open thread – January 19-20, 2018

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.

{ 1,800 comments… read them below }

  1. ZSD*

    Last Friday, the Maryland legislature overrode the governor’s veto to make Maryland the ninth state to require employers to provide their employees with paid sick and safe days! If you work in Maryland and don’t yet get paid sick time, you can look forward to getting it soon.

    1. zora*

      Such good news!! I got paid sick days during my last temp job because of the San Francisco city ordinance and it was such a relief. This will make a huge difference in the life of sooooo many people, I hope this trend keeps getting momentum!!

    2. MissMaple*

      Do you happen to know how it works if you already get PTO? Will it be like California where they have to give you separate buckets, or is it worded such that what I already get counts?

      1. ZSD*

        If you already have PTO, your company can keep their system in place as long as you’re allowed to use the PTO for all the purposes of sick and safe time.
        That’s actually true in California as well, but many employers get confused about this. Even the Society of Human Resource Management has misadvised people on this point!

        1. MissMaple*

          Thanks for the clarification! My PTO is available for sick time, so my company likely already complies.

    3. JennyFair*

      Unfortunately this is not always good. Well, it’s not always done kindly by employers. I live in WA, which also requires sick time as of this year, and as a result my company has taken all our PTO away and imposed rules upon ‘sick time’ use, and now we won’t be able to use it for anything not actually medical. So basically I have no personal time :(

      1. periwinkle*

        I agree, that’s terrible. My employer already offered generous sick leave separate from vacation time, so the new Washington law didn’t require any changes. Your employer is run by jerks.

      2. JennyFair*

        Yep, I already knew they were not a company that cares about employees. However, my direct manager is wonderful so I’ve stayed. This policy ties his hands :(

        (I’d like to change jobs but in my geographical area it’s extremely hard to find a living wage job without a Bachelor’s degree or higher. I’m working on the degree but it will be basically forever before I’m done.)

          1. Natalie*

            One of my favorite parts of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

            “Four years of high school … no, five. Because something would come up to delay me. Then four years of college. I’d be a dried-up old maid of twenty-five before I was finished.”

            “Whether you like it or not, you’ll get to be twenty-five in time no matter what you do. You might as well be getting educated while you’re going towards it.”

    4. Anxa*

      Do you know how this would affect temporary workers at large institutions. I still have a hard time believing that I can wake up one morning with a stuffed up nose and just stay home. Seems surreal. Like being back in school!

      Ah, to be a kid again!

  2. the.kat*

    On Monday, I’m turning in my two-weeks notice. I know the next two weeks are going to be really hard. I’m going to have a lot to finish and I’m going to need to somehow compile my fours years of experience here into some kind of list so things don’t fall between the cracks. For AAMers who’ve changed jobs, how did you finish up? What were your last two weeks like and how did your “this is my job” and “these things need to be done” lists come together? Also, how do I deal with leaving a job I really love to take on another new, greater challenge?

    1. CherryScary*

      Following, because I just gave my two weeks this morning. Sounds like we’re in the same boat. I have issues with the company at large, but I really love my team and want to leave them in a good spot.

    2. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      When I left my last job (was there for 7 years), I started a spreadsheet in which I first listed my areas of responsibility at a high level. Then I started drilling down into each area with specific tasks. I didn’t get too detailed – that would have been a nightmare to document and read – but I did try to cover all the major things I was responsible for on a regular basis. I then did some training with coworkers who were going to take over certain tasks until the role could be filled. I also compiled all the documentation I’d collected over the years, and any user guides I developed.

      I was a business intelligence analyst, and I left a department that had several of them, so I didn’t really have to get too specific with my documentation since they all knew basic, every day BI analyst tasks, but I did want to make sure my responsibilities were covered.

      As for your second question…I can’t answer that as I did not love the job. :) I guess just allow yourself to feel sad for what you are leaving, and then look forward to learning new things.

      1. my two cents*

        Was at OldJob for 8 years, and followed a similar ‘download’ process.

        But…importantly…be sure to first scrub your own computer or company phone of any personal files/pictures/contact info that you need to save!!

        Also, I found it helpful that BEFORE giving my notice, I had prepped a list of ‘open’ or on-going activities. There is always a chance that they will simply ask that it be your last day, and having that list as well as having scrubbed your computer/phone would have been a necessary bare minimum. The week prior to giving official notice, I had even started slowly taking home random stashes of things like food/tea/office toys/decor that I had built up over the years.

        But yeah, write out your high-level activities. Drill that down to specifics. List any and all supporting documentation, maybe docs that you’ve created for yourself, and their location on the server.

        Detail any leftover hardware/kits/tools/company property that are not yours to take home, and detail where they can be located.

        1. my two cents*

          On a personal level, my last 3 weeks during my notice was a lot of shared eye-rolling with my direct manager. She knew I was making about 40% less than the other engineers, but not being technical herself she wasn;t ever really sure how to support me specifically. Our ‘customer support’ team, 4 women – purchasing, manufacturing/testing, customer support (me!), and our general ‘operations manager’, carried a majority of the daily workload ‘weight’. We were an awesome and nimble team, and we never hesitated helping one another out. Production needs help testing boards? Okie dokie – I’ll hop in the back warehouse with her, and we’ll program and test some stuff!

          We also had 9 other people in the office with us – 6 staff/dev engineers, 1 QA guy, their ‘direct’ manager, and our site’s ‘general manager’…but the staff engineers took full-advantage of the lack of technical prowess of the management team, often inflating timelines and over-complicating designs.
          Op Manager – “MyTwoCents…where is the data sheet at?”
          me – “oh, you know…LL says they’re still working on the pin-out diagram.”

          Op Manager – “Okie dokie, will jot that down. So, where’s the at?”
          me – “well, had called a design review for it, and claims that it will take 4 weeks before they can schedule the work…because they’re so…busy….”

          I loved that job. I loved everything I did, and I really cared deeply about the customers, our products, and my ‘customer service’ team. The direct engineering manager and the general manager could have cared less if I stayed, and I think they felt my ‘support’ role didn’t quite align with our location being a ‘development center’, and they had never planned on replacing me.

          After I had left, the company ended up merging with another large competitor. About 2 months after the merger, they deemed that location redundant and it was completely closed another 6 months later.

    3. Future Analyst*

      Don’t try to compile 4 years of knowledge into 2 weeks! :) It’ll drive you crazy, and the list will never fully be complete. What you can do: wrap up outstanding projects (and really, that might mean handing them off to others with proper instructions, since you may not have time to actually finish all the work), document the need-to-know items, and clear out your desk. In my experience, all of that alone will take the two weeks (YMMV), but it’s important not to try and cram 160 hours of work into two weeks. You certainly don’t want to leave people hanging, but it’ll be okay to hand things off. Congrats on the new gig!

      1. Adlib*

        This! Do what you can. Enjoy the last weeks there and maybe spend time outside the office with your team to properly thank them and say your goodbyes. (YMMV if this isn’t something that appeals to you. Definitely try to stay in touch!)

    4. Jimbo*

      I always made sure to create a procedures manual or “how to” guide for doing my old job. This includes step by step procedures for technical, multi-step tasks, usernames and passwords to important accounts, a guide to finding important files and folders in the intranet or in the shared files folder. I printed out a copy and collected the info in a binder and also put an electronic copy in a thumb drive. I gave both to my boss about a week prior to leaving. And if the boss needed me to go through the files or the documentation I also gave him/her a run through to make sure they can locate things or understand the manual.

      1. Boop*

        Exactly. I learned my first job by having someone sit there and teach me. That process was not efficient, and definitely not the best method, so within a few months I had started my first process manual. Now it’s standard practice on my team to have a binder with processes and instructions (and screenshots! Boss loves screenshots).

    5. theletter*

      I had to do the two week wrap up about a year and half ago. What worked best for me was setting up knowledge transfer sessions for my peer teammates using overly-detailed powerpoint presentations and telling them that anything moving forward was really up to them – I only had suggestions. The components were projects, teammates, and processes. The knowledge sessions allowed my teammates to ask the questions they needed. In my case, there were some misconceptions that a certain project was a lot bigger than it was, so I think I spent a lot of time explaining that.

      I also had a major deadline on my last day, and I worked right up to it, got it done, and then I clocked out and said ‘not my monkeys, not my circus’.

      I had loved the job and the people I worked with, but I had some problems with the leadership and we were missing a management level. After a meeting with the CTO, I got a sense that management wasn’t sure how my team really fit in with the rest of the department. I think he was trying to say “shape up or ship out” but it came off as “your team is basically expendable as far as I can tell.” I hadn’t had a whole lot of professional growth in the past two years, and my team wasn’t listening to my suggestions on how we could improve, so I was spending a lot of time cleaning up after them instead of improving myself. It was tough, but I realized I just had to move on.

      I don’t have a lot of buddies at my new job, but the work is more aligned to how I prefer to do teapot design, and I get to do far more technical work with access to a better set of tools and a quickly path to title upgrades. Plus I’m paid a lot more.

      Sadly, the old company was bought out (it was announced about a minute after I sent off the written offer acceptance for the new job). The new overlords are slowly choking the company to death, from what I hear, and my team never improved. The ‘great project’ that was always trying to get assigned to has essentially been sidelined, and the department is basically just bouncing from fire to fire. A lot of people are leaving or have left. I’m still in touch with my friends and we hang out often – and it’s nice to be able to talk openly about things since I no longer work with them.

      So, long story short: you’re leaving because something has changed, or something needs to change. In a year, the old company won’t be the same as it was, and neither will you. This time machine only moves forward.

    6. Sara*

      I left a job a couple years ago and wrote out an entire manual because they were hiring a temp to cover while they searched for a permanent replacement. It took the whole two weeks of me writing step by step instructions while doing processes.
      The temp took the manual home and then quit suddenly. And I went out of the country on vacation and was completely unreachable. But they figured it out in the long run (though I shot them a few emails when I came back). So I’m sure whatever you do will be great for them!

    7. Linzava*

      Don’t forget to remove any personal emails if you have any, I always end up taking over people’s emails to monitor and search for previous work. I once found and email thread of someone talking trash about me to her husband. No recommendations from me! Also, clean your desktop of anything personal and empty your recycle bin. Forward any important emails to your personal email, anything that you may need later.

      I make a list of personal items on and in my desk. On my last day, just check off everything as I pack it.

      I usually take the time to add up my vacation and what will be owed on my last paycheck. When they hand you your paycheck, you can alert them to any corrections then and there instead of the award phone call later.

    8. Tara*

      Also, make sure you save copies of your work for yourself of anything you might want as reference later. (Writing samples that can be viewed externally, tips on certain processes you may need later, that email that’s just hilarious and must be preserved for later amusement.)

    9. CM*

      Yes, do all the transition stuff — but when I left a job I loved, I also took the time to go to as many people as possible that I worked with closely, talk to them one-on-one, in some cases write them cards or leave them a little parting gift (like a gift-wrapped box of mints for the person who would always raid my candy bowl for them). It really helped me maintain relationships after I left. And it was funny to hear all the secrets that people were willing to tell me once they knew I was leaving! (“I’m interviewing too!” “I’m pregnant!” “Wakeen and Fergus are having an affair and I’ve been dying to tell someone!”)

    10. Bend & Snap*

      I actually turned in a transition plan with my letter of resignation, because I was leading 2 teams and 12 clients that needed homes.

      They accepted my whole proposal and the team that took 3 years to build took 2 days to dismantle. But it helped me leave on a good note.

    11. Turquoisecow*

      If it’s possible for your role, try to give at least one person a quick, in person crash course on the more complex or important task(s) that you do. If you can come up with or have actual paper documentation, that is of course wonderful and I highly recommend that*, but sometimes people learn by doing, or find it hard to learn from a written document. Having at least one person who can help your replacement figure out what you did will be super important.

      *The last few jobs I’ve worked at, there was virtually no documentation on how to do my job as well as many other jobs. You learned from your predecessor if you were lucky, or you learned from others who did similar work (but not the same). My current boss is very big on documenting the crap out of processes as we work on moving to a new software system – the current one has no instruction manual anywhere so if certain people leave or are unavailable you are literally unable to do their job. However, that’s a lot of work for two weeks!

    12. It's Business Time*

      I handed in my notice earlier this week and am currently working on a document on everything I do (I am using MS OneNote, to input everything, as I can drag and drop emails, s/sheets & word docs into it) . I have split it into different booklets (with separate tabs for the sub sections) for each type of area I work on and have instructions how to do each bit. I have a FAQ section that I have answers to the questions that people have emailed me over the years as a reference to whomever the replacement would be.

      I made sure I cleaned up all of my emails, my personal files on the computer etc and removed the history of the internet browsing and removed all saved passwords. All my personal items on my desk have already been removed and I have cleaned out all of the drawers etc.

    13. growth from challenge*

      I FEEL LIKE I WROTE THIS!!! The Kat, can we be instant friends?? Ha. I accepted a new job yesterday that is super exciting in a lot of ways, and will be a good challenge and new learning experience for me, but I’ve been at my current job for four years, it’s also great, and my boss loves me and I’m dreading telling him – plus my to-do list is SO long to try and make the transition as easy as possible for them.

      1. the.kat*

        Yes, I’m definitely up for being instant friends. It feels really good to read all of these and know I’m not the only one in this boat. I’m so dreading telling my boss but I HAVE to. It’s only fair.

        We’re going to make it. That’s what I keep telling myself.

        1. Linzava*

          I do have a little trick that helps when I’m trying to get up the courage to tell my boss I’m leaving. I take a notepad and write out all the reasons it’s important for me to leave. If it’s a toxic place, I write down the negative things I’m leaving behind. It really helps. Once you’re psyched up, take a breath, do it, and it’s over before you know it.

      2. growth from challenge*

        Agreed. Absolutely. And it’s scary (change is always scary), but we WILL make it. I keep telling myself that whole thing about growth comes from challenge, not from staying in your comfort zone. Thanks for the positive words and making me feel like I’m not alone! What was it that made you decide to leave?

        1. the.kat*

          Oddly enough, it was just time to go. I know that sounds like a cop-out answer, but it’s time to do something else. My new offer is great and it lets me learn to specialize.

    14. Kristin*

      I gave my notice and wasn’t allowed to tell my staff I was leaving. I spent the last few weeks really pushing new skills on them. I wrote up a list of contact information, logins, and procedures. I made sure employee files were up to date, looped upper management into anything that was going on, and thoroughly cleaned my office. I hate coming into a new place that’s got someone else’s used staples and dust!

    15. Piano Girl*

      I was laid off last year, with a two week notice. I had really loved the job, but the last year or so had become hard – the 1% raise had been a real sucker punch, coupled with a denial of a promotion request and an office remodel that excluded my tiny office. I had been considering looking for a new position, in spite of an anticipated move out of the state, so I had already started cleaning out my office and catching up my notes.
      My main project was transitioned over to the employee that I worked on it with. I put together a proposed separation of my duties and presented it to my boss, who was not happy that I was being laid off. She re-assigned some of my work but didn’t act on most of it. I had three big projects to finish off. Somehow I completed all three and handed them off to my managers for review.
      Looking back, I realize that I treated my employer much better than they ever treated me, and they knew it. I stopped by a couple of times to tie up loose ends, and enjoyed one last lunch out with my department after the busy season ended. After that, I turned my attention to new challenges in my life and moved forward. I have limited contact with some of my co-workers (primarily through Facebook) which has helped.
      Good luck with your transition!

    16. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      “I’m going to need to somehow compile my fours years of experience here into some kind of list so things don’t fall between the cracks. ”
      Accept that things will fall between the cracks. Accept that things you did may never be done by the next person. Accept that you are doing the best you can. And when you get to that point, go to your job description (if you have one, if not, make a list) and pull out the most important tasks you do. Focus on the procedures. Are they up to date and correct? Move on. Do not anticipate every contingency.
      When you finish the big, move to secondary. Repeat above steps.
      You didn’t have answers at your fingertips for every possible iteration of a workday when you started. You did fine. Make it easier for the next person, but be realistic. Brutally realistic. What can you do? What can’t you do?
      Think about what you expect to walk into on next job. What you want and what you reasonably can expect. Use that as a guide.

    17. rubyrose*

      A lot of wonderful ideas and approaches in the comments. What I would like to point out is that you should give your manager a very high level list up front, like on Monday or Tuesday, which shows an item and to whom you think it should go to. Put those items in most important to least important order. Phrase this in such a way that this is how you are going to proceed unless told otherwise. So if the day before you leave your manager is expressing displeasure over what you have done, you can point to the document (attached to an email) and point out that since you got no response, you proceeded as planned.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Definitely this! You might find that your manager has different ideas about priorities.

    18. DaniCalifornia*

      My coworker bff just left and I use OneNote extensively for all my notes. She lovingly put all her processes and email templates and notes she had written over the years into that for me. It’s nice because you can just search for a word and her notes pop up. Perhaps you could do that.

      Since I am job searching I’ve been putting in more of my own notes on things like:
      -notes about my specific clients and how their bookkeeping is done
      -daily things/weekly things/monthly things/quarterly things/once a year things (tax season prep is a beast and it’s hard to get into the groove when you don’t remember last year)
      -specific processes that only I do (my supervisor has an overall knowledge but hasn’t done these things in years) I want to leave them with decent instructions bc even though I should train someone in my role for 2-4 weeks my company won’t do that.
      -unfinished items on longer projects, what step I’m at, who are my contacts for that
      -passwords, log ins, website, all of my how to links that I’ve looked up for other people (bookmarked in a browser) that I am continually asked (I am pre-IT, if I can’t fix it then we call IT)

      1. Moonbeam Malone*

        This is very similar to how I approach this. (I mostly keep track of this stuff in Word docs though,which can admittedly get unweildy – do whatever works for you!) I like to keep a manual for my own reference as well, to be honest. When I was working on my manual at my current job I actually started a new document called “training outline” just to get an organized idea of what a new employee might need/want to know about the position. Get the abstract down before worrying about details – that way you can look at it and prioritize the things only you know over the things they can find out from someone else. I also like to make note of who in the organization can be contacted with questions on a particular project when it’s relevant. If I’m including information that falls out-of-date quickly I like to leave a note like “(as of 1/19/2018)” so you can get an immediate sense of whether the info is still current/accurate. On top of a procedural manual I also keep a list of frequent and infrequent contacts. How relevant that is depends on your position, but I have vendors and contractors I need to keep track of and I want to make sure that info’s all in one place for anyone covering this position for me or replacing me.

    19. H.C.*

      For me it was really business as usual until the last 2 days, when I updated my immediate supervisor and colleagues on outstanding work projects – as well as informing my usual business contacts that “X is my last day, it’s a pleasure working with you, for future inquiries about Y – please contact our office / my manager at ….”

    20. Ghost Town*

      I gave 3 weeks notice to my previous position in late April. I had been there just shy of 8 years and the position had done a lot of shifting in that time. I was also lucky in that a previous predecessor had written out a fairly comprehensive guide which each subsequent position holder updated. This was something I had taken to updating, at least to some extent, on a regular basis and then with some gusto as my own job search picked up steam.
      In my notice period, I did a lot of fine tuning of the guide, including adding in sections that were missing; thinking through the academic year and what tasks were done regularly but infrequently; creating process and contacts cheat sheets; divesting myself of account access; using issues that popped up as learning opportunities for the rest of my office; and so on.
      For pretty much anything that needed to be done in the short-term, the task was assigned to someone else in the office. As an office, an effort was made to think through larger-scale tasks I had done that would come up during a slightly longer-term (because even at the staff level, academic hiring takes forever) and those were also gamed out.

    21. Penguin Lifting Heavy Things*

      So today is my last day at a job that was mostly pretty good, but I’ve realized that there is little/no opportunity for growth or advancement (its a decent-sized nonprofit, but people either stay for a short time or forever) and I would basically be doing the same thing year after year after year. I liked the people I worked with though, so I’m still sad.

      Our department has been going through a major upheaval – I’m the fourth person out of seven leaving in like 2 months, so my boss has been scrambling. My last two weeks were basically me trying to shove as many design/computer tasks as I can into it (I’m under 30, so I’m the computer and design person), while also making excruciating instructions on things like Google Drive (not where things are located in Google Drive, but how to use it. I’m not kidding.).

      I just keep focusing on what I’m going to get at my new job – plenty of opportunities for growth and learning, killer vacation time, espresso machine … while still trying to appreciate everything I learned and did here (took some design courses, met interesting people in the community). Just remember there is a reason you are changing jobs. Congratulations and good luck!

    22. SleeplessInLA*

      I’ve changed jobs every 3-4 years since entering the work force so have plenty of experience here LOL. What has worked best for me is:

      1. Save ALL relevant past work that you may want to use in a portfolio or just keep for the future and send to your personal email for safekeeping. (I usually do this before putting in my 2 weeks notice b/c some companies quickly shut off Outlook or security access when they know you’re leaving.)

      #2. Write up a quick outline of your daily tasks from the time you turn on your computer monitor until you wrap up your EOD.

      #3. Create a cheat sheet from #2. Is there a specific login you need to access certain programs? Location of specific files on your hard drive or company Intranet? Any points of contact who help with X? etc.

      #4. Create a separate doc and list all projects you’re currently working on whether they’re upcoming or in progress and include a status update for the person who takes them over. Email #3 and #4 to your boss for them to pass along to your replacement.

      #5. If applicable, email all outside clients you’re working with to advise them of you departure and cc: their new point of contact.

      #6. Save any important phone #s or email addresses of friends and colleagues so you can keep in touch.

      #7. Gradually start taking personal items home and make your rounds saying goodbye.

      #8. Draft an Out of Office reply in the event your email stays active after your last day with a msg stating you’re no longer with the company.

      Lastly, don’t worry if things fall through the cracks! Do what you can to help your team but recognize this is no longer your job and the company will survive without you. Good luck!

  3. Kramerica Industries*

    My coworker will be moving to a new position within our small (8 people) team. Currently, we have similar job functions and are at the same level. The other day, he told me that we should set up time so he can train me on his tasks. When I suggested that we should wait for our manager’s direction, in case she wants to wait to bring in someone new for him to train, he said “Well then [the tasks] are going to fall off because I’m not doing it.” Again, I tried to nicely push back to say that all jobs have a bit of awkward transition time, but he said “it’s going to be your problem though because I’m not doing it.”

    Where I’m stuck is that I do believe he would do the tasks if our manager asked him to continue while he’s in his new role, so I’m not sure if this is actually going to affect my work. But I feel like his attitude was super dismissive and not team-oriented. I’ve already spoken to our manager before about his tendancy to pass tasks onto me that he doesn’t want to do (she was onside and asked him to stop), so I’m wondering if this interaction is enough to bring up to my manager. FWIW, I’m 5 years younger and female, so I’m starting to feel like he’s trying to power his way up to treating me like his underling. What are your thoughts? Is this bad attitude enough to raise to my manager, considering we’ve had a history of him treating me rather lowly?

    1. Soupmonger*

      Oooh, go straight to your manager and ask her what her plans are for this guys replacement. I’d tell her what he said about not doing tasks, because that’s enough of a crappy attitude that your manager should be aware. Ugh, what a creep.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      You absolutely need to bring it up to your manager. Not necessarily the attitude part, but it’s completely reasonable that your manager would be the one to dictate who is taking on what tasks.

    3. Laura*

      I’d bring it up. Not necessarily as a “he’s overstepping” kind of thing. But as a “Jojo says all his work will now be mine and he needs to train me on this. I wanted to get direction.” Then you can raise concerns about workload, etc.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      Yes, tell your boss, but make it about you proactively bringing up a work issue that will need to be resolved (because, unless his current tasks are phased out, someone *will* need to pick them up, either you or someone else) rather than complaining about your coworker. I’d say something like “Fergus has approached me about picking up tasks X, Y, and Z once he transitions to his new role. I just wanted to see whether that’s what you have in mind going forward, or if there’s a different plan in place.”

      Hopefully your manager DOES have a plan — if not, this had better jog her into coming up with one — and will realize that she needs to say what that plan is to Fergus and anyone who will be assuming his tasks going forward. It will also alert her to rogue Fergus trying to do her job for her, which hopefully she will step on.

    5. Anony*

      Aak your manager if your three can set up time to come up with a transition plan so that you are all clear on what tasks you will be taking on and what tasks he will be keeping until a replacement is brought in. You don’t need to frame it as him pushing more work on you. If you feel uncomfortable meeting together, you could ask to meet with your manager, just the two of you, to discuss how his promotion will impact your workload. Then you will know how much you can push back against his training you to take over his tasks.

    6. Alice*

      I wish I was less team-oriented…. Although there’s plenty of space between “not too team-oriented” and “dismissive jerk,” which is where you co-worker seems to slot in. My take is — it’s smart for him to want to plan who will take over the tasks associated with his old position, but he should be having that conversation with your manager, not going straight to you. Maybe a good tack is to go to your manager, not about his attitude, but about whether she wants you to take on these tasks.

    7. Kramerica Industries*

      Just for clarity, I’ve already sat down with my manager and she’s aware that we still need to come up with a solid plan.

      I think I’m wondering more about whether to raise his bad attitude since this seems to be a bit of a pattern that myself and other coworkers have raised before.

      1. CM*

        As Laura suggests above (“Jojo says all his work will now be mine and he needs to train me on this. I wanted to get direction”), I’d just state the facts rather than implying he has a bad attitude. You could add something like, “…because when I talked about his transition, he said that he wouldn’t be doing any of his current tasks once he starts the new position” if you want to really drive it home.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Rather than making the general statement of having a bad attitude, why not just repeat what he said about this specific situation. “Bob said the tasks will fall behind because he refuses to do the tasks.”

        Don’t cover for people. If someone says, “I ain’t doing this fn task” tell the boss word for word. “Boss, I was wondering if you wanted me or someone else to take over Task(s). Bob said point blank, ‘I ain’t doing this fn task.’ I am concerned here.”

        Conversely, feel free to say, “I have to check with the boss on that”,any time someone tries to pawn work off on you. I don’t mean someone who actually needs help and I don’t mean the people who are asking for a once in a life time bail out. I am talking about known slackers. Just tell them, “Let me check with the boss to see what her priority is for me.” More than half the time, the known slacker will go ask someone else instead.

      3. Luna*

        I agree with the other commenters, this isn’t about his attitude so much (though he does sound like a jerk), but more about the fact that he appears to be undermining your boss- she says a plan is still in the works, and he is going behind her back and trying to get you to do his own plan instead.

        I would say something like ” we spoke before about coming up with a plan- Fergus told me the other day that the plan is for me to take over all his work and he is starting to train me on that. I want to confirm with you first that this is the plan that has been decided on.”

        1. Thlayli*

          It’s not that a plan is “still in the works” it’s that she hasn’t come up with a plan at all yet. Which he presumably is also aware of – there’s no reason to assume he hasnt asked manager what to do and been given the same response OP got – “I don’t have a plan yet”.

          He’s being a jerk about it, but if you ignore the way he said it and listen to what he’s actually saying, he’s simply pointing out that he isn’t going to continue doing his old job after the transfer, so he’s saying I can either do a handover on these tasks now or they won’t get done after I leave. Which isn’t an unreasonable request, however unreasonably it was phrased.

          Of course OP you have the right to refuse unless you manager tells you to accept the handover, but he presumably doesn’t have to continue doing them unless his new manager explicitly makes them part of his new role. So unless your manager can convince his manager to make them part of his new role, they just won’t get done and won’t be handed over.

          It sounds like your manager is the real jerk by failing to come up with a handover plan. Seen this a million times; someone leaves, doesn’t do a proper handover, and the next person has to figure it out from scratch. It’s much easier to do a handover now, then that person does a handover to the new person, than to have no handover at all.

          OP give some serious consideration to what will happen if he and his new manager refuse to continue having him do his old job. Will your manager then tell you to do it while she searches for a replacement? If so you will then have to go to him asking for a handover to which he will reply “I offered to teach you to do this weeks ago; you refused; now I’m too busy with my new role”. You’ll have to either figure it out from scratch or else you’ll be in the position of having to beg for the handover you are now refusing.

          Tell your manager your concerns and tell her she needs to come up with a plan for handover asap.

    8. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      You’ve seen him do it before. Trust your eyes and ears. He is pushing work he doesn’t want to do onto you. He is telling you to leave out your manager. He is telling you that he is not going to do it. He is implying that you will get stuck with it anyway, because “it just won’t get done.”*
      Well, that’s not for him to decide. That’s for the manager. Let the manager know what he told you and handle it from there.

      *hell yes, this is a power play. Like you are going to feel bad, worried, guilty that work isn’t getting done and you’ll just pick up the slack.

    9. Jam Today*

      His attitude is probably from lessons hard-learned, I’d leave that part alone. The fact is, it *won’t* be his job, and there is no reason why anyone should expect to keep doing his old job at he same time he’s doing his new job (unless they pay him for both jobs.) I have no idea what his timeframe is, but if he’s moving to a new position in a matter of a few weeks, and they still haven’t interviewed anyone to replace him… its going to be your job.

      TBH, I really admire his dedication to drawing boundaries and keeping them.

  4. Sunflower*

    I’m wondering what ya’ll would do in my situation. I’ve mentioned my desire to move to NYC from Philly and how I frequently travel to NYC for work. Now that I’m starting to get requests for in person interviews, I’ve found myself in a bit of conundrum. Ideally, I’d get myself to NYC(on my tab), work out of the NY office and take PTO/make up my time for my interviews. However, this would be pretty hard to do without my boss having suspicions to what’s going on. My boss is relatively new and I get the vibe she is a bit of a butt in the seat manager. I could just take days off but eventually they will run out. Plus we’re busy at work and I don’t have the capacity to take whole days off.

    My grandboss knows I’m not thrilled with work, she knows I have interest in moving to NYC but the firm doesn’t want to pay the higher salary. At this point, it seems to make the most sense to let her know that moving there has become a priority and asking if I can work out of the NY office more frequently. I’m nervous she may flat out ask me if I’m job searching- which I think would be her gauging my unhappiness as opposed to trying to get me out the door. I’m tempted to say ‘yes’ because obviously it would be great if they could be accommodating. But of course I’m terrified it could end up backfiring on me.

    I’m leaning towards being honest with my grandboss on my plans. What would you do? Is there an option I might be missing here that might work for me?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I feel like the fact that you are relocating to a different city makes the whole “yes, I’m looking for another job” thing less… potentially problematic. I could be wrong though. I think it would make sense to loop in boss and grandboss and say “this is my timeline for moving to NY. since I am unable to transfer within the company, I am trying to obtain employment in the city and hope that I can work out of that office occasionally to facilitate my interviews and other moving preparation”.

    2. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      From my manager’s perspective, I think you’re better off just asking your direct supervisor for time off as these interviews come up or making a pitch on how going to New York benefits the company and not because it helps you get a new job.

      I manage 2 supervisors and a team of front line workers. As a manager, it’s really important for me to give my supervisors their own voice. And whenever a front line worker comes directly to me, I always ask “what has your boss said about this?” It’s important for me to establish that front line workers can’t just go over their boss’s head to get to me. Also, it’s important to me to gauge what the boss will do and how she handles the situation–what her voice will be in this situation.

      Sunflower, if your grand boss is a good manager, I imagine your grand boss will do the same thing and refer you back to your boss. Also, as a new boss, your direct supervisor may very well feel like you’ve gone over her head and is likely to say no to PTO requests because of it. It’s tough being a new supervisor, and it takes time to develop good skills. And unfortunately, there are employees who try to take advantage of a new boss, so when you first become a boss, you tend to say no to things you’d say yes to 20 months later.

      From the boss and grand boss perspective, they have to look out for the company’s interests, and if having you work out of New York even for just a few days isn’t in the company’s interests, then they won’t do it, regardless of how accommodating your grand boss may feel because of their personal feelings towards you. So if you’re going to make a pitch for working out of New York for a day or two, you have to make it all about the company–they will save on costs, they will get increased profits, etc.. If it won’t benefit the company at all, then I think you’re better off asking for a day here and there.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      One way you might be able to handle the job search question is by saying, “Eh, we all look from time to time. It’s good to have a fair idea of what is going on out there.”

      She may repeat the question because she may realize this is not an answer. Then you can say, “Sure, I am not exception to that rule of thumb.”

      If she asks you if you plan on leaving, unless you have a job offer in hand you cannot plan to leave.
      Splitting hairs? Maybe. But a good boss has a plan in place to replace any of her employees at any time. It’s her job. It shouldn’t matter that much what your plans are.

  5. Awkward anon*

    My manager was subject to accusations from of my coworkers. It got proven based on witnesses and email archives that it wasn’t true and my manager wasn’t even present at the time. My manager came back from suspension on Monday. She has jumped right back into work. There’s so much tension since she has come back especially when she is in the same room or area as my coworker. The company put out a statement reiterating my manager has been cleared and what my coworker said was false and that she apologized and they expect us to move on and be professional and not gossip. But it is so awkward. I sit between my managers office and my coworkers desk. How should I handle this situation and the awkwardness? I have no control over what my manager or coworker does. Every day since she is back u have felt embarrassed and anxious second-hand and I doubt the tension or awkwardness will be going away soon. It’s so brutal right now. Thanks in advance to anyone who reads/responds.

    1. fposte*

      I know this is easier said than done, but if what if you chose not to find it tense and awkward? Leave it as a thing for those two to work out and don’t take on the emotions yourself. Don’t leave yourself open as an audience for discussion of the situation, don’t become an intermediary, focus on the work.

      1. Awkward anon*

        Thanks for the suggestion. My work overlaps with my coworker a lot and things are intertwined. I can’t avoid my coworker or my boss but I will try what you suggested as much as possible.

        1. Specialk9*

          Try to don serenity as a cloak. You do not have to take on managing their emotions, or being hypervigilant for their awkward interactions, or listening to either talk about the other. This is one of the hardest and most truly freeing lessons I got in therapy.

      2. Augusta Sugarbean*

        Agreed. If the coworker was addressing what she thought was a legit problem and not being backstabby or anything, she probably is feeling embarrassed. And the manager is obviously feeling awkward. I suspect they both want to pretend the whole thing never happened and you can help the situation by just getting back down to business. You aren’t in a position to actually fix the situation. This seems like a good thing: the responsibility of this weird problem doesn’t fall on your shoulders. Let them manage their emotions.

        I remember the feeling when my brother and sister were in trouble with Mom & Dad and I was the good kid. Channel that and you can be all “La la la! Not my problem. I’m doing an awesome job on this project. Here comes my excellent performance review!”

        1. RVA Cat*

          It sounds like the healthiest headspace for you would be to see it as a misunderstanding where neither of them did anything wrong.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      Have there been no consequences from coworker making (and probably knowingly making, right?) a false accusation against your manager besides an apology?

      I think what you can do is make sure it’s clear you’re on your boss’ side, both because she was in the right AND she’s your boss. Give boss your support, make things as easy for her as possible, and don’t give a shirt if your coworker is uncomfortable.

      1. Awkward anon*

        My coworker had to apologize but that’s it and that’s part of why my boss is upset. I do support my boss but my coworker’s stuff and mine overlap so much I have no choice but to be around her and interact with her all day. I can’t do my work without her or I would completely ignore her.

        1. Jesca*

          Wow, that sucks. Boo to your employer then for keeping someone who lacks so much integrity. I mean unfortunately your coworker (and your employer by keeping them) has created a pretty crappy work environment!

          But as far as your question, I would just try to consciously play it up like no tension exists.

          Me personally? I would probably limit my non-work conversations with the employee as well, because if this person chose to lie in such a way before, who is to say they won’t do it again? And the likelihood that they will is probably very high. I myself would likely have already expressed my concerns, professionally, to HR, my manager, and her manager as well in regards to this employee and having to work with her. But if you don’t want to go that route, I wouldn’t say anything except if I were directly asked by someone why I only engage professionally with said employee.

          1. Observer*

            The employer may be worried about retaliation claims. And with good reason. There is a VERY high bar for punishing people who make false claims of harassment.

            1. Jesca*

              I understand your point, and I just disagree. You cannot go through life not punishing people for obvious, clear integrity issues which is what is said here.

              1. Wintermute*

                We don’t know that these accusations were malicious, I think we (and the OP) should assume good faith and presume that these things CAN happen. One real-life example I recall involved a texan prone to using the phrase “rode hard and put away wet”– which is a horse-related term for how bedraggled and matted and unkempt a horse looks after you ride it hard, to the point it is sweating, and put it away without a chance for its hair and mane to dry and without brushing it out and grooming it– But you can easily see how someone could take that to be a very sexual term!

                Once the origin of the phrase was explained, and wikipedia consulted, horrified feelings were soothed and the manager was given a “hey, not everyone knows horsemanship and ranch terms, try to be careful using colorful farm idioms when your audience may not be aware of the etymology of the term” and the offended was told to ask in the moment before assuming something is filthy, and that was that.

                Now that may be assuming a bit TOO much good faith, especially if name calling or accusations of it were involved, but it’s possible no one made a bad-faith complaint here.

                Also, because the bar for bad faith is SO HIGH many companies will try to “play it safe” by not punishing anyone, unfortunately this opens them up to legal attack from the other direction for being so weak-spined, so it goes.

                That said, anon– this person has proved they are potentially unsafe, I wouldn’t be alone with them if the other choice was a hungry mountain lion, I’d watch my language and tone, and I’d make sure to get my interactions documented in writing rather than informally/verbally if at all possible, or get witnesses when I can.

                1. Wintermute*

                  Okay we have more data now. This was a malicious attack.

                  This person is unsafe, if given the choice between an unfed mountain lion and her, choose being in a room alone with the lion. Give her no room to insinuate anything and document yourself meticulously.

            2. Specialk9*

              I don’t understand. Retaliation is punishing someone for making a true claim. It is very much NOT about protecting someone who was proven to have made a deliberately false claim.

              1. Natalie*

                I think Observer is speaking to the risk of a specious retaliation and/or the optics, not necessarily the reality of the situation.

          2. Anion*

            Personally, I’d be tempted to do my best to make sure I have a witness for any interaction with this co-worker. As you said, don’t take chances with liars and false accusers.

        2. Observer*

          Not your circus, not your monkeys.

          You have some valuable information about your coworker and about your company. Keep that in mind, but there is nothing you need to do about this situation. Treat her as you would treat any other person you work with that you’re not especially fond of – polite, collegial and professional, but also cool. Not frosty, just not friends.

    3. OperaArt*

      Treat both of them professionally and politely.
      Don’t turn this into your problem or something you need to fix. It isn’t. They are responsible for their own interactions.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. You need to be Switzerland here, not take sides, or at least not appear that you’re taking sides. I also wouldn’t discuss it if the coworker brings it up.

        1. Artemesia*

          I wouldn’t be Switzerland. The co-worker lied to get the boss in trouble. I would talk to the boss about the awkwardness and note that since the co-worker will be continuing in the department and you need to work with her that you will try to be pleasant and neutral all around as you recognize it is awkward. But touch base with the boss and be very very careful around the co-worker. (I am assuming you agree the boss was blameless i.e. that it wasn’t just a matter of whitewashing him)

          1. Augusta Sugarbean*

            Do we or Awkward Anon know the coworker lied though? Maybe I missed it in the questions but it seems like people are assuming it was done maliciously. It seems entirely possible that coworker though the boss was legit in the wrong and thought she was doing the right thing.

            1. Awkward anon*

              My manager was not in the office and was in a different city when my coworker said the event happened. The witnesses and email backed up my manager per the company statement. There was no email from my manager as my coworker claimed. The statement from the company was unequivocally clear that it never happened. My coworker admitted to lying in her apology.

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                I would still stay out of it. These are some pretty intense office politics and you do not want to be involved. Be professional and polite to everyone.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  Exactly. None of this has anything to do with Awkward Anon, so her going to the boss and pledging allegiance is doing exactly what the company asked everyone not to do – continuing an issue that was already dropped and gossiping.

              2. Augusta Sugarbean*

                Thanks for clarifying. Definitely agree with the advice to stay neutral. Your manager will appreciate you focusing on work and you will be doing all you can to stay clear of lying coworker. Good luck.

              3. anonynony*

                I would not mention anything about it to anyone, I would not address the awkwardness or work around it in any way. I’d just plow through, doing what I do every day, except with maybe a little extra attention to documentation–coworker should know by your actions and attentions that falsehoods of this magnitude will not go unnoticed.

                1. Specialk9*

                  I suspect that was exactly the lesson the co-worker learned, or rather that blatant lying to frame a manager will have no consequences. I would consider her emboldened to do so again without fear of repercussions.

    4. rldk*

      You may want to practice phrases of polite deflection in the event that coworkers (or others!) try to pull you into a discussion about the incident in any way – something like “I’d rather not discuss it” or “Now that it’s been addressed, I’d prefer to not continue talking about it” and then pivot to work talk if needed. If your coworker tries to drag you in on one side or the other, you should feel free to ignore it – it’s not your problem!

    5. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

      Could the tension you feel be imagined? I’m reminded of the Friends episode where Rachel told her boss that she and Ralph Lauren kissed. It never happened but when he stepped on the elevator with them, even there was no conversation and there was legitimately no history for tension her boss read the silence as something other than it was.
      It’s likely that there is tension, but it’s possible that your own feelings about the people involved and the situation may have made the tension feel like more than it is.

      1. Awkward anon*

        The tension is definitely not imagined. My manager is upset my coworker only had to say sorry and wasn’t disciplined and she still has to manager her and can’t fire or transfer her. My coworker is flustered and wary since her falsehood was caught and the manager is now back.

        1. Lisa*

          Ugh. Being forced to manage someone without the ability to fire or transfer is very challenging! And I think your manager is justified in being upset that only an apology was requested.

          To be honest, I wouldn’t be friendly with your co-worker right now. I mean, be polite and work with her, but you don’t have to make her feel better. She *should* feel wary and uncomfortable and it’s not your job to mitigate that, no matter how closely you have to work with her. If she makes things difficult because of that, document, document, document. She already has a black mark against her, she should be on her best behaviour moving forward.

          Also, I would talk to your boss to see if there’s anything else she’d like you to take on. It may be that there are projects that require more integrity that she would consider putting you on.

        2. WellRed*

          I can’t believe your company expects the two to continue to work together. I realize there may be no other options, though.

        3. Lilo*

          Your poor manager. It is absurd to ask her to continue supervising someone who lied about her. Your upper management needs a reality check.

        4. Lora*

          It sounds like upper management is very definitely worried that no matter what their internal finding, your co-worker may challenge it later or escalate to EEOC and they want to have their butts covered to show that they didn’t do anything which could be even slightly construed as punitive in any way.

          In order to file an EEOC claim of sexual harassment, you have to go through the motions of using the company’s internal method for addressing complaints. So, she did that part. The company didn’t find in her favor. Which isn’t surprising – they often don’t, regardless of what evidence exists or doesn’t exist.

          She now has to *at least temporarily* accept what the company has given her and decide if
          1) she wants to stay there
          2) she wants to escalate to an EEOC claim
          3) she wants to call a lawyer.
          None of these options really precludes the other. She can do all of them or none of them. The option the VAST majority of women take is to leave the company and then do nothing, because options 2 and 3 are very much career-limiting. They should not be, but they are, so that’s a choice she has to make for herself based on what resources she has.

          Your boss is going to have to deal. That’s why they get paid the big bucks. Be as blandly professional as possible. There is literally nothing for you to do otherwise.

          1. Tillerton*

            Per the details OP posted in their replies here, the boss was in a different city and the coworker has admitted to lying. So the boss is being forced to manage someone who tried to set her up on false sexual harassment claims. Name calling too. That’s an untenable position for the boss no matter how much money she gets paid.

            1. Observer*

              Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. It’s illegal to retaliate – even when the claim turns out to be not true. And apparently, even when the claim is malicious.

              Some links in the response.

              1. Observer*


                Participating in a complaint process is protected from retaliation under all circumstances. Other acts to oppose discrimination are protected as long as the employee was acting on a reasonable belief that something in the workplace may violate EEO laws, even if he or she did not use legal terminology to describe it.

                (EEOC PDF)

                Protection against retaliation applies even if
                the original complaint or charge was untimely
                or was found to lack merit.

                I did some more checking – he employer could probably win if the employee sued, but they could wind up with an expensive law suit.

        5. Jane of all trades f/k/a anon accountant*

          Ugh! What a stressful situation. I’d try to pretend like you don’t notice the awkwardness, and be polite and professional with both. Definitely don’t share anything personal or get too close to the coworker, for 2 reasons: 1. you don’t want to get sucked into her drama, which could be risky since she clearly has no integrity 2. you don’t want your manager thinking that you are close to this person.
          I’d not bring it up with the manager unless she does, because this is probably a really painful experience for her, and she might welcome being able to just focus on her work and go back to doing her job. Hopefully she has a good support system to help her through this bs. You can’t be that, but you can be the person at work who is upbeat and professional, doesn’t tiptoe around her and doesn’t bring it up.
          Good luck!

    6. Tillerton*

      If I was you I would be doing everything I could to get out of there. No way I could work closely with someone who lied about sexual harassment, and for a company that does nothing about it.

    7. Recently Diagnosed*

      You sound a lot like me. If someone is upset or angry around me, I swear I can feel it and it’ll drive me up the wall. My trusty therapist calls this my empathy bone, and I’ve had to work on a couple of tools to shut that down since I can’t stop the emotions of others. I have two things that have worked for me so far. The first is simply walking away for a few moments when I feel overwhelmed. I take a walk around the outside of the building, blasting some music from my headphones.

      The other thing is a little more abstract, but when I CAN’T get up and walk, this has worked for me. I close my eyes at my desk and visualize myself on the top of a mountain. Below me, the emotions and awkwardness of the people around me flow like water around the mountain, but I myself am above it. Then, I focus on the mental image of walls rising up to shut out the “sound” of the weirdness. This visualization is supposed to help create mental “blocks” against the urge to empathize so closely with others that you sacrifice your own mood. YMMV, especially on this second one, but I have had some success with it.

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m the same way. I can’t ignore roiling emotions in others. But I manage by listening to a Jim Brickman piano station on Pandora most days, in headphones. I have guided meditation (Bonnie Groessel is my favorite) when I get stressed. And lots of herbal tea.

  6. SunshineSnickers*

    I’ve been having a rough few months at work and have been making mistakes/letting things slip through the cracks. Nothing huge but my boss has had a conversation with me about one project I need to get a tighter grip on.

    Every time a problem happens, my brain goes from “You made a mistake” straight to “You are a bad/horrible/terrible person and if you were a better person, this would not have happened.”

    My question – for those of you who recognize what I’m talking about, how do you break out of this pattern?

    1. grace*

      I’ve been having this problem, too. My manager is flexible about it — I’m “imaginative” enough that my mistakes are at least different things, not the same ones over and over again — but I keep having to break myself out of the same loop you’re talking about.

      For me, I go on runs – inside, lately, due to the cold :'( – or talk my thoughts out to a willing-to-listen sounding board (I’ve bought my SO some nice gifts lately, lol).

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I have a colleague who struggles with that. He has a diagnosis of anxiety and is also in therapy. I’ve told him that he can come to me if he needs to talk but I have noticed an improvement since he has started the combo of therapy/medication.

      Good luck! Everyone makes mistakes.

    3. fposte*

      CBT advice for that is restatement–what, for instance, would somebody you respect and admire say about your error that wasn’t “You are a bad person”? It doesn’t mean leaping to complete exculpation, but good managers really don’t tell people they’re a bad person–what would you tell someone about a mistake if you were managing them?

      1. Thursday Next*

        I do a version of this, in which I imagine what I would say to a dear friend, someone I care about and want to support. Depending on the situation, I might imagine what I would say to one of my children (it’s always much nicer than anything I’d say to myself!). The idea(l) is to get to the point where I feel like I can offer *myself* the care and support I’d give someone else without these mental gymnastics.

    4. KR*

      I have this issue too. For me, it’s an anxiety issue for sure. I’m not in therapy but have been considering going.

      I talk to my husband and he is good at pep talking me and telling me that it’s just my anxiety talking. I also try to cut off that train of thought when I hear myself going down that route, so when I start feeling down on myself I intentionally think to myself, “Manager is being straight with you. He thinks you’re doing good. It’s okay. You can do it. You will bounce back from this. Don’t panic.”

      I’m in the same boat trying to deal with this. Hope this helps.

    5. Anony*

      The best way I have found to deal with it is look forward, not back. If I find myself dwelling on what I did wrong I instead make a list of what I need to do right now, because I can’t go back and change what is already done.

    6. Princess Carolyn*

      Consciously change the way you talk to yourself. Tell yourself you’re smart and capable and ready to prove it. Say it out loud if you need to.

      This is also a good time to re-evaluate your systems, like creating (or revamping) checklists, adding reminders to your calendar, double checking stuff you typically wouldn’t, that kind of thing. Be slightly more conscientious than you think is necessary.

      1. zora*

        This is the technique my therapist has me doing for this exact thing, and honestly, with more practice it is becoming easier and easier each time.

        I sat down and wrote out some positive responses to those negative thoughts. “Everyone makes mistakes, [reminder of a time my boss made a small mistake], it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person” “I am not a bad person, I care about doing things right, and I do my best to do things right.” “I am a smart and capable person and my boss appreciates my work, she is not going to fire me, she understands that everyone makes mistakes and that I can try to do better next time.”

        I made myself a list of them. And when the negative thoughts happen, I literally take out my notebook and rewrite those positive responses. It felt weird at first, it didn’t feel like I was internalizing it, but I did it anyway. And the more I’ve done it, the more it’s become a habit and now I sometimes immediately have the postive thoughts automatically without even having to remind myself! It really is like a muscle that gets easier the more you practice.

    7. Boop*

      I have this exact problem, and it has caused serious anxiety issues. It’s a work in progress, but here are some things I’ve discovered.

      1. Consider therapy and/or medication. Even if it’s just short term, it can help.
      2. A support system is essential – SO, parents, siblings, friends.
      3. A leisure activity that has nothing to do with work can help you disengage and recharge. Ideally something that also engages your mind or keeps you mentally on point.
      4. Podcasts. Listening to podcasts helps me engage my mind in something else so I don’t obsess about work. Falling asleep, in the car, even at work.
      5. When you’re having a serious episode, do something else for a few minutes. I was having a really rough morning last week (crying at my desk for no reason), so I took a little walk. Changing your environment is enormously helpful!
      6. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect, and your boss understands that. We all have difficult times in our lives.
      Forgive yourself for what has already happened and learn from it going forward.

    8. Queen of the File*

      Sometimes if I’m really ruminating on something I write it down as something to think about later. “Making mistakes is getting me down. Need to concentrate on acing this project so no time to worry right now. BF bad thought time to undecided future date.”

      This often gets my mind to put it to rest for the time being, and then I just never go back to follow up on the worry.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve saved emails where someone is praising me for something, and when I feel that way, I read them and remind myself that yes, I’m actually not an incompetent blob.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I had a former boss who called this the “Psychological Income File!” 20 years later, and I still have one for the rough days.

        1. K.*

          My boss at my first full-time job called this a “kudos folder,” and I’ve kept one ever since. There are going to be days at work where you want to run screaming out of the office, and the folder can help. They’re also good for annual reviews.

    10. CM*

      One thing that helps me is to think about how I would react if somebody else made the same mistake. I probably wouldn’t think they’re a terrible person. If it were somebody junior to me, I might wonder how I could help them.

      Even with coworkers that keep making the same mistake over and over, there are generally good things that they do to make up for that. I might be frustrated with them at times, but overall I still like working with them.

      I still get that pit in my stomach, but reframing how other people might see my mistakes often helps.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Therapy. That’s been the best solution for me. I suffer terribly from exactly what you describe, and it got worse at my last job. At that place, every mistake WAS framed as a personal failing. It’s been a hard, hard thing to get past, but I am almost there. My therapist helps me to fully comprehend that my mistakes don’t make me a terrible person, and no one who sees my mistakes thinks I’m a terrible person. They are just mistakes, and we take them and learn from them and move forward.

      The other thing, which can be more immediate, is focusing on a hobby. Something outside of work that takes the overwhelming importance off of work. Especially if it’s something you’re good at. :) It sounds so mundane, but for me, this can be a great rehearsal with my group or a successfully baked loaf of bread. For me, organized activities are best (I can establish myself as a strong team member or a leader), but solo hobbies also work. Say, knitting– the feeling of accomplishment you get when you make a knitting mistake and fix it well can be very healing.

      1. LifeOrDeath*

        My last job did the same to me. It got to a point that I started hiding my mistakes if I caught them in time to do so. The owners were screamers and I still get a sinking feeling when I think about them. Now I have a job where I am praised for the quality of my work and part of my job IS to deal with mistakes, mine and others, so I treat my collegues mistakes the way I would like mine to be addressed – with kindness and with speed – and I own my own. I also keep one of those e-mail folders with uplifting e-mails.

    12. Spotcheck*

      Ooh, lord, this is so me. Therapy helped. Medication helps me more. I take a low-dose antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication and it’s made a world of difference in my brain.

      1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        Same. A break down at work over a minor mistake that spiraled into a massive panic attack was what pushed me to finally talk to my doctor about meds after years of therapy. They really helped me.

    13. Oranges*

      I did it by finding my fear, finding my worth and trying to take judgement statements out of my internal monologue. It was slow tough work. There wasn’t an easy fix for it.

      Finding my Fear: what exactly do I fear if I “let things slip”. For me it was ostracization. Then I went through it. I figured out what was the absolute worst thing that could happen in the realm of possibilities. Could I live through that? Yes? Then it became not an unknown quality or “The Worst Thing Ever” but a sucky thing that had a very small chance of happening.

      Finding my Worth: When I did the above I found a core group that no matter what I did would still sacrifice the world for my smile if they could. They didn’t care what I could do for them. They just wanted me to be happy. Then I said the world isn’t my responsibility, I am worthy if I just get through this life and make other’s lives a bit better. I am not superwoman.

      Blame/Value Statements: This is the hardest part. This is the little voice that tells you that you need to be perfect or else. Eg I have weird intrusive thoughts (my brain looooves trying to convince me I’m a pervert or a psycho). When I’ve had these in the past I’ve gone “What is WRONG with you” now I go “Hi brain, nice trick, yes that is gross/disgusting no I’m not turned on by it.” So I might go “Even [insert personal hero] messed up sometimes. I mess up sometimes and people will cut me some slack same as if [insert peer name] did it.” This will take time. The paths in your brain won’t like it. You’ll mess it up. But if you keep trying your mental muscles will become stronger and it will make living a hell of a lot easier. Trust me.

    14. Jesca*

      Ok I am going to say up front that what about I am about to say may sound really goofy, but it was the only thing that really worked for me!

      I read self help books on the issue! Ya know? Those new age ones all about operating on “higher frequencies” (I don’t go that deep with it, mind you). But really I went this route because I had gotten desperate. i had tried a couple different therapists who just did not seem to help. I was very mean and hard on myself all the time. It made me depressed and anxious and I always felt awful about myself.

      But back to the fru-fru books. What is nice about a lot of them is that they actually walk you through what many congitive behavior therapists walk you through. Some of the things you do is deep self reflection on what you were taught to believe or what you have thus far internalized about yourself AND THEN question them. Then they teach how to create positive affirmation to correct your internal dialogue with yourself. And example would be that when you make a mistake you replace “I am such a loser and moron” with “That did not go the way I planned. But I was operating what I knew or thought at the time. Now I can do better next time”. So see? No self blame.

      Other things they have you do is learn to love yourself just as you are and not look at yourself as being a failure in what you think you SHOULD be doing. Some of them also say believe in a higher power and that you correct your own physical ailments – stuff I just ignore and you can too! Or not. That is what I found to be wonderful about it personally. I could decide what was working for me while be given a step by step guide in how to correct my internal thought processes and personal dialogues.

      If you want some book recommendations, I could give some. If this isn’t the way you want to go, then you could find a good therapist!

      All I know is that I am so glad I did this for myself! Good Luck!

    15. SunshineSnickers*

      Thank you everyone for the kind words and suggestions!

      For some reason, I’ve always been a little reluctant to try therapy (never thought I had a big enough problem to warrant it) but I think it’s time now to start looking into it :)

      1. Recently Diagnosed*

        Let me tell you. I have no diagnosed mental illness, but my husband suffers from several. I always compared myself to him and figured that I was healthy. Finally, the unexpected death of a close friend nearly crushed me, so I made an appointment with a therapist a good friend of mine trusted. It has changed my life. As well as being diagnosed (twice) with adult ADD, I’ve discovered many unhealthy coping mechanisms I wasn’t aware I was leaning on that I’m working on rerouting. I’m of the opinion that every living, breathing human being should see a therapist at some point. Give it a shot.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        This is a bad comparison, but I get a monthly massage, even though I don’t have any severe back or muscle problems. But it makes my body feel better! And maybe avoids more serious issues.

        I feel like therapy is like that — maybe you just need a little shape-up, maybe you just need a dedicated ear. You definitely don’t need Serious Problems to benefit from it.

    16. Anon for this*

      Cognitive behavioral therapy.

      Basically, you have to create a new habit of a) catching yourself doing that and b) successfully re-directing.

      I recently lost a job, and I kept replaying the meeting over and over in my mind when I was trying to go to sleep. My therapist asked what I could think of that would distract me, and I would think of my cat. And after doing it a few times, it started to stick. Think the bad thought, then automatically think of the cat. It would break the cycle, and I could go to sleep.

    17. C38*

      Do not entirely connect your sense of self worth to your job performance. We all bad days/weeks/months at work, and there are a million things that can contribute to it- many of which are more out of your control than you may realize. Keep telling yourself that you’re a good person regardless of how many mistakes you make at work.

      Also, you may not be doing as poorly as you think. Keep in mind that its you’re boss’s job to point these things out because he wants you to strive to be your best, even if they aren’t a huge deal. EVERYONE makes mistakes from time to time.

    18. Agnodike*

      I try to talk to myself the way I talk to my sister, who is slightly error-prone. When I notice myself thinking harshly about something I’ve done, I remind myself I don’t judge her harshly when she makes a mistake; why would I do it to myself? It really helps.

    19. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      I have a question: how would YOU think of someone who did the same work that you do?

      Like, if you were your boss, and one of your employees was going through a rough time and was letting a few things slip, and it got to the point where you needed to talk to them about one of their projects, would you think that this hypothetical employee was a bad/horrible/terrible person, and if they were a better person, this would not have happened?

      I’m guessing that you wouldn’t. So I hope you can treat yourself with the same kindness as I hope you treat others with. (I’m a stranger on the internet, but I have a hunch I’m right about how you’d treat someone else.)

    20. Scubacat*

      I push my brain to try and think of the Mistake as an Opportunity. It’s tough, and you will still feel bad. However, I’ve found that to be helpful when shaking off a mistake.

      Phase 1: Mistake happens. Ahhh! Fudge buckets! I’m the worst employee in the history of paid Labour!”
      Phase 2: What went wrong? Where did it go wrong?
      Phase 2.5: I feel like such an idiot.
      Phase 3: Can I improve the system so that it doesn’t happen again? What can I do better next time?
      Phase 3.4 Humans make mistakes. I am an imperfect human.
      Phase 4: Improvement! Learning! Things are better than before!
      Phase 5: Old mistake will not happen again. I am prepared to learn from New Mistake.

    21. Not So NewReader*

      1) Pretend that you are talking to a friend. If you cannot say it to a friend then you shouldn’t say it to yourself either.

      2) When you catch you beating yourself up, apologize to yourself and state an affirmation. It’s helpful to have a list of affirmations that you circle through. I used to tell myself, “I can and I will fix this.” When I first starting taking control over this, there would almost be tears running down my face as I stated this affirmation.

      3) This brings us to fixing it. Each time you make a mistake, fix it. This sounds so simple, but it’s powerful over time. That is because you will begin to see yourself as a person who says, “Yeah, I made a mistake BUT I also know what to do to fix it.” My boss and I joke that we can fix anything because we have made every mistake there is.

      4) This one is the toughest one. For each mistake you make, find a way to prevent it from happening again. Your prevention technique for some things could to be just to re-read it. Other things you might find that you can compare the totals in column A to the totals in column B and nail down any possible errors that could happen.
      Sometimes I set things aside for five minutes and work on something else. When I go back to the first thing the mistakes jump out at me because I have fresh eyes.

      5) My last one is a little mind-bending. If your boss is telling you that you are doing a good job AND you tell yourself you are NOT, then you are basically saying the boss is a foolish person who does not understand the work. Lighten up. In all likelihood, the boss understands the work very well and understands that you can be beating your head against the wall every five minutes all day long. She knows this head-beating thing is part of the job. She signs your time sheet/paycheck. It is her decision to make that your work is fine. LET her decide that, don’t decide FOR her.

    22. Jane of all trades f/k/a anon accountant*

      In the moment: Can you make yourself a list of cool things you accomplished, victories, and things you did that you got great feedback for? You could look at that in really tough moments. I have a couple of emails and screenshots of texts from when people paid me a compliment that was particularly meaningful to me.
      Longer term: do you have a good support system that you can reach out to for comfort when you’re feeling low? Also, (and this may not be applicable in your case, but its worth a shot) I noticed for myself that bad times at work sting so much more when my life is not as well rounded as I’d like. When I have hobbies and other interests that are meaningful to me, and a good social group I am much more able to withstand a period of stress at work, because its not so all encompassing.
      Finally – I have had to talk to people about performance issues, and it has never caused me to think less of them. In fact some of these people reacted in a very positive way which caused me to think more highly of them. These are people who listened thoughtfully to the feedback and were interested in talking through the issue or had ideas on how to improve. From your post you sound like a professional and responsible person, so assuming that your manager isn’t some kind of a**hole they did not go into this conversation, or leave this conversation thinking “oh, Sunshine Snickers is a terrible person”. Everybody has a hard time at work from time to time. We get past them, and hopefully we can grow from them by increasing our resilience, or our skillset, or our ability to recognize our own mistakes and fix them.
      Best of luck to you, hopefully things get better very soon. In the meantime, don’t be too hard on yourself!

    23. Insufferable Bureaucrat*

      Do you have a coworker in the same/similar role who seems to be able to let mistakes/slip ups/stressful situations roll off their back like you wish you could? I’ve been where you are. Early in my career I had a very well respected slightly more experienced coworker in the same role as I, let’s call her Janice. Janice was somehow able to not be bothered by making mistakes we all do in our high pressure high stress role, (or at least seem to). I have no idea how, maybe she just hid her feelings of inadequacy better than the rest of us. What helped me is to try to become Janice when I make a mistake and/or let something slip up. When I start down mindset of “omg I’m terrible, how are they even paying me to do this, nobody will ever respect again” I literally say to myself: what would Janice do? Would she be freaking out? Would you think Janice is horrible/terrible/incompetent if she made the same mistake you did? Of course not. Be Janice. Janice wouldn’t freak out why should I, I’m just as good as Janice. Repeat as needed. Now I basically am Janice. I’ve heard from younger coworkers that they admire my ability to let things roll off my back but when the feelings come back I still go back to “what would Janice do”. Not sure if this would help you but it definitely worked for me

  7. Weird Interview*

    Weird interview experience last week. I was one of the top two finalists for a position as web manager for a nonprofit. I had gone through three phone interviews with the hiring manager and with the CEO. All these interviews went very well and I was repeatedly assured that I was an extremely strong contender and my skillset and experience were a solid match for the scope and needs of the job and the plans they had for the position.

    I had my fourth, in-person interview in two parts: one with the CEO and the other with a VP. The CEO part went very well. I came out of that interview feeling great, that I had impressed him and that this was a solid opportunity. The interview with the VP went horribly. The first thing out of his mouth was what do I know and what have I done in marketing. The job description, my previous interviews, and none of my previous conversations mentioned marketing as a requirement for the job! I was thrown for a loop by this surprise and it was downhill from there.

    Needless to say, I did not get the job. I asked the CEO for feedback after they sent me the rejection email and he said it came down to the other person having more supervisory and marketing experience.

    I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. In one sense I feel like I dodged a major bullet. Obviously the CEO and VP were not aligned with their expectations of the position. The VP’s strong focus on marketing was a curveball coming out of nowhere. If the CEO and the VP are not in agreement on the scope of the position, and if the VP were to have a major hand in managing me, it could only spell trouble if they had hired me expecting marketing skills and experience and I had little to none.

    On the other hand, I am stymied why this marketing focus came up all of a sudden at the last minute. Why on earth did they spring this at this late stage in the interview process? If they wanted marketing to be part of the mix of skills for candidates, wouldn’t it make sense for them to mention it much, much earlier? Is this a symptom of an organization that is a mess or has major communication issues behind the scenes?

    1. misspiggy*

      It might be that the VP had a favoured candidate, and pushed the marketing angle because the other person happened to have that experience. And then people in that situation act all like marketing experience was always central to the role. Infuriating, but not worth letting yourself waste any brain cells over.

      1. Triple Anon*

        Yeah. I’m thinking either that or the VP and CEO had different ideas about the job description. I’d call it an orange flag, a flying object dodged. It could signify major problems or it could be fairly benign. But it’s in the, “Their problem, not yours,” category, so I would just move on and count this as interview practice. Hopefully the experience will help you to interview better and you can put that to use to find a really good job.

    2. Anony*

      It could be that they added the marketing focus in either because the needs of the organization changed or because the other candidate had a strong marketing background and they realized that it would be beneficial. I wouldn’t read too much into it at this point.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Agreed. It’s really common to advertise a job and have some good candidates that bring something to the table that you hadn’t even thought about wanting. At that point, it makes sense to ask your other candidates if they have a similar background – fair is fair – and it also makes sense for that extra something to eventually be a make or break in a way they couldn’t have predicted. I don’t think you should automatically assume it says anything bad about the company (especially since they were pretty open about telling you why they ended up hiring the other person).

      2. Thlayli*

        I agree, most likely the other candidate had good marketing experience in addition to the listed requirements.

        The interviewer was a jerk though.

    3. chica*

      I suspect that you dodged a bullet. Also, it’s very possible that they were interviewing other candidates and the person with more marketing experience interviewed first and they ended up really liking that mix of experience and it brought up new possibilities for the role they hadn’t originally considered. So then, while interviewing you, he asks about your marketing experience as a compare/contrast with the candidate they’ve already talked to.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        It sounds like this is what happened, that the other candidate went first and the VP fixated on the marketing aspect as a way to differentiate, and prioritize, the other candidate.

        I’ve had that happen, where the job description and initial interview doesn’t mention something that later turned out to be the dealbreaker. It’s nothing I could have fixed in the moment, so I assume the job wouldn’t have been as good a fit as it first sounded and therefore no big loss.

        Still hard when you’ve invested that much time, though, I’m sorry.

        1. Jesca*

          I agree too! I think this is exactly what happened. They realized they other candidate had a skill they hadn’t thought of that may be beneficial to have in the long run and then went with it.

          I once interviewed for a job where the job add said one thing, but then after a couple questions I had, they realized they needed something else! In that instance, it worked for me as what they actually needed was my skill set and not what they had advertised. So, this could definitely happen.

    4. zora*

      Try not to fixate on this!!!! You have no way of knowing why this came up so late, and it could be no particular reason at all!

      – The other candidate went first and in reviewing their marketing experience the VP suddenly realized, that could be really helpful, even though they had never discussed that as part of this position.
      – This place could have REALLY terrible communication issues, and the VP completely thinks about everything differently than the CEO but neither of them can talk frankly with each other like grownups. You do not want to be in the middle of that! Can you imagine all the conflicting requests you could get as the web manager, and how frustrating that job would be?

      Anyway, regardless, it doesn’t really matter. It could have been caused by a million-trillion things and you have no way of knowing why, and either way you weren’t the best fit for the job. So TRY to let it go and just shrug and move on. I know, it’s easier said than done, but really agonizing over it will stress you out.

    5. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      I have four guesses!

      (1) Just as you said, the CEO and VP have different visions
      (2) Just as everyone else has said, the VP had a favorite.
      (3) The CEO and VP were on the same page but they don’t know how to post a job, e.g. leave off an important skill set for the position
      (4) They were on the same page and it was deliberate, e.g. they wanted a person with strong IT skills and some marketing skills and didn’t want to say “marketing” in the job posting because they didn’t want people who were really strong on marketing and medium-to-weak on IT.

      However, given that it came up only with the VP, I think it’s #1 or #2. And given the guesses, there is nothing different you could have done to change any of them.

  8. Future Analyst*

    Any tips for handling a manager who seems to have too much going on, but vacillates between being overly involved in things that we don’t need managed for us, while sometimes not answering our emails for weeks/months? On any given day, I spend about 50% of my time on easily managed, quickly fixed items (tickets that teams send do our dept), and 50% on longer term, big picture items. Some weeks, my manager gets super involved in the nitty gritty of the first lot (jumping in on emails, sometimes with inaccurate info, or otherwise being overly involved in the management of those tickets), and other times I have to follow up with her for 6 months for an answer (all while other stakeholders are waiting on me). The inconsistency is driving me batty, and short of leaving, I don’t know how to handle this.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Can you use a really clear deadline, not as a demand but as a request? “It would be great to have this answered by the 15th. Would that be possible? If not, what timeline would work for you?”

      This doesn’t do anything about her management style, and some people definitely treat deadlines as something to be agreed to and immediately forgotten about, but maybe it’s worth a try?

    2. CM*

      I have had this boss! For the overly-involved times, try to let it go, and manage the inaccurate info as best you can. For the disappearances, I would talk to her about this and suggest some solutions. You could say, “I’m having an issue where stakeholders are waiting on me when I need your approval. I understand that you have other priorities and can’t always respond immediately, but I’d like to be able to resolve these issues faster. Some ideas I had are…” and you can propose things like she delegates certain issues to you, or you can schedule regular one-on-ones where you bring her a list of items on which you need her input, or you can send emails like, “Please send me your feedback by the end of the day Thursday. If I haven’t heard from you, I will pass this on to the rest of the team on Friday.”

      1. Future Analyst*

        We have weekly one-on-ones, and I raise these issues weekly, but hear “Oh, yes, let me get back to you on that, I should have an answer next week.” Rinse, repeat, ad nauseum. I’m hesitant to try the “if I haven’t heard back from you, I’ll xyz” b/c she tends to come down hard on us if she thinks we’re acting out of our role. I guess I’m now seeing myself write “Your boss (mildly) sucks, and isn’t going to change.” I guess I just had hope I could work around it, since I like her as a person, just not necessarily as MY manager.

        1. Argh!*

          My colleagues and I joke about “Let me get back to you on that” – it’s my boss’s classic blow-off line. She almost never does. Another blow-off line is “Send me an email.” For a good while she never responded to the emails. Then I started keeping a list of them and I asked about each one in our one-on-ones. Now the rate is up to about 50%.

    3. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I dealt with this type of issue, plus really bad communication style that was extremely demoralizing. Honestly, I found a new job. Good luck.

    4. Argh!*

      I have one like this. She will ignore my emails, not email me, and then suddenly she’s Ms. Micromanager, and asks about something from weeks ago. Sometimes she claims I didn’t reply to her email when in fact I did. I forward my replies, and she never apologizes. Yet if I forget one of her emails (because once the flurry of micromanaging is over, she doesn’t follow up), I’m a terrible person.

      I’m looking for another job mainly because of my boss.

    5. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      One of the supervisors who reports to me does this. The problem this supervisor has is that on the long term important projects, he isn’t sure of himself, and doesn’t want to take a position on things. He hopes that if he ignores it long enough, someone else will do it. Because he feels bad on the long term stuff, he gets way too involved on the short term easier stuff because he wants to add value.

      We’ve have conversations as to why, and the supervisor tells me he doesn’t want to get yelled at by our agency head for making a bad decision. Unfortunately, that’s just the way our agency head is and that he can’t let the fear of making a bad decision lead to no decision. I have weekly meetings with the supervisor to get him on track, to get him comfortable with making decisions, but I have a feeling all of it is working towards a performance issue with the supervisor. If he can’t handle the long term stuff, he needs to get a different position in our agency.

      Future, I don’t know if your manager is this type of person, but it would explain a lot to me. Unfortunately, if your manager is this type of person, there’s little you can do. And if your manager isn’t this type of person, then the advice above is spot on to me.

    6. Specialk9*

      Try setting up a system with your boss – action items for her you’ll send as Tasks. Anything in an email is FYI and you’ve got it. You can even help her set up a folder for your emails, that auto routes there without cluttering up her inbox, but she can find info if she goes looking.

  9. hermit crab*

    Please help me brainstorm what to do with my life!

    I’ve been working at an environment/energy consulting firm for my whole professional career so far (about 10 years). It’s neither management consulting nor traditional environmental consulting, but more like program implementation and other specialized technical support on big government contracts. I have had a great experience but I’m ready for something new. I do NOT want to stay in consulting. Other than that, my only criterion is that I have to stay in the D.C. area.

    The natural path for someone like me is to go work for the client, but in my case that’s U.S. federal government agencies who aren’t really hiring right now, and even if they were I don’t want to spend a year waiting in limbo through that hiring process (my spouse just went through that, it was rough – but it means I have the freedom now to think about what I want to do).

    So… I guess that leaves nonprofits? Think tank type places? I have a bachelors degree in a natural science and an MPH with an emphasis in environmental health. No lab or coding background other than what I have picked up here and there. My strength is quickly getting up to speed on unfamiliar information and using it to problem solve. I’m a decent project manager but don’t have a PMP or other formal training.

    Searching Indeed or Idealist isn’t yielding much in the way of ideas. Any thoughts? Out-of-the box ideas welcome!

      1. hermit crab*

        I’ve never even heard of HESI, but it sounds like a great organization. I’ll definitely check that out.

        Thank you (and everyone else) for the suggestions!

    1. misspiggy*

      If your contracts expertise can be easily translated to other sectors, nonprofit grant departments would probably welcome you, although you’d be doing more proposal development and monitoring than implementation.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I was going to suggest grants and proposal positions as well – I keep getting a ton of listings for D.C. area companies looking for grant writers and proposal managers.

    2. DC cheerleader*

      Keep an eye on local DC government jobs. I’ve found there to be a really wide range of positions open at times. Check DOH and DOEE in particular.

    3. Tara*

      This sounds a little like what I do, although with more experience and specialized. I work for a research institute at a University and love it here. Fair warning – it can be hard to beat a consultants salary. One of my Mom’s co-workers went from being a consultant on a project to being in a GS position, and even though it was a promotion, her net pay was basically the same.

    4. gmg22*

      You might look at the other side of the coin and explore employment with grant-making/philanthropic organizations. I work for a small nonprofit that also does energy/environment work, and my experience has been that our funders definitely rely on knowledgeable people in-house to help them decide where to put their money.

    5. Int dev girl*

      Check out the World Bank Group? They do a bunch of work on international development in the environmental sector. There’s also NGOs and think tanks I imagine doing relevant work. By the way, you can easily formalise your project management using an online course like PRINCE2 to bolster your CV. not that expensive (just done it!)

    6. Jellydonutsandtea*

      Big companies? ? My company makes products sold in stores nationally/globally. That said, we have an entire department that manages our recycling program, our solar panel farms, our global impact, etc. etc.

    7. CherryBlossom*

      Have you looked at the VA? I know you aren’t wild about federal jobs . . . but your MPH and other background isn’t necessarily totally out of the scope of VA research, and may be apropos esp given increased interest in newer deployment related conditions, a priority of the Secretary. And you said out of the box ideas were welcome! Apologize if you’ve already decided against the VA.

      1. hermit crab*

        No, that’s a good suggestion! I’m just not sure I have the time (or, really, the patience) for dealing with usajobs right now. But I will definitely keep that on my list!

  10. Deb*

    Following in from the letter about the Kosher kitchen: are there other religious accommodations that workplaces are often (or occasionally) asked to provide? Does it matter what proportion of employees are affected? (E.g. What % of kosher employees would you have before you’d think it was a reasonable request?) Would it have to be a majority rules thing?

    1. A Nonny Mouse*

      Space and time for prayer, especially for Muslims who pray multiple times per day. Also for some people of Jewish faith, leaving early so that they can be home before dark for Sabbath

      And in my opinion, it doesn’t have to be a majority thing. If one person requests it they should be able to get it. I’m not saying that they won’t need to use leave or whatever, but denying it is a jerk move (and possibly illegal).

      1. Justin*

        Yeah my colleague leaves early on Fridays for that reason. Sometimes in the winter it’s as early as like 2:00 because he also lives somewhat outside the city.

      2. Oranges*

        I think the question was trying to get to how much of money it will cost the business vs how many people that money will help. So do you do a cost/benefit analysis based upon percentage of employees it will help if it’s a larger outlay of cash?

      3. Immy*

        I assumed the % employees was about having a separate second kitchen for Kosher or similar, if the office is small its not super realistic to expect they’d have a second kitchen for one employee given they’d be unlikely to actually have a second kitchen at all.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I don’t know that a kosher kitchen would ever really be necessary–kosher people can always bring food from home, it’s not really a hardship to be unable to prepare it at work.

      There are types of religious accommodations that should pretty much always be offered; a private space for prayer isn’t all that different from a private space to, say, pump breast milk. Both are fairly easy to provide, and IMHO should always be offered if requested.

      1. Lucky*

        People who keep kosher like a hot lunch as much as the next guy. Having a designated fridge, microwave and dishware reserved for them wouldn’t be too much of a hardship for most mid-sized companies.

    3. Millennial Lawyer*

      A kosher kitchen is the kind of thing I wouldn’t really consider an accommodation but something a workplace with kosher keeping prinicpals would institute – having a kosher only mini fridge or microwave might be something a smaller group would ask for, but other than that a lot of kosher keeping individuals are used to bringing their own prepared lunch.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        That’s really going to depend on your location. I moved from an area with a large enough Jewish population that there was a separate kosher deli in the grocery stores. I would completely understand an employer in that city providing a kosher kitchen. Here, though? No way.

    4. TimJ*

      What Deb said above me ^

      The biggest one at my work is that anyone who requests a religious holiday (with some exceptions) gets the day off without pay and without having to use PTO or any of their own time off. So for example, Passover and Ramadan but not Easter or Ash Wednesday. My work is open 12 hours a day (7am to 7pm) 7 days a week. Everyone gets 2 days in a row off, though not necessarily Saturday/Sunday. The only day we are closed is Christmas Day.

      1. Wow*

        Why doesn’t Easter apply? I thought it was illegal to give different treatment based on religion. Is there a reason for it?

        1. theletter*

          It might have something to do with Easter always being on Sunday – it’s probably a lot easier to find someone to trade shifts than to take a day without a pay, and that might be a better trade off for the Christians since the office (and most of the hemisphere) is closed on Christmas, whereas Passover and Eid tend to fall on workdays and much of the working world keeps working. It sounds to me like it works out that everybody gets 1 major holiday off to enjoy their religion, while those who do not celebrate Christmas get, well, an extra snow day. I think it’s no accident that Christmas falls on the turning point of winter, and if you live in a place that gets pretty cold, the holiday tends to be a much-needed reprieve no matter what religion you follow.

          And Ash Wednesday – I can’t speak for any other Christians in the room, but I’m a devoted Roman Catholic who always works on that day.

          1. another Liz*

            I know Christians who stop at church on the way to work, and don’t speak until sundown. So if you ever see someone with a gray cross on their forehead, don’t expect them to speak. Many still work that day, and not all Christians do this.

          2. Another person*

            Yeah, I find that Roman Catholicism at least is pretty flexible with regards to timing for work–we have lots of things like vigil masses if you can’t make it during the day. (My father works a 24/7 staffed job so we went to Vigil masses a lot) and most churches have pre/post-work or lunch masses on Holy Days of Obligation. The only time specific one we did that I remember growing up (and I don’t do this any more) was that on Good Friday my parents had a rule that between 12 and 3 we were supposed to be quietly reflecting, usually ending with a prayer service at 2:30-3, but that’s certainly not required (or even that common?) and is really the only thing I can think of that was ever tied to a certain time of day.

          3. Tillerton*

            If someone is working on Easter Sunday the company will not allow them a religious holiday. Some people at the company do work on Sundays as a regular day.

            If anyone of any other religion asks for a day off they get it with pay and don’t have to take PTO.

            The company is wrong to deny one religion their time off while allowing the rest. You have to allow all of them. It would be wrong to deny any religion.

      2. paul*

        Ramadan isn’t really a holiday/day off; it’s a month of fasting during daylight hours. I kind of suspect that the bigger issue would be allowing them to break their fast pretty promptly.

          1. paul*

            Could be. AFAIK the only universal “holidays” among all the denominations are Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. I was just kind of taken aback at the idea of giving people all of Ramadan off because dang, that’s a month-ish straight.

            1. MassMatt*

              The entire Muslim world works during the month of Ramadan, it is most certainly NOT time off. Basically, people get up early to have breakfast, skip lunch, and don’t eat dinner until after sundown. People can get cranky, but life goes on.

      3. Tillerton*

        If your company excludes some religions from requesting religious holidays but not others, and gives some free days off but makes others use PTO that is discrimination and it is illegal.

        1. Specialk9*

          “If your company gives some free days off but makes others use PTO that is discrimination and it is illegal.”

          I perceive that is how you think the world should work, but it really doesn’t work that way. Like really really doesn’t.

          I’ve never worked anywhere that doesn’t give Christmas off automatically. I have to use my PTO for the Jewish High Holidays.

          It’s the kind of thing that Christians (in the West, where that is dominant) think, without realize how thoroughly the deck is stacked in their favor. But many still get super mad that somewhere there is a kosher kitchen they can’t enter.

          1. Tillerton*

            I agree with you a hundred percent in most cases.

            But in this case, at this company, they are not allowing Christians to take their religious holidays. They can’t asked for religious days off. People who practice all other religions get their days off paid and don’t have to take PTO. That’s not the case for Christians.

            This company is open 364 days a year. Other people get their days and Christians don’t. This company in this specific case is discriminating.

            1. Specialk9*

              Ah, I read the whole thread but got lost in threading. Thanks for explaining that company’s policy.

              1. Tillerton*

                No problem :) and I do agree with your point about non-Christian religions having the deck stacked against them at other places.

    5. Lora*

      Dietary restrictions, shift changes and time off for religious holidays are the only things I’ve been regularly asked for. And when I say dietary restrictions, I mean, “at the off-site team building exercise, can you make sure there will be kosher / halal / particular type of Hindu or Buddhist (basically veggie) options?” Occasionally extra, unpaid vacation time so someone can make a pilgrimage or visit a particular temple, type of thing. The Hasidic / Orthodox Jewish guys were not able to work late Friday, so we made sure someone else was on the schedule. Good non-alcoholic non-caffeinated drinks available for Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons – lots of restaurants and catering places have only soda, alcoholic drinks, coffee or water, which is kinda crummy.

      Even one person asking is enough. Honestly, it’s like this: I enjoy entertaining and throw at least one party per year for a ton of friends, who all have vastly different dietary restrictions and allergies. The easiest thing to do is to serve one meat thing, one chicken thing, and have lots of vegan side dishes. Between potato salad with vinaigrette dressing, bean dip and flatbreads, green leafy salad, sliced fruit, Thai noodles with marinated curry tofu bits and roasted veggie skewers, everyone will find something to eat, even little kids. I make a couple of agua frescas and buy ginger ale for drinks, to which people can add the liquor of their choice if they want.

      This method has worked for many years, with people from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds all getting together to eat and sit around the patio while the kids splash around the pool. All it requires is actually giving a crap about the people you are hosting, and not being a total a-hole. I get quite tetchy with admins or event organizers who can’t handle this when it is their actual job to do so.

      1. Another person*

        As someone who doesn’t drink much and is sensitive to caffeine, I really wish more people would have good non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages available, especially if it’s an evening event!

    6. Tillerton*

      My current and precious jobs have been at small businesses with only a handful of employees and this has never come up at either place. 2 jobs before my current one I worked in a place where people needing to leave early on Friday were allowed to do so, there was a prayer room and people were given days off for religious holidays without issue.

      That company is no longer around though. They caught major heat for the government because when they allowed people to leave early on Friday for religious reasons, someone from the morning shift would have to cover and work a longer shift. These people were not paid for the extended time (we were hourly) and the people who left early were paid for hours others people worked. The company shut down after paying six figures in back pay to the people they screwed over. So many people lost their jobs because the company messed up.

      1. Observer*

        Your bosses were paying the people who left early for the work being done by the people who covered for them? That’s just bizarre! I could see them not paying the people providing coverage. I’m not defending it at all – I just can see how someone might decide to do something like that if they were a lousy person. But what you are describing is just WEIRD.

        It’s hard to feel too bad for them getting caught and forced to pay people.

        1. Tillerton*

          “I could see them not paying the people providing coverage.”

          That is exactly what happened. The first shift was 8-3:30 and the second was 11-6:30. The shifts were rotational every 3 weeks. People had to rotate shifts and couldn’t just stay on one shift because of health and safety regulations around doing the same job for too long.

          Some people on the first shift had to stay until 6:30 to cover for those who left early on Friday, while those people left at 3:30.

          So some people ended up working 8-6:30 and others 11-3:30 but both were paid for 7 hours. There was lots of anger from the people who got screwed out of pay, towards the people leaving early who were okay with the arrangement and the company for doing it. The company got smackerd so hard by the government they ended up closing.

        2. Natalie*

          Yeah, the problem here isn’t the religious accommodation, the problem is that the company thought they could somehow not pay people for their hours worked. That’s just dumb.

    7. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      I am a part time pastor, so I typically use PTO during the week of Easter, depending on what my “pastoring” schedule looks like. I am private at work about my part time job, so I have never phrased it as, “I need Ash Wednesday and Good Friday off every year because of religious reasons”–although I suppose that I probably could. I just typically ask for the PTO, and its never a problem. I haven’t been denied yet.

    8. Argh!*

      There’s no “majority rules” in accommodation. If one person can’t work on Saturday, and nobody else wants to work on Sunday, they have to get along on Saturday without that one person. The whole point of EEO law is protecting the minority from the majority!

    9. Natalie*

      One that I’m aware of is allowing employees to not handle certain products (pork and alcohol, primarily). I’ve been checked out at my local Target by Muslim employees who have a neighboring cashier swipe and bag the bacon. I’ve heard some people complain vociferously about this type of accommodation or use it as a ridiculous hypothetical, but in my personal experience it’s never taken longer than 5 seconds.

      Holidays off, or the ability to leave early for non-Sunday religious services is also common. My city has a large Somalian-American population, most of whom are Muslim, so some of the schools have changed their standard hours and run longer Monday-Thursday so they can close early on Friday. I imagine an area with a lot of Jewish students might make a similar schedule.

      1. General Ginger*

        As long as the company has enough front end employees working that one can step in and swipe/bag pork or alcohol products, I do not see what issue someone could even have with this. That’s what they already have to do for any cashiers under 18 with alcohol (at least in my state), so it’s not like it’s some kind of outlandish, unheard of practice.

  11. Yep.*

    Today is my last day! I’ve written out a detailed handover and a guide on how to do my role, which I went over with my manager
    I’ve also emailed pretty much everything I had in My Documents. Just need to delete my personal things and my internet history and I’m good to go!

  12. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I finally reached out on Wednesday to the recruiter to follow up on that job. She wrote me back a few hours later and thanked me for following up and apologized for not getting back to me sooner. They did decide to move forward with another candidate, but she assured me that they had nothing but positive feedback about me and would like to stay in touch in case anything else comes up.

    Thank you all for the support while I was going crazy with waiting :)

    1. fposte*

      Sorry about the news, but I’m glad the communication went well and that the connection may pay off over the longer term.

  13. grace*

    We moved into our new office in May, and our walls are still …. white. So, so white.

    How do you decorate your office? I graduated last year so I’ve never had to do this before, and I’m not sure how to walk that line between college ‘string lights’ and professional pictures. ;)

    Also it’s a real office – I have a door to close and share with a co-worker whom I adore, but I don’t have a cube or anything, so I think I’m a bit daunted by the size of the project I’d be taking on!

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I face an all-white wall when I’m sitting at my desk. Decorating isn’t really my thing, so I just got a random picture from Bed Bath & Beyond, and hung it up just outside my direct line of sight. It’s just enough to break up the white background in my peripheral vision, which is really all I needed.

      Others will likely have better advice for actual decorating! But in case you need a quick solution while you figure out something bigger and better, this has worked well for me.

      1. Tara*

        Seconding Bed Bath and Beyond. They have some art prints that are nicely framed/mounted, and I think this helps a lot as far as distinguishing an “office vibe” from a “dorm room” vibe.

      2. Specialk9*

        My office is fairly dire – poop brown thin carpet, scuffed white walls.

        For decoration I:
        *Snagged a fake fern from someone who left
        *Covered the inside back walls of an awful beige bookshelf with leftover grey and white striped wrapping paper (shockingly elevates the whole place without being over the top)
        *Brought in two small lamps from home
        *Hung stretched canvas photos my dad took (the canvas makes them light and portable and easy to hang, but looks nicer than a poster)
        *Put down a small area throw rug

    2. Snark*

      I ended up putting up vintage-style WPA national parks posters and nature photography (including a gorgeous shot of the Bears Ears) – I’m an environmental scientist and public lands advocate, so it’s appropriate, it’s not as dumb as successories, and it introduces some color to an otherwise relentlessly gray environment.

      I’d recommend some lights to take the edge off the fluorescents, some plants (succulents do great!) for color and visual interest, maybe a throw rug or small carpet.

      1. fposte*

        Is that a typo, or is “successories” a sniglet for the crap the previous occupant left in the office?

        1. Snark*

          No, it’s the brand name for those annoying posters that are like, a lighthouse, with a caption like “CUSTOMER SERVICE” and some dorky inspirational saying.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Google “successories.” You’ve seen them before, you just didn’t know what they were called. (And then google “demotivational posters” because they’re better.)

          1. fposte*

            Oh, God, those. I like my interpretation better.

            Well, I learned a new word, but I can’t say I like it.

            1. Snark*

              I prefer your sniglet, too. There really needs to be a name for previous-occupant cruft. Although once, I inherited a perfectly functional espresso machine that way!

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Haha, I love those. We thought about sneaking them into the frames once at OldExjob (they had several of the sappy versions around) and seeing how long it took the bosses to notice, but we chickened out.

            1. Emalia*

              A friend of mine purchased a couple of posters with her office decorating budget. Supervisor had a convo with her about her choices…

        3. Mary (in PA)*

          I read it to mean things like motivational posters…you know, the kind with large-print single words and vaguely inspiring sayings below sharply focused landscape photos.

          (One time I had a boss who had a poster in his office that looked like that, but instead said, “Get to Work – You’re not being paid to believe in the power of your dreams”.)

          1. Snark*

            The demotivational posters are kind of funny, but that strikes me as punch-downy in a way that I’m not a fan of.

            1. Mary (in PA)*

              Yeah, it was not a great place to work. That poster was one of the more mild things, which should give you some idea.

      2. grace*

        I LOVE these! My manager jokes about putting them up when we get frustrated with so many white walls, but I doubt it’ll ever happen except in individual offices ;-)

    3. [insert witty user name here]*

      Unless you’re in a creative field (art, fashion, interior design, etc), realistic decoration means a few personal photos on your desk and maybe a couple other small items. Decorating an office is not really a “project.” If you have a window, consider getting a nice indoor plant that can grow to cover some blank space.

      1. always in email jail*

        Agree, shouldn’t be a huge project. It’s an office, not a dorm room. Look at what the higher-ups do with theirs and take your cues from them.

      2. Natalie*

        If you like plants you can probably have them regardless of whether or not you have a window! There are low light varieties, and plenty of plants love fluorescent lights.

        1. As Close As Breakfast*

          Yeah, I have a golden pothos and peace lily that both did amazing in 100% fluorescent lights for at least 2 years. My office now has a huge window and they are admittedly doing even better, but they still rocked it in the fluorescent light!

    4. Amber O.*

      I’d check pinterest for professional office decor ideas and themes that fit your own style, then go to your nearest TJ Maxx/Marshalls to find items that fit the aesthetic you’re going for and you wont break the bank. Or if you want to start off small, a couple of photos/pieces of art and some coordinating desk accessories can really perk things up.

    5. always in email jail*

      I have a lamp on my desk I use and generally keep the overhead lighting off, which I commonly see in many offices. I also have framed photographs (of bioterrorism agents up close under a microscope, it’s relevant to my job) grouped on the wall, and one tasteful picture frame with a picture of my family on my desk. I like the suggestion of succulents, but I’m a plant-killer so I haven’t tried it. I would certainly err on the side of under-decorating rather than over-decorating until you get a feel for your office norms in the new building.

      1. always in email jail*

        I also have work-related books from my personal collection on my bookshelf, and coffee mugs from partner government organizations or trainings I’ve attended. So “accessories” but all work-related.

      2. Specialk9*

        Plastic succulents are great for those of us who even kill cacti. They look realistic, and cool.

    6. MilkMoon (UK)*

      Plants and softer lighting (lamps etc) for sure.

      As for the walls, if they can’t actually be painted, you could go with large artworks. You could paint your own and frame them or use large canvasses, you could even get some beautiful fabrics from a haberdashery and frame them or staple them over canvasses – fabric would have even more of a softening effect on the space.

    7. DD*

      Do you *want* to decorate your office? You don’t have to, if you don’t feel like it, unless you receive visitors at your office and need it to look nice.

      I have a couple of lamps and a small plant, but that’s really about it. Call me a pessimist, but the less stuff I have at work, the easier it’ll be when I walk out. I do have tons of cat pictures that rotate through my desktop background, though. :P

      1. grace*

        No, I do! We get visitors from the home office and they all comment on it; it’s very bland and boring, and frankly I’m tired of staring at white walls, too, haha. I’d offered to take it on as a project for the year when things were busy, but I just signed for a new apartment (my first solo!!) and now I have to decorate that too, and this is taking a backseat … but when I’m ready to get back to it, I want to have things planned out.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Paradoxically, spending a bit of time & thought (not a lot) making my office more pleasant gave me the mental energy to gear up and leave a soul-sucking job.
        I’m not sure whether it was the extra comfort, a sense of control, or what. But it was much less draining, so I had margin to make other changes.

    8. Triumphant Fox*

      I’m in a new office and haven’t begun the full-scale decorating yet. My first purchase was a lamp and I think I may get a couple more of varying sizes. I have brought in a few decorative trays, a picture in frame and food necessities so far. I have two main large wall spaces that need to be filled with something and I keep waffling about what to do. I’m an artist on the side, so I want to paint something, but I also have a million projects that I want to work on at home. If you want large-scale art on your walls, I highly recommend buying poster-sized pieces from artists you enjoy. Photography can work great in office spaces and I think the scale often really works. In my home and my art I use a lot of color and my art has an illustration style that would lend itself to children’s books, so I’m self-conscious about making my work space look a little more sophisticated, while still being bright and bold.

      After using the space a bit, my top priorities are:
      – Organizational items (pen cup – I find them all too tall because they’re meant to hold pencils, letter tray, monitor stand)
      – Mousepad/wrist support
      – New Calendar – I got a free wall one from work but it’s not the prettiest
      – A coat rack or hook or something – I feel like my coat looks so slovenly dropped in the side chair I have
      – Lamps (my first one was top priority, but I figure I can fill my space with light gradually)
      – Large-scale wall art or gallery art (I may just hang a few of my prints in the meantime).
      – Plants (There is a fake one in my office that I may quietly move to a common area, or pretend is pretty – is it’s not the worst of fake plants, but also not the best)
      – Rugs – ideally two (my office is L-shaped) for the entrance in front of my desk and the space between my sitting and standing desk

    9. Mary (in PA)*

      And to give you a real reply, I also got some neat vintage WPA-style posters from Anderson Design Group – I put up one from Denver and one from Pittsburgh, because those are the places where I have lived the longest. I have personal photos and some fun desk accessories, too (I found hippo bookends on Etsy). Plus all the functional things, like an inbox, some under-desk storage, and a free-standing bookcase. Plus all of the furniture is white, which makes it look coordinated.

    10. CleverGirl*

      I put up string lights in my office for Christmas and then never took them down. It’s fine. I don’t think I’m being judged or giving off a dorm vibe. I think a lot of it depends on the overall atmosphere in your office / at your organization.

    11. Delphine*

      In my office, people have plants and large posters/framed art on the wall. We work in publishing, so there are a lot of bookshelves, and people put knickknacks on those. Definitely take cues from your colleagues. My cubicle-dwelling coworkers tend to be more casual with their decorations, since they don’t have walls to put up large pieces. My office-dwelling coworkers put up photos and artwork. Whiteboards are also popular and useful, and we all have large wall calendars.

    12. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’m a faculty person so I probably have more flexibility around this than most people. I have a movie-related calendar, miniature versions of my research posters from graduate school, a family photo, a sizeable whiteboard, and a “W” flag on the wall facing my desk. (go Cubs!).

    13. Llama Wrangler*

      This is more of an anecdote than a genuine suggestion, but my friend worked in a similar space, and he happened upon a collection of huge yarn tapestries from a thrift store. He bought the whole lot (it turns out it was a woman/artist’s life’s work) and that was their decoration for the next few years until they moved offices. Simple, unique, and cheap.

    14. Natalie*

      I don’t think you have to do too much, unless you like decorating.

      Plants: You could either have a lot of them (particularly if you are a plant person) or just one big one. If your company leases plants, consider asking if you can just add a plant to the lease. Then you don’t have to take care of it.

      Wall art: the best way to differentiate a poster or print from a college dorm look is to frame it. You can find tons of simple frames in standard sizes online, or if you need an oddball size there are some “make-a-size” frame options.

      Calendar: Even if you don’t use a calendar, they are nice and colorful and an expected thing to find in an office. Also since it’s January they’re all half off.

    15. tink*

      It really depends on your office! My partner hangs up some of our sports memorabilia (nothing expensive/priceless, but things like a rally towel from NHL playoffs or a mini scarf for the MLS team we support), but he’s also got some fun prints and posters. He works in a really casual IT environment, though. My office doesn’t have walls, so most of my coworkers have a few pictures or knick-knacks on their desks. (I have nothing because I just started and don’t have much of those things to bring in.)

    16. LilySparrow*

      I don’t believe in the “powers” attributed to Feng shui, but I have found that following the principles creates a pleasing space. In my last office, I hung a large art canvas with an abstract depiction of a waterfall, added some potted orchids by the window, and arranged the furniture to have a good “flow.”
      Made a world of difference with very little effort.

    17. Chaordic One*

      At my second to last employer we pretty much all displayed posters that were created by our marketing department. They were mostly all pleasant landscapey things related to our products, sometimes with fit, handsome, smiling young people in the corners, so no one really thinks about them very much.

      In my current job I bought some inexpensive color prints from the clearance sale section of “AllPosters.” I bought a couple of 1930s style posters of nearby national parks and a print of “Trees and Undergrowth” by Van Gogh. (I think it makes my office look a bit like being in a forest.)

      I sometimes wish I had something like that nasty print Peggy Olson inherited on “Mad Men.”

    18. Deus Cee*

      I have two noticeboards and a whiteboard for working on, which leaves very little bare wall to decorate. However, I love me some nice arts, so I do stick up nice pictures. If they’re going to stay a while then I’ll frame them (IKEA is cheap enough) – and I use Command Damage-free Hanging to put things up without having to drill holes. I’d second the pot plants if you’re able (we’re not, conservators won’t let us) – UX studies in academic libraries have shown that they make an environment more welcoming and appealing. But all this is entirely up to you. My decoration has been organic – little touches as and when I need them.

  14. Zip Silver*

    I had one of my best employees limit her availability to only 1 day per week. Letting her go today, but I don’t feel great about it because she’s performed well, but 20% availability doesn’t make business sense, especially because her benefits status won’t change until 2019, and paying full time benefits for a part timer is expensive.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Oh, that’s tough. I hope it frees both of you up to find something that’s a better fit, after the sucky firing part that is. Good luck!

    2. WellRed*

      She can’t possibly have expected going (from I assume full time) down to 1 day per week would fly?

    3. Rookie Manager*

      I had one of my team do that last year, to show good will we trialled it for a couple of months and it was hopeless. You’ve done the right thing.

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      That’s a tough situation. On the plus side,
      You let her go because she isn’t a good fit anymore. So she didn’t leave without another job, her job requirements changed.
      She is easily eligible for unemployment.
      So, bummer you lost a good employee, but it sounds like she needed to go for herself ultimately.

    5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      can you explain the benefits situation to me?
      I thought that you got a job and it came with X benefits. If that job changes, specifically decreasing hours, and you are no longer full time, don’t benefits change at the same time?
      Plus, even the benefits I renewed in October are only valid for one year.

      1. Zip Silver*

        Yep, she rolled into 2018 with full time stays, and it doesn’t get dropped down to part-time, for benefits, until January 1st, 2019. Weird quirk of our HR department, but we’re a Megacorp and I have no say in it.

  15. President Porpoise*

    Does anyone know how to chart cycle time vs transaction complexity to get an idea of employee productivity using excel?

    1. The Tin Man*

      I’m not 100% sure of what you’re asking for, but if you e-mail me at thespreadsheetfixer at gmail dot com I can see if I can help. Do you have a table with the info to chart or do you need to build everything from scratch?

  16. Matilda Jefferies*

    People whose job is essentially to sit at a desk and Think About Things, what’s a reasonable ratio of work to non-work time when you’re in the office? I know that the expectation isn’t 100% working while you’re at your desk (like it would be if you worked in a factory, for example), but I’m having trouble calibrating what a “normal” workday looks like for office workers.

    The back story is that several years ago, mental health and external factors led my productivity to drop significantly. “I’ll just check the internet quickly” led to an hour lost on a blog or whatever, and that led to more hours, to the point that I could go entire days without doing any work at all. (No judgement about this, please! I’m not proud of it, but I’ve finally reached a point that I’m ready and able to do something about it. I’m looking for “where do I go from here?” not “how could you do such a thing?”)

    So. I work in an office, roughly 9-5, with no evenings or weekends. Most of my job is analytical, and reasonably self-directed. As I said above, I know that some personal time is allowed when I’m here, and I assume that most office workers are not 100% “on” for their whole work day. I also know that it varies wildly by field, and by your manager, and all sorts of things. But somewhere in all that, somewhere between 0 hours and 8 hours, is a “reasonable” or “average” or “expected” amount of time that one should be actually working. I can’t ask my manager, obviously, so I’m hoping that the mostly anonymous people of AAM can help me out!

    1. Not My Usual Name*

      I don’t have good advice, I just want to say that I am also guilty of this sometimes. Lately, A LOT more than I would like…I’ve wanted to ask a similar question about “Where do I go from here?” but I feel so embarrassed!

    2. misspiggy*

      I think it’s all about output. Look at what measurable outputs you were previously able to produce in a week, or a month or a year. If you can still generate that, the question of how many hours you’re focused on work is less important. For me it’s about what kind of pattern you need to be productive and healthy. Do you need more interaction with people, for example? Or are you more productive doing lots of short stints broken by Internet browsing? How often should you get up and do something physical? What are your most productive times of day analysis-wise, and can you do something else in the least productive times?

      1. London Bookworm*

        Exactly. Different people are different, too. Some people manage to juggle frequent breaks, whereas others may have fewer but longer breaks. Also, some people are impressively able to focus for long periods of time without such breaks.

        I think if there’s a way you can look at high-performers at your company and what sort of outcomes they have, that’s a good starting point.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          Thank you both – focusing on outcomes is a good idea. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do a direct comparison between myself and my (one!) peer at my company, but I can certainly do it for my own outputs, year over year. Then if 2018 me is better than 2017 me, I can figure out how much better, and what (if anything) I need to do to make 2019 me even better. Thanks for helping me talk through this!

          1. London Bookworm*

            I think that’s a great way to do it. Personally, I find it helpful to break down outcomes as much as possible so I can get a sense of what I should be accomplishing on a day by day basis.

            I also freely “cheat” my willpower and use tools such as Freedom or Stayfocused to keep me off certain time-sucking websites. I definitely don’t think you should beat yourself up – this is a common problem!

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        This. Even if your job doesn’t officially track productivity metrics, create some for yourself.

        One helpful thing might be to keep a detailed time diary for a couple days. It’s really annoying to do, but it’s also a great way to really make yourself take a look at what you’re doing over the course of a day, and figure out what actual workload you have and how much time you spend on it.

      3. Specialk9*

        Yeah, look at output. I’m a work sprinter, and damn I’m productive and energized when sprinting. But a job that requires a long slow slog makes me drained and dumb. I can apply crazy amounts of intensity, but only if I can wind down too. My output is unusually high, so my bosses tend not to look over my shoulder much.

    3. London Bookworm*

      I think it’s a hard question to answer without knowing more about your work and expectations, particularly since this answer will vary a lot based on industry, job, and office culture. Is there a way you compare your outcomes to that of your peers?

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        That’s the problem – I don’t want to ask anyone in my office, for fear of giving the game away! So the people who know best what this should look like are the exact people I don’t want to ask. And the people I could ask – my therapist, for example – don’t necessarily know, because their work days are structured so differently.

        It’s further complicated by the fact that my manager really doesn’t like managing, and she has let me skate by for all these years either because she hasn’t noticed or because she isn’t bothered by it. But *I’m* bothered by it – I’m a mid-career professional, and I know I can do better, but I don’t know what “better” looks like.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          It also may genuinely be that her expectations are less than what you have for yourself. Last week, my manager gave me a list of priorities and I made a big dent in it over the course of the week. When I sent him my progress on Friday, he was like,”…That was a 6 month list. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once!”
          She’s kept you around because she’s reasonably satisfied with your job so far, but if you want to ramp it up – I think working for 15 minutes, then taking a 5 minute break, or a half hour and taking five minutes, or whatever is a great place to start and then increase your focus time. Having a list of priorities/goals can help as well.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          I’ve had the same experience, as most of my previous job was thought-based rather than deliverable-based. I’ve asked for more work or asked why I wasn’t added to a project and heard that I already have enough on my plate. No, no I didn’t! I could never convince anyone of that though because there were times (few and far between) that I would be working at max capacity. The rest of the time I would have periods of real focus and productivity, for hours at a time, but when I finished the report or the background reading or the planning there would be nothing to do.

          I just rolled with it. I figured the down time kept me from burn out and looking forward to the next chunk of work, and in the meantime I jumped on any assignment that was offered.

    4. Yorick*

      In the morning, plan what you want to accomplish during the day. Try to keep track of how much time you spend working toward those daily goals. If it’s only like half the day, start making the goals larger or having more of them.

    5. Very Distracted Anon*

      Are you me? This is something that I’ve been struggling with… some times I’ll have stretches that I think are really unusual of not doing work because of my anxiety issues leading me to squander time on the internet…

      Something that’s helped me but isn’t perfect is a) seeing a therapist for constructive tips b) the blacklist add on for chrome so I can block my most frequented time wasting sites c) or disabling chrome so I’m FORCED to use internet explorer which is very slow and not conducive to non work purposes.

      Those haven’t been foolproof but definitely help. Site blockers are helpful because sometimes it’s so automatic for me to go to a non work site that it’s ingrained in my brain, and I don’t even realize I’m doing it. Now I know that I’ll just be typing ask a manager or twitter out of nowhere and it’ll pop up blocked and I’ll be like wow! Oops! And try and refocus.

    6. strawberries and raspberries*

      I sometimes find myself in the same position when I’ve a) finished everything I had to do or b) delegated it all out (something I’ve been encouraged to do in performance reviews). Since successfully using the mindmap technique for a research paper and then getting a Passion Planner (which I found out about thanks to this website!), I’m obsessed with mindmaps- often if I’m sitting at my desk bored I’ll mindmap an upcoming project and doodle a whole bunch. I’ve actually come up with great ideas for upcoming events this way, and because they’re not things that have to happen like tomorrow, it allows me to then come up with an event plan, which does take considerably more work. I’m also in a unique position in which because we’re a workforce development program, my AAM reading is actually professional development for my staff and all of our stakeholders, so it benefits me to read the open threads in full or look at the tags to get specific information for different people. My direct supervisor is also extremely hands-off and knows my work is high-quality and produced on time regardless of whether or not it’s urgent, so I feel a little less guilty about some of the downtime.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I am a recent Passion Planner/ mind map convert as well, also thanks to a recommendation from this site! In fact, I just now did a mind map called “Why don’t I complete my to-do lists?” with a bunch of reasons and strategies for mitigating them. I am a work in progress!

        1. strawberries and raspberries*

          Dude- I love my Passion Planner so much. I got one for my fiance for Christmas after I got mine, and then one of my new direct reports got one for herself because I kept talking about it. I put in every single work and personal thing, even working out and taking baths and packing lunch, and I feel like my anxiety has dropped like eleventy points.

    7. CM*

      I posted an Ask Metafilter question about this a few years back! Most people confessed that they were about 60% productive.

      Personally, I used to worry more about this, but now I don’t. Some days I’m like a work machine, other days I struggle to check anything off my list. Overall, I’m getting my work done and people are satisfied with my performance so I just do the best I can. On less productive days I take walks and talk to people and make lists to help me recharge a bit. On more productive days I lean into it and abandon any plans that aren’t focused on getting stuff done.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I feel like any time you ask a bunch of people on the internet, you will find a bunch of people who are the same. I mean, we all have time (“have time”) to read this!

        I think I’m a fairly efficient worker, so on my best days/weeks/months I get done as much as anyone could, but still have a fair amount of time to screw around. On my worst days, I never open a single document all day.

    8. NoName*

      I’m climbing that hill myself right now. What has really helped me:
      -Setting up a list in OneNote of projects I’m working on and what their deadlines are/priority ranking if there isn’t really a deadline
      -Having that list open to the side of my screen always
      -Have a OneNote page for each project, listing to-do tasks, next steps, relevant notes, etc. I also track how much (solid working) time I spend on each project.

      I define “project” as any task that isn’t purely administrative (like filling out expense reports is administrative; it’s incidental to my actual work) and that isn’t in the “answer my emails” type of routine work category.

      This approach has helped reduce the amount of times I say, “oh no, I have to make a decision on what to do next, that’s hard, I’ll just pop over here to this website for a quick break…” It has also helped me see when I AM productive so I can pat myself on the back.

      As a bonus, I now know have a record of how long it takes me to do things. This is useful since I have a lot of projects that recur or get updated on a yearly basis.

    9. Stef*

      Interesting – I just had to do such calculations for my entire team because we are understaffed and needed to make sure there were no people underworked while other are definitely overworked.
      Provided it varies from company to company, industry to industry, and what you mean with “non-work time”, this is what we came up with (we bill clients for our services, so that’s important in our industry): 85% of “billed client time” for the team and 75% for line managers. The rest is not “not-work”, but it includes some research time & training, administration time for timesheets and such (higher for line-managers), 1:1s, birthdays, leaving do’s, team meetings (we have a lot of banter there) and other team building activities. I would not like to know anyone in my team is slacking for hours or days on end, but if you don’t have a full plate, you are entitled to a bit of down time here and there.

    10. Samiratou*

      Not sure if this helps or not, but Agile methodology uses a general figure of 6 hours per day when estimating capacity, to account for things like meetings, bathroom breaks, etc.

      For me, that seems about right on average. There are times when I’m nose-deep in things and barely come up for air, other days when queries are taking forever or my eyes just can’t seem to focus where there might be a little more time on AAM or whatever.

    11. JC*

      Like many others, I sympathize! I’ve had jobs where I could get what I needed to do done in less than two hours per day. It’s hard not to coast in that situation.

      Right now I’m in a job that’s extremely unsupervised, so I’ve been forced to hold myself accountable. Honestly, I don’t think there would be immediate repercussions if I slacked off for most of the day on any given day, so it’s been a good exercise to identify what kind of worker/person I want to be and how I can be productive when my only motivation is coming from within. What’s been working best for me is making a concrete to-do list at the beginning of the day with tasks separated into as much detail as possible. So rather than “work on Project X”, I’ll write separate items for “create blank PowerPoint doc for Project X”, “spend 15 minutes researching aspect Z of Project X”, etc. That way I get to check a ton of things off my to-do list (which I find totally motivating) and any time I need a quick change of pace, I have a bunch of little things I can do without floating over to the internet.

      This thread is so helpful and comforting. I bet you’ve increased others’ general productivity so much just by posting it that you’ve earned the rest of the day off.

    12. sunshyne84*

      I’m so guilty. No judgment here! Music helps me be more productive. Once I get a good playlist going I can get so much done and quickly. Or you can give yourself deadlines for how much to have done by lunch or the end of each day.

    13. A Non E. Mouse*

      It ebbs and flows – there are weeks on end that I can’t get it all done despite concentrating all day…and then some weeks I have to force myself to focus.

      I’d say 4 to 6 hours of “0n” time a day on average, with the other 2 to 4 being either admin (meaning: mind-numbing) work or “waiting” – either literally waiting for someone to finish something, struggling through meetings, etc.

      When I get in the middle of a busy period where I *should* be on 6 to 8 hours a day but just cannot muster it, I will pull back and find some administrative tasks that are a little dull that need doing. Going through my files, clearing out email and making a list of crap I need to do, cleaning the server room, etc.

      Those items do provide value to the company. Not as much as my brain, but if I just can’t think, I at least keep my hands busy. Sometimes a day of this type of work allows a kind of reset and it’s back to the races.

      Also, keep some websites handy that relate to your job field. I’m a geek so I can read articles about cool new tech, industry items, etc. and not feel too guilty about it. Sometimes I can read an article while taking a brain break and then two weeks later, that “brain break” information comes in handy while I’m in a meeting or trying to solve a puzzle.

      Finally, I’m exempt so if I just have a bad week and work has piled up, I will come in on a weekend, work a couple of hours in the silence (which is way more productive than regular work time), and consider it a wash.

    14. periwinkle*

      It really depends on what Things I am currently called upon to Think About! I have two huge projects with no real connection between them. Project A is more of a consulting Thing where I’m advising another function on how to change something; my tangible work is minimal, since they control the actual deliverables. I think, then I meet with them, then come back to the next meeting with ideas and perspectives from my field, and so on into infinity (or so it feels sometimes). Project B is more active with a lot of writing to go with the thinking (developing a new set of processes for our function). If I’m working on A, my mind is working but I might just be sitting and staring at a bunch of PowerPoint charts. On B, I’m sitting and staring less, furiously typing a lot more. But depending on the rhythm of the projects, I could be working the brain hard for 10 hours this Thursday and reading AAM for four hours the next Thursday.

      That’s just the nature of this kind of work. I set lots of Outlook reminders to do quick tasks that break up my day and force me to be more productive. Otherwise, it would be AAM 10 hours a day every day…

    15. Stormy*

      Heartily agree with others that it’s about meeting your deliverables. Some days don’t lend themselves to the long stretches of intense concentration I need to do certain tasks. If I take a bit of downtime to unclog my brain, I’ll log in at night to make up that ground. Think about your mean over a longer stretch of time. If your overall goals are being met, you’re likely okay.

      I also set aside some particularly fun or particularly rote tasks, to serve as “junk food” when I’m so frazzled that I can’t wrap my head around a more complicated task.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like your job demands original ideas or semi-original ideas.

      Years ago, before the internet, my father worked as a designer. I remember him saying that some days he spent the bulk of the day starring off into space. That is the way he appeared. Actually he was lost in thought. He said the boss never once questioned it.
      A few things strike me here. The top thing is that I am sure when people sat down to talk with my father about Current Project, there was NO doubt in their mind that he had been working on by thinking about it. The thoughtfulness and thoroughness of his questions and his responses clearly showed that he had been working on the Current Project.
      The other give away is might be what is on your desk, what types of information you are looking for and the nature of your concerns. (Are your concerns superficial or do you have an explanation that goes along with the stated concern?) We are all fairly transparent to each other. As a simple example, I have lived in my house for decades. If I hire a new contractor he is probably not going to be able to snow me with poorly thought out ideas because I KNOW my house. If he suggests poorly thought out Idea A, I am going to quickly come back with what about Added Wrinkles X, Y and Z? In that moment he will know that I realize he did not think it through that much.

    17. Optimistic Prime*

      I ended up installing LeechBlock on my main browser to block the sites I wasted the most time on during work hours.

      I’d say for me it varies…it depends on the day. Some days things are slow and other days I really can’t spare the time. Actually, I usually base how much time I spend working in a day on how much is on my to-do list, when they’re done, and how much time they’re each going to take.

      Me, I’m probably *actually* productive about 5-6 hours a day, I’d guess. If you strip out lunch, checking email, doing administrative things, travel, etc.

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        ^On an ideal day, that is. I’ve definitely been known to waste large amounts of work time on the Internet, so no judgment there lol.

  17. Audiophile*

    Happy Friday!

    I’m quickly coming up on my one year anniversary. Boy that year flew by!

    I’m torn about staying put, because my role has changed a lot, but there’s been no mention of a title change or a raise. Any tips on how I can raise this issue?

    1. AnonyMouse*

      I’m in a similar situation as you, but I’m still a few months away from my work anniversary. Also just went through a major role shift. I don’t have a ton of advice, because I’ve basically decided that I’m probably going to begin job searching at the end of the calendar year. A lot of it has to do with how the role changes played out in my organization. Just not sure if this is the right fit for me anymore :( Just wanted to send the message that I know how you feel, it’s a lot to consider.

    2. Green Goose*

      The same thing happened to me, and I had to bring it up with my manager even though it was uncomfortable. My team went from 2 to 1, and I phrased it as a question of interim work. “With Fergus leaving and me taking over x, y, and z, will I be covering these duties for an interim or are my permanent duties changing?” If they say that your permanent duties are increasing you should use that as a segway to determine if your title should change.

  18. KTM*

    I’m going on my first international trip to China in a few months for work! I’m a seasoned US domestic traveler but I’ve done only a couple international flights before to Europe. Any travel tips or tricks for international flights? I already have Global Entry. Flying out of the southwest (likely through LAX or SFO).

    1. Snark*

      That’s a long flight. I’d recommend wearing some comfortable, stretchy clothing, with layers to adjust for the temperature. I like slip-on Vans because they’re not as restrictive on your feet, which will swell. Airline food is excessively salted, because the cabin pressure and humidity tend to deaden your sense of taste. I felt awful after flying until I realized it was the salty food. I generally throw some protein bars, dried fruit, and nuts in my bag and decline the food. Bring an (empty) water bottle so you can keep hydrated. I also recommend standing, stretching, doing squats, etc so your metabolism doesn’t crater and to keep circulation going. Hope for one of the new 787 airliners, they’re comfy and the windows are gigantic.

      I generally try to take an ambien to sync as best I can with local time, but that’s not always possible. Your flight from LAX/SFO will generally leave around 11pm-1am, so if you can power through the first eight hours of the flight , that may reduce jet lag.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yeah, after one flight to China, my legs both swelled enough to need emergency scoping. (They were fine, no blood clots!)

        I recommend compression socks for edema – there are some cute patterns these days.

        Bring an empty water bottle and drink a lot. (Bonus, going to and from bathroom lets stretch your legs a bit.)

        If you’re tall and in coach, I’m sorry. :( Sometimes you get lucky and the flight isn’t full, and you get a whole row and can stretch out. Sometimes every seat is full.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      You said “flying out of the southwest” and I read “flying out ON Southwest” and I thought, I don’t think Southwest is going to get you to China. :)

      Make sure you move around as much as possible (not just for comfort, but for safety), keep hydrated, keep lotion’d if you’re a lotion type, do your best to move to your new sleep schedule as quickly as possible. (But DON’T knock yourself out completely on a flight, moving around every now and then is really important.)

      Stuff You Should Know has a really interesting podcast on jet lag, if you’re interested in learning how it actually works.

      1. KTM*

        Haha I am a super-Southwest-loyalist so I might fly to China on them if I could! I will be actively making sure I’m stretching during the flight as I have been coming back from a neck disk injury for the past year and sitting still for long periods of time is a major no-no if I want to be semi-pain-free for the next week. I’ll check out the podcast thanks.

    3. Sara*

      I usually take Dramamine on long flights, not necessarily for the motion sickness (though that’s a small part) but because it makes me drowsy but not sleeping-pill drowsy. I get groggy on sleeping pills and dealing with a new country isn’t great in that haze.

    4. CAA*

      In China, you should not drink the tap water. Bring a refillable water bottle that you can use while traveling and working. There are bottle filling stations in the airports and most likely in your office. Your hotel will provide bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth.

      Once there, jet lag is your worst enemy. They’re 16 hours ahead of the west coast right now, and your energy will likely crash in the middle of the afternoons. For me, day 2 is always the worst and I try not to schedule any important meetings after 3 PM or a team dinner on that day. I’m still tired on days 3 and 4, but it’s not nearly as bad as day 2.

      1. Engineer Woman*

        Me too! Lots of people think your first day there is the worst but I think adrenaline keeps you going but then Day 2 is the worst.

        If you have any control over your schedule, try to keep Day 2 lighter.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      If your employer isn’t already flying you business class, advocate hard for business class. It makes all the difference! Also, if you can, pick a good airline. Korean Air is highly recommended for Pacific-area travel, and I can confirm their business class is excellent.

      Fly comfy. When I flew to the Philippines for work, I went in black yoga pants and a tunic top, dressed up with a waist belt I could easily take off and put in my purse. The combo looked more professional than it was (the yoga pants easily passed for skinny-style slacks with the waistband covered, and the tunic was blouse-style) and essentially felt like flying in PJs. A long time on a plane is a long time. My flight was in 2 legs, 14 hours from DC to Seoul, then 4 hours from Seoul to Manila. Well before the 14 hours was up, my sense of time was lost and I felt like I had always been on the plane and would always be on the plane.

      Pack at least two bags: one large one with most of your clothes, and then a smaller day bag with toiletries, pyjamas, the stuff that you will want the moment you get to your accommodation. That way you can just toss your big suitcase in a corner and not deal with it immediately.

      It’s way easier to find plug adapters that don’t also adapt current than ones that do both, so bring a power strip that can handle the current adjustment and just get a smaller adapter. The power strip will be more useful on an ongoing basis.

      Carry wet wipes with you. You will thank yourself later.

      If you take medication, bring extra. If you have to, call your insurer to ask them to authorize an early refill. And pack it separately — ie one set in your personal bag that you carry on, one set in your luggage.

      1. Snark*

        YES on the wet wipes. Scrubbing down your face, hands, and the back of your neck instantly makes you feel about 900 times fresher and cleaner, and you feel gross as hell after sitting down for 13 hours.

        I’ve also had nice flights on JAL and Cathay Pacific, though the latter has gotten less swanky. Absolutely advocate for business class.

      2. Cuddles Chatterji*

        Seconding Korean Air! And if you have to do layovers in China, be sure to research recommended transfer times. Some connections can get really tight due to Chinese security and baggage policies, and if something goes amiss and you overstay the allowed XX visa-free transfer hours, you risk deportation. (I read so many horror stories on China Eastern airline reviews…)

      3. KTM*

        I love the wet wipes idea!! I use them all the time for camping… and come to think of it, a 15hr flight is kind of like camping haha. I looked at business class but at least from what I saw the price difference was thousands of dollars… I don’t think I’ll get it approved unfortunately.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh, if the seats have built in chargers, check that they actually are charging. I drained all my batteries that way. Argh. (Carry several lipstick chargers.)

    6. Buffy*

      You can now download movies and shows from Netflix to watch when you don’t have an internet connection if that helps. My husband makes a yearly work trip to Asia and that’s a must for him.

      1. KTM*

        Yes I was really excited to see that – I’ve been using it for domestic flights. Previously I just used Amazon but there wasn’t a good way to search for downloadable content. I love that Netflix has a category for ‘things you can download’

    7. MENA Traveler*

      I’ve never had to go as far as China but I’ve done a lot of travel to the Middle East (longest trip was to Oman, 2 9-hour legs) and here’s what makes it bearable for me:
      1) Get a nice neck/travel pillow – I have a memory foam one that takes up more space than one that can be inflated, but it’s so much more comfortable. I also bring a pashmina or two that can serve as a scarf, a blanket, or a pillow, but that one’s less essential.
      2) Portable chargers make such a difference, especially since many international airports don’t have charging stations like ones in the US do. There are small ones that hold one charge and larger ones that hold 3-5, either can be nice depending on what you’re looking for.
      3) Everyone has different preferences here but I try to get a window seat if at all possible – it’s so much easier to sleep when you have a surface to lean on (and no one’s waking you up to go to the bathroom).
      Hope this is helpful!

      1. BF*

        Check with the airline about portable chargers. I flew on Emerits. Last month and portable chargers were only allowed in the checked luggage

    8. Midwest Marketer*

      Agree with all about the water and comfortable clothing. I didn’t see if it was mentioned, but compression socks might also be helpful for swelling and circulation.

      I sometimes bring sheet masks on longer flights and use one of those since the air is so incredibly dry. You might look a little silly but it really helps your skin!

    9. Steff*

      I just took my first trip to China over the holidays. My biggest advice is try not to sleep the night before your flight. If you have to sleep intentionally make yourself get up way earlier than you normally do. This allowed me to sleep on the first part of my flight and then be awake for the last half. Based on my flight timing I landed in China, ate dinner, forced myself to stay awake until 9/10PM local time and passed out. I barely had any jet lag just a bit of drowsiness that hit at what would have been my normal bed time at home.

      Something to note about China, for as you’re flying home, any portable chargers need to have the amps/watts on it. If it doesn’t they confiscate it. I lost my small travel charger that way.

    10. Nye*

      Interested to follow this thread since I’m also traveling to China for the first time in a few months (for a conference). If anyone has specific suggestions on how to navigate culturally and not come off as a rude American, please share them!

    11. tab*

      I flew to Sydney from Atlanta last summer, and two things helped me. I took Benedryl with my meal to help me sleep. I had a bulkhead row in Comfort Plus seating, so I put my large bag against the bulkhead and used it for a foot rest. Having my feet up helped me sleep. I actually saw one passenger who traveled with a plastic folding step stool to use as a foot rest. Have a great trip.

  19. Midwest Red Sox Fan*

    I have been at my place of employment for nine years. I’ve had two different roles during that time, at about the same compensatory/ responsibility level. I’d consider myself a good to very good (but not rock star) employee.

    There are a couple of openings in another part of my organization that I am definitely interested in and qualified for. Experience and education? Check. Healthy business relationships with potential coworkers? Check.

    However: this area is known for being a problem area. Incompetent. Suffers a lot from “not my job”-itis. True, they’ve been understaffed and lacking leadership for awhile. Things seem to be turning around (new leadership, increasing personnel), but I’m hesitant to throw my hat into the ring when it may be filled with vipers. There usually aren’t too many positions like this open at my organization unless someone retires or dies, so the opportunity is a rare one to have more responsibility and earn more money.

    So, do I apply anyway and say eh- what have I got to lose? That’s what I’m leaning toward, but I’m curious as to what the AAM Hive Mind has to say. Thanks!

    1. OperaArt*

      Is there anyone you are close enough to in that other area to ask about the new leadership and apparent turn around?

    2. SnarkyLibrarian*

      That is a tough one. Are there similar openings for jobs outside your organization? Toxic and/or incompetent coworkers will absolutely ruin your work life, so beware. Good luck!

    3. Natalie*

      I would think long and hard about whether or not the additional responsibility and money are worth what sounds like a terrible work environment. Is there any reason you’re not looking outside of your company if you want to move up?

      If you do interview, ask some real questions about leadership’s plans to change things, and contract their answers with your personal experience with your org’s track record. For example, if they have historically been hesitant to fire people, you should view any promises that people will be let go very skeptically. Organizational culture is slow and hard to change.

    4. As Close As Breakfast*

      Are you in a position to discuss your concerns openly with the hiring manager? Either before even applying, or during the interview process? Since it’s the same organization you’re in a unique position to know some of the issues/problems/concerns that probably wouldn’t come up with an external candidate. Unless the hiring manager is out of touch or kind of a jerk (in which case you probably wouldn’t want the job anyway, right?) I would think it’s totally reasonable to bring up your concerns. If I were her I wouldn’t think that was bad or weird, I’d likely look at it as a pretty responsible line of inquiry, particularly if I were in tune with the past/current issues in the area.

  20. Anon for Stress Relief*

    I got the job!!!!!

    I have been posting on and off about the increasingly toxic situation at my work. Around Thanksgiving, I made the difficult decision to start working elsewhere. I redid my resume using Alison’s advice, got several interviews, and on Tuesday accepted an offer at almost double my current salary that I am very excited about! I could never have done it without the support and advice of Alison and the community here.

    Alison- I hope you know how much your advice helps people, even those who don’t ask you questions directly.

    Everyone- Thank you for being such a supportive community. You kept me going when I might have otherwise fallen into a cycle of doubt.

    1. nep*

      Such great news! Congratulations. Bravo on doing all it took to land a great position for yourself. Inspiring. Thanks and all the best in the new position.

  21. Snark*

    So I’m packing up everything I might need to work from home this week, because it’s looking like a solid 50/50 that there’ll be a government shutdown, which means my office will be shut and locked. Of course, I’m already bought and paid for, so I’ll have to do what I can without access to my government email or any of the government clients I work for. o_o

    1. Overeducated*

      Dealing with that as well, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get much done without access to certain software subscriptions. It’s going to be weird.

      1. Snark*

        There’s going to be a point where I can’t push forward any more, at which point…..dunno. Go for a walk with the dog, I guess.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      I remember those days. Solid thoughts and prayers to all federal employees. Shutdowns blow.

      1. Snark*

        And beyond the not-inconsiderable personal impacts, from the perspective of good governance, I don’t even want to know how many worker-years are going to get flushed down the toilet for precisely no good reason. When those costs are factored in, the last shutdown cost many billions of dollars.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I was still a contractor during the last shutdown in 2013, and I had enough bookkeeping/maintenance/cleanup type tasks to do that I was able to bill for the whole time, although I might have taken some leave just because it was quiet and I felt like it. Our rule as it has been explained to us is we can work on anything that isn’t visible to the public and doesn’t require the client’s (Fed. employee) input.

      1. Snark*

        Same here, more or less. Thankfully, my next project requires a review of old files and documentation, so I’m sure I can bill for that, at least until I need access to the electronic files.

      2. periwinkle*

        I was a contractor during that shutdown, too, but one project had just ended and the other was delayed by the uncertainty and then the shutdown. I wasn’t getting paid beyond some minor billing for clean-up work on the completed project.

        The lead for the postponed project was aghast when I told her I had accepted a permanent position elsewhere. Why would I trade exciting unemployment and uncertainty for boring old income and benefits? So glad to have left federal contracting behind but am worried for my friends who haven’t.

    4. CAA*

      My thoughts are with you. One of the worst work things I ever had to do was furlough 30 people during the last shutdown and explain to them that no matter what they saw on the news, as contractors we weren’t going to get any back pay for the missed time. We lost a few good people who decided government work just didn’t provide the job stability they needed.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        Yup, that’s where I am now. Bringing the work laptop home, because I’m scheduled to WFH Monday, but odds are I’m looking at an unpaid couple of weeks I think. But hey, last time this happened was also the time my old job had lost 30% of its funding, so I got laid off on the first day of the shutdown (it was also the first day of the old job’s new fiscal year). So on the up side that time, I had severance pay; on the down side, no job. And couldn’t avail myself of all the sympathetic discounts around town where you got half price if you showed a government ID or whatever. (We’d had separate IDs and anyway I’d had to hand mine in when I was laid off.) At my present job I actually work in an actual federal building, so my ID looks the same as the feds’.

        No billing, no back pay, and not much sympathy from folks outside the Beltway. I need to find some shutdown house projects (I could finally clean the basement!) and start looking for a private-sector job …

    5. Caledonia*

      To a non US person, can someone explain shutdowns? Why does it happen? I don’t think we have them in the UK….

    6. Goya de la Mancha*

      Good Luck! Just finished the episode of Parks & Rec where they get shut down for the summer and Leslie comes back with 20+ color coded binders ready for action.

    7. Student*

      Amendment 28 to the Constitution of the United States of America:

      If an agreement among the House, Senate, and President cannot be reached to fund the Government, then the following will occur:
      (1) An automatic CR lasting for 6 months will be approved
      (2) Pay and benefits for Congress and the White House (elected representatives specifically) will be suspended for three months
      (3) A special election will be called within 3 months for every elected Representative, every Senator, the President, and Vice President.

      Really, who else gets away with not doing their most basic job duty and still gets to go to work for years?

      1. anonagain*

        I know you’re really just venting and making a point, that I fundamentally agree with, and that constitutional amendment by comment section isn’t a thing. I’m still super glad point #3 isn’t a thing. Can you imagine how often the government would get shut down if it was an avenue for rerunning elections?

        Why agree on a budget? Shut everything down and just hope the other side loses their election.

        1. Someone else*

          I’m not saying I agree with it, but my understanding is that a number of countries do not have provisions to “shut down the government” as the US does. Rather, instead, they would, essentially “make a new government”. So in the example given, it’s not so much “instead of coming to an agreement, shut everything down and hope the other side loses” as is “prevent the shutdown in the first place by replacing those running the place instead”. It’s not unheard of. I don’t know if it’d fix the issue in the US, given the rest of the differences between systems, but the concept alone of “you can’t come to an agreement on what to do? OK – get out.” is a thing elsewhere.

    8. Just a thought*

      ugh, I’m a government contractor and we were just informed that we can’t bill the contract and have to use PTO for any shut-down days. We’re “allowed” to go into negative PTO, so I might not get a vacation this year. Not cool.

      1. hermit crab*

        Ouch, that’s really rough. Our federal contracts also get stop-worked when the government shuts down. However, during the last shutdown, the company did a pretty good job finding administrative/overhead/bizdev stuff for us to do. People were encouraged to take PTO if they could/wanted to, and management was clear that the overhead billing wasn’t going to last forever, but at least nobody was forced to burn leave.

      2. Specialk9*

        My company responded to the pending potential govt shutdowns by slashing our severance to a pittance. I questioned the legality, and lost any shred of loyalty to them, then found a new job.

    9. a*

      I’m supposed to go to a federally funded symposium on Monday. Latest communications said they have heard nothing about discontinuing or postponing. Guess I can spend the next day and a half deciding whether to get on the plane…

      1. Snark*

        The funds are likely to have already been disbursed, so unless you get evidence to the contrary, I think you’re probably good.

    10. Specialk9*

      It’s why I left the govt. Couldn’t handle the stress of government shutdowns due to brinksmanship.

      Ironically, I did get laid off from the private sector this week. (Luckily was able to transfer internally.)

  22. Bittersweet_Charity*

    Working with a defensive colleague

    I’m a month into a new job and realizing one of my co-workers cannot take any questioning or criticism of her work. She immediately gets defensive and refuses to listen to what the other party is saying, even going so far as to invalidate the question or concern.

    In the past week, we’ve had two intense conversations ending with her refusing to acknowledge the constructive critique and accept necessary feedback–even from our shared boss.

    Please share any tricks and tips you have for working with such a person.


      1. Bittersweet_Charity*

        Considering that defensive employee and shared boss had a loud closed-door meeting about some of the critiques, I would venture a guess that he’s aware.

        Also, the constructive feedback I relayed came directly from the shared boss via email. He asked that changed be made to an email sent to nearly 2,000 people, so I made the changes. Defensive co-worker did not respond well, to put it mildly.

    1. OperaArt*

      You’re only one month into a new job, and already critiquing a colleague? I’d be resistant to what you were saying too, if I were in her position.

      1. Snark*

        And you’d be way off base, if that critique and feedback were valid, and especially if it also came from your boss. If Bittersweet is a SME or is otherwise really expererienced in the work, it’s entirely possible that they have the knowledge and experience to critique a coworker’s product after a month.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, I think you’re probably overstepping at this point. You haven’t been there long enough to really get a feel for how everything is supposed to work.

        1. Bittersweet_Charity*

          Detective Amy Santiago:

          When I am directly sharing edits to a draft that arrived via email from our shared boss, I don’t believe that I’m “overstepping.” I am following the directions of the person who hired me and runs the entire department.

    2. rldk*

      When you say “we,” do you mean yourself & same-level employees, or yourself & boss?

      If boss, then they’re already aware of how bad Defensive Colleague is, and they may be making moves already.

      If not with boss (or if no movement is happening), I would say approach it as a work issue. “I’m having trouble getting projects Y & Z done because Defensive Colleague isn’t receptive to changes A & B that need to happen for projects to go forward.”
      If boss doesn’t know, you can ask “How do you want me to approach future holdups like this?”
      If boss knows, you can emphasize that yes, there are work impacts happening – it’s not just a personality quirk!

      This is definitely a manager’s job to deal with an employee like this!

      1. Bittersweet_Charity*

        Thanks for the helpful phrasing.

        He and the entire organization are aware of the issue. In fact, two people have privately joked with me about it. They, however, do not work with Defensive Colleague as often as I do.

        Moreover, I’m new and don’t want to make any waves. I am just trying to appease my boss, get along with my co-workers, create decent products and meet deadlines. Is it impossible?

    3. Snark*

      This is really an issue for Boss to handle. You don’t really have the standing to address her behavior as a performance issue, which is what it really is. I’d continue to let Boss know when this issue rears up, ask for their help working with them, and get through as best you can.

      1. Bittersweet_Charity*


        You’re right in that I have limited power, but I very much want to get along.

        Our shared boss travels frequently, so I am often left to resolve situations with no assistance. I have nearly 10 years of experience in the field and feel confident about the feedback I’m providing. However, I don’t want to fight over every single issue. It’s exhausting and not the least bit productive.

        Maybe things will settle down after I’ve settled into the role more fully.

        1. Snark*

          Oooof. Are you in any way senior to the Difficult One? Or is it a true peer relationship? At some point, though you may be new to the office, you do seem to be sufficiently experienced and competent to meaningfully crititque work – and if this person pushes back against all critique, not just you, it’s not about your competence anyway.

          It might be worth talking to Shared Boss about how to handle things in his absence, because I can easily see you getting stonewalled when Difficult One knows he’s not around to lay down the law. I’m not generally a fan of “team lead” or “tech lead” designations, but I wonder if there’s a way he can give you enough autonomy/authority to overrule Difficult One or implement edits directly if it’s necessary to keep moving forward.

        2. Oranges*

          I think you’re basically toast here for getting along with your co-worker. People who are so invested in being “right” will not “get along” with anyone besides a complete doormat (usually). I get wanting to get along with your co-worker but your boss is falling down on their job here. They need to state to your co-worker “I need you to accept feedback without any negative ‘repercussions’ on the person giving it.” Your co-worker can feel however they like to but they can’t make correcting them harder for other people. That’s a no go.

          I’d actually have a sit down with your boss stating what your co-worker has done when you’ve corrected her and how you’ve reacted. Figure out your own personal boundaries around what you’re willing to take from co-worker and outline it to your boss. I have no scripts for this whatsoever.

          Eg. I have found that I do better when I critique one co-worker via email/writting and then… not worry about their reactions if possible. If this practice was abnormal in my work-space I would sit down with my boss and state something along the lines of “Gary’s push-back on feedback is creating issues around correcthing their mistakes. To make it easier on myself I want to put all feedback in email form so I don’t have to have a 2 hour long battle about how the feedback is incorrect or it’s not Gary’s fault.”

          So what happens if co-worker just… can’t. Like they get the email and storm over to your desk? Well, in that case PASS THE BUCK. Your manager gets the money for doing this very thing. THEY are responsible for their minions. So you might need to become a broken record on this “Part of my job is feedback according to Manager. Please see manager if you have issues with that” Because her brain isn’t in any space to listen to reason at that moment and it’s not your job to make her see.

          Also, passing the situation “up” the ladder can light a fire under your manager. It’s always good to try to solve problems on your own if possible but this isn’t one for you to solve. If your manager continues to avoid this issue they’re going to loose good people and harm the company. Also you’ll have to do a cost/benefit analysis.

        3. AnotherJill*

          A good thing about your issue is that the boss is aware of the difficulties. Although that obviously depends on how well he/she manages the employee.

          This might sound unpleasant, but have you tried getting to know your co-worker a little on a more personal level? Sometimes just being trying to get to know someone in ways not related to work can help those kinds of issues. People generally become defensive when they feel insecure about themselves, so removing the stressors from some conversations can help.

          1. Bittersweet_Charity*


            That’s a good idea!

            Defensive Co-worker has a young daughter, whom she dotes on constantly. Taking an interest in the child would likely build some inroads.

            1. Anon Accountant*

              I wonder if there is a way to phrase your feedback so that coworker doesn’t get as defensive? Maybe instead of saying “x is wrong. You need to do y” can you say “I can see why we’re doing x here. However, it is my experience that y is faster and leads to fewer clerical errors, therefore going forward we need to be doing y” or something similar, where you’re not presenting the issue as criticism, but rather as an improvement or a change in strategy? I have made (reasonably) good experiences with trying to find one good thing in the thing that we will then change and using “we” a lot to indicate that you’re a team on this. I could see somebody getting defensive (wrongly so, but still) if they thought “ugh, this new person hasn’t even arrived yet and is already changing things without even understanding how we do things around here.” I’m not at all justifying that reaction, but I could see that being where some of the defensiveness originates.
              I think I’d only so far if it were me though. I’d try to be pleasant and professional, avoid becoming visibly upset, try not to engage in negotiations or back-and-forths. Basically if your boss has said this is the new way of doing things, then that’s the way it is, and your coworker needs to accept it. Its not your job to make sure that your coworker doesn’t feel threatened by your existence.
              Good luck!

        4. Anion*

          Maybe try not fighting?

          I don’t mean that in a crappy way; I mean it literally. Like, my husband’s ex-wife used to call and pick fights with him once every few months (this was early in our marriage), and he finally realized that it takes two people to argue and so stopped responding to her in a way that gave her an opening to argue.

          So in your case, you would say something like, “Hey, Boss wanted these edits made, can you get those done [or whatever it is that Boss asked you to pass on]?” And if she argues, you either just smile and say, “I understand. Boss wants these edits made, can you get those done?” Just keep repeating yourself. Do not address her points/complaints, do not say anything other than “Okay. Boss wants this,” period. “I understand you don’t agree, but Boss has made this decision and we need to carry it out.” And if she pushes back further, tell her she has to take it up with Boss.

          Or you could try responding to her arguments with, “Okay,” and nothing else, if it’s a situation where you don’t need her to act on anything. Just “Okay,” and that’s it. Don’t give her an opening; don’t behave as if the subject is up for discussion. Whatever you do, don’t argue back. Just keep smiling and pleasantly repeating yourself or saying “Okay,” or “I understand.”

          If you feel like commiserating or trying to improve your relationship, you could try something like, “I know we don’t always agree with what we’re told to do, but we have been asked to do this/do it this way/make these changes, so let’s just get them done, okay?”

          The point and goal is just to not get drawn into an argument, basically; don’t give her an opening to push back or yell at you, don’t offer to discuss it or allow her to make you discuss it.

          My husband never really considered that he could just refuse to engage on this level and he could stop caring about being “right” or defending himself against accusations of being “wrong.” A lot of people don’t/don’t think of it that way (I didn’t realize it until someone gave that advice to me, either). But you’re perfectly free to simply refuse to engage in discussion about it, and to keep repeating your boss’s request in a pleasant, smiling, even understanding fashion while still refusing to argue over who’s right or who’s wrong. Since he started doing that, not only did he stop spending hours on the phone arguing with his ex but she finally stopped calling so much because she wasn’t getting what she wanted out of those conversations anymore. We’ve both found it immensely useful in many situations.

          The added benefit here is that not only are you not being rude or forceful, and you’re not arguing, but that it puts the responsibility on her to act or not act. You have given her the instructions/feedback very clearly. You’ve made it clear that this comes from above you. She is refusing to comply, and thus the onus for explaining why she refused to comply is on her and not you. Because it’s not your job to manage her or make her do X or Y, that’s really all you can do and the responsibility does belong directly on her shoulders.

          I really hope that helps! It’s extremely sucky to have to deal with people like that, I hope it gets better.

    4. another Liz*

      Yeah, I have been in your shoes. I don’t agree with trying to make friends, that just gives ammunition for ” you’re just saying that because (something from personal conversation totally irrelevant to work)”. You know how sometimes Your Boss Sucks And Isn’t Going To Change? This is Your Coworker Sucks And Isn’t Going To Change. In my case, Defensive would guard her processes, because nobody could say she was doing it wrong if nobody else knew how to do it. She was quite proactive in pointing out everyone else’s errors directly to the boss, to make herself look better by comparison I guess? The only thing that resolved it was her eventually leaving, but your manager sounds much more involved than mine too, so use that to your advantage. Ask how they want it handled, and stick to their plan. I would limit contact as much as you can, keep everything super professional, find ways to not lose your temper no matter how frustrating it gets, and document document document. Good luck.

  23. Forget T-Bone Steak, Let's Eat T-Rex Steak*

    My workplace is so bad at employee transfers. It’s honestly easier for them to hire someone from outside than to move a worker from one department to another. About a month ago I started a new position in a different department and it’s been a rough transition.

    My access to the purchasing system is in limbo because my training is out of date. That’s fine and I can re-take the training…except that when I retook it last week, the training didn’t issue me a new certificate of completion because I had previously completed it. I emailed the training help desk to see if they could update it with the new date and got a rather patronizing reply about how to log in and print a certificate (NOT MY QUESTION! CAN YOU READ? THAT CERTIFICATE HAS BEEN DEEMED OUTDATED!)

    I also haven’t been paid for the last couple of days I worked at my previous position. Apparently when HR updated my profile in the personnel system, my timesheet disappeared into the void and now no one can figure out how to pay those hours.

    No question. Just a lot of frustration.

    1. Tara*

      I knew a lot of the back systems and I still had trouble moving all my accesses/etc. when I changed departments. Unsolicited advice: do you know who the security coordinator is? Three months of forms and requests got me nowhere, but being able to email one guy directly got my complicated accesses set up in a week.

    2. BRR*

      Not answering a question is a big pet peeve of mine. I don’t always know how to handle it.I hat having to ask the same question four times because I feel like it reflects more on me than the person who didn’t do what they were supposed to do.

  24. STG*

    So, I accepted a new position a few months ago at a different employer. The department gathered up money for a ‘going away’ giftcard which ended up being around 75 bucks as well as a department lunch. I wasn’t aware that this was happening until my last day. So, I left to move to the new employer. Well, the position ended up being a poor fit so after a few months, I negotiated with my original employer to come back with a promotion and a raise. So, now I’m back in my original department. Nothing has been said but I personally feel guilty now about the gift since I ended up returning. I’m not sure how to handle it though. Should I give cash back to the person who originally organized the gift? Should I buy a lunch for everyone as thanks? Money is a little tight since my partner lost his job before I returned but I could make it work. Thoughts or ideas?

    1. Laura*

      Ignore it. A gift doesn’t come with strings and returning it would be awkward. If you’re feeling particularly like showing appreciation, just bring in cookies/donuts/coffee whatever for the team (once, only once) then try and put it out of your mind.

      1. Amber O.*

        Agreed- the gift was a gesture from your team mates and I’m sure none of them are even thinking about how they gave you something and now you’ve returned. A small token of appreciation like what Laura listed would be plenty sufficient as a “thanks for being so great before I left, and I’m happy to be back.”

        1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

          This happened a few months ago? Then they probably think you’ve already used the gift card, so no harm no foul.

        2. Jane of all trades f/k/a anon accountant*

          Totally agree! Bring in bagels and coffee one morning, or whatever works for your workplace, and that’s it! Don’t worry about it.

    2. Adlib*

      If I were at your original company and contributed, I wouldn’t even be thinking about it. I’d be welcoming you back and not even thinking about that gift. There may be some who might be, but I don’t think you should be obligated to return the favor. After all, you couldn’t have foreseen the situation unfolding as it did.

    3. Observer*

      Unless the place has a history of pressuring people into giving gifts, you have nothing to feel guilty about. You didn’t ask or even hint that people should give you gifts, and you took the new job in good faith. Stuff happens.

      If you really want to do something and it’s appropriate to your work culture, you could bring something in for the group. It doesn’t even have to be a full lunch but if you pick up some doughnuts or even (if you want to be more lavish) something like bagels and a couple of spreads, that would be more than enough. Not as an apology but as an acknowledgement that you’re back at work with a cool team of people.

      1. STG*

        Thanks a lot. There isn’t any sort of pressure so I think I’m going to take your idea about bagels on Monday.

  25. Overeducated*

    All I have to say is that with what’s going on in the news, now is a really frustrating time to be waiting on a federal job offer! I was told I’d probably hear from HR this week but haven’t, and who knows how long it will be if there’s a shutdown. I am scheduled to fly out for an interview with a non-federal job next week, but that’s not the job I want….

    My sympathies to all employees and contractors who are dealing with the prospect of some professional and potentially financial disruptions.

    1. Snark*

      It’s an annoyance to the contractors, but it’s a genuine imposition on the (generally hard-working and competent, contrary to the stereotype) Federal employees, who won’t get paid on time and wait for Congress to authorize back pay whenever checks resume. Sucks when a morgage and bills need paid.

      1. Overeducated*

        I think it depends on the type of contracts and contractors, right? I’m thinking of, for instance, the people who clean federal office buildings but aren’t employees, whom I’ve heard won’t be able to work or be eligible for back pay. Whereas those working on many of our larger project-based contracts will (I’m glad you will, and I’m not technically a contractor but I should still get paid).

        1. Snark*

          Oh yes, that’s very true – I’m thinking mostly of support contractors like me, but yeah, the cleaners and field crews and so on will probably be holding the short end. :(

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            My team’s on a time & materials contract. If we can’t work, we can’t get paid. End of.

            It blows.

            BUT it blows less for a professional married to another professional (working in the private sector this time, thank god) with some cushioning in the bank account than it must blow for e.g. the presumably lower-paid and therefore probably further-up-against-their-means maintenance staff.

    2. KR*

      Ugh ugh ugh – I came here to post about the impending shutdown too. My husband is in the military and we’ve been waiting on Congress to approve the bonus so his reenlistment can go through. He got the reenlistment he wants but he can’t sign any paper cementing it until the goddamn Congress passes a budget. UGH. If our pay gets delayed I’m going to have some Words To Say.

        1. Snark*

          Makes you wonder whether we’d see this if legislators’ pay were docked the same as every other Federal employee’s.

      1. Snark*

        Unfortunately, my guess is that timeline is entirely dependent on the unknowable variable of when a budget or CR gets signed, so they’d be hard pressed to give a timeline beyond “whenever we get back to work and pick up where we left off.”

      2. Overeducated*

        I don’t think anyone will be able to give me one, but I did email the hiring manager to flag that I haven’t heard from HR yet just in case that helps. I’m sure there are more pressing fires to put out in that office, though.

        1. Overeducated*

          (Update: hiring manager confirmed everyone is running around prepping, they haven’t heard updates from HR either, and apologized for the frustration and uncertainty. I appreciate the sympathetic responsiveness, though of course I’d prefer the written offer….)

    3. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      I’m sorry to hear that’s you’re waiting for that offer. I’m a current federal employee, and I’m pretty nervous about a potential shutdown. My agency has about a week of carryover funding, but beyond that, I’ll probably be sitting a home furloughed. It’s uncomfortable for sure. Good Luck on everything with the offer!

      1. Garland Not Andrews*

        We won’t have funding for anything other than essential personnel, so looks like I’m out on my ear unless our annoying leaders can get their collective heads out of their collective backside and do their jobs!

    4. Aluminosilicate*

      I (miraculously ) got an offer for a fed job during the last shutdown. It can happen! It was unclear how I would be able to actually show up and start work at the time, though. As well as salary negotiations being interesting.

      1. Overeducated*

        I have a verbal offer, but not a written one, and given the current situation “I want to hire you” is very far from “here’s the paperwork from HR.” How did yours work? I’m curious!

  26. fat anon clothing question*

    What do you think about flowy dresses at work?

    For context, I’m fat. And I’m fat in a way that you see much more often in men than women: I have a paunch so my belly significantly hangs over in front. Wearing sheath dresses or pencil skirts or anything that is supposed to be close to the body make me look like a sausage pressed into the clothes.

    Even though that’s where I’m thinnest, empire waist also looks terrible (or very pregnant).

    I have found though that I do pretty well with a A-line or fit and flare cut. However, while A-line should be pretty okay at work, what’s your stance on fit and flare? (For reference, I buy a lot at eshakti.)

    My company is relatively conservative, but we’re backoffice; if they’re clean you can come in jeans, blazers are not expected and sleeveless clothes are fine if the straps are wide enough. No motto shirts. So it’s not that I would be called out for wearing a full skirt, but I keep wondering if it’s okay to do so.


    1. Overeducated*

      If your office is that casual then I think flowing skirts are absolutely fine. I’d wear one before wearing jeans or anything sleeveless.

      1. fat anon clothing question*

        Well our age structure is 30s to 60s; the men wear shirts (by choice though) my manager dresses up but she’s frequently in contact with upper management. And even her boss wears jeans on occasion.

        I do wear jeans, but I finally have the confidence to wear dresses and I totally want to. And I would totally wear sheath dresses but….there’s the sausage problem.

        Thanks for your answer!

    2. artgirl*

      I think you can go for it! Maybe something with layers of tulle would be too much, but the general shape of fit/flare is generally not too ostentatious or non-conservative, IMHO.

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        Exactly this! So no tutu-esque skirts and you should be golden. You’re basically just describing a maxi dress, which I wish I could find long enough for me in-store. I know I could do the eshakti thing, but I want something less expensive to just throw on and go out on weekends.

        1. fat anon clothing question*

          If you’re lucky you can get dresses from eshakti for about $35 (with 40% off on special days) if you don’t want silk or something, though.

      2. Clever Name*

        I was going to say pretty much this. Maybe stick to solid colors or geometric prints and not floral (which feels less business-y to me)?

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I wear floral fit-and-flare dresses in business casual offices and always get told I looked dressed up. So it depends on the floral and the fabric used to make the dress.

    3. Squeeble*

      I think that’s more than fine! We’re pretty standard business casual here, and I see quite a lot of dresses like the ones you’re describing (bought one myself last week at eshakti). If anything, it sounds like you might be slightly dressier than your coworkers, but not in an outlandish way.

      1. fat anon clothing question*

        Not really, my male coworkers all wear shirts (by choice, I think it’s their uniform?) no jackets, my manager is super dressy, and the rest of my coworkers wary by day. Jeans are okay, doesn’t mean everyone wears jeans.

        Thanks for your answer!

    4. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      I think that a flowy dress or skirt would be perfectly fine. I have a fit and flare dress that I wear to work often.

    5. anyone out there but me*

      I checked out Eshakti and I think the fit and flare style is lovely. Paired with a cardigan or a blazer and some nice shoes and you have what I considered my work “uniform” for many years when I worked in a professional office. I work from home now so most days I’m in my yoga pants :)

      1. fat anon clothing question*

        Ah shoes. That’s my next project, because I have weird feet and can’t wear heels or ballerinas, so I’m always on the lookout. I’m not wearing sneakers though, so I think I’m okay.

        I love working in my pyjamas from home. ;)

    6. Manders*

      Ugh, I have a similar body type, and finding work clothes has always been a pain. I think fit and flare dresses can look professional, so long as they’re otherwise appropriate for the office (so: no weird cutouts, no really hems, etc).

      I also found the peplum trend from a few years back flattering on my body–the waist nips in right where it’s thinnest, and the ruffles cover the paunch. I’ve had a hard time finding peplum dresses recently, I should have grabbed more when they were popular.

        1. NaoNao*

          Another possible type of dress or top would be rusching or faux wrap at the waist—I have a couple for days when I feel a bit “extra belly”. I think a flowing midi dress might be the way to go—I’ve seen some dresses recently that (for lack of a better term) have no definition and are very loose from the neck to the mid-calf. One can create definition with a belt or blazer or just leave loose, thrown on some tights and boots or some flats in warm weather and go.
          Something that might also help is to visually “cut” the area: wear a cardigan, or blazer overtop of the dress, so that the middle section is visually more narrow than without the topper. Sometimes dresses are even made with these “optical illusion” panels, where the sides are black and middle panel is printed.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      Absolutely. I’m apple-shaped and I wear flowy a lot. As long as you’re not going for earth-goddess or beachy, it’s fine. (Rule of thumb: would this outfit look good with a flower crown? If so, don’t wear it to work.)

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        I was going to say stay away from costumey (it is so a word!) and fit and flare is perfect for work.

    8. Cats and Dogs*

      As a fat eshakti-lover myself, I swear by them (pockets!). I work in a business casual office. Jeans on fridays. If I have a particular event with VIPs or something, I’ll wear a more structured or more conservative/neutral patterned dress. (But, I would think you can always add a belt or blazer to a fit and flare dress to make it more “proper” if needed.) I get compliments on my eshakti dresses all the time.

        1. fat anon clothing question*

          Thank you!

          I like the more neutral stuff anyway (the wildest I went was a sakura-patterned one?), I think the midis are sort of a bit out there but I still think they’re okay. I feel better with hems (way) below the knee. I think I just think they’re a bit weird because it’s not what I typically see in the office, that may be because it doesn’t run with the fashion where I am.

          I have also gotten compliments and so has my friend who orders from them a lot.

    9. Detective Amy Santiago*

      As another fat gal who prefers dresses, I highly recommend the Piphany brand Rocklin Wrap. They are a company that is set up similar to LuLaRoe, but less expensive and, IMO, better quality. I got one for a wedding and it is very comfortable and flattering.

    10. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      My office has a similar dress code and I wear flowy skirts and dresses all the time. I’m extremely bottom heavy and more fitted skirts/dresses tend to ride up on me because mu hips and rear are disproportionaly large compared to my waist and upper torso. I don’t think there needs to be the expectation that everything you wear will be structured as long as you don’t go full-on Cochella bohemian. ;)

      1. fat anon clothing question*

        Fitted, see that’s the word I was missing. (ESL here.)

        Thanks, I really like collecting all thoughts about this!

    11. Pollygrammer*

      I always try to balance a-little-less polished in one garment with a-little-more-polished in another–so if I throw a blazer over something more informal (those pants-that-are-almost-but-not-quite-jeans, a flowy skirt) I feel like I come out even. I have a couple knit, machine-washable blazers that work with everything.

    12. OperaArt*

      I wear eShakti fit-and-flate dresses to work at least a couple of times a week. My workplace is on the casual end of business casual.

    13. AwkwardestTurtle*

      I have a paunchy belly too and it’s so weird how some stuff makes you look super pregnant. I like to wear nice flows tunics over pencil skirts or pants dressed up with a nice necklace or snarf.

      Also I found city chiq to have awesome fit n flare stuff. Mostly dressier but some work for work. Occasionally they have big sales

      1. fat anon clothing question*

        I’m not in North America, so I am brand-challenged on occasion.

        Pencil skirts with tunics are an interesting idea! I need to try that when I’m a bit braver!

        And yeah, clothes are super weird regarding the looking pregnant thing. It’s either pregnant (especially with empire waist) or you can really see the very sharp drop below the paunch because the fabric follows the body. Even though I think some people will wear it anyway, I don’t feel comfortable in it.

        1. AwkwardestTurtle*

          I’m in the US and buy from them online (usually when they have an “outlet” where there’s lots of stuff $40 and under). Online can be tough though because you don’t know what’s going to look good when it’s on.

          Also I think your current workwear situation sounds fine and office appropriate!

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          Try fit-and-flare dresses from Closet London. They may be able to ship you some things for cheap depending on where you are.

    14. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Fit and flare is fine. Eshakti is actually really great for this, as a lot of their fit and flare is cut so that it doesn’t flare strongly. I’ve also found that Torrid knit “skater” cut dresses can do very well too, as long as you pick a fabric and color that is otherwise professionally suitable. (Link to an example to follow)

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Their non-knit dresses are great too. I’m going to link to one that’s probably the most flattering item of clothing I own. Since the poster is not in North American, I don’t know that Torrid is an option, but you can look for similar styles.

    15. YarnOwl*

      Fellow fat here, and I wear flowy dresses a lot! Especially in a more casual place like it sounds like your office is, I think as long as they’re not super low cut or spaghetti straps or anything, you’re good. Especially lots of the stuff at eShakti; very cute and trendy but still professional mostly.

      I have been wanting to buy stuff from eShakti but keep putting it off! You’ve inspired me to just do it already.

    16. Sutemi*

      I think the appropriateness has a lot to do with fabric, not just shape. Very lightweight fabrics and many big floral prints don’t read as professional to me. A fit and flare in a medium weight fabric isn’t unprofessional.

    17. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

      I’ve worn fit and flare dresses for years, both in my insurance-servicing company and my current not-for-profit (business casual). As long as the skirts aren’t crazy full (like a tutu, as mentioned elsewhere), you should be fine. I’m a pear shape, so that style is my go-to, and I often top with a cardigan (since I’m usually cold).

    18. LCL*

      I have seen some great career look clothing at Eloqui. I have bought a couple things from them for parties and they were exactly as advertised. I can’t speak to the work appropriateness of dresses because our dress code here is totally different and I am unfamiliar with the office type of dress code.

    19. Bleeborp*

      I’ve never thought twice about wearing fit and flare dresses to work, they seem perfectly appropriate to me (I’ve worn them to job interviews with a blazer, so maybe I’m just the one off base!) I am also fat but have a different body shape (all my fat is in my hips butt and legs) and a fit and flare is also more flattering for me, pencil skirts can look obscene on me!

    20. Observer*

      If the pictures I’m seeing are anything to go by, then fit and flare dresses would be fine even in a conservative / formal office as long the rest of it is ok and you had something like a blazer with it. (Like I’d avoid large floral prints, or something that’s too low cut, etc.) For a casual office? 100% appropriate.

    21. Coalea*

      I think a knee-length A-line or fit-and-flare dress in the right fabric and color/print can be totally office appropriate. You can always add a blazer or cardigan if you want to be a bit more formal.

      When you say “flowy,” that makes me think long, like a maxi dress, which I don’t think would be right for most offices.

    22. The Ginger Ginger*

      I find that adding a nice looking shrug or cardigan (not a baggy one, but a more tailored one) to any dress is going to make it look much more professional and put together. So if you’re feeling unsure about a dress, slap a nice cardi on it the first few times until you get a feel for how the dress is being received in office.

      I also think your shoes are going inform how casual your outfit reads. Pumps or nice ballet flats are going to read as more formal than any type of sandal or open shoe.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      This is pretty general for anyone. My thought on clothing is that the garment should not have so much fabric that it’s always getting caught on things. If you buy something with a lot of fabric to it, the garment should move with you, not brush off things on the side and so on. I have avoided some things because I can just see the wheel of my chair getting caught on top of it or similar type of situation.
      My husband used to constantly watch my handbag. I had a knack for pushing it to my back while I shopped. He loved to point out, “You almost wiped out that entire shelf of glassware.” ” Almost” would be the key word here. I never did. But his point was valid that we should think about what we are wearing in relationship to what it is we are doing.

    24. Unnamed Sister*

      You might also look at Leota brand, and also Eileen Fischer’s plus/plus petite wool skirts. They are thick (eliminates the sausage casing issue) and comfy and I think pretty forgiving to my (similar) body! But I think what you’ve already selected is also likely to look great! Sometimes I do realize it’s a lot more than just the style, but the color, the use monochrome and lines, and tailoring. For our bodies, a small nip or a little hemming etc can turn “not quite” into “absolutely right!” I always have to hem and also take in strappy things – and regret it when I don’t.

    25. fat anon clothing question*

      Thank you all for your very kind answers and great suggestions! I will definitely also check out the other brands you mentioned!

  27. Fake old Converse shoes*

    Current mood: furious and trying not to murder the head of Social Media, who was more racist than usual this week. And her direct reports who agree with everything she says as well. I really don’t want to know why and how they keep their jobs.

  28. Cats and Dogs*

    When it rains, it pours. My boss recently went on maternity leave. Her boss recently quit. We’re also in the process of filling another senior position in my department. And guess who is running the department until these three (more senior than me) positions are back on track…. Needless to say, STRESS. I’m worried about big projects, I worry about strategic plans, I worry about my weekly meetings with the top dog in my company, because now I report to him (though he’s currently been pretty supportive). I worry, a lot.

    Hoping someone out there has some techniques, success stories, thoughts, prayers, or general empathy to share as I try to not sink the ship over the next few months.

    1. saucy den*

      General empathy here! I posted below how I’m now running a two-person department solo. Stress-city.

    2. Sabrina Spellman*

      I feel your pain! My coworker left in October, so I’ve been pulling double duty until we can hire someone new. Our part-timer just turned in her two weeks notice which means I’m also feeling the stress.

    3. Irene Adler*

      Can you get permission from top dog to “back burner” some projects? Are there others there who could be tasked with some duties (to lighten your load)? Can you get a temp or two in there to delegate your more basic tasks to and free up some of your time?
      Have you made it clear to top dog just how stressed you are? It’s one thing to be supportive, another to pitch in and actually do some of the work.
      One thing I got when I was overloaded with work projects: “Gee, you never asked me to help. I would have if you’d only said something to me.” Make sure you are doing that to the extent that you can.

      1. OtterB*

        Agreed. You cannot do everything, three people plus yourself would normally do and trying to is a huge stress generator. Be sure you are up front with top dog about this, and that the two of you are on the same page about priorities and/or anything that can be done to lighten the load in the meantime.

    4. Oranges*

      Empathy. That situation sucks.

      Don’t think you can single-handedly save the ship though. You can only bail so much water out of a sinking ship. Yeah it sucks that 2 meteorites fell on the ship but, you’re not to blame for them. Ask where your bailing will do the most good and know that some “cargo/provisions” (aka projects) are gonna get ruined by water. Hopefully you’ll still have enough to get where you need to go but if you don’t, it wasn’t because of something you did. It was because you’re not super-woman nor should you try to be because jumping off buildings only works if you can fly.

    5. Competent Commenter*

      Document, document, document. If. you know that something is going to be done past deadline/not done, let them know ahead of time in writing, “With Mary and Bob out, there are some areas that cannot be covered sufficiently. Project X is due on the 5th, and at current staffing levels we’ll need to either change that deadline or put other projects on hold. I recommend we change the deadline to the 20th for various important reasons. Please let me know if this is how I should proceed.” Or some such. Just get it in writing. Be out front with it. Don’t hide that there’s a problem.

      Also, set limits very early. Unless you’re a health care working or a firefighter, etc. no one’s going to die if things don’t get done. Don’t sacrifice yourself on this altar. Sure, working a little late, or being seen to work a little late, on occasion is okay. But there’s very little good that comes out of working way overtime for weeks or months on end. If anything it can delay the hiring of another person if you seem to be covering it on your own. So when someone says, on Friday “I need 30 hours of work done by Monday” you can say “That won’t be possible; how would you like to proceed” rather than “okay I’ll do it.”

      I’ve been in this situation short term and long term scenarios and in retrospect I should have set limits earlier. Generally my experience is that no one really thanks you for that extra work. It’s taken for granted, it’s not reimbursed, and you just start burning out. You are a precious and limited resource. Do not deplete yourself. No one else is going to look out for you.

      This all sounds more cynical and ominous than I intend it, just trying to be firm. YMMV. You may have better bosses. But I’ve been working for 30 years and I wish someone had set me straight on these issues way earlier.

    6. Thlayli*

      If you haven’t already done so, meet with the current person who is next up from you (your great-grandboss?) and give her a list of everything you know of that is “to do”. Include long term projects and the day-to-day stuff. Ask her to prioritise it for you. Then just try to keep on top of priorities as best you can. A weekly meeting with her would also seem appropriate, so you can keep her appraised of how well you are keeping on top of things and ask for guidance on anything you need to, andfind out of priorities need to shift.

      Also, if you want to move up in the organisation, this is the time to raise that. Ask to be considered for your bosses role.

      1. Thlayli*

        Sorry, just reread and realised your boss is on maternity leave, which if you’re in America is probably pretty short. I still find it hard to believe that American companies make people take unpaid leave and yet don’t replace them during that leave, but we won’t solve that situation here.

        Assuming you actually want to move up, the best thing from your perspective would be if your boss gets moved up to your grandboss role and you get your bosses role. But you probably can’t ask if your boss is being considered for grandbosses role.

        You might be able to ask if you can have more responsibility assigned to you on an ongoing basis, along with a corresponding increase in salary.

        Or depending on organisation and length of maternity leave, you might be able to ask for a temporary boost in salary to acknowledge the extra responsibility you’ve taken on while your boss is out. Where I live it’s common for people to take 6 months minimum maternity leave, and for someone else to be “acting head of department” in the meantime, with a tenpeorary raise to go along with it.

    7. Deus Cee*

      Communication and documentation. My dept of 3 (me most junior) went to a dept of 1 (me). I’m now going it alone, and if I were to try and do everything that we used to do when there were 3 of us, I’d burn out in months. I’ve made it clear with supervisors what needs to be done, and of that what I am able to do in the time available, asking their input on what I should be prioritising, but letting lower priority things slip – and making it clear to them that this is happening as a direct result of not having enough staff to do them. That way if they say “why hasn’t this been done?” I can say “I said I was focusing on abc, this is xyz. I can focus on xyz if you like, but this will be at the expense of abc. What would you like me to work on?”

  29. Dorothy Zbornak*

    Was I right to decline this interview?

    I applied for an Associate Director level position in a different field — I’m currently in higher ed. I have nearly 5 years of professional experience, so while it isn’t in that particular field (though that field is NOT a huge leap away from what I’m currently doing), I have all of the skills they were looking for and wrote a great cover letter demonstrating that (thanks to AAM!). I figured it was a long shot, but what the heck.

    I was contacted by someone in HR saying that while I didn’t have the right background for the Associate Director position, she wanted to phone interview me for a Coordinator role — looking at the job description, it seemed like an entry level admin sort of role that only required 1-3 years of experience. I made a lateral move to take my current role, and I’m really looking for something to finally advance my career rather than make another lateral move or even take a step down, which is what it really looks like this role would have been. I also really doubted that they could meet my salary expectations ($60k for a Coordinator role seems unlikely), and Glassdoor reviews implied the company is a mess and they have difficulty meeting payroll.

    For all of these reasons, I sent a polite thank you declining the interview. I’ve never done that before — I read tips on other sites saying that you should ONLY decline interviews if you have an offer, or you know from a friend that the place is terrible, etc. etc. Did I make the right move here? I just had a gut feeling from the job description that I wouldn’t want this job, so why waste my time, but the other little part of me goes “well, you’ll never really know until you talk to them about it…”

    Ugh! Happy Friday to everyone!

    1. fposte*

      I think that seems perfectly reasonable. They said “Hey, are you possibly interested in this other job?” and you weren’t, so you said so. If it’s not a job you’d have applied to if it were posted, I don’t see any further obligation for you just because they mentioned it to you personally.

        1. Anony*

          I think the advice against declining interviews may be geared towards people who are unemployed and therefore have little to lose by potentially wasting some time in an interview if it turns out that they do not want the job but a lot to gain if it turns out that they would want the job. If you already have a job and didn’t even apply to the position it would be a huge waste of time for you to go to the interview.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I think you’re always right to decline an interview for a position you wouldn’t take, so it sounds like you did the right thing here.

      But, some of your assumptions did seem a little off to me. I work in a large company, but an associate director would be like a 15 year experience position at my place. They would probably consider an internal Hi Po with less experience, but 5 years in higher ed probably wouldn’t cut it. To me, switching industries with 5 yrs experience and taking a position that requires 3 yrs experience in that industry sounds about right. (I definitely know what you mean about having transferable skills, and I would be frustrated by the same thing, but when your sitting on the company side rather than the job seeker side, you see it differently.)

      1. Dorothy Zbornak*

        Thanks for the reply! The Associate Director position only asked for 3-5 years of experience, and since I hit so many of the requirements so I felt comfortable applying.

    3. Overeducated*

      I think whether your assumptions are correct depends on the industry. It seems like coordinator is more entry-level in higher ed and non-profits, whereas you can be a higher up coordinator in government and make more than $60k, which has surprised some of my non-profit network. I don’t know at all about for-profit business titles though.

      1. Dorothy Zbornak*

        True! The job description was very admin-heavy (scheduling meetings, coordinating meeting logistics, setting up webinars), so while it’s not a higher ed/non profit organization, it rang all the same bells as coordinator roles in those industries do, and I’m really trying to move away from admin things.

        1. Overeducated*

          If the job description wasn’t what you wanted, then yes, it sounds like you did the right thing, gracefully.

  30. You make me wanna shout*

    There hasn’t been many stories about weird/wacky applicantioms (or interviewers) for a while. Anyone got amusing stories (hopefully this can be done without getting mocking or condescending). Surely these still happen (unless everyone has started reading this blog!)

    1. Lumen*

      The guy who came in for an interview at a business casual tech office in a full suit (good sign! the interviewers liked people who showed they were taking this seriously!) but was visibly sweaty and looked harried (we understand, maybe he was nervous or fighting something off).

      Later, during the interview, one of the tech directors sent me a brief email from his phone:

      “This dude is so high.”

      It was all I could do to keep my composure. I live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, and the office was fairly laid back, but you’d think it would still be understood that you don’t come to interviews (or work) stoned or drunk! The weirdest thing was that otherwise he seemed to have prepared (the suit, copies of his resume) but could otherwise barely function.

      After the interview ended and the candidate left the office, I looked up at the two interviewers (who were barely able to keep it together) and said “So should I just go ahead and archive him?”

      At which point we all just busted up laughing.

      1. sunshyne84*

        I’ve had people call to check on their application when I was in retail and they sounded high. lol One girl came in for an interview with leopard pants on.

    2. Triumphant Fox*

      There was a guy who came to interview at my last job and only referred to himself in third person. He also kept referring to himself with real slogan-type language.

      “Fergus is a powerhouse of enthusiasm, teapot knowledge and discipline.”
      “Fergus would make an excellent teapot coordinator and knows how to get the job done.”

      The interviewers at one point looked back at his resume to confirm that he was, indeed, Fergus.

      1. Oranges*

        I… would almost want to record that for posterity. Like was it really that bad? Looks at tape. Yes, yes it was.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I was the weird applicant. Fortunately my boss could not see it over the phone. I have a part Husky who talks, he is random and he is LOUD. I have tried hiding from him for phone interviews and that does not work. So when my current boss called to interview me, I got up on my bed and had him beside me. I rubbed his belly for the duration of the interview. She talked to me for over an hour. I tried changing hands. I tried sitting in different positions. At the end of the interview I was whooped. He did not make a sound. Years later she said it would not have mattered if he did. (palm to head)

      I interviewed for a temp job a while later. At this point in the story, I am sick of rubbing the dog’s belly to get through an interview. I was not as attentive as I had been in the past. He started talking, woo-woo, wooooo-woo-woooo, omg. The interview totally ignored it, said nothing and hired me anyway. Yep. She had a dog, too.

    4. Tedious Cat*

      I knew a woman who moved from NYC to the South and got an interview at a mutual friend’s company. She wore a purple velvet suit to said interview. When she didn’t get the job, mutual friend tried to gently explain that the suit was unlikely to make a professional first impression in the South. Interviewee was apparently quite offended by this feedback, as that was her POWER SUIT.

  31. Alet*

    So, sorry about not replying to anyone last week – I have a hard time with comment-style stuff (who do you reply to when five people say the same thing??). But anyway, it turns out everything was fine both because 1. I found a nice skirt and dress in the back of my closet and 2.”Business casual” apparently means “95% of everyone is wearing jeans with a nice top” here, so I had nothing to worry about to begin with!

    1. Aleta*

      Oops, my name should be “Aleta.” The ads do NOT play nice with my work computer and I can’t install an ad blocker.

  32. Shannon*

    Need some advice. My job is working with hospital patients, on the insurance side. This is my second employer in this field and while I love the work, the job is pushing me to burn out.
    We are understaffed and there isn’t a big push to bring us back up. People are constantly moved around (both physically and in duties). The work load is impossible to meet but I’m working with peoples’ bills and money so I can’t let things fall through.
    My office space itself is chaos. The people I share a space with have a very high speaking volume. I’ve gone from seeing my boss once a month to having her here all day. And she’s high strung. For her, everything is an emergency and needs to be done immediately. If she calls me and I don’t answer the phone she’ll call my coworker and ask where I am. I shouldn’t have to explain to another adult that sometimes I need to use the bathroom.
    Did I mention the pay is not great, the benefits are expensive, and we didn’t even get a cost of living raise?
    I was moved here to this employer after my previous employer lost the hospital contract, I didn’t seek this company out.
    Financially, I can’t change jobs for a few months. How do I survive until changes happen???

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Ugh, I’m sorry, that sounds miserable. Focus on the you-can-get-out-in-a-few-months part.

      Sometimes you have to recognize that impossible is impossible, no matter how important it is. Firemen put out fires, it’s their job, and it’s important. But if they don’t have any water, they’re not expected to go on putting out fires. That’s how it is when you’re overworked and understaffed.

      1. As Close As Breakfast*

        Or, to build on the fireman analogy, sometimes there are 4 different fires but only one fire truck with 3 firemen in it. Pollygrammer is right, recognize these times as the impossible situations that they are.

  33. AwkwardestTurtle*

    Has anyone used a Passion Planner…and this may sound silly…for a job you’re not really passionate about?

    I initially bought one this year to try and work on my career goals outside of work (they are only tangentially related to my job) and to try to build up a side hustle. It’s only a few weeks in but I feel like it’s tough to use it for that purpose since I’m basically leaving all the work time blank, and I haven’t had much free time to work on the outside-of-work career goals.

    Considering using the planner for the job I don’t love even though only a very small amount of it would help with my career goals. Since using the planner I’m much more organized in my home life but am still struggling a bit to be more organized at work.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I just use mine as a planner, without the Passion part. :) Honestly, if you’re not loving your job I don’t think the planner will make much of a difference – it’s not going to create passion where you don’t have it already. You could maybe use it to figure out what a “good enough” version of your job looks like, so you can spend more time and energy on your outside life? Or use it to figure out a way out of your job, and into something you would enjoy more?

      It doesn’t necessarily have to be for something you’re passionate about – just anything that needs goals and strategies and some long-term thinking. Or heck, just your day to day life, if that’s all you need it for. It’s just a tool, and you can use it any way you want!

      1. AwkwardestTurtle*

        There’s a lot of aspects of my job that I love (great bosses, new challenges, flexibility, good pay/benefits), I’m just not passionate about a lot of aspects of the work. I do think if I were more organized with work I would be able to focus more on the side hustle. So it might be a good idea to start including real-job if the passion planner. You’re totally right that it’s just a tool to set goals – they don’t *have* to be for something I’m passionate about if it’d improve my quality of life.

    2. KR*

      I wish I was the type of person to keep up with a planner because I am obsessed now that I’m looking at the website. My problem is I always start out using them and then abandon it after a month. I used them in school a lot so maybe when I return to school I’ll splurge to help keep work and school balanced.

      1. AwkwardestTurtle*

        I had not plannered since high school until the ripe old age of 26 when I was feeling overwhelmed just keeping my personal commitments straight. I was so impressed by how much less stressed I felt when everything was in the planner. This is my first year using the Passion Planner and I looooove it. I’ve found that making a time to look at it every day (either on the bus on my way to work in the morning, or during my wind-down-from-work routine when I get home) makes a huge difference.

    3. Goya de la Mancha*

      I just bought a Panda Planner in hopes of accomplishing the same thing. As far as scheduling goes, I use google calendar and don’t see that changing in the near future. I’m hoping the panda planner will help me improve and refine other aspects of my life (health, profession, self care, etc.)

      1. AwkwardestTurtle*

        Oooh, I had not heard of these! They look awesome! I almost wish I had known about these before I got the Passion Planner although I do love it.

    4. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      If the tool isn’t right for you stop using it and don’t let it make you feel bad.

      /somewhat of a side track that wasn’t really what you asked… but seemed like a good time to offer it up.

      I’d also really look at the need to find passion :) I have to be honest, I kind of wish that word would go away for awhile until people relearn how to use it realistically.

      I love my husband, passionately even some times, but after a long week of tough deadlines and high stress. Yeah, it’s good enough to just love him and appreciate him. Passion can wait until I’m not ready to crawl under the bed and hide.

      Work, I can be passionate at work, (see tough deadlines and stress above). But I’ll be damned if I expend that much energy to be passionate about my career and job. I like it, I have fun, and it allows me to live the life I want to live. That’s good enough for me :)
      /end sidetrack

      1. AwkwardestTurtle*

        Oh, I love the tool so far. Just initially when I bought it I was planning on not using it for the real-job and just try to help me focus on building a side hustle I’m passionate about. I love a lot about my job, but it isn’t going to be long-term. I am in a role where people typically last 2-4 years and I’m in year 3. There’s no real room for growth past where I am. People keep asking me what I want to do next/what my career goals are, so I guess I figured I’m better poised at this point in my life to explore the side-hustle as the full-time gig.

        But so far I don’t feel like I’ve had any time/motivation for the side hustle, although I feel much more organized and happy in my personal life. So I thought maybe it’d be helpful to use it for real-job so I can be more organized and thus happier, thus having more time/energy for the side-hustle.

    5. Lumen*

      Man, I hate it when stationery comes with a side of The Emotion(s) You Should Feel While Using This Stationery. Like this one notebook I saw that had this list of commands on the front: BE BRAVE BE BOLD BE LIGHT BE CREATIVE BE THIS BE THAT BE ALL THE THINGS and it just stressed me OUT. Good lord, I just want to write notes in you without worrying if I’m passionate enough!


      I use a bullet journal for the vast majority of my life, and I have a $7 weekly planner from a department store for keeping track of tasks and such at work. The bullet journal is endlessly adaptable for me (whether I want it to be a basic to-do list or a very pretty planner filled with ideas and trackers depends on the day/week) and the planner is all I need for a job that I am not ‘passionate’ about. I write down stuff I need to remember and that’s it.

      1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

        Reminds me of the nagging homework book that Hermione got everyone to study for their exams.

        “If you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s then you may do whatever you please!”
        “Do it today or later you’ll pay!”
        “Don’t leave it till later, you big second-rater!”
        ~J.K. Rowling

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        Man, I hate it when stationery comes with a side of The Emotion(s) You Should Feel While Using This Stationery.

        Oh, me too. That was actually part of my problem with Bullet Journal – I got lost in the Pinterest rabbit hole, and started to feel that my design skills were inadequate to the task of Bullet Journalling! I know there’s a similar one for the Passion Planner, but I’ve managed to avoid it so far. I’ve also given myself the same talk I gave AwkwardestTurtle above, that it’s totally okay to use this for non-passion-related things!

      3. AwkwardestTurtle*

        A lot of the reason I bought a Passion Planner is I didn’t want the headache of organizing a bullet journal and knew I would lose interest in it quickly because of the initial work. I need structure/organization and would rather spend my creative energy elsewhere than planning how to make my planner.

        I bought a cheap planner for work and stopped using it after a day. Since using the Passion Planner feels fun (I also invested in some fun inky pens for it) I’m more motivated to do the stuff in it so i thought it might help for work.

        Different stuff works for different people and that’s ok.

  34. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

    Does anyone have experience with using Upwork or other freelance job boards? I am looking into the possibility of doing some freelance work at home for extra money, but I am not sure where to start. Which job boards are the best to use? Does anyone have advice for avoiding scams when dipping into the world of freelance work?

    1. anyone out there but me*

      I am on Upwork, too. I’ve been a member for over a year but have not been active for several months. I am not sure if you are US based, but I am and I have limited my searches to US based companies only. This is because the last time I was searching, I put in quite a few submissions and every response I received was from a foreign company and turned out to be some sort of a shady deal (and I researched to make sure it was shady before I made the determination).

      So far I have not received any good responses this time around, but I just started about a week ago so we’ll see what happens.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      I have absolutely no advice on your actual question, but I wanted to drop in and say that I love your username!

    3. LilySparrow*

      I spent a couple of years freelance writing on Upwork and Guru. The interfaces are a bit different but the overall experience/caveats are about the same.
      If you have zero experience freelancing and no client base, they can be an easy way to pick up a few projects to create a portfolio. Finding clients who are prepared to pay what your time is worth is difficult unless you are in a very specialized niche.

      You can set minimum budgets in your searches, which is helpful. Only submit to clients with a verified payment method. Check the client’s feedback. I had some decent experiences with clients who were new to the platform and had no feedback yet. I also had some unpleasant experiences that way.

      I’d recommend focusing on gigs with an hourly rate until you have a good sense of how to price projects. I underpriced myself badly on my first several gigs. When you do bid on non-hourly projects, make sure to use the milestone and escrow system, so the money for the next phase of work is waiting for you before you start.
      Never agree to be paid outside the system. If you agree to email directly with a client, always copy anything about scope, deadlines, or changes to the brief into the platform’s message system.
      Look for clients whose business model requires ongoing work from you, rather than one-off projects. It’s better to retain good clients than constantly have to pitch.
      If you live in the US or another high-cost of living country, you will likely price yourself out of the market as you get experience. But by that time hopefully you’ll have a good portfolio, some clients you can take with you and the experience you need to run the business side for yourself.

    4. PopFunk*

      Try Fiverr. You post up your skills (they call it a gig) and buyers find you. I am based in Australia and get a few gigs a week. Minimum price you must charge is $5. I have tried Upwork too, but only found one decent client to work with. On Fiverr, the majority of buyers are repeat clients.

  35. Ten*

    This summer I started a job in a brand-new field after being out of work for a bit due to a mass layoff. I was optimistic at first, but time has revealed that the job is really a bad fit for me for multiple reasons. After I came home crying for the fourth time in six days, my husband put his foot down and told me to start looking for something else. But I’m torn; we’re trying to buy a house this spring and have some other plans that changing jobs would likely interrupt or complicate significantly. Should I request a transfer to a different department instead? If so, how would I go about that? I’m pretty sure switching departments would help with my primary issue, but the others would stay the same.

    1. Alice*

      That sounds tough. What’s the reason for the bad fit? The industry, or the company, or the job duties, or some really specific factor like your current manager? In real life there are probably many reasons, but if you can identify the top one or ones, you can try and solve those and see if it helps.

      1. Ten*

        I think it’s the field more than anything… it’s law, which is known for not exactly being easy to thrive in. Long-term I don’t think it makes sense to stay, even on another team, because I don’t see any opportunity for advancement in the direction I want to go. But I can’t shake the worry that jumping ship will just make life harder in the immediate future.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Get your job situation calmed down before buying a house. Not everyone, but some people can think that once they get a house they have to stay in Current Job no matter what. The reason for this is unforesseen expenses with the new house.

          We got lucky here. My husband was in a toxic job. But with everything else the stars were in alignment. We bought the house. He made the jump about a year or two later. Making that move to a new job was a bfd.
          We were lucky because it turned out to be one the better workplaces he had in his life. The new job was not ideal but, you know, does ideal really exist? So he stayed at it. What we found when we bought this house is that the people who were advising us were not even close in their estimates of what we would shell out. We spent every single penny we earned for the first six months we were here. Fortunately, at the six month mark we got raises then shortly after that my husband got a new job and we exhaled. Just to try to drive the point home, we bought a house that was 1/3 LESS than what we had been approved for. So we bought a modest house and still ending up rolling our pennies.

    2. WellRed*

      You came home crying four out of six days. Start looking. Maybe the house buying gets pushed back a bit, etc. Not easy, I know, but… your job makes you cry.

      1. Ten*

        You know, I was about to start typing something like, ‘Well that was a particularly bad week…’ and then I stopped and thought, wait, why am I defending this?

        You’re right, I need to leave. I guess my real question is, does it make more sense for me to leave right now or to transfer to another department to make things tolerable until I leave a year or so from now?

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I think it makes sense for you to start looking right now. It sounds like another department won’t help that much and considering your short tenure, I doubt a transfer request will do much other than signal that you’re unhappy.

          I’m sorry you’re going through this and I hope you find something awesome. If there’s any way for you to detach while at the office, do that as much as possible. If you need to quit this instant, then do so. You would probably be a lot happier working something flexible, if not super high paying and prestigious, while you look for a better full-time job anyway. I don’t know how long you’ve been at this job, but it sounds like it won’t go on your resume anyway, so bowing out earlier may be the best option.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            All of this. If you’ve only been in this job a couple of months, it’s highly unlikely your boss and HR would approve a transfer – they just hired you to do the job you’re in. Unfortunately, I think you’re going to have to push back the house buying plan and quit this job for your sanity/next job search’s sake. Job searching while in a terrible environment can lead you to taking up yet another bad job just to leave the one you’re currently in. You don’t want to do that.

    3. Ellie*

      Pick up your purse and GO. Your mental and emotional well being matter much more than money, and houses will still be waiting for you when you’re in a better job. Life is what matters- a job, even a career, is only a portion of your whole experience.

    4. Anono-me*

      Get out now!

      Find a job where you come home in a healthy state of mind at least 90-95% of the time. It is normal to have stressful or hard days once in a while, but not everyday. Ideally, in most jobs, you should come home and cry due to work no more than once every 5 years.

      Once you have found a new job. You can consider both your new salary and your new commute when looking for the new house.

      Remember most people spend more of their awake time at work than at home.

  36. Zahra*

    My (now former) employer laid off a ton of people Tuesday. In my department, about 3/4 were laid off. We did see it coming and most people had brought their personal stuff home beforehand.

    I’m mostly on a go-go-go, let’s apply to jobs, contact recruiters, etc. mode right now, but I’ll need to take a break soon, I think.

    If it happened to you, any word of advice?

    1. Tara*

      I had a “come in on Monday, told to go home because we can’t pay you” company go bankrupt kind of experience, and it sucked! We knew things were bad but we thought there’d be more layoffs, not a shutdown. I just went deep into “excel sheet of job applications” to track that I was applying to a certain amount of jobs each day. (I was young, so they were all entry-level type things.)

      Get out of the house if you can. I was kind of forced to because the people we were stealing our wifi from left town for a couple weeks and turned it off (the network name was WeKnowYoureStealingTheWifi, it was fine). It made me pack a lunch and go somewhere with free internet to apply for jobs. Keeping to that routine, sort of keeping the work day for job searching and keeping evenings for relaxing, made me not become overwhelmed with anxiety.

      Best of luck! Also, “My company laid everyone off” is the easiest answer I ever had for the “why are you job searching” question ;)

    2. Argh!*

      Therapy. Exercise. Appointments. Any kind of appointments that give you a reason to leave the house

    3. baconeggandcheeseplease*

      I’m sorry! This has happened me a couple of times and it sucks every time. If you haven’t given yourself time to be upset/angry/whatever, I would definitely take the weekend from the “find a job” frenzy and just relax/decompress.

      After you’ve done that, try to set yourself up for the week, whether that’s just getting a lot of sleep, or going grocery shopping, or planning out your time or whatever. I think it’s helpful if you try to keep some sort of schedule/agenda for the day, then when you’re done for that, to do stuff in your personal life.
      I’m sort of bad at that type of structuring, so I would just tell myself I need to apply to X number of jobs today, or I need to reach out x number of people (or both).

      Don’t forget to reach out to your network, if you liked your manager and they can help connect you. Most people are happy to help in these situations.

      Interview scheduling: make sure you give yourself time in between interviews esp. if you’re scheduling two/more in one day. I found that 2 in one day (for hour or less interviews) was my limit, maybe 3 if one was a phone interview.

      Don’t forget to do fun things and give yourself breaks. Good luck!!

    4. tab*

      I second the recommendation of exercise. I started going to the Y every day, and it helped me. Also, let *everyone* know that you’re looking for a job. It’s a good way to find out about openings. My layoff led me to starting my own business. It was something I’d never been interested in, but when people heard I was available, I started getting offers to consult. So, I got set up with Legal Zoom, GoDaddy for email & website, and a CPA that my neighbor recommended. That was eight years ago, and I’m making much more money than I ever did working for someone else, and I have more free time to travel. And, I still go to the Y! Good luck, this will lead to good things for you.

    5. Earthwalker*

      Once you’re organized for job searching it doesn’t take up as much of the day as it did at first. You can take half days for morale boosting activities like exercise, hikes, going to free events, and such, but not lolling around the house. You can consider it part of the job search effort since you need to keep an upbeat attitude so that you’re energetic and optimistic in interviews.

    6. Zahra*

      I meant to post this Saturday, but thank you all for your advice!

      I do get out of the house pretty much everyday: recruiters quickly got the word about the lay off and are reaching out to employees. I’ve been to at least one interview a day since last Wednesday. Most of them are recruiting agencies, but you never know where a good job offer might come from!

  37. Junior Dev*

    I am on my second week of the new job. Feeling a lot less anxious about it but it’s still pretty overwhelming.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      You know, it’s really common and understandable to feel overwhelmed and anxious in a new job. The fact your anxiety is going down at this early stage is a really good sign. You’re doing great, and I’m willing to bet you’re on the up and up. Hang in there.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      That is awesome progress! (I don’t think I’d manage to get to “a lot less anxious” in only my second week of a new job.)

  38. AdAgencyChick*

    Just venting: Right now I feel like my coworkers think that kid commitments are more important than other commitments (I’m in a performing group and they were pressuring me hard yesterday to skip a rehearsal to stay at work late, but the coworkers who need to leave at 5:30 to pick up their kids are never questioned).


    1. Princess Carolyn*

      If it were truly a matter of whose commitments are more important, I’d give priority to parents picking up their kids because, y’know, the well-being of a child is at stake. But of course that’s a false choice: it doesn’t matter whose commitment is more important because everyone deserves a certain level of predictability in their schedule so they can have a life outside of work. It sucks that your co-workers are focused on what you’re doing with your free time rather than whether you’re entitled to it.

    2. Penny*

      Totally in your shoes as well. It’s like if you’re single or childfree your time isn’t as important.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Super annoying. I’ve had to leave work early for ice show rehearsals; fortunately no one gave me any flak. If pressed about that, my response would be, “Sorry, but I cannot. Other people are depending on me to be there.”

    4. Sabrina Spellman*

      I’ve actually experienced the opposite (in my mind, at least) of this at my work. Coworker requested a day off for something to do with their child, but was denied because another coworker was already given the day. They were furious, but first come first serve on vacation days in a small office!

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ooh, I have been there. Rehearsals have been on the same night, at the same time, for years. I am always willing to work around them, but this is not news. When I had a really short commute, I was always willing to stay later and come in earlier than the people who had much longer train rides, but I had to be out of there no later than 6:15 every Tuesday. You have my sympathies.

    6. Camellia*

      Yeah, this reminds me that reading is my passion, my joy, my main hobby, but I have had numerous people approach me over the years and say, “Oh good, you’re not doing anything! Can you blah blah blah.”

    7. Student Affairs Professional*

      Ooohh yeah, this really grinds my gears. I don’t have any helpful advice but can commiserate. I worked at a nonprofit doing community education programs, and we were a team of three. My boss had a child, and co-worker and I did not. She would look at our upcoming calendar of requests and divide it out so that anything outside of “normal” working hours went to co-worker and I (including super early mornings at schools, weekend programs, and late evening programs) and she would take everything that fell between 10 and 4 because she had a child in daycare. I mean, I understand that, but it also made co-worker and I really annoyed that boss NEVER worked an evening or weekend when we did pretty much every single week.

      I would phrase things as “appointments” though – I feel like that garners less questioning, because it sounds official and people may assume it’s a doctor’s visit and you must be there. “Oh, I can’t stay late today, I have an appointment I need to get to.” It’s nobody’s business but yours whether your appointment is with a doctor, a therapist, a kickboxing class, or with your dog to take a walk. A child shouldn’t be the only acceptable reason to need to leave work on time.

      1. Thlayli*

        Yes this is the quick fix. Instead of trying to convince them that attending a rehearsal is as important as feeding a child dinner (which is a pretty hard sell) instead just say you have an appointment you can’t get out of, so the work just will have to wait until the next day.

  39. krysb*

    Hey, a question for those who went to school in Europe as an international student. Where did you go? How did you afford it?

    1. fposte*

      Can you give a little more detail? Does year-abroad stuff count or do you mean pursuing the whole degree there?

      1. krysb*

        Whole masters program. If I go to the UK, it’ll be one year, but most other schools in Europe will be two. I’m really only looking at schools that accept federal student loans, but in most cases, those loans aren’t enough to pay for living costs, too.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          I priced out my anticipated expenses in US dollars, doubled it, and that’s what I arranged to borrow (in an unsubsidized Stafford). But the dollar is doing a lot better against both the pound (especially) and the euro now than it was then. For the moment. I mean – I had some savings, but mainly I afforded it by incurring a lot of debt. I got a couple of part-time jobs as I was able but it was hard on my student visa. I counted on paying it off over a period of many, many years.

    2. rosiebyanyothername*

      I haven’t actually started yet, but in the fall I will be doing a masters in the UK. Depending on what you want to do, grad school can be much cheaper in Europe that in America, and the degrees usually take less time. Right now I’m working in an entry-level job and living at home to save up. I just graduated last spring and live within commuting distance of a major city, so it’s working out (plus my family is appreciating having me around for 1 more year before I move across the ocean). Many European countries have fellowships for international students (Fulbright, Marshall, Mitchell, etc–do your research) and most will recognize US federal aid.

    3. Buffy*

      I didn’t go myself but I had two friends go to England for a master’s program. One in public relations and the other in journalism. They both loved it and said they paid around $10k.

    4. AeroEngineer*

      I went to the Netherlands to get my masters in Aerospace Engineering at a Technical University. A lot of masters are in English here, but most bachelors are in Dutch.

      I did my bachelors in the US, but if I had done medicine I think I would have gone to St. Andrews. Would have gone there if they had had engineering in a heartbeat.

      For funding, I have EU citizenship, so the costs were lower than if I had to pay the full international fare, however, it was still a lot for me since I was funding everything on my own. I ended up working during my studies and taking out a small loan to get past my last year from the Dutch Government. However, even the full international fare is cheaper than the equivalent in the US, so I probably would have done something similar to this. I think Germany is probably the cheapest option, but you will be restricted by what you can study if you don’t speak German. But in short, save up ahead of time (or get loans etc.)

      The schools which accept federal aid are limited (I do not think my university does), I think a lot of them are in the UK or Germany. What do you want to study? Mainland Europe universities are split into technical and non-technical universities which offer different sets of options of things to study.

    5. Amey*

      What did you have in mind? Different European countries are quite different and the level you’re studying at makes a difference as well. I did my undergrad in the UK – it was a lot cheaper than going to college in the US and was 3 years instead of 4 but financial aid for international students in the UK is extremely limited. You can get US federal loans which cover some of it however, and I think these have actually gotten better since I was at uni about 13 years ago – I’ve seen postgrad students able to cover their tuition and basic living expenses through loans I afforded it through a combination of these loans and family help for tuition fees and after my first year I managed to pay my rent and modest expenses by working part time but I wouldn’t advise on counting on getting work when calculating the money you need. I’m still n the UK and work at a university as an immigration adviser for international students so this is my area – happy to answer any more specific questions if you’re interested in the UK as a destination :)

      1. Amey*

        Ah, I see you said you Masters and the UK is a possible destination – I’ve clearly had the open thread open for too long… Let me know if you have any questions I can help with.

        Just from the immigration side, be aware that for the UK you usually have to show that you have funding for the full amount of tution fees and 9 months’ living expenses (this is a set amount) up front to get your visa so you’ll need to factor that in. Also be aware that London is much much more expensive than the rest of the country so if you’re particularly worried about finances and you’ve got attractive options outside the capital, consider these! Tuition should be broadly similar but living costs are much higher.

    6. lame cab*

      I completed my masters in London about ten years ago. It was MUCH cheaper to do a one-year program than the comparable 2-year program in the US.

  40. Anthony's Song*

    I have my annual review coming up, and I’d stuck on how transparent I should be about a potential move/transfer in the next few years. One of the prompts in our review asks about your career path for the next few years, including mobility.

    My husband and I are planning to move cities, and have tentatively decided to move next summer (2019). I’m hoping to transfer within my company to another office.

    They’re directly asking about mobility in the next few years, so it feels like a lie of omission not mention my plans, but I’m concerned that mentioning the move could hurt me for the remainder of my time at Office A –
    For example, there’s a new long-term project about to begin, is it less likely that I’ll be on this project since I won’t be here to see it though?
    I’m eligible for a promotion this year, what if my current office overlooks me since I’m leaving?
    I’m applying for a leadership course in Office A (it’s a companywide program, but each office runs their own course), I will be in Office A for the duration of the course, but would I get less consideration since I won’t be in the same office soon after it’s complete?

    On the other hand, being transparent about my plans might be good, since I could then talk more openly with my supervisors about my options, and even get their advice on what offices would be a good fit for me.

    Do I mention a potential move in early 2018 when it’s over a year out, or wait until early 2019 when the move is in less than 6 months?

    TL/DR: how far in advance did you tell your company/supervisor about a planned move and internal transfer?

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Don’t have advice, but I’m curious to see others advice on how to handle this. A potential move is also further away for me (probably will start looking at the end of the calendar year), but I’m also concerned about whether or not I should be up front with my organization or not.

    2. Shaima*

      I don’t have any advice for you, but I’m interested in people’s opinions on this too! My husband and I will be moving in a year, and my organization is doing lots of long-term restructuring. We knew we wouldn’t be in our current city forever, but definitely long enough to seem “permanent” – I’ve been in my role for 2 years now, so leaving in a year won’t be bad for my career or anything. It’s probably expected that I’ll be heading out in a year or so since there’s no upward path here, but I still don’t know how to answer those questions!

    3. Lady Bug*

      Its far too early, and your plans are still tentative. The best laid plans fall through all the time for many reasons. You should at least wait until its a firm plan and no longer than a few months out.

    4. Student*

      This is just too early to share. It’s not just the timing – more than a year out! – but also the lack of actual concrete particulars, the “tentative” part.

      Specifically, you don’t actually know much about your move yourself. You have a plan, but from what you’ve said here, no actual work has gone into this yet. If you’re very senior (emphasis on very – are you at the top of your organization, responsible for major areas of business?) and going to be hard to replace, then sure, start talking at <6 months. If you're not – most of us aren't – then wait until you have 2 weeks left following traditional business conventions, or until you are so sure you're going to move that you are actively obtaining housing in the new city (preferably have finalized your new housing arrangements).

      If you don't have a place to stay in a new city, then you aren't really committed to moving their yet. Thinks might change in the interim; leave yourselves the flexibility to deal with those changes.

    5. Aly_b*

      When I did a move to transfer within the same company to a different city, I waited until I had a definite plan and more or less dates, about 6 months ahead of time. I am mid-level for seniority and was reasonably confident I could make the transfer work, but I was moving regardless (I didn’t tell them that part of it.) At 6 months ahead of time, I could start taking on new-city projects and phasing out of some of the old-city ones, but unless your business plans a lot further in advance than mine, there is no action that they could productively take 1.5 years ahead to make a transfer happen or succeed better. I’d say it’s too far out. At most if they ask specifically about geographic mobility I would say you’d be open to considering a move in the next few years – but my feeling is only if they bring it up. (I wasn’t clear from your comment if they’re asking about mobility like moving offices or mobility as in promotions.)

  41. many bells down*

    So I applied to something yesterday, and a few hours later got this email:
    Dear (not my name),
    Can you set up a phone interview with her?

    My resume and cover letter were attached. Unless (not my name) was BCCed, I am the only one who got that email. I think he meant it for his hiring manager and accidentally sent it to me? What do I say?

    1. Dorothy Zbornak*

      I think you could send a quick and upbeat reply saying “Dear X, I believe you might have sent me this email by mistake, but I would love to set up a phone interview for the X position at your convenience.”

    2. rocklobstah*

      “oops, i think you meant this for someone else” I think in this case a fast response beats a perfect one.

      also, yay!

  42. Princess Carolyn*

    More of a complaint than a question: Isn’t is so frustrating to get a rejection without a phone screen or interview when you’re totally qualified (on paper) for a job? This has happened to me two or three times this month for copy editing and social media jobs that ask for 3-5 years of experience when I have about 7 years.

    These jobs are especially puzzling because you don’t necessarily pick up new skills as you progress in copy editing, you just get better at the same skills and possibly more familiar with a certain field or style. Oh well, gotta keep looking.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I know you said you’re not really asking a question, but in case it helps: This happens because they have lots of qualified applicants and it doesn’t make sense to interview them all, so they pick the ones that impress them most out of that group (or in some cases, the first six that impress them, or so forth). So it’s not necessarily that they don’t see you’re qualified; it’s that other people are too. The other possibility, of course, is that your materials need to do a better job of showing how qualified you are — but it really could just be the first thing.

      1. Princess Carolyn*

        You’re right, as usual. I’m certainly open to reviewing my materials to see how they could be stronger, but one of the most frustrating things about this field is how hard it is to demonstrate my competence without an editing test. I would love to see what the other resumes look like, because I’m struggling to imagine how the most impressive resumes would differ from the slightly less impressive resumes. The not knowing kills me!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It could be the types of employers, the length of stays, the specific accomplishments listed, the education… If you have friends in the field who seem to be doing well, you could ask to see their resumes?

        2. Anna Sun*

          Ugh, that is frustrating. Agree with everything Alison said, but it could also be partially because the companies have budgeted for the compensation of someone with 3-5 years of experience, and with 7 years they assume, correctly or not, that you’d be too expensive. Good luck with your search!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I live in a less populated area. With some jobs, if a person says they worked at X place, they jump line in the order of preference. That is because the interviewer knows that X trains their people well or some other industry insight. So the applicant who has worked at X place moves ahead of similar applicants who have not worked there.

    2. Mockingjay*

      A factor also might be salary constraint? With 7 years’ experience, you likely cost more than someone with 3 or 4 years.

  43. Alice*

    I’m feeling frustrated about the reimbursement process for professional travel at my workplace. My colleagues and I are not reimbursed for the full cost, which is standard for the industry… but lately I’ve started getting pushback on the reimbursements that do fall within our policies. “Are you sure it was 131 miles? Google says it’s 128.” I don’t like the implication that I’m trying to steal money, and I especially don’t like it when I’m swallowing a lot of costs on my own.
    It’s hard to separate this issue from the broader problem that costs associated with professional development have gone up much faster than budget allocations, in my industry and at my organization in particular. In constant dollars, the allocation at my organization today is slightly below what it was in 2007, while costs have gone up more than 200%. So, I’m inclined to be grumpy while I’m thinking about this. So, maybe I’m too sensitive to the perceived accusation.
    1. Should I do anything, other than reply that I drive X miles but I’ll accept a reimbursement for the Google Maps distance?
    2. How can I frame my thinking about this in a less negative way?

    1. misspiggy*

      Why should you accept reimbursement for less than what you drove? I’d just repeat how many miles you drove, and if in future they wish you to send photos of your trip counter please ask in advance.

      Fight nitpicking with nitpicking!

    2. KR*

      In a previous job they asked you to write down your odometer reading before and after travel to calculate your miles, and I always thought that was burdensome because I would be in my car and have to do out a pen and paper or remember to take a picture on my phone. Now I don’t have to do that but I rarely remember to set my trip meter so I just use Google Maps. I agree and think the nitpicking in your job is unnecessary. The travel costs what it costs. I wouldn’t negotiate to accept the Google Maps distance – sometimes you take different routes or you miss a turn. They can spare a few dollars to pay you fully. I think you’re allowed to show a little frustration at their travel policies, both with them questioning you and under reimbursing you.

      1. Tara*

        As someone who processed travel reimbursements, 3 miles is well within allowable and they are being too picky. Sometimes, like if the money comes from a federal grant, you have to be able to prove costs with something like a Google Maps itinerary or, like KR mentioned, pictures of your odometer before and after. However, no one reasonable is going to question what amounts to a few dollars difference.

        The person is being a bit thoughtless, but I wouldn’t automatically take it as an accusation to you personally. When I was learning, I did worse that could have been interpreted as a slight, but I didn’t mean anything by it. You could push back if you want, or your response would be adequate. Mostly try to think about how the person probably doesn’t have any opinion about you, they are just trying to do their job. (Or maybe they’re misguided like the “no guac” auditor.)

        You could also ask for the reimbursement policy, and ask for them to put in writing what “allowable” or “reasonable” looks like to them for things like mileage.

          1. Jilly*

            I believe some auditor told a person that they shouldn’t have ordered guac at Chipotle on a meal reimbursement.

    3. Anony*

      If they asked if you are sure, respond that yes you are sure. How much do they reimburse per mile that they are nitpicking about 3 miles? What incentive would there be to lie? $1?

      1. Alice*

        Thanks for the commiseration folks! I don’t think I can use the fight-nitpicking-with-nitpicking strategy — our culture really values collegiality. But I’ll think of this phrase and smile when it happens again.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If the company is willing to spend several hours of paid labor discussing one dollar, then it might be time to move on.
      You think about how much time you used discussing the issue, how much time the pay roll person spent discussing the issue. It’s one dollar.

      I had THREE people spend 2o minutes telling me that I cannot punch out one minute beyond my quitting. Yes, we lost a total of 80 employee minutes discussing one minute of time. Things did not get better after that.

  44. cactus lady*

    I had a final-round interview this week that went really well. When I asked about their timeline for hiring (and yes I know it will probably change), they gave the date of a week before I am scheduled to have a minor surgery. I would have some lifting restrictions after but nothing that would interfere with any other job responsibilities, other than needing a few days off. If I do receive an offer and they want me to start the week that they stated in the interview, how should I handle this? Would it be better to ask to delay my start for a week or two, or to ask for a few days off right after I start?

    1. Pollygrammer*

      I’d say see if you can delay a week. Starting a job midweek is awkward, and if you ask for days off they may think you want to start using PTO right away, which wouldn’t be a good look.

    2. Tara*

      I would just explain the situation and ask them to push back the start date. These things can happen at any time, and the request is reasonable. It’s not like they’ll think you’re any less qualified if you can’t start until later. They want you, so they’ll wait! :)

    3. OtterB*

      I would tell them that you’re having minor surgery on (date) and would like to put your start date off until afterward, unless there is some reason they’d really like you to start the specified week (e.g. access to someone for training, occurrence of some infrequent event that you should get experience with) in which case you’ll need a few days off and how should that be handled?

  45. Nanny 911*

    Are the rules for interviewing/accepting an offer the same for nannying as for a “regular” job? Here’s the situation:

    I just graduated and while I’m on the job hunt, I need some temporary income. I responded to two postings in need of nannies. The first position is as a backup to their current nanny, who is still in school. Depending on her semester schedule (which won’t be known for another week), I would be working between 3 and 9 hours/week. One benefit of this position is that the mother works in the field I hope to enter, which is relatively niche, and she’s offered to look at my resume and put me in touch with some employers.

    The second position can guarantee 10-15 hours/week. She contacted me after I had talked to the first family, but I haven’t gotten back to her yet. I would prefer to work 10-15 hours/week, as opposed to the “maybe 9 but maybe only 3 hours”. Can I tell the first family that I’m interested but have other offers to consider, just like I would with a normal job? Is the career advice/connections she’s offering worth it despite the fewer hours?

    1. Penny*

      I was a nanny for years. Just be prepared for the other family to hire someone else if you tell them you have another offer – in my experience parents want to do hiring as quickly as possible and get things set in stone.

      Connections are helpful, and the connections I made as a nanny have definitely helped me later on in my “real” jobs, but I would really hesitant to work for a family that can’t guarantee set hours.

    2. Anony*

      Would you be ok with only 3 hours per week? If not, then you shouldn’t take the job. Connections can be good, but you have no guarantee that she will follow though and if there is added tension because you aren’t getting enough hours it could complicate your ability to network with her.

    3. anonagain*

      I don’t think the connections thing is worth it. I’m lousy at networking, but I did a live-in babysitting gig for a year. The mom and kid were both awesome and we had a really good relationship, but it was so important that I could always do what was in the kid’s best interest.

      I think bringing networking into that relationship has the potential to complicate it. You don’t want to find yourself subconsciously holding back information or not asking questions right away because you are trying to manage your image.

      Also, I would be cautious about mixing these two streams. I’m sure this person is great and this is unlikely, but there are people who would take a conflict with their nanny as an opportunity to badmouth them to those connections. Or it could turn out to be terrible but you feel stuck.

      Anyway, just some thoughts.

    4. Thursday Next*

      As a parent who’s hired nannies, I do like to move forward as quickly as possible. If I’ve really loved a candidate, I’ve accommodated my timeline a bit to suit her needs, but that’s happened only once. It’s been important to me to get things settled.

      While I would never “badmouth” any former nannies, I would not help ones who didn’t fulfill their core responsibilities of keeping my kids safe or being reliably present. It’s the same as any other job—you need to do a good job to get a good reference. The difference is that as your relationship with your employer centers around something personal, and you work in her personal space, even small conflicts have the potential to be magnified (because parents have to feel comfortable entrusting their children and home to you). Just my two cents!

    5. Jessi*

      I am a full time nanny and have been for coming up 6 years now. I would take the 10-15 job as its guaranteed income. Once you have a signed work agreement/ contract you could reach out to the first position and say to the mum – “it was so lovely to meet you/ talk to you on the phone, but I have been offered another position that has guaranteed me more hours. I would love to stay in touch with you about niche industry and wish you all the best in your search for a nanny”.

  46. Mirth & Merry*

    Short and sweet question/poll: Is there a difference between giving notice on a Friday vs Monday?

    It would be a standard two-week notice, we will just be receiving our bonus checks on Friday and I’m (probably unreasonably) worried about it being rescinded or something if I give notice the same day.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      The Monday after bonus-check-Friday would be my vote. A little bit less “thanks for the cash, peace out.”

    2. Eva*

      Well, it can make a difference depending on how your employer counts the two weeks and if there is an incentive for giving two weeks. For eg. my old job had a policy that PTO was only paid out if you gave a full two weeks. They also didn’t count the day you gave notice as part of the two weeks. If you gave notice today your last day would be Feb 2nd but if you gave notice Monday your last day would need to be Feb 5th to count as two weeks.

      As for the bonus, once it’s in your account they can’t take it back. Deposits are usually done in the morning so could you check your account to ensure it’s there and then give notice that day?

  47. FFS*

    So this week, the conversation I have been preparing for (but dreading) with my boss and my next level boss took place. (
    It went… strangely. Just prior to the meeting, the two other senior people in my office resigned, so that gave me some weird power and put leadership in a hardcore reaction mode. What I thought would be a big fight turned into a strange combination of flattery and bullying. I walked out of the meeting with a promotion, a raise for me and my team, and most of my requirements met (at least the immediate ones). I’m proud of myself that I said everything I wanted to say (even the stuff I probably should not have said). Some items might have some resolution, some are bigger picture culture issues that are going to take time. Lots of promises were made that I feel like I should at least give them a chance to make or break, ha. Unexpected outcome, and I am still processing it all…

  48. Anon here again*

    Maybe I’ve just been in toxic places, but is it normal for co-workers to go out of their way to make you feel bad? I just started my job 3 months ago and there is one woman who has hated me from day 1. She hides it from the boss, but she gives me dirty looks and will say “Good morning” to everyone except me. Sometimes she talks to me if someone else or the boss is around, but one on one she doesn’t really care for me.

    That’s fine. I don’t have to be friends with everyone. My issue is that people have to go out of their way to act snippy and spiteful for whatever reason. Any thoughts?

    1. Penny*

      I went through this at my former job, which I just left. My coworker (who was also my supervisor) just didn’t like me, as a person. She was dismissive and talked to me like I was stupid. The thing that helped was knowing I had lots of other work friends (unsurprisingly, my coworker didn’t) and spending time with them, and keeping my head high.

      When I had my exit interview I was really honest about the way I had been treated and it felt REALLY good.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Couple of thoughts come to mind:
      1) did you take “her” job? (ie, was she an applicant for the position you hold)
      2) was a friend/colleague of hers an applicant ?
      3) can you kill her with kindness?

      1. Anon here again*

        1.) No- I am in a newly created position. She is actually in a higher (manager) position. She gets paid more than I do.
        2.) Not sure
        3.) I am trying to do that, but it hurts when she makes mean comments, but I just act like I don’t notice and still am polite around her.

    3. Amelia*

      I have a co-worker like that. Try not to let them get under your skin. Mine tried to make me look like an idiot in a meeting but I’m fairly sure the boss sees right through him. Everyone else we work with certainly does.

    4. sunshyne84*

      It’s not normal and I have one of those at my office although she never says anything directly to me. Sometimes you do have to get snippy back and let these people know that you aren’t a pushover.

    5. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Sorry you have to deal with this. I used to have a coworker who disliked me (for reasons I knew, at least) and would do exactly this and it’s really distressing. People who do this kind of thing often do it in a way that’s only noticeable to you, so if you say something, you’re the one who comes off looking bad. It’s not like you can say “Jane didn’t say good morning to me” or “Jane glared at me” without coming off as petty, but all the instances (which a third party, like a boss, would dismiss as minor thoughtlessness instead of intentional rudeness, which you know it is) pile up and eat at you, and if you don’t want to look immature, you have to deal with it alone. It’s one thing to dislike someone for whatever reason, but it’s another to make sure that person knows it and is uncomfortable. That sucks.

      I wish I had something satisfying to suggest or at least something comforting to say, because that’s a tough spot, but the only way I know of to deal is just to stay completely professional and polite at all times. Only interact when you have to. Cultivate other office friendships, if you can, and remind yourself that you would never be so miserable that you’d actively try to make someone else miserable too. Good luck.

    6. a-no*

      I found reminding myself this is a her problem not a you problem helped. People don’t hate people off the bat for no reason, it’s usually something ridiculous that you do/are/look like that bothers HER and it really has absolutely nothing to do with you. The lady I worked with took issue that I had control over operations based on inventory arrival and I was half her age, which is absolutely ridiculous as the only control I ever enforced was ‘start with veg as fruit will be late’, everything else I left to her discretion. My sister’s maid of honor at her wedding hated me because I looked like an old roommate she had who ate her cheesecake once without asking. She still hates me because of that after knowing me for 5 years – and she’s told me this, not speculation.
      Also, I am pleasant to her constantly – even when she’s rude. But that’s because I’m a little bit petty and I like watching them squirm about how they aren’t getting the reactions they want.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Well said. This is the #1 most important thing to remember when someone’s being a prick to you for no reason, I think.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        She hates you because you look like someone who once committed a transgression?

        People are weird.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Many times but not always, that I have seen this it is because the boss and/or upper management are toxic or even corrupt. When employees are nasty to each other it CAN be because that nastiness is actually meant for management but dealing with the actual problem would cause many more problems.

      If you can, say good morning to her and pretend that you don’t notice she hasn’t answered you. Tell yourself, “Oh she must be constipated again this morning” or whatever humorous thing you can come up with.
      Spread yourself around and be seen talking to other people. Let her mull over why no one else seems to be bothered by talking to you. While she may continue to be a problem, decide that she will not have power over you to impact your day and what you are doing.

  49. Penny*

    My boss likes to comment on how I spend my money. If I mention Uber or going out for dinner (which I can afford), she acts like I’m being lazy or wasteful. She makes little pointed comments that are “joking” but really bug me. I am a young person with a social life, she leads a very different lifestyle and doesn’t get it. How can I nicely tell her to STFU?

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Can you joke back? “Actually, we’re planning to dine ‘n dash, so it’s cool.” “My friend is insisting. I was planning to stay home and work on the jigsaw puzzle I got at Goodwill.”

      Can you stop giving her information about your social activities? (Not always an option, I know).

      1. Penny*

        I did default back to not giving her any information, but she still says stuff like, “Going out this weekend? Going to use Uber tonight?!” Ugh.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Bullyboss at OldExjob used to do that to me. I just answered his questions as though they were sincere, sometimes with very bullshit answers, and it took the wind right out of his sails. He wasn’t looking for answers, just a reaction.

        2. Natalie*

          For this kind of thing, can you just sort of ignore it and then deflect? Something like “Uh…. [look a little perplexed] Anyway, about those TPS reports.” and then keep talking to she has to focus on the TPS reports and gets distracted from her weird interest in your finances.

    2. KR*

      I think if she makes a finances related dig you coukd say, “Thats nice of you to be concerned but I’ve budgeted for it/the cost is worth it to me.” If you think you can swing it, after she says one of those things you could say, “Sometimes when you say stuff like that I get the impression you don’t think I manage my money well. We lead very different lives and I’ve got a good handle on my budget. You don’t need to worry about me!” I think framing it as a , “Thanks for worrying but please no seriously STAHP” opposed to telling her she’s rude outright might work. Also focusing on budgets/alotting money in your responses might highlight that you’ve got
      this under control. After that I would make it very boring for her to mention your spending habits. “It was in the budget this month.” “I didn’t find it wasteful at all.” “I’m sure we have different budgets and spending habits. Uber rides are something I feel comfortable spending on.” “Well I’m glad eating at home works for you – I love Vietnamese fusion so I’m going to continue allotting money to it.” “Oh what? Mm-hmm.”

    3. CatCat*

      I’d pull back on sharing details and just be vague/non-committal. “What did you do this weekend?” “Oh, not much.”/”Oh, just spent time with friends.”/”Oh, just caught up on some chores.”

      You can also not smile or say anything when she makes a “joke.” Meet it with impassive-faced silence. Let it be awkward.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Why not just say it? “You seem to be pretty concerned about how I spend my money. I would like for us to talk about this once and land this plane rather than talking about it frequently. What is it that you would like me to know?”
      Then when she says her piece, just say, “thanks, I will take it under consideration”. Then do as you wish. But meanwhile, at any future references you can say, “I think we discussed this once and I would prefer not to keep talking about it.”

  50. Alexis*

    So, I’m in my first actually normally functional job now after a string of… oddities. I’ve been here about three weeks now. Yesterday during training I got more visibly frustrated with an issue than I would have liked, and while things went well other than that, I ended up noting to my supervisor that I’m on the autism spectrum – managed and controlled, and my own responsibility, but I figured she had a right to know why sometimes I might lock up for a moment before readjusting myself and that once I was finished with training the that issue would disappear.

    Later I overheard my supervisor and one of the people helping me with training talking away from me in a nearly-empty office in near-whispers about someone sharing my pronouns, concluding with “What have we gotten ourselves into?”

    I know I’m probably overreading this, but – have I messed up permanently? Prior to this, supervisor seemed to be appreciating me and my work, and Overboss seems to still like me. Should I have kept this to myself? Does anyone else on the spectrum have advice on how to cover up being overloaded?

    1. Tara*

      That sucks. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

      You can’t do much about things overheard. I would focus on how people treat you in person, take cues from there. Continue to work hard and adjust (normal for anyone in a new position), and if you feel like someone might be reacting to your coping mechanisms, a breezy comment along the lines of “working on that new-job learning curve” or “ok, now I get it. Just learning how things work here! :)” could disarm.

      You did not mess up permanently. It really hard to do that, actually. Best of luck to you!

    2. miyeritari*

      Given the (ugh) mass-media generalizations that surround the autism spectrum, I imagine your boss is thinking you’re going to be a handful or completely unreliable or something. Just keep doing well, doing what you’re doing, handling your stuff, and (hopefully) your boss will be like “Wow! I totally thought that hiring a person on the autism spectrum would be crazy because I watch unrealistic depictions on TV, but this person is super cool and and a great employee.”

    3. Someone else*

      I don’t know if this helps, but for now, if you can, try to assume until given evidence otherwise that they weren’t actually talking about you. A pronoun-match alone needn’t be a strong indicator. I totally get why your mind went there, really. But I try to think about French farces: acting on the overheard-and-assumed-it-was-about-a-particular-person can go into a wacky direction. So, for now, just don’t let yourself believe it.
      If you find out later you were right, deal with that then. But for now, resist what you think you overheard.

  51. Paperclip*

    Has anyone ever applied for a job (or have advertised a job) that asked the candidate not to include their name? I’ve only recently been aware these kinds of ‘blind’ applications are even used.

    I get the intention behind it is to ensure candidates can’t accuse the employer of not moving forward with an application due to some protected category (that may get revealed by the name), but it makes me wonder why they’d have to go so far. If it’s a place that does discriminate on those grounds, you’d probably wouldn’t want to be there at all would you?

    1. fposte*

      That kind of discrimination often isn’t conscious, though. The big parallel is with music, where once they enacted blind auditions orchestras got a lot more diverse. I think there’s too much other information in an application package for this to neatly eradicate class and race signs, but I wouldn’t mind it becoming a norm, as it seems a pretty easy way to at least lessen such discrimination.

      So I’d be likelier to be favorably disposed to a company that hired that way.

      1. Colette*

        It seems like a more effective solution would be to have someone who isn’t involved in hiring assign each resume an identifier and remove the name (anywhere it appears on the resume) when they first receive it.

        Or use an ATS that does it for them.

        I mean, my email address contains my name, so if you remove my name from the resume, it’ll still be there in the email address.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, that’s absolutely true–I was focusing on the idea on not the procedure. So points for the idea but not so much for the execution.

          1. Colette*

            Oh, that’s how I read your comment. I’m just always puzzled when someone comes up with an idea that’s both more complicated and less effective than it could be.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yep. And there have been multiple studies done where changing the name on a resume or job application made an enormous different in response rates.

        1. Lillian Gilbreth*

          A very good study on this is available for free on NBER! Are links allowed here? I’ll post a link in a follow up but if you google “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination” the second result is the NBER page and you can click through to a PDF. It’s a little on the technical side (it’s an econometric analysis) but it’s very well done and (imho) compelling.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      We have a blind application process but the way it works is that someone in HR removes the names, swapping them all to initials, before anyone does any screening or shortlisting – the panel only get your name after you’ve confirmed you’ll attend an interview. So Ramona Flowers would be known as RF, etc.

      It’s not about discriminating on purpose. In the orchestra example they had to go even further than blind auditions as they found they still screened out women – which stopped when they had people take their shoes off.

      It works well for us, as it means you have to shortlist according to what you actually see on the resume.

    3. Alton*

      Studies have shown that what name is used on a resume can affect responses a lot. And often, this type of bias is both unconscious and very pervasive.

      One reason I like the idea of name-blind interviews is that it removes some of the pressure from the applicants to decide how to present themselves. It sucks that people sometimes have to choose between dealing with people’s bias or changing the name they use on their resume (and possibly erasing part of who they are or feeling like they’ve compromised their integrity).

    4. Natalie*

      get the intention behind it is to ensure candidates can’t accuse the employer of not moving forward with an application due to some protected category

      Hopefully their primary intention is to reduce discrimination, not paranoia about false accusations. :)

  52. saucy den*

    How long should it take to decide whether to fill a desperately-needing-to-be-filled vacancy?

    (Throwaway handle because I KNOW co-workers read this blog and can probably pinpoint me here!)

    A little over a month ago my boss quit without notice. It was A Thing, especially right before the holidays. We were a two person department (and desperately advocating to become three people to no avail). So, already overworked, I’m now doing EVERYTHING for my department.

    And I’m super pregnant, going on leave in just a couple months.

    Since this all went down right before the holidays, I didn’t expect any decisions on how to fill the vacancy until January. Whether to promote me and hire a junior person, or keep me where I am and hire in someone more senior, do some restructuring, etc. While I would love a promotion, of course, I’d be happy with whatever is decided, so long as they bring in another warm body.

    Three weeks into January and they’re only “really close” to making a decision on what to do with the vacancy (this has been the line for two weeks).

    I am just barely holding down the fort. Things are definitely slipping through the cracks. I’m frustrated because my boss left no documentation on her role and apparently wasn’t doing much communicating higher up so no one knows what she was doing or who she was talking to to do it. And since no one knew what she was doing, there’s no preparing me for the sudden emergencies that land in my lap because oh, someone from X department didn’t realize Boss had left, but Y needs to be done NOW and no, X dept has no idea how Boss used to do it. Figure it out on your own!

    And did I mention I’m pregnant? And it hasn’t been an easy pregnancy. So I’m burning the candle from both ends trying to keep myself together personally and professionally. I’ve gone home crying more than once…and teared up in front of co-workers multiple times as well from frustration/exhaustion/hormones.

    For more reason than one, I cannot wait until this kid is born. 12 weeks without dealing with this madness. Though if they don’t get someone new in soon I know I’m just going to be stressed out about how everything will be falling apart in my absence over those three months.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Your health, physical and mental, is WAY more important!

      If they’ve been willing to be completely reasonable to ask one poorly-equipped person to hold down the fort, it’s their own damn fault if the fort blows away.

    2. Friday*

      Hang in there. Hopefully you are close to your due date… I’m currently on mat leave and my dept is also super short-staffed and wow it really does feel amazing to be 100% removed from all that right now. And they will probably have it fixed in some fashion by the time I get back too.

      Be careful to not overwork yourself – hell, tell them that your ob is limiting you to 8 hr days until baby comes or what have you. I bet your ob will go along with it if they need some sort of formal note.

    3. Jessi*

      I mean all you can do is do what you can, document what you can’t and do your best to keep a list of stuff you can’t manage/ has slipped. Can you email the list of stuff you can’t manage to your boss and ask for a temp asap as all this stuff won’t get done without help?

  53. It's bananas*

    When I’m talking to my co-worker “Linda”, she has the tendency to look at other parts of my face while I’m talking. I’m not really sure what she’s looking at, but it’s sort of annoying and makes me feel like I’m being scrutinized. Is there any way to deal with this. Should I ask her if I have something on my face?

    1. fposte*

      Do you think you’re likely to have something on your face? If not, I would categorize this as something not worth getting into–lots of people don’t like looking into eyes, and if she’s paying attention and is a responsive colleague, I don’t see much value in trying to make her check out your pupils.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So often when we think someone’s behavior is about us, it’s actually about them! It’s probably more likely that Linda has difficulty holding eye contact than that she’s scrutinizing your pores or something like that.

      1. Kramerica Industries*

        I think I have a tendency to look at someone’s mouth, then their eyebrows, then their nose to avoid looking them straight in the eye. Oops, never realized that this could be super awkward!

      2. Tara*

        Sometimes direct eye contact for an entire conversation is unnerving, to either party. I would personally find this if not normal, then not that odd.

    3. dr_silverware*

      Sounds annoying as all get out but she probably has trouble with eye contact. It may be due to habit, anxiety, or social neurodivergence, but it probably would be a bummer to bring up.

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, I immediately thought of neurodivergent issue because it seems like eye contact is a common struggle.

        But I also (neurotypical) totally do this–not avoiding eye contact, but looking at other parts of face, hands, clothes, whatever. It means nothing.

    4. anon24*

      Making eye contact with people for any amount of time other than a brief second makes me so uncomfortable, and if I have to do it for more than 10 seconds I end up holding back screams. One way to get around this is to look at people’s faces, or look over their shoulder if they’re far enough away to not notice I’m not actually looking at them. Maybe Linda is like me?

    5. paul*

      There’s also plenty of cultures where prolonged eye contact is actually rude; the looking people in the eye really isn’t a universal thing.

    6. KR*

      Echoing the other responses here and also if someone is talking for a long time I feel super awkward holding eye contact for a long time. If you’re having a ten minute conversation and expecting eye contact for the duration of the conversation that’s a lot of gazing into each other’s eyes!

    7. NoMoreMrFixit*

      If she is looking more at your mouth then she may have a hearing impairment. I’m partially deaf in both ears and read lips, especially if the speaker has an accent or there is a lot of background noise.

    8. Louise*

      Oh I wouldn’t say anything—this could be happening for so many reasons, which other posters have mentioned. If it’s due to a disability or neurodivergance (like autism spectrum), you could run the risk of making her feel scrutinized when she may just be trying her best to absorb the information. Or it could not be that! But either way, probably best not to touch it.

    9. RL*

      For some reason (probably reading too much) my eyes water when I hold eye contact. Plus, it’s just awkward for more than a few seconds.

  54. Xarcady*

    How do you track work that moves back and forth between two departments?

    Background–I’m an editor. My company publishes certain documents, so we have an inhouse formatting team. At any time, I’m overseeing anywhere from 20-100 documents that are in the process of being edited or proofread, sent to Formatting for changes, coming back from Formatting and needing to be proofread, sent back to Formatting for further changes or for final files to be produced. Some documents go back and forth between departments 5 times a day, so it can be a fairly quick turnaround. Other stuff takes days, depending on the nature of the job.

    There are also about 5 project managers who can swoop down at any minute and want to know what stage all their projects are in. This is where I’m having difficulties–I have a general idea, but can’t state exactly what stage of the process each related file is in, without having to check emails and folders on the network.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a simple way to track the documents, especially the ones that zip back and forth multiple times a day? We have nothing set up to track this. I have Excel and Access and Word, and a fair amount of database experience, so I probably could set something up myself. There is no hope of getting anyone else to enter or update data at this time.

    1. Mary (in PA)*

      Ugh, version control. The trickiest of the editing problems.

      Is there any way the formatting tasks can be divorced from the editing tasks? If you can do that, you could theoretically edit in Google Docs or on Sharepoint, both of which log who does what and when.

      Do you enforce saving-as instead of saving? In my past editorial lives, I got into the habit of appending my initials and the document version to the end of the filename. Everyone who touches that document after me adds their own initials and version number, so you can kind of have a trail of who’s done what. That might work if you’re working off of a shared drive.

      If everything must travel via email, then maybe there’s an admin or someone else who can be CC’d on all the document-related correspondence to keep track of everything. One thing that would probably help is to enforce rigid subject-line rules on everything that has to do with the documents, so you don’t get into situations where the most recent version is attached to an email called “RE: Re: re: final version” or something else equally useless.

      1. KR*

        We have SharePoint in our company and I love it! Other companies we have got a shared drive or Google doc and bounced it between us so everyone can make edits.

        1. Tara*

          Yes to a shared drive/space. Also, naming conventions for files. Either Save As with agreed formatting (append doc name with initials and date edited, like “WhitePaper43_JD01192018.doc” and then next person is “WhitePaper43_BM01202018” or “WhitePaper43_BM01192018_V2”) This requires buy in from everyone using the documents, but I find it really helpful, and have worked in offices where it is not an issue once established.

    2. Reba*

      would a software like Asana or Smartsheet be an option? no experience first hand with either of those, just heard of them. Or some kind of version control system?

      1. Mary (in PA)*

        There are probably tons of software version-control solutions, but the major issue is enforcement with the people working on the documents. The most sophisticated software system is going to collapse if people aren’t using it.

        OP, do you have the power to enforce consequences for non-compliance, or is this something that you’d just like people to do to make your life easier? Either way is fine, I’m just curious as to where you’re coming from.

        1. Xarcady*

          I have no power. Bottom of the heap, that’s me. I’m not even supposed to be doing this job, but the person who should is out on medical leave for a couple of months, and this just got tossed my way.

          The formatters are working in software like InDesign, which the editors don’t know and don’t have access to.

          We do have a good system for archiving all the saved versions of each file. And each job, or batch of a job, is supposed to have one email thread that keeps on going for the life of the job. But there is one formatter who refuses to do this and creates new email threads constantly. He also forgets who is supposed to be CCd on the emails and it has fallen to me to check the addresses on all his emails and forward them to project managers and department managers. That is, when he remembers to include me on the emails–but that’s a separate issue.

          But I don’t have any quick way of determining the progress of an entire job; and sometimes tracking down the progress of a single file can take several minutes of checking emails and folders.

          Part of the problem, I think, is that until 2 years ago, this was all done on paper, with large paper files being passed between departments. Now the process is paperless, with the formatters creating PDF files of each new version for the editors to check. So the process has been updated, but the tracking has not. On the plus side, things move much more quickly.

          Disaster hasn’t struck yet, but things are ramping up after the holidays and I’m starting to feel like things are getting out of control and something is going to slip through the cracks if I’m not very, very careful.

          1. Mary (in PA)*

            Understood. It sounds like things there aren’t nearly as bad as I was envisioning. :)

            From what you’ve laid out here, the major issue seems to lie with Formatter Guy (FG). Is it worth pushing back on FG, or even on FG’s boss, about him not telling you where his files are in the process, or making new email threads that he isn’t supposed to be making, or leaving you off of email chains that you should be on? Because if you have a good process that 95% of your people are following, then it’s not necessarily the process that’s broken (at least in my mind.) It seems like if you can solve the problem of FG, then you can make some further strides with your chosen tracking solution. I think there may also be software solutions that integrate with your email, so that another email address added to the chain can dump something out into another program that a project manager could see at a glance.

            Maybe there’s an opportunity to pilot some kind of automated email-triggered tracking for a smaller document with a friendly project manager – and if that’s successful, you can roll it out more widely.

    3. Sam Carter*

      I’ve used a cloud-based software called Wrike for similar purposes and it’s been great! There’s a learning curve and it will take some time to set it up and customize for your needs, but it works really well. Essentially it’s a project management program, so the PMs could just log on and check themselves without asking you.

    4. Xarcady*

      Thanks for all the software suggestions. I will check them out.

      The company does have project management software, but that seems to be restricted to project managers and a few other people. Not sure why.

    5. Oranges*

      Personally I’d start having them on the email chains so they have the knowledge at their fingertips. If possible.

      They want weeds level data and it sounds like you’re too busy to give them it in an easily digestible format? You might want to loop in your boss on both the problem and your proposed solution.

  55. Murphy*

    How do you answer people’s questions when you’ve already answered them without talking to them like they’re idiots?

    Like someone replies to an email asking you a question, and that question was answered in the email they’re replying to. Or I say “Per the attached schedule, your X is due on Y date”, and they don’t understand why they owe me X by Y date, or at all. (The last one just happened and I ended up replying and walking them through the entire schedule from the original incident to the time to submit X, but if they’d just checked it, I think it’s pretty self explanatory.)

    1. dr_silverware*

      I think it kind of has to be a mental shift on your end. Cause, you know that you’ve sometimes goofed and missed something in an attachment, or misread an email, or been so tired you just misunderstood something in a stupid way, and you’re not an idiot. I’m not being sarcastic; you had other circumstances at play that made you have a small messup that might have annoyed someone. But it’s the same for other people and the key to treating other people nicely is recognizing that they have that same stuff going on.

      1. Murphy*

        You’re probably right about some circumstances. I definitely know that we all have brain fart moments!

        And I don’t necessarily think they’re an idiot, I just don’t know how not to sound like I’m talking down to people. I find I’m trying to walk a line between not being curt/rude, and not overexplaining or being condescending. Like in today’s example, I was sending a friendly reminder that the second of two reports is due soon and attached the report schedule, and someone replied with “This is an old project. I don’t owe you any more reports.” I can’t just reply “Yes, you do. Check the previously referenced schedule.” I wanted it to be clear, so I went through the whole (brief) schedule to explain why yes, they do in fact owe me another report. It’s not hard to understand, but obviously there was confusion, so I’m not sure if there are strategies for explaining a really simple thing without being condescending.

        1. dr_silverware*

          You’re right–I think I meant more like, if you have that in mind you can say more smoothly, “No–it seems according to the schedule you have one more report. Here, the attachment may have gotten lost in transit, so I’ve reattached the schedule to this email.”

        2. Student*

          Is it possible that you two are actually talking about different things?

          I look at this exchange and I see this:

          You are looking to collect a report that has been previously scheduled and is due.

          The other person doesn’t have anything to report. The project ended prior to the last report. There is no new work that has occurred since the last report, and thus nothing new to report that you don’t already know. The original report schedule has become obsolete but was never formally amended.

          The obligation of the report is what you care about, and the content of the report is what the other person cares about. Since you’re talking about two different, but closely related things, you both talk past each other.

        3. baconeggandcheeseplease*

          I usually just recap the most up to date info that I have on the situation, and then ask them if they have differing info or if they can resend whatever document. In your example, if they said that it’s old and they don’t have anything else, I would just say I received XYZ for this project but not A. Apologies if you already sent and I missed it in a barrage of emails, can you resend?”

          I’m also a fan of attaching email strings to be like, this is the last communication I have on project B.

        4. Someone else*

          FWIW, I don’t think “Yes, you do. Check the previously referenced schedule.” is an inappropriate or too curt or condescending response to the exachange you cited there.

          That said, your initial question (how to repeat something you already said without either being too curt or sounding like you think the person is an idiot) is a question I ask myself approximately 20x a day. I don’t know if what I’m doing is right, but I usually err on the side of overexplaining because if they are an idiot, well then they hopefully got what they needed and if they aren’t and just had a brain fart, they usually acknowledge that, which is then helpful to me (in theory) because I know if I’m dealing with someone who generally gets it vs someone who needs their hand held…but the latter people are gonna be repeat offenders so they also make themselves obvious in other ways…

    2. Pollygrammer*

      “I’m sorry this was unclear in the email, it’s [answer that was obviously in the email].”

    3. Kramerica Industries*

      If it’s here and there, I let it pass and just answer the question. But I’ll admit…for repeat offenders, I use the good ol’ “As per the email below…” Which is corporate for “Did you even read the message”.

      1. Tara*

        Oooh, “as per email below” is rough but fair. I say that having been both the sender and receiver of it.

        Framing things as questions via email can also help soften things. Like, if they say “This is an old project. I don’t owe you any more reports,” you can respond with a “Hi. According to the attached, you do?” Maybe that can be taken the wrong way, but it makes me feel a little better about sending those emails.

        (Although sometimes I doubt myself on those kinds of things and wonder whether if I should be more assertive. What’s that one tweet? “One day I hope to have the confidence of managers who respond to emails with one word replies.”)

      2. hermit crab*

        I can’t find the post right now, but recently someone around here mentioned a meme or something that says “‘Per my last e-mail’ is office speak for ‘b!tch can you read.'” I literally LOLd when I read that post.

    4. Beatrice*

      I often switch to a quick phone call or face-to-face interaction. I am way better at switching into patient mode with more direct interaction. Its also easier for me to figure out where the actual confusion lies, and if someone is being deliberately obtuse, it’s harder for them to keep it up.

    5. Thlayli*

      Maybe check how your original email is structured. I recently got an email from IT with a title related to a request I had made from IT. It said something like “please complete the following info” followed by a list of items, which were all filled in except one.

      It looked to me like an automated email sending out a copy of the completed form, and I honestly didn’t even notice that the 4th or 5th item wasn’t filled in. I just thought the system had sent me a printout of the request submitted. I don’t even understand why they needed to ask me for extra info since I had filled in the initial form completely and that item was not on it.

      Two weeks later I get another email saying the same thing so I contacted IT to see what the delay was and they were like we can’t do this till you fill in the info. It was only at that point I realised there was an item missing 4 or 5 rows down in the list of of info.

      I didn’t even understand what the item they wanted was (I used to work in IT about 20 years ago, but I’m not remotely related to IT now). So I had to ask them what it even meant before I could answer.

      I sent back a polite email suggesting in future if they wanted some info to put a note at the top of the email saying there was an actual question to be answered, instead of a list with an item missing you would only notice if you scrolled down.

      Hopefully your emails are a bit clearer, but if you are being asked multiple questions you have already answered, it might be worth reviewing your original email to make sure it’s easy to read and find the info.

  56. Just Me*

    I never thought it would happen here, but the department birthday conundrum has reared its ugly head.

    When I arrived here several years ago (manager to a new company) I was surprised to see that this small department (about 5) celebrated birthdays by having a little potluck in the morning, getting a gift (usually a bag with several small items), cake and a card. It seemed a little much, but I rolled with it since I was new and everyone seemed fine with it. It didn’t cost much, maybe $5.00/pp and whatever dish we wanted to bring in. No one complained. Over time, though, it was obvious it was always the same three people organizing it (me and two others, usually taking turns). Still, no one seemed to mind, nor did anyone make any noises.

    Then a couple weeks ago one of my people basically went off (to me and the other person, separately) about how no one else steps up to take responsibility once in a while, often doesn’t get paid back by each person, it’s a hassle, etc. This person’s suggestion in the heat of the moment was, “Forget it! We’re not doing anything anymore.” (Apparently this was precipitated by another event that left both of them feeling unappreciated.)

    I then sent an email that generally said, “Here’s how it will work going forward. $X a month from each person who wants to participate. I’ll track and hold the money. The person who just had a birthday will be the one to go out and get a cake (or whatever treat) and a card. This is totally voluntary.” It works out to something like 20.00 for the year from each person. Everyone seems happy with it.

    Since everyone seems happy with it, I assume this is a fair plan? To be honest, I’ve never had to deal with this before since I never had a whole department to manage; it was one or two people, at most.

    1. Colorado*

      Honestly, I’d scrap the whole birthday celebration thing altogether. I’m sure for the person who complained it had been building up for a while. Maybe do cupcakes or something small for birthday months or since it’s only 5 people, maybe an annual or bi-annul appreciation cupcake gathering something or other.

    2. CatCat*

      This seems fine. I worked someplace that had a similar arrangement. We called it the birthday club. It was to buy treats and cards for birthdays. People who didn’t join would often still sign the cards and attend to extend the birthday wishes, but not partake of the food. Worked out well.

    3. Scott*

      This sounds exhausting. I never understood why people celebrate birthdays so hard. It kind of seems like just another Valentines day, Easter (more about the Easter bunny, not the actual religious celebration), Christmas, new years, weddings, anniversaries… they all seem like overly hyped “celebrations” exaggerated to extract money for gifts for stuff we’d never buy in the first place. I’m probably pretty alone in this feeling, but I’d be happy to celebrate individual accomplishments, and that doesn’t include getting older.

    4. Just Me*

      I’ll also add that they all were asked, before I sent the email, if they wanted to scrap birthdays completely, which is totally OK, and they all said no. So, this plan is what I figured was fair based on past posts and comments I’ve read here.

    5. cactus lady*

      At my old job we had “cake day” the last Wednesday of every month. It was the department’s way of celebrating everyone’s birthdays from that month without having to single out each one (or make a big deal out of birthdays for people who don’t like them – hence it was called “cake day”). It was fantastic! We got cake in the afternoon and mingled a bit but it wasn’t crazy out there or anything. I recommend a cake day.

  57. Introverted introvert*

    Maybe it’s just the places that I’ve worked for, but it seems like the work doesn’t matter anymore. You could do a stellar job and complete a project, but all that matters is who you sit next to at lunch or hang out with. Socializing is the only/most important thing and everything else is moot. Why is this?

    1. fposte*

      In my experience, that’s not completely true, but it’s also not completely untrue, in that making connections with your colleagues does matter in most fields. If you’re in a workplace where it is completely true, it might be time to look for another workplace. It could also be worthwhile to have a candid conversation with somebody who knows your work to ask about your future in the field given where your skills lie.

    2. Scott*

      Half of being a professional is networking, and that includes being friendly with people you would normally never spend time with.

      1. Student*

        I contend that there ought to be a difference between professional networking and, for lack of a better work, socializing. In my workplaces, it seems like socializing gets you much farther than either your work quality or your professional networking.

        Professional networking still has some connection to work. Exchanging work-related ideas and solutions. Learning about the work your colleagues do. Achievement awards and related celebrations. Voluntary presentations. Offering proactively to help the boss with a problem. Connecting different contacts who could benefit from each other’s expertise. Possibly, venting about shared work frustrations.

        Socializing is who you go golfing with. It’s who you invite to your private Christmas party. It’s who you went to college with. It’s who you chat about knitting with at lunch break. It has a lot to do with shared personalities and hobbies, shared socioeconomic class, shared non-work experiences. It’s who your friends are, rather than who your work-allies are.

        One of those has a business impact – favoring people who help you get your job done. The other is favoring your friends regardless of their business merits in any degree. Favoring and protecting your friends even when their work contributions are not particularly good.

        1. Scott*

          Very true, but I think of the most powerful people at the top of companies, and they all spend significant time “socializing”, or as I think we should see it as, is “building relationships”. Here’s the reason: suppose in a private company that candidate A and candidate B all else considered equal, it would be totally normal for the preferred candidate to get preferential treatment.

    3. miyeritari*

      No matter how good the work you do is – and it can be extraordinary – you need to publicize your connection to that work. Otherwise, you run the risk of people seeing that really good work and then just assigning it in their head to whoever they remember is associated with it, regardless of the name that comes on it.

      You don’t need to be best friends with people, but if no one knows you exist other than the fact you hand in projects, you’re at a significant disadvantage in that area.

  58. fposte*

    I happened onto a really interesting series in the Philadelphia Inquirer about first-generation college students and the culture shifts that entails. I’ll post the most recent link below; the article links to the others.

    1. Dee-Nice*

      I’m not a subscriber, so I was cut off after three articles, but I love that someone is doing a series like this. I particularly like that they talked to some adults a few years out from college, because in the article about winter break you can tell the kids (as kids do) were trying to wrap up something really messy by saying they were already finding their way and figuring it out, when you know they’re just getting past the first steps. The imposter syndrome never really ends, but you get better at navigating it. I’m glad colleges are starting to get wise to this; hopefully it will result in better support for these types of students.

    2. Triangle Pose*

      I was one of these Penn kids! First generation college grad and couldn’t ask my parents homework questions – English is not their first language and they’d never taken advanced classes in any subject. Loved this series. GO QUAKERS

  59. Amber Rose*

    Last Thursday I had Lasik. As mentioned before, it was a battle just to get the two days off for recovery.

    This week sucked. My eyes are bruised and fluctuating at different rates, the strain of staring at a computer all day is giving me the worst headaches, and I got another snippy email from my supervisor about sending her my plan for the week. I don’t have a plan for the week. Or next week. Until summer, I just do work as it comes in. Lacking future sight, I have no idea what that will be. Given my poor physical and emotional condition, I wrote and deleted half a dozen very snippy emails before I calmed down. Eventually I just sent her my checklist, which contains all my weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and annual tasks for 2018, and basically said, “this is the closest thing to a plan I have, hopefully that helps.” She said nothing in response, so I’m hoping that’s the end of this.

    Small piece of hilarity: we’re allowed to add a certain certification to some of our products now, which means the model numbers get an Ex at the end. All our model numbers end in S. Nobody noticed until it was much too late to change that we’re now selling SEx.

    1. Amey*

      That sounds like a rough week! Hope you have wonderful vision soon.

      Is it worth having an in person chat with your supervisor about the ‘weekly plan’ thing? Something along the lines of ‘This is how things operate for me at this point in the year, once we hit the summer, that changes to X. Is that in line with your expectations / is there a different way that you’d like me to be keeping you up to date?’

    2. LM*

      Hope you feel better soon and sorry to hear it has been rough. I would check in with your opthamologist if I were you as LASIK (as opposed to other laser vision surgeries) typically has a very quick recovery time (e.g. next-day!) and I think bruised eyes, and considerable eye strain are not typical side effects. Good luck!

  60. Jazzyisanonymous*

    After dealing with months of stress, I got at hurt work this week. :/
    I think they could tell I was stress before, but now I think they’re angry after I got hurt.
    I’m not sure how to even interview anywhere now, I’m medically barred from driving for a while.
    Anybody else got hurt and got through it?

    1. DrowninginTestosterone*

      It happens.
      Spend some time googling workplace safety and ergonomics to show you are proactive! Demonstrate that you know how to avoid any future injuries. Let your Boss know you take this seriously and took it upon yourself to learn how to prevent any further injuries. I wouldn’t assume they are mad at you for getting hurt, it could be it’s just inconveniencing them temporarily?
      As far as interviewing for other jobs you are putting the cart before the horse since it takes some time to get an in-person interview and most are phone screens, so you should be fine. Accidents happen and most bosses understand, feel better.

  61. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    One of my coworkers that I’m close to is leaving. This is the first time that’s happened. (Not a coworker leaving, but one I was relatively close to.) I’m more bummed than expected. We weren’t super close or anything, but we were friendly. Trade stories about different things (vacation, pets, etc.) Losing a friendly face sucks.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Sympathy, as I just lost one of my favourite people at work. It does suck. Can you write them a nice card saying how much you’ve enjoyed working with them?

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Thank you!

        I think I’ll just say it face to face. He made sure I’d be in on his last day. We aren’t SUPER CLOSE so anything overly personal might be weird. Although, that being said, if I get a card I’m going to feel like a louse.

        It doubly sucks because he was one of the few who not only treated my position with respect.

    2. Marley*

      Yep. I’ve lost a few and been the person lost. I miss some of my old colleagues pretty dearly. Take them out to lunch if you can, or just have a wistful nostalgia fest for a moment with them. Some of the words said to me when I left my last job were truly touching.

  62. slacker problem*

    I need some outside assessment on an ongoing slacker colleague situation. I think I handled it so I don’t have to work with this colleague again, but I still feel pretty uneasy and I’d love some feedback about whether I handled it ok. (We’re both women, by the way.)

    I worked on two projects in a row with a colleague who left a lot of work to me. We’re both software developers. Most recently, say we were building a new teapot, and my colleague was in charge of adapting a handle designed by a third party to be used in our teapot. She hadn’t done any of the nitty-gritty work required to integrate the handle into the teapot for maybe three weeks into our 6 week project, and told me at about the three-week mark that she had just found out the handle had already been partially integrated by a past employee. I told this to my boss and he promised to manage her a bit more closely.

    She did finish the job, to visibly poor results; I redid her work in an afternoon, with her permission–I asked if I could tackle the remaining problems with her work since I just had a few ideas, and she wasn’t incredibly happy, but I was the one demoing this teapot.

    I went to my boss and told him how the project had gone and asked that I not work on another project with her like this. I let my frustration out a bit when I said I’d redone her weeks of work in an afternoon and improved it, which I actually really regret mentioning. My boss reiterated that she needed more managing.

    I’m mostly concerned about–was I rude? Should I have fixed her work? I know this is going to come up again in the future, how should I handle it?

    1. Chaordic One*

      If you were rude, you weren’t overly so and I wouldn’t worry about it. Your slacker co-worker (and now your boss) know that you aren’t really happy with her work and that she has been put on notice that she needs to up her game as far as her work performance is concerned. (Let’s hope she realizes that.) If you were able to fix her work, then fine. The client is more important than her feelings. But if you didn’t have time to do so, that would have also been fine. The bad work is (or should be) on her and to a lesser extent to your boss.

      (It isn’t clear to me if she is inexperienced and doesn’t know what to do, if she doesn’t manage her time well, or if she really is a lazy slacker.)

      It is really up to your boss to handle the situation since he has the power to put someone on probation or fire someone. He knows she isn’t working out very well so far, and it is up to him to manage her more closely and effectively. Be polite and professional when dealing with slacker co-worker, but keep your boss informed about her work.

  63. Help!*

    There is some tension bubbling between two of my team members where person 1 feels like person 2 is stealing their thunder on projects and person 2 feels like person 1 has complained unfairly about them in the past. It is at the point where person 1 has refused to attempt to address the issue directly with person 2 as the don’t feel they can trust them.

    I’d love to crowdsource some ideas about how to address this. Right now I’m thinking to get person 2’s viewpoint and follow up by mediating a discussion between the two of them. I haven’t done anything like this before so if anyone has advice, I’d love to hear it.

    1. fposte*

      I’m generally wary of mediation between co-workers, because I think too often it’s a substitute for managing; is there a reason why you think it would be preferable to have a mediation, and are you trained in it?

      Do you know what person 1 is actually achieving as opposed to person 2? Is person 1 complaining regularly? Depending on what actually happens, I may 1) step up my observation of productivity to make sure I’m accurate about who’s doing what, 2) talk to person 1 about my understanding of what they do (either in the “it doesn’t matter what person 2 says because I know you did x, y, and z” way or in the “it does look like your projects are relying on other colleagues more than I’d expect” way, and 3) tell person 2 that hearing complaints is part of my job and that it’s appropriate for concerns to be brought to me whether it’s by her or her co-worker, so I don’t want that discouraged.

  64. Roscoe*

    Random question for the group. In an interview, do you think its fair game to bring up specific issues that are raised on Glassdoor? So for example saying “I read your Glassdoor reviews, and it seems X,Y, and Z are common issues people have raised. Can you elaborate on those”

    1. rosiebyanyothername*

      There was an article in the New Yorker this week about Glassdoor that mentioned HR employees are getting this question more. I’m curious to see what people think!

    2. dr_silverware*

      I probably wouldn’t. It doesn’t really feel kosher. Also you’re more likely to get a pat answer than if you felt it out without placing the issue on the table–at an old company, one of the big issues on glassdoor was about their turnover rate; if you mentioned it at all, they would pop out some misleading statistics about how it’s not actually a problem when in fact it was problem once I ended up working there.

      1. Roscoe*

        Out of curiosity, why doesn’t it feel kosher? Like I feel like if they can ask you about anything, why can’t you ask them. Glassdoor is a very common thing. I’m not saying I’d bring up every little complaint. But if an issue is raised by multiple people, I don’t see why it should be “bad”

        1. dr_silverware*

          I don’t really know. I guess it just feels kind of like it’s escalating things if it’s been a friendly interview so far. I have asked about that kind of glassdoory issue before and it felt socially uncomfortable without the payoff of a helpful answer.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          I think it would depend a lot on what the specific issue is, and if it’s something that’s known outside of Glassdoor.

          For example, at pretty much any company you look at, people will gripe about the pay rates. That’s not necessarily an accurate representation that the company doesn’t pay market rates — more that people don’t like what the market rate is. It would look kind of weird, IMO, to bring that up, like you’re placing too much weight on what has been said by effectively anonymous people.

          On the other hand, if you have a ton of comments about, say, a particular building issue, that might be something you can probe more deeply. Specificity and objectivity of issues are pretty major.

        3. Triangle Pose*

          They can’t ask you “anything” and they shouldn’t be asking you anything. Similarly, you can find out the same information without indicating that you read about from an anonymous employee posting a review on an employer ratings website.

    3. Triangle Pose*

      Why would you comeo ut and say Glassdoor? Just ask about the issue. If they are “common issues” the interviewer is just going to answer your question and you get an answer. How does it help you at all to say it’s from Glassdoor?

        1. Triangle Pose*

          How is it a “common issue” if it’s only something you would know from internal sources? If it’s something super specific to this company and only an internal source would know that it exists, it would be out of place to ask anyway and if it’s something that can exist at a lot of companies, then just say “some workplaces have X issue, have you found this to be the place here?” There really no great reason you should be saying “I heard X on Glassdoor” it isn’t a good look.

    4. Regular Lurker*

      My company has a franchise arm and, often, disgruntled employees of a franchisee will post comments on Glassdoor under my company instead. Prior to my interview, my now boss requested that I review the Glassdoor comments and bring concerns to my interview. I appreciated her honesty. I also asked about the feedback when I met with her boss for my second interview and he also appreciated my candor.

    5. nep*

      If there are a couple issues that are quite important to you in your decision, I’d just find a way to frame the question(s) without mentioning Glassdoor.

  65. Pumping at work in Ontario?*

    I know there’s a lot of Canadians here – does anyone have any experience with not taking the full 12-month mat leave? I’m going to be having my first baby in a few months, and my husband and I planned on splitting it more-or-less 50/50 -I’d take the first 6 months, and he’d take the second six months. When I talked to HR, they were supportive, but a little bit surprised. Apparently, all previous mat leaves have been for the full twelve months. When I brought up pumping at work, they said they’d never had that question before! They’re committed to finding something that works (the initial suggestion was the ladies locker room, which is pretty wide open -no individual cubicles), but I was wondering what’s actually required. I’ve seen Allison answer questions for the States that they have to have a non-washroom space with a locking door, but I don’t see a requirement for that on the Ontario MOL site. It says they have to provide pumping breaks, but nothing about space.

    1. Agnodike*

      Most of my colleagues took six months of leave – I was a bit of an oddity for taking the whole year! I don’t know if it’s a requirement to provide a pumping room, but every workplace I’ve ever had has done so. The most common solution was to provide an empty office or conference room with a lock. Lots of Canadians can’t afford 12 months at half their pay (lots of employers don’t top up) so you’re definitely not alone! Breastfeeding past a year is also pretty common, so it sounds to me like this is more just a case of a specific experience/knowledge gap on the part of your HR than anything else.

  66. anon24*

    TL/DR: Any tips on going back to work full time after a few months off (and loving unemployed life)?
    I’m going back to work soon. I took off a few months to get certified to switch careers. I’m thrilled to finally have a chance to work in the area I’ve always wanted to work, but here’s the thing. I don’t want to go back to work. While I was off I had part time classes, so even though I had lots of at home work, it wasn’t a full time away from home commitment. I loved being at home, studying at my dinner table while my cats slept at my feet. When I worked full time I was constantly in a state of mild panic, feeling like I never could keep up with things at home and never feeling mentally rested, and I have felt so much better, mentally and physically, since I quit my job. I’m stressing out just thinking about the fact that I’ll be back to the full time grind in a few weeks. Has anyone ever felt like this, and how did you handle it? Any tips or advice you can give me is much appreciated. I feel like I’m being so childish and immature, and logically I’m excited to be getting a paycheck again, but emotionally I just want to stay home.

    1. Colette*

      The first time I was unemployed, I was afraid that I’d never be able to work again since I’d have to give up my afternoon naps. It wasn’t a problem after the first week – once I started working, I was learning a bunch of new stuff and was too busy to want a nap.

      It sounds like your problem is a little different. Can you think about ways to make yourself feel more in control when you’re out of the house all day?

    2. Tara*

      When I’m worried about a big change like that, I tell myself “you can do anything for three months.” By three months, you’re over the worst of the “new job is hard and I don’t know how to do anything” feelings, you’ve adjusted your life habits and schedule, and you can make a better decision about whether or not this was actually a good idea. Has worked well for me.

      This is just my personal take, I’m sure there are other stories where people know right away it’s not going to work. (Most memorably, a friend of the family who was ALL ABOUT going back to work after having a baby. Dropped the kid off at daycare the first time, drove to the end of the block, broke down, went back and got the kid, called husband and said “sorry, not happening.” She eventually ended up doing more flexible property management stuff, but we laugh now about her “NAH SON, THIS AIN’T GONNA WORK” reaction.

    3. Arjay*

      I loved being unemployed (with a generous severance package). I went to the gym and the pool every day. I had time to socialize and do chores and truly relax without trying to squeeze all that into a too-short weekend.
      But the novelty of the new job kept my energy up and I got back into the full-time routine pretty easily. And now I’m used to full-time drudgery again. :)

    4. Jessi*

      Sometimes when I’m really worried about a new something (most recently ice skating lessons and a new language class) I have found myself trying to talk myself out of doing it. Even though I really want to learn to skate and to learn this language.

      I have told myself that I will force myself to go twice and if I hate it I will stop going. Of course after the first go at each I was really excited to continue…. Maybe you could do the same? Tell yourself you will give it a couple of weeks and if you hate it you will look into part time jobs instead

  67. Professor Ronny*

    Why do most of the names here show up in black but a few, like “many bells down” show up in blue?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The commenting form gives you an option to list your own website. If you put something in that field, your name will link to it — which will then be blue, because all links here are blue.