; they can be unearned.

    1. Annonymouse*

      Great advice!
      Some people take someone’s understanding/kindness towards them or their situation and decide to, if I might borrow from “Pride and Prejudice”, wilfully misunderstand it.

      OP I get that you want to be accomodating to this good worker but right now she isn’t proving herself worthy of that accomodation.

      Be clear with the expectations of her hours/roster and sticking with it.

      If she can’t take away that roster and put her on her old one – warn her this is a consequence first, or not.

      If she complains tell her that she has not proved herself capable of having the flexible roster and is being put on her old one.

      Really if it happens though she has no one to blame but herself.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      My last job had true flex time- but it also had core hours of 10:30-2:30. So many people still weren’t rolling in until 11- even Managers!- that finally Upper Management had to come down hard to enforce the rules that were always in place.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I totally understand how that can happen – I can be punctual *if* I see a need to (which certainly includes “not ticking off my boss”) but if neither my work nor my manager demands a set start time, I’m not great about enforcing one on myself. One of the very few times I’ve had a manager speak to me about this was because it hadn’t been made clear to me that I was expected to be at my desk by a set time – once that was clear, I absolutely stuck to it! That’s not to say that OP2’s situation doesn’t involve some willful misunderstanding, just that for some of us, clear external structure can be necessary.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          In that case, the “reason” was that sometimes in collaborative work, your team needs to be able to ask you questions and get answers before they leave for the day, and if you are coming in late and they are leaving early, that leads to a lot of thumb twiddling while you wait for the other person!

          And the OP has made it clear- now- about the expectation. The woman is just pushing back and stating she shouldn’t be expected to stick to set hours!

    3. Karen D*

      I am actually pretty sympathetic to No. 2. I’m lucky in that — while my workplace does not officially sanction flextime, my boss is willing to let me flex as long as my work gets done. And it sounds as if OP’s

      Has OP considered asking about making flex time available to her employee, and possibly to others? I can see where it might be problematic in a library — government rules can be very rigid and hard to change — but at the same time I remember that one of of our state agencies recently got a productivity award for rolling out a form of flex time for a group of employees.

      If OP is willing to try it, one of my best friends has worked most of her career in government, and she’s had great luck with something she calls the two-step tango: Her initial request is always to “look into something” and in the course of that first discussion, she tries to get a feel for what the stumbling blocks might be. Then a few weeks later she comes back with a proposal to actually do the thing that avoids those potential pitfalls and thanks the higher-ups for their input.

      By now, several of her higher-ups are wise to her wheedling ways, but they still work for her – because by now, most of her higher-ups are also aware that she’s not going to bring something forward that she doesn’t think is a good idea, and slow-walking changes often gets them past the bureaucratic barriers. Looking closely at OP’s initial post, I think the OP believes there’s no good reason the worker couldn’t have flex time except that “they don’t have flex time.” Which is not really a good reason.

      OP still has to address errant employee, but she can say “I’m doing everything I can do to get an exception for you but if and until that exception is granted, you MUST stick to this schedule that you and I have agreed on.” Then, if the final answer is no, the employee and the OP will at least have set that pattern that has the employee sticking to the schedule.

      1. frogs and turtles*

        On #2: I also want to ask whether there is any way you’d consider coming up with a way to be more flexible as a new policy. If this is a valued, hardworking employee who gets done what needs to get done, and does it well, and if her schedule doesn’t affect much involving other staff, then why can’t she more or less make her own hours as long as the job gets done? (If it’s a matter of when someone must staff the front desk or something, or if other staff are always directly affected by when she is working, that’s different of course — but if there isn’t anything like that here, then…)

        If she is a single mom and has an interesting PT flexible job with benefits, where she is both appreciated and can contribute something of value to the world, she will probably be an extremely loyal employee. I always say that if you want an outstanding, highly qualified staff, then create a workplace that is actively aware of the realities of parenting/mothering — which absolutely requires PT positions and flexibility. You will get some extremely talented and accomplished women who could likely be successfully accomplishing things far above whatever level they are doing for you, if they did not have kids. (The United States is one of the worst countries in the world for working parents, and even worse for single mothers.)

  10. Jenny*

    Oh #1, I so, so used to be you! I worked in a job that had very little interaction with anyone else (I had a window at least!), and I hated sitting there alone at my computer working by myself all day. I did have phone calls/conference calls fairly frequently, but in-person meetings were extremely uncommon. My husband used to make fun of me when I’d come home and be like, “What a great day, I had a meeting!” Ultimately, like Allison suggested to you, it become extremely clear that that job/culture was not the right fit for me, for that and other reasons, and I eventually left. So many jobs involve frequent collaboration/interaction, and it sounds like you’d be much happier at one that does.

    1. Another bureaucrat*

      Ha – I used to have the exact same conversations with my husband – except, he’d be coming off days with 5 straight meetings and would have to try very hard to be excited for me and not roll his eyes…

  11. Thlayli*

    OP1: is it just specifically meetings that invigorate you or does any personal interaction work?

    If it’s the personal interaction then I think the issue is about you being an extrovert working alone. I’m a total extrovert and I’ve had jobs where I had my own office and I found it really stressful and depressing being alone. I much much prefer open plan offices. In the past I’ve done unproductive things like going to a friends office to chat (which often ended up being a looong chat and then having to stay late to catch up on work.) I’ve found the best way to get your “interaction fix” is to have short breaks for chat throughout the day. Do you have a canteen or anywhere you can eat lunch with people and chat for a half hour or even 15 mins? Or do you have any work friends at all you could drop by and ask if they’re free for a chat for 5-10 mins? If so then do that. Definitely set a timer on your phone and then say “oh I’ve got to go when it goes off” otherwise you willl be just sucking up their time and yours but 10 mins is good.

    Honestly I think this is the main reason people still smoke – because you get loads of time to chat during the work day and everyone has to just accept it coz Smoke break!

    I find a half hour lunch, 15 min coffee in morn and 15 min Chat in afternoon is all I need to stay sane and it totally invigorates me for my work. Luckily I’m sitting beside someone who has similar levels of chat-need (I know because on days I’m busy and don’t initiate a chat she does – and we naturally return to work after a few mins.

    On the other hand if it’s specifically the meetings that invigorate you then you could look into other ways to collaborate on your work – pick up phone before sending email etc. Or drop by someone’s office (call first) to ask them to look at something rather than sending a document for review. But this is very company culture specific so may not work. You have to read the room a little.

    But ultimately – you probably would be happier in a different environment. You could ask to move to a different desk in an open plan office. Good luck whatever you decide

  12. Susan*

    #1 – You should work at my company. We have meetings all day long, many of which require attendance by a representative from every department, and you would be so popular if you offered to be the department representative at all these meetings!

    I have honestly wondered if people schedule all these meetings, not exactly for “fun,” but to break up the monotony of the day. There are so many meetings that could easily be eliminated by sending an e-mail or having people update a spreadsheet, so I figure there must be a reason for insisting on gathering a group of people in a conference room instead.

  13. V*

    #1 – “I seem to care more about my job for a few days after.”

    I recognise myself in this so much. I don’t think it’s the social aspect so much as that meetings give you a sense of involvement with the business and some insight into how the entire corporate machine works. I also think the fact that you automatically present yourself as more polished in meetings *does* have some short-term effect on how you behave afterwards.

    And of course for most people early in their career they will have very limited numbers of meetings and they serve as a good way to break up the routine and monotony of the job.

    1. OP#1*

      Yes, I think the sense of involvement is key. Our group is very far removed from daily business so it’s difficult to have a sense of, yes – what I’m doing matters!

  14. nnn*

    LW1: Does your workplace have committees, like Occupational Health and Safety or a social committee? Committees have meetings, and if your co-workers are less into this sort of thing they’d likely appreciate you taking on the task so they don’t have to.

    1. DaisyGrrl*

      ^ seconded.
      There are often tons of various committees to join, especially in larger workplaces. Some are ongoing, some are for shorter projects. Talk to your boss, see if there’s anything you can volunteer for.

      Aside from getting to go to meetings and being exposed to others in the organization, you can use these as opportunities to network with others and learn about other types of jobs at your company. If you find yourself wanting to move within the organization, it will be much easier if you have an “in” in the form of a fellow committee member.

    2. Aunt Margie at Work*

      I’m going to third this. When I was hired it was with the expectation that I would sit facing my computer with headphones on for 7 hours a day. I was cool with that. I still am for the most part. But ten years into 20, I wanted a bit more to my day. So I found committees like you mentioned. We have meetings and plan and lead events. It’s about once a quarter. It is enough for me. LW 1 should look into these opportunities. It will be a good way to judge if it’s the lack of interaction that she’s tired of, or the job altogether.

  15. Madeleine Matilda*

    OP#2 Is it possible that you could introduce flexible schedules for your staff? I think whether it is feasible would depend on whether or not your staff are in roles that require them to be present at certain times or not, such as staffing the circulation desk. I work in a library only those who regularly staff the circulation desk have set schedules, those in non-public facing roles are given a flexible schedule. Some come in as early as 6 AM and others as late as 9:30 AM. Basically we say that you need to arrive sometime between 6 and 9:30, but when is up to each person. Most have a somewhat regular time they prefer to arrive but if someone gets stuck in traffic or held up for some other reason the flexible schedule works well and those of us who are managers don’t have to be clock watchers.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Since the OP specifically cited how good the person is with patrons, it sounds to me like her job is something customer facing that actually requires it to be covered at all times.

      Even if it’s not, it’s probably not the OP’s decision to introduce flex time.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, that was my thinking, especially the mentioning of the patrons.

        I also have to admit that I’m, hm, side-eyeing this employee a bit? Probably too strong a word but I’m unsure how to phrase it better. Maybe that I felt a bit :/ when I read the letter? I’m thinking that because the OP has been very kind and generous to her employee – not only did she convince her bosses to promote her, she also made an accomodating schedule specifically for this one person. (I realise that such acts aren’t just pure goodness out of someone’s heart but also positive for the business, but she could have left everything as it were before, if she so choose.)

        I think what gave me pause is that after there was an actual act of getting together with your manager and creating a customised schedule together, you shouldn’t actually walk away from it thinking that now you can come and go whenever you please – I would expect the exact opposite! You just made a set schedule together, how is that the same as being allowed free rein on when to come and go? I’m also scratching my head a bit at someone being “taken aback” when their manager speaks to them “about the expectation that she would need to get permission to adjust her set schedule” (emphasis mine). Like. How?

        1. Bea*

          I know what you mean, I had a few judgements towards the employee cross my mind as well. It feels like biting the hand that feeds you to me.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, this.

            I had a job years ago that had staggered shifts (needed more people midday than in the morning or later evening) and we made a special schedule for one employee . . . and she took it as permission to show up whenever. When our supervisor talked to her, she got all hand-wringy because she needed this job. She was told that if that was the case, she needed to act as though she needed the job, because she was already getting allowances we couldn’t make for everyone on staff. She was a newer employee, too–several senior employees gave up more-desirable shifts to help cover for her special times.

    2. Tuckerman*

      I was curious about this as well. OP2 may know of a very specific and compelling reason why flex time would not be appropriate for the role. But the explanation in the letter was simply, “we don’t have flex time at the library.” It could be that there are flex-ish solutions that would work for both of them. I work in the library and we all have varying degrees of flexibility even though all of us have some amount of patron interaction. In part due to this, we have very little turnover now.
      Someone mentioned core hours could be established, and then there could be some flexibility around that. I supervised at call center where I was scheduled 40 hours a week but could take up to 2 hours per week off unpaid.
      Maybe there are no feasible flex options, but with more libraries using web-based systems (integrated library systems, chat and email reference help) there is more opportunity for flexibility than ever.

      1. Temperance*

        I also think it’s just fine that the only reason that this person couldn’t have a flex schedule is because the library has a policy against it.

        1. The Supreme Troll*

          And that OP#2’s employee could have a customer-facing position, which would need a “butt-in-the-seat” during specific times, as Jessesgirl72 mentioned earlier. There could be no way to work around that.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          The public libraries where I am have highly variable hours–some days they close at mid-afternoon, some days at 5:00k, and some days they’re open late. I imagine this limits the configuration of shifts that people can actually work, since it can’t be assumed they can stay until 7:00 or whatever any day of the week they choose. Accommodating everyone’s best schedule would be a scheduling monkeyfest.

      2. BPT*

        Since the LW mentioned the employee being good with patrons, I assumed it’s a customer-facing role. It also sounds like there are several part-time roles, since the employee was just promoted to full-time. So I was assuming that it was important for the employee’s schedule to be set (whatever that might be), because part-time employees would probably fill in the other times. So if the library was open from 7am – 7pm, and the employee had a schedule of 10am-5pm, they’d probably have to schedule part-time employees in the hours before and after to ensure coverage. So if the employee started coming in at 11 am-6pm one day, and then 7am-2pm the next, it would be hard to ensure coverage.

        This is speculation, but there are genuinely good reasons that you can be flexible with creating a schedule to begin with, but then not actually have flex time once that schedule is agreed to. Part-time employees probably need to be able to rely on their schedules not changing as well, and if this employee is coming and going when she pleases it could mess others up.

  16. I Herd the Cats*

    OP 3 — I get that you want to be helpful, and you’re thinking the transparency works both ways (you get to openly job search while still on the job, you help train your replacement.) But as Alison points out, your employer might just let you go. If you can’t afford to be unemployed for any length of time, please keep this in mind. Also the fact that in general, there’s a marketplace bias toward hiring people who are already employed. And your decision to leave after two months could be a red flag to future employers — unless you leave the job off your resume, in which case you have the employment gap instead. Just things to think about.

    1. MillersSpring*

      I know we’re supposed to take the OP at her word that this new job is a bad fit, but I’m wondering if she can go to her boss on this. “I was expecting more of X and Y, but I’m doing mostly T, U and V. Can you help me understand?”

      Or maybe, “I’ve been disappointed to see A and B actions by leaders and coworkers. Are these unusual or a mark of the culture here?”

      Keep in mind that it’s only been 2.5 months and you still could be training. Your boss may not be entrusting you yet with full responsibilities.

      1. OP3*

        Thank you for your comment – I think your suggestions are really helpful. It’s definitely less about my tasks, and more about the culture and the way people interact here. I *wish* I was still in training (or that there was any training! or documentation! or clear answers to my questions), but that’s not the case; I feel pretty confident that I’m seeing the full scope of my position. But I appreciate your insights!

    2. OP3*

      These are definitely great things to think about – I have two 6-year stints on my resume before this, so I’m less worried about the gap, but it’s absolutely a good idea to be prudent and thoughtful about this (especially since I think I was a little too optimistic, and a little to quick to move, during this most recent job search). Thank you for offering some additional things to consider!

  17. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#3, When working with a recruiter, you are the product and not the client. The recruiter’s client is the company that hired you previously. Since you turned out to not be a good fit for the role, the recruiter may feel a bit jilted if it harmed the relationship between the recruiter and the company.

    Because of that, I’d work with new recruiters. Also, there’s nothing that says you only have to work with one recruiter.

    1. Tedious Cat*

      Yes, I was thinking that while OP enjoyed the process of working with this recruiter, the final result wasn’t a good fit so it might make sense to try a different recruiter this time.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      The recruiter is going to lose the commission she received for placing OP – there’s usually a clause that the recruiter will return their fee if the employee doesn’t stay for 6 months or a year. This happened to me and the recruiter helped me find a new job because she wanted to make back that lost commission (and she felt guilty for knowingly placing me in a revolving door position with a nasty boss). OP should definitely let the recruiter know what’s going on (and I agree OP should work with additional recruiters).

      1. CyclistChick5*

        I commented below, but I agree it’s a good idea to let the recruiter know what’s going on. I’m in a similar situation, and the recruiter I worked with followed up with me to see how the job was going (standard procedure). I ended up scheduling lunch with her and outlining a lot of my concerns. I’m not sure how helpful she will be in finding me another job, but I think she appreciated hearing the issue from me instead of finding out later on that I quit through the grapevine.

    3. OP3*

      That’s a great insight that I wouldn’t have thought of – the hazards of being a first-time recruiter-user, I suppose! Thank you!

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      The recruiter won’t just feel jilted — it’s going to be harder for her to place more employees at your company. They’ll count it against her that you left so quickly, since part of her job is supposed to be finding them someone who will last for a while. (In fact, some of her fee might very well depend on your staying at the job for a certain amount of time.) And if the company finds out *she* helped you find another job? I’d say they’ll never want to work with her again.

      So if I were OP, I wouldn’t go near that recruiter again for at least six months, probably more like a year. She might even decide that her loyalty is to the company that’s paying her, inform them that you called, and offer to help find your replacement as a way to preserve her own reputation!

  18. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 I took two weeks off before starting my current job and it was wonderful. It really helped me recharge and feel ready to get started.

  19. Tomato Frog*

    So is OP1 saying they’re actually in a position to call meetings, or just making a joke? Because if they can call meetings, I would assume they’re in a position with enough autonomy and/or authority to find other ways to engage constructively with their coworkers.

    I’m another person who enjoys meetings because it makes me feel plugged in, but I definitely do not have meeting-calling authority. I like my job but I do want to move up some day to a position where I have more opportunities for collaboration (and meetings!). In the meantime, I’ve done lots of little things to scratch that itch: I’ve made a habit of checking in with my peers about what they’re working on, helped newer employees get in the swing of things, made arrangements for continuing education seminars in the office, found little projects to collaborate with people on (like making documentation), etc. Doing this has gotten me opportunities to do more, as well — e.g. a boss said she’d seen how I’d been helping the newbie, do I also want to train someone from another department. I said yes and that turned into an ongoing collaborative project.

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      Excellent plan. I’m glad that you had such a positive result from doing this. I did as well. I had good (and surprising) results. The first annual review after taking the lead on things like this had specifics noted and my goals for the next year were based on doing things I’d thought of doing just because they sounded like a fun challenge to me in the first place.

  20. AMT27*

    OP#3 – I’ve worked with a recruiter before (which I vastly prefer to doing my own job searching), and they often will not place you a second time so soon. At my last job search my recruiter said normally, as I had not been in the position they had placed me in two years yet they wouldn’t place me again (it was just shy of the two year mark). However, as I was looking to go from part-time to full-time, that was a different matter so they did work with me again. Had I just wanted to change jobs, rather than changing the type of job, they would not have worked with me again so soon. You might want to check into your recruiters practices before making any decisions! After such a short period the recruiter might end up doubting your commitment to any job, and be unwilling to take the risk again.

    1. OP3*

      Thank you – that’s a good perspective to use to think about this. And you’re right – part of why I want to work with this same recruiter again is that the process was so much better than my prior job searches!

  21. LQ*

    #2 how frequently would you be willing to rework the schedule with her? It might be valuable to establish that. Something like quarterly or monthly you sit down and review what the schedule looks like and adjust it. So it isn’t this is your one schedule forever, but this is your schedule through June, then we’ll take a look again in August and rework it for September. It could be a lot easier for both of you if you have some structure that bakes in regular reviews of what that flexible schedule looks like.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I think it could be a lot easier on both of them if the person found a job with a more flexible schedule. The OP has already gone out on a limb and changed standard procedure for this person.

      1. Aunt Margie at Work*

        I agree. I don’t think it’s working out. LW and employee should be able to determine that they gave it a try, but it’s just not working out.
        I wonder if LW feels that she’s invested in this person, recommending she get the full time position, creating what is pretty simply a customized schedule that nobody else was offered.
        So she has used up some capital with her own boss by choosing this person. And she has affected her other staff as well. She created a special schedule for one person. If she lets this person go, will the other employees feel that she will go to the wall for them or that she is just pretends to help you until she can let you go.

    2. De Minimis*

      I ran into a similar situation with a student worker, and eventually had to let them go over it. I’ve known a lot of folks who work in libraries, and it’s like any other workplace as far as needing more people at some times versus others.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Uh, no, this should not be an ongoing thing. This employee needs a different job. Redoing the schedule every few months is not a good use of time. My guess is the LW has enough on her plate given the general state of public libraries, without handholding a part-time employee through a schedule she’s already bent over backwards to accommodate. At some point, you have to draw a line and consider hiring somebody who can better support your institution.

  22. Lily Rowan*

    For #3, I know you say you’ve considered it, but less than three months is really soon to be deciding the job isn’t for you, unless it’s truly awful, in which case I wouldn’t think you’d be asking about working with the same recruiter. Early in my career, a friend said to me that you need four months to even tell if you like it or not, and that’s felt pretty true to me through a bunch of different jobs.

    I’d just strongly recommend hanging in there unless it’s really untenable. Change is hard!

    1. LQ*

      I think how long the job takes to know if you’re going to like it or not depends on the job too. I was in a job that was (to me) exactly the same thing every day. See 8-10 people for 30 minutes each, occasionally do a presentation for 45 minutes (the same as the thing where I talked to people), do some paperwork (honestly the best part of the job for me), return phone calls (the worst), and that was it. That was all the job would ever be. I knew in week 1 that it wasn’t for me. I did the best I could, I was great at the job, but it ate me alive inside. It is still essentially the same job, now it is a few more of the presentations and a few less of the individuals, but basically the same. I knew fast. I was completely correct.

      With my job now it is hugely varied and I get to drive the direction of my job so to some extent I decide what my job will look like 2 years from now. It was really hard for the first few months, but I knew I’d get to a place of liking it eventually.

      I would suggest looking at the people who have been there a long time, what do they do, can you see yourself in that role and how would you feel about it.

      But I wouldn’t say you have to be there 4 months (I was at that horrible for me job for 5…it never ever ever got better). (People who are better than me love it and thrive though.)

    2. OP3*

      It’s definitely not truly awful, and I think I can stay here for a while – I am definitely struggling between my feelings of “well, it’s called work for a reason – you’re not there to have fun” and “I deserve good things, including a job I enjoy and feel good about”. But you’re right that I’m really early in the process still. Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement!

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      I think a day of meetings is like a non-day. Even if I do have a productive meeting, I can’t take that energy and run with it, because I have to start the whole process all over with another topic.

  23. Jan Levinson*

    OP #4, I think that’s a great thing to ask for – I wish I would have done that!

    When I moved jobs, I planned on asking for a week off between jobs. My supervisor-to-be then asked if I would be willing to start the Monday following my last day (Friday) at my previous company. I said yes, wanting to make a good impression. She wanted me to be there for yearly inventory that was scheduled for that week. It ended up being pushed back 4 weeks, so I could have taken that extra week off in between jobs with no problem (had I known!). It would have been really nice to have some down time to recharge!

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Absolutely! Not quite the same thing, but I took a month off when I left the workforce to go to law school. I wrote and slept in and watched lots of TV, and it was amazing. I highly recommend taking a breather between jobs if you can afford it.

  24. CMT*

    LW 5, I’d make sure that you really understand the new law (including when it goes into effect!) and make sure your tone is informative, not combative or adversarial at all. I think people can come across as very naive when they cite laws or regulations incorrectly, which is obviously not how you want to appear during the hiring process.

  25. OP4*

    Man I’m so glad that asking for a month is normal. Before my last job I worked in coffee shops, where that wouldn’t be cool at all; at my last job I was temp-to-perm; and then when I took my current job, I was too broke to even ask for a full week! I just took like two days. (This makes me even more motivated to keep applying…)

  26. amy*

    Re the library worker –

    The LW may need to find a way to be flexible if she wants to keep this employee. The fact is that she’s a single mom; children and schedules don’t work well together; and she’s doing this job despite the fact that they can’t pay her enough to live on, so she has to have a second job. My guess is that if she insists on a rigid schedule, she’s going to find that her employee’s calling in often because a child has a doctor’s appointment, a snow day, an in-service day, an early school closing, a handyman needs in, etc., and there’s no one else to hand the responsibility off to.

    There are some realities surrounding childrearing, and if the LW hasn’t been a single mom doing it on her own herself, she may really need to think about just how much her terrific-worker employee is juggling. It could be that her library’s policies aren’t as rigid as she thinks they are.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      LW may not have a choice, if she doesn’t set policy for the library system. And she’s already bent the scheduling rules–it’s not as rigid as it looks, but she may already have worked out all the rigidity she can.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        And if you have kids, it’s on you to plan for childcare for snow days/inservice/etc. It’s not unforseeable that those things will happen, and it’s not her boss’ job to drop everything when it does.

  27. KiteFlier*

    In regards to salary history/target, I find it very frustrating as a recruiter when I ask candidates their target range for their next role and they tell me what they are currently making or made at their last job. I think it is largely ingrained in people to base their next comp level off of what they are currently on, which is not realistic if you are switching metro locations, job levels, companies with vast differences in size, etc.

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      I bet Alison can come up with a way to phrase the question so you can ask more directly what the candidates sees as target salary. Like, “based on the differences in location and position that this job has, what salary do you believe will meet the needs of your new situation?

  28. Fictional Butt*

    OP 1– I am totally you! I work alone on most things, and I’m actually the only person in my organization who does what I do, so it can feel pretty isolating. One question I have for you is: how long have you had your current job? When I first started, I felt pretty frustrated and desperate for contact with my coworkers. I didn’t really understand what my role in the organization was. It seemed like everyone else was working on exciting, important projects whereas I was just plugging away at my desk doing my thing.

    Now that I’ve been here for 2+ years, I have a much better understanding of how I fit into the organization. I do feel like I’m an important part of the organization’s work, even if I’m not constantly interacting with people. I like the fact that I get to work alone a lot and make decisions on my own. I’d say, probably don’t schedule meetings just for the fun of it–but try to take advantage of opportunities to learn about your coworkers’ jobs/the organization as a whole and to understand how you fit into that.

  29. CyclistChick5*

    Wow, LW#3 could be me! I was at my last job for 5 years (first job out of college) and feel like I hit a wall in terms of learning new things and growth opportunities at the company. A recruiter placed me at my current position, which I’ve been at for about 2.5 months. It’s a slight different area than my last job, and I have so little direction. I’m a department of one and have next to no interaction with my boss. I have a few overarching “projects” to work on that require very minimal effort on my part or are still getting off the ground.

    I ended up having a follow up lunch with my recruiter, and she said she would discreetly look around for jobs that might match my skill set. She did say it might have to be smoothed out with my employer if I was placed somewhere else, but that she wouldn’t want me to stay in a place where I wasn’t happy.

    I have a different question for commenters/Alison. How do I avoid jumping into another job that isn’t a good fit? I guess part of the issue is that I’m still pretty young and working out which direction my career should go. How can other people avoid the “sophomore slump” of employment opportunities?

    1. OP3*

      Thank you for this comment! I’m also struggling with having not-a-ton of direction – I was really hoping to find a place with a solid team that I could work with and learn from, and that just hasn’t been the case. I thought I asked a lot of good questions to dig into what I wanted from a workplace, but I think the places I could have done better were: 1) not being *so* eager to leave my old job, and really being patient with the process; 2) being less optimistic / more skeptical of what I was hearing; 3) realizing that I took a lot for granted at my last job (i.e., regular access to office supplies) that might not be present at my new job. Thank you for chiming in, and I’m wishing you the best as you deal with a similar situation!

      1. CyclistChick5*

        Well, thank you for writing in! I was honestly getting ready to shoot off an email to AAM today. Good thing I checked the latest posts first!

        It’s funny, during the job searching process people warned me about not taking the first job I found, so that was something I tried to be very conscious of, but I *still* ended up with a job I didn’t enjoy. I think a healthy dose of skepticism may have saved me–I had some doubts about the position but assumed it was just jitters about changing jobs for the first time. I think working with a good recruiter can also speed up the process almost too much–I had an offer from this company as I was just getting emails about scheduling initial phone interviews with other companies.

        Thanks for your response! I wish you well in your situation, too. Glad I decided to comment for the first time :) it’s good to know I’m not the only one dealing with this!

  30. Colorado*

    OP #1 – it sounds like a different role would be better suited to you. Maybe it’s time for a change?
    OP#4 – I have to admit, my favorite part of changing jobs is having a break in between. There is nothing like having a little time off with no lingering work thoughts, knowing you’ll get paid soon, and excited for a fresh start. I tell everyone, if you can afford it, at least take a week off between jobs!

  31. OP#1*

    Thanks Allison for answering my question and readers for all the feedback. I’ve been doing the same general work for 10 years now. I’m an introvert so the isolation didn’t bother me in the beginning and some days it’s exactly what I need. The longer I’m here, the more I find collaboration with other departments essential to my career development and general sanity. Our small team doesn’t have meetings very often and as the lead teapot maker, the main interaction is people asking me questions (even when they could figure it out if they just tried or I’ve answered the same question many times). We also have a terrible boss and it’s a very dysfunctional group for a variety of reasons. So I suppose it’s more than the windowless environment without meetings, but that seems to be taking me over the edge lately. I’m comfortable here so I’ve been afraid to leave, but will start to seriously think about Allison’s advice. In the meantime, I’ll read the What Can’t You NOT Do post, since I have no idea what else I could do. And I’ll look to see if there are committees to join and maybe scheduling lunches with people from other departments. It’s a shame when you work for a great company but the department you’re in just takes the life out of you. If I can’t find some new variety, maybe a transfer within the company would be possible. In such a small group that has worked together for so long, it’s always interesting to see who will be the first to leave! Thanks everyone for the great feedback!

    1. JessaB*

      I have no idea what the job is but could they move your workspace so you’re able to interact with people more? Without messing up the work flow of other people?

      1. OP#1*

        We’re a small group so we just end up with the leftover space, which is always the less than ideal areas of the building. I should really make a point to work in the cafe more often just to be around people, and windows!

    2. Nottingham*

      You say you have specialist knowledge and get asked questions a lot, and that made me think – does it have to be meetings? Because if it’s the interaction your after, then have you considered offering to do some cross-training, and/or collaborating on writing procedure or training manuals? (Which could also be a good idea if you are thinking you might leave.)

      Also, if you really aren’t getting enough daylight it might be worth seeing your doctor and checking your Vitamin D levels. Low Vitamin D can feel like low-level depression or general tiredness and apathy.

  32. living the dream*

    i had an employee like LW #2. No matter what we did, she simply had to continue to change her schedule. We changed her schedule half dozen times, and it didn’t matter, within a week or two the current schedule became problematic and we had to start over.

    Just like there are some people who simply have to have the last word, there are people who simply cannot adhere to a schedule. It is a control issue, not really a scheduling need. I don’t know if that is the case, but I would like to throw that out there as a possibility. .

  33. Dan*

    I would challenge #2 to examine their assumptions about scheduling and how flexible they can be. You yourself admit she’s doing great work, is this worth losing an employee? Remember you’re not paying her enough to support herself, which limits your rights to claims on her time in a moral sense if not a legal sense.

    But what’s more, I find oftentimes if managers examine their reasoning behind being dead-set against things like flex-time alternate workweeks (4×10, 3×12/4×12 alternate weeks, etc) stems from a few, very nonproductive, places.

    A caveat– sure, sometimes you need bums in seats: you run a call center, an operations center, you run telesales and the FCC is dictating when you can and can’t do business, whatever,. You need staffing, and having a bum in the seat is more important than ensuring that bum belongs to a happy, motivated and highly efficient worker. This is not for those types of situations.

    First, and most common, is a reaction “if no one follows protocols then the protocols are not being followed! And if protocols are not being followed then people won’t be following the protocol!” (repeat that in your best “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?!” voice from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”). In other words, a deep-seated sense of “this is how one businesses, and if you want to business, you must operate in this way”. Do not mistake this for business-justified reasons (see caveat above), this is a devotion to convention merely because it is conventional, a reflex action that does not involve business justifications.

    Second is a vauge fear of the “what-if”. “what if our teleworkers don’t get any work done?” “what if EVERYONE asks for flex time because I’ve given it to one person?” “what if allowing our people to digital nomad ends in disaster when the whole team has an exotic intestinal disease the same week the WENUS reports are due?!”

    The second one is harder to answer because the business case logic circuits have at least been engaged. but oftentimes they can be answered quite simply. What do you do if your teleworkers get nothing done? How would you deal with this if they weren’t teleworkers, giving them a VPN connection didn’t make you not-a-manager, you have a meeting, you clarify expectations, you assess reasons for the performance gap and go from there. If everyone asks for flex time… well is that a disaster? Can you give it to everyone and address abuse as abuse of the system? if not can you give it to some?

    In other words, managers often use blanket “no we can’t X” policies rather than actually managing, and it’s often detrimental to their organization.

  34. nnn*

    Many commenters have already outlined why the recruiter might be disincentivized to find OP#3 another place. If OP#3 still wants to work with the same recruiter, perhaps a script would be something like:

    “I really enjoyed my experience working with you and am very grateful to you for finding me this position. As I gain more experience here, I’m coming to realize that I’d like to eventually transition into a position that’s [more X and less Y, or whatever is applicable]. If something along those lines should ever cross your desk, I’d greatly appreciate if you could keep me in mind.”

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