open thread – August 25-26, 2017

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

Also!  I’m still swamped with things outside of this site so I’ve been in the comments less and moderating less than usual in the last couple of weeks. I have pockets of time here and there, but it’s way less than it normally is. That will probably continue a week or two longer.

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

{ 1,448 comments… read them below }

  1. OG Anon*

    Am I crazy to be thinking about leaving my job after a year (for the second time in a row?)

    Some context: last year I was in my first job out of grad school and after I’d been there about 8 months, the organization announced layoffs, my boss went to part time and asked our team to take unpaid time off to save money. I started looking for a new job with more stability and accepted the first offer I received, doing the same work at a different organization. I thought it would be a good change, but I’ve been here a year and have huge concerns about the culture and team dynamic (I wrote in a few weeks ago about my boss being paranoid I’d get pregnant and leave…there are serious boundary issues, professionalism is non-existent, I could go on)

    I was referred to a job at another, well-respected organization by a former coworker and I have an interview next week. Does anyone have suggestions of questions I could ask both my former coworker and the hiring manager to avoid jumping ship just to find myself in another toxic situation?

    1. MuseumChick*

      I think in context this all sounds very reasonable. You can explain what happened at your first job easily enough, as for your current job you can go with something vague. Good luck in your interview!

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Does the coworker you referred to actually work there? If so, I’d ask her as much as you can — I don’t have a lot of trust in what interviewers say when questioned about the culture, since they’re often trying to sell you on the job. (Have been burned badly by interviewers who were flat out told to sell me rather than answer my questions honestly, because they really needed someone to start working there ASAP.) It’s much more enlightening to talk to someone who works there and has no interest in the hiring decision.

      1. OG Anon*

        Yes, she does! She would be on my team at the new org, and she left my current org last December for a lot of the same reasons I’m looking to leave so I think I can talk openly and honestly with her about my concerns!

        1. Hmmmmm*

          Leaving a job after a year is only really a problem when trying to get past the first step. If you already have an in and an interview, particularly on the referral of someone who can vouch for you without needing to be explicitly told what your reasons are, you have already side stepped the biggest hurdle. I wouldn’t even talk about it unless you two get lunch or something and she asks.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      There was a thread a few weeks ago about ‘what signs of a toxic workplace did you see or not see’, you might hunt that up to get more details. IIRC, the basic suggestions were:
      1) Ask why this position is open – is it new, was there someone before, if yes, why did that person leave
      2) Ask about the manager’s style – hands off, hands on, etc. Neither is inherently bad, you’re looking for a match with your style.
      3) Try to talk to potential coworkers and walk around the workplace, looking at the people who work there. Do they seem unhappy? Tense?
      4) Ask about overtime / hours worked, especially with coworkers. Do they seem frustrated about their time?

      Alison’s general advice on switching jobs in less than a year is that you can do it once, even twice, but you have to spend at least three years in the next job or it looks bad to employers. If the former coworker is close enough, you could mention some unprofessional things that frustrate you and ask the coworker how the new job would handle it.

      But there’s no guarantees. The new job could get a new manager any time, and the new manager might not be good. Focus on developing your boundaries and your professionalism, that will be the most help in any workplace.

    4. Audiophile*

      Definitely ask about culture. Ask about the organization’s plans for the next few years, challenges they’re facing, etc.

      I have gone through the same thing. I took a job at a dysfunctional organization, that 6 months in laid me off. Moved to another organization that was even more dysfunctional, where I was for 7 months and then laid off. The only saving grace in both situations was it taught me what to look for. I learned some big lessons and the company I’m current with, while there are issues, it’s so much better than the last two. The role and organization are more structured and I can see myself staying put for a while.

    5. The IT Manager*

      I think this is an example of be sure of the new job because you will have trouble finding another job if you have or term/less than a year stints on your resume.

      1. Audiophile*

        Eh I don’t know, I had 2 short stints, at similar jobs.

        While I feel a certain amount of pressure to stay in my current role for least 2 years, I’m pretty confident I could find another role if need be.

        I will say prior to those short stints, I had a contract role that lasted for 4 years. That was harder to explain than the shorter stints.

      2. JN*

        It might depend on the field in question. Back when I was teaching, I left the first district because my grant-funded position couldn’t be retained when the funding levels were cut. Next school, I didn’t want to stay there a second year and I wasn’t the same religion as that private school (workable for a year but they understandably wanted someone of their faith beyond that time). Third place was the year from hell, and I quit teaching after that so it didn’t matter so much–but yes, I can easily see that schools I applied to that next summer might have looked at my paperwork and wondered why I wasn’t staying in one school/district more than a year. Fortunately, after a short-term job, my next position (in a new field) was 3 years and my current is 5 and counting.

        1. RS*

          I’m in a similar boat. I was at a job I liked but was laid off so the job lasted a year. I thought I asked all of the correct questions about a “toxic workplace” for my current position, but unfortunately within the first month the company got flipped upside down. My position is not what I interviewed for, I do not have any direction in the office and I am unhappy. Is it wrong of me to leave?

        2. Julianne*

          I agree that for teaching in particular, this is fairly common, although certainly not ideal, both because it’s a pain to be constantly job hunting all the time and because (like with most jobs) there’s a lot of merit, growth wise, to staying in the same or a similar role for several years. (What I’m saying is: new teachers, fear not if it takes a few years to find the right school, but don’t think you have to jump ship if you’re content and stable where you are.)

  2. Karen*

    I have a few questions. I’ve received feedback that I’m missing out on advancement opportunities due to my lack of experience leading teams (although I’ve been told my other leadership experience is good). So, I want to highlight the limited experience that I do have in this area.

    1. For the past 2 years, I worked on a team of about 5 people. I had one full time employee who reported to me. We also regularly had a co-op student. They would be there for 4 months at which time they’d be replaced by a new co-op student. The co-op student was sort of “shared” by everyone (depending on who had work for the person at the time). Even though the person officially reported to one of us, they ended up doing work for all of us at some point. But, for a fair chunk of the time I was there (probably 5 months or so), the student did work that related to things I was working on. Even though they didn’t “officially” report to me, am I able to say on my resume that “I led one full time employee and one co-op student”? Is there a better way to phrase it given the circumstances?

    2. I also volunteer for a local organization. My position has an assistant that handles some of the more mundane tasks. My position is on the board of directors and hers is not, and it feels clear that she assists me and I feel comfortable saying that “I lead her”. Here is what I’m less sure of: My position is “Membership Director”. When I joined the organization, I worked with the outgoing membership director to transfer the duties over. It quickly became clear that she was “just barely getting by” and that my technical skills were far stronger than hers. This is relevant because the organization was in the process of transferring their membership database from an excel spreadsheet to a more sophisticated online tool. While there was some time spent getting up to speed, the situation ended up being more that I ended up guiding her on how we should make the transition. And most of the work was done by me. I want to make reference to this on my resume about leading a team of two (outgoing membership director and the membership assistant), but I don’t know if this will seem odd or if it’s a reasonable thing to say (or, I guess, if there’s a better way to say it).

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      I would probably say, ‘lead small teams in professional and volunteer roles, completing projects x and y’, but my resume is very concise.

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        I like this summary. Identifying the team as another employee and a co-op worker gives the impression it’s just really leading one person, and working with one other person is not really leading a team.

        Also, I agree with Susan’s point below that going to your manager and asking for more opportunities to lead is a great way to do it. I manage a team of 19 at my office and there are two people who work for me who want to promote and always ask me for opportunities. The rest wait to be asked. Guess who gets more opportunities to shine!

    2. Susan*

      It sounds like you have some good people skills and technical skills. Where I work, a team would be generally be 5 people or more; we wouldn’t describe coordinating with one other person, even if that person was clearly less senior (for even, an intern) as leading a team. That’s primarily because leading a group of people is an entirely different dynamic than coordinating with one other person. I wouldn’t try to portray the experience you have as leading any kind of team, but it does sound like you could call it taking the lead on specific work.

      Maybe you can talk to your management about wanting and feeling ready for opportunities to lead a small group for specific tasks? It might also be possible to seek out volunteer opportunities that would involve actually leading a small team – although again, I would recommend thinking of a small team as at least 3 people other than you. A big part of the challenge of leading a team is dealing with situations in which team members disagree not only with you but with each other – and with establishing an environment in which diverse people can and will work together – and that just isn’t experience you get by working with one other person, even when you are the lead.

      1. Karen*

        I will say that teams tend to be smaller in my area of work. It would be unusual for anyone at my company to lead more than 3 – 4 people.

  3. Pregnant Attorney*

    Does anyone have recommendations on where to find professional maternity clothes that won’t break the bank? I typically wear suit pants and a nice blouse for non-court work, but almost all of the maternity wear I’ve seen is too casual for my office. Dresses and a suit jacket won’t be practical when it’s 20 degrees out, and most pants seem to be leggings or material that’s not formal enough.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      Not sure what your budget is but I’ve bought a few items from Motherhood Maternity and Gap online (not pregnant, just have a big stomach…oy). Old navy also has a few nice things, but there’s more variety online.

    2. HisGirlFriday*

      When I was PG, I bought a ton of stuff on ThredUp. You can get gently used (or new-with-tags!) clothes for pennies on the dollar, and they have a great selection of professional attire. I don’t have to wear suits in my job, but I do have to dress up routinely, and I found a lot of great deals there.

      1. Triplestep*

        I’ve written about this here before, but I tell anyone who is thinking about ordering from ThredUp to read the online reviews. (One of them is mine; wish I had read the reviews first) The giant dip in their scores after about the first year is telling. The number of women who now report sending bags of clothing only to recoup fractions of pennies on the dollar is staggering. I believe ThredUp started out dealing fairly, but then got too big, brought in some new people, and now you can be sure that if you are getting a great bargain, it’s because another woman has been taken advantage of. I wish more people would not support their unethical business practices.

    3. AMPG*

      I got a couple of pairs of professional-looking black pants from Motherhood Maternity and just wore those all the time. Blouses are easier to find, IME, and nobody really cares if you’re wearing the same pants all the time. I wouldn’t discount dresses with tights in the winter, since you’ll probably be much much warmer than you think. Also, I found that I could drop a notch in formality as my pregnancy went on and nobody minded. I don’t know how strict your dress code is, though.

      Other good sources are consignment shops, FB tag sale groups, or Freecycle.

    4. Dawn*

      I just learned this week that H&M has a maternity line- looking at their options it seems like you’d be able to put together a good suit pants and blouse wardrobe for not a ton of money!

    5. LeahElizabeth*

      Le Tote does a maternity rental service that I absolutely love. (If there is something in a tote that you love then you have the option to purchase that item at a reduced cost.) I’ve gotten most of my maternity work clothes from them. I ran into the same problem with casual clothing working in finance.

    6. RAKG*

      Ditto eBay, I got a lot of great used professional looking dresses, about $15 each including shipping.

    7. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I bought my maternity wear at Target. I found a variety of nice tops and pants that were business appropriate and priced well considering how little I would wear it.

    8. attornaut*

      Loft/ann taylor online is typically where I bought maternity pants for my office; they are the same as their regular pants in maternity. You could also supplement with something like Le Tote or another subscription box–keep the clothes for when they fit, and you can return them when they don’t. You can also try H&M, which seems really weird, but about 10% of their maternity clothes would actually work in a professional setting and 100% are affordable so it’s worth clicking through the website.

    9. LSP*

      This thread just made me flash back to when I was pregnant and my belly had just popped and was no longer fitting into my work pants, so I slipped on a pair of maternity work pants for the first time.

      OMG! They were so comfortable! Me and my lingering baby belly long for the ability to wear those pants to work still.

      1. Alston*

        Never been pregnant, but I wore maternity pants for like a year because they were so comfortable. Started originally because I broke my wrists and couldn’t put on any of my pants (all had buttons or zippers). Soooooooo comfy. Why not wear them still?

    10. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!*

      You may also be able to just go up a size or two in regular pants and/or shirts. I did this for most of my pregnancy. Otherwise I picked up a few pieces from Target.

      1. Southern Ladybug*

        And I found that Target online has a MUCH better selection. Since you can return in store, I bought several items online, tried on at home, and then took back what didn’t work in store. It’s so hard to tell what will work and at least at my local Target(s) it was more t-shirts and jeans – not dresses and skirts etc – in store.

    11. Southern Ladybug*

      I echo the suggestions already made. You also can try facebook buy/sell groups. In my city we have a few for quality clothing and maternity clothes regularly are posted. I actually have a maternity suit posted on one right now.

    12. Anonarama*

      I really like Ann Taylor/Loft’s maternity pants. They actually look like professional clothing first rather than maternity clothing. I am furious at the impossibility of finding professional maternity wear though. I have found about a million more maternity jean short options than I have regular maternity black work dress pant options.

    13. JGray*

      Target has pretty good maternity clothes but in my case my local target didn’t carry much so I had to order everything online (& I’m rural so Target wouldn’t deliver to my house had to get everything sent to work- heck I still have this problem). It was actually the only place I could find a coat to wear in the winter once my stomach got so big that my regular coat didn’t fit. I think they have dress pants but don’t hold me to that because I was lucky enough that the place I worked when I was pregnant had a casual dress code so I could get away with that. I also ordered some turtleneck sweaters from target last fall that were really flowy. They could probably work while pregnant. So maybe for tops you could look at non maternity clothes and get something that would work in your workplace.

    14. Coffee*

      I use Le Tote for maternity clothes and love it. It’s really nice to not have to buy professional maternity clothes and have a lot of variety.

    15. Bobbin Ufgood*

      I feel you – I’m also professional but probably don’t need to look quite as nice as an attorney. Target and Ann Taylor (on line is best for selection, some physical locations don’t have maternity) both have some stuff. Don’t discount a good pair of black maternity tights for winter (I live in the UPPER midwest — I know from cold — also, remember — being pregnant keeps you warm from the inside). I also found the belly bands + flowy suit shell tops pretty useful for early/mid pregnancy so I could still wear my good suits.

      The maternity stores (motherhood) are depressingly informal/not work-appropriate for professionals for most of their items

    16. Bespectacled elephant*

      I got a ‘lot’ of professional maternity clothes on eBay. Just google those terms with the term ‘lot’. Also check your thrift stores in person

  4. anon today*

    I really hate my job. To the point that it’s getting harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning, I’m so stressed that I’m stress eating and have gained 10 pounds, and my work quality has gone from over-performer to middling to the point that my boss has probably noticed.

    It’s a toxic environment, I’m overworked and under appreciated, and my boss micromanages and punishes me for being a good worker. There’s a constant threat of layoffs. My boss routinely gives me work other people slack off on. I’m so burnt out and unhappy. I can’t talk to my boss about being unhappy because he’ll lose it.

    I’ve been interviewing for a year and a half at this point with no luck. I recently had a job where it was between me and another candidate, and they went with the other candidate because they asked for less money.

    I don’t know what to do. I’d love to quit, but I can’t quit without a new job because I don’t have enough money to keep myself afloat and I’m drowning in medical debt I had to put on credit cards. I don’t have friends or family who could help me out. I’m miserable to the point where I’ve been considering any situation that would get me out of going to work, and I know that’s not healthy. I just really don’t know how much longer I can stand going to this job.

    1. atexit8*

      Don’t put pressure on yourself.
      I suggest reading the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
      Pick what is important and ignore the rest.
      It applies to work.

    2. anon for this*

      No advice, but I’m sorry. I’ve been there. I still have the scars from coming home from work and sitting down with a razor blade and using it on my arms because I was so miserable and treated so poorly I couldn’t think clearly anymore. My last job a combination of work stress and medical problems caused me to gain 20 pounds in my last month.

      I hope you can find another job soon! Don’t give up! Take good care of yourself in the meantime. Whatever you can do in your off time, walk in the woods, take a yoga class, get a new hair style or a manicure, whatever you are into. Be good to yourself!

      Good luck!

    3. Summerisle*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this; I’ve been in similar situations and I know how utterly terrible it can be.
      Sadly there’s not much advice on the job hunt front apart from to keep on trying, keep on applying and keep your focus on the fact that this is just a *temporary* part of your life as much as possible. Psychologically, it’s difficult but I found it helped to work out what I could and couldn’t control; for example, you can control your own performance but not the behaviour/professionalism levels of others. That helped with putting some psychological “distance” between me and the toxic situation. It might also be worth talking to a healthcare provider about your thoughts and feelings, if this is something you think might help.
      I hope you find something very soon and can leave this job in the dust!

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      You need a hobby. No, I’m not being flippant. I’m serious. Your job situation is the center of your life and that’s not good. Hell, if you had the best job in the world and you couldn’t wait to get there in the morning and hated to leave at night, that would not be good, either. So think of something you want to do and MAKE IT A PROJECT. There are a million life hacks to get through things more easily. But getting through the tough times when all you can do is wait…yeah, there’s no app for that. You have to make your own.
      You can’t make your boss change; you can’t make someone hire you. What can you do, that you can control completely? There’s exercise* Make up a schedule for walking. Dig through your closet and see what clothes you could wear. Investigate those step apps for your phone. Geneology research. I don’t know if there’s any free sites, though. Start following your favorite sports team again. Hell, learn a language or learn how to change the oil and other stuff for your car.
      Doing something for you will put crappy job into perspective. It’s your job, not your life.

      (*Not my first choice. So no judgement about your weight concerns. My sanctuary is my artroom. Mine, all mine. But even there, I come up with a project so I feel like I accomplished something.).

      1. anon today*

        I have hobbies. I just can’t gather enough interest in them. I do exercise, but when I’m stressed I just gain weight for a variety of reasons (binge eating, restless sleep, etc)

        I’m miserable to the point that it’s affecting everything outside work because I can’t stop thinking about the next time I’ll have to go into the office. Everything I enjoyed just doesn’t help me anymore.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          It sucks that you’re where you are, and internet hugs if you want them. We spend so much time at work that it is overwhelming and can drive everything else out.

          I’m way better at advice than sympathy, so here’s advice:
          1) Google “Captain Awkward how to work while depressed” and read that advice
          2) Find some kind of ‘team you’ for emotional support; there are therapists that will work on sliding scales if no one else. Just because they can’t do money doesn’t mean family and friends can’t help.
          3) Maybe start writing things down in a ‘Kitchen Confidential’ or ‘Office Space’ sort of way?
          4) I don’t remember if it was here or Captain Awkward, but someone posted how to spend a day using movies as therapies. Watch something super sad, then something violent, then funny (again, Office Space sounds appropriate), repeat until you feel better.

          Remember, you have a plan, you will get out someday.

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          I know we’re not supposed to armchair diagnose, but loss of interest/motivation in otherwise enjoyable activities is not good. I’ll suggest you might find useful a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) self-guided workbook for depression; they have some inexpensive ones on Amazon, like the one by Knaus and Ellis.

          1. LBK*

            I think seeing a therapist during hard times is a solid idea for anyone, even people without a mental health diagnosis.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Very true. Normally I’d recommend it but since huge amounts of medical debt was cited, I figured I’d suggest one of the more feasible (and fairly reliable) self-help methods. CBT has some really good results generally, and it’s focused on eliminating the negative thought patterns and self-defeating things that people do, to enable them to react in a more healthy fashion.

        3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          Oh wow. That is not good at all. I’m sorry you are going through this. If there is any way you can see a medical professional, even talking to your PCP, please try it.

        4. Moose and Squirrel*

          That sounds like full blown depression to me. I’ve been there. My last job made me mentally and physically ill, and I had no desire to do anything I used to love. Please talk to your primary care doc about depression screening and/or seeing a psychiatrist. Also ask for a referral to a therapist. Therapy helped me immensely when I was stuck in a toxic job and desperate to get out. It’ll make things a lot more tolerable until you can jump ship to a better situation. Good luck and please keep us updated.

      2. Beancounter Eric*


        Go for a walk, read a book, learn needlepoint , volunteer, bake brownies….or one of my favorites, go fly a kite!!

      3. Vicky*

        +1 to hobby idea. I also experienced this in my last job (very toxic) that I left 3 months about. My job satisfaction was zero and yeah, I was so miserable to the point where I was so pissed off every morning noon and night I was driving everyone around me nuts. So I started a film festival and every day after work I worked on my fest and staged an event this past June. it was the best and it really helped me out of my rut.

        Another thing I want to mention (and this is something I would not have considered possible while in the thick of toxic job) is that, like bad relationships, bad jobs teach us what we will and will not accept in life and work. In the words of captain awkward, that crap job taught me how to ride the nope-topus. It taught me that I must advocate for myself and that no one will do it for me, and that we never have to be okay with being treated like a lesser person.

        Hang in there! there is light at the end of the tunnel And you will come out a richer and more rounded person

    5. Airedale*

      I have been there. I’m now in a new job that I love. Please hang in there. You WILL get out, and it will feel better than you even imagine. Don’t give up hope.

    6. Not really a waitress*

      If I had the answer…. I would send it to you with a bouquet of flowers… I work in a terrible toxic environment. Example, I asked for whole day off today as I am flying out this afternoon to get my mom WHO IS MOVING IN WITH ME. And I still have a ton to do in my house to ready for her. No Boss he needed me to come in so we could meet… meeting was some stuff nothing urgent until the big reveal… writing me up for something so trivial and minor… it wasn’t worth the ink. Letting me know my place thats all. In next breath, asks me how to use my personal amazon prime account so they can order some stuff for office. (OLD accounts payable person and I would use it. ) REALLY? By the way this is minor compared to other stuff they have pulled.

      I have applied and interviewed for so many jobs. Finalists on jobs. One asked for references then ghosted me (and never called references) . I am paid well under market value while taking on more and more responsibility outside of scope. I was losing weight and doing good, then I just snapped and now all I want to do is cry and carb load.

      I have no advice for you other than you are not alone and that as I told my mom I need to keep fouling off the pitches till I get the right one.

    7. Argh!*

      Same boat. Micromanaging boss that criticizes every little thing but never acknowledges work well done, or even work done at all. Prevented from disciplinary action against insubordinate subordinate. No raise this year.

      My boss’s new name (in my mind): Dunning Kruger. Totally incompetent yet she thinks she’s great.

    8. Susan*

      I wonder if it would help to get some counseling. You say that you have hobbies but can’t get interested in them just now because you’re so miserable and have no energy – that sounds like you could be depressed. Although part of the advice that any social worker/therapist gives you is going to be to put more energy into something that isn’t work. Sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it. I would recommend signing up for a volunteer position – some kind of commitment that doesn’t take a great deal of interaction, but that requires you to show up at a regular time and do something specific. If you like animals, walking dogs at a local shelter is a great volunteer activity. You get some exercise, you get some unconditional love, you get out of your house and your head. You will feel better.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Not what you asked, but you may want to see what you can do about that debit on the credit card.

      Maybe the credit card company will lower their rate when they know it is mostly medical debt. Or maybe you can get the doctor to reduce his bill and perhaps credit your card.

      I see that you can’t ask friends and fam to help. How about acquaintances? Are there friendly folks around you who would be willing to keep an ear out for jobs in your field? You know, some of the most helpful people in my life are in that outer circle of acquaintances, friends and family can overthink things or they forget, whatever. For whatever reason, acquaintances have been the most supportive to me as far as jobs.

      What this means is thinking of people you used to work with, live near and so on, and whose relationship you enjoyed or they always seemed pleased to see you. Also think of people you come in contact with at work, but do not work at your company. Go carefully on this one, maybe you can just get ideas of where you might check for openings. Once in a while, you might be able to find out if there are openings.

      For the more immediate, do you have a friend/ally at work? Someone who you know will commiserate with you and cheer your successes? Perhaps there is someone trying to be friendly/supportive and you didn’t really notice? If you have at least one friendly face at work this can be enough to limp along sometimes.

    10. You Got This*

      I was at this point just a few weeks ago.

      1. If you can, take a few days off in a row. Do something fun or nothing at all. Getting a break from the office helped me regroup and be calm.
      2. Do something nice for yourself–whatever that means. I found a groupon for a massage and treated myself to one, but it doesn’t necessarily have to cost money. Just do something that will make you feel good.
      3. Find a counselor. Finding someone impartial and removed from my situation helped me work through my feelings of frustration / anxiety, etc.
      4. (This was a recommendation from my counselor) Get a short-term prescription for a sleeping aid. I only got a 1 month prescription for a more hardcore sleeping drug than I normally take, and wow, it’s made a huge difference. Just being able to sleep has helped SO much and really helped take the edge off.
      5. Is there anything you can do to improve your work environment? I found that moving spots, walking during lunch, or even adding a few cutesy décor items to my office helped me not hate the space I was working in.
      6. Action combats anxiety. Do something to move you towards a new job. Apply to more jobs, take a class that will help boost your resume, or volunteer.

      1. Fenchurch*

        +1 for taking a little time off. Nothing better than getting a mental break from a toxic environment.

        Really, great advice all around.

      2. RB*

        I second the taking days off thing. Make sure you are using all your vacation each year. They can’t stop you from using this if it’s in your benefits package. Take the days off when it’s best for you and don’t worry about leaving them in the lurch. They need to be prepared for when you leave and this will help them see all the stuff you’re doing that they don’t appreciate.
        I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    11. Lora*

      Oof. Been there. Internet hugs if you want them.

      Keep plugging away at the interviewing and brush up your LinkedIn if you haven’t already. All the usual stuff, networking etc etc.

      For me, personally, I told my primary care doc how miserable I was and she gave me SSRIs, which helped immensely. It definitely changes your give-a-rat’s-butt scale. And I took up hobbies that got me out of the house and around people who weren’t total jerks – I did the whole work-to-live thing, whereas normally I am very much defined by my job.

      Agree w/ what others have said regarding prioritizing and the work you’re given: if you’re going to be punished for being a good worker, it doesn’t make any difference if you’re a bad worker or a good worker, you get punished either way. If you turn in solid B work instead of your A game, that’s OK and it will relieve some of your stress.

      Also, find someone to vent to. Whether that’s a good friend, a group of similarly disgruntled colleagues, a relative, a therapist is up to you. But it definitely helps.

    12. BRR*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. My job was very similar until a few weeks ago when I got a new, competent manager. There are some great suggestions here already. Things I also tried were meditating with the head space app and basically making a pact with a non-toxic coworker to help each other stay sane.

    13. PunkRock PM*

      I’m in a similar situation with a toxic, hostile, workplace bullying, environment and there are no simple answers or quick fixes. The best you can do at this time is to mitigate the environment as best as you can until you exit. And yes, it IS exhausting.

      You are not alone.

      There ARE things that you can do if you aren’t doing them already:

      1. If you haven’t done so already, find yourself a good therapist and medical providers ASAP.
      2. DBT, combined with therapy and medication can help with the depression and anxiety.
      3. Look into FMLA ASAP. Yes, anxiety and depression are illnesses and getting out of the environment will help you gain a restful place to put things into perspective. These are also protected under ADA.
      4. Start creating your exit strategy – interviewing and looking for other jobs is perfect. Look at how you can buff up your emergency fund as well. If you have to stop paying on credit cards to buff this, so be it.
      5. Read as much as you can on Toxic workplaces, bullying, etc. A good place to start is:
      6. Practice self care, whatever that looks like to you. Reading, walking, long tub baths, yoga, etc.
      7. Makes sure you are getting your vitamins, up your vitamin D and B’s.
      8. Love the “Give no F****” book. Read “Knock ’em Dead” to help you with your job search. Make THAT your full-time job and I normally wouldn’t advocate using company time, but F*** them. Apply for ALL THE THINGS!
      9. Work on radical acceptance that you work for a bully. You are not going to change your environment. So what if your work suffers – lower your standards and just do what you can. You are on your way out and your boss is a bully. He will just find something else to bully you about.
      10. Being laid off is scary, but might be a blessing in disguise. Pad that emergency fund.

      You are NOT alone.

      1. Another Liz*

        Blessing in disguise-so much this. Currently fighting for unemployment benefits here, but even with the financial concerns I feel so much better being out of my toxic workplace. I’d rather take a seasonal job at the mall to make ends meet than go back there. The first week was emotionally exhausting, but I have a much clearer thought process now. Never getting that place out of my head was so much me, no matter how much I tried to focus on other things. I was taking extra medications to sleep at night, haven’t needed them once since being let go. And I feel like I will have a better interview presence now that I am not an anxious wreck. I hope you get out soon, hang in there.

    14. Anna*

      Make sure you’re doing some self-care. If that includes taking a day off here or there or possibly seeing a therapist to help you detox until you can get a new job, then do that. There’s a chance that being able to express your frustration and unhappiness to someone who won’t flip out on you will help you get through until you can move on. I think sometimes all the horrible stuff is so right in front of us, it’s hard to look at the big picture and figure out a way to get through it and get to something better.

    15. Zip Zap*

      What else could you do to earn income? Have you looked into gig economy stuff, remote work, making something that you could sell, and other stuff like that? Are you networking? Have you tried volunteering as a way to network and build up your resume? Could you take a few days off and really focus on stuff like that?

      I think you need to get out of there as soon as possible. Reach out to people and try to come up with a plan, even if it’s just a temporary way to pay the bills while job searching.

      Take care of yourself. You don’t deserve to be treated like that. You can do better. Good luck!

    16. NDQ*

      Four and a half years ago, I could have written your post. I was in a job that was a bad fit and I was miserable. I hated going to work and I lived for the weekends. But then I couldn’t enjoy the weekends because Monday came too quickly. I applied for jobs and interviewed, but nothing came of it and there was no way I could just quit without the next full-time job lined up. I was anxious, I couldn’t sleep without a prescription pill, and I felt trapped.

      It was the trapped feeling that motivated me to change how I was living. Knowing that I couldn’t quit because I didn’t have any money saved started the thought process. I read every book on personal finance at the library, listened to podcasts and read websites on financial independence – all the free resources. I read books on tax planning, learned the ins and outs of school loan repayments, and then starting creating my game plan for my future. All the reading I did made me think not just about how I wanted to work, but how I wanted to live and what I wanted retirement to look like. I also looked at my family members for inspiration, especially the happily retired ones!

      My plan was to save up and buy a three or four unit rental property. I was living paycheck to paycheck, so I had to figure out how to save as much as I could every day. Again, I read books, read websites and listened to podcasts. There is a ton of information out there, and little by little, I set aside money. Not much at first, but every cent counted. Last year, I bought the first property, a four-plex. I live in one unit, rent out the others. I am nearly ready to buy property number two. I figure after I have three or four multi-family properties, I can retire from full-time employment. I did eventually get out of the bad job and into a great job, but taking control of my financial future gave me a much better outlook on life, increased my confidence and it’s a lot easier to not give a f*** when you have the financial security to fall back on.

      The upside is, if I were to lose my job now, I wouldn’t panic. I no longer feel trapped. I know I have lots of options and I know that I can manage money well, invest it well and creatively solve money problems. My advice for you is to dig into your own financial situation, learn what you can, get out of debt and start planning your future. You may want to consider taking on a part time job in the evenings or weekends to help knock out the loans faster.

      I wish you all the best!

  5. Fishasaurus*

    I need a better term than “data nerd” to describe my love of collecting, organizing, classifying, and playing around with data. I work in STEM, specifically natural resources management. I do support work, mainly in a lab setting, kind of mid-level stuff, I’m not a PI or postdoc or anything. I usually support those kinds of roles. Experimental design is not my forte, but once I am given the framework in which the data must be collected I am in my element. I am in no way, shape, or form, a “data scientist”, so I do not want to use that term. I just got back from a conference, which is what made me realize I needed more professional language to describe this particular interest/skill. I’ve had a lot of professional success being a data nerd on the past, since it has helped me get grant funding and then facilitate the creation of certain deliverables to meet the stipulations of the grant.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Is analyst anywhere near appropriate? Your field is so far from mine that I’m literally guessing based on what works for my field.

    2. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      I would agree with the other poster, data analyst is probably what you are looking for. Data analysts collect, process and perform statistical analyses of data. Their skills may not be as advanced as data scientists (e.g. they may not be able to create new algorithms), but their goals are the same – to discover how data can be used to answer questions and solve problems.

    3. Christy*

      This sounds like you love taxonomy! I would look towards library science for terms to use–it seems very related to that field (in which I have a graduate degree).

      1. fposte*

        Yes, it sounds a little like information management to me, but I don’t have the term in my bones enough to know if it would fit with the common use.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          I’ve seen these kinds of roles called data stewards. I always likened them to the curation of a librarian, but with data sets rather than books.

          If the role is focused on the collection and management of the data then data steward might be right. If it’s about the analysis of the data after it has been collected, then data analyst (or data scientist, if advanced techniques are used) might be better.

      2. Fishasaurus*

        Ha! Actually I HATE taxonomy. I am in biological sciences though, although I do a lot of chemistry as well. I work with a lot of spatial and temporal data, as well as presence/absence, but I’ve also done things like tracking student learning outcomes and some work on demographics.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      It makes me cringe a little, but the term Data Jedi has become popular, and I’ve also heard Data Guru, but neither are professional sounding. I’d just go by Data Analyst because that encompass a wide range of skills. I’ve known data analysts that do nothing more than download pre-scripted reports and dump the results into spreadsheets.

          1. Purple snowdrop*

            Massaging data, IME, is where you make it say what you want it to say, not what it actually says. *shudder*

    5. Fishasaurus*

      Yeah, I guess analyst is sort of appropriate. I once worked as a fisheries data analyst in a minor capacity. I feel a little weird describing being a data analyst as a professional strength/interest though. I was at the conference to suss out future job opportunities and I ended up randomly talking with someone from the private sector and was trying to convey the data stuff. I actually clicked quite well with that person and their company sounded unexpectedly interesting (I normally work in public sector or academia).

      1. Jiggs*

        You can make it a verb to avoid any weird title issues. Like “I love analyzing data, here is a recent example of a project I really liked!” and do it similarly on your resume as “analyzed (X amount) data in Y project to support research and recommendations”.

    6. LadyMountaineer*

      Data Analyst is most appropriate. If you have a ton of SQL skills and can design schemas (and can rattle off what types of tables work best for transactional data and analysis and why) then Data Architect is a good title.

      Data Scientist should be reserved for someone who writes and implements machine learning algorithms on a large scale. Data Engineers are the folks that design data pipelines and format data appropriately to be ran through those algorithms.

      I live for data (and coding) and I hope this helps.

      1. Fishasaurus*

        I do zero SQL stuff. I am on the bottom of the data analyst food web and more like the zooplankton of Excel & Access in the hierarchy. I agree that all the silly, non-professional titles need to go away, the above is merely for illustrative purposes.

        1. LadyMountaineer*

          Hahaha I actually wasn’t thinking about them (other than the misuse of Data Scientist) but yeah–“evangelical/evangelist” makes my skin crawl (among other silly tech titles.)

    7. LBK*

      Speaking as a data analyst-turned-business intelligence analyst, I’d agree with others who say this sounds like a data analyst.

    8. Not a data analyst*

      I’m a “Data Coordinator” and I think it encompasses all these things. “Analyst” and “scientist” feel a bit lofty for my current career level.

    9. Brett*

      Data engineer is the phrase I have seen. It implies a pretty strong knowledge of programming, but more directly sector specific knowledge on data handling including ETL, metadata, and basic analytic tasks.
      Data engineers are the people who wrangle data for data scientists.

    10. Marine Biologist*

      My department has both a Data Analyst and a Data Technician. The technician does more entry-level stuff while the analyst position is fairly senior.

  6. Kelly*

    My thesis is due next week, and that’s the last component of my Master’s degree. People keep saying ‘you’re on the home stretch now’, but what they don’t take into account is that this final part is practically Everest, and there’s still SO much to do! I’d rather I had another month or so before this ‘home stretch’!

    On top of being incredibly stressed, I also have this overwhelming feeling of…sadness, I guess, or maybe a strange form of nostalgia. I moved to the other side of the world to do this degree, so it’s been a somewhat surreal way of living, a complete departure of what it was before (I’d been working full-time for over five years before this, so that was my ‘norm’). I’m not going to pretend it was all fun and games (far from it!) and some parts (many parts) have been really hard…yet I’m not quite ready to let it go.

    When I started this degree last September, a year seemed like such a long time. I mean, in the back of mind I knew time would go by quickly, but I’ve been so busy that I hadn’t taken notice of just /how/ quickly it has! It was always just getting through the next assessment, and the next, and the next…and now it’s like all of a sudden I’m /here/.

    I don’t know how to describe how I feel really. It’s not that I want to continue doing this – I certainly don’t want to do full-time study for another year! It’s more like…I wish I could go back and do it all over again. It might sound weird but even though I knew for a /fact/ that there were times I was absolutely miserable and stressed (and will be next week!), there’s that funny ‘filter’ thing that the memory does that seem to hold on to the good things so much tighter.

    I’m also doing an internship that finishes shortly after my thesis is due, and TBH I didn’t exactly enjoy the experience here. I don’t think it’s the company itself in particular but more the type of work. I’ve learnt a lot here but I don’t think this is what I want to do in the long term. There are other types of jobs that require the same degree and skill set but I can’t help but feel like the three months I’ve spent here has been in the ‘wrong’ place, if that makes sense. Much like the 5 years of work experience I had before, which also used similar skills but in the ‘wrong’ field. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever find something that feels ‘right’.

    And on top of all that…I have to make the decision of whether I’ll stay in this city or return to my home country. Of course a big part of that depends on whether I can find a job here (there are Visa requirements), but…how much am I willing to compromise to stay? At this point it’s not really about the money, it’s about finding the right type of work, so that’s the point of compromise.

    It’s all wreaking havoc on my moods, and I randomly have the urge to cry at inconvenient moments. I just hope that once I get the thesis part completed that’ll lift /some/ of the stress and offer me clarity on top of the nostalgia (can I even call it that? It’s only a year and it’s not even over!) and whatever else it is that’s making me into such an emotional mess.

    1. Lab Nerd*

      I just finished my masters and graduated the first week of August. I felt rather sad and weird from right after my defense until recently. A few other people have told me this is pretty normal but not widely talked about. I’ve been weaning myself out of student mode by helping a friend edit her thesis, then a new random project fell into my lap, plus my regular job is now re-entering a busy season. I find having other things to focus on is distracting from the weird feelings plus makes me feel more happy about finally being done. You are not alone!

      1. Kelly*

        It’s interesting you mention your ‘regular job’. This is actually my second Masters and I did the last one because my job at the time offered to pay for it, so I was studying part-time while working full-time, and when I finished it, I felt…nothing really. It was more like a side project I did as a hobby (not that it didn’t get stressful at times).

        This time round though…it was full time and a much more demanding degree, plus the fact it was so far from home, so the people I was around at uni was a much bigger part of my world. It just feels so much more jarring.

    2. Emmie*

      Big hugs. It’s normal to feel nostalgic, and want a do-over when a degree is done. It’s an ending, and a new beginning. I had the same feelings when I finished my last degree. That last month is overwhelming – not only from workload, but decision making. I have no advice that will magically make you feel excited right away. If you find the sadness is a lot, I recommend working with a counselor. That actually helps some people tremendously.

      1. Kelly*

        Probably not at a point I’ll need a counsellor. Hopefully once the deadlines are met I’ll have the chance to catch up with some people. That’s the other thing about the heavy workload, I feel rather isolated and yet have no time to organise anything.

        1. Emmie*

          I am sorry, Kelly. That’s the worst feeling ever. When I was completing my terminal degree, I felt SUPER overwhelmed when I was in the thick of finals studying. That part of it got better. I’m sending virtual hugs your way.

    3. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      It sounds like you’re overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and all the changes that will soon impact your life. First I would recommend reminding yourself it is okay to feel a little frazzled with all the things going on at once. Second, I would try to find a way to chunk things together and get a plan of action together for each thing you need to tackle. Timelines, pro/cons, even just a checklist can be incredibly helpful at de-stressing because it shows the steps needed and the things already completed.

      Right now everything looks like a “BIG DEAL” because you’re having trouble separating the several forests from the trees. Forests being the big topics and the trees being the individual actions to complete. Just take it one step at a time.

      For a lot of folks, their job or situation doesn’t feel “right” and three months isn’t the longest time to be able to judge soundly if it’s the job or the environment or something else (like all the additional external stressors) that is making you feel that way. When I was going to school and in training, I told my friends that I bet I was going to hate my career and here I am 14 years later still doing it. Yeah some things are the best, but I find the things I do like and time has allowed me to have more experience to stay in the field but look for the right office or company or tasks. Try to find tasks you do enjoy at your job and take pleasure in them until your extra stresses are more manageable. Since staying where you are appears to be one concern right now, after you get other things in order, your work situation might just solve itself.

      It’s hard to get an accurate picture of your world when there’s a lot of stressors putting pressure on the situation. When you complete your thesis, things might look smaller rather than the big issues they appear to be now.

      1. Kelly*

        Yes, definitely feeling overwhelmed by things all happening at once. I know some day down the track I’ll look back on how I feel right now and laugh about it, but right now it’s hard to get beyond the anxiety.

        Making plans would be a big help (especially if spreadsheets are involved…I find them very soothing, I don’t know what that says about me), and I’ll be doing that once the thesis is over (after I a 24-hour nap), so I have a plan to make plans…heh. I’m grateful this forum is here for me to just…talk.

    4. medium of ballpoint*

      I understand feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. For the immediate work in front of you, perhaps a Pomodoro timer would help? When I was working on my dissertation, I had bad days when I’d set it up to work for five minutes and then take a break for five or ten minutes, but it helped to know that I was still making forward progress rather than giving up and getting nothing done for the entire hour. My page count added up a little slowly, but it added up until I had the momentum to work for longer periods.

      And usually by the time you reach this point in a program, your faculty wouldn’t let you continue if they didn’t have every confidence you would be successful. They’re invested in your success both for you and for them, and maybe that can be a little bit of support or encouragement for you.

      As for work, it might help to look at the value you gain even from experiences of poor fit. Each experience helps you figure out what you’re not looking for and what doesn’t work for you, and hopefully that helps you narrow down precisely the kind of work you want to be doing. Best of luck, and I’ll send good vibes in your direction!

      1. Kelly*

        Thanks for the good vibes. For me the trouble is always getting started – like I’d sit down to write a section and then get so anxious about it not being any good that I’d go do something else (non productive) instead…and obviously it’s not going to be good if I don’t do it at all!

        Yeah, even when I started I was pretty sure this line of work wasn’t really my thing, but figured three months isn’t that long so that wasn’t that big a deal. They’ve kept interns on in some past years but I wouldn’t expect that to happen to me since it’s a small company and probably won’t want to deal with Visa issues. And TBH I’m kind of hoping they won’t offer, because I just know I’ll accept it because of all my insecurities and wanting to be ‘settled’, and I already know this isn’t where I want to be.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      While I have not been in a similar setting with finishing up a master’s, I have had some stuff that really brought the emotions to the foreground.

      I don’t know if you listened to Seals and Crofts, “We may never pass this way again”. You can google the lyrics.

      But you are right, not too much in life will be the same as your experience here with schooling. And this happens in life where we are painfully aware that some unique thing is happening/ending never to be seen again. I think we are supposed to have this heightened awareness, to help us gear up for the next chapter of our lives. Of course, other things will come along that will also be meaningful to you.

      Feel the feelings.
      Treasure the now.
      Arrange to keep in contact with the folks most meaningful to you.

      And it might help you to think about your days of leaving the old place and coming to this place. Think about how you felt about that transition. Maybe do a little compare and contrast between your last transition and your upcoming shift in life.

      1. Kelly*

        Thinking back on that…leaving my last job (and old life) to do this degree was something that had been two or three years in the making, and once my decision was made it was actually quite easy to let go, because that was my choice. This time round I think things just happened too quickly…okay I know that sounds ridiculous since I’d always known upfront when the end date for the course is, but…I feel like I’ve only /just/ gotten accustomed to this city and this way of life, and it just feels like a cliff-edge at certain times.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. You had some say in moving here but it is finite and someone else (or the system) decides when it ends for you. You have no say on ending.

    6. Aero Engineer*

      I just graduated with my masters two weeks ago, and the urge to cry at random (mostly inconvenient) times was how my last month or two was. A lot it seems was stress, and being crushed under all the things which need to be completed. Focus on pushing through a finishing your thesis, things hopefully will look much better after that is done (it did for me at least). I found that I was so used to the stress and everything the thesis was putting me under that I had gotten accustomed to the stress and didn’t notice I was reaching somewhat of a breaking point.

      Take a breath, start tackling that seemingly large mountain step by step.

      Also, I have found that internships have mostly made me see the places I don’t really want to work (or at least the fields), though it doesn’t mean that they are any less valuable at all. It is important to know what you don’t want to do as well as what you would like to do as it will help shape your viewpoint.

      1. Kelly*

        Thank you, it’s good to know I’m not the only one who gets weepy over something like this. Most people I talk to seem to be more of the ‘can’t wait ’til it’s over!’ line of thinking, and TBH I was a bit like that back in June and trying to find the motivation to write my thesis. But now that the finish line is in sight I’m suddenly a mess.

        I suspect it’s more the thought of what’s going to come after – namely, having to go through the whole job-searching process again – that’s stressing me out, the thesis is really just a compounding factor. Guess I’ll know this time next week.

      2. Julia*

        Heck, when I first enrolled in a master’s programme some years ago, I ended up sobbing uncontrollably several times a day at the end of the first semester, to the point that I was scared of being alone because I kind of wanted to die to escape that pain. Unfortunately, I was also halfway across the world from my family and most of my friends were busy or I didn’t feel like I could bother them with my feelings, so I ended up relying mostly on my new (and first) boyfriend at the time, which made a lot of things even worse, and I ended up quitting and moved back home. (We are now happily married and circumstances took us back to the location the university was in and I re-enrolled to finish my remaining three semesters, but I would never have done that if these circumstances didn’t exist and I would have had to move back out alone.)

        Studying can be really isolating even for those who enjoy solitude, and it can bring up a lot of fears and anxieties that well-adjusted people never anticipate, so please be gentle to yourself. You’re almost there! And even if you end up randomly crying for a week until you finish, you can totally do it.

  7. lionelrichiesclayhead*

    I’m having issues with “Carla” who was my manager but has moved to a new internal position as the business owner on the project I am managing. Since Carla moved to her new position she is being weird. I’ve given her some time because maybe its new job jitters but things only seem to be getting worse. Examples: Asking “what is wrong with you” repeatedly even when I state nothing is wrong. Asking to review my meeting notes so she can correct them, which is generally very weird and not normal in my position. Asking why I’m having meetings and, if she deems that the meetings are appropriate, why she isn’t involved in them even if the meetings do not pertain to her (that’s hard though because as business owner I guess she can attend whatever she wants). She’s generally like this to everyone but it’s been worse in the past few weeks and seems overly directed at me. Yesterday Carla told me I was being mean to her. She also makes a big deal when I don’t “react” to her witty comments, usually because I’m in the middle of managing the meeting and can’t pay attention to her 100% in a room of 15 other people. She’s also IMing me even when I’m listed as “in a meeting” and continues to do so if I don’t answer, and then starts sending me emails when that doesn’t work (nothing we do is very time sensitive btw). I don’t personally feel that I am acting any differently and a few trusted colleagues have said that they haven’t noticed a change in my behavior other than just being busier. Basically Carla has turned into a micro managing, overly critical (of my work and apparently my personality) tornado of terror and I don’t know how to deal with it. The answer is probably to ask her directly but she’s not the type of person who takes that well either. I honestly feel like she thinks I’m not paying enough attention to her and it’s incredibly frustrating because the project is getting extremely busy as we get closer to deployment. Anyone have any advice on dealing with a needy business partner? Just writing this out I can see how I could respond to some of the individual items but just not sure how to handle the problem overall. My SR manager knows about the issue with Carla and has experienced this with her as well so I do have her support and help if needed; however, I feel like it would make things even worse if my Sr. Manager had a talk with Carla about all of this.

    1. JulieBulie*

      All I can offer is sympathy, because my instinctive reaction would be unprofessional. (Like responding to “what is wrong with you” with “perhaps something is the matter with YOU.” Or, “Why don’t you tell me what my problem is, since you seem to have an opinion?” Don’t say these things.)

      If she treats other people this way too, I’m surprised no one else has reacted yet.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        She’s very knowledgeable so I think she gets away with personality issues because she’s very helpful. I mean she’s very helpful to me! But it’s turned into her getting overly involved in everything I do even when I haven’t asked for help. I do think that some of these could be met with comments like the ones you suggested but worded in a different way more appropriate for work. Like asking what it is that I’m doing that is giving her the impression that something is wrong, in a genuinely curious way.

        1. fposte*

          I’m surprised Senior Manager isn’t more concerned about the middle-school behavior stuff. It sounds like Carla is flailing in the new position and is clinging to you, in her own dysfunctional way, like you’re a life preserver.

          If you don’t want to address it directly, the goal is to disengage and not spend your time on this foolishness. Never follow her down the middle-school rabbit hole. The answer to “What’s wrong with you?” is “I’m feeling great today! Hope you are too!” In both cases you turn immediately back to work–this is not the opening of a conversation about her feelings. Block or ignore her IMs, and answer her emails in a structured fashion; feel free to tell her that you’re limiting project emails to after 4, or whatever. A calm “It’s fine with my boss” is also a useful go-to refrain to remind her that she’s not the one judging your performance these days.

    2. esra*

      This is tough. Personally I’ve dealt with difficult coworkers in the past by calling out instances, because as you’ve said, they frequently don’t take a larger conversation well.

      So things like, “Nothing’s wrong, thanks!” and then for repetition, “It’s a bit odd you keep asking.” or “I’m fine and would appreciate you dropping it, thanks!” And “No, thank you.” to requests like reviewing your meeting notes.

      Basically my solution is bland-but-polite dismissals. You think I’m being mean? I’m sorry you feel that way. You imed me 80 times and sent ten emails about the same minor thing while I was in a meeting? I was in a meeting, what do you need? I didn’t react to your stunning bot mot in the middle of a group chat? Oh, we’re trying to keep things focused on the project, thanks. All accompanied by a WorkSmile™.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        Dying at WorkSmile™. And thank you for the helpful advice! Those are great actions I can start to use immediately.

        1. esra*

          The WorkSmile™ has saved me many times, I have no poker face.

          Basically the key is to not get on the defensive. People like this thrive by throwing others off their balance. If you need to slow things down + take a moment to respond, that’s okay and better than scrambling + sinking to her level.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        I read a book in which the protagonist described her PIG smile for situations like this, but it’s now killing me that I can’t quite remember what it stands for. It is “polite, interested, . . .”

    3. Well OK Then*

      “My SR manager knows about the issue with Carla and has experienced this with her as well so I do have her support and help if needed; however, I feel like it would make things even worse”
      Well, that’s awful. Because, no, you really don’t have her support, you have an ear and a shoulder. SR Manager knows Carla is mismanaging you, but her help will make the situation worse. So while you have a sympathetic ear, you have no tangible relief.
      I wish I could offer you some.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        I think that’s fair. When I last talked to my Sr. Manager it was in a “i’m having this problem and I need you to know but I’m hoping I can handle it myself” type of way. I have a 1 on 1 with her today and I’ll definitely be letting her know that the situation is getting worse. She’s very aware of Carla’s issues and has even had to deal with them herself so I think she will be able to offer some help once she knows I need her to step in. Hopefully she has some specific action items so we can address it and put some boundries up with Carla.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Tag team her. I have used this technique when I feel I cannot let the boss step in for me. Basically what you do is synchronize your message. The you and the boss [or other cohort] decide how you will respond to a given question or scenario and you both give her the SAME response but you each give that same response independently.

        Doing an example here:
        She messages you during a meeting. You ignore it.
        She messages your boss during a meeting. Boss ignores it.
        She complains to you that you did not answer. You say, “I was in a meeting. I can’t answer messages in a meeting.” Period.
        She complains to the boss that you or the boss did not answer her. “I [or OP] was in a meeting. We can’t answer messages in a meeting.”

        Deliver the exact same statement each time Say it in a flat, matter of fact voice. Refuse to expand on the statement. This forms a figurative brick wall around the topic. She eventually learns that when you are in a meeting you cannot answer her.

        You say you are doing a project for her company. Unless I am misunderstanding this makes her your customer or client. I am guessing but you probably have rules/boundaries for your customers. Those rules and boundaries should apply to her also.

        If she is doing this to everyone, I think that it’s totally appropriate that the boss step in and tell her where the limits are FOR EVERYONE. For the amount of attention she is demanding I hope you are billing by the hour. (lol) Perhaps if you are billing by the hour you can remind her of this. If it’s a contractual agreement, perhaps you can up the price at renewal time because she is so labor-intensive.

        1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

          You have some great advice here. To clarify, we still work for the same company but i’m working on a project that will deliver a solution to her group so that is why she could definitely be categorized as my client or my customer in many ways. This definitely does bring up some boundary issues because clearly I want to have a good working relationship with her and will do anything, within reason, to deliver her a great product and give good customer service. But that being said yes, clients can often have unreasonable expectations from their business partners and I think we have that issue here, muddied by the fact that she managed me up until 3 weeks ago.

    4. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I wish I had better advice. I think I’ve worked with Carla based on your description or someone like her. The best I could do was compartmentalize my personal feelings about the micromanagement to stay sane and find a mentor to help me navigate. I began to ask my Carla if there was something I was missing when she snapped at me.

      You say that your team is supportive and haven’t noticed a behavior change – this is good. My Carla developed a reputation that managed her out within a year; I hope for something similar to relieve you from the pressure.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        Thanks so much! The good news is that she isn’t my manager anymore so while she may be involved in my projects, at least I don’t report to her directly! I’m definitely going to start to push back on Carla when she makes comments. I’m so bad about doing that in the moment so I’ve failed at that so far but I’m going to focus on turning the question back around to her instead of getting defensive or trying to find the “right” answer.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I was really bad at pushing back also. I used my commute time to autopsy what was said and how I could better respond to it. You won’t need to plan your responses forever, you just need to train your brain to remember what you planned to say when she says X or Y. It gets easier after you have planned a few responses to recurring questions or scenarios.

  8. EA*

    OMG GUYS!!!

    I got a new job :)

    As I said in previous threads, it seemed likely I would be laid off. My boss is getting a promotion and an admin already is in that role. I was told by him I would support the next person (but got very defensive when I asked about my job security). My other boss said that they would have to wait and see what happens to me, and HR said my role would likely be eliminated.

    I started interviewing and got the first job I interviewed for. Plus, it isn’t an executive assistant position (which was my goal), so I finally feel like I am on the right track.

    Thanks everyone for the help and dealing with me over the years :)

    1. JanetM*

      Congratulations! If you don’t already, you might want to check out Joan Burge and Office Dynamics; she’s very focused on the EA level (although much of her material is good for all levels of admin professionals).

    2. Well OK Then*

      “Plus, it isn’t an executive assistant position (which was my goal), so I finally feel like I am on the right track.”
      I’m sorry, it is or it isn’t. I want to be properly psyched if you did get the job you want. That’s a great feeling. Good luck!

            1. EA*

              Yes. That is what I meant.

              The new job is not an administrative position. I can be dis proportionally difficult to move into another line of work after being an admin.

              1. KMB213*

                Do you feel comfortable sharing what line of work you’re moving into? I feel very stuck as an admin and am having a lot of difficult breaking into another line of work.

                1. EA*

                  I am moving into Research Administration at a university. My job will be doing applications and budgets for NIH grants. You basically wrangle the PI’s to submit everything, and help keep track of the money. It is more project management/finance than an admin position usually is.

                  I had done some of this as an EA. I helped submit my bosses CV to grants (he did some research), and I had contact with his research administrator, and did some budget tracking in an office manager kind of way. I just talked about what I have done, and my interests in the interview. I also had his research administrator help me and sort of tell me how to phrase things and what to concentrate on. It helps that orgs generally struggle to fill these types of roles. They require an introverted attention to detail, as well as, the ability to deal with difficult personalities. I felt that wouldn’t be a problem for me. Being an EA was way too extroverted for me, and I am already doing the difficult personalities stuff.

                  I think if you want to break free of being an admin, you have to think of what extra work you can be doing, or find a role that will give you extra work. It is hard to screen for this. In my situation the amount of projects and growth opportunities was GREATLY exaggerated in my interview. One you get extra work, when you interview you talk about how you expanded your role to XYZ and loved it and want to move into that. It also helps if you pick something to move into that isn’t over saturated or needs a high level of credentials.

                2. KMB213*

                  Thanks for the advice! I am actually the only non-attorney working at my small law firm, so I have definitely had the opportunity to get in to a lot of different kinds of work. I’ve recently worked on my resume with a friend who works in HR and two friends who are heavily involved in hiring for the types of roles I’m applying for, so hopefully the revamped resume will help me out!

                3. TheOriginalMags*

                  I went from an admin to project coordinator to project manager! A lot of the skill set was very transferable as far as connecting multiple departments, responsible for obtaining information and deliverables from people whom you don’t manage, budgeting, reporting and scheduling. Good luck!

  9. Nervous Accountant*

    Thanks everyone for the moral support last week. As with any crappy thing that happens, I reflected, swallowed it, but this time I made the decision to not be such a doormat anymore.

    Big Q on my mind this week–how do I spot the red flags fro a bad boss?

    Two major examples:

    1. A few years back, before this place, I was working at a very small CPA firm (owner, 2 employees, and various PT staff iuncluding me). I posted about it here back then, so I won’t repost all the details but here are the links.

    In a nutshell my boss at that place was a psycho. Would call us idiots, retarded, dumb. Took his anger out on us, smashed property for the hell of it, went ballistic over a staple, constantly insulted my bkgd, and wouldn’t pay.

    I didn’t spot any red flags at the interview or during the process.

    2. This job. My current boss (not my manager, who I’m closer to, but our boss who we both report to)–very soft spoken and “nice”. But she would get very nasty over emails (which I posted here in Aug LY). Over the last few weeks I’ve heard about lots of awful things she’s said to ppl, including to my mgr (who’s looking primarily bc of her). When I first got hired, she said my previous manager gave me such a bad reference that she can’t justify hiring me FT but she’s taking a huge chance on me (prev mngr insisted he did not give such a reference).

    I didn’t realize it at the time, but this pretty much set the tone that I’ll forever be at the bottom bc I m “ever so grateful” to even have a job. I hate myself for crying and accepting the write up over something that wasn’t entirely my fault, I regret grovelling so much in emails etc. I hate that my male coworkers could be straightforward and blunt w clients, but I was endlessly coached to be soft and sugary and fluffy bc I wasn’t “warm or friendly enough”. I hate that I’ll be doing well but 1 client review and BAM, it’s like I’ve always been a bad employee. and I hate that I set the standard that I can be crapped on by coworkers and managers etc.

    I think I’m in a better position now than I was with this job 3 years ago bc I HAVE the knowledge, experience, and desire to do better. good salary and good benefits are super imp to me, and aside from the crappy structure and few odd ppl here and there, I genuinely like most of my coworkers here.

    Most of all, I don’t want to find myself with either of these two bad bosses. I never saw red flags w the first and it took me 3 yrs to realize that my current boss isn’t so great.

    For the longest time, boss 1 was the standard so to speak, so it was like “well she sent me a really nasty email, but she doesn’t do what my last boss does, so she’s a good boss!”

    So how do I begin to even spot red flags? Despite the bad stuff I’ve written about here I’m patient and can see myself at least until one more tax season if nothing works out at the right time but I want to make sure the next place I go to is a good fit.

    1. NaoNao*

      I’ve had a few very unpleasant bosses, who seemed “okay” at first and looking back very carefully, here’s what the flags were:

      A feeling of “disturbed energy” around them. They were in high-energy, high-emotional moods a *lot*. So being around them, one felt this odd tension even if they weren’t saying or doing anything directly. It felt like “goosebumps”. They were slightly scattered, they talked fast, they had an intensity to them. They jumped from topic to topic. They were high-key excited about you, and made an offer or a next stage interview request right then and there. They seemed impulsive.

      I really, really needed a job. This is key. I was willing to overlook red flags or minimize them because I *really* needed work.

      They did small things that made me feel they didn’t really care about details. For example, not asking me questions, not remembering my key details, etc.

      They asked odd or personal questions. I had a nightmare boss for an internal job promotion ask me “Where’s [then-current supervisor, who she was friendly with]? I thought she was coming too!” Why my current boss would come with me to an internal interview was unclear, but this is a sign that someone’s thoughts are…on a different path, shall we say. (At the time I chalked it up to cultural differences, as I was overseas and they were a local.)

      They act like industry standards, including the law, are a pain, not important, or don’t apply to them. A website created for a single man (by him) that’s making the rounds on the internet has a bunch of annoying and problematic stuff in it, but to me, one of the major clues this guy is a jerk is how he complains about the FDA (he’s selling “nutritional supplements”) and how if ONLY they would get off his back he could REALLY make money!! Even if the person is delightful, friendly, and funny, acting like they’re above the law *in any way* is a flag.

      They have a small business that answers to no one. A boutique, a private residence (I was a nanny for a boss who was not terrible, but hired someone to replace me and just stopped scheduling me, among many other annoyances), a very small business of 1-2 employees. Power corrupts. Absolute power makes you think you can look at the eclipse without glasses ;)

      1. YuliaC*

        Oh this is so true for all of my former nightmare bosses! All of your points stand correct, the unusual energy, the weird questions, the surprising lack of attention to some details, the disregard for standards, everything. And the general vibe of a Roman Emperor about them… But I am only good at seeing all that in hindsight. At the time of interviews, my senses were numbed by a need for a job.

    2. KellyK*

      I think it’s really hard, because a lot of jerks know when to turn it on and off. They’re not going to be nasty to an interviewee, because they want you to work there. (If they are rude when you interview, run, because that’s their *best* behavior and it only gets worse once you work for them.) You might still catch some red flags (or at least yellow ones), like being really cavalier about your time (e.g., cancelling at the last minute, or scheduling a ton of interviews with no flexibility on time), but it’s hard to tell if that’s dysfunction or just that they have plenty of people to interview.

      I think the best way is probably to see if you can talk to people who work in the department—whether that’s officially through an interview or through finding out that you’re vaguely connected to them on LinkedIn and shooting them a friendly message.

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      As for red flags during the interview, it’s hard to say because most people are going to be on their best behavior at that time. I’d do all the online research you can (Linked In, Glassdoor, heck Facebook, if you can do it anonymously so you don’t pop up in their “people you may know” listing). I’d also see if you can get a read on the demeanor of the other employees if you have to walk through the bullpen on the way to the interview area. This may not be possible, but I’ve found that if no one is chatting at all and everyone looks like they’re miserable, it’s probably not the greatest place to work.

      And honestly, my best advice to you is, GO BIG! As in the size of the employer. Large employers certainly have their cons, but I believe the pros far outweigh the cons. Everything from pay, to benefits, to the ability to move between departments so you don’t end up with a hateful tyrant, to a decent HR department that will actually deal with hateful tyrants (most of the time anyway). I should say that by large, I don’t mean Big 4 public accounting. If I were you, I’d look to move into corporate accounting for as large a company as you can. Based on your previous posts, I believe you have at least 4 years of public accounting experience, which is desired by many corporate accounting departments and will certainly help you. Best of luck in your search! Time to put this boss behind you

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I second that! The larger the company the more, well, professional things tend to be.
        It’s s these small mom&pop shops and single owner-manager or startups that tend to have the whack-a-doodles in charge.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      I keep an eye out for small business owners who are jazzed about identifying as entrepreneurs/visionaries. They don’t know the ins and outs of running a functioning business. They keep it going as extensions of their egos.

    5. Jessi*

      well I think now that you are more willing to stand up for yourself this will set you in better standing to never have the problems that being a pushover comes with.
      You could ask in interviews what the office environment is ( I would be looking for professional but friendly)? You could ask potential co-workers how long they have been there and how they are enjoying it, maybe followed up by what is their favourite part of the office/ whats the best thing about working here? You could look on glass door?

      I know you haven’t asked for this but I would get a friend to pose as a new boss and do a ‘reference call’ to old manager and see if your current managers claim is true. No point handing out his contact info if he is saying terrible things about you!

  10. Sam Vega*

    Yesterday’s question about how many hours exempt staff work was timely since my position is about to be reclassified as exempt. It doesn’t really meet the requirements for that, but unfortunately, this is one of those things that many employers willfully violate without consequence.

    My supervisor works an absurd number of hours. (Frankly, so do most of the people who responded to yesterday’s question.) She has said that she doesn’t expect me to work as much as she does, but won’t be specific as to what her expectations are. I’ve never been exempt before and find it absolutely astounding that anyone would willingly accept such a thing. All of the mental contortion I’ve seen people go through to convince themselves they’re ok with it simply doesn’t make sense. I already have all of the benefits that are often mentioned (things like flexibility in scheduling and the trust that I’ll do my job without being watched like a wayward schoolkid) and believe that people should be compensated fairly for their time.

    I’m not getting a pay increase and even if I were, there’s simply no (realistic) amount of money that I would accept for the massive decrease in my quality of life.

    All of that is bad enough, but it has become apparent to me that the two main reasons my supervisor works so much is that her work processes are grossly inefficient and there’s an unnecessary amount of bureaucratic process in getting anything done that involves people who don’t actually know much about the areas they’re overseeing. (You’ll just have to trust that I know what I’m talking about here and that it’s not a case of me not having enough information. These people really have no clue.)

    I’ve started planning for my exit, but that could be several months off and if my plans fall through, it could be indefinite. In the meantime, I’d appreciate any suggestions for setting reasonable boundaries on my working hours. I’m simply unwilling to work many additional hours for the same pay because other people don’t know what they’re doing, but recognize that I need to preserve the employment relationship as best as possible.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      As to why someone would accept being exempt — I have been exempt for most of my career, and I recognize that although that sometimes means working weekends and nearly around the clock (oh hai advertising!), it also means that my employer won’t furlough me without pay when we’re slow.

      Anyway, in your shoes I’d decide how many hours I wanted to put in — and if you’re not getting any kind of raise to compensate for losing overtime, I’d say that number is 40 — and if your boss starts to assign you more work than you can get done in that amount of time, start saying, “If I do X, I need to put Y on the back burner.” Basically, force her to prioritize so that going exempt isn’t a penalty.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        Someone needs to remind me of what Alison’s response is when the boss responds to the question “What’s your priority order for these tasks?” with “Everything.” B/c I think it would be very helpful to you to have that memorized before you ask the question.

        1. esra*

          I’m not sure of Alison’s specific response, but mine in the past has been: “If everything is a priority, then nothing is.”

          I am very blunt.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Regarding the benefits that you have – you’re looking for a job, would you still have them at a new job that was non-exempt? Where I work, non-exempt workers definitely do not have the flexibility that the exempt do in terms of being allowed to come early or late, for instance.

    3. WG*

      I think the most important thing is to set boundaries and expectations early. It sounds like your job isn’t changing, just your classification from non-exempt to exempt. So theoretically you would put in the same number of hours each week that you’re doing now. If you’re working 40 hours and your supervisor has been satisfied with your work quality and output, that shouldn’t need to change.

      The first time I changed from non-exempt to exempt, due to a promotion, I felt the need to work long hours to learn the new job and prove myself (the supervisor took a chance on me as I wasn’t quite qualified for the job) . It spiraled into the expectation that I would continually work an asinine number of hours while more and more work was heaped on me.

      1. Ashley*

        This definitely happens. Evening commitments can also be helpful where you can stay a little late but you have to be somewhere by 6 say. Also wherever possible see if you can make the process more efficient.

    4. KellyK*

      If she can’t give you clear expectations on hours, she really needs to give you clear expectations on workflow. Does she need you to design 50 teapots a day? Handle all orders within 3 business days? Have all chocolate reimbursement forms processed by the end of each day? There’s got to be *something.* If your supervisor isn’t a really good supervisor, then she might not know what that something is, but there’s some amount of things accomplished that can reasonably define “a good day’s work” for your position.

      Since employers make people exempt in part so they don’t *have* a maximum number of hours and can deal with crunches without paying overtime, she might not want to commit to a limit. But maybe you can work with her to define it functionally. Because you’re used to being hourly, you worked eight hours and that was it, or you had specific things that were urgent enough to justify overtime. Now that you’re exempt, if you don’t have a good idea of what “done” (or at least, “done enough for today”) means, you’ll never leave.

      I think you can also come up with a max that you think is reasonable and present that to her. Again, it has to take into account that “all hands on deck” emergencies come up and that you might need to be flexible. But I think it’d be reasonable to say, “I think my limit is probably around X hours a week. Obviously, I’m not going to leave in the middle of [example of emergency or major crunch], but on a typical week, I’d really like my hours to stay under X. Does that seem workable to you?”

    5. Elizabeth H.*

      Why does it need to change at all? Sorry if I am misunderstanding what the norms are in jobs besides mine, or at your workplace, but I don’t see why becoming exempt would mean that you immediately begin having to work more hours. Is it like all the exempt people at your workplace are working many many more hours than the standard, and you have the impression that your boss wishes you could stay and do more work in more hours than you are already doing, and you only haven’t been because you were not exempt? Do you ever work overtime and get paid overtime? If your pay is not changing, I would not expect the number of hours you work to change more than a little. As others have mentioned, there are a number of non-financial benefits to being exempt that can be factored into your overall sense of fair compensation for the work you are doing, but I don’t really see how it would result in a dramatically different number of hours worked in the week.

    6. rj*

      In my field, often people work a lot of hours but stop doing anything useful after a while (ie they are inefficient/procrastinate). Or, they grossly overestimate how much they actually are working because they do low-level work throughout the day as well as other tasks. Find a way to streamline your job, and remind yourself (and supervisor) what you can actually do in 40 hours. Firm but kind + worksmile.

  11. Anon for this*

    What do you do when you worry you just plain aren’t smart enough to do something at work? Any tips for coping and powering through anyways?

    1. Christy*

      I remember that I can reach out to the smart folks if I need–that 10 minutes of their time might save me several hours, and it’ll be worth it to my employer to do that. Plus I remember that everyone struggles and I look at the ten thousand cartoons about developers who struggle for eons only to find the solution and how the emotional lows are really low and the highs are really high.

      Also, I remember that it’s not being “smart”, it’s having the skill to analyze or process something specific. Not knowing C#, for instance, doesn’t mean I’m not smart, it just means it’s outside of my skill set so of course it’ll take me a long time to figure out my problems. (I literally just dealt with this yesterday.)

      1. Christy*

        Oh, and interestingly, I have one coworker who is just legitimately very intelligent. And he’s quicker than I am, and he’s probably always going to be. And I remember that we can’t all be Wakeen, and that’s ok. Wakeen isn’t good at ______ like I am. Varying strengths. And if they wanted it done as quickly as Wakeen can do it, they would have assigned it to Wakeen.

    2. This is my Jam*

      If you can’t do something, that doesn’t mean you’re not smart enough. It means you need to ask someone for help. But, if you find you have a mental block for a particular task : practice, practice, practice.

    3. A Person*

      Research (google)
      Ask co-workers
      Break it down into smaller stages/try another approach
      Take a drink/snack break
      Do something else then come back to it

    4. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      You’re feeling fixed mindset, believing that your skills are finite. We have the capacity to learn more based on how we consume information. I’d encourage you to find videos, podcasts, articles, and forums for help. I echo the suggestion to seek out someone who can show you something when you get stuck.

      All else considered, don’t be afraid to go back to your boss and explain a current block and ask for input on how to proceed. She may have someone in her network or other resources that can help you, and it gives you more credibility in the long run to admit what you don’t know vs. putting in shoddy work.

    5. Jadelyn*

      Know your resources. Smart is overrated, and you can do without being brilliant if you know what resources to tap to get things done. Google is your friend. There are probably other people at your work with special knowledge in specific areas that you can reach out to – for example, I’ve gotten two calls in the past two weeks from managers I don’t work for or work directly with asking me to help them with Excel problems, because word has gotten around that I’m good with Excel. Maybe there’s someone like that at your company?

      Also, read up on imposter syndrome. It’s a very real thing and tends to strongly affect highly intelligent and competent people far more than it affects people who genuinely aren’t at that level.

      And, last thing, see if you have any hard data to give yourself a reality check on. Have you done similar things to the thing in the past? How did those go? Have you gotten feedback, either good or bad, from reasonable people whose perspectives you trust? You don’t want to base your entire self-esteem on what other people think of you, but it can be helpful to recalibrate your perspective sometimes.

    6. LCL*

      Try to figure out a general overview of the situation, then figure out what it is like that has been done in the past, then talk to anyone who is still around who has done the job previously. Believe that everyone is smarter than you IN THEIR PARTICULAR SPECIALTY ONLY, and ask them for help.

    7. MicroManagered*

      I can read your question two ways and my answer depends on which one you mean.

      If you mean that you would like to know how to complete a task when you have concerns about whether you understand it, for that I get feedback early and often. That way my manager can course-correct if needed. I also identify people who are more knowledgeable or experienced and ask them if I can lean on them for questions. I will also spend some time researching the thing I don’t understand. I will also try to be transparent about the parts that are over my head, because I find people who try to pretend they know things they very obviously don’t understand particularly frustrating.

      If you mean that you would like to know how to do something about worrying that you’re not smart enough (when you most likely are) aka “impostor syndrome,” then I think the remedy is all of the above, plus: looking into why you feel that way, knowing yourself so that you know when a task plays to your strengths or challenges your weaker areas, making a deliberate effort to recognize the things you do right/well as much, if not more than the things you don’t do well, and practicing patience with that feeling when it comes up. Sometimes I tell myself something like “I am intimidated because I don’t get this right now, but I know that I will in time.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OMG, yes, self-talk. It’s super important to reassure yourself. It will decrease your learning curve if you talk nicely to you. Don’t skip this step. I have trained and/or supervised a lot of people. The ones telling themselves, “I dunno if I can do this. This is hard.” etc, have a more difficult time than ones who encourage themselves to keep moving forward. Tell yourself, “It’s okay, I will get this in a bit.” OR Remind yourself, “Last week I did not get X, this week I am okay with X. The same thing will happen here with Y.”

    8. Not So NewReader*

      How to do X was not in anyone’s genes at birth. Everyone had to learn.
      This is where I start from in the process of talking myself down from being overwhelmed.

      I totally agree with the advice here and I’d like to add:

      Make lists every night before you go home. Write down what you need to do tomorrow on Thing. This way you know where to start when you come in. (I sleep better when I do this.)

      Have a place to keep info for contact information if necessary and notes to yourself. Take notes as you go, so you can remember what you have done and start to estimate what is next. Go one step at a time.

      Google is your friend. If you don’t understand something during the day, go home and Google at night. See if you can piece together some basics, so that you begin to have reference points.

      Finally, one little secret. You don’t have to be smart. You do have to be curious. Your curiosity can carry you though a lot of situations. Be curious. I have always gotten average grades through school. I felt I had to work hard if I wanted to excel in the workplace. I basically taught myself some stuff through asking myself, “Why is X the answer in this particular situation?” Then I would go back through until I understood why X was the answer.
      Other times I would unknot a problem by thinking of similar situations in my previous work experiences. “Current Situation looks like what other situations I have encountered?”
      Other times I found answers or figured things out by comparing the current situation to other things that I have encountered in my personal life.
      Thinking of EVERYTHING as a resource really helped to loosen up the flow of thoughts for me. Keep your mind limber.

    9. KarenT*

      Put together an action plan. Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish and what you need to do to get there, in small, actionable steps. You can tackle what you need to, and bring in help or additional resources where you need support. Is there anyone senior to you who might be able to help out? I find being really specific in requests to help with this. People are usually willing to help if they see you’ve made an effort first, and if you’re making it as easy for them to do so as possible. “Help! I’m doing our financials for next year and I don’t know what to do!” is going to get a lot less support than “Help! I’m working on the financials for next year and I’ve done the forecasting and market data analysis, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to account for expenses.”
      Also, I’m sure you are more than smart enough :) We all have imposter syndrome from time to time!

    10. AnonAcademic*

      I work in research. One of my mottos is “if I am not working at the edge of my competence, I’m not pushing myself enough.” I have a PhD and sometimes need to reread the same paragraph 10 times and google basic terms to understand things. It’s the nature of working across multiple disciplines. Every very smart person I know has some tasks that really tax their brains. Knowing this is normal even amongst PhDs, MD/PhDs etc. has been helpful for my confidence.

    11. jeff*

      I have had to do this exact thing at times. Get out of your comfort zone a little and ask for help with some peers who you know can help. Be grateful. Go out and google what you don’t know; read up voraciously; take training. Get yourself engaged to make yourself smart enough to do those somethings.

  12. Blah (formerly feeling)*

    I did a second interview for a position on August 2nd, and was told we’d move forward in 5-7 business days. I was out in the woods without service until 7 business days later (out of office voicemail and email setup) but also sent a brief email checking in and expressing my enthusiasm when I was back. No response. That was last Monday.

    I desperately want to email again to know what’s up, even if I was rejected… But I know it’s a bad idea. Right?

    1. Small but Fierce*

      For what it’s worth, sometimes the process never goes as quickly as planned. When I got a job offer a few months ago, I was told to expect news within the next week. I don’t think I heard back for another month, weeks after I had mentally written it off. And I’m currently waiting for a formal offer from a company that needs someone ASAP, but I have yet to receive their pre-offer background check prompt almost two weeks after they made the soft offer. It seems to me that things always take longer than expected.

      That said, I agree that you’re probably better off not checking in again if you sent the email when you got back from your time off the grid. If they’re interested, they’ll remember you.

      1. Blah (currently feeling)*

        Yeah, I know things always take longer than expected… I just really want the job. I’m a bit worried I scared them off somehow… I gave a higher number than they did (I went first), but said that I was sure we’d make it work when they said their number wasn’t very flexible. I want to email again and know, but I guess maybe I’ll check in another month if I don’t hear by then.

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      The employer probably took your being on vacation as a chance to take a breath. They might also be on vacation. Probably nothing to be concerned with.

  13. Detective Amy Santiago*

    How do you know when it’s time to start looking for something new?

    I’ve been here for more than a year and I like the job, the industry, and my colleagues. The problem is that I’ve already hit the upper cap for salary in this position and there’s not really any room for upward advancement (it’s a small business).

    1. k.k*

      What I would do is start looking at job postings for the things you would be interested in moving onto, and look at how many years of experience they ask for. That’s what I did with my current position. Most listings for the next level up asked for 2-3 years of industry experience, so that’s how long I planned on waiting before looking seriously.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I would also emphasize that looking at postings doesn’t mean you’re about to quit. You can spend quite a while just keeping your eyes open, looking for the right thing, when you have the luxury of looking while employed.

    2. SarahKay*

      I think it depends on your priorities. If you need more money then the time to look for something new is probably nearly here.
      If you have enough money, and you’re enjoying the job, and still being challenged by it, then I’d say the time to look for something new is when one of those things stops being true. And I would say that only you can assess how important each of those things is to you.

      1. Brett*

        I think you have to look past need.
        In last job, after 6 years I found out I was the single lowest paid person in the country for my title and experience (one of my friends ran the biggest salary survey in the industry). I had no need for money, but I had to realize that not getting raises or promotions was having effects beyond my need for money. One of the biggest was my own employer lowballing people with similar skills to mine who should have been paid more, and similar employers in the same region starting to base their pay practices on my large employer.

        After I quit, a few people with similar positions received nice one-time raises because of panic that they would leave too.

    3. Blue Anne*

      If you enjoy the job and it’s not putting you in a position of financial hardship, I’d wait another year and then start looking. A year might be the minimum, but 2+ years looks better on a CV, especially if you’re moving on for general career development reasons.

    4. Stellaaaaa*

      If you like your work, coworkers, and higher-ups, don’t leave unless you get an offer you absolutely can’t refuse. Is advancement important to you or do you just feel like you ~should have a higher title? Or is it really just about needing a more livable salary? I would definitely stay in a lower-paying job that didn’t make me miserable, but I can’t make that call for you.

  14. Generic Administrator*

    My old job (which I left 3 months ago) is currently being advertised. I’m actually tempted to go back (great benefits and team) even though it offers no career growth and had a few other niggles. Hopefully I’ll get a response to the dozens of jobs I’ve applied for this month….

      1. Generic Administrator*

        Boredom/wanted a new challenge, office politics at HQ, commute could be pretty bad some days.

  15. Emmie*

    How does (or has) your company prepared for natural disasters?

    Harvey made me wonder what other companies do for / about impacted employees / locations.

    1. Ecaps*

      My city can hit with the occasional blizzard, so if it looks like one is company, they tell us to work from home on that day and not risk coming in.

      During Hurricane Sandy, the company I was working for at the time closed the office on Monday and Tuesday but then reopened on Wednesday, even though trains weren’t crossing the East River. It was absolutely ridiculous that they had us come in that week at all, given how hard it was for people to get in to Manhattan. Many of us couldn’t do our work from home (required special software and systems), so they said if we didn’t make it in, we’d have to use vacation or personal time. As I had just started and didn’t have any banked, I basically just had to leave for work three hours earlier than normal to deal with the transportation issues. My husband’s office was in lower Manhattan and didn’t get power restored until the following week, so his office jus closed and no one lost any time.

      1. DBG*

        I continue to be flabbergasted at how little thought went into reopening offices immediately after Sandy. I couldn’t get into NYC because there was a boat on the Metro-North tracks – I still have the image – and nobody believed me, even after I sent the photo in with the website.
        I guess as long as the C-Suite (who usually live in NYC) can get around, the rest of us magically can too, even when the MTA/Mayor are still reporting lines out of service and such.

    2. Florida Resident*

      My company actually has an emergency management department, which maintains very detailed plans for various scenarios, including hurricanes. There is pretty much a step-by-step checklist that each area follows, which includes precautionary measures, a list to be done during the storm (each department actually has a designated “ride out crew” who stays onsite during the storm, and are the first ones to start the cleanup process after), and the post-storm checklists.

      The company also works pretty closely with state and local government emergency management agencies as well.

      (This may seem like overplanning, but we operate theme parks, and we have our guest’s safety to think about too, not just employees)

      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        If you don’t mind sharing: do you evaluate the rides after each storm? Are there certain safety procedures you follow? What happens if the rides sustain damage from the storm? I’m so curious about this!

        1. Florida Resident*

          Once we’ve been given the all clear, we’ll go through the normal daily startup checklists.

          First, the Engineering team does a complete walk through, and a systems check on all systems (brakes, motors, ride vehicles, safety bars, etc.)

          Once Engineering has completed their checks, they’ll turn it over to Operations, who will do another check that includes a walk through, and testing all the emergency stops, checking all the resets, and cycling each ride vehicle empty. Part of the checklist also includes drying off any guest accessible parts of the ride vehicles (mainly the seats)

          Once all those are complete, then they will do a test ride, and then finally open the ride.

          If any issues are found by Engineering during their checks, they won’t turn the ride over to Operations until it’s been fixed. If Operations finds any issues, they’ll call Engineering to come back, and will delay opening. If there’s any damage that takes longer to fix, then the ride will remain closed until the damage can be repaired.

    3. SarahKay*

      I’m in the south of the UK so natural disasters tend to be less disastrous. However, it’s a huge global company so we have a disaster recovery plan, which includes what to do when the disaster hits, and a dedicated Site information telephone line used in case of a (very rare) heavy snowfall or similar, which would advise employees if the site was open, etc.

    4. Liz2*

      Depends on the disaster. We’re a big corp so we have offsite offices ready and waiting if needed, tons of contingencies, and easy work at home systems. We have drills to find safe spaces in case a shooter comes on site. Basically emergency services is its own department.

      A previous place was in a metro city and we had occasional chemical deployment drills where we would have to find central floor spaces away from windows- which honestly felt like an empty gesture..

    5. KR*

      We have part of our team in San Antonio and another person that’s in my position but part of a different team recommended I buy them emergency supplies.. . Well Amazon couldn’t get then there fast enough and the local Walmart wasn’t answering their phone at all to set up a pickup so I couldn’t get them emergency supplies. Felt so bad – I’m definitely going to watch the weather from now on. They’re working from home though now so I don’t feel too bad now.

      1. paul*

        If you wait until within 48 hours, it’s too late. A family member in Pearland live streamed their trip to the HEB yesterday; shelves were stripped bare.

        You have to build a good, relevant, disaster kit *before SHTF*. They won’t look the same everywhere–where I’m at blizzards and ice storms are more likely than hurricanes so my kit at home reflects that (fire starter, I keep a half cord of wood in the shed in case power or gas is out, etc).

        I’m in the middle-or was, screw Harvey-of helping rewrite our COOP and emergency operations handbook.

        1. KR*

          Yeah, I’m familiar with the whole preparation thing because I grew up in an area with blizzards and ice storms. I dont watch the news though and honestly had no clue until yesterday that a storm was forecast since I’m in a different part of the country. Guess I know better now.

    6. Xarcady*

      The most likely natural disasters here are blizzards and hurricanes, and sometimes just really bad snowstorms. Fortunately, there’s usually plenty of advance notice of these.

      For the most part, people are encouraged to stay home if they think the weather poses a hazard to getting to the office. Everyone has laptops for just this reason, and managers often send out reminder emails to encourage people to take their laptops home if the weather looks dicey for the following day.

      If you can’t make it into the office and can’t work from home, you have to use your PTO bank to make up the hours, unless the office closes. If you were planning on working from home and lose power/internet, you have to use PTO.

      The office doesn’t close often, even when it seems everything else has. But they do have a lot of delayed openings, to give the snow crews time to clear the roads. A lot of the employees here have long commutes–over half the people in my department drive over an hour one way. So the company does take that into consideration. (I’m an oddity in that I live in the same town as the main office. People joke that I *have* to make it in; I have no excuse.)

      I believe the West Coast office has a plan for earthquakes, but I don’t have access to the details.

      All our sites have elaborate evacuation plans, with floor monitors to sweep the floors to make sure everyone’s out, and permanent signs in the parking lots to indicate where various groups of people are to assemble as they leave the buildings.

    7. T3k*

      I worked for small businesses, so we didn’t really have a plan set out so much as “play it by ear” and to call in if we couldn’t make it. However, I also live between several large universities, and they all have a detailed disaster plan set up to a tee, including who’s essential staff and who’s non-essential during such disasters.

      The unfortunate thing is where I live, if it’s a cold enough winter, we don’t get snow, we get ice, and I live on a hill that I swear the plow trucks half-ass on because while everyone else is pretty much able to get out and go to work again after 2-3 days, we can’t go anywhere for almost a week (after the sun has melted most of it away). I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to take a picture of this street to let my boss know I’m really not trying to skip work.

    8. Construction Safety*

      We have a site-specific hurricane plan for each of our potentially targeted sites. We do not have any other kind of business continuity plan, & I was ridiculed when I asked about it.

    9. RabbitRabbit*

      I work for a largeish hospital in a major city. We not only have natural disaster prep (both in terms of coping with them, and with an influx of patients and others due to them), but our institution also provides prep guides for home use to employees and observes the annual National Preparedness Month (September) with regular updates. Plus we have a triaging system to call in employees (even ‘non-medical’ ones) should we need all-hands for a major disaster of some kind.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Tornadoes are the biggest threat here, along with ice, but you can usually see winter storms coming days in advance. Supercells can bubble up out of nowhere. We have to consider earthquakes too, thanks to both the New Madrid fault zone and tons of fracking in Oklahoma, but they don’t do earthquake drills. They should. I don’t know about St. Louis. They definitely should; if that fault zone lets go, the entire city could be gone.

      Exjob had regular tornado drills along with fire drills. I personally am always prepared for them, because they freak me out. OldExjob was hit by a tornado during the 2009 Super Derecho (yep, this storm was so bad it has its own Wikipedia page). It was pretty scary, and one of our buildings sustained a great deal of damage, but fortunately no one was hurt. A furniture store that also got hit sheltered customers and employees alike in the back.

      The actual tornado that hit us, one of nineteen or twenty that day, was tiny. You simply cannot prepare for the level of destruction something like the 2011 Joplin EF5 tornado did. A third of the city was completely destroyed; part of the nine-story hospital building was rotated four inches on its foundation. It struck on a Sunday, so many people were not at work. Over 150 people died, some afterward. There is a harrowing story of people who took shelter in a beer cooler in a Fastrip gas station; the station was ripped apart around them, but they lived.

      The best place to be in a storm like that is underground, but you’d be surprised by how many homes and businesses here do NOT have tornado shelters or even basements/cellars, including mine. I’d rather move back to CA and have earthquakes. Most of them are small, but even a little tornado can do a LOT of damage. And it’s pretty easy to get out of a tsunami’s way.

    11. AdAgencyChick*

      I’m in NYC, so until Hurricane Sandy I’d never in my career had to deal with anything worse than a bad snowstorm (which some companies gave a snow day for and others would say you either had to come in or use PTO).

      When Sandy hit, my agency was downtown, so the office physically could not support work for a full week while the power was out. The agency closed for the whole week and no one was required to use PTO.

      I do think Sandy got a lot of agencies in our area to think about their backup plans in case of future disasters. Before Sandy, I don’t remember ever being told to take my laptop home the night before a snowstorm and be prepared to work from home if it’s not possible to come into the office; now that instruction goes out every time the weather forecast is bad.

    12. Blue Anne*

      We haven’t at all, as far as I know, beyond being understanding about people being late or working from home when there’s suddenly two feet of snow we didn’t have yesterday.

    13. Red Reader*

      My first job in a big city was on the 19th floor of a skyscraper in Seattle, where I had moved right after the Nisqually quake, so they had earthquake prep on the brain at the time. There was a flyer on the door into the stairwell that — I remember this vividly — said in big red letters, “Make sure you save yourself first. Some people are just going to have a bad day.”

    14. Anon for discussion of my undewear*

      We get regular typhoons, and are in an earthquake zone.

      For typhoons we get typhoon days; the night before the government announces it, and it means that all schools and government offices are closed (as well as a lot of private business), and that there may be transit shut-downs or reductions, depending on how the storm hits. In some situations, where there is excessive non-typhoon rain with risk of flood, we’re told to go home early. We informally pass on advice to people new to the area (make sure you’ve got extra water, some candles and enough food for a few days, and remember to pick up beer on the way home).

      The country is pretty well prepared for typhoons in general. I’ve never seen a grocery store stripped bare, although leafy vegetables are hard to get for a few weeks afterwards, and they’re pretty fast about getting essential services back on line, and major roads cleared. They do evacuate some landslide prone areas, and have the sense not to build right on the coast in the areas that regularly get hit by typhoons and are at risk for tsunami.

      For earthquakes, we have a yearly drill for exiting the building, and we have numerous designated safety people with shiny vests to direct things, who get extra training.

      There’s also a yearly air-raid drill, but that’s a city wide thing.

  16. This is my Jam*

    I need a new career, the one I have makes me sad, anxious, and irritated. It’s been over 10 years and I’ve lost any passion, interest or joy in my life. Sneaky little monster.

    1. JulieBulie*

      Do you really need a new career? Or just a new job?

      At one point in my career, I considered running away and joining the circus. No… I mean LITERALLY joining the circus. (I seriously looked into it, but quickly saw that it wouldn’t be for me.) Because my job sucked, I was being crushed by ennui, I couldn’t find another job in the same field, and could not envision things ever getting better. I concluded that office jobs in general were not for me.

      Soon afterwards, I lost that job. I was out of work for a YEAR and moved to another state and found another job (same industry, same line of work) in two weeks.

      That workplace was a little toxic in some ways, but it didn’t give me the same soul-crushing ennui that the previous place had. In fact, my next four jobs were dysfunctional, but only one of them was actually soul-crushing.

      So, in my case, it wasn’t the career/profession/industry. It was just that one company. (And that other one later.) Maybe that’s not the case for you. But do think about it. Maybe all you really need is a change of scenery.

      1. This is my Jam*

        It’s definitely the career. The job I have now, while it has it’s faults, is not the reason for my unhappiness. I don’t like what I do, it has always gone inherently against my personality (think an introvert working in sales), and it takes all my energy to deal with it every day.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Scroll up to Anon Today. Same thing. Just crappy work situation that poisoned the rest of her life. You are not alone!

    3. anna green*

      I hear you! I’m in the same boat. It actually took me a long time to be able to accept that it was okay to want something new simply because it makes me sad, anxious, and irritated. I kept trying to convince myself I should be fine and happy because of x, y and z. And you know what, I’m not happy, and that’s okay. Time to move on. (easier said than done, but still, its a start)

    4. KellyK*

      Well, what would you like doing and be good at doing? Are there things that fit better with your interests that you have some transferable skills from your current job?

      Once you know what that is, you can take small steps to get there. Job-hunting is the obvious one, but if there are gaps in your experience, you can figure out things to bridge those gaps. Maybe a class, maybe volunteering, maybe other tasks you could pick up at work.

  17. Anonish*

    I feel like I might know the answer to this but I wanted to get some reassurance. Do I have any obligation to let my manager know about my pregnancy plans if I know going in that’s going to be medically complicated and time-consuming? My fiance and I met with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist this week for a pre-conception consultation due to my Type 1 diabetes. She was very optimistic but a future pregnancy is going to be far more medically supervised than I was aware of – like twice a week appointments type of thing. Do I need to give a heads-up, “Hey, this might be happening at some point in the near future”? My boss is aware of my Type 1 diabetes and super understanding/flexible about medical appointments and stuff, and we have an unlimited sick time policy, but I’m not sure people who haven’t dealt with this have a good understanding that a pregnancy for me is going to be very different from most people.

      1. Anonish*

        I like that strong “nooooo” since that’s what I was pretty sure I would see, just freaking out a little bit about this whole (still hypothetical!) thing.

    1. K*

      Nope. Your plans for when to have unprotected procreative sex are absolutely none of your manager’s business.

    2. Murphy*

      Nope, not at all. When you’re actually there, you can explain that you’ll need extra monitoring, but I wouldn’t tell them in advance. Good luck!

      1. Anonish*

        Yeah, for that reason I will probably end up disclosing earlier than most folks normally would (I am always paranoid that people will think I’m interviewing when I have multiple doctor’s appointments in a short space of time). I am SUCH a planner that it feels so weird to be in that situation of, “Well, this might happen soon and it might take a long time and we really have no way of knowing when it might be.”

        1. Rocketship*

          You know what? Let them worry a little. Unless you’re totally useless (I’m betting you are a pretty far cry from useless), a little worry over “Uh oh, is Anonish going to leave us?” can help remind folks just how not-useless you are.

          Then your announcement, when you’re ready to announce, will be met with “Oh thank goodness” instead of “Oh sh**”. :)

        2. attornaut*

          Think about it this way: what are you trying to accomplish by disclosing? If it’s helping your manager plan, well, there is zero help in letting her know something may or may not happen in the near or not so near future! So you’d have to wait until you were sure to even make disclosure helpful, and then they have the full gestational period of a human to plan. If you were quitting, you would not give 9+ months notice, so this shouldn’t require more.

    3. Turtlewings*

      No, you have no obligation to discuss your health or family plans with your boss unless and until it directly impacts work. I mean, what would you do if she tried to deny you permission to do it? Don’t put either of you in that position. It’s great that she’s been understanding and flexible so far. I’m sure she will continue to be, and it’s fine to express your appreciation for that, but don’t let blur the lines between professional and personal. There’s too many ways that can go wrong.

    4. k.k*

      I’ve learned from this site that in most situations, the best advice is “don’t tell your boss about your plan until it is a real thing”. Applies to pregnancies, job hunts, plans to move eventually, etc.

    5. Yorick*

      Once you are pregnant/having many appointments, you don’t have to tell your manager but could say something like “nothing to worry about, but I’m going to be having more frequent doctor’s appointments for issues related to my diabetes.”

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This is a great suggestion. That way you don’t have to announce your pregnancy earlier than you’re ready to.

        1. Southern Ladybug*

          I like it as well. And I agree – no need to say anything at all until it’s a reality.

          I hope it all goes well for you!

      2. blackcat*

        I like this. It’s true! I would encourage this particularly if you don’t think you’d be comfortable discussing a pregnancy loss with your boss. It’s my understanding that diabetes (of either sort, but particularly type 1) can increase the risk of early loss.

    6. Friday*

      Nope nope nope – no obligation whatsoever to tell your boss! When you get pregnant and st art on those twice a week appointments, tell your boss you have a complication related to your diabetes that is being managed but you need to commit to more frequent doc visits for the time being (and plan with her on flex time, project management, etc. etc.). Don’t tell her the reason until you are ready to do so.

      Best of luck to you!! I hope everything goes smoothly!

    7. Government Worker*

      Don’t say anything in advance. You never know how long it will actually take to get pregnant, so it’s not even really actionable information for your manager – she will know that it’s likely that you’ll be out more than usual for a while at some point in the next months or years, followed by a maternity leave. The only thing she could do with the information is to preemptively keep you off of new projects or cut back on your responsibilities, and that’s probably not what you’re after.

    8. Jadelyn*

      You never, ever, ever, EVER have any obligation to share family planning information with anyone except your intended family planning partner.

    9. Zahra*

      No obligation, and, if you can, get a second/third advice (from a different hospital and/or clinic) on the frequency of appointments. You’ll find that some doctors are very (maybe too) cautious and would like you to come twice a week for 30-something weeks and others will be cool to go with the regular monthly appointments (with more frequent appointments during the home stretch) with a few specialist appointments thrown in.

      I won’t go over what other protocols can change between doctors, but suffice it to say that I find that obstetrics is one of the medical fields where informed consent is the least respected: everything is “mandatory” (i.e. they don’t tell you that you can decline), information on benefits, risks and alternatives is inexistent, incomplete or skewed towards the doctor’s point of view more often than not.

      Do yourself a favor and find a doctor that’ll respect informed consent. Being “nice” isn’t enough. I have coffee with nice people. I have confidence in my medical team if they treat me as a full member of the team deciding on treatments, procedures, etc.

      1. Government Worker*

        Yes, this is very true. I was heavily supervised for the last several months of my (twin) pregnancy, and I got very different advice even from different MFMs within the same group at the same hospital. Some had a “take it easy as much as possible but live your life” approach, while others would have had me on strict bed rest for months despite no evidence that it helps in the particular circumstances I had.

        1. Zahra*

          The only reason I recommend a different practice is that you don’t want the “authoritarian” type OB on call when you deliver or get close to your EDD. You’ll get pressure to obey and having to battle to have your rights respected is the last thing you want to handle while in labor.

    10. DBG*

      I would say something, just to make sure your boss is in the loop, esp. if it’s going to impact your availability to the team to the point of 2x a week. YMMV.

  18. Teapot Librarian*

    Well, after a few weeks of calm, I’ve hit another snag with my Hoarder Employee. My boss and I are negotiating a loan of some of our teapots to a teapot museum (the museum being in a much better position to care for them than my office is for the time being). I know that I should have told Hoarder Employee about this earlier, and I accept the blame for not doing that, but I told him today and you would have thought I told him that I agreed to kill his puppy. I was in the middle of hosting folks from the museum when this conversation happened, so I told him that we would argue about it when I was done. He then went to a meeting and I doubt I’ll see him before the weekend.

    I don’t need advice on this specific situation, but I wouldn’t mind feedback on the issue that led to this: I have been extremely reluctant to tell Hoarder Employee about decisions that would take teapots out of our facility (we have many many many teapots that do not align with our mission) because I know that he’ll disagree with my decisions. I don’t mind my employees disagreeing with me, but it’s his tone when he does it. So then I don’t tell him until the decision is close to final, and he (more or less rightfully) gets upset that he wasn’t kept in the loop. How do I get over my reluctance to deal with his snottiness when he disagrees with me?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      You’re his supervisor, right?

      Tell him that sometimes teapots will be going out of the facility for various reasons and he needs to accept that. If he can’t, it might be time for him to consider moving on.

    2. JulieBulie*

      Tell him that loaning out the teapots is the right thing for the business. “Right thing for the business” is everyone’s priority, including yours and his.

      1. JulieBulie*

        D’oh, it’s a library. Well, it’s still the right thing for the library, and that should be HE’s priority!

        Seriously, unless there’s a legitimate reason for him to participate in making the decision, his opinion doesn’t matter. I guess if he gives you attitude about it, ask if his strong feelings about teapot-hoarding are going to interfere with his ability to do his job, which includes respecting the decisions made by his managers.

        1. JulieBulie*

          D’oh-oh, it’s an archive, not a library… well, still the same, it’s the right thing for the archive.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        Actually it is an archive. My office is a conglomerate of information organization types.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I am in an archive. I feel for you every time you post. I would have a meeting with him. I would go point by point how his behavior – attitude, hoarding, actions- be specific and put it in writing has/does/ affect the work of the department and does not re. That you have discussed this with your supervisor and you have her support for the decisions that you have made for the department. Because of his previous actions he will not be participating in the decision making processes until he demonstrates an understanding of the work. It might be time for a PIP.

          1. Teapot Librarian*

            Thanks for this feedback. You’re right about a PIP. I’ll have to look it up, but I think I now have to wait until performance evaluation season (October) and I might have to then wait some period into the next performance period. What I need to do now is practice my evaluation conversation with him so that I’m prepared for all of his pushback.

    3. Myrin*

      I agree with Amy. I might be missing something, but since you’re his boss, I don’t quite follow why you need to be afraid of or tiptpoe around his feelings. If I understand correctly, your main reason for wanting to avoid conversations like this is his tone but I feel like you just need to learn to deal with that.

      I can also imagine that this is one of those scenarios where your own stance when presenting information influences how the other person feels about it – we talked about this in a thread earlier this week and it’s like when you start out as “I know this might be weird and I hope you won’t be mad” you’re already setting yourself up to be attacked because the other person takes their clues from you and is now on the lookout for something to feel weird and mad about. If you can confidently say “these teapots will be transferred to teapot museum on [date]”, you’re not leaving much room for him to argue, rhetorics-wise.

      (I’m also not quite clear on the structure here – does he even have any say in how teapots are dealt with? Is this something he needs to be kept in the loop about because it’s his job or is it just because he’s a teapot hoarder that he Needs To Know about all the teapots’ whereabouts?)

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        I don’t have to be afraid of his feelings, but I am. I need to get over it, pronto!

    4. fposte*

      One possibility is to meet with him about this tendency when there isn’t a specific loan on the table and identify what objections you will hear and how, and what’s no longer discussable. “Hoarder, I know you struggle with loans and with weeding, but they’re an important part of our institution. I’m willing to talk to you about occasional specific objections to a particular case, but what I hear from you is just a general opposition to this key part of the mission, and I’m closing down discussion on that; we will expect from 100-500 teapots per year to leave the institution, and that’s non-negotiable. I’m willing to entertain reasons why specific teapots should be exempted if you email them to me within x days of my mentioning the plan, which I will try to do well in advance.”

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I think there’s two issues here. One is he’s a problem employee who has an attitude problem. The other is that you made a decision that impacts his collection (I’m assuming) without asking him. Most people react poorly when they feel like their “stuff” is being impacted. If I was trying to deal with him (and I know I would struggle), I would start with email and then face to face.

      So, maybe start with something like, “The International Teapot Museum has asked if we would loan our Dutch and French Teapots for their exhibit on unique spouts. This is such a great opportunity for our French Teapots to be seen by so many people.” And then, to forestall any logical concerns about transportation and storage by attaching all the specs, or specifically saying, “And they have proper museum quality facilities and correct storage for our teapots which is reassuring.”

      This takes away his argument that you didn’t tell him about the loan. Then I think you have to just be prepared to deal with him when he storms in or expresses upset. I would also be documenting, documenting and documenting.

      When he is upset, a way to defuse, maybe to ask why. “Why are you upset that the French Teapots are going on loan?” And when he says something like, “They won’t be safe.” You can say, “Well, here is the agreement we made…”

      But maybe you need to let this guy go. He sounds awful.

    6. MsM*

      “I understand you’re frustrated about not being notified these things are happening sooner, but since your stance on loans is invariably negative, I’m not really seeing the benefit in having the same argument over and over again. If you want to be part of these discussions, I’m going to need you to meet me and Boss halfway in accepting that sometimes we are not the best facility for every teapot.”

    7. NW Mossy*

      My former boss gave me amazing advice about how to handle this kind of situation, which she learned in her prior life as a litigator – keep your own words to a minimum. I tried it with a defensive employee and it worked amazingly well.

      The basic idea is that you’re presenting the decision (teapots are going away as of a specific date) and a brief explanation (museum X is an appropriate home for them). You are not obligated to explain the nuances of decision to him or debate its merits, and shouldn’t because he’s not going to influence the outcome at that point.

      Now, he’s going to get upset. He’s going to demand a discussion. He’s going to question your judgment six ways from Sunday. Each time he expects a response from you, you respond with an anodyne and calm “I hear what you’re saying, but my expectation is that you’re going to do X.” X is whatever you want from him in the future – facilitating/support the teapots’ transition, etc.

      All that said, I’d encourage you to think about his defensiveness as a performance problem and start managing it that way. I’m sure Alison has some letters in the archives about this topic, but his refusal to accept decisions and need to relitigate every point is making him less effective and eating into time you need to do your own job.

      Name this for him: “Hoarder, I’m seeing a pattern from you where you fight any decision that means we have fewer teapots here. We’ve talked many times about why those decisions are consistent with our mission, and we can’t spend any more time having the same argument. In the future, I need you to commit to carrying out these decisions even if you disagree, and I need you to present concerns you have in a more constructive way. Can you do that?”

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        The theory is once you start to explain you’ve already lost the debate. I realize I am over simplifying, but the truth is the more reasons you offer, the more opportunities for push back. Here is what we are doing. Here is why we are doing it. But X, Y, Z. Those are not issues in this situation. We need this, so we are doing this.

    8. Madeleine Matilda*

      I think the key here is to hear him out. Listen to why he wants to keep everything in your archive and what his concerns are about loaning items. Then you can respond to his reasons for keeping things with items that you may agree with (for example, I agree with you that the teapots are of great interest to our researchers.) Then address his concerns (for example, how will we know that the teapots are properly cared for? Answer: The receiving museum will complete a facility report, provide a copy of their insurance that covers the item, our conservator will do a site inspection, etc.). Who knows, he may have a valid reason that will make you reconsider the loan or addressing his concerns may alleviate his worries. The point is to have a dialogue with him rather than just giving him information.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I have to disagree with Madeleine Matilda. This person is not a new hire. His behavior is unacceptable. His concerns are not in alignment with best practices. His supervisor does not owe him a discussion. He is most likely knows all the information about loan agreements, insurance, etc. Time to meet with HR and communicate with him that his behavior is jeopardizing his employment.

    9. Clever Name*

      Stop managing your employee’s emotions for him. If you tell him something totally normal in your line of work, and he flies off the handle, that’s on him. Not you.

  19. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    I’m… becoming a first-time manager? In just over a month? This is amazing but I am flipping terrified, in no small part because I’ll be managing a current employee who has been here much longer than I have (who is not yet aware of the staff change). She may be resigning soon for unrelated reasons, in which case I would have the opportunity to hire someone new, which is exciting and nervewracking for an entirely different set of reasons. But like… wow. Increasing responsibility! Professional development! But then as soon as I have a direct report everyone will realize that I suck and they made a mistake in trusting me! (I know I’m being dramatic here but I can’t shut off that little voice… shudder.)

    Just had to get that out!

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Thanks so much! I really appreciate it, I’ll get to reading asap.

        1. Rookie Manager*

          I read most of Alisons book between getting the offer and my first day. On my first day I got hit with x, y AND z big situations. On the way home I phoned my parents and said ‘I’ve not got this far in the book yet!’ While Alison didn’t have chapters on these exact scenarios I did have all the information I needed. Today I passed my probation with flying colours.

          You got this.

    1. This is my Jam*

      Also… don’t question mark your promotion. It’s not a question. “I’m becoming a first-time manager in just over a month!” Sometimes we need to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done!

    2. Meg*

      I’m in the exact same situation (except that we’re hiring someone new immediately) and equally terrified/excited!

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Solidarity! I just keep telling myself that they know my work and their opinion of my capability is based on things I’ve already accomplished. So if I can do all that stuff, I can do this, and if I can do this, so can you. :)

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Thanks! It was between Kalros and “Big Stupid Jellyfish.”

    3. Bess*

      It helps me a bit to know that even the mother of all thresher maws can experience imposter syndrome.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Fighting alien robots is not NEARLY as terrifying as responsibility and accountability, let me tell you.

    4. MegEmDub*

      I’m sitting on the other side of that 18 months out. I took over a team who had all been with the company anywhere from 5 to 35 years longer than I had. I started reading Ask A Manager religiously. I read Alison’s book. I sought out mentors (do this! your boss or someone else who’s managed people you can bounce ideas off of). I thought everyone would think or find out that I was a fraud.

      I can tell you that none of that happened. I have made mistakes, yes. Everyone does. I’ve also grown and blossomed and discovered this is really what I am supposed to be doing. You’ve got this.

    5. Young and Managing*

      I was in this position not too long ago and you should be supper excited. As someone who had to manage an employee that had been there since before I was born, I can honestly say it takes a while until some are comfortable with this type of change. As long as you set fair and honest standards, they should respect that or find a position that better suits their needs. If you do get the chance to hire, definitely take some time to understand the skills you are looking for and ask others for help when you need it. I kind of forgot the whole asking others for a hand when I was a first time manager. 99% people were happy to help!

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Thanks very much! I’ll keep all of this in mind and just keep breathing.

  20. Loopy*

    I’ve never seen promotions announced before and it just happened in a team meeting. Is this common?

    Notably, I don’t think it’s done consistently which is an obvious problem but aside from that, reactions seemed… odd.

    Is this way off base to do?

    1. JulieBulie*

      I wish I could say that this varies from workplace to workplace, but it’s worse than that. Even within a given company, sometimes they might get announced and sometimes not.

      Overall, though, in most companies you usually do at least hear about promotions and other position changes that result in a change to the reporting structure (like when a manager moves up or sideways). But there was one time when I was transferred from one manager to another and didn’t even know about it until I filed an expense report and saw that the approval came from the new one. Some people do not communicate well!

      I’ve seldom heard about promotions for individual contributers, though. My own promotion was communicated to the other managers, some of whom told their direct reports (my peers) and some of whom did not. (It was communicated three months after the fact, so I was suddenly being congratulated when I hadn’t even realized there’d been an announcement.)

    2. D.W.*

      We always announce promotions at my org. They post them on the internal information email and then send out a blast email.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Promotions are announced to various degrees at my university but the size of the announcement is usually dependent on the position — someone being promoted from chair to assistant dean is a campus-wide email; someone promoted from manager to director means a department or college-wide email; someone promoted from administrative assistant level III to administrative assistant level II is probably a verbal mention in a team meeting or nothing at all.

    4. Ama*

      We generally announce all promotions here via staff wide emails, but it’s also considered the job of the promoted person’s manager which has occasionally caused delays or other problems. My first promotion here was completely overlooked because my original manager had just left after several months on medical leave, and simultaneously a large restructuring meant it wasn’t entirely clear if I was going to stay with my interim manager or report to someone else. (In retrospect I should have said something but I was relatively new to the organization at the time and didn’t realize that my now manager totally would have felt horrible if she’d realized I was forgotten.)

      But I could definitely see that if it is not a common thing at your workplace it might seem like the people who got announcements are being favored over people who got promoted and no one said anything.

  21. NP Admin*

    So I am currently job searching and I have a question for hiring managers. In my experience, I have always been asked to come onboard in new positions as soon as possible. I would really really love to take one or two weeks off between jobs, especially since I know I won’t be requesting vacation time for a while. How often do you allow new hires to take 1-2 weeks in addition to the courtesy 2 week notice at their previous job? And is there a way to best phrase the request so that I’m more likely to get it? My current org didn’t even want me to take the full 2 weeks as a courtesy to my previous employer!

    1. M*

      Just let them know you are available to start on x date, which is 3 weeks out. If they push, well it’s up to you to decide how firm you want to be

    2. blackcat*

      When my husband got an offer in mid-May, he said he was available to start after the July 4th holiday. They countered with July 15th so it would be the start at a good time for his now manager (she was taking the first two weeks of July off). No one seemed to think this was odd (they even said it would be fine if he wanted to wait even longer, but wanted him to start by Sept 1st). He was coming into a new role, though, which may be more flexible than replacing an existing person.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      Just give a start date that accounts for your time off. It’s really common for people to take trips or even have their weddings in the gap between jobs so your new management will know the deal.

  22. Elmyra Duff*

    I start grad school on Monday. I have no idea how to tell my boss about it, and I’m going to need to eventually because I have to do field work. It’s not at all related to my current job, either. (Right now I write about teapots and I want to teach high school kids how to write about teapots!) Ugh. Any suggestions?

    1. fposte*

      What do you want from her? Will you have to quit to do the fieldwork?

      If your schedule remains the same, I don’t think there’s any obligation to tell her just because you’re doing it, and you can be nice and give her a few extra weeks before your departure. That being said, sometimes buy-in is really useful from an employer, so if you think that’s the case–especially if you might need some flexibility in scheduling–it can be useful to mention earlier rather than later.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Tell you employer about things that affect your schedule, as far in advance as possible. Be matter-of-fact, because stuff happens all the time. Example:
      Hi Boss, I have a new commitment for my time. I’m in grad school! This will not affect my schedule or work here until x, when I’ll be doing field work. I’ll need to take (2 weeks / 2 days a week / ? ) for that. How would you like to handle that?

      Then give a few possible examples – vacation; sabbatical; reduced hours. I assume you’ll end up leaving this position, so you’ll also want to let her know you’re thinking about that:

      The program ends on Y date, and I’ll be looking for a (full-time / part-time / after hours) position. If we need to transition some of my work to other people, here’s what can be moved most easily, and I think Wakeen or Sally could do it. If they’re interested, I’ll start training them around Z.

    3. Fabulous*

      “Hi Boss! I have some exciting news – I was accepted into graduate school, and I actually start on Monday! It shouldn’t affect my availability until further down the road, but I wanted to let you know now for when the time comes.”
      BOSS: What are you going for?
      “Actually, I want to be able to teach people about what I do, so my degree will be a Master of Arts in Writing with an emphasis on Teapot Writing. It’s a pretty cool program and I’m really excited to be able to pass on the knowledge that I’ve acquired here too.”

  23. Anon 1*

    I’ve been at my current job for 4 months. To be honest, there’s very little feedback here. I believe I am doing a decent job and I’ve never heard anything negative from management concerning my work. However, yesterday I got a small reprimand. It wasn’t a huge deal. I wasn’t in trouble exactly, just told that I needed to not do something I had done again. However, now I’m very anxious about the whole situation. I’m only 21, so I don’t have all that much experience. Is getting a small reprimand something major that I need to worry about? Is there some way I can make up for this (I already apologized)? Is it bad that I made a mistake 4 months in?

    1. Generic Administrator*

      You’ll be fine- as long as you acknowledged and learned from the mistake, it really isn’t anything to worry about. I know it can seem a big thing (been there myself) but as long as your continuing to do a good job then there’s nothing to worry about. And four months is still newbie territory- to go four months without a mistake is good!!

    2. a Gen X manager*

      agreed, no worries! Just don’t do “it” again and don’t get lost in a stress cycle about it! Also, be grateful you were given the feedback and trust that they’ll continue giving you feedback as needed (a lot of managers / supervisors stink and don’t do this until things pile up so much that they feel that they have to take action and by then it is being (mentally) held against you!). It sounds like you’re in a great place – relax, do your best, and you’ll be fine :)

    3. Small but Fierce*

      Short answer: You’re absolutely fine.

      Long answer: I was you a few years ago and understand your anxiety. However, you should have nothing to worry about with any reasonable manager. Mistakes are expected early into any role (and 4 months is still very early). It’s likely you don’t even need to apologize if it’s a minor mistake, but if you do, coming up with a solution or plan for future instances may help quell your anxiety a bit. Just keep being eager to learn and improve.

    4. bluesboy*

      You really shouldn’t need to worry about this. Do you think that nobody ever makes mistakes at work, particularly that 21 year olds who’ve only been in a job for 4 months never make mistakes? You’re going to make mistakes, some will be because what you actually did was fine but not the ways it’s done in that specific office, and some of which will just be plain mistakes, whether technical, or errors of judgement.

      When they happen, you can tell a lot about a company (or manager) by how it/she/he handles them. In this case you were told not to do something again, you weren’t in trouble. That’s feedback that will help you to do better in future – something that too often you don’t receive (you just keep making the mistake because nobody tells you…bad management…and then when finally you get told off for it, it’s become a big, out of control issue).

      I’ve made SOOO many mistakes in my career. Honestly, if you only made one mistake in your first 4 months (as long as the mistake wasn’t something really serious) then you’re doing really well!

    5. fposte*

      I would classify that more as a correction than a reprimand. No, it’s not bad; with newish employees especially you’re kind of coloring without knowing where the lines are, so it’s pretty common to be told “Hey, that was outside our lines; our lines are here.”

    6. Madeleine Matilda*

      I agree with the other comments above. I would also more generally suggest you ask for feedback on your overall performance. You could ask your manager for a one on one meeting to ask how you are doing. Come prepared with information about your progress, areas in which you might want for training or development, etc.

    7. Work Wardrobe*

      You can apologize once without too much emotion, say you’ll be sure to stay aware of “that” and say “thanks for the feedback.”

      Really, taking feedback calmly and thoughtfully, and getting clarification in the moment if you need it, is perfectly professional.

      And you’d be perfectly in your right to ask your manager, “Can we plan a 15-minute discussion where I can get some feedback on my first few months here?” Sometimes you just have to ask for what you need!

      1. LizzyDragon*

        Ditto on asking for feedback! I do it with my boss every now and then. If you feel like you’re not getting enough feedback, I found it helps by asking for feedback in a specific area. For example, I’ve recently taken over the scheduling for my dept, which I haven’t done before. So after making a schedule, I’ve sent it over to my boss and ask her what she thinks of it (as she has done it many times before).

        You can also ask others for feedback. I’ve gotten feedback from colleagues and those I supervise- not just my boss. Again, I’ve gotten good responses by asking for specific feedback.

  24. Canadian J*

    Is it standard that workers in the food industry have to pay out-of-pocket for damaged equipment, spilled drinks, broken glasses, or dine-and-dash customers?

    I used to work in the food industry (7 years), and I never had to pay out-of-pocket for damaged equipment, broken glasses/plates, or a messed up order. I never had to deal with any dine-and-dash situations, but I don’t think I would have been on the hook for those, either. It never even crossed my mind; I figured it was part of the deal of working in a restaurant.

    Does this happen in the U.S., or in other countries?

    1. Myrin*

      I’m working part-time in the kitchen of an inn/restaurant in Germany and I’ve never had to pay for any damaged equipment; like you say, it’s part of the deal. My boss did say once, though, that they used to have a part-timer who’d break at least one thing every. single. time she was on shift and he and his wife wondered about asking her to pay a small sum because she’d literally single-handedly ruined an entire set of cups. I don’t know about any rules/laws/legality surrounding that and this worker left shortly after that conversation anyway but yeah, I’ve broken one cup and two plates and messed up three or four orders in my two-and-a-half years there, so I’m not really sure how compensation would work with such a small amount of mistakes, anyway.

    2. Princess Carolyn*

      I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in the U.S. (someone wanna confirm or deny for me?), and it’s definitely not a standard practice here. Damaged equipment, broken glasses, etc., are part of the cost of doing business. It is something I’ve heard of — probably sometimes as an empty threat and sometimes as a very bad management tactic — but it’s certainly not standard.

      1. fposte*

        It varies from state to state. It can’t take the worker below minimum wage, and in most states they’d have to agree to it (which may just be a box-tick at hire, though).

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I was under the impression that it was illegal under federal law. (But food service in the US is notoriously fond of breaking labor laws.)

    3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I have never worked anywhere that required reimbursement for dropped/broken items but a few places I worked only gave you 1 “freebie” on dine-and-dash – after that it came out of your pocket (because they assumed you lied and were trying to pocket the money – lovely, I know. Makes me glad I am not in the industry any more)

    4. k8*

      i never had to pay for what i broke, but i definitely had to cover my dine-and-dashes. however, i worked at a crappy divebar; my bf who works at a more upscale place right now doesn’t have to cover people who walk out. so it definitely happens in the US, but not if you’re working for a nice/non-jerky boss.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Out of curiosity, do you notice more people who dine-and-dash in one versus the other type of place. (My food service experience was pay-at-the-counter. No one can skip the bill if they have to pay in advance.)

    5. Candy*

      Not the food industry, but I was working in a clothing store years ago and I messed up a buy-4-get-one-free promo and accidentally gave the customer four free socks for buying one and my (awful, awful, awful) manager made me pay her the difference IN CASH before I left that day.
      I was young and timid and didn’t know any better so I paid her the money but I was so upset about it that I quit a week later.
      BUT! Before my last day the owner of the store heard about what happened and was like, yeah that was illegal she can’t make you pay for till mistakes and paid me back!

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      Someone with a legal background once told me that you can’t be charged for accidents that are predictable within company policy. For example, if the company allows you to have coffee near your computer, you can’t be charged for repairing spill damage. By extension, I would say that waitstaff couldn’t be charged for breaking glasses when it’s the company’s choice to use breakable glass.

      1. fposte*

        Nice logic, but it’s not true :-). There are definitely states where you can straight out deduct the breakages without even asking, and others where all you need is an employee consent that you get to do that.

  25. k8*

    next friday is the last summer friday at my company . . . im going to have to go back to working 8 hours on fridays and i dont wannnaaa

    1. Elmyra Duff*

      SAME. Why not have Summer Fridays all year? I don’t want to be here for eight hours in the winter, either.

      1. k8*

        i would argue that we need them MORE in winter– there are less hours of daylight! we should be leaving early so we can enjoy them!

    2. Clumsy Clara*

      You’ve probably left for the day already so you can’t hear all of us still stuck at work playing the worlds tiniest violin for you…

    3. Julianne*

      I feel you. My unofficial last day of summer break was Monday, and I don’t wanna go back to meetings and trainings and get up early and wear real pants every day.

  26. Kowalski! Options!*

    My co-worker brought her pet rabbit to the office today in a pet stroller.
    It is all I can do now not to sound like Yosemite Sam at his absolute worst.
    I knew I should have worked from home today.

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        I still can’t believe that the security guards let the rabbit through. With the exception of seeing-eye dogs, they don’t even let support animals in. If we were some kind of hip tech start-up, or a place where animals were regularly invited in to visit, that’d be one thing, but this is a government office where animals are prohibited (as are scented products) because of the allergy factor.

        1. Random*

          OOHHH that makes more sense. We have a dog friendly building here. Love bringing my little bears up here every now and then (but definitely wouldn’t if someone was allergic)

    1. LadyMountaineer*


      I go off the rails on the crazy train every time my coworker brings in her fake service dog. It is the worst!

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        OMG, the thought of her getting that rabbit approved as a service animal just made my hair stand on end.

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      I 100% understand not being happy that your coworker brought her pet rabbit to work, but I do love the image of the rabbit in a stroller!

    3. Grumplepuss*

      I sympathize. I am EXTREMELY allergic to rabbits. I would have to leave if I couldn’t avoid the rabbit. I do like looking at rabbits though…from far away, like on the internet. There is a funny site called Disapproving Rabbits.
      Now if this were my coworker I would be Extremely Aggravated, but on the other hand maybe her A/C is out today or her house is being painted or fumigated? If it was the latter and the rabbit was confined to her office I wouldn’t hold it against her….for as long as normal.

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        Not even! It was her first day of holidays, so she thought she’d bring him in to say hello.

        1. JaneB*

          She’s on HOLIDAY… from work… and decided to bring her pet to work??

          I’m baffled. Who does that??

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      … I kind of wish I could bring my two rabbits in to keep me company today. But they’d be bored and/or scared, I’m sure.

  27. ThatGirl*

    Question for the crowd:

    My new job is customer facing but primarily focused on expanding our digital outreach; as such I am trained on phones but it’s not a key part of my job. I’m salaried; the rest of my team (minus our lead) is hourly and they are all primarily focused on phone and email support. I also have a laptop; nobody else does right now.

    The company is trying to expand work from home capabilities. At this point there seem to be technical limitations that would prevent phones from being answered at home so the rest of my team is not eligible, but I would be.

    If you were my co-workers, would you resent me working from home occasionally? Regularly? I have no plans to do so regularly at this point, but it’d be nice to have the option — but I also don’t want to breed resentment.

    1. k.k*

      I wouldn’t resent that. I would see it as you’re providing phone support on the days you’re in the office and focusing on the other parts of your job on the home days. The key here is that your coworkers actually understand what your job is. Otherwise they might not realize that phones are not supposed to be your main focus, which would foster resentment.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I think they do; it’s a new position and I’m already causing small amounts of disruption, which was the plan – taking ownership of some new initiatives and changing some processes. Originally I was supposed to be lateral to the team lead, which would’ve made my separate-ness more clear, but they eliminated a manager shortly before I started and gave the team lead more responsibility instead. That doesn’t bother me, but I do want to be aware of perceptions.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I might be resentful, but my resentment wouldn’t be directed at you, but rather the powers that be for creating that kind of dynamic. Your job is different than your colleagues’ in terms of both structure and responsibility; that comes with perks like a laptop and the ability to WFH. So long as you aren’t flaunting it in my face (“lalala I am so excited to work from home, sucks you can’t!!!!”), then take advantage of the flexibility.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right, and other departments already have more WFH days, I’m just trying to be aware of how it might look. I don’t actually expect to do it a ton anyway, since my commute is SO MUCH shorter, but I want to be able on occasion.

    3. CMDRBNA*

      Hey, ThatGirl – I was in a department that faced this issue and it did cause some problems, so maybe this will help? Basically, the organization I worked for had a specific WFM policy in their handbook that specified that you had to work at the org for X number of months and then negotiate a WFM arrangement with your manager.

      Easy, right? Well, my manager hired someone who was allowed to work from home immediately, which violated our handbook policy, and our manager lied about it (as in, the rest of our small team wasn’t told this person had been given this permission, we never knew when she was going to be in the office or working from home, and the manager would baldly lie when asked where the employee was).

      Secondly, this manager refused to let anyone else work from home, with pretty vague reasons (as in, not “do X and Y and you can work from home OR X and Y is why you can’t work from home”, more like “well, not yet”).

      So, while there was a little resentment of the new employee, MOST of the resentment was directed towards horrible manager and her handling of the situation.

      I firmly believe if horrible manager had just been upfront with the rest of the staff, as in, Soandso will be working from home a few times a month, NBD, I don’t think anyone would have really cared about it.

      A lot of this is going to depend on how your manager handles it. However, I do think you can head off some issues by being upfront with your coworkers about when you’ll be at home versus at work and treating it like it’s not a big deal. You may also want to look at the employee handbook and just make sure that your WFM agreement isn’t actually violating a pre-existing policy.

      In the end, it actually turned out to be a positive thing because our manager was forced to allow other employees to WFM, because she was basically not enforcing the existing policy, so she didn’t really have a leg to stand on for refusing to let longer-term employees WFM who actually met the WFM policy criteria.

    4. Rookie Manager*

      It can be helpful to put ‘WFH’ in your calendar so people know if you are working or off for the day. It’s also helpful to block out time for projects if you plan not to answer emails etc during that time so your team can have reasonable expectations about getting in touch with you.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      I think you should consider trying to restructure your role a bit. Is there a way you can take on all of the emails on the days you work from home? Even if phones aren’t a big part of your job, your team is still losing that bit of phone backup when you’re at home.

      1. ThatGirl*

        You may not see this considering it’s three days later but the other 4 people have been handling phones for a long time all on their own; while having me be backup is handy, I wasn’t hired because of that. In fact we don’t get a ton of phone calls. But it’s the digital outreach nobody had time for before. So I’m happy to be a backup and I don’t intend to work from home very often, but I was more wondering if someone in my team-mates’ role would be resentful. I’d certainly be glad to take more emails or CRM cases on days I work from home to help balance out the phones.

  28. Undecided*

    I’ve been given an opportunity for a great job that I know I’ll love (it’s my current job, but even better), but first I’d have to work FOR someone with a very different style and pace for two years until she retires. It almost seems worth it, but I don’t know that I’m up for agreeing to two years’ worth of soul-sucking agony to do it.

      1. JulieBulie*

        I’m guessing it has something to do with the “different style and pace.” If that really sounds like soul-sucking agony, two years is probably going to be too long.

        And sometimes people end up not retiring when they say they will… that’s come up on this site a few times.

        Personally, I would not count on ANY deal remaining viable for two years. Something unexpected is likely to happen during that time. But Undecided knows more about the situation than I do.

        1. Undecided*

          Right! Great points. Something unexpected would almost certainly happen in the course of two years. hmm.

    1. Gina Linetti*

      Remember, things might change. In a year, she could decide it’s time to retire now! But she could decide that there’s no way she’s retiring in two years, and extend it out even further.

      But, I mean, I wouldn’t sign up for two years of agony, even if I had a written guarantee it would only be two years.

      1. Undecided*

        This really helps too, thanks! I am being offered a contract and it is being described as a “firm retirement date”, but there is absolutely no way to unravel things once this is a “go”, so there is really no way to hold people accountable (I’m much more interested in job security than a contractual severance payout).

        It feels like it has to be a no, but convincing the other involved parties will be really difficult.

  29. anycat*

    i just wanted to give a quick shout out to those who encouraged me last week to accept the chocolate teapot analyst position on my team. i did.. and was rewarded with a 16% raise! i was told by many of our high level managers in my department that i earned and have worked hard for it. things with my current manager are a little strange.. but we will get through it.

    again – thank you all!

  30. Geillis D.*

    It’s my last full week in a job I’ve held for the last four years and have been actively trying to leave for the last two. I was offered my goal job at what looks like a fantastic new place, and today we’re having my farewell lunch.
    After all my kvetching, bitching and moaning, being underpaid, under-appreciated and at my lowest point being excluded from the office clique, it’s still been my first job in my new career, I’ve met some truly lovely people along the way, and saying goodbye is bittersweet. I can’t wait to start the new job in September, though (although reading here has made me slightly paranoid about being a Good Morning Purist, that person with the annoying food habits, or anything else that may rub my new coworkers the wrong way).

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      “After all my kvetching, bitching and moaning, being underpaid, under-appreciated and at my lowest point being excluded from the office clique, it’s still been my first job in my new career, I’ve met some truly lovely people along the way, and saying goodbye is bittersweet.”

      My exact same sentiment.
      Congrats. And cheers!!!

      1. Geillis D.*

        Thank you, fellow accountant!
        I’ve read your post above and I’m shaking my head. It’s been a rough road changing careers and earning my CPA in my 40’s, exhausting and humbling.. I finally feel like I’m about to reap a few rewards after all the frustrations.

        Keeping you in the light, and please find the time for some quiet reflection and self-care.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          I hear you on exhausting and humbling although it’s sad to see that other companies are like this too (underpaid, cliquey etc).

          1. Geillis D.*

            Sadly, many employers see employees as disposable – minions who should thank their lucky stars they have a paying job.
            Once I got past the point of “newbie who has to be coached and is at the mercy of anyone who deigns to teach her”, and realized that I am valuable, my skills are actually ones that employers make an effort to acquire, and work shouldn’t feel like purgatory, things got better. From my (non-accountant) husband’s experience, his first job was soul-sucking to the point of actual damage to his health, the next job was much better, and the job after that was (and still is) wonderful.

  31. i2c2*

    Minor venting, but also looking for a script:

    I help with a biweekly lunch and my role involves setting up food for a meeting and then standing in the elevator lobby on the same floor as the meeting room and swiping in people who don’t have badge access to the floor.

    EVERYBODY who works on the floor has something to say when they see me standing by the badge access. Usually it’s a well-meaning “oh, do you need to be let in?” Which is frustrating to hear over and over, but I just cheerfully respond, “Nope, just letting people in from [OtherDepartment].”

    But. There is one gentleman who must have seen me there a few times who one day says, “Wow, you really like standing in that corner!”

    …? As it happens, I don’t particularly like standing in that corner, mostly because of comments like that one, but it is my job, which is why I am there. I gave him my best smile, said, “Well, I’m here to let people in from OtherDepartment for a meeting. The badge access is here, so I’m here!”

    Now every time dude sees me, he acts like we have a private joke about how much I love that corner. He saw me on the elevator headed home and was like, “Wow, you’re not in the corner!”

    Indeed, a great perk of my job is that at the end of the day, I am allowed to go home.

    Recently he came in as I was setting up the meeting and acted like it was astounding that I was in the meeting room and had brought *food*. He even offered “constructive criticism” on the sandwich presentation. (Yes, that sandwich probably will get dry without a wrapper. No, I don’t know why the caterer wrapped the other sandwiches but not that one.)

    I think he means well and thinks he is being friendly, but it is frustrating that this person is so astounded and amused by my job. Has he never met an admin before?

    What would you say to this person?

    1. Murphy*

      Nothing. I’d probably let it go. I wouldn’t ignore him, but I’d probably be less friendly in my responses to his repeated comments.

      1. Shayland*

        If this was me I don’t think I could let it go. At least with the corner comments. I think I’d just say something like, “Hey, standing in the corner to let people in from [OtherDeparement] is a really small part of my job and it makes me feel weird that you keep mentioning it. I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop bringing it up.”

        It’s really hard to come up with a script that doesn’t seem mean. But it’s such a weird, unhappy thing. I can see why OP is bothered by it.

        1. Murphy*

          Oh I totally get why they’re bothered. I would be too. I’m personally pretty nonconfrontational, so I’d just start giving one word or non-verbal responses like “Yeah” “Mmhm” and hope that they get the hint.

          1. Shayland*

            I’m just totally the person to not pick up on hints. I’m also working really hard to not feel confronted when people stop hinting.

    2. Random*

      You’re overreacting and making things up in your head. Doubtful he’s thinking “what a weird admin!! I didn’t know they stood in corners. I MUST point this out every time I see this person!!!”

      1. Junior Dev*

        That’s rude. It’s possible to disagree with someone’s interpretation of events without invalidating them.

      2. Morning Glory*

        It’s not about whether he thinks she is weird though – it’s about how to handle an annoying colleague making constant comments about your job when he is most likely senior to you.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      There’s a guy in my office who once joked with me about our supply of bubble wrap, and now it’s like the only thing he can talk to me about is bubble wrap. Some people are just awkward small-talk-makers. It’s not a slight against you; it’s just the only thing they know they have in common with you is that one time that they made a joke and you responded to it. I’d let it go, respond with a smile, and continue about your business. The less you react to it, the less he’ll continue to bring it up.

      1. The Queen of Cans & Jars*

        +1 I immediately thought that he’s the kind of person who feels obligated to make conversation when there’s no real need and ends up grabbing for something awkward.

    4. Junior Dev*

      Are you a younger woman by chance? This guy reminds me of every annoying older dude who is overly friendly with younger ladies, not necessarily in a sexual way but in a way that implies he feels entitled to your time and attention.

      1. Go Away*

        …he feels entitled to your time and attention. I think you hit the nail on the head here! I’m a young, female admin and have experienced this many times.

    5. Liz2*

      The wry smile and a quick nod is enough of a brush off at this point. I love people who have opinions on table and event set up which is my job. (And by love I mean get annoyed by cause they just waste my time in their need to feel useful).

      1. zora*

        Yeah, the nod and zero reaction. This guy just sounds like one of those awkward people who think they are super funny when they tell the same joke over and over. I just nod, half-smile and ignore, or maybe a non-committal “uh huh” and then move on, so try to keep the interaction as short as possible. And try to cultivate my inner sympathetic person (which is not my default), just to feel sorry for this person for having such a stunted sense of humor. In the case that it’s someone who is even a little more mean-spirited about it, I crank up the pity in my head with a “wow, Person must be unhappy with their life to focus on the negative all the time”. But this guy sounds more clueless, so I just try to do an inner eye roll and focus on something else.

        I totally get it, though!! I know it’s easy to be super annoyed, but the only person that’s hurting is you, because he doesn’t get it! So, just think of it as being nice to yourself by moving on and letting it go. With practice it gets easier, I promise!!

    6. Joielle*

      Oh god, that sounds so irritating. I have a sort-of-similar thing happening with a guy who works at the little hardware store right by my house. I walk past it every day since it’s right by my bus stop, and go in there all the time to get stuff for our ongoing renovations, and this guy is ALWAYS there and ALWAYS has to interrupt whatever I’m doing to say hi and comment on how often he sees me. I feel rude blowing him off because ultimately, what’s the harm in spending 30 seconds talking to him? But it just bothers me that he feels entitled to take up my time with this inane conversation day after day. Fairly often I’ll be on the phone or wearing headphones as I walk in, and he’ll still say hi louder and louder until I pay attention to him. I’m sure he’s just trying to be friendly but it drives me up a wall.

      ANYWAYS, sorry about this only-tangentially-related rant, but I 100% commiserate with you. I try to go with the bare minimum of politeness but as you can tell, it’s not really working. Some people just won’t take a hint.

    7. A.N.O.N.*

      Any chance you can shorten your responses to him? For example, if he says “you’re not standing in the corner?!” you could give him a quick smile and nod, then go back to what you’re doing. The shorter the interaction, the more he might get the hint that you’d rather be left alone.

    8. Lurker who knits*

      Ugh, so annoying. I think you’re in a bit of a bind because it sounds like this person is senior to you. I agree with other posters- the less interaction the better. Don’t leave room in your responses for a dialogue.

      When I’ve encountered this, I use toddler-conversation-mode (no slam on toddlers because they are still learning to talk) and repeat back what they just said (“Yes, that sandwich is going to dry out”). Thinking about toddlers helps me keep a cheerful tone of voice. It seems to work well.

  32. CatCat*

    This week was my one year anniversary at my current job. I’ve been overall quite happy at this job. I had a very positive annual performance review and will be receiving a merit raise. Life is good.

  33. TSG*

    I think I got a bit of a bait and switch at my new job and not sure how to proceed…

    The company covers all the premium insurance costs for employees, which was a huge deal for me when I got my offer. I ended up settling for the low end of my range because I wouldn’t be paying for health care each month and it almost evened out.

    I worked with a recruiter and told her that the 90-day waiting period for getting signed on to the healthcare plan here, however, would be an issue for me and wondered if there was anyway around it. She came back and said that I could sign on as part of the company’s management company and get insured in 30 days instead and then switch to the actual company at 90 days, which I said would work.

    Offer letter was vague, which is where I think I screwed myself. It just says that I follow all the standards of the employee handbook except I get 30-day wait for insurance under XX company instead.

    So I go to fill out the paperwork for my insurance when I start and it turns out that there’s $250+ costs a month for their health coverage. I then asked my new boss if I was still switching to the actual company for health care at 90 days and he claimed that wasn’t what was happening, that they chose on their own to have me sign up as an employee of the managing company for budgetary reasons and that I’m actually just an employee of Company X, but do all my work and follow all the other rules of company Y. This was never presented to me before and Company X was never even mentioned until I said I had a problem going three months without health insurance

    I’m really upset, it’s going to cost me more than $3,000 a year in health costs I was told originally would be covered when I accepted the lower end of my salary request. They knew I was interviewing at other companies that would offer more and really jumped through hoops to get me to accept, so I didn’t even think to ask if the other company insurance coverage would be the same, and I feel really foolish now.

    My recruiter agreed to talk to me to help me work out what happened, but I honestly feel a bit tricked. No one told me this would be happening this way, and in many ways I know that’s my fault because I didn’t ask, but I feel very mislead that I was repeatedly told about them covering all health premiums, even after I was told about the 30-day switch. But all I have in writing is my offer letter saying I was signing up under company X insurance, I’ve already turned down my other job interviews, left my old company and started here this week.

    Is there any tactful way to approach this with my boss? I don’t want to start things off on a bad foot here, and they did raise the salary they wanted to offer in order to meet my minimum, but that few thousand dollars is actually going to make a big difference to me and I would not have accepted this role at this salary if I knew that was coming.

    1. lisalee*

      I would act like this is all a misunderstanding (even though I agree that it seems pretty deliberate) and approach it that way to start with. Maybe something like “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but during the hiring process I was told I would be on X insurance plan that the company covered. It was a big part of me taking this job. I was not told I would be hired as an employee of Company Y, and that effectively reduces my pay by $X. How can we work this out?”

      If that doesn’t get you a good response I think this is something you could approach HR about. FWIW, the whole “working for one company but really for another” thing seems super fishy to me.

    2. CatCat*

      I’d just frame it as a misunderstanding. Frame it that way in your mind, rather than getting upset, because that may be what it actually is. Misunderstandings can hopefully be corrected.

      “I think there’s been a mix-up on the insurance benefits the company and I agreed on. When Recruiter and I talked, we agreed I could get insurance X after 30 days and then after 90 days, switch to insurance Y with the company covering all the premiums. How can we get this mix-up corrected?”

      If he digs in and says there’s nothing he can do…

      “Hmmm… I negotiated to be able to get insurance Y after 90 days with insurance X being a stopgap between days 30 and 90. Should we loop in Recruiter and discuss? I’d like to get this cleared up because insurance Y was a deciding factor for me in accepting this position.”

      If they say no, I’d just start looking for a new position and leave this one off your resume. It sounds like you had prospects before you accepted.

      But give the company a chance to correct. It seems like the recruiter should be able to clear this up!

      1. Academic Librarian*

        I had something similar. I received my job offer. The University said they would cover my moving expenses. They said that they move people from all over the world and have a whole department that just works with transplants. No problem. Here is your contact and her number. Except she was NEVER available in the time frame. I got the paperwork. Used their mover. The move exceeded what they considered reasonable. I was going to have to eat $6,000. When I arrived, I expressed my dismay to my supervisor that I would have negotiated for more salary if I knew there was going to be an issue with the expense. The next day it was all taken care of and a check was cut to the moving company.

  34. EddieSherbert*

    I just want to throw out a good vibe story with my very accommodating workplace:

    Long story short, I have two close relatives battling different forms on cancer, and now the spouse of one of the cancer patients needs a pacemaker and we’re figuring how when/how to get that done…

    So we basically have three people in the family that need individual “helpers” daily to drive them to appts and general help because they’re all constantly exhausted. Ad it’s beyond a struggle to coordinate schedules and for everyone taking off of work.

    And my office very very generously agreed to let me work from home a couple days next week as a “trial run” for staying with the cancer/pacemaker couple and helping when someone else takes the one relative to chemo. And if it goes well, they’ll let me do that a couple days a week as needed.

    And that’s just so darn nice because we all know I likely won’t be working as efficiently as normal in that situation – I’ll try my hardest but realistically, I probably won’t be at my normal level.

    I’m just so grateful!

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      That’s awesome! I love hearing stories about companies that value their workers. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Nan*

    Minor annoyances – say something or let it go? and how do you feel about these items?

    Email stationary. Looks unprofessional to me. This one I had to tell my employee to turn it off, because corporate doesn’t want us to use it. But I personally can’t stand it.

    Time – We work across multiple time zones, so when leaving messages we’ll typically indicate where we are. “I’ll be here today until 3 Central” One of my employees always says Central Standard Time. Except right now, it’s summer, so we’re in Daylight Time. Do people notice this? Do I need to correct him? Or is it just a personal issue for me? I can’t always remember if we’re Daylight or Standard, so I just go with Central Time.

    1. Yorick*

      Don’t correct him, unless he’s an hour off. He just doesn’t realize that it changes from CST to CDT.

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      I assume that you would know this if it were the case, but in a few states where they don’t do daylight savings time, specifying “standard” in the time zone is a meaningful distinction.

    3. i2c2*

      People saying Standard Time when it should be Daylight Time drives me absolutely bonkers, but it seems to be pretty common. The one time it presents a practical issue is if you are scheduling things internationally right around the time change, as some countries don’t change clocks or change them a couple weeks earlier or later than the US. Otherwise I personally cringe and ignore it.

      I know some people find it harder to read text on email stationery, myself included, so there’s an accessibility argument for asking people not to use it.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        It drives me bonkers, too, but I think a surprising number of people don’t know the difference between CST and CDT.

        If Nan feels so inclined, I think sending the CST/CDT offender a quick separate note that says, “fyi, we’re observing Central Daylight Time right now, just in case it confuses people!” would be fine.

    4. TSG*

      Actually, I probably would correct him – some states don’t follow Daylight Saving Time so depending on where you are/where other employees/clients/etc are, some people may be paying attention to that. I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, just saying “Oh, I noticed you put CST but reminder we’re in CDT until Nov. 5.”

      Idk I know I had a client in Arizona once who was really picky about exactly what times we meant when we planned things because they were an hour “off” from the rest of their time zone so they were really cognizant of it, but if you don’t think other people are getting confused it can probably be left alone. But if there’s a chance it could cause a problem with time confusion, I’d say something.

      1. Nan*

        yes! AZ confuses me. Now and again, I need to schedule a call between me, NC, and AZ. And I truly have no idea what the heck time it is in AZ. I just ask Google :)

    5. Spoliokus*

      Ooh, I am definitely guilty of this. Honestly, I didn’t even think about the fact that there was a difference. I live in Europe, but I coordinate my schedule with people on the east coast of the US, and I always says EST. I always learn something new when I come here!

    6. Princess Carolyn*

      The CST/CDT thing drives me up the wall! In most cases, I would leave it alone. The only exceptions I can think of would be if this were being communicated somewhere very officially and publicly, like on marketing collateral or if you were entering it into some kind of system/program that would interpret it literally. Basically, correct him if you think there’s a reasonable chance that it will be confusing and cause a problem.

    7. Phoenix Programmer*

      One of mine would be radios in open office plan. For the love of sanity have you heard of this new fangled contraption called head phones? Of course I don’t say anything because no one wants to be the office curmudgeon.

    8. Misteroid*

      I work with clients across the US and in states that don’t observe daylight savings time, and I didn’t even realize that there was a distinction between CST and CDT! (I just note them as “Arizona time”, etc.) Your employee probably doesn’t either!

      1. Kage*

        I can never remember which one is which. Nor do I really feel that I need to/that it’s worth the brain-space. So I always just say the zone (i.e. “I’m free at 11am Pacific” or “Let’s discuss at 3pm Eastern”). While more letters, at least it saves me the time of having to look up/providing the wrong abbreviation. But I also don’t work with folks in AZ and have no idea how I’d handle it then for them (maybe “call me at 10am Arizona”?)…

  36. Fabulous*

    Finally transitioned back under my previous manager, after spending the last 6ish months in another department covering a maternity leave. After talking with her yesterday, I’m excited to be back. I’ve been severely lacking structure in my day-to-day activities and have been SO bored most days (and spending far too much time on here!) so we’re going to try and get me back up and running with goals and daily/weekly tasks, like we had been hoping to establish before I transitioned into coverage. When I was hired last October, a brand new role was created for me (I started as a coverage temp in May ’16) and she said she’s FINALLY going to make me a job description too!

    This change really couldn’t have come soon enough… I’ve been getting antsy to move on already because of all the inaction. I hadn’t gotten ANY feedback from my interim manager, hadn’t had a mid-year review or my annual review either, and the fiscal year ended July 1st. At least my COL raise apparently took into effect this paycheck. It’s only $0.28 more per hour, but at least it’s something.

    This has been a tough year so far… But at least the LASIK went alright, as an update to last week’s post. My eyesight is still incredibly blurry when I look with only one eye at a time, but I supposedly am seeing 20/20 together. Which is saying a lot, since before I could barely see the alarm clock time when it was a foot from my face!

  37. Red*

    So here’s a thing. I went back to my old coping mechanism of self harm a few days ago. I have some mental health appointments set up, so it’s whatever. My problem is that my work uniform is short sleeved. I have everything bandaged, of course, but I don’t know what to say when people ask about the bandages. What would you prefer, if you were my colleague?

    1. T*

      Sorry you are going through this! I was in a similar position a few years ago and am glad you’re seeking treatment.

      When I had to explain bandages and didn’t want to say what it actually was, my default was to say I bumped my arms taking a tray out of the oven and got some minor burns I wanted to keep covered while they healed. In my experience, being too vague allowed people to come to the actual conclusion, but an accidental burn was easy enough to believe and removed enough from the actual situation that people didn’t seem as quick to make other assumptions.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Or reference a vague rash.

        Sorry you’re going through this, Red, but glad to hear you’re seeking help!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          A rash is a good excuse. No one wants to hear about your rash, so they most likely won’t question it. And a rash can last a good long time.

      2. Red*

        Oh, definitely not. I do not intend to be honest with that this is, I’m mostly just looking for a way to shut down questions politely, I think

    2. Friday*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this and very glad to hear you have some doctor appointments coming up to help you out. For the uniform, are long sleeve undershirts allowed?

      1. Red*

        Probably, but it would raise just as many eyebrows because nobody does that. Idk though, maybe that could be the solution… All of this is made really difficult by the fact that I suck at lying.

    3. Nan*

      I’m sorry things slid backwards for you, but am glad you’re getting some help.

      I guess it depends on the question and how well you know the coworker and what info you want to give up.

      If someone just says “oh, are you ok? that looks painful” or something along those lines, you can say “yeah, I’m ok” or “Yeah, I’ll be ok, thanks” and kind of leave it there.

      If someone says “ow! what happened?’ it would depend on the coworker who asked me. Anything from “it’s personal, but I’ll be ok” to “you know I was having troubles, and things slid backwards a bit”

      1. JaneB*

        Sorry you’re going through this, glad you have access to help.

        As an alternative to burns (depending on extent/placement of bandages that might not be a convincing explanation) what about an encounter with a rose plant/brambles/briars? I often end up with a lot of plasters/bandages on my arms from helping out with gardening or tripping into a plant…

        1. who?*

          That’s what I was going to suggest – say you did some yardwork and had a run-in with a prickly bush.

    4. Rat in the Sugar*

      “Cat scratches” or “walked through thorny bushes” or “burned myself in the kitchen” will all work; saying it with a smile and adding something like “it’s already starting to heal up” or “it doesn’t hurt at all now” will get the message across that it’s not a big deal and you don’t need people fussing over it. This will work for small scars too, if you have those as well–“That? Cat scratches, I think. They’re super old, though, I can barely remember now”.

      Good luck with your appointments.

    5. MsM*

      “Minor incident. I’m fine. Kinda wish I had a cool story, though. Got any ideas?”

      Distraction is your friend sometimes. (Plus, if someone gives you a good answer, you can use that on the next person.)

      1. zora*

        Alternatively, you can think up some general questions to ask people.
        Then when they ask, you can just say “Oh, that, it’s nothing. So, any updates on the TPS Reports?” Or “How was your weekend?” Or whatever. Just distractions to get them talking about themselves and change the subject. I have trouble thinking of questions in the moment, so I would literally sit down and make a list so I could think of one when I need it.

    6. The Queen of Cans & Jars*

      Poison ivy is also a good excuse to use since it’s summer! Or is it possible to wear a long-sleeved shirt under your uniform shirt & avoid it entirely? Not sure what’s allowed at your job.

    7. NaoNao*

      Maybe focus on their concern and skip to the “Oh, it’s healing up nicely, thanks!” or “Oh, I’ll be fine. You know how it goes.” and then topic change or warm smile/quickly get busy.

      Lots of times if you address the underlying concern or emotion (which I assume is care/concern) than the person will be satisfied.

      If it’s curiosity, that’s harder. Maybe something ultra-vague like “Oh, I hurt myself the other day. Happens to us all!” I mean, it’s 100% true! But sneaky you, you didn’t answer the question and no one is the wiser :)

    8. boris*

      Can you wear a thin long-sleeve shirt underneath and say you’ve had an eczema flare-up or something?

    9. oranges & lemons*

      I think I would just say that it’s a skin condition if anyone asks–not so vague that it’s going to make people curious, but most people won’t ask any questions. If they do, you could just say “you don’t want to know!” Plus it has the benefit of an indefinite timeline.

      For what it’s worth, I scraped up my legs while doing yardwork recently and had a bunch of prominent bandages and the only people who asked about it were close friends.

    10. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m so sorry. Can you wear an ace bandage? Say you fell off your bike. No one questions that.

  38. AnonToday*

    I am at bitch eating crackers mode with someone at work. It’s a whole combination of issues which are social rather than work. I’m already avoiding being one on one with them. I walk away when they start to annoy me but they have a habit of standing next to my desk and talking to me/my desk mate. I ignore whenever possible but I fear I’m starting to come across as rude. They appear hurt when I behave this way.

    1. Random*

      Oh I feel you right now. I have an annoying as piss coworker. Every email and question she asks annoys me. I just have to remember that she is a person and I have to be nice.

  39. Zephyrine*

    I need advice/sympathetic horror/head pats, y’all. I’m presenting at a medical conference in September and the trip is paid for by my medical school. Great! HOWEVER. I will be sharing a hotel room with three complete strangers. Even worse, since I’ve never seen a hotel room with more than two beds, I will most likely be SHARING A BED with a complete stranger. Gahhhhhhhhhh. I’m very introverted and this is basically my idea of sheer hell.

    Survival tips, anyone? I guess I could pay out of pocket for my own room if any are available, but I really don’t want to come off as high-maintenance or snotty (also, I’m a poor med student).

    1. K*

      Sharing a bed with a stranger is weird. Get your own room, or if you really can’t afford it, I guess you could build a pillow fort down the middle of the bed?

      1. Zephyrine*

        I’ve been in hotels that will bring a cot in, but two cots? I don’t know about that. Maybe if there’s a pullout couch and a cot…I sure hope so.

    2. k.k*

      Some hotel rooms have pullout couches, or can provide you with a rollaway bed. Find out ahead of time if these are available. I want to assume that this is what was planned. Sharing a hotel room with a strange is bad enough, but it happens. Being expected to share a BED?! That’s beyond unreasonable.

    3. Ihmmy*

      a lot of the rooms that are made to fit 3 separate adults have a pullout couch, or you can request a cot after you check in if there’s no pullout couch

    4. CatCat*


      Make arrangements for a rollaway bed with the hotel. If none is available, order a cheap air mattress online and have it shipped to the hotel and pick it up when you get there.

    5. Spoliokus*

      Rent a room on airbnb. It will be cheaper than a hotel and you’ll have your own space. My employer would only reimburse for the price of half of a hotel room when we went to conferences, but that’s usually more than enough to cover a private room in an airbnb.

    6. Menacia*

      Can you get any more information about the accommodations? I don’t see it as high maintenance wanting a room by yourself at all, and in fact, would absolutely insist on it as I would need my own space to decompress after a full day.

    7. Book Lover*

      You can also see if there are any alumni in the area willing to host you, though that would mean needing transport to and from meeting.

    8. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you already know what hotel you’re staying at, investigate the rooms. As others have said, there’s often a sofabed that would bring the total number of beds to three, and/or you can ask for a rollaway bed. Tell anyone who asks that you kick in your sleep and wouldn’t want to subject anyone else to that.

    9. who?*

      Most hotels offer a roll-away bed of some kind. Definitely call them ahead of time to make arrangements. If they don’t provide anything like that personally I would go to my manager about it. It’s 100% unreasonable to expect strangers to share a bed.

    10. Canuck*

      Sharing a room is oddly common for medical students when they get sent to conferences. Not really sure why that is…. but typically, they won’t expect you to share a bed. If there are 3 in the room, the hotel is usually able to put you in a room with 2 beds + a cot. If you can, just contact the hotel now and request it.

      Once you are through medical school and residency, this will definitely not be a problem for you anymore :)

    11. Anon for discussion of my undewear*

      Based on academic experience, your chances of getting your school to pay for it are very low – if you make a fuss, and don’t have a really strong medical need, the response will be that you don’t have to go to the conference if you don’t want to. I don’t think it would be demanding to be ask to pay to upgrade to a single room, because the four-a-room concept is almost always based on money. If it won’t cost them extra, they likely won’t care. Just do it fast, before the hotel fills up.

      Options – upgrade at your own cost, offer to take care of your own accommodation and stay at a cheaper place (conference hotels are often pretty pricey), try for a cot (keeping in mind that the hotel will have a limited number, so they’re likely to run out fast, as you won’t be the only four-a-room situation), bring a sleeping bag and inflatable mattress and sleep on the floor.

      I’ve personally slept on the floor in similar circumstances. I’m more comfortable on the floor with a sleeping bag and thermarest than I am with sharing a bed with anyone but my husband.

      Other coping techniques – take long baths in the evening (after warning your roommates, so they can use the toilet first if needed). Check out nearby parks, or cafes, or public libraries, so you have somewhere you can retreat to if you need a bit of quiet. Make sure to bring earplugs and a face mask, and remember to pack pyjamas that cover you even when sleeping (I use shorts and a long tank top).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Sometimes it can be one bed with 2 separate duvets, but this may only be a European thing. Not that it makes it any better.

  40. Looking for short term work*

    Does anyone have any tips on finding a temporary part time job? I”m looking at going back to school (full time) in about 6 months, but I currently have a part time (20 hours/week, evenings) job that I really enjoy, and would prefer to work around. I also don’t really want to work retail/food service, or anything that would require me to be on my feet most of the time. Would it make sense to apply to part time, non temporary jobs that don’t seem to require much getting up to speed? Most of the temp jobs I’m finding are full time. I probably wouldn’t list this on my resume, if that helps.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      Your student employment office might be able to place you somewhere. I used to do two-hour shifts at the school bookstore in between classes.

  41. Academic Librarian*

    Team building that doesn’t involve food?
    My state agency historically has done its office socialization through potlucks, but in recent years, people’s food allergies and personal issues related to food/eating have made the potlucks not as popular. As a result, people don’t know each other across units and I’m noting an increase in trust issues. As a state agency, we can’t spend company money on events. I’m seeking other informal ways to get people together.

    1. Lindsey*

      I like doing “power hours” (sometimes called “guilt hours”) where the team books a conference room to co-work on the annoying stuff that you keep putting off (this only works if you have laptops). It’s still work-related but feels more social.

      Otherwise, I like having scheduled walk breaks with co-workers – taking 30 minutes once a month or so to get out of the office and take a walk. Discussion can be work-related or not!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      My old job had a sort of social committee that created events like this. Most did involve food (potlucks, cookie baking competitions around the holidays, etc.) but we also organized a lot of non-food events that utilized our conference room: trivia nights (either at the end of the work day or during the general lunch hour) in which one staff member would serve as the Trivia Master while other staff formed teams of 3-4 to answer questions, group viewings of the World Cup or other major sporting events on our conference room screen, and memorably, Office Olympics around the time of the 2014 winter games in Sochi.

    3. Nanc*

      What about brown bag lunches with guest speakers? Employees could speak about a hobby (as volunteers, not voluntolds) or maybe find local folks to come in and give talks about items of interest. If the guest speaks for 20-30 minutes and the rest is discussion/Q&A it at lease gives folks a chance to interact.

    4. Passing Through*

      We recently had a staff event with a football tailgating theme. Like you, we can’t spend agency funds on food, but our board members all contributed funds to bring in lunch. You could make the lunch part a brown bag and ask people to bring their lunch to a common area to eat with co-workers. We encouraged people to wear their team colors and not to sit with their departments so they would talk with people they didn’t know well. After lunch we had some trivia games and someone brought a cornhole game. I didn’t think anyone would play, but they did and had a lot of fun. We also had a few door prizes as an incentive to attend and stick around. The door prizes were donated things like logo merchandise from a local bank, skincare samples from local salespeople, and our boss donated a few restaurant gift cards. The sports theme went over well with our group, but you could do something similar with a picnic or holiday theme.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      Brown-bag lunches with some kind of entertainment – board games, trivia contests, movies, etc.

    6. Candy*

      My company has a Brown Bag meeting once a month from noon -1pm. The format is a sort of “lightning talk” style — each speaker has five minutes to present plus time for questions and discussion. Staff can talk about anything that’s loosely work-related — professional travels, something they’ve presented recently, projects, events, successes, failures, etc. You bring your own lunch and it’s 100% optional to show up and to present, but lately the speakers have been really going out of their way to be funny and interesting so a lot of people have been going.

  42. Lindsey*

    I have an admin who is being phased out of their position, because it has grown into more of an analyst position. She was given two months to wrap up her work and find another position. She was notified about two weeks ago. We meet about 3x a week (I’m not her boss) and EVERY single call, she makes a comment that says “Oh, I don’t even need to be here, I don’t care what’s happening since I won’t be around.”

    How would you respond to this?

    1. K*

      Given that you no longer care about your work here, it doesn’t make sense to keep you here for another six weeks. Let’s make Friday your last day.

      1. Lindsey*

        I’m not her boss, unfortunately! I’m a cow-worker at the receiving end (we work remotely). I can’t figure out how to not-awkwardly respond to it.

        (I want to say something, but I know it’s not my place to say how unprofessional it is).

    2. JulieBulie*

      Does she actually need to be on this call, and/or do you need her to be on the call? If so, remind her why, and let her boss know if she continues to complain.

      If there really is no need for her to be on the call, ask her boss if it makes sense for her to continue attending.

      1. MsM*

        +1. Or maybe see about scheduling a transition-specific call so you can officially offload whatever she’s still on the calls for, and take her out of the loop once that’s done?

    3. fposte*

      “Jane, why do you keep telling me this?” Asked with gentle, polite curiosity like you’re sure there’s an actionable reason you just haven’t grasped yet.

    4. Jbean*

      Ignore it. Unless there is information in these calls that directly relates to her wrapping up her work, she is probably right and just commenting on the situation.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      How would you respond to this?

      Sympathetically, because what’s happening to her really sucks.

    6. Stellaaaaa*

      Well she’s right. Even though the role itself has shifted, she was given the message that she’s not good/talented/skilled enough for the fancy analyst part of the job she already has. Perhaps she could be a little less vocal about it, but she’s right to be upset.

  43. T3k*

    If it’s not me sucking at interviews, then it’s trying to even get one pinned down that’s even worse.

    To my surprise, I got moved ahead to the next phone interview where I’d be talking with the person who’d be my boss if I got this position. I was asked to give days I was available for this week, but I didn’t hear back by the middle of it so I politely messaged the recruiter if they needed times next week, but they came back with a time the next day that could work for the team lead. Great! Well, that time comes and goes with no call and as I have no phone number to reach either one (privacy reasons, these types of companies are known to keep a tight hold on communications to prevent unsolicited calls) I email the recruiter to let her know I didn’t hear from the team lead and if we could reschedule.

    So now I have take #2 set up early next week, but I’m starting to feel this is a lost cause. The one other time this happened to me where an interview got re-scheduled, I ended up not getting a chance because they decided to hire internally before my re-scheduled date.

  44. Teapot Librarian*

    Second question for the day: is it expected in your workplace that people will say hello in the morning or goodbye when they’re leaving? Not the aggressive way from a post earlier in the week, but more of a courtesy “hey, I’m heading out, see you tomorrow” or “good morning, just wanted to let you know that I’m here [so you’re not the only one in the building anymore] [since I’m a bit late]”? Two of my employees stop by my desk when they’re leaving, and if I’m leaving before anyone, I make a point to stop by their desks. My other employees don’t. Even to the person at the front desk. Is that normal?

    1. Kodak*

      Yes, it is common many people may just be in their own routine. Others may of been instructed to let others know when they leave the office. It may also depend on what type of roles they hold. If it is client focused, it makes sense to let the receptionist or others know you are leaving.

    2. k.k*

      Depends on the job. At my current position everyone works pretty independently, so it’s not really vital to know who else is there. Polite greetings are given if you happen to pass someone on your way, but don’t go out of your way for it. My last job was in customer service, and it was important to know who else was there and available to help customers. In that case you made sure to let everyone know when you arrived and left.

    3. LizB*

      People here generally say good morning to whoever they see on their way to their desk, but don’t go around finding other folks to say good morning to. On the leaving end, though, the last person out of our building has to lock up and set the alarm, so anyone who suspects they’re one of the last few people will make the rounds and let any other stragglers know they’re leaving.

    4. memyselfandi*

      The physical layout of where I work would make it seem awkward, but when it happens it makes me feel good.

    5. RabbitRabbit*

      Sometimes. People in my general ‘wing’ of the office will say hi/buy to whoever they’re passing, generally, but not necessarily make any effort to go out of their way. Some people don’t like to do the “hello hi hi good morning hi morning” routine and would rather settle in/leave, though.

    6. Menacia*

      I would not expect a hello or goodbye from my coworkers and they don’t expect one from me. If it’s convenient to do so, I do a general good morning/evening, but certainly don’t go out of my way to do so. I would not stress about what’s “normal” or not, we are all individuals so normal is very subjective.

    7. Teapot Librarian*

      Thanks all. Left out of my question was that Hoarder Employee and I are almost always the last people to leave the office. When I leave before him, I go (out of my way) to his office to let him know I’m leaving. When he leaves before me, he just leaves (my office is 10 feet from the front desk). I was mostly wondering if I was annoyed because of the dynamic between us in general (that is, that it’s normal not to say goodbye to coworkers) or because my office’s culture is out of whack with norms in this regard. It sounds like it’s the former.

      1. Sadsack*

        I wouldn’t go out of my way. I say goodbye and hello to whoever I see in my way through. I think you can just start doing that and no one will notice or be bothered by it.

    8. Ramona Flowers*

      You say it to people you pass on your way out but not to everyone. I like it when the managers remember to tell me they’re going.

    9. Rusty Shackelford*

      Only if they need to know. For example, my admin or boss might need to know I’m leaving early. But we work independently, so Jane and Fergus have no reason to know or care whether I’m in the office.

    10. Julianne*

      During the school year, definitely not. However, we’re in back to school mode right now (people are in and out of the building on different schedules for meetings, PD, last minute interviews, classroom set up, etc.) and I’ve taken to texting or stopping in to check and see if my (very new) team members need anything before I leave each day.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Unless directed by the boss or told it’s an SOP, I don’t check in when leaving. I have seen places where you had to check in for fire safety reasons. However, if I know someone is depending on me to be there (because of the nature of our work OR because I said I would be there until x time) then I check in with that person before leaving.

      I do think it’s a nice courtesy if you know that very few people are left in the building, to just say “good night” to indicate you are leaving.

      With Hoarder you may have to tell him what your expectations are.

    12. Anon for discussion of my undewear*

      If my office mate looks up as I enter or leave for the day, I say hello/good-bye. If they don’t, I don’t disturb them. If I need to know if they’ve left for the day (and I should turn the A/C of as I leave), I can tell because their laptop is gone.

    13. only acting normal*

      Not expected.
      But I’m in an open plan office of several hundred people (yes it is as awful as it sounds) who all work flexible hours, if everyone said good morning and good evening to everyone literally no work would get done.

      So “the rules” seem to be:
      Say hi/bye to the people on your bank of desks (~6 people), and maybe to the rest of your team (~12 people) if you pass them on the way in/out.
      If you pass a known colleague walking along the corridor obviously arriving/leaving say hi/bye.
      If you pass a vaguely familiar face nod+smile.
      If you make accidental eye-contact with someone at a corridor-side desk pretend you’re on public tranport – *do not engage* – the poor buggers would never get any work done otherwise.
      People sat at desks dying for a distraction may engage someone walking past, but not the other way around.

  45. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    Had two interviews in the last two weeks with a pending callback for one. Rewrote the resume and reviewed by severance package. I get career coaching on interviews and resumes; I’m curious to use it and may have some interesting nuggets to share based on what they say vs. what Alison says.

    I’m grieving, pure and simple, yet trying to stay positive. I talked to my therapist and identified all the good things – I get paid for as long as a year, and can pursue some hobbies, volunteer, focus on what my career needs to be to fulfill me, take a class – lots of things.

    One thing that hurts: I’m turning over half my work to vendors, and it’s a little tough to manage that under our culture where usually vendors are released and FTEs are kept. I’ll get over it, but I’ve been a bit sensitive this week.

    1. Book Lover*

      I’m very sorry. I hope you will land on your feet. It sounds as though you have a good start with severance at least. And two interviews and a callback sound really positive.

  46. Manager*

    What do you think is going on with this:

    I applied for a position about a month ago and came in for an interview which seemed to go very well. I got a call from one of my references that they had called her. They didn’t call any others. A few days later the employer called me and said I didn’t get the job. I was polite and thanked them.

    Fast forward a week and a half later now and another one of my reference told me they called her yesterday for a reference check. Is it possible the first candidate backed out and I’m back in the running?

    1. Small but Fierce*

      That would be my guess. Maybe the first candidate got a counteroffer and decided to stay in her job at the last minute. Good luck!

    2. Student*

      Just keep applying to places until you actually get a job offer in hand. It’s really tempting and natural to look at this and take it as an encouraging sign. It may very well be a good sign. But it shouldn’t dictate what you’re doing; it’s not a direct communication with you. They turned you down once already. It’s not a job offer. It’s a vague hint; exactly the kind of thing you should ignore.

      If you find out later it’s good news, then that’s great and you’ll get clarification on what’s happening that you can act on. If nothing comes of it, you won’t have sat on your hands, gotten emotionally re-invested for nothing, or wasted more time fussing about them.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Don’t read anything into it. Keep searching.
      It’s possible they might have you in mind for something else… or not. Keep searching.

  47. Sugar of lead*

    So I got the axe, yet again, from a job I actually cared about. This bites. Side note: if you’re in your twenties and the longest you’ve ever kept a job is three months and eights, is there something wrong with you?
    I’m planning on getting some additional training before I apply to another professional job, and I’d also like to get an “interim” job, both so I don’t have a gap in my resume and to help pay the bills. Does anyone know of jobs that will hire immediately and don’t mind terribly if you leave after two months?

    1. Lindsey*

      Call centers or customer service are generally the two things that would be fine with.

      Are you getting let go because of performance or downsizing?

      1. Sugar of lead*

        Performance, or else I wouldn’t be sweating it. There’s a typo in the original post; it’s supposed to say three months and eight days, which is up from three months and three days at my last job.

        I’ll check out customer service in my area, thanks.

    2. PittsburghPA*

      Retail/ Sales or other jobs with high turnover often overlook job history. What field are you wanting to enter?

    3. Amber Rose*

      I once got an interim job with a company that does inventory counting for other companies. The interview was basically just a quick test of whether I could figure out their little scanning gun and count to 100, in a group with 50 other people. No references were called and my awful job history never came up.

        1. Amber Rose*

          WIS International. They don’t pay much, but as I recall it was more than minimum wage and the work wasn’t that difficult.

    4. zora*

      Try temp agencies!! I’ve often gotten 1-2 day coverage assignments within days of signing up with a temp agency. Also, the good agency recruiters will spend a little time talking with you about what you want to do and can give you advice on what trainings or skills would be most useful for you to get.

      You can sign up for multiple temp agencies at a time and increase your chances of getting work soon.

      Another option for quick work is catering. They often are looking for bodies, and are more interested in just starting people out and seeing how people do rather than trying to determine from an interview. And usually pay weekly.

    5. boris*

      I’m sorry to hear that. Why were you let go? Pure performance issue, bad fit in the job? I’d say if you’re regularly let go after a short period of time, something’s wrong but it doesn’t mean it’s with you: might just mean you’re struggling to get a job that you can excel at.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      Sorry to hear this. What’s the performance problem? Has it been the same each time?

      1. Sugar of lead*

        I’ll update you guys next Friday and tell the saga of why SOL can’t keep a job if you’re still curious.

    7. Stellaaaaa*

      May I ask what the performance issue was?

      I’m in my 30s and recently hit 2 years at a job for the first time ever…and of course I was laid off soon after that. It’s just really really hard to get longevity anywhere, especially if you’re limited to small or new businesses for whatever reason.

  48. Hazel's Mom*

    Last week I landed my dream job! If it wasn’t for the advice/help from Alison and commenters here I would of been lost. Thanks everyone! :) I commonly refer other friends/family/Coworkers to this site. LIFESAVER!

  49. Junior Dev*

    There’s a creepy guy who owns the restaurant down the street from my office and every time I passed him on the sidewalk he tries to get me to talk to him or acknowledge him in a really patronizing, irritating way (telling me to smile etc). I am going to avoid walking on that particular corner for a while and hope be forgets about it but my work often goes to coffee together and walks right past his restaurant. I’m the only woman on my team except for the PM who often does not walk with us.

    It hasn’t been a problem when I walk with other people but I’m concerned he might escalate and my co-workers might not get why it bothers me, think I’m being mean by not being friendly to him, etc. Has anyone dealt with a situation like this?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Yes, all the time. This behavior is quite pervasive. I would continue to avoid him, or ignore him if you walk by him and he engages you in a way you do not like. If your coworkers comment on it, explain that he has made you uncomfortable in the past and you choose not to engage with him anymore.

    2. Small but Fierce*

      This happened with me and a barber shop, but it wasn’t the owner that did that. When my friend found out, she called pretending to be me (since I refused to) and filed a complaint. It never happened again. There’s obviously a different dynamic with him being the owner, but he might stop if he felt that he’d lose customers over it.

    3. MsM*

      I’m a fan of the exaggerated, super-creepy smile, complete with uncomfortable stare. They don’t tend to ask so much after that. Practice it in the mirror. It’s fun!

      As for your coworkers, I suspect they either won’t notice or will understand where you’re coming from (especially if they’re female). If they give you pushback, though, just say you’re not interested in interacting with the guy on a closer level, he’s not respecting that, and that’s all you want to say on the subject. Repeat the last bit as necessary.

      1. Junior Dev*

        None of them are female. That’s the problem, and why I’m concerned.

        Maybe I’m overly worried based on coming from a family where putting up with harassment was seen as some sort of moral imperative….

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I honestly think none of your coworkers will notice, especially if you all are engaged in conversation as you are walking past the restaurant.

    4. R2D2*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! I’m guessing he will leave you alone if you’re walking with a group of your coworkers.

  50. Shrunken Hippo*

    I’ve been filling out lots of applications recently and many of them want the phone number of my previous workplaces. I’m hesitant to add them on because I have had instances before where they called those places without me telling them that they were references. I much prefer to leave phone numbers off until I’m at the stage of giving them references. Am I being too paranoid and unreasonable?
    I just really hare it when they call a place that I haven’t given a heads up to because I wasn’t planning on using them a reference (I prefer to check with my references and use a personal number as many of them are not near phones during work, and you know so they can be expecting a call). There’s also the added fact that my references are in a time zone that’s over 4 hours ahead so I like to confirm with interviewers that they noted the time difference before they call so it’s not a constant game of phone tag (and yes sadly this has happened before though I took it as a good sign that I would not want to work for someone who was that unorganized).

    1. JulieBulie*

      They should easily be able to find the phone number for most workplaces even if you don’t give it, unless it’s an unlisted private employer in a different field than the ones you’re applying to. So I don’t think leaving the numbers off is going to do you any good, but some employers might be annoyed with you for not providing requested information that’s pretty standard.

  51. a nonny moose*

    Are yearly salary adjustments (even if it’s just cost-of-living) normal for American office jobs, or was my old boss just generous? I’ve been under new management for about a year and there’s been dead silence on whether there’s any kind of plan in place for this, and I want to ask but I don’t want to ask if it’s going to make me look like an entitled whiner.

    I feel like this is the sort of thing I should know, but even though I’ve been here a while it was my first job and I think my perceptions are skewed.

    1. AMPG*

      I ask those things in interviews, honestly. I want to know a company understands that not giving at least a COLA yearly results in asking employees to take an effective pay cut. Since you’re there already, I’d start with your employee handbook, and if it doesn’t mention anything then just ask your supervisor in a very neutral way what the normal procedure is.

      1. a nonny moose*

        That’s part of the problem, sadly- no handbook, I’m nervous about asking my supervisor since they haven’t mentioned anything about eventual reviews, our HR is outsourced and in essence the company I interviewed with is not the company I am working for. Old procedure was that I would be told on the anniversary of my start date what to expect, but that’s not the case now and no one has mentioned a new normal.

        I don’t want to look whiny, and I’m lucky that my last raise was relatively close to the change so it hasn’t been too much more than a year. I love where I work but if I never have any possibility of a raise or advancement ever again, that’s not really ideal.

    2. Nan*

      It’s not for us. Ours are performance based, but we are reviewed yearly, and it goes with the review. So you if you haven’t been doing so great, you aren’t getting one, regardless of any COL changes.

      1. Nan*

        Adding in, it’s been that way in all 3 places I’ve worked since being an adult. No guaranteed raise/COL increase.

    3. Princess Carolyn*

      Well, my perception is that your boss was more generous than most. It’s going to vary a lot by industry and function, though. I know some people who’ve come to expect annual cost-of-living adjustments — and many companies even have written policies for them. Meanwhile, I’ve never received any kind of raise in the seven years I’ve been working, nor have I witnessed a co-worker getting a raise. My income has only increased through taking new jobs.

      So, yeah, I’d say normal but not necessarily standard.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      My last company did not do COLAs and were very explicit about that policy. I didn’t stay there long enough to care!

  52. Hillia*

    My husband was recently promoted to supervisor of a production group in a small (<50 employees) company. This group was struggling mightily with both quality and production standards. He's already raised quality considerably, so now it's time to start looking at productivity. The group is currently at about 60% of desired production. I suggested a pizza party if they met production goals while maintaining quality, then raise the bar to 10% above the goal (or some similar idea). Apparently the former supervisor tried that, and was blasted by the manager for 'rewarding these *** for doing their jobs'. (quality of management is a whole other problem here).

    I'm having a hard time verbalizing why this is ridiculous, that rewarding employees for meeting a goal that is, yes, technically their job is not always a bad idea, especially in an area that has historically bad morale. Any suggestions?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I mean, they’re not motivated to do their jobs now, so he’s gotta do SOMETHING to motivate them to increase their production. Look if I’m the kind of worker that is happy to do the bare minimum to not get fired while taking home a paycheck every week, why would I put in more effort than necessary? I’m not sure a pizza party is the answer, but if I’d like to know how the manager expects your husband to increase production when the employees have no incentive to do so.

    2. Joielle*

      I think the idea of a reward for meeting goals is a good one, but I’m not sure about a pizza party in particular. It seems patronizing to suggest that a group of adults would be motivated enough to increase production by 40% for the promise of eating delivery pizza with their coworkers. In my experience, the only rewards that work are more money or more time off. Maybe additional development opportunities or something like that, but that might be hard to implement for a whole team.

      For the conversation with the manager, though, your husband could point out that when it comes down to it, you want them to do something they’re not doing. Clearly this team doesn’t have internal motivation to do it or it would be getting done… so you need to either find people who do have the internal motivation, or apply external motivation. It’s probably a lot cheaper to offer a reward for performance than fire a whole team and hire new people, so you might as well try that first.

      1. a nony mouse*

        Yeah, I am an adult and would happily do anything (within reason) to avoid eating delivery pizza with my coworkers. It’s something you reward your middle school class with.

    3. krysb*

      Here’s what we did to help raise production rates and lower error rates. We created a system where all employees have to set quarterly priorities. We heavily leaned on quality management and continuous improvement principles. I gathered the info regarding the rates using statistical analysis and displayed it to them, then we set goal rates that had to be achieved within that quarter (following quarters would have new rates). We mapped our processes to determine what could be removed or improved. We determined what employees utilized the best processes using data instead of intuition, and had them train the others on their processes. We also instituted check sheets so we could monitor the process and be able to see what errors were most common and figure out how to fix them.

      In the end, one year in, our production has increased 15% (and will probably stay where it is now, as there are very few ways to increase the current average due to client and machine parameters) and our errors have decreased from 4% to 0.59%.

      However, we didn’t really reward people. We made this a part of their jobs that had to be performed.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      1) These are people NOT ***.
      2) You are not rewarding them, you are thanking them for meeting a goal that management set for the company.
      3) A machine will work and work and work and still stay with the company, people, oth not so much. You can work them hard and then they leave if they feel unappreciated.
      4) Employers earn employee’s loyalty every day. Other employers who do say thanks will attract people away from this company.
      5) If management does not respect the people doing the work, chances are pretty high that the employees will not respect management either. When this happens, productivity tanks. Respect from management is not optional.

  53. Totally lost*

    For anyone who knows a program coding language, I am curious, how much of an expert do you have to be in coding for it to be useful? I would like to learn one as a supplemental skill, but I don’t ever see myself becoming a programmer.
    I know a little markup coding through html and css already, and that has been immediately useful to me, editing a web site – no need to be an expert before using. I do some amount of work with data and am considering learning SQL, but am not sure if it would be better for me to learn to use Tableau instead, which does not require any coding at all. Does anyone know how long you need to learn SQL before you can create anything worthwhile with it?

    1. Junior Dev*

      It really depends on the circumstances–i know my project manager will sometimes do SQL queries to look at data from our website. My friend who works as a manager for a tech support team taught herself some Python to create reports. Both of those are good languages to learn if you work with data; R is another good one. Do you have any specific things you’re trying to do?

      1. Junior Dev*

        Also, do you have access to a relational database? Do you know what the database engine is (PostGres, MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, etc)?

      2. Totally lost*

        Thanks for your reply!
        I started thinking about this because my grandboss wanted me to create a web-based database from a bunch of qualitative data on a certain subject, that would be openly accessible to the public. I looked at a bunch of options online and got proposals from a vendor for customized work, but none of it was exactly what grandboss was looking for. I ended up creating something mediocre using Tableau Public, but I know that it could have been better if I had more knowledge. So now I am torn between trying to get more experience in Tableau (which is really best for quant data, from what I have heard), or in learning SQL. I do not currently have access to SQL Server, but if I could confidently say I could build something good in that, the price for a standard license would have been within budget. So I was thinking of trying to learn by downloading SQL Express which is free, and then maybe also online courses.

          1. Totally lost*

            For this specific project, it was a stored in a big excel doc. What they proposed was okay, but grandboss wanted this to be an attractive, searchable database, and what they proposed was more like a filter function. It could still do the job, but was less polished than he wanted.

            The vendor’s proposal would have been better than I what ended up doing, but they gave us a several month wait time and quoted us $14K. Budget would have been fine if it did what we wanted, but the wait time was not so fine.

            1. Junior Dev*

              Honestly, building a user-friendly web application is hard–especially with search and data analysis capacities–and I think that price sounds reasonable for what you’re describing.

              If it’s not in a relational database and you don’t have plans to put it in one for an application, I wouldn’t bother with SQL–use R or Python to parse the Excel files and create reports. You can probably find good tutorials online for this. A good free intro Python resource is “Learn Python the Hard Way”–though it can be dense at times, if you get confused by a section try looking up other tutorials and articles on that concept instead of assuming it’s something wrong with you. Codingbat and Project Euler are good reources to practice.

              I don’t know much about R so I won’t comment on how to learn it but I’m sure other commenters can suggest something.

            2. Troutwaxer*

              What you’re describing is entirely typical. You start with a site that’s a little primitive and then you tweak it until it does everything you need it to do. You can learn more SQL, or learn a programming language (I like Ruby for beginners) or dig deeper into Tableau, but the point here is that you make a continuous effort to improve the site and that gets you the important stuff.

              The big issue here is whether you want to more into some kind of programming/data job? If so, go with some SQL and a programming language – that will take you much further into the field. If you’re not interested in programming/data, just build your site with Tableau.

        1. Quirk*

          Trying some online courses and maybe getting a book and messing round seeing what you can create sounds like an excellent idea to me. I think if you can throw some time and effort at this you can probably produce something useful and learn a lot.

          And having enough SQL to be able to set up a small SQL database from scratch is definitely a useful skill. In smaller places it’ll mean you get pushed toward a bit of an IT role, but in bigger places you’ll possibly have a shot at those technical bridging roles where business meets IT. It depends on your field, but those can be very lucrative.

        2. Brett*

          For your specific use case, look at Socrata. They often times provide free or very cheap options for publicly accessible datasets.

        3. Troutwaxer*

          If money is an issue, you might consider an Open Source SQL database like Postgres, MariaDB, or Sqlite. Probably the easiest (not necessarily the best) way to get data from an Excel spreadsheet to a database is to turn the database into a set of Comma Separated Values, then import this into the database, turning strings back into numbers as appropriate.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Not to put a downer on your plans, but you’ll need to learn to goofy Tableau calc field language to do anything complex. And I’m now learning SQL just so I can do some complex joins and unions for geocoding. I work in Tableau all day and I spend 50% of the time writing scripts.
      With all the languages, you pretty much learn the basics and as you are challenged, you learn more. I’d definitely suggest learning some basic SQL. It will serve as a base for anything else you learn.

      1. Totally lost*

        Not at all a damper, that is really useful information! I am at a point right now where I don’t know what I don’t know (this was something I was thrown into, not my main job) so this is helpful – thank you!

        1. AndersonDarling*

          I was having an “I don’t know what I need to know to get to the next level” issue. And the next week I got an email from my online university advertising an MS in Data Analytics. And I realized it was all the stuff I needed to know wrapped up in a bow! I know the feeling. Analytics is vast, but once you get on a path, it can become a narrow road. Good luck!

      2. Qestia*

        I also work in tableau most of the day and found knowing some SQL to be very helpful – and yes you will need to know some codespeak to make calculated fields. But to answer your questions – I know only the very little SQL I learned from google and it’s going just fine- based on what you write I’m sure you will be fine.

      3. Phoenix Programmer*

        I don’t know that I agree – sql and other relational database languages are structured very differently from other languages I know. I programmed in R, SAS, Matlab, and VBA before picking up SQL. I recently learned automation using CMD and BAT files and SQL was very different from all of those languages and took me the longest to learn. Unless you plan to work as an analyst or system administrator I do not see much point in learning SQL. Also if you do try learning SQL be sure to determine what SQL server software you are using first. Another challenging aspect of learning SQL is that the syntax changes significantly based on if you are using MySQL, Oracle, interactive, or some other tool.

        1. Zahra*

          Really, significantly? In the last 2 years, I’ve worked with BigQuery, MySQL, Access, and SQL Server. I haven’t found that syntax differs all that much. Wildcards are the most common difference (% or * are the usual options). Otherwise, pretty much anything you can do in a SQL flavor can be done in another one, maybe with a different function, but still. There are lots of resources online, so if you find that “LEFT” isn’t working for you, it’s easy to find out that “SUBSTR” is the substitute (and so on and so forth).

          Maybe other programming languages are more regimented and that’s why my expectations of “significant” is different from a programmer’s. Although… Regular Expressions (which I use frequently to analyze web data) are much more of a pain than SQL: syntax is wildly different from one flavor to another, changing with each programming/data querying language.

    3. Government Worker*

      SQL can be pretty useful with relatively little time investment, but only if the data you work with is already stored in a database (or if you have large/complex enough data sets that it would be worth setting up a database on your own). In my large organization people tend to start learning SQL when they get tired of asking IT or other departments to generate data sets for them out of the database, or when they find the standard drag-and-drop type reporting and business intelligence tools to be inadequate for the kinds of things they want to know. In a prior job SQL wouldn’t have been that useful because we were a small nonprofit with small data sets that were all in manually-maintained spreadsheets, and even when I set up an Access database for something I was able to use the built-in no-coding query options.

      SQL can do a lot of really powerful things as you learn more (my life got way better when I learned about lead and lag functions), but you can grasp the basics relatively quickly.

    4. Brett*

      Learn skills, not software. This is the problem with being too reliant on Tableau.
      The hard part with SQL is getting experience with real problems with it. It is not difficult, but you have to understand real world situations and problems so you understand when to use techniques like views, materialized views, indexes, foreign data wrappers, etc. and to learn key ways to optimize queries and database structure for specific use cases.

      Realistically, most scripting languages you can be up and running at a pretty high productivity level with 20 hours experience.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, most of my real learning of programming and scripting has been about solving problems. “Learning” to write “hello, world” or what a variable or an array is in the abstract doesn’t really help. And for SQL, you won’t really care about or fully understand what UNION and INNER JOIN mean until you have to use them.

    5. Borgette*

      Tableau actually pairs really nicely with some SQL and Python knowledge!

      The SQL I learned really helps me when I join/merge datasources. Tableau joins can get confusing, so being able to state my goal in SQL helps me communicate when asking for help/Googling and checking the results.

      Basic programming (logical stuff, data types, troubleshooting, everything but loops) really helps when you’re working with calcs and parameters. Tableau also has the option to use custom R, Python, and SQL code, so there’s always that too!

      1. Zahra*

        Yup, I use Tableau and my raw data is stored in SQL tables. I often create tables with only the data I need before going into Tableau. And even then, some manipulations happen in Tableau (mostly because I’m too lazy to do them in SQL or because it’s much simpler in Tableau).

  54. Liz2*

    I’ve been waiting for this today! The local Philadelphia radio station 95.1 mentioned AskAManager around 8:15 this morning and talked about the guy who abandoned his gf and she’s now his boss! They exaggerated for effect of course but it was super cool hearing it!

    1. Friday*

      This one totally went viral. The day it posted, that night I saw it on Buzzfeed. I so hope for an update from the OP.

        1. Purple snowdrop*

          I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for that, although in my head she’s going to email Alison but say not to publish it :(

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        To my surprise, the OP actually wrote to me and said he’ll send in an update after it plays out! (I didn’t expect that after the viral thing happened.)

        1. Friday*

          Oh yay! Can’t wait to hear how it goes down. I’m hoping that since the OP dump and run, Sylvia has been building this amazing, fulfilling life for herself, and the pain that OP caused her is so distant that she’s now nothing more than amused at how much he squirms and feels all guilty in her presence.

    2. Perpetua*

      I had the same reaction of “ooh, I know this, wow!” when I stumbled upon the story…in Croatian media. :D

  55. Nervous Accountant*

    Funny of the week:

    I was shown an email chain between my boss and a now-former coworker. She emailed asking why he was out of his desk for so long after clocking in, and he sent a pretty blunt response saying “I was doing #2 in the bathroom, that’s why I was gone for so long.”

    Another funny is someone has quit every day this week. * shrugs with half smile *

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      I love it. ‘I was taking a crap.’

      I wish I’d had the fortitude to use this when I punched a clock. “I was changing a pad.”

      As for someone quitting every day, do they get harassed about bodily functions?

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        No, this just recently started (asking about time clocks and stuff). 3 out of the 4 quitting have been here for under a year and are bailing now.

      2. Kelly L.*

        So there was this one time I was working in retail and made the mistake of taking a bunch of cough drops with sorbitol. Cue 20-minute visit to the bathroom. When I finally got back to the register area, someone started yelling at me and demanding to know where I’d been (I had told them where I was going, but they’d all forgotten by that point!). I just said “I was in the bathroom,” and there must have been something telling in my expression when I said it, because they went “Oh God! I’m sorry.”

  56. AMPG*

    Any recommendations for some information sources that will help me get up to speed on basic IT stuff? I recently started managing our IT Director, whose performance has been lacking for some time now, and as a result he’s going to be transitioned out. We’re not sure whether we’re going to hire an individual or a contractor to handle things moving forward, but it looks like I’ll continue to be the person who manages whatever our new solution is. The problem is that I know nothing about IT, and so it’s hard for me to properly evaluate the information I’m getting from my staff. I’d love to pick up a better understanding at least of the terminology involved. Is there a blog, or website, or book that can get me started?

      1. AMPG*

        No, I want to learn about basic terminology for my own information. For example, our website is currently down because of a problem with our Name Server, but I don’t know what that means. I can Google things on an as-needed basis, but I’d rather find some sort of primer laying out the basics about how computer networks are set up, how websites are hosted/published, how cloud-based email works, etc. I don’t need to fix anything myself; I just want to be able to follow along when the problem and solution are explained to me.

        1. Consultant*

          It’s still impossible to recommend anything without more specific info about what you need.

          IT is huge. A friend of mine studied computer science. When I asked him some very general questions about some software (big data, analytics), he didn’t know anything about that, never even heard those names, couldn’t even imagine what it was used for.

          Believe me, your question is too general.

          1. AMPG*

            But I don’t want to know about software or specific solutions. I want to know things like what a firewall is (except I do know what a firewall is) or what a name server is (which I have now looked up, but I didn’t know what it was when our website went down) without having to Google every term, every time.

            I’ve now found the How Stuff Works website, which might give me what I want.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              But that might not help because it depends so much on the individual solutions – operating systems, software etc.

        2. A Non E. Mouse*

          Just in this one paragraph there are 4 different specialties listed. Like, one person might have only a vague understanding of one, but be an actual all-I’m-paid-to-do expert in one of the others.

          I mean…do you mean the website is down because of a problem with your domain name? The host? Or routing internal to your business? “Website down because of the Name Server” is so vague I would literally have to back all the way up and start troubleshooting from scratch, and *I kinda know what I’m doing*. If it took me any longer than 30 minutes, I’d punt to an expert at the firm we (an in-house IT staff) has on speed dial.

          If I was in your shoes, I’d hire a firm (not one consultant, but a firm) that offers all these things. Need some help with the website? Call the firm and they assign their website guy to fix it. Email giving you the business this week? You call, their Email Gal dives in. Not sure what’s wrong but people are running around with their hair on fire? The Networking Guy that used to be an Exchange expert will be on site in 20, and knows who to call for help once he’s sussed it out.

          Find a firm you trust (ask around, call other business contacts in businesses about the size of yours and ask who they use, etc.) and then utilize the shit out of them having experts.

          1. AMPG*

            No, I’m not the one in charge of fixing this stuff. We have employees for that. I just want to understand the language he’s speaking without asking for a definition every other word. Like, for our website, it’s his job to troubleshoot and resolve the problem, but I’m stuck on “what’s a name server.”

            Maybe I do have to ask him to explain all the terminology to me as it comes, or just Google it myself every time, although How Stuff Works seems to be giving me a decent start so far.

            1. GreyNerdShark*

              Ask him to explain. Although it is a skill, translating the tech to non tech but it is one every IT person needs.

              So if they say “name server” you say “So explain to me in non tech language what happened” and you should get back something like “When you type the website address in, your PC looks at the first part of the address, the bit before the first /, which is the name of the computer running the site. But names are for people, computers use numbers, a thing called an IP address. So there’s a central lookup that matches names with numbers so people can do names and computers can do numbers. Your PC asks this lookup “what is the number for this name” and when it gets it, it knows how to find the website. But if the server that does names is down, or has the wrong info then the PC can’t find the website. Our name server was not giving out the right info, so PCs couldn’t find our website. We’ve fixed that now”

              I can’t help with a place to find this, as I learned it all years ago…. But your tech should know you don’t know and a good one will teach you because once you do know it is easier to get a decision about priorities or workflow or whether we can get rid of this piece of junk and get something made in this century. (yeah, bit of venting there)

              1. GreyNerdShark*

                Oh and your next thing is of course “so what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Was it human error, or programming error? A process failure? ” The answer might be something about “upstream” or some other 3rd party box, but in that case “Did we know about it quickly enough? What can we do to get notified faster? ”

                THe more you ask about this kind of thing, the more you learn and the more they learn to tell you in ways useful to you.

                1. AMPG*

                  This is very useful, thanks. I know enough to ask the second set of questions, and I’ve already made some headway in figuring out why we’re having certain recurring problems (obviously the biggest issue being that our IT Director wasn’t doing more than fixing the immediate situation, instead of addressing the circumstances that caused the problem to recur). I was hoping to skip having to ask the first set of questions and acquire that knowledge on my own, but it seems that may not really be possible.

            2. Zahra*

              Speaking of How Stuff Works… Check the TechStuff Podcast. Some subjects may not be relevant but some of them definitely are. I’d suggest starting by picking those episodes that’ll help the most first, and then listen to the backlog or subscribe to listen to them going forward if you like their style.

              iTunes only has the last 300 items, but and have them all since 2008. Of course, older episodes might be outdated as to how stuff works now, but they’ll still give you a basis: some things didn’t change all that much.

              Here are a 5 (older) episodes that might help:
              How Cloud Computing Works:

              The Dark Side of Cloud Computing:

              How Proxy Servers work:

              What is a denial of service attack (DDoS):

              Internet Architecture:

    1. Menacia*

      I agree with Consultant that there is no general blog, website or book that would give you an overview because each environment is unique, even in the terminology that is used. Ideally, someone in IT should be able to provide you with a high-level overview of the IT infrastructure and schematics, but it seems like that person might be the one on their way out (do you have any systems engineers or others who support the environment to whom you could direct questions)?

    2. Thegs*

      As others have said, IT is an enormous subject. I would recommend picking up some CompTIA books off of eBay or somewhere else cheap as they’re an okay way to learn about it. You don’t need to do the exam, just familiarize yourself with the books. The basic ones are A+ (hardware), Server+, Network+, and Security+. Whichever one you think is most pertinent to your situation I would start at. But also, this kind of is a thing where you have to accept that you don’t know what you don’t know, and address gaps in knowledge as they become known. I’ve been doing IT for five years as a generalist and I’m still learning new things every week.

    3. krysb*

      You could do the Saylor classes for beginner computer stuff, such as Info to Computer Science, etc. – but I have to note, these are like college classes, so it’s heavy on info.

    4. Serious Sam*

      Step 1: Read all the cartoons on Understand that you will be viewed as the Pointy-Haired-Boss.
      Step 2: Read all the articles on about the damage that a non-IT person can do in your position. As manager of the IT director, you will have to allocate budget for things like backup and power. There are many many options at many price points for all these things. How will you judge the correct amount of money to spend if you have no knowledge of this area?
      Step 3: Recruit someone internally who actually knows about this stuff. Why is there no knowledgeable person internally available to take the role?
      Step 3b: At least have the guts to press the big red button and fully test the disaster recovery plans.

  57. Manders*

    Has anyone here taught English abroad? What do you wish you’d known before you started the process of applying and planning for life overseas? It’s something I’ve been discussing with my husband–we don’t want to go immediately, but a few years down the line, job and family circumstances will be different and it might be the right fit for us.

    The country we were thinking of going to is one my husband focused on in college and graduate school. He’s very close to fluent in the language and even worked as a translator, but it’s going to be a tough language for me to learn since I’ll have to start at zero with a new character set and some sounds I can’t pronounce that well, so I should start soon if I want to be able to get around by myself in a few years. I’m also nervous about possibly having to teach high schoolers; I have tutored ESL students before, but that was at the college level and it was one on one instead of me leading a class. There’s a large expat community there so I won’t be alone, but culture shock is definitely going to be a problem.

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      Two things, above anything else:
      a) Get up to date and stay up to date on labor law. Find out what your employers can and cannot do (e.g. is it against the law for them to prohibit you from accepting private students), especially in terms of the rights of part-time workers.
      b) Watch the tax implications, especially if no tax treaty exists between your home country and the country where you’ll be teaching.

      1. Manders*

        Thanks, these are great things I haven’t thought nearly enough about. Japan does have a tax treaty with the US, but there may be a weird tax situation because I’ll be working in Japan while also renting out my condo in the US, so I’ll be making money in both countries. Who would I speak to about that, a tax preparer or a lawyer?

        1. Kowalski! Options!*

          If you have access to a tax lawyer, preferably one with expat-relevant experience, that would probably be your best bet, especially if that person’s in Japan or has extensive experience working with expats living and working there. “Regular” tax lawyers often aren’t up-to-date on the latest foibles of the tax situation, so it helps to have someone who’s been in the trenches so to speak. (Some expats like to diss expat networks, but when it comes to finding good tax people, expat networks are good for that.)

        2. John*

          Actually, I did just that! It was a bit of a pain, but the only time I really wanted to have a lawyer was when I sold the condo, and had to declare the income in both countries. So, obligatory not a tax preparer statement here, filing from Japan is a hassle and time consuming, but not too bad. First off, after you have spent 330 or so days here, you can exempt up to $90,000 of your earned income using a 2555 (foreign earned income exclusion). You won’t be able to do that in your first year, but you can be exempt from some Japanese taxes that year by filing a tax residency form from the IRS. The condo income is filed for the same as if you were in the US, as it is not included in earned income. You must also remember the FATCA and FBAR, in which various ammounts of savings require you to declare your bank account details to the US treasury. The FBAR threshold is really low, $10,000, and has a weird due date, so keep an eye on that.

          One thing to remember is that by excluding your income (as I do), you can no longer get any tax credits you might use, like the Child Tax credit or the EITC. You can still use some deductions, but not all are applicable.

          The real tricky bit, tax-wise, is that if you are a resident in Japan, you must file your overseas income with the Japanese tax authority, which is quite difficult. I end up going to the local office to file it in the filing season, where their employees will walk you through it. It takes a lot of time, and outside of Tokyo you need to speak Japanese, but filing about overseas property and investments is something I find too difficult to do on my own, since they use different classifications of investments and different deductions. Depreciation, for example, is partly based on earthquake resistant construction, regardless of location worldwide. The other tricky thing is that the Japanese filing date is March 15, while the US one is June 15 for people overseas. Any tax you pay in the US can be credited in the Japan (not the other way around, for non-earned income), but you have to calculate it correctly by March 15th to get it in. You can get it corrected if you’re wrong (I did recently), but it is a massive pain.

        3. Julia*

          If you’re going to Japan, I live there right now and I know a bunch of expats who never learned the language, but get by through their spouses etc. It definitely helps if you speak Japanese, but you can see doctors who speak English etc. without any trouble if you’re in Tokyo. (Rural ares are another thing.)

    2. Morning Glory*

      So not me, but my sister taught English at an elementary school in East Asia, and a college in the Middle East.

      At the first school, she did not speak the language at all when she started, and realized quickly that she did not need to. The students were required to speak English, and all of the other teachers spoke English. Even though she took a class in the native language, she never really learned it, and had no issues the year she was there.

      At the college, she taught English and, professionally speaking, never needed to learn the local language. She ended up learning more in this country anyway because she made more of an effort to do so. But – it was not required. In both cases, most of the people she socialized with were either ex-pats or locals who could speak English.

      So it may really depend on the country, but I would not let not speaking the language dissuade you from teaching English in another country. You could start classes now to help, but imperfect speaking skills likely will not hurt you professionally.

      1. Manders*

        Thanks! My husband keeps reassuring me that it’s possible to get around in Japan while only speaking English. I don’t want to be one of Those Americans who never bothers to learn the local language, but kanji is just not clicking with my brain. Plus, there are so many different dialects that even if I spend years studying I might not be able to understand everything.

          1. John*

            Glad I could help! Speaking another language has been a great boon to me, and I like encourage everyone to give it a shot.

            While you can get around the cities without Japanese, if you live in the countryside (I do! I recommend it!) you really need to learn it. Here, for example, there are at most 10 people that can hold a conversation in English, and I know most of them. Plus side, though, is that speaking and listening skills go up really quickly. I read once that, inside Japan, the JLPT listening section is the considered the easiest part, while outside of Japan it is the hardest.

            Don’t stress the Kanji, if you can get the top 100 or so needed for general life, you’re doing pretty well. If you want to get fluent, you need it, but slowly and surely works well enough. Definitely don’t stress the dialects, they are not really that different, and most people will only speak dialect to a foreigner if they know the foreigner is fluent, or are trying to wind them up.

            ESL – most people who do it learn on the job, so while there is a learning curve, it’s not impossible. I would recommend being an ALT rather than an Eikaiwa teacher, for money, hours, and work-load reasons. The JET programme is great, but limited recently. Most ALTs now are for junior high rather than high school, with a few days in elementary. Tips and tricks : be cheerful, tolerant, and playful. Speak w-a-y slower than you think you need to. (if ALT) find time to talk to your JTE before each lesson, and get on the same page.

            It’s been a few years since I taught (I moved into IT), but let me know if you want anything else!

        1. ginkgo*

          Chiming in to say two somewhat contradictory things:

          1. I lived in Japan for two years and feel like I never did get particularly good at kanji, but I was decent at speaking the language. Of course I wished I was completely fluent and literate, but there’s a difference between not bothering to learn the language at all and just not knowing all the kanji. (There are like 2000 of them! It takes Japanese people their entire schooling to learn them! Give yourself a break!) I won’t lie, not being functionally literate day-to-day is HARD, but speaking is how you really are able to connect with people and so that was what I chose to focus on. No regrets!

          2. Since I’ve been back, I’ve actually been studying kanji with a method that really works for me in a way that the usual methods didn’t, so I’m just throwing it out there in case it’s helpful to you. The book is called Remembering the Kanji by James Heisig. A lot of people on the internet really hate it for various reasons, but people learning Japanese on the internet tend to be terrible anyways, so what I would recommend is finding it in a bookstore and reading through the introduction. If it makes sense to you, give it a go. A lot of people have said that they’ve been able to learn 2200 kanji in a few months with enough time to devote to it; I have a job and a life, but I’m on track to finish in a little over a year by doing 5-10 each day. (It takes me about 15-20 minutes in the morning.) Sorry for the unsolicited advice; I’m just a bit of an evangelist since I thought kanji didn’t “click with my brain” either and it turns out that it wasn’t me – the way they are taught just often tends to be really stupid!

          1. Manders*

            Thank you! I’ll definitely check that out, it does look like it would be a better fit for the way my brain makes associations. Having great communication skills is so important to the work I do now that it’s a little terrifying to be in countries where I can’t read a sign.

        2. Inspector Spacetime*

          I did a study abroad for four months in Japan. I knew the language a little bit before I went, but I definitely wasn’t fluent. My experience was that in tourist areas and academia people spoke English, but not always in daily life– at the bank, at the grocery store, asking for directions, etc. I had friends who knew absolutely zero Japanese, though, and they survived, so YMMV!

          What I did was completely scrap kanji, proper pronunciation, levels of formality, and even to some extent grammatical correctness. I just focused on nouns and verbs. You’d be surprised at how far that gets you in combination with body language and context!

          I would study Japanese before you go but don’t worry too much about being fluent. You’ll be fine!

        3. Julia*

          You didn’t need to worry about the dialects if you won’t move cities/regions during your stay. Plus, even in Osaka, they can switch to standard Japanese if they see you don’t understand their dialect. Believe me, dialects are the last thing you have to worry about.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      People keep telling me I should do this. But even though I have an English degree and three years of education studies in grad school, I have no teaching experience whatsoever and don’t want to!

      1. Manders*

        Up until recently it was something I didn’t think I would ever consider, but various life things happened and now I’m getting excited about the chance to have some adventures + sock a lot of money away by renting out my condo.

        The thing I’m really scared of is trying to control a class of high schoolers because I’ve always had a hard time acting like an authority figure. Supposedly there are some options for teaching adults too, which I would strongly prefer.

        1. Jessi*

          Once you are actually in Japan you may be able to place your own adds for tutoring as well. Which could be one on one or two kids which you may find you like more and It probably pays better per hour :)

        2. Julia*

          My experience with Japan is that the high schoolers, at least in good schools, are pretty well-behaved and know that the exam will be super important.

  58. Teapot Fed*

    What’s the best way to handle a recruiter that either made a mistake or pulled a seeming bait and switch?

    I got contacted by Teapot Sellers Inc. recruiter about a potential hiring event that they were having, with a link to a posting for a Teapot Engineer. They asked for my resume and to answer a few standard questions (Would you be willing to relocate to HQ? Are you talking to any other teams in Teapot Sellers Inc.? etc.). I looked at the posting and my experience fit the qualifications so I responded with the resume and questions.

    Within a day the recruiter got back and said “Let me find something else with your skill set, the hiring event is actually for a Senior Teapot Engineer” Now I’m already confused because that did *not* match the posting or information that I was sent but then I decided to look at Teapot Sellers Inc’s open job postings. They listed several Senior Teapot Engineer openings and there were a few of those that I also would have qualified for, along with the Teapot Engineeer posting. So to me it’s a definite “What the heck happened?” moment.

    Now because I was trying to keep things as nice as possible, I sent back a “Well I’m sorry it didn’t match but I hope you can place me with a team that would be a better fit” message, but I’m not sure if that was the best one or if I should have said something else, like “So what didn’t match because it’s not clear in your job posting versus my resume?” or even “Why wasn’t this originally communicated as a Senior Teapot Engineer?”

    I pretty much opened with it but what’s the best way to deal with it other than hoping that maybe, just maybe the recruiter finds something else for me?

    1. MsM*

      I think you handled it well. There may be some miscommunication or back-and-forth between HR/the recruiter and the team(s) about what they actually need, especially if there are other internal or fast-track candidates. Just ask lots of questions about how things work if you do get an interview, and keep looking in the interim.

  59. Amber Rose*

    When I started this job, I thought my boss was pretty cool and reasonable and great. Now I think that the “reasonable” thing is a facade he puts on, and I feel a little disheartened. And worried.

    It started with lecturing me about taking too much time off because it makes other people think they should call in “sick” and go have fun. And now, well, he’s gone for a month to a very far off place, and for the two or three days before he left, there was a bunch of lectures about how we can’t take long lunches/go home early just because he’s not here, and how he’s got cameras watching us, and privately he asked me and the safety team to keep an eye on people to make sure they’re toeing the line, which is well over the point where I would have passed it all off as joking.

    I’m aware that what I need is a new job, but that feels hopeless also. I’m still well over a year from qualifying to even apply to take the (super expensive) test for a certification that it seems everyone requires to get work in this field. And I’m not sure I even want to do this anymore, which is terrible since I’m almost in my 30’s and what am I even doing with my life. None of my jobs are related to each other.

    I’m so burned out and I feel completely lost. How the heck do people well out of school figure out what they wanna be when they grow up?

    1. JulieBulie*

      LOL – he has cameras on people? Really? Perhaps you and your colleagues should put on a show for him.

      I’m so sorry you’re burnt out. Just keep thinking about that certification.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yeah, we have a bunch of security cameras in the office that I guess he can remote into? I’m not worried about it because none of them focus on my desk. I can slack off all I want! (Not really.)

        The thing is, even once I qualify to apply for the certification, I have to come up with almost a thousand dollars to pay for it, when I frequently find myself choosing between paying bills and buying groceries. I don’t even know if it’s worth it. I don’t like my job that much. I don’t hate it. I’m just super ambivalent about it.

        I found my passion in life years after I left school and now I’m so hopelessly broke there’s no way for me to go back to school to fix it. :(

    2. Gloucesterina*

      Sorry to hear you’re in a tough spot. I’m in my late 30s and in a continual and ongoing process of figuring out what I want to do after completing my graduate training, since I’ve found that research isn’t quite my jam (or at least the particular ways I’m immersed in research right now). It’s easy for me to suggest to you that as a much younger person you shouldn’t feel like the clock is ticking on getting on a “real” career path, since I know that feeling all too well. What’s helping most is hearing from folks who did have a sinuous career path (e.g. a professor who used to work in another field; a person working in field X who used to have a faculty job). Being in an academic contexts, these are the types of stories I get exposed to. I don’t know how you can get to hear different types of stories?

      1. Amber Rose*

        My massage therapist used to be an engineer, haha. He says he finds giving massages more meaningful. And the car salesman I bought my car from also used to be an engineer in the industry I’m in now. We had some fun trading acronyms and shop talk while husband sat there looking increasingly baffled.

        The problem is, I only hear from people who went from very difficult to achieve careers to less education intensive ones. I have an idea what I wish I could be doing, but it would be like going from civil engineer to architect, you know? Requires just as much, if not more, education than I’ve got (I have a B.Sc.). And I have no way of paying for more school. It’s impossible. Unless I get in another car accident. Which, not worth it. :/

        1. Gloucesterina*

          :( on your car accident!!

          What you’re saying resonates with me–I never seriously considered doing a professional degree that would suit me for actual jobs that exist in the world, since I couldn’t pay for them. Many PhD programs, on the other hand, offer funding but then the problem is that (for me) you’re on this research train that never stops. And the train is very low-paying! On the plus side, free pizza is occasionally offered to passengers.

    3. Bryce*

      Keeping an eye on people, is that part of your actual job or is he creating a squad of secret police?

  60. HJ*

    I just had to share a crazy job ad. It was for a receptionist position for a small business. In the working conditions it listed that employees will not bring meat into the building and have to eat in designated groups, whatever that means. Don’t know what’s going on there, but it was a hard nope for me!

    1. Manders*

      Hah, that’s a weird one. There are a few religions that separate meat from other foods in a certain way or ban practitioners from eating all meat or certain kinds of meat, but I’ve never heard of one that forbids people from being in the same building as meat. Was the organization related at all to something like veganism or animal welfare, or was the anti-meat thing totally out of left field?

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        Maybe the owners keep very strict kosher? I know that if they do it’s not enough for they themselves to keep kosher, the whole business would need to be. I still wouldn’t think that would require banning meat, but maybe they feel that that makes it easier to avoid non-kosher situations? Maybe there are even more banned foods not listed in the ad and meat is just the big one they mention up front??

        1. Bryce*

          I don’t recall any kosher laws about mandating the behavior of employees. Even for those of us who keep separate sets of plates and such, that’s a personal thing to manage rather than something to enforce in the breakroom.

      1. LAF*

        I used to be a barista, and I was training someone one day who did not understand what “three quarters” meant, as in “fill the cup three-quarters full of milk.” I quote, “I’m not really good with halves and quarters and things.” So depending on the job, I can see why they might specify this as a skill.

        1. Coalea*

          I once ordered 2/3 lb of turkey at the deli counter and was presented with two packages, each one containing 1/3 lb.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That was actually a requirement for OldExjob production positions. It was a shop environment and you absolutely had to be able to read a ruler or tape measure. It was even on the little quiz we made candidates for those positions take.

    2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I once saw an ad that devoted an entire paragraph to why no one at the company was above picking up litter in the lobby and how everyone was expected to pitch in to keep the place looking tidy. What happened at this place that they put that in a job ad?!

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      In the working conditions it listed that employees will not bring meat into the building and have to eat in designated groups, whatever that means.

      Maybe the vegans and the vegetarians don’t like to mingle…

    4. AliceBD*

      I worked a customer service job where we all had assigned lunch hours so we would have enough coverage on the phone. If you had something you could switch with someone — it was a small company and the coverage was managed among ourselves as the boss didn’t care how we handled it, just that we did — but you couldn’t just take lunch when you felt like it because then there wouldn’t be enough coverage. I would guess it is something like that.

    5. Kerr*

      Receptionist job ads seem to be where the loonier elements of businesses show up. (Source: looking at one too many receptionist/admin ads.)

      My “favorite” was one for a receptionist who would pick up phone calls AT ALL TIMES – I think they specifically included breaks and bathroom? In a demanding tone? It was a short ad, but a full line was devoted to this. Yeah, nope.

  61. Stefanie*

    I recently came back from my 6 months maternity leave and the person who was replacing me was my assistant. I know when you come back into your job stuff changes and that’s fine, but is it normal that my assistant is VERY reluctant to give me back my tasks, workload and job? Overall, on my first day back, she didn’t come in, didn’t prepare anything, updates or documents I had asked and she won’t return my agenda saying its troublesome…

    Right now, she handed me a few tasks to do and until those tasks ares done I don’t get my “job” back because right now it is “inconvenient for her since she had a routine down and now my arrival has disrupted her…”

    I feel not wanted despite the owner and GM saying they are happy I am back. I am torn between going above with this since there is no HR at my company and “breaking” the relationship with my assistant.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa. You are her manager, right? You have authority here; you don’t need to go to HR because you can just manage her. Sit down with her and say, “I need X, Y, and Z by the end of the day.” If you get resistance, name it — “I’m getting the sense you’re not thrilled about handing this stuff back over to me. I really appreciate the work you did to cover some of this while I was away, but my return can’t be a ‘disruption’ to you. What’s going on?”

      1. Stefanie*

        yes I am (half her manager, she’s also assistant to the sale manager), but she’s has a type of personality which is is “in your face and very blunt”. I have already talked to her about it but she tends to shrug it off. Our last meeting I told her bluntly : in September I am back in place with ALL my tasks. It was somewhat shrugged off yet again. This is why I am so confused because the last thing I want to do is start a war (I have seen her in war mode, it ain’t pretty…)

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          She’s the one “starting the war” here. Not that there has to be a war, but! you are not the problem! You have not asked anything unreasonable, unexpected, or unusual.

          If she continues to be insubordinate, do you have the authority to fire her? If not, bring it up post-haste to your manager. Being pushed out of jobs post-maternity-leave is a thing we have laws about. (I don’t know if this runs afoul of it, but it’s something your company will probably want to be very careful about.)

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          There’s no war when one person (you) has all the power. Calmly explain what you need from her and hold her to it. If she causes problems, address those. If they’re serious, let her go.

          There’s no war or battle here. You hold all the cards. It’s worth thinking about why you’re not acting like you do! (Candidly, that says to me that you’re not managing her / that you feel uncomfortable doing your job as a manager. It’s not really optional though. That’s your job.)

          1. Stefanie*

            I am her manager, however she also reports to the sales manager (so you could say I am half her manager) and she is adored by my sales manager… I am indeed uncomfortable when it comes to her because I never know which flip side she will be for her brashness and bluntness. I will try to talk thing directly one last time. However I have no control when it comes to firing someone it is really the GM that does this. I will however speak with the GM for her to intervene if on my end nothing happens.

            In this situation, firing her will probably not happen because she has just told me she is pregnant and in our Country’s laws, you can’t fire someone who is pregnant (to do this you need to mount a dossier against this employee, else she could sue us).

            Thank you for your advice I will hopefuly be able to make things clear.

        3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          Does she think she has protection from the other manager? Do you have a good working relationship with the sales manager? I would sit down with the sales manager and lay it out “Assistant is being increasingly insubordinate and it needs to be addressed. Not only is this an issue purely from a performance standpoint – she is not conducting herself properly and her behavior is in no way acceptable – if it stems from a desire/intent to push me out – after returning from maternity leave – it opens up the company to liability, especially if anyone has given her the idea that it is supported. I need to know that I have your support in correcting this egregious behavior, and you will be ok with terminating her should she not be able to readjust.”

          1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

            You also need to sit down with her again and VERY VERY clearly and VERY firmly lay down the law. “X will be completed by this date, Y will be completed by this date, future requests for Z will be brought to me immediately, your tone/behavior/conduct/attitude, which has been poor in these ways, will be corrected to these ways immediately. If you fail to meet any of these requirements, you will be put on a PIP. If you fail the PIP, you will be terminated. No second chances. This is how it is going to be – if you cannot accept that, you need to leave.”

    2. swingbattabatta*

      This feels like a power play. I think you are going to need to assert yourself here, otherwise its just going to get worse.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Agree, I bet she found that she enjoyed doing your job and wants to keep it. Assert yourself!

      2. LizB*

        +1000. Your assistant is trying to take a ton of power that she doesn’t rightfully have. You wouldn’t be “breaking” the relationship by reasserting your authority — she’s breaking it already by trying to freeze out her boss.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      Uh WTF. Does she report to you?

      You need to insist she bring you up to speed immediately and I’d think really hard about whether or not you should keep her on. That’s not acceptable behavior.

    4. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      This is definitely a power play. She is bitter that she did your job while you were gone and is now having to go back to being an assistant. She is most definitely trying to push you out. You are her manager, Sit her down and calmly, but firmly, lay down the law. You are her boss, she works for you, and she needs to begin behaving as such.

      1. Stefanie*

        thank you I will try one last time and believe more in myself and be less afraid of her. I am hopeful things work out, otherwise I am going to my GM and it will be out of my hands.

        1. Sadsack*

          I think you need to re-read all of the comments here. I am worried for you–there is no reason you should be afraid of telling her how you intend to handle your job or telling the GM that she is not cooperating. It doesn’t matter what the sales manager thinks of her.

        2. Bagpuss*

          If you haven’t already, then confirm the instructions in an e-mail. It can be a ‘just to confirm our conversation earlier today, I need you to do x, y & z by [date]. As directed, you need to make this a priority. ”

          That way, if she doesn’t do it, you have concrete evidence that she has ignored / failed to follow direct instructions and it is much harder for her to argue that the instructions were unclear, or that she didn’t know it was urgent.
          (I don’t know which country you are in. I know that here (in the UK) a lot of people think you can’t sack someone when they are pregnant, but the reality is that you can, provided that the reason for the sacking is not related to the pregnancy, so someone can be sacked for misconduct, but of course it’s important to follow the correct process so you have evidence that that was the reason – if your country is similar, then documenting your instructions and her insubordination is doubly important, if things don’t improve and you do need to talk to your GM about disciplinary action of any kind)

  62. paul*

    We’re in full sit and wait mode re: our response to this damn storm. We’re not in the impacted area but our organization may be called up to provide support to the impacted areas. So much hurry up and wait right now I’m going crazy after 2 very busy previous days. My pre-SHTF jitters are so bad I’ve got no appetite (hey, yay for easy weight loss though). I’ve got friends, family and colleagues in the impacted areas we’re all worried about too.

    Harvey go home.

      1. paul*

        This one’s got strong shades of Ike–bleeeech. Wind’s bad but the flooding’s worse. Someone on the last conference call mentioned Joaquin and I about threw up; we weren’t at all involved in that one but I heard about it and holy crap.

        I think right now the concern is predominantly the damp. Depending on what predictions you believe, the area from Corpus to west Houston is looking at anything from 20-40″ of rain between now and Tuesday. Estimated trillions of gallons of rain is double what happened in Alison.

        and someone just mentioned an ERW on this call.

        I need some damn Xanax or something. I’ll be fine once it hits but this waiting game is driving me bonkers. I need to be busy not worrying.

          1. paul*

            been living here for years :) Tornado, blizzards, grass fires. It’s awesome.

            We’ve just got MOU’s with colleagues down south that may get activated. Gotta be mutually reinforcing in case you’re knocked out/overwhelmed by an event ya know?

    1. LCL*

      Thinking good thoughts for the affected people. The dark morbid side of me that won’t shut up today keeps whispering ‘Katrina’ in my ear, I had to turn off the news.

  63. gingerbird*

    Question for you guys, how much of a pay bump would it take for you to leave a job you actually liked?

    Im at a job I enjoy and a feel appreciated, but I’m afraid I might stagnate. I work in an industry where its not uncommon for people to jump ship after even less that 2 years. But I like my job?

    1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      It would have to be significant, but if I really loved my current job, I don’t think I would even be looking around to get that offer.

      I had a similar position previously. I enjoyed my job and loved the people I worked with, but financial constraints and exceptionally poor leadership and management at the highest level prevented any sort of pay raises. I was approached by another department on campus with a position that was technically a promotion, higher salary, improved benefits, and most importantly – 32 hours as opposed to 40. In addition, the benefits at my department were going to be less valuable as ObamaCare was causing our premiums to double and that would be an out of pocket expense. When I was deciding whether to take the other position, I really had to evaluate what my bottom line would be for salary to make it worth the move.

      1. gingerbird*

        I’m not actively recruiting, but I get messages from company recruiters and I keep an eye on the job market.

        This is my first job since I switched careers, and I’m really just curious how much I’d be worth. There’s also an element of peer pressue as a lot of my (non coworker) peers are incredulous that I’m not actively looking. They all state that they’ll be switching jobs at least once every 5 years.

    2. CatCat*

      I liked my last job a lot, but found out I was making way less than pretty much identical peers. So I looked elsewhere and got a 30% (!) pay bump. That, coupled with being underpaid, was enough to make me leave a job I liked.

    3. Never Nicky*

      It would probably be in the region of 30% … half of which would cover my commuting costs (I work from home) and the extra time lost, and then the rest because I do really like my job and am doing well at it, after most of a working career being in ill fitting roles.

    4. Gee Gee*

      Caveat: I work in a field in which it’s normal to stay put for anywhere for 2-30 years.

      It would depend on why I liked the job. If it’s for reasons that are rare (amazing boss, unheard-of flexibility) then I would need a very large bump to make it worth leaving. Say, at least 25% higher, and that’s assuming all other things (PTO, health care, et cetera) are comparable or better.

    1. fposte*

      If they don’t work for you, you shrug it off. Especially if you just referred them, not recommended them, you’re not claiming they’re bulletproof.

      If you did make claims that don’t seem to have proven true, you recalibrate your internal meter; if you recommended them and they’re a freaking disaster, there might be a little blowback, but it depends on the nature of the disaster.

  64. swingbattabatta*

    I want to ask for a promotion, but I’m having trouble figuring out what exactly I want to ask for. My firm is very anti-hierarchy within titles (i.e. we’ll have “Developers”, but they don’t want “Jr. Developer” and “Sr. Developer”). We have 2 different levels of seniority (i.e. “Developer” and “Development Manager”), and I am definitely not qualified to move up to Development Manager, but I need some upward movement. I am more senior then any of the other developers on my team (in terms of years of work in this industry, and years with this Company), I am frequently asked to manage teams and peers, and I am given much more independence and autonomy than the other developers. I want to push for Sr. Developer, but I don’t know if I should say “I think you should create this title”, or if I should just say “I want a promotion for x and y reason, and I deserve it for A, B, and C reasons” and then let them come up with a solution.

    Their response is that they want salaries to speak for themselves in terms of seniority, but that doesn’t work for me. I’ve been with this company for 5 years, I need to see progress in my career, and on a practical level, it is very problematic to ask me to manage peers without distinguishing me from the group.

    Also, I’m so bad at this. I always feel like I’m at a disadvantage.

    1. MsM*

      I’d argue for the promotion, and keep the title bump in your back pocket as an alternative proposal if they don’t go for that but agree you’re doing good work. Ultimately, though, it may just be that this place isn’t structured the way you need it to be to advance your career the way you want to. (Although if you’re otherwise happy, you might also want to ask yourself just how much the title matters, or whether your work speaks for itself on your resume.)

  65. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    You guys… my coworker just pulled a chair up to the side of my desk, dragged over a small waste can, and started clipping her freaking fingernails while meeting about the issues that came up this week.

    I let my face react naturally and asked her what the heck she was doing. She was completely stumped at why I was upset. I told her to take it to her own office.

    But seriously… ewwwwww.

    1. stuff*

      The bulk of years working, I have had to listen to co-workers clip their nails. The sound – and very concept of doing it at work as routine rather than emergency – makes my blood boil. I have, thankfully, managed to never say anything because my words would be wildly unkind.

  66. Negotiating adjunct*

    I am wondering if there is any way for me to salvage a side gig that I used to enjoy but that has become unfulfilling. For about six years, I’ve been moonlighting as an adjunct instructor in an online program related to my day job. Usually adjuncts have little room to negotiate but I teach something pretty obscure and I think I would be hard to replace. Also, while I like earning the money to put towards home improvement projects, the amount I earn from this for this year will be about 3% of my gross income. I’m prepared to walk away from doing this, which is a strong negotiating position.

    But what do I want? What I originally, genuinely liked about teaching was interacting with bright students and sharing stuff about our profession in addition to the concrete skills we do in the class. The problems that have emerged related to both the students and the material.

    The material is technology-related so I end up having to do a lot of syllabus upkeep that I think the full-time professors should probably do, but they don’t. I pretty much own the syllabus at this point and have to go through the whole thing every time to check for resources that are broken or wrong, then decide how to replace them. Recently I’ve only taught once per year instead of twice, so the unpaid upkeep work is spread across fewer paid classes. I’ve tried pitching a project to modernize and update the entire course, but they won’t pay me to do it. (Once they paid me for a partial refresh because I said the assignments were bordering on unuseable.)

    Also, I feel the students they’ve recruited are weaker than when I’ve started. (Enrollment is down so I suspect they’re admitting more marginal candidates.) All of my course edits have been in the direction of making it easier, but I had to flunk students from my last two groups, which I hated. I feel like they possibly shouldn’t have been admitted, but the school took a lot of tuition money from them and then they failed. The students used to march through the material pretty much on schedule, but lately I’ve had more of them who are falling behind and turning everything in late, so that I’m always in the middle of grading everything at the same time. It’s harder for me to stay organized. And, I don’t have as much time to spend on the stronger students, so I’m pretty sure I’m generally *worse*at*teaching* than I used to be. Instead of having thought-provoking discussions with students, I’m spending my time on extra-help and dickering over late assignments.

    Gosh, now that I’ve gone to the trouble of writing this out, it sounds hopeless. Is there anything I can ask for to improve this and get it back to the way it used to be?

    1. fposte*

      Ugh, Safari can’t cope with longer comments. Shorter version: overall, I don’t think you can make it the way it used to be no matter what the situation; the students aren’t going to change, and that seems like the biggest factor. Additionally, if they have professors teaching this same course and they’ve already dropped you to one course, that doesn’t sound like a ton of leverage.

      You can of course ask to teach more (I’m guessing you’ve done that already, though); the other thing I think you could ask for that might be granted is getting some support on the resource logistics for the syllabus. That sounds like something a student employee could handle in a few hours a week, so maybe you could get a piece of somebody’s GA to do that.

      But mostly it sounds like this just isn’t going to be as nice a sideline as it used to be; sorry.

      1. Negotiating adjunct*

        I didn’t explain very well–I’m actually the only person who teaches this course anymore, and this is the only course I’ve ever taught. I used to do it some of the time and a full-time professor did it sometimes, but with the lower enrollment, they’re offering it less often even though it’s a required course. It would be a hassle if I didn’t do it anymore. I like the idea of trying to get a GA to help with the upkeep. Just having someone locate all the materials that need update/replacement would save a lot of time. Thanks for weighing in!

    2. TeacherNerd*

      First, I think the mindset should change a little. It’s seemingly minor, but it can affect your mindset. You didn’t flunk any students; they failed on their own volition. Second, whether students should be admitted is immaterial since they’ve already been admitted. (And this is perhaps better addressed as a separate issue, because one can make the often-true argument that there will always be a segment of the student population who is unprepared or underprepared.)

      One thing I’ve noticed with colleagues who have taught the same class for a long period of time is that they become convinced the students are becoming denser about the same subject matter. They may or may not but sometimes our expectations don’t reflect the ways (both good and bad) in which education evolves. And if we’re teaching the same thing in the same order, it gets boring.

      That said, it might be time to completely overhaul your class. This will take time, and might not be feasible to do this particular semester (since there’s a good chance it’s already started, or will start imminently). If I notice students aren’t getting the material “they used to get,” I interpret that as a reflection of my teaching style and materials and possible stagnation. And I also understand there are financial restraints that you might face, but it might be time to make a strong argument and work with your department chair (or whomever it is to whom you report) to work on getting better funding. They may not understand what you need.

      1. Negotiating adjunct*

        You’re completely right on the “who failed” question and I’ve gotten some pep talks from teachers in the extended family on this. The students who failed did so not because they valiantly tried to understand the material and couldn’t, but because they sort of “petered out” of doing the work. I was a real school-nerd, the kind who did all the available extra work, so I find this very hard to understand. Also, they tend to freak out at the last second and barrage me with reasons, which makes me feel bad even though I can’t do anything at that point.

        I think you’ve really hit on something about getting bored/stale/feeling like the students are getting denser. Over time, I feel like I’ve really honed my presentation and gotten better at explaining the material. But, of course it’s a fresh batch of students every time! Maybe what I need is not a break from teaching altogether, but teaching this exact class.

        (P.S. These are all good comments but I have some meetings this afternoon so I’m answering one at a time!)

        1. TeacherNerd*

          I will say that sometimes one can really attack a class and just not pass or otherwise do well – this certainly happened to me a number of times. Sometimes I just didn’t do the work, but once or twice I really threw my mind at it and just didn’t grasp the material the first time. And of course there are also students to whom something catastrophic happens (fortunately a rarity).

      2. Gloucesterina*

        Good suggestions if you decide you want to continue with this gig or make space for yourself to grow within its confines. For most instructors (even including many tenured faculty in my institutional context) the ask isn’t “teach well-prepared and intrinsically motivated students” but “teach the students in your class today.”

        1. Negotiating adjunct*

          That is well put and I think helps me frame part of the problem: I’m trying to teach today’s students with yesterday’s syllabus. It is definitely unrealistic for me to only want well-prepared/motivated students but there are more concrete aspects of this too. At one point, the program made a course that was previously required for everyone in the program optional, but I didn’t know about it until the students started messing up part of an assignment that relied on background knowledge from that course. I had to change the assignment to match up with what I could now expect them to know. But this has never been addressed in a systematic way; the syllabus feels like bandaids on top of bandaids. I sort of feel like they want me to do two jobs (curriculum and teaching) and only pay me for one (teaching) and I’m not enough of a pushover to fully take on both but then I feel guilty about the student experience not being what I want it to be.

          1. TeacherNerd*

            Curriculum development is so intrinsically tied to teaching, though, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to separate them. Every time you develop your own class, even if others in your department teach it, you’re developing a curriculum. Sometimes it’s from the ground up, but sometimes, as you’ve noticed, it’s small changes over time, vs. a massive change. Sometimes, too, a curriculum is handed down from On High ™, but even then, one is explaining or clarifying or adapting the material.

            I’m not sure if you’ve ever attended a teaching methods course, but we focus on scaffolding, which is what you realized when students came in with no prior knowledge; you had to adapt the material to provide a background before jumping in to the material. Do you do any kind of pre-assessment at the start of the semester?

            1. Negotiating adjunct*

              I think the course really needs a total reboot, but they have already declined to pay me to take time outside the teaching semester to do that. The fact that the subject matter is technology makes me feel reasonable in seeking to do this–things change FAST–but it seems like they just have no process for dealing with course updates. Most of the classes wouldn’t need it.

              This program used to do some teaching seminars and stuff but not anymore. I suppose they want my professional experience/subject area knowledge more. This is supposed to be one of the final classes in a graduate program, which is why I’m grumbly about some things they don’t know (I chalk this up to the program and its changing requirements, not them, though). I changed one week of my material to be sort of like “background stuff I wish students knew but I don’t want to assume: the technology version.” That has helped. I like the idea of a pre-assessment. That would help me reach the students in each individual group, on the fly, instead of changing my syllabus in general.

          2. Gloucesterina*

            Oof, yes, it’s all a lot to take on! If you do experiment with making changes to the course, one thing that can be motivating for students is to explain what changes you made and why you believe that the changes will help them learn. (We know that one thing that affects student motivation is knowing that the instructor is committed to helping them learn, and that can be expressed in lots of ways other than individual help/answering individual questions.)

            One question I always find clarifying when planning or revamping a class is not so much what do I want students to produce (a paper or exam or project or whatever that looks like in your context) but what skills do I want them to practice?

            Seconding TeacherNerd’s suggestion of doing a some kind of pre-assessment. This look like a simple in-class or Google Forms survey asking about their previous coursework or preparation. You can also use the survey to ask one thing they’re excited about and one thing they’re nervous or unsure about, so that you can begin to anticipate concerns before they’re inundating you with emails before a due date!

            1. Gloucesterina*

              Oops, meant to say a pre-assessment _can_ look like a simple survey. Or maybe you could do an ungraded quiz/assignment or a combination of both an assignment and a survey.

    3. Yorick*

      My initial suggestion is to stop accepting late assignments. I’ve found that they really pull focus away from teaching the current material.

      You can’t negotiate a way to get stronger students. But if you’re finding that the weaker students cause you to put more work into the class, that is a reason to ask for a pay raise.

      1. Negotiating adjunct*

        I’d have to check how much leeway I have about changing policies, but not allowing late assignments would really help, that’s a great idea. I could even allow them up to a week late with the existing 10% penalty but not allow them later than that, because that would still keep me on a schedule of what I’m grading when. (Everything’s due at least a week apart.) This policy would also make the students who are not doing well aware of their situation, as opposed to what happens now, which is that they’re convinced they’ll catch up, even when I try to warn them about the withdrawal deadline.

        1. Zahra*

          College policy was 5-10% off your assignment per day, depending on the department. As in, you got 75% but you submitted your work 3 days late, your actual grade is 45%. That is a powerful motivator to hand your assignment on time.

        2. Yorick*

          I either do no late assignments at all, or 10% off per day. That way you don’t have to accept them more than 10 days late, and sometimes can just tell them not to bother after a few days.

    4. LazyGirl*

      I’m thinking about ways you could limit the class to students who would be more likely to succeed. could you accept fewer students into the class? Or define a prequisite or even GPA requirement?

      I don’t like to use the word hopeless, but I do wonder if maybe the season for this is just over for you. Stopping might leave you open to other types of opportunities that come along.

      1. Negotiating adjunct*

        This makes a lot of sense, but I’m not sure that anything that reduces the size of the class would be workable. They already only have enough students to run it once a year; I’ve had it cancelled once due to low enrollment.

        “Just stopping” is definitely an option. I had this realization a while back that “Hey, you don’t *have* to do this” which was very freeing.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      Are you into the online part of it? If you’re teaching something obscure, you could probably teach weekend classes at any local college/uni. There are a lot of ways to teach if you’re not trying to make a full-time career of it.

      I think there’s a small problem with your mindset: teaching isn’t about only interacting with your favorite students. That’s not something you should have as a goal if you intend to keep teaching. It’ll get you in trouble.

  67. Shayland*

    So my mom has been on my forever and ever to do this assignment in the book, “What Color is your Parachute?” Well, I finished it. I’d really like to share the results I got and see where you lovely commenters think I might fit into the working world. I’ve also really struggled with working so far. Two years ago I was fired three days into my first job for being disabled, and the legal process around that still isn’t wrapped up. I also canvassed for a while, and while I was okay at it, I found that it was pushing me toward becoming a person I didn’t like. I also had a seizure about six months into the job and I had to stop working for two months because I was so impaired from it. I just choice not to come back.

    So… yeah. Being an adult is scary. Jobs are scary. I feel like I don’t really know what’s out there. I’d really like it if you could read through these transferable skills that the Parachute activity matched to me and see what roll in this capitalist hellscape might suite me.

    I have experience with public speaking (disability and anti-bigotry education) but I don’t really know how to make a living doing that. I also am in school studying glass blowing. I really think I’d like to be a studio attendant or glass working assistant. And finally, I’ve been training my service dog for a year now and I love it, the education I do everyday while out shopping with him, and the working and learning about animals.

    So, without further adue:

    ★ C2 Performing Skills ★
    Addressing Groups, Speaking ability and articulateness, Public speaking
    Stimulating people

    C3 Leadership Skills
    Keen perceptions of things as they could be, rather than passively accepting them as they are
    Sees and seizes opportunities
    Showing courage

    ★ D1 Language, Reading, Writing, Speaking, Communication Skills ★
    Communicating effectively
    Expresses self very well
    Outstanding writing skills
    Thinking quickly on one’s feet

    ★ D2 Instructing / Interpreting / Guiding / Educational Skills ★
    Having commitment to learning as a life-long process
    Conveys tremendous enthusiasm

    D3 Serving / Helping / Human Relations Skills
    Rendering support services

    ★ E1 Institutional and Innovating Ideas ★
    Highly imaginative
    Demonstrating continual originality
    Love of exercising the mind muscle

    ★ E2 Artistic Skills ★
    Creative imagining
    Artistic talent

    F1 Observational / Learning Skills
    Delighted in knew knowledge

    F2 Research / Investigating /Analyzing / Systematizing / Evaluating Skills
    Problem solving

      1. N.J.*

        We don’t typically correct grammar, typos, spelling of the commenters on this site, even if done relatively kindly. It’s in the commenting guidelines.

          1. N.J.*

            No problem. The misspelling didn’t affect my understanding of your post and it shouldn’t have been pointed out in the first place. You are doing fine, don’t pay any attention.

    1. MsM*

      “I have experience with public speaking (disability and anti-bigotry education) but I don’t really know how to make a living doing that.”

      Program/outreach roles with nonprofits? The pay may not be great, and they might want specific academic qualifications, but being a member of the community you serve and having a passion for the work are definite pluses.

      1. Bloop*

        I was actually told about such a program by a stranger at the train station a year ago. But I lost the card he gave me and now can not find the organization. My google fu sucks.

        I’ll try asking around at the speaking events relating to disability I’ve been invited to recently. They might know. I’m finding it’s really easy to do for free. Which would be fine except it takes so much work before I even step on the stage that I just don’t think it will be viable after I leave school.

        Thanks for the reminder!

    2. N.J.*

      There are typically disability advocate and education/outreach positions at universities. I see those types of positions posted every once in awhile st the bug state university where I live, maybr that could be a fulfilling role?

    3. Geillis D.*

      All clues point to teaching, whether at a conventional school or an informal setting.
      Is this something you have considered doing?

      1. Shayland*

        Hmm. I don’t think I could ever teach in the American public school system, as that would likely kill me. But I’ve always really wanted to be a mentor like my own teachers and camp counselors have been for me. Maybe I could look into other countries school systems.

        Some informal settings I’ve considered have been starting a YouTube channel about disability and service dogs. But I know the chances of hitting it big there are slim. And there’s lots of work not relating to teaching involved. Although, that being said I do like editing video. Do you have other ideas for specific informal settings or avenues?

        Thanks so much for input!

        1. Lurker who knits*

          My thoughts:

          1) Make the educational videos you want to make without the expectation of hitting it big on YouTube. The process of making them will help you clarify your ideas and teach you tech skills. This could end up being a portfolio if you look for a job (i.e. video editing) that requires a portfolio. Consider not publicly sharing all/some of your work to protect it.
          2) What about teaching within the setting of a program designed to help people with disabilities? There are many government and non-profit programs covering a variety of areas (adult day care, job training programs for ‘soft’ skills). Higher ed institutions also often have community outreach programs/centers to serve a specific population or need.
          4) Volunteer with an organization to gain experience and network. Once you have established relationships with people, ask for advice on how to get into a field.

          A relative of mine has a medical disability and, as a teen, volunteered at a non-profit which runs summer camps for people with disabilities (all types). Relative got a degree in digital media (and continued volunteering at the org) and now works there doing administrative work and fund raising. Public speaking engagements are part of the job. Pay is not great (like most non-profits), but relative really enjoys the work.

  68. Jillociraptor*

    My new boss is circling the wagons among our leadership to actually try to performance manage our difficult coworker! I’m not super hopeful that this guy can change, but I am heartened that someone is actually going to try to manage him rather than let him continue to derail our office’s work (and foist more work on me).

    I’ve never worked with a low performer before. I’ve worked with people who are struggling in their roles, or still learning their position, but never with someone who willfully refuses to do the work they’re asked to do and grouses endlessly about others expecting that he’ll do his job. I anticipate lots of push-back and continued grousing from him. Our desks are right next to each other. Has anyone been in a situation like this before? How have you approached working with someone who’s pushing back against being held to reasonable expectations?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Since the boss is involved, I just support whatever the boss says.

      “Yes, Bob, it’s fair to ask you to have your report done by Thursday. All of us have to have our reports done by Thursday also. It’s a requirement of the job.”
      I use a flat almost distracted tone of voice and I just restate what the boss has told Slacker.
      Here the goal is not to react to what Slacker is saying. Slacker will have to go talk to someone else to get sympathy.

      Sometimes it got tricky because I was not even sure what Slacker was telling me or why Slacker had to do a certain thing. In those cases, I would simply say, “I don’t know much about that. You’ll have to talk to the boss. ” Again, using that flat, detached tone of voice.

      If Slacker keeps babbling on and on about the problems with the boss, you can say a few things:
      “Sorry to hear that. I hope you get everything worked out.”
      “Sorry to hear that, but I really need to focus on my work right now.”
      “Yep. We talked about this before. I don’t really have anything helpful to say.”

  69. Blue Anne*

    A question related to something that came up with a client…

    The manager of a health care facility hired a new health aide. Her hiring date worked out so that she started with just a few hours of work in her first pay period. As a result, her paycheck would have been under $100 and per company policy it should have been rolled forward onto the next pay period. (I don’t like this policy very much, but I see why they do it, and they do make it clear to staffers.)

    However, the employee really needed the cash. So the manager of the facility went out and got her a Walmart gift card for the amount she should have been paid. This wasn’t a bonus and wasn’t in addition to the wages she was eventually paid – it was in lieu of cash payment.

    Setting aside the payroll tax implications (which I’m working through now) and the WTF morale factor (the employee did not stay working there very long!) I’m just not sure that’s legal. I know you can give a gift card as a bonus, and I know that some employers use payroll debit card things, but this was a gift card to one store being used to pay the employee for her base wages.

    Has anyone come across anything like this before? I’ve brought it up with the CPA who oversees this client and I’m sure he’ll do what he needs to do, but it’s such a weird thing, I’m kind of interested.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      That’s really weird. I had that happen at a job where we were paid monthly but I wasn’t in the position for long enough to get anything after working for about 2 weeks (due to the delay at the time, I hope their systems have improved by now) and would have had to wait 4 more for my paycheck. When I spoke to my manager, she had me go to Payroll where they actually paid me out in cash for two weeks’ worth of work and deducted that from my next check. I can’t imagine doing a gift card, for tax reasons alone!

      1. Blue Anne*

        See, that would be reasonable! We function as this client’s payroll department and it wouldn’t have been a problem to send out a small check for the employee… but there’s a payroll charge for that and the owner of the health care chain wants to cut down on those.

        The whole situation is nutso. Since they’ve already left, it’s hard to work it out, and this person’s W2 is just going to be wrong. Not by enough that any authority will care, but… still…

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Most places I have worked there are rules in place for what managers can and cannot spend money on.
      Definitely managers should not be messing around with payroll unless authorized and trained.
      I hope that manager had a sit-down discussion with a big boss. She was way out of bounds with taking payroll into her own hands. Some places I have worked at, a misstep like this is an automatic dismissal for that manager.

  70. hgpataki*

    Wondering, do commenters put company awards on your resume? Not like 5-year service or whatever, but Outstanding Employee or Team MVP or something else that theoretically implies actual merit?

    1. Teapot Fed*

      I did put mine in with my job experience and wrote a summary of what I had done to receive that award.

    2. Fabulous*

      For short temp job I held after college, I only had one bullet, “Awarded XYZ Company Top Performer” because really, it was just data entry which was already in my title. I literally couldn’t write any more about it.
      I think if you can quantify your achievement, it would be better than just making the statement. “Awarded Outstanding Employee due to leasing a 20% increase in sales” or something like that would read as more impressive to me.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      Yes. I won our CMO award out of a 700-person marketing organization. You can bet your sweet bippy that’s on my resume.

  71. My mood is as black as a midnight eclipse*

    Employee survey this week; all questions are phrased in a ‘your manager’ style, with nothing referencing higher than grand boss. All my teams negative issues come from executive level; travel restrictions, hiring freeze, promotion and pay increase freeze, outsourced jobs with a dearth of training, etc. while executive compensation has gone up 420% in past 5 years and 93% in last reportable year.

    I know the surveys are meaningless, but sheesh!! At least pretend it means something.

    1. Teapot Fed*

      Is there a “What else would you like us to know that we haven’t asked already?” where you could leave commentary about how some of the decisions from higher levels of management are affecting your team?

    2. Consultant*

      I once had to participate in a survey in which the answers were formulated like this:

      How did you like training?
      a) It was wonderful! I enjoyed it so much!
      b) I loved it! But the food would have been better.
      c) I definitely think I’ve profited from it and will use the knowledge to provide more value to our clients.
      d) I enjoyed meeting so many people from different countries
      e) I especially enjoyed team work

      Someone asked where the negative answers were and became my hero.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      We had a survey committee that wanted to add “Do you have trust in executive leadership?” to our survey. Guess what? The executive leadership decided not to ask that question.

    4. JulieBulie*

      I feel your pain.

      Our company survey doesn’t specify which level of management they are referring to when they ask about “management.” But any time the survey results are negative, it is the local managers who have to come up with “solutions” and “initiatives.”

  72. Consultant*

    I’m asking myself how important the brand of the company you work for is when it comes to career progression.

    I currently work for a huge, global consulting company. I’ve been here for 2 years and work internationally (I travel abroad every week). I have an opportunity to go over to a small, local, specialised, unknown consultancy. It would be abroad and even factoring in living costs I would earn about twice as much as I earn now. Also, I would travel less and mainly regionally, which would be great – I’ve had no private live for the last 2 years and feel quite burned-out and totally demotivated. Not to mention I have no specialisation. And I won’t get promoted this year, since it goes strongly according to the length of stay with the company and 2 years is too short.

    But currently I work for a market leader, this new company would be a no-name. What will it look like when I want to switch in 2-3 years?

    1. MsM*

      Depends what you want to switch to. If the organizations you see yourself targeting in 2-3 years only seem to hire from places like the one you’re considering leaving, then you may either want to stay put or focus your job search on major competitors. If their top people come from everywhere, or you’re open to just seeing where this opportunity takes you, then go ahead and make the leap.

      1. Consultant*

        The problem is I can’t find anything with major competitors. I had two interviews with super prestigious companies, which are more prestigious than the one I am at. The recruitment there is super competitive, with several tests, 5-7 interviews, etc. I didn’t get the jobs. The second time it was close, but unfortunately not enough. I’ve lost the hope I could get something there. You normally can’t apply more often than once a year so I’m out for a year now.

        There are also huge companies slightly worse than the one I work for. They normally pay worse than small competitors and I am too old to believe I should suffer for a few years to profit from that later, I want to live a good life now.

        I feel super unhappy in my current position and the fact that I’m underpaid, that I won’t get promoted and won’t get a pay rise this year is driving me nuts. I’m stagnating. Also, the constant travelling makes me so tired I spend whole weekends just sleeping. Not to mention how complicated it is to arrange job interviews living like that. The average time anybody stays at my company is about 1.5 year, this tells something about how happy people are.

        I have this offer and another interview at a small, specialised but more prestigious company in 3 weeks. But they already told be during the telephone interview that they have doubts whether I have enough experience in field x, their specialisation and I agree with them – I would have to prepare like crazy, since it has been never been my focus. They also told me that they don’t pay much at the beginning.

        1. MsM*

          Okay, but again, what does your idea of a “good life” look like? Do you want to be pushing for the biggest, most prestigious assignments? Or are you willing to make tradeoffs in favor of a better work-life balance, even if you’re less sure how to get there? It sounds like you’re leaning toward the latter, so in the absence of compelling evidence that the road to your ultimate dream job leads directly through current company, I’d be inclined to take the risk.

          1. Consultant*

            The thing is I’ve been applying for 6 months now and had problems finding something, especially given how difficult it was to organize interviews. But I’ve already mentioned this point before.

            Concerning “good life”: I definitely want to earn much more, since now my salary stands in no relation to my effort.

            I also want to develop professionally, which means learning new things, taking over new responsibilities. I don’t learn anything in my current position. I’m not sure if I would in the future position.

            I know I’m very good in (business) strategy and analytical thinking, these are the fields I always got excellent reviews for and people telling me they admire the way I think. The problem is I currently don’t have much opportunities to show that, since what we do is more operational. However, this wouldn’t improve in this next position I think. But then, strategy and analytics are the fields of the few best companies which rejected me.

            I also want to have a private life again, which means I don’t want to travel abroad every week – that’s just too tiring.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        Also, think about who is behind the no-name. For example, there are a lot of little boutique accounting companies which were started by former managers from Big Four accounting companies.

        1. Consultant*

          I would describe my current company as comparable to Big Four.

          I’m not sure about the US, but in my country Big Four actually pays significantly worse than most specialised small consultancies.

          Still, in job adverts many companies want someone with Big Four experience!

    2. miyeritari*

      What are the benefits to working with your market leader vs a no-name company? Is this because you really enjoy saying ‘I work for Super Teapots’ and everyone goes “Wow, Super Teapots!” or are there other noticeable business advantages?

      Do you have any people in your networking community who work for smaller companies? Maybe you could compare with them specific experiences and see if they’ve struggled because of smaller brands.

      1. Consultant*

        Sometimes when I read job adverts I do see passages like “3 years of experience from a leading consulting company”. So I’m wondering whether a switch to a small company nobody has ever heard of won’t decrease my career prospects in the long run.

        To put it in a nutshell, I don’t enjoy my current work and I’m dying to switch but I know the name of the company does open a few doors.

        1. miyeritari*

          Given the intensity that it sounds like you want to switch, I think you should just go for it, company name be damned. If the additional opportunities don’t make you any happier (more successful?) because you’re still stuck with your miserable job, it doesn’t really feel that much of a benefit to me.

          This might sound condescending (if so i apologize), but have you considered any of the upsides of working with a less known company? For example, you’ll less likely to be stuck with one of these global company scandals (a friend of mine who works for a recently-scandaled bank bemoaned this). Or you could think of it as an opportunity to grow yourself and shape the new company brand, etc.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. And adding, sometimes when switching to a smaller pond part of the decision to switch is to commit to grabbing all the opportunities available in that smaller pond.
            I have often thought I would rather be a medium fish in a small pond than be a small fish in a big pond. I like to pick small ponds.
            Part of that consideration for you might be, do you want to work with superstars or do you want to be a superstar among your peer group. Figure out where you will feel content, or where you can decide that you will feel content.

            1. Consultant*

              The thing is I don’t really see the difference between the people working for huge and small consultancies. I definitely wouldn’t describe those from big ones as “superstars”.

              Smaller consultancies are normally set up by former senior managers/ partners from big ones.

              It’s only the worse image of the smaller ones that I find a problem.

  73. Camellia*

    The six elevators in my office building are grouped in the center of the building and open into a ‘room’ on each floor. The security doors on either end of these ‘rooms’ require badge access to open, and if your badge has not been granted access to that particular floor, or if you don’t have a badge, you can’t leave the ‘room’ – your only recourse is to take an elevator to another floor or to the lobby.

    It doesn’t require a badge scan to open the doors to get INTO this elevator ‘room’, just to get back out again. My habit is to pat my badge as I open the door and go in, just to make sure I have it.

    One day after lunch I began experiencing the warning twinges of, as we in IT call it, a System Dump. I was working intently on something and wanted to finish it before I…went, so to speak. So I continued working, and the twinges continued to escalate, until my body finally screamed SYSTEM DUMP!! NOW!!!

    Since my restroom is on the other side of the building, I make my way to the door of the elevator ‘room’, open it, walk through, pat my badge, and IT IS NOT THERE! The door has shut and I am two steps into the room before my brain finally processes this.

    In one horrifying flash I realize I am about to become One Of Those People Who Poop In The Elevator.

    Okay. Relax. Take a breath. My badge was just caught on the edge of my sweater and no elevators were harmed in the process of making this story. My heart rate may never recover, though.

    But I have to ask – is it weird that my FIRST THOUGHT was of AAM??????

    1. KR*

      True story, once I walked out of the office without my door badge and locked my dog in the office. . With all my co-workers away in another state and my cell phone & wallet in the office ….. And on a Friday. I almost called the fire department to break the door down for my dog but thankfully they had a trusted locksmith they referred me to who was willing to get me into my office and check IDs later. (ID was in office).

    2. Manders*

      Argh, why must office designers create layouts where the bathroom and your office are on different sides of a door that requires a card? Are they at all familiar with what it feels like to have a human body?

      1. Camellia*

        I think these are the same designers that set up our rows of cubes with the backs to the windows. Really? You can’t at least set up cube-land with the fronts facing what natural light there is? It’s not like we can actually see out the windows unless we stand up, but at least we would be facing it.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      ha! I had a bad customer experience and I had to tell a manager about it and my first thought was “What would AAM do?” I wondered what I would do as a manager if I was told the information, and then I wondered if it would match Alison’s suggestion!
      …And thank you for the fabulous story!

    4. Snark*

      I am so, so glad that it was, because I will treasure that “In one horrifying flash…” line until the dusk of all my days.

      1. Camellia*

        Yes, we have stairs accessible from our work areas, but the same function applies – you can get into the stairwell without scanning but you can’t get in to any floor without a successful badge scan.

        1. Camellia*

          I should add that, if the alarm does go off (which it has several times, all false thank goodness), we have designated ‘safety people’ on each floor who hold open the doors, make sure people get out, etc.,

  74. memyselfandi*

    Would you expect someone you manage o check in with you after being off for three days? It isn’t such a long time, but it seems like the normal thing to do. I have a staff member who doesn’t like to be accountable to anyone. I keep trying to find a balance between allowing her the autonomy she needs and being on top of what is going on in my own program. A friendly hello and inquiry as whether or not anything happened while away seems like such a normal thing, but she doesn’t do it. It seems strange to call her on it. The petty part of me wants to start excluding her from a possible collaboration that started while she was out, since she doesn’t seem interested in what I was up to. I don’t like feeling petty.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You can’t be petty as a manager. What’s more, there’s no reason to be since you have actual power and authority to have her make the changes you want. That’s a big part of the point of your job. (Same thing with managers who yell; why are they doing that when they have actual power in the situation?)

      Just tell her, “When you come back from being out three or more days, please check in with me in the morning in case anything has happened while you’re away that will impact your work.”

    2. AndersonDarling*

      When I’m out for a while, I will check with my co-workers to see if anything happened. I don’t usually bother my manager because he is very busy and I trust he will meet with me if necessary.

    3. Murphy*

      I don’t know how normal this is. I always assume my boss will keep me in the loop, and I don’t have to make a special point of asking what I missed. I wouldn’t do this unless he asked me to. (I would definitely do it if asked.) If you want them to do that, definitely let them know. Otherwise, when they’re back you can just say “Hey, there’s been some updates on the Blue Project I need to tell you about.”

    4. Yorick*

      As the manager, you should be informing her of any developments that impact her job, whether she has been out of the office or not.

    5. fposte*

      In addition to what other people have said, I wouldn’t think of this as “calling her on it.” Asking for what you want from your reports isn’t calling anybody out–it’s the basics of managing.

    6. memyselfandi*

      Thanks. I never act petty, I just feel it and I don’t like it. This woman is very passive-aggressive. I’ve read a book (which really helped – Overcoming Passive-Aggression by Murphy and Oberlin) and get a tremendous amount of support from my supervisor in managing her. We’ve made it work. I work for a government agency so although I think she is looking to move on, it is not entirely in my control. Somedays, though, I just wish we could have an easy, natural relationship.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        P/A is not acceptable for workplaces. Either she wants the job or not. I would suggest to her that this is the job she has for now and it in her best interest to put her best foot forward every day.

        Your expectations are not up for discussion and ignoring your expectations means a write up. Let her know that ignoring a boss is not acceptable.

        I don’t do well with head games and I have seen so. many. head games. Don’t tiptoe around her, if you things will only get worse as she will come up with more and more antics.
        Since you and your boss have an on-going conversation let him know what you are doing before you do it. Loop him in. Then do it.

    7. NaoNao*

      You know, *my* boss comes to check in with *me* after a few days off. I usually pop my head in for a “hi, I’m back” but she’s super, super busy. We have regular SCRUM, staff, and one on one’s, as well so things usually don’t slip through the cracks. Maybe you can a) set up weekly one on one’s or staff meetings, and b) check in with *her*.

    8. PB*

      I imagine this varies by job, but I wouldn’t do that kind of check-in with my manager after only three days. That’s really not that long to be out, and things change really slowly. Why not just tell her that you need her to check in? It may not have occurred to her.

      Ditto the other comments on being petty. As a manager, you shouldn’t be petty, and it really doesn’t seem fair.

      1. Sadsack*

        Or, if you have something you think she should be aware of, make her aware of it. It seems like memyselfandi is standing on ceremony a bit, thinking the employee should be deferring to her when she could just as easily start the conversation.

  75. KR*

    Keeping track of notes – how do you all do it? I like to keep written notes of what I’m doing either when people ask me to do things or tell me how to do something or I’m writing out what I’m doing to help me think/figure it out. It’s helpful to go back on later but I keep losing what I’m writing. When I started this job this spring I bought a spiral bound notebook to write my training notes in and all the new information I was absorbing but it’s not working for me anymore. Since the notebook is almost full I want to try a new system. I need something that information won’t get as lost in so I can find it when I need it – even if it’s just a better way of keeping track of my notes in a notebook. I’m not opposed to a giant binder with different tabs for the 10 + different sites I service but it seems pretty bulky and I think I’d like to see what others have done before buying a binder and setting up a system.

    1. Consultant*

      I write emails to myself.

      I have 2 folders in Outlook:
      Not Important

      After an email comes in I move it to Not Important or Important (things I will need some day in future). If I still have to work on it I leave it visible, out of the two folders. If I get a task “offline” I write myself an email and leave it out of the 2 folders.

      I’ve tried different things but using several tools normally complicates everything and is counterproductive.

    2. Bored IT Guy*

      Do you have access to OneNote? It’s basically a digital version of the “giant binder with different tabs”. It’s also searchable, and you can draw or add pictures/graphs/etc. Another neat feature is that there’s an add-on app called OfficeLens, which you can use on your phone, take a picture (for example, the notes on a whiteboard in a meeting), and it’ll automatically be uploaded into OneNote.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        I use OneNote as well and love it. My latest system, which seems to be working amazing for me, is to keep notes and documents in OneNote and use Trello (another online tracking tool) for specific to-do/action items/tasks.

    3. Murphy*

      I kind of do a bullet journal (except I’m not journaling) for work. I have a list of to-do and waiting for items, I typically have one page per week. I’ll fill in the bullets when they’re completed. I have a table of contents with page numbers for things like meeting or training notes, and I make marks on the edges of the paper for things in different categories. I’ll leave a link below to explain that last bit so it makes sense.

      I also have a dry erase board on my desk with important upcoming dates for projects and the status of a few important ongoing things.

    4. LawBee*

      BulletJournal for life. I keep EVERYTHING in it, and I carry it with me everywhere. It’s work, it’s personal, it’s that list of books I want to read, it’s everything I need. You number each page and put an index in the front so you can flip to exactly what you want. Even if you don’t want to go the Bullet Journal route, indexing your spiral notebook is a pretty good and easy organization trick.

      (If you do decide to Bullet Journal, I’d advise avoiding Pinterest for the first few months. Super creative craft people make gorgeous journals, but that is not even remotely necessary. Fun! but not necessary. Go there once you’ve gotten the hang of it.)

      1. mreasy*

        I love Evernote for note taking and organization in general. I’m sure OneNote & others do this too – it syncs up between devices so if I think of something on the go, I can enter a note from my phone, which I do all the time. Its folder & stack based system for organizing notes makes sense to me, and it’s easy to search.

  76. Stupid Sexy Flanders*

    I am applying at a company where I once did a very short, 3-month long unpaid internship back in like 2010. I have had a lot of more important experiences since then so I am no longer listing the internship on my resume, but I want the company to know I did the internship there once before. Should I just mention it in the cover letter or does it need to go back on my resume just for this job?

    1. zora*

      I would do both. It’s relevant to this job, so I would put it back on my resume, and take off something else that is less relevant. AND I would mention it in the cover letter.

  77. SurpriseScarf*

    I’m applying for new jobs in the data analyst vein, but an Auditor position popped up that seemed interesting? Are the data analytics and auditing tracks close enough that I should go for it?

  78. Tableau Wizard*

    How do I know when I’m ready for a leadership position?

    A leadership vacuum has opened up in an area that was being created based on my skillset. I think I could lead it, but I also feel like I’m really early in my career to do so. How did you know that you were ready to be a manager?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I think that people are rarely ready to lead until they have to do it!

      But to actually answer your question in a helpful way, I’d think about things like: Can you set a vision for the area, and know what it matters to your department/company/field that you achieve it? Can you take criticism (including unjustified, unfair criticism) from the people you work with and decide responsibly how to use it? Are you ready to give critical feedback to people you work with? Do you feel on the hook for the department’s success, or can you imagine yourself saying “We didn’t get it done because Wakeen didn’t do X.”?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think you do know for sure if you are ready to be a manager.

      I think it is helpful to ask yourself do you like helping people succeed? I am more introverted than extroverted but I enjoy working with people and I enjoy watching people grow.

      Another good question to ask yourself is can you deliver a message that is necessary but might be difficult for the recipient to hear?

      I will say in supervising people I gave up parts of myself but gained whole new larger parts of myself.