open thread – August 31-September 1, 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.

{ 1,423 comments… read them below }

  1. Moving on*

    How do you get over the guilt of leaving a job you really like?

    I love my job and I love my coworkers but there’s no growth for me here on the timeline I want so I’ve been considering my options. I’ve had some great interviews and think there may be an offer in the pipeline at some point for a position a step up from where I currently am. This is all great for my growth and career prospects, but I’m sick to my stomach about leaving my current workplace. I love it here. It’s great. My coworkers are great, my bosses are great… how do I get over it?

    Or should I not get over it and stay put, even if it sets my career progress back a year or two, because it’s so hard to find a good place to work?

    1. Linda Evangelista*

      If its only a year or two… I might consider staying, if you know that you *will* progress in the direction you want to move in. However, if that growth isn’t a sure bet, it would be worth it to look elsewhere.

      The best advice I ever heard was to always be loyal to yourself in your career. Your company will never love you the way you love it. (I don’t mean to sound so jaded, I actually love my current job like you do! But its definitely worth looking out for yourself).

      1. Moving on*

        That’s how I ultimately feel. I had an interview yesterday that I’m really excited about but the pants of guilt and fear are getting to me. Growth here is likely, but not a sure thing. I’d be less impatient if my husband and I weren’t likely relocating in a little under three years.

        Also that whole imposter syndrome thing. I know my role here. I’m comfortable. Am I really ready for something bigger at another company?

          1. Spooky*

            I threw my pants of guilt to the wind when the job fired my boss and dramatically changed everything. Now I’m bare-legged and guilt-free.

            1. De Minimis*

              It sounds like a cursed item in Dungeons and Dragons. Pants of Guilt -5, save vs. Magic or must automatically volunteer for all/any quests.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          How long have you been there?

          I was kind of in this situation when I left my previous job and there were a few irritating things that did spur on my looking, but I definitely struggled with the decision. However, I am very grateful that I did move on when I did.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        What I tell my students (and colleagues) all the time is that “No one is going to care as much about your professional development as you do.” Or as you should. 1-2 additional years (depending on how long you’ve been there already) may not seem like much, but you may become stagnant. I say this as someone who stayed too long in the first job after college because it was a great place to work. That definitely had an impact on my professional trajectory.

        Besides, if you leave to gain new skills/experience, perhaps you will be better positioned to return at a higher level in the future.

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      You’re in a great position where you can really be selective about what offers you accept, because turning them down doesn’t leave you unemployed or in a miserable job. But don’t turn down a great opportunity just for the sake of your coworkers and bosses. They want you to grow, too!

      I stayed too long in a role that was wrong for me because I had such great relationships with my coworkers. We were all sad to say goodbye, but me leaving was the right thing to do.

      1. BlueWolf*

        Agreed. You’re in the best position because you are not desperate to leave your current position, so you can take the time to evaluate all your options and hopefully get an offer that will be even better than your current job. I was in a similar situation where I liked my coworkers and didn’t completely hate my job, but there was absolutely no room for growth (it was a small business).

      2. in the same boat*

        Yes, this!

        When I applied for my future job, I was almost sick about the thought of giving notice to my boss. She’s been great! But… I realized that one of the things that was attractive about the new job is that it’s doing all the things I like, without some of the things I don’t like in my current role. My boss was understanding, and things roll onward.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      There’s never a fully good choice here. I left a job I loved years ago, and I still miss it. But, because I left, I also grew a lot professionally in ways I likely would not have been able to in that job, and I’ve been happier (job-wise) in different ways, even though I still wonder what my life would have been like if I’d stayed. Just know that if you stayed, you’d wonder what might have been, and if you leave, you’ll wonder why you left. There’s no winning if you look at it through that lens.

    4. notaparalegal*

      Have you discussed your desire for growth with your manager? If s/he doesn’t know you’re interested, it might be worth bringing up. I left a job and coworkers I enjoyed because my (awkward) discussions about career growth with my manager never led to any change, and I didn’t get fully licensed in my state to stay in the role I was in. I was sad to leave my coworkers, but the fact that my manager didn’t even follow up with me about the discussions we had (and just said okay when I put in my notice), made it *much* easier to leave. I’m still in touch with a few of my closest coworkers but much happier in my new role!

      1. Moving on*

        I have, but I’m bottlenecked by the people above me. There’s no room for growth until someone moves on, and I don’t know when that will happen. I could potentially move to one of our subsidiaries, but that’s not guaranteed either.

        1. notaparalegal*

          Fair enough. In that case, I would second others’ advice to search with the security that you can be extremely selective if you choose to make a change. Is there any room for you to learn new things/take on new challenges/expand your knowledge and experience even within your current role? That can help build your knowledge base which will serve you well in a new role, wherever that may be.

        2. Empty Sky*

          Late to this one, but here is my suggestion in case you’re still reading:

          My suggestion would be to keep going with the job search, and if you find one that looks good and meets your requirements, try to leave your current role on good terms. Be up front about your reasons. Tell them all the things you told us about how great the workplace is. Then keep in touch!

          One of the things I’ve noticed about high quality workplaces is that you never really leave. Often there is an ‘alumni network’ of people who will keep in touch and even do business together. It’s very common at my current employer for ex-employees to be hired back again if their circumstances or ours change. An earlier employer ran into business challenges and ended up closing down, and the managers all went on to other things – some starting their own businesses and others heading up divisions at larger companies. Most of them ended up hiring their ex-colleagues to varying degrees, and the end result was that the business effectively split into maybe half a dozen factions across as many companies, all of which had re-created the best features of the culture to some degree.

    5. RachelTW*

      If you are talking about waiting an extra year or two for the progress you want, as opposed to say having to wait five or 10 years, I would be hesitant to leave in your shoes (full disclosure: I don’t have ambitious career advancement goals). But I left a job I loved with a great boss and great coworkers for a geographical change, and I still miss that old job. The next one was a nightmare. My current job is pretty decent, but just not quite as good as the old one (though I do need to remember I make 30% more now than I did at OldJob. So, I know what it’s like to be less than satisfied after what you thought was going to be a good move.

    6. YetAnotherGenXDevManager*

      Today is my last day at a job with a team who I really loved (my bosses not so much, but the team I manage is incredible). It is incredibly bittersweet.

      I am still leaving. Because I got a significant raise, a better commute, many many more women in leadership and a clear path on how to get higher up, and it positions me for where I want to be going forward. I’m worried I could hate it, but the skills I would develop by sticking it out for at least a year will position me well for whatever the position after that is.

      If you’re in a position, as I was, to be incredibly picky, I say stay open to opportunities. As I’m nearing mid-career (20 years in the software industry) I am no longer willing to set my progress back a year or two, or even risk that it is only a year or two.

    7. AnotherAlison*

      If it is the same type of company and work, then I might consider staying and trying to accelerate your career there. (If it’s a 10-person company with slow growth, that may not be possible, of course). If it’s actually growth=a lot more money at a new job, then you probably have to consider taking something new. Same if it is growth=learning a side of the industry or new industry that isn’t available where you’re at. For me, taking a new role would only be considered if it brought something that I could NEVER get at my company experience-wise, or a lot more money.

      1. Moving on*

        I work at a F500 in corporate and am looking to move a step up the ladder to another F500 in corporate. I can expect a roughly 40-50% raise.

        1. Harriet*

          I moved earlier in the year from a job I found frustrating because there wasn’t much growth but with coworkers I loved to pieces, to a job with a clearer path and a 40% pay rise. I won’t lie, the first couple of months were seriously rough. I missed my old colleagues intensely and felt like I’d made a huge mistake, and the culture of the new place is such that I don’t expect to make close friends here.

          With a bit of distance though, 6 months on I’m so glad I made the move. I was starting to stagnate in my old role and very frustrated by continually being told a promotion was in the works and then having the prospect removed, and that would only have got worse. Feeling valued and paid well in my new role is also a huge positive. And I’m still in touch with several people from my last job.

          My advice would be to think really hard about how you feel at work day to day, the role your colleagues play in your life, and how you’d manage without that. I knew I’d basically reached BEC with my boss and the never-quite-appearing promotion and I didn’t like the frustrated and negative person I was turning into. I also talked to someone I knew within the new organisation who gave me the good and bad of it – it wasn’t as friendly and warm as I was used to, but it wasn’t dysfunctional and nightmarish either. And with that I decided to make the move, and I’m very happy I did.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          I’d leave. No question. I wouldn’t entertain a counter, but I’d work to leave on great terms. Maybe your current employer would want to steal you back for a higher role and you can get another bump to come back in a few years if you don’t like the new place as much.

    8. Beth Anne*

      I’m in the same boat. I LOVE my job. It’s flexible, great people, doing what I love, working with my husband..but the pay is horrible. Last year I asked for a raise and they only gave me half of what I asked for. I’ve been looking since but not finding a whole lot. But at the same time I feel bad for leaving as no one else knows how to do my job. But I need to better my own career.

      1. Quackeen*

        I felt bad leaving my long-term job because no one else knew how to do what I did, but they managed. I’d been telling them for 3 years that it was unwise to have me be the single point of failure for a couple of programs and systems, but they had to learn that on their own.

        Hope you find something soon!

      2. Beth Anne*

        I know that is what everyone says…that my job doesn’t need me as much as I think they do. The plus side is it allows me to be picky on a new position.

    9. Alternative Person*

      I think it’s important to remember that you’re moving on/looking to move on for a good reason.

      At my current main job, I have a lot of really great clients but there are literally no growth options (for various, long winded, irritating co-worker and management reasons). As much as I feel bad about transitioning out by degrees, ultimately I decided to do whats best for my long term career/growth.

      I’d say be selective and take a good offer when it comes along. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t but you can’t let yourself be controlled by your guilt about leaving people behind.

    10. Probably Nerdy*

      I left a job that I really loved, in order to grow myself (I went to graduate school). It was really sad but I dealt with it by just being as positive as I could about the change to all my colleagues so they knew it was nothing about them and everything about the opportunity. I stayed in touch with them, which helped, and made sure to keep them part of my network long-term.

      I would be lying if I said that the choice was an easy one, but given that I have a decade of perspective now makes it seem easy when it wasn’t.

    11. in the same boat*

      Hello person who could be me a few months ago!

      I have a great job that I love (except for some pieces of it), amazing coworkers, etc., and my last day is next Thursday.

      I chose to leave because the opportunity really was great – and as I examined it, I really wanted to work at my new location. However, I genuinely will miss my current role – especially the people. I’m valued here, but I know it’s the right choice. There was a recent NYT article about job grieving (linked in my username) that I found really helpful.

      1. trilusion*

        Thanks, interesting to read. I just gave notice for december 31st and will start my new job in february which will give me enough time to train my replacement – but I‘m kind of afraid how I will feel over the course of the next months! I‘m already beginning to miss some colleagues even though I‘m still there.

        1. Dramatic Squirrel*

          I was in your position and decided to stay for one more year for the sake of my team. Some company changes and people changes later and the dynamic is totally different. I have regretted staying nearly every day since. 5 more months and I am moving on and literally counting the days.

    12. Project Manager*

      I just left my first, beloved job and am two weeks into a new position. I left for about the same reasons as you – the advancement and salary offers just weren’t developing the way that I wanted at my last position. I sobbed on my last day at my old job; cried the entire drive home. That said, I am in full agreement with the other poster that said your job will never love you and much as you love it – a company may be great, but ultimately their loyalties don’t lie with me. If push came to shove, they’d shove me out the door no matter how good I am or how much I love them. That’s the reality of the business world.

      I’m really lucky – my new coworkers and new boss at New Job are (so far) awesome. I was also able to be really selective about my new position since I wasn’t in a race to get out of Old Job. I did carefully leave all my bridges very much intact so I know the door is open if I decided down the road that I wanted to return.

      Also, remember that coworkers and bosses leave – either for other opportunities, family relocation, life circumstances, etc. The only constant in life is that everything changes. Those relationships are important and should be a consideration, but not the #1 factor because there is absolutely no guarantee that they’ll remain as-is.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      As some already pointed out TPTB will never love you as much as you love your job. This is super important to keep at the forefront of your thinking.

      Right now is the hardest time to think about this because you have no idea what you are moving toward. Once you get an actual new job this will change the picture some.

      Be absolutely sure that the new job has what you want. Get yourself something that is better in some way. Uh, probably in several ways. It’s going to need several positives to give you incentive to leave what you have now.

      Just because you don’t LOVE the next job like you do this one does NOT mean it’s all bad. It’s not a good/bad thing rather it’s a sliding scale.

    14. Jady*

      I’m currently working the last few days of my 2-week notice period at my current job and about to move on to a new one. While I have issues with my current job, I have always liked my coworkers and the environment here, and I will miss that. I’ve stayed here much longer than I should have because of those factors, honestly.

      In the end I’ve just reminded myself: it’s a job. If they didn’t pay me, I wouldn’t be here. I work for a paycheck so I can live a better life, save, retire asap. So I need to follow the paycheck and professional growth (within reason).

    15. Anonishinaugust*

      In the scheme of things, a year or two isn’t that extreme. However I still think you should be open to interviews and other possibilities. I had to do an annual review this month that got sticky because I had to say that I didn’t see a clear path to a title change for one of my staff. And truthfully I think she would be better served by going to a different organization but she really enjoys our team and the org mission.

    16. Susan*

      Your boss and your co-workers will be happy for you if you move on, if they are as awesome as you think they are. You can still keep connections with them — it doesn’t have to mean goodbye forever. And you never know – you might be working together again in the future.

    17. Debonairess*

      How much of current job being great is due to having a good manager? If your manager announced they were leaving after you had turned down an opportunity to leave, how would that make you feel? If the answer if “terrible!” then IMO you should consider moving on when you have the chance. Good managers are hard to find, but they are also in demand and you never know when they will leave. Don’t sacrifice personal development for the hope that one individual will stay in their role.
      If it’s a wider cultural fit that you love then maybe it’s worth waiting for a GREAT offer rather than just a good one.

    18. MissDisplaced*

      I left a job I loved. But I didn’t have guilt because they had moved to an expensive downtown city and the company was really changing. It was hard though, because I really didn’t ‘want’ to leave, but couldn’t live with the changes.

      If you really love it there, but don’t see room to progress in your career it might be worthwhile talking to your manager before you decide to bounce. It could be possible there is something opening up you don’t know about and/or additional responsibilities you could take on. And I would definitely frame it that way: as additional responsibilities.

      But sometimes you just have to accept it’s time to move on when looking at the bigger picture.
      On the plus side, you can sort of take your time at deciding what you want for your next job as there is no rush.

    19. Scubacat*

      I suppose one question to ask is if you want growth. Not everyone does, and that’s okay. For example, my mother has worked at the same job for 25 years. She is totally content, and doesn’t want to have a new role with more responsibilities.

      Let’s say that your answer is yes. It’s okay to move on from a great job when you’ve outgrown it.

    20. Windchime*

      I’m so glad to see your question because I was going to ask something very similar. I have a job that I love, a wonderful manager, and a great team. The pay is not terrible and the benefits are amazing. The commute is horrible, though. I may have an opportunity to move to a smaller town with a lower cost of living, doing similar work. The pay would also be lower. I’m later in my career as I will probably retire in around 5 years, so my dilemma is more of a question of……is it worth it to move in order to have a slower-paced life? It’s definitely something I am pondering.

    21. Gloucesterina*

      If your colleagues and bosses care about you as a person, they will be happy to see you choosing the next step in your career.

    22. Mrs. D*

      I was in your shoes almost 2 years ago. I had a job I liked that I was good at, I worked with great colleagues, and I loved the kids (it was an elementary school). I had the opportunity to move to a different position at another school, this time a high school. It was a tough decision personally because while I would be making more money, I would have to leave behind a lot of what I loved. I would also be making the shift mid-year, which added extra guilt. But this was an opportunity that wouldn’t come back around for several years at the least, possibly much longer.

      I decided to jump, and you know what? It worked out okay for me and for them. Of course, I missed everyone terribly at first, but I developed great working relationships with the staff at the new school, and got to know a whole new group of really great kids. And the school I left is fine. They got another great person in my old position. Every so often I see some of my old students while I’m out and about, and it just warms my heart to hear how they’re doing. The world didn’t end then, and it won’t end if you decide to leave. Your company will move on. And if you love your coworkers, there’s nothing saying you can’t stay in touch with them and develop those relationships into true friendships. It’ll work out.

      And I would hate for you to miss an amazing opportunity at another job because you were afraid to take the leap–you’ll never soar if you don’t.

    23. motherofdragons*

      I was where you are now, about four years ago. I loved my team, my manager, the culture, the location, everything, but there just wasn’t a growth path that made me happy. So I took a promotion elsewhere. What helped at the time was just keeping my goals in mind: career growth, new opportunities and pathways, and frankly, more money. The job I took would up sucking, but I stuck it out for a year and a half and gained useful experience and connections. One of those connections led me directly into the position I hold now, at a different organization, and I’m feeling happy and successful here. And, I still keep in touch with my former coworkers and manager, and can count on them for positive references and moral support. I think if you can stay focused, and trust that it will all work out, hopefully four years from now you’ll be in a similar spot!

    24. Triple Anon*

      What part(s) are you feeling bad about? Is it more that you’ll be leaving them and maybe letting them down or is it more that you’ll miss working there? If it’s more about them, I wouldn’t worry about it. If you get a great offer, they’ll understand. And if it’s more about you, just look at the big picture and do what’s best. But either way, keep in touch with them.

      Is there any chance you could come back later? Could the organization possibly grow? Could there be an opening in a more leadership type of role later on? I mean five or ten years down the line. Could you do something like consulting or freelancing for them at a later date?

      Also! I left a great job once. I had moved from a rural area to a high COL city. It was an amazing job! The best job I’ve ever had! But the pay was just above minimum wage. At first, I was paying a tiny amount of rent to sleep on a couch in a house with four roommates. But one of them didn’t want a couch surfer. I tried living with family and that was a nightmare. I got offered a room in a house with a co-worker, but the move in date got pushed back while family stuff got worse and I finally couldn’t do it anymore. I moved back to the small town. I don’t think anyone I worked with knew how much I was struggling to find a place to live. They seemed surprised and kind of let down when I left. I still feel bad about it. I wish I could have made ends there on what they were able to pay me, or had better luck finding a place to live. It’s hard to find that middle ground between letting people know what’s going on in your life and not getting overly personal or involving people in your problems too much.

    25. Chaordic One*

      This is one of those situations where you need a crystal ball. I was one of the people who thought I was happy and turned down a good offer to stay put in a “meh” job, but with great coworkers and supervisors. Thing is, after another year or so, the coworkers and bosses that I got along with so well all started leaving and their replacements were not so great. In retrospect, I sure wish I had taken the offer instead of staying put.

  2. Moth*

    One of my greatest frustrations with where I work has been that there isn’t good clarification around goals and direction of things. And since I work in product development, having a mission for the department or some guidance at all around what the long term directions are would be very helpful. In the few years I’ve been here though, I’ve learned to adapt some to it and to get my job done without much guidance. But I remember in my first year and a half, going to my boss frustrated so many times asking to please have some input on where to take things. I swore that when I had an employee, I would be better about not letting them twirl in the wind.

    Cut to this week, when my employee came to me, frustrated, asking for guidance around what to work on. I have tried to be more proactive with my employee around setting career goals and such, but I know that I haven’t been good about giving guidance on the mission of our team and how to find projects to work on within that mission. This was a wake-up call for me though that I need to be more proactive about it. Does anyone have any suggestions for setting missions and directions for your own team when you’re not getting any guidance from above yourself?

    1. Kimmo*

      I’m really intrigued by this, but I’d love more details! Is the idea that folks should be coming up with ideas for new products, finding existing products to work on/improve, join projects being developed in other departments, something else?

      1. Moth*

        It’s actually a little bit of all of those. The team I’m on does a mix of early-stage research and new product development. So we come up with ideas for new products, coordinate research to establish if those ideas are viable, then develop those new products. Among that we work with other departments to move the projects along and will receive requests from those departments to improve existing products. I was able to find my footing with a few different projects and take the lead on them, so the bulk of my time is spent on those. The employee I lead is more on the early-stage research side though, so it’s difficult for this individual to know where to focus research around without direction. The company is still relatively young and the first “generation” of employees was able to focus their work around a handful of product ideas. But now the department and company have grown and it’s time for new direction, but management at the top doesn’t really know how to do that since they’ve never had to before. So the decision of what to work on gets pushed down the management chain, despite the top management still being responsible for the final go/no-go on products. It’s a little dysfunctional in that way, but overall it’s a good company that is trying to do right by their employees, they just don’t know how. So I’m stuck at the bottom of that chain, trying not to pass the dysfunction on to my employee, but not having the authority to make the official call on decisions.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Based on this I see 4 key areas:
          1. ideas for new products
          2. coordinate research to establish if those ideas are viable
          3. develop new products
          4. requests from departments to improve existing products

          So, if your employee is on the early-stage research side, one thing I see is that those “requests” probably ought to be more proactive! Said employee needs to be engaging with those departments on a regular basis to conduct product improvement analysis.

          I don’t do the same type of work, but one thing I did was to engage all of my company’s “experts” to pull from them what is current/of interest to customers in their area of expertise, get 3-4 (topics, ideas, pain points, problems, whatever fits) from each of them, and then use that to create a calendar/schedule/plan prioritized by me first, (then approved by management) which I would proceed to act on. Doing this led to fulfilling #2 and usually #1 and #3. And #4… well things always need to be revised and improved in my field, so the cycle begins anew after awhile with deciding to revise or discard “products.”

          Where you come in is making sure your employee gets access to key people in these departments, and has your oversight in creating a viable action plan your upper management can bless with good conscience as it’s backed by all of those “experts” within your company as being important stuff that needs to get done.

    2. J.B.*

      If you look around, what really needs to happen? What new products do you think you need to be working on? Maybe write that up and then ask for approval/guidance?

    3. OhGee*

      That’s a tough one. I don’t do the same type of work as you, but I am charged with making new initiatives come to life (at a nonprofit). When management doesn’t have clear goals, it can be hard to direct your own work, let alone someone else’s. That said, can you take time to set a few high level goals for your team? What do you want to accomplish in the next year? Can you write down how that could break down in to smaller tasks on a weekly or monthly basis? Or if your projects are all handed down from management, can you do essentially the same thing for your projects?

    4. Nesprin*

      This is a huge opportunity for you to set your department’s goals! There’s nothing like words on paper to crystallize nebulous ideas and goals into something concrete. I think you could come up with 3 proposals to run by upper management for what the next 5 years would look like- they’ll probably hate all of them but at least then you have a starting point for your department’s plan and insight to how the higher ups see your work.

      1. Moth*

        That’s a really great point and a nice way to look at it! Upper management is usually pretty open to input and ideas (they don’t often follow through on them, but they like to hear them), so this would be a nice opportunity to make it clear that my team is thinking long-term. And even if they don’t advance with them, it gives my team some focus, as well as some goal posts come annual review time.

    5. mrs_helm*

      Two thoughts:
      1. Communicate early and often. Tell your team x was discussed at meeting, or y is what competitor is doing. Then they can use that to weight their decisions on what to work on .
      2. Develop a team culture that values the experience and proof of concept, not only what goes live. Many times I learned how to do something from an experiment that never got used, but what I learned got used later.

    6. Competent Commenter*

      I think you’ve gotten great advice already. I have a different perspective to throw into the mix. In my role as a communications person, I really need to know what the priorities are. There’s way too much to cover, so I look to our leadership for big-picture advice. “What really matters this year is the ways that llamas are succeeding, cows are producing, and horses are training.” Then when the stuff about pigs, sheep and goats comes up, I can still put it out over social media but I know to bump it for llamas, cows and horses.

      Can you provide that kind of guidance? Maybe you prioritize new products, or more research, etc. So at least there’s SOME guidance on how to approach one’s day.

      And I also agree that this is an opportunity for you and your team to shine. Are there unmet needs? Ways that things could be done more efficiently? Can you research the opposition and provide guidance? etc. This chaos means that you might be able to stand out.

  3. Afiendishthingy*

    So I accepted the job I got offered so quickly last week, and I already started! Now just gotta work through the new job anxiety/buyer’s remorse- I’m a behavior specialist working in special education, and I didn’t fully realize the population I’d be working with in this role. It’s a difficult population for me and not one I’ve worked with much at all before. But I figure at the very least I have enough experience and skills from other jobs to transfer to being ok here, I will learn a lot, and maybe after a year I’ll be able to transfer internally to something a little closer to my comfort zone.

    And I got a surprise paycheck yesterday and we are off today, so can’t complain about that!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It is rough work, in terms of seeing heart-breaking stuff and in terms of the constraints of the job- regs, money, manpower, etc can make the job feel very short on resources. You can work into it. Give yourself some time to acclimate and learn what is available. Also if you can find a way to meet with other professionals to see what they are doing that will be time well spent.
      I worked in human services for 10 plus years only with adults. (Direct care level.) I got a good leg up by being sure to talk with my cohorts around me to find out background, what works and what doesn’t. I think they said 6 months for a behavior plan, as in, a good behavior plan lasts 6 months then it does not work anymore and a new one is needed.
      I remember my first year on the job FLEW by, there was so much coming at me. I went home super tired every night from just all the new stuff. Give yourself at least 4-6 months for stuff to even start to make sense.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Yeah I’ve got about 10 years of experience in the field as a whole, 4 years post masters/BCBA. I’m very comfortable working with individuals with intellectual disabilities, moderate to severe developmental disabilities, significant communication fisabilities etc with severe challenging behaviors — but this group is much more social/emotional challenges, some trauma histories, without the severe intellectual impairment or communication disabilities. Very different kind of challenge. I know I’ll adjust but I’m freaking out a bit at the moment. Also doesn’t help at all that our classroom is unairconditioned and it was 96 degrees on Wednesday.

        1. Double A*

          If you get a chance to do some work about trauma informed teaching practices that might be really helpful to you! Behavior is communication no matter what the population, but it’s source is different with trauma kids.

          I work with populations with high levels of trauma and it’s incredibly rewarding. Relationships become more important.

  4. Fantasma*

    My company is in its annual performance review cycle, and I need advice on how to approach a situation involving an old teammate — let’s call her Claire. I transferred in late spring so part of my review will be on work from my previous team. Because I’d been there a few years, I had a lot of institutional knowledge so when I left I wrote a detailed guide with some info that didn’t exist anywhere else (like verbal explanations from teammates who left before anyone on the current team joined). It took quite a bit of time and I had my grandboss review it since my then-boss was out of office on my last day.

    Claire later edited my guidebook by adding her name and tweaking maybe 5% of the content and told the team (including new hires) that she had written the whole thing. Existing team members knew it wasn’t true, but didn’t want to say anything so they wouldn’t bias the new hires. Claire is known for this (except to management), and I deliberately made a separate copy for my own records and for my performance review, which is completely managed by my new department.

    I know I’ll get full credit in my new department, but it bothers me that Claire is claiming she wrote the whole thing and will get a great review based on my work. It’s plagiarism, which is clear from the file’s audit trail (including 100% of the original file being done by me while she was on vacation out of the country). But there’s no reason anyone would look at that for her performance review. What should I do?

    1. Someone Else*

      Speak up, in a matter of fact way. You can ask how everyone is liking the guidebook you left behind for Claire and the rest of them team to reference and utilize, without accusing her of plagiarism.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        I like this. Gives the opportunity for it to be brought up and made clear that it was not Claire’s work.

      2. M. Albertine*

        You can say you’re gathering information for your performance review, and would like feedback on how well it’s working, what could have been done better, etc.

        1. Shark Whisperer*

          Ooo, I really like this. You’re bringing it to their attention but completely innocently

    2. Linda Evangelista*

      My instinct is to throw her under the bus. But like, professionally? Its your hard work, and you deserve the credit.

    3. Notthemomma*

      I would suggest a quick meeting with her old manager and let them know you ‘heard’ that this may be the case and wouldn’t want them to be assigning rankings based on Work that was not theirs. Keep it high-level so it doesn’t look like a personal attack. And be prepared with your documentation and the reference to the manager who did review it.

    4. Phoenix Programmer*

      I would drop it personally. It’s not likely that a decent manager will believe she put it together.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Plus it will kind of look like you are too invested in your old role and can reflect poorly on you.

      2. The Doctor*

        From the post, it seems that senior management is clueless (at least about Claire) and already believes that Claire wrote the guidebook, so they will believe that OP is trying to steal Claire’s credit.

    5. BenAdminGeek*

      If it’s not hurting your review, I wouldn’t get involved. Unless your manager and Claire’s are going to compare notes and say “you both say you wrote this” then what’s the end goal of raising it? Claire’s clearly garbage, but her peers know that.

      If it is going to hurt your review, then I would add to your self-evaluation the work you did, share the details with your manager and ensure you get credit. You’ve got the timestamps to prove it if needed.

    6. Kathenus*

      I’d suggest documenting that you created the guidebook as one of your accomplishments in your performance review comments/notes, and offering or giving your manager a copy of it during your review meeting. That way you have it as a discussion point in your review, it’s noted in the document, and you make sure your manager knows your role. You don’t even need to bring up Claire. She’ll out herself to the rest of the team members in due course, I assume.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      Simply present your work during your review WITH NO MENTION OF CLAIRE. If someone mentions that they thought that she did the work, just respond with confusion “no, this is my work, I drafted it on X date. Maybe she added some edits after that.” Make no further comment.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I think this is probably the best option if your review is not dependent on the project.
        But I’m fairly used to this as I write for a team and they get the credit/byline as the authors even though they’re really reviewing and editing. But my reviews reflect my work on everything, it’s just not public.

    8. Jady*

      You say ‘Claire is known for this except to management’. That’s a problem management needs to know about – reviews and whatever aside.

    9. dramalama*

      My instinct is that in a performance review you want to be really focused on *your* work and accomplishments. Show the guidebook, stay focused on what experience and value you bring to your current role and team. I worry that Claire would be a distraction– I totally get why it’s bothering you, but I feel like unless you have an actual need to bring her up (to explain how she affected your performance) she shouldn’t get to take up valuable time that’s meant for you.

  5. ThatGirl*

    I posted a little while back that I’m basically responsible for training our new hire after my team lead left abruptly (was let go). I don’t really mind in general but she seems to think I’m her manager now. It’s a little weird. Our actual current manager (dept head) asked our other coworker to do some training with her, and New Lady ran it by me first! To make sure it was OK! But on the other hand, I am sort of “leading the team” right now. Sort of an awkward spot to be in.

    1. RachelTW*

      If it’s making you feel awkward, I would think you could absolutely say something to new girl along these lines:
      “Hey, I am acting as an interim team lead right now, so you should come to me about X, Y, Z, but for A, B, and C, you can just go straight to Manager. Oh, and also, please don’t worry about clearing Yadda Yadda with me, go with whatever Belinda or Derick tells you.”

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I’ve tried to reinforce that Dept Head is truly *our* joint manager now, and that CoWorker has been here a lot longer than me, will also be training her, and has great institutional knowledge! But if this sort of weirdness keeps up I’ll definitely be more firm about it.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        Agree, this is so, so common.In some jobs there really are dotted-line relationships with de facto managers who may not be your paper boss, and the new person isn’t sure if this is that kind of job or not.
        You can just calmly explain that you’re not their supervisor, so there are many things they need to run by Yvonne or whatever. Neewbs don’t know, and the person giving them day to day instruction feels like their boss until they hear otherwise.

    2. Murphy*

      Definitely clarify that with her, because it might not be obvious! I had a job once where I thought there was one supervisor, but there was actually also an assistant supervisor, and I honestly didn’t know that because nobody had actually explained the department structure to me.

    3. Phoenix Programmer*

      I would just clarify that Boss is in charge so any items from her should be a priority. Then let her know you are available to help with questions she may have on getting them complete.

    4. Youth*

      I’m a content writer and thus the lowest-ranking member of my team. A couple of years ago, a guy was hired onto the team in the position above me. The new hire’s would-be manager was out of the country for his first week or so, and the other man on the team who was the new hire’s peer dumped the new hire on me. (Said peer had a habit of dumping ALL his work on me, but that’s another story for another day.)

      With that fun responsibility in my lap, I had to coach the new hire through his first few assignments and on the basics of some of the in-house tools. It led to him…sort of imprinting on me? Kind of like that P. D. Eastman book “Are You My Mother?” except “Are You My Manager?”. It took him at least six months to realize that he was technically one of my supervisors.

      Sounds kind of similar. You might want to explain the hierarchy of the department to your new hire if you think this is going to be a potential problem. Although if you sort of are the manager right now, then maybe it doesn’t matter.

      1. ThatGirl*

        This will all get cleared up, hopefully, when we get a new team lead. But for now I’m more or less running our team and I was already designated her “training buddy,” so it’s a little ambiguous. I just don’t want her to think nobody else can give her direction or training. If it continues to be awkward, I’ll definitely be more clear on hierarchy.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The times this has happened to me it is because no one else is training the person. Instead of telling her that others can train her, perhaps ask her if she got the specific training from Joe or Sue. What has happened to me in the past is Joe and Sue can also train but they refuse to, are not available, or are poor trainers. This could be why this is happening. If she is very new to the work force she may not want to tell you anything about this scenario, if indeed this is what is happening.

          1. ThatGirl*

            No, I appreciate the thought but that’s not it. She sits directly in front of me and I’ve been assigning work so I think she’s just a little unclear on reporting. She’s 60ish and not new to the workforce.

    5. Jady*

      This happened to me in my early days. Someone was training me and I just assumed. It’s fine to just say “Hey in case you don’t know, X is your boss, you should run things like this by him instead.”

      1. Dramatic Squirrel*

        That’s what we call them at work…ducklings. They imprint on somebody and turn to them for everything

  6. Snark*

    So…..I really like my new job. Huge step up in responsibility, more complex and interesting duties, lots of variety, lots of fires to put out. I kind of needed a new challenge. And I get to do stuff besides stan at my desk all day! On any given day, I might be hauling hazardous waste drums, hiking out to a proposed construction site to survey for cultural resources, counting invasive plants down in the arroyo. Good times.

    My boss is generally pretty good so far – we’re basically the same age range, so it’s hard not to think of her as a peer, but otherwise I don’t foresee any major issues. She shares my generally flexible approach to work hours, scheduling, and is also a parent – so she’s understanding of small emergencies.

    And it’s good to be back to work, honestly. My two-month gap was relaxing, but I was starting to chase my tail at the end of it, and I like being busy. I’m just glad I was able to stick a reasonably smooth transition between layoff and next thing, without incurring a brutal commute or having to move.

    1. Snark*

      All that said, man, starting 45 minutes earlier with a 15-20 minute longer commute is really harshing my mornings. As someone who likes to sit meditatively with a cup of chai for 30 minutes, the hectic morning jam is not that enjoyable. I’ve GOT to start packing a lunch, laying out clothes, and otherwise prepping in the evenings. Bluh.

      I also need to invest in a radar detector, because once I get out on the two-laner country roads out to my new workplace, I tend to…..expedite things. My tiny, ludicrous orange commuter vehicle is conspicuous to law enforcement.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        In the meantime could also download Waze. People report if they’ve seen cops. (It’s not as accurate, but it might give you an idea where they hide.)

        1. Snark*

          That’s a good idea! Also, depending on traffic and accidents, there’s two very different routes to get here, and Waze is usually good at avoiding big slowdowns.

        2. it_guy*

          In Waze, you can also set a time that you want to be at work by, and based on the current travel it will tell you when to start.

        3. LCL*

          For those of you who must use WAZE, please, please, please, I beg of you:
          Don’t be the driver feebing along at 5mph below the posted speed limit on an arterial, when there aren’t any cars in front of you, slowing and then speeding up at each intersection. Getting stuck behind a WAZE wobbling wanderer on a particular two line divided arterial can add 5 minutes to my morning commute.

          1. anna green*

            Ha, okay I have to ask, I use Waze all the time… what is feebing and what is a wobbing wanderer?

          2. Turquoisecow*

            I use Waze, but I don’t think I’ve done this and I don’t understand why Waze would contribute to the driving style you describe.

            1. LCL*

              A feeb is a made up word, used to describe someone driving along at least 5mph below the posted speed limit, when there isn’t any traffic and no safety reason to slow down.

              I believe WAZE or GPS use causes this type of driving. Though it didn’t become noticeable in my area until marijuana became legal. This isn’t freeway driving, this style is performed on an arterial. The driver will be moving forward below the speed limit, slowing slightly at each intersection, with one eye on their device. This can go on for a WAZE. This interaction is finished by the driver doing a quick hard turn, often without signaling, when their device says turn here.

              1. AdminX2*

                Actually “feeb” is a slur made from “feeble minded” and was used in past decades as a bullying insult. It may have transmuted to this more modern specific context, but do be aware of the history.

              2. Observer*

                This has nothing to do with Waze. And, I can’t imagine why you would think the two things are in any way related.

                Marijuana use probably has a LOT more to do with it, although there can be a lot of reasons for this kind of very poor driving. It’s also been around long before Waze existed, and before in car GPS became normal in individual, non-commercial vehicles.

                The one time I was in a car with driving similar to that, it was a combination of a back seat driver with a skewed version of what “safe driving” looks like. Fortunately, someone had the kindness to pull us over and explain to the driver (if full earshot of the backseat driver) that this kind of driving is a recipe for an accident. FYI – this happened over 25 years ago.

      2. OhGee*

        I hear you. Transitioning to earlier days, with less time to relax before work, is rough! I did it about six months ago, when I bought an affordable home an hour drive/train from my office, and I still struggle to prep the night before. But the job itself sounds great!

      3. Lurker*

        I use Waze! It’s really great and shows you where all the cops are. Super helpful on my long commute.

      4. Woodswoman*

        Sounds like a smooth transition for you, despite the early morning adjustment. It’s great to hear you’ve landed in a place doing varied and satisfying work. Reading your post makes me miss my park ranger days. I may return to that work as a seasonal ranger some day when I retire from full-time work.

    2. Nita*

      That sounds pretty good! My job is like that, and it’s the best thing about it. Not being cooped up in the office all the time is great. Of course, my field work does come with weird hours and heavy lifting (and lots of worrying about where to park the car in my neighborhood), so there’s that to balance out the good stuff…

    3. What’s with today, today?*

      Come visit us in Texas. We’re battling Giant Salvinia in my neck of the woods. It’s a brutal, brutal fight. Glad you are loving the job!

      1. Snark*

        Oh yeah – I’ve heard of that from other natural resources folks down there. Invasive weeds is my research background, so I looooove killin’ me some weeds.

  7. Help*

    I’m at major BEC stage with my coworker. She and I work together unfortunately, so I can’t avoid her.

    Anyways, I’m taking a half day off for the holiday weekend. I told her in advance, so she knows. She brought it up yesterday and I told her that I was traveling to see a sick friend. Coworker then says, “Why can’t you go on Saturday instead?”

    I followed Alison/readers’ advice and did the “What do you mean?” (I thought she would stop talking about it. Did it help? No, she continued to talk.)

    She then goes into how I should leave early Saturday and go then, blah blah. I just said that it wasn’t possible. Why is it any of her business? The boss approved it, so who cares?

    Anytime I take time off, she gets upset. Yet she will be gone the whole month in November and that’s okay. If her friends are taking off, that’s okay because they’re her friends.

    Any advice?

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      No advice, just commiseration. I get “punished” by a coworker if I deign to take time off.

      I cope by turning it into a fun (mental) game. And privately roll my eyes at the ridiculousness of it.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’d be tempted to ask why it matters to her. But that may come out kinda snarky or mean.

      “It’s my PTO, and I’ve decided this is how I want to use it, thanks!”

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Honestly I think it’d be okay to say something like, “sometimes I feel like you’re policing my time off … can I ask that we stop talking about it? I’ve cleared it with the boss and that’s what matters.”

        1. Snark*

          Oh, yeah. You can take an assertive line here. “Is there a reason you’re policing my time off?” is a great line.

          1. Aurion*

            Yeah, a raised eyebrow and “why are you policing my time off?” should shut this down real quick.

            And if not–if this coworker has brazenly trampled past the clearly drawn line–then at that point I’d pull out “my vacation is not up for negotiation”.

    3. BadWolf*

      Now I’m curious what happens if you asked “Why would I do that?” as a follow up to “What do you mean?”

      Since that answer to that is “Because it’s better for me.”

      Or you could play the compliment game, “Oh you don’t need me here. You do a fine job covering when I’m gone. That’s why we’re a good team, you can be gone for all of November and I cover it.”

    4. Meh*

      Just don’t tell her when you’ll be gone, and let her be surprised when you don’t show up! (Okay don’t do that). I’d say just give her the bare minimum of information with no details. Just that you’ll be gone and that’s it. It’s none of her business what you’re doing with your time off. If she asks why, just say “personal reasons” and leave it at that. Don’t give her an opening to critique.

    5. Alternative Person*

      I think you did the right thing. And as someone above said, roll your eyes and move on.

      Some people can do some fascinating mental gymnastics when it comes to people who are their friends vs people who are not their friends.

      (and I super hear you on the being off a month thing, one of my co-workers took a whole month off, then worked a reduced schedule for another month (to work another job) with zero awareness of the load she was putting on the other staff during busy season (not that I begrudge the time off, just her attitude and lack of prep towards it)).

    6. Snark*

      Give her no details about why you’re going to be out, for one. “I’ll be out Friday afternoon.” Done.

      If she does start to engage with you on that, I think you’re totally entitled to say, “Already got approval from Boss, so you’ll have to take it up with him,” or “I don’t really want to debate this,” or “I brought this up for your information, not your approval,” or something. She’s way out of line.

      1. Kathenus*

        I really like all of these suggestions. Not her business, don’t engage and play the game. Unless you turn the game to amuse yourself with it, and then by all means have fun yourself with the situation.

    7. LKW*

      My favorite is to play really confused “Why do you ask?” “I’m sorry I don’t understand your point.” and my favorite: “Nope, sorry, I hear you saying words and I understand those words but I don’t understand the words together.”

      The other is to this specific situation could have been “Oh you’re one of those people… people who don’t like to spend too much time with their friends/ People who are afraid of sick people/ people who like to get up early.”

      1. Paula Anton*


        This is really a good example of “Gaslighting 101”. If you’re not already in management, I see a lot of potential. (I’m not judging you, I swear. Sometimes this is a handy jobskill.)

      2. Mad Baggins*

        That reminds me of the Office episode where Andy is floating away across the lake and Angela intentionally misunderstands what he says.
        Andy: Just look at what is happening, and go tell somebody it!!
        Angela: I don’t understand what you want from me.
        Andy: Get help!!
        Angela: Sorry! *walks away*

    8. Anna Canuck*

      What she says shouldn’t affect how you feel this much. She’s just a coworker. She has opinions that are of no effect on you. Let her talk, let it roll off of you, live your fabulous life. The best advice for this is really just to care less. If you really can’t take it, try to get her going on herself instead of you (‘Oh, I can’t, but what are you doing this weekend?”)

      1. Peaches*

        It might be easy to care less for some people but for others it’s not. More so, it sounds like the person asking is really driving these questions, so it might not be that the writer cares too much she just constantly has to hear it. The other person might also be one of those people who will keeping bringing a question up until they get an answer. I would be polite but vague. ‘Leaving Saturday doesn’t work for me, but you’ll be fine without me.’

    9. TechServLib*

      My favorite response to this is a half-joking response to Coworker, “Boss, you must have gotten a new haircut! I almost didn’t recognize you sitting at Coworker’s desk!”
      It’s snarky, but a little lighthearted and gets the point across as “This is between me and my boss. You are not my boss, so this is not something that’s up for discussion with you.”

    10. Bea*

      I would just stop engaging. It’s none of her business. “Why not leave Saturday?” “because I’m leaving on Friday.” and then ignore the rest of her insufferable follow ups.

      She’s not your mom. She can ef off.

      1. ket*

        Yea, I think the advice to ask, “What do you mean by that?” only works with people in whom it will prompt self-reflection. You’ve done the experiment and shown this is not the case. Try the next technique down the list and go directly to, “It’s not possible.”

        We’ve often had the discussion in comments about advice not the JADE (justify, argue, defend, explain) and how it’s really only applicable to narcissists and difficult people, and that with most people a bit of discussion or justification is really useful. I think your coworker has demonstrated that it’s time to move to ‘tools for difficult people.’

    11. Jady*

      Minimum information. Make your life private.

      The less they know the better, and it’ll avoid a lot of the annoying situations. When they push, just respond with questions like “Why do you ask?” and try changing topics. If they get aggressive, shut it down with something like “The time off has already been approved, I’m just letting you know as a kindness.”

    12. theletter*

      See I would have replied with “Because I want to go see my sick friend on Friday,” and left it at that. Then it’s in her court to argue her case, which can promptly be shut down by “Boss already already approved it.”

    13. MissDisplaced*

      “Why can’t you go on Saturday instead?” = “I want to go home early too.” Right?
      Very passive aggressive. If she wants to leave early she needs to put in for the time off. Otherwise it’s none of her business.

      “Why can’t you go on Saturday instead?”
      “Because I want to leave Friday.”
      “Blah, blah, blah”
      I like ThatGirls response: “It’s my PTO, and I’ve decided this is how I want to use it, thanks!”

    14. Turquoisecow*

      There’s a strategy mentioned in The West Wing (which I just finished watching) about dealing with questions you’re not prepared to or don’t want to answer. It’s called “refusing to accept the premise of the question.”

      A good example is when a reporter says “what do you think of (opposing candidate’s) views on Issue X,” and you reply with “I’m more concerned about Issue Y, and here’s why, and here’s my plan to work on that issue.” You don’t accept that the question is about issue X or your opponent’s thoughts, you change it and answer the question you want to answer, which is about Issue Y.

      So when your coworker says “why don’t you go on Saturday?” answer as though she’d asked you a different question, not that one. “Yes, it’ll be great to see her; she’s not been doing well and I hope my visit perks her up.” “I’m bringing her some of my famous home made soup, she really enjoys that.” “I’ll pass on your well wishes, thanks,” or something similar. Pretend she actually asked something or said something socially acceptable, like “I hope your friend is doing well and enjoys your company.”

      1. LovecraftInDC*

        This is a great way to change the subject quickly and effectively, but I’d (personally) reserve it for when I just don’t want to answer the question. When the questioner has no right to be asking the question (like OP’s coworker), I’d be a little more aggressive in my response as suggested above.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      This can cover many drawn out, belabored points: Why do you care so much?

      I would be curious as to why she has to go on and on. “Jane, I have noticed that when I let you know I won’t be here we seem to have to discuss it for a while. I think you know that the boss has already approved the time off. I am wondering, why we are having these longer discussions?

  8. AnonyAnony*

    I received a job offer, but the salary is lower than I expected. In an initial pre-screen with HR, when asked about my salary requirements, I noted I needed to earn at least $X and the HR person said that was in their range. In the offer, it’s a bit lower (about 3%). Any suggestions for how to word that I expected higher based on the HR person’s comment?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      “In our initial conversations, you asked about salary requirements, and I said I’d need at least $X, and you said that was okay. If you can offer me $X (instead of $X x .97), I’d love to take the offer.”

      That is, if you really are happy to take the offer. I worry if they’re lowballing you now, before you even start working there, this will likely be a trend going forward (no raises, no cost-of-living increases, no bonuses, no promotions, etc.).

    2. Afiendishthingy*

      Listen to AAM’s podcast about negotiating salary and just ask for it. “I discussed ($x) with Fergus. Could you do that?” And stop talking and wait.

      1. Yorick*

        This would be my approach as well.

        This sort of happened to me and I had no idea how to negotiate. All I could manage is “that’s a lot lower than we discussed…….awkward silence” and it seemed to work ok. (it was a larger % difference)

      2. BRR*

        This is what I would do. I like the idea of mentioning “this is the number I had already discussed” over negotiating without mentioning that it’s already been discussed.

    3. DG*

      “I’m really excited about this job and this opportunity, but I was hoping the pay would be around $Y. Based on my (years of experience blah blah) that number is more in line with what I was thinking.”

      Then see what they say – if there is room for negotiation there, they’ll let you know. If not, then that’s your answer.

    4. Nita*

      Maybe say something like “thank you for the offer. However, for me to consider leaving my current job, the starting salary needs to be at least $X” You could add some reasons if you want – such as, this is lower than your current salary/your salary with an anticipated raise, your commute costs will go up dramatically, the proposed salary doesn’t match your responsibilities, etc.

    5. Lil Fidget*

      I think HR lowballs people as a matter of principle, just to see if you’ll take less. I wouldn’t focus on prior conversations, except maybe in a passing remark – you’re not trying to litigate a past conversation, you’re just negotiating for the amount you want. Use Alison’s standard advice about how to go about asking for the number you have in mind. Shake off the weirdness of having to go back a step again, it’s just how these things go sometimes.

    6. AnonyAnony*

      Thanks all for the advice! Follow-up question: would it be better to have this conversation by phone or send an email so the employer has a chance to research the possibility of the higher rate?

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Definitely over the phone if you can. They may need to go back and look at budgets, etc, but it is easier to have the conversation and you will get a better sense of what they’re thinking.

  9. JellyBean*

    When interviewing for a job or being offered a job and asked when you can start, what should you say if you’re unemployed? It feels like I would be expected to say “tomorrow,” but it would be nice to have a couple days or a week to test out the commute, buy appropriate clothes if needed, stock up on lunch food that’s easy to bring to work, readjust my sleep schedule, etc. I also have a few upcoming doctor appointments, so it makes sense to me to put off starting for a week if I have multiple appointments scheduled.

    Overall, I’ve been unemployed for a long time so I don’t feel like I could be ready to start working again instantly. I’m worried that employers will think this is ridiculous though since the standard two weeks notice period doesn’t apply to me.

    1. Someone Else*

      The following Monday is what I typically said, as most companies need time to order equipment and stuff anyway.

    2. LQ*

      I think you could certainly say at least a week. I’d go for not the upcoming Monday, but the Monday after that in general. Maybe not a full 2 weeks, but a full 2 weekends and enough time to get through appointments and whatever else.

    3. Streisand & Gibb*

      You have a life, one that you’re trying to include a job. If they, or you, expect to start tomorrow, you’re not honoring your life. If I’m unemployed, I say that I can start on ‘this date’ regardless if they think I should be able to start right away because I have nothing else going on, being unemployed. ‘Tomorrow’ or something in that range wouldn’t be prudent for each of you – they need to prepare to bring you on and you bring them into your life. Just say a date between 1.5 and 2 weeks from now. If you have a dr appointment that goes into that time frame, let them know. You can’t stop your life while you’re job searching.

      Congrats on the new job.

      1. Trinity Beeper*

        +1, just chiming in to say I really like the phrase “honoring your life”. I think a lot more people could stand to think about it that way.

    4. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Sure, you’re unemployed. But your new employer doesn’t know that maybe you’re dogsitting for a friend. Or volunteered to house sit. Heck, maybe you just have a quick getaway planned. Or your car is in the shop. There’s a myriad reasons that you wouldn’t be able to start tomorrow. I wouldn’t stress about starting in a week.


    5. DivineMissL*

      Well, when I’m asked that in an interview, I usually say “I’d like to give my current job X notice, so I could start X notice after we’ve agreed on the employment offer” or something similar. In your case, you can just say, “I can start one week (or however many days you want) after we’ve agreed on an offer.” If you were employed, they would have to wait 2-4 weeks for you to start anyway; so asking them for a week or so to prepare is quite reasonable.

    6. ThatGirl*

      It’s normal for pre-employment stuff to take a week or two, anyway. I was unemployed when I got my current job, and still gave myself about 10 days – it was nice to get things in order, take care of some appointments, buy a few new clothes, etc. Most jobs wouldn’t expect you to be ready immediately even if you weren’t currently working – they have that lead/notice time built in.

      1. LovecraftInDC*

        And many jobs CAN’T start you the next day. Even after passing background, my employer mandates that new employees start at the beginning of a pay period. I can imagine (in a department other than mine) a situation where they have an emergency and need someone right away, but for most positions, the Monday two weeks from acceptance date is a perfectly reasonable time.

        And like others have said, even if you’re unemployed, employers are humans too and they realize there’s a whole bunch of things that you may need time to adjust; childcare, petcare, transportation arrangements, hey maybe you’ve got a mid-week trip or something coming up.

        1. New Phone Who Dis?*

          Yep. I had no idea this was a thing and was very confused and in hindsight, oddly pushy to start. I assumed a job opening meant it needed to be filled ASAP (like most places hiring high school and college students). I totally out life on hold while job searching so I could be there instantly.

    7. Afiendishthingy*

      I accepted a job this Monday. I had originally said (during the interview) that I would be available to start the day after Labor Day, and they were totally understanding about that. However once I accepted I thought “but I’m so broke and need a paycheck right now” so I ended up starting this Tuesday. It’s been very overwhelming. It’s a school based job so it made sense to start the school year with everyone, and I was happily surprised to get a paycheck today— apparently the first paycheck of the school year for salaried employees comes early. Overall, though, I think I’d recommend taking a week.

    8. Anon From Here*

      I don’t think anyone expects you to say “tomorrow” even if you’re between jobs. “Unemployed” doesn’t mean you have absolutely nothing on your to-do list; it just means that “go to work” isn’t on the list.

    9. Snark*

      I think, “I’ve got some obligations I’ll need to wrap up, so would Monday the 10th work for you?” would be a fine way to handle it. Or, “I’ve got some appointments this coming week, so would the following Monday make sense as a start date?” This is all incredibly normal, and nobody is going to blow smoke at you for this, even if you’re currently not employed.

      1. Kuododi*

        Big second on this one. I’ve started new jobs after unemployment as well as after a 2 or 3 week notice. After starting from unemployed, I think I used the term “commitments” but otherwise the script I used was essentially the same. I would typically commit to start within 7-10 business days which didn’t appear to raise eyebrows. Best wishes!!!

    10. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      If you’re working in a white collar/office job (i.e. one where you sit at a computer during a lot of your day), most companies will need at least a few days to get you set up — get a computer configured, create various accounts, make sure they have an onboarding schedule in place, etc.

      And that goes for you, too. You don’t need to explain anything to them; they don’t expect your calendar to be 100% clear because you’re unemployed. You could have volunteer commitments, doctor’s appointments, projects to wrap up. Life happens even when work doesn’t.

      I’d ask for at least a week. I’m guessing they won’t blink.

      (ALL this goes out the window if you’re in a different industry — retail, construction, etc. I have no idea how those sectors work!)

      1. Jady*

        This, definitely.

        Office jobs will never be ready for you to start “tomorrow” anyway. They have to process paperwork, select a desk, talk and prep teams, arrange training and onboarding, order and setup equipment (laptops, monitors, phone systems, voicemails), create ID badges, create user accounts, apply security settings, so on and on!

        A week is fine!

    11. JellyBean*

      Thanks for all the replies and scripts! I feel a lot better about saying I need a week before starting any jobs now. I had forgotten that the employer might have some things to do on their end that would make starting “tomorrow” impractical, and it sounds like my assumption that they’d expect me to be instantly available since I’m unemployed was way off.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You could have doctor’s appointments or volunteer work commitments to wrap up. You could be helping elderly mom to move and get settled into her assisted living place. If you are asked directly about being unemployed and not available, you can just say that you made short term commitments as you prefer to keep busy even though you are not working. You need a moment to wrap up these commitments, so you can focus on your new job.

    12. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Congrats on the new job!! I know how you feel (I was out of work for 2 years). But as much as you want to, don’t say “Tomorrow” as they need time to get things set up for you on their end (get your computer profile set up, get you in the security system, etc.). So give them at least 2 weeks.

    13. Alumna Elsewhere*

      I said ‘on Monday’ when I was in this situation and regretted it – I really needed another week to sort out alternatives to pre-existing commitments and so on.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      It’ up to you really. Some unemployed people are thrilled to jump right in in a day or two. But generally, I’d say a full week is normal unless you have some mitigating circumstance (like a trip, medical procedure, etc.) already scheduled that might justify a slightly longer pushback.

  10. Poniez R Us*

    Has anyone else ever told on your boss? How did it go? Did you have mixed feelings?

    I spoke with HR this week about my boss. After speaking with my coworkers , I consolidated our concerns/complaints and presented them to HR. I have mixed feelings right now. My boss is not a bad person. He just sucks at managing. HR was very concerned about a couple things I said and said he will talk to my boss’s boss and decide where to go from there.
    Regardless of the outcome, I am leaving. The environment is too political and toxic. My search is going well so far. Hopefully I will be out of here before the end of year.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I wish your coworkers had come with you – I hate when one person is labeled The Troublemaker when the rest of the group agrees in theory. Their support sometimes erodes when asked directly and now it looks like you’re the only person with the grudge.

    2. LKW*

      I reported a compliance issue on a former boss. She was toeing a really unethical line. She was also a sucky boss.

      So that bridge is burned.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It might help if you reframe this as “providing necessary feedback regarding your boss’s actions” instead of “telling on”.

      1. mkt*

        ^^ This!

        I give feedback about my colleagues and my dotted line reports as needed. If it’s impacting your work, career, morale, etc., (and doesn’t fall into categories that are petty annoyances) than it’s really important to speak up.

    4. LDP*

      I did this recently. It did not go well. My boss gave me the silent treatment for over a week and wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. She then pulled me into her office and closed the door and asked me what exactly I had said to her boss (we don’t have an HR person in our office, so I went to my grandboss), made accusations about my mental health, basically just went on and on about how disappointed she was in me and how disrespected she felt. Honestly, if I had to do it all over again, I’d still do it. She’s making my work life miserable with her antics, so I’m tired of walking on eggshells around her and pretending we’re friends (she’ created this weird “mean girls” kind of culture on our team that feels very 6th grade to me). Needless to say, I’ve started my job search. Hopefully your situation doesn’t get quite as bad as what I’ve been dealing with!

    5. Yorkshire Rose*

      Unless the boss is doing something illegal/unethical, it is never a good idea to complain about your boss. One needs to either learn to “manage up,” or move out.

      The person who “tells on” a boss is immediately labeled a troublemaker and is the first person to go during downsizing.

      This never works out well. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

        1. Yorkshire Rose*

          It’s called Not Biting the Hand that Feeds You. I don’t know what the boss was doing in this situation, but there are a lot of people who “suck at managing,” and as long as the LW is not enduring verbal/physical abuse or is witnessing/documenting unethical/illegal behavior, there is no need to rock a boat. HR works for the best interest of the company, not the employee making the complaint.

          99% of the time, you have better success having a conversation with your manager about the behaviors that puzzle you, or learn to ignore them if they’re not that bad. Or as the LW is doing, looking for a new job if it’s really an unbearable environment.

          1. Poniez R Us*

            I did not want to include too many details as to not out myself. I would hope that as a commenter on this site you would understand that and assume the best. Indeed I have done the “managing up”, direct conversations, etc. Ultimately I believe my boss acts in a way that toes ethical behavior and puts our team at risk for providing inaccurate information to outside financial institutions that hold us accountable for providing accurate and fairly presented information. Furthermore, while there are plenty of bad managers and it is legal to be a bad manager, I believe that people should be heard when they feel they are being put in difficult situations or being treated in a less than respectful manner. As noted below, this was a hard decision. I like my boss as a person but his judgement puts me at risk for being a part of a situation I don’t want to be in.

    6. Snark*

      You….aren’t “telling on” anyone. You’re not in third grade. You are providing actionable, concerning information about your boss’ management practices and style to upper management.

    7. Bea*

      Reporting someone for not doing their job well isn’t the same as squealing because they wore sneakers instead of loafers when your dresscode is business professional!

      I’ve never reported a boss, they’ve all been the end-all. But when you can go above them, the structure is there for a reason. You’re loyal to the company, not the person you report to. That’s how I frame it.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, definitely mixed feelings. It’s unusual to report a boss, so doing something unusual does not come with out a lot of thought and then more thought and more thought.
      What is done is done and it lands where it lands.
      The few times I have done it no one ever rushed up to me and thanked me, so I had no sense of accomplishment or change, etc.
      Generally speaking when people decide to report bosses the situation is Not Good. And the boss might have difficulty processing the news, the problems in process the constructive criticism are probably part of the problems she has with doing the job.
      I think the best thing you can do is be able to clearly and briefly state why you did what you did. Know your Why. It is handy to be able to briefly say what you want to see change. Also remind your coworkers that they need to carry their part of the load too. They can’t sit back and let you fight the fight for them.

      1. Poniez R Us*

        Thank you for this. It was definitely hard to make the choice and I don’t regret it one bit.

    9. ONFM*

      No real advice, just sympathy. I’m going through something similar with my team; facts were brought to light that required an immediate report above my boss’ head. She was put on leave the next day and isn’t back yet. Now the individual employees are waffling…”maybe it wasn’t that bad,” “maybe I misunderstood,” etc. The situation is stressful, and we’re facing the very real possibility that the boss could come back. Where does that leave us? It’s a bad situation. I’m honestly not sure I’d do it again unless what was happening was explicitly illegal or truly harming someone.

      1. Observer*

        If your boss was put on immediate leave, that should be enough to tell you that it WAS that bead, and it probably is a potentially big deal – legally, ethically or in terms of harm to others. Unless your employer is toxic and your manager was already in someone’s cross hairs.

  11. AnonEmu*

    Anon here, but I am in a dilemma:

    This is my first job after grad school but funding for my position runs out next August, so my boss has let me and others in my position know so we can start job hunting in advance. However, I’m looking to move on sooner – this job is a lot different than i expected, and due to understaffing/lack of time to train and just how busy we are, the stress of this job is really too much for me to handle. I’m working a lot longer hours than I was told were usual for the job (one reason I accepted the lower salary was because the hours I was told seemed like the hours would allow for work-life balance, and instead 10-12 hour days are the norm),. My ability to push back here is limited because everyone is working really long hours, my boss included, I’m burnt out to the point where my friends and family are concerned about the impact on my health. It’s been impacting my work performance as well – my migraines were really well controlled previously but now I’m getting multiple a week where I used to maybe get one a month, and I just don’t really have a chance to build back any stamina. I’ve developed some lower gut issues as well (trying to get into a dr about that but I am pretty sure it’s stress), and I’m constantly not on top of my game since I keep catching whatever cold/sinus bug keeps coming around. The stress is making it hard to sleep as well – I am seeing a therapist for help with this and my anxiety issues, but she thinks this job is exacerbating every mental health issue I already have, between the chaos and some of the way things are handled here, and is encouraging me to job hunt as well. Given prior attempts to discuss this with my boss, I don’t think things are likely to change anytime soon – I was having regular panic attacks at work (I’d go to an area not currently being used and hide till I got over them) but now the anxiety has depression on top of it.

    My boss is trying her best, but to me it’s pretty clear that this isn’t the kind of environment I can thrive in, and my boss isn’t really thrilled with me right now. I should note that this job was a big change for me in terms of duties and day to day, but my boss hired me knowing the skill levels I was coming in with and that I was seeing it as an opportunity to widen my skill base. My other coworkers are a lot more experienced already so sometimes I do struggle to keep up just because a lot of this stuff is on the level of ‘learned it in school, first time doing it IRL’ level for me – and then I’m so exhausted from all of this that when it comes to the stuff I -am- good at, migraines and exhaustion mean I take longer than I normally would. So there’s a lot of frustration all around.

    I’ve already started job hunting, and talked with one of my mentors from grad school about some of this stuff in confidence. He understands I’m in a difficult situation. The problem is reaching out to the two other members of my committee asking for their permission to serve as references and letting them know I’m job hunting again. I don’t want to get in trouble with current boss, and I don’t want to burn any bridges, but I am so nervous about asking them for help, especially since one of them knows my current boss. (edited)

    So how does this look as an email to them:

    Dear Dr. {____}

    I found out recently that funding for my current position will end next August. Due to the potential lead time involved in academic and/or industry job searches, if you are aware of any positions opening next year, I would love to hear about them. I would also like your permission to use you as a reference in the future.

    Thank you so much for all your guidance and support during my time at {university}.


    TL;DR Only been here 5 months, already job hunting again because I can’t handle what this job is doing to my health and things are unlikely to change soon. Want to let references know I’d like to find a new job now without burning bridges because small academic world. Advice also appreciated on what questions to ask so that I don’t wind up in a position like this again.

    1. AnonEmu*

      Ignore the “edited” above – I drafted this in another program and pasted it. But any advice would be appreciated.

    2. J.B.*

      I wouldn’t hesitate to approach them. The script is fine, but maybe start with a call or in person instead of email? The fact is that academia is not huge on boundaries, and that searches can take forever. Good luck!

      1. AnonEmu*

        Even when I was in the same state, unfortunately, email was the only way to get a hold of them. What did you mean by boundaries?

    3. Nesprin*

      The professor is in is better for the wacky world of academia – we’re an odd bunch. If your field has a big central conference where hiring happens you should go even if you have to pay for yourself. Your email is a little anxiety ridden- everyone wants their students to do well, and if your committee has written letters for you before, they probably will again. Perhaps the biggest red flag would be no letter from your current supervisor- if there’s any chance he’d give you a decent letter, you should ask for it.

      For references, I’d call and give an update, but here’s how I’d go about email asking for refs.

      Dear Dr. {____}
      Thank you so much for all your guidance and support during my time at {university}. My work in X’s group is going well- , and I’ve attached my most updated CV but due to the vagaries of funding, I will be applying for positions in the next few months. Would you be able to give me a strong reference? Additionally, please let me know if any of these sorts of positions come up.


      1. AnonEmu*

        Unfortunately the big central conference was in July – and while I put some feelers out, it was really sparsely attended this year. I put a few feelers out re future jobs, but I also thought that I had at least another year left on this position (I found out that funding wasn’t renewed 2 weeks ago) and I was also believing my boss’s promise that stuff would ease up in July (it has gotten significantly worse and she said there’s likely to be no letup for the foreseeable future). The issue is also that current boss has said ‘start hunting in spring’ but I’m hunting now because I need to get out for my own sanity and health.

        And due to a bunch of things that have happened, as well as current supervisor’s temperament, I’m terrified I won’t get a good reference, because they keep calling me out (in front of my coworkers) for stuff like “why didn’t you do [thing I told you you weren’t allowed to do until you were trained on it]” when I hadn’t been trained on it and they forgot I hadn’t been (I had been asking, it kept getting put off) or “why don’t you know where x was filed” (when x is something filed by a coworker that just left, who was notorious for misfiling things and I didn’t even know that file existed. I mentioned that I’ve been trying my hardest but I sometimes get overwhelmed (largely due to being put into situations without training) and I was told that I shouldn’t be overwhelmed and I need to step up. I feel like I’m in a catch-22 here – if I’d had the training I need, I would handle stuff better, but we’re too swamped for me to be trained properly so I make more mistakes than I’d like and my boss keeps treating me like I’m a walking disaster zone.

        1. Public Health Nerd*

          Now is the time to look – there’s more than one grant cycle, and nobody will look at you sideways for looking now. I also think it’s fine to tell prospective new jobs that you want to be on a team that can provide more training and mentoring to a junior person. You can frame it that current team wasn’t able to do this – not that they are bad people, but that this isn’t their forte.

          Yes, academia is small, but that also means other groups know which researchers are a hot mess for junior hires.

          1. AnonEmu*

            Unfortunately my mentor from grad school found out this research location is known for having more research to do than people to do it – and found that out after I took the job. And the thing is that my current boss does have a rep for training people well, but the person who was supposed to train me on a lot of stuff (who has since left) didn’t despite me and my boss asking them, and in a few cases actively sabotaged me or trained me to do things wrong – but I’m not getting retrained or getting the kind of training my current boss is known for, and idk what I did wrong other than arrive at the most chaotic time this lab has had in ages. For months it kept being put off to “when we get a chance” and now I’ve been here 5 months, my training is still piecemeal, but my boss keeps treating me like I have more experience/training than I actually have. I’ve been doing my best to learn stuff on my own but there’s still a lot of situations where it’s me by myself encountering something I don’t know how to deal with, doing my best, and getting in trouble and we’re busy enough that if I ask for help/clarification too often people get quite frustrated.

            I keep winding up in situations where I go in explicitly stating I want training and mentoring, am promised it, and don’t get it – in grad school I was able to find another mentor, but here? I got thrown to the wolves. Any tips as to what questions to ask going forward so I actually do get training?

            1. Public Health Nerd*

              Ask about what the training and mentoring look like – is it as needed help? Formal meetings? See one, do one? Budget for meetings? Then you can decide if you like that idea. If it’s a small group, ask about relationships with other groups who might be a resource.

              The culture and makeup of labs and research units shift over time, so don’t worry about looking bad to other people. I think the key is to spend time imagining what amazing support/training/mentoring would look like day to day, and tell interviewers that this is what you’re looking for.

              1. AnonEmu*

                Thanks! I did hear back from them – two have job leads already and one said he’d be on the look out. And one of the job leads is with a lab I already know the dynamics of and it could be a good fit – the other one I have some more caveats re, but I’m applying for both. I definitely appreciate the advice!

                Any tips about how to ask about how long the funding is good for? Both of these jobs would require long-distance moves and I’m still paying off this one.

    4. anonymoushiker*

      This email looks just fine to me. I think, maybe especially in university and/or academic-connected work, people are going to understand that funding disappears and that this happens. I think keeping the mental health stuff out of it as much as possible is probably a good idea as you never know when people will hold it against you.

      1. AnonEmu*

        Unfortunately I may have blown that with this job. Despite being the most laid-back person in my family of type A overachievers (a friend of mine calls me a Type A-), turns out being thrown into a chaotic situation with not much experience, and not getting the training I needed makes me anxious because I am petrified of making a mistake, so I do get anxious if only because no one teaches me what counts as critical or intervention-worthy until I hit a false positive >< I do pretty well in chaotic environments but this is too chaotic for me, and some early flailing when I really wasn't sure what counted as urgent/hadn't been told means that from then on even if -I- think I'm calm, me asking for clarification gets parsed as being anxious. I'd rather ask a question than wing it and mess up, but….again, if I'd gotten the training I needed/people were clearer with instructions a lot of this would've been prevented. But none of my coworkers know I'm in therapy so there's that at least.

    5. valentine*

      You don’t have to grind yourself down, despite what anyone else is doing. If you think your boss will fire you for working a sustainable amount of hours, would she allow it if your doctor requested it? It sounds like working strictly 8-hour/day, 40-hour weeks (or less) would reduce your migraines and potentially increase your productivity, although you may need to do it for longer than you’ve been overworking, just to return to a decent baseline. Could you use that to set the boundary, that you can do accomplish y, and well, if you work x hours, versus working 10+ and not reaching your goals? If you only improve your health, that’s a lot. The work is endless. You’re the one who needs looking after.

      1. AnonEmu*

        I guess the issue is that we don’t have enough people here (and no sign of more people in the future, despite boss’s efforts) to make that possible – there’s a minimum # of bodies needed to make things run every day and we’re at that right now. Everyone’s working these kind of hours and me needing reduced duty would just make it worse for everyone else. We need to work these hours just to keep afloat on getting everything done – everyone is behind on everything, and it’s been that way since I got here (and we had more people working here then).

        I am also unfortunately in a branch of academia where physical and mental health needs are seen as a sign of weakness/not being cut out for the field, unless it’s something like “had sports accident, can’t use leg for a whole semester” (and even then I didn’t get cut much slack). In grad school, the one time I lost composure around my labmates (after a serious setback with my research, which would make -anyone- upset) had my (male) labmates asking me if I really had the capacity to stay in grad school and maybe I should quit. A doctor’s note requesting reduced duty, in the absence of something like a broken limb, would probably make things significantly worse and make it hard for me to get a new job. I just want out of here.

        The other thing is that during grad school I was working 50-60 hour weeks just fine mostly – but I had at least one day per weekend mostly off, and it wasn’t as much physical labor as I am doing now. I also had to have emergency surgery twice during grad school, survived some pretty serious personal trauma, and was still less stressed than I am at this job. I think I am cut out more for what I did for my PhD, which was more modeling and large data analysis. I took this job to get experience in fieldwork – I just didn’t expect to be thrown to the wolves, have a coworker actively sabotage me for months, and be working about 50% more hours than I took the job to do. I took a lower salary because of the training opportunities and the hours promised, neither of which have been really happening. I don’t necessarily think it’s the hours worked, it’s the sheer chaos, lab culture, and the fact that no one ever gets a break. I know my boss is trying their best but I just….I dont know what to do except to find a new job ASAP.

  12. Justin*

    I started my doctoral program last night!

    I am definitely doing homework on a slow day at work, which is better than all the other slow days when I… just sit here.

    But I struggle with the fact that I might not be able to put it to use as much as I’d want while I study. During my masters, it wasn’t bifurcated – I studied teaching X, then I went and taught X. But doctorates are, by nature, more abstract.

    Not really complaining. I’m excited for the challenge and I was bored. But I’m keeping my eye out for ways I can progress and grow here, or else I definitely have to leave in the winter, lest I wake up five years later with little to show for it professionally.

    1. Justin*

      (I hope there is enough “work” in there to not be removed. It’s about work/school, but I understand if there’s too much of the latter.)

      1. Bigintodogs*

        Do you still get the chance to TA or anything doing your doctorate? I think most students do. Also it will probably get busy as the year progresses. I think basically “putting it to use while you study” is working on your thesis. Doctorates are way more of a job than Master’s degrees are, so your job is your research.

  13. Ali G*

    So I am a finalist for a great job I really want! I am so excited. I have an interview with the CEO (who would be my boss) on Wednesday. The only thing I am worried about is – he is new to the organization (his first day was this past Monday). Also, this position has been empty since last year, and so it’s become obvious to me during the interview process that they are interested in going in a new direction and they wanted the incoming CEO involved in the process because of that.
    Does anyone have any suggestions for questions to ask him? I feel like the normal questions about office culture, etc. would all be hypothetical since he is also new. Here are the questions I am considering:
    What is your management style?
    Do you have specific goals in mind for this position (to see how his view compares with the job listing and the other conversations I’ve had about it)?
    What changes, if any do you see making to the organization in your first 6 months?
    Do you have an idea what a successful first 6 months for this position would look like?
    I’m open to input on other ideas!
    Thank you and I will certainly except all the good vibes you can give :)

    1. Neosmom*

      What specifically do you need from me to help you (Mr. CEO) reach your goals?

      Turn the focus back on the boss. It may be he needs 24/7 access to you via phone. That would be a big red flag for me.

      Good luck to you.

    2. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      How did you find out the CEO just started the position? (i.e., is it public knowledge that he’s new?) if it is, that can probably work FOR you. You could start with “I understand that you are new to the role/company, but what are your plans for the company and how would my role/position help achieve those goals?” Good luck with the interview. Update us on how it goes.

      1. Ali G*

        Yes it’s common knowledge and they told me his start date – because it impacts their timeline.
        I like this a lot – thanks!

    3. Kimmo*

      I would ask about his vision. You can just say something like “it seems that the organization is changing direction; can you give me your take on what seems to be going well vs what ways you’d like to shift gears, based on your time here so far?” Hopefully it can give you some insight into how your role fits into that, big-picture.

    4. Doloris Van Cartier*

      I would ask questions to help you understand the way they see the organization growing under their leadership and then how your position can help support that work and what they think that would look like to be successful.

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Instead of the office culture questions… how about something like

      “How have you found it to be new to this environment”
      “What are your first impressions of the operations here; was there anything that jumped out at you good or bad?”
      “Heh… have you found the coffee maker yet?” Yeah, I would totally make that joke.

  14. Alternative Person*

    So, I told my manager officially that I want to cut my schedule to four days a week because I got a one-day-a-week contract with a better regarded employer (this is normal in my line of work).

    He seemed resigned (he’s known that this has been on the cards for a while) but it is a load of my chest to officially make the decision.

  15. First Day Jitters*

    I am about to start a new job (after a vacation, yay!) It is in the field I got my degree in (yay again!) but is quite different from the job I currently hold, which is/was my first job out of college. I am extremely excited about my new position and want to set myself up for success. I am moving a) from the public sector (state government) to the private sector, b) from a very, very laid-back and slow-paced environment to a fast-paced, much busier environment, and c) from one field to another. I guess I maybe have a little pre-first-day jitters/impostor syndrome “oh my god what if I can’t do this new job” feelings going on. I moved into my current position from an internship position, so I feel like I always knew the ropes. I’m nervous about jumping into a new-ish field where the environment is fast-paced, where I will probably have to learn quickly, and get used to a totally different culture. Any tips on getting off on the right foot, transitioning smoothly, and getting over my nerves?

    1. RachelTW*

      If you are worried about keeping up and/or learning everything necessary for your new field, I would make sure to ask for regular/explicit feedback from your manager (if possible and if that’s something that fits in the culture in your office) and for clear, measurable expectations they have for y0ur success. I made a similar transition and wasn’t quite up to snuff, but I think I could have been if I had had a better idea of the yard stick I was actually being measured against.

      1. DrWombat*

        Same – try and get as much feedback and clear guidelines as you can. Your manager may forget that what’s “common sense” for someone more used to the field isn’t necessarily how someone newer to things may handle it, and that’s always an uncomfortable conversation to have. Better to get as clear as you can upfront so there’s less anxiety and better communication. Congrats!

    2. Aunty Anarchy*

      Congrats on the new gig.
      You could try asking about/identifying for yourself some “low hanging fruit”: concrete deliverables for your first 30 or 90 days. Even if they’re obvious or basic, it’ll demonstrate to NewBoss – and, perhaps more importantly, to yourself – that you’ve got this. Good for their confidence in you, and for yours in yourself.

  16. AdAgencyChick*

    Hivemind, have you worked at a company that decided to save money by offloading admin duties onto junior non-admin employees?

    My company recently made this change. The juniors who are asked to do admin tasks (specifically, booking travel, planning meetings, and completing expense reports for mid- to senior-level employees) are not in my department. The admin was awesome at booking my travel and getting my expense reports completed in a timely fashion; the juniors, not so much, but since they don’t report to me, I can’t make them do better. (And I get it, I get that they consider their duties for external clients to be more important/urgent than their admin work, but all the same I want my money back when I go on a trip!)

    If you’ve been in a situation like this, what (if anything) has worked well to get the admin stuff done right when it’s not being done by a full-time admin?

    1. Snark*

      Honestly? I don’t think you can, or should, expect admin staff-level performance out of non-admin staff. This is one of the consequences of cheaping out on human resources. If they have external client responsibilities, those are going to rightly take precedence, and I think the mid-to-seniors either need to push to rehire admins, or accept that customer service is going to take a hit.

      1. Snark*

        And I don’t mean to imply that you cheaped out on the admins! Obviously that decision was made above your head. And you can try, maybe, bringing coffee for the juniors this got shoveled off on – if they know and like you, they might whip on it. But ultimately, I don’t think you can really whip on them.

      2. Ciara Amberlie*

        This. If they are doing the admin stuff, just not as fast as you’d like because of their other responsibilities, then I think that’s just a natural consequence of the decision made by the company.

        If they were refusing to do the admin stuff at all, or were deliberately doing it slowly to protest having to do it, that would be worth raising. But it just being slower because they’ve got a ton of other, more important stuff already on their plate? Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much you can do about that, unless you have a close relationship with senior management and can push to rehire some admin staff.

    2. CAA*

      Doing it myself is the only thing that’s ever worked for me. Nobody cares about my money as much as I do.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        Seconding this. When I’ve been without an admin and relying on more junior people, it almost always paid off to just do it myself.

      2. zora*

        Yeah, I work for an agency in an… adjacent field.. and the way our company dealt with reducing Admin support positions is just to make most people do their own scheduling/travel/expense reports/timekeeping. Only the top tier of executives have someone else to help with those things, and even some of them do some of those things themselves. So, you might need to just do more of your stuff for yourself if you want it done faster or better.

        That said, one thing that made a huge difference for travel booking is we have a travel agency arrangement. Booking travel is so easy, there is a central booking website, but also you can just send an email with what you want to the travel agents and they will book everything for you. Or do research if you don’t know what you want yet.

        I would run that idea up the flag pole if you don’t have that already, or look into adjusting your arrangement with the travel agency (usually there are different pay tiers for different levels of service or number of team members at the agency, etc.) I would be willing to bet that if they do the math, the travel agency will be cheaper than the time of junior staff, especially if they are taking away from their billable time.

      3. Chaordic One*

        This was my experience. If I wanted it done right I did it myself. (I felt sorry for a few a the senior people who had to rely on these junior admin people because they never learned to type and had no idea of how to do these kinds of basic things for themselves, but as the collective AAM hive mind says, “Not my monkeys, not my circus,” and I kept my mouth shut. (I was afraid that I might end up getting stuck with the task.)

    3. Anon (this time)*

      I love that people think admin tasks are unskilled and “anyone can do it”. No, they can’t. That’s why the juniors aren’t doing it well. Administrative duties are skilled labor.

      In the situation your company has placed you in, the way to get it done right is to do it yourself. Hope they like ‘saving money’ by wasting their employees’ time like this.

      1. What’s with today, today?*

        I agree. I wouldn’t even know where to start if given a task like processing someone else’s reimbursement report. And booking travel for myself makes me stress out. I’m sure they were trained a little, but still…there’s a reason some people aren’t admin staff…I would suck at that job.

      2. Michelle*

        Thank you both. I am an admin and sometimes I get the feeling that people do not respect the things we do.

        1. Frankie*

          That belief REALLY bothers me. I’ve done a bunch of admin work in the past and I’ve also gotten a couple of advanced degrees in unrelated fields. There were always a few fellow grad students incensed when they couldn’t get hired for random admin jobs because they thought of themselves as overqualified. I rolled my eyes at them so hard. Admin work often requires a weird combo of obsessive attention to detail and large amounts of people/political savvy. It’s really not work for everyone.

      3. Delta Delta*

        This bothers me too! I’m an attorney. I worked in a firm where the hiring partner believed admin work was unskilled. He couldn’t figure out why admin tasks weren’t done correctly and why we could never keep admin staff. He wanted to pay $11/hour to people fresh out of high school and didn’t get it why they couldn’t do the work at the level he wanted. They were generally all nice people but lacked the appropriate skills. Maddening for everyone involved.

    4. A bit of a saga*

      Ah yes. At my previous agency they got rid of most of the finance folks and left it to consultants at all levels to do their own admin and sort out billings with clients. You can probably imagine how that went..

    5. WellRed*

      It’s not going to work, because not only are they not admins, they were not hired to be admins, they have other work and frankly, you’re probably gonna start seeing turnover among the junior level staff who will go elsewhere where the company won’t dump this stuff on them.
      I have never heard of anyone not doing their own expense report. I can’t even figure out my own receipts half the time.

    6. Bea*

      Are you an executive?! Why is anyone filling out expense reports? I only do them for a few people because I’m accounting. A person dealing with customers shouldn’t also be tasked with other people’s paperwork unless it’s in their original job description. They’re probably overworked and underpaid, of course your paperwork isn’t on their priorities list!

      1. Margery*

        Yea – this – I don’t understand why you don’t do them yourself?

        At least you’d get it right and on time.

      2. Washi*

        This seems a little unfair. Whatever AdAgencyChick’s position is, they were probably told that it was part of the admins’ jobs to do expense reports for them, and then told to ask specific junior employees to do it when admin positions were eliminated.

        “Do it yourself” is probably the best course of action in this situation, given how things have shaken out, but I don’t think AdAgencyChick was wrong to first try the new system of giving it to a junior employee.

        1. Bea*

          If someone told me Suzie, jr teapot designer could do my paperwork, I would stink eye and do it myself. When the organization flowchart looks out of wack, I don’t care who tells me Suzie can handle Random Task she’s had tacked on, I’m not rolling with it.

          It’s also the same for asking the accounting clerk to start handling the sales team’s calendars or any weirdness. They need to reorganize better and you shouldn’t feed into the disarray!

        2. Observer*

          I wouldn’t say wrong, but totally unrealistic. The juniors don’t report to her, they have no reason to care about her money, and her money is not only not their priority, it is NOT SUPPOSED to be their priority. If her reimbursements get delayed because they were busy doing billable work, they’ll be ok. If they drop billable hours or annoy a client because they were doing the reimbursement work, they will be in trouble.

    7. A. Librarian*

      During the “reorganization” several years ago, my company did away with administrative assistants. Of course, now no one knows who is supposed to make sure ordering supplies is done, or even if they need to be ordered, so we’re always running out of pencils.

    8. Gumby*

      How is it saving money for people who presumably make more than admins to do those tasks? Was there not enough work to support a full-time admin? Or are the juniors salaried so their time is “free”? Because it really, really is not.

      Where I am now we have minimal admin support because we’re small. People are used to doing thing for themselves. As in, I’m 90% sure the CEO books his own travel and 100% sure that everyone does their own expense reports. Of the tasks you mentioned the only one that our receptionist does is order food for meetings when we have customers here (as far as that is related to “planning meetings”).

    9. Incantanto*

      Tbh we all currently have to book our own travel and do expenses reports, up to the CTO.
      The one admin person was let go for consistently complicating things.

      Generally, it helps if we have clear guidance on budgets and allowable expenses, that are known to everyone, including good communication: the accountant didn’t tell the more junior of us that we couldn’t take out currency on our bank cards, which would have been useful to know before the airport.

      Most big expenses will go on company cards, though, so at least its not our momey we are spending. They might quibble bits, butnusually its fine.

    10. ..Kat..*

      Have the non-admins even received training in how to do this admin work? Probably not. And I’m guessing that they already had enough to do before extra work was shoved onto them with no extra compensation (otherwise it would not save money).

      I recommend pushing for company credit card so that at least you aren’t out the money.

  17. AwkwardTurtle*

    What’s the best way to propose remote work to your supervisor? I’m currently on the East coast but want to move back to California because I’m tired of the East coast and am missing home.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      I’m sorry that I don’t have an actual response for you, but had to share that I initially read your question as “What’s the best way to propose to my supervisor at work?” O.O


      1. Jemima Bond*

        I think go traditional. Down on one knee, bunch of red roses, profess undying love, proffer large Tiffany diamond ring.
        Unless your supervisor favours a creative, innovative approach, in which case lie down on their desk with a shot of tequila in your cleavage (bum cleavage if you’re a chap) and tell them all this can be theirs if they just say yes…

    2. RachelTW*

      If this is something that you think has a reasonable chance of being granted (like other people work remotely). I would prepare your proposal of how you would be able to complete all your tasks at the same level while remote (and despite the time differences) and the resources you would expect them to provide to make that happen (if any). But, would it make more sense to look for a job on the West Coast instead? I might consider job searching ahead of time before proposing. You could leave yourself open if you tell your boss you are considering relocating (but you would know your boss’s likely reaction the best).

    3. CAA*

      Think about how this will work and be prepared to explain that to your supervisor. I’m assuming that your job can be done remotely, and it’s not the kind of thing where you need to answer phones or handle paper. The kinds of things your supervisor will probably care about are your availability and willingness to start work 3 hours earlier every day; how easy it will be to reach you by instant message or phone; some way to measure your continued productivity; how you plan to maintain relationships with other coworkers.

      You also need to know in your own mind whether you will relocate even if you can’t work remotely for this company and when that might happen. If you plan to be back in CA by the end of February, then you will need to know about the remote work by end of December, or whatever works with your plans.

    4. Nita*

      I’d lay out how I think this would work, and be prepared for the boss to say no. A few people in my office have done this, but it’s not easy for them because once they’re not here, they aren’t as “visible” and only the people they work with directly know what they’re up to. Others would never be able to do it, because their work involves being here physically – although how often you absolutely have to be present, varies from once in a couple of weeks, to every single day.

    5. WellRed*

      Is this a situation where the fact that you want to move to California will complicate this because they have such different, (worker-friendly) laws that you’re employer might not want to deal with it?

    6. SJ*

      You may also want to be sure your company can do work in California. I seem to remember a recent email about this subject…the company has to be registered or something like that in California and you will fall under California employment laws which can be quite different. Wish I could remember the email specifically…anyone???

      1. De Minimis*

        My guess is if they don’t already have employees or some other activity in California they are going to be hesitant to establish a business presence in that state.

        At my last job I had to deal with things like that—management wanted this one guy to be put on payroll over the summer and he lived in a state where we didn’t have any employees or activity. So I had to get it all set up. Some states are easier than others, but it’s always kind of a headache.

        If it’s a larger company though it probably won’t be an issue if they already have people there. Hopefully it will just come down to whether the supervisor thinks it will work.

      2. Belle*

        Yeah, California, Washington and Oregon all have very specific state HR laws that can be a hassle if they don’t have employees there already. If they do – great. But it not, then a lot of companies might say no just because of the extra admin stuff (workers comp, state leave, special sick leave policies, overtime laws, etc).

    7. TK*

      Some things to consider:
      – Does your office have a good online communication infrastructure? Email, instant chats, video-calling system for meetings, etc? My company is big on face-to-face conversations and stopping by people’s desks to talk, so it is not really an option to work remote, other than a day working from home once in a while.
      – Would your schedule need to stay on East Coast hours to match your teammates, and if so, could you commit to that?
      – Are you known as a really solid achiever, self-starter, and productive employee? Your manager is likely to trust you to get work done remotely if you have a great track record of unsupervised successes. If you don’t, I would spend the next few months building that skill and recording your achievements, so you can make a case to your manager about your ability to work well remotely.

      Good luck!!

    8. ZSD*

      My husband has this set up, but for opposite coasts: His job is based in CA, and when we moved to the DC area, he was able to propose and set up remote work.
      One big selling point was that since he starts work at 9 AM East Coast time, he’s logging in at 6 AM Pacific time and is able to fix all the overnight-appearing problems to websites before the rest of the university gets online in the morning. (He does web design and management.)
      Is there some analogous advantage to your working late East Coast time from California? Like, will you be able to be on-call for unexpected announcements from the Hill that might come out after your colleagues have gone home from the day? (Your job might have nothing to do with political work. I was just trying to come up with an example.)

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Agreed on that. It can be a big point.
        I was in the US-East as part of a European team. I could work with them in the morning and take the “hand off” if you will so they could go home at a decent hour. Like your husband, my work is of the type that could be done anywhere with internet.

    9. Lady Kelvin*

      My husband was able to negotiate remote work when I got a job in Hawaii and we were based in DC. There were several key things that made it ok for his office: 1. he has some coworkers who telework already from the midwest and west coast. 2. His job is 30-50% travel, so he still gets face to face time with his clients and he was able to show that his travel costs weren’t more expensive despite living in Hawaii vs DC (he did change some of his projects so he was traveling to the west coast and not the east coast, but it worked out). 3. He already had a 4 year track record of being an awesome employee and they didn’t want to lose him. 4. He had to continue to work east coast hours and be available for morning meetings. This means that he was always up and working by 4am (10am DC time) and sometimes had meetings as early as 2 or 3am. It was nice because he was usually done working around noon, but also we have no social life because he goes to bed between 7-8 at night. 5. His company already has an office established here so he can still access tech support, visit the office, etc. without having to travel back to DC.

      He did just negotiate a move to a new company based in florida where he will be teleworking full time. Thankfully it is not client focused so he won’t have to work quite as early hours, but still has to be available/willing to get up for 9:30-10am eastern time meetings. Hawaii is a bit extreme because we are remote and 6 hours different during most of the year, but I would imagine similar concessions would make teleworking more palatable for a company.

    10. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Also good to ask yourself if you would be good at telework, despite the geography.

      I don’t have telework experience myself but I did tele-classes for grad school for a while. But I found each 60 min class would take me 2 hours because I would miss a word and rewind, stop for a snack, decide I needed to do a load of laundry, etc. It ended up being more efficient for me to go to class and be able to whisper to someone sitting next to me “what did he or she say?” or let it go then be at home.

      Plus, being at home was lonely in addition to being distracting (for me).

      So I know you want to be in California but wanting to do telework and wanting to move aren’t the same thing. If you would not be happy/productive at telework tempermentally/organizationally/socially, it may be better just to job search in California.

      And it may be worth trying part time telework where you are now so that you can prove to your boss and yourself that you are up for it.

  18. LJ*

    I saw a BBC article that actually discussed a study stating that workers are less stressed and more active in an open office plan. It was the first positive post I’ve actually seen about it. Thoughts?

    (Link in name)

    1. Not So Super-visor*

      I guess that it would depend on the work that you do. For me, it’s miserable. As a manager, the open office plan makes it really difficult to discuss performance issues with employees. I have to book a conference room which are in high demand and not remotely close to our department. It’s seen as a “Walk of Shame” when I have to bring someone into conference room for a discussion even if it’s something as simple as discussing their plans for FMLA leave. I’ve also had multiple issues with people looking over my shoulder at projects that I’ve been working on that weren’t ready to share with the group and ask detailed questions. And don’t get me started on how people feel that since there aren’t any doors that they can just walk into my tiny cube and start talking without checking to see if I’m in the middle of something and available…
      Rant over.

      1. Whatsinaname*

        Same here. And it makes it impossible to give any immediate feedback because fifteen other people can overhear it. Never mind doing any sort of confidential stuff on my pc as anyone can look right at it. I tried coming in early to have a little bit of privacy but my overly conscientiously employee decided that they must be there when I come in. Sigh.

      2. Close Bracket*

        If you have a cube, you don’t have an open office.

        > And don’t get me started on how people feel that since there aren’t any doors that they can just walk into my tiny cube and start talking without checking to see if I’m in the middle of something and available…

        Welcome to how the other half lives.

    2. Ennigaldi*

      “This could be because they make the effort to find privacy to talk away from their desk, the researchers said.” This is certainly true for me, because everyone overhears everyone’s business in my office and a couple of coworkers will weaponize that information if they decide they don’t like you for any reason. I’m a talker but this place has taught me to keep my mouth shut!

    3. Really*

      Washington Post had an article about a month ago about how open floor plans are just as bad as you thought.

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      I’ve only ever had open office plans and I wish I didn’t. I’ve never been able to have a quiet uninterrupted work space that didn’t spill into others or where I could hear everything. I long for the day that I might have an office or even a cubicle!

      It’s interesting that the article relates stress with activity. I noticed it said it was only an observational study so I’m not sure what that entails or if it’s less scientific in a way? I wouldn’t automatically relate not getting up and walking around work to being more stressed though. In my case (anecdotally of course) I would be less stressed if I could have some peace and quiet to finish my work without constant questions, noises from coworkers, phone calls and clients coming in.

    5. Birch*

      So, the full article (the actual journal article, which BBC, to their credit, linked) is behind a paywall that I can’t access despite having an institutional login to the journal. I’m incredibly skeptical given that everything else I’ve seen shows that open office spaces are not good, especially combined with techniques like hotdesking that prevent people from having control over their own workspace. I did find a systematic review from 2017 about office design and health, but it’s in a very low impact journal and not well cited so I’m not willing to put my pseudonym behind it and I don’t have the time to check their methods thoroughly. It did conclude that open office spaces are strongly linked to more sickness leave, less productivity, and more stress, which is consistent with many of the other studies. (P.S. in case people don’t know, a systematic review is done to get the full picture of a specific topic using all the research that has been done on it to date. Especially when combined with meta-analysis it’s more trustworthy than a single study because it tends to even out the differences caused by methodological errors, sampling error, and lack of statistical power.)

      1. Birch*

        Also I wanna take the opportunity to get on my academic soapbox for a minute and remind everyone that journalism is not science. Even reputable news sources regularly misrepresent the results. The journalist will call you up with some questions intended to make a clickbait title and take anything you say as a quote out of context. Please try to track down the original scientific article (google scholar is the trick for this! use the name of the researcher and the topic) and at least read the abstract, which will tell you in basic language what the study was about. Most people would understand more of an article than they think if you just take the time to read carefully. And if you have a friend in the sciences, in research or education, I’m 100% sure they would be willing to help if you get stuck on a concept. We need more science literacy, and everyone can help by making sure they understand an article and can comment on it critically before sharing it on social media. /Sorry for the hijack, LJ!

        1. the gold digger*

          Journalism science:

          Austin American Statesman, late 1980s: “X% of the blood samples drawn at UT student health center are HIV positive, therefore X% of the entire UT student body is HIV positive.”

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        I have access. They used wearables to study 231 workers in 4 US federal office buildings, and compared open bench vs cubicle vs private office.

        “Workers in open bench seating were more active at the office than those in private offices and cubicles (open bench seating vs private office=225.52 mG (31.83% higher on average) (95% CI 136.57 to 314.46); open bench seating vs cubicle=185.13 mG (20.16% higher on average) (95% CI 66.53 to 303.72)). Furthermore, workers in open bench seating experienced lower perceived stress at the office than those in cubicles (−0.27 (9.10% lower on average) (95% CI −0.54 to −0.02)). Finally, higher physical activity at the office was related to lower physiological stress (higher heart rate variability in the time domain) outside the office (−26.12 ms/mG (14.18% higher on average) (95% CI −40.48 to −4.16)).”

        My concern is that these were not randomly assigned seats, and so something about how those offices delegate work to various employees may have the greatest effect on stress.

        1. Birch*

          Thanks! I could read the abstract but not the full text. I don’t think the abstract tells the whole story–for example the stress factor is only given comparing cubicles and open bench–what was the stress level for private offices? Also the last part with activity in the office being related to stress outside the office–what about stress inside the office, and what about activity outside the office? Did they look at physical activity levels in general outside the office, or covary personality factors? What about baseline work stress–like you said, based on differences in work tasks themselves? I’m wondering if there’s some confounds based on activity and stress levels in general that would make extroverted, active people be happier in open office formats.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I just took a look – apparently my institution stopped buying their journal. Argh. But yes, there are a ton of things to control for and all we got was “well, people move more in open bench seating and have less stress.” Are people with jobs involving more moving around (different sites, different duties) assigned to that style of seating? I can think of groups at my institution who that makes sense for.

        2. Observer*

          Nothing here changes my fundamental opinion. It’s simply ridiculous to conclude that wearables give you a better measure of stress than self reports. “Your heart rate is not spiking” is NOT the same as “You are not stressed.”

          Even if the wearables were measuring BP, breathing and oxygen levels as well as heart rate, it would be pretty stupid.

    6. BRR*

      I have to admit that my gut reaction was to find a flaw in the process or how the conclusion is stated because I hate open office plans. I’m fine with the active part. It’s an interesting perspective. I read stress like the emotion but I think the article is mostly talking about stress like how you would describe a medical stress test (it’s not clear to me). So if someone is more active they would then be less stressed in the physical way, but the open office plan probably increases stress in the emotional way.

      “the researchers found open plan offices could have other benefits, such as better communication, more impromptu conversations and increased awareness of colleagues.” I do agree that open office plans do increase awareness of colleagues but that’s a bad thing.

      1. Alice*

        As long as you are thinking metacognitively about your gut reaction, instead of just following it blindly, you get critical appraisal points!

    7. KX*

      Are we less stressed? Maybe. But we are lonelier. We recently (six months ago) went from a low cubicle wall, assigned seating floor plan to a first come, first pick open seating floor plan, and I think we are lonelier. We have a noisy I mean “active” side and a quiet side, but even the active side is very quiet. And we have always had a flexible hours culture, but now people work from home noticeably more often.

      There’s just nowhere to sit and chit chat. The break room has some tables but it’s much smaller, and you can’t just pull up a chair and hang out, and nobody really walks around to ask questions because half the office has to sit on the quiet side.

      The natural light is better. So that’s nice.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      Was the study funded by the people who profit off open office plans? Probably doesn’t matter anyway – now that it exists, every company will be citing it as a reason their open office plan doesn’t suck no matter what their employees say. “No, you are less stressed now than when you had an office, this one article says so!”

      I’ve mentioned it here before but a start-up company I interviewed with (before withdrawing) said they were using open offices because that’s what the successful Silicon Valley start-ups. I didn’t get a chance to argue that those handful of companies were successful despite the open office plan, not because of it! Just ask the 99% of failed startups with open offices…

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Funded by a US General Services Administration contract. It studied employees in federal office buildings.

    9. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      I work in an open office and all I can say is ” I would looooove to have a cubicle” for so many reasons.

    10. Anon, obviously*

      My old company went to a more open floor plan several years ago as part of a necessary renovation (water line broke over a long weekend, it wasn’t pretty) because CEO read a study that it improved productivity and increased collaboration, or claimed he did. I suspect he really just wanted everyone where he could come up behind them to see what was on their screens at any given time. Then he complained that people in the open areas were being too loud when they were collaborating.

      That decision started the not-so-slow decline and is one reason I’m not there. People who are still there tell me that these days, if you don’t have an office your day is hell, people walking right up to you and interrupting, people holding conversations in your area when you’re trying to work, and a lot of turnover. CEO now has an office with a door and a “DO NOT KNOCK – email me if you need me and I’ll come to you” sign because the open office has created a situation where anyone feels free to interrupt anyone else’s work.

      There are other problems with this CEO that aren’t relevant to open office culture, no surprises.

    11. Jady*

      This is definitely the first pro study I’ve ever seen. Seen hundreds of con studies though, so I’m extremely skeptical.

      Being more active? I guess I can see that, I get up and away from my desk more often just to get away from other people and noise. Physically healthier, which is good. A big negative to productivity though.

      Stress though, I’ve read articles that say the exact opposite.

      I think it’s important to remember that a LOT of variance is possible between companies. An open office space that has white noise machines, headphones for everyone, private offices that people can reserve or duck into quickly, sectioned out spaces (instead of a huge cafeteria-style layout), allows remote work or has in-field work, not to even mention nature of the work itself. An open layout may work a lot better in one industry than another. And company culture (respect of other peoples time and space) is also a big factor.

      Is it possible to have a positive open office layout environment? Probably. Does that mean it’s typical? Not necessarily.

    12. Ann O.*

      I’m not going to claim my experience was representative, but I had a positive open office experience. The noise was overwhelming on my first day but then my brain got used to it, and it turned into a white noise type of background that actually ended up helping me focus. Because there was always background chatter, it still felt like individual conversations were reasonably private.

      I liked being able to easily see if a co-worker I needed to talk to was at their desk and how easy it was to grab them (partially a job role thing–as a technical editor, I often need to track down subject matter experts to get information or final approvals from them. They’re notorious for ignoring our emails and review deadlines).

      But we also had a lot of conference room spaces for private meetings so manager one-on-ones and other confidential type of things were very much confidential. We did not hotdesk, so we could use ergo tools to configure out workstations. Hotdesking would be a deal breaker for me–it would destroy my body.

    13. Jemima Bond*

      In my eighteen year government career I’ve never worked in anything but an open plan office so I’m completely institutionalised. Fwiw it doesn’t bother me though. Only people at the level of my great-great-grandboss get offices.

    14. Chaordic One*

      There was an article about a month ago or so, where the writer claimed that open offices worked when management imposed “library rules,” meaning that people had to keep their voices low and not spend time visiting and discussing non-business matters. The way you’d behave in an old-fashioned public library.


    15. ..Kat..*

      This article says that the open office workers are more active at work (I.e., they walk around more.

      It also says they have less stress OUTSIDE OF WORK.

      Does not say anything about work stress or work productivity.

      And, it is a small, one off study that does not include enough detail to determine whether it was a well designed study. I’m guessing not.

    16. Observer*

      The study as described is pretty useless. For one thing it doesn’t even touch productivity. For another – and this is explicitly called out in the description – they don’t control for any other factor that might contribute to the differences they seem to be seeing.

      I could go on about the study design, but when the whole concept is so flawed it doesn’t matter.

  19. Marie the Chef*

    Last week I found out my org (nonprofit) was eliminating my program and laying me off at the end of September. It’s a bit of a blessing in disguise – the org is a mess (we either owe or are late on paying payroll taxes, our paychecks were late last week, most of the board is supposedly leaving at the end of the year). Plus my ED didn’t even tell me this news herself – she was 15 minutes late to the meeting, so the board member she invited as well had to tell me.

    One interesting thing came of it – they offered to “help” me take on my program as my own. What exactly they mean by that and how much actual help they would provide has me side-eyeing hard (they have been no help in the past two years as I turned this program around from a financial drain to providing actual income). But it’s made me think. I know the program finances (hell, I created the budget from scratch). It’s the most stable and consistent part of the organization. I know at least two program partners who would come with me. I could potentially run it part-time (no way at this point I could do it full-time and pay my bills). However I’d want it cut cleanly from my current org so there were no ties between them.

    What would you do? What questions would you be asking? Am I nuts for considering this?

    1. Earth Wind & Fire*

      You mean you would run the program as its own non-profit? If so, I have thoughts on that.

      1. Marie the Chef*

        Yes, essentially. And to answer some questions that came in below related to yours – yes, it could stand on its own with its own mission, partners, clients, funding. Frankly it has already, but the current org now wants to get rid of the costs of operating it (namely, me) and thinks they can still reap the rewards (the money I brought in via renters, partners, etc).

        Someone else mentioned fiscal sponsorship below, which is an interesting idea that I hadn’t thought of, and I have another org with a related mission that I’ve built a relationship with who might be receptive.

    2. Ali G*

      If they are dissolving the current NP they are legally obligated to give any leftover funds to other NPs. They may be meaning that they might have funds to seed your program as a stand-alone NP. I would only consider this if you can appoint your own board members, and be 100% in charge. And if it is truly something you can do part time while you grow the org and seek broader funding. Is the program something that would attract its own funding outside a larger organization?

      1. Marie the Chef*

        I don’t think they’re currently dissolving the whole org (though who knows, given the current issues), but yes, I agree 100% that I would want full control. Which is why I emailed my ED this morning to ask about our existing contracts with the building this program operates out of (my program provides the building with free services in lieu of rent). Her reply made me laugh out loud – “Whatever you do would, at least at first, have to be somehow tied to (current org) for contractual reasons.” NOPE. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

    3. Earth Wind & Fire*

      The real question: is the program a stand alone mission that could garner community and funding support? Does it meet a need sufficient outside its original non-profit mission from which it grew? You have to do a thorough assessment, as if you were starting a new business: what’s your mission value proposition, who are your donors, who are your partners, who are your clients, what channels will you communicate your work/mission/needs, what resources do you have/need to start and grow? Is another non-profit already doing this and should this remain a project within a larger non-profit?

      I work with a non-profit that split from its faith church, where it was a program, and only did so when it was fully formed and financially able to do so. It has it’s own mission (food distribution hub to its community partners) and it could stand alone.

      1. Marie the Chef*

        I answered some of this in a reply to a question above, but yes, I did most of this due diligence almost 2 years ago when I came on board to run the program – created a business plan, budget, analyzed target audiences, competition, partners, etc.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Point of clarification: If you moved the program away from the organization, what legal structure would you plan to operate it under? (Form a new nonprofit, find a home for it at another nonprofit, operate it as your own revenue-generating business, etc.)

    5. Kimmo*

      I don’t think it’s crazy at all, you just have to get down into the details before you make a decision. From what little info we have here, it sounds like you might want to look into fiscal sponsorship; find an org with a related mission, ask them to house the program, ideally with some funding from the original org, and maybe even they’d be able to/want to hire you full time to grow and run the program under their own operations and administrative function. Worth looking into!

    6. theletter*

      I think you should pat yourself on the back. It sounds like you were the most competent and successful person in this company and the board member recognizes that and wants you to take on a critical leadership role.

      1. Marie the Chef*

        Thanks. Unfortunately the board member is problematic in her own right, but other staff, partners, and clients agree that this was the most competently run part of the organization!

  20. Phoenix Programmer*

    Healthcare workers! I just found that all managers in our system are required to have been or have earned a nursing degree. No exceptions.

    Is this common? Do other hospital systems limit management to RNs only?

    1. Tardigrade*

      I’m not a clinician but I work in healthcare, and in our system you need to have a nursing or medical degree to manage RNs or otherwise make decisions about things that directly affect clinicians or patient care. For corporate/IT jobs, that’s not necessary.

      1. Red Reader*

        Same. At my hospital system, clinical managers have to be RNs, administrative managers not so much.

      2. Shannon*

        Same at my heathcare job. I’m on the insurance side. No one in my line of bosses has an RN, you just don’t need it for our duties.

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        Same. I work in a hospital/clinic/medical school combo, and you only need that kind of degree if your oversight involves clinical care decisions.

      4. Public Health Nerd*

        Yes, at my former large academic hospital, about 95% of hospital management required a clinical degree or faculty appointment. Line managers for non clinicians don’t require a clinical degree, but lack advancement to higher levels of leadership.

      5. MatKnifeNinja*

        I worked as floor staff for 10 years in a hospital.

        Everyone who was a shift manager had to have a BSN to supervise. There were two older supervisors who had a diploma certificate from a nursing school. The managers covered the afternoon and midnight shift nursing staff issues for the whole

        This was 1980-1994. If the the Head Nurse, managed a floor (that’s what my hospital called them) had only a diploma or associate’s degree, they had to get their BSN. The hospital paid them. You had no choice.

        Spring forward to now…the all the floors my dad was on during his brain tumour treatments, all the floor administrators had a minimum of MSN. The ICU administrator had a PhD in something healthcare related.

        (administrator=head nurse in charge of that floor)

        So yeah…anything patient care related that has a RN in a supervisory position managing staff has a minimum of a BSN with X amount of clinical experience.

        Even the head of medical records at my old hospital has an MSN, besides whatever else she needs for that job credential wise.

        If you are already an RN with an associates degree, hopefully work will pick up the tuition.

        The person working on the hopital computer systems doesn’t need a BSN.

    2. State rn*

      I’m a nurse in state gov and I think these policies are dumb. There are clinical settings where everyone is a nurse, so there it makes sense. But in mixed professions settings, there’s a wide range of skilled managers and limiting yourself to nurses restricts career growth and your best people entering leadership. I hear claims that nurses must be supervised by nurses, but it’s BS.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Yeah I am thinking I will have to leave healthcare if the tide is swinging back to “managers must have worked in x role to manage x role” in this field.

    3. SJ*

      As a healthcare worker myself, I prefer my management to BE medically trained first. If you’re a nursing supervisor, be a nurse first. If you’re a lab supervisor, be a lab tech first. Etc. It is often difficult, at least from the worker’s perspective, for a manager with no medical background to ‘get’ what we need.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        I am talking about 2 and 3 levels above that as well though. Overseeing departments where the direct supervisory is handled by line managers and nurse leads. They are now requiring those positions be RN as well. A great example is HR director requires an RN.

        So far TS and Finance are the only ones that don’t. But they are requiring other certs like a CPA or DB administration for those. Leaves us analysts woth little trajectory.

    4. savannnah*

      I’m running into this sort of issue as well. I was a medical simulationist at the directors level back on the east coast before my move to Portland and now am finding that all the managers and director level jobs out here require a RN degree, which is incredibly frustrating and frankly about 20+ years behind the field. At a real loss at what my next move will be besides networking enough to get my resume in front of someone behind the grand HR filter.

  21. Just Me*

    I struggled with whether I should email Alison, or post here. Ultimately I decided I’d love to hear a variety of comments, but feel free to weigh in, Alison! And I apologize if this is really long-winded!

    My company is being sold. The sale will happen in the next month, but we’ll be around for a few more months to tie things up. In a couple weeks we will all find out the fate of our future as employees with the new company. I think it’s likely that I’ll be a manager again, either at the new company or somewhere else. So, my question is about managing a new team.

    Some background: I worked for my first company for over a decade. I was there on the day it opened and there the day it closed. I evolved into the go-to person, Jill-of-all-trades, manager, and indirect manager. I was the one who knew where the bodies were hidden and how they got there. I felt I was well-respected; I was third in command in the company (although it was very, very small–less than 20 employees total); I got along with everyone even though a couple were…difficult; I was pretty confident and I had no problem just jumping into conversations, be it social or work-related. At my current company, a much bigger company, I came into a very small team that had been together couple years and was managed by my boss, Jane. My job had been offered to Mary, the senior person, but she declined as she was quite burned out. That’s why I was hired. They also expanded the team at the same time. I’d always felt as though Mary regretted not taking my job, and she confirmed that about a year after I started. So there’s always been a bit of awkwardness there, especially because I’ve sometimes heard her saying “my boss” and she’s referring to Jane, not me. She’s got the kind of demeanor that makes her seem unapproachable sometimes, and she tends to be very friendly with one person on the team. That’s fine, as it’s not my job to police friendships. It didn’t stop anyone from getting their job done, but I do know now that it created some hurt feelings (a team member mentioned it to me in confidence). So combined with Mary’s demeanor, the tendency for her to be a bit cliquish (with others, too, not just the one person), knowing she actually did want my job, it made me retreat more into my office and not “hang out” in my team’s area nearly as much as I did at the other company. (When Mary is away I’m over there much more often.) We still get the work done. Questions got answered, goals were met, knowledge was shared, we worked on things one-on-one, etc. Also, being that Mary is the senior person, I tend to leave the team mostly to her on the day-to-day stuff.

    Going into my next job, whatever that is, I really want to be a better manager. I don’t want to let the Marys of the world get into my head and stop me from feeling less confident in myself. I know that’s all on me, though, and I need to get over it, but how does one do that? I want to be the person I was at the first company, but I think going into a new company is what knocks my confidence down quite a bit. I’ll say, too, that I’d like to improve on the critical feedback aspect of the job. I tend to shy away from the tough stuff; I’ve done it, but it was really hard. (Although, I’ve been pretty lucky to have people who are good employees and don’t have discipline issues.) I also want to have one-on-ones with the next team. That wasn’t a thing at all at the first company, and it’s sporadic at the current one; some departments do them and some don’t. My team didn’t want to do them, so most of our conversations tend to happen organically. (Yes, I know, I need to do them.) And a company I was at in between these two companies, my manager (a micromanager) had one-on-ones, but it was her coming in with a stack of work and giving it to me with instructions, or getting the status on things—there were no career development discussions during these meetings.

    Going into a new team, what have you said to people to communicate what you expect from them? Did you have a team meeting and go over some of the basics and then in more detail one-on-one? What worked for you and what didn’t? I want to communicate that I expect people to be adults and that I will treat them that way in return; to do their work to the best of their ability; and that I don’t micromanage, among other things. I want to say it nicely, of course, but the bottom line is I want people to do their jobs to the best of their ability and to treat people with respect.

    1. AliceW*

      I have always met one-on-one with my teams on a bi-weekly basis or if the team is very small a group meeting is fine too. I would think it strange if a manager said they expected me to be an adult and made other types of pronouncements up front on their management style and expectations. I just make sure I know what each employee’s responsibilities are and then I develop goals for them, set expectations etc and manage them as necessary over time. Some people need more feedback, handholding etc, some don’t. There’s no one size fits all approach. I have always played it by ear. Good luck.

      1. Just Me*

        Yeah, I don’t think I’d actually say “I want you to be an adult.” I just mean that in general I tend to expect it, as do most managers I would guess. I’m sure there’s a much better way to communicate that without actually saying that. I guess it mostly comes from having someone micromanage me who treated me like a five year old, and seeing coworkers act like children and get away with it (not direct reports).

        1. Debonairess*

          Depending on what the new policy is about timekeeping, what about saying something like “we’re all adults here so I trust you to manage your time; if you need to come in a bit later or leave a bit earlier now and then, that’s fine with me” – gets across the idea that you trust people and won’t be micro-managing but links it to timekeeping rather than job tasks, which feels slightly less odd (patronising?), at least to me.
          Good luck in the new role!

    2. Debonairess*

      I have a weekly catch up with my team (half an hour max) where we outline our priorities for the week and then people have a chance to raise any issues they’ve had/ any successes.
      Plus monthly one to ones. However I only manage two people.
      Depending on how big your team is, monthly one to ones might not always be practical. I see this in my own boss, who manages about 20 people and can never remember from one monthly meeting to another what is going on, or has any time to do anything in between. I’d much rather have a 6 weekly meeting where I thought she had had time to prepare and would have time to follow up afterwards.
      I wouldn’t;t start by outlining expectations quite like you have said above; I’d probably just try and have an initial individual meeting asking what their goals are, to be honest about how realistic they are, progress etc, and if there are any “quick wins” that would make their roles easier.
      There’s a book called the first 90 days (turquoise cover) which i liked – it had some ideas about things to do early on in order to establish rapport with a team.

      1. Just Me*

        Oh, thanks! That sounds like a book I should read.

        I didn’t phrase it very well above, and I wouldn’t say it all like that.

        My former micromanaging boss had a team of five people and she did a one-on-one every.single.week. And each one was more than an hour, usually an hour and a half. It was terrible.

    3. Feliz*

      I started as a manager at a new company exactly a year ago. Team of 5, one of which had applied for my role & wasn’t successful (couldn’t organise his way out of a paper bag). I have weekly 1-1’s with all of them – booked in for 30min, sometimes we’re done in 10-15. The company requires quarterly reviews, which are a great chance to make sure that we remember to focus on the long game, not just the day-to-day stuff. Especially at the start I asked a lot of questions in the 1-1’s – what do you like about your role, what challenges are there, what would make it easier etc. The 1-1’s are mandatory – I know at least one team member doesn’t love them but I find them very useful.

      We have a team meeting approx monthly – which to be honest I find hard. There are some quieter members of the team so it’s hard to feel like they’re engaged. We’ll usually go over some admin stuff, pick a process to review/improve and then a fun thing at the end – usually trying competitor products. At the start I did go over the basics – my door is always open, some flex but you need to be here at these hours etc.

      Hard conversations – Alison’s advice is gold. What drives me to have them is the thought that if I say nothing then I will have to live with the annoyance of underperforming people – which is way more of a time & energy suck! So far I’ve had two that I thought I was going to have to put on PIP – but they have both chosen to leave (thank goodness! Even with months of coaching prior to that point they were still incapable of doing the job)

      In general I try to be outwardly confident – even if I have no idea what’s going on. I’m happy to say things like “Hmm, I’ve never dealt with something like that and I’m not sure what our best course of action is. Has it happened before and if so, what did you do? If it hasn’t, do you have any thoughts on what we could do or who we could talk to about it? What are our options?” It’s ok not to have all the answers!

      In general I really enjoy it. The first 3mths were insane, the next 3 I started to get my bearings, and now, a year later I feel like I’m (mostly) on top of things.

      Good luck!

    1. CTT*

      That the employer pays people to attend the Bible study is such a weird wrinkle that I would think makes it even worse, but also if his lawyer is arguing that then maybe there’s something to it (or he’s just trying a new argument?) I was really expecting it to be “no, he was fired for doing substandard work.” Bold move!

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I just read that story this morning on NPR and considered posting it here.

      I will be shocked if he doesn’t win the suit. Maybe if he was in the bible belt, I’d be concerned, but in Oregon?

      1. CTT*

        Federal anti-discrimination law applies to the whole country; just because an area might be more religious does not mean someone could not win the case (whether they would feel comfortable bringing it is another question, but the law itself doesn’t change.)

          1. CTT*

            Something like this isn’t getting past summary judgement (or probably straight to settlement). Also, this sort of behavior isn’t limited to the Bible Belt. We discussed Oregon in my bioethics class as the prime example of a state that didn’t prosecute parents who refused to get medical treatment for their children due to religious reasons.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I mean, the employer straight up admits that he fired this guy for refusing to practice a specific set of religious beliefs. He’s not even trying to hide it.

    4. Snark*

      ““Mr. Dahl feels that it’s unfortunate that he (Coleman) is now trying to exploit Mr. Dahl’s honorable intentions for unjustified financial gain,” Hickman said.”

      Oh, Mr. Dahl. That is not how this works. That is not how any of this works.

    5. Andy*

      This employer is trying to reap the benefits of having a ‘make a difference’, and yet for-profit, business while preying on the community he is claiming to be helping.
      He is banking on people like Mr. Coleman just putting up with this illegal and discr behavior because they’re afraid of being unemployable. He knows that as far as employers go, he’s niche. There are very few options for his employees.

    6. LNLN*

      My jaw dropped when I read this in the paper this morning. It seems like as clear cut a case as one could get regarding religious discrimination in employment.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I wonder if the employer will claim that not firing the employee would have infringed on his religious freedom.

    8. Ms Cappuccino*

      It’s totally insane to mix work and religion. Where does the obsession with religion come from in this country?

    9. AJ*

      ” so he said stuck with the weekly, hourlong Bible study sessions for six months”

      Six months of listening to “that”? He’s got more patience than me. I’d be bringing up parts of the “Why can’t I own a Canadian” letter in the sessions, along with all manner of “Non Stamp Collector” contradictions quiz. Or is Mr. Dahl one of those “gives it” out but doesn’t like when it comes under scrutiny and is questioned?

  22. fort hiss*

    Wow, I’ve had a quite a year since I last left a comment on this… to everyone who gave me advice about getting a teaching job after working overseas, THANK YOU! It was your advice that pushed me to make sure I had letters of reference before I left. I have a next step (final step?) interview for a good teaching job with a reputable place in a few days and I’m freaking out a little, but all the advice from people here and Alison is keeping me strong!

    (On a job unrelated note, I also mentioned applying for a green card for my partner. It’s been a wild ride but we’re getting close to the interview part of the process. Thanks for the reassurance that I could do it without a lawyer!)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Good luck with your interview!
      It’s always good to hear from people hitting their goals. Congrats on your progress.

  23. Bee's Knees*

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    Something’s in the wind, y’all. Boss has been acting weird for a couple of weeks now. I’m not sure if it’s something in his personal life, or if it’s something going on here. I don’t like not knowing.

    Today is our proofreader’s last day, and I am not ok with it. We didn’t know he was leaving today until yesterday. He’s in his 80’s, so I can understand why, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    If Fergus keeps standing behind me and chewing, loudly and with his mouth open, I might have to see about doing ‘this week in prison.’

    As I’ve mentioned before, Fergus is a racist. The other day, he starts telling me this story about a girl that used to work here, and described her as a big girl. Then he starts telling me about how she went to a rural area (rural, not remote or unreached) and how the people there thought she was a sideshow act because of her race. It did not help his case that I live somewhat nearby where this supposedly happened. His story did not have a point, just that she was a bigger girl, and people had never (apparently) never seen someone of her race before. Fergus isn’t all bad, and he may have been teasing, but he also said something about a woman who was a victim of domestic assault. I’ll spare you the worst of it, but just because the man is considered to be easy going, does not mean that it was the woman’s fault.

    We got a notice for our calendar that there’s a livestock sale going on soon, which isn’t unusual. However, they had a notice that was worded a little weird. We looked it up, and not only will they have the usuals, like cows, goats, chickens, etc., but they’ll also have zebras, monkeys, water buffalos, lemurs, emus, and several other exotic offerings. I’m trying to convince my dad we need to go. (We live on a farm.) But we’ll see.

    I’m wondering what these grandkids did to get listed after the pets in the obituary.

    And finally, do we think the baby we had in the birth announcements named Thor will be best friends/worst enemies with the one from last month named Loki? Cause I think yes.

    1. I Love Thrawn*

      Those poor babies! Many years ago I had a job dealing with official state records; and came across these two names in the same family: John and Not John. Seriously. Someone actually did that to their son. Wow, I bet he needed some serious therapy.

    2. Snarky Librarian*

      You absolutely need to go to the livestock sale! And tell us all about it next week :)

    3. Annie Moose*

      As above! I love these snippets. And I am so curious about the animal sale. Please please go and let us know what it’s like!!

    4. Bostonian*

      “I’m wondering what these grandkids did to get listed after the pets in the obituary.”

      LOL that made my day.

    5. Not a Mere Device*

      Lemurs are startling, not just because I wouldn’t call them livestock, but because they’re rare. (It looks as though it may be legal to own them in some places in the U.S., though international trade is banned except for scientific purposes.) Please do report back.

    6. ONFM*

      I want your job! What does it take? Bachelor’s or master’s in journalism, decent publication history? I’m seriously thinking about switching careers and small town newsroom is the dream! (I’m being honest. Probably overly enthusiastic but sincere.) At the risk of derailing – how did you get your job?

      1. Bee's Knees*

        I have a bachelor’s in English, actually, and absolutely no experience when I started. They were desperate, though, so they hired me. The pay is terrible, and I feel like that’s going to be the case across the board, but some places will pay a little more than others. There’s never a boring day, though, so there’s that.

  24. Environmental Compliance*

    A little frustrated right now with Newer Boss. The person who hired me (and is the only person I report to) left about 2 months into me working this job, and he was replaced with Newer Boss. I like this new guy as a person (he’s not new to the facility, just the position), but he’s started to frustrate me with how he makes decisions.

    He is Head Honcho Manager. All facility decisions go through him. We then have a management team that answers to him. I’m part of that. But for some reason, Boss puts a hell of a lot of weight on Coworker A, in regions where Coworker A does not have 1) decision making authority 2) relevant knowledge or 3) any actual dealings. And then he won’t involve the coworkers that would have 1-3.

    I also had recently set up a meeting with Boss that was a 1:1 (I thought) to get some of my questions answered & give him some updates after his vacation. I had wanted to bring up that there’s a good chance I’ll be out for a week due to major surgery in about a month. Who walks nonchalantly in 2 minutes after I start talking to Boss? Coworker A. Who gives alllllll his opinions that aren’t looking at other relevant details? Coworker A. 10 minutes later, Coworker B shows up and sits down. 10 minutes after that, Coworker C meanders in. I had specifically set up an hour long, 1:1 meeting with Boss, calendar invites & agenda and all. Didn’t get near half my questions answered, just ended up irritated at the situation, since apparently Boss can’t seem to make a decision (which is his responsibility to do!) without it going through Coworker A, and calendar invites mean nothing.

    1. foolofgrace*

      You didn’t ask for advice so you could just be venting, but if it were me I’d consider a wrap-up email summarizing the points of the 1:1 meeting, AND listing the questions that didn’t get asked.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I did, so at least I got the information I needed. Doesn’t help the miffed feeling, but I could proceed with the work I needed to do.

  25. Murphy*

    I’m kind of BEC level with my job this week for different reasons, though also relating to fairness, so I might be off base here, but this angered me.

    I’m in an open office area, in a bank of 8 “cubes” (they’re really more open than that). 4 are empty, including all the ones touching mine. A director sent out an email saying that because we’re hiring more people, they’re removing our break area to build more offices/private-ish cubes. I asked if anyone was going to be moving into all of the empty space around me, and I was told no because a) some supervisors are saying that their people need private spaces, and b) nobody wants to sit there because it’s so open.The director went on to say “You’re somehow able to block out all the noise.” Am I? (I actually am.) Nobody’s ever asked me!

    We had a big physical office restructuring a while back, and I got moved into no man’s land. Honestly, I don’t need the private space and 99% of the time, the noise doesn’t bother me, but I don’t think it’s fair that apparently other people are getting to “nope” out of it, or that their supervisors are fighting to get them private spaces. Is this weird to be mad about?

    1. LQ*

      I mean…have you tried to nope? Chances are good no one ever asked them but they brought it up/complained and that’s how they are noping out of it.

      1. Murphy*

        No, I didn’t think there was an option. And (long story) I didn’t actually have a supervisor when I got assigned this space. My only real complaint about is that it’s so empty.

        1. Murphy*

          Oh, my other complaint is that I’m near the receptionist’s desk, so I get asked all kinds of questions whenever she’s away from her desk or on vacation, because I’m the only visible person.

          1. Alli525*

            Oh, that happened to my CONSTANTLY at my old job, and it didn’t help that I had been at the company for longer than the receptionist had, so I had more institutional knowledge. I just started looking them in the eyes and asking (in a deadpan tone) “Why are you asking me that. I’m terribly sorry but you’ll have to wait until Margot returns, I can’t help you with that.”

      2. Lil Fidget*

        Agree, it actually sounds like your org is pretty flexible about seating arrangements, so maybe you can ask what your options are!

    2. WellRed*

      Do you want to move to an office? Are you bothered by noise? Are you not bothered by it (I honestly can’t tell). If it’s so empty, can you at least me further from the receptionist’s desk so you are less visible?

      1. Murphy*

        I am not bothered by the noise the vast majority of the time. I’m annoyed that I’ve never been asked, I’m annoyed by the assumption that I can block it out when I’ve never been asked, I am annoyed that new hires will get a “better” space, and I think I’ve answered my own question about whether I’m just BEC about this because I’m mad about a different thing.

    3. BRR*

      It’s not weird to be mad about. My office had a big physical restructuring but it only affected some people/teams including me and I’m super mad about it. The powers at be did not consider anything when moving people other than, “people who sit in this area will be moved.” The difference for me is people didn’t really get to “nope” out of it, only that it was basically like the lottery. Some people won the jackpot and some people didn’t win anything.

      1. Murphy*

        I was originally assigned to this desk because I was supposed to report to X who was supposed to sit in the office closest to here. I never actually got assigned to report to X, and X isn’t sitting in the office closest to me, but they put me here anyway. I was under the impression that these other desks around me would be filled eventually, but apparently people keep not wanting to sit here!

        1. Totally Minnie*

          That’s actually a really good opening if you want to address new seating possibilities. You were assigned this specific desk for reasons that never came to pass, so does it make sense for you to keep sitting there? Would the boss be willing to reassess the seating area in general if none of the new hires or their supervisors find the open plan to be workable? I think you’ve got a lot of good points to make if you decide to bring this up.

          And I get that the primary anger is coming from people making assumptions about you and how you work and what you’re comfortable with, rather than asking you, but being proactive in bringing this up may actually carve you an in-road on that front as well. If you let the director see that their assumptions about you were off, they might be more mindful of asking in the future.

      2. zora*

        Yeah, I agree, this is unfair and I would also be super frustrated.

        There should be a transparent process and plan for different levels of office space and taking all needs into account in assigning work spaces. Not a Mad Max level every-one-for-themselves system where only the squeaky wheels get nice office spaces. That’s not a good way to run it at all.

        That’s different from what I would advise if you wanted to move, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re asking in this situation. Just asking for validation that the existing “system” is bullshit and unfair and not good business practice.

        1. Murphy*

          Thanks! It sounds like they are going to be improving the system somewhat. There were some issues with teams saying that an office was “theirs” and if the employee in there moved on, they automatically got to put someone else in there, instead of the head of our larger unit deciding what happened with this space. So they’re putting an end to that, which makes sense.

  26. LQ*

    I’m working on a big document that will be a big deal and I had my boss ask me to have someone else edit it, fine. She brought in another person (also fine-ish). Then they excluded me from the editing process. I could have actually learned something, explained where I was coming from, pushed back. So I’m deeply annoyed. I’m now taking their edits and working them in with mine and preparing it to send to the boss. And the incredibly frustrated part of me hopes that boss will see that I was listening and paying attention and they weren’t. (At least that’s what I think happened in a couple sections.) Mostly I’m deeply cranky at this because it should be my project and other people keep sticking their fingers in it or trying to and I’m left with a lot of finger stumps on my project.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t understand – isn’t is normal for more than one person to edit important documents? I wrote something yesterday and my teammate is editing it today. She’ll then send it to my boss for final edits. Or is it abnormal to do things this way where you work, which is why you are annoyed?

      1. LQ*

        Oh it’s totally normal here too. It’s just the very specific way they excluded me from the conversation when my boss had wanted me to have and be a part of the conversation that’s annoying me. The first person brought on was supposed to be brought in to talk me through so that I can do this next time, and the second person absconded with my help and meant I have to back my way into everything.

      2. LQ*

        Oh and I’m about …75% being unreasonable. A bit is definitely reasonable, but most of it isn’t.

  27. Peaches*

    How do you stay focused on Fridays when you’re distracted by other things?

    My husband and I leave for vacation tomorrow morning, and I’m having the hardest time doing something productive. Not only do I not have anything time-sensitive to complete, but my mind is 100% on vacation. All I want to do is search the internet for restaurants and fun things to add to our trip itinerary. I’m counting down the hours until I can be free for the next week.

    How do I motivate myself to get work-related things done today? For what it’s worth, I’m a strong, well-liked employee. I’m generally hard working and motivated, but I always seem to have this issue before vacation.

    1. CS*

      I have the whole week off next week, so I feel your pain lol.

      I’ve not been motivated today at all.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      Are there any small admin-type tasks you can be doing? That way you’re still productive but not doing anything too taxing. I like to keep Fridays for this kind of thing generally – stuff like updating our media coverage log or tidying our journalist database, for instance. Maybe some light work-related research/related reading too (eg are there any reports or documents – not necessarily produced by your company – that would be useful for upcoming projects?)

    3. Laura*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. If you don’t have anything pressing, and you’re generally motivated, give yourself permission to slack off for the odd day.

      Or do a half-hour working, half-hour slacking, then repeat.

    4. Deloris Van Cartier*

      I feel like I thrive before vacation as I want to make sure I did everything I needed to do so everything can function as best as possible while I’m gone. Do you need to put together any notes or other directions for co-workers or people you work with? It helps that they are always easy things to cross off my list but I do like feeling so successful that I can feel good about not leaving a ton of undone things behind.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I always leave the mindless stuff for the day before vacation, like filing, reading newsletters I’ve been stockpiling in my inbox, cleaning out my email inbox, stuff like that. If you’re generally motivated and a hard worker, and there’s nothing pressing, don’t worry about slacking off for a day. Enjoy it.

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      You should look for a couple of Allison’s posts about being productive over the slow winter holiday week. She talks about things to do that don’t require a lot of brain space. I think that could definitely apply in your situation too!

    7. Almost Violet Miller*

      Before my holidays I like to write a handover for my post-holiday self. When I come back I find it easier to readjust and find what needs my immediate attention. If you can already cross something off that list, even better.

      Also, it’s okay to have a slow day here and there, that doesn’t make you less hard-working.

    8. Admin of Sys*

      Hah, same here! I got all my critical things done yesterday around noon, and I don’t want to start anything major right before I leave, because I expect it’ll be wiped from my brain by the time I return.
      I spent the last of yesterday sorting email and setting autoreplies, but now I’m…well, I’m reading (vaguely) work related blogs.

      That said, is there any filing and such you’ve been putting off? Or documentation, or schedule management, etc? That’s what I usually do right before holidays.

      1. Peaches*

        Same! Everything that I needed to get done is done, and I have all my bases covered for next week’s absence.

        I ended up cleaning/organizing our copy/literature room after writing this. It was a good “everyone has been putting this off, but it needs to be done” sort of thing! Enjoy your vacation. :)

    9. GRA*

      All of these are good suggestions! However, you could also just give in to the fact that you’re probably not going to get anything done and keep hitting “refresh” on the Friday Open Feed. If you’re overall a good employee, one slack day won’t make or break your career.

    10. Peaches*

      Thanks for all the responses! Good to know that it’s okay to have a somewhat slack off day here and there.

      Update: I cleaned our whole literature/copy room to stay busy. It looked like a tornado, so I condensed all the random papers and disinfected the counter tops. It was mindless, but I know others will appreciate it. It wasted a good hour, at least. :)

  28. DaniCalifornia*

    Just bummed and feeling a little like I got hoodwinked/wasted my time. Had a great interview with a company I was really interested in. Would have been a great move career wise. First interview went amazing. Second interview was 2 days later and went even better. The position they were creating (operations) was sorely needed based on everything I heard from them and what we discussed. We discussed a third interview where I could meet everyone and my direct report. That was all last week. I knew I wasn’t guaranteed anything but I was not expecting the turn it took. Got an email this week saying they had hired an admin and are hoping she works out.

    Just a complete 180 in an 8 day period (job posted and I was interviewed within 2 days.) The position they posted for was no where near an admin role. It leaves me wondering if they decided they didn’t want to pay an operations salary, and are hoping they can pay someone half of that and they’ll do all things they wanted. Or if they truly just don’t know what they need and perhaps I dodged a bullet somehow.

      1. Susan*

        Yes. If they believe that the work of an operations person can be done by an admin, boy, do they have a lot to learn. The poor admin person. This is not meant to diminish the role of admin – it’s just a totally different skillset.

    1. $!$!*

      Dodged a bullet. Also, if the company reaches out to you later because their admin couldnt do the operations part, I would think long and hard about working for that company

    2. zora*

      The answer is definitely #2. You dodged a freaking ballistic missile.
      If they are that clueless about what they need, that is going to be a terrible place to work whether as an admin or an operations person. Count your blessings and find somewhere with less clueless management.

  29. Monty's Mom*

    So I’ve never negotiated salary/benefits before, and was in the position to do so this week, and I kind of bungled it. I gave my salary range and was pleased to hear they would meet it, but then got the benefits sheet to review and realized that my cost for health insurance would be so huge that I would basically be taking a pay cut, so I had to decline the offer. I felt so bad about this, but it’s definitely a learning experience, and a reminder to get everything out in the open right away. Back to the search…..

    1. Lil Fidget*

      The US really sets this crappy situation up. I kind of feel like I never know how good the job is until I actually get my first paycheck (so clearly way too late), because everything with withholding/taxes seems so complicated. It’s actually pretty hard in my experience to find out how much you’ll be paying for insurance in advance.

      1. RachelTW*

        I was firm with my current job at the offer stage that I needed a breakdown of employee contributions to insurance because I couldn’t accept an offer without knowing all the benefits and comparing them to what I currently had. I wish we didn’t have to rely on employers to provide insurance, of course, because then we wouldn’t need to go through this dance at all.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Yeah sometimes they make it quite hard to actually figure out (and of course it depends on what plan you enroll in, so it’s not like they can just tell you “it’s X a month” – I have had many tell me something like, “our org covers 80% of insurance!!! Sign now!!” but then you don’t know what the actual premium will be so you don’t know if that’s a good deal or not. It’s very annoying. I don’t think it should be on the average person to pour through these complicated documents and figure it all out while also negotiating around everything else they need (start time, vacation, flexwork etc). No wonder people take a new job and then realize it the compensation wasn’t what they thought.

      2. KnottyFerret*

        I’ve used an assumption of 34% withheld from each paycheck as a single person in Kansas, Washington, and Delaware. It’s not perfect, but it’s been close enough to not be too surprised by my first paycheck being low.
        And if the salary was too low after you saw the insurance offer, say so! Give them a chance to raise the salary (again) before you decline. I always include the qualifier “depending on benefits” when discussing salary requirements because they are such a big factor in the US.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          I’ve experienced some differences based on pay structure, what with things like commision, bonuses, being a contractor or not, being eligible for OT pay or not, etc.

        2. Incantanto*

          Wait, are you serious? I’m in the UK on just above the median wage and everyone says our taxes are high compared tk yours, but after tax, NI, pension and student loans I still keep 76% of my wage.

    2. RachelTW*

      I had a similar situation happen to me, but I managed to negotiate out of it. Early in the process they asked my salary requirements, and I said I was looking for $X. At the offer stage they gave me $Y (which was higher than my initial ask). I asked to review their benefits package and employee contributions for insurance so I could get a sense of my total compensation. Because the benefits were WAY more, I would have been taking a pay cut at $Y, so I called back and said, “After reviewing the benefits package, I feel that $Z would be fair compensation for what I bring to the role.” They came back with the average of $Y and $Z, which was higher than what I was currently earning after benefits were figured in, so I accepted and that’s where I am now.

    3. Construction Safety*

      Most companies have or can easily get a benefits summary/cost one -pager.

      I was pleasantly surprised during my last job change when my HC went from $200/wk to $59/wk.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah I *wish* your comment was true to my experience, but I’d say Victoria Nonprofit (below) is more accurate for me. Then again, I’m also at nonprofits. They often don’t even have HR or just seem quite confused about stuff in general. My current job can’t explain how the vacation time accrues, sigh.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think you could have gone back to them rather than declining, and explained that once you saw the full package you realized you would need a higher salary to accept. (And that’s a good lesson it sounds like you learned — ask for the full details before you accept.)

      But this isn’t just on you. I’m constantly surprised, even after nearly two decades working, at how difficult it is to get this information out of employers. Every time I’ve asked it’s caused at least a week’s delay of the hiring manager having to figure out how to get this info from HR, then sending me marketing materials from the insurance company that don’t actually list the options and pricing, and so on. How is this basic information not included as a standard part of an offer package?

  30. BenAdminGeek*

    So I read an article about “BS” jobs talking about how this author (below) estimated 40% of jobs are BS and 50% of work even in non-BS jobs were wasted. OK, maybe I’m blind to the realities of the working world, but does 50% of all work is pointless sound at all accurate to you guys? I mean, there’s dumb stuff at every job, but this doesn’t align with what I’ve seen over the past 20+ years in the working world.

    I copied a few paragraphs below. There’s some truth there- yeah, there’s extra forms and stuff that would be best if they didn’t exist. But when the author says “but for white-collar workers, they seem basically right” I wonder who she’s talking to who feels that 50% of the work at their company is useless? It sounds like the flip side of the sales guy who thinks everyone else is pointless because he’s the one making the deals- the idea that keeping an office in pens and the lights turned on is not important.

    “Graeber attempts to quantify just how much—and after some back-of-the envelope calculations, he wagers that 37 to 40 percent of all office jobs are “[bs].” He further contends that about 50 percent of the work done in a nonpointless workplace is also [bs], since even useful jobs contain elements of nonsense: the pretending to be busy, the arbitrary hours, the not being able to leave before five. “[BS]ization” is even infecting the most non-[bs] professions, with teachers overloaded with administrative duties that didn’t use to exist and doctors forced to deal with paperwork and insurance firms that probably should be abolished.

    There’s no sure way to verify Graeber’s estimates, but for white-collar workers, they seem basically right. Work backward: How much activity on social media takes place during work hours? How many doctor’s appointments, errands, and online purchases occur between nine and five? In other words, how many of us could stand to work half as much as we currently do without any significant consequences? And yet we insist over and over that we are terribly, endlessly busy.”

    1. Disgruntled Marketer*

      I’d agree with it, but I’m in e-commerce marketing which is a load of baloney anyways.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      I told myself not to read that book – I already have a terrible attitude about work. I already believe the system is dumb and most of what I spend my time on is not truly necessary. I need to read a book called “just shut up and take your paycheck.”

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      As for the 50% of work being BS, I am in a white collar, government compliance position, which I realize is not representative of the average white collar workplace in private enterprise, but I’d agree. 50% of my job is mandatory documentation that exists to simply prove to some person, who may or may not ever review your work, that you did your work and reviewed everything that you are supposed to review. I’d say I only spend about 50% of my time performing the core duties of my position.

      I’d also say that 50% seems high for private enterprise white collar jobs, but I could easily see a minimum of 25% to 30% in most white collar jobs. It’s a function of everyone wanting to cover their a$$, from an internal, legal, compliance, and regulatory standpoint. As our society continues to be so litigious and regulations of all sorts are increased/added/revised, etc., I don’t see this changing.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        This is my life! White collar, government compliance. I feel like my entire day is spent trying to explain to subcontractors how to fill out our confusing and useless forms. And we just made our insurance requirements way more complicated, sob. I feel your pain.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed plus some.

        Problem X which is foreseeable happens. There is no plan for problem X, so I must call several people. Finally I find someone who is probably near the bottom of the stack and HAS TO help me. At this point I am several hours into problem X. So the person agrees to fix the problem and it is days and days of emailing back and forth. Some times the problem gets fixed some times it does not. I had one problem drag on for three years. I was told several times it was fixed and it wasn’t. After three years of on and off paying attention to the problem I finally took an entire morning and got the problem resolved. The resolution was several clicks on the computer by someone on the other end.

        I am totally in despair about our needless and crushing complexity that we seem to have added to almost everything. We have everything and we have nothing all in the same stroke.

    4. Lil Fidget*

      I think part of the thinking here is that employees have expected slack. Like an admin, there are times when they need to be available to assist, but they may not be called upon. They’re still doing their job because they are available if needed, but it certainly can make you feel unnecessary. I also thought some of his “BS jobs” were administrative support, which … making things run smoothly is actually invaluable IMO. *Sometimes,* increasing admin is self-perpetuating where new compliance departments bring on new regulatory requirements that requires new staff, but that’s not always the case across the board.

    5. Grouchy 2 cents*

      I think that there are a lot of jobs which aren’t contributing anything to society. I also think some of those jobs still have to happen. But, I’d also point out out that most companies whether important to society or not are so crap to employees that they’ve basically crushed any kind of enjoyment/drive/gumption! out of their employees which is why people spend half their day on social media etc. If you’re going to get crap salary, crap benefits and zero advancement no matter what why should you bother trying hard? How many firms cut their staffs to the bone and make them all do work of 3 people so they can give bigger bonuses to themselves and bigger dividends to shareholders? How many times have we seen here and in the media of a C suite getting ridiculous perks/bonuses and salaries while refusing raises for the rank and file because of the economy? Hell just yesterday Cheeto cancelled federal employee raises and COLA because of economic conditions. (Especially egregious considering how often he trumpets his economy is doing so much better than anyone’s)
      In short there are BS jobs for sure but WAY more BS employers.

    6. Admin of Sys*

      I think part of the disconnect is due to the assumption that we should be at our desks for 8 hours a day, or we’re somehow failing our job. There are absolutely weeks where every single employee in our team is needed at full attention the entire day. And there are weeks where we’re all kind of poking around looking for new technologies to adopt or coding tricks or whatever. We wouldn’t be able to do the high-effort weeks if we were random contractors, we wouldn’t have the awareness of the environment or the skills we develop during the quieter times. But it’s not fair to say that half our job is BS because sometimes there are times to read Ask a Manager or check in on facebook.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah, this. But that doesn’t mean the whole job is worthless or that capitalism is a failure (other things can still mean this …)

      2. Manders*

        Yes, this. I’m not doing critical job tasks for exactly 8 hours a day every day, but some of the projects I’ve done during the slow periods ended up being the most successful.

        That said, I think the author does have a point that the butts in seats, 40 hour workweek every week attitude toward a lot of white-collar work does tend to end up with employees creating busy work for themselves and others. I’ve been in one of those “engaged to wait” jobs and I ended up doing a lot of rearranging and filing and organizing that wasn’t strictly necessary because I was bored out of my skull. I think the majority of humans do need to feel like they’re working toward something, even if it seems trivial from the outside.

    7. Teapot Director*

      Intriguing! I work for a non-profit in a senior role and my time is very much filled. If it’s nothing else, it’s stakeholder relations. I do spend a fair amount of time on social relations, but it’s generally very precisely calculated (‘X is very stressed by project Y; project Y is crucial to the org; X needs to let off steam to a peer and get a second opinion on this behaviour; I will have a coffee with X and hear her talk’)

    8. smoke tree*

      One part of my job involves granting permission to quote excerpts from books my employer publishes. In reality we make no money from this and it often feels like a huge waste of time for everyone involved. I do appreciate the importance of compensating people for their creative work, but a lot of the time, these requests are just for a line or two of text. I feel like we’d all be better off if we could just forget about it. (I’m not in the US, where I realize you have a more sensible system.)

    9. ladidah*

      I basically agree with him. In some places where I’ve worked, there’s been sooooo much inefficiency.
      And so many jobs/companies simply bring nothing of value to the world. Not just even the obvious (health supplements that don’t work, selling useless plastic crap that pollutes the world), but even within your garden-variety business, there’s a whole lot of clutter and crap imo.

      1. Alice*

        Yes. High frequency trading? Better targeting of online advertising? I do not see what these industries contribute to the world.
        Oooh, another one in the US – medical billing specialists, health insurance, pharmacy benefit managers, EMR vendors that are not interoperable. It’s bureaucracy that we can’t do without in the current system, but is it adding any value?

    10. HNL123*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if, in my company, it was closer to 70% wasted and pointless work. We have SO MANY meetings where EVERYONE needs to attend, regardless of schedule, and regardless of their involvement in the project. Like….. if I’m only slightly tangentially involved in a project, do I really need to sit through an hour-long meeting, when a five-word email would have been adequate?
      “still making progress on X?”
      “Yes, I estimate it will be done by Friday, per the deadline”
      WHYYYYYYY does this have to be an hour-long meeting?

    11. ONFM*

      I would agree, as a local government worker. I work for an agency that spends the vast majority of its time attempting to mitigate liabilities that aren’t realistic, especially given the technological advancements of the last decade or so, expending an inordinate amount of energy responding to complaints about issues that are not actually issues, and managing documentation. I think that I could easily free up half my day if my directors embraced technology. “Because we’ve always done it this way” must ring out in the hallways daily.

      Adding on to another commenter – I could do at least 75% of my job from home. The other 25% is meetings which accomplish very little. But working remotely looks bad to the public…

    12. Hamburke*

      I don’t know – I do fill out a lot of forms and have a lot of places where I enter the same information in a couple places (mostly ends up flagging me that there’s an issue somewhere – the heart of bookkeeping) but I’ve seen what happens when there aren’t checks and balances in place in similar situations – it’s not pretty. Yes, some of what I do is CYA and phone calls the should have been emails (many of which were and weren’t read) but definitely not 50%…

  31. Working late?*

    I’m a new grad about three months into my first ever exempt job (I worked multiple part-time jobs throughout college, but was always hourly with a strict cap on the number of hours.) I’m having some trouble navigating what an appropriate amount of “working late” is. Everyone in my office works a pretty strict 8:30 – 5 PM; the occasional person works late if they have something to finish up but for the most part people are out of the office completely by 5:05 or 5:10 PM. I know that’s unusual! However, I’m finding that I have a hard time assessing how much is a reasonable amount of work after hours to be doing. I know that part of doing exempt work is managing your own time, but how much work after hours is the point when I mention to my manager that I feel a little overloaded? Is staying til 6:30 or 7 PM three nights a week normal? 5 nights a week? Working on weekends occasionally? Every weekend? Fwiw, we’re not in an industry where being “on-call” is a part of the standard culture or necessary to make things run smoothly. I’m just having trouble assessing where the line is between “this is just part of working an exempt job” and “this is out of the norm for your office and you should speak up.” Any thoughts on navigating this would be much appreciated!

    1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      If nobody else is staying beyond 5:10 3+ times a week, then I would think that this is not normal and you might either be overloaded or could benefit from re-evaluating your time management. I’m a year into an exempt job after graduating college and it took months for me to figure out that not everything on my list had to be done on the day it was given to me. One thing that helped greatly was specifically asking people when the deadline was on each task and prioritizing from there. I know sometimes people work on the weekends or late in my office but normally it’s to make up for lost time somewhere else during the week because of an unexpected delay. Good luck!!

      1. Working late?*

        Thanks so much for your thoughts! To be clear: I’m definitely not working super late every night of the week, but I’ve been finding myself as the last one in the office pretty consistently (which, admittedly, is easy to do if everyone leaves right at 5!) I’ll make sure to think about how I’m structuring my time and see if I can do anything better there. Thanks again!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Keep an eye, perhaps they are gathering their things at 4:45. If you can see their computers try to notice them shutting down and the time. It could be that you are working right up to 5 and they are getting ready to leave at 4:45.

          You are newer at the job? I can tell you from my own experience some semi repetitive tasks used to take me two hours. I can now do them in 15 minutes. But I am back in this spot again because I have another new task, it takes me 2 hours to sort through all the hoops. Once I get used to it I think it will take about 20 minutes to do.

          What I did was try to estimate which task comes up the most often. I got lucky and made a good guess. So I concentrated on learning to do that task faster. This involved learning a few key board short cuts where there was too much time consuming clicking going on and it involved getting familiar with that set of paperwork. I substantially reduced the time it took, but not totally. It was enough and I could add more shortcuts later on. I moved to the next most frequently occurring task. This one took a bit longer to get a handle on. Once I had that streamlined I moved to the next most frequently occurring task.

          I did not worry about the one-offs or unique things that came up. Stuff like this always happens and the best I can do there is tuck away the learning experience for use later.

          Last. I am prone to thinking I should do w, x, y and z for Task ABC. The task actually calls for x and z and I have added steps for whatever reason- overthinking or perhaps not thinking it through. Take a look at how you have set yourself up to work, are you adding steps thinking that the steps are helpful and the steps really are not needed?

      2. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        I’ll also add that it’s totally possible that your coworkers/superiors don’t know that you have to stay late so frequently, especially if they’re not there late too. Another adjustment I am still kind of going through is realizing that my direct managers don’t keep tabs on my workload because they have to worry about their own. If I need more work or have too much, nothing is going to change unless I tell them and usually they’re willing to help me out one way or another.

      3. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah, you have to ask yourself critically: can I really not get everything done in eight hours? Is there a structural reason, like everybody gets me everything at the end of the day (so actually *shifting* your hours may make sense) – or am I being less efficient than other workers? I waste a lot of time online, so if I end up staying late to finish something, I don’t usually blame my workload. If you are sure it’s your workload that’s when you take it to your boss, but be aware that they may be thinking, “our past admin got the same workload done and didn’t seem to stay late.”

    2. Cousin Itt*

      I would look to your co-workers. If it’s rare for others to stay late you shouldn’t be either. Almost no one works late in my office, I’ve stayed late maybe twice and it was only 30 minutes or so of extra time.

    3. Washi*

      I think you can just raise it as a question, especially since you’re only 3 months in. “I find that I’m having to stay until around 6:30 2-3 times per week to finish my work. I’ve tried prioritizing X and Y (insert a brief explanation of attempts) but I’m still finding that I’m staying late – is your sense that I’m performing as you would expect in this role?” and then you can add/follow up with things like “Do you think I will probably get faster with time and experience? Do you have any feedback for me on how I manage my time or perform tasks?”

      A lot of jobs do a 90-day performance review for this reason – now that you’ve gotten your feet under you, it can be a good time to align about longer term expectations and goals.

    4. AliceW*

      Workloads can be very different so some people may routinely work 50-70+ hour weeks and others just the standard 8:30 -5pm. If there are others doing work similar to you I would take my cue from them, but also, as a new employee, I would work a little bit harder than my peers for a while just to establish that I have a strong work ethic and can meet all deadlines, take on extra projects and additional training etc, unless you don’t actually have enough work to do to justify those hours. I certainly wouldn’t put in that kind of extra time just for appearence’s sake.

  32. Amber Rose*

    Husband works for the government. His grand-boss wants him to apply for a year long position at another department, since it would suit his skills really well and also give him some broader experience. GB is pretty sure that they can work into the contract that at the end of the year, he just goes back to his old job.

    – Money. At least a 10% increase, if not more.
    – It’s a step up in rank (hence the pay).
    – Broader experience.
    – No risk in terms of job security, since his old job would be waiting for him (not sure how that works, but I mean, if it doesn’t he can always turn down the position.)

    – It’s much farther away. Right now we carpool, that would no longer be possible. He’s looking at an hour and a half of public transport each way. Parking is hideously expensive, so driving is probably not an option.
    – His time off would probably be suspended, for obvious reasons.
    – We’re not sure what would happen with his benefits.
    – Husband’s direct boss is kind of wary of the whole thing and doesn’t necessarily agree with GB that it’s a good idea.

    What kinds of things should we consider when making this decision? Obviously it’s husband’s call in the end, but I am his wife so I get to play advisor/devil’s advocate. I’m just not sure.

    1. Anon From Here*

      1) What will be the impact on your taxes?

      2) How well can either/both of you tolerate things you don’t like for a year?

      3) Is your husband looking forward to catching up on his leisure reading during those commute hours?

      1. Amber Rose*

        1) Probably none. Canadian taxes mostly deal with themselves.

        2) Eh? He worked two jobs for a little less than a year and it was a strain. But at least this way he’d still get his weekends.

        3) Haha, not sure. Depends how many transfers would be involved. It’s hard to say.

        1. Anon From Here*

          1) I meant, would there be an increase in pay such that it bumps you into a higher tax bracket? Then that 10% pay increase could end up being less than you expected.

          2) Yeah, some people are better than others at keeping their eye on the prize when a situation goes a little sour. My partner and I tend to be complete opposites in this regard. :)

          1. Amber Rose*

            Tax brackets are so needlessly complicated, but my limited understanding is that being bumped into another bracket doesn’t have much of an impact, since only the amount that’s over is taxed. I don’t think we’re that close to the limit either.

    2. CatCat*

      “He’s looking at an hour and a half of public transport each way.”

      Oh, that would make me nope hard. How much of a time difference is from the current commute? Three hours each day translates to around 90-100 eight hour days per year… that’s a lot of life to trade away.

      1. CatCat*

        I mean to add on that I find when I think about things not abstractly as hours or minutes or days, but as trading away my life, that adds a lot of clarity for me.

      2. Amber Rose*

        Yeah, I think that’s where he’s getting hung up the most. He already an hour and a half commute home, but since I drive him in the morning it’s only half an hour to get there. He’d have to get up/leave much earlier.

    3. LQ*

      If it’s in the same government overall (like within the state system, or within the same county system) the time off, benefits, etc may all transfer over really smoothly.
      If it’s a work out of class kind of role I’d say take it, try it, you go back to the old role if not.
      Especially if grandboss is thinking long term, I need Husband to have a wide range of skills to continue to promote him etc. If grandboss is generally making good decisions I’d definitely go for it. And read the handbook, this really sounds like what we’d call working out of class, which is a very nice stepping stone to promotion and a good way to test another job. But usually you get to keep all the benefits and all the rest.

      1. Amber Rose*

        The complication is that he goes from what is technically a management position, so not union, back into a union position. So we’re not sure if that will impact his benefits and stuff.

        1. LQ*

          If he’s union he should definitely be able to talk with either someone in HR who deals with this all the time and will know or someone in the union who would be able to address it, even as a not-specific to this job question. Definitely have him talk to someone who would be able to give good information. And I’d suggest if he knows anyone who has done it see if he can ask them about anything unexpected they had happen.

    4. Shiara*

      “He’s looking at an hour and a half of public transport each way.”
      It may be worth parsing this a little more. Is this get on the metro and sit there for an hour and a half and read (or even get started on some work)? Or are there a lot of transfers? Are there a lot of transfers from metro to bus to bus to walk five minutes to another bus?

      I found I was able to tolerate an hour-long metro point to point commute much better than a 45 minute commute across multiple buses.

    5. BRR*

      I’m not sure how long his commute is now but I have at minimum an hour and a half commute via public transit with one transfer and it’s rough. When I started it, I was tired all the time (still am but I only have to do it two days a week now). I would sleep all weekend and was extremely grumpy due to basically having no time on weekday evenings.

      Even though I can read/watch shows/listen to stuff, that 3+ hours is not relaxation time. While public transit has its advantages, I would love sometimes to have a buffer (aka car) between me and other people.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I am surprised that a 10% pretax increase i salary wouldn’t offset even very expensive parking. Have you actually done th math? Plus wear and tear on the car, tolls, gas. But unless his current salary is very low seems like it would be covered.

      Could still be a long commute depending on traffic where you live…

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Just my opinion of course but if his boss is otherwise a good boss, then I would probably listen to his immediate boss. When the immediate boss says this is not a good move, they probably see something I don’t. For me, the immediate boss’ thumbs down would give the cons additional weight. I would probably not take the job. This only works if the immediate boss is a good boss whose advice has not failed your hubby yet.

  33. CS*

    I’m in the middle of working a 6 weeks notice period. I have been searching for a new job since the beginning of the year and I’ve finally got something. I start on the 1st October 2018.

    It will be a bittersweet feeling on my last day. I feel like i’ve been through hell and back.

  34. KatieHR*

    I just wanted to say thank you to the people who read and post on here. I was in the final stages of an interview for a job. I had met with the recruiter and HR manager. Everything seemed to be going really well. Then I met with the VP and it all derailed very quickly. After reading several posts about what to look out for when it comes to toxic jobs, I knew all the signs. The job the VP was describing was very different then what I was told, the hours were different, and it was obvious the VP wanted this candidate to be a perfect mold of the person who previously held the job. After that interview I decided to withdraw my application and feel very fortunate. I think I would’ve been going into a very unpleasant situation. So thank you!!

  35. anon for this*

    Does anyone have any advice about transitioning off of disability? I could (possibly) use some.

    I’m currently on SSI. My case is up for a review &, while my condition hasn’t improved, I worry that it won’t actually matter. I’m not any more employable* than I was a few years ago & SSI was pretty much my last option/hope– and it took years, lawyers, and two bouts of homelessness to get there. (*That’s how I found AAM a few years ago. I wanted to see what my chances looked like. Yeah, by AAM standards, I’m SOL.)

    I’m basically just looking for a ray of hope, because at this point I think my life may depend on it.

    1. Miss H*

      Hopefully someone else will have better advice. I don’t know how much use this will be.

      I have a forum-friend who is going through something somewhat similar. She isn’t sure how long disability will last, so she has been slowly getting into the landlord business. She builds up downpayment + buffer for a property, buys and fixes it, and rents it. If all goes well, she can start saving for another property. She has currently said she has them generating enough that she could support herself and kids on a barebones budget if disability were cut off tomorrow.

      However, there is a big learning curve for evaluating a property’s numbers, though, so this takes a lot of learning BEFORE a property is chosen. She also had been saving heavily for years before she got sick. And not all areas are good for being a landlord.

    2. Anon for this also*

      I feel you. I’m on SSDI and have had one review so far and am expecting another before or around when I turn 50. I also didn’t get approved until I got a lawyer and had an appeal before a judge. I think the most important thing is documentation that shows your condition hasn’t changed. During my review I had stacks of medical records from doctor visits within the last year showing I was still receiving treatment, still taking same meds and doctors verified no improvement. Basically bury them in documentation. I’m worried for my next review because while nothing has changed, I’m seeing the doctor less often since there’s not much else they can do.

      Also get receipts for any paperwork you provide even if you’re walking into the Social Security office and giving it to them directly. They lost some of my paperwork and said I hadn’t sent it in but I had the registered mail rcpt.

    3. also anonanonanon*

      I was on SSDI for 5 years and transitioned myself off (was not deemed able to work by the government, so not forced off). I was able to take that time to improve my health, finish a degree, and get an internship which turned into a full time job. This was back in the 1990s, and I know that the government disability standards and processes have become stricter.

      You are in a tough spot. I remember that sense of helplessness and having to jump through hoops that are difficult for someone without a disability. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

      Interestingly, I have a neighbor who is in somewhat the same situation right now. She was an admin, has TBI and physical issues from a car accident, and the powers that be are implying she can go back to work. My off the wall suggestion to her was that she find a non-profit to do some very part time volunteer work for. And when she cannot consistently function in that position, she can use it as proof that going back to work full time is not an option. A horrible way to prove you cannot work (for both you and the non-profit), but maybe it would work? Do you have the type of skill set where this might be possible to do?

      The other thing to remember is that you are older now, have been off the job market longer, skill set not up to date. I think they have to take that into consideration. If you have any other issues besides the one they qualified you for, be very proactive in pointing that out to them. For example, I did technical work and qualified because of a mental issue. They tried to say that I could take a job that did not involve using my mind, like being a grocery checker or fast food worker. I had to point out to them that my partially fused ankle, in a brace, prevented me from being on my feet for any length of time. They sent me to an orthopedist to verify; that knocked me out of their solution.

      This is not the time to gloss over what you deal with on a daily basis that prevents you from being successful at work.

      Have you checked out vocational rehabilitation in your state? They might be helpful.

  36. Why Do Managers Do These Things??*

    Well, it’s been about a month. Slacker coworker is still slacking. If he works 4 of 8 hours a day, that would be pushing it. Most of his time is spent staring at his phone. I am beyond unhappy at this point. I’m very busy, need help, and it’s not even our busy season! Still, manager is all like “we need to give him a chance to right the ship” and “he has a lot of years and knowledge, we’d hate to lose him”.

    Well, you know what? You come here and sit with him. Between all the loud text tones, auto play videos, and him constantly complaining when he has to do the least bit of work, I’ve about had it.

    This really has changed my view of the company I work for. I get when people have problems they should get some assistance, but at what point does it just become a simple performance issue? He’s clearly unhappy here, but won’t quit, and management isn’t interested in letting him go and finding someone else for the role. I plan to move out of state in a year or so, and was considering asking to work remotely, or at a branch office, but I’ve changed my mind.

    1. mkt*

      Ugh. No real advice, but I feel you.

      Slacker slacks because he can, and still get paid! It’s such a morale hit for everyone else and I wish management would notice that impact is not just on the company bottom line but for other productive employees like you.

    2. WellRed*

      What do they say when you complain about the impact on you from all the noise? What doess he say? How often do you fantasize about leaning over, grabbbing the phone out of his hands and flinging it?

      1. Why Do Managers Do These Things??*

        Quite frankly, I’m over it. What I’m really worried about is the “NO ONE CAN HAVE PHONES OUT ON THEIR DESKS” edict that I fear is about to happen, so I’ve not brought up the phone thing. I know that’s how it will be handled. It won’t be directed to just him, we’ll all be subjected to it, and while I don’t use my phone much at work, I have an elderly mother who calls from time to time, as well as family thousands of miles away who sometimes send a quick text during the day. So I’m operating under the just don’t say anything so we all don’t get punished umbrella.

        And yes, I fantasize about pounding his phone into the ground with a large mallet.

        1. valentine*

          If you think your coworker would follow a no-phones rule, that seems tolerable. You can talk to your mom and see the hello texts on your breaks. In case you could get peace even for a shift, suggest your boss trade offices with you to lead by example or have the guy shadow him, in hopes he’ll buckle down and aspire to management (or the latter could backfire, with your boss liking/feeling for the guy so much, he doubles down on keeping him). Are you afraid they’ll fire you if you set a workload boundary? Does it seem impossible to decide to do x amount only and let TPTB worry, try remoting now, or switch jobs?

          1. Why Do Managers Do These Things??*

            I’m taking a few days off. When I get back, I’m going to request a meeting with my manager and ask exactly what is the plan here, and explain that this is impacting my morale when I’m working frantically while he’s posting on Facebook. Gonna be blunt about it. I’m not afraid of being fired, at least I’m actually doing my job and not goofing off! We aren’t allowed to work remotely, and I don’t plan on being in my state for very much longer, maybe a year or so, so changing jobs right now isn’t the best plan for me.

            It is so frustrating!

            1. Buu*

              I’d focus around the noise and interruptions over the Facebook, and the fact you’re overworked. If they won’t send Slacker to help, then they should come up with another solution. Focus on the impact it’s having on your productivity.

  37. Nervous Accountant*

    I’ve never been so happy it’s Friday. It’s been a storm of a week.

    Yesterday my boss did a major micro-managey and nitpicky AF thing and it just reinforced my belief that I can’t do a damn thing right.

    Ya know how I’m always paranoid about how people here think I’m stupid, and bad at my job, but I’m really not?

    Yeah, so…self fulfilling prophecy or something like that at play here. Basically, I let my anxiety about performing badly get to me, and…I cracked like an egg.

    My direct mgr was out all week, so I was trusted to hold down the fort, and while at the time I thought I did OK, turns out I did horribly.

    We met Monday morning and he went through the list of things that boss had pointed out to him. I’m ashamed to admit that I cried. Like totally ugly cried. He wasn’t angry or upset, in fact he was really nice and said that he was really surprised @ the feedback b/c I don’t do any of that stuff when he’s there. He knows I have a good work ethic and I’m not the “when the cats away mice will play” type of person. We just couldn’t figure out why I do well when he’s here, and crack when he’s not.

    I told him that a portion of my anxiety stemmed from feeling that a few certain people have no respect for me….I gave him concrete examples and while he was sympathetic he said that the best thing would be for the 3 of us to sit and talk together.

    I feel I should mention–he knows exactly what I’ve been going through this year, with my dad, travelling, my mom etc. and he’s been really great and supportive every step of the way. Work wise, he’s always given me helpful feedback. So I feel REALLY bad that I let him down.

    The list of complaints was valid and I owned up to everything except for one which I felt was unreasonable. Basically there were lots of small things that just added up. One by one none of these things would have even mattered much, but altogether they showed that I wasn’t ready to be a leader. He said he hasn’t given up on me yet, and really really really really wanted to promote me and not someone else but he has a tougher time fighting for me now.

    Tbh, I feel more terrible for letting him down (he really is a great mgr and I love working under him) than anything else. Not that I was trying to blame anyone or anything. In the end it was up to me to do well. And I didn’t. I let my own head get the best of me and that resulted in this mess.

    Here’s hoping for a better week….again.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Ouch. Sympathies. Please don’t be too hard on yourself because you’re only human and you’re having a lousy year. It sounds to me that you’ve looked over the past week and identified a few areas in which you could regain the skills you temporarily set aside due to anxiety. The skills are still there, they just got pushed out of the way by some passing anxiety. You just have to get back on the horse and keep riding. Take it slowly and keep telling yourself that you’re one of many, many, many people who do their work and do it well despite their anxiety. Also remind yourself that you’re still coming to work, day in and day out, despite your losses and off-the-job challenges. There’s a dignity in keeping going. You have the right to be proud of yourself even if you also think you could improve in X, Y, or Z.

      I hope your company is closed on Monday so you can enjoy a longer weekend. (Maybe invent a few annoying-to-anyone-but-you errands so you can get out of the house without your mom for a few hours?)
      Internet hugs if you want them. Good vibes to you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  38. Upstream Arch*

    If you were a small business owner, how would you structure a child care subsidy (something along the lines of $500-$1000/month until pre-K)? Would you make it a benefit only for child care expenses, knowing that it is not a benefit that all employees would be able to use and that it could seem “unfair” to those without kids or without little kids? Would you expand it to include, say, elder care or other stuff to make it more inclusive, or would you leave it just at child care, and trust that people without kids in that age bracket would understand?

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      Are you able to give it to every employee? If so could you call it a family subsidy and then each employee could use it as they see fit? Childcare, after school care, elder care, pet boarding for those who travel. I would try to be more inclusive. If you only wanted it to be for child care before pre-K is there something you could offer other employees without kids/little kids to balance it out and not seem unfair. As a person who currently doesn’t have kids it would come off as a bit unfair but I recognize sometimes that happens.

      1. Evil HR Person*

        And, also, those of us who don’t have children in day care (who are older and go to school) would still need help with, say, summer day camp.

        I think what you’re doing is wonderful, by the way, and hoping to be inclusive shows how much you truly appreciate your employees.

      2. Natalie*

        Only certain dependents are covered for IRS purposes. If you allow people to use it however they want, it can’t be a tax free benefit so you might as well just raise everyone’s wages by $X.

    2. Ciara Amberlie*

      I think if you can include elder care, that would be really kind!

      It’s not necessary per se, because there are lots of benefits which target some groups more than others. But elder care is incredibly demanding, and often harder get support with than childcare. There are some organisations that provide respite care for carers, and it is possible to hire in-home help, but it’s much harder to find something like that than it is to hire a babysitter for your child or put them in a nursery for a day a week.

    3. CAA*

      Assuming you are in the U.S, I would do it as an employer contribution to a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. The limits might be lower than what you want to do, but these accounts can be used for much more than just early childhood care, so it seems less exclusionary.

    4. Bea*

      A flex account would be best as stared above.

      Not every benefit will be used by every person. The few who will be bitter want more from you than you’ll ever be able to afford.

      Be generous with PTO and flex time for everyone to deal with family things. Then establish a flex plan for dependent care. It’s like having a plan got paid medical leave or even sick pay. People here and there whine that they’ll never need it so they can’t cash in. That’s not your issue as long as you’re fair and doing what you can afford to.

    5. BRR*

      I don’t have kids and don’t plan on having them and I get a little irked at benefits like this.I know there are a lot of discussions around this and some people would say that benefits aren’t going to be used equally by everyone like offering awesome health insurance benefits some employees more than others, but it comes off to me like my employer would be willing to give a $6,000-$12,000 annual bonus to some employees and not others. I know kids are expensive and it’s great to help working parents, so I understand this type of benefit but am frustrated by it.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, I would appreciate that this is a good thing to do, but make sure it doesn’t feel like a bonus for procreation, while others are looking for part time additional jobs to pay student loans or what have you.

    6. Llama Wrangler*

      As a non-child-having person, I agree with the recommendations for a dependent care FSA. My last workplace also contracted with a care provider (Bright Horizons) who could do emergency care for any family member at a deeply subsidized rate. But anything outside of that I think would feel unfair, and given the restrictions on what could be tax deductible, I agree with the suggestion of maybe just raising pay (or contributing more to health insurance or retirement).

    7. LCL*

      Eldercare would be nice, if you could afford it. If you can’t and could only afford the childcare subsidy, I would be totally OK with it and think you are doing a good thing. I don’t have children. I believe childcare to be a burden that all society should share, because we all benefit.

      1. Not Alison*

        I don’t have children – which means that in my old age, I won’t have any children to help me out. Which means that I will need more money to pay someone to do the services that I did for free for my parents.

        So, while it is nice for parents to have extra money now, I would prefer to have an equal benefit that I can sock away in my retirement fund because I will need the extra money in my retirement.

        1. Kerr*

          Agreed. I so appreciate the desire to help parents (kids are expensive!), but as a childfree single person, I have added costs that aren’t immediately apparent.

          I would expand the benefit as much as possible, within reason. Maybe you could offer an FSA contribution amount, and the employees could choose whether it goes to a regular FSA or a dependent care FSA? Or allow it to be used for elder care, pet-sitting, etc.

    8. Gumby*

      Could you have a set number of “benefits dollars” for each employee and let them decide how to use it? Child-free people could direct more of it towards their health insurance, a higher 401k match, or commuter benefits; those with families could use it for child care. That seems fair. Also that way if someone is covered by a spouse’s health insurance, they could spend their “benefit dollars” on something they could use.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Why not give them all raises and let them decide how best to use it.

      Honestly I hate all these little pots of money for this and that. A well known employer has a benefits package where you can use “dollars” to chose what you would like. At first glance it sounds great. But once you read through you realize you don’t have enough “dollars” to pay for anything as most of the things are outrageously priced. So you have let’s say “600 dollars”, elder care insurance is $2000 per month until it cuts off at age 90 something. Your out of pocket is $1400 per month, making less than 50k per year you decide it’s not doable. So you go through all these other benefits and find similar information where the benefit is basically not accessible.

      Then you realize your whole benefits package is a farce.

      Just give them raises. Tell them you are concerned about their families/pets/homes and this is the reason for the raise.

    10. Alice*

      Honestly curious: when you say “trust that people without kids in that age bracket would understand,” what do you hope they will understand?

  39. mkt*

    So, I have a crush on this dude from work. He doesn’t work in my department, but we’re on the same floor in the building, I see him occasionally, and we sit on a committee where we work together few times a month. Somebody mentioned in passing that he looks a bit like my husband, so I guess he is my “type”. I become flustered around him, lost my train of thought when speaking, etc and it’s embarrassing. Anyway, no intention of pursing a relationship or anything, but I’m having difficulty trying to compartmentalize this feeling and need help. Any tips on how I can get over this?

    1. Four lights*

      Time. I find that trying to supress feelings make them pop up more, and seem like a bigger deal. I try to acknowlede it and move on, like, “wow, I’m getting a little flustered. He is pretty cute. Moving on now…”

      1. Washi*

        Totally agree. I actually tend to enjoy the little zing that crushes add to my life, and they tend to fade by themselves within weeks, especially since I tell my husband about them so we can giggle about it together.

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Carolyn Hax has this right – she says to realize this guy is just an idealized version of a person and you don’t really “know” him or his annoying habits. And if you have no intention of pursuing anything, is there really anything wrong with finding someone attractive? Harmless crushes are just that! Harmless. If you really want to cure yourself, just pretend he has skidmarks on his underpants every time you see him.

      1. mkt*

        Oh my goodness, your last sentence is golden.
        It’s now etched in my brain, and I don’t know whether to thank or curse you for it. :)

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Or he supports the wrong sports team, rescues the wrong breed of animal, votes 180 degrees opposite you, is a carnivore if you’re vegetarian or vice versa, is a neat freak? never washes dishes? disdains murder mysteries, only watches foreign films with subtitles?, derides your taste in music? or (insert your own affiliation dealbreaker(s)).

      3. ONFM*

        Yes! I do this for people I am intimidated by… just imagine them doing something normal, human, and embarrassing/ awkward… clears those feelings right up! Of course, depending on the strength of your imagination, it might be hard to make eye contact for a few days … :)

    3. soanonforthisonetoday*

      I was in the same situation as you with one of our volunteers who was about eight years younger than me (I’m female, he’s male). There was some mutual flirting going on (nothing I’d ever, ever act on), but I did have a bit of a crush. I’ll tell you what, I became stone-cold sober if you will, and immediately stopped my behavior when I realized that if I could act this way and have these thoughts, what’s to stop my husband from doing the same thing and how would that make me feel? Definitely not anything to risk my marriage over, that’s for sure.

    4. Iris Eyes*

      If you can figure out a solution for the in person awkwardness I’m all ears. For any thought obsession I have found some success with equating thinking about him with a reminder to think about something else you want/need to think about. Maybe its remembering to look off into the distance to protect your eye health or to drink water or pray or whatever. Quickly redirecting thoughts instead of dwelling on them decreases the “recovery” time.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Seriously, this is a great idea. Much better than trying to remind oneself that the cute colleague is also a member of the Society to Rescue Human-Eating Alligators or votes only for the Unhelpful Party candidates. (Hopefully, these examples are generic enough to make people laugh no matter where they are IRL on the animal rescue or political spectrums!)

    5. Bea*

      It’s normal to be attracted to someone but I’m confused why your senses don’t say “hey he’s cute. I’m happily married tho so moving on…”

      I can certainly think someone is good looking but being in a committed relationship, I’m never flustered or “crushing” on someone. It’s chemicals. Just keep saying “yep, he looks like my husband.” and rinse and repeat “my husband”.

      1. jolene*

        Fantasise shagging him and enjoy it thoroughly. Eventually you will realise that this fantasy has been replaced by another one. They always burn out. Don’t fight it, indulge it and that will stop you doing anything beyond keeping it in your head where it belongs.

  40. Isabel Kunkle*

    I’m sure this has come up before, but I can’t find it in archives, so here goes:

    How/when do you ask about WFH stuff in interviews?

    I’m currently looking, and at the point in my life/career where having at least one day per week remote is a dealbreaker for me: if that’s not on the table, I’d rather temp indefinitely where I look for a job where I can do so, and I’m fortunate enough that I can do so. My thought is to wait until they ask about salary, and then add “…and I’m looking for a role with one or two days of remote work per week.”

    Thoughts? As a rule, I’ve only been applying to companies with Glassdoor profiles that say WFH is possible.

    1. CAA*

      As an interviewer, I would like to know about this requirement in the first interview so we don’t waste time if it’s just not a possibility for this role, or so that I can make it clear that we don’t do WFH during the first three months or until your government security clearance has come through, or whatever. So when I ask if you have any questions about the position or the company, that would be a good time to bring this up. However, I know that some other interviewers are turned off by candidates who ask about things like salary and working conditions. I don’t think you can know in advance whether the person you’re talking to is going to feel that way, so maybe ask a couple more traditional questions first and make this the last one and just accept that you might lose out on some jobs because people are weird about this.

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        Oh, good point! I forgot to add: I don’t actually need it right away, but like six months in. So same, but add “…though I wouldn’t need that to start until I’ve been there six months or so”?

        Thank you!

  41. nep*

    I’m a Revver and digging it.
    Happy to have read about Rev here on AAM last week. Thanks. (Crazy that I wasn’t aware earlier…but, no looking back.)
    Granted the money is not great, but I can see how that can improve as I get more efficient at transcribing. The set-up is ideal for me and my current situation. I actually really love doing it (and I’ve learned a lot already, not only about the process but in the content). I feel as if I’m getting paid for a hobby. And hey–I’m going to have some gas and food money on Monday that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
    The job search continues. All the best, job-seekers.

    1. AnitaJ*

      I’ve been reading a lot about it–would you be willing to give me the 2-minute rundown on how it works for you? Really thinking I want to get into it.

      1. nep*

        Well they know what they’re doing as far as running a super user-friendly and efficient operation (from our end, anyway–can’t speak of client side).
        Given that you’ve got constant access to an endless list of jobs of various lengths and deadlines, you can plan your time well and select what works. Generally it’s a big block of time to work with, so you can work your day around the transcribing.
        There’s a handy style guide and a lot of tutorials available. The forum is fantastic too–very helpful.
        What I love is that you preview the video or audio (any portion of it) before deciding to claim it. So you know the subject matter, the number of speakers, the audio quality, any accents involved.
        As I said the money is not terrific. I really do have to be sure I’m weighing this against other ways I spend my time (other projects I’m working on, job search…) It can be addicting to grab projects, but always keep in mind the cost-benefit (cost being your time). As I mentioned in earlier post, I can see how this can become a little more lucrative as I get more efficient at transcribing.
        Probably longer than you wanted…Not sure whether I hit on your question. Happy to answer any other Qs.

          1. nep*

            Below minimum, let’s put it that way.
            It really depends on a lot of things–primarily how fast you can transcribe and type.
            (I’m not a super fast typist (yet). But in a few days I’ve been able to make is so I’ll have a decent little chunk of change early next week.) As I said, it’s really about looking at cost/benefit…how else you would be spending the time…if you’ve got some time to spare, make a few bucks while learning or improving some skills, and learning from pretty interesting content. And such varied content.

              1. nep*

                I recall the grammar/punctuation test…My short-term memory has been shot in recent days. Remind me of the other elements of the initial test to see if one is brought on board? It was a couple of quick things to transcribe within a time limit? (Man, I did it only Tuesday but I already forget.)

          2. Alianora*

            I’ve been working at Rev on and off since spring 2017. (More when I’m a student or job searching, less when I have full-time employment).

            When I was at my very fastest and at the Revver+ level (so I could pick the easiest jobs and caption at 120% speed) I was probably making $12-15/hour captioning. Beginner pay can vary a lot. My estimate would be maybe $2-4/hour.

            Either way, not a lot of money. But it was enough to keep me afloat while I didn’t have another way of making money. Better than working a minimum wage fast food job.

            If you want to stay a Revver long-term, I would recommend not even thinking about how much you’re making per hour in the beginning, and just focusing on getting the best metrics possible. Do as many short jobs as you can (more grades = better metrics). Plenty of people do a couple of long jobs, get hit with some bad grades, and have their accounts permanently deactivated.

            1. nep*

              Great insights and points. Thanks for this.
              This is what I’m picking up in the forum as well. (The forum is a great source of insights and tips.)
              I should note that I simply enjoy the process of transcribing/typing and I love proofreading. Given that I want remote work anyway, while I’m job searching this is ideal.

    2. Roja*

      As someone who worked at Rev for two years before I finally had to leave, I can only say be wary. The work is fun, and I do miss it as well as the awesome fellow captioned there, but the company doesn’t always act professionally towards its contractors. I couldn’t take the pay cuts and runarounds from the administration any longer and finally had to find something new.

      Good quality transcription and captioning companies pay well. If you’re good at it and enjoy it, I definitely advise working your way towards finding something that pays you appropriately.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        How does one know if a particular company is better? And where do we find this animal?

        1. Roja*

          Well, one way to know is by the pay they’re offering. My current company, 3Play Media, offers pay rates up to four times what Rev pays–one reason I applied there–but I don’t think even it is at the top of industry rates. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at rates so I can’t say for sure. But I can’t say enough good things about them; they’re highly professional and very clear.

          There are a lot of websites that curate WFH opportunities in the captioning/transcribing field that I’ve found very useful. I’d link but I’m on my small phone and that’s not an easy task. Bottom line is that good transcription and captioning, even offline captioning, is skilled work that commands a decent wage. Online companies that attempt a race to the bottom for worker wages are simply not putting out high quality products, so while it can be helpful for a very short period to get your foot in the door, you’re really not served by working for pennies at a company that doesn’t have a good reputation. One reason I jumped ship at Rev is because they significantly decreased their training, and it was very clear in the end product. I want to work for a company that has quality output, so while I really appreciated a lot of things about working there, it was time to go.

          Feel free to ask as many questions as you want, if you’d like to know more. Tomorrow I’ll have computer access again and can type more thoroughly.

          1. Roja*

            Uh-oh, I just saw way below that we aren’t supposed to name our companies. I’d appreciate it beyond words if my comment above isn’t acceptable to just edit out the name instead of deleting all of it, if possible! If we had editing ability for comments I’d gladly do it but unfortunately no luck there. Apologies!!

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Thank you so very much.

            I am not even sure what questions to ask. So I will ask this: What are your top 3 best pieces of advice to increase a newbie’s chances of success in this field?

            1. Roja*

              Number one, and I can’t stress this enough, is be a fast typist. That’s your key to a decent wage. If you’re not a fast typist, you either need to become one or you’re far better off in a different job where you can make more than a few dollars an hour.

              Number two, I’d say be really careful physically. Things like ergonomic keyboards and foot pedals can be really helpful. But most of all, be extra careful with wrist and hand pain. That was one of the major reasons why I switched from captioning to transcript editing, because I was constantly in pain. Now I feel it occasionally if I have a really long few days editing, but mostly I’m pain-free, and it’s fantastic.

              Other than that, know the style guide inside and out; that will really speed you up (and do your best to keep them straight if you’re working for more than one company!). Get really, really good at what you’re doing so you don’t have to spend long with companies that don’t pay as well. Get used to combing the internet for new opportunities. It’s not a bad idea to have two or three companies you work with so that during dry spells (holidays and summertime) you can still make money.

              And perhaps most important of all, be ready for a more difficult work-life balance. I survive because I’m willing to drop whatever I’m doing and work. That might be at 10pm after a hard day I come home and find a file that’s due at 9am the next morning, so I have to sit down and pound it out late into the night. You’ll need to be checking the hub (well, depending on how the company works) most of the time to snag good work, and you’re never guaranteed to find any. There’s a lot of uncertainty and flexibility, and if you can’t handle that, then it would be much better to find a more consistent job. The plus side, of course, is that I can take off whenever I want. That flexibility is golden. Of course, if you want an excellent wage and a proper job, look into real-time captioning. You have to go to school for it, and be able to handle stress, but it does pay well. It’s not for me, but it’s definitely a needed job.

              Good luck! I really do like the work, which is largely why I stick with it. There’s something very satisfying about file hunting and finding good ones, and knowing you’re contributing to accessibility for those who need it is extremely rewarding.

      2. nep*

        Thanks for the insights.
        I’ve read reviews that range from 5/’greatest thing ever’ to 1/ ‘run in the other direction! run!’
        I appreciated one quite positive review that ended with ‘it is what you make it.’
        Of course I’d like to and eventually will find work that pays my what my skills and background are worth (or at least much closer to that worth), but this is great in a pinch.
        And hell, now I know I’m pretty good at transcription. Perhaps I’ll include that in my search.

        1. Roja*

          Yes, can be a good way to get your foot in the door. Just keep a sharp eye out for drama, and be wary!

          I get a little frustrated with the it is what you make it. To some extent that’s true of all of life, but there’s also only so much you can do and so much you can earn when the rates are low. I was very, very fast and very good, and still only made $8-12/hour. That’s just not enough, so I was able to find a place that pays better. I can’t lie, I miss the fun of Rev videos and my awesome coworkers, but I don’t miss the low pay, wrist and hand pain, and company drama whatsoever.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      Yes! I read about it on here too. I do lots of Rev work during my holidays and it gives me a bit of play money!

    4. nep*

      P.S. It’s not easy. Once you get into the longer files, it certainly eats up your time, and it’s work (again, pretty much for peanuts).
      I love it, but I’ve learned that I’ve got to stop racing to the ‘find work’ page to claim a new job before I tend to other things I need to do. You’ll see a file that’s 43 min of audio and your time block to complete it is, say, 15 hours. Seems crazy–but with everything else you’re doing throughout a day, it actually can get down to the wire. Some jobs can be intense.

  42. Swing low*

    Is it ever a good idea to talk ask a boss to clarify rumours about you getting fired / laid off? As in – you heard friends of friends of friends hearing a boss say that you are one of those getting the axe soon, and really want to confront your boss about whether this is the case.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      In all likelihood, your boss won’t tell you, regardless. There are typically consequences for managers who spill the beans in layoff scenarios. Unless the two of you have a verrrryyyy longstanding friendship that predates your professional relationship, I really don’t see it yielding anything except more anxiety for you.

      And while I know my next statement may not be popular here, I tend to trust the grapevine/rumor mill to some degree. Rarely do rumors materialize out of thin air. If you know that your company will be doing layoffs, but just aren’t sure if you’ll be on that list, you have nothing to lose by getting your resume polished up and starting your search. Then you’re doing everything you can do and you may even find something better than your current gig.

      Best of luck!

      1. Swing low*

        Thanks Former Retail Manager XD Sadly, I have yet to establish a good enough rapport with current managers that they would likely spill the beans. I guess the only thing that I can do is start sending out applications!

    2. BRR*

      I agree with Former Retail Manager. You’re not likely going to be told it’s happening. A slight variation though from me though, if there is talk of layoffs you might be able to ask how stable your position is. I think you should be sending out applications and it might be smart to ask about your performance.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Barebones, tell yourself that you deserve to work for a place that does not threaten layoffs.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I don’t know if it’s a good idea to try to confirm it, but I’d plan like it was definitely going to happen.

      That said, I once asked my manager if I was at risk of the next layoff (happening within that week, but it was at least the third wave in 4 months). She hadn’t been my manager long but things were fine. She said she couldn’t tell me per policy. Then I asked a question that on the surface was normal but where the answer would pretty much indicate that I was on the list, and got my answer. She knew what I was going for and I know she wanted to be able to tell me, so this was a good loophole.

      The other layoff, I was 99% sure I was on the list because my manager avoided me for weeks before the news finally came out. Not that we met often anyway and I’m not great at reading people, but he had no poker face and the little signs added up. (Incidentally if it was a false alarm and I hadn’t actually gotten laid off, I definitely would have started job searching. I’ve never been considered bottom of the stack until that manager and I did not want him to be in charge of my career if that’s what he thought of my contributions.)

  43. AnonAnon*

    Am I supposed to just let projects fail?

    My team is planning an event this fall. It’s something that would normally fall in my job description, but when the idea for the event was first discussed months ago I told my manager (very directly) that I did not have the capacity to work on it. We discussed my workload and agreed that my other projects were priorities, and he decided to go ahead with the event but take the lead on it himself.

    The event is now less than a month away and he just… hasn’t. The event is happening (we have space, a registration page, and a few signups) but he hasn’t done anything else. Like, there’s no content for the event – he hasn’t determined what the agenda will be, identified or invited speakers, or developed any content. We have a working group of volunteers that met once and came up with some (great) content ideas… and he just sent them another email asking if they were willing to help and inviting them to a meeting to discuss content. (… they’ve already agreed to help, and they’ve already discussed content, and the event is a month away so now is not the time for more discussion.)

    I’m not sure what do to. Should I just let this event happen in whatever way it will happen under his leadership? (It may come together! Or it may have embarrassing low attendance and a thrown-together agenda.) Or should I step in and save it, even though I was clear that I didn’t have the capacity to do that?

    1. LQ*

      Yes. Sometimes you just need to let projects fail. If you don’t have capacity. If it isn’t possible. If your boss took it on. It’s your boss’s job.

    2. Free Meerkats*

      I say you make one offer, “If we take X and Z off my plate, I can help with $event. Do you want to do that?” If he says yes, do it, if he doesn’t, let the chips fall where they fall.

      But don’t do it without having the things that you both agreed were more important either delayed or given to other people. It may come back to bite you later when you say you can’t do A, but he remembers when you said you couldn’t do X and Z while running the event, but managed to do it anyway to save his butt.

    3. KEG*

      I think you should let it fail. If you step in and save it, you could establish a pattern where your manager will assume you will do something even when you say you can’t.

    4. Loubelou*

      Let it fail. If you step in now, it’s still pretty likely to fail (perhaps less spectacularly) but you are likely to be held responsible for it.

      I was in exactly your position a month ago – in fact, I could have written this post! The event is tomorrow, it’s a much smaller affair than it could have been and it’s only just likely to break even, let alone make any money (we’re a charity – sounds like you are too?). A month ago it looked like it would fail, now it will be relatively mediocre. I could have stepped in, but it would have meant letting other more important things go. So I mentally let it go and am feeling (relatively) free about it, but it took serious discipline not to step in.

    5. WellRed*

      Let it fail! No matter how good you are at your job, a month out from the event, well, I don’t think there’s any saving it.

      1. So totally anon*

        This just happened to me! An outside agency contracted with us for an event that was supposed to happen in 4 weeks. The planning began in May but no or little confirmation or movement for months. Someone that I didn’t know from their side emailed me for help as 90% of the planning had not been done. There was no way I could “let it fail” so I went to the top person and said that I couldn’t make it work and they had to postpone as it was my reputation and the reputation of my org on the line. I am still going over that “what haves, and what could I have done“ to make it work but I just had too much on my plate to assure success.

    6. Ron McDon*

      I am in this situation at present – our team used to be 4 people, now we are down to 2, and TPTB are not replacing the member of staff who just left.

      My boss has told me to just do what I usually do, not take on any extra work, and just let things fail, so TPTB realise we need at least one other person.

      We all took on extra when the 4th person left, and because we coped (by all working extra hours) they weren’t replaced – we won’t make that mistake again!

      Let it fail, otherwise it will happen again and again.

  44. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

    People that answer phones: how do you normally handle salespeople calling your business trying to sell you something? Normally if I get a pre-recorded message I hang up if I’m busy or if I’m truly not busy, sometimes I stick it out to see if there’s the option to take us off of their calling list at the end of the message.
    But when it’s a person on the other end, I normally have to tell them multiple times that we are not interested and they barrel over me with their pitches anyway and waste my time. Is it unprofessional to hang up on them or interrupt them to decline, since I’m supposed to be representing my company? Or do I let them do their pitch anyway and then decline?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I say, “I’m sorry, I’m not the best person to discuss that with, and a manager is not available right now. May I take your name and number and have someone call you back?”

      9/10 times they don’t have a call back number so they just say they’ll call again. If they do leave a number, I don’t bother to write it down. If they get ignored long enough they tend to stop calling. I consider interrupting a sales pitch to explain I’m not who they need to talk to a courtesy, so I do that freely.

      The exception is scammers. I get so many scam calls that I have resorted to straight up telling them to eff off. My coworkers think it’s hilarious.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Our team mascot is a stuffed cat who bursts out laughing when you squeeze his stomach. I’ve blasted him down the phone at scammers before (although mostly on my personal phone).

      2. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        I love the callback number idea! I will for sure start using that. Thanks!

    2. Anon From Here*

      “I don’t have purchasing authority and the person who has that authority is not available.”

    3. Partly Cloudy*

      I usually interrupt the pitch with “we’re happy with our current [whatever] but thanks for calling, goodbye” and then hang up. So technically I’m not just hanging up on them, I’m ending the call. Usually they talk over me throughout my ending of the call, but hey, that’s not my fault….

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        Yeah, I literally just did this which is what made me think of writing in. It felt rude afterward but I’m just not used doing it, and it feels weirder when I’m on the office phone rather than a personal one.

        1. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

          Partly Cloudy’s strategy is one I use at work too, and the first few times I did it, I felt DEEPLY uncomfortable and rude. But I got used to it. I do not have time to waste on these calls, going back and forth because they won’t take no for an answer. I hereby release you from feeling guilty about hanging up after explaining you don’t require their services.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          They are the ones being rude by not accepting your “no.” I mean, it’s they’re job and all, and some places do require their telemarketers to behave in this rude way, but that’s still not a reason you have to listen to it. And telemarketers get hung up on ALL. DAY. LONG. I guarantee you they are not writing down the names of businesses where someone hung up on them.

    4. LQ*

      “I’m so far from the person who has the purchasing authority I don’t even know their name.” (Not always or actually true, but I work for government, there are forms and websites and stuff for that.)

    5. DaniCalifornia*

      You tell them once that you aren’t interested. If they continue I then say ‘No thank you, please remove us from your list.’ and hang up. We get about 20 a day so I’m not going to waste my time arguing with them. They get rude and I don’t feel it’s rude to hang up after politely telling them twice I’m not interested.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I used to say “please hold” and just stick them on hold until they got tired and hung up.

    7. Lumen*

      “We aren’t interested at this time. Please put us on your do-not-call list. Thanks!”

      and hang up. You can do this in as pleasant or chipper a tone of voice as you like. You can even interrupt them and talk over them to say it.

      My grand-boss (known for her effervescence, professionalism, and good-natured excellence) does this regularly whenever a sales call somehow gets routed to her. It isn’t rude, and if this ruins someone’s day, they need to be in another line of work.

    8. Decima Dewey*

      “We’re a City agency. There’s a City contract that covers what you’re trying to sell us.”

    9. I Love Thrawn*

      I start out being polite. Then I’m not polite. If necessary, I just hang up on them. I have zero tolerance for aggressive sales people.

    10. Natalie*

      I’m not a fan of saying any sort of “that person isn’t available” or “let me take a message” excuse because it just encourages the sales people to try and call back. I found that something that eliminated the possibility that they’d succeed if they kept trying actually cut down on the number of times the same place would call us. I used “we don’t accept sales calls” but you could change the wording to suit you.

      And then yes, you just have to hang up. It will get easier with time.

      1. Ron McDon*

        Yes, we find that when we try and be polite and say ‘the person you need to speak to isn’t available’ they just keep calling back.

        I think saying ‘thank you, but we aren’t interested, please take us off your call list’ is the way to go – honest, to the point and brief!

    11. BRR*

      I tell them we’re good and I will reach out to them if our circumstances change and sometimes add “I would hate for them to waste their time reaching out to me.” If they insist I tell them (remember, you’re in the driver’s seat with this conversation) that that is my preference.

    12. Bea*

      “I’ll take your information and pass it to the manager. She only takes scheduled calls unless you’re an established vendor.”

      Rinse and repeat. Then do not write down their information.

      They’re taught to pressure.

      I’m pissy because I’ve gotten turning cold callers down but get plenty passed to be now that I’m not on phones. DO NOT SHARE NAMES WITH THEM! Or use a fake one to giggle at next time they call and ask for Mr C Mustard.

    13. Emily S.*

      I have a few different tactics. Occasionally I just hang up on them. This is not unprofessional in my view (I’m an admin, and basically the phone gate-keeper for the office).

      – Sometimes I just say we’re not interested and hang up. Sometimes, I will also ask them to take us off their list.

      – If they insist on a specific person, I will sometimes just send the call straight to that person’s VM box.

      – Sometimes, if it’s obviously a sales call, I will send them to the VM box of a former employee, which never gets checked, and is only used for sales calls.

      – For the recorded message calls, if you stay on the call long enough, sometimes it will give you an option to press a certain key to be removed from their call list. I always try to do this in the case of recorded messages, because I think it may actually help.

    14. LilySparrow*

      If I was supporting the whole office, or the team that included the purchasing person, I’d confirm up front that they did/didn’t want pitches or written propss. If not, I’d say “we aren’t in the market, thanks.” Or “Our purchasing manager doesn’t take cold calls,” or whatever was the situation. If they were polite and reasonable and offered to send a packet, I’d say okay, or if I knew we were locked into something I’d tell them not to bother.

      If I wasn’t busy, I’d wait for a natural pause to say no. But if it’s a hot phone, or I was in the middle of something, I’d interrupt for sure.

      If they talk over you, hang up. Nobody can bowl you over on the phone unless you let them.

    15. Not Alison*

      I like to say “can you hold please” and then leave them on hold until they hang up. At least during the time they are on hold they are not wasting the time of either me or someone else.

      1. Bea*

        I’ve done this too. Sadly my office now has ringback after hold is used for 30 seconds. Usually the sales people are trained to disconnect after a minute. Sigh.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      I barrel over them, “sorry not interested”. If they keep talking I say, “I have to hang up now” and then I hang up. I do wait a beat or so in conversation because I try to match what is coming at me. If the person is basically polite then I politely tell them no thanks. If the person is a bulldozer, I work my way over to hang up on them.

  45. It Might Be Me*

    Went for a senior executive level interview. Wore my interview suit, tasteful heels, etc. I have claustrophobia and don’t like clothing that adds binding layers. So, the top with my suit was a Calvin Klein sleeveless blouse. When I arrived I discovered they were using a room where the air conditioning wasn’t working. The interviewers all knew and were in short sleeves, casual linen dresses, etc.

    I have older woman arms with that cottage cheese texture that I can’t seem to get rid of. So there I am. I could either sweat like crazy (unattractive). Or, I could remove my jacket and reveal my arms (unattractive). It was was very disconcerting. It set a tone for the interview and reminded me I was also interviewing them. I like my current position, but who knew with the right offer I might make the move. With a heads up I would have worn a short sleeve sheath dress (bring a suit jacket that I could wear or not). Instead I made a joke about it and kept the jacket on.

    I’m not sure how I could have handled it better.

    1. FCJ*

      How bizarre. Were there other rooms where the AC was working? Was this a weird power play to see how you HANDLE THE HEAT? Or is their building just awful and they’re all so blase about it now that they didn’t even think to mention?

      FWIW, though, unless your arms are particularly remarkable, I’m guessing they wouldn’t have noticed as much as you think. That doesn’t mean you did the wrong thing–if you’d taken your jacket off you’d have been self-conscious, which doesn’t help you be your best in an interview. Sounds to me like you handled it fine.

      1. It Might Be Me*

        Thanks for the kind words. You’re right, I would have been self-conscious about “not being presentable.”

        It turns out they did have another area available. This was a two part interview with full time staff asking questions. They had scoring sheets. Then a sit down around the a table interview. It turns out they had a larger meeting room and a connected board room with air where we could have met. Only one person thought to move there. I have a friendly acquaintance (who is the interim person in the position) that said she suggested it. The board was “But we planned to do it here.”

        I asked her yesterday if they were begging her to take the job (I ended my interview basically saying they should). She has a young child and there is serious staff dysfunction so she doesn’t want it. She asked me to take it if offered. The offer would have to be golden to do that.

    2. Kuododi*

      Speaking as the “Hot Flash Queen of USA” I am having all kinds of sympathetic reactions to the story about the overheated conference room. GACK!!! As far as clothing is concerned, I would be ditching the jacket at the first opportunity trusting your description of the blouse/top underneath was perfectly on point for the interview. (I kid of course… I am certain you were impeccable.). As far as the question of your arms is concerned. I have not had the pleasure of meeting you face to face. I have a feeling you are a perfectly lovely person and I wouldn’t even notice the physical state of your arms. I had more than one professor tell me back at the Dawn of Time when I was in school that if humankind knew how little attention we paid to one another’s supposedly
      “heinous” physical attributes the rates of low self esteem, social anxiety and the like would resolve themselves exponentially. (Not to be simplistic about the issue.). Ive always found something particularly wonderful about people who know who they are, take good care of themselves and their friends and family and age with Grace and wisdom. Best wishes…

  46. FCJ*

    Weird work smells thread! I just started a new job and one of the drawers in my desk smells like a baby. Like, the nice baby smell, but it’s not like there are babies or baby accoutrements just around at my place of work. I haven’t found any source for it.

    What strange smells are there in your workplace?

    1. CS*

      Not a strange smell, but my building is next to a University and for some reason every lunch time I smell BBQ, like really good BBQ. It’s insane!

    2. Amber Rose*

      Ever since yesterday, my office has smelled like glue. You know that kind of sweet smell that the goopy white glue they give kids to use has? It’s not a bad smell, but I have no idea what it’s coming from. We don’t even have any of that stuff.

      1. Not All Who Wander*

        I ordered a lumbar cushion for my chair & it released a very similar odor. It bothered me enough I actually ended up putting it in the trunk of my car to return. Amazon ended up just refunding it & not wanting it sent back so 2 months later it’s still in the trunk of my car and STILL stinks. I wonder if someone in your office got the same one…it was a best value one they were pushing for awhile.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      There’s a pond with a half-billion gallons of partially treated sewage outside my front door.

      Sometimes a truckload of pigs will go by on the highway, those really reek.

      1. FCJ*

        We’re occasionally downwind of a major feedlot that’s about 10 or 15 miles away–mostly cattle, but I think some pigs, too. Every once in a while when the wind and the humidity are just right, the whole valley smells like livestock.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I’m currently working on a site with a stable across the road, some kind of pig shed in the field next door, and an agricultural field that is occasionally sprayed with muck. Most days it doesn’t smell but if the wind is right it is horrible.

    4. Nita*

      Sauerkraut. Someone has been eating something with sauerkraut at 2 PM for several days. Drives me up the wall, because at that point I’ve just eaten the last of my lunch, and bam!, I’m hungry again.

    5. Cousin Itt*

      I work in home fragrance so… everything smells. Mostly nice smells, sometimes not – I think a few of our scents smell truly awful.

    6. CheeryO*

      I’m in the wastewater industry, like Free Meerkats, so my daily travels take me to facilities emitting all manner of smells. You get used to it, sort of. Our actual office building is old and has a questionable HVAC system, so we get all sorts of odors from the garage next door. It’s good motivation to get out in the field more often.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        One of the things I love about my job is that I can spend a day in the field any time I feel like it. I think I’m going to do that today…

        And I can usually identify a chrome plater by smell alone – to stay on topic.

    7. Best cat in the world*

      I work in healthcare so there are some really really weird and horrible smells we come across. One of the worst is probably the service issue air freshener that just covers the nasty smells with a sickly layer rather than making it nicer!!

      1. WellRed*

        The air freshener in our bathroom is one if those plug in.melted wax things. Bathroom either smells like hot plastic apples or tampons.

    8. a*

      Our break room is on the complete opposite end of the building (1st floor, NE corner), but when someone makes popcorn, you can smell it in our office (2nd floor, SW corner). Nowhere else in the building – just the complete opposite corner. And our office is in a cantilevered portion of the building too!

    9. ThatGirl*

      I work for a baking supply company with a test kitchen so honestly, it usually smells pretty amazing upstairs – like cupcakes and magic, I describe it.

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

        It’s not a work smell, but my commute must take me past an industrial kitchen because every night it smells like heavenly fresh baked sweet bread — like Hawaiian roles. I die a little inside not being able to eat the fresh bread.