open thread – September 29-30, 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.

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

{ 1,627 comments… read them below }

  1. Regretting my new job part 2*

    I wrote in last week ( about regretting my new job that I’d only been at for six weeks. Since then, I’ve actually been offered a new position elsewhere with more flexibility (though with about the same number of hours overall, which is fine) and I will more than likely be putting in my notice today.

    When y’all have left jobs in a short amount of time (this is the end of my seventh week), how have you phrased your notice? My plan is to go in to my boss explaining that I’m unhappy, that I’ve given the job a good faith effort and I don’t feel that it’s for me, and that I wanted to be upfront about that sooner rather than later. I will give her a chance to address the concerns that I have but I don’t think she will because if she wasn’t willing to before I started then I doubt she will now. (She actually just told me like an hour ago that my few-days-a-week walks to get coffee—25 minutes tops—had to stop. So I’m not hopeful for anything else.) And they won’t change the whole corporate clock in and out policy just for me, certainly.

    I am just dreading the guilt trip I’m gonna get because when I was offered this job they said they knew this position wasn’t exactly what I wanted and that they didn’t want me to just take this job for the sake of taking a job and then leave in a few months. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I honestly underestimated how miserable I would be in a job I’m not passionate about with hours that I hate. My mistake, but I do feel like I’m kind of screwing them over (even though honestly I feel like they screwed me over) so it’s hard for me to not feel guilty. How would you all handle this conversation?

    1. Janelle*

      25 mins to get a cup of coffee seems excessive. Some places do have that flexibility but this one doesn’t so really it isn’t something you should be doing. I’d be wondering where one of my employees was for 25 mins and not happy about it myself.

      1. AwkwardKaterpillar*

        I agree. I can understand chafing under this if you were used to being salaried and not having your time tracked, but being gone for 25 minutes on a coffee run seems excessive.

        It seems like it just might be more of a rigid schedule than you like. They should have been more upfront about the hours during the interview process, but from what you’ve said I am not sure screwing you over is their intent.

        1. Janelle*

          I should note also that I am always up front about hours with my employees but I’d never think I’d have to mention that leaving the office for half an hour three days a week for coffee isn’t ok. I can’t imagine someone really even thinking it’s ok. Especially after 6 weeks. You have yet to even prove yourself and you are giving yourself an hour and a half of time off a week? Maybe once you are established and are a rock star employee. It comes off as fairly entitled to me. You can find other jobs but I wouldn’t be expecting this to be ok in most.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            I do this and it’s really not a big deal. I’m salaried and most days I eat lunch at my desk, but a few days a week I’ll walk to starbucks for a stretch and a break in the afternoon. Considering I also frequently stay late or work long travelling days, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I get my work done, I’m responsive, and my boss doesn’t mind. I can see that it wouldn’t be okay in lots of jobs, but in lots of professional workplaces this is no big deal.

            1. Health Insurance Nerd*

              I agree with both this and Janelle’s comment above yours. As a manager I have zero issues with my people going to grab coffee, but these are people whose work habits are well established, and they’ve been on my team for quite some time with a proven track record of accountability and productivity. If a person who was only 6 weeks into employment on my team, I would balk at their taking these same liberties.

            2. Janelle*

              Now this I agreee. Since I used to eat at my desk and work through lunch I’d sometimes do similar. I also have when I know I have a super long day. 6 weeks into a new job? Not cool.

            3. Gaia*

              I guess I see this differently than what was being put out there. As a manager, I would see that as your de facto lunch. No big deal. But if you’re stepping away from work for lunch AND a 30 minute coffee break in the afternoon? Eh, I’m not going to love it. If you stay late, are super flexible with your hours and generally a high performer I’m probably not going to make a big deal out of it but if any of those boxes are not checked I am going to say it needs to stop.

            4. bopper*

              You are probably also a veteran employee with known work output/and ethics.
              The OP may be fantastic, but as a new employee I would expect more normal hours at first until they prove themselves.

            5. bopper*

              You are probably also a veteran employee with known work output/and ethics.
              The OP may be fantastic, but for a new employee I would expect more normal hours at first until they prove themselves.

          2. Temperance*

            I’m exempt and do this regularly. Sometimes I even just go for a walk or run a quick errand. It energizes me to do my job.

          3. RG*

            I do this, BUT I also regularly am on calls late at night, early in the morning, or on the weekends, and am otherwise essentially on call. When I was a consultant and billing time, this would have been deeply inappropriate (though a 25 minute lunch break would have been ok on a non-crazy day).

          4. AshK434*

            Really? I’m surprised by all of the backlash about this! I think it’s totally normal to take coffee-breaks throughout the day (or whatever your vice is). I do it quit often myself. Granted my trips are usually 10 minutes but still! I would feel really stifled in a job if I didn’t have the freedom to to leave my desk to take short breaks a few times a week. Maybe I’ve just been lucky so far and haven’t had overly rigid work environments?

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              It is normal to take a coffee break, but 1) not an extra 25 minutes 3-4 days a week and 2) when you’re only six weeks into a new job, you have less flexibility until you prove yourself.

              Now of course I am assuming that she’s taking this on top of an hour lunch every day. If this is just her break and she eats lunch at her desk every day and works through it…then her job is being a little crazy.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                “It is normal to take a coffee break, but 1) not an extra 25 minutes 3-4 days a week and 2) when you’re only six weeks into a new job, you have less flexibility until you prove yourself.”

                Yes, I feel like this is what is making people say, “Um, no. That’s excessive.” And I agree. If you’ve been there much longer, have proven yourself, and your work is getting done, then no big deal.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              I do coffee breaks, but not 25-minute coffee breaks. I go get the coffee and then bring it back to my desk, so it’s only a few minutes, and I’m nearby so if my boss is looking for me, I’m either easy to find or will be back in two minutes, anyway. And I’ve been here 13 years so if my lunch hour runs a bit over or whatever, I have 13 years of good reviews behind me (plus, I make up the time. I’m hourly, but with a schedule that has a little wiggle room as long as I’m on hand mostly within our open hours.)

            3. Green T*

              I’m hourly and my company gives me two 15 minute breaks a day. So using 2 breaks back-to-back to get coffee sounds reasonable to me.

              1. Janelle*

                Many won’t allow this just due to lack of coverage for too long but I’ve done it before. That being said I give the boss a heads up. “I’m dying for a frap, I’m gonna take a longer break to get one instead of two breaks”. This because if I was needed suddenly it doesn’t look good to be mia for half an hour.

              2. Someone else*

                Depending on your state, the whole “2 15 minute breaks” thing for a non-exempt employee would specifically not allow those breaks to be taken back to back. The point is there is supposed to be 2 of them.

            4. AnonAcademic*

              I work in academic research and not being allowed to make decisions about my own time would be a deal breaker for me so it’s interesting to see how rigid office environments can be. For me schedule flexibility almost offsets being underpaid :). For every 25 minute coffee break I take, there’s a time I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with a break through idea, or otherwise found myself “working” outside 9-5 hours. Sometimes the walk to coffee is when the ideas come –
              so is that still considered a “break?” I realize there are “ass in seat” jobs requiring coverage but it sounds like in the OPs last job she was able to do the job well with a flexible schedule, so this sounds to me like a mismatch of culture fit.

              1. Gaia*

                But I think this is different than what is being talked about. People who are established in their work habits, generally show flexibility in their hours, etc do not tend to get backlash on this (when specific hours for coverage is not an issue). People who are 6 weeks into a job tend to get some side eye because so little is known about them at that point.

              2. Elizabeth H.*

                Same, where I work as long as you seemed to be getting your work done and were available and responsible seeming when you were at your desk, and if you weren’t working fewer hours in total than you were supposed to, it wouldn’t be remarkable to go get coffee during the work day. I think there’s also a difference between leaving the office and going to the office kitchen where you can kibitz with coworkers or whatever. That can “read” as being present and on duty but can eat more minutes in total, but it’s just optics.

      2. Susanne*

        “What has made you think that 25 minutes is reasonable for a coffee break? In my work experience, it’s more like 5 – 10 … enough to walk to a coffee stand or cafeteria or break-room and get the coffee, and maybe chit chat a minute or two with coworkers. I have to agree with your management. That’s a looooong coffee break. The only exception I can think of is if you and a coworker are walking to a coffee shop, but discussing business along the way, stopping to get the coffee and then coming right back.

        1. atgo*

          For a position that is supposedly salaried, I think this is an unreasonable ask. There are not performance concerns, the job is a required overtime position, I don’t see the issue here with taking coffee breaks as long as the performance and time requirements of the job are satisfied.

            1. Janelle*

              I own my company therefore have all the flexibility in the World and even I wouldn’t be taking a 25 min coffee break.

              1. BenAdminGeek*

                “all the flexibility in the World” – my dad used to joke that the best part of owning your own business was that you could work whatever 90 hours a week you wanted :)

          1. New hiring manager*

            And it sounds like this position isn’t salaried – saying “here’s your salary” (as in annual total pay) isn’t the same thing as saying, “you’re salaried/exempt.” This position sounds like it’s hourly – and this person is leaving for (what would be in my industry) an unreasonably long time for an hourly employee.

            While I think a set amount of hours, clocking in/out, not being allowed to leave for long periods of time, and a set schedule are totally reasonable/normal, it’s fine to say that those things don’t work for you, and be more picky when job-choosing in the future.

            1. designbot*

              Even for a salaried/exempt position, that could be an issue. My company has a flexible schedule, but has ‘core hours’ where you’re expected to be present, because design is a team sport and your coworkers have to be able to ask you questions or do an impromptu review without having to hunt you down.

              1. Natasha*

                We have the same core hours situation, but it is very acceptable here to step out for a long break- my boss has been getting coffee every afternoon for over a decade. I did wait a year before I started leaving work for little breaks like this, but nobody looks side-eyed at a new person who takes an afternoon break.

    2. Say what, now?*

      Agreed, I don’t think you’ll get as bad of a guilt trip as you think. If they’re unhappy about your coffee breaks (although, I’d be unhappy too to be honest. We have SLA’s every 2 hours so I couldn’t have someone going over their 15 by that much) they’re probably not feeling that you’re a culture fit on their side either. I think your manager will likely say something along the lines of “I get that it’s not a good fit. I’m happy we tried it, but this will be better on both sides.”

      If she does go the “you’re screwing us and we asked you not to take this job just to take a job” route, you could point that out yourself with something along the lines of “I feel bad about leaving after a short amount of time, but I’ve gotten the sense that I’m not fitting your office culture expectations. I think there’s a better fit for you out there.” Framing it as, I’m taking something off your plate (having to coach expectations) and making it about finding a better solution for her is likely to earn you good will.

      1. JanetM*

        What is “SLA” in this context, please? I know it as “Service Level Agreement,” but I’m not sure that makes sense in your sentence.

        1. Oceans*

          In my industry, we use SLAs to describe deadlines. Two hours away, two months away, two years away…doesn’t matter. No deadlines, only SLAs.

    3. Samiratou*

      I would be honest about the bait-and-switch on hours and you weren’t expecting to have to work OT to make the offered salary and those hours just aren’t sustainable for you long-term and you’re having a harder time than you expected with certain duties like cold-calling etc.

      Or just give the “it wasn’t the right fit” and move on. You don’t really owe her a full explanation.

    4. Beth Anne*

      I think it’s weird if they didn’t think you were a good fit why they even offered you the job. My guess is they didn’t get a lot of applications and needed to fill the position.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Some times doing what we have to do does not come without a bit of guilt.

      My suggestion is to go into it with her. She says, “Well. I knew all along that you would not stay.”
      Then you say something like, “Yep, you were right and I am very sorry.”

      It costs you nothing to agree with her. BUT if you stand and disagree with her THAT could cost you a lot. We can feel pangs of guilt and still be classy and still take the high road. You might be surprised to find that you feel better about it all when it is over.

      See, at this point all she is going to hear is “I am sorry”. She won’t be able to hear too much else that you say. And honestly, you probably will not feel motivated to stay by anything she has to say. So you are both on equal footing there. Let her vent, knowing the whole time that you win this one because you are leaving, it’s over. Silently remind yourself that when a boss loses an employee that is not a win for them. In reality, her win is actually her loss and she set that one up herself.

      I hope your new place is great.

      1. Lissa*

        I agree with this. If she is going to take it badly, it’s unlikely there’s anything that you can say that will convince her to be OK with it, and I get that it’s really not fun to have somebody else not think well of you, especially when you do have reasons. But she probably won’t hear them and think “oh, OP is right I will now change my opinion” because she’s likely to feel inconvenienced.

        Just apologize and live with it, reminding yourself you’ll be at a new job soon, I think. Convincing somebody else they’re in the wrong in a case like this has never worked out for me even whein I am 100% sure I am right!

    6. Future Analyst*

      I totally get the feeling of screwing them over, but reframe it to yourself: you’re not exactly doing them a favor by staying in the job if you’re so miserable there. Most of us don’t do a great job in a role where we just don’t feel a good fit. And I just read your post from last week– I’ve done the move from a “you’re an adult so manage your own time” to “we’re watching every single thing you do and you have to track everything down to the minute,” and it SUCKS. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you for chafing at that. (Though I will agree that a 25 min coffee break is excessive, unless it counts as your lunch.) Give your notice, apologize pre-emptively, and wish them the best. If they do attempt a guilt trip, apologize again, then leave the conversation. There’s nothing to be gained from trying to convince them that they shouldn’t be frustrated.

    7. Triplestep*

      “My plan is to go in to my boss explaining that I’m unhappy, that I’ve given the job a good faith effort and I don’t feel that it’s for me, and that I wanted to be upfront about that sooner rather than later.”

      I would not say “I am not happy” or “It’s not for me”. I would save all the “me” talk for taking accountability. “I should have seen this was not going to be a good fit”. “I realize that time has been spent training me an I’m leaving you in a bad position” . “I am sorry”.

      Steer clear of “You” talk as well, since most of it will come off as finger-pointing.

    8. RVA Cat*

      It’s probably too late for the OP, but wouldn’t the fact of the new offer be all that’s necessary? Especially considering they acknowledged it may not be a good fit.

    9. Anion*

      Personally, I’d focus more on the fact that you’ve been offered a job that’s an amazing opportunity, and you couldn’t pass it up, rather than explaining the things you dislike about *this* job. That makes it less “I know I said I wasn’t taking this job just to have a job, but I was,” and more, “I’m sorry, but this fell into my lap.” They don’t need to know how much of that is true, you know?

      Don’t let them guilt you. You took the job in good faith.

    10. Regretting my new job part 2*

      For what it’s worth:

      1) We clock in and out and are paid by the hour BUT it’s treated more or less as a salaried job (ie can go to doctors appointments or lunch without clocking out etc).
      2) I usually walk with a coworker who is also new, and she was not similarly reprimanded (which I know because I told her about it when it happened and she was surprised). She said the person who trained her regularly took hour long walks in the afternoon.
      3) I routinely took lunch at my desk.
      4) No concerns about my performance were raised in conjunction with the time, nor had any been raised previously, with the exception that my boss once told me my emails were too long. I wouldn’t have been so miffed about it if she mentioned that she was concerned with my work but to the best of my understanding I’ve been doing well. (Have had no real feedback at all, honestly? And my job has not ever taken up the full 9.5 hours we were required to be there in a day.) I spent most of my time there being pretty bored.

      In the end the job just wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t about the coffee, but that just solidified my decision.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        If the job is salaried, you don’t clock in or out for lunch or if you have to leave mid day for a doctor’s appointment, and you typically stay at your desk working over lunch, it seems to me that leaving the office for a walk or coffee break or something during the work day would be a standard feature of this type of role. It seems very weird to me that it would be seen as inappropriate.
        Lots of people work through lunch but take some other leave-the-office break. Not because they are “proven” but bc if you have a salary job and generally manage your own time it should include that type of minor flexibility from the get go.

        1. Regretting my new job part 2*

          Right, and when I was on the fence about taking the job my boss told me she wasn’t a micromanager about what hours we worked as long as it was 47.5/week and we arrived by 8:30 every morning. Which I always did, so I figured I was in the clear. I was told I could manage my own time within that framework so I did and then got reprimanded for it so…whatever.

          I start my new job October 9 and I have this week off so I am enjoying not having to go get coffee in the first place because I didn’t have to get up before dawn to get to work on time! :)

    11. Safetykats*

      Just in case you haven’t had this conversation yet – I would try hard to keep it about business concerns. You can absolutely say the schedule isn’t working for you, and leave it at that. Talking about how unhappy you are – in my opinion – probably isn’t appropriate. It’s not your manager’s job to make you happy, and blaming your short tenure on unhappiness with the culture and lack of passion for the job doesn’t make you look any better. You don’t really owe them an explanation, so just give your two weeks notice and move on.

      I do hope you’re at least planning to give standard notice. That is probably the only thing you can do to help the situation at this point, and so I think it’s important. It sounds like they suspected they were just filling a gap for you, and you’ve proved them right much faster than they thought you would – which probably means you’re unlikely to ever get any kind of good reference from them. However, handling your departure professionally and by the book may mean they won’t have any concrete reason to give you a bad one.

      1. Regretting my new job part 2*

        I planned to give two weeks but I ended up getting walked that day (which I thought I might, it’s sales and I was technically moving to a competitor) but I took extreme care to leave good notes on everything I was working on in the time I was given—about two hours or so, I guess. I’d never been walked before so I didn’t really know what to expect as far as what I would have to do to wrap things up. And yeah, I probably burned a bridge with that boss in particular but the HR guy, to my surprise, assured me I wasn’t leaving on bad terms and that I could contact him if I ever looked for a job with that particular company again. I doubt I will since their policies played a huge role in why I left, but it was still nice to hear.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      OK, well, I think you know you’ve probably burned a bridge here… BUT as Allison says you get a pass on a job that is a bad fit ONCE as long as this kind of thing doesn’t happen often. Six weeks is not long, and you will most likely leave this job off your resume.
      I think you phrase it as you’ve said, that you did try to make it work, and are indeed sorry, but the company culture/job/hours are just not a good fit for you and rather than prolong this mismatch you’ve decided to leave. I don’t think I’d tell them you’ve even found another position.

      Sometimes things simply don’t work out.
      As for feeling the “guilt trip,” just don’t. Most companies wouldn’t hesitate to fire you without a by-your-leave.

    13. Looc64*

      I interpreted “25 minutes tops” as 25 being the maximum length, and longer than the average length of these breaks. If that’s the case, then the breaks might usually be a reasonable length.

      1. Regretting my new job part 2*

        FWIW, I would probably estimate 15-20 on average—five minute walk there, five minutes in line, five minutes back. Occasionally we would also hit another coffee shop because we each didn’t like the other’s national chain preference, and there was one of each within two blocks of our office. Those walks were usually closer to that 25 minute mark depending on the crowd in each shop, but we didn’t do that as often.

        Again, if it was raised earlier or in conjunction with something I needed to improve, fine. There was a time where I was about to head out to grab coffee that there was something urgent my boss needed me for and I was more than happy to turn my butt around and do what she needed me to do, because work is more important than coffee. But when nothing urgent was on my plate and it’s a beautiful morning, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t have been allowed to take a quick walk for some coffee.

    14. Beryl*

      I have had the same experience in my life…always taking a job that I can do, but not passionate about it. I don’t know how old you are, but I have to tell you to work at what you want and what you are going to enjoy regardless of the money. Flexibility. well, you might have to cut your coffee time to 5 to 10 minutes and have your long coffee breaks during lunch. Coffee is not that important. When you take a job just based on financial and pressure from other people that you don’t have a job, is a big mistake. Don’t waste time. Say yes to what you REALLY want and need. Time is very precious and to waste time, nerves and dignity on something you don’t want is not a good idea at all. I would speak to my superior and say: I really appreciate you offering me this position and I have to agree with you that maybe that taking this job may not have been the best choice. However, I did learn valuable skills in my short tenure here, that I will be able to use in my next job. Thank you so much for welcoming into your Company. I wish you the best at your new job.

  2. Definitely_maybe*

    — Such-a-cute-colleague type of question —

    I found a new job this week. I’m really happy about that, hated my current one. I’ve already communicated my decision to my supervisors.

    I’ve spent last months working full-time on a project in another city – one in which my next job is based and where I will be moving to for good in several weeks.

    In the project team there was a coworker I sometimes had some contact with, but not much. He’s 2 levels higher in the hierarchy than I am, but I was reporting to his colleague, not him. At some point he started staring at me – I found him attractive already before that but it was only then that I developed a bit of an infatuation with him. Or was it because of the job which I hated? He always seemed so sweet and polite compared to this awful position.

    If I understood it correctly, when he learnt that I was considering changing my job, he pressed my direct supervisors to offer me an immediate promotion to stay. That’s something I found out indirectly, but I think my interpretation was correct. Which shows he’s at least a nice person I guess. Although it might be that he was simply very happy with my work – I know all managers were – and that I’m reading too much into it. (I turned the offer down).

    The question is of course whether I should do something about the infatuation, now that I’m leaving the company.

    Is there any way for me to find out for sure if he wants to meet me after work? Or, better, is there a way to make him want to meet me? :) I don’t think he’s married, can’t know whether he’s in a relationship. We are in a similar age. He seems slightly introverted and shy. I’m an INTJ and not very good with understanding if a man likes me or not, wouldn’t like to embarrass myself. The truth is I don’t know if I didn’t misinterpret everything I know about him.

    1. lisalee*

      How about sending him an email (after you’ve left, of course) with something like “As I’m sure you heard, I’ve taken a new job at Company B in City. I really enjoyed working with you at Company A and I was wondering if you would like to get a coffee sometime.”

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This is the best option. Super casual. If nothing else, it could be the foundation for a good friendship.

      2. k.k*

        This is great because if it turns out you’re reading him wrong, this still sounds very casual and professional. That could easily be interpreted or spun as wanting to stay in touch as a business contact, friendly catch up, or more.

    2. Sadsack*

      Maybe you could send him a message that you are leaving and enjoyed working with him, and that you are moving to where he lives so he should let you know if he’d like to catch up some time?

    3. fposte*

      “Hey, I’d love to keep in touch after I leave; maybe we can get coffee. Could I get your number?” Then if he gives it to you text him, maybe a week after you go, about coffee. If you don’t get an enthusiastic yes, let it go.

      There are never any guarantees, but I don’t think a “No” is an embarrassment; just a pitch you legitimately and politely swung at and missed.

    4. JN*

      Since she’s moving to his city, perhaps she could ask him if he has any recommendations or knowledge about something there that she might not have discovered while working in that area temporarily. Could provide the opportunity for a no-pressure interaction.

    5. Lucky*

      I say, through caution to the wind and ask him out. I know, if he says no, he doesn’t like you that way or that he’s married or something, it will be embarassing. But it will only be embarassing for a minute, because then you’ll walk out of his office & out of the building and you won’t run into him in the halls a million times a day.

      Or even just, on one of your last days, go into his office, tell him you’ve enjoyed working with him, thank him for recommending you for a promotion (if it’s not totally weird that you would have heard that rumor) and tell him that if he ever wants to get together for coffee or drinks, to send you an email. Then hand him a post-it with your email and phone number.

      OR, just say all of that stuff in an email to him, with your personal email address and phone number and say something like “let’s keep in touch.”

      [I think he LIKE likes you and you obvs LIKE like him so you should give it a try. Then come back so I can have some vicarious romance since I’m a boring married person.]
      [My marriage is happy and very not boring, but sparks flying and first kisses and all that is my jam.]

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      Ask him out. Why not? Just be clear about your intentions. It’s unkind to ask someone out for ‘not-really-a-date’ when you really want a date, especially if it is just to save face if in case you’re rejected.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Yes, this. I’m not a fan of Schrodingers Dates. (I’m in a Schrodingers Relationship at the moment but that doesn’t mean I think they’re good ideas, lol)

    7. Stop That Goat*

      So, I think casual is best way to handle this like suggested. I think I’d stay away from ‘trying to make someone want to meet you’ though.

      1. Definitely_maybe*

        This “trying to make someone” thing wasn’t meant very seriously.
        Although I think we all try to present ourselves as attractive as possible to the people we fancy and make them fancy us.

        1. Stop That Goat*

          Sorry, but it came off to me a little like trying to force someone. Just an outside perspective. You aren’t making someone fancy you. You are putting yourself out there and they either will or they won’t.

    8. ClownBaby*

      Don’t beat around the bush. If he thinks it’s a professional/networking thing and not a date…him being in a relationship won’t necessarily stop him from saying yes.

      On your last day, or (if you have his contact info) after you’ve left, plainly say to him “Would you like to go on a date sometime?”Like ripping off a bandaid. There will be know speculation about “Is it a date? Is it not? Does he like me or is he just networking?” Worst thing he can say is no. Which, I’ll admit, can sting. Rejection sucks. But it’d be over just like that.

      Best of luck!

    9. Anon this time*

      I’ve been in a sort of similar position lately, except it was them who left and I have no idea whether they liked me more than a colleague or not.
      As they are the sort of person I would love to just stay in touch with and get to know better as friends, even if they don’t like me like that, I dropped them a good luck message and then told them to let me know if they ever fancy a coffee.
      Ball’s in their court now, I may never hear from them again, but the opening is there if they want to use it (for a date or just a coffee), and if they don’t then I (hopefully) didn’t come across as a really creepy individual!!
      Good luck with whatever message you decide to send :)

  3. D.W.*

    How do hiring managers and companies view candidates applying for more than one job?

    I am ready to move on from my current job and transition into another field completely. I have done some work (internships, fellowships, and volunteering), in the field I want to permanently transition into, but I haven’t been able to find full-time employment (probably because I lack many years of experience in said field).

    There are two jobs at Company A that are really up my alley. The only thing is one job is a program assistant position and the other a program officer position. I’m currently an associate at my company, and to be honest, I don’t want to regress back into an assistant position, but this field is pretty hard to break into, so I’d be willing to start off as an assistant to get my foot in the door.

    I want to apply to both because, based on the job descriptions, I know I could do both really well, but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot since they aren’t the same title or pay grade.

    1. Dawson*

      I wouldn’t mind hearing the answer to this either. I’ve got an application in at a company for a manager position in my field, but they’re also advertising two other management positions (they all appear to be part of a new group being formed) and several individual contributor positions (all reporting to the aforementioned managers). I would have included in my cover letter that I’m good with any of the manager positions in the group, but their automated system allow allowed uploading of one document – so I attached my resume. I don’t know whether I’m expected to submit for the other manager position or not.

      I assumed that if they were under the same hiring manager, they’d be smart enough to be able to reallocate the incoming resumes themselves and would be annoyed with multiple submissions.

      On the other hand, it’s been a month and I’ve not heard anything, so I’m assuming the submitted resume wasn’t strong enough for what they were looking for. Although I hold out hope that Hurricane Harvey just delayed things. :)

    2. esra*

      So generally I’ve been okay with people applying to a couple jobs on a similar level (say, social media and copywriter, with skills in both), but am wary of someone applying for different levels of the same job, which it sounds like you’ve got here. If the program officer job is the one you’d want, I’d throw my hat in for that one. If they like you but don’t find you quite qualified enough, then they can pitch the lower-level option to you. We’ve done that for candidates we like, but don’t quite fit the job they applied to.

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        I agree completely with this advice for private sector jobs. I’m a managing attorney in a government office, but when I was in private practice, when someone applied for both the senior and junior role simultaneously, it always struck me as the candidate being desperate. D.W., go for the more senior job if that’s the one you want!

        However, as for public sector jobs, if you ever apply for a civil service position, then you have to apply for each one if you want to be considered for each one. If you apply for Senior Teapot Analyst and don’t apply for the Junior Analyst position, they can’t offer you the junior position, even if they really like you for that spot.

        1. LAI*

          I work at a public university and I’d have the same questions about someone applying for multiple roles seeming desperate, or not particularly thoughtful about their search. I see applications ALL THE TIME where it just seems like the person is literally applying for every single job at our organization. So if you do apply for both, I think you need to write very good cover letters for each, explaining why you are applying for both. If you only apply for higher level position, then I think the risk is that they won’t necessarily think to consider you for the lower position or they might fill the lower position first.

        2. Artemesia*

          We often recruited for similar positions that were senior and junior. If we got a good candidate applying for the senior job that we felt was more junior we would just query to see if they were interested in being considered for the other position and let them know what that would mean in terms of salary difference. It happens fairly often and it isn’t always clear what the difference would be to the candidate when they applied.

    3. Quirk*

      From experience in my current company, with candidates interviewing for positions in different teams it’s been no problem at all; if the positions were at different levels I think it would only attract much attention if the candidate seemed ill-suited to one of the roles.

      However, if you have two interviews, you have twice as much chance to say something that someone takes as a red flag and communicates to people involved in the other hiring; I’m not sure how to weight that, but it is probably worth considering.

      1. Quirk*

        That is to say, applying for senior engineer / team lead is probably viable, but junior engineer / CTO not so much.

    4. designbot*

      The times I regard multiple applications poorly is when they’re for really different jobs. I just reviewed one yesterday in fact for two totally different positions in my company, and won’t be moving forward with the candidate despite them seeming qualified, because I’m hiring for the position in the department we’re less well-known in, and my assumption is that he’d rather be doing what we’re more well-known for otherwise he would’ve tailored his application to my position. I’m afraid that if I hired him, he’d be trying to make a sideways move into another department ASAP and leave me in the lurch.
      BUT, that’s not the case with you! You’re essentially applying for one role type, and being open with them that you might be on the bubble between these two levels of it, and you’d like them to assess which one would be the better fit. Ideally you could find someone in your field to advise you, but in the absence of that I think it’s an understandable place to be in with no underhanded intent (like in my example), and easily covered in your cover letter.

    5. Liane*

      I think it depends, like many things, on the company. There is a pretty big employer in town, a teaching hospital and health professions university; everyone is employed by state government, so okay pay and great benefits. A very good friend* who worked there, encouraged me to apply there over and over, told me all about the culture and gave interview tips. She assured me that applying for multiple positions in the areas I qualified for was okay and encouraged, and when I started getting interviews, I got the same message from hiring managers and HR.
      But I know not every place is like that.

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      Honestly, I view it as a negative. Not so much so that I wouldn’t interview a qualified candidate.

      It goes in the category of things that aren’t disqualifiers, but that the best candidates usually don’t do.

    7. Jadelyn*

      It depends on how similar or dissimilar the two roles are. If they’re adjacent or overlapping roles – say, Marketing Associate, and Outreach Specialist, which both are part of the marketing & communications team and require similar skills for the most part, just have different focuses – then I don’t see anything wrong with it, although I’d recommend you note in your CL that you’re also applying to [other role] so it’s known upfront by the hiring managers.

      Different levels of the same job, though…I actually saw that not too long ago. We have a branch with a member services position and a manager position open, and someone applied to both. I side-eyed that one a little – if you’ve got management experience, why on earth are you considering regressing to a customer service role? And if you’re more qualified for the customer service role, you don’t have the necessary experience to be a manager and I’m not sure why you applied to that, which makes me wonder about your judgment.

      It wouldn’t be a red flag, but it would be a yellow flag and definitely something I’d be exploring in a screening or interview with you.

      1. JanetM*

        “We have a branch with a member services position and a manager position open, and someone applied to both.”

        I could imagine the thought process behind that being along the lines of, “I’ve been doing member services for N years, and I’ve taken on some manager-type responsibilities, or filled in for the manager when she was on vacation, and I think I’m ready to move up to a manager position. But I’ll cover my bases by applying for both.”

        But I’m just making that up in my head, and I could easily be wrong.

        1. D.W.*

          That’s exactly my thinking, but from what I read, my motive would more than likely be called into question. So I want to weigh the costs as it were.

    8. D.W.*

      If I can add more information.

      This is in the non-profit sector. My preference would be for another associate position, but they don’t have any associate vacancies. And I have the same thoughts about only applying for the higher position, but possibly being offered or considered for the lower position.

      I guess what I’m afraid of is only applying for higher position and not being considered for the assistant position, which then places both positions out of reach because I wouldn’t then apply for the assistant position.

      Any way I look at it it looks like a gamble, but all of your responses are really helping me decide on the best way to approach it.

      1. PunkrockPM*

        I wish I had seen this thread sooner. I’ve applied for multiple, related, positions in several companies. Really need to get Alison’s book!

    9. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      At my company, we like it when people apply for lots of jobs; we have a strong preference for people who are really pumped about coming to work for us specifically. Plus, we’re big enough that hiring is a bit siloed; there’s too much going on to expect that a hiring manager for one job would automatically think to consider you for another in a different part of the company, so I always tell candidates to apply for all the jobs that they want separately so they don’t fall thru the cracks.

    10. Chaordic One*

      Back when I worked in H.R. I would encourage qualified applicants to apply for more than one position. Often, very similar positions would be in different departments and the people who actually reviewed the applications and made the hiring decisions would never know if an applicant had applied for a similar position in a different department because there was no one keeping track of that. Of course there were rare occasions where two different jobs might be open in the same department and in that case, Allison’s advice is sound.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Thanks everyone who gave me advice on attending my first professional conference! It was last weekend and it was fantastic. I learned a lot and ate way too much!

    1. periwinkle*

      There’s no such thing as eating too much at a conference. Too little, certainly…

      Professional conferences can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re surrounded by people immersed in work similar to yours. Someone who understands, yay! I’ve learned a ton from conferences. Sometimes it’s interesting to pick a random session about something outside your realm – you never know what you might bring back to your own specialization.

  5. Emergency contacts*

    Inspired by the recent discussion about emergency contact numbers, I’ll be reaching out to our 100+ employees soon and getting all of their contact information updated. I’d also like to put some kind of company-wide policy in place that describes under which circumstances an emergency contact will be called – i.e., a certain amount of time after a no-call, no-show. However, we employ office workers, warehouse workers, and retail workers, and their behaviour to coming in to work can vary widely. For example, office workers are almost never absent without leave. Warehouse workers sometimes just stop coming in without warning, instead of formally quitting. And due to the nature of their variable schedule, sometimes retail workers will mix up their hours and miss a shift or come in late unintentionally. Has anyone here had any success in setting up an emergency contact policy in such an environment? (Or maybe just in retail or warehouse environments alone?)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think you’d be fine to make a consistent policy. Presumably if a retail worker screws up their schedule and you call them to find out why they aren’t at work, they will actually answer the phone and communicate that.

      Whatever steps you put in place should obviously include reaching out to the employee directly as a first step.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’d write the policy to be open ended, such as “The company may call your emergency contact under these circumstances: x,y,x”
      That gives you permission to call, but in the case of a flaky employee you don’t have to call, because you pretty much already know they quit.

    3. Liane*

      Considering we’ve had a couple letters from people whose contact–even out of town ones–got called for ridiculous reasons, like the employee already called in, make clear that this won’t happen.

      1. nonymous*

        What about tying it to HR-level escalation? So the supervisor or manager doesn’t have access to emergency info willy-nilly, they have to ask HR to reach out as part of a defined follow-up procedure after employee fails to respond directly. This also takes the onus off an individual manager to document appropriately in case the employee did walk off the job or needs to be on a PIP.

        I imagine that reaching out at this level would be rare and for consistency’s sake, should be a task limited to a small number of staff to prevent any faux pas.

        1. Luku*

          I can imagine HR being Very Unimpressed with having this added to their workload. I would create a policy like this cooperatively with any HR staff to make sure it will actually be implemented.

          1. Emergency contacts*

            I am, in fact, a one-person HR department, and am completely fine with having this added to my workload. I intend to be the guarder of all contact information.

          2. CoffeeLover*

            Depends on the level dysfunction in the HR department. I’ve had HR departments where even asking them to do their job made them Very Unimpressed.

    4. Student*

      Mostly, people want their personal number kept mostly private – available to their own boss, not available to every boss int he company and especially not available to everyone else in the company. As a woman who works in a male-dominated field, I don’t want just any guy in my company to have my number, and I will give you a fake number or burner phone number if I think you’re going to do that to me.

      They’ll want to know they are not “on call” and this is just for emergencies. If you have union employees, make sure you check their contract, in case there are rules about contacting them outside of work, so that you abide by your contract’s rules for them.

      I don’t think you need to say much in the policy. I think you need to make it clear to the people who will have access to these numbers when they are and are not appropriate to use, more than anything else. That’s not the same as writing a policy – that means actually stepping through the policy with them.

      1. Emergency Planner*

        Yes. Professional emergency manager here – corporate and govt.

        People sometimes hate giving their home and cell phones. I get so much pushback, even from people who insist on being designated critical personnel.

        So two things I’ve found works:
        1) “It’s not mandatory, but could be important in an emergency.” (Some quirk of human psychology – I’ve only had maybe 3 people still refuse after that, at 20ish client orgs.)
        2) Show you care like freaking freak about PII Data and safeguarding it. Put “PII data” in the subject, and a bold italicized red line at top and bottom that “This contains PII Data, you must safeguard as per company data security policy/Privacy Act”. Be very clear when it gets used and who has access to it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have worked/supervised in retail/manufacturing settings. Let people have discretion here as much as possible.
      First, make the emergency contact number optional.
      Second, keep that info within the immediate group, such as the supervisor or department head.
      Next, indicate that the emergency number would only be used in times of absolute emergency, such as bad weather or serious injury on the job. This last step here allows some leverage for reprimanding bosses who use the emergency contact info in irresponsible ways. Upper management can say, “That emergency number is for dire situations only, not to harass Employee’s Family Member because Employee was late for the fourth time this week.”
      As far as no calls no shows, that can be handled by telling the employee when they start that absences without a phone call are not tolerated.

      1. MI Dawn*

        My company always requests emergency contact(s) and tests them quarterly – email, phone, cell, whatever you give them (we’re insurance, so we may have to work/be contacted in a state of emergency.) Most of my managers have also requested emergency numbers. I’ve rarely been contacted out of business hours, and only once would I have personally not considered it an emergency. I’ve never been contacted to check on me if I didn’t show up to work. However, I can see if I am a no-show my bosses would check on me, knowing that I always, always, always notify them if I won’t be in the building or working from home.

        If I was a no-call, no-show, I can imagine being checked on. It doesn’t bother me since they don’t abuse it.

    6. Emergency Planner*

      We generally look at those populations separately, because they just have different expectations and experiences.

      Corporate office workers, warehouse (which has a mix of office, management/sups, highly skilled floor, low skilled floor — and many workers don’t have a cell phone) and stores (which have mix of managers and workers).

      In general, here is a really good resource for small businesses.

      Don’t forget, Sept is Preparedness Month! Good time for this.

    7. Blue birds fly*

      I suggest you also get the physical address of the emergency contact(s). I found out the hard way that first responders would rather deliver bad news in person instead of over the phone. One of my coworkers passed away suddenly, and we did not have her son’s physical address. The whole situation was heartbreaking already, and not having this information added an unexpected level of stress.

  6. comms coaching conundrum*

    One of my colleagues has asked for help coaching one of his team members with a communication issue as part of formal performance improvement that I’m not sure how to approach. I’m much more confident coaching writing rather than verbal comms stuff, so I’d appreciate some input.

    His staff member is completely fine when communicating in writing, but has had repeated feedback from frustrated team members and other employees outside the team that when he speaks to them in person (particularly when it’s an off-the-cuff conversation rather than a planned interaction), he comes across as condescending and superior. He interrupts and makes a lot of assumptions about what the person is about to say before they’ve finished speaking. This issue seems to get worse when the employee is asked a question about an area where they have a significant amount of experience or technical knowledge.

    Based on the info I’ve had so far, the main issue seems to be lack of self-awareness about how he’s coming across, rather than a personality issue around actually *being* superior or condescending – the employee doesn’t come across as arrogant otherwise, has taken the feedback extremely well so far, is enthusiastic about working on this, and understands that he’ll need to improve this aspect of his communication in order to keep his job. But his own suggestions so far for how to improve have come across as tone deaf and suggest poor understanding of how other people perceive him (and how they prefer to be communicated with).

    This is trickier than anything I’ve had to give coaching on before, and my question is twofold:

    If you’ve had an employee like this (difficult and condescending in conversation, but not actually arrogant/egotistical otherwise) who’s managed to make significant improvements, what coaching or self-awareness techniques helped them to overcome the issue?

    And if you’ve been the person receiving feedback about your in-person communication style rubbing people up the wrong way, what helped you develop self-awareness around the issue and improve your communication? Any particular lightbulb moments?

    1. Dawson*

      We have someone like that in our office. As I’ve observed the situation (and how close I might come to being labeled as such), I’ve been trying to implement one rule more in my own communications. Maybe it’s simple enough that your employee can find value in trying himself:

      Listen more than you speak.

      If we can practice more active listening, try to make less assumptions, and make the things we say simple and concise, it generally comes across far less condescending.

      1. Jesca*

        I think you nailed it! He is just not actively listening and it is coming across as condescending and arrogant. I would definitely pick up some literature on this and use it. He just needs to pause and listen and doesn’t realize that.

    2. NW Mossy*

      The key with this kind of thing (and really most issues at work) is that you have to get very very specific about the kinds of behaviors that work well and the kinds that don’t, with clear examples. I coached an employee on something similar and she found them really helpful and did make a significant improvement. In this situation, that might look like this:

      Works Well – Nodding to show agreement, reflecting the other person’s thought back (“So if I’m understanding correctly, you’re saying that…”), asking neutral questions (“Can you tell me more about that?”), letting the other person speak first and most

      Doesn’t Work Well – Interrupting before someone’s finished speaking, finishing someone’s thought for them, doing most of the talking in the conversation

      From there, it’s about teaching the employee to recognize the good and not-so-good behaviors as they’re happening and to pay attention to how it changes their results. Pretty soon, the good results become their own form of reinforcement for further improvement, and that’s really cool to see.

    3. atgo*

      First, I would give the clear direction that interrupting should be entirely off the table for him.

      Second, going over active listening techniques and underlining that the key is to make sure you fully understand what the other person is saying. You can practice these skills with him in focused, scenario oriented role plays. Bonus points if you video tape them and review them with him – a lot of times people don’t see the impact of their communication styles until they can actually watch them from the outside. My company invests in leadership training with an external company that takes cohorts of people through some of this, and it’s paid off in dividends.

      Just a personal aside here as well to support how important it is for this guy to get this feedback while he’s willing to take it… I’m one of the few women in the technical side of the organization I work in. We used to have a (male) director in a different team who consistently behaved this way, especially towards me. The relationship was so personally challenging that it made me question my competence and ability to stay in my field (despite the fact that I have consistently been one of the most high-performing people in my peer group at every job/volunteer position/class I’ve ever had). Additionally, the culture on his team was incredibly toxic and engendered more of this problematic behavior, isolating them in the organization. At the time, the executive he reported to was really weak (has since left) so there wasn’t any avenue for correction there. I did eventually confront him about it; it went so badly that I told my management I would no longer be interacting with this person unless it was explicitly required of me. Finally (thankfully!) he left and I’ve been able to be more effective in my work.

      1. Dawson*

        In my office, you can’t hardly get a word in edgewise if you don’t interrupt the “one who must teach us all everything they know.”

      2. Bend & Snap*

        All of this. I train people on giving interviews as part of my job, and the hardest people to coach are the ones who don’t really understand how their behavior comes across. Video is a great way to point out behaviors and have someone look at them objectively.

      3. LKW*

        I second the video taping, there are all sorts of negative non-verbal cues such as leaning back with arms crossed, lack of eye contact, pointing, putting one’s hand up in the “stop” pose. Waving one’s hand dismissively while saying “That won’t work – I’ve seen that fail.” is negative but saying “That idea has merit but in my experience, these are potential risks… how can we mitigate them?” is collaborative.

        The interrupting has to stop. Period. It’s rude. We do it when we’re on conference calls because we can’t see one another – but if everyone is in the same room, interrupting is rude.

        1. Mike C.*

          “That won’t work – I’ve seen that fail.” is negative but saying “That idea has merit but in my experience, these are potential risks… how can we mitigate them?” is collaborative.

          Wait, why is this bad to say if it’s the truth? Risks have a probability of failure while if you know something is certain to fail there are few things more demoralizing than wasting time, effort and resources on something that simply won’t work. Especially if someone knew it wasn’t going to work but put the emphasis on collaboration rather than results.

          Or are you focusing more on the “waving hands” issue?

          1. NaoNao*

            It’s not bad to say that an idea has serious, even fatal risks. It’s more in how you say it. If the person bringing you the idea didn’t arrive with a powerpoint full of CAD renderings, it’s likely they just had an “elevator pitch” not the fine details. If one is dismissive of an idea right out of the gate withOUT any fine details, it comes off as very rude and harsh.
            So I think what is being said is “seek to understand before saying that it’s going to fail”.

            1. Mike C.*

              Ok, I can see that point.

              Yet, and maybe it’s because I work in such a highly regulated environment but if someone told me “we’re going to do A, B and C” and I know that A, B and C go against Federal Teapot Administration regulations, or they go against the plans signed and certified by Teapot Engineering, it doesn’t make sense to me discuss the merits and risk mitigation plans for an idea.

              Now, so long as I sense there isn’t anything unethical going on I’ll certainly try to find alternatives that work, but at least in my industry I would feel like it’s my responsibility to point these issues out early and directly (and have done so in the past) rather than being more circumspect.

          2. NW Mossy*

            “I’ve seen that fail” is generally not problematic – you’re just describing your own experience, and can go into more detail about why it didn’t work. But “that won’t work” assumes a future that hasn’t yet come to pass, and that’s why it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. People are often wary when someone expresses certainty about the future (“it will be like this”) rather than a probability (“it’s highly likely it’ll be like this”), because it triggers that “how can you be so convinced that it’ll work out the way you think?” reaction.

            I have a co-manager who says “that’ll never work” a lot, and it drives me up a tree because she doesn’t understand the extent to which her intense reaction will shut down the very discussion she needs to draw out good ideas. When I talked to her about why, she expressed the same point you did – why waste time? But many people can’t develop good ideas and drop them in front of a group like shiny perfect pearls – they need to wrestle with bad ideas, think through why they’re not right, pick out the salvageable bits, and then piece together a decent concept from the wreckage. Most ideas are not out-and-out terrible in every respect; it’s more that they’re not sufficiently responsive to some critical point. But when you say “that’ll never work,” people are picking up your implied message of “never speak of this idea again, and be wary about bringing me anything less than perfect in the future.”

          3. Someone else*

            I think you can still speak the truth but the difference might be between “That won’t work – I’ve seen that fail.” comes across a little like “You’re wrong. I’m right. No.” Where “I’ve had a number of experiences where that method wasn’t successful, so I advise against it.” comes across more like “I’ve considered it but disagree.” The ultimate point is the same, expressing you think it’s a bad idea, but I think the latter will be more well-received by most.

    4. nonymous*

      I just want to point out that while interrupting and being condescending is inappropriate and unprofessional, take a hard look at the expectations of the rest of the team. I work with a group that is highly technical and skilled in an area that is tangential to mine. It is very very common for them to assume that their (very superficial and incomplete) knowledge of my field is on par with their competence in their own area. Plus they are completely dismissive of my field. So I have had to work very hard to polish my “with all due respect…” and “Let’s back up to XYZ for a moment,….” type statements. It may be that the employee does not have such skills or does not realize that a persistent soft touch is needed.

      An analogy would be someone driving in a Ford Flex and assuming the model name means flex-fuel.

    5. designbot*

      I’ve been that person, and stumbled on something that really helped me through kind of an indirect means. I started making sure that I was expressing gratitude to one person a day–whether it was about something big or small, making sure I took the time to say “Thank you so much for X,” or “I really appreciate the work you put into Y” to teammates. This really helped out because I was coming at more conversations from the perspective of looking for something the other person was doing RIGHT so I could complement them, and also I think it bought me a bit more benefit of the doubt in my colleagues’ eyes. Not only did my bosses noticed and repeatedly said how amazed they were at my transformation, but I managed to do it without feeling like I was faking my way through the day.
      I know this might sound unrelated to coming off as condescending, etc. but I promise that when you reframe your interactions with people in your own mind it has ripple effects through all of your interactions.

    6. N Twello*

      I’m glad that he’s receptive to coaching on this issue, and as long as the coaching is done with a lot of encouragement and positive feedback, it might be fine.
      But I am concerned about all these co-workers who have been complaining about him. This doesn’t seem like a serious enough offence to warrant an official complaint. It sounds more like annoyed gossip, and like they’re ganging up on him.
      Offices can have a lot of social dynamics, and one that is pretty common is the group turning on one of their own. Often there is a single instigator and a lot of people who follow that person. There can also be multiple instigators. But the point is: a whole bunch of people complaining about someone does not always mean that the person is a problem. It can be a sign that you are developing a toxic work environment.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        I think this is very common with people who are highly intelligent in the US. Others are already feeling stupid so if you don’t do a good enough job greasing the social wheel for them it results in complaints to management. I have been in his shoes many many many times.

    7. N Twello*

      I’m glad that he’s receptive to coaching on this issue, and as long as the coaching is done with a lot of encouragement and positive feedback, it might be fine.

      But I am concerned about all these co-workers who have been complaining about him. This doesn’t seem like a serious enough offence to warrant an official complaint. It sounds more like annoyed gossip, and like they’re ganging up on him.

      Offices can have a lot of social dynamics, and one that is pretty common is the group turning on one of their own. Often there is a single instigator and a lot of people who follow that person. There can also be multiple instigators. Why are they complaining about that behavior, and not other annoying behavior? The root cause could be that they’re jealous, racist, sexist, ageist, etc – or just that they always single out someone.

      Multiple complaints do not necessarily make the complaints valid. A whole bunch of people complaining about someone does not always mean that the person is a problem. It can be a sign that you are developing a toxic work environment. Perhaps your workplace could use a team bonding exercise that emphasizes treating each other with respect and kindness.

      1. Friyay*

        Yes this 100%. I had a group of women gang up on me and say that I was mean and condescending because I had said that a suggestion was “inappropriate” because of A, B and C. When I spoke with HR about it, I politely reviewed the definition of the word appropriate and why the suggestion was in fact inappropriate and it was all cleared up. The people involved later said that they felt terrible and ridiculous about the whole thing.
        The culture within that office is known to be toxic and multiple people have left.
        It is possible that the person you are referencing is rude, condescending and creating a terrible work environment, but I would also look very carefully at the people who are complaining so that you are sure that you have the full story…

    8. Phoenix Programmer*

      I have been that coworker. Something that has helped me whenever anyone comes over to me is to think “this person is going to have emotions about work event. How do I want then to feel about my response?” Then I use emotional language like “I am sorry you are dealing with this (technical item that is not my fault but I am helping fix). Here is solution!” Previously I would jump straight to “here is solution” and was getting a lot of complaints that I make people feel stupid etc.

  7. TGIF*

    My current position is a support position to a team in marketing/sales. There are two directors, a team of 15 representatives, and then me and Alex in our support positions. Alex’s focus is the directors and mine are the representatives.

    Alex is leaving in the next few weeks and I’m worried about what is to come. There has been talk of not filling in Alex’s position and just having me support everyone. This is not possible; at least, not without me going crazy trying to keep everyone happy. I think the directors don’t realize how needy and dependent on Alex they are because they told me that not much would change for me, but I know everything Alex does; there’s no way for one person to do both jobs. The directors said not much will change for me but I don’t believe them, and neither did Alex when he heard that comment.

    I’m even more anxious because this is exactly what happened in my last job. I was one of three support staff; one left and her work was split between me and my coworker. Manageable workload between the two of us. But then my coworker left and my bosses tried to make do the work of all three of us. When I tried to push back, to say it wasn’t possible, they didn’t listen to me and just forced it all on me. It was one of the big factors for why I left that job.

    So I’m terrified it’s going to happen again. Is there anything I can do? I don’t mind helping with the extra work while we’re in a transition period looking for someone new to fill Alex’s place but I worry the directors will think that everything is going fine with just me at the helm. What can I do to make them understand what’s manageable? Or do I need to start looking for a new job again? Is this a common thing, to not fill in positions and just dump the work on others to save money? Also if a new person comes and the directors wanted the new employee to help the representatives and me to help the directors, is there any way I can express my preference to stay with the reps? Given a choice between them, I much more prefer to help the team of representatives; their tasks are more varied and less frantic than the directors.

    1. Blue*

      Can you get a written summary of the tasks Alex is responsible for (maybe with an estimate of how many hours per week)? Then if you do the same with your responsibilities you should be in a better position to talk to management about what responsibilities you’re expected to cover.

      It should be very clear that covering everything is just not possible.

      1. Hermione*

        And if they ignore you, go back to them every time you’re overloaded and point out how long each task will take, and then tell them which tasks you’re going to prioritize over others.

        And meanwhile, I would start putting out feelers for new jobs, because you’ve lived through this before and know that sometimes managers don’t listen.

      2. LKW*

        Seconded. This is the only way to help the directors see how much effort is required to support them. Alex makes it look effortless because he’s good at his job, not because it takes no effort.

    2. Samiratou*

      ” Is this a common thing, to not fill in positions and just dump the work on others to save money”

      IME, yes, very much so. Ahead of time, I would say document as much of Alex’s workload as you can, but if they don’t want to hire, you will need to establish boundaries and priorities and get good at asking the directors, when you don’t have time to do All The Things, which are a priority. If this means you end up not supporting the reps because the directors take all your time (my money is on this happening), you will need to be clear with the reps about your priorities, which are controlled by the directors. It then puts the onus on them to complain about lack of support, but if work isn’t getting done that may be the only way to get the directors to understand that two people really are necessary for everyone to get the support they need.

    3. Artemesia*

      This happens all the time. I would now be keeping really good records of what you do each day and have Alex do the same and provide them to you. When he leaves, I would do what you can and let the rest fall off the table When that happens, you say to your current people, ‘I won’t be able to get to this, because I have XYZ to do for the directors.’ or you go to the directors who make requests and say ‘this is what I have on my plate for the staff I am supporting, what do you want me to drop to do this for you?’ Learn to manage your anxiety and make clear which things will be falling off the table. I would not pick up more than 20% more stuff in this situation. If everyone starts getting slow service and you make it clear that you can’t do X or that Y will take 3 days at least because of other priorities someone might decide hiring a new person would be appropriate. They won’t care if you work late and scramble and get sick getting it all done; that is what they are counting on.

      And if it doesn’t get better soon, time to look for a new position.

    4. nonymous*

      The tip I can offer is to start from a place where your day is full with the rep support. Presumably this is why you’re being paid full time, because there is 40hrs of work to be done just supporting the reps. So to make space for some of the mew work you’re taking on due to Alex’s departure, you will have to reduce that load (duh). This is a great opportunity to question why some tasks are being done. Maybe some weekly or monthly tasks can be pushed off and become quarterly?

      You can also ask that both reps and directors come to you with their tasks at a later stage. For example, if the normal routine is that you pull preliminary data and forward it to reps for review before you format it into a report, is it possible for them to pull the preliminary data? Or if you’re the person collecting/collating/processing data, would they be okay if the report was less-polished? Are there any tools (templates, semi-automated workflows) that the group relies on you (instead of learning the technology to use on their own)? For example, the directors can start booking their own travel (or at least start the trip in Concur for your review)?

      This sort of consolidation can work, but it requires everyone affected to be willing to change their ways, and that takes buy-in. Think of back in the day when execs used to have admins copy stuff. Now we all plop our own pages down on the copier and follow the instructions on the screen.

      While I agree that if everyone expects you to magically do all the tasks that it took 2 FTEs to accomplish without anything changing, they’re crazy, I also think their is opportunity to redefine your role into one of process-developer and reviewer. In a healthy org, you would have a lot of power in this situation to determine what tasks persist, and I’ve seen staff navigate these transitions into a promotion. For instance support -> admin or admin -> specialist. I encourage you to look at your duties as “Make sure essentials get done” and less “do all the work”.

  8. Lunch Breaks*

    How do you ask about lunch breaks in a new job? I am a finalist (they’re checking references) for a position that is only 1.5 miles from my house. I would like to take an hour lunch break to go home and walk my dog, but how should I go about asking this? The HR rep said official hours are 8-5, but when I met with the team, they said they normally work 9-5. I’m still new to the workforce, so I’m not sure how customary it is to ask about lunch upon hiring, or if it’s something that should be figured out once I start working….

    1. Caro in the UK*

      Definitely ask! Although I’m terrible at wording these things, so another commenter might be able to give you more specific advice. I’ve asked similar things in interivews, and been asked as an interviewer, and it was never an issue.

      It’s almost certainly not a big deal at all (or even a small deal!) But if they balk at the question, then that gives you valuable information to consider if they make you an offer. It might not be a red flag, but certainly a yellow one which you can factor into whether you accept the job.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      It depends on whether or not being able to go home for lunch to walk your dog is a deal breaker for you.

      If it is, ask now.

      If it’s not, wait until you get the job and get a feel for the office culture.

    3. fposte*

      People usually don’t ask about it until after they’re hired unless it’s important enough to be a dealbreaker for them. Sounds like it might be for you. “What kind of flexibility is there at lunchtime? I’ve found it useful to take an hour lunch and get my work done outside of that–will that work here?”

      At least in the U.S., an hour lunch is going to be unusual, but that doesn’t mean no place will have the flexibility to do it.

      1. Pontoon Pirate*

        Hmm, why do you say an hour lunch is unusual in the U.S.? Outside of retail work in my youth, all but one of my professional jobs have included a 60-minute lunch break (including a position in academia, where the full-time week was considered 37.5 hrs). Is your experience very different?

        1. Jennifer M.*

          Everywhere I’ve worked has been official hours of 9-5:30 (ie half hour unpaid for lunch) though varying levels of flex time was available (recent job I usually worked 9:45-6:45 because of traffic, now I work 7:45-4:15). But I’ve always worked in government contracting and we bill a standard 8 hour day to the government and can’t bill them for lunch so that might be it. I had one job that specifically stated in the employee manual that 30 minutes for lunch was the standard except for the receptionist who got 45 minutes. Of course, I’ve always been exempt so no one was particularly checking on my time if I was getting all my work done.

        2. fposte*

          Yup. I could take an hour for lunch in my position, but it’s pretty unusual for people at low levels in their career in a lot of fields; the half-hour Jennifer M. mentions is much more common. And you really don’t want to be annoying people by taking an hour if your workplace isn’t an hour-lunch kind of place, so I think it’s worth checking if it’s important.

          1. Anna*

            Every office job I’ve ever had aside from the one I’m currently in has had an hour lunch. I think it’s probably more common than you assume.

            1. Future Analyst*

              Agreed. I’ve never had less than an hour for lunch, outside of working in food service back in the day.

            2. fposte*

              I’m willing to believe that! The thing is, enough people are reporting non-hour lunch restrictions that I think the OP would be taking a risk to assume that her job is one of the hour-lunch places. I don’t think it’s a particularly fraught question to ask, so I stick to advising she do that.

            3. Amber T*

              Is the one hour lunch a standard rule in white collar/office types of positions? Everyone here pretty much eats at their desks, usually working while doing so, but we have a lot of flexibility when it comes to stepping out for necessary things.

              1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Yes, that’s my experience too. I can do pretty much whatever, but the default is eating at my desk.

              2. a1*

                A lot of people in my office eat at their desks, BUT we do get an hour lunch. It’s just that a lot of people don’t take it for various reason – want to leave early, focused on project, brought their lunch, want to be alone (ish) in the cubicle/office, etc.

          2. nonegiven*

            My husband has a lunch hour built into his day, he doesn’t always get it at the same time every day. Sometimes he leaves and goes out, sometimes he’s out of town and has to eat out, a lot of the time he sits at his desk reading the news while eating leftovers.

        3. Liane*

          It’s not unknown IN US retail. (In)Famous Retailer automatically scheduled hourly employees for 1 hour lunches on 7-8 hour shifts. And even for parttimers, those shifts would be several times a week.

        4. Janelle*

          This is odd to me too. I have always had an hour. I started one where they said 30 mins but based on the location I couldn’t even get food in 30 mins let alone eat it. My boss really just let it be an hour or sometimes more so long as we were getting our work done. 30 mins is ridiculous to me. It isn’t even close to enough time.

        5. BenAdminGeek*

          In my industry, regularly scheduling a 60 minute lunch is fairly uncommon. Then again, most folks eat at their desk during busy times so there’s not really any lunch at all.

      2. MI Dawn*

        Where I work, we unofficially (salaried workers) get an hour for lunch (1/2 hour paid, 1/2 hour unpaid) because state law requires 2 15 minute paid breaks in the day. In many departments, the staff combines the breaks with their lunch period. The only areas that can’t do that are the hourly employees who have to take the 15 minute breaks separately from their lunch break.

        As for where you go and what you do at lunch – as long as you’re back on time, they don’t care if you go home, a restaurant, running.

      3. MicroManagered*

        Really? I’ve never had a job that considered it unusual–whether FLSA exempt or nonexempt. I’ve even had employers that required a full hour lunch for coverage reasons. This may be industry-dependent?

        I agree though. Probably not an interview-setting question unless it’s like “I absolutely need an hour so I can go to my child’s school and administer medication” or something equally deal-breaking like that.

      4. kittymommy*

        In every job I have had save for one retail position , my lunch breaks have always been an hour: clerical at medical offices, mass market retail, law firms, 501,c(3), government, etc. I can’t relaly think of anyone I know who doesn’t have an hour.

        1. Justin*

          Yeah, aside from crappy jobs earlier in my career, it’s been an hour unpaid. Always. And unless you come back drunk or something, they genuinely do not care what you do in that hour (since you’re not being paid).

        2. Mobuy*

          Teachers. We’re always the fastest eaters in any situation because we’re used to cramming our lunch, prep, talking to students, and a tiny bit of relaxing into 25 minutes!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Tell them you are confused about start times because HR said one thing and the team said another time, so you started wondering how the start time and breaks work.

    5. nonymous*

      Unless it’s a dealbreaker issue, I think it’s reasonable to ask when you start talking logistics like start date, when to show up for orientation. I assume (and suggest giving others the impression) that should you not be able to go home at lunch, you will have to coordinate with someone else (doggie daycare, sitter, neighbor, housemate) to ensure that pup gets appropriate breaks and that needs some lead time to arrange. Less than childcare, but still.

  9. New Job Guilt*

    I have been looking to leave my job for several months, and now that I’ve got a viable option, I all of a sudden have cold feet. My current job isn’t terrible: my boss is great and the benefits are decent, but there is a hour one-way commute and not enough work, so I am bored with little to nothing to do 70% of the time and I’m not learning or building on new skills. This new job would be much busier and allow me to learn a lot of new things. The benefits/pay is about the same and the commute is less than 10 minutes! All-in-all, I think it’s a good next step for me, but I can’t help but sometimes think that things aren’t really that bad here and I feel guilty because my last day would be about two weeks before a huge event that I help plan. Please tell me cold feet is normal and not some giant red flag I should listen to!

      1. Specialk9*

        Normal. Personally, I don’t feel guilt, I feel imposter syndrome. During the application and interview process, I felt confident I could do it… But after I’m committed to it, I’ll be a giant failure and never be employable again and will have to eat dog food… Then I start and realize I’m actually ok, this is doable

    1. TGIF*

      I say jump on this new job! The guilt is a common thing. My last job was one that I absolutely hated and was glad to leave but I still felt a little guilt/anxiousness about the change. It’s normal when you’re leaving a familiar environment for something new. But it sounds like the pros of the new job far outweigh your cons. Go for it!

    2. miyeritari*

      Cold feet is normal! You’re having anxiety about change because humans have anxiety about change.

      Your life will be SO much better with the shorter commute. You can do this!

    3. BlueWolf*

      Totally normal! I felt a little guilty about leaving my old job because I had a close relationship with my coworkers, and I was definitely in an integral role. However, I was looking for new challenges and opportunities, and I felt moving on was the right thing for me. You need to do what’s best for you and it sounds like the new job will be better. I’m sure your old job will get along fine without you, especially since you say you don’t have that much work anyways.

    4. Tara*

      I just went through this! I had a wonderful at my last job, and felt bad about leaving her and the support she provided. But this new job, while being a big learning curve, has definitely been the right move. I felt guilt too, but it will pass.

    5. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      I have been there and experienced the same hesitation even when I knew for sure it was the right move.
      Go for the new job!

    6. anna green*

      It’s totally normal! I’m in the same boat, I’ve been looking for almost a year, and now that I actually found something, I feel completely guilty and sad that I’m leaving. But I know its for the best and its the right decision. Change can be emotional! (and I didn’t leave this current job for several years even though I wasn’t happy because I kept telling myself “things aren’t really that bad here”. which is true, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find something where i say “things are good here!”) good luck!

    7. Amadeo*

      I had this problem too, when I left my last job for this one. I knew the department I was working for would lose the position entire when I left, I loved the people I worked with (for the most part, it was a university department populated by some faculty. There’s always one…) and had some pretty doggone good benefits in the shape of great health insurance and free tuition.

      My current job offered me similar benefits that weren’t quite as generous, but still pretty good and the salary was a $10k raise from what I was making. I hemmed and hawed about it, feeling guilty, until my brother nearly hit me over the head going ‘what is wrong with you, take the job!’

    8. stitchinthyme*

      Totally normal. Change is hard, and changing jobs is especially stressful — you’re spending a significant chunk of your waking hours there, and you won’t know how that will turn out until you get there. Unfortunately, it’s way too easy to think, “Better the devil I know” and stay in a bad job situation because of fear of change. (I know you said yours isn’t bad, but from your description it doesn’t sound great, either.)

      The worst that could happen is you hate the new or they don’t like you. In that case, you move on. It’s a job, not a marriage. Even if you got fired, people bounce back from that all the time. You learn from the experience and get on with your life.

      About guilt: as Alison has said many times on here, people leave jobs all the time; it’s part of the reality of doing business. No one is completely indispensable, and they’ll get along without you. I always look at it this way when I’ve felt guilt about leaving a company: if they decided that cutting my position was better for their bottom line, they’d do it without hesitation; therefore, I’m not going to feel guilty if I leave. I *do* try to make the transition as easy on my coworkers and supervisors as possible, of course, because I do feel some guilt about leaving them in the lurch, but I know that even if they have a rough time at first, they’ll deal with it and move on.

    9. Librarygirl*

      It’s so normal. I did that with my last job change. It wasn’t the greatest job but it wasn’t the worst and I was terrified to leave it. I was so scared, I posted in here in a total panic. Alison and others helped me realize it was just nerves. I felt like a prisoner who so comfortable in their cell they don’t notice the door is open.
      If it helps at all, I’m very glad I took the new job. It’s a challenge but I’ve grown and learned so much.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        My last job wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. I spent so much time complaining about it to my husband that he was getting sick of it — we both subscribe to the philosophy that it’s annoying to complain endlessly about something that’s in your power to change. So I finally took the plunge and found something else, and left despite the massive guilt trip from my boss…and I am *so* much happier at my current place! (Been here 4 years now.)

        I have also left at least one “okay” job for a really horrible one. I realized within a couple of months that I hated the new place, so I started looking. I was there about four months total, and liked my next job much better. If you hate your new job, you are under no obligation to stay. (With the caveat, of course, that you don’t want to job-hop TOO much…but I’d think most employers would forgive one or two quick hops if you have good reasons.)

    10. MicroManagered*

      I heard it called “graduation goggles” once. Like, when you’re about to graduate high school and suddenly everything feels nostalgic and wistful. Even when getting away from some decidedly toxic workplaces, I’ve felt it. Totally normal.

    11. Trout 'Waver*

      I remember reading about a study* that measured happiness awhile ago. The number one predictor of happiness in general was length of commute, with shorter being better. It was more consistent than family, salary, hobbies, religion, or anything else.

      *I wish I still had a link to it.

    12. Stop That Goat*

      I’ve been there! When I left my last employer, I actually cried in the car on the way home because of all the mixed feelings about it.

      In the end, it was definitely the right decision (for me) and one that I should have made years before. Good luck on your new job!

    13. MissDisplaced*

      It’s normal!
      Remember, you began looking for a reason. The 1 hour commute alone would be a deal breaker for a lot of people, especially if something closer came up. As they say… it’s not personal, it’s business.

  10. Weirdornotweird*

    Is it weird or not weird to tell your staff (10-15 people) at a regular meeting that you’re bringing up a topic of discussion and no one is allowed to leave the room until every single person has contributed an original idea to the topic of discussion? Is it weird or not weird to do that at pretty much every regular meeting?

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      That’s pretty weird and also bound to create an awful atmosphere full of resentment. I don’t like being forced to speak if I truly have nothing to contribute, and I’m sure others feel the same way.

    2. Squeeble*

      Weird and annoying and probably not generating whatever results the manager (or whoever’s asking) is looking for.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It’s super annoying to have to come up with ideas on the fly. If you want to solicit original ideas, give your employees prep time to think about it.

      1. Weirdornotweird*

        So how do you go about telling the person doing this that it’s annoying to a.) try to come up with good ideas on the fly and b.) be annoyed at the time wasted when people invariably just sit there for as long as possible not answering/say something not useful just to get out of the room.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I would approach them outside of one of these meetings and ask if they could start providing an agenda at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, especially if they would like team members to contribute new ideas, to give people time to brainstorm. Frame it as making the meeting more efficient because everyone will come prepared to present their ideas.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          So if people suggest an idea can they leave and not wait for the others? /joking, sort of.

          I have been hostage to these discussions myself. What happened was people ran out of things to say and just said, “I have nothing to add.” We can’t make people come up with something when they have nothing.
          Personally, I have used:
          “You will have to come back to me, because my thought was the same one Bob had and now I need to think of something else.”
          “Well, my thought on this one is ideal world stuff and not applicable to our setting. [Launch into useless idea.]
          “Well there really seems to be just the three options here and I don’t have anything else to add.”

          I said these things right in the meeting , because no private conversation could fully describe the uselessness of holding people in a room indefinitely. Sometimes people learn by living the real life exercise.

        3. nonegiven*

          Make up weird stuff, like how every one should be working on developing their telekinesis technique. If everyone starts competing for most bizarre unusable idea, maybe she’ll take a hint.

    4. Emily S.*

      Alison recently covered this in a post – but I can’t find it. The letter was written by someone who was working under a manager who did this.

      She said that managers shouldn’t force every person to contribute a new idea in a meeting.

      So yes – not just weird, but unfair.

    5. Louise*

      Yeah, I think that’s weird and also not really how you treat adults. And I know for me at least, I’m a bit of a slow processor when in comes to taking in information and then spitting out ideas. I would have a really hard time with this, especially if materials on the topic weren’t sent out ahead of time.

    6. 42*

      >>…and no one is allowed to leave the room until…<<

      That's weird and that's also the definition of a hostage. I don't take well to someone telling me I'm not allowed to leave a room.

    7. LCL*

      It’s not the concept, it’s how it’s presented that’s annoying. Making sure to call on everyone in a meeting so they have at least minimal input on a topic is the way to do this. Telling them they can’t leave the room is treating them like naughty schoolchildren. And yeah, call on everyone including the quiet ones who usually don’t speak up. You should lead the quiet ones a little, and end with the offer to send them an email with further information.

    8. Artemesia*

      If people not participating is a problem that needs solving, the leader needs to be reflecting on what is going on to discourage contributions. If you want to use a structural method to encourage the habit of contributing, then perhaps contact people ahead of time and ask them to come prepared to make a suggestion about how to deal with X. Or contact one third of the people before each meeting with that request. Something like this might help get the ball rolling, but it is important to think about why the norm is to not participate. Often it is because the leader sucks all the air out of the room or there are punishments for participating. It doesn’t take many ‘ya, but we tried that and it didn’t work’ comments to shut people up.

      1. Weirdornotweird*

        I think the problem lies in the fact that there are typically always like 6 good ideas but 12 people in the meeting. So six people are usually quick to grab those possible answers, and then maybe 2 people come up with some real out of the box answers, and then four people are left with nothing, either because they weren’t fast enough to come up with the 6 or creative enough to come up with something else. People do participate, it’s just that the leader wants 100% participation and that’s tough to achieve when there are a finite number of possibilities and/or everyone in the room isn’t super creative.

        1. nonymous*

          Why does it need to be a new original idea with the last four? If there are 6 good ideas the next set of staff will be participating if they’re debating the merits (presumably the team will only implement the top one or two), or demonstrating that a particular idea will likely have greater adoption.

          1. Weirdornotweird*

            Because the leader doesn’t want a debate on the merits. The leader wants a laundry list of ideas, and they all need to be different. You could offer very useful information about an idea someone else mentioned, but you also have to come up with your own idea.

    9. Mike C.*

      So what happens if not everyone can’t come up with a unique idea? That’s a stupid expectation. What happens when you’re called on last?

      1. Weirdornotweird*

        Everyone has to say something, so people end up offering terrible answers. They know they’re terrible answers. But an answer means we can move on, so they’re pretty much expected at this point.

    10. Claire*

      Echoing what everyone here is saying about it being weird, and also you could be setting yourself up for a false imprisonment tort (a situation very similar to this was used on one of my torts exams)

    11. Nico m*

      The solution is:

      Everybody prepares for the long haul (empty bladders, blood sugar topped up).

      Then nobody volunteers an idea.

      And wait.

    12. Observer*

      The boss is an idiot. Full stop. This is a good way to demotivate people. If this is happening at weekly, or even monthly meetings, he’s likely to start losing his best performers, because it’s time wasting and extremely disrespectful. And it’s going to burn whatever good will he has with the people who have the most options.

      He needs to provide an agenda at least one full workday in advance. He needs to STOP treating people like naughty children and hostages. And he needs to recalibrate his expectations. Expecting each person to come up with a new idea each time is a sure fire recipe for NOT getting as many good ideas as you can get, since people are going to stop trying to come up with anything reasonable. The first new thing is what’s going to come out of their mouth, even if there really are better things to suggest.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Comments with links in them go to moderation until I release them. It looks like you submitted yours several times to try to get it to go through (and thus it showed up here twice); it’s better to avoid doing that and wait for them to be released from moderation.

      1. Regretting my new job part 2*

        My apologies!! It was a very long, trying week—as you might imagine. Hope you have a lovely weekend, and sorry again for spamming that comment!

  11. Foreign Octopus*

    Bit of a frustrating experience with my former employer this week.

    I decided not to renew my teaching contract in the middle of June and informed her then. I clearly stated that August would be the last time I would be available to teach her students. She came to me and asked me to continue for one more month with one student (4hrs for the month) and I agreed but said I had to stop in September. Cut to Wednesday this week and I send her a text message to remind her that my last lesson with the student was the next morning. She comes back and asks me for another lesson next week.

    I know one hour isn’t a lot and I could have done it but I was so frustrated at being asked that I said no. My schedule has been very complicated with these lessons and I felt annoyed that despite giving her three months notice (the last teacher who left gave her one week’s notice in the middle of the academic year), she still hadn’t gotten everything into place. I know that my turning it down put her into a difficult position but, at this point, I felt that I had been more than flexible and accommodating for her and so I had to say no for my peace of mind more than anything.

    She also has yet to pay me for the month (she normally does it on the last day of teaching but she wasn’t there when I left) so there’s that to sort out next week.


    1. Amber T*

      That’s a big ol’ nope. And you didn’t put her in a difficult position – she’s known since June you were planning on leaving.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Rephrasing might help: “I know that her inaction on replacing me put her in a difficult position, but I have no control over that. Therefore it is not my problem.” Glad you stood your ground!

  12. Awkwardest Turtle*

    What are some good verbs for an achievements-based resume? Beside for “managed”, “implemented”, and “improved”?

    Related question – if one of my achievements was a group effort (I was on a committee to update our custom software) how would I indicate that on the resume?

        1. Artemesia*

          to me ‘championed’ sounds like ‘I sat in the corner and said atta’boy but didn’t actually DO anything.’

    1. MuseumMusings*

      JN has some good ones, but I’d also like to add coordinated, designed, and fabricated (though this would probably be for physical objects).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          LOL. Fabricated was the word my husband used instead of “cobbed”. So some where in my mind, “fabricated” became “cobbed, but with intelligence.”

        2. MuseumMusings*

          Haha, I used to work in a museum where I did a lot with collections and exhibits. My resume is littered with phrases such as “designed and fabricated Historical Teapots of the 1600s exhibition” or “fabricated 16 chocolate, raspberry, and blueberry teapot spout mounts in a two-week span.”

          1. SoCalHR*

            True – I was about to add that if I was interviewing that person I would certainly ask what role they specifically played on the team (so AwkwardestTurtle should be ready to explain that) :-D

            1. Awkwardest Turtle*

              Luckily I actually was integral – could definitely explain it well in person, not sure how to put it briefly on the resume.

    2. SophieChotek*

      secured (i.e. secured funding/grant) perhaps?

      there must be some good short way to say like “brought on/signed on X new clients/vendors”…? (if that is something you might need)…

    3. Five after Midnight*

      directed, coordinated, revised, implemented, led, project-managed, developed, delivered, prepared, built, appointed to, participated, challenged, initiated, completed, owned, shortened, guided, supported, conducted, created, standardized, wrote, interacted, redesigned, automated.
      These are all from my current resume in the order they appear excluding repetitions. Good luck!

  13. Regretting my new job part 2*

    Okay here’s my real question!

    I wrote in last week about regretting my new job that I’d only been at for six weeks. Since then, I’ve actually been offered a new position elsewhere with more flexibility (though with about the same number of hours overall, which is fine) and I will more than likely be putting in my notice today.

    When y’all have left jobs in a short amount of time (this is the end of my seventh week), how have you phrased your notice? My plan is to go in to my boss explaining that I’m unhappy, that I’ve given the job a good faith effort and I don’t feel that it’s for me, and that I wanted to be upfront about that sooner rather than later. I will give her a chance to address the concerns that I have but I don’t think she will because if she wasn’t willing to before I started then I doubt she will now. (She actually just told me like an hour ago that my few-days-a-week walks to get coffee—25 minutes tops—had to stop. So I’m not hopeful for anything else.) And they won’t change the whole corporate clock in and out policy just for me, certainly.

    I am just dreading the guilt trip I’m gonna get because when I was offered this job they said they knew this position wasn’t exactly what I wanted and that they didn’t want me to just take this job for the sake of taking a job and then leave in a few months. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I honestly underestimated how miserable I would be in a job I’m not passionate about with hours that I hate. My mistake, but I do feel like I’m kind of screwing them over (even though honestly I feel like they screwed me over) so it’s hard for me to not feel guilty. How would you all handle this conversation?

    1. Eowyn*

      I’ve done a similar thing before (left a job after 8 weeks) and I just said something like “another opportunity unexpectedly dropped into my lap and I have to take it”. These things happen and yeah your boss might be frustrated, but you can’t manage her feelings for her. Try not to let the guilt get to you, you did give it a good faith effort after all. Just think that after an uncomfortable five minute conversation and two-week notice period, you’ll most likely never work with her again anyway!

    2. Wordy Nerd*

      Do you have to tell them the truth about why you’re leaving? Honestly, I’d just say something like “This new position fell in my lap and I couldn’t turn it down” as opposed to explaining problems. If you get into explaining, they might assume that if they fix the problems then you’ll stay.

      1. Regretting my new job part 2*

        Admittedly, they would have to fix a LOT for me to stay. But I also want them to be aware that their shitty policies result in people leaving. But I guess I don’t owe them that.

        1. Eowyn*

          I honestly wouldn’t bother doing that, but if you wanted to, I would do it in an exit interview and not when you resign. Do you think they’d even be receptive to the feedback?

        2. WellRed*

          I personally am a big fan of letting companies know they have crappy policies. Not letting a salaried employee take a few breaks to walk/get coffee? WTF?

          1. Gaia*

            I mean, it isn’t as if they said the OP cannot go and get coffee. They said an extra 25 minute break 3x a week wasn’t reasonable.

        3. Naruto*

          You don’t owe them that, and if they don’t ask, I think it’s very unlikely that the message will get through. Unless they have a trend of people they hire only lasting a few weeks, they’re going to think the problem is you, not them.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I agree; enumerating the problems means that the boss will probably either promise to solve them or “explain” why you’re wrong, and they’re not actually problems. And I assume you’ve mentioned them before, Regretting, or they’re things that seem like common sense to you, so it should not take the threat of you leaving for them to want to change them if they agreed with your assessment.

        But do think of some verbiage of how you’re sorry that this didn’t work out, or that you didn’t realize it was such a bad fit — something to acknowledge that this is a (minor) violation of the job-hopping norm. You have good reasons, and it’s probably best for you and your employer that they find someone else, but they don’t necessarily need to hear that part right now. Some contrition for the problems this will cause might help smooth things over.

        Or maybe that’s just me, I’m one of those people who apologizes way too much.

    3. fposte*

      By resisting the temptation to explain :-). I was going to say that you should think of this as a business transaction, but maybe romance is a better fit. “It’s not working out for me; I’m sorry. I’m sure you’ll find somebody great.”

      If you’re this unhappy about a bunch of stuff, there’s really not much point in trying to get improvements. In both business and romance.

    4. Regretting my new job part 2*

      Well, I did it. I got the guilt trip I expected (“you told me you wouldn’t do this, you said you’d give it the old college try”) and I said I am disappointed too, but that the job is literally making me ill and I’ve been getting migraines almost constantly. They made me close out everything this afternoon so as of 3pm I am sitting at home enjoying some toast so all in all it went okay. The HR guy said I could reach out to him if I ever wanted to work at a place owned by this company again since I wasn’t leaving on bad terms, so even though I don’t really like the company, that was comforting to hear. I really am going to miss my coworkers though. They at least made the days somewhat bearable. But they all told me to keep in touch and seemed sincere, so it’s all good.

      Thank you everyone for your help and encouragement. It is so appreciated and I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. :) Now off to the weekend!

      1. Stop That Goat*

        Well, too bad that you got the guilt trip. I seriously doubt they would have kept you if it wasn’t working out for them so I wouldn’t feel any guilt about this at all. It didn’t work out. It happens and you and the company will likely be better off in the long run if it wasn’t a good fit. Good luck!!

  14. NK*

    Does anyone who is not naturally super-organized have tips for staying organized? I’ve read all the organizational tips, and especially love the AAM ask the readers post on organization. My issue is that I have a hard time actually sticking to a system. I am now in a job that requires being on top of a ton of details. I am buried in emails with to-dos and action items from meetings and conversations. I’ve tried flagging emails, bullet journals, etc, but I have such a hard time sticking with anything. Would love to hear tips from any naturally disorganized people who have found ways to get themselves to stick to something!

    1. Blue*

      I like the “Mindful” app (extension?) for chrome. It’s a very simple to-do list checkbox. It’s really good for keeping everything in one place. I use it to keep a simple list of the projects I’m working on, and then under each project I have sub-bullets of the things I have to do/deadlines, etc. I think it works for me because it’s not complicated. You still might have to dig through your emails for the action item, or details of a conversation, but at least the list is there to remind you of that task that needs to be done.

      Good luck! organization isn’t my forte either.

    2. LucyUK*

      For me, sticking doesn’t work at all and I find I naturally switch between a couple of systems (primarily post its on my desk, or a written to-do list, or a typed-up to-do list in my emails).

      As soon as one of them goes stale and doesn’t feel like “the real list” any more (usually because I haven’t been strict about breaking down tasks, or because I start using the current list as a hybrid of important-do-now stuff and long-term backlog/nice-to-have stuff), I capture the most important stuff to actually get done soon in a different list type and then roll with that until that one goes stale.

      I find it hard to keep disciplined about using one type of list well, and somehow manage to not confuse myself by switching every so often.

    3. Awkwardest Turtle*

      If you haven’t tried it, are you able to block off time each day for organizing? Personally I find it difficult to stick to a system as well because i just forget to use it day-to-day. The calendar reminds me that it’s time to re-vamp the to-do list and then I’m reminded of all the things I’d forgotten to do.

      1. NK*

        I think this is what it’s going to come down to for me – just setting aside time daily to get caught up. I’ve tried some of the apps people suggested below, and they’re cool and all, but they’re only as good as the data that I put in them.

        1. Awkwardest Turtle*

          Exactly. But it helps if you find what you think works best for you and stick to it.

          Personally, I just use a word document where I list all my projects, with all my action items bolded. Every few days I go through and update what’s happening with that project, any new action items, and deal with anything I forgot to do. What I like about the word doc is that if I find it’s not working I can change it up (e.g. start color coding/alphabetizing, whatever).

          Also I found it really tough to start a new system because there’s just so much going on. If you feel this way, don’t feel like you need to organize everything at once – just add them as they pop up on your radar.

          Also a big fan of the “categories” in Outlook so you can easily find all emails related to a specific task. I struggle with folders.

        2. Princess Scrivener*

          NK, I attended Effective Edge in the fall of 2013. As an executive assistant, I had more tasks than I had minutes in the work day. I’m still using it, although I’ve moved on from a support position to a writing job, and I can’t imagine working without it. It’s all based in / around your email account, so it’s one tool. I drag any emails requiring action into a new task; if someone stops by and asks me to do something, I open a task and start taking notes while they’re talking. Every task is stored (until you delete), so it’s great for referencing historical stuff. Every morning you get a list of your tasks for that day… My email inbox has been empty for four years!

      2. LKW*

        This is what I was going to say – it doesn’t matter the method or the tool, it’s time and consistency. You have to put in time every day where your phone is off, no new emails are getting answered and you’re going through your list, your plan, whatever they may be. Start with a daily 1/2 hour at the beginning and end of the day. At the beginning of the day outline what you have to do and what your priorities are. At the end of the day , make sure whatever was completed is marked as such. File away relevant emails. Add new tasks and reprioritize for the next day. Next morning – catch up on any new emails and reprioritize if necessary.

      3. nonymous*

        +++ I find it helpful at the end of the day to figure out what tomorrow me needs to do to keep on track with whatever I’m juggling. I treat it like if I was delegating to the best assistant/subordinate ever. That’s to keep the day on track. To keep a project on track, I try to work on tasks in discrete blocks within that project. So I don’t write an update email while I’m placing the order for additional materials, I do one then the other. Once I finish a task then I check that there’s clear documentation (sometimes it’s just a TODO note for future me, sometimes it’s updating the group) for what’s next with any deadlines.

        1. Awkwardest Turtle*

          I need to get better about prioritizing for “tomorrow me” – and to a larger extent “Monday me”. I feel like every time I come in on Monday I have to start from scratch, especially after a particularly eventful weekend. When I do remember to do it is so so so helpful.

    4. Professional Shopper*

      I can never pick a good system either–but I do set aside 5 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at the end of my day to update & review my work.

      I usually end up consolidating all my day’s notes into one list or calendar. then in the morning, I look at the list again, and plan out the day. The bookends of time help me more than any particular system.

    5. SoCalHR*

      I’ve been really happy with Wunderlist – I can see it on my phone and my computer which helps. Also there is various lists you can make that I use to categorize my work (I wear a LOT of hats). The best thing I did was add a “waiting on/follow up” list where I can drag items to once I’ve done my part on something and am waiting for a response. That way it doesn’t get lost but I know its not currently my responsibility. You could do that with email folders too if that works better for you.

      you’re going to stick with something that works for you, so it sounds like you haven’t quite found what that is yet.

    6. Tara*

      I just started using Trello. I like that you have one “card” for each task, and then can add comments of where you are in the process, and attach documents/emails to the card, so you don’t have to go through your email to find stuff. It does require you to actually engage with the system, but things don’t fall off if I make a card for each task. It’s been working well so far!

      1. Louise*

        Yes! Trello is the best! Other people can also create cards (tasks) for you. I do a lot of writing for other people in my org, and whenever someone has a project for me they just drop a card on my trello board with all the info!

        I have mine set up by week, month, quarter, and long term tasks. This helps me stay focused on the task at hand and allows me to strategize what comes next.

        I also have a daily to-do list. I sometimes struggle with executive function stuff, so it helps me to break the projects into small, manageable tasks that I can tick off each day.

        1. NK*

          I’ve tried Trello before; the issue for me is sticking with it. It’s another browser window I need to keep open all the time, and another system to input things into. It works well enough on my slower days, but I just don’t keep up with it on the crazy days. I’m also often in situations where I’m in in-person meetings where whipping out my phone or laptop to input to-do’s isn’t appropriate. I know it works well for others, it just ends up being inefficient for me.

          1. serenity*

            So if you would rather not use tech (either desktop, tablet, or phone-based), what are the kind of suggestions you are looking for? Using a notepad or something really basic?

            1. NK*

              I think part of the issue is that I have a lot of email-driven to-dos, and then to-dos that come up in meetings where I’m not always connected. So it seems like either way I’m spending a lot of time transferring tasks from one medium to another, and when things are really busy, the organization gets dropped. What I’m asking for is not so much suggestions of a specific app or cool paper notebook, but more how you stay on top of whatever system you choose (because ultimately they’re all pretty much the same).

              1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

                I think the thing is, it’s a change in mindset where the organization becomes one of your top priorities. I know it’s easy for that to be the thing that goes first, especially when we’re busy. For me it’s easy to stay organized and keep all the bits and pieces together and in the right places for later. But sitting here thinking about why that is? Only thing that I really came up with was that it’s important to me and I make it a priority. Easier said than done. Whether you do it once a day, twice a day, or every hour on the hour, maybe try rephrasing how you think of it? Take it from this THING that’s nice to do if you have time to the ONE THING that is most important because it’s what allows you to accomplish every other thing that you do later.

          2. Louise*

            That’s fair—a lot of people use trello at my org, so it’s normal to say “hey I’m going to jot this down in trello super quick” during in-person meetings.

            Something that I tell myself when I feel annoyed by the time it takes to input tasks, etc is that every minute you spend organizing, you save yourself an hour of work. I always end my days reviewing my email, checking my notes, and putting together my to do list for the next day. That way I can come in and get started working immediately with a clear head.

            1. NK*

              Yeah, I think this is going to come down to taking time out of my day, no matter how hectic, to get my action items organized and prioritized on a daily basis.

              1. Mike C.*

                Schedule this time on your calendar, same time every day. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss it or don’t do a complete job on a given day, just keep at it. Sometimes it takes a few nags from Outlook for me to stop ignoring stuff like this.

        2. atgo*

          I’ve been using Trello to make sort of a rolling to-do list. It’s not perfect, but it’s been helping a lot as my workload has been increasing. Instead of the specific week/month/quarter/long term columns like Louise mentioned, I keep things looser (works better for my messy mind).

          I have a left-most column that is “Soon,” then longer time horizons span out in additional columns to the right. I can also put due dates on specific items, leave myself comments for status updates, attach documents, links, checklists, etc.. It’s been a lifesaver.

          As I work through the “soon” column, I pull in items from the columns to the right to fill. A couple of times a week I also take a cursory pass through the other items to make sure I’m not missing anything.

      2. serenity*

        Was just coming to say the same thing! I love Trello – it’s easy to use and I love how customizable it is.

    7. DC*

      I find online/computer based apps hard to use, since they fall into out-of-sight, out-of-mind territory. I also found bullet journaling to be harder, since there was no pre-set structure and it actually made me stressed.

      So I switched to a get to work book. It’s a planner – a large one, so it’s always on my desk, so it’s always in mind, and as things come in I can put the task on the appropriate day. I would REALLY recommend checking it out- she also makes weekly pads if you don’t like the planner idea, that would let you make a to-do list per week.

      Why this works for me: One long list was hard when I couldn’t complete one task until X day because of something I was getting sent to me on that day. So being able to use the GTWB like one big weekly to-do was a lot easier, since it let me break things down.

      Happy to chat more/send photos if you like!

    8. Muriel Heslop*

      I am really disorganized by nature and my job requires a lot of paperwork, official forms and meetings. What I’ve found (through trial and error) is that keeping one spiral notebook, writing everything down in it, and just keep a running pile of notes, times, dates, deadlines, meetings and date each day as I go.

      Downside: I can’t lose the notebook or I’ll be dead. But I only have to keep up with one thing. It’s not fancy, but it works for me.

    9. LizB*

      I have accepted that I am a pen-and-paper gal through and through. I’ve used plenty of organization apps, but none ever worked, so I use a physical planner.

      I had to design my own planner, because none of the ones I could buy quiiite fit my needs. I ended up just buying some composition books that I turn into planners. (I love the brand Decomposition Books – they have fun cover designs and the pages are 100% recycled – but choose your own fave notebook.) I need a full page for each day’s to-do lists, but I also wanted month-sized calendars and week-planning spreads, and all the planners I could find would give me either month + week or month + day layouts but not all three. I also built in a section for notes at the back of the planner with numbered pages.

      One habit that has been essential for me is an end-of-day planner check. At the end of the day, I have to sit down and make sure I’ve checked off everything I accomplished, copied everything I didn’t accomplish to the next day, or crossed out anything that actually doesn’t need to get done. I’ll often start my to-do list for the next day at this time. Also, if I took notes, I’ll write the page numbers they appear on at the top of the day’s page, so if in the future I need to find my notes from the Teapot Symposium it’s super easy to find them. It took a while to build this habit but it’s been SO helpful.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I would love a to have all three as well. How did you get the monthly calendars and weekly / daily spreads into your composition books? Did you hand-draw them or make printables?

        1. LizB*

          (I don’t know if you’ll see this, but…) I hand-draw them. It’s pretty easy to draw a month calendar with just a ruler (and the benefit of lined paper), and for the weekly spread, I just divide a page into six boxes then divide the sixth box in two for Saturday/Sunday. My setup does take up a lot of space — I generally fit three months into one notebook, although I could probably fit four if I were okay having fewer notes pages.

    10. Airedale*

      I just use a Word document. It has two lists, Priority tasks and Secondary tasks. I look at it first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

      I will say, when I look back on one former position where I felt disorganized, I now realize my workload was insanely high. You can have the best system in the world, but talking with your boss to see if you some of your tasks can be delegated is worth considering.

      Good luck!

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        This is a really good point. There are some times when I feel very disorganized, but when I take a step back I realize it’s because I have way too much in my plate (or I’m herding cats. Or both). I’ve had to reluctantly accept the idea that sometimes things are going to feel a bit rushed and chaotic.

    11. Meg*

      I am also in a really detail-oriented job, and this is the system that works for me. I have a full-sized planner (Blue Sky Academic Year Weekly & Monthly), which opens up to a weekly spread, with ample space for each day. All of my to-dos go into this planner, ASAP, and it’s only for to-dos. (Project notes, meeting notes, etc., go in other notebooks, and I use an online calendar for meetings.) In the Saturday slot, I write down the big projects for the week, e.g., board presentation, quarterly report. In the Sunday slot, I write down the big projects that are getting pushed to *next* week. And then each day is full of all the to-dos, no matter how small. Like: email assistant to schedule that meeting, spend an hour sketching this report.

      All of my to dos come through email, too, but using your inbox as a to-do list is really bad practice, IMO. As soon as you see a to-do in an email, immediately transfer it to your planner: it’s either a small to-do that you can assign to a day, or it’s a large project that you can add to the “this week” or “next week” list (and then later break it down into small tasks). If you’re in a spot where you don’t have your planner, read the email and then mark it as unread so you’ll see it when you’re back at your desk.

      At the end of each day, I write my to-do list for the following day, referencing my calendar and my list of projects for the week. I review it at the beginning of the day, too, to get myself situated. It only takes a few minutes, though a little longer on Friday afternoons and Monday mornings. I’ve tried a LOT of systems, and this is simple and really works well for me!

    12. Optimistic Prime*

      I am not naturally organized at all and people frequently tell me how organized I am, so I feel like my system must work lol:

      -I have a weekly planner that each Monday I take about 15 minutes filling out to look at my week. It’s broken into 3 squares for each day. The top square I list all my meetings for each day, so I know roughly what meetings I have and when things are due. The middle square I write a high-level description of what I need to do each of those days – deliverables and pieces that aren’t meetings. (The bottom square I list personal commitments, partially so I remember and partially so I don’t think “Oh I can just finish this at home” when I have a concert to go to or a happy hour or something.)

      -Then every day or every other day I have a written to do list and I break down my higher-level deliverables into smaller pieces that I need to get done. Who do I need to mail, who do I need to call, what do I need to write…I make these small pieces because checking them off is motivating and satisfying for me. This takes me about 5 minutes every day.

      -I have one electronic to do list. The electronic one is for “let me write this down right now because I will forget it 2 minutes later.” It isn’t organized in any particular order, but I can set a reminder on it to ping me later.

      In my inbox I have a sub box called “NEEDS ACTION ***”. Emails that I can’t immediately respond to, but that I need to respond to, I stick in this box. Then I have a designated time every day that I go in that box and respond to those/do what I need to do there. (Flagging doesn’t really work that well for me so this is what I do instead).

      -I noticed that sometimes as I was taking notes in meetings I would end up with a to-do list but it was hard for me to find the action items in my notes, so I bought a notebook that has a to-do list built in on 1/3 of the page, every other page. Then when I’m taking notes in a meeting (I write my notes by hand on paper) I can add the to-dos on the side of the notebook and know exactly where to find my action items! It was very expensive and I would not buy it again, but I like the layout and I’ll be trying to find another option that has a similar layout for less money. (Or if you are less picky about your notebooks than me, you can easily create your own simply by using a straightedge or ruler to draw a vertical line to separate 1/3 of the edge of the page from the rest, then add some checkboxes every other line.)

    13. wingcolor*

      So, what works for me to stay organized is to have a few different systems, and know that while no single system will cover everything, taken together, nothing will fall through the cracks.

      So first, I have electronic reminders. We use outlook, and I have a number of recurring tasks set up—things that need to be done monthly, weekly, daily, etc. And they all have reminders set up, so that the little reminder pane will pop up and annoy me.

      As well, in Outlook, you can drag emails onto the tasks icon, and it will create a task for you. You can set the due date, and again, set a reminder. I do this for any random emailed requests that come in that I can’t get to right away. (You can also drag emails onto the calendar icon if something needs to be done at a specific date and time. Super handy!)

      I also keep a written daily to do list in a small notebook. Sometimes I will set up an Outlook task and then write it in my notebook as well, but I don’t worry if something doesn’t get written in my notebook as long as I know I have a task for it, and vice versa.

      And finally, because we use Slack at work, if I ever need to make a note of something or remind myself to do something when I’m away from my desk/computer, I open the Slack app on my phone and use its reminder feature to make a note to myself that will pop up at approximately the next time I’m at my desk. That covers things that occur to me when I’m on the go, or when I can’t stop my brain from thinking about everything that needs to get done the next day when I’m trying to go to sleep at night.

    14. Looc64*

      I’ve also had trouble with picking out a good organization system and sticking with it. What’s currently working ok for me is to use those electronic post it notes that you can put on your desktop and the notes app on my phone. The good thing about this sustem is that it doesn’t require setting things up or much maintenance.

    15. samgarden*

      I am the least organised person ever. My memory is awful, I procrastinate, and I get bored by things super easily. I have a full-time office job, a home business, and I am studying for a uni degree. As a combo, it is The Worst.
      So this is what works best for me. It’s not foolproof, but it’s easy enough to implement and stick to.

      -Hard-copy notebook. ‘Normal’ pages (right-hand side) are a running to-do list. ‘Back’ pages (left) are notes / whatever. I colour-code my list with a highlighter dot beside each one, and as I complete them I cross them out. When I no longer need a note, I scribble it out. I know that everything in the book is current, and I put EVERYTHING in there, e.g. email Wakeen re: teapots, buy Jane a birthday present, finish Llama assignment – due 30 October. It sits on my office desk at all times.
      -Email. I use Outlook at home and at work. I have literally seven everyday work accounts, two uni accounts, and a couple of personal ones. Outlook keeps them all nicely in one place. I set up folders for each account, and once an email has been actioned, I mark it as read and drag it into the relevant folder. Anything that hasn’t been actioned sits as unread in my inbox. I love an empty inbox, so this motivates me to get as much done as I can in this regard. I also use coloured categories for a few specific tasks, and have set up templates for emails that I send regularly. Can I just say that I hate email flags and they don’t work for me. I ditched the Outlook tasks pane aaaages ago.
      -Calendar. I use my Outlook calendar for an overview of holidays and work schedules. My husband works away, and we have his kids stay with us on school holidays- this way I can easily see where dates overlap and so forth. I also have work meetings and social events in there. I set up colour categories for everything so I can see what’s what. As soon as I have something to go in the calendar, it goes in. No procrastination, otherwise I WILL forget. It takes one minute, and saves me having my head bitten off by whoever I forgot about. It’s all synced with my phone, so no excuses to not chuck an appointment or reminder in there straight away.
      -OneNote. My home business is website design. Every time I acquire a new client I set up a OneNote notebook for their stuff, and dump all relevant info in there. It’s not neat or pretty, but it’s a one-stop shop for everything from HEX codes to fonts to email addresses to screenshots of inspo to quotes to deadlines… literally everything. You can paste images and emails and documents and all sorts of stuff in there, and again it syncs to other devices so if for example I am at the airport and need to send someone their FTP details I can just go in and send them to them.
      -LastPass. I just started using it. Oh my lord… use it! I don’t have to remember any logins, ever. Save your brainspace for better stuff.
      -Automation. I set up direct debits for bills and accounts. I schedule emails for appropriate times. Again, save your brainspace. Let the machines do the work!
      -Files and folders. DO NOT SAVE ANYTHING ON YOUR DESKTOP. Take a few seconds to name your files properly when you save them, and put them in appropriate folders. Future NK will thank you. I end up flustered when my e-filing is a mess. A stitch in time, and all that jazz.
      -Housekeeping. Every now and then, when I feel overwhelmed or whatever, I will give myself some time to avoid responsibilities and just sort myself out. I will pick through and archive any emails from over a month ago, put my old papers in the recycle bin, go through my ‘in’ tray and put things in order of priority, shift old tasks on my to-do-list to the newest page so they don’ get left behind… that kinda thing. It helps me feel more on top of things, and reminds me that I am not actually as swamped as I feel.

      It took me ages to settle on this level of simplicity. The easier you make it for yourself, the more you stick to it. I still balls up all the time, but this is by far my best system.

  15. lemonwater*

    Question re: adding a personal trip to a work trip, or even just staying an extra day or two in a fun work trip destination. I’ve done this a lot, and it’s never caused issues, but I was wondering how other people handle reimbursements for the boundary between work and personal? My workplace doesn’t do per diem, so I always need to submit receipts for reimbursement.

    Example: Suppose I am in city A for work, and if I were to go home right after my work responsibilities were done, I would fly home on Friday, and work would reimburse my lunch and dinner since it takes me all day to fly home, and they would reimburse my cab home from the airport. Suppose now I decide to stay in city A until Saturday, so Friday is “time to explore”. Would you still claim Friday lunch/dinner and a cab home on Saturday?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would claim the cab home on Saturday (you would have needed a cab home anyway) but not the meals on Friday. That would just make me feel more comfortable with the whole thing, especially since I would be getting lunch and dinner in places I wanted to, not, say, close to the airport because of flights. Once the “I’m-on-vacation-and-enjoying-myself” starts, my non-travel reimbursement claims end. Other people might feel differently, of course, but that’s my personal line.

      1. Artemesia*

        This is what I have done; as soon as the vacation starts, e.g. Friday in this example, the meals etc are on me. My best ‘win’ was a few years ago when I was flown to Hawaii to speak and they rented me a car so I drove myself to and from the airport and to the conference center etc. I brought my husband along and he could stay in my room without added cost, and then when we continued for 8 days of vacation, I was able to keep the car and just pay the rental cost above the 3 days they paid for. It worked out so that the 3 day cost was about half of the cost of the whole 11 days and so they were subsidizing the car without it costing them more. (they of course saved money on the airfare since my 11 day airfair span was cheaper than flying in and out in 3 days without a Saturday over.)

    2. A Beth*

      I say claim them! It’s essentially treating them as two separate trips; you just happened to not have to fly back out for the personal leg.

    3. Beatrice*

      I would claim meals for the day I traveled back. You’re taking a vacation day in the middle of a work trip, essentially. You have Friday off, so your stuff on Friday isn’t expensable. When you begin traveling back on Saturday, you’re resuming work, and your meals that day should be reimbursed, as they would be if you’d traveled back on Friday.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I did it recently. It was kind of a pain, but basically I looked at what my trip would have been without the personal stuff and didn’t count extra. I counted any travel or meals during travel (airport) as reimbursable. But once I got to the hotel that night (a few days early) I was on vacation and it was all my cost. And then 3 nights later, the night before my conference started the reimbursable expenses started again because I was there for work.

      So I would not claim Friday lunch or dinner, but I would claim Saturday breakfast, lunch, (assuming you spend Saturday traveling and not site seeing) and cab as reimbursable. It’s the same # of meals – just different ones.

    5. SophieChotek*

      I am doing this next week. I am claiming the hotel (for the nights I was there for the event). But since I could have flown out Saturday, but am choosing to stay Sat/Sun night so I can see more of the city, I will not claim Sat/Sun.

      Will claim all meals up through Saturday. (Even if I flew out Saturday I would still have to eat.)

      Will claim rides to/from airport on both ends, so those were necessary regardless.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Where I work, our policy would be to pay for anything involved with getting you home. So the cab ride home on Saturday– yes. The meals on Friday –no. Friday is your non-business day so any expenses that day would not be eligible for reimbursement and that would include the hotel. We would not reimburse for Friday night’s stay.

  16. Blue Anne*

    Funny work thing: I took a “sick” day yesterday for my mental health. I said, truthfully, that I was feeling hit by a truck because of medication changes. I did not specify physical or mental medication. (It’s completely mental.)

    Came back in today, feeling a lot better. Boss says “You still look a little rough, Anne.”

    Thanks man. Good talk.


      1. Blue Anne*

        Luckily, I just think it’s hilarious and a result of not wearing any makeup. Now I know how to look sick to my boss…

        1. Chaordic One*

          I have this kind of awful dark orange colored top and if I wear it with no makeup everything thinks I look pale and sick. If I ever need a mental health day I’ll wear that top the day before and/or after.

      1. Camellia*

        Yeah, stress tends to show on our face and body more than we might like to admit. In your place I might have considered taking today also, for a four-day weekend.

        1. Blue Anne*

          I was very tempted, but I knew I had an urgent tax notice for a client sitting on my desk here. Too damn dedicated. :)

  17. Savannnah*

    Last week I wrote about how I gave my boss 7 months’ notice for a February departure and he hasn’t done anything with that information yet- even though it’s a highly specialized position within a small field. I emailed him this week to ask if he had notified anyone above him or discussed with our HR dept. He told me he didn’t remember that I told him about leaving and that he doesn’t want to tell anyone until budget season is over, which is in December. I understand its not my job to follow up but I really want to go over his head on this one because I am spearheading a 5 year merger which is launching in Jan and I am unsure how to proceed. I work closely with grandboss, who is very prominent in our field, on the merger and it is ultimately his deliverable.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think you owe it to grandboss to give him a heads up if you are directly reporting to him on that specific project.

      1. anon because*

        I’m inclined to agree, if you’re pretty sure you won’t be pushed out earlier by doing so, but you might want to give your boss a heads-up first. Sounds like your boss is trying to protect his budget/headcount, and likely from your position you won’t know all the impacts of sharing the information sooner. Aim to walk out with a good recommendation from both boss and grandboss, and you will likely be in good stead.

        1. Savannnah*

          I have no fear of being pushed out because my field is so specialized and because our company is located in an unsexy city. I’m feeling like I have to tell grandboss soon and would have liked to give him 4-5 months notice at least as this project was what he was hired on to do and I have worked with the company we are merging with for many years prior to my position at my current company. My position could stay vacant for 6+ months but you are right in that I don’t know what disclosing that info before budgets are final will do though!

    2. Anono-me*

      I would email your direct boss and explain that due to all the work that you will be doing directly with Grand Boss on the big important 5 year merger that you feel you need to share youe Feb. 2018 resignation information with Grand Boss. You and Grand Boss will be talking about Big Merger stuff that will be happening in March and further down the road. The fact that you will no longer be at the company in March will come up at some point.
      I would also try to work in some mention of the fact that you gave notice back in July.

      I am suggesting emailing, both to document that you have given a very generous notice period and to maybe make it feel more ‘real’ for your regular boss.

    3. TCO*

      Could you play dumb on this one? Tell your Grandboss, “You’ve probably already heard from Boss that I’ll be leaving in February. Since you and I working so closely together on this project, I want to make sure that you and I are also communicating directly about my departure, and not just through Boss, as it pertains to the transition plan for this project. How would you like to handle that planning process?”

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Might have been the best way to handle it before the latest conversation with Boss, but now that she’s been directly told to keep her mouth shut until December, I think it’ll come off as insubordination. I like Anono-me’s method better.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        I think that as the OP has just asked the boss about it, she now can’t get away with playing dumb.

    4. Observer*

      I hope you have all of this in email.

      Talk to your boss about the need to let GrandBoss know about this. If he’s unyielding, let grandBoss know the day budget season is over, and explain that your boss explicitly ordered you to keep quiet. The issue here is that if this is a small field and your grandboss feels burned by you, it could come back to haunt you. So you need to make sure that you don’t leave the impression that you were ok leaving him in the lurch.

  18. A Beth*

    How do y’all stay involved with pet projects/causes when your role has changed? I moved to a different role in my organization about six months ago but there are still folks battling for the changes I’d like to see (all professional development-related). I’m still in a position to work on this kind of stuff but I don’t want to overstep when it doesn’t affect me as personally anymore (and when it only tangentially relates to my new job) and I hate to drop it altogether because it really is important to me, for myself and my peers and the folks who will be affected in the future.

    1. Bess*

      For me, having been on both sides of this type of situation, I’d say proceed with caution, but proceed. Would your involvement be welcomed? If so, maybe there’s an advisory role you could take, based on your previous experience and knowledge. But if it’s now run by people who feel a strong sense of ownership over it (particularly if their vision is very different), it might be better to respect that boundary and let the project go. But that doesn’t quite sound like the situation (like where it’s an official project within a department that someone else now formally owns), so I don’t think a role change necessarily means your participation would be overstepping.

      If that’s the case, feeling out the project owners, or say offering yourself for input or volunteer work, etc., would likely be fine. There’s ways you can do that while being clear that you won’t be offended if they say “we’ve got it, thanks anyway.”

      1. A Beth*

        Thanks for this — I might just try to stay in the loop with the friend who is still really involved, and otherwise back off. It’s all grassroots but I can see where some people might want me to leave it to them since it won’t affect my day-to-day work life.

  19. all aboard the anon train*

    I REALLY dislike online job application platforms. I was trying to apply to one this morning and after I registered with a new account and submitted my resume, my computer froze when it tried to go onto the next screen.

    The recruiting platforms says my application is incomplete, but I was sent an immediate email thanking me for applying. There’s no way for me to actually click on my incomplete application to finish it. So I’m assuming my application won’t be looked at now because it’s marked incomplete. I really hate these types of platforms. They’re such a hassle.

    Also, I had a HR recruiter miss a phone interview for the second time yesterday. I’m so frustrated at this point in my job search I could scream.

    1. TGIF*

      I had this happen with an application. It kept saying I hadn’t filled in a section but I clearly had. There was no help email/phone number, and it didn’t help to log out and come in again. Thankfully I wasnt a job that I really wanted, just something I qualified for, so I just stopped trying to submit it. Online apps can be such a pain!

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        This was a job I was really interested in, which is extra annoying. I sometimes wonder if the people choosing these platforms for applicants have ever actually used them to see how they’re not user friendly they are.

        1. Kelly L.*

          The time it happened to me, I was merrily chugging along when…SUDDENLY, ESSAY PORTION! I took some time to think about what to write, and then could never get back in.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Urgh this has happened to me too. I hunt around for ages trying to find the thing. I like the ones that take you right to the part you didn’t fill out (or if it was more than one, they take you to the first one).

    2. WellRed*

      I tried to apply for a seasonal retail position yesterday. Got registered just fine. But when I tried to log in using the (nonclickable) link they sent me, it didn’t work. Not off to a good start.

    3. Camellia*

      Just heard that our company has purchased Taleo – after all, it’s a best-of-breed! I cringed thinking of all the negative feedback I’ve heard on it.

      I’m not on the implementation but will keep my ears open for feedback.

    4. Nant*

      I feel your pain – that happened to me recently too! Also annoying things about online applications – having to enter every qualification from high school up via a dropdown for every. single. one. /o\

      hands up for a ceremonial burning of online applications~

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Also annoying – platforms that have surprise mini-essay questions halfway through that time out if you don’t click submit after an unspecified amount of time, and that submit your application as incomplete or reject it because you didn’t write your answer quick enough.

        Honestly, I sometimes think these platforms are designed to annoy applicants.

    5. Liane*

      Hate-hate-hate the ATS applications. Big employer here *used to* have one that was a dream for applicants. You could apply for multiple positions without having to type anything in except for a few position-specific items, it gave you auto-updates, stated clearly that you could add a cover letter to your resume, didn’t lock up, etc. They changed over to one of Those :(
      Also WHY bother to have a Resume Autofill function for job history fields if it doesn’t do that correctly and your applicants have to fix every entry? I have learned they don’t work well if you list multiple titles under the same job, but even when I use my “ATS resumes” with only the last job title, I still end up with stuff all over the place: Title for Job 1 in section for Job 2, random numbers in start date fields, only 1 field autofilled when all the info is there….

    6. The New Wanderer*

      YES. And the really galling thing is, this is what I (am qualified to) do for a living – fix awful user interfaces. Except the parents are because I don’t want to work on software if I can help it. I’ve heard from colleagues who do this work that if it’s too costly to fix, it stays “good enough” regardless of their efforts to actually improve things. Demoralizing for the end user and the folks who know how to fix it andjust want to fix it and … can’t.

  20. not so super-visor*

    Over here singing the End of the Month blues…
    It is the last day of the month for us which is always our busiest day of the month (customer driven). Despite having no call-ins for the entire week, I have 3 call-ins today. All of them claim to be too sick to come in. Then there’s the 4 people asking to leave early citing family emergencies. Per AAM, I don’t question the legitimacy of these and try to treat people like responsible adults, but this is a company-wide problem — no one wants to come in on the last day of the month. It’s always the worst when the EOM falls on a Friday or Monday. How do you overcome this? Every department feels the pinch. It causes a lack of coverage and customers not being serviced in a timely manner on a day that we’re already slammed. We don’t have work-from-home as an option.

    1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

      Can you find some way to reward/incentivize those who DON’T call out on those days? I dunno what’s possible at your workplace, but possibly something like public recognition, treats (free donuts in the break room?), extra consideration for flexibility requests (coming in late/leaving early) on other days… something that would help the people who don’t try to call in feel that their hard work is being valued and appreciated.

      I think that an explicit reward like that would help the morale of those who don’t call out, as well as making retention a bit easier (“my boss appreciates my hard work” is definitely an incentive for a lot of people to stay in a job). Side benefit, it might also discourage those people who call out from doing so without genuinely needing to, since they’d miss out on whatever the end-of-month reward is, and quietly let them know that hey, their slacking is not going unnoticed.

      And for people where you can point to a regular pattern of calling out at the end of every month? I think that can reasonably be considered a performance issue – they’re making more work for their colleagues, and you need them to be there reliably even on busy days. If someone has a genuine recurring medical need to call out around the same time every month (and I can think of a few that could definitely qualify), that needs to be communicated clearly and arranged in advance – it’s not an excuse to call out day-of every time.

      1. Xarcady*

        A professor I had fought the good fight on attendance the day before big holidays (like the last class before Thanksgiving) by either a) giving a really easy quiz (Name one book we have read this semester. When did the War of 1812 start?) or b) giving a big hint about the final exam (There will be a question on X topic on the final.)

        Just a little reward for those who managed to show up for class. I agree with Anonymous Pterodactyl that if you can find something that most of your employees care about, attendance might increase.

        Another thought is that if the workload is predictably heavy every single last day of every month, you could look into ways of directing more resources to dealing with customers. Hiring temps, using personnel that don’t normally handle customers? I don’t know what would work in your environment. Or may figuring out a way to stagger the customers? Have half of them end the “month” in the middle of the month or something? Because if the problem is that bad that people are calling out, maybe there’s a message for management there, that something needs to be done.

    2. MMDD*

      Maybe offer an incentive of some kind? I’ll admit it sounds ridiculous to reward people just for showing up to work, but you’ve got a situation to be addressed. Say every time an employee shows up on the last day of the month four months in a row, they get an extra vacation day, something like that.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Or, order in lunch for everyone on the last day of the month? Boss-sponsored Chipotle orders are the only thing that gets me through tax season.

    3. Yorick*

      You can definitely address any patterns (so if someone often calls in on these busy days, you can ask about that and reiterate that you expect them to work those days too).

      I think you might also be able to question the legitimacy of these if they fall on a day when people might be more likely to fake, but I’m not sure how to do that well.

    4. Janelle*

      I’d do what my old company did. If someone called in sick the day before or after a holiday we had off you had to provide a doctors note. Any other sick days they didn’t ask but since so many people tried to extend their mini vacations they required it for these times.

      1. kittymommy*

        This is what my company does. It was such a widespread problem that now if you want your holiday pay say for July 4th, and you call in sick on the 3rd or the 5th, you better have a note, otherwise, no holiday pay.

        1. Stop That Goat*

          I’ve got a friend whose company does something a bit stricter. If you are out the day before/after a holiday without any previous notice, you just don’t get the holiday pay. Short of someone having a heart attack, I doubt they’d make an exception.

    5. LCL*

      I wonder if some of your workers don’t realize the affects being short staffed has on everyone else. Do you have morning briefings with the gang? We do, and I always go over what happened the previous day. If staffing affected the people left, I mention that at the meetings in a factual way. ‘Random crated the teapots for shipping. Usually Brand does that but he was out of office after 3PM.’ Let it be known that when they take unplanned leave, you personally don’t care but their coworkers are impacted.

      You are right that you can’t question this stuff too much. The frequent fliers are the bane of my existence too, but you can’t make people have ethics. It may help to tell yourself that even the most egregious of abusers of leave have real problems occur, sometimes. EG our worst offender who didn’t think to tell me that the reason he was taking a couple days of short notice unscheduled leave was because his mother DIED.

    6. nonymous*

      jumping on board the incentive train. Food (or cash cards) are nice if you have a budget for this kind of stuff. Otherwise how about EOM points which can be used for other high demand time-off days? So if you have hard limits on max no. of people who can be scheduled off for certain days due to workload, priority goes to the staff that has worked the most EOMs. Or staff with stellar EOM attendance can go home early occasionally (ideally on the clock). My current location has “off site meetings” 2-3 times/year.

      Also maybe a point system? I worked at a company that had a rolling 10 point system — iirc it was minus 1 for being late and minus 2 for unscheduled, undocumented leave. The point wasn’t to question staff about leave, but to draw a threshold when this type of leave was beyond the capacity of the org to handle with routine scheduling (and maybe the employee needed to adjust their personal life, change to a different shift or start the FMLA ball).

    7. Observer*

      Before you start making changes, you actually need to see what your real problem is. It could be that you actually have more absences on these days – and it could be that you just feel them / notice them more. So, your first step is to actually look at absence / early departure patterns. If your company has a good automated time keeping system, this could be pretty easy to pull. What you are looking for is REAL spikes in absences / early departure across the department, and what specific people are doing. If you have 3 people who always leave early and 2 who always call out, then even though the rest of the staff are not acting any different, this could make everything look much worse than it it. Also, that means you need to deal with THOSE people not make across the board changes.

  21. Programmer Rob*

    I’d like some advice and reassurance on requesting accommodations.

    I injured my knee a few months ago in a bike accident. I can walk fine, but standing for extended periods of time makes it hurt. This hasn’t been a problem at work in the past, but my department is understaffed right now and I have to do some work outside where I have to stand all day, and after that my knee is killing me for the next day or two.

    I’m the youngest person in this department so I’m self-conscious about the optics of saying that this is physically straining to me. Does anyone have suggestions on how to make it go smoothly? Thanks!

    1. Emily S.*

      I would think that a doctor’s note would help here. Sure you have some documentation of the injury?

      Maybe you could have a doctor write up something that specifically says you shouldn’t stand for any substantial length of time. That seems like the best way to handle it — just present that to your employer, and say you can’t do that anymore.

      1. Programmer Rob*

        Yeah, from what I’ve read it’s classic ADA accommodations. My company is huge and I’m sure they’re familiar with the process.

        I’m just nervous about it because I just started and I’m 26 while everyone else is in their 40s. I worry that it’ll come off as trying to get out of work (even though this did not come up in the interview or job description) and I’ll look bad and get a bad performance review or something.

        1. Emily S.*

          If you’ve got that kind of medical issue, what does it matter how old you are?

          Injuries happen to people at all ages. Surely they’ll understand that, if they have competent HR, as you suggest.

          1. LCL*

            We have way more time lost and accommodations for injury for our younger workers. Bike wrecks, car wrecks, martial arts, hiking injuries, etc. Us older folk still recreate, we just have (mostly) learned our limits.

        2. J*

          Once in a previous job, when I was the youngest person in my company, and I hadn’t yet been there for 6 months, I tripped and fell in my driveway and broke my leg. I had a somewhat physically demanding job at the time and it was really inconvenient, and I got written up for “not being helpful enough” (because I was not mobile), and I also got a lot of crap for getting injured in such a ridiculous way.

          But getting crap for it and written didn’t change the fact that I had a broken leg, it just demonstrated that they were ridiculous and a terrible place to work (I learned more about that later). I guess what I’m trying to communicate is, a reasonable employer will try to accommodate your injury as best they can. It’s in their best interest to do so, after all, so that something you do at work doesn’t make it worse and turn it into a work comp thing. If they don’t, they’re jerks.

        3. Specialk9*

          I’m old, and it wouldn’t even occur to me that you couldn’t have an injury or condition just cause you’re younger. I first got a significant sports injury at 14.

          That seems like a worry from inside your head, rather than something you’ll actually experience, unless someone is very unreasonable. This is a really normal thing.

    2. a1*

      Could you say something like “I’m recovering from an injury that makes it difficult for me to stand”? And then add something about how long you think it’ll last, even if vague “I expect to be fully recovered soon, but I’m not there yet.”

      Also, I sympathize big time. I have a similar situation with a knee injury, but I have a desk job. It’s my hobby that has me standing for long periods of time. I’ve had to cut back on it, despite loving it, because I seem to be delaying my recovery even more by suffering through the pain to have my fun.

    3. fposte*

      Do you know who you’d talk to, and what accommodation you’re looking for? Those are the specific things it would be good to have in hand. “Jane, is it possible for me to get a stool when I’m manning the fair booth? I’m still recovering from my bike wreck and the standing is a problem. I could bring my own or use the unused one in the warehouse.”

      If you’re looking to avoid that outside task entirely because it can’t be accommodated, it would be helpful to put a time frame on your problem and identify what extra work you can pick up instead to take the burden off of the co-workers that’ll be heading outside in your place.

      1. Programmer Rob*

        I know who the HR contact for my department is. They’re…not very good at getting back to emails, but something titled “Formal Request For ADA Accommodations” should get them to do something.

        I don’t think there’s any other accommodations for this duty aside doing something else entirely. Basically I work as a programmer for a megacorp that does work on both the hardware and software side. My role is supposed to be entirely software, but we’re understaffed and I’m being sent out to our other locations for hardware duty. I have to walk and stand all day for this, and there’s no way of getting around that. I tried it earlier this week to say I gave it a fair chance but my leg is still bothering me.

        Next time my boss asks me to do this I’ll explain the nature of the injury and offer to take up something else which doesn’t affect my knee. I’m just worried about doing that because I’m new here and I’m worried he’ll take this as me trying not to work and drop my performance review or something like that.

        1. fposte*

          I’d just start with your manager; looping HR in at this point seems like bringing in the big guns when they may not be needed.

          1. Programmer Rob*

            Sounds good. He usually just calls me up or sends me an email telling me to do something. I’m guessing that just telling him that I’m recovering from an injury that makes this painful for me plus offering to take on other duties and get a doctor’s note would be a good start?

            1. OtterB*

              Seems reasonable to me. I would also be inclined to give him a heads-up now so that he can figure it into his staffing plans. “Boss, I wanted to let you know I’m recovering from a knee injury that limits my walking and standing. It hasn’t come up before because it’s not an problem at my regular job, and I hoped it wouldn’t be for the work on location, but after my trip to XCorp this week I’ve realized that I can’t do those projects yet. My doctor estimates it will be about x more months before I’m completely recovered and able to do that kind of work.”

        2. TheCupcakeCounter*

          If it were me I wouldn’t wait and just pop into his office and tell him that after doing that work for a couple of days you are having some significant pain due to a still healing injury. Let him know there that you are more than willing to cover the in-house tasks until you are back to 100% and will keep him in the loop on your recovery. Unless he is an asshole I can’t imagine anyone getting upset. Maybe casually drop that info in water cooler discussions with your coworkers too so they sort of know why you all of a sudden aren’t available for off-site work. Something along the lines of if they ask what you did or are going to do for the weekend just say you would normally do X but since the accident/injury you are mostly rehabbing it and have to keep things low key.

        3. Snarl Furillo*

          How tight/restrictive is the environment you are in? If it’s open enough, could you use a stand/lean stool, or other portable stool that you move with you from place to place, and possibly a cane or scooter for the walking? Maybe a smaller anti-fatigue mat if you need to be moving from place to place? Obviously those won’t work if you are installing stuff in a ceiling or in a clean room or something, but it might work if the situation is more like “standing at a server terminal for two hours at each of three sites.”

    4. AndersonDarling*

      If you’re concerned about the optics of it, I’d suggest making it clear that you are taking care of the injury. To me, that is the line between stating a fact and complaining. Even if you don’t go to a doctor for it, you could do some research and purchase an appropriate knee brace, ice during breaks, stretch every once in a while …none of it to draw attention, but to passively say “I’m doing everything I can to get better.” If people see you are on the mend, then it doesn’t become A Thing.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Although you really should go to an orthopedic doctor to be sure you’re doing the right stuff at the right time. :)

    5. Anonymous Max*

      I think as long as you have documentation, asking for this accommodation will be fine. If you didn’t have any documentation, I can see that this might seem a little iffy, but with some paperwork, I don’t think anyone will mind/hassle you. It seems totally reasonable and you may even find that many of the folks in their 40s are highly sympathetic to your knee pain! I know I am, at 49 with arthritic changes in my knees since I was your age. Another point in your favor is that you gave it a try before asking for accommodation. Obviously for some accommodations, that would be insane but here it looks like good faith effort to me.

  22. seashell*

    I didn’t get the job :( got a standard form rejection as expected, no feedback. A disappointment because I thought the interview was one of my best, also a rough week at work because my coworker does nothing all day and my manager does not have any consequences for missed deadlines and a lack of accountability. It’s hard to have patience when I don’t want to be here anymore.

    1. earlgreyhot*

      Can you email the hiring manager and ask for feedback? It might help you with your next application. They might not respond, but you don’t have anything to lose by trying.

      Try to focus on your goals rather than your crappy co-worker. Focusing on that person won’t do anything good for you. Unfortunately, it’s part of working life that you’ll likely find a person like that at every job. Meh, whatever, let them be crappy employees (unless you need to say something because it’s affecting your work or business ethics are affected).

    2. Specialk9*

      I’m sorry to hear that. It’s so disappointing.

      Do you know things that help you deal with that first day of intense blargh feeling? For me it’s a smallish portion of sugary carb (like 1 bakery cookie, but not a dozen donuts, cause that’s its own bad feeling), turning up loud anthem pop I love and singing along to at least 10 songs, and Dr Who reruns.

      Here’s sending good thoughts for self care in the short term, and a good new situation in the longer term.

  23. Anonned for This*

    I’m posting this on behalf of my boyfriend, since he is not on AAM.

    BF has been coaching Sport for the Middle School of his alma mater. He has been doing that for a few years as the assistant coach. Last year, BF basically did all the duties of the head coach because head coach had to step in for high school. BF is probably the best Sports player that has come out of Alma Mater in 20 years. He won awards, his records are still in tact for our region and he played Sport in college where he won lots of awards as well (sorry, trying to keep somewhat vague here).

    BF was told the other day that an internal candidate (teacher) has applied for the newly opened Head Coach position at the middle school. Despite previous Head Coach recommending my bf, and despite my bf’s accolades and history (as a coach, alumnus and a former player of sport for alma mater), they went with the teacher.

    Teacher only played sport for 1 year in college. She is not an alumna of school district. She did not play sport in high school. She did not do well at sport. You can look up her data on Sport and it is not good. She has never coached. Her only qualification is that she is a teacher at school. Not trying to be rude or cocky about bf’s skill, I’m being completely realistic. He asked atheltic director if she has any coaching experience and was told no.

    BF is stuck. He is not breaking his commitment and will be her assistant coach, but he doesn’t know what to do. He is afraid that she will take advantage of him since he knows how to do the job, yet make double his salary without doing the work. He can’t go above and beyond because she will take all the credit, he can’t let her fail because he CARES about these kids and he does not want Sport to fail, nor does he think that is acceptable to do either. He is afraid that since she does not have experience in sport she may tell them to do something dangerous and he does not know how to tell her that it is dangerous when she is technically his boss.

    He wants a future here. It is our alma mater. We are planning on raising our kids here. Kids who will also do this Sport. He wants this program to succeed. He never did anything over the years of his coaching to make school district mad, before that gets suggested. Is there any advice on what he can do in this position? He is very shocked and disappointed that he did not get this position, but he does not want to fail the kids.

    1. Malibu Stacey*

      Sorry to hear this. What I don’t know about youth sports could fill the Grand Canyon, but I can see how a full-time teacher could be given preference for a school coach for operational reasons.

      1. LAI*

        Agreed. The one piece of knowledge I have about school sports is that teachers who coach get a stipend on top of their regular salary. I am assuming that stipend is less than paying an outside person to coach.

      2. Specialk9*

        I think that’s very common. My sister was a middle school teacher, and was required to coach a sport (two actually) as part of her job. I know a lot of my high school coaches were teachers. For most people are that level, sports are a hobby.

        So realistically, if he wants to make a life out of this instead of a hobby, he needs to treat it like a job. Leaving a dead end job is what will secure his future, and your future. He’s not failing the kids (keep perspective here – middle school sports), he’s being a responsible adult with responsibilities. He should leave with all grace and without burning any bridges, but just say that he’s looking to his future and can’t raise a family based on his current position. There’s a good chance that a position would be made, but if not, he’ll be in a better position.

    2. Rockhopper*

      I think this is pretty common, at least in public schools. I know my son’s cross country coach never knew if he would be renewed until right before the season, since he wasn’t a teacher, but as it turned out, no teachers applied during the years my son ran, so he did get to be the head coach. My brother also has done the assistant coach thing for many years and even been hired by parents of kids with scholarship level talent to do private coaching, but has never broken through to be the head coach; that has always been a teacher at the school.

    3. Essie*

      Teachers within a district are usually given preference for coaching. It’s partly professional courtesy, and partly because they know the coach will by default already be on campus and thus have a schedule that easily accommodates the sport.

      You don’t mention if your BF even teaches, much less in the same district, but this is very common (in my experience, in several states). If your BF wants that level of preference, he needs to get a teaching job in that district.

      Also, it sounds like he takes this far more seriously then most kids will at the middle school level. He may want to consider pursuing college-level coaching.

      1. Anonned for This*

        Coaching is a side job for him, so I don’t think he’s interested in a teachers license. He takes the middle school a bit seriously because that’s what got him interested in Sport. It started his love because of the coaching experience he had, and he just wants to help the kids like his coach helped him.

        Before this gets suggested by anyone, he’s not like some of the crazy out of control parents that can be on the field/court/whatever screaming at their kids for not getting enough playtime or whatever (I’m really knowledgeable about sports, I’m sure you can tell lol). He just loves sport and this has been a good side job for him.

        He’s more concerned with how to handle her being his boss and him being taken advantage of/ how to handle if he disagrees with her for safety reasons or even success reasons.

        1. Specialk9*

          I don’t think we were necessarily picturing him screaming, just that you were making it sound like he was building it up in his mind into something really big – if he leaves he’ll let down the kids, and it might be dangerous and they might get hurt if this teacher coaches by herself. It’s great to help kids get healthy and learn teamwork and skills, but it’s still middle school. He can leave, or just assistant coach, and it’ll be ok. He should make the best decision for him and his future.

        1. Anonned for This*

          We do have kids, and they show a lot interest in the sport (they are a few years out from middle school though). Obviously we are fine with whatever they want to do!

          1. nosy nelly*

            gotcha–i misread “We are planning on raising our kids here. Kids who will also do this Sport. “…and may be a little hypersensitive due to personal experience with a coach parent. kids’ sports can be intense! glad to hear everybody is fond of it.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        It’s kind of like this in some hospitals as well. There can be an opening for an asst accountant and 10 super qualified accountants apply and then one nurse who took 2 finance classes applies. The job goes to the nurse because, hospital.

    4. TGIF*

      Could he get an online teaching certificate to make him look better to the school? Knot that he has to be a teacher but maybe a certificate could beef up his resume to get the school to promote him to the head coach job. Good luck!

      1. Anonned for This*

        I don’t think he’s terribly concerned with EVER being the head coach. He does it because it’s fun and he likes doing it and it’s side income. He was perfectly fine being assistant coach when previous coach was still there. He’s more concerned with the fact that his new boss is not qualified for the role and he’s not sure how he should be handling day to day.

        1. LAI*

          Gotcha. I read your original post to be more about him feeling undervalued and being a bit resentful of the new head coach. If that’s not the case and he is happy to continue in his current role, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t just try to help her as much as possible. I’m assuming she wanted the role because she is genuinely interested in it and plans to work hard at it, which may mean learning a lot from your bf. If that’s not the case, of course (like if she’s shirking her duties or doing a poor job) maybe he’ll need to talk to someone higher up. But I don’t see any reason to assume that will happen. He should just keep doing his job well, and try to help her learn the ropes as much as he can so that they (and the team) can all succeed.

          1. Anonned for This*

            Oh, he definitely feels undervalued and underappreciated…but yes, he knows he needs to push that aside and do the best job he can. I just don’t want him taken advantage of when he’ll get paid half of what she will.

            1. nonymous*

              One way to reframe this is that your BF is building a mature and successful athletic program for your kids to step into. It sounds like your family personally will get a lot of benefit from this (more than a random teacher would). Some other students will benefit as well, and that’s just icing on the cake.

              While I agree that it sounds like the new Head Coach could get paid disproportionate to the division of labor, it may be that the Head Coach can take on some duties that your BF doesn’t have time for/takes away from active coaching. I’m thinking that as a teacher, she can liaise with other departments and school groups in a way that takes more effort for BF (like coordination that happens during meetings, school day, in-service workshops, with other school staff and students). One example would be if the Teacher has a student aide, that student may be tasked to do some boring admin stuff like making flyers or whatever it is that kids do these days. When my MIL was a teacher, she acted in a rep capacity between her department and the school board. It could end up being a nice division of labor – if BF has a good relationship with exiting head coach, maybe he can get some ideas for what to ask for? The exiting HC might have some projects didn’t work out which the new person has social capital or skills to push through.

              I’m wondering why you think she will take credit? has BF’s prior experience with her shown that she is attention-seeking or adversarial?

              1. Anonned for This*

                Yes, liaising definitely is part of it! It’s been part of bf’s duties to coordinate with other clubs/organizations at school to make sure they come to an agreement on practices, so this might be something that new coach would be able to help with immensely since she would be in the same building with those teachers.

                I’m wondering why you think she will take credit? has BF’s prior experience with her shown that she is attention-seeking or adversarial?

                Yes, unfortunately. The new high school head coach has worked with her teaching wise and has said that she does not give credit. I told boyfriend to take that with a grain of salt, but he’s been friends with high school coach since they were in school together. It’s worrying him, but he is absolutely hoping that his friend is just being difficult/projecting his own views.

                1. Specialk9*

                  I’m not sure our assistant coaches ever got “credit”, they just picked up different areas, and were usually the ones who had the solid hands on experience. So the head coach had lots of coaching experience but hadn’t played – he was the big picture, positioning, plays, conditioning drills guy. The assistant coaches had played (a couple were D1 college phenoms, one won a big college award for the top school in the sport) and taught us the finer hands-on techniques. I think the head coach must have thanked the assistant coaches, who were all volunteer, but I don’t remember much of that.

                  What were you hoping she would say to give him credit, other than saying thanks for his work?

    5. miyeritari*

      It sucks for your BF that this happened when they obviously really wanted and really cared about this position, but it doesn’t surprise me that a teacher would get this posistion regardless of how qualified your BF is, just because everyone else at the school has a lot more regular time/experience with the teacher than your BF (as a professional, not a student). Maybe, also, parents preferred a teacher coaching than an external person, for the above reasons, or just because they feel the school has more power over the teacher.

      You don’t mention here anything about your BF’s coaching style vs the platform the school would like to run the sports as. Could your BF want to have Super Championship Team, whereas the school prefers the teacher because they just everyone to show up and have a good time?

      BF should see how good the teacher does as coach, how much the kids/parents like them, and how well the Sport goes. It’s possible that someone (administrators, teachers, parents?) could totally regret not picking BF, and go back to him next year, and even with more value/recognition of his hard work and passion for Sport.

      The only crappy thing I can think of is that BF is in a weird spot because let’s say that Teacher is ultimately awful at coaching, but since BF wants the kids to succeed and half a good time, he works twice as much for half the recognition, and in the end the teacher is rewarded or re-signed. BF has to find the weird line between ‘I want everyone to feel supported’ and ‘I would do a lot better at this job if i was head coach and everyone knows it, and I’m going to make a point of it,’ and that’s hard. Blargh.

      1. Anonned for This*

        Your last paragraph is exactly where his thoughts are. One of his friends who coaches for the high school has worked with new coach in a teaching way, and he said that teacher does not share credit well. Boyfriend is trying not to let that cloud his judgment though, he sincerely hopes she is better than everyone is expecting.

        Previous head coach was not a teacher, and boyfriend would probably continue the same style of coaching…but with changes that he learned from college/coaching at other school districts. I suggested to him that maybe they didn’t want more of the same coaching style, and he could see that.

        I’m noticing a lot of people suggesting that he’s trying to make this a super championship team, that’s not at ALL how he is. I promise. I’m a little emotional about it because I know it’s something he cares about, so I may be projecting that passion :)

    6. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … I understand your concern but I think you’re and your BF are off base with your expectations. Middle school sports are not college sports. Even high school sports usually have a teacher as coach; although, it does vary if they seem more like a coach who teaches or vice versus. I expect the middle school coach to either be a teacher who does a little extra coaching or a enthusiastic part-timer. If your BF wants to coach and not teach, he needs to move up -probably to college level or non-school associated teams.

      Some of the things you list as pros strike me as strange arguments. Alum of a middle school? Unimportant. Still holds records? May be helpful but a coach doesn’t have to be an allstar to be a good coach and the ability to teach kids is most important.

      I do agree, though, it does suck to be the low paid assistant and to do all the work. You don’t know if that’s what the new teacher intends. It’s likely she just wanted /needed to supplement her teaching salary and thus is the way teachers do that.

      I just feel like your expectations are not in line with the way middle school sports are run, but there’s a lot of variability location to location.

      1. The IT Manager*

        And I see from your responses that your BF is just trying to navigate the new boss which he hasn’t heard great things about.

        Good luck. I hope it works out because it does seem like you both care a lot.

    7. special snowflake*

      The other thing to consider is that the school district and parents may prefer a teacher because it’s a bit easier with prioritizing academics over athletics. Your BF may be firmly in that camp but the next non-teacher may not be.
      There is also the problem of favoritism when your kids get old enough.
      My high school had and continues to have nearly a decade after I left many many problems caused by non-teachers as head coaches over the years. It was fine before their kids aged into the programs and then their children and children’s friends were prioritized over either a) winning or b) everyone getting a chance to play. Teams that had regularly gone to the state championships stopped rather abruptly.
      I am firmly of the stance that teachers should be running the athletic programs because of that – it’s not perfect, certainly they can and do play favorites but overall they’re used to being more objective. (obviously this isn’t infallible – plenty of teachers have children who move through the systems they work in)
      Beyond that (and again possibly not for your BF) rightly or wrongly there is an assessment that someone who was the star cannot always connect with someone who isn’t.

    8. Jeannie*

      I’m sorry your boyfriend is in this situation. I think I’m approaching a similar problem at my full-time job and can sympathise. My manager (who has limited digital expertise) has just announced this week she wants to transition to a digital director role. He’s been the manager of a cross-discipline production team, and (seeing how the organisational structure winds are blowing ) now wants to present himself as a digital expert (my specialty). It’s very frustrating but I can’t see a good path forward. How would that conversation go? “Excuse me manager, but I think you don’t have anywhere near the expertise for that kind of title. I would be much better at it.” Can’t see that working out positively…

      1. Anonned for This*

        I’m sorry, that really stinks. I’ve been in those shoes before at my professional job and I just looked for a new job. I hope it works out for you!

    9. Anonymous Max*

      If that position is his dream, I’d tell your BF to stick it out. If Teacher isn’t great at Sport, she’s unlikely to stay in that position for long, especially if it’s mostly the higher pay she’s after – is she passionate about Sport? People like that find jobs that pay what they want to make that don’t involve doing something they suck at, or they get pushed out (in the saner orgs) by people who would like the position to be filled with someone who does excel. I know in the initial disappointment phase, it’s hard to see the playing field ever changing (har har), but I’d bet that Teacher is not going to be in that position for more than a couple of years, at most. And if BF is the best darn assistant coach ever, the school probably won’t make the same mistake again.

    10. Artemesia*

      I would if him be looking for a coaching job at another school in the area if there are any. When they take you for granted and give the job you should have to a weak candidate that is a strong message that it isn’t getting better. If that is off the table there isn’t much to do but be taken advantage of. Or I might with draw this year only for some temporary ‘other’ commitments. But again if he is willing to be exploited he will be exploited; it becomes eventually a matter of self respect.

      1. Anonned for This*

        Thanks Artemesia, I agree. Luckily it looks like he’ll also be assistant coaching at the high school and might be able to claim split time with that!

    11. New Girl*

      My SO pretty much got hired in his teaching position because he also happened to coach the one varsity sport that was in need of a new head coach. His school really likes all the coaching positions to be filled by teachers. I believe its actually part of his contract that they get first opportunity for coaching, club advisers and other after school activities.

      1. Xarcady*

        My brother really wanted to coach high school football after he retired from the military. So he spent the last few years he was in the service getting a teaching degree, because he knew that was the best way for him to get a coaching job.

        1. nonegiven*

          I think my high school didn’t hire teachers who could coach, they hired coaches with a teaching certificate.

    12. Landlocked Thalassophile*

      So BF has never been head coach before and has always been an assistant, if I read that right. How did BF handle these exact same issues with the previous coach? If that worked well, why is BF so concerned about a new head coach? (Please, please, please tell me it isn’t because new head coach is a woman…I say that because the new head coach’s gender is the only one mentioned. OP doesn’t mention the old head coach’s gender or the students’ gender. We don’t know if we’re talking boy’s basketball or a coed swim team. Could be either. )
      So a teacher got head coach over a community member. Happens all the time, and is completely normal in a school setting.
      My advice:
      Respect the new coach, take a collaborative approach but defer to her when there are differences, because she is head coach and BF is her assistant.
      Only ever speak well of her to the students, do not undermine her authority. Creating strife and division doesn’t help anyone. Don’t ever say anything to a student remotely resembling “I know Coach Wilson told you to do X but I have more experience at Sport than her and so I am telling you that Y and Z work better.”
      Remember she’s the boss, even if your BF thinks he’s all that because of Reasons.

      1. Anonned for This*

        Previous coach had been the coach for at least 15 years, and bf felt comfortable enough with previous coach to express any differences. Gender does not matter in this, at all. It was the difference between 1 year of sport playing vs. 15 years sports playing competitively + over 3 years coaching for multiple districts.

        I’m realizing now from the comments that teachers get priority. I knew they would get extra consideration but I thought that qualifications would matter, too.

        He absolutely will respect the new coach, and to be honest I’m taking a bit of offense to you insinuating that he would talk bad about her, or that this is in any way gender related. We are supposed to take OP’s at their word, and believe me when I say that he IS more qualified. Not because of “reasons” or gender.

        But this sport has changed a lot in the 10 years since new coach participated. They have discovered that certain aspects of coaching back then is actually physically VERY DANGEROUS to players. Most people do not know this unless they have been involved in Sport recently. He does not want to seem like a know it all, and I wrote in asking how he can delicately handle this when they do have differences. My suggestion was to say “in the past we have done this like XYZ, how would you like to proceed” but he’s also extremely concerned about injury. I was a little emotional when I wrote this, and I’m damn proud of boyfriend, so that may have colored my post a bit, but I’d definitely like to stress that he is not planning on sabotaging her. That would be unprofessional and would not help the kids at all.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh, interesting clarification that it’s not a generic ‘she’s inexperienced, they might get hurt’ (I was thinking they might pull a muscle if she didn’t have them warm up enough) vs a specific ‘the old way is dangerous but most people don’t know this’ – that’s actually a really useful distinction.

          So you then have an assistant coach who has to figure out how to manage up on this safety topic, while making the coach feel respected, and also dealing with his own feelings of hurt and feeling let down. Yeah, that’s a hard one!

          So in that case, I’d prioritize the safety thing, bring printouts of articles on why Old Way is bad, and pretend he’s not trying to educate *her* but rather wanting to educate the *kids*. ‘From everything I’ve seen you have a good head on your shoulders and seem to care about the science behind the sport. Here’re my source docs I’m relying on, I’m thinking of explaining it to the kids this way and doing this drill this way. But I wanted your thoughts on whether that’s the best way to teach kids not to do X.’ And sprinkle plenty of verbal and body language respect in there.

          Then if she insists on doing it Old Way and kids could get hurt, that he can take to the school.

    13. Coach's wife*

      For my husband’s school district, liability comes into this, too. They are required to have a faculty member on the staff of every team, because the teachers are part of the larger district policies on adequate supervision. Community coaches can only ever be an assistant, for that reason. He’s worked in 3 different school systems and they all had this policy. It doesn’t sound like your boyfriend’s district is that explicit about it, but this could mean that a teacher will get hired over him whenever possible.

      In general, if you want to head coach at a school, you have to be a full time employee there.

      1. Tawaki*

        I run an after school club for an elementary school, and the reason I have a teacher with me is strictly liability/insurance issues required by the district . I have a degree, but not in teaching. I’ve also been finger printed, back ground checked (felony and sex offender), 6 personal references (all called), 4 work history references (all called) and I carry liability insurance. This for a one hour/twice a week non paying gig. I still need a person with a valid teaching license in the room during club time.

        It doesn’t matter if you are an coaching elite athletes for the Olympics. If you don’t hold a teaching license with the state, you will always be a coaching assistant in the public school districts in the area.

        If the local high school wanted Marta Karolyi to coach their girl’s gymnastic team, the 24 year old first year teacher with the teaching license would be listed as head coach.

        I’ve also done enrichment classes at different private schools, and they also have the same requirement.

        This has nothing to do with how good the person is as a coach, it’s a CYA for the district if something horrible happens and people come loaded for bear. All school sponsored events must have a licensed teacher as the lead person.

        Personally, I would probably go finish out this year and look for a better fit. If your husband is that good, he’s going to chafe always getting little to no credit for his hard work. He’s making an inexperienced person look good. The winning/losing goes under the coaches name, not the assistant coaches.

        If this is all for the love of being around the kids, and paying it forward, you can live with the above situation. If it isn’t, I’d start looking now for somewhere I could have more control over the situation.

    14. Mobuy*

      I am a jr. high track “coach” who never ran track. I don’t even really coach the kids, but I’m a head coach. Know why? Because I do all the paperwork, order sweats, deal with uniforms, cheerlead every kid, show up every day, recruit runners, liaise with other teachers, plan awards banquets, create end-of-year certificates…I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it!

      The point is, coaching at a school is a lot more than just getting the kids to run faster. Yes, there are sprint coaches and jump coaches and throwing coaches and distance coaches and hurdles coaches, but it would be really tough for them to do what I do on top of their other responsibilities. And yes, usually the teacher gets the head coach job, unless they can’t find a teacher to do it. It’s the reality of school sports teams. I would be lost without all the area coaches, but honestly, they’d be lost without me too. I’m sorry your husband didn’t get the job since it sounds like he’s good at it and loves it, but school jobs are going to go to school personnel.

    15. Snarl Furillo*

      Former Youth Sports Professional (doofy eyeroll) opinion: if this is truly just a side hustle he does for love of the game (which is awesome!), he’s mismatched in the middle school athletics program and might not ever be happy with his roll there. I have seen guys with similar profiles have good success in either independent coaching (like AAU or club volleyball, etc) or especially with small camp and clinic businesses. Day camps during school breaks, “Coach Y Warrior Workshop” one-day Saturday things, one-week summer camps, etc. If he really loves coaching, he can then move into the coaching clinic space, where he gives one-day seminars to whatever middle school teachers get assigned indoor track that year (sounds like that might be right up his alley since he is still fluent with best practices and player safety?).

      I’m seriously envisioning your boyfriend’s minor Greco-Roman wrestling empire and it’s delightful.

      (Junior college coaching might also be a possibility if he is willing to move out of the middle school space- most programs are pretty small and he would likely have wide latitude to do development camps and similar.)

    16. msroboto*

      You handle this the way you handle any situation like this. You act in the best interest of the children without regard to who gets credit.
      You are talking about new information that has come to light in the sport as to the best way to play or teach etc. You share this with the head coach and do what’s in the best interest of the kids.
      In my role as a programmer / tech I have always been willing to share all my information. I want people to do the right thing. If someone becomes knowledgeable enough to usurp me so be it. I know it’s quite different but you don’t make others look bad to advance yourself. You give your colleagues credit as well (in tech the quiet ones can be overlooked. I will say Fergus had a great idea and let him have the floor).
      He probably has to accept the teacher is head coach and if he wants to participate he can as the assistant.

  24. BRR*

    My employer does raises/promotions at the start of each calendar year and I was told that one was in the works but I was passed over without any explanation. My manager left right before they were announced and I asked my grandboss/acting manager for a raise and promotion and got roughly a third of what I asked for, which was very realistic, and no promotion. My grandboss acknowledged the raise wasn’t as much as what I asked for but strongly praised what I have accomplished and said that we will continue talking about how my role will grow. It was strongly implied that she agreed with what I asked for but couldn’t get that for me and that if I didn’t leave I would get to where I should be at the start of 2018 (I’m aware this sounds like I might be misinterpreting the situation but I really think this was the point she wanted to get across).

    Now is around the time they start planning for raises and promotions that will be put in place at the start of 2018. I want to follow up but am not sure who to check with. I have a new manager who started a little over a month ago. It feels awkward to ask someone who isn’t really familiar with my work but I don’t want it to be going over his head to my grandboss.

    Should I ask my new manager about a raise or continue a prior conversation with my grandboss?

    1. fposte*

      I would start with the new manager, because otherwise you’re going over her head and that’s got high problem potential.

    2. CAA*

      This is actually a perfect discussion to have with the new manager. He needs to learn the process for giving raises and promotions at his new company, and he also needs to learn what his team needs from him. Bring this up in a regular one-on-one meeting, or if you don’t have those, then ask him if he has a few minutes at a time when things seem relatively calm. You can start the conversation by explaining that you know the company does raises and promotions in January and they begin planning for that now. Then tell the story (very briefly!) of what happened last year, just mentioning that your grandboss got involved right after your previous manager left. Then talk about your accomplishments this year and your value to the business, and tell him what raise and title you’d like to have come the new year.

  25. Temperance*

    Is anyone else super sluggish today because they decided to stay up/get up early to try and snag an SNES classic? I’m so tired, but it’s going to be worth it once I get to actually play the darn thing. :)

    1. Bekx*

      WALMART CANCELED MY PRE-ORDER!! They sent me the email at 3 AM today. I was so upset. Calling stores, hurrying through my hair/makeup to run to walmart this morning….then I had to go to work and it was selling out everywhere.

      Boyfriend snapchatted me about an hour ago of him going to GameStop and getting me one. He’s a keeper for sure. I was crying!

      1. Temperance*

        Your boyfriend rocks! I’m so sorry to hear about Walmart – you would think that after the last preorder fiasco, they’d have gotten their shit together!

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          I’m sure that Walmart is not entirely blameless in this scenario (it never is), but I would also take a long hard look at Nintendo. When the NES was coming out they flat out did not make enough units to satisfy demand, and they didn’t seem to care either. I believe stores were running out simply because Nintendo didn’t ship them nearly enough stock. The comment by Bess about Breath of the Wild suggests that Nintendo didn’t provide the stock, so Amazon couldn’t fulfill the order. If you’re interested, Jim Sterling (on YouTube, his show is the Jimquisition) has at least one video about Nintendo’s mishandling of the NES release.

      2. Bess*

        That happened with my Breath of the Wild from Amazon–like two days before release I got an email saying “this item will be delivered when it is back in stock.” I was so mad–I’d reserved pretty early. I think I ended up just downloading it when it went live, just to know I’d have it.

    2. Yorick*

      Boyfriend went but didn’t get one. I didn’t know he had planned to, but now I’m super sad to not be able to play it.

  26. SpookyMulder*

    Happy Friday! Yesterday I asked my touchy-feely coworker to please stop hugging me. It was terrifying, but it went well. So for anyone else dreading having that awkward conversation, you can do it, and most people will be reasonable and respectful. So go forth and assert your boundaries.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Most people really are reasonable- even if they are clueless about that one thing. I fret about so many conversations, but in the end, all I needed to do was share some slightly uncomfortable information, and then everything was fine.

    2. Clownbaby*

      Ugh I need to do this with a vendor. I used to work in my company’s purchasing department and was the only female there. This vendor didn’t hug me then, but he was the type to tell me to smile…I moved our of the purchasing department about a year ago and barely see this vendor anymore…maybe like once every other month and now he insists on hugging me because “It’s been so long and the fellas in purchasing ain’t as nice”.

      You may have just been my inspiration :)

      1. AnonAndOn*

        One of the mail couriers at my former job mistook my politeness for interest. When I announced I was leaving that job he asked for a hug. I bypassed that by saying “I’ll shake your hand instead.”

        Months after leaving that job I’d sometimes see him on the bus to a temp job I had. He’d say hi to me and I’d say hi back. But one time I saw him getting off the bus I was waiting for and said hi and he looked me up and down and said, “Hey, sexy.” Not cool at all. I said that but he didn’t hear me.

        I don’t like it when men act creepy towards women like that on the job. Dude was old enough to be my father too.

  27. Folklorist*

    Hello Everybody! It’s time for your ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!!

    Go off and do something that you’ve been putting off and come back and brag about it. You’ll feel better; we’ll be proud of you; the world will be a better place.

    Now I’m off to send a ton of cajoling emails.

    1. Temperance*

      I need to sort through the stacks of papers on my desk. Telling you and the rest of the commenters means that I have to!

    2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      I was thinking about this post earlier this week, so I took care of uploading all of my documents on Tuesday so I wouldn’t put it off until today. :) It took me a couple hours, but that’s nothing considering I had been putting it off for months. Glad it’s done now, and I don’t have to look at that stack of paper on my desk anymore.

  28. MuseumMusings*

    Alternatives to candy dishes!

    I’ve found that if I supply a candy dish, it’s often a strain on my personal budget. Now I keep a bowl of kinetic sand at my desk and I’ve found people actually prefer it to the candy! It has the added bonus of being cheaper and lasting waaay longer (I usually get three months per batch). I have regulars who will come up to my desk just to play with the sand.

    Does anyone else have candy bowl alternatives? I’d like to mix it up occasionally.

    1. CAA*

      Anything people can move around and leave in a new state works.
      – those little magnetic shapes that you can stack in all different configurations on a base – I don’t know what they’re called, but if you search google images for “magnetic desk toys”, a lot of them show up
      – magnetic poetry kits are great, but you need something they can stick to
      – Euler disks are fun, but they can be noisy

      1. Blue Anne*

        When I was a kid, my dentist’s office had one of those magnetic bases with a ton of paperclips on it. It was great to play with and very handy for the receptionist.

      2. zora*

        I’ve had a couple places where there was a magnetic toy to play with on someone’s desk, it was always fun. And I’ve been looking at ones online called “Zen Blocks” that are nice looking little wooden blocks, but stick together with magnets. I’ve been contemplating buying one for my desk because I like to fidget.

        But your idea of kinetic sand just reminded me that the Bloggess has been posting about her obsession with bowls of buttons! I had been thinking about it for home, but now I super want a small bowl of buttons on my desk to play with! What a great idea, thank you!

      1. MuseumMusings*

        Oooh, I tried waterbeads for a week, but marbles might go over well (the main complaint was, “Where’s the sand?!”).

    2. soupmonger*

      What is this for? Why do you have candy bowls on your desk in the first place, let alone have an alternative to it? I’m in the UK and just have no idea what this is about!

      1. Lisa B*

        People use them for a few different reasons- as an enticement to get people to stop by and visit, or something for nervous people to fiddle with so they’ll be able to relax a bit.

        1. Lissa*

          But if the point was candy then why would marbles/sand be an alternative, people aren’t eating those! I don’t think the question was “why do people have candy dishes” but more that it sounds like it’s a necessity that requires an alternative, which implies there’s a reason to have it other than just candy!

          1. soupmonger*

            My question actually was ‘why do people have candy dishes’?
            I stated I was in the UK, ( because we don’t use the term ‘candy’ here), but I don’t understand the concept of actively encouraging people to stop by your desk with enticements of sweets (candy) or other things to fiddle with. It was the overall concept I am struggling with so any enlightenment will be gratefully received.

    3. Cath*

      I found that chocolate in my candy bowl disappeared waaay faster than just hard candy. Still there if you need a sugar fix, but nobody is dying pilfering all the butterscotch while I’m at lunch.

    4. Chaordic One*

      We used to have a coworker who had this flat bowl full of sand in it. It was supposed to be some kind of zen thing. Sometimes he’d draw pictures in the sand and he had this little rake that he’d rake the sand with. One day someone put a little toy tractor pulling a plow behind it in the bowl.

    5. Specialk9*

      Co-worker has 10 plastic balls with magnets, in a line on her cube entrance.

      Another has an always-morphing freeform statue made of company branded Legos (they were scrounged from a big bowl left at some point).

      I always grab my boss’ free paperclips to fiddle with. If you want something fun, there are all kinds of paperclips, or you could dangle a long chain of regular paperclips near the door.

      I knew someone with those Zen sand-rake-black pebble sets. Hard to resist.

  29. Direct Report Conflict*

    I started a new position a few months ago, and my direct report started about a week before me. Within the first few days that i started, my direct report told me that she also interviewed for my job and they offered her the lower job that opened up shortly after the interview process ended. They said that there were no hard feelings. It’s been about 2 months since then, and it seems like there are hard feelings and I’m not sure how to address it: they frequently question my decisions and talk down to me. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m 20 years younger than them, but I have a lot more experience in our field and a relevant master’s degree. I’m not sure if i should just let this go or address it. I hate workplace conflict, and i also completely understand from her point of view why it would be frustrating, but I also like my job and don’t want to leave it anytime soon. Any advice?

    1. WellRed*

      You’re her manager, right? Time to sit her down, acknowledge her disappointment and say, “What’s up? You keep questioning my decisions.” Also, would have been nice if the company had given you a heads up.

    2. Argh!*

      I have been in situations where employees questioned my decisions, and I have found that I really need to take the questions seriously, acknowledge the subordinate’s contribution, and explain my thinking. If they won’t let go (I had one like that) I will pull the authoritarian “Because I say so” line but not until there’s been a sincere conversation about the difference of opinion. You can’t enforce respect. You can only enforce compliance. Respect has to be earned, and if you start from that place in your head, things will go more smoothly.

    3. Jerry Vandesic*

      Your boss is an idiot. They should have let the junior position rest for a while, and after you were hired you should have been the one to make the hiring decision. That they would hire someone to work for you after the candidate failed to get your job means they don’t know how to hire.

  30. Rincat*

    Question for my husband: So my husband is looking for jobs as a desktop support tech, and there are two positions open at my workplace (large public university). The descriptions read almost the same – one is Senior IT Analyst, the other is IT Analyst 2. They are listed as belonging to the same department, but that could be incorrect, because our job application portal is jacked up and doesn’t list departments correctly. Anyway, the only significant difference between the two is that “senior” is asking for 6+ years of experience (which he has), and “level 2” is asking for 2-3 years. However the job duties are the same – maintaining computer labs and managing student workers. In fact the level 2 position lists quite a bit more work in terms of scope than the senior position (think more budgeting and people management).

    So my question is….should he apply for both? Or just the senior since he has more IT experience? I’m leaning towards the senior position because 1) he has 10+ years of experience and 2) it doesn’t mention as much budgeting and people management as the other job, but that could just be how they wrote that particular job description. I know both jobs are definitely under the IT division, so eventually our VPs and CIO would see his applications if he got through the interview process. Would it look weird to apply for both? Thanks for any advice y’all might have!

    P.S. Re: nepotism – we have a pretty generous nepotism policy here so him being married to me wouldn’t affect his chances at all, we just couldn’t report to each other.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Yep, I’d apply for the 10+ year experience job. Both positions may do exactly the same work, but the Sr. does the advanced projects while the IT Analyst does the less complicated projects.

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      I’d apply for both. dear Henry is in IT and in (his) experience, that field doesn’t seem to mind when people apply for multiple positions.

    3. Stop That Goat*

      Personally, I’d go for both. I’m an IT Analyst and those positions are close enough that I don’t think you’d raise an eyebrow over it. That’s just my experience though. If you decide to only apply for one, definitely reach high if he has the experience.

    4. Specialk9*

      I’d go for the senior position. I’m guessing they’re looking for a junior and a sr position, working on the same tasks. He wouldn’t take junior pay, would he?

      But also, if you know anyone there, ask. (Bonus, it gives them a heads up to watch for/look for his resume; these places sometimes jack up the outgoing side of applications too.)

  31. NGL*

    Update on last week’s question about telling my boss about my pregnancy…

    My boss and I, despite sitting in adjacent cubes, almost never speak face-to-face. After taking Monday off (stupid cold), I spent all day Tuesday trying to figure out a plausible reason for a face-to-face check in. Then Wednesday morning he asked if he could speak to me for “2 seconds.” The 2 second conversation was to announce I was getting a merit raise! (5% vs the company’s average annual raise of 2%) So I thanked him, and then said I actually wanted to talk to him since I had big news…

    Boss took it well, which I was expecting. He and his wife just had their first kid in the spring, but I’d forgotten that they hadn’t announced until after NY Comic Con. She used to work in the same company (totally different department, but still involved in Comic Con) so last year they went through the exact same thing of her reduced availability to work while hiding it from colleagues. So boss has volunteered to take over anything I can’t handle or run interference if I need it, and will absolutely keep it to himself until I’m ready to tell others.

    So it’s been a fantastic week: a raise, boss knows I’m expecting, got an absolutely delightful pregnancy care package from my sister-in-law (who just had her third kid! I’m in awe she pulled this together what must have been just a day or two before she went into labor), AND husband and I scored an SNES classic this morning.

    1. Emmie*

      Congratulations! If you don’t mind sharing, what was in your preggo care package that you loved? I would like to do that for someone one day.

      1. NGL*

        The parts I loved was “The Big Activity Book for Pregnant People” (or very similar title) which is hilarious, a funny T-shirt that coincidentally I’d been eyeing (“You’re Kickin’ Me Smalls” because I quote the Sandlot way too often), and a sonogram picture frame.

        She also sent What to Expect When You’re Expecting which I’ve been side-eying since I’ve heard it’s worse than WebMD for making you freak out. But she said it was more helpful than Googling, and she’s successfully had 3 kids, so I won’t burn it immediately ;-)

  32. A.N.O.N.*

    Hey, HR folks.

    I asked this late on last week’s thread but wouldn’t mind more opinions.

    Thoughts on getting an MBA?

    I’m fairly new in my HR career (but have progressed quickly), and am currently at a University where I have tuition benefits. I’m thinking of taking advantage of it by doing the part-time MBA program, but I’m still on the fence on whether it’s worthwhile time-wise. I certainly don’t think it’s necessary, but I imagine it’d be helpful if aspiring to be a CHRO or something to that effect? Maybe?

    1. miyeritari*

      Would also be interested in thoughts here. I currently do user operations, but I don’t know a lot about how to move my customer interaction skills into using data to get things implemented skills.

      1. Specialk9*

        MBA was my best decision. I was in a role in which a great degree was needed to unlock the next rung (esp bc we billed clients based on degrees), and management knowledge was needed. Frankly I did MBA because it’s generic and applicable in any industry – knowing how to manage and understanding business are always necessary.

        My biggest recommendation for MBA is to find a simple book on the class topic – high school textbook or those terribly named Complete Fatuous Lamebrain books, which actually are pretty good and also funny – to make sure you *really* understand the basics. They got me through my degree.

        I’d say a nice benefit of my degree is that I have a broad understanding of business terms even if I don’t use them regularly, and I have a framework to slot new things into.

    2. La Revancha*

      I don’t think any type of Masters is necessary unless it’s a requirement of a specific job. Experience is more important than a graduate degree, since it will likely take more than 15 years to reach a CHRO type of position. Focus on being a bad ass at your new job.

      As a side note, I just looked up 10 different people on linkedin with CHRO titles and none had a Masters degree.

      1. A.N.O.N.*

        That’s sort of what I was thinking: experience is key and MBA, while nice, is not necessary (I think).

        Curious to know if the CHROs had any other sort of education/certification?

    3. InOverMyHeadHR*

      I’m in a similar boat…only not at a university, so no tuition benefits for me :(

      Moved up very quickly…probably way too quickly…in HR. I am now the sole head of HR for a company with just over 200 employees.

      I am hesitant to get any debt…especially after I worked so hard to pay off all of my undergrad debt, but I feel an MBA is a must, not only to boost my business know-how, but also to gain some respect from my peers, who are all 20+ years my senior with post-grad degrees. The CFO here says I really don’t need one, but the Exec VP and DOO are both pushing it. I may try to ask for some financial support from the company if they really want me to pursue it…but the fact that it is the CFO who is telling me I don’t need to kind of answers the question.

      1. Specialk9*

        As a business person, not in HR, I think that PMP and MBA have roughly the same weight, and PMP – while grueling in the short time – is a way lighter haul in terms of time and money. They aren’t exactly the same, PMP is about how to manage projects, while MBA is about leadership skills – finances, presenting, marketing, management. But you might get the bang you’re looking for with PMP.

    4. A.N.O.N.*

      Nice to hear I’m not the only one having this debate!

      I’ve generally heard that leadership would take someone with an MBA more seriously, and while that’s good, I don’t know if it justifies spending the time/money to get a degree. If having an MBA opened doors to job opportunities that would be closed otherwise, then sign me up. But is that the case?

        1. A.N.O.N.*

          My employer covers 90% of it, so it’s significantly cheaper than it would be otherwise, but it’s still thousands of dollars – certainly more than I’d want to spend if it’s not really going to help me in the long run.

          1. Specialk9*

            Wow. You are insanely lucky. I had pretty good tuition assistance, and still ended up $50k in the hole, at a school I specifically chose for price.

    5. Trixie*

      If you have tuition benefits, I say go for it. I work in HR at a University and at least four staff (including CHRO and two partners) have an MBA. I wouldn’t go into debt for it but tuition benefits with a part-time program is beyond ideal.

    6. Belle*

      I actually completed my MBA through a weekend program and am glad I did. The cost was reasonable in my case (due to reimbursement) and while it did take two years of weekends, it has helped me professionally make the next step up a couple of times. It isn’t the degree only but what I learned and applying it in my positions going forward (plus the networking was good to meet people in other industries).

      My last two jobs have been at bigger corporations and they take both experience, education and certifications into consideration – so I am glad I did. Not sure I would pay it completely out of pocket but subsidized helped. I am also making double what I was before the program – so I am seeing ROI.

    7. i wish it were a banana*

      Yes. Do it. If nothing else, it gives you additional tools and perspective as a business partner. Nearly all of the HR staff at my company have either a masters in HR or an MBA.

    8. periwinkle*

      I’ll repeat my answer from last time: MBA = learning to speak finance and finance = the language of the C-suite. You’ll learn how to back up your proposals or analyses with estimates of money spent and value created. Is it necessary if you don’t aspire to the C-suite yourself? Maybe not, but it will help you be taken seriously by leadership if you’re able to speak in their language.

    9. Sr. Manager Human Resources*

      I’d say you are correct, a Master’s degree (business administration, management, leadership, org development) would be very helpful in moving up the HR ladder. IMO, strategic HR leadership requires a deep and broad understanding of business in general, as your organization & market specifically. The value of these degrees is not the specific content (academic knowledge can go stale quickly); it lies, I believe, in understanding the processes, developing competence in critical thinking, evolving a coherent systems standpoint from which to frame your work. The value is more often in the journey than in the specific facts acquired.

      I’d really recommend looking at the alternate business degrees before going the MBA route. At least in my local area (SF Bay Area), MBAs are pretty much the degree du jour and not particularly well respected. The broader degrees are viewed as having a longer lifespan and more applicability in the HR realm. YMMV of course!

      Earning and maintaining an SPHR or another similar nationally recognized professional certification is also becoming a ‘must have’ in many fields. And experience – progressively more demanding experience is required; I’m sure you realize 15 years doing the same thing is not 15 years’ experience! You don’t say how long you’ve been in HR, just that you’re relatively new. I generally advise working 3-5 years in the field before going into an MBA program. However tuition benefits are not to be sneezed at! I’d look at the other business degrees before settling on the MBA, and then go for it!

  33. paul*

    I’ve got a conundrum.

    I’ve been asked to collate data on the sorts of things that a particular demographic section of our clientele in rural counties needs. For example, think “vets over sixty”, although that isnt’ what it is. And I’m supposed to try to tease out trends and commonalities in this data.

    The problem is the particular demographic slice they’re trying to analyze–apparently for a grant of some sort–is so damn narrow that there’s no more than, literally, 2-3 clients of ours in most of the counties they’re looking at that match it (which isn’t shocking, most of these counties have between 1 and 3k people in the whole county), so I’m not sure how much confidence I can have in any trends I may spot or how to put that when I submit this. I’m more than willing to vouch for the data itself, but I’m not sure how many conclusions I can draw from it given the small numbers we’re talking.

    1. dr_silverware*

      I mean…you probably can’t draw any conclusions. Would you be able to provide the data, and then include collations for wider demographic swathes of the county? Like, “here’s the data for white vets over sixty who drive Corollas, but since that sample size is so small, I’ve also provided data for vets over sixty, where we can interpret these data as a trend.”

    2. nosy nelly*

      How statistically rigorous are they expecting you to be, here? Could you provide confidence intervals or standard deviations or some other metric that demonstrates how meaningless a metric based on 2-3 clients would be? Or could you investigate further in some way to provide “profiles” on the clients? More qualitative evaluation of characteristics…?

      1. paul*

        I have zero training in statistics and know relatively little about it (I googled standard deviation after reading your post); I just have enough common sense to know that when you’re talking an aggregate total of *nineteen people* over 18 counties, 1/2 of whom are in the one real city in that area (10k total population), there’s just not a lot of hard conclusions to draw about any trends.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      When that happens to me, I go back to the requester and tell them “Your N is 3. You need to open your criteria to make any analysis possible. How would you like to do that?” I usually get a new data criteria without a problem, but it may take them some time to re-think their question.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Although every once in a while someone will request a list of the records that fit the set and they will just read those cases to see if they even should proceed with the project.

      2. paul*

        I just emailed our ED (who’se the one that requested this) with a statement like that. We’ll see how it goes.

        I just don’t’ want to get held to predicting trends when I know there’s not enough people here to actually predict anything!

        I’m not sure about the details of what they want the data for; if it’s a niche grant they may not be able to open up the criteria much, I don’t know.

    4. Inspector Spacetime*

      A small sample size doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t draw conclusions. You can tell whether something is statistically significant based on its P-value, yes? But I’m sure you know this already, sorry.

      dr_silverware has a good idea. Or maybe you can say that “These are the patterns I noted,” without vouching for their significance.

      1. paul*

        I have no idea what a P-value *is*. I’ve seen them referenced but I don’t know what they mean.

        I’ve got 0 statistical training; I strongly suspect I got asked to do this because I know how to use Excel better than most of the rest of the office so I can gather the data quicker…

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          See if you can get some help from someone who knows statistics. Coming up with bad insights is worse than not coming up with insights.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            This, very, very much so.

            Honestly if you don’t know what a P-value is, they, really really shouldn’t have you doing anything related to statistics and trends in the first place. It’s like asking you to write a report in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics – no matter how hard you work, you’re only going to produce nonsense.

            In your place, I’d say outright that the sample size is much too small to draw any conclusions.

            And as a side note – p-value analysis is useful, but also prone to misinterpretation, particularly with small sample sizes. Doing small number statistics properly is advanced work, and even professionals regularly get it wrong (in published papers. that are subsequently used to set government policy)

      2. nom*

        Actually, sample size is pretty important and *can* affect significance tests. Probability of type I and type II error goes up with small samples — basically, you’re more likely to get a ‘false positive’ or a ‘false negative’.

        I use a lot of population level & survey data, and our general guideline is that the in order to generate a population estimate, the minimum number of valid responses has to be at least 50.

    5. OtterB*

      As a rule of thumb, if your sample size is small, you can increase it by broadening the criteria (as you already mentioned), or possibly by aggregating over a larger time period. So if you have 19 people that meet the criteria in the previous year, you might look at information for the past 3 years. This makes sense for some things but not for others, so it depends on your need and your data.

    6. N Twello*

      I’m not sure you’ve got a problem. There’s a problem if your sample size is too small or is unrepresentative, but it sounds like it’s your total population that’s small. So if there are 3 of these people in a county and you have the data on all three of them or on 2/3s of them, then you can go ahead and make claims from the data. Statistically, it’s perfectly valid.

      1. Jinn*


        You have the total population under consideration. You don’t need to sample it and then conduct statistical tests to determine if that sample produces data that is generalizable to the total population and not random. Because you have the total population already. In surveys, it’s called a census survey.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Going the opposite way, why not just talk about these 2-3 people?
      Statistics is more for handling larger groups and estimating trends. When you have 2-3 people it’s easier just to do the people directly.

      More to the point, if this is for a grant will these 2-3 people actually want the benefit from the grant? It could be that they don’t and you are all wasting your time.

  34. K.*

    Has anyone moved into consulting (for a firm, not solo)? I’m starting to take some info interviews with consultants I know. I’m thinking of making that shift but am not quite sure where to start. What questions should I ask?

    1. anna green*

      I’ve always worked in consulting (for a firm). without knowing exactly what you do, i will try to be general, with consulting, a lot of it is flexibility. Especially if its just informational interviews, i would ask about how many hours they are working, what hours, are your hours per day flexible, how much travel, how much advance notice they get on projects/travel. What types of project and what variety and are there busy times per year and slow times. how much autonomy they get on projects, what is the support structure at the firm, what resources will you have. are you completing projects on your own, or are they larger team projects. will you deal directly with clients or is that someone elses job, etc. not sure this will help :)

    2. Clever Name*

      Ask how much responsibility you’ll have for bringing in new business. Ask about what metrics they use to assess performance. Do they just look at a raw number of billable hours, a percentage of the time you’re chargeable, or how much revenue you bring in.

  35. Super Anon*

    For those of you who have gone through IVF and the procedures leading up to it, how have you managed your absences in the office? My clinic doesn’t open until 7:30a.m., and it’s 30 minutes away from my office, so even with lunchtime appointments and early morning appointments, I’m typically late or taking an extended lunch. I work in a smaller office, and so those absences are noticeable. I also don’t want my co-workers and especially my boss to know I’m going through IVF. My boss, in particular, tends to like reasons, and if I tell her it’s a medical issue then she’ll dig for more details before approving the time.

    So any suggestions for ways to handle this?

    1. FDCA In Canada*

      If your office will allow you to use sick time for appointments, use it. Your boss absolutely doesn’t need to know anything other than “It’s a medical issue that’s under control, but my doctor is requiring some frequent monitoring over the next [couple of weeks/couple of months depending on your treatment cycle]. It’s fine, though!” and then change the topic. If she presses, “well, what kind of monitoring?” you can just say “It’s fine! Thanks, though!” and change the topic again. As long as she’s aware it’s a medical thing, I’d just stick to “My doctor requires a lot of monitoring at this time.” That way when you aren’t going in for the constant appointments anymore, if she asks, you can say “It’s been resolved for the moment.”

      1. Super Anon*

        I like the line about frequent monitoring. Because that is pretty accurate, and it provides some detail without providing specific details.

      2. blackcat*

        If you get asked “well, what kind of monitoring?” you can respond, “I need frequent bloodwork to check on a few things. Needles gross me out, so I’d rather not talk about it!”

    2. PR for Now*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Your boss might like reasons, she may even dig for them, but you don’t have to give them to her. If she or your coworkers ask why you’re coming in later or taking longer lunches, you could tell them that you have a doctors appnt in a matter-of-fact way and immediately move on to a different topic. Preferably in the same sentence. For example, “Oh I just had a doctors appnt, and, actually I’m glad I caught you because I wanted to talk to you about Work Thing.” It’s none of their business.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Super Anon*

        I think the problem is that she can deny the requests for the time, if she gets into the mood. And she has denied PTO requests for appointments in the past. She’s generally very good, but her need for details before approving time is frustrating.

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      Infertility is covered under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act so you may find coverage there. My state has additional protections for pregnancy and related conditions so you can check for protections in your state as well.

    4. Cath*

      I had a coworker get fired because of IVF. Because so much of it has to be done at the last minute, she didn’t 24 hours notice before calling out. I did clomid and had one last minute appointment for an extra ultrasound on my lazy ovaries, but if I had made it to IVF-level intervention, I would have got intermittent FMLA to cover myself.

      1. Observer*

        That sounds odd to me – with IVF, clinics tend to try to control the scheduling, so for a lot of things you actually do know 24 hours in advance.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Personally, I told my boss what was going on – we were dealing with age related issues, so we had about a year and a half of intensive treatment. My boss was very supportive. Basically, I found it easier to have people know, so they weren’t making guesses, and I didn’t have to keep thinking of excuses and dodging concern when I was in hormone hell.

  36. Long time lurker*

    Can you get a job in finance (specifically with risk) that’s 9 to 5?

    I love models and math and the Black Scholes equation is the most advanced calculus I’ve seen with anything that was related to a professional occupation. I’d love a job involving that kind of stuff. But working more than 45 hours a week isn’t worth it for me. So… Is it possible to get a job like this with good work life balance?

    I’d like to know because if not, I won’t pursue it.

    1. Kali*

      I used to work in a call centre for a credit card company, and their risk team worked M-F, 9-5. I’m not sure if they did what you’re describing though, so maybe that’s not actually very helpful. :/

    2. London Actuary*

      I work as an actuary (in the UK – I think the US is similar) and most of the time my job is 9 – 5:30. You have to take exams but you get time off to study – I’m studying for one right now and I used Black Scholes around an hour ago!

      It’s very competitive to enter the profession but well worth it once you have a foot in the door! Actuaries work in many more fields than just pensions and life these days.

      1. Actuarial Octagon*

        US Actuary here. Agree with all of the above. I work 8 – 4:30 plus time to study during the work day. I work in retirement and there are other financial but not actuarial jobs and we all work a steady 40 hours per week. Consultant’s travel but gain flexibility so they still hit about 40.

    3. Leslie Knope*

      I’d look to an underwriting job in a Commercial Bank division of a larger bank. Those can be very 9 to 5. They won’t be as Black Scholes heavy, but you can get some of that modelling and risk side evaluation with the true “bankers hours”.

    4. Becky*

      Have you looked at risk modeling or risk analytics or even business intelligence? In my experience most of those are generally 9-5 jobs.

  37. Karlie Floss*

    Thank goodness, I need you guys!

    Does anyone know of a product that can sit under a computer monitor to stop it from shaking, like some kind of IT shock absorber? I work in an old building with poor construction and the entire floor moves constantly. I do zoomed-in detail work frequently, and it’s like trying to read in a moving car. The nausea and headaches are constant. (No, they won’t move my desk, or do anything else to help. I’ve officially complained up the chain with no luck. I’m on my own.)

    Extensive Googling only finds tips on how to deal with a flickering monitor, not the entire computer being physically shaken.

    Any brainstorming would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Squeeble*

      Oh wow. Maybe you could set some heavy but malleable things on top of the monitor base? I’m thinking, like, sandbags but it’d have to be something cleaner than that.

    2. fposte*

      How big a foot does it have? Does it have enough clearance that fans aren’t a problem? If so, I’d probably try some foam or gel padding underneath it, trying to dampen the wiggle rather than to fix it in place.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I’m thinking felt squares. You can get a stack of them for a few bucks at the craft store. They would be soft enough to be absorbent, but still firm enough to provide support.
        But it’s the “neck” of the computer stand that amplifies the shaking. There must be something for use on boats and trucks and things. I wonder what the super spies use while they are driving around in unmarked vans?

        1. fposte*

          Oh, you’re right that it’s the neck itself. So we need the computer equivalent of a yaw damper (which is so fun to say it almost is a solution in its own right).

    3. anon24*

      Would it be possible to get something rubber or foam to set underneath the monitor? I’m wondering if you could get a one or more small rubber mats that you could cut and stack to absorb some of the movement.

    4. LCL*

      Here are my brainstorming unproven ideas of things to place under your monitor. Go to your local sporting goods store and buy a package of flooring meant for gyms. A small package. I use that stuff on slippery floors for my dog. Some of it is shock absorbent. Or, buy a yoga mat if you can find a cheap one, cut it up as appropriate and slide it underneath. Or try one of those allegedly shock absorbent mats meant for standing on. Prices on those vary wildly from low tens to over 100 dollars. Or google foam supplier to find one near you and buy some closed cell foam and try it. Or if there is no money at all, try multiple thicknesses of cardboard held together with duct tape around the edges under the monitor.

  38. Ignored*

    I’ve been at my govt job for four months. I’m an assistant teapot maker. There is a teapot maker but I do not report to that person nor do I assist that person. I have an assistant title merely because of my experience level and longevity in the organization. I report to the teapot designers who report to the teapot head designer. I noticed when I started that the teapot maker was cold towards me. Chalked it up to personality. And then she refused to train me or hand over duties that are supposed to be mine. And then the teapot designers started acting cold and stopped talking to me. No one has ever told me about any work issues. The head teapot designer gives me praise and has said I’m doing a great job. I got tired of the coldness one day and mentioned it to the office manager who said she was afraid this might happen. Turns out the teapot maker is really upset that my position does not report to her. She drove out my predecessor (I was misled about why that person left) by bulling, ignoring and leading the teapot designers to believe the predecessor was not competent. The head teapot designer apologized to me last week and said, this is not how I want my office to run, I will fix this. When I get back from a week long trip. So my being ignored has continued. I have no idea what the boss will do next week, if anything. I cannot continue working in a space where I am ignored, even when I speak. How do I navigate this?

    1. WellRed*

      Wait, if you speak to one of your coworkers they…ignore you?? What is this middle school? If it impacts your work, I’d focus on that next (though I sympathize with the isolation) and tell the head teapot designer how it impedes my job. I suppose you could also try saying something in the moment to the next coworker who ignores you. “have I done something to offend you?”

      1. Ignored*

        Yes, I am ignored by three people in our office. The ring leader adds groans and ugh’s when I walk by. It’s incredibly demoralizing. The office manager and head teapot designer both said it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the teapot maker being upset that she’s not my boss. I have plenty more examples of her crappy treatment of me. The office manager and head teapot designer both said it would be taken care of. I just don’t know how they can do that. They can’t make someone talk to me. They can’t all of a sudden create a nicer work environment.

        1. WellRed*

          How awful! All though frankly, ringleader is just proving the point that she would suck as a manager of people. They CAN sit her down and tell her she needs to knock it off. Frankly, do you have anything to lose next time she groans and ughs by saying “Why do you do that?”

        2. Specialk9*

          Document every interaction – date, time, description. Keep it off-site. Tell your boss that you are experiencing a hostile work environment and that you expect the manager to fire the people doing this. I mean, it’s going nuclear, but it’s not like you’re keeping this job anyway. It actually paradoxically makes you harder to fire, though they still can, and increases the likelihood of a settlement.

      2. KR*

        Yeah, I think Ignored could potentially address this themselves by calling the coworker out. “Excuse me, did you hear me? Where is the spout lacquer?” “Teapot maker, did you get my email regarding the teapot design and the follow up emails? We really need to work on this.” “You seem to be ignoring me, have I done something to offend you?” “I don’t mean to be rude, but do you have hearing difficulties? I don’t know sign language but maybe I could write something down and we could communicate that way.” “You really seem to not like me, Fergus, because you ignore me when I speak to you and act very cold to me when you’re very friendly to Belinda. I hope I haven’t done anything to upset you – please tell me if I have as I’d like to apologize. ” Fergus will be the one clearly looking like a jerk.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah. Call them on it.
          They think they are getting even with TPTB in reality they are going to push an innocent bystander out of a job.
          Explain to them that you did not cause this problem, taking it out on you is misplaced anger. Meanwhile you can’t lose this job because you have [responsibilities].

          Do your self a favor. Lose a grip on the idea that the boss can’t make people talk to you. Yeah, she can, she just isn’t doing it yet. But, it’s HER problem to figure this out, not yours.
          If you decide to talk to them tell her what you are doing before you do it.
          Set a time frame, if this does not get better by 3 months or whatever, start looking to move on.

  39. Virgimates*

    Tbh, I’m mostly just ranting here, but I would like some feedback, since I’m still finding my way around professional norms now, nevermind back then.

    Back in 2012, I worked for a fairly large media company. The contract was temp-to-perm.

    During training, our trainer said goodbye to one of her coworkers with “bye, love ya!”, and then explained to us that she wasn’t gay, they were just friends. This prompted a discussion amongst other members of the training group with “of course you’re not gay! Lesbians are *insert-stereotype-here*!”.

    I spoke to the trainer about this, and she started with “I’m not being funny, but there was a gay guy in the group who isn’t upset about it.” She did do an exercise about prejudice with us after this, citing that homophobic comments had been made, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.

    A week later, I overheard a discussion between another two members of my group about why lesbians are lesbians. Apparently, it’s because they used over-large sex toys and real men couldn’t satisfy them. I didn’t mention this to the trainer.

    When we finally started working, I was in the same departments as the guy from that last paragraph. We were on the phones, working with the technicians. We had different managers, and worked on opposite sides of the office, about ten metres apart. I overheard him loudly ask “you know the female technicians? Do you think they all look like d*kes?”.I mentioned this to his manager, on the grounds that, if I could hear him across the room, he might be audible to any of the technicians on the phones. His manager came back to me with “he’s sorry, he didn’t know you were gay”, which strikes me as a really bad way to handle it.

    A while later, I had a meeting with my manager and the contact from the temp agency we were actually employed by. I asked if it would be possible to do more training on protected characteristics, like gender and sexuality, since the only training we’d been given was some online stuff about ageism. I can’t remember what my manager said, but the temp contact said “you’re the only one who’s ever had this problem”, and that she thought it was easier to tell someone’s age than their gender over the phone.

    Anyway, my temp contract wasn’t extended to permanent. A lot of that is completely on me; I’ve always been a bit socially awkward and didn’t fit in well in other ways – which reading this blog has helped with! – and, I’m embarrassed to say, I began a relationship with one of the techs and genuinely didn’t realise it wasn’t appropriate to call him from work. We’d been encouraged to call the techs as much as possible – hitting a specific amount of phone time with them was one of the measured statistics – and I didn’t realise they’d classify these as personal calls, though in hindsight, it’s completely obvious to me why it was inappropriate and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t work it out myself. I was upset about losing the job at the time, but I now realise I wouldn’t have been happy there due to culture fit anyway.

    That paragraph was mostly for catharsis. Anyway; is there any way I could have handled the complaints about sexuality better? It seems to me that this branch of the company was SO bad that there wasn’t much I could do beyond escalating to legal action, quitting, or accepting that it was part of the job…but, considering how that job ended, I’m inclined to find reasons to think badly of them anyway justified or not.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, gross. “Hey, could we not use that term? There’s a reason stuff like that’s illegal.” If you’re not in a state where it is technically illegal, it’s up to you if you want to audibly or silently add “in a lot of the U.S.”

      I think especially if you’re a temp or a newbie you’re likelier to get a lot better traction making specific and individual requests than suggesting the whole office needs training of some kind; that’s a thought that really needs a fair bit of leverage behind it.

      1. Virgimates*

        You have a point about the training; I was picturing just some online activities being uploaded, but even that may have been a bit much. My intention was to try to think of some solutions, so I wasn’t just telling them about problems, but they may well have sounded like demands.

        I didn’t feel able to speak up, since they were all conversations I overheard (though they were very clearly audible to a good chunk of the office). I can’t picture a way of doing that without looking confrontational. Maybe I could have put it through on the interoffice chat? Though I can’t think of a way I could have done that with the right tone. Thank you for your thoughts, I shall muse more.

        Incidentally, we’re in the UK, though I think that sort of thing is also illegal here!

        1. SarahKay*

          Yes, definitely illegal in the UK. It’d be considered harassment related to a protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation) under the Equality Act 2010. This includes things like abusive or threatening comments, jokes or behaviour.
          I agree that as a new start I wouldn’t want to comment on an overheard conversation; it’d feel really awkward. Although I’d certainly do it now – and have done so, although not about anything as egregious as this.
          The only thing I can think of that you could have done then would be googling something like ‘workplace discrimination in the UK’ (which is what I just did to get the details here) to be sure you’re clear on what you’re saying then talking to the manager and pointing out that you’re concerned by some of the comments you’ve heard because they’re putting the company in a bad place legally. If they do nothing you *could* re-iterate your concerns by email because then there’s a ‘paper’ trail, which makes it harder for the manger to claim in future that they were unaware, or you could take it to HR, if there is an HR department. But…in a temp position, you’d be vulnerable to them just letting you go. It’s also not legal for them to let you go because of a complaint like that, but what are your chances of proving it?
          But to be honest, that whole place sounds wildly toxic, and a discrimination case waiting to happen. On a temp contract, I’d be inclined to just see if the temp company couldn’t get me somewhere else, ASAP.

    2. Stop That Goat*

      “I’m not being funny, but there was a gay guy in the group who isn’t upset about it.”

      Yuck. Like one gay guy determines whether something is offensive for everyone. Honestly, it sounds like you may have dodged a bit of a bullet. Those comments are pretty outlandish.

      1. Virgimates*

        I think I remember it so vividly because it was just *that* bad. I do wish my own behaviour hadn’t been bad enough for my contract to be ended…but, realistically, it wasn’t the work place for me anyway. Thanks for helping me to unpack this!

        Oh, I just remembered another warning sign. During training, we did call listening. The trainer placed me with one staff member who, as soon as she left, physically wheeled my chair to another worker while I was in it, said “you work with her” and then walked off. Another staff member refused to let me call listen with him because “you won’t be working on this area”. Spoiler; I ended up in his team and covered his region when he was off.

    3. Specialk9*

      That’s really bad. Ugh. People who moan about PC are deeply invested in pretending (or convincing others) that this stuff doesn’t still happen.

        1. Virgimates*

          We’re in the UK, but I’ll definitely look into whether we have a similar system if I end up anywhere like that again!

  40. FDCA In Canada*

    I’ve had a bit of a frustrating experience interviewing–I’m in the process of interviewing for a remote position, and did a phone interview, did an exercise, and they asked me to come in-person to a final interview at a location about 4 hours away from me. This was rescheduled once, and then they emailed me again about 3am the night before asking if I could push it back three hours. That was fairly inconvenient for me and I asked if the original date was at all possible, and they said no. So I made it work and had a very long day of driving for a 20-minute interview, and after all that they weren’t able to give me a firm date on when I could expect to hear back from them.

    I know the hiring process can be hairy, but this level of disorganization is freaking me out a little bit. I do feel like I did well and I won’t be surprised if they offer me the job, but I’d like to have a close look at the benefit information and details before I say anything. I do have a job offer from Starbucks (cue the mocking as a millennial stereotype), which I’m planning on going ahead and starting, but this remote job has really got me questioning the whole process.

    1. Triplestep*

      Their inconsiderate recruiters could be a sign of greater disorganization in the company, or they could just be incompetent. I recently had an experience where a recruiter ghosted me – GHOSTED – because I could not make the one time she told me I could meet with the hiring manager. I told her this immediately and gave her my availability, but to no avail. It was as if she never had a candidate who was already employed before.

      If I didn’t know people within the company, I would have thought the entire organization was like this one person. But I know a really stand-up guy who works there, and he knows the hiring manager who he vouches for. I ended up taking a different job, but I would have pursued with the knowledge that this unprofessional recruiter does not represent something systemic in the company.

      In your shoes, I would let it play out; don’t eliminate yourself from consideration, and go get trained at Starbucks. If you get the remote role, you might even be able to fill in late nights or weekends with Starbucks and make some extra money. It’s not like you have to get up early for a long drive – you can go to work in your PJs!

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Oh yeah, I’m definitely going to continue letting it roll–I sent out my thank-you notes and all that–but I’m hoping that it might be like other jobs I’ve had, where the hiring process is kind of a mess, but working there normally is not a problem at all. A headache from the front end for sure, but you can’t know that from the outside!

  41. Triplestep*

    Some of you have commented on a previous Friday post I made about a job offer with contingencies; A background check and a pre-employment health screen performed onsite. (Healthcare facility). I had asked the in-house recruiter to e-mail me once I had cleared the contingencies, and she replied that the results of the background check would not be back until after my start date. So it was clear that they expect you to give notice and leave your current role without the results, and that they fire you if you don’t pass. I have an offer in writing including start date, filled out pre-employment paperwork, and passed my health screen.

    I just wanted to report back that I decided to go ahead and play by their rules, and I gave notice earlier this week. My rationale for starting before the background check is complete are as follows:
    1. I read some of the archives here and note that it’s not uncommon.
    2. They can get rid of me any time for any reason anyway. They can give me a 90 day trial and fire me on day 89. They can also fire me on day 91.
    3. Hopefully on the very slim chance my report turns anything up, they’ll hear me out or let me correct it. I’m don’t have a criminal record, I didn’t lie about credentials, and have excellent credit. The only thing they might turn up is a dispute I’m having with my city over excise tax.

    Just wanted to say thanks to those who weighed in!

    1. anna green*

      Thank you so much, this is so helpful. I just received an offer yesterday with those exact contingencies and I was nervous to accept for those reasons but I didnt see that I really had a choice. I did end up accepting and I feel better knowing its common and also I dont really expect any trouble. Thanks and good luck!

      1. Triplestep*

        It’s pretty common to have a background check, and for healthcare facilities, the added health screen. Some places have drug tests. But any time I’ve been subject to a pre-employment background check, my start date is set *after* the results come in. This employer expects you to give notice and leave your current employer to start with them before the results are back.

        Anna, the best possible scenario is to wait to give notice until after you’ve cleared your contingencies. It just happens not to be standard where I am going.

        Congrats on your new job!

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, and thanks again for your responses last week.

        I’d made up my mind over the weekend, and then on Monday I heard from the hiring manager. (This was after you’d helped me see it wasn’t a big deal that she hadn’t reached out yet, no matter what expectations the recruiter had set.) We spoke the next day :-)

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Congrats on the new job!
      Yes, this is quite normal. I recently gave my 2 week notice but during that time I also had to submit a drug test and get a background check with NewJob. I had no worries on either front, and indeed this is usually the case with offers and start dates. Generally, they are only looking for criminal records unless you’re applying for some type of government or teaching job which might be more stringent in requirements.

      If you did have anything amiss on your record, I you should bring it up well before the agreed-upon start date (for instance, a personal bankruptcy when applying for some finance jobs) and ask if that would affect an offer and/or adjust your notice/start date accordingly. It’s rare, but from reading this blog we all know that there are nasty surprises where job offers can be pulled over these things.

    1. Murphy*

      “I hate numbers” HAHA!

      I totally did #2 at a meeting today…but everyone else in the room was way above me, so I didn’t want to overstep.

  42. No more admin roles*

    I am trying to transition out of admin work and am unsure on how to list three jobs at the same company on my resume, given that two roles are exactly the same but with different titles and with a different role in between the similar ones. I originally started out in an admin role and was promoted to the Cup/Teapot Assistant role. Unfortunately, it was not a good move for the replacement in my role or for me so senior management wanted me to move back to my original position. I was also more interested in Teapot-related duties but the position was heavily focused on Cups, where I had difficulty. Following a restructuring, I was moved back to my original position but my title was rephrased (so not better or worse, just a similar but odd title). In the rephrased admin title, my duties remained exactly the same as when I was in the first position. I currently have the positions listed as: Company Name in bold, with Titles 1’s dates, Title 3’s dates and then bullet points for the two roles. Then I have Cups/Teapot Assistant (position changed due to organizational restructure), dates and bullet points specific to Cups/Teapots.

    I’m currently applying for Teapot Assistant roles so I don’t want to leave that exact title off my resume, but I also don’t want to scare future employers that might be wondering why I was “demoted” and moved back to my original position.

    I also did lots of Cups/Teapot work when in Titles 1 & 3, so would that make a difference in how I list my accomplishments?

    Sorry for the vagueness with titles, but want to keep anon!

    1. Specialk9*

      I worked for years for the same company, on so many projects, and my roles changed over the years. I lumped them together where applicable because it cut way down on the length and communicated my experience better.

      So if Teapot Designer and Teapot Modulator are basically the same job, my title would be “Teapots Inc, Antarctic City
      Teapot Designer/Modulator (2013 – 2016)” and then have the bullets under.

      Then Teapot Evangelist would have it’s own subsection under Teapots Inc, with its own bullets. I use same font but different size and italics to differentiate between the company name and positions.

  43. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I’m trying to resign from a volunteer position and no one will respond to me. I do reference checks for my dog rescue, entirely email-based and from home (I moved several states away from where the rescue is located), but after a very frustrating summer of applications and some other issues, I decided to stop. A few weeks ago I sent an email to the woman who handles all of our applications telling her I would stop doing references after October 31st– that would give us plenty of time to find a new volunteer and let me train him/her. No response. I emailed another address for her, still no response. I emailed someone else, no response. I emailed someone else on the staff to give her a heads up, and SHE responded, but I don’t think she’s been in touch with the applications coordinator. I am seriously frustrated, but I don’t want to just ghost at the end of October. Have I done my due diligence? What would you do?

    1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      maybe send one more email to the overall head. Otherwise, you’re good. To be kind, write out what you do and how you do it and send it to all of them. The fact that they’re disorganized is not your problem.

    2. SophieChotek*

      I agree with a Little Teapot. Write again to overall head, etc. Then maybe re-affirm your end date (with instructions, etc.) to everyone you have already emailed and be done…if they this disorganized, that is on them. I get volunteer has an entirely different “feel” or “obligations” sense sometime…but they will have to find another volunteer (or do it themselves).

    3. JN*

      Sounds like you’ve done quite a bit. Personally, I’d give it one more try. Is there an organization head person or governing board you can contact? Perhaps by phone rather than email? If so, then I think that if you reached out to them and shared your efforts to ensure a smooth transition, that you could then consider due diligence to have been completed. Ultimately, however much admiration and commitment you may have to this volunteer group, you have no control over their organization or lack of it.

    4. Beancounter Eric*

      As much as I prefer e-mail, go to paper with this.

      Draft a resignation letter, mail with return receipt service, and at close of business 31 October, done. Costs you a little time and a couple of dollars postage, but you can stop with a very clear conscience.

  44. Typhon Worker Bee*

    I have a new job! Starting Nov 1st as a Knowledge Translation Specialist – doing science outreach and communication in a field about which I’ve already written a pop-sci book. I’m essentially expanding my favourite parts of my current job (which is about 10% of what I do, because they don’t allow people to specialize), plus a long-standing hobby / side gig, into 100% of my new job. Everyone I tell about the new position asks if they created it just for me; they didn’t, but the job description definitely read that way, and I got to take my book to the interview with me (I did an internal mic drop at that point). Plus more money and an option to flex my schedule to get every second Friday off. I *might* even get to take the best parts of my current job with me (my new team collaborates closely with one of my current teams). Definitely worth the stress of moving house and interviewing for a new job in the same week!

    I do have a question about how to deal with working at two different sites – I’m going to have a desk/cubicle in two different offices, at a university campus and a hospital that are about 10 km apart (connected by a free staff shuttle, as well as good transit and bike lane options). Part of the raison d’être for the new position is to create better connections between teams at the two sites. I feel like this set-up might be a double-edged sword… how do I prevent problems around people not knowing where I am / if I’m even working, that kind of thing? Is it best to set a fixed schedule as to which days I spend in which office, or to be flexible week by week? There are probably things I haven’t even thought about yet… Any insights and advice appreciated!

    1. MuseumMusings*

      That sounds absolutely fantastic – congrats! Do both offices share a chat client? If so, you could set your status to say which office you’re at, but you’ll have to remember to update it!

      As for a schedule, I think a fixed schedule will be easier for your coworkers to remember, but if you can, I’d set my calendar settings so that everyone could see them and then mark on my calendar when I’d be in which office.

      I’d also set up an autoresponder for the days you’re out, so clients and coworkers alike know when you’re off that second Friday (which sounds so awesome!). Just something like, “Thanks for emailing me! I am not available the 2nd Friday of the month, but I’ll get back to you [day you start your week again]. If you have an urgent request or emergency, contact X.” or something to that effect.

      Automation and schedules will be your friend. Best of luck!

    2. JN*

      If you can have a fairly consistent schedule for each office, that might be ideal both for you and for your coworkers in both locations. They’ll know roughly when you’re going to be with them (days/times) and *you’ll* know where you’re supposed to be. Does the university and/or hospital use a shared calendar feature? My university does, and people within the office share their Outlook calendars with each other, so we can see scheduled time off, meetings, etc. Even when someone is out for a “private appointment” of an unspecified nature. Very convenient for scheduling office meetings and coordinating staffing coverage.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      I’d fix at least 4 hours in each office each week. That way they know a time you will definitely be available. Also you can share out your calendar so people can find you if they need you.

    4. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Thanks all – I will make figuring out the shared calendar system my top priority!

      Oh, and by the way, I was the OP who asked about URLs in resumes (link below). I ended up including four URLs, and I kept the hyperlinks but removed the underlining and changed the colour to a darker blue. They said they loved my CV, but didn’t comment on the hyperlink formatting :) Thanks again to Alison for answering my trivial little question, and to the commenters who provided ideas too!

    5. Mimmy*

      Commenting to ask: What *exactly* is Knowledge Translation? I’ve seen the term and have always wanted to understand what it means. A “For Dummies” explanation would be helpful :)

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        It’s essentially turning research findings into tangible benefits – e.g. new health policies, educational tools, direct communication with clinical practitioners / patients and their families / journalists / educators / the public

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I work with a few people who move around quite a bit in the course of their work day. They look at email religiously and answer their phone as much as they can. I always know they will bubble to the surface within a few hours, they are that reliable.

  45. Spidersinmyattic*

    So I start a new job this coming Monday (yay!) after being out of work for almost a year – the environment seems nice from the interview and the role is fine (a little step back) but the money is terrible. I also just got notified that I have an interview elsewhere for a dream job next weekend.

    If, and it’s a big if, I were to be offered the dream job, is there a non-flaky way to call it quits with the first job?

    1. JN*

      I think you would have a few options. You could frame it as realizing that this new job just wasn’t a good fit. Or that this other opportunity came up and just couldn’t be passed up. Timing does suck a bit, but so much of the job hunting process is outside our control, and like you said, there’s no guarantee that the interview at dream company will actually end up with a job offer, so keeping on with this no-so-dream new job in the meantime is better than nothing.

    2. A.N.O.N.*

      You can say that you had applied to this other job before you got the one there, and that this is an opportunity you just can’t pass up. Say it apologetically, give two weeks notice. They might be a little miffed but will probably understand. These things happen. Worst case scenario they take it badly and you burned this bridge, but you’ll leave them off your resume anyway.

  46. Malibu Stacey*

    Do you have any pet peeves that your coworkers do that drive you bonkers even though it’s not that big of a deal? Mine is people who send IMs for things that aren’t urgent.

    1. Emily S.*


      The girl who sits at the desk closest to mine clips her nails at her desk. I find the sound so annoying!

      1. Janelle*

        This disgusts me. I cannot believe people do this in public. This chick who annoyed me anyway used to do this and each click was like a nail being driven into my head. Ahhh.

    2. anon24*

      I’ve had co-workers who chewed with their mouths open. An old boss way back in the day was constantly eating (kept crackers or pretzels in his pockets) and he chewed with his mouth open and smacked his lips. One day I very nearly threw up on his shoes.

      1. KatieKate*

        I hate this!!

        Someone just responded to a request I made with “Here you go…” and I want to tear my hair out!