open thread – June 15-16, 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.

{ 1,886 comments… read them below }

  1. AdAgencyChick*

    Would love to hear from other managers who work in open offices: How the heck do you manage?

    My company is owned by a larger holding company that’s following an industry-wide trend to shrink office space as much as (the bean-counters think is) possible. What this has meant for us: only one private office in the entire agency (the CEO’s); small offices are shared by two senior staff each; all mid- and junior-level employees have smallish desks in an open space. Conference room space is at a premium; every actual conference room is booked, and often double-booked, for business hours, and two of the conference “rooms” are actually open spaces.

    This makes it damn near impossible to have a private conversation without leaving the building and going to, say, a coffee shop!

    I do have one of the shared offices so sometimes I’m able to speak to my direct and indirect reports in private when my office-mate is in a meeting. But I’ve also had to ask people to come out for coffee on occasion, which I’ve eaten the cost for. I don’t love this, both because I now have to pay money to do my job and also because the coffee shop isn’t exactly a private setting either.

    I recently approached my boss (who is one step down from the CEO) about getting all managers a budget for managerial outings like this, and she liked the idea, so hopefully we can make that happen. But I would love to hear any other tips and tricks for managing effectively in this kind of space, because I’m pretty sure this trend of squeezing agencies into smaller and smaller spaces is not going away.

    1. Jane Austen is my fave*

      I work in a small company. Only one person has an office with a door (the VP of Finance). Our President (my boss) tells me to go in there for private conversations. Uhh…even with headphones in, the VP would hear everything I need to discuss with whoever it is, so I don’t consider that a viable solution.

      I solve this by taking walks outside, one on one. We’re in a business park so it’s easy enough to do; we don’t have to go down an elevator, etc. That kind of time sink wouldn’t be worth it.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        This sounds great, although it wouldn’t work at my office since we are located right by the entrance to a major roadway. There’s traffic noise at all hours :(

      2. KAG*

        My (thankfully) ex-office had this same problem. There was one legit conference room – and two private offices, each about twice its size, belonging to the two co-owners. Who were each in the office less than once per month.

        Far less than ideal, as I was always afraid the cEO would just pop in during an important call.

    2. KellyK*

      That’s pretty ridiculous. Does your office mate also manage people? If you’re in the same boat, maybe you could come to an agreement that you can kick each other out for meetings with the people you supervise? Granted, that depends on your being able to take your work elsewhere. It’s also probably better if you can schedule it, at least loosely.

      If your office mate doesn’t manage anyone, are there other managers you could swap with? (Either a permanent seating change or an informal, “Since you and Tangerina are in a meeting Monday mornings, can I use your office to meet with my reports? You’re welcome to do the same on Thursday afternoons when Lucinda and I are in the Llama Wranglers meeting.”)

      There’s also the option of using instant messaging or email for at least some of those conversations.

    3. De Minimis*

      We have this issue in my department. We at least have a conference room we can use when we need to that are private, but we’re about to move to a coworking space and I don’t think anyone has thought about this yet. I’ve been in the new offices and they are not private even though they have a sliding glass door that closes–but the walls are thin and there’s no way you can have a private conversation in there. I think people will have to just start using e-mail…

    4. Ladylike*

      I think this trend is just awful. The employees of every company I’ve worked with an “open concept” totally resent it. It’s impossible to have private conversations, or shield yourself from the noise of others’ conversations. Makes me wonder how in the world it ever became a “thing”. I don’t have much advice to offer, except that a manager I worked for in a similar environment would occasionally ask me to join him in a break room or the cafeteria. Even that was only semi-private and seemed counterproductive.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        It becomes a thing because the holding company that owns us saves beaucoup bucks on rent, but doesn’t see for themselves the effect on productivity. Same with outsourcing IT; they picked a company that presumably costs less than having in-house staff but is incredibly slow to respond. Some staffers here are trying to quantify the effect on productivity to justify hiring back more in-house staff, and I very much hope they succeed.

        1. Grouchy 2 cents*

          Yeah, all they care about is the bottom line. They don’t actually care if people like it, if it improves productivity, or if it suddenly takes a week to get a printer fixed. And I’m guessing they cheap out on salaries and benefits too. At some point there will be a great awakening where idiots like this realize that the lowest bottom line is the very thing causing them to lose employees, business and profit because no one can get anything done – or wants to try to get anything done after being treated like mushrooms for far too long.

          1. SpaceNovice*

            Yup, all they care about is the bottom line. It’s one of the reasons why some companies fight really hard to stay private. The second you go public, you get a huge amount of pressure to cut costs, and then everything goes downhill. A good part of the reason why retail giants are dying is because of this exact dynamic. People stop shopping at depressing stores (and stores that treated their friends, who were employees, like crap).

    5. Garland not Andrews*

      A conference room is your best bet. I’ve worked in open plan/cube farm offices for years, and that is how managers/supervisors without offices dealt with private meetings.

    6. Kess*

      Yeah, it’s common at my company for managers to take employees out for coffee for 1-on-1s, but they can definitely expense it; you shouldn’t need to pay out of your own pocket. Also if anyone is away you might be able to duck into their office for a quick chat if there are no meeting rooms available.

    7. MAB*

      In my office space I have a cube, my coworker (who is also a manager) has a cube and we share the space with 3 of our direct reports. Its also a freaking hallway. Our company has grown so quickly/sporadically we have people in trailers and the less popular departments will double to triple up on office space (yes it sucks). I use my desk for one on ones after working out with the DR and my coworker to keep anything they hear to themselves. We do have a former lab space next door that we have another 2-3 DR working (with 2 computers) that I can ask them to move when I need something more private. HOWEVER that is also used as a lactation space so our DR are constantly being moved out as well. We are also in the middle of a field so we can’t easily go and get coffee or something like that. Needless to say we get creative, ask each other to be respectful and keep things to themselves.

      We have an office rebuild approved. I am counting the days until that is finished.

    8. Poniez R Us*

      1. It is not the bean counters’ choice. This is more of an HR/strategy thing and the added benefit of reduced overhead costs makes the decision easier. Bean counters prefer our private space during busy times.
      2.I worked in an open office for 2 years. We had to use conference rooms a lot for one on one convos. We had booths we could use for not so private convos but needed to have a seperate space type of things.
      3. How to cope – headphones with soft music for when you are alone, use the conference rooms as much as possible. This means scheduling meetings ahead of time because they will be taken up fast since everyone will run into this issue. If you have to go to a coffee shop, get the cheapest options or just get water so you can sit down for a bit and keep the meetings short.

      Good luck!

      1. Tangerina*

        HR here, we prefer our private space, too. Imagine how difficult it is to have a difficult private conversation with an employee in an open space. I’ve had to beg the use of someone’s office in order to terminate an employee.

        1. The Friendly Comp Manager*

          I came here to say the same thing, it is usually not HR driving this, we understand how important it is to have privacy to effectively manage. Sometimes it is HR, but normally it appears to be HR because HR is usually the one tasked with actually executing the strategy come up with by senior leaders.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Nope, it’s not “an HR thing” in the slightest. Whether it’s the bean counters or not, I can’t say, but I think more than anything it’s shortsighted prioritizing at the top levels by people who will never actually have to experience the environment they’re creating for their staff. There was, for awhile, the idea that open workspaces created a more collaborative culture, which is the HR/strategic thing you’re thinking of, but I think by now we’re all well aware that they don’t actually do that and the fact that companies continue to do it is more about the cost savings/”trendiness” of it than anything else.

        1. Lison*

          From personal experience I would say that the collaboration thing works when it is less than or equal to 8 people who are all on the same project(s) or team, those overheard conversations often mean someone can clear up misunderstandings or say what was decided before and make the process faster. More than that no. And there need to be spaces available so multiple people are not trying to have a meeting at one time in the shared space. Over 8 and it is just insane unless everyone never has to collaborate or is just answering calls.

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m about a month into working in a completely open office environment. It’s….not as awful as I was fearing. Our desks are all about 5 feet wide, so you do still have a little personal space and don’t feel like you’re sitting in someone else’s lap. There are conference rooms, but the office is being built out, so booking them will be more challenging.

      There are quite a few “huddle” rooms, big enough for 2 or 3 people. I use them for conference calls when it’s just me meeting with someone from another office. Those are good for private conversations too.

      I usually get to the office around 7:15 or 7:30, and most of my co-workers don’t come in until 8:30 or 9. Our section of the office is completely deserted. For scheduled meetings, maybe you could ask your direct reports to come in early, or stay a little later, so you can have a private discussion after people have arrived or left for the day.

    10. Hallowflame*

      Not a manager, but I work for a large company that uses open floorplans in it’s offices. There are a lot of high level discussions that just happen out in the open, and time in the conference rooms is competitive. However, we also have private “phone rooms” where two people can go and talk privately (these are often used for performance reviews) and “huddle rooms” with seating for 4-5 people for small team meetings.
      I know this isn’t helpful for someone already in an open floorplan office without these accommodations, but it could be helpful for someone looking to transition their office to this style or make improvements.

    11. SavannahMiranda*

      I work in legal support for start-ups and many of our clients are going the direction of open offices, or simply started off there, while our law offices are more traditional with discrete spaces, discrete responsibilities, and doors.

      There is a reason I went in-house only briefly, and returned to firm life as soon as I reasonably could. The open concept office and office sharing is not the only reason but is at the top of the list.

      My partner also worked in one of these offices and he purportedly loved it. But he worked on a team of developers where exchange of ideas throughout the day was key to the work product. Exchange of ideas throughout my day means I literally can get nothing done.

      However, in every open-plan office I’ve seen, HR has had private spaces with doors. Typically C-suite execs, unless they are trying to set some kind of open-office example, and HR. The fact that HR does not even have closed door spaces in your office is suspicious and demoralizing. It shows how little at least an attempt at decent planning for open spaces matter.

      How does HR put someone on a PIP? Or present and discuss an employee’s new stock options? Or negotiate salaries with new hires? If they can’t close a damn door.

      At minimum, HR should have doors. And there should be sufficient abundance of readily-available breakout rooms and conference spaces that are not embargoed or held up by disastrous scheduling. The fact that you don’t have this is astonishing. And I completely understand your dismay and frustration.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        “How does HR put someone on a PIP? Or present and discuss an employee’s new stock options? Or negotiate salaries with new hires? If they can’t close a damn door.”

        I srsly don’t understand either. How to solve the PIP problem has been on my mind a LOT lately.

        1. MI Dawn*

          Our building has gone to open plan. HR is also, BUT…there are a lot of conference rooms, multiple huddle rooms and directors and above have private offices with doors. In HR, there are also a lot of private (can’t be booked by anyone but HR) conference rooms.

          TBH, I dislike the open concept. It’s noisy because there’s nothing to stop the noise. So our powers-that-be “solved” the noise problem by piping in ‘white noise’ which gives me a horrible headache. I’m the type of person whom repetitive noises (clock tick, faucet drip, static) drives me insane. I’ve started to wear noise-cancelling headphones at work which help a lot. They don’t block non-repetitive noises, so I hear clearly when people speak near me or to me. But they greatly muffle that darn hissing noise!

          1. Lison*

            Which negates the advantages of having people in the same space, there are too many and everybody is trying to drown everybody else out. So no collaboration, but in a smaller group someone overhears people discussing the llama shearing crisis with someone suggesting X and can say “oh that happened in 2014 and it turned out X while being a logical point to start from, made things worse so maybe start with Y and see will X help”

      2. Inquiring minds*

        Why should HR be privileged? You HR people aren’t the only ones who work with sensitive/confidential data, y’know.

    12. Shreksays o*

      if your company has a bad open seating plan, make an ask for a phone booth. And if your company is thinking about switchin to open seating, make a loud point that open floor plans should include an increase of smaller meeting rooms to compensate for the loss of offices. Because often the justification for doing away with offices is that they are often empty while their owners are meeting. It you open floor plans increase the need for meetings -thus increase the need for meeting space.

    13. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Mid-level, supervise 20 people, work in an open space in an urban environment, team has…issues with boundaries (as well as other things).

      What I normally do is “steal” someone’s office (I’m glad I’m friends with all of our counselors!), or use our break room. (My agency has standardized break times and semi-standard shifts. So our break room is usually only occupied for a few hours a day.) It’s difficult, but I try to make it work.

    14. Lore*

      I recently joined an “office culture” committee and the #1 issue is the utter lack of space to do quiet work or make calls. It’s getting worse because construction will be closing the cafeteria seating and many conference rooms for 6 months. (And the official solution to privacy had been the cafeteria or Starbucks.) I’m not a manager but I recently got put on a “secret” project where I’m the lowest ranked person and the only office-less person and I had to painstakingly explain to the rest of the group that 12 people can see when I’m away from my desk for an all day meeting and I have to have some reason I’m allowed to give them! Our solution has been to be more liberal with flex time and WFH and try to schedule quiet/privacy stuff for when you’re not on site. Which works until you come to performance reviews.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        I would hate to have a performance review at a Starbucks or similar, even if it was 100% positive and I was getting a raise and promotion. Definitely not if there was anything negative in there at all! I’d rather sit in my boss’s car.

        1. only acting normal*

          Yeah… I burst into tears at a performance review in the (busy) cafeteria once. My manager had nothing but positive feedback for me but I was *this* close to quitting because of my impossible supervisor. It was… awkward.

      2. Jadelyn*

        The official solution for privacy was to…go sit in a literal public space. *facepalm*

        How do they not see how ridiculous this is…?

    15. Hope Is Not A Strategy*

      I work in tech. No one, not even the CEO, has an office in my (medium-sized) company. The only rooms with doors are conference rooms, 1:1 rooms (small rooms with two chairs and a side table+phone), or phone booths (smaller rooms with one chair and a side table+phone). They are totally soundproof and give much-needed privacy. But this was planned ahead in the building design and doesn’t help your current situation. The only thing I can think of is potentially changing the shared offices into these types of private spaces and putting everyone in the open area (assuming you have the room), but that might cause a whole other set of problems.

    16. Kimberlee, no longer Esq.*

      There’s one thing that open offices absolutely need, and I never see anything written about it, and I’m guessing that’s because a lot of people don’t even know if they have them: white noise machines.

      At my old workplace, we had them suspended from the ceiling about every 4 rows of desks or so. They don’t make it sound “noisy” but they dampen noises from spreading too far. It makes things 1000% better.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Those are not as much of a magic bullet as you might think. I know I’d go absolutely nuts at having a single background *sound* going all day. I literally physically breathe a sigh of relief when it cools off enough that I can turn off my fan or A/C at home, I would loathe any kind of white noise machines like that. Someone upthread mentioned that white noise machines give them headaches. So while they might help for some, they can also create more problems than others.

        1. Paula, with Two Kids*

          We have them in ours, but it’s inaudible to me. They do work pretty darn well, only hear about 10 people around me.

        2. Nines*

          I’m not the only one? We used to have very old crappy speakers that were great when in use but when they weren’t being used but still on they buzzed and it drove me nuts! My partner always was completely oblivious to it. I’m starting to think I wouldn’t get along well with white noise machines either.

    17. Mona25*

      I work in an open office, (low cubicle walls, I can the person in front of me, no assigned seats). Mon-Thurs., takes some getting used to because the majority of people are here. Fridays are pretty quiet, like today, I am typing this while listing to music thru headphones. There are only two offices, occupied by the Administrator and the Deputy Administrator (Federal Agency). We have phone rooms if you need to make a call, lots of small, medium and large conference rooms if you need to meet with people. HR is the only group in a designated closed space. The majority of people that complained about this concept when it was announced two years ago have taken one of the 3R’s (retired, reassign, resigned) before we moved. The complainers that are still here that can’t telework have basically been told to suck it up. This is what the government is moving to in new and redesigned spaces.

      1. Mark132*

        Is hot cubing as bad as it sounds? I would hate having to find a desk every morning.

    18. Ruby*

      Would it be possible to make calls in your car? I was in an open office and if I REALLY didn’t want someone to hear my convo, I went to my car. Over time, I stopped caring if people could hear my phone convos. One coworker would regularly say his credit card and Social Security numbers. We joked how I could steal it, but I obviously never did! Most of the time, others don’t care, they’re wrapped up in their own stuff. The other option is to schedule time in a conference room, like others have suggested.

    19. KTM*

      This sounds like open concept gone wrong. I think sometimes I’m the only person that likes open concept at work, but I think our company does it right. We are a 30 person office with two bookable conference rooms, two un-bookable offices/small conference rooms, and a large break room. There are also two decent sized conference tables out in the open floor plan, one with a large monitor for displaying content, so if you need someplace to congregate, but don’t necessarily need privacy, you can use those. A lot of people still go outside to take personal calls though (we’re in a business park). I enjoy the open space and collaboration/conversation and wear headphones if I really need to be more isolated. Our group is also generally very quiet so that helps.

      Is there a way your office can examine who’s booking the conference rooms and for what purpose and ask in general for people to prioritize that for absolute necessity (ie private meetings)? And add conference tables out in the open space?

    20. Bridget H.*

      I’m currently looking for a new job and a constant issue keeps occuring. I posted a job wanted ad on Craigslist and have received a few legitimate inquiries for available positions. They want to meet and ask me to send over my resume so I do. But after that, I never hear a word back. I wait a few days, send an email asking if they received my resume they asked for and what time frame they are thinking of meeting and still nothing. I have received positive comments about my resume so I’m not 100% convinced that’s the issue. What do you think is going wrong?

      1. Evie*

        Hi Bridget,
        I can’t speak to your question (craigslist isn’t a site I use! Though usually I chase jobs posted on specific job sites rather than post my resume and get searched for, or use more varied sites like that),
        But I thought I’d mention that you might get more traffic on your question if it’s its own thread rather than being nestled into another topic which is that has happened here.

        Good luck with the job hunt!

    21. Girl friday*

      I work in restaurants, and I love it. Even here, there are places to have private conversations although there are security cameras and things. We had someone call yesterday and ask if there was a jungle room on the second floor, and although I’m known for exploring my work places, I think in most restaurants and bars it’s still the restroom or outside.

      Most people consider professional phone calls and conversations to not be private in the workplace, especially in open workplaces. The threat Level from cyber theft, corporate insecurities and personal or professional competition will determine how much privacy you get. I wouldn’t want you to be trying to squirrel away in a corner when what you should be doing is making your conversations more professional and concise. If you consider environments where it’s purely competition based, and or pure collaboration based work: restaurants :-), car dealerships, market trading, and Air Traffic Control, at least you’ll realize it could be much worse!

      1. Girl friday*

        If you increase the fun and activity in your private life, you’ll have more private conversations at home and on your own time when you do have an expectation of privacy. Then having to be professional and not private 1 hundred percent of the time at work won’t bother you so much. People get desensitized to conversations around corrections, firing, and Pips: they don’t really mean as much to other people trying to get their work done as they do to the people involved. I’m assuming you have your own personal cell phone, email, and tablet or computer also.

  2. Anonymous Educator*

    I know a lot of people ask things here because they have problems (why would you ask about something that’s not a problem?), but I’m curious as to the flip side of things. Many of us have been in toxic workplaces, but we’ve also been in great workplaces as well.

    Instead of a “team-building” activity that made you roll your eyes, what was an experience you had at a workplace (past or present) that you felt really built up morale?

    What did a manager who is reasonable do to make you feel supported and appreciated?

    Was there a tradition or practice unique to an organization that you actually thought was cool and not cult-like?

    Good stories!

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      It’s uncommon in ad agencies for CEOs to rise out of the creative departments (art and copywriting); usually it’s an account executive who climbs to the top. One exception was the old CEO of an agency I worked at a few years ago. He was originally a copywriter, and it showed in the way writers at that agency were always treated with respect and honored for our contributions to the process. I knew with him that it wouldn’t just be the “rainmaker” account person who was valued for her contributions, but also the writers who were keeping the clients happy once they were brought into the fold.

    2. KL*

      My group had a pretty fun one last year. There are about 30 of us, so we were broken up into 3 groups and each group had to complete an “escape the room” adventure. Then, we went to a local park for pizza from a great local place. It was nice because we had the whole morning off and it was nice just to solve silly (but still challenging) puzzles and relax in a pretty environment with good food.

      1. Not Maeby But Surely*

        When I was a manager, I wanted to take my team to do an escape room. (It definitely fit with the personalities/culture of the group.) My manager (not the one I rave about in my comment below, FWIW) pooh-poohed the idea, which she had a habit of doing with a lot of my ideas. I’m glad to see that a manager did this somewhere and that it seems to have gone over well.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          I did this with my team (it was their idea) I think everyone had a good time, even our team curmudgeon was having fun (along with being grumpy, she quite enjoys puzzles).

          From a managers perspective, it was great to watch everyone helping each other and to see how quickly the team focused in on the puzzles they were good with to do their part for the goal.

          The escape room guy told us at the end that we were one of the most communicative work teams that he’s seen. That really helped reinforce what I had been trying to work on with them.

          1. SoSo*

            We’re currently planning an escape room, but last year around Halloween we organized a department Murder Mystery party on a Friday afternoon with a catered lunch. We bought the package online that was designed for office teams, and everyone was raving about it for days.

      2. Jadelyn*

        My team (small team, only 7 of us) did an escape room together last year, and we had a great time with it! *If* you’ve got the right kind of personalities for it – if you’ve got one, or worse two, domineering know-it-all types then it would probably be a miserable time while they control everything or duke it out between themselves. But if you’re all willing to listen to each other and respect each other’s ideas, it’s really fun.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, it’s a know your team thing for sure. Escape room thing are almost precisely my idea of hell, but I know there are so many people who love them!!

          1. Gimme Shelter*

            Me too due to the claustrophobia I battle. I love the idea of figuring out clues, though.

          2. A Nickname for AAM*

            I did an escape room with my husband’s work even though I’m claustrophobic. The one we ended up in included my husband’s incredibly accomplished hardcore intense boss…and everyone being handcuffed to the wall until a segment of the puzzle was solved.

            Apparently, the fear of looking like an idiot in front of my husband’s boss was sufficient motivation for me to temporarily overcome that claustrophobia, but I’m assuming that’s not the case for everyone.

        2. Secret Sufferer*

          Please be mindful of you try an escape room. We had a physically oriented one which was technically accessible but the lower physical ability ones made it obvious who picked them and they were not even that fun from a puzzle perspective. People with hidden disabilities that don’t impact their day to day jobs were forced to disclose their disabilities to get out of the event, or power through and suffer later. Way to make people feel included and valuable! Ugh.

        3. Wired Wolf*

          I’ve always thought that an escape room outing with our team would be fun. We do have two individuals who balance each other out by virtue of one overthinking everything to the point of utter ridiculousness and another not thinking enough, and the AM is far too linear for most of us (and the job itself).

      3. OhHellNo*

        I would quit, or file a complaint with HR for harassment, before I’d do an escape room. It’s important think of people’s physical and mental limitations (PTSD for example) before initiating something like this. I’d hope that if a company chose to do something like this, they’d make it completely optional without anyone having to give justification as to why they don’t want to do it.

    3. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      I’m in a really good workplace right now, with a job I enjoy and bosses that are great. One thing that’s really meant a lot to me – and it’s not novel or anything – is weekly team meetings. It’s shocking how beneficial just a plain ol’ weekly team meeting can be. My team consists of 5 people + our manager, and we meet for about an hour each Friday. We get stuff done; we keep each other accountable; we connect and learn from each other.

      Also, while my manager is definitely not a micromanager, he still is involved in what we do and makes sure he stays informed. We are treated like adults and trusted to get our work done, but not just left alone until the shit hits the fan. I’ve had bosses on each side of the spectrum before – a couple of micromanagers who treated us like delinquent toddlers, and then a totally hands-off manager who only got involved when there was a problem, and it was mostly to shout at us because he had no idea what was going on. I really appreciate my current manager who does a good job of balancing being involved vs trusting us, and it works out beautifully.

      I don’t get to telecommute anymore and I could probably make about 20k more somewhere else, but good managers and a good team are super important to me, and it keeps me around.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Yes! I know a lot of people hate meetings, but I like that they make me feel like what I’m doing is not in a silo, and is connected to the rest of the company. I pushed HARD for weekly meetings at a prior dysfunctional workplace, and several managers disagreed, probably because they were in so many (useless) meetings that they felt it was a waste of time.

      2. SavannahMiranda*

        I second the under-valued appreciation of weekly team meetings.

        There is a tremendous amount to be said for getting updates on major projects, having people held accountable in front of the group (productively, not persecutingly), being accountable oneself, and even simply being apprised of each other’s vacation schedules if nothing else.

        When I know and understand what my team is doing, and what my role in that is, and I’m in the loop on information as simple as whether Wakeen will be around on Tuesday to sign That Document, then I believe myself to be appreciated, and I appreciate others.

        The key of course is to keep the meetings punchy, short, productive, and then get out. One of our managers even had these meetings at 8:30 am on Monday mornings. We all hated-loved him for this. At 8:20 every Monday I was convinced of his cruel bastardtude. But by 8:45 when the meeting was over and I had a clear-eyed view of the plan for the week and my place in the plan, I knew my contribution mattered. I appreciated it and I was appreciated.

        Sometimes simple, old-school methods like weekly meetings are vastly underrated. They are not flashy. They don’t come with schwag. They don’t result in catered lunches or foosball tables. But done right, they are effective towards convincing employees they are appreciated and they count.

        1. JustaTech*

          I was surprised how excited I was when my group got a new manager (one of our own was promoted and our old boss demoted) and the new boss had agendas for our weekly meeting besides “someone will present data”.
          There was actual discussion of what was happening in the company, what the direction was for our group, minutia like when the next fire drill was scheduled, all that jazz. (And then data.) It made me feel like we were working at a real company.

        2. Atalanta0jess*

          YUP. Good managers I’ve had made time for me, understood my work, and gave me honest feedback. They made an effort to share positive feedback. They gave me freedom and flexibility.

          That’s it! No bells or whistles.

        3. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          “Done right” is definitely the key. We keep our meetings focused and brief, and it works out great.

          We just hired a new person from a different team, and they were having one-hour meetings DAILY. Useless overkill. I kind of get the quick 10-min stand-up meeting thing, but we’re not working in a fast-paced development environment like that that would warrant those. And on the other end of the spectrum, I had to plead with my former boss for even monthly team meetings, of which he would not even bother coming to 3/4 of the time.

      3. Mad Baggins*

        I send a weekly report via email to my boss. It helps keep me on track, reflect what I’ve done and where I stand, and communicate about upcoming deadlines/absences, etc.
        It’s also helpful come evaluation season because I can look at my reports for the last # weeks and see at a glance what I’ve accomplished.

    4. Not Maeby But Surely*

      A couple of things that came to mind, all from the same manager. (Who is no longer at my company, dangit!)
      One time I went into his office to warn him that he might receive some calls from prospective employers. I explained I was looking to take a second (part time) job and I didn’t want him to worry that I was planning to go to a competitor. He thanked me for letting him know, but also said, basically, let’s look at your pay here, let me talk to the higher ups to see if we can do anything – how much would you need to make in order to not have to get a second job? And he succeeded in getting me a really good raise. I’m tearing up remembering how much that meant. Same manager also made a point to tell us to take reasonable breaks (as opposed to no breaks) when we were so swamped we were all burning out. Other managers’ opinions were that we were so busy, no one should be taking breaks, but when you’re in a mentally taxing job + working on computer screens all day, that’s not the best approach for everyone. Man, that guy was a really good manager.

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        That’s awesome! Sounds like my current manager. He’s really good about making sure we aren’t burned out and can live our lives outside of work. He also got me a great promotion + raise 6 months into my job because I had taken on so much additional work, he figured I should be paid for it. And he made it come through in a reasonable time frame. That meant the world to me.

    5. Midlife Tattoos*

      I work for an extremely large company, and the most amazing thing about it is its culture. They don’t pay lip service to culture, it’s lived at every level of the organization. I feel completely supported by my director and GrandBoss. I love my job and wouldn’t trade it.

      1. Kim, aka Ranavain*

        I would LOVE to hear more about this. I feel like there are lots of ways to build a good culture, but fewer ways to preserve that culture even as you get really, really big.

    6. Susan Calvin*

      Our quarterly ‘listen to the CEO talk about sales numbers’ event is surprisingly nice because it’s
      a) outside regular work hours, thus doesn’t interfere with your workload
      b) bundled with actually interesting project and product updates (in which a sense of humour is encouraged)
      c) counted as work (none of us are technically hourly, but we track time for billing and bonus calculation)
      d) catered (inlcuding open bar)

    7. Ladylike*

      For me, the number 1 thing that makes me feel safe and supported, is when Management deals with toxic employees and weeds them out! I’ve worked in organizations that will roll their collective eyes and look the other way when employees are abusive, rude, and impossible to deal with. But the best organization I’ve ever worked for would follow the steps necessary to remove these individuals, and it made all the difference in the world!

      1. Xarcady*

        I ended up leaving a job I really liked because a manager in a different department was horrible to everyone in the company. She’d pass by my desk and then go and tell my manager I wasn’t using the right software for the job. My manager would come running over–I *was* using the right software, just not for the job she thought I was doing.

        Someone would make a tiny mistake. Fixing it would have meant picking up a pen and writing 5 numbers. Instead, she’d wait until there were witnesses around, march over to the culprit’s desk, loudly inform them that they hadn’t written the number (which would have been in 5 other places in the folder) and loom over them until they wrote the number in the right place.

        She told one of her direct reports that she didn’t like her dress and not to wear it to work again.

        Managers were asked to poll their direct reports about switching from weekly to every-other-week paychecks. She lied and told the owner no one in her department want to switch. She never asked any of them.

        If you complained about her to the owner, you were told to stand up to her. But standing up to her just meant she bullied you more. I found out the hard way.

        In my exit interview, the owner kept asking what my “real” reason for leaving was, because she couldn’t believe that I was leaving because of this manager. But my position was changing and I was going to have to deal with her daily about workflow and I just couldn’t deal with that.

        So, yeah, management that deals with office bullies is a great thing!

      2. Treecat*

        Ugh, yes, this is so important and one of the huge downsides to my place of employment, which has a tenure system that means it’s extremely difficult to get rid of people once they get to that point. Unfortunately there have been some people who have played nice with others until they got their tenure, then turned into horrible people to work for. I’m incredibly lucky that I am not supervised by any of these people, and their dysfunction is pretty well contained, but for those unlucky few who are stuck under these people it’s a nightmare.

        The rest of us do our best to support the people we know have the shit bosses. I really, really wish our org would take a good hard look at this and take some concrete steps to change this but… they don’t. Sigh.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        I worked for roughly three years with a woman who was terrible at her job. It took her three to four times longer than anyone else to do simple tasks, she did them wrong, she routinely ignored instructions because she didn’t agree with them, instead doing tasks a longer way. She didn’t trust the computer to make decisions even when the program was proven right. She could barely USE the computer.

        I had multiple discussions with people several layers above me about this – her incompetence was in no way a secret. Everyone agreed. But she stayed on. She survived several mass layoffs. There were no consequences.

        It was incredibly demoralizing. All the rest of us could focus on was the negativity of this woman’s poor performance. Attempts to improve her performance failed. We had to work around it. If they’d just actually gotten rid of her, it would have been better, because then I would have been able to take tasks and complete them in a few hours instead of having her sit on them for several days.

        1. Khlovia*

          I once worked for a small company that had a *stated policy* that they would never fire anybody.

          Don’t do that.

      4. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        Ahhh this is so huge. My last couple of departments did not deal with toxic people/poor employees and it was just so demoralizing. The most recent one had an Office Jerk of colossal magnitude, and management kept giving the excuse that they just couldn’t lose his “institutional knowledge” (more precious than diamonds here in higher ed), so they let him bully everyone, do crappy work, and barely show up during the week. But of course demanded we pick up his slack.

      5. lady bird*

        +1. The biggest positive morale change I’ve witnessed at work was when a toxic employee was let go after an HR investigation. Speak up about these people, don’t just let them get away with being terrible/creepy/abusive!

    8. Will Out Myself With This One*

      My specific group has an “Olympics” every year, with $X/person sponsored by the company. It was at first very bro-y with sports and athletics-based activities, which was great for newer employees but sucked for older or injured employees. I got involved with the planning and we introduced a number of thinking-type activities, including a building challenge, Giant Jenga, and a relay race that incorporated puzzles and trivia-type questions instead of straight races. We get feedback every year on the event and tailor the next year’s event accordingly, and because our management has seen what a huge morale booster it is, they give all attendees a few hours of paid time to attend so it’s not as much of a drain for people to attend. We also cater the event and ask people to let those with dietary restrictions eat first so they can get a plate before foods are cross-contaminated. The managers for the most part all attend too, and encourage people to take a break and attend.

      1. Kim, aka Ranavain*

        Those accommodations are so important! I worked somewhere that was always trying to do events, and they tended to fail because people were busy and managers didn’t prioritize them (aka, encourage people to attend, attend themselves, and/or make workload or deadline adjustments that would allow them to attend).

        These sorts of events have a real impact on the organization! Getting to know people outside your immediate team, learning more about how the org at large functions, building relationships… all things that definitely made my job easier, and that reflected in the support I was able to give my team. And yet, I’d ask other people why they didn’t go, and they’d say stuff like “we have work to do.” Which, like, thanks buddy, I also do work here…

        1. Will Out Myself With This One*

          Exactly! If there’s something that needs to be done by 5PM that day then okay, but really, a few hours outside hanging out isn’t going to hurt you. Nobody is so important that the company cannot function without them for 1 afternoon!

      2. Det. Charles Boyle*

        Wow, this whole event sounds very thoughtful and like a real morale-booster.

      3. Kindling*

        Yeah, as someone with an allergy, when people really try to make sure there’s something you can eat, it’s a big morale booster. We have team pot lucks where people are supposed to label allergens and I really appreciate the people who actually do it (it’s not really enforced – I would appreciate it if it were mandatory to list the ingredients).

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      We used to have monthly sprints. This meant that the retrospective was on the last working day of the month. So we’d have the retrospective meeting – which was always constructive with positives, negatives and often some laughter – then all go out for lunch together. Which was lovely – and also always on payday so we weren’t skint!

      I’d been here only a few days when we had the first one, and got really stressed when I realised there was no way we’d be back within an hour… but then realised all the managers + big boss were there. End of sprint lunch was expected to be a long one, and everyone was invited.

      It really helped!

      Still do it, but sprint pattern has changed so it’s one we actually have to plan for once a month instead of its just being there!

    10. Ali G*

      My first boss was awesome. At our org it was just him, the CEO and me. We were tangentially related to another organization and at some point I was promoted to a higher title than some of the workers at the related org. Their manager raged at my boss, and he stood up to them for me. Then when we merged with the related org a few years later, the higher ups all agreed we would have the same (lower title) that the other employees had.
      My boss called me into his office and explained that I was not being demoted, it was just about making the transition as smooth as possible for everyone. And in fact, I was getting a substantial raise because, his words: “I’ll be damned if the only woman in the organization is making less money than the rest of the staff and doing the same level of work.”
      I was heartbroken when he retired.

    11. Nervous Accountant*

      I know its weird coming from me, given what I’ve posted here before, but there have been good times over the last few years here, esp after the 1st year—-

      -we keep our events pretty simple–happy hours/lunch/dinner for holidays, Thanksgiving potluck. Surprise baby showers (for both mothers and fathers) & wedding gifts. The Secret santa/White elephant exchanges are fun as well. There’s no pressure to contribute or participate. Simply not going hasn’t stopped anyone from being promoted or being well-liked.

      -Monthly birthday celebrations. It’s not a surprise b/c it happens every month, but we get cupcakes, gift cards. It’s a nice gesture

      -for me personally, my manager has been really great overall and he is a HUGE part of what’s keeping me here. We may disagree on things but I’m not afraid of disagreement if it were say someone else I’ve worked with. Out of all the other managers/team leaders here, I feel like he’s the most fair out of all of them. He has his faults, as any human, but I genuinely like working with him and it’s not b/c he’s not as bad as others.

      -I wrote it in another post of my own but when I had to take time off for my dad’s sudden funeral & following issues after, I didn’t have to worry about being without a paycheck. Granted this wasn’t a grand huge gesture like someone donating their PTO (this just came to mind after reading the post earlier this week about employees donating their PTO to their coworkers going through difficulties) but it was a small comfort.

      And I just realized that none of these are “unique” but they are things that make me happy here.

    12. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

      This is such a great topic! I work for a CEO who truly has his employees’ best interests at heart. I’m in HR, so that is important to me. We are in manufacturing, and he completely supports our efforts to be as safe as possible. Whenever anyone suggests a safety improvement, he supports it 100%. He’s put a lot of money into it, as a matter of fact. He really takes all other suggestions seriously, and want our company to be a great place to work. We pay in the 75th percentile for our area, too which is nice.

    13. T3k*

      My last job was a short-term contract but I never felt like a contractor even though I worked with many employees, other than not allowed in certain meetings and benefits. My boss was also really chill and was trying to help me find a new job before my contract ended.

      But the biggest kicker was in all my past jobs I never felt appreciated. Then, one week my boss was unexpectedly out, I was barely holding the team together (only about 3 months into the position at this point) that it felt like that scene where Jack Sparrow is sailing into port on a sinking boat. I felt like I’d done poorly but when my boss got back in, one of the other employees said right in front of our team that I had been a big help getting them through the week (though we were of course very happy the boss was back). It felt so nice to actually hear that others appreciated my help. I miss working there.

    14. Valor*

      My very first manager recognized a problem in which two staff members would frequently ask myself and another person to cover their responsibilities for them. The other person and I thought we were being helpful, but my manager really clearly explained that we were enabling the other two and not helping them learn to better manage their time. It was a really helpful bit of management that I have incorporated into my own style, and which has really structured my approach to teams ever since.

    15. Tuxedo Cat*

      I think sharing a meal is nice thing to do. It’s simple but effective.

      Hearing you’re doing a good job and why is always nice, too.

    16. The German Chick*

      I appreciate that my company is loyal to us employees. A year ago, management performed a market study to assess if our salaries were up to industry-standard because we did not attract the right applicants. They were not. Our CEO could have assumed that those of us who have been with the company for some time are happy with the salary the way it was (I actually was, it was pretty good already). Instead, they opted for complete transparency, and decided to raise everyone’s salary to the industry standard. This meant a 15% increase for me and my colleagues. I have never heard of a company with this kind of integrity before. It made me proud to work for them.

    17. RabidChild*

      I think I have not even seen what my best managers have done for me. I have worked in some f’d up places, and am grateful for those times a manager basically took one for the team and shielded us from upper management’s dysfunction.

      One that sticks out in my memory is the place where the HR director regularly scanned the job searching sites, looking for emoloyees’ resumes and evidence that they were actively job searching. She’d then take it to the CEO. I know this happened because it happened to me! Not to mention, my resume was anonymous but she was able to guess based on the job and company description i used.

      The company was def circling the proverbial drain, with quarter after quarter of bad earnings, and I had just come off a year being unemployed, so I was still keeping options open. Well, my manager did quite the tap dance to save my bacon, and I will never forget it (we are friends to this day).

      1. Kim, aka Ranavain*

        Holy hell, what a nightmare. Company is circling the drain, and rather than doing any work to prevent that, HR is spending their time snooping for hints of job-searching, and then making the CEO and your manager spend probably a half day of THEIR time dealing with this completely pointless nonsense. What was the result? Status Quo! Everyone wasted their time and absolutely nothing was better than it was before.

        I’m glad your manager went to bat for you (as they well should have!) but dang, that sounds like a terrible place.

      2. Armyofcuddlebunnies*

        At my first non-dysfunctional company job, I applied for a new position elsewhere in the company. I check the box that said “Do not contact my current manager” Then my manager found out.

        And then, he called me in the office and offered to get some of the team to give me practice interviews so that I would be ready and present my best. He also offered to call the hiring manager and talk me up.

        I didn’t get the job, but the next time I applied for a new position I made sure to check YES contact my manager (and again he lined up some people to give me practice interviews)

    18. whistle*

      My company does our Winter Holiday luncheon right. It is during the work day, so everyone is on the clock. There is an open bar for an hour or so and then we all sit down to a multicourse meal. We are given a couple of choices such as entrée and dessert to select about a week before the event. Those with dietary restrictions can make special requests. Drinks are served throughout the meal if anyone wants them. The CEO makes a speech thanking everyone and then we can all go home or continue to hang out if desired. There is no pressure to drink or hang out forever, but people who want to do those things can. There is nothing mentioned about religion or specific holidays. It’s lovely!

    19. Ann Perkins*

      We really don’t have any events that are unusual. We do a white elephant amongst our small staff at Christmas and there’s usually a team appreciation lunch or dinner in December as well where we’re all taken to a meal. Birthdays and workplace anniversaries are celebrated with a monthly cake, nothing special. We don’t even do wedding or baby showers. It gets too tricky in case someone gets forgotten, or whether men should also get baby showers, etc.

      For me, the main thing is that I know my boss has my back and wants me to be happy here. He’s the head honcho so that attitude trickles down. I’m in a compliance role and if I am dealing with a tricky situation, he wants to be in the loop so that if somebody comes complaining to him directly, he already knows what’s going on and can back me to the complainer. The fact that he’s intentional about this speaks volumes.

      We generally try to get a good feel for personality during the interview process as well and are largely successful in not hiring gossipy or toxic types. So there’s generally just not much office drama or politics and it’s wonderfully refreshing.

    20. KMB213*

      My last workplace was great at making us all feel appreciated. None of the things were particularly unique, but we had:

      1) Bagel Fridays every Friday
      2) Two holiday parties – one during the work day just for the Firm, one in the evening for the Firm, clients, etc.
      3) Bowling twice a year
      4) Happy hours paid for by the Firm (not at a specific/regular interval, but usually about six times a year)
      5) A Thanksgiving meal on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (usually Mexican)
      6) Some sort of goodbye part for everyone who left the Firm (happy hour, ice cream party, etc.)
      7) Birthday lunches for the team you worked with, paid for by the Firm (small teams, usually fewer than five people)
      8) Baby or bridal showers for men and women having children or getting married

      On a side note, my manager there was awesome, as well. Among other things, she always advocated for me with the higher-ups, which I really appreciated.

      Of course, this was in addition to good pay and benefits, but these little perks really made going to work every morning much easier – I actually liked pretty much everyone I worked with and most of us were in a good mood most of the time!

    21. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      My CEO is incredibly approachable and available. He’s only in my office maybe once a week? But I regularly see him chatting with employees in the lobby and he’ll always say hello if he passes you in the hallway. He also calls every. single. employee. on their birthdays. It’s not even just a “happy birthday, ok bye!” – he has a conversation with you, asks about what’s going on in your work, and tells you how much he appreciates everything that you do for our mission. He has a near perfect approval rating on Glassdoor and it’s well earned – he makes you feel valuable just by being willing to talk to you like you’re an interesting human being and not just a worker bee.

    22. Anonymosity*

      Exjob did me a disservice in a few ways, mostly with the compartmentalization. It was very hard to learn anything new there since everyone was so walled off from everyone else. But I really appreciated the emphasis on actually taking your PTO, with which they were fairly generous. Also, they did NOT want you to come in if you were sick. They were good about flexible scheduling and had WFH set up very well. Of course, your mileage varied with individual managers, but overall the company had a very good work-life balance. Plus, they paid very well for this area. I will have to leave to find a salary like it again.

      When I wanted to take a long UK vacation, OldBoss was totally supportive of it. I really needed that break because I hadn’t ever had a vacation long enough for me to actually relax. She also would let me go early before holidays since it was very dead in the office but pay me anyway. :)

      I hope I can find a job with this kind of care for employees. It really motivated me to work hard because I wasn’t resentful of conditions or management. Plus, I was able to stay well-rested and that helped me keep on top of everything when I got busy. I wish all US employers would realize this!

    23. Ann Furthermore*

      We all went to a baseball game last month, which included our tickets and $20 to spend on food or merchandise. That was really fun. The office is downtown, and the stadium is about a 20 minute walk, so it was easy to get to. That was during my first week. I walked back to the office with my boss, and he said that the team does something like that every quarter, and he asked if I had any ideas. I said I was not a good person to ask, as it’s been many years since I’ve spent too much time downtown. He said there’s a place where you can do axe throwing (!) which he thought sounded fun but didn’t think HR would agree. LOL. I was not even aware that was a thing. And I now know what I’m going to plan for my husband’s 50th birthday in November.

      I am seriously starting to love my new employer. It’s an open office, which I don’t love, but I’m getting used to it and I’ve come up with my own ways to deal with the change from cubicle land. They provide free drinks and snacks (double-edged sword…those damn mini Twix bars call my name all day long), everyone has a standing desk, and my manager is fine with WFH one day a week, or more, if there’s a specific reason for it — like this week, I’m taking a virtual class, so it’s just easier to do it from home than to try and call in from my desk, or try to book a huge block of time in a conference room. Best of all, they treat PTO the way it’s supposed to be treated. I took the Friday before Memorial Day off, but worked a half a day so I wouldn’t get too far into the hole on PTO. When I tried to enter 4 hours in the system, I was told that as a salaried employee, if I worked at all that day, then I got paid for that day. I realize that’s the way it’s supposed to be handled, but this is the first place I’ve ever worked where they have the systems set up to prevent you from entering fewer than 8 hours in the system. Everywhere else it’s been frowned on to take a half day off without using any PTO.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Are you by chance in the Midwest? I work in a big baseball city with its stadium downtown (our most famous tourist attraction is also there and just got a big makeover) and am hearing all kinds of things about axe-throwing lately. Sounds both fun and terrifying!

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          No, I’m further west. There are 2 places here to do axe-throwing. I don’t know anyone who has tried it, but it’s the perfect thing for my husband’s birthday. If you met him, you’d know that axe-throwing seems like something conceived with him in mind.

          I looked at the website for one place, and it’s set up kind of like a batting cage, with aisles closed off with fencing, presumably to keep axes from flying around and hitting anyone.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          My East Coast friends just went axe-throwing. Might be a new trend!

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        OMG I was just telling someone today about my OldJob that did this. Toxic job and a toxic dept director otherwise, but man that was the best idea he’d possibly ever had. He’d give everyone in the department the afternoon off, give us tickets and the $20 food/drink tokens, we’d drive down to the stadium and spend a late summer evening together as a group. We were a large company that had grown terribly quickly from a small startup, so the game doubled as a reunion for the people who’d used to work together, but had now been assigned to different teams on different floors and had not seen each other in months. Not gonna lie, everyone typically spent their $20 on beer, then walk around and chat with coworkers to catch up on things, all afternoon until we’d all sober up. Apparently there was also a game going on :)

    24. Forking Great Username*

      I worked retail for a long time, and the big thing in that field is having managers who have your back when a customer is upset. But a fun team building activity they did was occasionally having special days where whenever someone hit a goal, they would come find you and let you choose a random reward. Rewards included them buying you a pop, them doing a silly dance or putting on a funny costume for you, getting to leave your shift a tiny bit early, a slice of pizza, a high five, etc. Each manager had a cup full of papers and you randomly picked a prize – they controlled what options were in their cup, so they could opt out of the more embarrassing ones – though I don’t think any of them ever chose to.

      If a department met a larger goal, each person in it got to “pie” our store manager at the next meeting.

      These probably are eye roll worthy to some people, but we had a good time with it, and no one was ever pressured to participate. If you weren’t down for the silly prizes you’d just get a thank you and be treated to a drink or snack.

    25. KR*

      We have done top golf twice so far for our team building activity and it’s a lot of fun. Food and drinks, and if you don’t want to golf you can just hang out on the couch and socialize. We had a nice reward where we take our families out to eat and use our corporate card and that was really nice because you could choose when and where to go.

    26. Curious Cat*

      I genuinely love the effort my organization puts into “team” activities! A certain amount is budgeted each year for our team activities, and they range anywhere from going out to Friday lunches together, to happy hour, to attending a baseball game, to going to a winery for the day. They’re fun, low-stress & provide such a great setting and opportunity to get to know coworkers and still have space to be discussing work-related matters outside of a meeting.

      I also had a really lovely supervisor a few years back at an old internship who remains one of my greatest references. She was so kind, so supportive (think like an older, gentle, grandmotherly woman). When I would hand in a draft of a press release she would make the necessary edits and sit down with me and explain each and every edit & the reason why she did so. She also only edited in purple pen because she knew that red pen can come across as angry and harsh! She was so kind & I learned so much from her.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Food is a big deal where I work. The managers order breakfast and lunches for the floor on a regular basis. One time, one of the managers had on sandals and for that “infraction”, the Head of the floor told him he had to buy Pizza for the Floor. Which he happily did. We also had a guy who, as part of him celebrating his German heritage, ordered a German feast for the floor for lunch. And just this week we had a Baking contest.

    27. Hope*

      When I came back to work after a medical procedure, I was still recovering but well enough to be at work most of the time, and I’d used up all of my PTO post-surgery, my boss telling me that if I ever needed to go home, that was fine and to not worry about making up the hours, and really meaning that. It was a relief, because there were days where I did need to go home before I passed out from the exhaustion of just moving around the amount needed to do my non-physical job. Boss did similarly for a coworker who dealt with a couple of family deaths that happened within a few weeks of each other, and for other coworkers who had medical procedures. Boss gets that we have a life outside of work and lets us have the time we need in unusual circumstances.

      At another place I worked, we had an unofficial competition for who could bring the coolest toy for the Toys for Tots donation. Our grandboss would always choose to display the coolest toy as the centerpiece at the potluck table, which made it the “winner”. It didn’t have to be an expensive toy, just a cool one. I won one year with a $20 stuffed dinosaur.

    28. Let's Talk About Splett*

      Summer hours! A company I worked for about 7-10 years ago “closed” at 12:30 every Friday between the 4th of July and Labor Day, and hourly employees were still paid for 8 hours.

      The office was located downtown so on at least one Friday each summer my group of friends from there would go out for lunch & drinks somewhere fun and take public transportation home at the normal COB time. It was a blast!

    29. Yah*

      Axe throwing went well with my toxic team. I think it was the axe throwing bit that made it fun. (But we threw at targets, not each other.)

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        At an old company and incredibly dysfunctional team did a thing where they worked with a professional chef to prep and cook a nice meal for the team. We all joked that it seemed like a bad idea to have that team do stuff around one another that involved knives.

    30. OtterB*

      There are a number of good things about my current workplace, but I’ll highlight our PTO. We have separate bins of sick/personal time and vacation time. Vacation time begins with 10 days for new hires and adds a day per year to a max of 20 days, which is decent but not exceptional. Sick/personal time is the same for everyone and is 1 day/month. The thing I really like about it is that the sick/personal time is explicitly usable for your own illness or those of family members, but also for, as my boss puts it, things that make your life easier. So renewing your driver’s license or getting your car inspected, going to a parent-teacher meeting or school performance of a kid – all of those are legitimate use for personal leave, letting you keep vacation for actual longer vacations instead of a half day here or a half day there. We are also usually closed (paid, with no use of vacation or personal time) between Christmas and New Year’s.

    31. FarmGirl*

      My favorite boss always encouraged different opinions. If I disagreed but didn’t feel it was worth disagreeing, he would catch me out (because no poker face). He would demand that I tell him my opinion. As he said, I might not agree with you, but if I had a different opinion, someone else might, too, and he woold be able to counter that if he knew it was coming. But he would listen with an open mind and take that into account..
      I love my current job and company, but they are NOT like that.

      1. Kim, aka Ranavain*

        I feel like it’s essential for orgs to actually listen to ideas and disagreement from all levels of staff, but so many of them are bad in their execution. In part because I think a lot of people are bad with what to do with bad ideas – how do you make someone understand that you DO value their contribution and you DO want them to tell you future ideas, but that this idea Is Bad and should be abandoned – without demoralizing. Even just being able to raise your hand and say “I disagree” and have your opinion respected and considered. I think some companies are afraid of getting into the weeds with staff, so they declare what’s happening, do a token bit of listening, and then just re-iterate the same talking points they used when they introduced the topic that those folks obviously didn’t find convincing. It’s a tricky balance.

    32. Scubacat*

      One of my clients had a baby, who suddenly died at seven weeks old. My supervisor sent the grieving mother flowers at the company’s expense. He also gave approval for me to attend the funeral for Baby on company time. And I didn’t have to use a vacation day/sick day/ log it as PTO.

      The depth of human compassion that my workplace showed was amazing.

    33. JanetM*

      I’m in technically a temp position — my permanent job title is Administrative Support Assistant III and my temporary formal title is Administrative Coordinator I (a couple of steps up). The first time my day-to-day manager (as opposed to my org-chart manager) introduced me as “our new project manager,” I just lit up. He’s been good about providing constructive criticism (“here are ways you can control meetings”) and praise (“Good meeting. Well done.”).

    34. blue canary*

      I work for a small nonprofit that really values its employees. We have a laid-back atmosphere and a lot of camaraderie, but nobody’s pushed to be social who doesn’t want to be. Great work/life balance too – nobody’s nitpicking PTO, if you have to bring your kid into the office for a few hours it’s no problem (as long as they’re not disruptive), etc. There’s an actual committee focused on workplace culture and how to make it better, and it’s open to anyone. I love this place.

    35. A Non E. Mouse*

      This sounds silly but I really like a good potluck event.

      There is one here that’s technically for each department – so my department coordinates within itself to have our own set of food, Accounting does their own coordination, etc. – but in practice each year you visit X department for so-and-so’s world famous cheese dip, and Y department for those cookies that melt in your mouth, etc.

      My guess is the day is a loss productivity-wise, but it’s a great team building exercise. Who knew the kind of grumpy guy in receiving made a mean pot of chili! That kind of thing.

      1. Windchime*

        My group’s specialty is breakfast potluck. Everyone contributes and seems to really enjoy it. We all look forward to Karen’s cinnamon rolls or Fred’s cheese-y potatoes. It’s a great way to kick off the day. I think we do it 2-3 times a year. We also go to lunch (totally voluntary!) as group. Next week, the weather should be nice so we are walking down to the food truck area and eating lunch outside.

    36. JustaTech*

      In my group-that-was (most everyone has gone now) at my current job, I always appreciated that the higher-ups would work in the lab, and do the crummy boring jobs and take the late night or early morning time points. It really made us feel like a team. It was also nice the time everyone had to stay late that not only did we get pizza (carefully ordered so everyone could eat it), but rather than eating alone at our desks, we sat in the conference room and played GeoGuessr together (all you have is Google Street view, what country are you in?).

      That boss also noticed I was seriously underpaid for the market and got me a big raise when I didn’t even know I was underpaid.

    37. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I had an amazing manager at last job, if they hadn’t switched my manager I’d still be there. She was really good at being hands off, up until you needed her for something then she was really hands on.

    38. Mike C.*

      Standing on the main taxiway at PAE with all the involved employees (mechanics, engineers, managers, support, pretty much everyone), listening to air traffic control radios and watching two chase planes maneuver themselves such that they catch up with a quickly accelerating 787-9 as it took flight for the first time.

      We can be a cynical bunch and some of us had worked for years to contribute to that project, but that was the coolest morale boost I’ve ever experienced.

    39. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I love this question, and am going to read all the responses, and likely take notes.

      The one experience I had at a past workplace that built up morale was when, at an OldJob, we had a major production release that spanned all groups in the department because everything from the back end to the front end was being rolled out. Because we were a 24-7 operation, we had to schedule it at a time when all plants could afford to be down, which happened to be Sunday evening through Monday morning. IIRC, I was scheduled to be in the war room from ten PM on Sunday to six AM Monday. Our boss was there when I came in, and was still there when I left. He stayed with us the entire time, both to intervene if something went badly wrong, and to provide moral support. This was so contrary to every manager I’d had before him, that it affected my opinion of him in a big and positive way. I’d had a manager before him who’d sent me in to do a production software upgrade on a Saturday, and when an old computer at a user’s site turned out to be incompatible with the upgrade and crashed, I called him to give him an update and also to see who he’d recommend I needed to loop in to get that resolved, and he said “I am at a ball game, figure something out, don’t call me back, bye, talk to ya Monday”.

      This first (“the good”) manager told me during my performance review later that year, that he saw our work as being on the front lines, and that you needed to know the people you were out there with, in the sense of who would cover your back vs who’d shoot you in the back? He definitely put a lot of effort into being the first type himself. Not a team-building event or a tradition, but this is what I remember best of that job.

    40. Tuna Casserole*

      For our last staff meeting, the boss took us all to a little bistro and bought everyone fancy coffees. Discussing mission statements is more fun if you have whipped cream on your drink.

    41. Erika22*

      One thing a friend’s company does is something called “donut dates,” where once or twice a month, anyone who wants to participate is randomly paired up with someone else in the office, and they’re given a small amount of petty cash to go out and get a donut (or coffee or whatever) and take like half an hour to get to know each other. Super low stress, great for getting to know people you don’t work with, and a free coffee! I’ve always loved this idea and want to implement it at my next job (though lbr I just want an excuse to get a donut.)

    42. N Twello*

      In terms of the supervisory role, a good manager or team lead:
      – Respects each employee and helps them be the best they can be.
      – Provides employees with what they need to be productive.
      – Supports employees when they have problems or face roadblocks.
      – Is a sounding board and collaborator when the employee needs one.
      – Sets clear expectations and goals, and then monitors progress.
      – Knows their employees and responds to individuals, rather than applying a cookie-cutter approach to all.
      – Helps foster team spirit and respect among the team.
      – Ensures that team members are supporting each other as appropriate.
      – Provides vision (this is usually a cascading vision from the top, formulated for relevance at each level).
      – Ensures that there is good communication.

    43. Tau*

      Something cool my company does is giving us two “free” days at the end of each sprint. The idea is that you can work on whatever you want as long as it’s related to the job somehow – examples would be doing an online course, or working on a feature you’d really like to see but that’s very low priority. At the end of it, the company orders pizza, people present what they’ve worked on. It’s hugely fun and there’s been some amazing – and amazingly useful! – things that have come out of it, which ordinarily just wouldn’t have been possible because no manager would let you spare the two days to just play around with an idea and see if you could get it to work.

      (Also, this really shouldn’t be unusual but – I’ve been pretty ill recently and am super-appreciating how supportive my manager has been about me missing two weeks and then constantly needing to rush off in the middle of the day for doctor’s appointments or leave early because I wasn’t feeling well. My old company was a lot less flexible about things – I still remember how they fussed about me needing to have surgery during my probation period.)

      1. Tau*

        Oh, another morale booster I adored was when the company said they’d buy up to €15 worth of office plants for each of us, here’s the gardening store website, pick what you want. My desk has been green ever since.

    44. Autumnheart*

      Team-building exercises: a few years ago, we had a big push toward “culture training” that was deemed too expensive and time-consuming before it was rolled out to the whole company, but my division went through it. I knew someone on another team who’d attended and asked what it was like, and he said, “It was pretty intense. There was some crying.” Of course I was like, crying?! D: That doesn’t sound good.

      So we attended, and the exercise in question turned out to be a round robin sort of thing where everyone stood in a circle. One person stood in the middle, and called on another person to enter the circle. Then each person said something that they appreciated about the other. It could be a professional thing, a work-appropriate personal thing (e.g. “I really like John’s sense of humor and how he always makes people laugh”). Then the person who was called on would stay in the circle, and call on someone else. Repeat until you go through the whole circle. It was time-consuming because we have a pretty big team, so even spending only one minute per person, it still took a couple hours.

      And yeah, it *was* a little intense because people put a lot of thought into what they said. And there were some moments where people got a little verklempt, because it is actually pretty rare when someone takes time to really say something nice and sincere, that they observed about you that maybe you weren’t even aware of. It was actually a nice and thoughtful exercise, very validating.

      1. Autumnheart*

        (This wasn’t the entirety of the culture training. It was one exercise over a 3-day program.)

    45. Frankie Bergstein*

      We were at a celebration for someone, and our organization’s leader was there. Someone started suggesting funny awards within our department and described how it had been successful at managing one of their large projects. Our department leader got out their phone and said, “I’m taking notes!”. We also get a lot of opportunities for professional development (training, meeting one-on-one with the department leader, getting set up with a mentor). Feeling invested in feels GREAT!

    46. Kat Em*

      I used to work in a place with super dysfunctional management overall, but they did a few things right. Something that always made me feel great is that they were super supportive of employees who volunteered in the community on their own. Our director made several in-kind donations towards projects I was doing with neighborhood kids, and there was no red tape about it. Just “Hey, can I have some disposable gloves for a neighborhood cleanup I’m doing with middle schoolers in two weeks?” “Of course, how many boxes do you need?”

      Sure, there was usually a “Do you mind if we mention this in the monthly newsletter?” attached, but no negative consequences if the answer was no. And even though we were all encouraged to get involved with the company’s charitable foundation, there was never a sense of it being in competition with things people were doing out on their own. It was a terrible place to work in many ways, but that always made me feel appreciated.

    47. Head of Talent Acquisition*

      Here are some examples that were memorable that built up morale:
      1) Impromptu karaoke in the common space
      2) potluck whoever wanted to participate. At one company, over 100 people participated.
      3) Bocce Ball
      4) Italian dinners
      5) laser tag
      6) dinners that recognized each person’s strengths
      As for feeling supported and appreciated, having regular 1:1’s, weekly meetings, going over goals and milestones, and encouraging growth in a positive manner.
      At one company, I thought that it was awesome that the management team took time to know everyone by name and what they did. One person in particular stood out because of his management style, Andy Grove, who I met while working at Intel many years ago; and the leadership team at Quantum, who I had the opportunity to work with closely in my early days out of college were very down-to-earth and had a very caring attitude about all the employees.

    48. Aphrodite*

      What a great question!

      I work at a community college in the adult ed division. I came back from a Leave of Absence of 18 months in a main campus department and got this job when it opened up. Unfortunately, there were a lot of circumstances of which I was unaware and for which several people made it a point to “punish” or treat me terribly when they could. As these were primarily superiors there wasn’t much I could do. I cried a lot at home but refused to quit because I knew how tough it was out there and because the benefits are fabulous.

      Then it got worse when my supervisor left and an interim one was appointed. I had initially thought she’d be so much better because she had been a consultant and was becoming a friend (we discovered we shared a mutual passion for steamed littleneck clams and mussels). I don’t even know how to describe what she did so I will simply say she was Super Pollyanna on triple doses of super steroids. If anyone didn’t operate at her level of “positivism,” they were deserving of abuse and denigration.

      The college was in a reorg plan, and one of the results was that it was decided to transfer me to a new supervisor. I dreaded this but –OMG, summon the singing angels and the hark-the-healders and all the trumpters of the world–it turned out to be the complete and total opposite. My new supervisor is the world’s best ever! He is kind and patient and so, so grateful for all my talents. He often praises me in both public and private, and he is boundlessly thankful. We are, as he says, the dream team. I have his back, he has mine. Both of us are happy beyond description. It would take much, much longer to list even some of the things he’s done than is suitable here, but fantastic bosses and workplaces do exist. A shame they are in the tiny minority but they DO exist!

    49. Ruby*

      At my current job, we regularly have potlucks, or sponsored lunches, or picnics. I love it. No one is made to participate, but everyone is warm and welcoming (another reason I love this job!) so if you don’t have a work friend to sit by, you can join a group and feel included.

    50. Clever Name*

      I work at a truly awesome company and my coworkers are amazing. I’m not sure there is one experience that I can point to that builds up morale. I believe it’s the culture of the company as a whole. Our unofficial motto is “run to the problem”. When somebody spots an issue with a project, we don’t place blame- we work on solutions to fix it while keeping the client in the loop. It truly is a team environment. I work on a team of 7 people and the summer is our busy season. Our clients have high expectations and scheduling workload can be complex, and we are able to make it work because we have each other’s backs and we will juggle our schedules to cover when an unexpected project pops up. We are also a team in that we don’t compete with each other. I’m leading a big proposal effort for a new type of project we hope to get. There is a mandatory site visit meeting that I can’t attend because I’m in the field. Another coworker is going to cover it for me, and instead of feeling jealous or territorial about it, I’m really glad he can be there, and his unique background will be really helpful- I see it as a plus for the company rather than a negative for me.

      How to accomplish this? I think it’s all in the hiring. Hire great people. If it turns out that you hired someone not-so-great, put them on a PIP and move them out.

    51. Gumby*

      At my first job out of college we did a bunch of “team building” activities that we mostly loved but I think the main reason why it worked was because we already had good teamwork so they were just “fun stuff to do.” Like whitewater rafting, a ropes course, a scavenger hunt, a surfing lesson, a cooking pseudo-competition. Those are the ones that originated from, and were paid for by, management; we also started our own things – book club, afternoon mini-break to play horse at the park across the street (or cat if we didn’t have much time), video-game-lympics. But I think it really only worked so well because we were a small company and all pretty new graduates.

    52. AmandaGlockenspiel*

      That golden feeling when you realize that somewhere without noticing, you stopped thinking “ooh what did i DO?” when someone says “Can you come into this office” and instead you think, “Cake!”

    53. MissDisplaced*

      I went to a trade show with 4 other members of my team and it was really great!
      They were all very appreciative of the work I did on the booth and marketing the event.
      Such a far cry from where I worked previously.

    54. Princess Gnorbu*

      Potlucks! At work, not after hours, and truly optional. Most people enjoyed participating without it taking extra time out of their day, and those who chose not to participate appreciated not being forced into it.

    55. Fantasma*

      At one Old Job, I was a contract employee as were many others in my department. All contractors were hourly and we always had a ton of work to do, but the company had a mandatory week off (unpaid for us) between Christmas and New Year’s for full-time employees. The senior director sent out an org-wide budget email and asked that all managers who had budget left strongly consider allocating it to contractors who maybe couldn’t afford to be off an unpaid week and who had work they could be doing to set the team up for a strong start in January. We weren’t required to work if we didn’t want to, but the option was there and some contractors specifically requested to be able to work. It was very thoughtful of people who often are not treated as well as full-timers and who may have had financial concerns around the holidays. I took advantage of the hours and worked from home and cleared out my queue of to-do items during the blessed email silence.

      At another Old Job, as an end-of-year thank you, our VP let everyone in the department expense four movie tickets and snacks up to $75 total and take a half-day off paid to enjoy with family or friends.

    56. CM*

      Each company meeting includes an inspiring story about awesome things people are doing with our products.

      If I’m sick, having childcare issues, or otherwise need flexibility, it is a non-issue and I’m encouraged to take the time I need. Likewise, if I’m on vacation, I am not expected to be available.

      My schedule is respected and I’m only asked to work on evenings or weekends on the rare occasion when it is actually urgent.

      From day one, my boss asked for my input and genuinely wanted to hear it.

      My reviews start out, “We’re so happy that you work here!” which is so reassuring.

    57. mooocow*

      At my job (analytics department) we get to use 10-20% of our work time for research/professional development. It’s up to the individual to choose what they want to work on, though if you go over 10% it’s assumed your working on projects that are relevant to the company. The time to work on those things is usually work-from-home and you are treated as if you were on vacation, i.e. no expectation that anyone can reach you, or that your there for day-to-day stuff. IT has a similar rule but for them it maxes out at 10%.
      Once a year my department (13 people) goes on a week-long retreat, all expenses paid, where we work together on an interesting machine learning topic of our choice (out of our list of things that would benefit the company but are not being worked on yet). Normally I’d find that a bad thing because I don’t like business travel, but the team atmosphere is so good that I look forward to it a lot.

  3. Karo*

    I start a new job on Monday! This is only my second real job, and I started my first one nearly a decade ago, so – does anyone have any recommendations for what to do/not do or bring/not bring on your first day of work? (Stories about the most ridiculous thing you’ve witnessed on an employee’s first day of work are welcome here!)

    My plan is to be there 15 minutes early, dress slightly nicer than my now-manager dressed for the interview, and only bring a water bottle, notebook/pen, and snack that can fit/stay in my purse (in addition to the documentation they’ve requested).

    On a related note – When I do start bringing stuff in, do I just show up one day with a box full of stuff, or do I just bring in what I can fit in my purse until my cube is decorated/functioning as I’d like? Does it matter if it’s work stuff (e.g. reference books and calendar) vs. personal stuff (e.g. pictures)?

    1. StressedButOkay*

      For bringing items in, I started slowly bringing items in once I was out of my three month new hire probation period. All of the stuff that gradually came to live at work are personal items (pictures, a few amusing things, personal coffee cups, personal organizational items, etc.) but I made sure they weren’t too big/over the top. (Though I went from being in a cube to being in an office, so I was mostly just used to not having a ton of space.)

    2. Denise Feinstein*

      I just started a new job too! I waited until the second day to bring in stuff for my office. I wanted to show up and scope out what the space looked like and see what other people have on their desks and walls.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I mean, honestly, it really varies so much based on company culture, geography, type of position… if you do the “wrong” thing, it’s probably not because this is only your second real job—they probably just didn’t communicate to you properly. Good luck!

    4. Enough*

      For work stuff like references a box full at a time seems fine. For personal items I think you take your time. Partly to give yourself time to figure out office norms and judge how much space you have.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I usually start with a notebook, pen, water bottle and coffee mug. Photos and decorative stuff can come later; you want to get a sense of what other people do before you start bringing things in. I’ve always done it gradually.

      The other thing I usually do on the first day is ask what time is best to arrive. Sometimes people want the chance to get settled themselves before welcoming the new person (my current boss asked me to come at 10am, for example, even though the office opens at 8:30). So along that vein I might caution you against getting there too early since there may not be anyone there to greet you! (That actually happened at the job before this one and it sucked. I got there at about 8:45am for a 9am start and sat in my car in the freezing cold with no idea of the best place to park and no one to let me in the locked office.)

      1. RainyDay*

        I once had a new report show up 45 minutes early. I appreciated the dedication but was SO unprepared! She basically had to sit at her desk with nothing to do for an hour.

      2. noob*

        This – I’ve moved around a fair bit and it makes the first day even more awkward than normal to show up too early. Ask them when they want you to come.

        For the first day – I always bring a discreet snack as lunch is usually unpredictable and I get hungry easily.

        Bring your government ID etc for filling out a W-4.

        And congrats!

      3. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, we always have our new people come in 30 minutes after start on their first day so we can make sure we are in the building, settled in, etc before they come in.

    6. RainyDay*

      I’m in a similar spot! I start my third job next Monday (yay!!) after 10+ years at two others. I’m going to show up on the first day with just what I need to function (possibly not lunch, to get a feel for the office vibe – and give myself an excuse to check out the neighborhood!), so basically my pad portfolio and documentation. I’m waiting a few days to slowly bring stuff in, again, to get the vibe. No one I’ve worked with thus far has any issues with my decor (not too obnoxious, but I like having tchotchkes and photos to make my desk feel homey), but I still figure it’ll be best to get a feel for the office vibe before showing up with a bunch of things!

      Congrats on the new job!

    7. Evil HR Person*

      I’d bring a lunch, only because I suffer from low blood sugar and if I don’t know where the nearest/nicer places are to have lunch, I’d be in trouble. Plus, if the parking situation is iffy, you wouldn’t want to leave for lunch only to not find another spot. Or the nearest lunch place is a McD’s and you’ve just about had it with Big Macs. You get the idea… But I’d pack a no-refrigeration-required type of lunch (think soup can), so if I’m invited out to lunch, I can simply forget my lunch without feeling like I’ve just wasted food.

      Wear comfortable shoes. Every single time I’ve started at a new place, I always end up touring the whole thing! Once (and I learned thereafter) I wore heels and blistered my feet something awful. If you have super comfy heels, then wear those, if not – stick to flats. And layer your clothes just in case the office is a freezer – or, conversely but less frequent, an oven.

      I’d bring in all the business books and your calendar at one go (if you can), but starting on the second day or even your first week anniversary. Slowly bring in your personal stuff one knick-knack or photo at a time.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        But I’d pack a no-refrigeration-required type of lunch (think soup can), so if I’m invited out to lunch, I can simply forget my lunch without feeling like I’ve just wasted food.

        If I may add specifics to this: pack a no-refrigeration-required sandwich. You don’t want to find out the hard way that the one microwave on your floor has a line out the kitchenette during your lunch hour, or that your last workplace had individually-wrapped plasticware but your new place doesn’t even have communal wash-it-yourself random mismatched spoons so you can’t eat the soup you brought. Yes, that last one happened to me when I went from a good factory to a crappy warehouse.

    8. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

      You’re amazing, and they’re going to love you and all of the talent you bring. The commenters above have the right ideas, I think, but once your personality starts to shine, they’re going to love all of your desk decor :).

    9. Middle School Teacher*


      I’d say, just bring what you need in your purse until you see what kind of space you’re working with. I don’t think you want to be the person who brings all their swag only to learn that people are required to keep their cubes pretty sparse, for example. Get the lay of the land first. Otherwise your plan sounds great!

    10. Office decorator*

      The sign that it was time for me to decorate my office came a week or two in, when I got sick of co-workers commenting on how plain my space was.

      1. Xarcady*

        I never bring in much beyond a travel mug and some reference books, but at current job, once three people told me it was okay to decorate my cubicle, I figured out that I was supposed to decorate. I brought in 3 plants and a funny coffee mug and a wall calendar and the comments stopped.

    11. Anonymosity*

      I wait a little bit, maybe a few weeks, before bringing stuff in. You might end up moving spaces when you’re new–that happened to me at Exjob. They put me in a tiny cube, which I was fine with, but then a larger one opened up and I was able to move into it. I stayed there for the duration of my employment. By the time I lost the job, I had a TON of stuff in my cube (and I made them wait to walk me out while I packed every bit of it, too).

      If your office has a probation period, I’d maybe bring in a small plant and a photo or two to brighten up the space and wait until the probation period is over before carting in a bunch of stuff. That way, if something goes wrong like a layoff, or they move you, it won’t be a huge PITA to relocate.

    12. SavannahMiranda*

      I once started a new job and needed lunch that day to go home and give medicine to my sick/dying cat. Not fun. But I thought, “This is great way to confirm boundaries, that my lunch hour isn’t for work.” Because in my industry, lunch is frequently ephemeral at best.

      Welp. New employer was not pleased. They were strange with me for a couple weeks after that. Until they got a better feel for me and understood I was a hard worker.

      And it’s not even as if they were all going to take me out for lunch on my first day or something nice. It was simply that they had scheduled multiple meetings and trainings for me throughout the day, with multiple people and groups, with no regard to an hour-long break outside the building. I forget whether they were giving me a box lunch or what.

      I’m certain your industry is more self-aware and considerate! (And legally compliant.) And this was not my first rodeo. I’d had first days at new jobs multiple times. But that certainly gave me a wake up call that the first day and first week can sometimes come with strange cultural expectations I need to be on the look-out for. And that Day One may not be the day to do the push-back.

    13. Not So Little My*

      In the first week I bring a coffee cup/water bottle, computer glasses, lip balm, and small hand lotion. Unless the office provides an ergonomic mouse/keyboard out of the box, I’ll bring in my own mouse/keyboard/wrist-rest/mouse-pad in the next few days so I can work without re-injuring my wrists. It’s typical for software people to wear headphones so they can concentrate in an open office, so I’ll bring in my headphones after a few days if I see that’s part of the culture. If I get fed up with the pens and notebooks I’ll bring in a Moleskine and some rollerball pens. After a few weeks I may trickle in a few professional books (although most resources are online these days because books fall out of currency fast unless they are about overarching software architectural/design principles). I very rarely bring in personal items because people don’t stay in jobs long in my field, plus I like to keep my personal life and work life separate.

      1. Argh!*

        The workplace should provide ergonomic keyboards & a mouse! My now-boss asked me ahead of time whether I needed any accommodation, and that’s what I asked for. They supplied them, no questions asked.

    14. Argh!*

      I doubt that anyone cares about how or when you decorate your office, as long as you don’t take too much time away from things you’re supposed to be doing.

    15. Bea*

      TBH if someone showed up with a box full of decor their first few days, I would be taken aback. Over the years, I have always ended up with decorated work spaces/offices and it’s a slow process as things come in and get spread around.

      Waiting gives you time to see what others do as well as your work space and what will easily be accommodate.

      I show up with all my office supplies that I prefer (pens, a notebook, mini stapler and highlighters) because I come from a background where they may or may not be easily accessible. I tend to be the one who brings those kinds of things everywhere though, I hate asking about the supply closet and will often find it a few days later during my exploring periods.

    16. Artemesia*

      I would never want to look like I was ‘moving in’ but rather bring the occasional item. And the best strategy IMHO for starting out is to be cordial to everyone, not allow yourself to be taken under the wing by one ‘friendly’ person and to mostly observe for the first month. At that point you understand the dynamics of the place. I have seen the office creep or trouble maker delightedly befriend the newbie in hopes of making her an ally; you don’t want to become associated with someone dysfunctional by happenstance. And knowing the formal and informal power structure before putting your foot in it is so crucial.

    17. Autumnheart*

      I personally try to stick to a rule where my desk should not contain more things than will fit in one box. (As I look around, I notice I’m currently violating this rule, so I should probably take a few things home today.) Not to be Polly Pessimism, but in the event of a layoff (or even if you just move on after giving notice like normal) the last thing you want to do is prolong the awkwardness by having to pack up a huge pile of stuff. One box will hold plenty of personal items.

      Bringing in all your relevant reference materials on the first day would be pretty logical, as long as we’re talking about a handful of books vs. a whole shelf full. One thing I would recommend having at your cube, if you have an outlet, is a charging station, so you can plug in your phone, tablet, Bluetooth headphones, etc. and keep them organized in a smaller footprint as opposed to having cables all over your desktop. And it’s nice to be able to charge your stuff at work for the inevitable times when you forgot to do it overnight.

    18. Ruby*

      An example that bothered me: A new worker started in the cube in front of me. Within a week, her cube was decked out like she lived here. She was even in a position where her job wasn’t permanent, which bothered me more–she’s a temp and personalized her cube more than people who have worked here for years! That was too much for me–I much prefer bringing in things over time. I also like to keep my stuff at the office minimal…my goal is to only fit my stuff into one box if I ever left lol.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I had a coworker who stuffed his cube full of crap and junk—memorabilia, sports stuff, kids’ photos, manual typewriters (yes, more than one! He collects them) so that he barely had room for his laptop. And then when he got laid off, he had to make multiple trips to bring it all home.

        Even with my one box rule, my desk seems to be pretty cluttered. I’ve got my backpack, lunch bag, laptop, and purse, and I take those home each day. The monitor and various desk implements take up a fair amount of desktop. I’m not anal about keeping my space super organized, but it just gives me the willies to see someone’s cube buried in crap.

    19. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      We’ve moved offices so many times at CurrentJob that I’ve downsized my belongings to one box that can be easily packed. I usually bring in personal stuff pretty early on, but there isn’t a lot of it. Maybe not on the first day, you’ve got to see the layout of the place and what other people have on/at their desks; besides, the place can give you things like the coffee mug or stationery, so you’ll know not to bring in your own.

      I recommend packing lunch on the first day. Something that does not need to be heated, because you won’t know how the microwave will work out. I used to not do it, but on my first day at this job, it came back to bite me in the butt. I was going to a company where everyone had come from OldJob and so I knew everyone. Did not pack any food, because I assumed we’d all go out somewhere. Instead, I walked in to a full day of meetings, with a 30-minute lunch break, that I was told by the HR I had to use to take the mandatory online training that was due at 5:00 PM. The building did not even have a vending machine! My lunch that day was M&Ms from the front desk and the half and half packets from my boss’s office (he had a coffee machine and brought in the condiments). Congrats on the new job!

    20. Uhmealeah*

      When I started my first real job, I wasn’t sure what to expect so I overdressed and showed up early on the first day. I was expecting office work, business to business casual attire based on the managers in my interview. I ended up waiting outside in a hallway for 15 minutes because no one was around to let me in, and way overdressed. A few hours later, found myself with thin and uncomfortable heels, getting a tour out “in the field”, aka a dirty warehouse. I quickly regretted my banana republic shopping spree and ended up wearing dickies pants and black shoes. Granted, you may know more about the position than I did at the time, dressing to match the manager may be completely inconsistent with what someone in your new position should wear.

      Good luck! Congrats!

    21. Nines*

      Oh my God! I was going to ask this EXACT question and was a little bummed I had forgotten to post something earlier! Woo Hoo! New jobs on Monday!

  4. Wat.*

    How do you define job hopping? What does job hopping look like in your field? One year stints? Two year stints? How many two-three year stints are okay?

    I’m really struggling to identify what’s job hopping and what’s not in an industry that sees promotions every 2-3 years for the first decade or so, until the director level, but may not always have a pathway for current employees.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I work in education, and job-hopping looks like two or three one-year stints in a row. Or a one-year, two-year, and another one-year. You can have one one-year stint, but most schools I deal with (private/independent/parochial) want to see at least three solid years at a school.

      I guess an exception would be international hiring, which tends to expect job-hopping (many people who teach in international schools do so specifically for the opportunity to live in different countries), but it’s also typical for those schools to hire on a two-year contract.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I would agree. Some people have bad luck (eg keep getting one-year temp contracts, like mat leaves) but in general, if I saw a teacher’s resume with lots of one-year stints, I’d wonder why their board didn’t want to keep them.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I see a series of one-year stints for a teacher as one of two things:

          1A. This teacher is amazing in the classroom but restless and always wants a “better” school.

          1B. This teacher has a spouse whose work somehow takes precedence in terms of where they live, and so the teacher has to move all the time.

          2. This teacher is terrible and so gets let go all the time.

          Whether it’s the teacher’s fault or not, very few schools desire teachers who are likely to leave after only one year.

      2. Also a teacher*

        I agree with this. I sit on hiring committees at my school, and when I go through resumes, I look for longer stints, commensurate with the total career length.

    2. Washi*

      I think it also depends on age/how far out of school a person is. In my field (nonprofits) it’s pretty common to have a large number of 1-3 year stints in your 20s. Plus, nonprofits are always at the mercy of grant and donor funding, and if you’re occupying mainly junior roles, you are like likely to be the first one out the door when things start going downhill.

    3. Genny*

      What field are you in? I’m in IR, moving every 2-3 years isn’t looked down on (probably because it’s partially normalized by Foreign Service Officers moving around every 2-3 years, partially because it’s a small world), but it’s also just as likely that someone stays at an organization ten years and becomes a subject matter expert. I think a series of jobs with less than 2 year stints looks funny.

      1. Wat.*

        I work in a corporate finance field. The road to director (junior -> senior -> manager -> director) is about 10 years total, but there’s often not a ton of room to move internally unless someone above you quits, which may or may not happen on a timeline that’s ideal.

        1. SavannahMiranda*

          In my industry one is not promoted unless they move. It’s not cruel or thankless, it’s just the way the field functions, without penalty. It sounds like your industry may work the same way.

          My failure to understand this resulted in unworkable loyalty to my first position, hoping and trying and shooting for That Promotion. It never came. When I read an industry article and consulted colleagues, I came to understand the move from junior to mid-level to senior meant changing employers.

          This wasn’t to say my current employer didn’t appreciate me. Perhaps maybe that they didn’t have the imagination. But that is endemic to my industry. Ambition is rewarded when it means the ambition to present yourself to a new employer at a position one rung up from where you are now.

          Once I understood this and did not take it personally, I started moving up by moving out. I transitioned from entry level, to junior, to in-house mid-level, to senior in a matter of six years. By changing employers three times. I have not been penalized for it in those six years. I have been rewarded with 30k increase in salary and commensurate increase in responsibility.

          This kind of thing tends to be industry specific. Only you know your industry. In another space I might be perceived as an excessively ambitious job-hopper. In my space, it works. And if I held myself to my misunderstood earlier standard, I would have suffered for it.

          Consult your peers in industry groups. Read articles in industry rags and blogs. Go to the LinkedIn profiles of managers you admire who appear to be doing everything right in your line of work and see what their job histories look like. Put all of this information on a back burner and digest it. Good luck!

        2. SavannahMiranda*

          Follow-on to note that you did mention corporate finance. I am in corporate finance on the legal services side.

          Finance and law tend to be hard cultures that reward risk and moxy rather than soft cultures that cultivate from the inside and discourage risk. So there’s a good chance you may have the same moving up by moving out unspoken standard.

          Again, go to the LinkedIn profiles of people who are ‘doing it right’ in your field and in your region. To a reasonable extent, and after reviewing several of these people, synthesize what they seem to be doing right, and emulate their processes.

          And I didn’t mean to make it sound like I had four jobs in six years. I had three in six, two years each. Four years at Entry Level employer where I learned not to expect the promotion. Two years at Junior Level employer. Two years at Mid-Level employer. And now two years at Senior Level employer. So, ten years? The acceleration happened in six, but the total of ten is respectable.

          I’m staying here for the foreseeable future, unless I physically move to another state. The work remains challenging, I have great bosses, and I have room to expand my purview. So once you nab the rung where you hit your stride, perhaps plan to stay for a while.

          Don’t give loyalty in an industry that rewards risks, and don’t take undue risks in an industry that rewards loyalty. Only you know your industry.

    4. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      I work in higher ed IT. I see job hopping as someone staying only about a year or less, and it’s not due to contract or grant work or layoffs. We do get a lot of applications from people who are consultants or contractors, so I can understand shorter stays there. But if someone is just picking up and moving from school to school, or job to job, and they are all permanent positions, then I get a little concerned.

      However higher ed can see a lot of departmental reorgs where you might lose your job, or the workload gets so untenable that you can’t function (they don’t tend to backfill positions), so it’s not always someone’s fault if they don’t have a lot of long-term stays. I try to suss out exactly why they left before making a judgement call.

    5. College Career Counselor*

      I’m in higher education, and people tend to stick around for awhile. Unless you had a grant-funded/temporary position (or you’re just starting in residence life and are expected to leave in 2-3 years), it’s more the norm in my experience to stick around for at least five years. And be prepared to be asked HARD why you’re leaving if you’ve only been at your current institution for two years.

    6. CatCat*

      I have a hard time figuring it myself, but I think 1-2 year stints.

      I actually hopped a bit before my current position, but it doesn’t LOOK like it because I did laterally moving teams within the same organizations. Same title, but ultimately different job responsibilities because work was pretty siloed for each team. If I had switched organizations, it would look like I was a job hopper, but because I didn’t, I don’t look like a job hopper.

      *Reality for positions before my current job*
      Department of Llama Wrangling
      Title: Llama Wranger
      Team 1: 1 year
      Team 2: 1 year

      Camelid Security Agency
      Title: Llama Wranger
      Team 1: 2 years
      Team 2: 1.5 years

      *Resume for positions before my current job*
      Department of Lllama Wrangling (2 years)
      Title: Llama Wranger

      Camelid Security Agency (3.5 years)
      Title: Llama Wranger

    7. Tableau Wizard*

      I’m in process improvement, which is a field that often leads to shorter tenures and faster movements.
      For the positions I help review resumes for, we want to see some stability somewhere. A stint of at least 4 years if you have a couple shorter ones. When we see resumes that bounce around every 1-3 years, consistently for the last 10, that’s a red flag. Especially if there are gaps between end and start dates. If you’ve held 3 jobs in the last 10 years, with increasing levels of responsibility, that wouldn’t be a problem.

    8. Totally Minnie*

      I feel like a lot of this depends on what the jobs are. If I look at a resume that shows multiple short stays in lateral types of jobs or jobs in multiple fields, that’s a bit of a concern. But if it’s the same length of time and the same number of jobs in an upward trajectory, that says something different.

    9. Amaryllis*

      I’m in a field that tends toward contract work (IS), so it’s important to be explicit on your resume regarding what was a permanent position and what was freelance. A series of year-or-less positions can be okay, as long as they are organized and labeled properly.

      I have seen applicants rejected when their work history was chronological, and there was no way to tell which was which.

    10. AnonGD*

      I’m in a creative field– we just hired for a new position and the biggest resume that stuck out to us as a “job hopper” position was a guy that had been in like six jobs in six years. Great portfolio, but even him reassuring my boss that some of the positions were contract positions did not go over well with her.

    11. Green Goose*

      I work at an education nonprofit that requires a long onboarding and we want to hire people that will be here 3+ years. When we had an opening in my department a while ago and we were hiring a position I remember going through resumes and the department head was looking for consistency in the job history. One guy who had a lot of the desired skills had about 3-4 jobs where he worked 1.5-2.5 years. I think if it were for an entry level position it wouldn’t have mattered but for a manager position, it was too much job hopping.

    12. Girl friday*

      In my industry, working three to five years cumulatively before being promoted is a guideline. Depending on your future or current occupation, it might be faster. Cops and former military are quicker I think. Job-hopping once a year is tolerated but many people I know don’t do that. If you reach 7 years and you haven’t been promoted, there’s usually a problem. I work in restaurants. BTW Moonlighting usually counts: if you do it consistently at one place for a year or so, it counts as working there for a year.

  5. Finally Friday!*

    I finished my English BA six years ago. Since then, I’ve been done administrative assistant work. I’m really interested in moving into editing/publishing/copywriting work at some point in the next couple years. I’ve been browsing job applications for their requirements and though I meet the ‘office experience’ requirement, I’m lacking in writing samples.

    Aside from editing formatting and the fine print of proposals and contracts, I don’t have any professional writing samples. My ones from college feel out-of-date at five years old. So how do I go about getting new writing samples to submit?

    Do I need to take a class/certification course to generate professional writing samples? Should I do volunteer opportunities that involve writing and editing (I’ve seen them on Volunteer Match)? Should I start a blog? Maybe there is an obvious answer to this question but I’m feeling stumped as to how to generate relevant writing samples that would be professional enough to be considered by a business.

    1. KatieKate*

      Following this, because I also just got asked for a writing sample and my last real ones are 5 years old from college

    2. Blue Anne*

      There are content-generating services out there where you can sign up to research and write blog articles on particular topics, basically so that the companies can have stuff coming out on their blogs regularly.

      I know that it’s available as piecemeal work but I have no idea how competitive it is.

    3. grace*

      I vote for volunteering! I know nonprofits need help with copy writing, materials, etc. I started working with an organization whose mission I was passionate about by volunteering to make them a website (not my field, but I was taking a course and needed a final project). I went on to join the board and am now VP – and I have definitely grown so much as a professional since getting involved 5+ years ago (in addition to, you know, the charity part). You even might get some job leads out of it!

      1. self employed*

        I agree. You would also get some additional references who could speak to your attention to detail, timeliness, etc. when it comes to writing and editing. Try to make sure its an org that you would otherwise support.

      2. Curious Cat*

        +1 to volunteering! Back in college to get my very first writing samples I volunteered to do PR for a local cat shelter. Got some great social media experience by helping to re-vamp and run their Facebook/Instagram pages, as well as writing for their website & putting out event announcements/press releases to local newspapers.

    4. Emily S.*

      After leaving journalism school, I got some good samples by contributing to local news blogs/webmags (some that did pay, some that didn’t). I also took photos to accompany them (I had studied photojournalism as well as writing). It might be something to look at. Of course, it helps if you happen to know anyone who’s already associated with one of these sites, even just an acquaintance.

    5. Buckeye*

      Volunteering is definitely an option. Many nonprofits need good writers, but can’t afford to hire their own in house. You could also try signing up for a site like Upwork or something similar and take on a few freelancing writing projects to build an initial portfolio.

    6. KMB213*

      To add to the chorus: I would go with volunteering, too! You could use the writing samples pretty much right away, and, after you’ve been volunteering somewhere on a steady basis for, say, six months, if the work is relevant (which, in this case, it would be, since you’d be writing for your volunteer work and would be applying for writing jobs), you could include it on your resume, too. It could also be a source for a great reference.

      A blog could be another viable option, but only if you have time to really dedicate to it and make it professional.

    7. Fox1*

      Another option is to publish some articles about your industry on Medium or LinkedIn, that way you have a professional looking link rather than just sending in a word document.

    8. Rezia*

      I work in the journalism industry where, like publishing, clips probably matter more than your resume. I second the suggestions to volunteer or freelance (hey, if you can make some money while you do it, why not). I’d encourage you to take some time to think about what types of writing you’d most like to do for a future job, and then seek out opportunities to build up a portfolio that looks similar. I.e. (hypothetically) if you wanted to be doing book reviews and applying for book review jobs, submitting a bunch of writing samples of press releases isn’t going to be as helpful.

    9. Yah*

      It would depend on what kind of writing you want to do. If it’s technical writing, then a certificate would help. If you want to do copywriting for marketing and advertising, then publish online – blog, LinkedIn articles, and social media posts.

      1. One of the Annes*

        Also, for technical writing samples, you could draft procedures for your workplace processes (how to have travel reimbursed, how to bill a vendor, how to send a fax using the MFD, etc.).

    10. Kat Em*

      Volunteering and blogging are how I got my first clips, as well as my first paid freelance work! Don’t worry about certifications, nobody really cares about them when it comes to writing. Write as much as you can, find your professional voice, and keep up at least a nominal web presence. Good luck!

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I have an almost 20 year career in my field. I’ve been at the Director level for almost five years. I’ve got a new boss who…has done a bit of tweaking on my job responsibilities. He’s taken two of my lowest priorities (social media and website) and made them my highest. Keep in mind, I don’t actually do those two things; I supervise staff who do. Although we have people on staff to do this, he wants me doing it myself because it’s one of the most important things to him. In discussing my other duties, ironically, the primary thing I do most of the day, what I was hired for, and what’s in my actual title was never mentioned. Given his enthusiasm for social media, I wanted to point out that it shouldn’t take THAT much time anyway, but I didn’t sense he wanted my feedback.

    This is not the first time that someone has looked at my credentials and experience and thought that lower level/administrative tasks should be my thing. One woman thought I would make a great assistant for her even though I’ve never had that job and never aspired to it. She openly she admitted she wanted someone with my background doing that type of work for her; she didn’t want someone who has a career of being an assistant. (Yes…YES YOU DO!)

    Is there a delicate way of pointing this out? What I want to say is, “You were wowed by my experience at places X, Y, and Z and my accomplishments on A, B, and C, but you think my efforts should be directed towards…this?”

    1. kbeers0su*

      Maybe try an approach along the lines of “based on our conversations it feels like your priorities are different than OldBoss- can you give me a sense of/big picture view of where we’re going as a department/where I fit in to that plan?” If he can give you answers to those questions, that should give you the info you need to decide what your nest steps need to be. If he envisions your entire role shifting and you’re not interested in that new role, what now? In my org, a drastic change like that couldn’t happen without HR approval because it would require a review, benchmarking, etc. But that may mean you’re out of a job. So I think you should just gather more info now and see where that takes you. (Side note- I’d also look around and see what other changes he’s made because that may also help give you important context if others’ roles are also shifting.)

    2. !$!$*

      This probably isn’t helpful, but I recently took a leadership class at my nonprofit and all. They. Harped. On. was that one must build a BRAND and that includes more than LinkedIn. One direct quote was, “and if you don’t have social media than THAT says a lot about you.” I was like WTF. And besides anonymously commenting on various websites (I’m usually a lurker) I have no social media presence. I’m 30. So maybe your big boss is drinking the koolaid. Maybe I should be an Instagram model to build my brand?

      Dunno about the assistant thing, that’s annoying

      1. Cousin Itt*

        I’ve seen this before, mainly it means maintaining an active social account (usually Twitter) that shares and discusses content relevant to your industry (ie, if you work in publishing, post about new releases, industry events and news like Penguin’s new diversity policy), but that advice is only helpful for some fields. Unless you work in beauty or social media marketing becoming an IG model is unlikely to help :p

      2. Jerry Vandesic*

        Having a brand isn’t new. Management guru Tom Peters wrote “A Brand Called You” in Fast Company over twenty years ago. It’s not about social media (though social media could be incorporated); rather it’s about taking control of how you want to be perceived in your profession. A personal web site with publications or portfolio, a great LinkedIn profile, white papers, all of this fits into your brand. You want to make it easy for people to know what you stand for in your career. When someone thinks of you professionally, you want them to think of the things you see as core to your profession. This can then lead to new opportunities, from new jobs to speaking engagements to advisory board invitations.

    3. esra*

      Seconding kbeersosu on this. I’ve had the same issue before (I don’t know if it’s a woman in tech thing or a marketing thing or what), where a new boss or someone higher up in the chain just really didn’t understand what it was I did and kept pushing super minor stuff up my priority list. For (new) immediate bosses, I’ve booked a 1-1 meeting to lay out what I do + give an overview of how my role relates to the org. This guy sounds… maybe less interested in input that way? I think you could take some of what you want to say and make it more politick tho, like “I know you were pleased with my/my team’s accomplishments on A/B/C, can I ask about the new focus on X/Y/Z?”

    4. Anon today*

      I’m in radio as a News Director. My boss has now decided that I need to produce daily podcasts in addition to all my other duties (which includes a 5 hour air shift). It’s think it’s a total waste of my time and talents, certainly wasn’t a priority a month ago and is something I’ve never done. I’d much rather our part time employee do this. But I like my paycheck so I’m accepting that my job description has evolved. I would suggest you start handling the social media and website.

      1. Anonie*

        No. I’m a male with 16 years experience. When I started my career there was no social media, no Iphone, and no podcasts. My job has evolved tremendously throughout the years, and I don’t expect that will change.

    5. JessicaTate*

      I think you’re on the right track with wording to point this out, maybe with less incredulity in the tone. I do think, at some point, it would be good to have a direct conversation about maximizing everyone’s potential via their particular expertise. “You know, Bob and Jane have XYZ experience with social media, so I was thinking we could maximize the value we get by making this their primary responsibility. I, of course, will make it a priority to oversee that work, ensure it’s being done strategically [or whatever placating sentiment would assure him that you would be involved and prioritizing that this is done really well, but at a higher / managing level that won’t actually require the majority of your time].” And then something to describe for him the stuff you ARE good at, and how you could leverage that to be supportive of his priorities.

      Is there any way that you can think about better describing the nature of WHAT you are an expert at doing, so that it feels more aligned with his priorities? So, less about the particular process of your teapot-making style, and more about the outcome it produces? When you said that others have looked at your credentials and thought of you for admin tasks… I’m wondering if there’s something about people not really understanding the thing that you’re really good at, and making some dumb assumptions that “Oh, well, that’s pretty wonky, I bet she’d be good at admin stuff.” That may be way off base… I’m reading between some widely-spaced lines there.

      I think you should try to solve it, and I really hope it works. But you might have to consider that New Boss could be fatal to your job satisfaction. I was in a similar situation with the worst boss I’ve ever had, and we could never resolve it. I was hired because of my expertise and accomplishment about a specific process for teapot development. I was given a new boss who started listing lots of teapot development priorities that she wanted me to pursue, many of which ran contrary to my long-established expertise about effective teapot development or simply required a radically different skill-set than I had (ex: event planning vs. teapot development). When I would draw upon my expertise and the research supporting the efficacy of my process, New Boss would shut me down. Eventually, I was told, “You need to stop talking about [insert my fields of expertise].” After 6+ months of that abuse and feeling bad at my job, I quit. I moved back to a position where I used my expertise and it was valued by the people I worked with and for. I should have done it sooner. Good luck to you!

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I agree with this. Push back, push back, push back.

        You are not an expert on web sites and social media, while your staff are. (Even if that’s a stretch, it’s unlikely to be a flat-out lie.) You will absolutely bump these up the priority list for your team, but you know your strengths, and managing the work is where you’re needed while Johnny Millennial works the twits and the snaps and the “me-me”s. The more you can play up any ridiculous generational stereotypes, the more amusing it is in my mental image. It also may or may not be helpful, but i wouldn’t be surprised if your boss bought into them and found it compelling reasoning.

        If the pushback isn’t successful, then I expect you’ll need to move on to a position that understands what Director-level work is, as JessicaTate had to. (And I’m so sorry you had to go through that, both of you. How infuriating.)

  7. Friday Happy Dance*

    I’m about to accept a job offer and I’m really excited! Any tips for a successful transition out of this job and into a new one?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, just enjoy the ride! Whether leaving a great place or a toxic one, I’ve always found the transition to be fun (apart from the HR paperwork).

    2. Washi*

      I made a huge tracker of everything I planned to do before my last day, a deadline, and a section for notes in our shared drive so my manager could see it, and we talked through what were the highest priority items vs. nice-to-haves. It helped me prioritize in my last couple weeks and helped her feel confident that I was leaving the work in good shape.

    3. RainyDay*

      LEAVE TURNOVER NOTES. For the sake of all that is holy, please leave turnover notes. Not only will it help the person behind you, but it also helps remind you of gaps/things to do that maybe you can/should do before you head out.


      1. ArtsNerd*

        Yes! And at the same time — don’t burn yourself out trying to leave everything in flawless shape if you don’t have the time, and especially if your management is providing zero support or interest in the transition. I deeply regret putting in those extra hours and starting my new job still exhausted from the old one.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          I also got a DM from my old coworker years after I resigned asking me where and how to log in so they can get their web site back. The domain expired (and I most certainly did document the web host and registrar login information) and a squatter snatched it up. They never did get it back…

        2. ArtsNerd*

          That anecdote has little to nothing to do with your question. It’s that I’m still not over that exchange. That wasn’t a tiny organization where the entire staff was legitimately helpless in figuring things out. It was part of a university, with like, an IT department and stuff.

    4. Argh!*

      Don’t burn any bridges! I went back to an old workplace 12 years after I thought I’d never see it again.

  8. Fare Thee Well, Boss Man*

    Question about things to think about when your boss is leaving.

    I am administrative support to four directors, as well as the sales team that works under them. The director who is my direct supervisor, the one who hired me to the team, and the one who gives me most of my work, will be leaving for a new job in a few weeks. I’m not worried about being let go; though he is the one who hired me, the entire team wanted this support position filled and they give me plenty to do. I guess I’m just worried about having gaps in things to do. My boss alone gave me about 35-40% of my tasks, as opposed to the other three directors and their team. So how do I ask for more work without seeming like I have way too little to do? Potential idea, I’d love to help more with the marketing team, which our sales teams works closely with and who will also be losing someone around the same time as my boss goes. How can I apply to help with the marketing team to fill in the gaps my director is leaving behind?

    Also I’ve never had a boss leaving a company while I still worked there; how do I stay in touch with him to get a future resume? I know he’ll want to give me one, he’s talked before about how he knows I’m at the start of my career and there are lots of opportunities ahead of me both at this company and elsewhere. But how do I stay in touch? Occasional ‘how are you doing’ emails so my request down the road won’t be out of the blue, though he’s really not the type to engage in small talk so I think those emails would mostly be ignored.

    Any other thoughts and tips about hints to think about when your direct supervisor is leaving would be most appreciated!

    1. RainyDay*

      Do you have a LinkedIn account? That might be your best bet – connect on LinkedIn and you can low-key keep in touch. It’s also pretty standard to reach out on that platform to previous employers/coworkers, so it’s not out of the blue!

    2. Ali G*

      Definitely LinkedIn! e sure to connect to him. Also sometimes people will give their personal email addresses to people they want to keep in touch with – sounds like that is you. If you want you could send him your personal email address to keep in touch.
      As for the work stuff. You might be surprised. Just because he is leaving doesn’t mean someone isn’t doing his work. Find out who is taking over the brunt of his responsibilities until he is replaced and offer them your assistance.

    3. zora*

      1st, as Ali G said, who is taking over his work? Presumably someone will still be doing those things and that person (or people) will need your support even more because you have done all of this before!

      2nd, in my company it would be so not a big deal to go to the other people I support, or other departments and say “George leaving is freeing up a lot of my time, so if there is anything additional I can take off your plate, please let me know.” You could even add your personal preferences/make suggestions: “I’m really good at event logistics and travel, especially, so if you have any events, keep me in mind.” Or whatever. It might help jog their mind to think about giving you things they aren’t already giving you.

      There isn’t a downside to this (in my company) where they would then assume I have too little to do or I’m a slacker. It’s just describing the circumstances to them, and honestly, I think it makes you look more like a go-getter to constantly be offering to take on more stuff, then to just keep quiet about it! But of course, this all depends on your company so YMMV

      1. Business Manager*

        Seconding that at least where I have worked, it has come off as go-getter to ask for more work. I tend to frame it in the ‘I know everyone’s busy so if there’s a way I can make their lives better, I’m all for it’ type of conversation. Or the ‘I’ve made everything 50% more efficient, so I have time to take on other projects.

    4. Fellow EA*

      I would wait until you see what the workflow looks like after his departure before trying to take on more work. The other directors might have more work they are able to give you and were just holding back because your ‘real boss’ was using 40% of your bandwidth.

      Wait, feel it out, and then connect with the remaining three directors about supporting them more before looking outside the team.

  9. Queen of Green*

    I try to be really good about reusing items, recycling, etc. My work does not have a recycling program and I feel bad throwing certain things in the trash, like empty cardboard boxes. I often bring these boxes home (usually tissue boxes or granola bar boxes) to put in my own recycling bin, which my boyfriend thinks is crazy. None of my coworkers have said anything, but it makes me wonder…

    Anyone else do this? Other weird/odd (but totally harmless) officemate quirks you can’t wrap your head around?

    1. You don't know me*

      I will also take home from work some things to recycle, mostly plastic bottles.

    2. Brandy*

      I do. I cant stand to not, so I put my plastic bottles, cardboard from old tissue boxes and cleaned out crushed soup cans back in my lunch bag and carry them home. Some people here years ago asked, I told them and that was it. No biggie.

    3. Enough*

      I’ve done similar things when out but years ago before recycling hit the neighborhoods my husband bad I would take things to work to recycle. And my municipality allows you to put larger things in their recycling dumpster.

    4. Heth*

      Yes, I do, although my office does recycle I collect cardboard/glass jars etc. for doing craft with girl guides and other groups I run. Unfortunately I don’t go straight home most nights I tend to end up with a stack of things under my desk. I’ve bought a large box that I fit most things into and I’ve started to have conversations about how I need things for activities so people don’t think I’m hoarding rubbish!

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Unless you’re taking anything confidential home (doesn’t sound like it), you are absolutely doing the right thing.

    6. Grits McGee*

      I bring home K cups to compost the coffee grounds- I have a designated plastic container for them in the breakroom and everything. I chose to believe that my coworkers find it incredibly charming. ;)

      1. WellRed*

        My coworker has a compost bucket here at the office. I am constantly bringing in produce scraps and forgotten fruit to throw in it. I love it.

    7. Kittymommy*

      Little different. I actually take home the boxes or big paper bags (take out, etc.) to use at home for my recycling. I don’t have curbside pick up so I have to take all of my trash/recycling myself. I love when we get shipments!

    8. Emily S.*

      Yes. I convinced the grandboss to buy a couple of large recycling bins, which I periodically empty, and take items to the local drop-off site (conveniently, right on my way home from work). They’re mostly just used for bottles and cans, but I feel better about things, since we don’t have any on-site recycling.

      1. zora*

        omg, I’m not the only one!! High Five from another person who became a one-person Recycling Program.

    9. King Friday XIII*

      I live in a bottle bill state and one of my coworkers likes to round up cans and bottles for the deposit. I don’t think anybody thinks too much of it.

    10. zora*

      I have totally done that, tell your boyfriend to shut his face ;o). In fact, at one place I started a recycling program for things that were not collected curbside and once a month piled up my car and took it to the recycling plant. But that might be a little over the top.

      If I was at your company, i would definitely start working behind the scenes to figure out how to get the building to start separating recycling, because that really upsets me that parts of this country still aren’t recycling yet. But I’m definitely a little crazy.

    11. rosie*

      I take discarded printouts and keep them at my desk to take notes on the blank side (I do a lot of phone-based work and like to keep notes during calls). It drives me crazy how often people will just toss paper in the trash!

      1. Garland not Andrews*

        Where I work we call that GOOSe paper. (Good On One Side) At one former employer we would print out monthly reports that were like half a ream long and we only needed about 20 or so of the pages. What was left just had headers and gray bars without any confidential information. I took those home all the time for use in my house printer. Where I am now, we are moving to paperless, so very little GOOSe paper any more. :-( Mostly just the coversheets from what little I do print out.

      2. tink*

        The place I work at has a tray specifically for cover sheets/messed up prints that don’t have personal information on them and cuts them into fours to use as scratch paper. Anything that could link back to a patron gets put in the paper recycling, though.

      3. Mad Baggins*

        OldJob had two printer trays, one with clean fresh paper and one for one-side-only paper. Some of us took these and made notepads out of them, but it was good to know you could re-print on them with just one click.

    12. writelhd*

      I am the green person at my office-it’s part of my job. The whole office recycling/monitors off/day to day stuff isn’t a huge part of it, it’s more a side thing I can get away with working on every so often more easily than some random person might because it fits within the umbrella of stuff I’m supposed to know about. So people come to with questions like “I have this weird thing, can it be recycled somewhere?” and I collect batteries, CFL light bulbs, and toner cartridges in a place at work that people are allowed to bring in from home to periodically bring to various venues around town that take them. I try not to be the recycling police on people (we do have office recycling) or the styrafoam cub vs reusable cup police on people except occasionally, gently, on people I have a good rapport with as kind of a good natured joke (“hey, I’m going to have to dock you some green points for that styrafoam cup, etc. I don’t make that joke very often at all though, I promise.) I do sometimes take stuff out of trash that’s on top and put it in the recycling.

      For a while I wanted to add in coffee ground composting. Cause we have two coffee machines that get constant use and there’s lots of coffee grounds in the trash. And coffee adds acidity to the soil and I have a blueberry patch at home that could use it, so I put these labeled buckets under the coffee makers for coffee ground compost, right next to the trash can. To my happy surprise, people generally used it!–I’d get two full buckets a week. I only heard a little bit of rumbling that a few people thought it was a little bit gross. I stopped though, because it depending upon me bringing them home to empty every Friday afternoon, or I think the people who thought it was gross would get really bothered, and I’m a very forgetful and absent minded human being who just could not remember to do it reliably on Fridays. So I decided that was not something I could trust myself to do well enough.

    13. Here's My Quirk*

      I can’t stand the sight of yellowed leaves on plants, so I periodically do a “plant maintenance” sweep in our lobby and pull off all the yellowed leaves.

    14. Anonymosity*

      I recycled boxes AT work at OldExjob, since I shipped samples in a wide variety of sizes, and to save money on supplies. I trained everyone to bring me boxes and packing material (except peanuts–I hate those things). I don’t think this is crazy. You might also ask occasionally if anyone needs them for anything (moving, de-cluttering, etc.).

    15. KR*

      We have a lot of homeless people or drifters in our area so we keep our bottles then put them out with a note for someone to cash in who needs the cash more than us. They are always gone within hours. I take home recycling for my bin at home every day because I can’t stand to put it in the trash.

      1. KR*

        Also I save most packing material because my job involves needing to ship things and I hate throwing away bubble wrap and boxes and then needing them a month later and having to buy them. Really helps my shipping budget.

    16. Susan K*

      The admin at my old job used to take people’s mousepads home and clean them. They were the kind with a cloth top, so she would scrub them with dish soap and a toothbrush. She would take a couple at a time and swap them out with the last ones she cleaned.

    17. EB*

      My boss sort of took on being the “green” person in our office– she’s managed to convince leadership to embrace recycling over the years and honest to God– we just got compost bins a couple weeks ago which has been great and people are starting to understand just how much can be composted! Don’t be afraid to at least ask about piloting a program!

    18. Queen of Green*

      Reading all these stories of recycling at work makes my heart happy! Thinking I can put a small bin in my section’s “kitchen” and see how that goes…

    19. Blue Eagle*

      Glad to see so many people take stuff home to recycle. I do the same. Good on ya!

    20. Nacho*

      You have no recycling bins anywhere in your office? That’s kind of weird.

      Is there anybody you could talk to about setting something up?

    21. Luna123*

      I totally used to do that at my old job, where the only recycling bin was the recycling dumpster outside. It was so much easier to flatted & shove used tissue boxes, etc. in my purse and take them home, rather than touching a gross dumpster to just put one little thing in there.

    22. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Incidentally, a massive amount of the recycled materials used to be bought by China. They’ve stopped importing our trash. So a bunch of the things we recycle currently are being dumped in landfills. /2018/04/20/news/ china-trash-recycling-environment/index .html

    23. LuJessMin*

      If I could fit it in my lunch bag or tote bag, I would take it home to recycle.

      I loved Christmas time – folks would bring me the bubble wrap and packing peanuts that came in their vendor gifts and I would take it to my favorite place, the glass blowing school in my town for use in packing up glass items that people bought.

    24. Hamburke*

      I work out of my boss’s home. They don’t have recycling pick up. I take as much as I can home with me to go in my recycling bin. I don’t think that’s odd or quirky but then again, I use cloth sandwich bags and refillable bottles almost exclusively.

    25. Rogue*

      I had a former co-worker who did this. She would get upset others never offered to take the recycling home. As long as you realize this is your thing and don’t resent others for not, I think you’re fine to recycle your little heart away.

  10. BRR*

    I work at a nonprofit and we’re going to be hiring soon for a development database manager. One of the most important things we’re looking for is attention to detail because we are currently having issues with data being entered correctly. Any thoughts or recommendations for a skills test? This position is asking from 3-5 years of experience so I don’t want to ask for anything that would come off as condescending.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      How about having them do a trial run with some fake data? Set up a dummy database and walk them through it. Obviously, they know it’s a test, but you can present it more as “This is the kind of thing you would do” than “This is a test.” Even when you’re talking somebody through steps, you can tell a lot about how comfortable they feel around a database and what level of attention to detail they have.

    2. AnonyAnony*

      Do you have any actual work tasks that can be adapted for a test? For example, when hiring for a person to enter gifts and create thank you letters/gift receipts, I mocked up a few receipts and letters (using fake names) and purposely added in some typos and errors that should be easy to catch. Each job candidate was asked to edit the documents so we could gauge attention to detail.

    3. noob*

      Anytime humans are entering data mistakes will get made. I’d be most interested in finding out how they find and correct (okay, or prevent) mistakes. In my work we have audit reports that run constantly that show bad or suspect data, so it can be corrected right away. I’d ask specifically how your candidates handled it.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        This – goes along the lines of “what sort of checks do you like to set up and employ to ensure data entry is error free?”. That can tell you a lot of how they may think and consider the data as a whole.

    4. Blossom*

      How about giving them an anonymised sample of real, messy data, and asking them to walk you through how they would approach it if they were given it to input? As well as testing how many problems they spot and what techniques they’d use, it will show you what questions they have. This will help you identify candidates who understand the importance of data quality. They should be asking what each field will be used for, where the data comes from, etc. If this isn’t forthcoming, follow up with some prompts.
      You should also ask how they monitor data quality on an ongoing basis.

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        I had applied for a data entry role a couple of years ago and they gave me a little test just like this. They told me there were 10 “errors” within the data. I had to spot the errors and I also had to fill in some forms based on the raw data given to me.

        The only thing is, I found 11 errors… As far as I knew I had not been disqualified (I had been told they wanted to proceed to the next round, but accepted another job offer that came through before that was scheduled), so I always sort of wondered – did I misinterpret one of the “errors”? Was it is a trick – saying that there were 10 rather 11? Is the person who created it just not good at attention to detail?

        1. Star Nursery*

          Haha, my guess is that the test was looking to see if you caught all 11 errors. I could see it being kind of a trick test.

    5. AnnieAnon*

      Our office sends a skills test before deciding who to bring in for an in-person. For jobs that include a lot of data the main question is typically ‘ highlight potential errors on this spreadsheet’ (numbers in the ethnicity column, birthdays being in the future, results not matching, etc), then also asking the applicant to describe how they would go about fixing these errors, and what they would do to prevent them in the first place.

      1. hambone*

        The job title is more likely saying they’re managing the database, not managing people. Like a social media manager is a person who manages social media accounts, and not necessarily a team of people.

        1. hambone*

          I am just guessing though, their actual job description could be different than what I’m understanding.

      2. BRR*

        Manager is a reference to the seniority level. Data entry would likely be a small part of their overall job, I think noob put it best a couple of responses up, I’m looking more for how they spot and correct.

    6. Serious Sam*

      Sorry, I’m confused. You are recruiting for a Database Manager, and you want them to fix your manual data-entry issues? Beyond writing rigorous sanity checks of every field entered manually, how do you expect them to fix this problem?

      1. BRR*

        The title isn’t finalized yet (and after a couple similar replies I’m going to advocate to use a different one). It would be more of an overall operations role which would include overseeing the database. Our biggest way of fixing this problem was firing the person who was making almost all of the mistakes. I guess my question is more how to check for attention to detail because most people in the department have a little PTSD from how many we were finding.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Something involving the term “data governance” may land you closer to the target of what you’re looking for. Entering data is important, but it sounds like your company also needs to do some thinking around a company standard for how that data is formatted, and to have someone in charge of the standard. And assuming you’re small enough that one person could cleanse the data appropriately (i.e. fix errors and make sure things meet the standard), this is a good time to start thinking about that. It’s a lot easier to develop a standard when you’re small and be able to scale it up, than to wait until you’re big and have tons of data that needs to be cleansed.

        2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          This description helps, to me a database manager is totally different that what you are looking for. So I would definitely rethink your title and do some research to find a fitting one.

          I might even suggest Data Analyst. It’s indicative of an individual contributor but within the role could cover a lot of different things, from report writing to scripting to data analysis. The person inputting the data would be closer classified as data entry, so be mindful of the percentage of time for the different tasks.

          I’m sure you can find some accuracy tests on line, but it could be as simple as setting the person down with sample data that they have to transcribe. I think that’s the only way you’re going to be able to determine ability.

          However, I’d be cautious about this. A data analyst will likely be very turned off by this test as it’s going to scream data entry at them. (I was an analyst in former lifetime and would have ended an interview if I was asked to take an accuracy test thinking I was being lured into a data entry bait and switch). That’s why I’d spell out very clearly the role and percentage of time dedicated to data entry vs. other functions.

        3. Visualization Specialist*

          Maybe late to the game, but I’d suggest something like Data Services Manager or Data Operations Manager. Agree that rather than putting them thru an entry test, ask about their processes for implementing data standards, validating entry, auditing, reporting… I’d look for answers along the lines of indentfying patterns in entry errors, working with database specialists to implement validation into the entry process, training entry specialists, best practices to standardize how data is stored…

    7. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I’m confused the job title and the description that you mention doesn’t seem to fit. Will this person be doing data entry?

    8. HR in the city*

      Do you have a local job service or another company that does employment testing? Where I am there is a local job service that provides tests on different skills so we sent job applicants to them to take a skills test for free. To me it’s fine to make them prove they have the skills they claim to have. I have 15 years office experience and I still had to prove I had Word & Excel skills when I got the job I currently have. We rely heavily on Excel so I don’t think it was condescending to prove that.

    9. ..Kat..*

      Ha, ha, ha. Remember the employer who would tell job interviewees that the interviewer was running behind and give the interviewees a complicated, fussy lunch order to go get? Don’t do this.

  11. Mango Seltzer*

    So I’m in my late 30s and have finally realized that I’m happiest in a job where I’m assembling – that is, I don’t want to come up with an idea and I don’t want to build the pieces of the idea, but I am perfectly content putting those pieces together based on someone else’s instructions. I like being behind the scenes, I like being second in command. My job currently is like this and I like it, but the next step up would mean becoming first in command on a team and I really don’t want that. But I do want to make more money. I just have no idea what sorts of higher-paying positions there are for people who don’t want to be idea people or builders of pieces. My background is in journalism (which I do not want to purse again) and I’m currently working in email marketing. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

      1. Super B*

        I second that. I work as an EA and absolutely love it. High level EAs can make 6 digits where I leave (I don’t because I chose a more laid back job over money) but talk about being behind the scenes getting the work done! I find that kind of work utterly satisfactory without the pressures of managing anyone’s work.

        1. AnonGD*

          Yep! Not only that, in my organization, EAs are highly regarded and respected. I know that’s not true everywhere but it’s definitely possible!

    1. Cheesecake 2.0*

      I’m a project manager and basically all I do is make grand ideas happen for others.

      1. Mango Seltzer*

        I do a lot of project management in my current role and I do like it. I just worry that I don’t have enough experience at it to get a job where that’s *all* I would do.

          1. Autumnheart*

            There is, the PMP. (Project Manager Professional) For details, google “PMP certification your state/country”. One doesn’t have to have a job title of project management, but one does need to rack up a specific number of hours managing projects in addition to passing the certification exam. But PMP certification is a respected and valuable certification.

        1. Cheesecake 2.0*

          If you’re driven, organized, and willing to learn, I don’t think it would matter much to a lot of employers. I have no formal project management training. I’ve been told I do not need any either, to keep my job/progress in my career at this company. We’re hiring another right now and none of our applicants have the PMP certificate and we’re fine with that. It’s mostly about being able to track lots of little things, stay organized, and be effective with communication.

    2. RainyDay*

      When you say you don’t want to be first in command, does that knock out supervisor positions? Because higher level project management jobs absolutely exist, and you should look around to see what’s in your field. I recently got a more “assembly” type job after a stint in creator-land, and discovering it’s not the job for me. I was able to negotiate a significantly higher salary for the project management job, so it’s definitely possible!

    3. Afiendishthingy*

      I need you! I’m good at coming up with ideas and total crap at putting the pieces together. EA sounds right

    4. Argh!*

      There’s no rule that everyone must aspire to move up a ladder. The world is full of people in management who are not cut out for management. If you’re doing what you love, see if you can get a raise where you are or an offer for more money elsewhere. (Or use an offer for more money elsewhere as leverage to get more money where you are)

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Business Analyst!

      I always loved this role, because I thrive in execution. That and being a project manager has too many rules you have to follow. Basically a BA focuses on requirements and execution while the PM sets the schedule and architects the overall plan.

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      Technical writer? You could write things like patents, manuals, grants, and publications.

    7. justbecause*

      What about being an Assistant Director? I think this is a role where you would be expected to contribute ideas but you might also spend a lot of town helping the Director take big picture ideas to a version where they could be executed.

  12. Wannabe Disney Princess*


    Totally just venting today.

    I have a coworker who is making me want to rip my hair out. He’s thrown me under the bus this week so many times, it’s not even funny. Fortunately, I always have an email trail to get myself out from under the bus. This mistakes and errors are always his. He NEVER reads an email you send him. He never checks our online systems. It’s constant inflammatory and aggressive emails. If you point out it’s because he neglected to answer something (I’m always careful to not actually say “it’s your fault”) he goes off the deep end and tries to pin it back on you. He’s just so ridiculously hostile.

    Another admin and I have commiserated – so I know it’s not just me. In fact to let off steam, she’ll forward me email trails she’s copied on with just an “OMG”. Sometimes it’s hostility directed at her. Sometimes it’s peers. Other times it’s clients. He also, actively, antagonizes vendors. Which is only a teensy eensy bit better than actively. attacking the clients.

    Management is copied on the under-bus-throwing emails. I’ve complained to his manager. I’ve complained to my manager (Co-Irker’s GrandBoss). And nothing gets done.

    I enjoy almost everyone else I work with. But I’m pretty sure he’s making my blood pressure and/or anxiety shoot to the moon.

    1. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      Ugh, that sucks, I’m sorry. Keep doing what you’re doing to be able to prove him wrong. One day it will come back to bite him in the ass. Hang in there!

      1. Brandy*

        yep, once the vendors get tired of his attitude. I cant believe the company allows him to act like this to outside vendors. Its not good to act like this to you, but to vendors, a huge no-no

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          It’s the hostility towards the vendors that really irks me. If he’s hostile to me I can, mostly, ignore it. Shoot a quick text to a friend with a brief vent and then move on my merry way.

          But the vendors? It’s awful. He berated one because HE ordered a product that was new. It wasn’t available to ship for another month (which was not only stated on their website, in the pricing guide, but also the fricken email from the vendor). He lit into them that they needed to figure it out and he wasn’t responsible and this was outrageous and blah blah blah blah.

          So. Not only is he hostile…he makes us look like idiots.

          1. boo bot*

            Does your management know he’s doing this to vendors? I guess it’s not as bad as berating a client (except in the decent-human-being sense) but it’s likely to trash the relationship with the vendor.

    2. Scott*

      Treat the situation as absurd. Like he’s a nutcase. And don’t take any stock in it. There’s always one with a loose screw.

    3. You don't know me*

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this. One of my favorite passive aggressive ways to say “its your fault” is to reply to the email with “as previously mentioned” and then copy paste what was in the original email that he ignored.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That sounds incredibly frustrating.

      Keep maintaining your own paper trail so you can CYA. Unfortunately, you can’t make the managers take action.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        Oh, that is the one thing I learned in college. ALWAYS have a paper trail.

        In fact, most people here love that I have said paper trail and will ask me to dig back through. It not only saves my rear but everyone else’s.

        (And yes, I’m still job searching. No new interviews…but a few nibbles on my resume. So a leeeeeetle bit of progress.)

    5. zora*

      I totally commiserate, I have been at the end of my rope with people like that.

      I know you don’t want advice, but one thing you said made me worry. Be REALLLYYYY careful about forwarding email threads back and forth. I have one of those stories where I accidentally sent the “OMG” message TO the person I was complaining about. It was horrible and I still stress about it sometimes. I would suggest screenshotting or switching to a different platform when you are sharing something he said, to reduce the chances of making a mistake. Just a tip from my personal experience!!

      I wish you as many hours free from dealing with him as possible.

        1. zora*

          ok good!! That was really worrying me!
          But here’s an UGH for you, I will join you in being annoyed with this dude. It’s almost the weekend and you can be free from him for 2 days, Yay!!

    6. SavannahMiranda*

      I had a co-worker like this once. It was absolutely infuriating. And like you I reality checked myself to make sure it wasn’t just me. It wasn’t. Like you I also documented, documented, documented. Defended myself, and tried to maintain good relationships in an embattled situation where I didn’t always know who was in her pocket versus who knew the truth.

      It took management at that job about a year to put together the evidence to remove her. Unfortunately, I had left by then. But one of the senior-senior bosses ordered me downstairs for a coffee shop meeting my last week. He told me how sorry he was to see me go, strongly hinted that he knew what was up and was in the loop on what would happen to her but that it was taking time, and gave me a gentle verbal spanking for not talking to him before turning in my notice as he could have assured me of all of this indirectly, and would rather have had me stay.

      Huh. That was validation for sure, but my notice was in and I was on my way out. And honestly, I think some of this comes down to the responsibility of Management to indirectly tell the valuable people in your position that they know what is up and are working on it before valuable people give notice. If they had simply done that the many times I went to them, I wouldn’t have left.

      Losing good people is what comes from not having the tools to eliminate toxic behavior with all due speed. You would not be out of place if you moved on. But I understand being torn and not wanting to leave. And as Allison says, never never turn in a resignation that’s a threat or a bluff. So this is a tough place to be in all around.

      If you ultimately trust your management, consider playing the long game. Continue to relentlessly document, coordinate with others to do so if you can, and continue to politely but firmly maintain the truth of matters. As exhausting as I know that is. If you don’t trust your management, well. That’s a different decision altogether.

    7. Observer*

      Your company is being stupid. Sure, it’s better to antagonize vendors than clients. But not by much. That kind of this can cost you bog time.

  13. anonIT*

    TLDR version: How do you navigate having a manager that doesn’t believe his senior staff and constantly questions them and goes so far as to call them out in conference calls? How do you handle a non technical manager that appears to be VERY offended that his technical team knows more than he does?

    Long version: We are a small group of senior IT administrators in a specialized group. Collectively we have 50+ years of experience in this specialty. We all pull our weight, we know what we’re doing, we don’t shirk our work responsibilities, and we’ve never given anyone cause to believe we’re simply blowing smoke out our butts when a problem falls on our lap. Our manager, Fergus, has taken a turn for the worse and flat out doesn’t believe a thing we say when we’re discussing issues. These are issues we’ve been actively troubleshooting that Fergus will comment and opine on even though he’s so far removed he’s barely on the periphery. When we are on conference calls trying to fix the issue, he will jump in and ask questions that aren’t relevant or ask basic questions that we’ve already established are not the cause hours ago. So when there is a high priority issue (think company can’t sell teapots because the ordering system is down), we end up managing the issue AND him.

    The problem is, he now gets nasty when you respond to his questions to tell him no, it’s not that. It was so bad in a recent call that Fergus described the call as “tense” but it was he himself that caused the tension when I had to stop him from hashing out a troubleshooting part that our group had already done and communicated to all involved so the meeting could be productive. He also kept asking the same questions to multiple team members because he personally did not like our technical conclusions, even with the vendor explicitly stating that the configuration we have is not supported.

    We don’t know what to do. We can’t be admins if he gets upset when we discuss technical fact. We can’t be taken seriously by other groups if he constantly questions what steps we take or flat out argues with us that we’re wrong. We were going to try to have a “come to Jesus” meeting and discuss these problems but I’m afraid he will flip out or turn it back on us (he’s great at gaslighting like that) and the situation will escalate further. Not only that, but we’ll also have to deal with constant snide off hand remarks that he “knows nothing”, even though not one of us has said anything remotely like that.

    It’s to the point that this is impacting his own view of my performance. How can I possibly fight back against a performance review that questions my communication skills when communicating with him in the first place with no raised voices etc causes him to flip out????

    I’ll take whatever advice I can get, but please don’t say find a new job because I am very aware that will be the end result for myself and others if this doesn’t change. Either that or I’ll be “laid off”.

    1. Grits McGee*

      How much information is Fergus coming into these meetings with? I wonder if it would help to have someone sit down with him ahead of time to go through the basics of the problem so that he’s not derailing meetings with questions and misapprehensions. It also sounds some of this might be the result of feeling insecure about his lack of technical knowledge, so maybe feeling a little bit more confident about understanding what’s going on would help with the non-technical communication issues. Is there anyone that you work with that seems to have a better rapport with Fergus?

      1. anonIT*

        Little to none. Since these are spur of the moment IT issues, we don’t know what we’re getting into until we’re on the call (nature of the beast). These are troubleshooting calls and high pressure to get it fixed ASAP. I agree it appears to be a lack of knowledge but with his refusal to even listen it’s not like he wants to even try to understand. Over the past six months he’s singlehandedly destroyed all trust we have and the times we’ve tried to bring this to him he acts as if it’s impossible for him not to be deeply involved and gets very upset that we’d even suggest this.

        So talking to him is like talking to an angry wall.

        I do want to elaborate a bit though: we’re not saying he shouldn’t be involved/informed because we all communicate when there’s a problem and he is on all of those emails. We need him to stop backseat driving. That probably won’t happen so I need to figure out how to cope because it’s getting tremendously insulting/frustrating.

      1. anonIT*

        That’s what I’m weighing now and might be our best option. We’re not sure though. His manager subscribes to the “manage with conflict to produce the best results” so not sure how much help that would be…

        1. Short & Dumpy*

          Short answer: Get out. Get out NOW.

          Long Answer: That’s how I dealt with a manager who didn’t trust an entire group of specialists because they told him the correct answers instead of the incredibly wrong…not to mention illegal…answers he wanted. I fought it for 3 yrs and some situations you will never be able to improve. When the next level above thinks conflict is a GOOD thing?! (yes, I’m familiar with the theory but I’ve very very rarely seen it implemented effectively…it only works if your people are disposable and/or ‘teams’ temporary) You aren’t going to get support there and it may well make things much, much worse.

          1. Short & Dumpy*

            Sorry…I know you said don’t tell me to find a new job but I just haven’t ever seen this turn out to be ‘fixable’ :( (I sure wish it would have been at my last job…I *loved* that community, job, my house, everything about it except a manager who was impossible to succeed under and repeatedly landed us in court.)

            1. anonIT*

              Thanks I really do appreciate the response!! I kinda view this as a scale and right now there are too many positives to tip the scale into the “I need to start looking now” bucket but it’s on the back of my mind :/

            2. Observer*

              And your idiot management wouldn’t stop him?

              The first time could be an honest mistake. After that? They DESERVED to be in court.

        2. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

          I think your best shot with his manager may be to lead in with the vendor issue. Point out that what Fergus said was directly contrary to what the vendor said, that you’re concerned that this kind of behavior may alienate your vendor, and that the tone certainly didn’t help. Build from there; don’t sound like you’re calling for his head but you can definitely point out that he’s been trying to micromanage in a way that is having a direct, negative impact on the technical team and that it’s making part of said boss’ domain look bad.

          Generally, managers who are only interested in the best results are big on image. Point out that something is making them look bad and you can sometimes get some results. Unfortunately, I think you’re best bet is going to be a well written resume and great cover letters. Managing styles like Fergus don’t exist in a vacuum. Especially if his boss thinks conflict is going to get him shining stars. Even if you solve this problem, there are just going to be more fires to put out in that forest.

        3. Observer*

          I agree about getting out.

          But do make sure that what’s going on is known up the chain. You want it to be CLEAR that you and your team are doing your jobs. Because if your grandboss refuses to to take action, he clearly doesn’t realize that, at least in this case, conflict is NOT going to get him the results he wants. And when (not if) something goes wrong he’s going to try to turn this on you. So, keep him looped in and document your heads off to protect yourself till you get out.

    2. Kess*

      I suspect your manager and you have significantly different views of his role. Based on his behaviour, he probably thinks that as the team manager he should be involved and potentially taking a lead role in dealing with key issues and in meetings, whereas you refer to him as on the periphery and talk about stopping him during meetings. Even if you haven’t explicitly said that he knows nothing, if you shut him down every time he tries to ask questions or be involved in the discussion he’s bound to get this impression. I would likewise suspect that the way you react to his attempts to participate are also what he’s referring to when he critiques your communication skills – even if you aren’t raising your voice, he may still feel you are very negative or harsh.

      Now, I’m not trying to say he’s totally in the right – if he can’t handle hearing answers that aren’t what he wants to hear, that’s obviously a problem. However, the fact is you can’t determine what your manager’s role is. If he wants to be involved, trying to shut him down/out is unlikely to end well for you. It might be worth considering if or how you can enable him to feel more informed and involved in a way that won’t get in your way as much, as well as considering how your tone is coming across when you respond to his questions or suggestions.

      1. anonIT*

        I don’t think there’s any confusion regarding his role – he’s been doing this for 10+ years. Nothing has changed in that regard. And we’re not trying to shut him out – we just need him to stop backseat driving or at least figure out how to deal with it. The problem is we do answer all his questions and no matter what we say he either 1) does not believe us (which is so incredibly condescending) or 2) gets upset that we contradict him and tell him no, we’ve already checked this and its not that. It’s a technical problem – there’s really no sugarcoating or politic playing.

        I can’t really give a great example because this is so IT specific, but think if you went to a car mechanic because your car isn’t starting, then standing behind him asking if he checked every little periphery item and then getting upset when he tells you “no, the car has gas” or something similar. That’s as best an analogy I can give.

        1. Jules the Third*

          There is *always* politic playing, any time you have two people interacting. You were polite in refuting Kess, but not open to hearing what Kess had to say. If you treat your manager like this, over time, he will get frustrated, and the relationship will start to become adversarial, as he tries to stay relevant.

          There’s a *huge* difference between, ‘we tried that already. next suggestion?’ and ‘Thanks for mentioning that, boss. When we tried it, we got X result, which showed us it wasn’t the problem. X result indicates the problem’s probably over here.’

          This is a political / politeness difference; the first is goal-focused but dismissive, the second demonstrates respect for your boss. It takes a little longer, but it might actually get you around his other delays and make the whole process faster.

          You can also do some training sessions with the whole team including the manager where you review common problems you may face, and the *process* for solving them, and ask if people see places where the process should change. As a signal of respect, you could tell him before the training that you’ll ask this, and that you’d like to start by asking him, directly – to ‘get the ball rolling’ and ‘give the team an example.’ Make sure that you accept at least one of his suggestions.

          Different people need different kinds of communication / handling. I’m shifting from working with a bunch of engineers to a new team; the engineers, I could be straight and simple. The new batch, I have to make sure they hear me acknowledge their position, hear ‘thank you’ even if it’s just for doing their job, etc. It’s more work, but it’s what will get the new team to actually work instead of spending hours on passive-aggressive or defensive emails.

        2. Brownie*

          It may be worth looking at what he’s doing from a control standpoint. It sounds a lot like every hands-on “I need to feel involved and in control” boss I’ve had starts acting when they’re out of their depth in a technical setting. And you’re totally right, it comes across as not trusting the technical people and that leads to a deep dark hole of resentment where the technical people start ignoring and shunning the manager.

          My new boss recently started embarking down the Fergus path and I ended up going into a one-on-one with him and asking him “Fergus, do you have questions or doubts about my technical qualifications?” He instantly responded in the negative and was shocked that I’d even ask that of him. When he asked why I’d asked I responded that he’d been second-guessing my deductions and statements in calls and meetings and now I was confused and could he please clarify why he was questioning my knowledge like that. After that one on one he stopped second-guessing me and started taking more of a back seat managerial organizer role which helps my team since we need a manager, not another technical person.

        3. WannaAlp*

          You said he’d recently taken a turn for the worse. But he’s been doing this job for 10+ years. So it sounds like he hasn’t always been doing this backseat driving?

          Maybe something has happened in his life that is having a bad effect on him, to have this change. Would it be worth someone (not sure whether you, or someone else like a friend of his, or his manager) asking about whether everything is ok in his life and what has happened to him that he used to be ok at managing and now he has turned into this backseat driver? Someone with tact and caring and who can pick the right words to say to him. Maybe there’s something going on behind this, something that could be addressed?

    3. Logan*

      We had a boss problem recently – quite a few of us mentioned it to GrandBoss with specifics on how it affected our work. He was moved to a special project within weeks.

  14. Peaches*

    Just an update…I wrote in last Friday about wanting to meet with my boss about transitioning roles.

    We are meeting next Tuesday….super nervous, but excited for the possibilities. Wish me luck!

    1. nailed second interview!*

      Good luck! And congratulations on opening the conversation to start with, that’s huge!

    2. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

      GOOD LUCK!! Make sure you are well prepared, and anticipate any questions/concerns s/he may have.

  15. nailed second interview!*

    Job search is going great! One issue I need help with, though. I did nail the second interview, provided my range, and a month later have just received a job description … which does not entirely line up with both what I thought we were discussing re the position and what I want to do next (current job is in a pretty toxic org but stable enough that I want to move for a great step up, not just the first thing to come along).

    Anyone have advice for opening the conversation to negotiating the job description? They’re creating a brand new position for me, here, so I think there’s /some/ negotiation room but have never done this before!

    1. kbeers0su*

      I think you could come back with a very matter-of-fact “Thanks for sending this info along. Based on our previous conversations I was under the impression that the role would have a heavy focus on A, B, and C with only some responsibility for D and E. The description you attached seems to prioritize those a bit differently. Will there be a chance to discuss this in more concrete terms as we move forward in the process?”

  16. Tracery*

    I have just recorded my first EP :) 5 tracks of traditional songs. Spotted a couple of mistakes on the way home so may have to go back and tweak, but overall I’m pleased (and excited!)
    Launching in August, woohoo!

    1. Inspector Spacetime*

      Congrats! What kind of music is it? What do you mean by “traditional songs”?

    2. Batshua*

      You’re gonna tell us how to get it, right?

      I’m especially interested if you do murder ballads. :D

  17. Susan K*

    What is the etiquette on chewing tobacco at work? I have some coworkers who chew tobacco, and I find it disgusting. I don’t care if they do it at home, but I don’t want to see it. There’s one guy on my team who does it at lunch and during meetings while sitting right next to me, and the sound of him hocking the tobacco into his water bottle makes me gag (and seeing it is even worse, though I try not to look at it).

    Am I just being a snob, or is it kind of rude to subject coworkers to the sights and sounds of tobacco chewing? Would it be reasonable to ask this guy not to do it around me? If so, what’s a better way of saying, “That’s disgusting; please stop.”?

    1. beanie beans*

      The smells and sounds are SO GROSS! Our non-smoking policies actually include chewing tobacco. I’m sorry, I have no advice, just my deepest sympathy.

    2. Mrs. Psmith*

      My husband dips and I find it disgusting. I made him start using opaque containers because he was using water bottles (or spitting in the toilet and not flushing, gag) and it made me nauseated to see it.
      However, for the work part of your question, I’ve had coworkers who used chewing tobacco and it was banned from the workplace per the companywide smoking policy. Even smokeless tobacco products were on the list, so you had to do it outside on an actual “smoke break.” You might want to check your company’s policy.

    3. DCGirl*

      I’ve seen employee handbooks that forbid it, let’s put it that way. It’s not the same as chewing gum, no matter what its proponents say.

    4. You don't know me*

      That is so disgusting of him. There are so many better ways he could handle this. I occasionally work with a chewer and I didn’t even know he was doing it the first couple of times we met! He had a coffee cup with him and I thought he was just sipping his beverage but it was actually his spit cup. He was so discreet about it.

      Does you company have a tobacco policy? At an old job the policy was very specific. You were not permitted to use tobacco of any kind on company property, including chewing tobacco.

      1. Susan K*

        I’m not sure if there’s a policy about chewing tobacco. I know smoking is prohibited everywhere except designed smoking areas, but I’ll have to check and see if there are any rules about where chewing tobacco is allowed.

      2. Bea*

        OMG the coffee cup tho, I hope it’s one he cleans himself and doesn’t just leave caked in the sink. *cries*

    5. Midlife Tattoos*

      Yeah, if your company doesn’t have a policy against this, I would approach your manager about adding it. It’s a very offensive habit, and having bottles/cups of someone’s nasty saliva hanging around is unsanitary.

    6. LCL*

      We have two people that I know of in our group who chew. I also find it disgusting. One person is discreet and never does it around others. The other person always has a chew and a bottle. He is always careful to dispose of his bottles, but, God, it’s revolting. Chewing is definitely against our rules, but I haven’t picked that battle yet. I suppose if someone complained I would have to do something. I would start by reminding him of the rules.

    7. katkat*

      I think it’s seriously rude. I think people should do it at their desks, or take a break elsewhere to use it. I realize it takes longer than a smoke break for a cigarette, but I do not want to see your spit (or hear it).
      A lot of my coworkers use it (like, at least 50%). And they do it in meetings, putting a dip in and then talking around it while they contribute to the meeting! I think it’s more considerate to use a paper cup or opaque bottle to spit, but a lot of them use a clear water bottle so I can see it all. Not cool.
      I think, especially during lunch, you would be completely right to say, “hey the sound of spitting really bothers me, especially while I’m eating. Is there a chance you could do that elsewhere or wait until the meeting is over?” That’s reasonable.

      1. Susan K*

        Part of the problem is that we are not allowed to have food, beverages, or tobacco in our regular work area, so the only opportunities he has to chew at work are in the break room or the conference room. And he uses a clear water bottle so I get to see all the tobacco spit every time I accidentally look in his direction.

    8. TotesMaGoats*

      This brings back horrible memories of my high school job at a hardware store. Skeevy manager+chewing tobacco=Grossed out on several levels. We’d have to go to the nearby gas station and buy soda bottles (at least with his money) so he could have something to spit into all day.

      Ewww. Write that into the no smoking policy.

    9. katkat*

      I just commented saying that several of my coworkers do this, but then some of the other replies got me thinking – so I looked for a policy, and ours clearly states that any tobacco has to be used in designated areas. There are a huge number of people that don’t follow this. Can I do something to address it (does being a fairly junior woman working with mostly men have an impact?).

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        You could certainly bring it up with HR or a manager who would be involved in enforcing handbook rules. It would be on them to decide if they really want to fight that battle, tho. And I think that being a junior woman working with mostly men would mean you’d absolutely feel some blowback from the guys who are having their dipping curtailed. :( Not fair, but probably a reality.

        1. Arjay*

          The minute they decided not to “fight that battle” is the minute I’d decide the rest of the handbook was optional too.

    10. That would be a good band name*

      It’s included in our “no tobacco” policy. I would rather someone actually smoke next to me than chew. (Not that I think people should be doing either at their desk at work.) Those spit cups are just so disgusting.

    11. Anonymosity*

      A couple of my coworkers at OldExjob did it, in the office, but they were very discreet about it. One used a soda can and the other an opaque cup. I couldn’t smell it or I would have complained. Not that it would have done any good.

      Personally, I think it shouldn’t be done in the office. (It’s also a complete dealbreaker for dating anyone. I don’t care if you look like Chris Hemsworth; smoking or dipping is a hard no.)

      1. Susan K*

        I used to have a coworker who spit into a soda can and often left it sitting on the break room table. I lived in fear of accidentally mixing up my soda with his spit can at lunch.

        1. Creeping Around Dagobah*

          As someone who accidentally drank a friends cigarette butt once, your fear is justified.
          Pretty sure that is when I swore of soda.

    12. Careers and jobs tool O-netonline*

      People I know who chew don’t do it at work at all. They know that spitting in front of colleagues/clients is not an option. I’m surprised your management hasn’t brought a stop to this.

    13. KayEss*

      Well, there is a significant chance that in your shoes I would wind up literally vomiting on him, but going out of your way to do that on purpose is probably a last-ditch option.

    14. What's with today, today?*

      We used to have an employee who always had dip in his mouth and a spit bottle. So gross.

    15. Catalin*

      The etiquette is NO, NO, NO THIS IS NEVER APPROPRIATE IT IS SOOOOOO GROSS. I would literally throw up if I saw/smelled that at work. Might not make it to the bathroom.

      I realize I’m extra sensitive to smells, but I think my reaction here is fairly universal.

      Gotta do something else, actually getting gaggy now.

    16. Aphrodite*

      Gah, I hate to say this but I’d find this so repulsive I would end up probably vomiting the first time he was sitting in a meeting next to me and did that. It wouldn’t be intentional but I can feel my stomach just reading this. (Kind of like finding a hair in my food; there are just some things that set off my automatic gag reflex and require an immediate run to the bathroom.)

      I have no suggestions, just a lot of sympathy.

  18. Amylou*

    Last night I got a LinkedIn request from an HR person from a company I interviewed at 3,5 years ago. A bit odd, and probably an accidental address book add? I don’t know…

    Anyway, it just reminded me of that situation. Basically, I interviewed for an entry-level/traineeship job, and it went extremely well, had a very good rapport, very nice conversation with the people there, rocked the intelligence test.

    I then got a call a day later with a job offer, conditional on an external assessment. I went to the assessment done by an external company, and it just didn’t go well… the place was out in the sticks, and hard to get to. I had never done an assessment before (by now I’ve read up on them and done more and would feel a little bit more comfortable doing one).

    It consisted of an interview, more personality and IQ tests, a role play mimicking the kind of tasks you’d be doing (advising clients), and in the end the external agency gave a negative advice, mostly based on the roleplay exercise I feel in hindsight. It was (with my permission) sent to the company, but I never ever heard back from the company – like not even a short rejection call or email! And this HR person had already sent me the job offer and all the details.

    And now a LinkedIn invite to remind me of that! In hindsight, I don’t think the industry would have totally been my thing, but I could’ve done a good job there. Even now, I think I would definitively have had the qualities and competences to do a great job there. But no regrets there. My career’s gone into an entirely different direction and one which I love. But when I looked up the HR person’s name in my gmail inbox, I ended up rereading the report and the emails today, and I feel I would have approached or thought about the situation differently than I have today.

    The position was advising clients about rather complex matters – and one for which you had to pass lots of exams and certifications BEFORE you’re even allowed to do any of that advising. But the roleplay was exactly about that – it was talking to a client over the phone about a rather complex matter with zero knowledge about the subject matter. In the report they wrote I didn’t go deep enough into the issue, didn’t consider the long-term consequences of my proposed solution. Reading it now, it feels a bit like a ‘set-up’. Maybe that was the intention (I know that’s the case in some of these things), but it just doesn’t feel right. I did hit the personality profile on lots of points and lots of good points on other things. But in the end, a negative advice, mostly based on the roleplay from what I can see.

    So yeah, not a fan of assessments in general. I haven’t done too well at them. I think it’s a combination of introvertedness and having a hard time conveying enthusiasm (as in “I am definitely enthusiastic / interested in X, but I have a hard time actually *showing* that enthusiasm to an interviewer/assessor” – something I’ve read on AMA before), unnatural situations and stress, my general inability and dislike of role-playing…

    And I think it’s hard and not always fair to use these for entry-level positions and people new to the workforce. Some qualities or competences can grow or be developed over time, especially if you’re applying for an entry-level/trainee position straight out of college. I also always have the feeling these assesments are a bit biased towards extraverted people or people with acting experience ;)

    Finally, thinking about it now, what really irked me about the above situation, was that everyone else was so enthusiastic, but nothing about that didn’t seem to count after the negative assessment: both the interviewers seemed positive, my would-be manager who walked me to the exit seemed very enthusiastic, the fact they called the day after with the conditional job offer, etc. and then not a peep after the report was sent. It was a silent rejection, basically I was ghosted!

    In a different universe, when I would have had more self-confidence at the time, I maybe would have stuck up for myself more and called to get an explanation. But I was so down and out and depressed and job searching for over half a year, I somehow didn’t manage to do even that…

    /rant over ;)

    1. kbeers0su*

      That makes me wonder of the company actually discussed with the external folks what they wanted out of the interview. They may have not had input or only given minimal parameters, and the external folks may have taken it to that level (focusing on minutae) instead of focusing on the bigger “can they advise a client well.” That’s the problem with outsourcing- if you’re not really clear about what you want/need it’s up for interpretation.

      1. Amylou*

        Yes, that may have been the case. I like how you put that. I can see how this exercise could have worked for someone with a bit more knowledge/experience. They could’ve picked a different, more familiar and realistic case for a total newbie (as in not industry related but using the same/similar skills/competences in a client/customer advising situation ), rather than something that would just never ever happen in real life.

  19. Sunflower*

    How does hr work with hiring managers at your companies?

    I am a mid level manager, and usually hr would get candidates in and handle the administrative aspects of recruiting. Now we have a new recruiter and she wants things to work differently. She wants to get final approval on all hires. She also wants me to give her a salary range and she will negotiate and decide where the candidate fits in the range. Usually I would give her a number and if the candidate wanted more I would handle the negotiations. She also has complaints about not getting enough of a vote and her opinions not being taken seriously enough in the process. If I nix a candidate she likes she gets mad.

    I am obviously going to be speaking with other managers and her boss about getting on the same page, but am curious about the role of hr elsewhere.

    1. Lumos*

      This sounds not right, if that gives you any solace. Does she have an understanding of what you need and what people who can fill that position are worth? She seems like she would be unequipped to handle all of that without in-depth knowledge of what you do.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      At the big corp where I work, the hiring manager has final say in hiring decisions, but HR sets the pay rates based on some set of criteria.

      1. pleaset*

        “At the big corp where I work, the hiring manager has final say in hiring decisions, but HR sets the pay rates based on some set of criteria.”

        Same at my small organization. I think they could veto choices in extreme conditions, but definitely doesn’t make picks.

    3. Judy (since 2010)*

      In larger companies, HR would certainly have a say about compensation, because they are responsible to make sure that the pay is fair. I’ve mostly only talked with HR about the pay, so negotiations are with them. Quite possibly HR would have rare “veto” abilities about candidates, but not a vote about candidates in general. (HR veto ability due to background check, etc.)

    4. LCL*

      HR does the prescreening and administers the process. The hiring manager does have the final say, but HR has to approve it.

        1. LCL*

          Mm, more like HR blesses the final selection. If you ask them, they say the decision is up to the hiring managers, they just make sure the process is administered fairly and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

          1. NorCalifHR*

            This. My HR team and I screen resumes to make sure the candidate has most of the essential skills (no such thing as a unicorn!), provides the hiring manager with a base compensation range as a starting point, and sits in on the final round interviews to both field benefit questions, and provide another set of eyes/guts evaluating cultural fit.

            We do screen out folks with few/no essential skills, failure to follow recruiting guidelines (send resume in MS Word to email.address), fails to respond to interview invitations, and similar issues. The only time we veto a candidate is on the basis of lying on the application, background check fail, or drug test fail. We view hiring as ‘rolling the dice’ and understand that the manager knows the job and the department better.

    5. designbot*

      I’d try to get down to why she thinks these steps are necessary—does she not feel great about the hires themselves, is she under budget pressure, or is it just what she’s used to?
      My company’s process is that he forwards me a bunch of candidates through a pretty loose filter. Myself and one other team member respond saying which ones we want to see and hr sets up interviews. We interview them and then tell hr if we want them and where we see them fitting into our team—they’re more experienced than rickon but not as much as Sansa, etc. if there’s any problems coming to an agreement or they see themselves differently we’ll touch base again and see if anything more makes sense. We don’t even talk hard numbers, just position and experience compared to existing team members . Hr does all the hard numbers. It’s a little weird but I’m also kind of glad that I don’t know individual salaries.

    6. Schnoodle*

      I’ll do the front end screening of resumes, then phone screening if Hiring Manager is busy. I’d go over a few questions with them depending on if it’s a position I haven’t done this with or whatnot. From there I’ll schedule the top X candidates into the HM’s calendar. Sometimes I’m in on the interview, sometimes not.

      That said, HR can smell a PITA a mile away. As I’m sure some managers can too. So it’s good to have a conversation over the candidates with HR to get their feel too.

      I do think the recruiter you have is a little sensitive and somehow thinks she knows how’s best for every job which is ridiculous to me…I know in general what most jobs do here but I WANT someone who’s on the floor or field or whatever to get their take if the candidate has the skill and personality for a potential fit.

      Then I do New Hire Orientation and the paperwork and send them off.

    7. Anon for now*

      Why would a new recruiter have the authority to change the way hiring is done? That does not sound right at all.

    8. Snowglobe*

      Nope. That would not fly at all here. HR screens candidates (based on what the hiring manager says they are looking for), refers top candidates to the hiring manager who selects those she wants to interview. Hiring manager makes the finsl pick. HR provides the salary range, but hiring manager decides how much to pay within that range.

      The only way HR would get more involved is if there was a concern about something like discrimination. Even then, it would likely just be to raise the issue and make sure hiring manager justifies and documents their decision. HR does not have enough specific knowledge about what skills are needed to make the best decision.

    9. Kittymommy*

      Here HR would definitely be involved in this, and without fail the compensation aspect would be handled mostly by them if it’s being asked outside if the applicable range. The manager would have final say on a hire (but not on salary outside if range), but he would have input.

    10. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’ve only ever seen this from a candidate/employee perspective, but HR pre-screens resumes, the hiring manager reviews and decides who to interview and ultimately who to hire. When I started a year ago, I negotiated my salary with my manager, but by the time my colleague was hired a month later they’d changed the process so she negotiated with HR. I actually think that’s the better policy; it didn’t exactly start me out on the best foot when I asked my soon-to-be manager to bump the salary and he literally just said “no”.

      1. designbot*

        that’s part of why I don’t mind not handling the money as a manager—I don’t want any contentiousness in the relationship coming in if someone hears that I don’t think they’re ‘worth’ what they think they’re worth. It’s nice for it just to be, I’m glad to have you here, you accepted terms upon which you agreed to be here, as long as you keep performing well I’ll keep advocating for nice things for you.

    11. Evil HR Person*

      Um, she doesn’t get a vote… she’s not the hiring manager, you are. She’s the finder, you’re the keeper. WTF?

      That said, the only way I can see this being a thing is if she’s trying to implement an affirmative action or a diversity plan, in which case she needs to make it clear what it is she’s doing. If her first choice is Jane, who is a woman and black, and your first choice is John, who is a man and white, and they both look the same on paper, then it would make sense for your recruiter to put the brakes on your hiring preferences – all within the context of trying to implement some kind of plan, which you should have been made privy to.

      As for the money side, I’ve seen HR be completely in charge and I’ve seen it take more of a consulting role. At my ex-job, HR was in charge of what we offered because we benchmarked all salaries to the geographical region, the person’s skill and education, their experience, etc. That gives you a pretty fair comp package to offer employees in a large company. At my job now, it’s a smaller company, so the hiring managers know the market rates and what the company can afford to bring on the new employee. Since I’m a department of one, I let them make the final decisions – only inserting my advice if it’s way off the mark, though it rarely is.

      All in all, a brand new recruiter wouldn’t (and couldn’t) know your company enough to be inserting her preferences willy-nilly. She can *eventually* update the way you do things in the company, IF it makes sense in the grand scheme of things… but she first needs to understand the grand scheme and if she’s new-ish (think, less than one year into her role), then I don’t think that’s possible. I think you can safely talk with her boss and raise your concerns.

    12. NW Mossy*

      “If I nix a candidate she likes she gets mad.”

      I’m sorry, but that is some grade-A nonsense right there. Your opinion of a candidate can and should count for much more than hers. You know the job you want this person to do, the skills they’ll need, the team dynamic, and the kind of dynamic you aim for with your directs. This is stuff that you can only understand in-depth if you, you know, manage the role in question. She can easily like someone who’d be a terrible fit for you, so her approval is not a good metric for whether or not a candidate is a good hire.

      She’s coming off a bit like someone who wants to claim a lot more power than is probably appropriate for the role she has, and it’s going to come back to bite her if she loses credibility with the people she’s supposed to be supporting. She’s the one that needs a recalibration.

    13. nk*

      “She also has complaints about not getting enough of a vote and her opinions not being taken seriously enough in the process. If I nix a candidate she likes she gets mad.”

      Oh nooooo. No way is that her job. I work in finance, and HR is absolutely not qualified to be doing actual selection! Our HR pre-screens candidates, and recently they’ve really added value by doing proactive LinkedIn recruiting to get candidates who weren’t actively looking. We’ve recently made a couple good hires this way. But once they pass along the resumes, it’s all on the hiring manager(s) to select who to interview and make final decisions on candidates (other than background check-related issues, of course). HR schedules the interviews.

      Comp is a bit of a collaboration, as I work for a very large company that has some pre-determined ranges. But the hiring manager gets sign-off on the amount and may provide input on negotiations (though HR generally takes care of the direct communication with the candidate as it pertains to negotiation, and keeps the hiring manager closely looped in).

  20. Lumos*

    We have a three step clock-in process that irritates me. They moved all the computers that were on the same floor as the building entry. So we have to enter the building, go up the stairs to a computer, log in to the computer, then we have to open and log into our time keeping software, and then we’re not clocked in until we hit a button. This is incredibly annoying, especially since the computers take forever to load (because so many different people use them.) and you can miss the clock-in window because you were standing in front of the computer waiting for it or the program to load. We all have to badge in to the building and we’ve asked about whether it would be possible to clock-in that way and we were told yes it was possible, but no it wouldn’t happen. Arghhhh

    1. You don't know me*

      That does sound irritating! They aren’t docking you pay if you are logged in late because of this are they? I’m not a lawyer but I seem to remember Comcast had to pay a class action to their employees because they were required to come into work 10 minutes early to log into the system so they could actually start work exactly on time.

      If you are in the building and in front of the computer at your start time, then you should not be docked pay because it takes the computer too long to get started.

      1. Lumos*

        If we clock in late we have to take a short lunch or stay late to make up the time. I can occasionally get my supervisor to adjust the punch, since if I clocked in 5 seconds past the window, I was obviously in the building and at a computer at the right time, but I definitely feel that’s not an argument I can make very often. (it happens to me about once a month)

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          That would be enough to make me start looking for a new job if they refuse to fix it. Petty unreasonable-ness like that really makes me angry.

    2. NotaPirate*

      Do you have computers that you do work on that stay in the building? Could you load the timekeeping software on those machines? I’d approach the discussion with your boss as a we’d get more work done if we weren’t all lining up at a machine, and also as then you know this is when people are at their desks ready to work, more accurate.

      1. Lumos*

        We all have it on our profiles, but we have to log in as ourselves before we can access it. The closest computers are one floor up from where we enter, and only a few of us have individual desk computers and those are located three floors up from where we enter.

    3. whistle*

      That sounds infuriating!! I would probably keep pushing on this and it would be a hill for me to die on. I cannot stand policies that basically boil down to “if you’re not early, you’re late.” I am a very punctual and timely person, and I get stressed out if I am late for something, but that basically means I take deadlines very seriously in both directions – if it’s due at 5 it’s not due at 4:55 (and 5:05 is late).

      Anyway, this set up sounds illegal to me, especially since your clock in time is delayed by the computer being slow, but ianal, and I’m not sure if that’s the angle to push.

      I would suggest approaching your boss from the perspective of “of course the company will find a way to make sure that employees are able to clock in promptly and easily.”

      For example, the next time the computer delays push you out of the clock-in window (I assume you have to find a manager when this happens in order to clock in?), say to the manager, “How do I make sure my clock-in time is recorded as (e.g.) 8:00 am instead of 8:08? I was ready to clock in at 8:00 but the computer wouldn’t load, which is of course out of my control.”

    4. Ciara Amberlie*

      Seconding Whistle in that this would be a hill to die on for me. They’re asking you to work for free (by coming in early to be sure that you’re clocked in on time) because the system that they’re choosing to use is not fit for purpose.

      They could either upgrade the computers so that they can load much more quickly, or they can use an alternative system (like using the badge entry times). They can’t expect you to be there, unpaid, to mitigate the delay in the current system. There have definitely been lawsuits about this exact issue, and it did not go well for the employers.

    5. That would be a good band name*

      My former employer had to pay out a TON due to an issue that is pretty close to this. Employees had to have their computer on, and several programs pulled up, before they could actually clock in and start having their time record. They were required by the department of labor to put in a way for people to be paid for the time it takes to turn on the computer and pull up the programs.

    6. Frankie*

      Yep, I had to do that in a big high rise! You had to “punch” your time on your personal computer. So you got all the way up to your floor, badged in, made it all the way to your desk, and had to get booted, logged in and loaded in the HR system to start your day. It was only for hourly folks, so only some of us had to do it, and it was routine office work and the punching system made no sense for anyone in the company. Especially stressful as I relied on public transit that was pretty good, but not something you can clock to the minute. HATED it, but since none of the higher-ups had to do it it never changed.

      1. Lumos*

        A large number of us are salary, so you’re right in that the higher ups likely don’t care since it doesn’t apply to them.

    7. SavannahMiranda*

      Oh. Oh dear. Oh my. I wonder if they realize they are potentially opening themselves to legal action.

      Lawsuits are always always jurisdiction and fact-specific. Meaning just because Attorney Google returns fascinating results for “time clock lawsuit” that sound like your situation (ahem, Dollar Tree litigation, ahem) does not mean your state courts would see the facts of your situation the same. Not at all.

      But labor laws have not kindly handled employers with arduous clock-in systems. Especially when an alternate, effective system is already available in the key cards, and the employer has expressed that they know it.

      You have my greatest sympathy. Perhaps it helps simply to be aware you’re not alone by reading those Google results. Perhaps it’s worth taking up the chain. Threats never end well so it would have to be handled extremely carefully.

      If you’re inclined to go down any of those roads, talk to a labor law attorney first. Initial consultations are frequently free. And just because you have a chat doesn’t mean you’re required to pursue it. Initial consultations are for purposes of education. An attorney is the only one who can give you a sense of how your fact pattern would fare in your jurisdiction. No one else can, period. No shooting from the hip on this.

  21. KatieKate*

    Just got word that my promotion and raise went through! It’s 10%, which isn’t much monetarily at my level, but it gives my budget room to breathe so I’m really happy about that. I may join a gym! :)

  22. Bibliovore*

    Out sick for most of the week. Still weak and fuzzy.
    Any advice for pacing oneself and quelling the panicked feeling of everything that needs to get done?

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I have a sticky note on my computer that reads, “I’m a human not a machine.” And when I feel myself start to freak out, I recite it in my head. Just reinforces the fact that I am one person and there are only so many hours in the day. I’ll get one what I’m physically able to and there’s no shame in that.

    2. RabidChild*

      This is something I learned in a time management class years ago that I use to this day when I am in crunch mode and feeling overwhelmed by work: make a to do list. When you get back, don’t allow yourself to answer any emails or phone messages, just take a legal pad and write everything down. You can then go through your list and prioritize, then buckle down and get to work.

      Doing this helps me keep my anxiety about the sheer volume of work I have to do at bay, because i know exactly what needs my attention, what I might put off for a day, or what I can delegate. It is also immensely satisfying to cross things off that list! I hope it helps you too.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Remind yourself that part of the panic is because you are still recuperating. When a person does not feel up to par it’s pretty normal to feel not prepared to meet everything that goes on in one day. Once you feel better that panic will go down.
      Meanwhile handle the most pressing stuff first. Tricky part: What you think is pressing and what others think is pressing can be two different lists. The number one thing is to keep the boss happy. Start with anything that has to go to the boss. Then move on to others around you. Who is facing a time crunch? It might make sense to do their stuff first.
      Keep in mind that there are things that are “nice to do” but not “necessary”. It might just make sense to skip some of the “nice to do” things in favor of the things that are giving you the most worry.

    4. Kuododi*

      I’d say don’t follow my example when I was recovering from cancer surgery. I was supposed to be off for 6-8 weeks to recover but around week 4-5 started getting bored, restless and anxious to return to work. I managed to sweet talk my oncologist into releasing me back to work prematurely. Long story short, my first shift back at the hospital…I took on too much with patient care, ( was working on an in-patient psychiatric unit) slipped, fell and cracked a bone in my foot. Take care of yourself and take the time you need to be well and healthy. I discovered a long time ago that my places of employment got on well before I came along and wouldn’t fall apart without my presence. Blessings!!!

  23. nonny for now*

    I have started a job at a startup where my title is “ninja” and nerf ammo is all over the floor.

    pray for me.

    1. Self employed*

      I pray that your nerfs all meet their targets, and your helmet repels all attacks. Amen

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I can’t, I’m too busy rolling my eyes.

      OK, that’s mean. But I’m so curious why you took a job with the title of “ninja”. I hope the pay is good and they offer healthcare.

      1. nonny for now*

        1. they didn’t tell me that was my title till after I started
        2. I didn’t have any better options.

        Fortunately, everyone seems really nice and it seems not to be a dysfunctional mess otherwise. But no health insurance and not good pay, alas.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Ugh, you have all of my Thoughts and Prayers. If it helps… at my last job, I found out a month after I started that two months BEFORE I started, the only titles in the company were “Kids” and “Adults”, and if I had known that, I might not have taken the job. It was kind of an indication of the trainwreck to come, also no health insurance. The pay was good, but I had to use way too much of it to buy health insurance.

          So I do hope the people continue to be nice and it remains functional. Fingers crossed!

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            WOW! Kids and Adults!? I hope Allison sees this to add to her library of crazy.

            How did that work? Were there titles like “Kid Customer Service Agent” and “Adult Customer Service Agent?” For real?

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Yikes. I hope it isn’t also a toxic bro culture, but I’m not holding my breath!

    4. NotaPirate*

      Did you get hired by ThinkGeek?!! I’m trying to picture any professional company besides them that would find that level of nerf acceptable. Good luck! May your aim stay true!

      PS: They make Desktop usb controlled nerf rocket launchers. Use the computer to aim and launch. Our IT head has one here aimed at the door.

      1. Rogue*

        My former boss had one of these. It was awesome. Everyone else had their own little nerf guns and we all used the same sized darts, so ammo was abundant. The head admin used to get her feathers ruffled when we’d battle it out.

    5. Dzhymm*

      I had one job where the Nerf battles started after the holiday gift exchange included a few nerf launchers. I sat them out for a while, then hatched A Plan. I began collecting up all the loose ammo that I found lying around, and i also ordered a Nerf machine gun that took an 18-round clip(*) along with several spares. At some point the company admin casually mentioned to me that the guys were complaining that the Nerf ammo was disappearing. The next day I snuck my new toy into the office, loaded up with all the collected ammo, then positioned myself behind a half-wall and told the guys: “I’ve been told that the ammo has been disappearing. I’m sorry. I’ll give it back now” at which point I raised the weapon and proceeded to spray the whole office.

      Side note: If you have a Nerf machine gun (at least the model I had) you will instantly qualify to be an Imperial stormtrooper. It was great for volume of fire, but the aim was absolutely pitiful due to its mechanical rather than pneumatic firing mechanism…

      (*)Yes, I know that it’s properly called a “magazine”. Just messing with the purists here ;)

      1. zora*

        well played. I don’t have the patience for the long con, so I’m always impressed at those who can pull it off. ;o)

      2. KayEss*

        That is amazing. I just collected any ammo that strayed into my cube and taped it up on the wall as trophies/hostages. Eventually someone would raid my “Wall of Shame” to reload, and the process would start again. They were pretty good at not shooting while I was around, at least.

  24. Wannabe UX Designer*

    Does anyone work as a user experience designer? I’m a former graphic designer looking to make a career change. I don’t have a ton of web experience but do know some coding in CSS and HTML. I’m an expert in photoshop and Indesign, intermediate in Illustrator.

    What do you like about it don’t like about it?
    How’s the market, salaries?
    What programs and languages would you recommend learning?
    What resources do you use?
    Anything else you’d tell me?

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      Following as a current graphic info technology major and hopeful future UX/UI Designer

    2. AnonGD*

      I’m also considering making the leap from graphic design– partially because I don’t think I’m getting challenged enough in my current work. Not very helpful but I’m also following!

    3. CurrentlyLooking*

      Hello, I am in a UX adjacent field – I don’t do it exactly but I am pretty familiar with it

      There is a great organization called UXPA – that has local groups all around the country. I am active in my local group and it is a great resource.

      Programming languages you need to do user interface work are HTML/CSS and javascript

      But a lot of UX design doesn’t actually involve programming. There are UX tools like InVision, Sketch, Axure that allow you to do mockups and prototypes with out programming. UX is actually an umbrella term that covers usability, interaction design, visual design, UI programming and more.

      Hope this helps

      1. Autumnheart*

        Sketch is a solid tool built on many of the same principles and functionalities as Photoshop. It took me less than a day to become functional in Sketch and I am not an expert in Photoshop (even though I really should be by now). It has a fully functional 30-day trial if you want to give it a whirl.

    4. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot*

      My brother is a UX Designer in San Francisco, I asked him for advice and this is what he said:

      I like figuring out why people do what they do and how to improve it. I like taking a problem and breaking out all the parts, doing all of the research to understand the users, their state of mind, their goals, the business goals, and then coming up with solutions that work end to end. The only thing I don’t like is probably the same things you don’t like about being a graphic designer: other people who haven’t done the research get an opinion about seemingly small things that can get changed if you don’t know how to tell them they’re wrong to want that. You really need to be very clear on why you made the decisions you made, which comes with time and kind of sucks in between.

      The market is booming. It’s a great time to be a UX designer. The salaries are great. Check out GlassDoor for salaries in your area or an area you want to live in.

      I’m not a designer who codes and you don’t have to be, IMO. It helps a lot to have a good working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript so you know how what you design impacts development. Past that, if you want to learn to code, I heard a lot about React these days.

      There are a ton of resources online. Just do some Google searches. Smashing magazine, A book apart, a ton of O’Reilly books. Medium, etc are all great places to start. Find a conference near you and go. Meet people, read as much as you can, etc.

      The last thing I’d tell you, as a graphic designer, is that how pretty it is or how good it looks means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t work well. Being a good UX designer is about doing the research and figuring out everything that happens between A and B. You need to really get in there and understand the user, the system they’re working in, how what you’re designing fits in to the larger product, and how it can make the person’s life better. That’s what gets me up every morning: knowing that what I do today could make someone’s life easier/better/richer tomorrow. 85% of the work I do happens well before I pick up a marker or ever start pushing pixels. By the time I’m ready to design something it usually just pours out of me, because I’ve spent so much time thinking about it and researching it.

    5. KayEss*

      UX design is a pretty broad field and the job depends a lot on the kind of place you’re working. I’ve been a web designer for almost ten years and there are UX jobs out there that I’m absolutely not qualified for–mostly related to holistic app design, motion and animation, etc. At the same time, there are jobs where the title is “UX Designer” but really you’re just designing and maintaining websites. It’s an industry that has basically no standards whatsoever for the duties attached to a job title. (Citation: I have been looking for a new job in web/UX design for the past six months.)

      For a UX design position at an agency or other collaborative firm, you will need very strong CSS and HTML skills at a minimum, and probably also at least some JavaScript. I don’t think I’ve seen ANY job listings for UX designers that did not include those at minimum–there are web designer positions that don’t code at all, but UX generally has a code component or at least a strong understanding of coding expected. Sketch/InVision/Axure are industry standard as mentioned, photoshop and illustrator may also be assets to you, depending on the individual workplace, but no one will care about indesign. There are also UX design best practices standards that you will be expected to be familiar with, usually related to human/computer interaction studies. You may be expected to understand A/B testing and have experience supervising test user groups to optimize designs. Understanding of digital marketing is also an asset.

      The alternative is a kind of combination jack-of-all-trades web/digital/UX designer position, which is the kind of thing I’ve been doing for a while (and trying to get out of). That’s usually at places where you’re going to be the only web person, and will have to design, code, and troubleshoot everything yourself–so again, strong HTML, CSS, and working knowledge of JavaScript, plus whatever CMS the place is using. Know how to use Google Analytics. Be good at talk both tech and non-tech languages, because your boss will have no idea what you’re doing and you will be the primary contact person between actual IT support and all the frantic “why isn’t the website working?!?!?”. Strong general tech literacy and ability to learn new computer programs quickly and independently is advised.

      The best way to start the transition may be to look for more generalist designer positions where you will be doing both print and web work, to start building up those skills and compiling a digital portfolio. Vet those carefully, though, as it’s easy to get pigeonholed into doing all the work you don’t want to be doing and none of what you want to be doing. Codeacademy is a good place to start on coding skills, their HTML/CSS courses go from basic to advanced, and you can go from there. (They’re also free, though I think the extra stuff you get with a monthly subscription is worth it.)

      1. Wannabe UX Designer*

        Thanks for your perspective. I have a digital analytics background. I’ll look af code academy.

      2. Daphne*

        KayEss, where would I find out more about the motion/animation UX jobs and what they entail? Literally just google that? I trained in 2D animation many moons ago but haven’t found a related job so looking for inspiration for new fields to move into! (Hope I’m not detailing Wannabe’s thread!)

        1. KayEss*

          Unfortunately I don’t really have a strong answer for you… it’s a skillset that I’ve seen called out in UI/UX designer job listings occasionally, and then I click away because I don’t have those skills on a professional level. A lot of it is likely to be about user interface feedback animations–button click effects, screen transitions, and other animations indicating that something has happened successfully (or unsuccessfully)–which is something that can be easily overlooked by designers used to working in static media.

  25. Super Anon Today*

    Nonprofit board member here: I’m working with a new employee that doesn’t report to me, but is working on projects for me. She just graduated from college so I’m trying to be patient, but she sent me a chain of emails this week that really annoyed me because she clearly didn’t read what I sent to her. She waited days to start on the tasks I assigned her and then said she wouldn’t have time until July, misspelled my name and asked me for my phone number despite both being in my email signature, told me her availability to meet and then the next day said neither of the 2 times I sent her work for her. Basically, my issues with her are about being polished in general, because her position is a client-facing one and I am afraid if we don’t correct them now it’ll be an issue in the future and reflect badly on us.

    Her boss has 3 other employees that do not work client-facing tasks, and they are all further in their careers and I haven’t had these issues with any of them. Should I bring these to NewEmployee’s manager and ask her to address them, or give NewEmployee the feedback directly?

    1. A Nickname for AAM*

      I don’t know what your nonprofit is like, but it’s been my experience that board members can do whatever the heck they like with no consequences because He/She Is A Board Member. Up to and including making offensive jokes in public and sexually harassing people.

      I see no reason why polite mentoring would be received worse than either of the latter.

      1. Will Out Myself With This One*

        It’s more of a volunteer-based org with a handful of employees, and Board members are elected by the membership. It’s very weird and different than other nonprofits or boards. Definitely not a place where offensive comments or behavior are acceptable!

    2. WellRed*

      I think I’d start with her on the stuff directly related to you, like she waited too long to start on the tasks and maybe then wrap in the fact that she didn’t read what you sent to her, which speaks to her lack of attention to deal and see what she says. If things don’t improve ASAP, I’d bring it to her manager. It will be interesting to know if all these problems are newbie problems are if she’s going to be a problem in general (i’d bet on the latter).

    3. NPAnon*

      Speaking as a board member/former nonprofit staff, speak directly with the manager. Unless it’s the ED, your role isn’t to manage the employees, but to manage the organization, which includes keeping the ED accountable for their role in managing their staff.

      1. Kaybee*

        1000x this. You manage the ED, and the ED manages staff.

        Also, not to excuse the new employee’s unprofessionalism, but it sounds like she’s having some workload balance issues. It’s really the ED’s job to manage that, and if the problem isn’t workload balance but something else like time management, then to manage the employee. Putting a brand new employee in a position to have to push back against a board member w/r/t her workload is pretty unfair.

    4. Ali G*

      If you trust the NE manager to address the situation correctly, I would start there. Give that person a call, explain the issues you are having and ask him/her to sit the NE down and set some expectations on basic office communication and how to interact with Board members. I mean, spelling your name wrong, AND not making an attempt to make the times that work for you are red flags to me. What else does she have going on that she can’t make time for you, a volunteer Board member? I think she has no clue on professional norms.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      I’d at least talk to her manager first. Lay out the issues, then maybe something along the lines of “You’re her manager so feedback should probably come from you, but since this project is my responsibility, I’m happy to talk to her myself.” But if you just talk to her yourself first, it kind of looks like you’re circumventing her actual boss. At the very least you need to loop the manager in.

    6. Boredatwork*

      I think you’ll be doing her a favor by giving her some feedback. As a board member you are well within the hierarchy that your feedback is important should be taken seriously.

      I would key her manager in on the situation, say something along the lines of wanting to give NE some informal feedback. Set up a time to meet with NE (preferably in person) and go over things she’s doing well and the things she needs to improve on.

      I would try to be kind but direct –

      1) Attention to detail is very important in Nonprofit, donor’s may get offended if you misspell their name
      2) When you provide your availability, and make a meeting you need to stick to it unless there’s a very good reason. In this case she could not know how to prioritize, if her direct boss wanted that hour, perhaps suggest she loop them into the discussion. I usually do the “Direct boss, I have a meeting with Board member then, Can you help me prioritize”
      3) I think 3 probably falls under the communicate and let us help you prioritize. The hardest thing when you first start working is having multiple people ask for things and not prioritizing correctly.

    7. Snowglobe*

      Go to the manager first; that’s the person who is supposed to be delivering this type of feedback, and you want to make sure the manager is aware of the issues. You and the manager can discuss whether or not you should provide feedback directly as well

    8. Evil HR Person*

      Go to her manager, if only because her manager does need to know about the issues, coach her, and follow up. This isn’t on you. Then you can go directly back to the manager to see if the issues have been resolved or hold the manager accountable if they have not.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Am agreeing with those who said that you should go to her boss or the one over her who reports directly to the board.

      She should be submitting her projects to HER boss and her boss should be giving the results to you. This allows you to side step all the problems and puts her boss in charge of the subordinate’s work.
      As it stands now her boss cannot fix what she does not know about. And the boss should be in charge of reviewing the work before it is passed to you.

      Most places that I have worked if a board member had a special project it trickled down through upper managers before it got to the lower level people. And filtering is why. The immediate boss knows the subordinate’s workload and knows if the project is doable for them. And the immediate boss evaluates the work for errors and omissions before giving it to the board member. This fixes many of the problems you mention here.

    10. Rey*

      I am an office manager, and in my experience, managers who do not work on client-facing tasks can (unintentionally) tune out issues like this. I would have a detailed conversation with her boss and make sure that they have enough support to train her appropriately. If they don’t have the expertise in this area, then look for other options that make sense in your organization and setting. Is there someone in a different department or sister office who exhibits these skills–can she shadow them for a few hours? There are how-to books that you can buy. Be very specific when telling her boss what changes you need to see, and decide whether you will correct future mistakes in the moment or continue to pass on feedback to her boss to then relay.

  26. beanie beans*

    In 4 hours I’m meeting with the hiring manager to discuss offer details, meet the small team I’d be working with, and get a tour of the coworking space! I should have taken the morning off – I can’t focus!

  27. Genny*

    How do you format a resume to indicate your contracting company changed but your title/place of work remains the same? Here’s more or less what I currently have:

    Worldwide Llamas 2014 – present
    Llama Contracting Inc. (Contractor)

    Llama Groomer 2016-present

    Assistant Llama Groomer 2014-2016

    1. Ali G*

      Is there a reason you have to put in the contractor? If not, it might be less confusing to just leave it off. If so would it be more clear if you wrote:
      Worlwide Llamas (via Llama Contracting Inc.) 2014-Present
      And then go with what you have.

    2. whistle*

      I’m a bit confused by your question, because you state your contracting company changed and not your title, but the example you provide seems to indicate the opposite to me.

      I hire contractors who may work the same job at the same facility for years but be employed by multiple contractors during that period. In these cases it is important to the list the contractor b/c otherwise it makes it look like they were directly employed by the facility, which is incorrect. If this describes your situation, this is a format that I find useful when reviewing resumes:

      Title, Facility, 2014 – present
      (contracted by Company A 2014 – 2016; contracted by Company B 2016 – present)

      1. Genny*

        I’m a contractor. Contracting company A pays my salary, but I work at Firm X. Firm X is not renewing the contract with Company A, but wants to keep me on with the new contracting company (Company B). I’m not sure how to update my resume since the only thing changing is contracting companies. I’ve been with Company A at Firm X for four years (two as an assistant llama groomer, two as a llama groomer). I can’t just replace Company A on my resume because it’ll look like I worked for Company B longer than I did. Is the option below too confusing (obviously the dates are more specific on my actual resume)?

        Firm X 2014-present
        Company A 2014-2018
        Company B 2018 – present

        Llama Groomer 2016-present

        Assistant Llama Groomer 2014-2016

        1. whistle*

          As someone who hires contractors, I would understand that format and it would work for me! Maybe to add a bit more clarity, you could put “Employed by Company A/Employed by Company B” and/or add parentheses around the Company A/Company B statements.

          Hope that helps! Best of luck!

  28. Relo girl*

    Relocation negotiation help! I am in the final steps for a great job on the other side of the country. I was sent the relo package and it is honestly amazing and includes just about everything but it is through a 3rd party moving coordinator. Problem is I would prefer a lump sum and set everything up myself. Any tips on how to request a lump sum and negotiate the amount.


    1. Ms. Meow*

      I’m sorry I don’t have any tips in negotiating, but my experience with lump sum relocation help is that they give you the money after the fact so you’d have to pay everything up front yourself. Just keep that in mind as a possibility.

    2. Evil HR Person*

      As the Evil HR Person that I am, I would probably tell you that I can’t/won’t do that. The tax ramifications to both you and your new employer make the arrangement they’re giving you a MUCH better deal for all. It will keep your move on track, on budget, and (probably) not taxable to you. So – my advice is to not ask for the lump sum.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        Just wanted to second this. I’ve done it both ways, arranged it on my own getting a lump sum and having the company just take care of it. Letting the company take care of it was the easiest. When I arranged things myself I had to also provide 3 estimates for each service and chose the cheapest, then I had to request reimbursement within 14 days of paying, so I ended up having to submit recipts and estimates 3 times because I paid for my car to be shipped before I left so it would arrive about the same time I did, then my stuff left shortly after I did where I paid the first half of the moving costs, and then I paid the rest 2 months later when my stuff arrived. When the company arranged it they used their contracted moving service and they just did everything, including packing. They called and asked us when would be a good time to show up, and they were done within a day and it was the easiest move I have ever had, by far. If you’ve never moved long distance before, trust me that you don’t want to have to manage the move yourself, the amount of stress you will be under will just compound all the other stress (finding a place to live, starting a new job, etc)

      2. BRR*

        I was also going to comment that they probably can’t/won’t do it. It’s likely a policy that they can’t make exceptions for. I would also advise to not ask for a lump sum unless there’s a very good reason. If you ask I would just say “Would it be possible to get a lump sum because X?”

      3. Relo girl*

        They have a Misc. of $1500 that is grossed up for taxes. So I thought it would be possible just to do a lump sum.

          1. Relo girl*

            the $1500 is on top of packing, moving, unpacking vehicle shipping, and temp housing

          2. Evil HR Person*

            It isn’t. We did it on our own 5 years ago – and I mean totally on our own and it cost $1500 THEN. Not worth it.

            1. Relo girl*

              Sorry I’m explaining badly. The original plan is 1500 plus the coordinator. I was hoping for a large (15k-20k) lumpsum. I have seen a family member receive. We are in similar fields

    3. Heather*

      My boyfriend and I recently moved due to relocation of his job (my job also gave me a transfer, but he got the relocation package through his). I would strongly recommend allowing the third party moving company to take care of things for you. We had an AMAZING experience with our move – the movers were incredibly professional, prompt, and did absolutely everything exactly as we wanted it done. So my only advice is not to negotiate this at all, but sit back and let these people do the job your company wants to pay them to do.

      1. Relo girl*

        The reason I was think lump sum. is because I honestly dont want any of my furniture, its all old pieces from college. I would rather buy all new and finally have a ‘big girl apartment’. I also dont have a lot of clothes ( enough for a few checked bags. I just donated over half of my wardrobe to charity so I could replace it with more professional look

        1. LadyKelvin*

          They probably won’t just give you the lump sum, they’ll only pay what the relocation costs.

          1. Kathenus*

            Agree. Usually when it’s a lump sum it’s reimbursement of appropriate expenses up to a certain cap, and receipts are required.

        2. Jules the Third*

          Yeah, they’re not going to give you a lump sum that you can use for buying new furniture.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I’ve seen lump sum payments, but they were never enough to pay for an actual cross country move, but more like $2000 total. It was enough to cover airfare, a week or two in a hotel, and eating out while finding an apartment.

            I once had a friend buy most of my large furniture pieces before a relocation like this. He had been living in a furnished apartment, and was moving cross country, while I was moving overseas. It was cheaper for him to buy my stuff and ship it across the country than to buy stuff once he got there.

            1. Relo girl*

              My cousin received 30k paid in advance to relocate to texas. Granted, he was with the company for 5 years not coming in as a new hire. So it does happen, but from the comments it’s not as common as I assumed. Thanks everyone

  29. Nervous Accountant*

    Performance evaluations are coming up. I don’t know what to say and if any of this even matters.

    This is going to be my…4th evaluation? First two years I did OK, kept it fairly standard, didn’t expect anything. Last year, I got a promotion, big raise, all 5s on my evaluation. Had a job search underway, but didn’t find much and put the search on hold to concentrate on tax season and resume the search in the spring/summertime again.

    Well, things never go as planned, and in January, my dad died suddenly and I had to rush back to the home country for the funeral. I came back to work after 3 weeks, and then had to take another 2 weeks off in May, after busy season, to go back and take care of legal matters. When I came back, I was sick off and on–nothing serious but just annoying and painful. So, it’s June and I’ve missed 5 weeks of work..

    Work is aight…I have no plans to leave yet.

    In terms of handling the time off, I think my company did good? Seeing as how I had no PTO left as of Jan 1, I wasn’t SOL in terms of getting paid for my 5 weeks off. My bonus was actually really fair, better than I expected.

    Given I went through the worst months of my life, I kicked ass this season. My mgr who works closest to me agrees and constantly relays this to my boss that I help him out a lot and do great.

    Yet, as far as raise & promotions go, a lot of buzz is that the CEO is really trying to keep costs down while increasing staff, so raises will be minimal this year. There was a possible promotion for me but that’s off the table b/c in an informal conversation I told my mgr I wasn’t ready yet…that eventually but not right now. I’m kind of regretting saying that but the window is closed on that.

    So all in all, I’m not expecting anything like last year (15% & promotion). But how do I even mention this stuff on the evaluation? “I kicked ass despite going through a nightmare”? It’s not like my mgr etc don’t know. And honestly, even if that hadn’t happened, I still think I would have done well b/c I have always done my best during busy season. I don’t even have the “if I don’t get the $$ I deserve I will leave” card.

    Honestly does any of it even matter? Idk. It’s our first holiday after, and Sunday is Fathers day so double holidays

    1. Friday*

      Best of luck to you, and also good wishes for a peaceful Sunday. It’ll be the fourth Father’s Day without my dad and while it gets less intense, I don’t think the sadness ever dissipates.

      You should let your boss know that when the promotion opportunity comes around again, whenever that is, you’re ready to be considered for it now.

  30. Rehab Blues*

    I am a person who is extremely together in my professional life (executive position in a high-prestige field and consistently considered, by far, the top performer on my team), but a mess in my personal life – specifically, I suffer from sex addiction. Outpatient treatment has not been effective in getting my problematic behaviors under control, and with my family and therapist we have decided together that I need to go into a rehab facility for at least 30 days and perhaps longer. I am completely at a loss as to how to broach this with my employer (we are a small consulting firm, no HR department/person and not eligible for FMLA). The thought of discussing sex with my boss makes me completely mortified. No one at work would ever suspect I have a problem; my appearance/demeanor are extremely conservative at the office and at business events, to the point that I don’t even curse. If I cite needing treatment for an “addiction” issue people are likely going to jump to the conclusion it is substance-related and perhaps that I’ve been impaired at work; if I mention sexual issues I’m very concerned that people will think I have engaged in some sort of sexual misconduct. My problematic behavior has been 100% in my private life on my own time (also, it has only involved other enthusiastically consenting adults). However, I do need intensive treatment to get well. Should I just offer to resign, citing needing to take an unspecified amount of time to resolve a private health issue? I don’t think a leave of absence would be approved, especially as I don’t yet know how long I will need to be out.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think you can be very, very vague here. Your physician has recommended a long-term treatment plan for a chronic medical issue and you need to take unpaid leave for it. If pressed, you can say it’s a mental health issue, I suppose. It’s really hard when you’re not eligible for FMLA, so you have my sympathies. If you are in a position to resign, then that’s not the worst thing– but don’t offer that immediately. For all you know, they may be more sympathetic than you expect.

      Best of luck. I think it’s wonderful that you’re looking into intensive, long-term care, which is not an easy decision to make. It sounds like your family is on your side, which is also good.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I agree with this. You should not have to disclose anything more specific. Good luck to you!

      2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

        Right. It’s a potentially life-threatening illness that has a high potential for affecting your job performance if it gets worse, and you don’t want to risk it getting to that point. I don’t see that there’s much discussion needed beyond that.

    2. Murphy*

      I think you should just “mental health” or even just “health” issue. Definitely don’t get into specifics. It’s not necessary no matter what it is.

      I wish you the best of luck with your treatment!

    3. Anon for This*

      My husband dealt with this a few years ago (alcohol) and he presented it as a “pressing health issue with a substantial recovery time” or something like that. Like you, no one at work would have guessed, and I am not sure how much any of his coworkers have figured out. He was eligible for FMLA, but I would encourage to ask first before resigning. Give them an opportunity to help you! And good luck!

      1. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

        Yes, “pressing health issue with a substantial recovery time” is a great phrase. It’s vague enough that they won’t know the reason, but it’s detailed enough that they know this is a serious situation. Good luck, I’m rooting for you!

        1. Anon for This*

          Based on hinting around, I think most people think he had a tumor or a heart problem. Or something too gross to mention at work.

    4. Rehab Blues*

      Ohhhh, thank you so much, everyone! These are great practical tips and have given me a lot to work with. I am truly moved by everyone’s compassionate tone as well (one aspect of this illness is the huge sense of guilt/shame, which often make me believe I’m not deserving of kindness, especially once people know about the addiction). For the record, one reason my outside treatment team is recommending rehab NOW is that so far, my behavior has NOT impacted my professional life and reputation; however, because addiction is a progressive disease, it is likely it will some months/years down the road if I don’t enter recovery very soon. Again – I am very grateful.

      1. zora*

        I agree with everyone above, I would call it ‘medical leave’ there is no reason to be specific about what for, or even that it is for ‘rehab.’ Honestly, the unsure return date isn’t that uncommon, my coworker had to go on medical leave for recovery after a small surgery and it was the same thing because she needed physical therapy. We didn’t know her return date right away, she told her managers that by X date she would check in to tell them if a return date was set or not, and would keep us in the loop as soon as she was cleared to return. That should be totally reasonable, and not a red flag that would raise suspicions of it being anything other than a ‘health issue’.

        And I am sorry you don’t have access to FMLA, that does suck, but I would definitely ask for unpaid leave. I hope you get leave and don’t have to resign, but if you do, try to trust that this is the right thing, to focus on your health for right now, and you will figure out the rest later. Try to treat yourself as if this is any other medical problem! Best of luck to you, you DO DESERVE to get help!!

        1. Anon for This*

          My husband, also a high performer at work, framed it as it being easier to cover for him for 4-6 weeks since it would probably take them at least that long and cost more to replace him completely. I’m optimistic that this will go better than you think, OP!

      2. VioletDaffodil*

        I think everyone has given great advice, but I just want to wish you luck! You are deserving of kindness and I hope you will show yourself kindness, and find support and kindness from those you love as well.

    5. WellRed*

      It would be easier and less expensive for them to approve a leave of absence for you rather than lose you and have to rehire. Have a plan for your absence before you broach the topic. Good luck!

    6. anon for this*

      There’s a stigma against lying but I don’t think you owe your employer details about your health. Honestly, if it were me, I may say I was having major surgery and would be out recovering for a few weeks. It’s not true but it’s also none of their beeswax.

      Also, look into asking your doc about meds. I struggled w alcohol and naltrexone worked well for me. There’s also a naltrexone/Wellbutrin combo for overeaters that may apply in this case… not to give you medical advice or recommend anything in particular but our culture tends to focus on shaming folks rather than medical remedies (in addition to therapy and whatnot).

      1. Friday*

        A white lie could definitely work…maybe just saying that you are going to have a procedure and the recovery time is estimated to be a month. They don’t need to know that the procedure itself will take a month. Good luck to you!

      2. Observer*

        Skip the lies. It’s a practical matter – it’s waaaaay to easy to mess up. And if the full truth comes out it will be much, much worse than if they told their boss in the first place. Not that I’m suggesting that. I very much agree with sticking to “medical issue that’s going to need at least a month, and possibly longer. etc.”

    7. Not So NewReader*

      While I do not think you have to, nor should you disclose the nature of your medical needs here, I think it is wise to prepare a brief statement that conveys you are not dying and you will return to working.

      Here is what happened to me. I had a small medical problem X which I did not take care of, so it got larger. And the doc I went to did a lousy job. So my problem grew some more. Pretty soon is was an unwieldy issue. I did not wish to discuss the particulars with my boss, because she was not the type who handled information responsibly. She would try to get to invested in people’s personal issues. So I was vague and I gave her a vague explanation of what was going on. I vaguely answered her 20-30 questions and finally she became exasperated with me. She exclaimed, “Okay, look, I just want to know if you are going to die or if you are going to be alright!”
      I thought she was going to cry, she actually looked scared for me.

      You can save yourself a bunch of awkward conversation by volunteering, “This is not terminal. I will not die, but I do need to put time into it in order to get the best results.” Say it before the boss starts fishing around to find out about the severity. There is a human side to this story and many people out there just want to know, “Are you gonna be okay in the long run?”

      1. Thursday Next*

        This is a good point. Rehab Blues, you’re entitled to privacy and folks here have provided excellent wording that centers around health without getting into specifics. But I think there are coworkers who might worry about you, so if you can work something in about it being a chronic and serious but non-terminal issue, that might be good.

        Also, best of luck to you with the program!

    8. Kuododi*

      I’m here to second all the excellent suggestions people have made on this thread. I’m going to stay out of the issue regarding technical logistics around applying for extended time off. My only experience in that area was taking medical leave from my second Master’s program following thyroidectomy. I would encourage you to look into SA twelve step meetings to begin to build a recovery support system for yourself. If there aren’t SA groups in your area…it might be worth a shot to go to a few old fashioned AA groups. You will need to check out a few groups until you find a good fit. This would be a good way to get support while you are in transition to in patient recovery. Best wishes!!!!

    9. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

      My first suggestion would be to talk to your therapist about how to handle discussing your need for treatment both professionally and personally. This “disappearance” is going to be noted by former coworkers and friends and it can be stressful for any type of recovery to have to deal with questions right after your released from a facility. Having a way to explain the absence prior to your admission can help significantly and it can also help your family while you’re away. I say this as someone who had a family member who spent several protracted periods in inpatient facilities in attempts to deal with addiction issues.

      As for your professional life; once you have that discussion with your therapist, talk to your boss. Simply state you need to take a significant amount of time away from your professional life to deal with a sensitive medical issue. You understand that having someone away from their job for a protracted amount of time is difficult and you can fully understand if he wouldn’t be able to approve the leave of absence. If he can’t approve the leave of absence, you may be able to negotiate for a good reference or the option to reapply after your medical needs are seen to.

      Good luck with getting treatment. You’re doing the right thing by putting your health first and by taking the steps that you need to (especially before it impacts your professional life). Whatever happens, giving this a shot is a brave choice and it’s something that can mean a lot to the people who are rooting for you. Keep taking care of yourself.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        The only thing is that I would try to go in to it with the assumption that of course leave will be approved, rather than leading the conversation with saying that you understand if it can’t be done.

  31. Rhymetime*

    A while back, I asked for advice about tone-setting in my role for an upcoming job, since I hadn’t managed anyone in decades. Here’s a happy update now that I’m in my position and working with my direct report. The woman I’m managing is outstanding in all ways so I don’t anticipate major challenges, but I nonetheless want to make sure she’s getting the support she needs to succeed in what is a new career for her. Now that I’ve been in my job a month, I checked in with my manager for his feedback about how I’m doing, and asked if there’s anything I need to change. My manager told me that not only is my colleague feeling good about things and saying that she’s learning a lot from me, but he is also really pleased with me in my leadership role as well as all other aspects of my job performance.

    I’m greatly enjoying my new position, and the advice I got here from others was so helpful in setting me up for a good start–thank you!

  32. Sugar of lead*

    A while ago we had a “resume wtf” thread, which was hilarious. I’ve been wondering about the opposite, though. What are some resumes/letters/applications that have just wowed you with how good they are?

    1. Tipcat*

      Wow. Nothing but crickets. I think this counts as “no answer is a ‘no’ answer.”

      1. Logan*

        Excellent resumes are very specific to the job, so I am assuming no one is responding because it likely wouldn’t be ethical.

  33. SophieChotek*

    Anyone had experience saying “no” to taking on more responsibility at work? I am afraid this might, in the end, be a “condition of employment”, but at the moment it’s been couched as “we would love to see you grow more” and “we want you to step up into more sales-oriented role.” (At the moment I am more back office; PR and social media; every once in a while I have to rep the company once a year at a trade event, but not cold calls, etc.) It’s so not me. I’ve told them this before, but they’ve sort of (tried to) re-empt that objection with “you’re smart, we know you can do it!” sort of pep talks…

    I don’t want to be out of a job, but frankly if I agreed to this, I know i’d be setting myself up for failure…

    1. Tara S.*

      It sucks that they are pushing this on you, but absolutely hold firm. Sales is so different from other kinds of work (and I hate doing it, personally). I can’t think of anything to do except to be more explicit with how you push back? Something like: “I really like working here, and I’m grateful that you guys are supportive of my growth, but I am not interested in a sales role. Sales is really different from my work now, and I’m not interested in moving over.”

    2. Natalie*

      It’s a little odd that they’re not hearing you – in my experience sales is one of those fields where basically everyone gets just not wanting to do it – so I wonder if there’s any possibility you’ve been a little vague or vacillating about your lack of interest? When they respond with something like “you’re smart” it might be good to reiterate that you’re just not interested in sales.

      It also seems unlikely that you’d be let go because you don’t want to transfer to a sales role. The only people I’ve ever known to get terminated because they turned down a transfer or a promotion are people who’s positions were being eliminated. It would probably mean you’d be in your current position permanently, so you just have to plan to move to a different company when/if you are ready to take on more responsibility.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I do think I have been…maybe saying things like “I don’t think sales is my forte” and “it doesn’t really suit my personality” – but that is why they have already tried to pre-empt those objections with “You’re smart, we know you can learn it” and “Jane, Bob, and Sue don’t have backgrounds in business either but have gone on to be department heads and great sales people here”… (I did do a little bit of sales, cold-calls, etc. for one specific project. Getting hung up and yelled at multiple times a day…that was enough for me.)

        The company really is struggling, so we desperately need sales…which is why I actually do think I would be terminated if i refuse this role. But I feel like I would just be setting myself up for failure — esp. knowing the company has had declining sales figures — then it would suddenly be me trying to prop the company up and get more sales.

        Thanks for your comment and support!

        1. Natalie*

          So, I don’t know if that’s direct enough – I think it is possible for someone that really wants a sales person to interpret that as “SophieChotek doesn’t think she would be good at sales” rather than “SophieChotek isn’t interested in sales”, which are very different statements. That is probably why they’re still asking, plus if the company isn’t doing well they might be feeling desperate and thus have desperation blinders. And, if you’re not comfortable being a little bit more direct (as in, some combination of the words “not”, “interested” and “sales”), they’re probably not going to stop, or at least not for many more months of the same conversation.

          That said, I still don’t think you should take the sales work. I don’t know anything about this company but I can guarantee you that it is NOT struggling because their office/PR/social media person hasn’t decided to move into sales. They have bigger problems than you can fix. So really, all you can do, and all you have to do, is keep putting them off until you can find another job. Keep being vague, and pretending to be a very obtuse, literal person that is constitutionally incapable of understanding hints. Wait for them to say “sales or don’t show up tomorrow”.

          1. SophieChotek*

            I do agree with you about this being a bigger issue than they can fix. (And I know part of the reason I don’t want to go into sales, is I privately think there are some fundamental flaws in the product…which is probably why the sales are slipping.) But I don’t think I can a say that to HQ…and still keep my job…but….=)

            Everyone does seem to think I need to be more direct — and see what sort of response I get from my bosses…

        2. Evil HR Person*

          I don’t think they’d fire you if they’re strapped for people – that would be silly (but only YOU know how much silliness they’re willing to commit). Nevertheless, I think you can be even more explicit than you’ve been: “I hate sales and I cannot do it.” I’ve actually said this out loud to a few managers – then again, nobody had asked me to do sales, as I’m in HR. But I’ve certainly said, “I hate recruiting and I’m absolutely horrible at it, so I can help but not for very long and I warn you that you will not get the results you want.”

          That’s harsh, so perhaps cushioning the message might be better: “I’ve done a very poor job when I’ve worked sales before. I don’t want to jeopardize my position here by trying sales again. I’ve done it and I know I’m no good at it.”

        3. BRR*

          I think you need to be a little more direct. “I’ve tried sales in the past and found that I really enjoy *other area that’s not sales*.”

        4. What’s with today, today*

          My work tries this about every two years. My script alternates:

          ”I have no desire to do sales.” and
          ”Nope. I stay as far away from sales as possible.”

        5. Logan*

          I immediately guessed that they are trying to push any warm body into sales, and your comment reinforces this. It’s like fundraising – it’s critical, yet only a few people enjoy it and everyone else hates it. I think they are pressuring everyone, so if not everyone has moved to sales and are still employed then I’d just keep pushing back.

    3. writelhd*

      I can share my experience. I was recently given a promotion and extra job responsibilities myself that was outside of my normal role and background that I was very ambivalent about, but the company needed it and I didn’t think I could say no without losing professional face in my job. I think more ambivalent than you…you seem to know that you don’t want to do the new thing. I thought *maybe* I didn’t but also found a little spark of interest in spite myself, understood that the company needed it, so wasn’t quite sure. I really loved my job before the new responsibilities, so I didn’t want to put it in jeopardy.

      Within the first year of adding these new responsibilities–the split was roughly 20% new stuff, 80% my original job–I *really* struggled with it, both with feelings of inadequacy at it because it wasn’t my background and I didn’t feel like I knew enough about it, but with the realization that yeah, I didn’t really like this so much. Those feelings took my overall job satisfaction off a cliff. I got depressed. I started job searching. I hated an entire job that I had previously loved–so in a way, I felt like I had lost the job anyway, because I lost my motivation for the job.

      1.5 years in, I have recovered somewhat from that now, so it is not quite that simple. It’s partially that I came to accept that the 20% new stuff isn’t my background so it’s *ok* to not be great at it, that I was still able to learn things from doing it and I have the personal attitude that all knowledge/skills are worth having, and also because I did have a frank conversation with my boss about how I do not feel sure about this new stuff and wanted a very clear sense of what the expectations really were around my performance at it. I believe my exact words were “so how long do I have to deliver results here before I get fired?” Additionally though, I had done a lot of thinking about the 80% of my job that was still my old job, what I had loved about it, why I had felt I was good at it and what benefits I had delivered to the company with it, and how I might pick some projects and goals within that realm that would get me excited again. I pitched those to my boss and he took them, and I did find motivation back for them that’s still carrying me. It’s kind of hit or miss–on days when I have to focus on the new stuff I still run up against the realization that I kind of hate it. But I get other days when I can do the old stuff, so I cling to those.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thank you for sharing your experience. If I really liked what I did now, and I knew the sales would only be (small percentage)…but I actually don’t love what I do know either (though I think I am reasonably good at it)…

        And like you, in theory, I think/believe I should learn things/other aspects of the company, even if I don’t like it or don’t really think it’s my thing. I guess I am concerned about getting stuck in sales and having really hard quotas/expectations to meet…

    4. AnonGD*

      Would it be possible to spin the “we want to see you grow more” in another direction? As in, tell them that you *would* like to grow more… but in x, y, z areas and not in sales?

      In my experience turning down work that was in an area I didn’t want to grow into was seen as a blanket “she doesn’t want to learn” which was far from the truth!

    5. Frankie*

      Listen to your instincts. I would rather go back to my college cleaning jobs than take on sales. The idea fills me with dread and I’d also suck at it and be unbelievably stressed out, and probably lose company money and get myself fired. Even when desperate I’ve never looked at a sales job ad, because it’d just be a disaster.

      Is there any way you could show them how strong you are in your current area and that you’re just not really built for sales? Make them see that it wouldn’t be in their best interest to put you in such a role. They might see it as a preference or a lack of confidence–make it about the impact it will have on their sales.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I do think I am better in the position I have, but I also know I have not met their (very high) standards in that department. (I.e. not enough earned media placements, for the most part.)

        I agree, I probably have gone about couching it more as about my personal preference and lack of confidence…but part of the entire issue is there is no one doing this job at all right now, but they don’t want to hire anymore people (costs $)…

      2. SophieChotek*

        But yes, my instincts say, the standards/expectations for this job would be even worse than the one I already have…I would just be setting myself up for more failure…

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Can you tell them that you can handle their online orders?

      One way that might work is to show how your current job ties up most of your work week and there is really not much time to spare. You can work into conversation that it is to their best advantage that you remain doing A, B and C for them because of Reasons 1, 2, 3 and 4. (Have this planned out ahead of time so you are not talking off the cuff. Use quiet time at home to figure out your talking points.)

      See, the way you have it framed now is that this is not good for SophieChotek. Where you need to go is showing them how it is NOT good for THEM. It’s all about them. When you start showing them how it is to their advantage that you remain where you are, then you might start gaining ground.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thank you! It is very helpful for me to think about how I can frame it for it to be about their needs…(must think about this more.)

        (Sadly, no, two other people already handle all the online orders. What they really want is a sales rep to do cold calls/beat the pavement and try to get new clients/buyers on board.)

  34. A Nonnus Mousicus*

    Hello to the AAM hive mind! I work for a young, small company (think less than 40 people) and am in the early-ish stages of pregnancy with my first child. I will be the first female-identifying person at this company to have a baby and the first one to utilize any kind of maternity leave. My direct boss currently knows about my pregnancy and I will be discussing it with the big boss in the next few weeks along with my plan for taking maternity leave. I love working for this company, and I really love my job. My plan is to return once I am done with my leave and utilize as much WFH time as I can. I’d love to hear from anyone who is in a similar situation (small company, went back to work after maternity leave) to hear what worked best for them.

    I firmly believe that my company would support any plan that I come up with, but the issue is coming up with a good, workable plan!

    1. Tea, please*

      Congratulations! I worked at a non-profit with 5 other people when my first was born and at a school after my second.

      Things I appreciated/wish I had:
      1. If you will be breastfeeding when you return: designated pumping space with a “Do Not Disturb” Sign and locked door.
      2. Meetings scheduled in the middle of the day, not right at the start of end of the day. So many times I got something gross on me as I was walking out the door. Or I was up all night and would have appreciated some extra time to get myself together. Or I needed to leave early to pick up a sick kid.
      3. Flex time
      Any policy they put in place (well, except the pumping space) should be something that all other employees have access too, so advocate for that.

      Also, if you work from home, you still need child care on those days. It is impossible to get anything done with a little one around (speaking from experience–like right now when I have to finish up end of the year reports).

      1. Kate Daniels*

        Thank you (from a person who doesn’t have any children) for your comment about how any policy that is put in place is something that other employees should have access to as well! It can be a bit frustrating in some workplaces when employees with kids are allowed to come in late or leave early as needed, but no one else enjoys that flexibility.

    2. J.B.*


      Can you stagger your return? Start with less than full days then work up to full time (or continue part time if that’s what you want to ask for). Working from home is fine, but not as a substitute for childcare. Very few babies are so calm that they won’t interfere. How often you want to propose working from home depends on your job. I can’t do much of my job from home as I need to interact with several people. But one day a week or something can be a nice option.

      Also don’t forget to plan for the sickies. They happen eventually to everyone.

      1. A Nonnus Mousicus*

        Thanks! That’s helpful and something that a bunch of my working mother friends have said – childcare is a must even if you are WFH. I am definitely planning to have childcare while I am working from home and my job is such that it’s very possible for me to do that 2-3 days per week.

      2. OtterB*

        I was thinking about the staggered return also. It would have helped me to work half days or even 3/4 days when I first went back, because (a) I was chronically short on sleep, and (b) I knew I didn’t want to be a full time SAHM but I did want more baby time.

        My experience was that things got easier around 3 months, so something that didn’t expect me back full time sooner than that would have been good.

        And yes, as someone else said, discuss how to be as flexible as possible for minor kid heath crises.

    3. Really?*

      Female identifying? It is okay to say the word woman, and using the word female to describe women is a bit gross.

      1. A Nonnus Mousicus*

        That wasn’t my intention at all. I am a woman and the first person at my company to use maternity leave.

      2. Delphine*

        She can use it for herself if she so wishes. And perhaps, in this context, it implies that someone who doesn’t identify as a woman has had a baby at the company. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to try to be inclusive with our language.

        1. Really?*

          Why not say first person? Why bring gender into it at all.

          And people whether cis or trans who identify as women are women. It is gross to call anyone female identifying

          1. A Nonnus Mousicus*

            Again, not my intention in any way and I apologize if that was how it came across.

              1. blaise zamboni*

                Me too. Your heart is in the right place. I definitely see where Really? is coming from though, and I think it’s an important point.

                Maybe you can use “femme-presenting” instead? (More inclusive to people who are agender or nonbinary, imo.) But I am happy to be corrected if that’s not a good word either.

    4. Good, Cheap, or Soon. Pick Two.*

      For the love of all that is good… plan for what you aren’t going to do. Thinking of using formula? Structure your return like you’re going to breastfeed. Planning on having a natural birth at home? Assume you’re going to have a complicated C-section that means you can’t drive or climb stairs for longer than you would think. The last thing you want to do is try to scramble to arrange extra time or support while you’re going through something that’s bigger than you expected. Having that built in flexibility is a way of handling it and it’s also a good way of reminding yourself to not get too attached to plans. Another thing is to plan on having a date night before you return to work. It sounds silly but it’s a small way of letting yourself dip a toe in the babysitting world before you have to rely on them for more than a brief dinner or movie. Chances are, you will need to call on one at some point after you return to work and it’s a lot easier to do that if you’ve done so in fun circumstances first.

      J.B. is right, you’re going to need childcare when you’re working from home. Newborns need too much time and attention for you to reasonably accomplish any significant goals. Seriously, you can barely get a load of dishes on reliably. Don’t assume you’re going to be able to get your full workload cleared out. As for the actual return, one of the things that really helped me was that my boss had me stop by for a quick meeting with my team the week before I actually came back. This was invaluable because I got information on what I was walking into; I was able to organize my thoughts, grab some documentation to go over at my own pace, get back into that headspace after being out of work mode for a while, and learn about the new projects that had started. It also let my team see that, no, I had not turned into a furry demon with three heads simply because I had a baby.

      1. Tea, please*

        Great suggestions—a couple more: prepare for the baby to be early and (if you do work after you get home in the evening) prepare to not be able to continue doing that.
        I’d also suggest that your boss own what leave coverage looks like, not you. For my first, I had to interview and hire my coverage and make the plan for transferring different projects to various staff. This didn’t and still doesn’t make sense to me because I wasn’t around to manage the staff.

        Also, returning to work after a baby is hard— even for someone like me who couldn’t wait to get back to work—in ways I would have never thought of or understood pre baby. Besides staggering your return, you need to figure out reasonable expectations (both yours and your bosses) about your work production. Maybe you don’t take on all your projects back on immediately. Maybe ask for longer timelines to finish something. By setting yourself up for success when you return, I bet you’ll get back to full capacity sooner than if you try to do everything at once.

  35. Dee Dee*

    Manager two pay grades above me in a meeting: “I just realized that we haven’t done X, Y, and Z and this is turning into a big problem! Why haven’t we done this?”


    Me (in the meeting): “…”

    1. SophieChotek*

      Ugh. Any documentation to prove this manager insisted not doing X, Y, and Z…?

      So frustrating when you can see this coming…

    2. Lady By The Lake*

      “As you may recall, you had instructed previously that we proceed without X, Y and Z. Would you like us to go back and do that now?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Perfect. This is how to handle that situation, OP. I have used it myself. The key is to land on the redirect, where you redirect the conversation to current time. “Would you like us to that now?” This pulls the boss away from rehashing the past and everyone moves forward. Hopefully.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      Ugh. I hate the “Why didn’t you do that thing I told you not to do?!” conversation. There’s no way to win.

    4. mrs_helm*

      Request for server upgrade…denied.
      Request for server upgrade…denied.
      Server goes down hard…”Why do we have such a crappy server?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Because we did not upgrade the last two times we discussed this. Would you like to do that upgrade now?”

  36. Tara S.*

    How would you guys handle interacting with someone who is returning from compassionate leave?

    One of the senior researchers I support has been out because her son died. He had disabilities, but was only around 11 and the death was sudden and unexpected. I have stopped all work contact while she is out, as her co-team lead has been the main person interfacing between her and work. I will continue to be mostly routing things through other team member as she transitions back into work, but I’m not sure what would be the most compassionate way to interact with her once she’s back in the office. Do I acknowledge it the first time I see her with a “so sorry for your loss, please let me know if there’s anything I can help with” and then just resume typical business communication?

    1. StressedButOkay*

      As someone who dealt with a sudden and shocking death in the family several years ago, saying something brief like that and getting back to business communication is a great way of handling it. When I came back to work after a week, I appreciated SO MUCH that people gave me space. I appreciated the acknowledgement of my grief but I needed, absolutely, to throw myself back into work so I had some place where I could stop thinking about it.

      So, keep it brief unless they come to you for support.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Loss puts such a huge hole in our lives. Sometimes the only sense of consistency in our current life we find is at work. Don’t turn the workplace into something awkward. You can keep an eye and still keep a polite distance. Some stuff is common sense, such as you are leaving and you see her car does not start. Yes, go over and help. But you probably would anyway, or you would get someone to help.

      2. JessicaTate*

        I will second/third the advice to give her space and be professional (in the absolute kindest way). I might add to think about nixing the “please let me know if there’s anything I can help with.” We all (self included) tend to say this to grieving people, and it’s kind of useless. It puts the responsibility of asking for help on the person who may be in a fog of grief, and ends up being a bit of a throw-away sentiment. Instead, if you notice something at work where you could step in and be helpful to her juggling so much as she comes back, just offer to do it.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I definitely agree with a very brief acknowledgment that she is going through a difficult time and then keeping things as normal as possible is your best bet. Take your cues from her, but I know I’m the kind of person who is more likely to cry if someone is offering me sympathy.

      Be patient with her and maybe offer to take specific things off of her plate if you can?

    3. I am who I am*

      The only thing I’d add to the previous responses would be to ask her manager if the Mom had any specific requests. That may prompt her (the manager) to ask the mom and pass on her preferences to the appropriate coworkers.