open thread – February 16-17, 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.

{ 1,987 comments… read them below }

  1. Beancat*

    This thread – and a thread about not quitting without something else lined up – saved me this week. I have been hurting and struggling so much at this job and have been wondering if it’s me after a string of bad jobs. I was two steps from walking out because I feel desperate and hopeless. But now I have more hope – and I just have to re-evaluate myself to figure out what will be best for me. Thank you for this.

    1. GG Two shoes*

      Good luck Beancat. This site, the archives and the commentators are a trove of good ideas. Study up and get yourself a job you deserve!

    2. Em.*

      Me too! It was so many things I’ve been feeling for so long, and it helped me make the decision this week to both finally find a therapist (after putting it off for about six months) and to start looking for a different job. Hope is not lost!

    3. selina kyle*

      Best of luck! Really looking at what you want/can tolerate should lead to success. I’ll send good vibes your direction.

    4. Bea*

      You will find the right spot for you, I’m glad you’re found hope that makes these journeys so much easier.

  2. Meh*

    I will be attending my boss’s wedding next week. But I’m not sure what an appropriate wedding gift would be since I normally just give cash. There is no registry that I could find. Any suggestions? I’m not being forced to attend and actually want to go, but this has left me kind of stumped.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      A gc to a kitchen or home store? Even if they have their house set up, they can use it to upgrade or get that one appliance they wanted.

    2. ZSD*

      Oh, that’s tricky. Are you at all crafty? If so, something homemade that you could put together quickly might be nice.
      If I were a boss, I wouldn’t want my reports to spend a large amount on my wedding. Maybe just a $20 gift card to their favorite lunch place?
      Are your co-workers attending as well? If so, perhaps you could go in on an office gift.

      1. Purplerains*

        The note could state that a donation has been made in your boss’ name or even the couple’s name, and not list an amount if you’re not sure about how much to spend.

      2. Artemesia*

        I just feel so strongly that this isn’t a gift. If someone invites this okay. If it is a memorial like for a funeral, OK. But me giving to charity is for me, it isn’t a gift.

        Almost anything would be better than that I think.

        1. Oilpress*

          Yeah, what the heck? A donation to charity is not a wedding gift.

          Just give the cash and make it a logical amount that you would give to a reasonable friend.

    3. Anony*

      I would say you should do what you normally do for a wedding. If other coworkers are also going and you are close, you can ask them what they plan to do if that will make you more comfortable.

      1. Ten*

        +1. If there are enough of you going, you might consider going in on something together. A bigger gift would be less weird coming from, say 5 or 6 of you.

    4. Snark*

      I would absolutely avoid a monetary gift, and honestly, I think giving a valuable gift is really fraught. Having been in this position before, I gifted the couple a few varieties of homemade hot sauce, because I really wanted to avoid the dynamic of giving my boss a gift with nontrivial monetary value.

      1. Koko*

        I like this approach. I’m not very handy with making things but I might do something similar with like, an inexpensive bottle of wine but it’s from the winery near where they grew up, or something like that, where I’m not really spending a lot of money but I’ve done something to give the gift additional non-monetary value so it doesn’t feel cheapskatey/lazy either.

    5. Cookie Monster*

      Is your boss a coffee drinker? If so, Blue Bottle does gift subscriptions. A three month gift of nice coffee would be thoughtful and probably not something they’d think of themselves/already have!

      (If they don’t like coffee, there are similar great options all over the internet for hot sauce, cheese, etc.)

    6. bluelyon*

      I default to waterford vases as wedding presents – they are always available at Bed, Bath & Beyond and there is almost always a coupon for them so I generally end up spending 50-60$.
      Your budget may vary but vases are generally not something people have a ton of and even those who don’t love flowers end up being gifted flowers 1-2x a year so something is good for that moment of “ahh where to put these”

        1. bluelyon*

          Yeah I think this is tough – I avoid any aspect of gifting up (and down frankly) in the office for holidays/birthdays etc.
          But I think weddings are a bit different, and for better or worse, come with a variety of societal expectations around gift giving. So it depends on the person and the relationships and how much it matters to each of them.
          I know I would steer away from something that is of a trivial value because it’s a big occasion and worth acknowledging. If I like someone enough to go to their wedding, I like them enough to get a nice gift – even if it’s a bit generic.

          1. Snark*

            That’s the thing, it’s something of an edge case – you always give a nice gift at a wedding, but you never give your boss a gift.

            1. bluelyon*

              True – and, if this were me, I’d make an exception to the no gifting up policy for the wedding assuming I attended. If I didn’t attend I’d probably write a nice note in a card and be done.
              But at the end of the day it’s a pretty personal call on whether or not to make that exception.

              1. Anony*

                The problem is that this is a social occasion instead of a work one. I would err on the side of following the rules for social occasions. If the boss feels uncomfortable, they can give the gift back saying that they appreciate it but cannot accept it. The alternative is risking looking like the jerk who went to a wedding without a gift.

                1. not so sweet*

                  “risking looking like the jerk who went to a wedding without a gift.”

                  In the places I’ve lived and learned wedding etiquette, it’s definitely not expected that all presents will be hand carried to the wedding reception. It’s preferred to send them ahead of time and allowed to send them later, and either choice simplifies things for the couple, compared to having to ensure that everything dropped off at the reception gets safely home afterwards and the cheques get deposited. Nobody assumes that I’m not giving a present, just because I’m empty handed at the reception.

                  That being said, if I were invited to a boss’s wedding, I would probably bring a card to the reception. If there were any hints at all about presents not being expected from us, I would follow the hints – otherwise I would either give them something small and handmade, or contribute to a small group present.

                  I also wouldn’t organize an office shower for a boss the way I might for a peer.

                2. Snark*

                  Well, no, there’s two alternatives, one being that they look like they don’t understand professional boundaries.

                  The way to avoid all these questions is a gift that’s thoughtful but has basically no monetary value, or a donation to their favorite charity in their name. I think erring on the side of treating your boss as a friend would be erring indeed.

                3. Snark*

                  And, also, no modern wedding expects people to show up with gifts in hand. It’s widely expected that gifts may come up to a year after the wedding, and with the prevalence of online registries, the giver may never phyically handle the gift anyway.

            2. A.*

              I think if you are so against giving a gift or you feel uncomfortable gifting up, then don’t go to the wedding. She isn’t required to attend. She is choosing to attend. If it was a coworker would you give a gift? I would give what you normally give.

              1. Oilpress*

                Exactly. If buying a gift is too awkward then going to the wedding is probably too awkward as well.

        2. many bells down*

          I guess it would depend on the type of company and the salary you get paid. A $50 gift falls into the category of “nice, but not expensive” to me. I would balk at a gift over $100, though.

        3. RB*

          Yes, perhaps a slightly cheaper version of the Waterford vase, or a pair of nice wineglasses, or a nice set of towels in white. It seems like people never buy the really practical things because they feel like they need to get something more impressive.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            I think you should know your audience though! For example, none of the gifts you listed would have been practical or even useful for my husband & I. We’d have ended up having to return them, or regift/donate them if hat weren’t possible (Waterford vase won’t fit our decor, we rarely drink & not wine at all or even do anything where we’d serve it to others, I’ve never owned a white towel in my adult life & never will.)
            Why not a gift card? That’s easy, something any & everyone can use.

      1. Another Lawyer*

        I default to a Simon Pearce vase for the same reason. Gorgeous, timeless, goes with everything decor.

      2. anonny*

        I think this would depend on the cost of living in the area you live/work in and the type of work you do and how well you get paid. At this point in my life/career, I’d be very comfortable giving my boss a $50-100 wedding gift if I were going to her wedding. I’m not an hourly employee, but my rate of pay is equivalent to about $54/hour. And I totally love my boss; we have a very professional relationship but also an excellent personal rapport, so that feels like a really easy decision for me.

        If I went back in time and I was 21 again and my boss at the Gap I worked at in college invited me to his wedding, I made $7.50/hour back then so yeah, $50 for a vase for his wedding would’ve been WAY too much. I’d have felt obligated to get him something and not seem cheap, but $50-60 would’ve broke me back then and I’d have skipped meals and had to bum rides to work because I wouldn’t have gas money. And also, I didn’t really like the guy but I would’ve felt really obligated to go if he invited me and other coworkers. It would’ve been uncomfortable.

        I think the answer here isn’t going to be one size fits all. Depends on your financial comfort level, your relationship with your boss, etc. Go with your gut – do what is comfortable for you personally and financially! :)

    7. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

      Is there a restaurant in the area that your boss likes? Maybe a gift certificate? Also, depending on your boss’ age he/she may not need the traditional wedding gifts. Is there a non-profit you could make a donation to on their behalf (maybe they’re really in to animals, so you could donate to the local animal shelter). Most places will provide you with something you can include in a card to signal your donation, or they will send a note to your boss separately.

    8. Fabulous*

      I’ve given a picnic basket before full of non-perishable goodies for a picnic. Especially good if there are kids too!

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

        Or a cute basket with a movie night at home. My sister gave our family one for Christmas. She included popcorn, boxes of candy (concession style), a snuggly blanket for the couch, and she also included a gift certificate for 5 rentals from the local red box. It was a really fun gift and as her budget was really tight I think she paid $25 for the whole thing (including the basket – a bowl for the popcorn – and tissue paper she used to dress it up).

    9. H.C.*

      Can you contact anyone in the wedding party? You can check with them to see if there’s a registry somewhere or about the boss & soon-to-be-spouse’s gift preferences

    10. Mockingjay*

      Picture frames. Newlyweds need them for wedding photos. I gave them at my boss’s wedding. Pick a plain, classic style frame (silver is my go to) that blends with most decor.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Another good one. Between the wedding and honeymoon, they are about to have more photos to display.

      2. Irene Adler*

        Yes! Picture frames are the best gift when one doesn’t know what to get.
        They are not very expensive. You can’t go wrong with a “plain, classic” frame.

    11. E*

      Gift card to a restaurant your boss likes? Then they could treat themselves to a nice meal. Otherwise, I like the generic idea of something like a picture frame or vase.

    12. Meh*

      Thanks for all the great suggestions so far! I wasn’t even sure where to start and these are great ones to think about. While I like the gift cards/donation ideas, I actually have no idea which restaurants/charities my boss likes (we work on different campuses so don’t do a ton of chit-chatting). But the handmade gift, picnic basket, vase, or picture frames are ones that may just do the trick. Thanks again!

    13. Kit*

      Outside the box: you don’t have to give a gift! Bring a nice card with you. Not gifting up applies everywhere and they will receive plenty of gifts from people for whom the gift-giving dynamics are less weird.

      1. Safetykats*

        And – this is a really good demonstration of why it’s not necessarily a great idea to invite people from work (and particularly people who report to you) to your wedding. Unless, of course, you socialize enough with these people outside of work to consider them friends. Because friends know enough about you to have some idea what you might like as a wedding present.

        If others from work are also going, maybe they know the boss well enough to have am idea? Or maybe you can go together on a present so nobody spends an inappropriate amount?

        Although I think if I honestly didn’t know somebody well enough to figure out what might be a good present, I would probably just beg off and send a card.

      2. Penny Lane*

        I think that comes off as cheap. “I attended your wedding, but because I work together, I didn’t buy you anything.” Sometimes this board is just a little too precious about the no-gifting-up rule. I don’t think it’s as universal as what gets implied here.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          I don’t know if it would even seem cheap, but that really depends on the people getting married. Plenty of people attended my wedding without giving gifts and that was okay with me. My thought process ran more toward, “I’m glad they got to be here and I didn’t have to get any more stuff.” I don’t know that there’s a great answer.

        2. Oilpress*

          Extremely cheap. If someone does this to their coworker then a negative reaction is almost a guarantee. Better to just skip the wedding than to skip the gift.

    14. designbot*

      One of my husband and I’d favorite gifts (from my coworkers at the time, funny enough) was a cutting board with our names etched/engraved on it. Something like:
      It’s pretty inexpensive to get one of these but the personalization makes it seem extra thoughtful and not cheap at all, which is great when not spending a lot on your boss is the goal.

    15. EngagedBoss*

      Can we flip the script and get some advice on what to say to your employees if you are the boss and are inviting your direct reports? I don’t want them to feel obligated but mentioning not giving a gift feels odd also.

      1. anonny*

        Just a shot in the dark, if it were me I’d probably mull this over a bunch and fine tune it before saying something, but at first thought maybe something to the effect of, “The lines are a little blurry around this issue so I just wanted to open the line of communication. I truly value our social relationship outside of work and want you to share in my special day, but I also want to be completely up front and let you know I don’t expect a gift from you. I don’t want you to feel awkward about accepting or declining this invitation, and I definitely don’t want you to worry about the weird gray area around giving gifts to your manager – I just hope you’re able to come enjoy our day with us!”

      2. Snark*

        I don’t think it’d be odd at all. I think it’d be a relief. “I’d love for you all to celebrate our special day with us, but as I’m your boss, giving and getting gifts has some baggage attached, so please do not consider yourself obligated.”

        1. Em Too*

          I’d be clearer. ‘Don’t feel obliged’ is what I’d say to friends. I’d say ‘please no gifts ‘ here.

    16. essEss*

      I have an embroidery machine and my usual fallback for a generic wedding gift is to get a set of plain white linen pillow cases and embroider their initials in decorative font with a silver metallic thread on them. Wrap them up with a nice ribbon bow.
      You can do something similar by getting an item from one of those stores in the mall that does engraving and have their monogram put on it, like a wedding photo frame, or a container to hold tea, or something like that.

    17. a*

      Going against the grain…I would give cash like you normally do. A wedding is (ideally) a one-time event. It’s a social occasion that you happen to be enjoying with coworkers. I think the gifting up rule applies to things like birthdays and holidays, things that would be acknowledged with some sort of office celebration. (Of course, I’m not a manager. But I am fairly cheap and totally opposed to exchanging gifts with coworkers.)

      The general rule where I grew up was that you gave enough cash to cover the cost of your dinner and that of your date, if you bring one.

    18. Adele*

      Are they going on a honeymoon? My boss went on a cruise and I contacted the cruise line and made a reservation for and deposited funds into their cruise account for the couple to have dinner in one of the really nice specialty restaurants. I had looked up the prices on line so made it enough for dinner with dessert, a glass of wine each, and a gratuity. I then put the what/where info in a lovely card and that is what I gave them. I assume it was enough money but if it fell short he never said anything. It was pricey but if others are going from your office, perhaps you could pool your resources.

      I am planning to do something similar for my nephew and his fiance, except in the city in which they will be honeymooning. Figuring out a cool restaurant and how to reserve and pay for it in Barcelona from the US is a challenge, so if anyone has knowledge or suggestions, pass them on!

      1. phyllis b*

        Wish I had known this when my daughter got married!! She and SIL went on a cruise and I gave her my credit card so they could do some fun stuff. Guess what? They wouldn’t accept it because her name wasn’t on it. :(

    19. FTW*

      First – is your boss from a culture where cash is typical? From experience, when there is no registry, this can be the case. If so, then give cash.

      Second – if that’s not the case, then give whatever you want! That nice vase or picture frame you might never buy for yourself are always good options.

    20. Epsilon Delta*

      Have you asked your boss if they have a registry?

      When I got married I set up a registry but didn’t tell people about it unless they asked, because we already had two houses-worth of stuff in one house.

      And when my coworkers asked I told them I didn’t really need a gift from them because they were already spending a vacation day to come to the wedding! (Friday wedding) (They did eventually weasel registry info out of me too)

      1. Viktoria*

        This has the added benefit that if your boss is uncomfortable with receiving a gift from you, asking about the registry will be the perfect moment for them to tell you that.

      2. Mephyle*

        Seconded. Even classical etiquette, which prescribes that people are not supposed to announce their registry details, allows that they can give the information if asked.

    21. FormerAsstNowBoss*

      I’ve never been to a boss’s wedding, but usually if there is no registry I’ll just do $50 gift card to Amazon.

      Depending on your salary/hourly wage. I would max out the money I’d spend at $50 or 4 hours (whichever is the lesser amount). Or see if you can score discount tickets to local show or event. One of my friends is the head costumer for a theater group. She’ll give me pairs of tickets every now and then…if you can get cheap/free tickets to something you can give a “date night” to your boss and his/her spouse.

      Hell, you don’t even have to give a gift. Just write a nice card with well wishes. Your boss, if not awful, won’t hold it against you not to give anything.

    22. Momofpeanut*

      Cut glass bowl is my go to gift; Macy’s usually has one in the 30-40 range. I got one as a wedding gift and found so many times it just dressed up my table.

    23. Anion*

      Aside from the vase/nice picture frame-type ideas, you could order them some stationery. A set of writing paper or large notecards/folded notecards that has a monogram of their combined initials at the top, says “Mr. and Mrs. Boss Name/Spouse Name” or “Boss and Bossspouse Lastname” or “Boss Spousename and Boss Name,” depending on how traditional they are. You can get a nice set online, nice white or ivory paper with various ink/engraving colors and envelopes, for a decent price.

      I know people rarely use actual paper anymore, but that’s one reason why I love giving this gift–because it’s something people generally won’t or don’t buy for themselves/even think of buying, it’s personalized, it “shows” that they are now a unit (so to speak), and it’s a luxury-type item, but it can come in handy. I love my personalized stationery and am always pleased when I can use it, even if it’s only to send a note to my kids’ school. Mine is Crane paper (I splurged), but you don’t have to go that high-end, and all the online stationery places will let you choose a variety of fonts/monogram styles/etc. and see what it will look like before you order–and a lot of them offer very fast shipping, too. I’ve done this for a few couples, and the response has always been really enthusiastic. Newly married couples tend to love anything that displays their now-married status (in my experience, at least).

      The bonus is that if you order enough of them, they can use it to write thank-you notes if they want. :-) And you can tell them exactly where you got it so they can resupply if they like or get other items that will look exactly the same.

      And I definitely fall on the “give a gift” side. This is not a business event, it’s a social one, and you are a guest of your boss and his/her spouse, who were not obligated to invite you. This isn’t a holiday where you still see each other only at work. It’s not a birthday where Boss is celebrating outside work and not inside so much. It’s a social event, and a major one. Most of all, it’s not an event where a reciprocal gift would be expected, like on holidays or birthdays. If it helps, think of it as giving the gift to boss’s soon-to-be. IMO not gifting would be a faux pas, one that might be noticed and frankly hurtful.

      1. phyllis b*

        I agree. I get the don’t gift at work, but this is a social occasion. It doesn’t have to be expensive; I have seen some great suggestions here, but do give something.

    24. Half-Caf Latte*

      I’m puzzled by the number of people who give actual gifts for weddings. Every wedding I’ve been to, my own included, the gifts were all cash. Maybe the ocassional wrapped gift, but like one if at all.

      Generational thing? regional thing?

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        From what I know, very much cultural/regional. In many cultures, including regional subcultures of the United States, everyone gives money because it’s the way the community helps a new family start off right. In others, it’s usually household goods (either off a registry or chosen individually), because the idea is for the community to help a new family that is assumed by tradition to be moving in together to start off with the things they need in order to function as a household.

        And in more casual American circles that don’t have their own subcultural standard to do otherwise, it’s recognized that tradition or no, many couples marrying today have already been living together and if they didn’t, each of them has been living alone. Between them, they already own most of what they need to start off a household, and they may not even be starting a new one at all with their marriage. In those communities, it’s pretty typical to go with the individual interests of the couple and give tangible presents which have nothing necessarily to do with household gear — might be ski equipment or concert tickets or anything they like. But usually, any tradition which does either of the previous versions will override this policy; people only give non-household, non-money gifts if the couple and their guests don’t have the pressure of tradition on them to to household stuff or money.

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        All of the above, I think. Traditionally, in the region where I’m from (the South) the assumption is the newly married couple is moving in together for the first time and haven’t maintained households with all the stuff you need, so you buy them household goods to help them establish their first home together. This persists even though it’s only uncommonly true anymore, and so people register for household gifts for their weddings and that’s what you get. So people that I know through my parents and in-laws who go by tradition, this is what they do.

        But I think it’s more common in my generation (I’m a millennial) to do the cash thing these days. First of all, we’re older when we get married, and are more likely to have acquired a bunch of stuff already – and already live with our mates before marriage. Second of all, we tend to live in smaller spaces; and third of all, generationally we tend to prefer experiences to things (that’s not universally true, but at a lot of surveys of millennials have found this). Sometimes they’re also getting married in their hometown, which is far away from where they live, and they don’t want to schlep presents back home or deal with who’s going to receive their gifts in the week or so before their wedding when they’re in the hometown organizing last minute stuff.

        So for weddings of close family members around my age or friends that I made myself – especially the ones I’ve made since I moved out of the South – I give them cash or a check or a gift card and I write a really nice message in the card. A lot of people I’ve seen are also doing honeyfunds and I like that – I like the idea of helping friends have a special experience on their honeymoon.

    25. Former Prof*

      Bluelyon suggested a Waterford vase, below, which is always lovely. I’d also add that a nice frame (perhaps silver plated) is also a nice, attractive, always useful gift–you can find them at TJ Maxx or on sale at Macy’s, or at various home decor places.

      I’d also highly suggest just picking something fun in your price range from Williams Sonoma — you can order online and have it sent, or get it yourself and wrap it yourself)–they’re having a 20% off sale and there are tons of really nice choices in all price ranges. Maybe a cute set of salad plates, or a slate cheese board, etc
      Some other suggestions in the $50 range:
      –A half-case of wine (go to a nice wine store and say you want to keep it to under $50)
      –A nice bottle of champagne (again, ask the wine store for something reasonable but a bit exotic, not an obviously cheapo bottle, but something that isn’t “literally” champagne, Veuve Cliquot or something) and two champagne glasses. A nice wine store will probably package it for you
      –A nice serving tray

      In choices closer to $25-30
      –A wood cutting board;
      –A wood cheese serving board, perhaps with little cheese labels
      –Wine “charms” that identify whose wine glass it is
      –An assortment of really nice honey in a gift package (Katz Farms does some fantastic honeys and jams); or two nice honeys and a honey “server” (those little curly spoons) (you can find them on Amazon)
      –A nice coffee and two mugs from a nicer coffee store (like Peet’s–NOT Starbucks)
      –A teapot and a nice tea (you can find some awesome, well-priced, and really attractive teapots on Amazon, and go for Harney’s tea–they have a lot of attractive decorative boxes)

  3. Sophia*

    I missed the Valentine’s Day post and just caught up. I’m somewhat bemused at how many people were gushing over the story about that guy pretending to be inept so he could spend more time with the OP, and buying her a present (‘joke’ or not) on top of that. Sure it was clear the OP had issues with her partner at the time already, but even so it felt so out of sync with the content of this site I was taken aback at how it was included as a ‘favourite’ by AAM!

        1. Rebeck*

          I read this and thought “but this is the Saturday thread!” because I’m in Australia so the Open Thread is what I wake up to every Saturday…

        1. Office Worker*

          I don’t think it is quite fair to cut Sophia off/tell her to wait till tomorrow. I think it is definitely work related to talk about how a trainee purposefully acted incompetent to get a mentor’s (who had a boyfriends) attention

          1. Tara*

            I agree. If it was “work-related” enough for Alison to include it in a mon-fri post, then its super rude for people to tell someone not to talk about it on the friday thread!!

    1. ZSD*

      Yeah, if a guy ever did that to me, I’d never want to be around him again. You took up my time at work, played dumb, and hoped that would make me find you attractive? Noooope.

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      Yeah I was pretty shocked by the reaction, normally people here would be calling him a psychopath or creeep at the very least. I thought it was a cute story though

    3. Julianne*

      I felt like it was one of those stories that was only cute because it had a happy ending (as in, the LW ultimately reciprocated the coworker’s feelings).

      1. Karo*

        Yup! How I Met Your Mother called it Dobler or Dahmer. If you’re into the person, their big romantic gesture is considered sweet. If you’re not into them, it’s creepy.

      2. Morning Glory*

        Agree with this, but also – the guy did get fired. I think that a concrete professional consequence also may have mollified people who would otherwise criticized the guy for his behavior.

        1. krysb*

          The guy purposefully getting fired made it worse for me. Who sabotages a job so they can sit next to the girl they like? This is assuming coworkers in that company were allowed to date, of course. Otherwise, he could have asked her out at any other time.

          1. Close Bracket*

            I didn’t read his intention being to get fired. OP said he “accidentally” got fired (I assume that was her word, since Allison doesn’t change people’s inputs unless necessary). That sounded to me more like an outcome that he maybe should have seen coming, bc that’s what can happen to a poor performer, but didn’t.

            1. zora*

              He didn’t get fired on purpose. He was trying to pretend he was picking up things more slowly than he really was, so that she would have to keep training him, and therefore they would have to spend the days sitting with each other and interacting. He misjudged, and did “too” badly and got fired. Which in a call center probably means missing very strict numbers requirements for too many weeks in a row, and results in automatic firing. It’s not like he did something awful or dangerous to get fired.

          2. aett*

            I believe the writer said that it was a call center job, so it’s not something that the new-boyfriend majored in and finally achieved after years of applying and hard work.

      3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Yes, like one of those things that works in movies (Overboard, Lost & Found, half of Love Actually etc.) but is kind of creepy in real life.

      4. Sophia*

        Which, much like stories of people who use ‘unconventional’ methods to get into jobs or interviews, could well encourage others to try similar antics.

  4. unpaid*

    My former job has been blowing me off about my last commission check for months…

    Obviously I need to contact a lawyer, and this is illegal under my state’s laws. I’ve spoken to all the right people at the company about why I haven’t been paid, but haven’t heard sh*t so far. They are not contesting that I’m owed it but they’re not committing to actually paying me either. It’s a week’s salary (plus, like… I earned it…) so I’m not willing to let it go.

    HOWEVER, my question is: is it possible to escalate my requests, perhaps with the involvement of a lawyer, and still stay on good terms with my former company? I’m fed up and struggling to remain courteous, let alone graceful. I really, really do not want to have to do any sort of formal legal proceedings and would be very upset if it came to that. We were on good terms before this and I would hate for *this* to be what burns the bridge. Any advice??

    1. KR*

      Try getting a lawyer to send a certified letter to whoever is in charge, detailing your communications and attempts to retrieve your pay and the difficulties that you’ve had, noting that at this point they are in violation of the law/regulations (here you would note the specific state law requiring you to receive your last check which probably mandates you receive it sooner than now). Your lawyer will have some ideas. Letters from lawyers -not even legal action, scare companies a lot and often give them a kick in the pants.

      1. Adele*

        In my experience with larger companies/institutions, there are two (or more) bridges: the department for which you worked and then the support services such as HR and Payroll. I think it is possible to maintain good relations with your old department and associated departments while putting pressure via an attorney’s letter to HR, Payroll, Accounts Payable, or wherever the hold up is.

        I would be horrified to learn that our company hadn’t paid a former employee/colleague, even if it was the result of my unwittingly not having followed the correct procedure. As an Admin or Manager, would be spurred to look into it. Incorrect paperwork seems to go into a black hole where I work, with no one ever following up to say, “Hey, this is wrong/info is missing/needs to be re-done.” If an attorney’s letter to HR spurs them to look into it and to let me know what needs to be done on my end, I would never hold that against the former employee.

        1. unpaid*

          I probably should have clarified that it’s a small company. When I say I’ve talked to all the right people, I mean I have spoken with literally every single relevant person.

      2. unpaid*

        Yeah… I was afraid it would come to that. (Not scared so much as annoyed.) Thank you for confirming

    2. Marillenbaum*

      I would argue that by failing to pay you, they’ve burned the bridge. Do what you need to do to get your money, and if you need a reference, try for someone who no longer works there. Otherwise, pointing out that they are basically refusing to pay you means that with reasonable employers, they’ll understand why you are no longer on good terms with this company.

        1. Close Bracket*

          If you are on *really* good terms with the people you worked with, and you know that they are not the barrier, you could talk to them one more time and point out that the company is breaking the law. Maybe do it in one of Allison’s roundabout ways where you say something like, “appearing that the company is trying to skirt labor laws.” You know, *the company* is the jerkface here, not *them,* the people you worked with. *They’re* awesome.

          Of course, if the people you worked with are the ones telling you you’ll get paid and then not following up, this will probably still burn a bridge bc they know they are being jerkfaces.

      1. Reba*

        I was coming down here to make the same point — forget about whether they want to work with you in the future, do YOU still want to work for them?

    3. tink*

      They haven’t paid you for months and they’re effectively ignoring your attempts and getting your owed payment. I would personally already consider this bridge burnt, and I like KR’s suggestion about a certified letter. You can follow up with legal actions if that doesn’t get them motivated, and (to my mind) it’ll prove that you’ve tried to do everything you could in good faith with this company before actually having to get state employment folks/etc. involved.

    4. Yorick*

      If trying to get paid burns the bridge, I don’t think that’s a place you want to maintain a connection to.

      1. Tara*

        She might be referring to references and the like, rather than actually wanting to work with them again.

        1. o.b.*

          You know, it’s not even references, it’s just this squicky feeling in my stomach of not wanting to be That Person who invokes a lawyer. (These are my hang-ups, not universal ones!!) But honestly, my feelings about not getting paid trump the squick.

    5. MLB*

      Doubtful, but I wouldn’t worry about staying on good terms with the company. They’re not paying you the money you earned which as you’ve said is illegal. Burning bridges is generally not a good idea for future job prospects, but they’re clearly in the wrong here so I wouldn’t worry about it. You’ve done nothing wrong here, and it sounds like you’ve given them more than enough time to make it right. Contact a lawyer sooner rather than later – it’s time to stop worrying about them and worry about you.

    6. The Tin Man*

      I agree with above who said anything involving a lawyer would burn the bridge. What do you need the bridge for, I assume a reference? I do not 100%agree with the people who support burning the bridge out of principle because you can’t put principle on a reference request.

      Would your reference be the person whom the lawyer would be addressing or would it be someone out of that loop? It seems the best shot is if you could use someone who could be a reference who would not be even privy to the legal letter.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        This is a very common misconception about lawyers. Lawyers are personal advocates. They start off nice and escalate as needed. If you consult an attorney and tell them that you want to maintain a good relationship with the business, they’ll work to make that happen. Things like writing letters and talking to the business’s attorneys.

        Lawyers are the nuclear option that they’re portrayed to be in the media.

        1. The Tin Man*

          I see here I wasn’t clear. Talking to a lawyer isn’t a bad idea, that is a good idea. Having a lawyer write the letter is possible/probable to burn the bridge because of the misconception that you just stated – it is commonly interpreted as an aggressive move even if it is really the only option the company leaves OP as they try to passive aggressively “awkward” OP into giving up the request.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            No, you were perfectly clear. I just disagree. It’s perfectly possible and reasonable to involve an attorney and also not burn the bridge.

    7. MuseumChick*

      Have you told them you will be contacting a lawyer? Frankly, seeing that it’s been months I would just go head and get a lawyer, as others have said, why do you want this bridge at all? But if you want to give it one last try I would send an email to all the people you have spoken with saying something like

      “It is been X months and I still have not received my final commission check. According to state law blah blah blah. Unfortunately, if this is not resolved by X date I will be forced to contact a lawyer to resolve this. I would like to avoid that.”

      1. unpaid*

        Thank you! That’s a really good intermediary step—I’ve been wondering how to escalate from “hello again please pay me” to “pay me or I will sue you” without feeling like that’s too abrupt.

        1. Rick Tq*

          After 4 months it is time to talk to the State about their behavior, a Sternly Worded letter from a lawyer will probably be ignored some more.

          Someone on ‘good terms’ doesn’t stiff you a week’s salary for 4 months. That bridge is well and truly burned.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I don’t like threatening to contact an attorney. What you’re really telling them is that you don’t want to contact an attorney.

        Also, if you’re serious about contacting an attorney, the best way to let them know about it is by having your attorney contact them.

    8. neverjaunty*

      You’re already on bad terms with your company, is the problem. Because of their conduct.

      They are stealing your money. Do not worry about remaining friends with thieves.

    9. Natalie*

      Commissions are often regulated under the DOL just like pay is, so you could start with your state’s department of labor and file a complaint.

      But also, this bridge is probably already burned, or at least soaked with gasoline, so probably make peace with that part.

      1. Safetykats*

        You don’t say who you’ve been interfacing with at your former employer. If you’ve only been talking to your former supervisor, you should definitely try pushing this up to payroll or HR/benefits. If there is a corporate organization, you could talk to them.

        My last job effectively laid me off – actually terminated my employment – but maintained that they didn’t owe me severance because I was hired by a affiliate. It was definitely termination and hire though – not a transfer – and the paperwork proved that. When I couldn’t get satisfaction from HR at my former employer I sent a certified letter to the HR director at corporate, presenting my case and documentation, and asking for his review of the matter. (Certified because it’s more official, and you can tell it was received and by whom.) A week later I got a very nice phone call from the director, telling me my severance would be in the mail the following day, and just confirming where it should be sent. I still work for the affiliate, and often run into corporate personnel who know the story – all of whom have said I did the right thing.

        FYI – although I didn’t have a lawyer send the letter – I did have one review my letter and advise me on wording, supporting documentation, and the method of sending. So I firmly believe there’s a middle ground that gets you your money and doesn’t cause trouble for you in the future.

        1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          I was going to say the same thing about being sure you’ve actually talked to payroll and if you’ve talked to local payroll, find out who is over them and talk to them as well. As someone who does payroll, frequently the issue with not getting paid is that no one bothered to tell payroll.

        2. unpaid*

          I should have clarified that it’s a small company. I have spoken with literally every single relevant person.

          Good point on having a letter reviewed by a lawyer but come from me—thanks!

      2. unpaid*

        Thanks, Natalie. Good points. I’m not even really worried about a reference—I just hate the idea of having to be the “problem” (ex)employee who involved lawyers. But I don’t hate that as much as the idea of not getting paid

        1. Anion*

          I wonder if you can–truthfully or not–mention something in the letter about how this is becoming an issue with your taxes, or your accountant, or something? To make it appear that *you* understand, but Someone Bigger Than You is insisting you be paid, so you have to involve an attorney.

          I don’t know if it would help, but if you’re worried about seeming like someone who involves an attorney and burning a bridge, you might be able to remove yourself from it a step that way?

      1. Earthwalker*

        This. They can review a company’s pay history for issues across the board and obtain your back pay and everyone else’s, keeping you anonymous. When I did this it was to an employer who had failed to correctly pay a lot of workers so a lot of people got back wages along with me. They did not find out who called the labor board in spite of asking everyone who could have done it. Of course, if you’re the only person your employer failed to pay fairly lately that would make it pretty obvious who engaged them.

    10. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      You left. You are on your own. You were on good terms before you left. Because you did good work.
      You were on not on good terms after you left. You were on no terms. You were no longer their concern.
      Just because you didn’t ask for anything, inconvenience employer or make him have to do work for someone who isn’t there anymore does mean everything is great.
      Because if, by burning bridges, you mean will they give you a good reference, then I’m going to ask you this:
      do you think that the person who would not pay you for work you completed would be a good reference anyway? I don’t think that’s the guy who is going to bother trying to help you out if he gets called for a reference?
      Yes, he worked here. He left last year.

    11. Bea*

      My gosh, my advice but I hope you get paid and these scumbags get into trouble.

      I was annoyed when my last check didn’t include commissions they owed me but they are so small (as in like twenty dollars worth) that I didn’t dig my heels in. Mostly because I know theyre steaming ahead to bankrupt and I take joy in their eventual failure.

      Side story aside, I hope your lawyer can get you paid plus some more for this bullshhht.

    12. AnotherLibrarian*

      If you get a good lawyer, they are often excellent at writing polite but stern letters. Frankly, these people haven’t paid you. The bridge may be already burned.

    13. SMB Employer*

      I am a co-owner of a small company, and I would be more concerned if I got contacted by a Labor and/or Revenue department as they have endless resources to hound or maybe decide my company needed investigating. If the amount in question is modest, I am willing to bet they think you won’t go for a lawyer for the cost and would do things to ring up that person’s time. Call your state’s DOL; it’s free, probably low-hassle, and it will get their attention quickly. Instead of threatening to sue them, tell them you will get them involved for dispute resolution. The specter of fines should get an owner’s attention quickly.

  5. Shut the Front Door*

    In my last job and my current job, the Front Desk Person (FDP) has worn two hats. Not only do they answer the main line, receive everyone through the front door, and sort the mail, but they had other tasks on top of it. In my previous job, the FDP was a junior marketing person; in my current job, the FDP is a travel coordinator.

    Everyone I knew who was in these two positions hated it. Said that too much was expected of them with all the front desk tasks and the marketing/traveling tasks. There was a lot of turnover in the roles because of this. Yet the higher powers said the FDP needs additional tasks because there is too much downtime with only doing appointments, phones, and mail.

    How is it in your workplaces? Does the FDP have additional workloads to take care of? Is it balanced for them? Or is this just the norm for the first face of the company to be way overworked like this?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      We have a full time desk person who manages the phones and greets visitors, and does light building management. She might do the ordering of supplies or similar. This works for us because we’re a pretty large office and the phones ring frequently, and we hold a lot of meetings. In smaller offices, it’s tougher because there is legitimately a lot of downtime if nobody’s coming in, and I do understand that the company doesn’t want to pay a full time salary to someone who is writing their novel (ask me how I know) between calls. I used to get 2-3 calls a day TBH and maybe one package. I don’t think it’s crazy to combine two half time jobs if it’s the right combination (something that can handle a lot of interruptions).

      1. puzzld*

        We are open about 80 hours a week. We have 3 full time and 10-15 part time (-10 hour per week) people who all work shifts at the front desk. They all have desk work and assignments away from the desk as we think spending 40 hours weekly on the firing line cause stress and burn out.

    2. o.b.*

      Ooh I’ve been this multiple times and was always so, so overworked.

      But just because it’s a norm doesn’t mean it’s a good practice.

    3. Not So Super-visor*

      Every place that I’ve worked has always had additional tasks assigned to the FDP. It’s always been the same belief that you can’t just sit there for 8 hours waiting for someone to come to the door.

    4. k*

      Our front desk people do other tasks. They do some HR related stuff (new hire paper work, payroll processing), and some accounting/financial stuff like entering things in quickbooks. I don’t know the full extent of their work, but turnover is low which makes me think they are not overworked. What may help is that we have multiple part time front desk staff, and they tasks are divided between them. So while there are, lets say 10 “extra” things they do, each only has one or two that they’re responsible for.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is why I’ve had so much trouble finding jobs. Even the low-level FDP jobs have accounting duties thanks to cutbacks and consolidation, and it’s not always just data entry. I found that out the hard way once when I took a job at a tax firm and then surprise! They wanted me to do someone’s payroll, which was not disclosed to me either in the job posting or at the interview.

        Even OldExjob didn’t hire an accounting assistant once my original manager left and her assistant got promoted into her role. They just dumped all the extra stuff on me.

    5. ThePandaQueen*

      I’m the FDP for my organisation and I do so much it’s pretty intense. I have to proof-read every document that goes to higher-ups (make the changes, run after people to correct them in their files, keep up-to-date with media/legal standards), I have to take care of catering (sometimes for places I have never visited), office supplies (If I don’t order them no one will have them), appointments (for travel and meetings), travel expenditures, cellphone replacements/technological replacements, bookings (travel including airplanes, hotels, cabs, conference rooms, media etc.), calendars (if someone isn’t there I have to take over their work load), boardrooms, new hires, answering phones, organising events, on top of my own work load which is pretty hefty. I’m basically the go-to person, and if people aren’t there I take over their tasks… balance isn’t really a thing for me, and when they hired me they told me I’d be overworked.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        you sound like you have the responsibilities of an executive assistant and a receptionist. That’s a lot for one person.

        1. ThePandaQueen*

          Basically you’re right. even though my position is FDP, they expect me to do the work of an executive assistant and receptionist because “it’s too quiet being an FDP without additional work”.

          1. JHunz*

            I’m guessing that they’re paying you for the position you’re supposedly in and not for the amount of work you’re actually doing

      2. selina kyle*

        You and I sound like we’re in the same boat! Or at least boats on the same river. It can be frustrating at times, but it’s kind of nice to hear that someone else is going through the same stuff. The hardest part for me is that it’s almost assumed I’ll agree to take on new tasks (especially since we have people out for medical reasons) and then I have new stuff that I’m not fully trained on.
        Best of luck to you out there

        1. ThePandaQueen*

          The hardest part for me right now is that I always have to have someone to cover for me, but how can I do that, when I’m already covering for everyone else?! Best of luck to you too, and just remember to take care of yourself, because burning out is all too common in my experience for people who have our kind of FDP positions.

    6. rosiebyanyothername*

      My office’s FDP is a marketing/outreach person as well. Currently they seem to like the marketing aspect of the job better than the front desk responsibilities of the job. The rest of the team (who sit near FDP) share mail-sorting and other responsibilities.

    7. Observer*

      A lot depends on traffic. High traffic areas or if you have a poor phone system (or one that your clientele just won’t work with) is different to a lower traffic area. But, also it’s important to choose the right tasks. I’d think that a travel coordinator has a high chance of being too intense to join with FD in most places. Supplies ordering is much more common and sensible, depending on the set up of course, ime.

      1. Chaordic One*

        A lot of the time your clientele won’t work with a poor phone system, and to be honest about things, I really don’t blame them.

        1. Observer*

          Well, if your clients won’t work with your phone system, the first thing to do is evaluate your system and the way it’s set up. Sometimes it really is a problem, and you REALLY need to fix that. You really can’t blame people for not wanting to work with a system that makes your life harder than it needs to be. But, sometimes your client base just won’t work with the system for reasons that have nothing to do with how good or bad the system is.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I think that’s actually really nice, because one of the drawbacks for our FDP is that she can’t ever leave the desk (I think she does have a headset she can walk around with, but it’s not the same). So it really sucks if we’re having a staff appreciation day or an early dismissal or whatever, and she has to stay. I think she can only go to the bathroom if she gets someone else to cover her! So having multiple people trade off seems fairer to me.

        1. zora*

          Yeah, this is a big issue with being an FDP, is never being able to leave. Especially if your ‘other tasks’ involve ever having to get up and go somewhere! That would make it hard to do both.

          I think it depends on what the other tasks are. If it’s something that takes concentration to get through big projects, it definitely sucks, because your attention is constantly getting interrupted. If it’s stuff that is easy to pick up and put down as needed, that’s different.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          OldExjob hired temps when we had all-company meetings. The lunch meeting was only an hour but we had to keep them for four hours, so I would make them do all the filing I hated, LOL.

        3. SarcasticFringehead*

          One of my favorite things about my previous manager was that if the office closed early, she would volunteer to cover reception herself, so the receptionist could go home when the rest of us did.

          When we have staff appreciation day, the most junior associate at the time has to cover the desk, which I think is an eye-opening experience for them.

          The bathroom thing would drive me crazy, though.

    8. Ambpersand*

      My last position was an FDP and while I had extra duties to fill in the gaps, there were clear communications from higher ups that sometimes I wouldn’t be busy because the heart of my job was to sit at the desk and wait for calls/visitors. It was actually a really nice balance.

    9. starsaphire*

      It’s been a while since I’ve done this job, but when I was doing reception for a place that had light traffic, I usually also had a lot of envelope-stuffing, data-entry sort of busywork. Anything that could be dropped at a second’s notice to pick up a phone or fill out a FedEx slip.

      Clearly things have changed since then, but I really liked that aspect of the job — that it wasn’t 100% phones or 100% data entry, but a nice mix, and that I wouldn’t get in trouble for chatting with the UPS gal for a minute because that was actually my job.

    10. selina kyle*

      That’s me in our office! I do a lot of design work in addition to the front desk duties and it gets taxing. I’m typically pretty busy and it is hard to get into the flow of my other tasks when I have to greet folks coming in, but I like the people I work with and I know that once things slow down a little it won’t be so bad. We have two folks out for medical leave so part of it is that as well.
      That said, when I just had the duties as a front desk person (I volunteer for as many other projects as I can in hopes of moving up the ladder/winning good favor from coworkers) I was bored out of my gourd. It’s a hard line to tread with these positions.

    11. The Tin Man*

      Well we *had* a FDP at our corporate building but she was laid off because the powers that be decided that she didn’t have enough to do to warrant paying someone full time to be there. And now it seems a mess where just random people who are unlucky enough to sit near the door have to answer when anyone comes by for deliveries or whatever else. And there is now even more work put on the Executive Assistant’s plate when she already does a TON for our organization.

      Still a new thing so we’ll see how it shakes out but right now on the surface it looks like a bad call. They are redoing a lot of things in that building though so they may find a way to incorporate some of her tasks like handling deliveries in a smoother way than “Hey FDP is gone now, figure it out”.

        1. The Tin Man*

          Oh, I agree. I know they tried and did that to some degree. I got hints that her performance wasn’t great so that may have contributed, though you don’t eliminate a position just because the person in it at the time isn’t performing. Well, not usually. There are enough very busy people here that it seems something could be off-loaded to the FDP. My boss mentioned it was “political”. I tend to miss a lot of those things because I tend towards naive/optimistic and often completely miss political motives with work stuff.

      1. Shut the Front Door!*

        Actually that’s what happened at my last job. After two FDP left in a row, they had a bunch of us switching off rather than hire anyone else. It was terrible because, as the lowest person in ranking, I got stuck with it the most when others were too busy to do it, even though no one seemed to care that my workload was slipping. I was so happy to leave and even now wonder if they’re still doing that practice without me to help them!

      2. specialK*

        Same thing happened to our FDP :( The remaining departments had to divvy up the mail room, supply room, kitchen duties, etc. So now we have VPs cleaning the office fridge…

      3. copy run start*

        I used to work in a busy client-facing office where the FDP were eliminated. Instead they had staff rotate through the position (two sat there each day), and moved us admins next to the front desk to provide overflow coverage.

        Staff ended up disgruntled because they were expected to complete their normal duties while at the FD and couldn’t while being constantly interrupted. Some tried to work and took their crabbiness out on clients and coworkers. Some just socialized with their fellow staff FDP that day. Some dealt with the situation by disappearing during slow periods. Some offloaded all the clients they could to the admins nearby (had it out with one person in particular who was horrible about this – I celebrated her retirement). A few actually did a good job, but most were mediocre at best. While staff were able to answer the more technical questions our clients had right away, they were often clueless when it came to locating pamphlets or assisting clients with certain tasks that had been taken care of by the FDP. Most made no attempt to figure anything out. We made a guide but no one referenced it.

        Personally I would’ve been fine just making FDP a part of my admin job and reducing some of my extra duties. But since it was supposed to be just an overflow thing we didn’t get any real allowance for it. I ended up planning my week around whoever was scheduled to cover the FD each day. Whenever certain people were scheduled I just assumed I would get none of my own work done that day.

        When I left they were actually considering not refilling my position and having staff rotate through it as well, but they didn’t follow through.

    12. Manders*

      Yes, I was a front desk person for a while, and my job expanded into some intense editing work that wasn’t very easy to do when the phone was ringing on a busy day. I also did a fair bit of managing up in order to keep my boss on task, and ended up being the keeper of the to-do list for the whole office. I also did a lot of work filing and cleaning a whole room full of legal files that had been messily stacked on the floor before I got there. It wasn’t an unmanageable workload, but whenever my boss was angry he’d go on a tirade about how I sat on my butt doing nothing all day, which was pretty demoralizing considering how much I was getting done for him.

    13. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’ve been the FDP and I always had additional tasks – transcription, data entry, things like that. They were tasks that were easy to pick up and put down and I never felt overworked. It sounds like the FDPs at your current and previous employers are also trying to do a regular full-time role on top of the FD duties and it’s unclear which is their *primary* role, and that seems problematic.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah if they’re accountable for programmatic work with deadlines, that sucks because it’s likely they’re going to end up snapping at someone who comes to the desk or calls at a bad moment – those things aren’t compatible, and the priorities would need to be laid out very clearly.

        1. zora*

          Oh yeah, exactly. If their ‘other tasks’ have deadlines, that is probably a bad combination, because if someone calls or walks in at exactly the right time, they have to choose which job to ‘fail’ at. :(

    14. Always Smile Up Front*

      I have done FDP twice at small to medium businesses. Both had too many responsibilities. The second one was ok, since they allowed me a couple hours of overtime to take care of the “away from the desk” tasks, like filing, etc. Nothing was ever time sensitive, so the only pressure was from myself.
      Truly, the worst part is trying to run to the rest room or take your break. Who can cover my desk for 90 seconds and is the room free? Oh, my break coverage isn’t available this week?
      I do not miss it most days.

      1. copy run start*

        Oof yeah, nothing like going around begging coworkers to cover your break! I always felt like that task should’ve been handled by our management, but… they didn’t see it that way. I felt bad but it typically fell to a few kind-hearted coworkers who always said yes.

    15. hbc*

      I think it works great if the FDP tasks are considered primary and the other tasks as “stuff that gets done if I have time.” (Or if the office is so quiet that we’re talking 30-60 minutes of FDP tasks a day.) But if there are strict deadlines on the other responsibilities and you still have to deal with the FDP stuff as it happens, it’s a recipe for disaster.

    16. Trout 'Waver*

      Our FDP pretty much only does reception. It makes a professional and positive impression to always be ready to greet and direct guests and customers. It gives the wrong impression if a customer who spends $20M on your products annually has to wait for the FDP person to drop what they’re working on and help them.

    17. Lily Rowan*

      I’m the FDP for a car dealership right now, and it basically is having two full time jobs! I have a lot of other tasks that need to be completed on time and yet I am constantly interrupted by phones, customers, or co-workers needing help with something ASAP. Some days it is overwhelming and frustrating, and some days there is a bit of downtime. The biggest help is people giving me lead time on tasks that need to be completed so I can factor in the extra time needed to account for all the interruptions (which take time away for the actual interruption and for the time it takes for me to get back into the focus/groove I had before).

    18. Ama*

      I’ve been the FDP with way more than two hats – I’ve talked before how at my last job the big bosses were in denial about how much front desk work there was, so they basically made my job a full time department administrator job + front desk duties. Which meant it ended up being anywhere from 1.5 to 2 times more work than anyone could reasonably be expected to handle. When I left my immediate boss and I tried to get them to change the job posting for my replacement from 15% reception duties to 30% (it was really more like 50 but that was all we thought we could get them to agree to) — and they insisted it was absolutely impossible I had that much on my plate. They ended up having to hire 2 FT and 1 PT person (who only did front desk work) to replace me.

      At my current job the office manager was originally the front desk person, which seemed to work fine, but when she retired they attempted to make front desk and junior bookkeeper a hybrid job, while decentralizing a bunch of the office admin tasks ( individual departments were supposed to buy their own supplies, the conference room calendars didn’t have an assigned overseer, etc.). Unsurprisingly, this was a total disaster. The difference between my last job and this one, though, is that they realized it was a disaster about six months in, when they moved the junior bookkeeper to a FT finance department position (she’s actually still here and has been promoted a few times), and re-established the front desk position as more of a general office administrator job.

      Our biggest problem has been the backup FDP rotation. We are too small to have multiple general office administrators, so anyone on the backup rotation has their own non front desk duties (the admin in my department is one of them). That has definitely caused some friction about who gets pulled into those responsibilities and when. I have occasionally had to request that my admin be excused from coverage in the week before we have a major project, and I have to keep a pretty close eye on requests for extra coverage from her as the line has a tendency to start moving from “ok this one time” to “this is a regular thing” very quickly. It’s been even worse for my coworkers who had desk coverage as part of their jobs initially but have now been promoted into new roles — once you get sucked into coverage it’s very hard to get out of the rotation.

      1. Always Smile Up Front*

        Ultimately, left my second FDP because of exactly the situation you describe above. I was promoted off the desk and sucked into it for an additional 2 hours per day of coverage. Plus the promotion was 2 FT positions. I was burnt out in 90 days.

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          Agreeing that once a FDP, always a FDP in some capacity!

          When I was hired, the company was teeny-tiny, so I wore 3 or 4 hats, including front desk. Our front desk duties included: Mail, deliveries, phone calls, greeting people there for appointments and also the lost souls that can’t find the place they actually need and have decided to use us as in information desk, plus sending out requests for the pathologists (additional testing, consultations, etc).

          Now, as a senior employee (9yrs), I’ve moved away from the majority of things I was doing upon hire because my institutional knowledge + various skill sets are needed just about everywhere else. I’m now wearing 5 or 6 hats, and am currently dealing with a transition period where they’ve taken all my help away, but the new person to come help me isn’t ready for training yet (they need to train somebody else themselves…), and yet I’m still called to help cover the front when people are out, or during lunches!

          If this were a permanent situation, I’d burn out. Thankfully, there is a concrete plan in current motion for an end-in-sight, and until then, I’ll be a chicken drowning while running around with my head cut off, haha.

    19. Thlayli*

      I’ve worked in small offices where front desk was just one part of someone’s role, and in big offices where they are a dedicated resource (or multiple dedicated resources). I think there is an awkward phase in a companys growth where it’s too much to be just an extra piece of work but not enough to be a full time role. Perhaps the solution is for the person to be given only half of the duties of a normal travel coordinator – or 1/3 or 2/3 or whatever makes sense.

      1. Manders*

        That’s a great point–there is a weird phase small companies go through where there’s sort of a half-job that needs to get done and it’s not worth having a full-time person just to do it. And for other roles you can hire someone part-time to do the work you have available, but for front desk duties you really need someone to be in the office for the full day, so it’s tempting to load that person who doesn’t look busy up with all the extra tasks that aren’t quite a full job.

      2. Koko*

        The tricky thing is when the duties of the two jobs are so different that it’s unlikely you’ll find one person who genuinely wants to do both types of work. I don’t know all the details of travel coordination but it sounds like it might be similar enough to reception that someone with a generally administrative background might be interested. The other example of a marketer working front desk…yeah, no. Nobody with experience and interest in a creative career really wants to be an admin, and they’ll only take it if they need a job or can’t get anyone to hire them to do creative work full-time so they’re hoping to use this job to build professional experience. They will most likely be unhappy and jump ship as soon as they can to get away from the admin work.

    20. Llama Wrangler*

      Oh, yeah, this is a constant source of contention/headaches at my office, I think largely because our FDP’s FDP role is not defined (they happen to sit at the front desk, but it seems like no one considers it a real part of their role, meaning when they’re pulled in other directions, there’s no plan for coverage). And then they had to take on a second role because of someone leaving, so now as far as I can tell, their role is:
      -FDP/office manager (great people, answer general phone calls, organize and order supplies)
      -Personal assistant to grand-boss (manager GB’s calendar, get her coffee, maintain her office)
      -Program manager for our grant (process payments, update budgets, execute contracts)
      -Program manager for another grant (process payments, plan and manage events, IDK what else)

      The result? FDP is constantly stressed, and our office and grant are badly managed.

    21. Smiling*

      Our FDP is also a departmental assistant. However, when that department’s work gets extremely busy, phone duties are usually shifted to another admin in the office. We don’t have a high volume of foot traffic, so that usually isn’t a problem.

    22. Snow Day Lady*

      It really depends on the situation I think.

      In my first job I was a junior outreach coordinator for a regional branch of a nonprofit. Being the most junior employee meant that I also had front desk duties (answering phone calls, greeting visitors, receiving the mail, ordering supplies, ect.). However, I think it complemented the other aspects of my job well. For instance, my job involved organizing and attending outreach events, and many of the callers/visitors were people I knew personally from these events, which helped a lot on both ends. Part of my job was also to process and report on donations, and being the mail organizer helped expedite this by eliminating the need for a coworker to communicate with me every time donations were received through the mail (which happened almost every day). It also gave me the chance to directly follow up on any discrepancies, such as checks bouncing or being made out to the wrong name. Sure, it meant some extra work on my end, but to be honest I really enjoyed it. I was thankful to have a break from whatever I was doing to talk to a donor or walk to the mailbox. Then again, I like interacting with people and have good customer service skills, which made me a good fit both for donor outreach and for front desk work. Furthermore, employees at nonprofits are used to wearing multiple hats, so it didn’t even seem weird to me that I was doing two separate roles.

    23. Manager of 2*

      I manage our FDP. (We are a homeless shelter) She has a few responsibilities beyond phones, mail, and greeting-tracking who was in and out of shelter, alerting facilities to upcoming moves and some *very* light EA work for our COO. She is busy most of the day but hasn’t expressed being overworked and has started mentioning that she feels like she needs some new challenges in the role. But it doesn’t make sense to have her carry a case load or anything because of the varied busy times at the desk.

    24. EmilyAnn*

      In my first job I was front desk person. It was a very busy place with phones ringing constantly and visitors in and out. I still had time for side tasks. The key is that the side tasks have to be taken care of in downtimes. In the beginning I had no time for anything and was coming in on weekends to do the extra tasks but after a few weeks I learned to manage quiet afternoons and other time better and was able to get things done. I would have been bored if my only taks was working the front desk.

    25. LAI*

      As someone who has been a Front Desk Person wearing 2 hats, it is very tiring to have to divide your attention like that, and I’m not surprised that you’ve had high turnover. It’s not necessarily about having enough time – in my experience, I did have a lot of downtime between calls or customers. The problem is that it’s very hard to do thought-intensive work in short bursts with constant interruptions. The only way I have seen this work is for there to be designated break times when the front desk person is allowed to dedicate themselves to their non-receptionist tasks, without distractions. I think it’s fine if the front desk person’s additional duties are short tasks, like ordering supplies, maybe processing reimbursements (I’m not sure about travel). But I do some marketing work and I need to focus – I would not be able to do it in 5-minute intervals.

      1. Ama*

        Yes this was exactly the problem with my FDP role — my other duties included editing and desktop publishing our biannual newsletter, event posters, and other collateral, writing up the extremely detailed minutes on our monthly development meetings, and managing budgets. On days when the phone was ringing every five minutes or I had a bunch of people coming by to request supplies or hand in expense reports it was impossible to do any of those three tasks — and I had no way to predict when the busy days would happen. This is why they had to split the role so much when I left — there were too many projects that needed to be done without any front desk interruptions.

    26. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      At my company (a non-profit), the woman who does the front desk also does all of our invoices for one of our businesses. Considering she’s been with the organization for 30+ years, I guess that works for her.

      (To be fair, I think most of our invoices are processed by someone wearing multiple hats. I’m a floor supervisor/project manager, and I do the invoices for my division’s business.)

    27. IKnowRight?*

      Our front desk person is part of the operations team, so they have other tasks. However, we’re a small nonprofit and generally get few visitors and phone calls, so it’s not a big deal. More like an operations assistant who sits at the front desk because somebody has to, than a front desk person with other tasks.

    28. Goya de la Mancha*

      Definitely a situational thing, but in my experience:

      *Sometimes it’s just the person, they don’t work well in the variable and want a job that has a more constant pace or job duties.

      *FDP can be a VERY different job from your other reports. The needs that they will have as far as time, equipment, etc. will not be the same as another person/department. They deserve the consideration to look into what will make their job as smooth/efficient as possible – even if someone else in another department might not need that to do THEIR job. (ie: headsets for a very multiple phoneline situation VS someone who only gets a couple calls a day)

      *FDP should never be assigned work that is urgent/time based. Their main focus is the FD and all work they do outside of that should have the ability to wait a few days if the customer/phone traffic has picked up for some reason.

      *Tasks assigned to FDP should be within their pay range. Don’t ask FDP to take on tasks (long term) that your senior staff are doing without compensating them accordingly. A FDP to fill in while Sr. staff is out on leave is fine, if it’s viable with the schedule, but they also shouldn’t be getting paid Z to do work that Sr. is getting paid X to do.

    29. Elizabeth West*

      OldExjob: I was the FDP and had additional tasks. Unfortunately, some of them took me off the front desk. The ones in the accounting office were NBD; I could transfer the phone back there, though I did not have the whole switchboard with all its buttons at my disposal. Same with filing–there was an extension in the file room. Things like retrieving samples from the shop or prepping them were a little more difficult. I had to wait until my backup (part-time marketing person) showed up at 11. He had a habit of calling in at the last minute and without someone to take over the phones, I could not leave the desk, so the work went undone. My good supervisor would do it if I really needed to go, but the last one would not.

      Oh, and I also had to go to Sam’s and get break room supplies. We did click and pull, but once I learned where they kept everything, I just filled up the dolly myself. I didn’t mind doing that because 1) I got mileage, and 2) it got me out of the office for a while.

      At Exjob, the receptionist did data entry also. As a lunchtime sub, I didn’t have to–I used the time as a brain break from my own work, which took some concentration and was hard to do while answering the phone. So I would just read Buzzfeed for the whole hour and keep an eye on my email. The receptionist at the second desk (not the main one) had a buttload of tasks to do for higher-ups. They were recently hiring for that position, but I didn’t apply for it, since I knew it was a lot of spreadsheet stuff.

    30. Teapot librarian*

      Our FDP also has a second set of responsibilities, only those responsibilities are not at the front desk! I’ve tried to resolve this issue by bringing in interns who can do the FD responsibilities (and to whom I also give data entry type of responsibilities) and then give the actual FDP more of the responsibilities that are not at the front desk. His position is paid at a level where he should be doing more of the non-front desk responsibilities anyway, so this solves a couple of problems. Unfortunately, because our budget doesn’t allow for us to hire another full time person, we’re at the mercy of other government agency programs that pay for interns. (My current intern’s last day is in two weeks and I’m going to miss him!)

    31. DMouse*

      This happened at my old office. The corporate office has a fulltime executive assistant-type person, who handles everything – reception, shipping/mail, travel, keeping the office clean, and probably a ton of other duties. For some reason, though, they never understood that our smaller office needed someone to handle those type of things. I was originally hired as FDP, but as my job duties and even title developed over the years, they still didn’t hire anyone else to handle those things. Eventually they got rid of having a main number for the office, so there was no reception duties needed – but I was still handling supplies, mail, et. on top of my completely unrelated job. And when I wasn’t in the office anymore, they put those things on someone else who also had a completely non-admin role.

    32. Vivien*

      I’m the FDP for a teapot showroom, but my official title is “expediter”. I funnel clients on phone and in person to the appropriate salesperson and do light sales (w/o commission) if everyone is busy. I also do data entry and ordering for the Big Tea Party Salespeople, and keep the showroom tidy. I’m also the unofficial IT person, because I know basic troubleshooting and can usually find the answer without calling the contracted (and more expensive) IT Person.

      I was hired as a temp originally after a severe burnout from my previous job (horrid management). Definite step down in terms of title. The powers that be discovered a year later that I can do All The Things. They asked why I didn’t tell them I could do All the Things and I flat out said because I charge $X per hour in my side gig to do that, and I was making $X-5 per hour here. So they gave me a pay raise to $X and I’m now in charge of All The Things while still working the front desk. I feel swamped only half the time though.

    33. Teapot Tester*

      When I first started 2.5 years ago, the FDP, Sansa, was also the office manager. She handled mail, maintenance tasks like changing light bulbs, ordering supplies for the kitchen, etc. I think it was a good balance of work for her. She left and moved to the other side of the world with her boyfriend; maybe she was bored.

      Instead of hiring to replace her, the VP’s assistant became the FDP. So on top of Sansa’s tasks, Arya had to schedule meetings, handle lunches for visiting clients, and lots of other EA-type stuff. Not surprisingly, she left right before a scheduled move to a new office, and she was in charge of a lot of the move tasks so left things in a bit of an uproar.

      Once again they didn’t hire an FDP only, but this time roped a Sales Executive Assistance into the job. Cersei is even busier than Arya was, and often is in meetings instead of at the front desk. She was once gone for a whole week in sales meetings with no one filling the role. Before the move, I sat closest to the front door, and quickly got annoyed by having to open the door to visitors and find whoever could help them. I hate that TPTB won’t spend the money to hire someone just for that role. It’s better since we moved, at least for me since I’m not closest to the front door anymore.

    34. A.*

      Our front desk person is a paralegal.
      She sits in her office and comes to the front to sign for packages or attend to visitors when someone rings the bell. The only time we have had a dedicated front desk person is when there was funding for a temp.

    35. Tuna Casserole*

      Our front desk people do other tasks, if they have time. Helping patrons and answering the phones are their top priorities. And the tasks change depending on which staff member is at the desk. Some are cool with doing cash, or setting up displays, or tackling computer issues, some are not, and that’s fine. If no one wanted to do a particular task, then the manager would have to assign it to someone, but that doesn’t happen often.

    36. Koko*

      I had a similar job split once and hated it. I was head of fundraising and marketing as well as the office manager (managing vendor contracts and legal compliance requirements), receptionist (answering the public phone line, email inbox, and comments on our website), executive assistant to the ED (anything she needed), and once it became apparent I knew my way around a computer, she added light tech support so that we didn’t have to call in the $200/hour tech support specialist we contracted with to my plate.

      I basically couldn’t make any long-term strategic plans for fundraising and marketing, because the office manager side of my job meant that I was constantly getting interrupted with last-minute reservations the ED needed me to book, or Fires That Need to Be Put Out Right Now. My true interest was in the marketing and fundraising, which I’m good at, and the truth is I was terrible at the administrative stuff. I am just not organized or detail-oriented enough to be good at that type of work. It crushed my self-esteem working a job that I was lousy at 50% of, and working a job where I wasn’t given any opportunity to advance my fundraising/marketing skills because the front-desk stuff was always more urgent and business-critical than trying out new fundraising ideas.

      It was the chief reason I left that job. Despite struggling with the admin work I wasn’t bad enough to be in danger of being fired, so I spent 18 months looking and interviewing for jobs that were purely marketing/fundraising and my cover letter made clear that the reason I wanted to move on from my current position was because I didn’t think I could grow professionally as a marketer while being saddled with all the unrelated administrative work.

    37. designbot*

      We actually have two front desk people because our office is open more like 10 hours rather than the standard 8. So we have one person come in with the earliest folks, open the office, and she is our morning front desk person and also the office manager in charge of overseeing the guy who drives our shuttle, ordering lunches, supplies, interfacing with cleaning and repair people, managing the calendar of the conference rooms and public spaces, etc. Then we have a part time person in the afternoon/evening who is pretty much just phones/door/mail. They overlap by a couple of hours midday which helps make sure everyone gets a decent lunch break and that the office manager has time for her management duties, but also that the front desk is covered at all times.

    38. Rita*

      FDP means something different in my industry and this thread is making my eye twitch!!!

      To keep on topic – it was the same in my last company and the people in the front desk actually kept requesting more work, because they were bored out of their minds, so I guess it depends on the workload.

    39. krysb*

      Our does both of those, travel and marketing, as the front desk person. Of course, we don’t have a lot of visitors or phone calls to the main line – most clients usually call their PM/RM/Salesperson directly.

    40. Banana*

      I used to have a job like this. At first I was definitely underworked, and then later I had plenty of work.

      I did filing, financial paperwork, data entry, some writing, some easy work in InDesign, I was the back-up for my Grand Boss’s assistant, managed petty cash, I managed the keys/access for the office, ordered office supplies, helped out with certain events, and some other seasonal projects.

      I wouldn’t say I was overworked, though. Definitely underpaid! lol. But if I was just the FDP with nothing else to do I think I would have lost my freaking mind.

    41. Nita*

      We’ve tried both. Our front desk person only did reception/filing type stuff for a long time. Then a new admin came on board and took on more tasks like helping staff with setting up new projects in our recordkeeping system, packaging materials for field assignments, etc. Basically stuff that’s in the gray area between admin needs and project-specific needs. OMG. The amount of time we saved, and the difference her help made when we were scrambling to deal with a project that was stretching the department to the limit. She took this on voluntarily, and let people know if she wasn’t able to do xyz that day because of other responsibilities, so this worked amazingly well.

    42. K*

      Our company is so much focused on cost reductions that we don’t even have a front desk person. That means we have instead a list on the front desk (and a mounted ipad that doesn’t work half of the time), which lists mainly outdated telephone numbers. (Outdated because our fluctuation in staff is so high… Go figure)
      I’ve seen lots of very confused visitors whenever they have been not told in advance to call a certain number when they arrive.

    43. Jade*

      We don’t have a FDP. Our calls are auto directed to the customer service team (and we don’t have a huge amount of calls coming through that are not FOR customer service, so that makes sense for us).
      I work in HR, and manage visitors, the mail, couriers and things like travel on top of my normal responsibilities. It’s not a huge amount of additional work where I am, but it is a massive pain in the butt when you’re in the middle of something and the door bell is ringing!

  6. bluelyon*

    Can anyone recommend a digital audio recorder that can record an interview taking place on speaker phone? Our office has a recorder that plugs into the handset of the phone but can’t record if the phone is on speaker – a problem as we have more people involved in interviews now than in the past. (Limiting the number involved isn’t an option – the person who does interviews does a good job but only within one subject area- my team needs the interviews to focus on different things and the subjects are more comfortable if we’re there)

    1. Lore*

      I’ve had good results using the voice recorder built in to my iPhone, and also the iPad app Voice Recorder (which is either free or $1.99). I mostly record one-on-one interviews (for research and writing, not job interviews), but I’ve recorded panel discussions from the audience on my phone and they came out pretty well. If you need to transcribe later, I find the iPad app gives a little more starting/stopping/rewinding control, but just to listen, both work quite well.

      1. bluelyon*

        Thanks – I’ll see if I can get that added to the office iPad (assuming it still works) – we do transcribe things and so that is a helpful quality.

      2. Jerry Vandesic*

        I like the iPhone app “RecUp,” which automatically uploads recordings to my Dropbox account.

      1. bluelyon*

        We can’t for reasons passing understanding. I think it’s a budget thing but I’m honestly not sure – I’ve been pushing for that in some of our other calls etc. and had no success in getting people on board.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      I have recorded 3 or 4 personal conversations on my android phone with an app called Smart Recorded by SmartMob. I might have paid about $5 for it. The conversations took place on a separate cell phone using the speaker. I have listened to the recordings after and am impressed with the quality. They upload to my google drive.
      I still have my notes, but to be able to listen back to hear the conversation is helpful for me.

    3. School Psych*

      GotoMeeting can be used for phone conferences as well as video-conferencing. It is free for the 1st 30 days and very inexpensive after that(around 30 dollars a month). I used their software to record phone interviews for a research study I did and it worked really well. One of the nice features of this program is that the person you are conferencing with or interviewing does not have to download anything to participate. They just click the link or dial in a number with a code on their phone and are automatically connected to the meeting. Up to 10 people at a time can participate in the conference with the free and basic plans.

    4. bluelyon*

      Thank you all!
      We have free conference call numbers for other uses so I’ll probably start there and branch out.

    5. Close Bracket*

      My Olympus WS-853 that I bought from Best Buy rocks. I use it on speaker phone, but I don’t need to. My iPhone volume is high enough and the recorder is sensitive enough that I could record calls on handset mode.

      This thing is a really amazing little device. I recommend it to anyone who needs to record conversations.

  7. Sunflower*

    A lot of the people that my team supports(that’s our job) are very unhappy with my bosses performance. I can not stand working with her for a number of reasons but hearing other people’s experiences solidifies my feelings. However, these folks are waiting until they can build a solid case until they go to my bosses boss. This is making me miserable. I need to talk to my boss about my issues with her.

    Should I bring up that other people have expressed issues with her as well or should I wait for them to come forward?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I would NOT mention other people’s issues with her, especially if they are not ready/willing to move on them. If she asks you if other people have issues with her, I would defer and say something like “you’d have to ask them.” This keeps YOU out of it and focuses your concerns with your boss between the two of you. I don’t know if essentially saying “other people are ticked at you as well” is going to give you additional “proof,” so to speak.

    2. Anony*

      Do not bring up other people’s issues with her. They do not want to bring it up with her and will not necessarily back you up if you try to force them.

    3. Not So Super-visor*

      It depends. How good is your relationship with your boss’ boss? If they don’t know you or your credibility, they may not take your complaint very seriously. This is especially true if you don’t have an solid, business-related examples that you can provide.

    4. Jules the Third*

      Do not bring up other people’s issues. The only way their issues can be part of the conversation is if they are in the room with you, bringing up their issues themselves.

      Before you go to Grandboss, test out your persuasive powers on the other people with issues. At the very least, ask what their timeframe is and see if you can coordinate so that you’re all going within a week or two of each other.

    5. Yorick*

      Well, if other people experience the same issue, you can possibly mention it, maybe by saying that you’ve observed this as a widespread problem. But it’s still probably best to just keep the conversation limited to any issues between you and your boss.

    6. MLB*

      I would just talk to your boss an your own. I worked for a crappy boss, and my team left one by one. I even had a meeting with our CIO about it before I left. Nothing was done. They knew she was awful, but my company was famous for allowing crappy people to lead. Ganging up with your team to go above the boss’s head may not end well so I’d just concentrate on your issues with your boss.

    7. Parenthetically*

      You shouldn’t bring anyone else up. Here’s one example of why not: there’s a major public figure in the US right now who is constantly saying stuff like, “Important people tell me” and “Many, many people have said” and “People are saying.” In his case, it comes across as a dodge to try to give himself plausible deniability (“I didn’t say it, I just said PEOPLE are saying it!”). It also sounds insecure, as if he can’t just state and own his own view without appealing to others’ similar views. Saying “Lots of people have expressed this same issue with CrapBoss” sounds like that. State your opinion as your own and stick to your guns. :)

      1. Irene Adler*

        And… if management goes to verify what you told them regarding other employee’s complaints and these other employees don’t confirm what you told them, YOU lose credibility.
        Don’t believe that others will stand up and complain as you will. They may fear losing their jobs and dummy up while you take the heat by being the sole complainant.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          All of this. I’ve seen this happen too many times where people are more than happy to bitch about someone privately, but when confronted and given the chance to speak to the person upfront, will chicken out and won’t say a word.

    8. kas*

      Yes, as others have mentioned, I would not bring up that other people have also expressed issues with her.
      I recently found out that my coworker expressed to our boss some issues she had with a few things and told our boss that she was speaking for the entire team, I was not happy.

    9. Close Bracket*

      If you decide to go forward on your own, think about letting the other people know, as a courtesy, that you are going to do so.

    10. AF*

      You should wait for them to come forward and only bring up specific, documented incidents that you are concerned about, and handle it dispassionately and unemotionally.

      That said, I once ended up in the oddball position of working with my boss’s boss (R) to get two of my bosses fired (M, then his replacement, T. )I had a strong track record of good judgement and expertise in both subject area knowledge and staff management, and a good working relationship with R, so it made sense in that one particular situation. R had zero say in hiring M, who lasted 57 days, and T, who lasted 10 months, but was held directly responsible for their failures. It happens.

      Moral of the story: nonprofits are fun.

  8. TGIFriday!*

    Does anyone here work as a social media coordinator/associate/etc who could tell me more about what you do in your position? It’s something I would like to learn more about and possibly move into at some point. Could anyone explain what goes on in the normal day of a social media position?

    1. Curious Cat*

      While I’m not the exact social media manager at my org, I do run one of our larger accounts on Twitter. I set up/schedule tweets each morning, monitor analytics and try to find what works best on our platform and what’s giving us the most growth. Helping to set up paid promotional ad material with other departments in the org. Setting up things like Twitter chats with other organizations and making connections with them. Just overall making sure we have a strong presence online and that we’re consistently growing and interacting with our audience.
      Also use a ton of programs to help do all this. Hootsuite, Raidan6, Symplur, Sysomos etc etc

    2. grace*

      I did what Curious Cat mentioned, as well as reaching out to journalists we had good relationships with to give them our information and data source (we collected gov’t information and had the only publicly available dataset – so for journos in the nat sec or related beats, we were a good place to start). A lot of my job ended up being graphic design, which I detested and is a main reason I’m no longer pursuing the field.

      I also wrote copy for blog posts, newsletters, email blasts, memos, etc. I’ve found/heard that those particular roles tend to wear a lot of hats.

    3. Becky*

      What Curious Cat said, and–

      Depending on what the company has when you get in with that position, you may find yourself:

      –Building social presence from the ground up. Establish social media accounts on pertinent channels (Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, etc) and then watch and listen. The “Go where the audience is” is a key factor in not spreading your resources too thin where they won’t even be noticed.
      –Unfortunately, Facebook really wants your money, so to get your posts seen in the first place to determine if your audience is out there, there will need to be an ad budget. This may be handled by a different position.
      –Use Hootsuite to start with if there is no budget for scheduling tools; you can hook up several accounts for free. This leaves you free to engage and nurture your audiences in real time even as you have posts going out periodically.
      –You may be responsible for analytics as well. This is the kind of thing where I’d advocate a higher title / getting help when justified, because otherwise you’ll be doing both front end and back end stuff, and that gets to be too much for one person.
      –Don’t be afraid to experiment. Pinterest can actually work for B2B companies. Instagram as well. Try it, set your company’s footprint, re-evaluate. The best benchmarks you have are the ones against yourself, not against “industry standards.” Start determining what success means: % engagement? Comments, likes, and shares? Website traffic?

      My number one tip, though, is to remember to talk to people like you’re a person and they are persons, too. No corp-speak. Even if the website copy doesn’t match the way real people talk, make sure your social approach does!

    4. Shaima*

      Social media is a piece of my comms manager role, but I am the one who runs the budget and content for our social media feeds! I’d love to answer any specific questions, but here’s what my day (social-related) looks like:

      I have constant alerts set up for any time we’re mentioned by someone else on FB or T. That lets me respond easily and quickly to what people in our community/industry are saying. I spend some time looking for evergreen content to store up in a bank for slow times, or scanning news (I also have google alerts for relevant topics). Reading articles, making sure they’re something we can share/comment on, and then analyzing our follower data and schedules for the best time to post things, the right hashtags, and the right handles to tag. (Reporters if we share a news article, the source, etc.)

      I also take and edit photos for Instagram, making sure the photos align with our org’s image, are spaced out enough with diversity of all sorts (racial, socioeconomic, gender, environments, etc.) and following hashtags for conversations to enter. I run ads on Facebook and Instagram, which requires research for proper demographics as well. I also make graphics for social.

      On days that we have larger events, I’ll live tweet or be onsite all day for FB live or Instagram stories – these days are actually TONS of fun but a lot of work, with a few phones in use and constant typing, sharing quotes, and all sorts of things.

      At the end of the month, I analyze all of our reach, impressions and engagement and set goals for the next month! I love it – it involves both creativity and analysis, and can be fast-paced or super slow depending on what’s going on. It’s about 40% of my role, which isn’t uncommon for comms positions. When I’m not doing social media, I’m doing web/print design, content editing, website updates, and email marketing.

      1. Tara2*

        I just started as a social media manager for a growing non-profit in my area. One that has no social media presence at all yet. Right now I am working on graphic artist stuff, as that’s closer to my background and what they need first, but I’d love to know if you have any tips about things newbies might make mistakes on without realizing its going to be a mistake? I’m a little scared, but the people I’m working with are pretty great. I just want to do really well.

    5. EddieSherbert*

      My position is also not 100% social media.

      We use Twitter, Facebook, Yammer (kind of like a “closed network” version of Facebook), have a blog and a help site that has documents and videos.

      I think the only “set in stone” part of my day is that I check all of the above in the morning to see if anyone has posted anything I should address (usually product/best practice questions). I also check it all before I leave at the end of the day. (I do check during the day, but morning and evening is the only “scheduled” times I check).

      On Mondays, I plan out our weekly blog that’s posted on Tuesdays (which includes checking our top searches and the top issues on the support line for ideas of what to write, then writing the blog, creating any graphics, creating an email, and social media posts for the blog and setting up any tracking info for all those).

      From there, about 70% of my job is video, so I mostly write/plan/produce/edit video for the website, both promotional and training material. I also write the help documentation that goes along with my videos.

    6. BeepBoopBeep*

      This is less important for a strictly “social media” coordinator, but if you want to do marketing in general, you’ll need to be able to put together email campaigns and ads that are in the specific BRAND’s voice (not yours). There are quite a few skills that might not be listed or thought of when it comes to these types of positions at first, and having them are sooo helpful and will make your job so much easier. Learn some basic coding (knowing the basics at least of HTML will help you loads), and know how to read data. You won’t be able to make accurate campaigns if you don’t know how to read the data provided to you.

      1. BeepBoopBeep*

        Let me also mention:
        Our marketing coordinator (MC) is responsible for the following:
        Creating a marketing calendar in our task management program, and adjusting it as necessary
        Creating content for our blog (we have bloggers that write for us, so our MC corresponds with them about due dates and topics)
        Making sure content is regularly posted on facebook
        Coming up with marketing strategies (important to know the distinction between strategies and tactics) for our collection launches
        editing pictures & putting together email campaigns
        What content should go on our instagram feed & stories

        1. Tara*

          A lot of roles also get social media stacked on top of them, rather than being the focus. I’ve done social media in every professional job I had before this one, but it was never my full-time gig. If you don’t want to only do social media, a marketing position like the one BeepBoop outlined that includes social media could be great. If you only want to do social media, that will probably be for a bigger org who will want you to have some experience. While you’re trying to build your skills, think about working in a marketing space, or just working communications or communications adjacent in an industry you like.

          1. Office Worker*

            One interesting thing in advertising is that sometimes you have one creative agency that creates the content/does organic posts, and then another buying/planning agency who has a digital team that sets up the paid campaigns and comes up with strategy for paid content.

    7. EmmBee*

      I’m a VP of social media with a team of 5 (and oversight of another 25+ people). We’re a $2b company that produces a ton of content. Happy to answer any specific Qs!

    8. AliceBD*

      I’m social media strategist for a health system; I just do one state (we’re in several states) but the biggest number of hospitals (8 in total) are here, the largest number of employees, etc. I just started this summer and it had not been handled well before I came, so I’m undoing a lot of things and making new things.

      I plan content and post it for our social channels, mostly for the accounts for the two big metro areas we are in. I ghost-write content for our CEO’s Twitter, which I also post (the CEO approves it first). Sometimes I don’t get to do best practices — the ghost-written content could be a lot better but the CEO doesn’t like a more conversational and personal style, so that Twitter account stays sounding very corporate. The content can be stuff sent directly to me from our PR team, employee recognition or other fun things sent to me by people at our various locations, content I come up with to promote a specific campaign we’re doing — all kinds of things. I use scheduling a lot — native scheduling on Facebook, and Hootsuite for Twitter and Instagram.

      I monitor the comments/reviews/messages and respond as needed and as possible. As a health system we have some privacy/legal restrictions that I didn’t encounter when I was doing the social media for a consumer brand, so lots of times the message I send is just “We’re sorry you’re upset, please call this number” because that is all I can do that is cleared by legal.

      Some days I am in meetings with other marketing people talking with teams about how we can promote the thing they need to promote. Some days I spend 4 hours trying to figure out what in the world people were doing on our YouTube channel and start fixing it so it is more useful (pro tip: don’t just call a video the name of the person interviewed and have no other description or tags or anything and expect people to magically find it). Other days I am just making schedules and writing content. I also create graphics like Facebook event cover photos or a testimonial quote for Instagram about how meaningful one of our services was for a family.

      Just yesterday I was asked to start writing some blogs, but this is the first time I was hired from the beginning to do social media and only social media and was not also responsible for a good portion of phone customer service, in charge of making sure there were daily blog posts, and lots of other things. We also have a TON of social media accounts, which I am working on paring down.

      I want to get more into doing video, so I’ve been scheduling some Facebook Lives and am waiting to get some things to do better videos; what I’ve requested has been approved but I have to wait to go through channels for it.

      One thing that is helpful is to be able to explain why something isn’t appropriate for social media and why you can’t post XYZ thing. A lot of my job is communicating why I can’t post these photos of random people at an event (we require photo releases), why we can’t use that graphic from another organization, why this event is not acceptable to promote on our social channels, and doing it all diplomatically to people much higher than I am in the hierarchy.

    9. SubwayFan*

      Late to this party, but I manage social strategy for a division of a large multinational company. The one thing that I see as the biggest perk in someone working on social is the ability to write really good social copy, daily, in minimal time. I can teach the tools to anyone, but the writing is really hard. It must be engaging, match brand voice, and sound exciting, not boring, fit in magic keywords, etc.

  9. Naptime Enthusiast*

    I’m a on a nonprofit board of directors where we are all volunteers, and I have a number of volunteers that report to me that are regional directors. Half of them are awesome, some are meh, and a select few are completely AWOL. I used to be one of the regional volunteers before landing in my current position, and there is a history of being notoriously unresponsive and difficult or just burning out during the term. I’m trying to turn that around completely with our next group. The application has been updated to make the expectations of the position much more explicit, and there is mandatory training and 1-on-1 meetings I will be hosting as well.

    Other volunteers that manage volunteers: is there anything else that you do to make your team more accountable that work well? We all have full-time jobs in different industries on top of these volunteer responsibilities, and while full-time jobs and family obligations take priority over these volunteer positions at times, the expectation is that they will let me know they’re sick/have a family emergency/have a crazy work schedule coming up and send any of their work directly to me so I can either cover it in their absence or redistribute it among other volunteers but this hasn’t really been happening.

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      Honestly I think you’re doing everything right by taking the new steps you mentioned – laying out the expectations more clearly will fend off folks who just want a resume booster (for the most part), and mandatory training + 1:1s will probably cut down on the less-committed participants even more.

      I would say making clear that you expect people to notify you when life gets in the way is necessary, as is specifically delegating certain work to other individuals when that happens (as opposed to allowing people to volunteer to do certain tasks to pick up the slack).

      1. CM*

        Agreed! Also, I think the breakdown you mentioned: “Half of them are awesome, some are meh, and a select few are completely AWOL” is good for an all-volunteer board. You’ll always have the meh/AWOL people. The one other thing I’d suggest is to manage the AWOL people out of their positions by kindly saying something like, “I understand that in a volunteer position like this, it’s really hard to find time to focus on board activities. I appreciate your service, and I think it’s time to look for someone new for this position so that we can move X project forward. What you think would be a good timeline for that?” And don’t wait too long to have those conversations. Difficult as they are, often people are relieved, especially if you assure them that you appreciate what they contributed and there are no hard feelings, this is just part of the normal process of running an organization.

        1. TheWanderingRabbit*

          This is great advice! . I tend to find that some of my AWOL volunteers often go AWOL toward the end of their term limit, so double check your bylaws and make sure you know when people’s time is up. It’s easier for me to manage volunteers if I have a specific timeframe to work with (ie-I know Jane will be gone in June anyway, so I can implement a, b and c now in order to make the last few months easier). Certainly if people have a long term left on the board, you’ll want to nip things in the bud soon. I think the script CM gave you is great. What you have already put in place now is excellent, and if you lay out specifics in the beginning I think you can weed out some problems before they happen. Good luck!

    2. Flinty*

      Sounds like you’re doing all the right things! The only thing I would say is that that if you’re finding people are not being proactive about letting you know when they can’t do something, is maybe reach out to them first on an agreed-upon basis? Like “here is X task, thanks so much for doing about this, I’ll reach out in a couple weeks to see how it’s going or if you have any questions.”

      My main takeaway from being a volunteer manager is to keep the ball in your court as much as possible (ex: when I would meet with prospective volunteers, I took their info and said I would follow up, I wouldn’t hand them my card and tell them to let me know if they want to volunteer.)

      1. zora*

        Yes, I would do more frequent follow ups and break tasks into smaller pieces. It will help them do their tasks better, honestly, but then you find out sooner in the process if something isn’t getting done and have an opportunity to jump in and take it over.

    3. Goya de la Mancha*

      If burnout is the issue, it’s time to break things up.
      It’s easy for me (and most people I’d assume) to sign up and work a 2 hour shift then a 6 hour shift.
      It’s easier for me to do YZ instead of WXYZ. Then Bob can do WX and we can both do a better job on both of our tasks.

      It creates a little more work on the Admin side of this, but I think your volunteers would have an easier time keeping their commitments.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Consider a policy of no show and no call means x happens. Where x can be you get bumped to the bottom of the list of volunteers on rotation or x could be they are moved to a less key position. You could say after two or three failures to show/call, rather than dinging them on the first failure.

      Put the policy in writing and give them a copy. Along with that give them contact numbers if they need to find a fill-in person. Make sure they have their supervisor’s contact info.

      I hate saying this but you may actually have to demote/remove someone before the rest start following the rules. Rumor mill will make sure that everyone knows Sue lost her position because of no show/no calls.

  10. Lil Fidget*

    I have a meta-question for the audience: how do you use the open thread to find value? I get overwhelmed by the number of comments, and I can’t read them all or keep refreshing every hour to stay on top of the new posts. I know there’s great conversations happening (I love this site and am a frequent commenter right now, as work is slow) but how do you find them on a thread of over 1000 voices?

    1. Yorick*

      If the main post isn’t something I want to read through, I collapse the replies and move on. At some point I start reading from the bottom, but I’m sure I miss a lot of interesting things in the middle that way.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I think this is the functionality I’m not using. I knew you could collapse the thread but didn’t even think to apply it here on this page. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you to all the commenters who are making this point!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          And just to make sure you know, there’s a collapse-all function at the top of the comments, so you don’t have to close them all individually. There’s also a checkbox to set that as your preference site-wide (although be aware that if you do that, when you leave a reply, it will just take you to the top of the page rather than to the comment you just left, since that piece of the page will have stayed collapsed, per your site-wide preference).

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            That’s exactly what I do with this thread. Collapse all at the top, and then open the ones that look interesting.

          2. Newbie Three Times*

            So I’m a new manager, new to the site, and new to this Friday open thread — I just discovered it so I’ll be back next week! — but considering the popularity of this thread, and it’s treasure trove of great advice, is there a reason there isn’t a full-blown forums? I LONG for such a resource, but have never found something with as high a quality of responses as this blog — certainly from Alison, but many other intelligent voices here as well.

            As a newbie, I should probably have tried harder to see if this question was addressed elsewhere, Apologies if this has been explained, if it has disregard, and I will find it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Thanks for asking! Forums take a lot of work to run, and ultimately it’s too far outside of my mission here — which is really just to give workplace advice, and not so much to provide a discussion forum, although that’s turned into a nice side effect. I’d worry that separate forums would lead to me hosting unmoderated discussion boards where I couldn’t really vouch for the quality of the advice. And last, I will note that the owner of Offbeat Empire has said that creating forums was her worst business decision because it cannibalized her traffic from the places where she wanted it and turned into a monster that required constant resources. So there’s that as well!

      2. Julianne*

        I do the same. I also search for keywords related to my profession, or to a topic I want to read about, and read those posts (if they exist) first.

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        This is how I do as well. In fact, I use the collapse all on the weekend posts, so that I only see top-level comments.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Generally I collapse all threads and skim for top-levels that interest me! If I ping to ‘oh, this looks like something I might be interested in’ then I selectively expand just that thread.

    3. Just my 2 cents*

      I collapse all comment threads and skim through. If I find something that’s relevant to me, I’ll expand and read through the comments. I don’t try to stay on top of it throughout the day – I’ll just check it once, a bit later in the day, or sometimes on Saturday. Of course this means I’m not participating in conversations.

    4. Snark*

      I end up focusing on a few conversations, which I relocate by Ctrl-F’ing my name, and I just know I’m not going to read or even see more than 10% of the thread.

      1. Curious Cat*

        +1 to this method. I find a few threads I enjoy reading or commenting on and then check back in every so often.

    5. Someone else*

      It depends. Some weeks I don’t find it overwhelming and really do just read through everything. Others I have a specific question and either search for keywords in case someone asked something similar, or just post my own and then follow that. Sometimes I skim until I see something that sticks out or looks interesting. Sometimes I read continuously until my eyes get tired and then I bail. It varies.

    6. k.k*

      I know that I won’t read everything, and basically bop around skimming topics. Sometimes I use a ctrl+f search to look for key words that might interest me or I can be helpful with (my industry, job title, etc). I also like to go in later in the day and go right to the bottom, since those stragglers tend to get less attention.

    7. it_guy*

      I usually collapse all of the replies and look at the topic of the individual posts. If it it looks interesting, I’ll dive headfirst into the replies.

    8. Alex*

      My job is really slow so I usually have time to browse through most of the posts. I also occasionally do a Ctrl + F to search for keywords of topics that interest me. Obviously if I post a question I am keen to see all the responses. I usually check back Saturday or Monday morning to see if there’s anything I might have missed. I enjoy getting anonymous feedback from people with different perspectives or advice.

    9. Happy Lurker*

      Lil Fidget. That’s a great question and one I have also been struggling with.
      I appreciate reading everyone’s responses. It appears there are a few different ways that people are finding things, etc. and I tend to do many of the same things.
      I did see a couple months back, maybe. Someone said they saved a particular comment or something, so they could go back later and read from there and down. But I haven’t successfully tried that yet.

    10. Teapot librarian*

      It depends on how close to 11 I’m able to start reading. Today I was in meetings until about 1:30 so I got here and there were almost 1000 comments already. I did a lot of the collapsing replies and just reading the top level comment until I got to your question :-) If I get here close to 11, I’ll read more thoroughly and them am able to use the blue “unread comment” line when I come back.
      If I’ve commented, I’ll search in the page for my username so that I can come back and read other replies to the same comment.
      And I usually will also search for some of the more “famous” folks (like Snark, or fposte who is great about commenting on my posts).

    11. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I collapse all the threads (by default) and verrrrry quickly scan (like under 5 seconds per post) each post. I respond to those that are interesting to me, and when I come back I Ctrl-F to find my name and stay in any conversations that develop.

      I also often open all the threads and search for “Ask a Manager” and other commenters who have a history of making thoughtful, valuable comments.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*


          I actually search for “ask a man” because I’m too lazy to type the rest of the word, and because it amuses me.

            1. Clever Anonymous Name*

              I’ve trained myself to type “ask a mana” because I cringe if I miss that last letter.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      1) Collapse all, and scan down the thread for those opening posts that resonate.
      2) If it’s already huge, go right to the bottom and see if any of the bottom posts resonate–they don’t get nearly as many replies, so it’s easier to launch a conversation rather than echo points already made.

    13. Windchime*

      I usually wait until noon or so (Pacific time) at the earliest to read the Friday open thread. I collapse all of the threads, and then read the “thread-starter” comment. If it concerns a topic I’m not interested in (non-profit funds gathering, etc), then I usually just skip it. Likewise if the post is a super long, run-on paragraph with no breaks. I don’t keep refreshing to see new posts within the threads, but I will sometimes refresh to see whole new threads.

      I’ve given up trying to read the entire thing. I just do the best I can and know that I might miss some good stuff.

    14. Ron McDon*

      And don’t forget that if you click on the date/time link under someone’s name you can save that thread to your reading list (on an i-pad); then when you go into your reading list you can just click on each one in turn and it takes you straight to that comment. That’s what I do if I comment on something or if it’s a thread I find early on and want to come back to later.

  11. Not the caterer*

    I was reading an old post (an ask-the-readers type) about food in the office, and it surprised me that in so many offices there seem to be a race/fight over leftover food! In the last place I worked there’s usually a struggle to give away leftover food from meetings. We could only order catering when there’s over a certain number of external people attending, but they /always/ over-catered (rather than risk there not being enough to eat), and we always seem to get people who either have very small appetites or are too polite to take more.

    Back when I was the most junior person on the team I’d have to do a walk-around the (open plan) office with the giant tray of left over sandwiches/biscuits and offer them to people because it felt like such a waste to throw it all out! Luckily most people were happy to grab some snacks if you brought it to them (even though they couldn’t be bothered to go to the kitchen even after getting the ‘free food in the kitchen’ email lol!).

    (I’m not in the US, but I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or just the culture in that particular office.)

    1. Lil Fidget*

      In our office, we have a lot of young people, maybe that’s a factor. They’re reasonably well paid but I’m guessing every free meal helps them. They will come with tupperware and clear a whole sandwich spread if you don’t stop them.

      1. Not the caterer*

        There are a lot of young people in that office as well (many of whom are from out of state)…I’m wondering whether they were just all more lazy (about running to the kitchen) than they were hungry…

    2. Just my 2 cents*

      In my company there is one department that is notorious for swarming on leftover food like locusts. No worries about leftovers here. Everyone likes free food.

      1. I See Real People*

        They’re lined up at the door outside the meeting at my office, waiting on the word “Go!”. Lol

      2. Hildegard Vonbingen*

        “Everyone likes free food.”

        I don’t. I prefer to eat what I like, when I like, in the kind of surroundings I like, in the company of folks whose companionship I enjoy if I’m eating with a group or as a couple. And I’m not the only one, although I realize folks like me are the minority for sure. Most of the free food on offer where I work isn’t stuff I want to eat, so I leave it. I’m not the only one in the office who takes this approach. Donuts, mediocre pizza, mediocre sandwiches…don’t want it. No, I don’t care if it’s free. I don’t want it.

        I’m baffled by folks who earn a good salary being so greedy about free food. If you’re struggling financially, that I certainly understand – free food would be highly desirable, I imagine. But well-paid folks with an ample food budget? I’m truly baffled. I just don’t get it. I live in the SF Bay Area, U.S., and I wonder if it’s a regional thing.

        1. Just my 2 cents*

          Sorry, I didn’t mean that as a universal statement – just referring to the people in my company.

          1. Hildegard Vonbingen*

            Going by the comments here, it’s not just people in your company. It’s an awful lot of people at a whole lot of companies! And I that is what I do not understand. But clearly it’s not a problem with just your office. I simply don’t understand people being rude about hogging free food, or stampeding to get it, which is apparently a common problem in many workplaces. I don’t get the need to be rude to others over something relatively minor (for most – I realize some people endure food insecurity), and I don’t understand the appeal of free food when I assume most folks can afford to buy their own food. I also don’t understand the appeal of mediocre or even downright lousy food, free or not. This truly baffles me, which is why I’m wondering if it’s a regional thing, or possibly industry-specific, or perhaps it has to do with certain corporate cultures? Beat me. Like I said, I’m baffled.

    3. BadPlanning*

      I’m with you — I’m in the US and there is rarely a food scramble at my job so I find the crazy food stories here fascinating. Usually we’re begging people to take leftovers. There’s a follow up to most food events of, “Hey folks, still some donuts left, come get an afternoon snack.”

      1. Not the caterer*

        If only we could match up the mad-scramble-for-food people with the can’t-get-rid-of-leftovers offices and all problems will be solved.

    4. WellRed*

      We often have leftovers that take days to get rid of some things (I threw out the last wedge of cake last week).

    5. Teapot Lending Program Manager*

      Interesting. I went to a networking event last night and an hour after it started, no one was touching the sandwiches. Just grabbing drinks or some fruit slices. I was actively hungry, so I did, but I felt so self-conscious despite the caterer encouraging me to eat. It was exactly the opposite of yesterday’s letter. It’s probably always safer to blend in with what most people seem to be doing in those kinds of contexts.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah I feel like it’s specific to work contexts that people get weird about food. Because you’re trapped at your desk all day, either bored or stressed out, and then you hear that there’s pizza / subs / cookies (but not very many, only enough for the first people who get there!) or whatever and then there’s this STAMPPEEEEDD.

      2. Ellen Ripley*

        I have been to so many meetings and events where less than 10% of the drinks and snacks get taken. I think it’s maybe a fear of awkwardness around people you don’t know well and are trying to impress. I guess at your own office people don’t care anymore? ;)

      1. 2 Cents*

        Also at an ad agency, also a stampede for leftover food. If it’s left on a table in the kitchen with no note saying otherwise, it’s fair game!

    6. tink*

      My workplace is similarly bad about eating the “last” of something. Example, we got brought a nice box of chocolates and a SINGLE PIECE sat in the box for almost a week before I was like “this is a waste of table space”, ate the chocolate, and tossed the box. It happens with cookies and stuff too.

      1. Em.*

        At my workplace people will often bring in bags of chips that become communal–we had to institute a policy that if you were going to leave a handful or less in the bag, you have to finish it!

      2. Jillociraptor*

        There is a grand Minnesotan tradition of cutting the remaining brownie in half forever to avoid taking the last piece.

        1. Your Weird Uncle*

          At my house this is done by the kids to avoid having to wash up or recyle the pan/plate/carton.

      3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I remember hearing or reading somewhere that this is an especially midwestern trait. We do the same thing here. The last piece of cake or cookie or donut will be there until someone throws it away.

        This does not apply to coffee. The coffee pot empties within seconds it seems.

        1. HH*

          Ha, great point – in some places no one wants the last baked good to the point of cutting it in successively smaller halves…

          … but people are often happy to take the last of the coffee and ghost without making more. Huh.

    7. MLB*

      Interesting…at my last company we had about 100 in my department. If we had leftover food it was put in the kitchen or a common area, and an email was sent. It would be gone immediately. In fact if I had leftover food at home from a party and wanted to get rid of it, I would take it to the office.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We had a free-to-all table in the break room on my floor at Exjob. If you had leftovers, they went on that table and everything on it was assumed to be for everyone.

        I had bought a ton of cheese not too long before my 2015 UK trip before I realized there was no way in hell I could eat it all before I left, nor would it last until I got home. So I made a cheese-and-cracker tray and took it to work, along with a jar of olives and some grapes. By the end of the day, there were three olives and a few grapes left and nothing else. :)

    8. zora*

      I think it depends on the people and their own personal food habits. I currently work in an office where most of my coworkers are trained dietitians and people are pretty picky about what they eat. So often there are pastries leftover, because most people don’t want to eat them just because they are free. Junk food is only rarely appreciated here, people will only eat leftovers if they are healthy and easy to save for a couple of days.

    9. kas*

      I’m always surprised reading those stories. Everyone in my office is pretty respectful when it comes to catered food. Everyone gets their food and waits until the last person gets theirs before lining up for seconds. We often have food left over after meetings and it usually sits in the lunch room all day (sometimes two days).

      One person bakes treats for everyone and will send an email around lunch time letting everyone know she left baked goods in the lunch room. My coworkers seem to love her treats as there’s always a mad dash to the lunch room to grab a piece but even then, people only grab 1 from what I’ve seen.

    10. Lynca*

      Our Office doesn’t really have an issue with people racing/fighting for the leftovers. But that is purely because we always have too much. If we didn’t I could see that being an issue.

    11. Banana*

      So funny! In my office you can get rid of almost anything.

      Except maybe salad. Lol. But donuts?? I’ve never seen a donut get thrown out in my office. Ever.

      I kind of really like that we totally don’t have a “Oh, no, I really shouldn’t….” attitude in my office about food. Most people happily take treats and applaud taking seconds.

    12. Misa*

      I never had this issue elsewhere but where I am now I think they are used to having food leftovers all the time… Even though we are non-profit… I was once scolded by someone for putting leftovers in the kitchen and not bringing it back to our area… HR has had to send out an email because people see food and will take food even BEFORE the meeting has taken place… And since I’m usually the one setting things up and cleaning up for my dept’s meeting the comments I get (so when can we stop by???) and the running in to grab things but never helping to clean up is beyond… As I’m packing things up I’ve had people unpack things to take food… I once had someone I don’t like at all ask me if I needed help with a big meeting… Everything was done, I couldn’t get why she was hovering now, I got a little annoyed… And someone else told me she wanted food…

      Have I mentioned how tasteless I find this nonsense? And these are adults who are paid a decent wage, they mostly all eat out every day so money is not the issue… If they only knew how they look!

  12. College Career Counselor*

    Have you asked others in the office what they are doing? Has anyone else found a registry? Maybe you can go in on an “office gift” with them? I’m sorry I don’t have more concrete suggestions!

  13. Nervous Accountant*

    Happy to report that aside from a few eye rolls this wasn’t a bad week. I was put back on reviews, had a call with the dingleberry client and just handled my Sh*t. And a nice thing was that I got paid! I was fully expecting a $0 paycheck bc I had no PTO to cover my 3 weeks away—bereavement lasted only 3 days & I didn’t qualify for FMLA or NYFL, but they gave me half pay. So that was nice. and 10 days w/o a Xanax!

    So there was one thing that had me seeing red, but in a “what a jerk” rather than a “I want to quit NOW” way.

    My manager was working remotely on Thursday. I was checking in with him throughout the day, and my coworker from another team came by and said “[mgr] is pissed cz your team is a sh*tshow right now.”
    I saw RED bc
    1. No one says that about my team esp when its not true. No one was goofing off, we’re all putting our heads down and working our a$$es off
    2. mgr never even said that. I told him about what he said and he said he never said that. In fact, 3 different people checked in with him (our team leader, another CW on our team and myself) and said everything was fine.
    3. EVEN MY BOSS SAID EVERYTHING WAS FINE and no one was goofing off.

    This wasn’t the normal good natured teasing but some really really shady crap. I thought this dude was a work friend. Mgr said he’s being a jerk but leave it alone and not waste my anger on it.

    I don’t feel like quitting on the spot anymore but getting through the rest of the season/year is just a little more bearable right now and I can leave on my own terms when the time comes.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Some people like sowing seeds of discord because it makes other people have to respond to them. These people are attention-seeking assholes.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        To make himself look good w our boss. He works on her team but he and I are the same level (supervisors). He’s constantly being pooped on by our boss (the one who called me stupid for asking for more $$). She also treats mine and managers team like the unwanted stepchild.

            1. Boredatwork*

              Dude – I’ve been there. Co-workers behavior makes perfect sense, I bet you’re both up for manager in the next year. I’ve been in industry for a few years now, where working late means 6:00 pm.

    1. Observer*

      You’re manager is right-CW is being a jerk, and you’re best of not letting it eat at you. Otoh, you now know that this is a person who you cannot trust, so that’s useful. If the persons says something that could be actionable, CHECK BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING. Because you KNOW that they will say things that are NOT TRUE.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Coworker, I checked with Boss and neither one of us is clear on where you got the idea that my team is a s-show right now. Just wanted to let you know that I followed up on that.”

      This is the way I have handled this crap. Just like you did, I go back to the source, “I heard X, what’s up.” Then when I find out it’s not true I go back to the cohort, “Just to let you know I followed up on what you were saying.”

      When we are willing to confront we can end a lot of crap for once and for all. People like this do not like it when we check with the source. They would much prefer we cower in fear.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I did talk to him, when he came to ask me for Tylenol I told him off for calling us that. He seemed to get the message after that. He did a douchey thing but I can’t stay mad at him for too long. All’s well that ends well I guess :-)

  14. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Totally just venting because there is LITERALLY nothing else I can do. It’s like watching a car wreck in slow motion.

    We have a massive project for an exceptionally difficult client. He is the Fergus to end all Fergi. It has been a nightmare since the beginning (almost 6 months ago). He has been verbally abusive to our staff and threatened to sue on numerous occasions.

    The original project manager left and it has been handed off to someone who has been with the company for over a year, but only in the project manager role for about 4 months. He is at his wits end. His GrandBoss (my boss) is bending over backwards and making the situation worse. He promised the client things that are impossible. Fergus is demanding that we follow through on all these things (I do not blame him for this, we said it was possible). Now, we are having to short change other clients and coworkers to meet the demands because Boss said it was possible.

    NOW to make it work, Boss is contemplating bringing back people who were fired.

    It’s a colossal mess. And it’s so aggravating. I watched one coworker leave over it. I’m pretty sure we’re going to lose another. I get that clients are important. But if you have no staff, you have no one to help those clients.

    1. Curious Cat*

      Christ. I’m sorry, that sounds absolutely terrible. 100% sending good vibes your way! And the reminder that it’s Friday and that weekend is here (3-day weekend if you’re in the US and your company observes President’s Day!)

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        I know. Our new office motto is, essentially, “Never Say No”. Which…I’m sorry. NO. Sometimes that has to be the answer. Obviously you can’t say it all the time. But to insist that everything can be done is ridiculous.

        1. The Tin Man*

          It literally is? That’s a fat load of nonsense. Optimizing and prioritizing inherently means saying “No” to things!

      2. Future Analyst*

        Yes, this, so much. It’s the worst when it’s being done by someone who has no hand in making sure the actual work gets done.

      3. only acting normal*

        Too too many.
        I was cc’d on an email chain this week where I was pleased to see the customer reply with “No, please don’t do X” because someone our end was trying too hard to be helpful with X. I was with the customer, X would have been a *bad* idea, but not my circus, not my monkeys (this time, thankfully).

          1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

            Thank you. I’m trying to figure out a way to let it casually slip to my GrandBoss, (coworkers’ Great GrandBoss) because he’s a bulldog and they’ve intentionally kept this from him so it doesn’t blow up.

            I won’t because it’s not my place. But I’d like to see someone actually DO SOMETHING.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Internet hugs – overpromising sucks.

      If you want advice: Is there any chance you can ask Fergus what his top priority (or 3) is? I know ‘all of it’ is a likely answer, but ‘ha ha very funny, now what’s your real answer’ sometimes works to redirect Fergi into productive channels. Then cram to get the top 1- 2 priorities finished. When you hand those to Fergus, include a new, extended, and hopefully accurate timeline for the rest of the project.

      Resist the ‘hiring back fired person’ and maybe talk up ‘fresh eyes and new energy’ as the desired traits in the new person…

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Oh, I have no interaction with Fergus. I am but a wee peon and bystander. I’m close with a few people on the project so I know what’s going on.

        His priorities change daily. He’s moved the timeline up on us, even though the contract says otherwise. When he contradicts himself, it turns into “That’s not my problem. That’s a you problem.” And if we point out that something is impossible due to, oh, weather or something that we cannot control he calls all levels of management and cusses them out. I’ve seen the milder emails so I know none of this is exaggerated.

        1. SophieChotek*

          Wow! Sounds like a joy (not). Amazing that boss cannot admit to being wrong and seeing he is losing employee(s) over this, has to consider re-hiring (even if only temporarily) fired employees, and is short-changing other clients, which means they might chose to go elsewhere.

          As an internet bystander: Internet hugs and best wishes. And maybe an update when this is over (or implodes) or whatever happens next!

          1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

            When we walked out to our cars yesterday, I told coworker that if he needs a reference to let me know. I can’t actually help, but figured I could at least offer that.

            I could tell countless stories about this already. It’s been a sh!tshow since the beginning. And we’ve just been pushed around. And I don’t think Boss realizes how disheartening and demoralizing it is to be shown that we aren’t even remotely prioritized.

            1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

              At this rate the Boss isn’t going to have a company by the end of this. And now all his employees have seen what a weak-spined person he is in bending over backwards for the client and not going to bat for his team. If he does this now, he’ll do it every time so hey! there is potentially another Fergus after this one!

    3. YesterdaysGoon*

      If you can, disengage from the situtation.
      Own your work. Put urgency on your actions. But do not accept stress regarding the results of the actions.
      Kinda like when you are sprinting like you are trying to break the sound barrier, so you run all out. But you don’t get stressed because you didn’t break the sound barrier. Sure you ran flat out at your best, striving for a new record. But in the end you just walk away panting, weary, content you did your best on a task with an impossible goal.

      If boss wants to bring back people to solve the problem he created, fine. If boss wants to allot resources to this one client to the detriment of the other clients – it is his call to make, even if it seems ill-advised. You can only own your own choices.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Oh, I don’t. I’m really pretty far removed. Except for the fact it is literally impacting the entire office. I’ve helped out as much as I can in my position, which is pretty limited in scope. It’s because I’m friends with this project manager that I know as much as I do.

        I’m not the one getting screamed at by the client because I had the audacity to take a day off. I’m also not getting hung out to dry by management. So the least I can do is listen when someone vents to me.

        It makes me sad, though. We could be absolutely stellar, but management doesn’t care.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          At some point this stopped being a story about a bad client and started being a story about bad management.

          I am very sorry. I hope a path through this opens up very soon.

  15. Internal candidate*

    So this is just an update. I asked questions here a few weeks in a row about an internal job I was applying for. Well…

    I got the job!!

    They called me on Tuesday, asked me to interview on Wednesday, and told me I got the job on Thursday! I practically have whiplash!

    The job had a lot of applicants. It’s a popular department to want to work for, but hard to get into. I’ve applied to this department before but never landed an interview before. Reading this blog and the comments over the past couple of years definitely helped me through this process. (Like, I wouldn’t have sent a thank you email after the interview, because I didn’t know that was a thing!)

    So thanks Alison, and thanks commentariat, for your advice and support.

    So excited to start my new job in 2 weeks!!!

  16. hermit crab*

    Hey Victoria Nonprofit USA (and others who responded to my Americoprs question last week) – thank you again for your help!

    I found a VISTA posting in my city that looks right up my alley, and I submitted an application through the online system. Would it also be appropriate to email the point of contact listed in the system? I would never do that for an actual job, but this seems like a different situation. I guess I would just introduce myself, let her know that I applied through the online system, and state my specific interest in her position. Is that OK? I don’t know what she is able to see in the system.

    1. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t do it. I did an Americorps Summer Corp program, and you are mistaken if you think that it’s not an actual job. In a lot of cases, it’s harder and more competitive.

      1. KitKat*

        YES. Treat this as seriously in every way as an actual job. Americorps is great in that if you work hard and treat your term as one giant networking opportunity, you can get your foot in the door and jumpstart your nonprofit career. It’s tempting to take it less seriously/professionally because you’re getting paid so little, but from what I’ve seen with my fellow members, those who took that route (figuring they would try harder in their “real” job) basically ended up screwing themselves, since they had few prospects afterward.

      2. hermit crab*

        Yes, I certainly understand it’s a real job! I meant that from the perspective of “applying to an actual position” vs. “applying in general via a central clearinghouse that hiring managers apparently don’t really look at.”

    2. Snark*

      Nope. Follow the application process. Trying to end-run around the systems these programs have in place to screen applicants is usually damaging.

      1. hermit crab*

        I should add that, for a lot of these postings, the system specifically tells you to do this in the instructions for a given posting – in this particular case, it doesn’t specifically say that, but this appears to be something that people do, in general.

        1. Snark*

          Ohhhhhh. Hmm. I would personally still probably err on the side of following the instructions in this particular listing, but if it’s usually a done thing, and the contact information is provided, I could see a reasonable argument for contacting the person. And you don’t want to be the one who didn’t. Eeeeh. Man, not an easy call!

    3. GriefBacon*

      As a recent VISTA alum, I very much disagree with the other comments so far! I would reach out and send the contact person a modified cover letter. Partially because the AmeriCorps application system is so generic and you’re not able to tailor anything to specific positions, and partially because, in my experience, not all VISTA hiring managers are on their game in terms of checking the portal. (I just got an email this week about a VISTA position I’d applied for 7 months ago. They had no clue that my application was 7 months old until I pointed it out).

      Also, if you end up wanting to apply for other VISTA positions in the future, it may be worth emailing the contact person first. I’ve done this a couple times, when I needed some questions answered before formally applying, and I ended up with interviews for all of those positions (as opposed to maybe 20% of the ones I just submitted through the portal). The reality is that most people doing VISTA hiring have no desire to use the AmeriCorps system and will do as much of the hiring process as possible outside of it.

      1. KitKat*

        Yeah, this can definitely happen with the portal. I’m not sure I’d go so far as emailing anyone, but in general when applying for AC positions, I would check and see if the organization lists the position and has a way to apply through the org website, rather than through the portal. Because yeah, the portal can be a bit of a black hole, especially if the org hasn’t hosted ACs before or does most of their hiring through their own website.

      2. hermit crab*

        OK, thanks – that is along the lines of what I’d been reading online. I found the online application to be really limiting – summarizing a decade’s worth of progressive responsibility at my current company in 200 characters! It would be great to send an actual cover letter of some kind and indicate my interest in this specific position.

      3. Llama Wrangler*

        Yes, I agree that this is a case where it wouldn’t hurt to reach out. The point is to send materials and say “FYI, submitted these materials online. please let me know if you need anything else; hope to hear from you soon!” NOT that you’re asking for a leg up or to subvert their process. Which I think is what you were suggesting. Glad you found something great!

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I totally agree. When I was hiring VISTAs, I would definitely have taken note of the name of someone who had reached out to me outside the system (because the system is… not great).

        That being said, don’t ask for a conversation or a back-and-forth with lots of questions. You just want to convey something along the lines of “Hi, I’m hermit crab, I just applied through the portal and wanted to let you know how excited I am about the VISTA position at your org. Let me know if you have any questions for me, and I hope my application looks like a good fit.”

    4. Former VISTA*

      Don’t do that. The way to make VISTA work is to treat it like an actual job, not a glorified volunteering position.

      1. Safetykats*

        I guess I’m mystified about postings that actually list a contact person by name. Nowhere I’ve worked would ever do that. If you’re in the know, you can sometimes guess the hiring manager from the combination of the job location and description, but sometimes that still leaves you with a couple of possibilities.

        We work it this way on purpose, in large part because we are subject to government regulations on the hiring process (as, I think, Americorps would be). It can therefore be really problematic to have a hiring manager talking directly to a candidate outside the system. Now maybe the contact listed is just someone in HR, which wouldn’t be so problematic.

        In other words, I don’t know what to advise you. I think you probably can’t tell whether the contact listed is administrative or actually related to the job. I also can’t think why there would be a contact listed if it was forbidden to contact them. But I would try to keep any contact minimal; maybe just a short note to indicate you’ve applied. I definitely wouldn’t send a bunch of additional info; if and when they want that, they will ask. And the short note might even be off-base; I wouldn’t do that for any job I had applied for unless I had some previous interaction directly with the contact.

    5. AmeriCorps Mgr*

      I have hired a lot of AmeriCorp members over the last 20 years (almost 200 people)and I would suggest that you first look at the website for the non-profit and see if perhaps they have additional instructions for applying directly. Sometimes your application won’t be considered complete until the references complete their part on the AmeriCorps site. Most hiring managers for AmeriCorps programs are in recruitment mode – as the economy has gotten better the number of applicants has decreased and I truly think most would appreciate your sending a cover letter and resume directly or at least inquiring if they currently have open positions as for some programs there is a very slow process to change job postings on the americorps web site.

  17. Karen*

    The nature of my job is that we rotate to different positions around the company every two years. There’s a job posting for a semi-permanent role in an area that I previously worked in. I did a lot of good work there and I think I’d have a good chance at getting this role. The posting says that it’s to cover for someone for 18 months while they’re on maternity leave. The role would involve some training from the person before and after the maternity leave. One of the people I worked with in this department was very toxic and unprofessional. The posting doesn’t say the individual’s name that’s going on maternity leave. But, if it’s the toxic person I used to work with, then I have no interest in the role because I don’t want to interact with this person. Is it weird if I contact the person who posted the job and ask who it is that’s going on maternity leave that I would be replacing?

    1. Ainomiaka*

      Can you ask someone else in the area that you get along with as just a catch up/company chit-chat kind of conversation? That seems a lot lower stakes and less likely to come across as making a big weird/dramatic deal. I guess similar with the person posting if you are on good terms. More like “I saw you guys are having to cover leave. Who’s going to be out?”

      1. DDJ*

        Yes to this. You don’t want it to be anything more than chit chat. Since you did good work in that group I’m guessing there’s someone you’d be on friendly terms with. I’m guessing that these rotating positions are meant to help you network within the company, as well as to get you cross-trained in a number of different areas. Use that networking!

    2. Samiratou*

      Would you still need to interact with the toxic person if they aren’t the one going on maternity leave?

    3. The Tin Man*

      I get that the toxic person would have to train you, but doesn’t that mean that outside of initial training and when she’s coming back you wouldn’t need to work with her because she’d be out? Otherwise you would need to work with her.

      I suppose the idea of working one-on-one may overwhelm the fact that for most of that period she wouldn’t be there. Or I am way underestimating the contact between someone on parental leave and the person covering.

      1. Safetykats*

        Depending on how the leave is taken, and the country, there may be no contact at all. For example, if leave is taken as short-term disability in the US (and maternity leave can absolutely morph into short-term depending on the circumstances) doing anything that can be construed as work disqualifies you for leave. So the usual policy is no contact except with HR.

      2. Karen*

        The person is someone who lies about other people in order to make themselves look good and the other person look bad. It wouldn’t surprise me if I come back and she reports to her leader that I did things all wrong while she was out. That’s what I’m worried about. If it’s someone else who’s leaving, there would probably be limited interaction with this person and it’d be fine.

    4. Bea W*

      If it’s not the same person going on leave that means the toxic person will be there working with you. You probably don’t want that either. Even if you would not work much with the toxic person, just having one in the department who is allowed to behave that way unchecked by management can ruin the environment for everybody. You might want to rethink this position.

  18. Applesauced*

    I recently started going to the gym before work instead of after; I go directly from the gym to the office, so my sweaty gym clothes are stewing my gym bag for 8-10 hours. Any suggestions to avoid molding workout wear?
    A few important points:
    • I don’t drive to work or have a private office to air things out.
    • My gym doesn’t rent lockers.
    • I don’t have a washer/dryer at home, so can’t wash clothes every day.

    Can anyone recommend a deodorizer, dehumidifier, or a magic home remedy for day-old stinky workout stuff?

      1. bluelyon*

        Does your gym have a pool? Depending on how sweaty we’re talking I occasionally run my gym clothes through the machine designed to wring water out of a swim suit.
        Additionally – try to wear dryfit/exercise specific gear rather than cotton. That should generally dry in the time it takes to shower/change and then you just have dry (if crusty) clothes in the gym bag – they won’t mold and will smell a little less.

    1. grace*

      I swear by anything Arm & Hammer — when I used to do crew, that was the only thing that could help prevent my car from smelling like a gym locker. ;) I personally never found that dryer sheets helped, but it may for you.

      On another note though, I’d try just rinsing them out at home when you can and hanging them to dry – in the sink or shower, etc. It helps to at least rinse out some of the smell/bacteria before you can wash them, and I know I’ve worn gym pants a few times before a wash because of it.

      1. K.*

        I second this. I sweat a fair amount and I always hang my gym clothes up to dry when I get home, even if I’ve gone straight home. I do this so they won’t mildew all crumpled up in the hamper before I wash them (I wash once a week because I won’t do partial loads). My normal routine is to turn on the shower, rinse out the clothes, wring them dry, hang them up, then take the shower.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Oh man, flashbacks to marching band — our uniforms could usually stand on their own before the director would even start thinking about getting them dry-cleaned, and of course we’d be sweating like horses in the spring and early fall, so it was a question of whether you would hear us or smell us first.

      For the smell, spritzing unscented febreeze into the bag can keep things from getting totally gross until you can get the clothes home and air them out. A diluted white vinegar spray might also help — vinegar is crazy good at lifting odors, and it itself doesn’t leave any stench behind after evaporating.

      Also, is your gym bag nylon? A more breathable bag like cotton canvas might help your stuff wind up less atrocious.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Stinky marching band uniform high five! Ours were dry-cleaned annually, whether they needed it or not. ;)

    3. artgirl*

      Could you get one of those home dry cleaning bags (designed to go in the dryer, like woolite or dryel) and stick your sweaty gym clothes in there during the work day? Never tried this but maybe it would help?

    4. MechanicalPencil*

      In my dance days, shoes always went into a breathable cotton bag with cedar and a sealed container that held baking soda like for your fridge — there’s a name it that escapes me.

      1. Booknerd*

        Target sells these sachets that don’t have a smell, but are intended to remove smells and such from objects when you trap them together in a zipper bag. We use them at the library to get the cigarette/cat pee smell from our books and DVDs when they are returned by patrons who smoke/have cats. It works really well. If it can get the cat pee smell off, it can probably handle your gym sweat!

      2. Merula*

        Do you have a cube? I hang up my sweaty gym clothes under my desk by hooking hangers on the back side of the desk where the it meets the cube wall. (Is this set-up making sense? I don’t really know how to describe it.)

        This is out of sight as long as people aren’t crawling under my desk, but it gets enough air to dry out and not smell. (I did ask my neighbor, who I’m friendly with, to test whether she could smell anything.) If you were worried, you could spray Febreeze or some when you hang the clothes up.

    5. Samata*

      I do the same but don’t do anything outside of wash them with vinegar and baking soda combo each week and wash only workout clothes together. They are usually still wet when I pull them out at the end of the day but I haven’t had a mold problem and I have been doing this for over 10 years. I do put them in another bag within my gym bag so everything doesn’t smell.

      I also just ordered some of the charcoal packs that someone was talking about earlier in the week on a thread and the packet I got contained a couple small ones that am thinking about tossing in my shoes.

    6. Chaordic One*

      Some people swear by “Fabreze,” while others claim it smells as bad (or worse) than sweaty gym clothes.

    7. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      I was going to the gym before work and having a similar issue. I just started unzipping my gym while at work – that seemed to allow enough air flow to get the workout gear dried out. If you go this route, maybe try shaking out or repositioning the clothes every coupld of hours through the day – so that no single spot is crushed within or all folded up.

    8. Sutemi*

      I bike to work (then shower and change) and I work in a cubicle. There is a shelf in the back bottom of my cube on which I spread my clothes out on fairly discreetly. It isn’t as good as hanging them up for air drying, but they are fairly unobtrusive and we have a lot of air flow here.

    9. Yetanotherjennifer*

      You may also want to try a detergent designed for athletic clothes. I’ve only just learned this exists so I can’t give you much detail. But sometimes fabrics can “remember” odor even after being washed and being used again, or even just being stored, reactivates and intensifies that odor. This is especially the case with mildew and skin oils. It doesn’t take much moisture in the air to reawaken mildew. It could also be that the detergent you’re using is feeding the bacteria that causes odors. The deodorant you use can also trap odors and require special laundry treatment to wash out.

    10. disconnect*

      Get some large ziplock bags (large enough to hold workout clothes) and a nylon laundry bag. When you’re done exercising, workout clothes go into the ziplock bag, then into your gym bag. When you get home at night, hang up workout clothes in the shower until they’re dry, then put them into the laundry bag. If you have to deal with odor, spray your clothes with vinegar and water when you hang them up (even better to do this immediately post workout, but then you need to bring more stuff with you). When you do laundry, add 1-2 C vinegar with the detergent, and toss the laundry bag in.

    11. AF*

      Could you use a mesh gear bag as a gym bag? I work swimming pools, and I have the TYR Big Mummy bag. I can leave soaking wet towels, clothes, and swimsuits in it sitting for a day or two and they won’t get moldy. That said, chlorine water is definitely a different odor than sweat.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I’ve got these things for my cross-country ski boots to dry the inside (pretty sure those things top sweaty marching band uniform!) – Boot Bananas. Its essentially baking soda and probably something else stuffed in a banana shape. great – sucks out all the moisture! You could potentially replicate by putting a ton of baking soda in a little beanbag like shape and putting between your clothes which are stored in something else, maybe like a packing cube for a suitcase that has a zipper.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I did soup a lot. It was easy enough to bring in a can and bowl and just nuke it. I didn’t really alter my diet while pregnant though so I would eat leftovers like normal. I don’t eat sushi anyway but I didn’t spot eating lunch meat and didn’t nuke that because eww. I did have a big box of saltines and supply of sprite/ginger ale in my office.

    2. Parenthetically*

      I craved protein but so much meat is SO not good when reheated. I just wanted a way to have steamy hot, super crunchy fried chicken at work every day, man! Pregnancy eating struggles are so real.

    3. Channel Z*

      The only thing I could eat was thai red curry. It was so weird. If not that, then it was the sick bag. The joys!

    4. Jules the Third*

      I was all watermelon all the time, so my lunches were easy – PB&J and a big container of watermelon.

    5. Thlayli*

      Ham and cheese sandwiches. If you’re not veggie you should be eating meat twice a day and one slice of ham at lunch is sufficient. Dairy is also very good for the baby so ham and cheese is perfect

    6. Science!*

      I have a homemade granola bar recipe that I love. It’s also my go-to nursing snack when I am on maternity leave. It starts with a base of honey, brown sugar and maple syrup and oats and then you can in any kind of mix in you like: sliced almonds, cashews, peanuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds…

      I would make a big pan and it would last a good two weeks in tupperware. For work I would would bring in a tupperware of it and munch on it all day. After my baby was born I kept a bowl of granola + a water bottle by wherever I set up, so if the baby was nursing or sleeping, I could still easily reach over and grab a bite.

    7. Anonymous Mama*

      I had a big thing for toasted bagels with cream cheese, fresh tomato, cucumber slices, salt and pepper. I literally ate that sandwich every day for weeks! Pregnancy is weird. I also consumed lots of hot dogs from my workplace cafeteria… the memory turns my stomach as I am now a vegetarian!

    8. Sopranistin*

      I’m 11 weeks along and still dealing with nausea, so I have to snack all day long. My current go-to is hummus with vegetables (cucumber, peppers, celery, carrots) and some kind of bread (whole wheat pita, crackers, or regular sandwich bread). I also pack fresh fruit and dry cereal. I went through a pb&j phase, when that’s all I could stomach.

    9. N.J.*

      I’m 8 weeks or so now. Because of the nausea it’s kinda hot or miss but I’ve been having lunch with granola bars, fruit cup with chia seeds, string cheese/stick cheese, cottage cheese, soup, grilled cheese sandwhich, snack type stuff. My sister with two kids swore by tomato soup with a package of ramen noodles mixed in. Also fruit, especially apples and bananas.

    10. Juli G.*

      I had nausea for over 2/3rds of my pregnancy and it was PB and Js for me. Or some carb and fruit combo (melon and mashed potatoes, strawberries and fries). My doctor was more concerned about keeping something down than being healthy though so I went in with much different intentions!

    11. Tea, please*

      Avocado toast. Avocados were the only green thing I could keep down for the first 20-25 weeks of my pregnancies. Sometimes I’d put a thin slice of cheddar under the avocado to mix it up.

    12. Nita*

      I went with bread, potato and fruit, but your mileage may vary. If you know what you crave, pack that. I really tried to avoid packing lunch because I never knew in advance what wouldn’t make me nauseous… but of course, eating out is expensive and could not be done every day.

    13. Hildegard Vonbingen*

      Seven-ounce container of Greek yogurt. Bring it to work in a refrigerated lunch bag, or buy some of those bendable strips of ice that you freeze in your home freezer. The yogurt is good for your gut, is easy to digest IF you’re not lactose intolerant, and is full of protein. I usually dump some fresh fruit on it (not that glop that many yogurts come with, because that’s not really fruit, it’s just sugary, thick syrup).

      1. JR*

        Lots of snacks! Eating a little bit all day long helped. I was going to the Pret across the street from my office like three times a day. I walked in two years later, for the first time since my son was born, and immediately felt like I had morning sickness!

  19. Stranger In A Familiar Land*

    I am probably mostly just venting. My role was recently switched to a different department. I have not yet physically moved myself because we have an interminable space shortage, and that’s fine–or so I thought. With a couple exceptions, my old team now seems to be ignoring me. I get that I’m not part of them anymore, but I’m still me and still in the exact same spot!

    It ranges from me pinging colleagues on our IM as I used to, and receiving no response (over multiple days), to just now–the cause of me writing this–a gaggle of them standing right outside my cube having a loud conversation about a non-work thing as if I weren’t here in this cube, on the damn phone, still existing. It just wasn’t usual. I’m at the end of a dead-end row.

    I don’t know. I have of course informed my new boss that I want to move when an appropriate space opens up. I guess in the meantime, I just…keep on keeping on? :/

    1. MLB*

      Sounds like you work with a bunch of petty passive aggressive jerks. If you’re able, throw some headphones on, ignore them and stop sending them IMs. You don’t need people like that in your life. In addition, I’d try to swing by your new department and start chatting with your new team if time allows it.

      1. DDJ*

        It’s so petty, and aside from that, it’s not like you applied for a position in a different department, your position was changed!

        Sounds like this might be a good move for you – hopefully your new colleagues will be better.

        1. Lance*

          Very much agreed; your former co-workers are a bunch of jerks who apparently only socialize with their own (because that makes sense in even a work context? some people…). If you haven’t yet, definitely get in touch with your new coworkers sometime; hopefully they’ll actually be good people.

          1. Stranger In A Familiar Land*

            Thank you all; you’ve made me feel much better. :)

            My new coworkers (whom I did know before in the general we-all-work-here sense) keep saying I should move near them! It’s really very heartening.

  20. MTinEurope*

    I have a question for the group: As a manager or person in the management team, how do you deal with a Director or CEO who has poor or limited vision? When they are extremely operational or micromanaging and this impacts how communicate with your team and structure the work.

    There is a lot of advice on how to give feedback or deal with poor performers but what if that poor performer is your own manager or CEO? And if they refuse to accept feedback?
    Maybe you have found a way to restructure problems or concerns?

    1. BeepBoopBeep*

      Sometimes, you can’t fix the issue. This is a hard one that I have had to deal with for a long time now, and unless the board or if they have someone higher than them is willing to replace them, it might not be fixable. We have a Director here that just has horrible work ethic, and unfortunately, that is something I don’t feel can be fixed after how much coaching we have provided them already. Can you elaborate on “poor or limited vision” ?

      Are you close with this Director/CEO ? I am close with the Director here who performs poorly, and they know they do. I often have blunt conversations with them about it, and it gets them fired up for a few days, and then its back to their old ways again. However, if you too have a good relationship with them, you might be able to just sit them down and say something like “I don’t like being the bad guy, but i’ve been put in a position where I have to look out for my team. I know if you were in my position you would do the same for us. [maybe not, idk] I really need you to do ABC, because of XYZ reasons. My position is here to support you (assuming this is the case if you report to them), so this is why i felt it was important to bring this to your attention. ” I think it is really important for you to outline specific examples in where they did X and then Y happened and how it affected the team’s due dates or operations (and the end result is a reflection of him/her, no?) Does this person have a history of taking feedback poorly ? In what way ?

    2. SophieChotek*

      Honestly if its the CEO, it strikes me as a culture/top-down issue. My company is like this – and I don’t think there is much to be done. I’m one of the newest hires (almost 3 years now) and I can see that the poor “vision” and leadership of the company and unwillingness to adapt will probably lead to more layoffs and (I would think in the next 3-5 years) eventually being forced to a) sell the company, b) bankruptcy, c) close the company or some combination thereof. I just try to keep my head down, get my job done, and am job searching before I get laid off or am out of a job due to no company…

    3. theletter*

      So when I first read your post, I thought by ‘poor or limited vision’ you meant she was losing her eyesight – If that’s the case I suggest looking for ‘managing up’ strategies. Basically, you don’t wait for them to ask for help, you just offer it or do research for them and present that.

      But if you mean the director doesn’t want to think about the future of the company or best business practices, the solution does not lie with fixing them but with moving forward with a new job search. When you have serious concerns about that grand plan of a CEO or the director of a department, that means you’ve lost faith in your leadership and the company, and there’s no point in staying on with the group aside from your paycheck.

    4. MTinEurope*

      Thanks for the feedback. Given the context of management, I meant vision in terms of leadership and strategy not eyesight :) This person often responds instead of has a vision for how we work or what needs to be achieved. People are so busy responding that no one really knows what the others are doing. It is a big mess but people work extra hard so stuff gets done but I see potential burnouts and good people about to leave.

      I have tried the feedback approach but with limited success. This person has been around a long time so they are established but the teams around must work double to get anything done. It is painful to watch when I know how much better it can be. I was brought in to help with this, but it is hard to help people change – everyone wants change but no one wants to change.

      I was hoping on some additional tips on managing up. But from the sounds of the comments, I think I need to just accept the reality and eventually move on. I am hoping to give it one more kick at the can. Will see.

  21. all aboard the anon train*

    I complain about this endlessly, but why don’t recruiters on LinkedIn understand that it’s incredibly annoying when they send a message saying they have a great opportunity, but give absolutely no details about the company, the location, or the job itself.

    These messages always say it’s a role “in my area” and then it turns out to be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour commute outside the city (and usually a temp or contract role). AND THEN half the time the recruiters get annoyed that I’m not interested because I live in the city and am not interested in buying a car to commute outside the city, or because I don’t want to work as a temp/contract employee.

    I’d ignore the LinkedIn recruiters entirely if my job search wasn’t taking so long, but I honestly don’t understand why recruiters think vague, coy messages are going to attract potential candidates.

    1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      Have you turned on the feature to tell recruiters that you’re interested? You can specify what you’re looking for and it’ll help. Not going to be perfect because there’s so many crappy recruiters out there, but I found it did help.

        1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

          go to the jobs section of linked in, that’s where I found it. I have regular, not premium.

    2. MLB*

      I would respond to their message with your requirements to save some time and possible frustration. I get emails from recruiters all the time with jobs in different states. They have a quota for contacts and most of the ones who have contacted me are offering something that’s not even close to what I would be interested in, like they didn’t even look at my resume.

    3. Jady*

      I hated that too. For awhile, to specifically headhunters, I pre-wrote a response that I could copy/paste into emails like that. I’d include my salary requirements, location requirements, permanent direct-hire job type, etc. And end it with something like ‘if you have any position that meets these criteria, please let me know!’

      Then again, I wasn’t desperate for a position and got sick of the spam, so I felt pretty comfortable being up-front with them. I was also getting a lot of mail for jobs that would require me to move across the country for a temp position! Who does that??

    4. Leela*

      Former recruiter here, with a possible answer. The short answer is: we have bosses just like everyone else, and sometimes we have bad ones. I knew that candidates hated this, and I brought it up to my boss several times but she insisted that it worked for her when she was recruiting (in the 90s, where there weren’t a billion staffing agencies honing in on the same candidates for the same jobs) so it would work now too. Of course it didn’t; if I got responses back at all, it was angry responses about how “this is why everyone hates recruiters” and ‘helpful tips’ about how I could be doing my job better, which included things I already knew and had brought up to my manager but was forbidden from doing.

      I was instructed to send out vague, sort-of-applied-to-everyone messages by the hundreds whenever we got a posting on the offchance that someone would bite, and then while waiting on those, do a more focused search, with my boss tearing her hair out wondering why we weren’t getting any responses.

      Also, while many people wouldn’t want a 20 mn – 1 hour commute, some don’t mind at all, some are looking to move anyway, we don’t really have a way of knowing without talking to the person. Someone might live on the outskirts of their listed city, closer to the city where the role is, or they might not live in it at all (like put “Seattle” when they live in greater Seattle, for example) and that’s all stuff we can’t know until we talk to someone.

      Trust me, I know it’s frustrating. I got e-mails like this by the hundreds when I was recruiting because whichever giant corporation near me was constantly hiring recruiters, and I ignored them too. But like most jobs that are any kind of customer facing, you’re only going to be talking to the person who’s carrying out the orders, not the person who made them.

      1. Coalea*

        I get that it can be hard to know people’s geographic/commuting preferences. My pet peeve is when I receive emails from recruiters about positions that are completely off base. For example, my profile clearly states that I am a “Senior Llama (Not Alpaca) Wrangler” and I’ve indicated that I would be interested in other Senior Llama Wrangler roles, or even Director of Llama Wrangling. I constantly get emails saying “I have this Alpaca Wrangling position open and I know that based on your profile, you’d be great!” or “If you’d be interested in a 6-month contract as a Junior Llama Groomer, please let me know when I can call you!”

        1. Leela*

          Yeah, we’re often instructed to do that too. Reason being for an agency, speed is really, really crucial to filling your roles, so we’re hoping someone might either be tangentially interested or, as they are a Llama wrangler, know an Alpaca wrangler because it’s somewhat similar. We lose out on thousands and thousands by other companies filling those roles before we can find someone, so there’s this desperate blanketing of information thrown out as quickly and carelessly as possible hoping someone bites.

          Ideally a recruiting agency would be about setting up people with good jobs for them, but the reality is that it’s often about filling roles quickly and, unfortunately, without a ton of thought to whether you’ve found the “right” person because unlike recruiting in house (which I’ve also done and like way better), you can’t afford to wait for a better fit to come along if you want to remain in business.

          Frankly I hate the notion of contracting (especially in the states where it’s legal to to a contract as a “try-before-you-by” way of getting to know your employee, which as far as I understand is illegal in Canada where I’m living now) and of staffing agencies because in order to be viable they’re better off screwing over/pissing off candidates to get roles filled as most people will stick out a contract for the resume and just leave as soon as it’s over, versus building a really good relationship with candidates and placing them in roles that are right for them, when we may not have access to those companies or those roles or we do but not now and have no idea when we will. The way the industry works currently, recruiters who don’t make their placement numbers get fired and agencies who don’t make a high number of placements over all can’t afford to stay in business; it leads to practices that range from annoying to shady to straight-up illegal (I was told not to call anyone back who didn’t have a white-sounding name because it would end up being a waste of time if they weren’t a citizen and in that time, we might have lost the position to another agency, or because one of the companies we worked with rejected literally every “Patel” or “Wang” or “Sanchez” we sent their way, regardless of how comparable/better their resume was against other candidates). 0/10 stars, do not miss that industry at all.

          1. Close Bracket*

            > it would end up being a waste of time if they weren’t a citizen


            I get that, but were your bosses unaware that non-citizens who immigrate here have children here who they pass their name down to? And those children grow up and get college degrees and stuff? My mind boggles.

            1. Leela*

              Yeah it was pretty awful. Not to mention that someone with the last name “Smith” could be an immigrant but they were definitely defaulting to person of color = immigrant, white person = citizen.

  22. Fiennes*

    Can anyone recommend a good dictation app (for Apple) that will let me transfer copy to Pages or some other viable text format? Something weird has happened with Dragon; Dictate is great with listening, bad with copying or storing; and Google’s ineptitude with listening makes it unusable for me. Any advice and suggestions appreciated!

    1. anonagain*

      I’m commenting because I would also like to know. I was using Dragon, but it has started throwing tantrums.

  23. Teapot Lending Program Manager*

    At the end of 2017, the small financial nonprofit I worked for asked all employees to make a donation, with a goal of 100% staff giving. They circulated a list with the names of everyone who had donated. Our supervisor then sent an email telling us that we weren’t obligated to give, but that if we had been meaning to do so, not to forget to do it soon.

    There are only 30 some-odd employees, so it was clear from the list who had not donated. I didn’t mind making a donation, but I felt it odd for an employer to ask for donations from staff. But also the public pressure (with so few employees, it’s easy to see who hadn’t yet donates) was uncomfortable. What if someone was a little tight financially? Anyway, they reached 100% giving, but it was a bit heavy-handed. Still not sure how I feel about that.

    1. Teapot Lending Program Manager*

      I should say, the supervisor sent an email to those on her team that had not yet donated, reminding us to do so soon.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        TBH, this is par for the course at every nonprofit I’ve ever worked at. Even the system you describe about shaming the people who don’t give. It’s annoying as hell but super common. The caveat is, it doesn’t matter how much you give. It can be a dollar. It’s a box that nonprofits often need to check for either the board or external advertising (“100% of our employees give to the organization to support the cause!”).

    2. Enough*

      My husband had this with collections for the United Way years ago. He just gave $5. We had our own charity giving in the budget. But listis that everyone can see are not cool.

    3. k.k*

      I know this is common, but I think it sucks. I’m in nonprofit development, and luckily there seems to be a good understanding that many of our staff here are not in a position to donate. We try to make staff aware of our fundraising efforts and let them know they’re welcome to contribute, but I’ve never donated nor felt pressured to give. Maybe part of it is that we’re a direct service, and a good chunk of our staff is made of up part time service jobs as opposed to “professional” type positions.

    4. Lucky*

      When I served on a non-profit board, I recall that % of staff donating or joining an org as members (same thing in our org) was a line item on some grant applications and supposed to indicate staff engagement, as a measure of the org’s strong culture. If that were the case here, your supervisor could have explained that even a nominal donation ($5) would get your org to 100%.

        1. Kitkat*

          Yeah, my employer was pretty intense about it BUT they were really clear about why it was important and that we just needed to give a dollar. It’s definitely still weird though :)

      1. Teapot Lending Program Manager*

        That explanation would have made a big difference in how the whole thing felt.

    5. Elizabeth*

      Not strange at all to ask for a donation- % of staff that gives is looked at by funders. The publicly announcing who did or did not- that’s a little strange

    6. IKnowRight?*

      I work for a nonprofit, and I think this behavior is obnoxious, particularly because making public those who have given (and, by default, point out those who haven’t) is unkind for the reason you point out. I’ve been a development manager in the past, and still do fundraising tasks, and though I think it’s great when staff want and are able to give to the organization they work for, there’s no reason to try to force it.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      This is not an optional donation, it’s a mandatory donation.

      Ask once to let people know the option is available = optional.

      Follow up with people who did not pay yet and “remind” them = mandatory. Asking a second time is not a reminder it’s a demand.

    8. Clumsy Ninja*

      A non profit that I work for (not full time) did a similar thing. It was “voluntary,” but the employee in charge of that area hunted staff members down at work to “remind” them to donate. She also found people on social media to send messages “reminding” them to donate. I made a small donation just so that I wasn’t the one person holding out, but I told her flat out (and honestly!) that if they tried that again next year, I categorically WILL NOT donate. At all. I figured (and later found out for sure) that others were bothered by it but too concerned for their jobs to say so and rebel. I’m in a position where I can afford to spend some capital, so I did. And I will hold to it.

  24. AdAgencyChick*

    Managers who’ve had a mediocre person in a job: how did you decide whether to keep them, fire them, or move them to another place in the organization where they *actually* could do well (not push them off to let someone else deal with the same problems)?

    1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      I’m in the public sector, so my process may not be super helpful to you.

      First, I figure out what value are they bringing to my division (what do they do well? Can I put them in a job sharing role to play with their strengths?) Second, I measure how much of my time I spend supervising the mediocre person compared to others. And the third piece is what’s the person’s attitude? My old boss had a great expression: there are golden retrievers and pit bulls–which would you rather manage?

      Two examples may help. For the last employee I fired, their work had too many errors and almost every project was turned in late or so close to a deadline that we couldn’t afford an error, and their work was never error free. My time commitment was significant–at least an hour a day trying to put them on the right track and fix their work. And their attitude was terrible–wanted to debate everything rather than learn; open hostility; rude; passive-aggressive; and had zero initiative.

      I’ve got a current employee on a PIP. We’re going to demote the employee and give the employee less difficult work. This person excels on dealing with clients but not much else. But my time commitment isn’t all that much because the employee listens when I do come in to address issues. Granted, the employee doesn’t implement what we talk about, but the employee is earnest during our discussions. And the employee is a really nice person. But for the performance issues, one of my favorite people in the office. Hopefully the employee can respond to the new role. But if not, then we might be looking at termination for this person.

      1. Budgieman*

        I had to reply to you just to say that I love your name…
        Ever since “Ed”, we have always referred to lettuce as “Le-Toose” in our house.
        Glad to see there is someone else out there with my kinda sense of humour!

    2. VioletCrumble*

      I had someone on my team that wasn’t performing well. I had an honest conversation with her asking her how she felt about her job; we then discussed issues that were impacting her performance. I asked her how happy she was in the job; how she felt on Sunday evening when it was time to come to work. She thought long and hard over a couple of weeks and decided the job wasn’t a good fit for her. There were aspects that she didn’t enjoy and would never enjoy/would never excel in – so she decided she would look for another position and ended up resigning within a couple of months.

      As part of the conversation I had told her that if she did wish to succeed in the position we work together to address issues; do some remedial/additional training so that she could master the tasks and succeed.

      Years ago I had someone on my team that wasn’t succeeding at basic tasks. When we talked, she indicated she wanted to learn and master an advanced portion of our workload. I fully supported her on that and worked with her to learn and master that portion of the job. She mastered it and the training and support also helped her to become proficient at the basic tasks.

      I’ve found that when “we” figure out what their interests/goals are – sometimes working together towards those goals helps people to shine in other areas as well. Conversely, letting someone know that there’s no shame in trying and then figuring out it’s not the right position allows them to make the best decision for themselves.

    3. Close Bracket*

      More importantly, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy did you decide to keep them when they make the rest of our lives so frustrating?

      Better yet, what qualities should I work on developing to become one of those mediocre workers who never seems to get fired?

      I honestly don’t know which is worse- working around their mediocre outputs or watching them not have repercussions for their mediocre outputs.

  25. anon for this*

    I work in publishing. For the past week, there’s been a big shake up in children’s/YA publishing about sexual harassment and several prominent male authors have been named, lost their agents or deals, or been banned from conferences and other events.

    I’ve worked in adult fiction, nonfiction, and academic publishing, and can attest to the rampant sexual harassment in all of these areas. There’s a general sense of uneasiness going around my current company about who’s going to break the news for adult publishing. Unfortunately, so many of us have been victims of sexual harassment in the industry, but it takes someone with a certain amount of recognition and capital to be the first to speak up. People are going to be more willing to believe a well-known female author over unknown editors and assistants and agents.

    When the news about Weinstein broke and then all the news about other celebrities, it was pretty upsetting to see how many people were willing to defend certain men accused of sexual harassment merely because they liked their movies or TV shows. I know it’s going to be the same for publishing because a lot of avid literary enthusiasts are very stubborn about acknowledging literature’s shady past and even shadier authors.

    There are popular male authors whose names give me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Several of them have frequently come up on AAM as people’s favorites. A handful of them have very popular TV/movie adaptations (and trust me, these are names you would recognize even if you’ve never read the books or watched the adaptations). I so often have people who want to gush over their favorite authors or the TV shows/movies that are adaptations of favorite novels or book series. And there are so many people who think publishing is just a happy place full of books and awkward lit geeks. It’s not.

    I’ve dealt with famous authors who are scum. Who have carefully crafted personas made up by the publishing house or their agents so they seem like sweethearts or harmless old men, but who are people I would never be alone in a room with. I’ve been blackmailed at a previous company for complaining to HR about sexual harassment. I’ve had to listen to people tell me why their favorite author couldn’t possibly have anything to do with sexual harassment after they’ve SEEN him harass women, and have had to sit in meetings where men talk about how graphic sexual assault scenes need to be detailed in fiction because it’s “historically accurate” or “provides character motive” and listen to them try to erase sexual harassment or assault from real life events in nonfiction books or textbooks.

    I don’t know that I’m looking for advice necessarily, but I just need an anonymous place to vent. But, for anyone who has worked in any entertainment industry, how do you deal with knowing these secrets and knowing no one will believe you because you’re not anyone important? Or having to listen to people gush about their favorite celebrities all while knowing that they’re horrible people? Or get defensive when they do learn their favorite celebrity has done awful things and start victim blaming? Because I know all of this will happen soon.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      To be fair, you have to forgive regular people who have no way to know about the character of a writer whose books they enjoy. Even if you know, there can be a divide – I know Hemingway is a jerk and also I can still enjoy his work (I just don’t gush about what an amazing human being he was).

      With that caveat, I could see a “shitty men in literature” list in google …

    2. Myrin*

      I’m so sorry, anon. That sounds terrible and like so many of you guys are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders – I really wish it weren’t that way.

      I don’t have any advice but for what it’s worth, I’d believe you in a heartbeat. In fact, I’d love to know who all these terrible authors are you speak of so that I’ll never say a positive thing about them again (this is not a roundabout way of trying to get you to spill the beans! I know how hard that its. I just mean that if you or others were willing to speak out, I’d love to know about it). Jedi hugs to you, if you want them!

    3. lollyscrambler*

      I read the children’s publishing story with comments (I’m sure you know the one I mean). It seemed like a lot of people didn’t want to talk about the problems with male authors because of the view that boys will usually only read male authors and we need to encourage boys to read (I’m a librarian so boys reading is the holy grail for children’s librarians). Clearly we need to talk about why boys won’t read women, not protect male authors. I would definitely no longer support any male author or their work if I heard of allegations of harassment or worse and I’m sorry you are bracing for this storm. You’re right, it’s going to be so ugly.

      1. Jules the Third*

        My kid likes Ursula Vernon, though he does like Dragonbreath more than Harriet. But Castle Hangnail *rocks*. I’m trying to get him to Susan Cooper now, but the non-graphic novel is a tough lift.

        1. Rainy*

          This author sadly died a few years ago, but if he likes Ursula Vernon’s prose he will probably like Diana Wynne Jones. Most of her books are pretty solidly MG in my estimation and she has a great prose style and fantastic worldbuilding and characters. You don’t say how old he is but if Susan Cooper is a possibility DWJ is probably a go. Start him on Power of Three or the Chrestomanci books, or maybe The Homeward Bounders if he looks like growing up into an RPGer. :)

          You might recognize her name as the woman who wrote Howl’s Moving Castle and the sequels.

          1. DrWombat*

            I’d also suggest Diane Duane – the cast is evenly split male/female mostly, and there’s not only magic, but talking dogs, aliens, and lots of awesome adventures in her Young Wizards books. Plus her ebooks store is having a sale right now to deal with some unexpected expenses. I cannot rec her books highly enough – they also have great diversity in representation: the main male character is Latino, and his family plays a major role in the books, but there’s also a huge diversity later on as more people join the main cast. AFAIK the series has the only black autistic representation I’ve seen in fiction as well, and its handled very well in the revised ebook edition.

    4. selina kyle*

      I’m sorry anon for this. That is hard and I’ve read up on some of the recent scandals you’re referring to. I think it’s valid to say something when people gush but I know how exhausting that can be. I don’t have a ton of advice, just know that for every person victim blaming, there’s many of us who don’t agree with them.

    5. Jules the Third*

      Hey anon – yeah, it’s tough.

      The only bright side: You certainly have leverage right now that hasn’t been there in the past. It’s still risky – if you choose to do something, definitely approach it from ‘the public will recoil, we should get ahead of that’ rather than ‘he sucks and we should be moral’ . If you’re approaching it from ‘good of the company’ it’s harder (but of course, not impossible) to blame you.

      My fear is that it will pass, and people who know will kick themselves for not trying during this opportunity.

      Right now, journalists will at least listen and follow up, so that’s a path you have. The bad / good news is that these guys never do it just once, and the sheer *numbers* of women are making people take it seriously, even if the women are not famous – see Roy Moore.

      For gushing / defensive people – disengage as much as you can. Looking at gush / defense with pity for their disappointment / ignorance helps. IF you have the energy and safety to educate, then sure, do it, but those of us watching and participating know the economic risks whistleblowers face, and there’s a strong trend of ‘don’t judge the people not in power.’

      You might be able to bring up policy changes right now, if you hand a fairly completed draft to your mgmt and do a wide-eyed, ‘all that bad press! we don’t want to be late to this! here’s how we can reduce our risk!’

      These problems are actually endemic in all US industries, especially male-dominated ones. The glam ones are getting first hit, but yeah, it’s spreading across them all. What I’m watching is how people change the structures that allow it to happen in the first place, and that make people feel unsafe reporting. You probably can’t do much about the first, but maybe right now, you can get in some suggestions on the second.

      Good luck.

    6. Det. Charles Boyle*

      I’m so glad people are coming forward to tell the whole story on these terrible people. The lights are on and the cockroaches are scurrying.

    7. GG Two shoes*

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. I do wish you could name names. Even is I loved their work in the past, I would want to know so I don’t unwittingly support scum by attending movies or buy books by them. However, it’s not your responsibility to take the burden of their actions either way, naming or not. I wish we were at a place that you could share this and it could be dealt with without politics or mansplaining or victim blaming. I think we are getting there, but no yet.

    8. Short & Dumpy*

      It’s rough. I wish we were all comfortable just coming out and telling the truth…but I agree it’s far too dangerous. I was living in a small town and there was a civic leader that no one felt safe telling the truth about (including me). I couldn’t stand hearing people rave about him but would usually just do a quiet “I’ve had a different experience with him” or “he’s a little more complicated than the public image” with an ultra quick change of subject. Sometimes people pressed, but even those would back down when I just refused to engage. I like to think that a few more people started to pay attention to warning signs from him but I don’t know…I moved out of state and didn’t dare say anything specific before I left because I was still dealing with things like selling a house and couldn’t afford retaliation on that front.

    9. Anonsy*

      Harassers are good at hiding who they are generally. I’m currently dealing with a similar situation with a coworker, which I reported to my HR and also to the police (it’s quite special). HR has taken no actions whatsoever. The entire thing is nausea inducing. As a victim, there’s a sense of agency over self that is lost and a newfound level of paranoia and anxiety that grows that’s quite stunning to discover.

      If someone says something to you, I like Short & Dumpy’s suggestion of demurring with a “that’s not been my experience”. Generally, I just go for a “oh really?” or something equally mundane. It depends on how I’m feeling. However, I still have to fight back that sharp burst of panic and the feeling of my heart skipping a beat before I can say anything, so having any sort of semi-snappy response is generally beyond my ability. As an aside, while I can somewhat enjoy some awful people’s work on an intellectual level, realistically I know that they were terrible human beings. That’s part of what makes #MeToo a bit of a conundrum on some levels.

    10. Sweet Chariot*

      As someone who used to work in kid lit, I feel your pain. It will absolutely happen. There will absolutely be people who defend the actions of crappy men and will continue to do so until there’s no more financial reward.

      I think there’s an assumption that because these adults work in children’s literature, that they and those around them are somehow more pure of thought and action. But, the truth is that it’s exceptionally incestuous industry. The same people hop around from one publisher to another creating a very safe bubble for themselves. I imagine there would be more complaints, except it is such an insular field that there are very real consequences for those who speak out, in addition to the sadness of portraying a product and service that supports children in a negative light.

      It’s hard to burst the bubble and it’s a tough one to pop even if you tried. Just make sure you don’t get trapped inside.

      1. fposte*

        One irony to me is the bubble has also had its advantages, with lots of gay and lesbian people out to the publishing world years ago who were not then out publicly.

        1. Sweet Chariot*

          I see your point. The industry was exceptionally more tolerant than others in regard to LGBTQI+ folks, and continues to be. But, it also did a horrible job of including People of Color . And since I personally knew a couple of men involved in these recent situations, I also know how the bubble doesn’t protect anyone from people who abuse their power and if anything only seems to enhance their ability. (It also taught me how utterly oblivious I can be)

          1. fposte*

            Yup, absolutely. It’s just interesting to me, and I think it contributes to the “pas devant les enfants” approach of publishing that has made such a problem when it’s been a righteous approach in the past.

        2. anon for this*

          Speaking as a bi woman, I still struggle in the industry. I’ve had to fight so hard to even get approval for books that aren’t about straight white people and when there is a queer book or character, 9 times out of 10 it’s a white cis gay men because there’s still an assumption that that’s what people think of as “gay” and there’s a market for those types of characters with straight women.

          Adult fiction is pretty bad with representation. YA has made huge strides over the past decade, but adult fiction is still trying to catch up, primarily because the people in charge are still cishet white men who think “literature” is only worthy when it’s written by, for, and about people like them.

          It’s an accepting industry on the surface, but I’ve still faced some nasty discrimination and my friend has faced even worse situations.

    11. LilySparrow*

      I’m coming at this from a little different angle, because of my personal experience in my family. Not of sexual assault, per se, but of people who do reprehensible things.

      My grandparents were born in the 1890’s and 1900’s in the Deep South. My aunts & uncles were born in the 20’s, my parents in the 30’s. I’m a descendant of Confederate generals. The level of racism that I grew up surrounded by is breathtaking. Horrific.

      One of my grandfathers was a violent alcoholic, and my grandmother was a codependent enabler who was not only complicit in the physical abuse of her kids, she emotionally abused them as well.

      I didn’t know any of that when I was a child. I just loved my grandma. I have wonderful memories of snuggling on her lap, and learning to make crafts, and eating wonderful treats she made me. I have a necklace that was hers, a family heirloom.

      Coming to terms with my family members being horrible people and doing horrible things has been a very difficult part of growing up. It’s reality. It has to be faced, and not excused or accepted or minimized.

      But my good memories are also real. I didn’t imagine those days, and I am a more secure and compassionate person because I felt safe and loved as a child.

      The necklace is still beautiful and valuable.

      I am the product of these people. I am valuable.

      The good things continue to exist. They have a life beyond the bad things.

      I think it’s the same with authors and artists. Good is stronger than evil. If a person makes something good – a book that helps children love to read, or learn empathy, that good thing has a life beyond the author. The evil he’s done can’t erase its value in the world.

      And some people are ignorant, like I was as a child. They do need to grow up and face reality, and that’s painful.

      It may or may not be your role to enlighten someone in any given situation. Take care of yourself, you’ve got a lot to process. And it won’t be the same right answer in every situation.

      1. LilySparrow*

        To clarify: I’m not talking about giving new recognition and opportunities to people who are abusing others. I’m talking about the work that’s already “out there.”

        I don’t think the industry should continue promoting and working with people who are abusive. Nobody should be handing harassers more opportunities.

        But I don’t think we need to make kids stop reading books they already like, either.

      2. LilySparrow*

        To clarify, I’m talking about work that’s already “out there.”
        I don’t think the industry should continue supporting or giving new opportunities to people who are abusive, and if you do have the influence to change things and feel safe doing so, that’s a very good thing to do, even if it’s only on a small scale.

        But I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by trying to make people reject books they already love.

    12. Student*

      Things I do to cope:

      Keep your ammo ready, in case you ever get to take your shot at any of these guys. Document what you saw, what he said, what other people were there. Dates, times, locations. Tell some confidant contemporaneously, so you can come back to them later to prove a timeline, if needed. And then watch for the weak moment where you can take your shot.

      If you can’t take them down, slow their momentum in other ways. Sometimes you have more power here than you realize. The Fight Club method, with less explosions. Book quote –

      Remember this. The people you’re trying to step on, we’re everyone you depend on. We’re the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you’re asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life.

      We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we’ll be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re just learning this fact. So don’t fuck with us.

    13. fposte*

      I’m in the field and have been in it for a long time. The “you don’t want to know these people personally” component isn’t new, I’d say; what’s new, in addition to #MeToo, is the pop culture elevation of youth lit and the internet component, so there’s more worship and more casual contact.

      For me I look at it as part of the historical timeline, where there have always been jackasses and abusers among authors. I’m still evolving my position, but in general I don’t particularly feel people need to know about the author behind the books. I don’t think the personal and the art are unrelated but I also don’t think they’re completely inseparable, and I can still read William Mayne’s books, for instance, with enjoyment. I would bring it up if I knew the person listening would find this really important information that changed their reading (or if I was teaching the books) or would be relevant to a future interaction with the person, but I wouldn’t spontaneously share info any more than I’d bring up Cecilia Champagne every time somebody brags on Chaucer.

    14. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      Anon, I’ve had to go through some of these same issues but from a different angle in being a lawyer. Because of privilege and losing my career, it’s pretty easy not to tell anyone else. But some of my former clients and current public sector clients, while they aren’t well known nationwide, there are well known in the community. And it does turn your stomach to hear people gush about them once you’ve found out what they’ve done.

      How I’ve dealt with knowing their secrets is to realize the advantage that I’ve received in knowing the truth. While I can comment on what they’ve done, once my representation is over, my conduct can dictate what my words can’t, and I’m able to protect my family and friends from these people just by my actions. I’d rather know the truth and be disgusted by them than to not know at all. As for the people who will gush all over them, I just disengage and hope that the “fans” never have to experience what the person is really like.

    15. Pez*

      I work in children’s at one of the big five and am very very curious about which publisher you had those HR problems with!

      Also as someone who works in kidlit, I and my colleagues have been living for / disgusted by / surprised by / not at all shocked with a lot of the accusations and fallout from this last week. There will definitely be people defending those who don’t deserve it but this is a good thing and feels like part of a real shift.

      (Though let’s be real—how can anyone who has seen pictures of James Dashner with his creep-goatee be surprised? Dude did read the room and release a better reaction than Jay Asher, though.)

      (Also, this is at least another 100 reasons why Netflix shouldn’t have done another season of 13 Reasons Why, am I right?)

      (Ok I’m done. )

  26. analytica*

    Data Analysts of AAM–

    In your experience/opinion, how much does changing industries impact your effectiveness as an analyst? I am currently in healthcare, but would be open to trying out another industry to further develop in my skills. However, I also know that the background knowledge is so important when making decisions in your analysis and models, so I’d wonder if starting over would just put me further behind.

    I’m starting to ask myself the question “what do I actually want to do” again. As an analyst, there are so many different directions I could move in, but it’s hard to choose from. (e.g. data management, data automation, dashboard/visualization creation, predictive modeling, machine learning, statistical analysis, etc.) I sway towards the data automation and predictive side (maybe some data viz, but less keen on straight up dashboards all day everyday), but need a whole lot more training and learning for that.

    1. only acting normal*

      I once met a very senior US-based person in the teapot analysis field, he said people in usually fell into two camps: they’re either a Teapot analyst or a teapot Analyst. (The former being more bound to the teapot field, and the latter being more bound to analysis in general.)
      I lean more to the teapot Analyst side myself and, as a non-tea-drinker, I generally need to call on subject matter experts to support my analysis. So by giving myself permission to be an expert in Analysis, and not an expert in everything tea related, within the teapot field I’ve been able to move between lids, spouts, and brewing without too much trouble. Admittedly a move out to a completely different field would be a bigger leap, but I’ve also done some off-the-cuff analysis on some company HR stats which ultimately had an effect at the corporate level, so that gave me hope that if I get heartily sick of teapots I’d have a chance elsewhere.

      1. KAG*

        Great analogy. I started off as a Teapot analyst, and mid-career switched to anything-but-teapot Analyst. It depends, however, on the segment of data analysis you are in – I specialize in mathematical programming/ supply-chain optimization, and one of the first steps I take is to learn the client’s processes – which I would have to do regardless of familiarity with the industry. Of course, if I’ve never worked with that industry before, it makes the process more challenging- but it keeps me learning new things!

        If it were a different type of data analysis; say, where you have to advise / identify KPIs for dashboards and the like, I think industry knowledge would be crucial.

    2. Student*

      I do loads of physics analysis.

      Your whole phrasing/question/approach is very foreign to me and the way I approach being an analyst. Maybe if I talk about the way I approach it, it’ll give you a different perspective.

      I look at analysis as, above all, a way to make decisions. Maybe it’s a big part of a decision or a small part. Maybe it’s my decision, often it’s somebody else’s decision. I give the client a tool or piece of information that they can use to make a decision, summarizing a lot of underlying information into only the most important bits through math and science.

      So, when I go looking at my career, I go looking for a place where I want to help people make decisions.

      When I look at developing my skills, I look for skills or tools that will help make that decision easier, faster, more convincing.

      I also try hard to avoid things that promise more than they can deliver, or things that look flashy but ultimately distract from the real underlying decision. Good graphics/visuals are incredibly effective. Graphics that look great but don’t help you make decisions are really bad graphics. Anything that claims it can tell the future is automatically extremely suspect – I am not here to give a fancied-up tarot reading, even though I know it could be lucrative in the short term to do so.

      1. analytica*

        Intriguing, I have never done any physics analysis and we clearly think differently.

        Yes, analysis is key to help people make decisions. You use math and science to get at this, but how can you analyze what you don’t understand? You need to get a sense of the data, the nature of how it was collected and defined, pitfalls of it, in order to validate your assumptions and hypotheses. I know you understand this, but this is what I’m getting at.

        When I look at healthcare data, I have a starting sense of which groupings of patients are clinically similar or different. Or I have an understanding of the structure of financial data and the codes associated with billing. This background knowledge informs my analysis immensely, and without it, I must start over. Getting to this point obviously takes time, and I am asking about the investment of time an analyst makes when s/he changes industries. Changing companies is hard enough, but a new industry is a whole new set of regulations, data systems and structures, and jargon — right?

        Predictive modeling doesn’t purport to tell the future; it is a way to better prepare for the most statistically probable future. (Of course, you still need to know your data very well to develop these predictions!) How can we staff or schedule without some semblance of this, especially in a place with as many moving parts as healthcare? I don’t do it currently, but I would also shudder at a person who claims their model has all answers. That person would certainly be very misguided.

        I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in all this. I switched careers and have been trying to get a better handle ever since, but I’d hope I have an idea.

        1. Close Bracket*

          I am also a physicist. You and student find your approaches to be foreign bc, despite the similarity in name, scientific data analysis and data analytics are really different things. However, a number of physicists seem to be getting hired to do data analytics/data science! A physics program doesn’t just teach physics, it also teaches problem solving and how to think, and that is a good discussion to have with a scientist. Forget about the jargon, forget about the regulations. You have to learn them, but they are just facts, and you can look them until you have them memorized. Your way of thinking, the way you ask questions, and your way of approaching the analysis will translate.

        2. Hillary*

          This is my approach. I have bad quality, limited data, so the hypotheses I test pretty much have to come from my business knowledge (technically I’m a business manager, no longer an analyst). I usually start with “oh that’s weird” and go from there.

          That said, someone in the business will help you with that part and it’s easy to switch. I’ve worked for plenty of people who couldn’t do the math but were exactly right about the business.

    3. Borgette*

      I definitely view myself as a data expert who happens to be working with Teapot Supply Chain data. I’ve changed industries once, and I do need a bit more support than the analysts who came from providing tea service, but not much. Maybe a question or two on more complex projects. My current department has a blend of analysts with non-teapot analytics backgrounds, and non-analytics Teapot backgrounds and it works really well!

    4. sparty07*

      In my experience as a financial analyst/manager, as long as you have core understandings of pattern recognition, forecasting, analysis, presentation of data, that the subject matter is less important. I was able to quickly transfer from durable manufacturing (many different departments within that company) to food manufacture to financial service. While working in financial service company focused on the durable good made that transition even easier, a good analyst can use their knowledge of analysis and quickly learn about the new department/industry/company fairly quickly.

    5. Jerry Vandesic*

      It depends on how technically deep you are in your analysis.

      If you are using Excel or basic BI tools for your work, I would expect that the bulk of your value to your employer comes from your understanding of the business and its data. In that case your effectiveness as an analyst would be limited immediately after moving to a new industry.

      On the other hand, if your skills are technical (machine learning, statistical modeling, Python, R, spinning up Spark clusters on AWS), you should be able to (easily) move from to a new industry and apply those technical skills to new problems. Your value to your employer will be split between your business and technical knowledge, so the technical skills will give you an immediate leg up. In fact, your experience across industries might be perceived as a real plus, allowing you to draw upon a wide variety of experience in your new position. I have worked in a variety of industries (banking, healthcare, advertising), and I often drew upon experiences in one industry to do something useful and innovative in another.

  27. ARGH*

    During my “excellent” review in November, my manager said she wanted to promote me, either one level up or two. Last Friday, she told me that she now plans to promote me in July, and said that she can’t promote me until there’s someone at my current level to fill my spot. The thing is, until 2 weeks ago, there was: the newish person on my level gave her notice, and today is her last day. So essentially, I was prevented from being promoted by a measly two weeks: if she had given her notice after my promotion went into effect, I wouldn’t have been demoted. I’ve busted my butt, staying late and working weekends, and after 4 years with the company, I’m still on the absolutely lowest rung in my dept. [For scale, my manager herself has been here for 4, and has been promoted 2 times.] Anyway, no real advice needed, just commiseration.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I feel the “Lucy Van Pelt football promotion” is super, super common as a way to retain staff by promising them someday, if they’re really really good, they’ll get this reward – but no time soon. One way I try to think about it is, they’re telling me I’m capable of performing at the next level up – so I should start looking to leverage my experience externally. They can’t be surprised if it’s been more than six months they’ve been promising a raise or promotion that hasn’t come through. Just don’t fall for it and stay years on a wink and a promise.

      1. Bea W*

        I had a boss who did this to me repeatedly. I had to have the come to Jesus talk with her after the 2nd review cycle.

        I was totally happy to keep doing what I was doing without a promotion. I loved my job. I wasn’t looking for it. However, by the 2nd review cycle I had taken on additional responsibilities because of her promises, and getting the same BS excuses like blaming the company for not promoting anyone internally (blatent lie) I wasn’t going to allow someone to think they could keep taking unfair advantage of my and patience, trust, and talents. That was not okay.

        I got my promotion, but politely declined certain future additions to my responsibilities that came with promises of promotions or moving towards a management tract, mostly because I didn’t have the bandwidth, and definitely because I couldn’t trust it wasn’t more of the same.

        I’m no longer at that company. BSing people was part of the culture.

    2. Enough*

      The rigidness that some companies have is ridiculous. Son just got a promotion to associate. You are first eligible at your 5th anniversary. Last year he was 2 months shy of 5 years – so no promotion then. This year there is a guy who is 1 month shy so no promotion for him either. To add to this they only promote from with in so no matter your age or experience you only get to be an associate after 5 years with their company.

      1. Rainy*

        I’ve missed two merit raise cycles because I’ve changed roles twice, each one shy of the cutoff for being considered for merit raises. :/

      2. Close Bracket*

        > To add to this they only promote from with in so no matter your age or experience you only get to be an associate after 5 years with their company.

        Holy cats. I have 10+ years experience and a PhD. I would never accept a position at entry level. I can’t believe people go for that.

    3. LKW*

      I wouldn’t trust words, only actions. Your boss could just have easily given you the promotion then said you had to wait until a new person was hired. She could have shown you all that was being done in parallel to get you into your new position. She could have given you the promotion and said that you needed to backfill part of your old job, along with others, until a permanent replacement was hired. She could have done a lot of things.

      Might be time to look for a new job.

      1. Irene Adler*


        Their next ploy is to tell you: “Well, we think of you as a Manager, even though you are officially just a Supervisor.”

      2. Jerry Vandesic*

        I agree. Start your job search now, looking for a position at the level you would be at if you receive the promotion. If you get a new job before the promotion, great. If you get the promotion first, also great.

        Take control of the situation and don’t leave your professional growth in the hands of a boss/organization that you don’t seem to be able to count on.

    4. Chaordic One*

      The ugly truth is… (and its’s going to hurt)… it’s time to start looking for a new position.

  28. esra (also a Canadian)*

    Please help my tactless self.

    I want to ask my VP if a guy on our team is being put on the management track. Dude is not even out of probation, and in my (very recent) review my VP said he’d like to see me managing people by eoy. Except this new guy is being put into management training, with no subordinates, and it looks like the participants were chosen by HR and not my (overworked) VP.

    The problem is I am completely lacking in tact. I don’t know what to say other than: “Is (new dude) on a promotion track for the team?” or “What is the longterm plan for our team?”

    I’m getting mixed signals from my VP and HR, and I’ve been in similar spots before where waiting and seeing was definitely not the right thing to do. Help?

    1. Marzipan*

      Does it matter that Other Guy may be getting management training, or is it more relevant and important here that you aren’t? I guess what I’m asking is, is there any need to have a tact-requiring conversation about Other Guy, it could you just reach out to your VP and say ‘hey, we talked about me moving toward managing people in the near future, would it make sense for me to get the X training?’

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        It does in a few ways. Outside our team, because this guy is on management training, people think he’s a level up from the rest of us. Requests that should come directly to people are now going through him and it’s the kind of workplace where if that keeps happening, he’ll basically become out manager.

        I did ask my VP about the training, and he said he’d try and get me in on it, but honestly, he’s so swamped that employee development is below the bottom of his list of things to do.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          If your development is “the bottom of his list of things to do” then you know where you stand with the company. Either be more forceful in your ask for coaching/training/development, or start looking for something new.

    2. Emi.*

      Do you actually want to know what’s going on with him, or what’s going on with you? If what you really want is for *you* to be put on the management track, I would only ask about that, because asking about the new guy risks looking petty and competitive.

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        I actually want to know what’s going on with him. If they want him on management track, I’ll work with that. I want to know what’s coming, while also advocate for myself.

        Basically finding that out, without looking petty, is the thing I’m having trouble with.

        1. Emi.*

          Based on the other details in your response to Marzipan, I would see if you can get into the training without your VP’s having to put you there (in a “Hey, VP, I know you’re swamped so why don’t I talk to HR directly” kind of way).

          But about finding out about New Guy, do you all have a manager besides the VP? If so, I would talk to them (presumably they’re in the loop about this guy’s trajectory) and point out that things are going through New Guy just because he’s in management training, so (a) is this correct, or should they still be coming to you directly, and (b) ask to be put in the training.

          1. esra (also a Canadian)*

            Alas, we’re all directly under an incredibly swamped VP. Maybe I’ll just make my question more general about the future structure of the team.

            1. Marzipan*

              I mean, sure, but general can be a recipe for your question not being recognised as the question you intended it to be. Coming up with an approach that’s both direct and gracious might be more the ticket.

            2. Emi.*

              If the VP is busy, will a general question get your point across? Can you ask something like “Does NG being in this training mean you want him to do it instead of me, or should I just talk to HR about the training directly since you’re busy?”? If VP is both of your direct manager, that might actually make it easier, since you can roll it into “It looks like HR put New Guy in the training and now things are coming in through him instead of directly to the people they should be going to. How should we handle that?” which is totally not petty, imo.

            3. WellRed*

              I feel like you are excusing your boss too much, here. So what if he’s swamped? He wants to put you on managing track, he needs to do it. As you said above, waiting and seeing hasn’t worked in the past and with new guy appearing to be on mgt track, well…don’t let this go.

            4. Decima Dewey*

              Don’t ask about him. You’ll be told it’s none of your business. What you want to know is how you can get into management training and/or how you can move up. Not the team as a whole.

    3. Teapot Lending Program Manager*

      Does asking about this other guy actually answer your question about your own career trajectory though?
      It seems like you could just follow up with your VP and ask if he had any particular plan or steps in mind in order to transition you to management by the end of the year.

    4. Becky*

      Perhaps just make it about you and not this other person: “Per our discussion about me being on the management track, I’d like to attend [this management training] as part of my professional development toward my EOY goal.”

  29. rosiebyanyothername*

    What’s your take on dress code enforcement? Recently we got a mass email about specific dos and don’ts re: the dress code. A lot of the “don’ts” were listing very specific pieces of clothing I had seen people wear recently, like specific colors of jeans or flannel shirts. A lot of people felt targeted and wished they has been confronted directly if their clothing was an issue. I agree, but I’m not sure if there’s a perfect way—no matter how you choose to announce/enforce a code someone will be mad. I think the term “business casual” has gotten so open to interpretation that it exacerbates the problem. How does your office handle this?

    1. Parenthetically*

      I’m a teacher and my students wear uniforms, so the general rule is “dress a step nicer than the kids.” And I share your annoyance at the dress-code carpet-bomb rather than saying, “Oh hey, that top’s just a little too casual for this environment!”

      I think terms like “business casual” do no one any favors. A dress code that works on broad principles and then drills down to specifics where necessary, and that isn’t reactionary or punitive but assumes adults can adult, is better than one that is overly vague or overly specific. I think having three categories — Don’t Wear, Do Wear, No Need To Wear — with a few examples in each sets the parameters pretty clearly. So: “Clothes should be neat, clean, and in good repair, and project professionalism. In this environment that would exclude (whatever: jeans, colored jeans, leggings, sandals, flip flops, shorts, tshirts, flashy logos, anything distracting or ostentatious). Good choices would be (whatever: chinos/dress pants, button-down shirts, blazers, sweaters/vests/cardigans, pencil skirts, tights, flat or low-heeled shoes, etc. etc. as needed). No need for (whatever: suits and ties, pantyhose, high heels, super-polished shoes, etc.).”

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I also teach students who wear uniforms and we have a similar guideline. Especially Mondays, which are dress uniform day.

    2. EB*

      I feel like you have to talk to people individually when they’re wearing the clothes so they don’t feel like they’re being publicly shamed (of course, I also manage student interns and I think that’s the only approach that works with them). Before my old boss left he’d have HR send out email blasts which had the effect of making people that weren’t breaking the dress code worried that they might be doing something wrong. And the people who were actually dressing inappropriately remained unconcerned.

      I wish that workplaces that want people to abide by extremely specific dress codes would just spell it out and own up to it. Business casual means nothing to me at this point– I’ve worked at places where it was just a step down from having to wear a pantsuit every day. Now I work in a “business casual” setting where I can regularly wear leggings and tunics– sometimes even sneakers– and no one cares.

      1. many bells down*

        Yeah “business casual” is really dependent on your location and your industry. At my volunteer gig, I was told “business casual, but we’re in Seattle so that just means casual. Don’t wear sweatpants, basically.” Jeans are fine, and due to the very specific niche we fill, Star Wars and band t-shirts are actually encouraged.

        95% of my jobs have been such that jeans-and-tees were the most practical clothing choice. I actually wish I had a job where I could dress nicely.

    3. Uncivil Engineer*

      My organization handles it poorly by saying “dress appropriately for your work” and providing no indication of what that is. In my Division, that could mean business casual or business depending on what meetings you have. Friday is casual.

      I am guilty of sending the mass email about dress code enforcement. I did it because the last time I spoke to someone directly, they got very defensive and then brought up a number of people (none of whom work for me) who were wearing the same thing. Enforcement through the Division is lax so a bunch of people are dressed inappropriately on any given day.

      I am rather annoyed at the way a few people on my team dress. I don’t know if it’s true, but I feel like they are
      purposefully flaunting the dress code because they know it is an awkward conversation for their boss to have with them so, if their work is good, the boss is unlikely to bring it up. In the meantime, I’m seething inside when I see them wearing jeans, sneakers, and a polo shirt every day.

      1. CM*

        Either there’s a dress code or there isn’t. Jeans, sneakers, and a polo shirt is perfectly acceptable for work in many offices I’ve worked in. Why does that make you seethe? If there’s a dress code, you can tell your employees that they need to follow it. If there isn’t, then take deep breaths and accept that they’re allowed to dress this way.

        1. Uncivil Engineer*

          There is a dress code. It just isn’t defined well because “we are all adults and know how to dress ourselves” except… apparently we all aren’t adults and don’t know how to dress ourselves.

          Jeans, sneakers, and polos are not my office’s idea of business casual. It makes me seethe because I have already mentioned this isn’t appropriate attire 3 times in the last year and a few people keep on wearing them. For reference, I wear trousers or a pencil skirt, a nice top, and ballet flats or closed toe heels most of the time and my boss wears a suit every day.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            My take on it is that you’ve warned them, they know it isn’t acceptable, and now you just let them dig their own hole. We are business casual of the slacks/polo/dress shoes variety, and yet I see people in the halls with cargo pants, tennis shoes like Vans or similar, and a hoodie over their shirt. Yet I never see anyone dressed that way above a certain level. I think it is a fair trade. If you’re happy being comfortable and stuck, fine. The problem is if someone you want to promote falls into that mode of dressing, but I’m having trouble thinking of someone who would be that example here. (Now, you could have managers and hi pos dressing that way, I’m only speaking for us.)

        2. Penny Lane*

          Because jeans, sneakers and a polo shirt aren’t business-casual. They are casual-casual. There’s nothing wrong with an office choosing one or the other (my own office was casual-casual and jeans and sneakers were just fine), but what you’re describing simply isn’t business-casual.

          Nice, dark wash jeans could *possibly* be business casual if paired with a blazer, boots, scarf, etc.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I’ve never thought of polo shirts as being “casual-casual.” They’re business casual in my corner of the world. (T-shirts are casual-casual.)

            That doesn’t make them not hideous, and I never wear them.

            But if that many people are interpreting business casual that differently, there need to be specific rules. There were in my last job, but they kept changing them. Mainly because people followed the letter of the law but not the spirit. So, I was no longer allowed to wear my dark denim material dress pants (not cut like jeans), but other people wore shirts that looked more like clubwear than business casual. I will not even get into the great flip-flop debate. (There are such things as thong-style dress sandals, people!)

            I now work somewhere that the dress code is “dress appropriately,” and (this is the weird part) everybody does! I think this is just a culture thing.

            1. Someone else*

              Polo shirts can be business casual, but they’re not if paired with sneakers and jeans. Just as very dark jeans could be business casual if paired with a blazer and nicer shoes. My office specifically has a “no jeans” policy, but in one that doesn’t, if someone is pairing one casual-ish item with a rest of the outfit that is definitely business, I’d think one can generally get away with it. It’s a balance thing though. Like if each piece of clothing gets 1 point for being casual, 2 for being business-casual, 3 for being business, if your whole outfit averages higher than 2, you’re probably ok.

    4. KR*

      I had a direct report a couple years ago with a serious dress code issue. Our dress code was the casual end of business casual with uniform shirts provided. The people we hired were mostly young college aged people.

      I ended up making a detailed sheet on what business casual meant with regards to our office (well fitting clothes, clothes that aren’t dirty or torn, not sweatpants, model what you see people around you wearing, don’t be noticably more casual than everyone else, ect) with pictures and example outfits for both genders, with arrows on each picture pointing out what made it a good choice and why. I also included basic places to get work wear for different price points (“if you go to Walmart and buy these basic 10 dollar slacks and wear your work shirt and your normal sneakers that is within dress code.”)

      I also had to be willing to tell someone to go home and change especially when it became such a huge issue with this one person. If it was a rare incident I would say, “Hey dont wear that again because x/don’t forget your uniform shirt/ect” but with that direct report I had to say on a few occasions that they needed to go home and change and what they were wearing was wildly out of dress code.

      Good luck.

    5. Natalie*

      There might not be a perfect way, but sending a mass email that identifies really specific things that are clearly individual people is about the worst way. Whomever decided on that tack is a coward.

      1. not so sweet*

        We had a contest once, to identify which outfit on which person had triggered each item on the list.

    6. Ten*

      I think a dress code should be written out as part of the employee manual with individual infractions addressed one-on-one by the person’s manager.

      Dress codes just seem to be gateways for pettiness. I once had a coworker go behind my back to my boss and complain that I had repeatedly worn clogs, which were against the dress code. When my boss approached me about it I agreed not to wear them anymore but pointed out that 1) no one had ever said anything to me directly, and 2) while our dress code forbade open toed shoes it said nothing about open heels. And I went away from the exchange feeling mighty burned by whoever it was (never did find out) that griped to my boss after several instances instead of coming straight to me after the first.

      1. DressCodePoPo*

        So you would rather the coworker call you out on dress code infractions?

        That would cause so many problems at my office. If a coworker tells another coworker something…oh man, it just gets catty. “If there was a problem with my Metallica tshirt, Director should tell me, not you, Fergus!” or “I’ve worn these leopard print leggings in front of the president and he has said nothing, so you are full of crap, Fergusina!”

        They won’t take it seriously UNLESS the boss says something to them and it will just create bad blood if a coworker even attempts to point something out.

        This seems to be most true about the dress code, and it’s over a wide range of employees, male and female, aged 20-70, in every department. I wish my employees were more like you…would make my day A LOT easier without having to hear complaint after complaint of dress code “tattlers.”

        (I wrote the dress code policy…so I guess this is revenge…even though it’s a super lax dress code…no open toe shoes, no flip flops, no tights/leggings without fingertip length blouse or dress. No graphic tees… That is pretty much it)

    7. Samiratou*

      If “a lot” of people feel targeted, that says to me the mass email might actually be the way to go here, as it gets time-consuming to talk to people individually. If you’ve got a couple of people then, yes, the mass email is overkill and insulting, but if it’s a lot of people, or management is noting an increase in “violations” then a reminder isn’t uncalled for.

      However, the dos and don’ts should be consistent with a written dress code that employees can access for reference and they should be given that or directed to it when hired. Individual managers shouldn’t be able to decide they don’t like flannel or something when it’s not prohibited by the dress code (though I also think companies should have different dress codes for different types of positions. Frex, flannel on someone working in facilities is different than someone in a client-facing position, depending on the company’s client base and expectations).

    8. HannahS*

      I loathe the undefined “business casual.” It’s what they told us at the beginning of medical school, and when people asked specific questions, all we got was a story about how some girl once dressed like she was going to club so don’t do that haha!! Just use common sense! Look professional!–which drives me up the wall because it’s all so arbitrary and if your parents didn’t work in an office environment how the heck are you supposed to know what’s appropriate? One of our instructors did us the favour of saying “No gym clothes. Don’t come into the hospital wearing running shoes.” I sincerely wish they’d just say stuff like, “We expect you to wear business casual clothes. This can be a range of things and you’ll see what doctors wear as you go through here. To start, business casual means that your pants aren’t jeans or leggings. It means that your shirt is not a t-shirt, and that your shoes are not running shoes and must have a closed toe. Your underwear should not be visible. Cleavage, midriffs, armpits, and legs should be covered, with the exception of an approximately knee-length skirt. Here are some examples of what business casual can look like.”

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I once had trainees ask me about our dress code and whether a man wearing a skirt would be allowed. (This was about 15 years ago.) Our code only addressed clothing, not the gender/sex of the wearer, so in our case, yes. Provided it was not made of blue denim. (At the time, there were a few updates to the dress code in later years. But it was always based on the clothing, not the wearer.)

  30. Rebecca*

    Has anyone had any luck with moving their “butts in seat” company to allow teleworking?

    I am happy with my job, but due to some changes occurring in my life it’s looking like I’ll be moving several states away in the future, hopefully within the next year or so. Currently, I drive to an office in another town to log into a computer in another state, and deal with people all over the US and offshore via phone and email access. I don’t need to be in a specific place to do my job, it’s a job that matters if it gets done not so much where it’s done. Whether I’m here or 1000 miles away, the result is the same.

    Once I know for sure I’ll be moving, I’d love to stay on as an employee! I thought about making a list of the positive things, and maybe a list of things that would need to be worked out, but really, all I need is decent internet access, a computer and a phone to do my job.

    Any success stories and how you did it would be appreciated!

    1. WellRed*

      Do they have a presence in the other state? Because they will need to follow that state’s labor laws, etc is my understanding, so you’d really need to show the company your value.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I did this when we moved out of NYC. I was working for an LA-based company and two of us in New York worked out of a Regus office. My partner got into a PhD program and we moved several states away, and my boss agreed to let me take my job with me. The CEO– her boss and the owner of the company– was not too happy about it, but my boss fought for me, saying that they weren’t using me for anything client-facing anyway (which… was what I was hired for, but that’s a separate issue) and nothing would change day-to-day. It helped my case that the other person in the NY office moved to part-time and was rarely there. I was basically alone anyway, doing all of my work online and on the phone.

      I stayed with the company for three months after we moved and found a job here. I would have stayed indefinitely, but the job had issues that led to me looking. While I was still with the company, absolutely nothing changed. My hours stayed the same, communications were the same. I flew back to New York for personal reasons and stayed an extra two days to take some meetings. I paid for my flight, but the company covered the costs for when I had to change to accommodate clients’ schedules. But really, it was fine. I think the stress is that nothing will change if you change locations.

      Good luck!

    3. Samiratou*

      If you are a good employee, it should be more worth it for them to keep you than to find, hire & train a new person. When you are moving talk to your boss and say you’d like to stay with the company, talk about what your home office setup would be like, what hours you would keep and how that will basically be the same as what you do now.
      My company used to be a butt-in-seat kind of company but has relaxed that, and part of the relaxing was due to employees moving out of state and but the company wanting to keep them as employees.

    4. Teleworker*

      I’ve done this. My job went with me when I moved 800 miles from our home office. This worked for a few reasons—my work is independent, like yours, and can be done from anywhere. Also, probably more importantly, I’m a specialist running a high profile project and no one else internally has the experience to do it. So it was easier for the company to let me keep doing what I’m doing than replace me. I would recommend emphasizing why you excel at your role. Good luck!

  31. Parenthetically*

    Out of curiosity:

    My husband and I share a car and I pick him up from work every day. Due to [list of boring reasons related to having a six-month-old], a couple days a week I’m waiting for him (in a parking spot in the large lot outside his office) for more than, say, ten minutes, and very occasionally as many as 20 minutes. Would you think that was weird?

    1. Snark*

      Just based on what you’ve told us here, not really. If he’s off at (say) 4, he may be the sort that goes, it is four, and lo, I am done. Time to turn off my computer, grab my travel mug, tidy up, toss that print job in the recycle bin, and oh hey, boss, just wanted to let you know, the llamas in pen 6 were grumpy today, okay bye. I think you’re on pretty reasonable ground to be like, “yo, you’re always late walking out to the car, can you pick it up so I don’t have to wait when I pick you up?” or just arrive at 4:15 instead of 4pm on the dot, but I don’t think there’s anything necessarily weird on the face of it about taking 10-15 minutes to straggle out.

      1. Beehoppy*

        I took the question to mean would the other employees find it weird to see her sitting in the parking lot for 10-20 minutes. If that was the question I don’t think they will even notice.

      2. Parenthetically*

        I was going at it from the other direction but thank you for this comment which is hilarious and precisely nails my husband’s MO.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          I agree with Snark, and if what you mean is “Is it weird to lurk in someone’s parking lot for 20 minutes every day”, I don’t think it is – especially if nobody’s given you any side-eye or had security stroll by to make sure you’re not Planning Something or what have you. And if someone does come by needing reassurance, isn’t “Oh, I’m Parenthetically, my husband works in Llama Relations and I’m just waiting to give him a lift home,” delivered with a friendly smile, reassuring as you then turn back to the book you’re propping up on the steering wheel?

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Ditto. And the number of people who would even notice that you’re waiting in a parked car is probably minimal. I don’t tend to stare out my office window at a parking lot for 10-20 straight minutes.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Do you mean does it look weird to be sitting in your car? I don’t think so; I see people sit in their car in office building parking garages all day. In the morning, rather than sit at their desk, they’ll listen to the radio or even nap; I know a couple of people who eat lunch or nap after lunch in their car; and at the end of the day, some people want a few minutes to decompress, or have to finish emails or something before they drive away.

      So, no, sitting in the car for 10-20 minutes is not weird to me, if that’s what you meant.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, that’s what I meant. I didn’t think about it until recently when one of his coworkers walked out past my car and gave me a VERY odd look, and suddenly I felt like a mom in a carpool line after school.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, I see it a lot; specifically a coworker with whom I’m very friendly gets in before I do, parks right near where I do, and often stays in their car until they see me get there, at which time it’s close to our start time. But if I saw someone in the car next to mine on my way home, I might be taken a little by surprise, simply because we’re very used to parked cars being empty by default. I wouldn’t read too much into the coworkers’ reaction. (Or they could be a busybody who expects other people to conform to their idea of what is proper, in which case, good for you for shocking them! :D )

          1. Parenthetically*

            I’m just glad to have such a unanimous response. It hasn’t been weighing on my mind or anything but I figured it would be a good topic for a poll in FOT! :)

    3. SarahTheEntwife*

      Nope! If you were waiting around for hours that would be weird (probably harmlessly weird, but it would still stand out if I noticed it) but 10-20 minutes seems totally normal to me and I probably wouldn’t even pick up on it.

    4. Bea W*

      Nope, not weird. If it’s easier for you to arrive early and wait, no reason not to. Enjoy your 10-20 minutes of sanctuary!