open thread – September 28-29, 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.

{ 1,456 comments… read them below }

  1. Emmie*

    How do you convey an “executive presence?”

    I was at a recent social gathering with our corporate board, and someone commented about a person’s lack of executive presence impacting their ability to be promoted. I started to wonder how you’d convey that presence during innocuous social gatherings. For instance, I wonder how your choice of drink impacts executive presence (i.e. an orangesicle vs. an appropriate wine-meal pairing), or packing (overstuffed luggage vs. tightly packed efficient luggage.) Do you think those things also impact executive presence?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Are you sure that presence happens at innocuous social gatherings? I would assume it would be obnoxious to give an executive presence there. It’s more appropriate for large meetings, conference talks, or ribbon cutting ceremonies.

      1. Emmie*

        I believe your presence happens mostly there, but how you present yourself at these social gatherings (happy hour, post-conference dinners, running into your fellow exec in the hotel hallway) can also influence others perception of you. I ask because I ordered that fru-fru drink, and had overstuffed / too much luggage. Things that send social messages.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I don’t think executives should be judged based on their drinks, but, yes, there will be some people who unjustly judge you for that anyway.

      1. Emmie*

        I’ve had to bring my luggage into the office because I’m leaving straight for the airport. I’ve also traveled with execs, and shared cars.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I’m not sure what luggage has to do with it other than maybe not seeming organized or pulled-together.

        Example: The movie ‘Up in the Air’ where George Clooney’s character takes one look at the young female Anna Kendrick’s character’s large old-fashioned suitcase and forces her to buy a new one.

        Here’s a link to the scene for reference: https://youtu.be/cnNyUGhXTsw

        1. Notthemomma*

          THIS movie! When we would hire new people for travel, I suggested to a few of them to watch this for the travel tips; and a little Clooney is never a bad thing ;-)

          1. MissDisplaced*

            A little Clooney is never a bad thing! ;-)
            I like this movie a lot. Probably it’s a little under-rated as it has some good insights about work and life.

            And Clooney’s character is absolutely right about security lines at the airport! I try not to stereotype like him… but you can just tell who’s an organized, regular traveller and who is not by how they act in the line. LOL! Or better, get your TSA pre-check and breeze through.

          2. a good mouse*

            When I first saw it and Vera Farmiga’s character says she’s not putting up big numbers, just 60,000 domestic, I was like it’s funny because that’s so much! Then I started traveling for work and saw it again, and I was like, “Yes, I agree that’s not a lot.”

        2. designbot*

          That’s exactly it, it’s not about luggage specifically, or your drink order specifically, or whatever else. It’s about conveying an overall impression of having yourself together. Being efficient and effective at all times, not sloppy or unfocused.

      3. Grapey*

        It’s probably unfair, but I have noticed travelling colleagues’ airport behaviors and thought differently of them based on it.

        One opened up her checked suitcase AND carry on at the ticketing counter floor to try to get her luggage weight down. It was a two night trip and the three other travellers just packed a small carry on. So her bringing checked luggage AND a carry on PLUS watching her rummage through like 10 different outfits made her look a bit inept.

        1. soon 2be former fed*

          Uh…I’ve done this because overweight bag charges were draconian. Overpacking may be inefficient but I don’t think it has anything to do with executive presence, whatever that is. The clothes and accessories in the luggage will mean a lot more in that respect.

          1. Jordan*

            On the other hand, if you cannot manage your packing, how can you manage a team? There is a correlation. I once heard the phrase, “How someone does something is how they do everything,” and its often true. A guy who dresses sloppily will likely do sloppy work. Its not 100% accurate, but for the purpose of this discussion, its a reality that cannot be ignored.

            1. TL -*

              Eh, my talents for organizing at work and my incredibly messy bedroom would disagree with you.

              I think that your awareness of how you come across at work is likely going to speak to your ability to present yourself and how you come across in most professional factors (so being aware that you’re traveling professionally and you always want to seem as competent as possible in a professional context) might be a thing worth considering. That would affect my judgment much more than if I ran into someone on a personal trip and realized they were more disorganized than they were at work.

            2. Perse's Mom*

              Eh. I’m in a different mindset at work than I am at home. My house is a mess, but my workspace in the office is tidy, and my work itself is organized. I’m also a sloppy dresser (in the sense that I have a body shape that would require every piece of clothing to be tailored to look Executive and f *that* noise), but again, my work speaks for itself (to the tune of company awards and rave reviews every year).

          2. Grapey*

            Yes, they are draconian, AND there’s still something about seeing scattered underwear that takes my opinion of someone’s ability to be organized down a notch.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          I’m kind of with you on that Grapey. Unless there is a good reason for the large checked bag, such as staying longer, equipment, etc., she’s making everyone else wait for her bag too. I also notice how they treat the airline staff. I used to have one manager who was Mr. Entitled Flyer and very demanding. It was horrible to travel with him.

        3. LJay*

          Yeah, I’ve been traveling a lot with my boss, and condensing my luggage and packing more effectively is actually something I’ve thought a lot about/worked on recently.

          I feel it does convey a sort of lack of organization/inefficiency when you have way more stuff than anyone else on the trip, or when your bags are so overstuffed that you can’t find things in them that you need, or fit them into the overheads because they’re bulging, or whatever.

          And I think mostly for me, it’s a confidence thing. It’s nearly impossible for me to feel confident or competent and put together when I’m flailing and searching for my wallet in my bag or when I’m struggling and failing to get the damn thing in the overhead bin.

          I actually went out and purchased a slightly smaller (like 19″ vs 21″) hardsided roller bag, because the I can’t overpack the hardsided bag like I do my soft bag. And I’ve made sure my backpack is organized. I feel a lot more put together and competent with these couple changes and I think it makes a difference in the way I’m seen by others as well.

          (And I totally judge based on others airport behaviors as well. I don’t think I would be as harsh on people who only travel very occasionally. However, some of my employees are 100% travel, so for them if they don’t travel effectively it’s a bigger deal than if it’s a once or twice a year thing.)

    2. Andy*

      sounds like either something specific to the observer OR a dogwhistle. Was the person they were referring to a 1) POC? or 2) woman?
      If neither, then prob something that the observer specifically thinks about when they think ‘executive’. like, for example, a suit that’s tailored well or charming manners and a diplomatic way of speaking.

        1. Lora*

          I literally went to a Women in Engineering thing this week where a senior woman executive was talking about how she was always asked to mentor younger women in Having Executive Presence and Being Less Abrasive. No men were ever referred to her for coaching in this regard.

          That said, I have a couple of socially unskilled friends who will never understand why they cannot get promoted and it’s very much an issue of, they aren’t at all presentable to clients or fundraisers. We might come to work in sloppy tee shirts and jeans, but we are expected to clean up nicely for special occasions. You can always tell who has a Permit Council Meeting or client presentation because they’re dressed up all spiffy. My aforementioned friends are technically gifted, but do not own even one single tailored suit or nice pair of shoes. Not one. I sympathize with the issues of having a weird size/shape that isn’t easily found in stores, but these people both have enough money to afford at least one custom tailored suit and a pair of bespoke shoes and regular haircuts. They’d just rather spend the money on alcohol and video games.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        Yeah, I read “lack of executive presence” as “we’re never going to promote Fergus, but we aren’t going to give the actual reason, lest we have our pants sued off.”

    3. ZSD*

      Be male.
      No, to be serious, I think that you’re right that ordering a simple glass of wine rather than a fru-fru (sp?) drink would be one step. And in general, I think the “dress for the job you want to have” advice comes into play here. Women probably also need to think about hairstyle and about speaking with authority. I know I tend to start too many of my sentences with hedges like, “I think,” or, “It seems like,” etc. (Conversely, I had a colleague who *never* used these, and he frankly wasn’t well-liked around the office. So I think there’s a happy medium.)
      Commenters in the past have shared the advice, “If you’re the expert, talk like it.” I think something similar applies to social gatherings. For example, if you’ve read multiple news articles on a subject rather than just the headlines, then you can talk with some authority on the topic.

      1. Alli525*

        Since you did ask, it’s “frou-frou.”

        And you’re exactly right about the extra steps women have to take just to be considered on an equal playing field for an exec position.

    4. The Tin Man*

      It’s a sad state that my first thought is that “lack of executive presence” could be code for “rich white male”.

      But if that isn’t the case with this person I imagine a lot is the ability to seem in control at all times, both social and professional. In a social sphere I can see that manifest in someone being comfortable leading (and exiting!) a conversation and having attention on them. Grooming and fashion would come into play too, and maybe drink or food choice. For drink I don’t think it would matter for most people whether someone ordered the exact right wine but there are mixed drinks that could be seen as less “professional” (i.e. the sugar-laden ones usually considered feminine, take that as you will). For food it would be a matter of not the selection but general manners while eating and not overeating.

      I am curious what other people think! I am far outside the executive realm so I am sure I am missing things or underestimating others.

      1. Apple Dumpling Gang*

        I don’t think it is the drink you order, as much as it is the attitude and demeanor you project. So you can be Gina Torres at a function with a pink drink but the attitude is still ‘boss’.

        I’ve seen the president of my company at company social events (retirement party for worker held at a microbrewery, holiday partys etc.) and she smiles, she makes sure to greet everyone and mingle, but she even as she is being social, there is always a sense that in the background she is ready to take charge, make decisions, determine responsibility.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I’d list:
      a) radiating a lack of confidence
      b) too much confidence appearing as inappropriate attempts at camaraderie, like making fun of someone’s last name

      The sort of behavior where if everyone is dressed identically and you were later told “Todd? Todd is the CEO” you would give a major side eye while wondering how on Earth that happened, since you’d had him pegged as someone who had a job where they couldn’t do much damage due to nepotism.

    6. Addie Bundren*

      Speak clearly and in full sentences (not expecting others to jump in when you’ve lost the track of your original point). Look people in the eye when they’re speaking; don’t scan the room constantly. Stand up straight; don’t fidget.

      Are these things more difficult for some than others? Certainly. But these are, for better or for worse, elements people notice that contribute to a sense of gravitas.

    7. Admin of Sys*

      While sadly acknowledging that this is often ‘does not look like the people I think of as executives’, I’d say executive presence is more the attitude than anything else. Quite confidence, the centered self that’s not overly grandiose nor overly ingratiating. There’s an awareness of space and self and how others react to it – poise, if you will.

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        It’s radiating a sense of power also, something we women are sometimes hesitant to do. Ironically, we can get dinged for radiating too much executive presence when we’re not executives. Then we are arrogant.

    8. Holly*

      I’d be curious if “executive presence” was code about “fits in with the current makeup of the board” or “fits my predetermined notions of what an executive looks and acts like.”

      But that aside, it’s likely more about an aura of confidence and competence.

    9. OperaArt*

      It’s a matter of body language, posture, where one’s eyes go, where one’s attention goes. I once had this conversation with my 5-levels-up boss, a woman. I’d just been at several improv classes where we’d learned about conveying status quickly, not by what we said but by how we moved.
      My multi-levels-up boss said that even when she walks into a room where no one knows her, they know she’s in charge. We had a great discussion about how that works. It’s body language.

      1. OperaArt*

        I’ll try. It’s one of those things that’s easier to show than to describe. My written descriptions may come across as simplistic, dogmatic, and lacking nuance.

        In the improv exercises, we worked with a scale of 1 through 10, with 1 being the lowest status and 10 being the highest. We all had to practice all 10 levels.
        Interestingly, we learned that projected status did not always match the character’s title or position in society.

        The highest status person in our improv exercises, let’s call them HS, entered the room quietly and in a straight forward fashion. HS did not scan the room, confident they would be the one being approached. HS made little eye contact until a conversation started, at which point they made great eye contact. HS had a quiet calmness when not directly engaged. HS talked less than most people in the room. HS had good posture. HS did not act flustered, even if things got strange. As I said above, HS was not always the person with the highest social position, but people seemed to feel more focused and on task once HS arrived. People who tried to portray HS as smug, entitled or bombastic tended to come across as lower status than what they were trying to be.

        My real 5-levels-up boss was like the best HS. She was knowledgeable, confident, and approachable. That’s how we ended up in a random conversation about perceived status, command presence, and being in charge.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Improv classes where we’d learned about conveying status quickly, not by what we said but by how we moved.

        This is really insightful. There’s a scene I enjoy in movies and TV shows, where the con artist drops his humble subordinate posture midstride and turns sharp and competent. In Sneaky Pete, which I just watched, but also memorably in Burn Notice and The Usual Suspects.

          1. Horrified*

            Totally agree. Acting “as if” has gotten me through many awkward and uncomfortable professional situations.

    10. Friday Anon*

      I think of the person that I look at and think “I could take you anywhere (for a business reason) and it would be fine.” The person has excellent social skills/table manners/manners in general, represents the company well, can hold their own in outside meetings, in knowledgeable not just about their work but about the organization as a whole (this one is huge IMO), and has the more superficial things nailed down as well (outfit looks nice/fits well/is clean, carry themselves with confidence)

        1. soon 2be former fed*

          Did she embody all these qualities before becoming an executive, or did she grow into some of them?

      1. Elle*

        Yes! I have a coworker who from the very first meeting I knew was going to be an executive one day, and the knowledge thing is huge. Whenever he speaks, I’m always like “yes that makes so much sense, why didn’t I think to say that!?” but in reality its that he takes so much time to truly understand every viewpoint of an issue before he chooses to speak on it – so that every point he makes is accurate and insightful. He’s someone who just doesn’t include buzz words or fluffy statements in his vocabulary, a straight shooter, but never insulting or off putting.

    11. Argh!*

      The best way to convey executive presence is to be a white male over six feet tall. Anything you can do to fake that will help you in social situations.

    12. Crylo Ren*

      It’s not a singular thing or even a couple of things. Yes, either of those things could contribute to a lack of executive presence; or they might not, depending on the rest of the person’s overall bearing, leadership style, etc.

    13. Elle*

      I honesty think its a “have it or don’t” air about someone, although it could probably be trained just like public speaking can be trained. Ever met someone and could just guess their profession before they even told you? I think some professions attract certain personality types. Executives are one of those.
      Most executives I know were basically born wanting to be in charge of important decision making, and focused a lot on learning things like how to shake hands and remember peoples’ names, making snap decisions, confidence without cockiness, etc. Unfortunately a lot of that learning can come from how you were raised, and there are certainly more rich white boys from rich white dads with the proper social aptitudes required to maintain an executive presence. But I’ve also seen plenty of people from other backgrounds teach themselves.

      1. nonymous*

        I have a coworker who’s a bit younger than me, but who came from a family with higher social standing than mine (her Dad’s a lawyer and mom is a district nurse; both my parents were of the last cohort of non-degree white collar workers and had very hands-off ideas about how to prepare kids for success). One thing I notice is the absolute confidence with which she speaks about stuff she is inexperienced at. And people just lap it up. One time, our grand-boss asked what would help us meet a goal of shorter turnaround times, and without missing a beat she confidently announced “pizza!” – right in front of our team lead. This is the person who is being groomed to take over my department. My grand-boss actually uses this story as an example of her leadership potential.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      I think I know what they meant. Sometimes saying ‘executive presence’ is something of a whole package. This could mean anything from the way the person dresses, how they speak, how they engage with others, to more personal things such as height, weight, hair, manners, voice, etc., etc., which all present a ‘package’ if you will of confidence, professionalism and a perception (whether true or not) of leadership.

      And I agree that men can and do get a huge advantage in this area. Men take up space, speak deeply, and are often perceived as being more powerful then women are, regardless of the setting.

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        Yeah, fat people don’t have executive presence for sure. Sarcasm font on. So many bullshit qualities are revered in the management world, so many talented people are overlooked because of it.

        1. TardyTardis*

          Fat *men* can have executive presence, especially in some parts of the world where that is seen as a sign of success. Fat women really have to work at it–for instance, Camryn Mannheim in THE PRACTICE. Her character acknowledged that she had to work for it, and that a thousand dollar Italian suit didn’t hurt (nor did her reputation as a rainmaker).

    15. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Look around at your executive team or higher ups… A few things that I’ve noticed (which for the record has nothing do with being a white male).

      Appearance:
      1. Polish -ambiguous, but it’s been spoken about here before. Think clean lines, tailored, understated, will stand out a little bit more from the crowd. For men, may mean the ‘uniform’ of suit coat + no tie. Women will generally include a jacket, muted blouse.
      2. Even in casual mixer/networking environments, the ‘executives’ will be dressed like above, if dressed casual, they will still be tailored. For instance instead of jeans- denim trousers for women, Men replacing slacks for expensive looking jeans. Still with a jacket in both cases.
      3. Accessories are quality and understated. Bags are gray or black, phone cases are not patterned, portfolios are leather and black.
      4. Yes, drinks can be part of this. Generally speaking if you would order it on spring break it may be best to skip at a corporate event.
      5. Shoes… For some reason I think the super secret handshake is actually a person’s shoes. It’s like a subliminal beacon to others. Shoes must be quality. Weird, but true in what I’ve observed.

      Demeanor/Actions:
      1. Confidence… Execs mingle, they’ll float through a room and they’ll talk to everyone.
      2. When not mingling they tend to cluster and hang back. They’re a little above what’s going on around them without coming off as aloof.

      Non-Execs who have executive presence will be able to slide into that circle. In other words, next time you are in a group with execs and non execs mingling. Watch them. Then look around at random non-execs in the crowd. If you were to drop that non exec into the group what would make them stand out to you?

      Honestly I’ve always found the whole sociology of group dynamics, mixing, outside identification and self identification fascinating. I actually asked my husband a similar philosophical question. “Do you land in a group because of your looks or does the group you belong to influence your appearance?” It was sparked by the ‘executive look’ . One for the record I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pull off unless I have someone else dress me and even then I’m not sure that I could pull it off. That being said I’m not sure my lack of executive uniform conformance has hurt my advancement.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One of the interesting sidebar discussions on AAM was about why, on casual Friday, the execs’ khakis with a blue oxford didn’t look like the lower level staff’s khakis with a blue oxford.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          I’m telling you it’s the shoes!

          /I’ll take off my conspiracy hat now

          It’s cut, tailoring, weight of fabric, and a thousand other subtle differences. But yes, it’s true. There is a discernible difference.

          1. Elle*

            Yes, how expensive it is matters – the fabric and cut is better. I have a pair of fancy black slacks and a pair I got on the clearance rack, and I look like a different person when I swap them even with all other clothing the same.
            Also, accessories. The execs are always still wearing their fancy watches and carrying their leather encased phones. (And, moreover, not carrying those thick binders full of paper the rest of us have to carry around for notes).

      2. Elle*

        This is so interesting, thank you!

        I will say, after a lifetime of Kohls type clothing, I finally gave in and went ‘grown up clothes’ shopping at White House Black Market and got really lucky with a stylist who put together a million amazing outfits for me. I have noticed a huge change in the way I am perceived at work, although some of that may be my own confidence. I traded from cardigans to blazers, from cheap shoes to leather shoes, and all of my clothes fit like only expensive lined clothes can. I no longer feel like I don’t belong in meetings where I’m the most junior, and on the flip side no one questions who I am when I walk in and they don’t know me. Maybe it shouldn’t matter so much what we wear, but I do think dressing for the job you want is a real thing. I no longer plan to treat clothing as a spot to save money, but rather an investment in my future.

      3. caryatis*

        What is the distinction between jeans and “denim trousers”? Is it just that the “trousers” are more expensive?

        1. TheTallestOneEver*

          Denim trousers are typically cut like regular trousers (not skinny jeans or any dramatic flares or bootcuts, no big pockets on the back) in a dark rinse denim. They’re not necessarily expensive. I have pairs that I’ve bought from Target and Gap.

    16. bb-great*

      To me “executive presence” seems similar to what I would call “polish.” It’s like a combination of factors that contribute to an overall impression of competence. So everything from well dressed and groomed, good posture, at ease in social situations, calm, confident, etc etc etc. So yeah, I would say a more ~sophisticated~ drink choice, and having well packed luggage (and the luggage itself is decent) would be contributing factors. I don’t know whether that’s what your board members meant or not but that’s how I would interpret it.

      Of course, there’s a whole other discussion to be had about how race/gender/etc impact these standards and how they’re applied, how some people use this language as code to exclude certain groups of people, and how much any one individual might choose to care or not care about these details.

      1. Emmie*

        Not to derail too much here, but I’ve seen two recent articles discussing gender roles in the legal setting. The Associated Press released an article yesterday about the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing. It essentially discussed how he was able to express his anger and cry while she remained calm and polite. (I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss the merits of her claim on this blog.) The Atlantic posted an article in September about What It Takes to Be a Trial Lawyer If You are Not a Man. Though both speak to law, both speak to our corporate lives.

    17. Essess*

      I think of this comment more in terms of behavior and how you carry yourself. Do you go around and talk to everyone (work the room?) and greet people by name when you arrive? Or do you head right to the bar/food table to partake? Do you stand with a small clique of friends at one side or do you mingle? Do you ask questions to the people you are next to at the event or do you hang back and just listen to others interact?

    18. theletter*

      I personally think that what often happens is that Business Acumen is the thing executives are looking for, but they can’t really articulate that when pressed, so they say something along the lines of confidence or executive presence.

      Most of the time, the person who gets promoted is the person who’s bringing in the money or maintaining peak efficiency, while conveying that they are bringing in money and maintaining efficiency in their manner at work, ie, in meetings they can speak to their work in those two goals and provide guidance to others, and rarely let other topics make their way into the agenda.

      It’s actually very easy to convey in the work place a lack of knowledge, or of prioritization, which would in my mind convey a lack of executive presence. But I could imagine a person who knows her work well and prioritizes it for the sake of creating value/efficiency could easily convey her executive presence over many a frou frou drink while her overstuffed bag waits for her at coat check.

      Of course, if the person she’s speaking to is racist or sexist, all bets out the window.

  2. Step6orbust*

    Looking for commentator’s experience on negotiating government salaries that are on a step pay scale system. I just got invited to an interview and when I look up the pay scales online, I see that where I’m hoping to start would basically be Step 6 on this (non-federal) government pay scale (the salary range posted spans $25K – I’m hoping to start in the middle, which would be a very small increase over my current salary). Is this even possible? I’ve been at my current govt job for 10 years and started at step 1 – I don’t know have any experience negotiating a starting salary and no one here at my current workplace (that I know of) started at a higher step.

    1. Teapot librarian*

      I haven’t negotiated but I’ve hired; if you had 10 years experience at an equivalent grade position, I’d probably recommend step 6 or 7 (my government has 10 steps within grade), maybe even 8.

      1. Step6orbust*

        Great, thank you, that’s comforting. This city government scale has 8 steps, then a “performance range”. (I was telling a friend about the interview and she asked me why I would switch jobs for a paycut. I explained that the range covered what I wanted to make but that, yes, the starting few steps were below my current salary. She said “no one ever starts about Step 1. Maybe Step 2, MAYBE, but definitely not Step 6.” I was debating cancelling the interview since I can’t accept a lower salary.)

        1. state government jane*

          “Performance range” is a good sign, IMO, that they have flexibility and would be open to negotiation. If I were you, I would also consider other benefits/perks you’d like to negotiate for (in addition to or in place of a big pay bump)… more vacation time? Flexible schedule? Telework? Crazy nines? Even if those things seem to not be on the table, it’s worth an ask. Sometimes, governments/agencies have more flexibility than they let on.

          (Caveat: Though I know from your other comments this isn’t a fed job, for anyone else who may be reading–I have no experience in federal government! State & smaller only.)

    2. De Minimis*

      My only experience is federal. Would this job be considered a promotion? I know with the feds when someone moves to a higher grade job they compare the two salaries and will adjust the starting step depending on how much you’re currently making. Hopefully your pay system has something similar.

    3. TR*

      I have negotiated successfully for both local and federal government jobs. With the federal job, the increase I negotiated was based solely on my previous salary – they just moved me to the step immediately above that. With a county job, it was a little more complicated because I had just graduated with a PhD and was moving from a low cost of living to a high cost of living area, so there wasn’t an easy marker to peg it to (which I think is what they wanted to do). But they made an offer, I asked if it could be a bit higher, and they moved me up one step. I’m guessing that since your current salary is in the middle, you might have some success.

    4. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

      Just got hired for a fed position. This is something to bring up with the hiring official, and it will happen after you get a tentative offer. In general, you’ll have to make something of a case for yourself based on your years of experience, any especially valuable experience you might have, professional development, and so on. It’s generally not hard to start at a step commensurate with your last salary plus 10% or so, rounded to the nearest step.

      My suggestion is to look up the OPM General Schedule Position Standards and look up your position series, as well as the GS pay scale. It’ll give you a better idea how much experience and which job duties correspond to which GS rating and step you want, and how to make that case clearly.

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        Thirty one year fed here, entered federal service after ten years in the private sector. I came in at step 1 of the grade of the position I was offered. It was a big increase for me. While in the government, I went up a few steps when I got promoted.

    5. M. Albertine*

      My experience is in a University pay scale, but I think your best plan of attack would be to compare your skill set to the job description and see what “bonus” skills you can bring to the table. For example, when I started, I had a lot of process improvement skills, which wasn’t specifically spelled out in the job description, but based on some of the outcomes they were looking for was a big plus. If there is an extremely good fit, and your onboarding will take less training you can also use that.

    6. Yorick*

      Based on experience, HR wanted to give me step 6. I don’t know how they calculated that. I was able to negotiate up to step 8.

      1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

        It’s a point-based scoring system. OPM publishes a series of position qualification documents that spells out the number of points that correspond to experience, duties, education, and so on. Based on how the HR staffer totals the points, they arrive at a given GS rating and step. Of course, they might not appropriately score your experience, so there’s room to negotiate a little.

        1. TardyTardis*

          Don’t forget to mention veteran preference if you can, that makes points with the feds, too.

    7. Kittymommy*

      Some of this may depend on the government in question and how it’s structured. Where I work you can negotiate 6% up from the offer. Anything outside of that had to generally go before the elected officials during a public meeting. That ain’t happening unless you are director or above. I would check to see if they have any mandates on the negotiation.

      1. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

        Are you a) in the US and/or b) familiar with federal hiring? I don’t mean to be dismissive or rude at all, but US federal government hiring is its own, very strange, animal, and it has many points of major divergence from other levels of government and other countries’ requirements.

        1. De Minimis*

          My reading of the question was that it wasn’t federal, or at least the job that’s being interviewed for isn’t federal. I think it’s getting confused because the only experience many of us have had with this has been in the federal system, but sounds like Step6orbust is looking at some other governmental pay system.

              1. kittymommy*

                No worries. The ones we use are not really similar to the feds but the idea of it is the same; but yeah the fed is weird.

        2. kittymommy*

          Yes, I am in the US and work for the local government. I was answering the question based on the fact that it was not a federal government job, which I have worked for in the past and is very different from local.

    8. 20yearsand3careersago*

      I’m in hr local government and by me it totally depends upon how the government is set up – have you checked what their compensation policy is (either in the code/bylaws and/or their published budget)?
      Often governments say that as long as the Chief Administrative Officer approves you can start at any step appropriate to a person’s experience, but that is not always the case. It’s worth looking at their code and/or budget to see what constraints they might be dealing with.

      1. De Minimis*

        I know when I was interviewing for various city/county government jobs over the summer I often found useful information within budgets and related documents. Sometimes it required a fairly deep dive within their website [or on a google search.] Just depends on what’s out there.

    9. nonymous*

      What I’ve seen work well is to identify the different expectations for each grade (e.g. grade 9 is bachelor’s degree and grade 11 is Masters and grade 13 is PhD or contributor/lead/supervisor progression) and then refer back to your CV to demonstrate experience (for a lot of pay scales, the step increases are strictly about time served).

      So for example say someone had 5 years experience as Lead Teapot Painter at company A. When they switched to Company B in the same role, they would be eligible for Grade 11 (due to Lead status) and then if Company B is on a 2year/step schedule they would be bumped up to a step 2 or step 3.

    10. state government jane*

      I’m in state government (surprise!), and in my state & in my experience the step can be negotiated. A simple “Is that the best you’re able to offer?” got me bumped up two steps (which wasn’t a ton of money, but it was gravy–I was happy with what they’d offered and would probably have accepted even if that was the best they could do salary wise). Other things, which may appear non-negotiable, may actually be negotiable! I’ve heard tell of folks negotiating for additional vacation time, even though our vacation scale is straightforwardly set statewide. There are ways around these structures, in my experience–they want to recruit and retain the best people, so there are sort of shadow infrastructures in place for negotiation/wiggle room.

  3. Knitter*

    I posted yesterday in the “Good Workplaces” thread about difficulties that I was having with a co-worker and how amazingly supportive my supervisor and his boss have been. It’s a new position and I’m new to the organization. I think I’m finally in a good place with this colleague. We have developed some systems and clarified our roles. That said, I am worried about her propensity to misattribute my intent in a situation to something negative or malicious.
    Like, if she doesn’t know what I’m working on, then I’m not working. If I’m not doing something the way she wants it to be done, then I’m doing it wrong. If I say I don’t know something then say that I do (once I remember), then it’s odd, I’m trying to hide something from her, and I just need to be honest about what I don’t know. That latter example resulted in her having a conversation with another colleague about how odd that was and why I can’t be honest about what I don’t know (she shared this with me to reinforce how odd I was).
    Since she has been at the organization longer, she has relationships with other colleagues. I know she gossips with certain ones about me (Also, I once watched her and another colleague edit a google doc to undermine my role by changing the contact for a certain system, among other things).
    Currently I have my boss’ support. I do work closely with many of the other supervisors on his level and I have good relationships with several of them. I’m building relationships with the staff on my level and, I believe, have demonstrated reliability and competence. That said, I know how gossip works and knows that it can seep in to the collective consciousness of the organization.

    I’m planning on sharing this concern with my supervisor because I feel like naming things beforehand can make them more obvious when they happen. I’m also going to ask for his support in reminding her to share important information with me (I just found out she was leaving me out of major communications to partners). I’m also planning on being a super communicator and taking notes on all of our interactions.
    I love this job and I’ve had a scattered work history the last few years (laid off, couldn’t find a job for 9 months (pregnant most of the period of unemployment time—I interviewed for jobs 2 days before delivering and 5 days after…) then I was at a job for a year, which had toxic leadership and they didn’t renew my contract despite only receiving glowing feedback which is a whole other story). I need this relationship to work-for my sanity, for my continued employment and to rebuild my resume.

    Is there anything else I think I should be thinking about to build my value in the org/respect of my colleagues and minimize her negative impact?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      The best way to counter negative gossip is to be above reproach. Do excellent work and feign ignorance if/when anyone brings up anything she might say.

    2. Camellia*

      I think Alison has provided some good scripts for these situations, along the lines of “Why would you think [I’m not working/I’m doing this wrong when it’s obvious I’m following procedure]?”, asked with a puzzled/confused look.

    3. NotAParalegal*

      I think the advice given to be above reproach is great, it sounds like you’re on top of things in terms of relationships and reputation.

      My primary concern here is the sabotage of your actual work documents. I would make sure you keep a saved copy no one else can access, and consider locking edits/restricting access to necessary parties only. Or if you can, turn on tracking to see who made changes (and when). That type of behavior is unacceptable and I would definitely want to talk to my manager if I had evidence of it. In my line of work, it could potentially cause damage to the company if someone deviated from my edits. At the least it could make you and your team look incompetent/careless which also isn’t great.

      1. Knitter*

        This is excellent advice I hadn’t thought of. I changed the permissions after I saw that, but will now have an original saved as a word doc.

      2. Accidental Analyst*

        If you’re using google docs look at the version history. It shows you the changes, when they were made and who made them. Nothing like incontrovertible proof when it comes to raising sabotage.

          1. tangerineRose*

            This is probably a good thing to show your supervisor if you haven’t already. If I found out that someone had deliberately put misinformation on a document, I’d want to let that person go.

    4. Jadelyn*

      Keep working on your relationship-building with peers and managers outside your own reporting structure. If you have opportunities for cross-function/dept projects, definitely jump on those (as long as you can do so without overcommitting yourself and causing issues down the line). The more opportunities people outside your team have to see you in action and work with you directly, the more they’ll feel comfortable relying on their experience with you over her gossip about you.

    5. WellRed*

      I disagree with your assessment that you are finally in a good place with this colleague. She sounds…dangerous.

      1. Knitter*

        Fair point. In order to make sure I’m above reproach, I choose to present as outwardly optimistic while privately viewing her as a snake in the grass…and documenting all interactions.

    6. Feliz*

      I had the joy of working with someone like this (*heavy sarcasm*). I too had a supportive manager & I wished I’d taken it to her earlier – but it was a lot of “invisible” things like not saying hi to me in the morning when she said hi to everyone else at the same time. We happened to start at roughly the same time but she tried to do what your co-worker is doing – question my abilities/integrity etc.

      The good news – this did not work. Other people were just as baffled as I was by this behaviour and were perfectly capable of seeing what she was doing & making up their own minds. She also self-sabotaged by complaining about stuff, being difficult to work with if you weren’t someone she wanted to impress etc.

      Revenge is sweet though – I continued to treat her cordially & professionally, her contract was not renewed and I had multiple opportunities within that company in the 4yrs I stayed there.

      I hope your co-workers are as good as mine were at seeing what is going on for what it is. Good luck!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Some of this you can address head on.
      “Jane, if you are not sure what I am working on please ask. I will be happy to share with you. But please don’t assume I am not working on something. ”
      Okay, now you have your set up. WHEN she does this again, because she will, “Jane, we talked about this before. I don’t mind if you ask me what I am working on. But if you will recall, I asked you not to just assume I wasn’t working on something. It’s okay to ask me any time.” The second time you remind her of the previous conversation. Most people that I have worked with who are like this, absolutely HATE being reminded of a previous conversation. So they stop that particular behavior…. and find a new one. So you start the process again.

      Ex 2, Setup:”Jane, once in a while I forget something then remember it later. A great many people do this and it’s not unheard of. If I suddenly remember something I will email you/stop by and tell you/whatever, right away. And I expect to be treated the same way in return.”
      Second occurrence: “Jane, remember we talked about this earlier. If I remember something later on I will be sure to follow up with you, as I am sure you would do the same for me.” (Irony, she does not remember that you spoke to her once about this.)

      Try, try, try to remember that these behaviors can be indicative of a very, very UNhappy person. And this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with her life/job/well-being.

      Your best weapon is to be friendly with EVERYONE and treat everyone with the same level of deference and courtesy. It takes time but your consistency will eventually show Jane to be a foolish person. I find this to be a stronger weapon than doing your job beyond reproach. Yes, follow the rules of course. We all make mistakes, if you make a mistake pull it back by saying, “I will fix that.” If you can’t fix it, just say, “I will never make that mistake again.” And then don’t make that mistake again.

      It’s really easy to make our goal to be placating the Janes of the world. I have seen it first hand and I have seen it with others, we can change that goal to “having good working relationships with as many people as possible” and this can be a stronger plan. The Janes of the world can never be appeased. They are going to be angry over something no matter what we do. Each day when you go in, make yourself think about everyone around you not just Jane. Build working relationships where ever you can.

      It may not be this month or next month but I am betting at some point you will start to notice eye rolls when ever Jane speaks. Pay attention to that little gesture, pay attention to who is rolling their eyes. These people already have a solid read on Jane.

  4. Jenna Maroney*

    Tips for keeping a cool head when male coworkers inevitably say something stupid or insensitive about yesterday’s hearing?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        These are good. Not offering an opening for a fun, fun, fun debate during which you’d better not show any emotion.

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

      I’m not sure if this is helpful or not, but yesterday, everyone in my office wouldn’t stop talking about it, so I ended up shutting my door under the guise of needing some quiet to focus for a little while and putting my phone on “do not disturb.” Obviously, this doesn’t solve the problem, but it helped me to keep a cool head and to not go crazy yesterday.

    2. ZuZu*

      Deep breaths, and a request to not discuss politics at work. If they insist, calmly remove yourself from the room if you can. Best of luck.

    3. esra*

      I wish I had a good tip. The sheer amount of angry bees inside me has left me in a place where I just straight up say I don’t want to talk about (insert issue here) with them.

      1. AVP*

        I’m on a work trip with my boss this week and he ~wont~stop~talking~about~it. The other men that are here are helping me run interference by changing the topic immediately every time he brings it up. We didn’t even discuss this, I did it once and they took my lead. Don’t know how we’re going to get through til we go home tomorrow though

          1. Andy*

            I’m sorry your boss won’t take a hint, I’m really glad you’ve got friends with you you have your back as much as they can. For me, that’s one of the most comforting things, probably because it all feels so isolating.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          The person introducing this week’s grand rounds speaker tried to “joke” about how the speaker was at Yale, but not at the same time as Kavanaugh so don’t go subpoena’ing her! Pin-drop, stone-faced silence.

    4. Arielle*

      Adding onto that, what do you say to male coworkers who are actually cool guys who respect your opinion and genuinely want to know what you think as the only Ladyperson on the team, and you don’t have the energy to talk about it but don’t want to shut down their spirit of honest questioning? Asking for a friend.

      1. AVP*

        I feel okay repeating what you just said. “I appreciate that you want to know but I really don’t have the energy for this today,” or “I really need to focus on this meeting/work project right now and was enjoying the distraction, but maybe another time!”

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        “I’m sorry. I’m so exhausted by this that I just can’t rototill through it any more.”

        (The ‘sorry’ acknowledging that the question was asked fairly, not meant as a challenge to debate.)

      3. Wendy City*

        I’m a big fan of “You know, it’s been really hard and emotional for me, and I’m not a big fan of talking about it/the hearings at work. [subject change — do you think it’s going to rain this weekend, did your baseball team make the playoffs, how about this crazy thing that happened at work this week].”

        Also, a gentle reminder that, even though you’re the only Ladyperson on the team and even though there is a spirit of honest questioning, you don’t have to do the emotional labor of talking about this if you don’t want to. You don’t owe then answers as A Representative of Their Gender — there are more than enough resources online for them to read (The Cut has been running good pieces and recaps of it all, in particular) if they want to do some honest questioning on their own time.

        1. Jadelyn*

          This is an excellent point – we can very often feel like we have to play the role of Authority on Ladybusiness, and when you’ve got the energy to do so it can be good to, since that may help chip away at their preconceived notions and misunderstandings. But it’s not an obligation, and maybe you could redirect them to reading The Cut’s pieces on it or something similar.

          1. TotesMaGoats*

            I talked about this in my classes this week. Saying you don’t have any obligation to be the “explainer” for X. Religion. Culture. Medical Issue. Whatever. You get to choose where that boundary is.

      4. Detective Amy Santiago*

        If they are genuinely cool guys, they should accept “I don’t have the emotional bandwith to discuss this right now.”

      5. Mike C.*

        Well just tell them that. If they’re actually cool guys who respect your opinion, they’ll respect the fact you don’t feel like dealing with it right now.

          1. Les G*

            Mike, with all due respect: sit down and shut up. It’s hard to even begin explaining how offensive this is.

            1. Les G*

              But, ok, I’ll try: research does not mean “asking a traumatized person to explain why they’re traumatized.” It means “doing some internet research that does not involve talking to other people.” The OP shouldn’t bear the burden of any of this. Your beloved “UYFW” had no place here.

              1. Rat in the Sugar*

                I’m not sure where you’re getting traumatized from, did I miss that in a comment? I thought Arielle was just talking about male coworkers who asked her opinion because the news is plastered with stuff about #metoo and women’s rights and what the case means for women, and Arielle is a woman.

          2. Rat in the Sugar*

            Yeah, I think it’s pretty normal to ask someone you know in person that you think would know about it. No one is obligated to play professor, and if they keep asking after you say you don’t want to talk about it then they’re being jerks, but I wouldn’t take away their “cool” status, so to speak, for asking someone they thought had personal knowledge instead of googling it.

            Also, just in my personal experience when I’ve tried to research social issues online I find so many different takes and interpretations, many of which are mutually exclusive viewpoints. It’s often very difficult trying to determine which source is actually the one to listen to–it’s easy to find multiple members of the same social group, all of whom should have equally valid opinions/interpretations at first glance, and all of whom are expressing views that conflict with each other. I hear those people who say it’s exhausting to be asked to explain issues to others (and have experienced that end of things myself on certain issues), so I keep chugging along and just try to sort through it all as best I can, but I also think it’s understandable that someone would give up, or not even know where to start. (Should go without saying that still doesn’t obligate anyone to play professor).

            1. blackcat*

              If someone asks me to speak for “women” I get pissed. Women are not a monolith. And it’s particularly offensive to ask me, white woman, to speak for all women. Even if they’re all “it’s totally cool if you don’t want to go into it” it’s not cool that they asked. If they ask my personal opinion, okay. But if there is any “As a woman, how do you feel about X” I nope right out of there.

            2. Doc in a Box*

              Thing is, the variety of opinions/interpretations is the point! No social group is a singular; we all experience the world through many different lenses. That’s precisely why so many people feel uncomfortable being asked to speak as though they are representative of the entire group.

              You don’t need to try to “determine which source is actually the one to listen to” — you need to listen to all of them (or as many as you can) and form your own critical opinion accordingly.

            1. Mike C.*

              So you’re going to claim that asking the opinions of others with experience or noted points of view with the aim of listening to their expertise and experience is somehow not a common way to learn something, or are you just conflating the act of requesting with a demand or obligation for an answer?

                1. Rat in the Sugar*

                  Look, I’m not Alison and this isn’t my site, but I gotta say that leaving a bunch of comments that just say “No.” is not really helpful for anyone.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Agreed with Rat in the Sugar here. It’s not helpful. If you don’t have it in you to leave a constructive response (which I TOTALLY understand right now) I would rather you sit it out and let others respond rather than make it combative. Thanks.

              1. Here and Now*

                The only qualification that we know the OP here has is being a “ladyperson.” I don’t understand how you determine this means she has experience or a notable point of view. Men do not have the right to expect lessons about sexual assault from women just because they are women, even more so when they are in the workplace. They should ask an expert if they need too, and it is a very effing sad state of affairs that many abuse survivors are women. I guess if she’s not a survivor she’s not an “expert” and if she is a survivor she should suffer her trauma publicly? Please think this through and don’t ask your local ladyperson inappropriate questions.

                1. Mike C.*

                  Again, you’re absolutely right that no one has the right to expect an answer or lesson or whatnot, at the same time when you have a previously established relationship where discussions happen in a safe environment of mutual respect, it’s not uncalled for to ask.

                  And frankly, simple differences can make a world of difference when it comes to trying to pop your own personal bubble.

                2. Doc in a Box*

                  Mike C, you seem to be really intent on the male prerogative to ask their nearest woman-friend to detail her experiences of sexism and misogyny and generally act as The Representative of All That is Woman. I urge you to consider why that’s so.

                3. Mike C.*

                  Doc, did you seriously miss the part where I talked about having a previously established relationship? Did you also miss the part where I was explicit about how no one was entitled to an answer?

                4. Doc in a Box*

                  MikeC, nope, saw that, that’s why I responded directly below that particular comment of yours.

                  There are plenty of women who are vocal and willing to share their experiences, whether in writing or YouTube videos or blogposts. If you’re interested in “trying to pop your personal bubble,” try those resources; don’t confront a woman you know personally *unless* she has specifically invited you to ask her questions about it.

              2. Christine*

                Everydayfeminism has a decent article about this:
                Why Pressuring Someone to ‘Educate’ You About Their Struggles Is Oppression, Not Understanding
                (I don’t think I’m supposed to include a link, but that title is highly google-able)

                For a long time, I took opportunities to educate men when asked, or when there was an opening. I approached it by being friendly and assuming they wanted to make people around them feel comfortable and appreciated, asking if they wanted to learn more about the thing they said/referenced before proceeding. After a few years, I am confident saying that a majority of the time men have asked me for education, they end up arguing with me and putting me in the position of defending myself. It is exhausting.

                I don’t want to speak for @JennaMarony, but to me, it looks like you’re asking them to educate you… on why asking someone to educate you is exhausting.

                In addition to that article on everyday feminism, I think it might be helpful if you looked at the concept of ’emotional labor’ and did some thinking about the emotional labor women are expected to do that man are not. There should be pretty consistent results if you use the exact term ‘women’s emotional labor’.

                I fully recognize the irony of me posting this.

                1. Alice*

                  Pressuring is not the same as inviting. I don’t see where OP said they are pressuring her or pushing back when she asks then not to.

                2. Christine*

                  In my experience, a person with more privilege than me asking me for something is uncomfortable to say no to, especially when that person has been socialized to believe that they are entitled to women’s emotional labor. YMMV depending on the men in your area/life.

          3. Starbuck*

            No, that’s not doing any work. That’s asking someone else to do that work of explaining it to you, in an oh-so-carefully crafted way so you don’t accidentally make them feel too angry or guilty or confronted. Even when they ARE part of the problem. It’s exhausting. Just more men expecting women to do work for them and not taking accountability for their own learning.

      6. LGC*

        I think you answered your own question: say that YOU can’t answer and it’s overwhelming for you right now.

        I’m not wild about how your team is assuming you’re the most qualified to weigh in on the Kavanaugh hearings because YOU’RE A WOMAN and thus are an expert on sexual assault. (Maybe I’m reading too far into this.) But if they’re really as cool as you say, they’ll respect that this is overwhelming for you.

        Just one dude’s opinion.

      7. Serin*

        “If I were the only person you knew whose dog had been run over in the last 24 hours, would you be inviting me to join a general conversation about how people feel about their pets?”

          1. OyHiOh*

            My spouse gets asked about their experiences in the “watched someone die” category all the f****g time. It’s a shockingly inappropriate yet shockingly common question for veterans to field.

    5. beanie beans*

      My favorite response for just about any inappropriate uncomfortable comments, but would fit this:
      “I’m surprised you’re comfortable saying that.” It puts it on THEM, not you, being the sensitive offended person, but them being rude or inappropriate.

    6. disney+coffee*

      I got into it with a male coworker yesterday and I tried to keep a cool head (to be fair, he’s 60+ and 6′ while I’m 22 and 5’3, I needed to be a little bit robotic and fact-based in order to be taken seriously). Anyways, my best advice is to have irrefutable facts and general comparisons.

      False accusations are not a widespread problem. Statically 2-7% of sexual assault allegations are false. 1 in 4 women have been or will be sexually assaulted. Many survivors wait years to disclose (just look at the whole situation with the Catholic Church). This is not a criminal trial, the Senate is judging him on character. It’s very common to have met 65 women that you have not tried to assault. Women deserve to be treated with respect.

      Know your facts and stick to them. Only speak in statistics and try to take all emotion out of it.

      1. Jenna Maroney*

        This article gives some great insight into how rarely false accusations happen (and why they happen when they do): https://qz.com/980766/the-truth-about-false-rape-accusations/

        “This may be hard to believe, especially considering that rape is a felony, punishable with years of prison. However—to start with this worst-case scenario—it’s exceedingly rare for a false rape allegation to end in prison time. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since records began in 1989, in the US there are only 52 cases where men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because it turned out they were falsely accused. By way of comparison, in the same period, there are 790 cases in which people were exonerated for murder.

        Furthermore, in the most detailed study ever conducted of sexual assault reports to police, undertaken for the British Home Office in the early 2000s, out of 216 complaints that were classified as false, only 126 had even gotten to the stage where the accuser lodged a formal complaint. Only 39 complainants named a suspect. Only six cases led to an arrest, and only two led to charges being brought before they were ultimately deemed false. (Here, as elsewhere, it has to be assumed that some unknown percentage of the cases classified as false actually involved real rapes; what they don’t involve is countless innocent men’s lives being ruined.)”

    7. DataQueen*

      I just wish that those who found this so important and wanted to talk about it to everyone would also be educated enough to know how triggering it can be, and be a little more considerate. I had to leave early yesterday because of it.

      1. AVP*

        yes! People trying to be supportive can make it worse if you’re trying not to dwell on this while at work, today and every other day.

    8. Annie Moose*

      For my work friend yesterday: finish making your coffee AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT, sprint out of the room, and scream on Slack to your friends until we’ve all calmed down enough to keep working. (she didn’t trust herself to say anything without flipping out on him–he wasn’t talking directly to her, just while she was in the room–and I completely understand that)

      …needless to say there is a certain male coworker I will not be able to feign friendliness toward for awhile. I wasn’t even present and I’m still furious with him.

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hi, y’all. This site has a no-politics rule and so I ask that you keep that in mind during this discussion (which I know will be tricky but is doable). I’ve removed a couple of comments that were pretty openly political. Sorry about that.

      1. Jenna Maroney*

        Curious– I made a comment where I provided a link about an article that discusses false accusations. Would that fall under the “too political” umbrella?

    10. What's with Today, today?*

      Unfortunately, I am experiencing just as many women making “stupid and insensitive” comments (OP’s words). The mean-spirited things I have heard directed at survivors from other women has saddened me. I’m doing a lot of eye-rolling, ignoring, battle picking and heavily using the FB unfollow button. Some folks I will engage in civil debate with, others, well there is just no point.

    11. Lumen*

      Can I offer “don’t”?

      I’m not saying you should be rude, belligerent, interrupt people, raise your voice, get red in the face, and cry. (That’s only considered professional if you’re a judicial nominee.)

      I’m just saying that at this point, I don’t see why it would be shocking for a woman to become visibly angry or upset, turn on her heel, and simply walk away from people who are being stupid and insensitive.

      That’s all I feel capable of doing today, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

      1. voyager1*

        I live in the deep south, the 3 convos I saw yesterday at work about the hearing:

        1. Two older white women “the woman is a liar.”

        2. 30ish pair of white dudes “that lady totally had something happen to her.”

        3. 20 something white female with 20 something white male, they weren’t talking but just watching the TV in what I would describe as sheer mouth open in awe. The scene on the TV to be fair was when Graham was going off about democratic nominees
        during one of the breaks.

        I honestly can’t believe someone didn’t change the channel the whole day in the break room.

        No to be mean but maybe it is where I live in the country, but the most adamant defenders of the nominee have been 40+ yr old white women.

        1. What’s with Today, today?*

          I’m in the deep south too and am experiencing the same. I actually had a female acquaintance say yesterday “If you don’t want your critters touched, don’t get drunk and show them off like a petting zoo.” No. Just no. I have a four-year-old son. I have to teach him that a woman can be totally inebriated and wearing nothing, and he has NO right to touch her. None. Full stop.

          1. Lolli*

            I always told my sons, ‘you don’t want to be someone’s regret. It is a bad place to be for the rest of their lives’.

            1. Windchime*

              This is brilliant, and I wish I’d thought of saying it when my boys were still under my care (they are both in their 30’s now).

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          If I would have to guess while being maximally charitable to my gender and age group (40+ something women), I’d say it’s because when we were that age, that type of behavior was normal. I have multiple stories from my late teens and early 20s, that would horrify my sons, but leave women my age and older going: “so what’s the big deal? nothing happened”.

          It was even worse in my parents’ generation (admittedly my parents spent most of their lives in Eastern Europe”. I remember mom telling me about how when she was in her 20s, a male friend locked her in a room in his apartment, and told her something like “I’ll be around, when you change you mind and decide to have sex, let me know and I’ll unlock the door”. In mom’s words “but I was a competitive gymnast then, so I crawled out his window and went home and nothing happened”. How is it “nothing happened”? Well, in the 1960s, it was.

          If it’s the deep south, I’d say religion is also probably a factor. These things could never happen to a god-fearing Christian woman/everything happens for a reason/god will provide and so forth.

          I feel so fortunate that no one talked about it in my office yesterday, at least as far as I could tell.

          1. What’s with Today, today?*

            Yes. My mom was almost raped by her Uncle when I was a toddler, and my grandmother still says he “made a pass at (Mom’s name).” No. He threw her against a wall and left bruises. I don’t speak to my great-uncle.

          2. LilySparrow*

            Yeah, there was a very helpful article on Vox about the attitudes of the 80’s reflected in the movie “Sixteen Candles”. As a 40+ white woman, I can attest that it is very much on point.

            Interestingly, I was brought up in a deeply conservative religious environment, and I recall being shocked that passing a drunk woman around like a blow-up doll was considered funny. But as I got older and more exposed to the world outside my bubble, I was socialized to believe that this was a backwards and “prudish” attitude, while treating sexual assault as a joke was sophisticated and cool.

            Looking back, I think my bubble was not all bad.

    12. blackcat*

      I’m responding to stupid shit with, “I was raped in high school.” and then walking away.
      Perhaps this is unwise.
      IDGAF.
      I am so full of rage I can’t even.

    13. NW Mossy*

      I’ll confess to getting pulled into a discussion yesterday by female colleagues, literally in a locker room! Normally I’m pretty darn good about remaining at arm’s length from politics at work despite being pretty passionate about it in my personal life, but yesterday, I cracked. I shared (professionally, but still) an opinion, and I really really really wish I hadn’t.

      Reflecting, I just don’t feel good about having expressed a political viewpoint at work. There were people on both sides in the discussion, and it probably just left us all feeling more stressed and unhappy than we already were. I’m kicking myself for letting that seep into a space that generally works better when it’s free of it, and I’m going to try to get better.

    14. Lucille2*

      I’ve learned the hard way not to engage. I think it’s important to be honest and shut down the conversation from the get-go. I made the mistake of arguing with a chauvinistic coworker over a debate during the Obama election. I simply lost respect for that colleague as did all the other women in the office.

      The day after Trump was elected, I took it upon myself to shut down an emerging political debate at work. At the time, I was no one’s manager. As soon as I walked into work that morning, two colleagues on opposite sides of the political spectrum started initiating a discussion about our new president-elect. It was obvious by both of their body language that each were ready to take down the other in a heated debate. I simply said to both, “We’re not talking about this at work today. Not a word from either of you.” They nodded, immediately understood I meant it, and backed down. I’m glad I had the confidence to shut it down early, and my colleagues had the respect the keep it out of the workplace. They needed a reminder every now and then to keep it respectful, but it seemed to help. I don’t love mothering my coworkers in that way, but I’ve also taken the keep-my-head-down-and-don’t-engage path which only turns me into innocent bystander when the shit hits the fan. It’s just easier to head it off before things get ugly.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, yep. “Work is my down time from all that.” OR “Sorry, I’m being paid to work. I need to get focused on my work here.” One place I worked I used, “I am here for a very limited number of hours, so I really don’t have much time to discuss any larger issues.”

    15. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I’ve got two young, male coworkers who sit near me that are very casual and off handed about how they have never voted and don’t plan to start. Sometimes when things like yesterday happen I get so ANGRY at them. I don’t want to start political conversations at work, and don’t want to tell them who to vote for – but dammit I want them to realize how important all of this is.

  5. Too Many Chefs In The Kitchen*

    I work in a company that is run by the sales team. Sales is really what dictates what happens in the rest of the company. I’m baffled as to why, instead of hiring on more sales executives to make more sales, company leadership is focused on hiring Directors for the sales team. We already have four VPs and a President dictating how the sales team is run, with company leadership over them, so I don’t get why they plan to hire on at least two Directors.

    This when the Sales People keep asking for more help because they’re already filled up with their workload and they’re having trouble making additional sales that are being asked when new Sales people could come in to take on more work and more sales. Plus, of course, money is a big factor and all these Directors and VPs have a far larger salary than the Sales Executives who are the ones to make sales and bring money into the company.

    I’m obviously not going to question our team or company leadership, I’m just honestly baffled as to what the plan is. It feels like hiring on multiple captains to a ship when what you really need are more sailors to keep things running smoothly.

    1. Chaordic One*

      I share your bafflement. Maybe they plan to hire more sales people down the road? At my previous employer they did something similar in that they hired a very competent marketing team to increase awareness and advertising of their products. The marketing campaigns were quite successful, but the number of people working in production and fulfillment stayed the same and they became very burnt out and overworked.

    2. Key Lime Pie*

      I work in a very different field than yours, but one where this kind of thing happens systematically. I’m going to do my best to give a constructive answer rather than a cynical one about leadership being out of touch. Basically, when I see this happening here, it’s because people in leadership positions are biased towards seeing problems as leadership problems. So I’m conjecturing that they think your capacity issues can be fixed by good leadership. That might or might not be true, I have no idea. It might also be the case that they know they can’t afford the number of worker bees they need to keep the organization running the way it works now (definitely the case where I am). I’m guessing that they hope that they can bring in a good leader who can help the organization run more smoothly, be more efficient, raise money, build a better team, or whatever.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        Yeah, we were seriously overworked in my department for quite a while, and while the BOD wasn’t interested in hiring more management for us, they definitely did not believe us when we told them there was too much to do. I heard through the grapevine that their opinion was that we were “inefficient”. Which was true, we were–because we were too busy putting out fires to ever plan ahead or some up with new/more efficient processes. I can definitely see a company that had the same kind of attitude at the top believing that all the sales department needs is someone to properly organize things and get the employees’ noses back to the grindstone instead of wasting time.

        In my case, it wasn’t until the head of my department left for another job and her boss had to step in for several months that things changed. She was appalled by the amount of work we were trying to process and told the BOD in no uncertain terms that we had too much to do and she was hiring more people for us. For OP: hopefully one of the new managers they put in place will do the same as my grandboss and tell the higher-ups that they just aren’t able to improve it without more people.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I share your pain but in a different way.
      My company is ruled by Marketing not sales. Marketing rules with an iron fist. They have SO MANY people in middle management: marketing strategists, marketing directors, content strategists, demand generation managers, seo strategists, marketing analysts, and whole entire teams of people who just… I don’t know what they actually DO. Yet, even with marketing being such a huge department, you can never get any actual deliverables out of them for six months. Yet they brag how they are “agile.” Ha!

    4. As Close As Breakfast*

      Any chance they are hiring directors with the long term goal being for those new directors to hire on more sales people? Like, they are planning on building up the team in general and hiring from the top down so the new management can choose their own team/people? That is literally the only logical explanation I can think of.

  6. SallyFeathers*

    I have a job interview (panel format) on Tuesday with a specialty department within a much larger company. I just received an email from the HR dept asking me to arrive thirty minutes early so I have time to complete the “written exercise.” I know nothing about a written exercise; I’ve read through the job posting and all my emails from that company and it mentions nothing about it – it just says the first interview will be in panel format and the top three candidates will go on for a selection interview, followed by a background check and drug/fingerprint screening. Should I respond back to the email asking for more details regarding the written exercise, or just go with the flow? 30 minutes isn’t a ton of time so whatever “exercise” it is can’t be that intense, but I don’t want to be ill-prepared. Honestly it feels like I missed a communication from them somewhere along the way.

    1. CaitlinM*

      I would probably respond saying. “Thank you for letting me know. I’ll arrive by x time. Is there any additional information I should have about the exercise so I can be prepared?”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Honestly it feels like I missed a communication from them somewhere along the way.

        This seems entirely possible. Query, with phrasing that could allow for both “Didn’t you get that email? let me resend” and “No biggie, it’s a standard exercise” where you won’g get more info.

    2. Meg*

      I had a 30 minute written exercise when I interviewed for my current job, and after I moved into a new role I was part of the hiring for that job again. The point of it was to see if applicants could write coherently. (seriously…this last round most of them were gibberish. It was not very encouraging). 30 minutes is a pretty short amount of time, so I would probably guess it’s something along those line.

      Just for background, our writing test/exercise was to read a page or so of text related to the work we do and summarize it in I think a paragraph or so.

    3. AAA*

      That’s an odd one. I once had an interview where they asked me to show up thirty minutes early, which I did, and they sat me down in a room before my interview with a list of all of the questions to review prior to my interview. Then after the in-person interview, they escorted me to a different room where I had to do a writing exercise that was editing a letter that they had previously sent since it was primarily a correspondence-communications type of role. Not sure if maybe you are up for a similar role?

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This doesn’t seem weird to me or like you missed a communication. It sounds like this IS the communication where she’s telling you there will be a written exercise. I’d just go with the flow; if they wanted to give you advance info about it, they would, and you don’t want to come across as unable to roll with it.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I’d be a little careful with this. “Not smart enough” is a judgement, and it’s not going to come across well. There are lots of types of smart, etc. You need to document specific problems. “Irene hasn’t been able to use X system without assistance after X months. Typically new employees should be able to do this after X weeks, but I still have to show her every time. Irene made Y mistake that will affect Z and wasn’t able to fix it without help.” Then, dispassionately make it your bosses problem. Boss may choose to fire them, or offer extra coaching or whatever, but it can’t feel personal or they’re just going to think badly of you instead of new coworker.

      1. Jenna Maroney*

        Boss has made her my problem, as I’m supposed to be giving her remedial training (to cover up the fact that she never should have been hired OR made it past her probation period)

        1. MuseumChick*

          How long have you been training her for? I think you can go back to your boss and say something like “X weeks/months ago I agreed to give Jane some additional training. I have sen little to no improvement in her accuracy/quality of work/understanding X system. I don’t think there is anything else I can do to help her and I really need to start focusing on Y. Its been put on the back burner while I’ve been training Jane.”

          1. Jenna Maroney*

            I’m the newest trainer, so I’ve only been “training” her for two weeks. Before that I worked with her.

            1. MuseumChick*

              Ok, I would give it another two weeks and then you can say that you have tried for a month but she simply isn’t improving.

                1. samiratou*

                  Then I would document what you did with her and pass that along to the next trainer and wash your hands of it. You did the best you could.

                2. Rat in the Sugar*

                  That sounds like good news to me–surely she’ll be just as useless with the other trainer, too. How well do you know the coworker doing the training? If the two of you could get together after the next two weeks and compare notes, it might force the boss to pay attention if he’s got two different trainers showing him that she’s not absorbing anything. Maybe you could talk to her beforehand and just ask her to keep good documentation? Or it might be better instead to mosy over there a day or two into the training, when there’s a good chance she’s already seen some of the problems, and ask her to document once she’s seen the need.

                3. nonymous*

                  I have one coworker who my boss wants me to crosstrain. I’m not sure if he’s passive-aggressively refusing to participate or if he is genuinely overwhelmed by learning the task on top of his other duties.

                  What I’ve been doing is breaking it up into reasonably sized sub-tasks, sending a “minutes” email to summarize what we did (so that he has the links to references) and making it clear how to get help for that task. I also include action items in the minutes (e.g. “nonymous to give Fergus collaborator access to project by X date; Fergus to open new ticket for HisIssue by Y date).

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’ve had good luck with providing written instructions for employees to follow and most of the time it will help, although at first I have to remind them of where to look on the list of instructions. Of course, this isn’t going to work with someone who isn’t literate.

        1. Jenna Maroney*

          She’s been given all of this. She doesn’t have the initiative to use them/can’t make the connection that she has the tools to solve problems.

          1. Ann Perkins*

            If you answered a question that could be looked up on her own with something like, “This is actually in X manual. Have you tried looking there?” How would she respond?

              1. Ashley*

                Trying asking what the learning style is. Watching someone, reading, doing it and you check/hover, etc.
                Good luck! I have been there. The worst was when I said something and the trainee was clueless. A guy said the same thing and magically they understood.

          2. Amtelope*

            I would suggest alternating breaking tasks down into as simple steps as possible, providing written instructions while training, and then asking her to demonstrate the skills you’ve trained her on and documenting the results. One of those skills should be “determine which instructions to consult for a given task.”

            So: “10/1, trained Jane on how to prepare invoices and reminded her of the location of instructions for this task. 10/2, asked Jane to demonstrate preparing an invoice and reminded her she could consult the instructions if necessary. Jane could not locate the instructions for this task and prepared the invoice incorrectly.”

            “10/3, trained Jane on office maintenance. 10/4, asked Jane to demonstrate steps for requesting copier repairs. Jane said she was unsure what to do, could not identify the relevant instructions for this task, and when prompted to call the repair service, was unsure where to find their phone number until prompted to look in the phone directory.”

            Etc. Either this will help, or you’ll build up the documentation you need to request that she be fired.

          3. Amtelope*

            Also — have you tried leveling with this employee, now that you’re her trainer, and asking her for thoughts about how to solve the problem? Especially if you are thinking that she may need to be fired, I strongly suggest having the following discussion at least once:

            “I’m concerned that you’re still struggling to do X, Y, and Z accurately. For instance, yesterday we walked through how to do X, and I gave you a written instruction sheet to consult. Today, when I asked you to do X, you did it incorrectly, and you said you couldn’t find the instructions. This can’t continue–doing this task correctly is part of your job. Can you think of a strategy that would help you to remember how to do this?”

            And then just wait for what may seem like an uncomfortably long time. If she says “I don’t know, it’s hard and I don’t get it,” keep waiting. Try to get her to come up with at least one idea. She might come up with something that would legitimately help, like color-coding instructions for different tasks (if she struggles to skim text) or making an organized binder of instructions (if she loses them in a pile of papers) or having a visual or video walkthrough of complicated tasks.

            Or she might come up with zero, and you may still have to fire her — but at least you will have given her a chance to take responsibility for solving this problem.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              I’m eternally thankful that if a hire needs this level of coaching, it goes to my boss. I do the best I can, provide the same training I provide to everyone, provide the documentation and tips & tricks, answer the endless questions, and offer pointers where I can. But if it gets to the point of a conversation like this… it’s closing in on PIP territory, and that’s above my paygrade.

          4. Smarty Boots*

            I have this experience with college students. Some people really do not know or understand that they need to take initiative in this way. And they may not be automatically making the connections, or know that they need to. Sometimes you really have to get super specific.

            You can do two things (one or the other, although I think doing both is best):
            1. Be explicit about how to approach problems — do that verbally, and also written as a checklist. You can write it out, but
            2. I find that people learn more deeply if they make the checklist themselves. Then you review it and discuss it with them, and have them revise it. Give the person you’re training cases to solve. Have them work through explicitly saying what steps they will take, what tools they will use, what resources there are, state possible obstacles and how they would address them, etc.

            You may be doing this already! In which case, document what you’re doing and take it to the boss and discuss with the boss.

      3. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

        This. Framing it as “Coworker isn’t smart enough to do the job,” will come across unprofessionally if that’s how you’re discussing it with people, and it’ll inform how you deal with her – contempt and dismissal will be obvious even if you’re correct about her intelligence. She’s having performance issues related to what you’re trying to train her; whether that reflects something profound about her mental faculties isn’t really relevant, or your concern.

        Be as kind and patient as possible with her, document how the training is going as objectively as possible, communicate only the facts.

      1. Jenna Maroney*

        Because I’ve been working with her for three months, and I along with my coworkers think she’s unintelligent.

        1. Youth*

          Intelligence is a difficult characteristic to objectively evaluate. That’s why there’s such a push to move away from standardized testing.

          Regardless of her level of intelligence, though, if she’s not displaying the skills necessary to do the job, you can bring that up. I think Sloan Kittering covers it pretty well above.

          1. Vene*

            I don’t think it’s that difficult. And OP isn’t using standardized testing to evaluate her co-worker’s intelligence. Some people are just less smart than others and don’t get it. They just never will. I don’t think this is a contraversial statement and I find it funny that someone mentioned race – I’m from a country where the population is fairly homogeneous and let me tell you, unintelligent people do exist there and it’s very obvious that some people are smarter than others.

            1. Sloan Kittering*

              I just think there’s so many different types of intelligence, it’s meaningless to say that someone “isn’t smart.” It’s also impossible to accurately measure how all-around “smart” someone is. I’m stupid at math but I have people skills. Am I stupid? It’s just – not a meaningful question. It’s too black and white. They are probably smart at some things and bad at others, just like – everybody. Saying “Elvira can’t use the database without assistance,” isn’t a judgement of how “smart” she is or isn’t, it’s a more practical and useful.

              1. Jenna Maroney*

                She’s not intelligent in any of the ways you need to be to be an admin in a busy, hectic office, then.

                1. Sloan Kittering*

                  I’d still try to say “she’s disorganized, she lost the X files and didn’t send a reminder about Y,” or “she’s not detail oriented, for example she forgot X and Y thing.”

                2. Bea*

                  Management needs to be given all the examples given throughout the topic.

                  Believe me. I couldn’t figure out how to explain this exact same issue in my career. “They can’t do the job?” “How so?” “they’re not catching on!” backwards ways of trying not to say “because they’re dumb AF”.

                  They never believed me. Until I was gone. And they were forced to evaluate them personally. Unsurprisingly, they were quickly fired afterwards because they lived on struggle street.

                  So the advice to give concrete examples and say she’s not able to work independently and has no troubleshooting skills and isn’t able to revisit her notes (if she takes them) or forgets how to reference the procedure docs etc.

                3. Jadelyn*

                  Why are you so focused on making it about intelligence rather than skills? I’m not trying to be adversarial, I just genuinely don’t understand what you think you gain by framing her as unintelligent rather than unskilled/not trainable.

                4. Jenna Maroney*

                  @Jadelyn– probably frustration at my manager for 1. hiring her 2. letting her get past probation period when she clearly isn’t doing very well and 3. trying to make this an issue with the trainers rather than management (see 1 and 2)

                5. NW Mossy*

                  You’re getting the right advice here – it’s critically important that you depersonalize the feedback about your colleague and focus on skills/behaviors, not your overall value judgment of her as a colleague/human.

                  It feels a bit like what you’re looking for right now is validation from someone higher up that your colleague is, indeed, dumber than a box of hair. And maybe she is, who knows? The reality is that vanishingly few bosses would be willing to channel Miranda Priestly and make directly devastating remarks about her lack of intelligence to her face, or yours.

                  To crib a phrase, management is people too. It hurts to tell someone they’re dumb, and frankly, if your boss didn’t feel a major twinge at the thought of doing that, that’s not a boss you want to work for.

                  You’ll have a lot better success if you give management words that are easier for them to say, because you can help lower the barrier to them giving negative feedback to your colleague about specific areas where she’s falling short. It’s way easier (and more effective, too) to nudge them to say things about needing to problem-solve independently, being more accurate, etc. than it will ever be to get them to burn her to the ground with a withering Gordon-Ramsey-esque remark.

                6. Liet-Kinda (nee Snark)*

                  Your tone is really out of step with previous posts you’ve made taking others to task about compassion, I can’t resist pointing out.

                7. Jenna Maroney*

                  I don’t think she’s a bad person, and I don’t really care what happens to her as long as it’s either 1. improves drastically or 2. is let go. I just think she’s unintelligent, lazy, and lacks any kind of self-starterism based on the 3 months I’ve worked with her.

                8. NW Mossy*

                  Lazy, in particular, is a word I’d be very cautious about using with your boss. It doesn’t sound like you know her well enough in a human-to-human way to understand her motivations (or lack thereof), and lazy is inherently a term that’s about motivation.

                  Someone who’s lacking some critical skills and knows it might very well get into a state where they’re somewhat paralyzed. They can’t move forward because they don’t know how, and it’s hard to get up motivation to flail around blindly like a drunk golden retriever and pray that things don’t go horribly wrong.

                  To an outsider, it can look very much like being lazy, but you can’t infer the motivation when all you see is the behavior. It will only be more frustrating for you if you assume that she’s got malign motives, because you’ll feel like she’s performing poorly at you. If you can release this assumption and treat her as if she’s well-intentioned but not suited for the job, that can dramatically reduce your aggro over the situation. I speak from personal experience on this one – it really does work!

                9. nonymous*

                  Be that as it may, she’s the person that management has tasked with a particular set of job duties. Regardless of why she can’t get things done, I’d recommend that you revise your group workflow so that as much as possible whatever she does goes directly to the supervisor. Secondly, if you will need to rework her tasks, make sure that your management knows about it – e.g. “Today I processed 3 invoices for company X and fixed 9 invoices that were incorrectly created”.

                  And if your supervisor continues to ask you to perform training for this person, ask her what can you can drop from your routine tasks. Every place I’ve worked the training has been a special project for the trainer, not in addition to the normal workload.

                10. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The way to say it in a work-appropriate way is “she seems to lack the critical thinking skills needed to succeed in this role.” That’s how I’d frame it to your boss if you raise it.

              2. Vene*

                Well, research doesn’t agree with the statement that there are many different kinds of intelligence, it’s been shown that the different “kinds” of intelligence correlate with each other. I’ve also noticed that people who are good at one thing are usually good at many other things.

                Of course, people can have different talents, some can sing well, some are good at sports, etc. But those are different talents, not intelligence. I think we can all agree that some people are terrible singers and some are very bad at sports. The same goes with intelligence.

                1. Anonymous for this*

                  Vene – I disagree with your summary of the research. I am a medical professional with training in assessing cognition. There are absolutely individuals with “even cognition” i.e. all of their cognitive domains match on testing (or, as you say, their “kinds” of intelligence correlate). There are also MANY individuals whose cognitive domains show what I call “scatter” — i.e. they don’t correlate. I’m going to use myself as an example (which is not a HIPA violation)

                  I have a full scale I.Q. of 160. I can read exceptionally fast. I learn vocabulary almost instantly. I graduated at the top of my class from undergrad and attended a medical school that you have absolutely heard of with a scholarship.

                  I also have a specific learning disability that makes it very challenging to do basic math. I had to have remediation in order to learn the multiplication table. In order to get the correct answer on an addition problem with more than two digits, I still have to either use a calculator or I have to write it down on paper and then double-check it. My spouse finds it very entertaining to watch me calculate a tip, which takes fully three to five minutes.

                  I am generally regarded as outstanding in my specific medical field. However, you should NEVER EVER hire me as your accountant. I would seem pretty seriously “unintelligent” if I were an accountant (and I *would* be incompetent).

                2. TL -*

                  Uh, being a good musician and being a good athlete both require intelligence.

                  Think of a hockey player – at all times, she needs to know where the puck is, where she is, where her team is, what play they’re running, what the other team is doing and how they’re most likely to respond (that’s 8 people if you assume only one goalie needs to be considered at a time), where she needs to be at and what she needs to be doing to maximize chances of her team scoring and/or the other team being prevented from scoring. Not to mention, she needs to do all this while traveling across the ice at high speed, handling a stick and a puck, listening to her coach and the other players AND reassessing the field pretty much every second. This against a wealth of background information on what her team’s strength/weaknesses are, what the other team’s strengths/weaknesses are, the (very complex) rules of the game, known preferences about the refs, and what kind of ice they’re playing on.

                  Talent is intentionally being able to put the puck into the goal with no one else on the ice. Intelligence is being able to do it while assessing, analyzing, and responding to the game you’re playing in.

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                I was immediately reminded of a letter about an employee who kept messing up details, which were a crucial aspect of that job. Someone had the example of a trial lawyer they’d worked with who was terrible at details, and they had an assistant go over all his paper work to fix things, which was totally worth it to the firm–but that wouldn’t apply to an assistant who was terrible at details and needed someone to go over all his work.

            2. Youth*

              My little sister can’t pay attention for more than five minutes, can’t do most math, and can’t spell correctly or do anything lots of people would normally base intelligence on. She can memorize entire plays and speak really eloquently about topics she’s just been introduced to, though. Some people might say she’s unintelligent. Some people might say she’s intelligent. It all depends on criteria and circumstance, which is why I think it’s so difficult to determine whether someone’s “smart” or not.

              And I say this as someone who ticks off all the normal boxes for “smartness.”

              1. Sloan Kittering*

                Yeah, certainly a finance person would say I’m very stupid, after watching me flail around with number stuff that they find very easy to handle. Then I could turn around and call them stupid when they flubbed a social interaction that required finesse, or if they tried to write a poem. I got happier in life when I stopped being so black and white in my thinking. People have different strengths and weaknesses, that’s all. If this person is a bad fit for their job, they need to go, but not because they are a bad human being.

              2. soon 2be former fed*

                Learning disabilities are a thing and have nothing to do with intelligence. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this already.

                1. Jenna Maroney*

                  I have fairly severe ADHD and I think her attention and demeanor and initiative is *seriously* lacking, for whatever that’s worth.

          2. Voly*

            Part of intelligence is ability to learn new tasks, and solutions to problems based on what you have previously learned. So yes, not being able to learn new tasks does objectively mean that the person has lower intelligence.
            Having said that, people learn things in different ways. Some people are bad at learning new tasks from verbal instructions alone, I am one of those. But by the time we are on our not-first-job, we usually learn how to get around that: part of learning to learn. For me that means making copious notes and making checklists to use while learning. During initial training at any new job, I ask the trainer to slow down, take notes, then summarize them, repeat them back and ask if that was correct. If this person hasn’t learned how to learn, I don’t think there is anything the trainer can do other than suggest that this job is not right for her.

            1. Jenna Maroney*

              She’s been given verbal and written instructions, in addition to having access to all training documentation and the team inbox (which you can look at to check on email formatting, procedure etc). She still doesn’t use any of it, either because she doesn’t think to or doesn’t care enough to try.

                1. Jenna Maroney*

                  And I’ve given her verbal instruction. She can also call/text me with questions.

                  Do you mean like… a video or tape she’d listen to/watch separate of me?

              1. Smarty Boots*

                Assume “doesn’t think to”. Just push “doesn’t care enough to try” out of your head, because it’s only going to make the situation irritating for you, and it can get in the way of coming up with ways to assist or train her.

                Be explicit that she needs to refer to the training documentation. Be explicit that when she needs to send X type of email, she should first look at the team inbox for X examples and then follow the examples. Put yourself in the position of someone who doesn’t think to do these things. What are the things *you* would do? Make that explicit. Maybe she’s not as sharp or motivated as you, but you’re charged with training her so you’ve got to start where she is.

                And if you do that and it still doesn’t work, then go back to the boss, because then it’s boss’s problem. Particularly if boss is making this a “trainers are failing to train” issue — you have to demonstrate that you really did everything that you could to train this person.

                1. Perse's Mom*

                  If she’s anything like the one in my office, she gets distracted on page 2 and then you have to find the page and paragraph where the question is answered for her. Which she will then forget in three hours and ask again.

          3. Duckles*

            They can both be true– to fire her it’s more constructive to give specific examples than to say she’s unintelligent. At the same time, she might be! Intelligence in an office setting usually means “understands quickly what needs to be done and how to do it quickly and correctly, with minimal training”. She might also be disorganized, unmotivated, etc. but that doesn’t change the fact that people who aren’t very smart aren’t as good at a lot of jobs.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Bea’s advice for saving your own sanity.

          And I’ll paraphrase the “what do you mean unintelligent” advice to “You need a way to describe this in terms of specific skills that she’s lacking.” Like she keeps making the same specific errors, she can’t work independently, she doesn’t pay attention to detail, she makes errors that are expensive in money or in other people’s time. It’s sort of like a vague job description–“should be smarter” isn’t specific enough as feedback to anyone about what she’s doing wrong, what would fix it, or what a better candidate for the position would look like.

        3. Jadelyn*

          I’d strongly encourage you to make this about her skills and lack thereof, rather than something as nebulous as “intelligence” – especially since perceived intelligence is often unconsciously biased along racial and class lines. A lack of skills can be addressed. “Intelligence” in general can’t really be addressed the same way.

          1. Ender*

            This. It does indeed sound like she has below average intelligence in the ways that matter to her job, but actually saying that is just “not done”. It would make you come across as if you have poor social intelligence if you tell your boss that she’s just stupid. Even if it’s true.

            As multiple people have said, you need to give examples to your boss of what you’ve tried and how she responded. You can say “I don’t think she’s capable of learning how to do the job” but you can’t actually say “she’s stupid” even if that’s true.

            In answer to your question it sounds like you’ve tried everything and the only thing left is to make it clear to your boss that she’s just not able for it.

            1. Jenna Maroney*

              I have done this when speaking with my boss. I should have been more specific in my question, I was asking how I approach it with useless coworker, not my boss (who has been proven to have no teeth)

              1. Youth*

                I suppose you could say something to her like, “You know, this job may not be a good fit for you based on X.”

                But even if she agrees, it sounds like you don’t have the authority to do anything about it. You may just need to wait this one out.

                1. Jenna Maroney*

                  Her thing is to blame her training repeatedly. Problem is, she’s the only trainee who is having these issues.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  @JM but there’s no reply button: Take the trainer excuse off the table. Tell her that this is the training she will receive to do the job. It’s up to her to make the best of it. You could say “many jobs give a person very little information and expect people to teach the information to themselves”. If you wanted to you could branch out into, “What are you working on today to teach yourself?” or “What materials are you reviewing today to help yourself become more familiar with your work?’

                  I dunno, maybe have her keep a hourly time sheet reporting what she is working on each hour so you can review the problem areas with her. This may not fit your setting, though.

                  I would try to neutralize any excuse she leaned on. “We can’t remain trainees forever. At some point, we have to take the bull by the horns and learn the job. The training you have received is the same training everyone else gets. Employers expect us to dig in and learn the material. You need to dig in and start doing this work.”

                  I have seen people say, “You can’t just let other people do your work for you. You have to pull your weight.” This is an extreme but once in a while a person needs to hear this.

                3. TL -*

                  You can tell her, “This is the training that is industry standard. This is the protocol we follow; we’re willing to be flexible (and we have been) but this job requires learning skills on X timetable. You need to find a way to do that.”

                  I have had that conversation with a trainee. It wasn’t pleasant but at least they walked away with a lot more clarity of how they were failing to do their job.

        4. soon 2be former fed*

          Or perhaps learning disabled? People with LDs were commonly labeled stupid or slow before knowledge of these neurological differences increased. Perhaps she needs aural instruction instead of written, or some other similar accommodation.

          1. Jenna Maroney*

            She’s gotten every kind of instruction there is and has access to any info she’d need to do any task.

          2. Vene*

            Or maybe she is just not that bright? Most people are of average intelligence, some are above average and some are below.

    2. Bea*

      Train them as usual and let them ask you the appropriate questions. They sink or swim on their own, you can just give them the tools and knowledge you have.

      I’ve been there. The tips are more targeted at saving your own sanity.

      Stay kind and encouraging.

    3. pcake*

      A few years ago, I had a report who forgot everything we talked about the week before. I was kind and patient, brought him back up to speed, but every Monday was groundhog’s day. He didn’t seem able to understand why his design work had to be done in the way it did, so he’d go back to doing his default designs, which were no use to us. Luckily the company owner knew me so there was no pressure on me to get the guy performing.

      I did bring his immediate supervisor in after the first few weeks, thinking that perhaps the problem wasn’t that the guy wasn’t very bright, but that we had some kind of communication issues. His supervisor and he had an excellent relationship, but ultimately after 12 weeks of “back to square one” every single week, we had to let him go. He was a nice guy, but the work needed to be done.

    4. Holly*

      Document document document. Saying “she is not smart” is not going to cut it. You need to convey to your bosses why your training is not working, to cover your own butt and make sure it’s clear she cannot do the job.

      For example: “I explained to her four times in person and in e-mail that she needs to turn on the blue switch in order to feed the llama. She has continuously pressed the red switch, which causes the llama food delivery system to break down and causes headaches for the rest of the team.”

      “Not smart” is an unhelpful judgment call – saying “she won’t listen to my training” with clear examples is what will be more helpful.

        1. Holly*

          Maybe! That actually lends itself to my example – reporting this matter-of-factly (without saying anyone is “stupid”) should cause supervisors to speak with this person, in which that may come out, and a proper solution (her switching to a different role, or putting a different symbol on each switch rather than relying on color) can come about.

    5. Technical_Kitty*

      I have that co-worker, when he showed up in my very small group with the same title as me, making more money than me, and unable to do the job I flat out refused to train him. It’s highly technical work and requires the ability to be mentally flexible and keep all the disparate balls in the air – lots of thinking for yourself which is not his strong suit.

      He did manage to prove to our boss that he is not able to keep up with our small department, he’s out at the end of the year. Maybe that’s a way forward, let your boss run things through this person so they can get a feel for the issues with them?

    6. Oranges*

      Say “what have you tried?” when the trainee comes to you with something they should already know how to fix/do.

      Also, a bit cynically, is it possible to make her mistakes painful for the person who let her through her trail period? Or who’s responsible for not firing her? Because as a whole people are adverse to firing someone unless they feel some discomfort directly linked to the person’s bad performance.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yep yep yep. If at all possible, don’t take on the pain yourself and let other people off – they have no incentive to help you now, if you’re absorbing the problem and sheltering the problem-maker. Sometimes you MUST make higher-ups feel the problem before they will act, whether that’s hiring new people, fixing a systems problem, or getting rid of a bad employee. Doing it without letting it bounce back on you and make you look bad is an art and a learned skill :P

      2. Jenna Maroney*

        I tried that, she threw the useless employee at me (the newest, least experienced trainer) for remedial training.

        1. Bobbin Ufgood*

          this is why you have to document – sometimes that’s the last step before firing. I worked somewhere that people had to be remediated three times before the actual termination process could start. fortunately, the colleague I saw it happen to quit right before her third remediation. I agree with everybody else — document! with specifics!

    7. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      I’ve had two different times this happened. The first, the woman (Cierce) was in the process of supporting her mother in the last stages of terminal cancer, and had moved up her wedding (which she was also working on) so her mom could see her married before dying. “C” didn’t share any of this with us – she was new to our office but came with glowing reviews from the branch office in another state. I thought she was a mess… and later learned why. So I was glad I was patient with her. She got it just fine later.
      The second time, I learned that “elvira” had a mind like a sieve. Similar to the scenarios others presented, nothing stuck. But she was the EA for the director, and stuck up/protected him very well. Turned out “E” was smoking serious stuff in her car in the parking lot at lunch. (She’s still at the company, I am not). I wrote out the steps and kept sending her back to the documentation binder. And made my exit plans.
      So there can be more than intelligence involved.

    8. Gelliebean*

      When I’m dealing with underperforming co-workers, there are a few things that I’ve found to be very important:
      1 – Keep extensive records in whatever format works best for you. I use One Note for copies of training materials and charts of when each training happened, and Excel to track QA checks on completed work – what account I reviewed; if there was an error, what it was; what date I heard back from the co-worker, and what the result was. I also have general categories of errors to help track overall trends and focus on exactly what the issue is; there’s a difference between problems resulting from someone not understanding policy, and problems resulting from trouble with software/technical skills.
      On the occasions when someone had to be terminated, the manager had my detailed records of each error I reviewed, when it happened, what feedback I gave them and when, and how frequently the error occurred after retraining.
      2 – Get super clear directions from your supervisor on exactly what your responsibilities are toward the trainee. Are you supposed to just report back to the supervisor so they can address the trainee’s progress, or do they want you to continue giving feedback and work with the trainee directly? And similarly, be super clear with the trainee about your expectations and what they should be learning from the training (a particular task, a policy overview, etc.). For new hires and for detailed refresher trainings, I’ve found it helpful to give the co-worker an outline where they can see what will be covered each day and kind of prepare themselves. That’s more useful for extended training schedules, not so important for one-off “we need to go over this one thing that you’re having problems with”.
      3 – Try to find out if the co-worker knows their own preferred learning style. Some I’ve worked with want to watch the trainer work an account step-by-step before they try it, some prefer to have you sitting with them giving instructions as they try it for the first time, some prefer to read over the procedure in advance, etc. I also always give a physical handout that they can take notes on and refer to later.

    9. CMart*

      Just want to say I empathize with your framing of “my trainee is not smart.” Everyone else who’s commented is 100% right that “not smart” isn’t useful and pinpointing more specific issues is the way to go, because you can’t really help “dumb”. You can try to help “disorganized”, “distracted”, “apathetic”, “impatient” etc…

      I recently peer trained the person who was moving into the role I was vacating and I sent several frustrated texts to my husband and bff along the lines of “omg why is trainee so dumb??!?” For him, it was a baffling lack of basic technical knowledge for someone who holds a degree in the subject and a distinct current inability to think critically. At least 4 times a day I was ask “oh, was that not in the process documentation?” and he would respond with “oh idk, I didn’t look.”

      Anyway. I feel your frustration. Try to listen to everyone else’s advice since they’re coming from a much more detached place.

      1. Alice*

        I think there is a different between expectations for a peer trainer and expectations for a capital T trainer. I would be quite disappointed if I knew that a trainer in my org was getting so emotionally involved and frustrated, and would/could not articulate specific skill problems. For a peer trainer the expectations are lower, because you aren’t a trainer by profession.

        1. Jenna Maroney*

          I’m a peer trainer (and a new one at that, with no how-to-train training). I’ve given specific examples to my boss that haven’t just been “she’s dumb” (along with the rest of the training team). I should have phrased my question better as I was asking specifically about the trainer/trainee interactions.

    10. theletter*

      I find that every complex task can usually be broken into smaller tasks, and every job as its elements that everyone but ONE person thinks is horribly tedious.

      If you’re stuck with her, find something you don’t want to be doing that you can delegate to her. Something that you find tedious and repetitive. Teach her to do that, then keep her busy with it for 8 hours a day. Once she masters that, then you can move on to the next thing.

    11. Jenna Maroney*

      Let me put it this way: she’s a receptionist who needs to be repeatedly reminded to answer the phone and check her email.

    12. TardyTardis*

      Carefully, but it can be done. I trained someone I did not think could do it on filling out the proper spreadsheets with the information I needed so it could be processed automatically by the system rather than by my manually inputting the information she would give me more or less in an email. I acknowledged that she might think it was hard, went through the procedure step by step, wrote down the procedures, and said she could call me if she got stuck or didn’t know how to classify something we hadn’t gone over. After two weeks, she had it nailed. My boss was all ‘you got *her* to learn the system and do it properly?’ (and then I later learn the person is a mad genius at sewing and can copy a ballgown after having seen it for two minutes on a movie or TV screen. We all have our talents…).

  7. Can I ask my Coworker if she's leaving?*

    I have a small department, just me and a coworker at my same level, plus my boss. My coworker and I (unfortunately, IMO) tackle every task together and even share an email “so nothing falls through the cracks” – I say this as an example to show you how closely our work is connected. I have reason to believe she has given notice to our boss and grandboss – they had a few closed-door meetings, my boss said she “hoped she didn’t cry” as she went into the last one, and when my coworker showed her screen in a meeting, her gmail showed emails with resumes attached. However, nobody has said anything to me. It’s been a week since I started suspecting – should I ask her what’s up, at this point? Or play dumb and wait for her to tell me, which might not be any time soon.

    We’re such a small team that it seems silly to me to stand on ceremony like this, although I know in large formal offices it would probably be standard procedure. It affects literally every minute of my day.

    1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Since the department is basically just the two of you, and it’s obvious that there have been closed – door meetings involving your co-worker, I think it’s ok for you to ask her (first) if everything is ok. And then ask (very gently) if she’s planning on leaving. If she doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t press her. You’ll find out eventually.

      1. OP*

        I was thinking of gently asking her today if she has any announcements she wants to share. But I’ll try to live with it if she says no. I get that sometimes there are reasons its better to keep these things to yourself until you’re ready to announce. I will also be pretty embarrassed if she’s getting promoted / married or something, and I was mentally coveting her desk :P

      2. Lucille2*

        I agree about asking her if everything is ok. But I don’t think you should ask if she’s leaving. It’s possible if she is leaving, it’s not a positive departure, or at the very least, she’s not ready to share that news. Possibly because your boss has asked her to keep it quiet until next steps are figured out. Besides, what do you gain by knowing now that she’s leaving (if she is leaving) vs. after it’s made public? If it affects your workload, just quietly prepare yourself for her departure.

        1. OP*

          I know, it’s really just my own curiosity and thinking about upcoming work. Also it’s just feeling a bit weird being the one person on a four person team (counting grandboss) who’s not off whispering. I gave them a week, but now it’s starting to make me twitch!

    1. grace*

      Feel free to send it my way :-)

      I’ve always been a bit jealous of work places that do free lunches – I’ve never worked in one that does, except on special occasions or as a team-building event, etc. But not on a regular basis.

      1. Arjay*

        I used to work at a horrible place, but the one bright spot was that they had subsidized lunches. You could order online from a variety of local restaurants. We’d pay $2-3 for a sandwich or salad and the company picked up the rest of the tab. I still miss those lunches sometimes.

    2. grumpy old man*

      Really? You don’t like CFA? Hopefully the 51 other Fridays in the year they buy something you like.
      My mama would say, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

      1. Blue Anne*

        I have no idea if I like chik fil a. I don’t want to support the business because they’ve given so much money to anti-LGBT causes in the past.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        They’re known to be publicly homophobic so it’s not a place that some people feel good about supporting.

    3. Evil HR Person*

      I mean, considering my local Chick-Fil-A has a horrible catering department, I feel your pain. Otherwise, why are you “ugh-ing.” Is that sarcasm? Or are you really upset that your company is feeding you Chick-Fil-A? ‘Cause… well, damn…! I take free food wherever I can get it, and particularly when my employer wants to buy it… *shrug*

      1. Arielle*

        Chick-fil-a has been vocally and financially supportive of anti-gay initiatives and many people choose not to patronize them because of this.

        1. Evil HR Person*

          I get it, I don’t patronize it either. But… free food from the employer. Maybe Blue could talk to whoever is getting the food and ask that they keep the Chick-Fil-A to a minimum??? Instead of just “ugh-ing” to us here. We can’t change the menu. I commiserate but DO something…!

          1. Blue Anne*

            I like my workplace, but I’m definitely already the office’s weirdo goth girl. I’m not going to mess with the Sacred Free Lunch. But I don’t want them supporting that business on my behalf, either. I’ll go home and pick up a sandwich.

            1. Blue Anne*

              Yeah I dunno. It’s weird. Like, my fiance and I jokingly call the church I sometimes attend “Big Gay Church”, it’s so loving and positive on everything. And people here have actually worked for them in the past. They’re not homophobic religious people, just oblivious and I don’t want to fight that fight right now. I need to save my political capital for other issues.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              In all seriousness, do not mess with the Sacred Free Lunch. People feel very passionately about their expected simple carbs.

                1. Sloan Kittering*

                  But you could absolutely speak the order person and say, “based on CFA’s policies around LGBT issues, would you be willing to order from [other vendor of chicken] next time?” Of course, I find this doesn’t work if other coworker is a fan of CFA and will speak up about loving the food or whatever, but it might be worth a try.

            3. Apple Dumpling Gang*

              Ideally, many people would abstain from eating the free CFA, and they would be taken off the lunch roster because they are not popular enough. Less optimally, if kept on, the order would be scaled back.

            1. Blue Anne*

              Yes. Thank you.

              I would ideally like to be able to vent without eliciting reactions of multiple question marks and “but DO something…!”

              1. AdminX2*

                Speaking as the one who ORDERS the sacred lunches…yeah I know. If there were other loved similar delivery options, I’d switch immediately!!

          2. Alianora*

            We can’t actually affect *anyone’s* workplace, because this is an internet forum. Doesn’t mean no one should ever post here to vent.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        Not to speak for Blue Anne, but it may be because CFA (or at least the CEO) has a well known anti-LGBTQ stance..

    4. Arielle*

      If you’re saying ugh for the reasons I think you are, I’m with you. It sucks when something that should be as innocuous as a free lunch becomes something you have to take a political stance on.

    5. Bea*

      I had this reaction when I saw at least one NHL team is partnering with that place for their promos. I was annoyed enough with the Papa John’s malarkey before they finally got themselves in too deep.

      I would also just frown upon how obscenely unhealthy the choice is.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yeah, my local MLB team does a thing with them too, I think like if the team steals a base in the right inning you can get a free thing of chicken fingers. Baseball is the thing my grandma and I do together, so I’m at the games all the time and have taken advantage of their other promo deals, but I’ve never taken advantage of the CFA one.

        Same on Papa John’s. I’ve switched to a local pizza place, couple of my tenants work there so I should be supporting it anyway.

        1. Artemesia*

          When the Papa John’s front man explained why he couldn’t pay his workers decently, that was it for us. We used to get pizzas from there because it was convenient but never again.

        2. Bea*

          I’ve honestly never had either. CFA only got to the west coast after we knew they are trash goblins.

          Papa John’s has always been an outlier that I’ve never known a soul to frequent. Why when we have 5 other chains and not in weird dilapidated buildings in the sketchy areas, you know?

          I pledge no allegiance to any easily replaced fast food and I love me some drive thru!

          To make things better. I am in charge of monthly meeting snacks. They come from a local place that donates to the local food banks. Many of us are conscious about where dollars go but others are simply looking budget wise and product wise.

      2. Sharkie*

        This is why I love that my local chick-fil-a is run by a very very nice family who employ a lot of LGBTQ people.
        If you have it Rasing Canes is a great substitute for chicken fingers and you get texas toast!

        1. Bea*

          I mean…they all employ LGBTQ folks…

          It’s about their funds going to strip away rights and regulations at the very top.

          I feel terrible these folks are working for anyone who is not so secretly sabotaging their human rights.

          Lots of POC work for racist scum. Please refer to “I have a black friend.” commentary for further cringing over this idea.

          1. Sharkie*

            Agreed, but its good to know not everyone is horrible and this franchise goes out of its way to support the LGBTQ community/ charities so its a good balance.

            1. Blue Anne*

              I dunno… I mean, a better way to counterbalance might have been to purchase franchise rights for a Subway or McDonalds instead.

              1. Queen of Cans and Jars*

                If they’ve had the franchise for a while, it may have predated public knowledge of their anti-LGBTQ stance. A franchise is a pretty expensive thing to get into, so this may have been the only viable means for them to address it.

              2. Ender*

                Ah you’re bringing me back … I remember when McDonald’s was the evil capitalist scum who used to have their windows smashed…

                How things change, how they stay the same.

        2. DrWombat*

          My coworkers bring Cane’s back sometimes and the smell makes me wish I wasn’t celiac…..I have to eat sometimes at CFA because oddly enough it’s the safest fast food if you have celiac, and sometimes it’s the only option, but as a queer person, I wish I had other safe options on road trips (or that McDonald’s would go back to having GF fries).

          1. Sharkie*

            I feel your pain. I have a lot of friends who are gf by choice and I feel horrible for them when we road tripped from coast to coast. I feel horrible that you are put in that situation :(

        3. krysb*

          I worked for a local Chick Fil-A. While the company on a corporate level is horrible, I have nothing but good things to say about my old store.

    6. Anonymosity*

      I don’t get the love for that place. It’s just another greasy chicken sandwich, nothing special at all, and another CEO with horrible principles.

      1. anon_for_this*

        Compared to many other fast foods, CFA wins in many ways. Their food tastes better, they offer kids an option of a fresh fruit cup, they still have a small play area for the kids, my local one even offers the use of tide to go pens and free diapers (only 1 size so only works in emergency situations), their customer service level far exceeds any other. While I don’t agree with their founders beliefs, they do support many jobs for people.

        1. LilySparrow*

          They have hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in multiple places in the dining room. They have placemats with sticky tabs so you can make them stay in place on the table. The doors in the restroom open *out* so you don’t have to touch the handle after washing your hands. If you have mobility issues or kids, they proactively offer to carry your food to your table – you don’t have to ask.

          They put books in the kids’ meals.

          I know politics are important, but they know how to design details into their business model that really work for the customer.

    7. KOKO*

      I have no idea if you’re LGBTQ or straight, and this isn’t directed at you, but more of a general comment from the opinion of one person who is queer: I don’t think straight people have any business in boycotting something that has nothing to do with their rights. I’m so tired of this better than thou attitude to somehow appear as a better “ally”. If you don’t want to eat Chick-Fil-A, that’s more than fine, but humble bragging about not eating it is unnecessary.

      1. ElspethGC*

        Humble-bragging is annoying, but there’s a difference between that and boycotting while making your reasons for the boycott clear – which is the point of boycotts. This queer woman welcomes and encourages straight/cis people standing beside me in fighting for my rights.

        I’d *much* rather they do that than support bigoted businesses/people because “it doesn’t affect me”. I actually think I’d be considering limiting contact with someone who decided not to take action on something just because it limited *my* rights but not theirs. I refuse to patronise places that discriminate against disabled people – I’m not disabled, but I have friends and family who are, and I don’t want any of my money going towards discrimination of people I love. Same thing. If someone is an ally and supports queer activism, why would they *want* to support bigoted businesses?

      2. Alianora*

        What? I’m bi and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with straight allies boycotting homophobic companies. You can think a company’s actions are abhorrent and not want to support them even if you aren’t directly affected.

      3. Starbuck*

        This seems like an extremely uncharitable take on their position, and you DID direct it at them by replying directly to their comment. That’s how that works.

  8. Youth*

    Anyone else here who’s seen Bones? I really like it, but I’m constantly cringing at how unprofessional the staff at the Jeffersonian and their FBI cohorts are. They’re all dating each other and sometimes hooking up literally in the workplace. They have inappropriate discussions about religion, they’re all overly invested in one another’s personal lives, and their supervisors just ignore the many ethically sketchy things they do. And don’t even get me started on Cam, the head of the lab, dating Arastoo, her intern…

    Does this frustrate anyone else as much as it frustrates me?!!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Ugh, all TV shows with an office staff that are “like a family” (which is the dynamic of most workplace shows) are actually a bad dynamic for real life. It’s compelling on screen because I like to see the characters’ relationships developing over time – it’t not that much fun to watch people behave coolly and impersonally to each other week after week! – but it’s a bad model for an actual office.

    2. Doug Judy*

      Every workplace on a TV show ever is unprofessional in some way. Even the Nine-Nine that is very socially progressive has a lot of boundary crossing that would not fly in the real world. Same goes for relationships on TV/movies in general. What works in fiction isn’t reality. It’s best not to think about it. :)

    3. MeridaAnn*

      Yeah, I had to stop watching that one in large part because of how unprofessional and unacceptable their interactions had become. After a couple seasons not watching, I chanced upon a new episode and allowed myself to watch… only for the episode to be about the murder of Hodgins’ ex, where he had plenty of motive and should have been one of the primary suspects, but when this was brought up, he just shrugged it off and continued to do the forensic tests for the case. Like… NO? That’s not how this works?

      It’s not just Bones, either – I struggle with a lot of TV shows based on the characters’ awful unprofessional behaviors. My friends keep trying to get me to watch The Office with them, and I find it far too cringe-worthy to tolerate watching it, even knowing that it’s meant to be satire [mostly? maybe? I’m actually not always convinced they know how awful their content is, since Michael is eventually supposed to be a sympathetic character who just *really cares* about the people he is awful to (???) and the only people who started out seeming semi-reasonable (Jan and Ryan) apparently went completely off the rails over time, sooo…?] That’s obviously one of the worst offenders, but there are plenty on the air that are just too unprofessional for me to enjoy.

      1. Youth*

        I just watched that episode the other day! The entire time I was watching it, I was so confused why he wasn’t getting pulled of the case for conflict of interest!

        I didn’t like The Office, so I can’t say much about that because I didn’t watch it. But the few episodes I’ve seen were the worst.

      2. Myrin*

        I think that’s the crux of TV shows starring adult characters. In general, adults spend a lot of time at work. However, TVs shows generally aren’t documentaries on regular people’s boring workdays, they want to show interactions and relationships between characters. But to do so successfully, the characters have to spend a substantial amount of time together. So, with adults, that means you’ll almost inevitably have to make them coworkers. The only other scenarios where you can get the same amount of physical proximity without having people work together is when you have them living together/right next to each other, or maybe something like “these people all meet at the same bar every day after work and spend hours there”, but even then it’s probably still less time a day than the time you spend at work. I honestly think it’s a lack of creativity in general or rather maybe, the simplest road to take, exposition-wise.

        1. Youth*

          Yeah…but it’s just such lazy writing! Honestly, everything that happens in Bones could still happen and not be so irritating as long as there were consequences.

      3. river*

        The Office is supposed to be unbearable, it’s a show about dysfunctional people in a dysfunctional office. It’s “cringe humour”. The only reason they make Michael somewhat sympathetic is to soften it a touch. The original (British) version has no sympathy for the boss at all. It really is unbearable. Cringe humour is not for everyone.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m a few seasons behind, but yes, I’ve seen most of it. I like it, but I deliberately don’t consider/think about the things you’re describing. If I did, it would drive me nuts.

    5. Linda L*

      I love the show because it’s fiction, but yes, they are all completely off the rails professionally. On the other hand, who wants to watch a show about realistic work life?

    6. Dust Bunny*

      I used to watch it a lot but stopped years ago because of this and because Bones is such a Mary Sue. I remember one episode where she said she liked to people watch because “I’m an anthropologist”. You’re a forensic anthropologist, not a cultural anthropologist! Which doesn’t mean you can’t like to people-watch, but it’s not your discipline!

      1. Grits McGee*

        I had to stop watching because she is such a terrrrrible cultural anthropologist, despite representing herself as one.

        It also doesn’t help that (at least while I was watching it) when it came to Bone’s cultural relativism perspective and Booth’s traditional Christian heterosexual perspective, the latter always won out. The victim with the non-standard lifestyle always died because of their crazy, non-standard lifestyle.

      2. Zweisatz*

        Ha, the Mary Sueness of her husband finally drove me off. There’s only so many doors I wanna see kicked in by Rambo when I’m watching a show about solving physical evidence riddles.

    7. Camellia*

      Yeah, I enjoyed the first couple of seasons but stopped watching after they started up all the relationship stuff. I don’t need THAT kind of drama in my life, I just want to see cool crime solving.

    8. Bea*

      I rarely experience frustration over fiction not mimicking reality close enough. If I want reality, I watch documentaries.

      But I come from small businesses where boundaries are viewed as silly suggestions so my world is already tainted it’s not that outrageous.

      1. Ender*

        Yes I don’t get posts like this. I seem to see a lot of people nowadays commenting both here and on other sites about how morally bad fictional characters, or storylines are – Ross gellar being a good example. It seems like people genuinely are annoyed by fictional Characters behaving in inappropriate or unethical ways. I always think “wow its almost as if it’s a fictional TV show and not a documentary.”

        Sarcasm aside – I have been wondering lately – would it be in any way possible to produce a good drama or comedy show where everyone behaves ethically and appropriately at all times? I really think that would be incredibly boring to watch. But I’m open to having my mind changed. Has anyone ever seen a good show where no one does anything unethical or inappropriate?

        1. Youth*

          I don’t necessarily think they need to behave appropriately or ethically–I just think it would be better watching if there were consequences for their actions instead of everyone acting like the way they’re acting is fine.

          I’m not a fan of characters who never do anything wrong. I too think they’d be incredibly boring.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think the issue was more that they portrayed Ross as a great choice for Rachel to end up with (and really got the audience rooting for that), and never seemed to acknowledge in any substantive way how much that wasn’t true. So it promotes/reinforces unhealthy attitudes.

          1. Ender*

            If people are basing their attitudes to romantic relationships on sitcoms then they’re probably doomed anyway.

            But that’s not what I’m getting at – I’ve seen lots of posts about how awful Ross is and while some take issue with Ross being portrayed as Rachel’s true love, lots of the comments don’t seem to be just angry about how he was portrayed as ultimately a sympathetic character, they seem to be genuinely angry that he wasn’t a nice person. I’ve seen comments on here about how awful all the friends characters are (and Rachel wasn’t much of a catch either and did some pretty awful things too – in fact she was trying to sabotage Ross and Julie long before the sub-par writers of the later seasons made Ross into an asshole).

            I think it started with an article that was written (and widely copied) about how Ross actually wasn’t such a nice guy and Rachel shouldn’t have quit her job for him, which is fair comment, but it’s degenerated into “how awful it is that fictional characters don’t behave ethically all the time”, which just makes no sense. They’re fictional.

            There are people above on this very post complaining about how characters on the office aren’t behaving rationally and following proper procedure. That’s literally the entire point of the show! It’s like people just don’t understand the difference between truth and fiction anymore.

            Anyway I realise that by complaining about people complaining about fictional characters I am becoming a parody of myself so I shall end my rant now.

    9. Enough*

      As we say in our house ‘It’s television.’ As it’s not real life and you can’t expect it to reflect reality. And much of the technical is more fiction than science.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think different things ping different peoples’ eye rolls. Like I’ll roll with the one medical examiner in the city, who also delivers all the forensic evidence to the police detectives, as a way to convey those aspects of the plot in a way audiences enjoy. But I HATE that the grown teens are never allowed to leave for college.

        1. Youth*

          Yeah. I think for me, the issue is that this isn’t a show like Psych, which is built on the idea of the department being dysfunctional enough to hire a psychic consultant. Psych can do whatever it wants, and I’ll suspend my disbelief. There’s always a death at the turning point of every episode, and I just go with it because that’s how the show works.

          Bones, on the other hand, is actually otherwise pretty reasonable in its portrayals–I feel like it makes FBI/investigation work look not very glamorous, which I think is a perspective we need more of. So maybe I come down harder on the show because I feel like it’s trying to reach a higher standard.

    10. Time for a gnu name*

      It never frustrated me when I watched it – but I wasn’t a frequent, regular reader of this site then and all the things you mention would definitely make me cringe now!

    11. Rusty Shackelford*

      To me, suspending disbelief has to start with Cam’s outfits. I mean, she looks like she’s going to a cocktail party.

      (Also, Criminal Minds, where a whole team of profilers also do a SWAT-style raid on a suspect’s apartment… ha ha ha ha NO.)

      1. Youth*

        Ha ha ha. That reminds me–I also am horrified at Angela’s super-non-professional outfits. But yes, Cam is on the opposite end of this: super overdressed most of the time!

      2. state government jane*

        One time I saw her wearing a dress I got to wear to a wedding! Definitely not a cocktail dress… but I felt glamorous for two seconds all the same. :)

    12. WellRed*

      I used to like it, but it got ridiculous. Pretty sure a scientist with the government is not going undercover with an FBI agent as circus performers.

    13. K8 M*

      I gave up on Bones several seasons ago. As a scientist, I just couldn’t tolerate the absolute lack of any realistic portrayal of forensic science. Plus the show became completely formulaic. The second person they talk to in relation to the case is the guilty one. You’re welcome.

      1. river*

        The first season or so of Bones was based on the books written by Kathy Reichs, so the characters and storylines were pretty good. Then they ran out of material and the writing was done by the usual tv writers who write the usual tv stuff and it went downhill. Sad, because I liked the main character, but oh well.

  9. Help*

    Grandboss is a micromanaging, control freak. I don’t even have permission to modify anything in spreadsheets and databases, yet he gets upset if the work isn’t done. I have tried to schedule meetings to find out what he wants, but he either cancels or never shows.

    I just want a job where I work and don’t have someone constantly monitoring me- literally standing behind me watching me and my co-worker do the work. They also talk down to us- it’s getting old.

    I need to get out of this job, but what reason do I give for leaving? Should I focus on the management style or the fact that I can’t access the resources needed to do my job? Or both?

    1. CaitlinM*

      I wrote the below response thinking that you were asking about giving a reason in an interview. Now I’m thinking you are talking about an exit interview. I’ve seen here to be very careful of being candid in exit interviews, as they can burn bridges. Improving their processes and culture after you leave isn’t really your job. It doesn’t benefit you professionally and can actually harm you.

      I have never been asked why I’m leaving my current job in a job interview. But if I were I’d say I wanted a new challenge. Don’t focus on negativity in a job interview–you don’t want your possible future employer to think you’re going to go bad-mouthing them if you leave.

      1. Help*

        This is for interviews. I’ve been at my position for 1.5 yrs and interviewers will ask why I want to leave my current position.

    2. NotAParalegal*

      I would say something like- I’ve learned a lot at x company and developed my skills in a,b,c and am looking to take on additional responsibility/develop new skills/further develop my expertise in ____, etc. I wouldn’t mention either of your reasons for leaving.

      If you are referring to an exit interview, I would say it is highly dependent on what you know of your company. I knew that my last job didn’t really act on information provided in those, so declined to get into any details. I simply said I was seek opportunities for growth, which they were unable to provide.

    3. Ama*

      When I was trying to leave a job where the work environment was a problem I tried to focus any “why do you want to leave” answers less on the job I was leaving and more on the type of job I was trying to move into. So instead of saying I was tired of a job where I had far too many different areas I was responsible for, I said “I’m looking to move into a position where I can really focus on X” and instead of saying I was tired of a job where everything was an urgent crisis all the time, I said “I find I succeed in environments where proactive planning is valued and I’m looking for a position where that’s a crucial part of the role.”

      It worked really well for me — now I’m in a job where I am in charge of one particular program within a broader organization, and I spent most of this week writing up project timelines for 2019.

    4. JHunz*

      Maybe something like “I’m looking for positions with more opportunities for independent contribution.” It leaves your problems nonspecific, but with the ability to read for them between the lines.

  10. Anonygrouse*

    Posting here because I know my colleagues and friends would look at me like I had a llama for a head if I shared this! I am leaving for a big vacation next week — traveling literally halfway around the world and will be out 2.5 weeks. I’m definitely excited… but for the first time ever, the thought of missing work is making it almost a little bittersweet? I had only toxic workplaces for the first 8 or 9 years of my career, so I always counted down the hours to any time off. But my current job has been a dream so far (18 months in — finally have stopped constantly bracing for the other shoe to drop), and I am going to miss my projects, my coworkers, and our boss. I will also be missing a big rollout that I did a lot of work on but don’t need to be around for the actual release of, and I’m pretty bummed. I even started to get sad that I’m going to miss our division-wide staff meeting, and those are inevitably the most boring 60 minutes of the month. It’s a quality problem to have, but it feels so strange!

    1. Blue*

      I…truly cannot imagine this, even though I like my job fine. But I think focusing on how excited you are for the trip and the specific things you can’t wait to do/see/eat is probably your best bet! Having an amazing trip and not being bummed about going back to work afterwards is pretty much the best of both worlds. Hope you have a great time!

    2. OhGee*

      That’s a great problem to have and I hope you have a fantastic vacation! Returning is all the sweeter when you actually like your workplace.

    3. Emily S.*

      Try to be grateful for the opportunity to take this amazing trip.

      It’s a big adventure! You will probably really enjoy it. And it’ll feel good to know that you have a great job to come back to.

  11. FaintlyMacabre*

    Yesterday, I found out that one of my co-workers is planning on retiring in the next few months. I am interested in the job and am trying to figure out my next steps. I looked at the job description and there is nothing in it that I feel is out of my reach. However, I heard about the position from a coworker who seems to think it is a lot more technical than what I currently know (but this has to be taken with a grain of salt, because coworker is also a relative of mine and takes joy in squashing dreams. New position would put some distance between me and them, which I desperately need. I have been looking at other jobs.)

    My plan, I think, is to talk to retiring coworker and find out more about the job, and then approach my manager if I’m still interested. I’m a little worried that they won’t want me to move positions, as the job I currently do can be hard to hire for. I don’t want to lay my cards on the table- is there a gentle way to say, “Look, I’m looking to leave this position one way or the other and I think it would be nice to stay in the company”? I also don’t want to throw coworker/relative under the bus, but… they are the main reason why I want out (and trust me, I would not have taken the job with relative had I not been desperate. I was well prepared for all the ways it was going to suck, but not the severity of the suckiness.)

    1. Utoh!*

      Nothing wrong with finding out more about the position and if interested letting your manager know. Leave coworker/relative out of it. No one but you knows whether you can do the role or not, and who is to say that anyone could just step into it without training? Nothing wrong with moving one, regardless of the reason why.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        Unfortunately, I already mentioned to relative I was interested. If I talked to manager or retiring coworker about it, the news would get back to relative one way or another. And naturally, in the ten minutes where we overlapped, relative has already been saying things about how maybe relative should apply for the job. Sigh. I so wanted to say “As long as it gets you out of my hair, I don’t care who gets the job!” It’s a good sign that I need to move on, one way or the other.

        1. Smarty Boots*

          You don’t need to say anything more to relative about this job. Not one word. Bland redirection, that’s what you want to aim for when interacting with this “delightful” person.

    2. Blue*

      I agree with Utoh! Absolutely no reason to mention *all* of your motivations for considering that role. If your boss has generally been supportive of your career development in the past, I don’t think you need to strongarm him into letting you switch out of your current position – just focus on making the case for why the new role would be a great fit for you. If you feel like you have to force the issue a bit and you’re not concerned about letting him know that you’re looking, I don’t think you need to explicitly say, “If you don’t consider me for this, I’m leaving the company.” Something like, “I’ve been thinking that it’s time for a new challenge, and this seems like an ideal opportunity,” should tip him off.

      But yes, definitely talk to the retiring coworker first! You might find that the job actually sounds terrible, in practice, and not worth pursuing further.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d sit down with the manager not the person leaving. Find out what the plans might be and what you can do to strengthen your position for possible promotion. It is delicate to broach that you may leave anyway because you have outgrown the current job, but I would want to hint that you feel you have come as far as you can in this role and are looking for a new challenge. And as this firms up and you know the time line, start also looking outside this organization for options so you have some choices when the time comes.

      1. Which graphics program to study?*

        I think I need to buy the software, and teach myself, a graphics program but am not sure which one. I’m a technical writer and have been out of work for [ahem] months (just got a great contract a couple of days ago, I start Monday! Yay!) and notice a trend with tech writer jobs — employers want some graphics capability. Some job listings list Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign. I think there’s another one or two that I can’t remember right now. I very rarely see Photoshop or Corel Draw. I looked up Illustrator and InDesign and they’re different animals — one is more graphics-oriented and the other notice that the Adobe products have a “$9.99 a month” deals and that sounds like a good thing, I think, for my purposes but maybe there’s a catch somewhere. Any and all advice much appreciated!! Thanks.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Obviously I don’t plan on staying in this particular role forever, but I really would like to stay with Sucracorp, and this position sounds like a good next step.”

    5. FaintlyMacabre*

      Thanks to everyone who has suggested framing it as “professional development”, not “my relative is driving me bat guano insane.” This is a field I am interested in anyway, so talking to retiring coworker about their skills and the field could be helpful. In the meantime, fingers crossed!

  12. Bee's Knees*

    The past couple of weeks in the newsroom have been bananas. Either I’ve been taking crazy pills or everyone else has. I can’t tell anymore.

    1. Evil HR Person*

      Aww… it’s too bad you haven’t had a chance to keep us abreast of the shenanigans! But… have fun!!

  13. The Photographer's Husband*

    I posted last week on the ‘Salary Negotiations’ Ask the Readers post and just thought I’d give a quick update to what happened in my Annual Review.

    The gist, is that my director showered me with lots and lots of praise, but not so much with cash. I only got half of what I asked for (5% instead of 10%). However, my director was very understanding of what I asked for and said that she thought it was a fair ask considering the ways I’ve contributed and grown in my role.

    She went back to our General Manager to see if they could do anything to increase my raise, in which the GM said to follow up in January and he might be able to make an adjustment then. So there’s still some hope. Mostly though, I am proud of the negotiating I did do, and very grateful for my director’s support and advocacy. It’s pretty clear that they highly value my contributions and want to keep me around, there were just some extenuating circumstances that depressed my raise this time around. Overall, I am pretty happy with how things went :-)

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Good for you, at least you know you’ve pushed for as much as they’re willing to give, which is valuable information. If you don’t push, you risk leaving something “on the table” – so now you know you didn’t.

      Heads up, after receiving less than the raise I wanted, I also had to deal with my boss feeling like he “gave me a big raise last year” so he was actually LESS willing to work with me this year – just keep an eye out for that, hopefully it doesn’t happen to you.

  14. Meredith Brooks*

    I hate my career. (I have for over 10 years) I’m contracted to work at my current company for another 10 months. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to transfer out of my department. A little bit of my soul dies every day.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      What do you have going on outside work? Do something you enjoy. Doesn’t have to be huge. Work isn’t your entire life.

    2. Doug Judy*

      I hear you. I hate my current career and have been trying for a long time to get out into something that’s a better fit. It is soul crushing to feel trapped. With ATS and other things, it’s hard to convince someone to even interview me, let a lone hire me. I have a very promising job that I am having interview #3 for on Monday. It’s gone very, very well so far but I’m waiting for the “We loved you but we went with someone with more direct experience” because I have seen this play out. But I am going to keep trying my best and hope someone takes a chance on me.

      Do you know what you want to do instead? That for me was the biggest step. I knew what I didn’t want to do, and it took me some time to figure out what I did want. Once I figured that out I started exploring job descriptions, even if I didn’t apply to see if I had any transferable skills, or adding some projects if I could to gain experience.

    3. Meredith Brooks*

      I completed my Masters degree last year, but unable to use it yet. I know what I want to do, whether or not someone will hire a 40-year-old rookie remains to be seen. But, I’m networking. In the meantime, I’m actually in the process of figuring out what I enjoy doing. I’ve been doing things I don’t enjoy for so long, I’ve forgotten the things that I like!

      1. Doug Judy*

        Ha! You sound just like me. I’m 37 and finished my Mater’s last year too! I found my current opportunity by networking, so keep up reaching out to your network, and be super honest. If there is someone you connect well with in grand school, they could be a good resource.

        How I came to figure out what I wanted to do, I looked back on my prior roles and thought about anything about any of them I did like, and what they had in common. It lead me to see that I really enjoy connecting one on one with people or in a small group. So then I started looking at jobs that had those elements. Good luck, and try to find things outside of work that you do enjoy, volunteering, friends, family, and take time for self care.

    4. The Rain In Spain*

      One thing that really helped me when I was in a similar situation- I decided to quit and make a change. I knew months in advance that I was going to quit (was waiting for better timing for my team, and also to allow some funds to vest). It made it so much easier to let things just slide right off- things that used to drive me INSANE or make me unreasonably angry just didn’t bother me anymore. I got my work done, put in my notice, and walked away.

      If you’re going to change career paths after your contract is up, consider taking some relevant courses, volunteering, going to networking events, creating a larger financial cushion for job hunt, etc. Use this time to prepare for the change, and then start looking for a job a few months before your contract is up!

      If you’re going to stick with this career path, I echo advice others have given- treat it as just a job, not a means for life satisfaction. Just go in, get your work done (and only work for the time you’re paid/a reasonable schedule), and try to just let it go. Finding fulfillment outside work may be helpful- whether that’s volunteering, playing sports, taking up a hobby you love, hosting a dinner club, etc.

      1. AnonEmu*

        Currently kind of in that mindset. As soon as I can find a new job, I’m gone. Knowing that there is an escape valve in the future helps a lot.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      10 months actually goes by pretty fast. Keep yourself busy and begin looking 3-5 months before.
      Even if you hate it, it’s really not the long in the larger picture of things.

  15. Toxic waste*

    Grandboss loves to mansplain. Any tips for dealing with someone like this without losing my cool/inadvertently getting myself fired?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      It’s really tough when they’re senior to you. They are arguably expected to be more experienced and knowledgeable about most things – that’s why they’re Senior Director or whatever – so you have to take a lot of this on the chin, unless it’s an area you have specific deep experience with: for example, being a member of your own gender which he’s not, being a member of a specific ethnic minority when he’s not, or possibly a niche of your work area (like you are database manager and he’s explaining how a database works – but I’d probably still tread pretty lightly on being all *I KNOW.* (Yes, I have had senior men try to explain to me, a young woman, what its like to be a young woman in our industry. I grit my teeth and bore it).

    2. BadWolf*

      Sometimes I interrupt with the conclusion. I mean, it’s kind of rude, but in a work scenario, it could be viewed as “you can save time and skip this part.”

      Like:
      Him: So to make the teapot glazing smooth–
      Me: You have to following the AMC process, yes it works well.

    3. Alternative Person*

      My recent go to has been tuning out anything I don’t need and smiling blandly. I start thinking about that video of the dancing Eevees I saw recently and just float along for a few minutes.

    4. Holly*

      I agree with Sloan Kittering – since it’s a grand boss who likely DOES have more experience, despite how condescending he might be, you may just have to suck it up. I’d recommend any sort of mindfulness practice so you can detach yourself emotionally and just think “I’m going to let this roll right off my back and proceed.”

    5. Maggie*

      I found out one of my coworkers – who mansplains – is actually trying to clarify his misunderstanding of a problem. I just happen to be the one who works with him most as well as the only woman on the team. The last example was him explaining to me why something I asked him to fix wasn’t working – which clearly I knew in asking him to fix it. It turns out he was trying to ask *how* to fix it, since the reason it wasn’t working was predicated on very strict logic. So I don’t know in your case if you’re just bringing something up (i/e oh, I love soccer!) and him explaining offsides to you (it’s cherry picking! ……ugh), or like in my case where you’re saying, as in the other comment, “the teapot glazing is not coming out quite as smooth” and he’s explaining that process to you?

      For the most part in my case I simply say “yes, that is the problem” or “yes, I understand that, which is why I suggested…” quite a lot, or even simply “yes”. I’ve also used it as a teaching moment about mansplaining to other coworkers who don’t deal with the fairer sex that much, or get outside of their bubbles. It’s not *exactly* mansplaining since he does it to everyone else, but it’s a great example of the act.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        If it wasn’t a boss, I would absolutely say to a colleague (maybe even a slightly senior coworker) something like, “I’m the database manager, so I’m a little confused why you feel like you have to explain what a database is to me. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on it, with my five years of experience.” Which might give them the opportunity to say, “oh whoops I’m actually trying to ask you about databases, my bad” (or not, they’d probably just huff, but at least I’ve made my point). With a grandboss, though, I probably wouldn’t stick my neck out.

    6. FaintlyMacabre*

      I think the advice for annoying people who can’t/won’t change may apply here- observe them with scientific detachment. How often do they say, “well, actually?” Make a bet with yourself about how long they take to explain something that should only take about ten seconds.

      I tried this advice at a family gathering (they put the dis in dysfunctional) and it was fun to guess who would make the first critical remark and to pretend like I’m observing some unmannerly tribe of animals. It really helped make what is otherwise draining and unpleasant somewhat amusing.

    7. state government jane*

      You may find some helpful tips in the Battle Tactics for your Sexist Workplace podcast, if podcasts are your thing! It’s a relatively new show, but I’ve already got some really great strategies in my back pocket thanks to them. I think they have an ep on mansplaining I haven’t gotten to yet.

  16. Emma*

    Update: My streak of being ON FIRE continues with now 5 possible job opportunities. I have a phone screen with one of them coming up. It’s a position I’m really excited about (research, write, & talk about ponies all day) although the pay & location won’t be ideal. I recently took a look at the organization’s glassdoor page and saw some really concerning reviews that went beyond the typical minor grumblings that tend to show up on nonprofit glassdoor pages. Things like frequent harassment of female staff, reviewers calling for specific members of leadership to resign and an overall toxic office culture. These were recent reviews too, and there was a consistent pattern throughout. I’m not sure what to do… Cancel the call and run away screaming? Ask about the troubling reviews during the call? Say nothing and try to suss things out for myself during the interview process?

    1. Youth*

      I’d keep the call for interview practice, but if you’re certain you have no interest, yes, you should feel free to ask about the troubling reviews and see what they say. Nothing to lose, right?

    2. OhGee*

      I think it’s worth following through with the call and being very, very observant for red flags. It’s good practice, if nothing else, and it might confirm those concerns, or assuage them. (My current employer is a small nonprofit that is moderately grumbleworthy, but there is a former employee who was the office bully and went on a public defamation campaign against management/the organization in general after they were finally fired, so I find value in but am cautious about the value of glassdoor reviews.)

  17. Amber Rose*

    Due to health… things, I’m anemic. Due to a sudden unforeseen mauling of my head, I lost even more blood and my left eye isn’t working quite right. My eyebrow is split.

    I feel like hell and my work is suffering mistakes and I’m dizzy/nauseous and this is the worst Friday. So please allow me the following gossipy speculation for fun.

    A long time staff member was suddenly fired from our sister office. There’s been much hushed whispering and comments like, “why did she think we wouldn’t notice that amount?” And “maybe we should combine their books with ours.”

    I’m guessing fraud or embezzlement. Right? I can’t ask, I’ve been bluntly told to stay out of it. Which sucks because then I hear stuff like “read this, you’ll shit bricks!” between boss and accountant.

    I can’t stand it, I’m so curious. I hate being left out. *sulk*

    1. Murphy*

      Ouch! I’m so sorry about the cranial mauling!

      I’d be curious too. We had a “secret job interview” one day, and even though I knew it wasn’t my business, I really wanted to know! (I think I figured it out later, and it wasn’t even all that interesting.)

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yeah, it sucked. It could have been worse though. And I seem to be healing OK.

        My boss has been training the replacement remotely over conference call, with a remote desktop viewing program. The accountant is trying to figure out how to help even though US and Canadian taxes are really different. And I’m trying to sort out their insurance, which is a nightmare.

        The drama bomb sure landed this week.

    2. PB*

      I’m so sorry about the health problems! The mauling especially sounds awful.

      Fraud or embezzlement are definitely possible. It could also just be garden variety incompetence or mismanagement.

    3. Anonymosity*

      Oh no! I hope you’re okay.

      I totally understand the URGE TO KNOW. You have now gifted us with it, so if/when you find out, please return and share. :3

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m more or less OK. I look like I fought a bear and lost, but most of the scratches are shallow. The eyebrow and two gouges on the side of my head are the worst of it. It’s hard to treat cuts through hair.

        If I ever hear what actually happened, I will post an update for sure! Right now all I know for sure is that the person was away unexpectedly for a few days, they had to access her computer, and whatever they found was not good.

      2. Amber Rose*

        Update: She was stealing. The cops were called earlier this week.

        I don’t know the details but my boss called it a kick in the balls so I’m guessing it was going on a while.

      3. TardyTardis*

        This reminds me of the time a longtime, valued co-worker Left Suddenly. After some mystery, I got the gist which was when running a side business, do not use the company’s computer. Especially a side business that I got the feeling was a Tad Hinky.

    4. Girl friday*

      I just wanted to address the anemia real quick, and say to try nuts and sunflower seeds. They help with nausea and anemia. IDK why they have iron but they do! You can put them on top of oatmeal, which also has iron. Or you can roll peanut butter and chocolate chips with oats and freeze them or refrigerate them. Good luck feeling better!

      1. Amber Rose*

        Shhhh. My husband treated me to a steak dinner last night and I’m trying to make a case for more red meat. ;)

        Just kidding. I actually didn’t know that, and I adore sunflower seeds. I’ll see if I can pick some up at lunch.

            1. No imagination*

              Do you like clams? They are super high in iron – something like six clams gives you the recommended daily iron intake.

        1. Nita*

          Hey, steak is good too! My doctor always tells me to eat more red meat when I get anemic. I’m more than happy to tell my husband those are actual doctor’s orders, for real, so don’t forget to get some steak on the way home :)

    5. Someone Else*

      If you haven’t already, please have a medical professional confirm you don’t have a concussion.

  18. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m going to be talking with Jolie Kerr of Ask a Clean Person for an upcoming episode of the AAM podcast. If you have questions for her about cleaning and work, leave them here and we’ll talk about them on the show!

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      Does she also do organization, in addition to cleaning? Because if she does…and if she has any tips and tricks for people who work from home (beyond “use lots of Post-Its” and “buy a filing cabinet”) personally, I’d be grateful.

    2. Annie Moose*

      One thing that comes to mind for me: what’s a reasonable expectation for cleanliness in an office? I guess I’m mostly thinking of this from the perspective of an employee (e.g. our cleaning folks empty the trash cans and vaccuum the floor, but don’t dust or wipe down desks), but it’d also be interesting to hear from an employer perspective (what you expect your employees to do/be responsible for).

      Oh, and cleanliness in the context of hotdesking! To me, it seems if you’re ever sharing a desk (or even a cubicle/office) with anyone else, you have a much higher expectation to keep things neat, but should you be wiping down the desk? The phone? Making sure you don’t leave any loose paperclips on the desk??

      1. zapateria la bailarina*

        yes, THIS. our cleaning person empties trash cans but no one vacuums/sweeps/mops/etc. i honestly think our office has never been vacuumed. ever. someone cleans the bathrooms once a week and we are frequently left without paper towels for a day or two before they are replaced. it’s super frustrating and complaints have gotten us nowhere.

      2. Magenta*

        I have just set up our cleaning contract for a 20 person office in the UK.
        The cleaners do pretty much everything, empty the bins, vacuum the carpet, wipe all surfaces including desks, phones, cupboards and windowsills. Gather up missed mugs and glasses, empty the dishwasher, clean the kitchen. They also throw away out of date food and clean the fridge on a Friday.
        The employees are responsible for putting their stuff in the dishwasher when they are done with it and switching it on before they go.
        I think it is reasonable for people to do more than I ask, but to be honest most of the time things don’t make it to the dishwasher without me having to nag so it makes life a lot easier and the environment much more pleasant to ensure it is done by the cleaners.
        I deliberately chose a company that pay well over minimum wage because it means the cleaners are pleased to be here, do a great job and are likely to stay with us.

    3. Holly*

      I’m struggling with getting organized because I’m so busy at work that I struggle to find the time it will take to organize my desk and schedule … which creates problems later. How do I find the time and/or make time to clean (for example sort through piles on my desk) when my work day is crazy and I have constant deadlines?

    4. Hoarders Paradise*

      I’m kind of curious… how much personal stuff should live in your work space? I have the standard bit of paraphenalia (photos, calendars, small tchotchkes), but I also have a coworker who has so much stuff in her cube, it’s expanding into the empty cube behind her. (Her cube is crammed, if her apartment looked like her cube, I would call her hoarder — but I’ve never been to her apartment). None of it is work related. But even if it was, in the digital age, is there really any acceptable reason behind someone’s space being crammed full of stuff?

    5. LALAs*

      Messy desk
      I work messy, always have. I have stacks of papers and notes all over my desk in piles that make sense to me. My boss has never said anything, but her desk is always tidy – even when she is swamped.
      I try to straighten the piles before I leave for the day (I have my own office, but window so you can see in all the time) and about once every two weeks, I go through and clean it up. Is that enough if no one is complaining? Is there more I should be doing?
      Just to be clear – there is no food, dirty dishes, or anything not office related. The desk just looks…worked at.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yep, I always had a messy desk because once a file is put away, I will forget that I needed to do something with it. I need the physical presence of the file to remind me. But, my new boss seems fixated on tidyness as like, a moral virtue. She says she wants the office to be “Stress free and uncluttered,” like its an emotional thing rather than a system of filing. I think she’s nuts, but I’m going along with it because I don’t need the hassle.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I LOVE HER. Please ask about the best way to keep your keyboard clean… especially if you eat at your desk and you’re not willing to change that habit.

      1. Robin Sparkles*

        Adding to the pile – would love to know if she likes those desk air compresser things and clorox wipes as sufficient to cleaning a keyboard.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Also, ask her how she feels about kitchen cleaning rotations. And what is the dirtiest thing in an office.

    8. Chaordic One*

      Please ask her about cleaning computer keyboards. Not just tip it upside down and shake it, but cleaning that icky grime from them without short-circuiting theem. Do you have to remove each key? Tips? Also similar items with keyboards.

      1. ToodieCat*

        I know this isn’t full-bore keyboard cleaning (which I also would like to know more about) but when I am bored on a conference call I will sometimes drag Post-its along the crevices between the rows of keys. Amazing what you can get out of there that way.

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        q-tips and rubbing alcohol has usually been my go-to but I have the Apple keyboard that’s pretty flat and doesn’t get crumbs down in crevices. I don’t even think I can pop the keys off like the older keyboards.

    9. Odor issues*

      Let’s say someone in the office smells moldy and thus their cubicle smells moldy. Managers have tried to address the issue without success, and because the managers keep changing, the employee remains, smelly moldy.

      What can they do in the office to mitigate the odor issue in her cubicle? What type of cleaning is most effective?

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Why don’t they just have the conversation that moldy smelling person smells moldy instead of moving moldy person around to spread the moldy smell?

        Is it a musty smell? The only thing I can think of that doesn’t just cover smell with other smells is activated charcoal. Can be bought in bulk and used to fill sachet type holders (usually nylon/pantyhose) but probably not exactly attractive hanging in an office.

    10. epi*

      What about inherited stains?

      My new office has two chairs, both with upholstery that has seen better days. It’s probably just coffee but it is gross! I don’t like not knowing for sure why they are stained, and I don’t like offering them to guests (and wondering if said guests think the stains are mine). Is there something I could/should try for desk chair mystery stains? Is this something I should just point out to my building administration?

    11. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Office plants — yea or nay? Does she have any advice or cautions on what kind, how many, how to keep plants from becoming a nuisance? Aside from any allergy problems people might have, they also sometimes attract (import in?) bugs like fungus gnats or create a mess.

      1. Probably Paranoid*

        I had a plant in my cubical that thrived for two years, then someone else brought in a plant they way over-watered, until it was rotting and gnat-infested, and my plant got gnats and died.

        I used to be totally pro-plant, but now I wouldn’t bring in any since I can’t control other peoples’ plant care.

      2. As Close As Breakfast*

        A new plant that ended up having fungus gnats got introduced to my house last year and it was a pain to get rid of them. It took many months and lots of horticultural sand and (ugly) yellow sticky gnat traps in every plant to get control of the little pests. I had a plant at home I had been planning to bring to work where I also have a lot of plants (hey, I’m a plant person, what can I say?) and I basically quarantined it because I so did not want to deal with them at work too!

    12. Notthemomma*

      Inherited stains on office chairs, keeping travel clothes looking clean when you sometimes have to hotel sinks wash items, best practices for deep cleaning suitcase/computer roller bags – steam or vacuum?

    13. Apple Dumpling Gang*

      Open floor plans. Desk chairs are all fabric covered (light blue grey). There are also bowls of candy (mostly chocolate) in the immediate work area. How do you get melted chocolate off the chair? Little tiny flecks, crumbs of melted chocolate, now part of the chair’s fabric.

    14. anon for this*

      How do you deal with the one man in an otherwise all-women office, who consistently leaves the shared kitchen in a disgusting and borderline unusable state, with dirty dishes and assorted filth piled on every possible surface? It’s hard enough getting him to do his actual work.

      1. state government jane*

        Related to this–more broadly, I’ve been hearing a lot about/considering the gendered “office housework” stuff and how that can impact the way women are perceived at work… but somebody’s gotta do it. So now what?

        I’m dealing with a similar situation as June down thread… Surplus crap everywhere, drawers full of disorganized junk in disarray, too many “backup” supplies, etc. The other day I found A TYPEWRITER RIBBON. I just want to hack away at this issue little by little, but it’s also very much “not my job” and I’m having mixed feelings about it.

    15. Persimmons*

      How to clean stained/scuffed cubicle walls. The kind with the semi-shiny patterned fabric that looks like it belongs in a Days Inn lobby.

    16. LCL*

      How to clean shared vehicles! Not empty them, I mean the general grime that gets on the steering wheel and the armrest and the dashboard. Everyone has their favorite cleaning product for this, I would love to know if there is one that works best.

      1. Llellayena*

        How to ensure the the shared vehicle gets clean without you having to do it yourself every time. Oh the coffee (I hope it was coffee) stain I had to sit on in the passenger seat the last time I was in that car. And don’t get me started on leftover food wrappers!

    17. June*

      I hate clutter in offices. Having stuff laying around “in case we might need it” seems to kill my soul. I am talking about surplus computer equipment and supplies that no one has used in decades (but we might need that date stamp that can go no higher than 1999). I share the floor space with another unit in state government. It is a drain on my time to check in with everyone to see if they are ok with me sending something to state surplus or throwing it away. Their boss (we are on the same level but I don’t have employees) is old-school and he is afraid if we get rid of something, we will never have the opportunity to get a newer/better replacement (an electronic date stamper!). Plus the co-workers are the type if it ain’t broke, why fit it? Or why should we clean up when we rarely have visitors?
      His boss (grandboss) is happy to buy whatever we need for the office.
      How do I deal with coworkers who are happy to leave old, broken, or surplus stuff around?

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        Ugh — cords and dead UPS/surge protectors. We have a growing pile. I wish IT would just get a wheelbarrow and walk around the building yelling “Bring out yer dead” once a year.

        1. TardyTardis*

          One time I went around begging ‘paper clips for the poor…paper clips for the poor…’ Frankly, at ExJob we never had to order paper clips *ever*, we had an amount best classified as ‘not infinite but we can see it from here’.

    18. Fluff*

      Keyboard and screens – phones – the hardware stuff. Not just to clean it “pretty” but to kill virus / bacteria. Like what do you recommend daily, when people @ you are sick, and then the hardcore stuff. I work in a hospital and no matter how much hand washing I do, eventually my grubby paws will text / type somewhere -bleck. The stuff we have to use on surfaces to kill most things is a carcinogen, so would probably kill Apple / Droids / phones / tablets (It actually has a big symbol on the container of don’t use on babies or people). Everything is electronic now a days, no not taking it into the room is not an option.

      What’s your favorite go-to to washing clothes in the hotel sink?

  19. Fishsticks*

    My partner is thinking of looking for a new job and wants to potentially have the ability to work one or two days from home a week. However, she’s currently in human services and is the supervisor for a day program for people with disabilities so it’s hard to work from home in that field. She has a background in both psychology and genetics/biology so I’m not sure what to suggest for her to look into, job title wise, since she’s thinking about taking a break from human services for a few years. Does anyone have suggestions of potential new jobs in the psychology, human services, or research field that she could work from home a few days a week? Thank you all so much!

    1. Robin Q*

      If she has the skills, there’s lots of genetics research that is big data set processing which is all done on a computer and could potentially be done from home.

      1. Fishsticks*

        I’m not completely sure she wants to get back into genetics research (she worked in a lab for 3 years and was running her own experiments so she does have a good background), but I’ll definitely suggest it. Do you know what kind of job titles they might be listed under? Thank you!

      2. Anonygrouse*

        Also, if she does have database and big data type skills from her research background, there is definitely a growing demand for informatics and data professionals in the public health and human services domains. I would look for positions that mention informatics, data management/governance, analytics, etc. Clinical health informatics (electronic medical records stuff) is also a huge field that you can take in a lot of different directions — analytics (to support business functions, quality improvement, or research), decision support, implementation, etc.

        In general, data/tech skills plus direct services experience would make her a good candidate for managerial roles where you are a connection point between the technical people and other stakeholders. She can market herself as someone who speaks both languages, as it were.

    2. Nita*

      Not quite specific to her background, but medical billing may be an option. A friend who has a background in genetics did that for a few years – I think she found the job through a hospital she worked with. Also, there may be some kind of data processing/QC work. I’m not sure if this is ever done by a third party in genetics research, but I know it’s done for some other types of lab work.

    3. Deryn*

      Depending on her psychology background and experience, assessment/psychometrics might not be too far of a reach (or it might, as many assessment positions require prior experience with specific measures). It varies by field (neurocog, school, private practice, etc) but many places I’ve been will do the actual assessment on site, with flexibility to prepare reports from home. Again, it varies on how specific or how much experience is needed, and depending on where you live she may need a license that has it’s own requirements. Just something to look into if it sounds at all intriguing!

    4. Bobbin Ufgood*

      I concur with the other recommendations — also, many large genetics testing labs (that sell genetic tests to doctors or to the public) have work from home positions. I have many friends and former colleagues who work this way. It does depend somewhat on her type of genetics degree.

    5. School Psych*

      Remote therapy/assessment? There are some organizations that are using on-line teletherapy programs for both assessing clients and doing weekly therapy, so she might be able to work 100 percent from home from her computer. EAP counselors also typically do a lot of their interactions with clients over the phone and can sometimes work remotely. My husband’s co-worker is married to someone who does the psych evaluations for social-security disability. She doesn’t work from home, but only has to be on-site 3-4 days a week, so gets a lot of flexibility with how she spends the rest of her time. If she’s interested in teaching lots of universities use on-line instructors, so she might be able to teach research skills and entry level psych/human services classes on-line.

  20. Less experienced*

    What do you do to stand out if all of your other co-workers are also exemplary employees? I started my job a little more than six months ago and have only gotten positive feedback so far (and told my boss that I really do welcome constructive criticism and feedback for how I could improve, too), but all of my co-workers at my job have at least 5-10 years more experience than me, and they are all very good at their jobs. I am worried that I might not be able to get as good of a raise in the future because it is based on a pool that gets split among our department. This is a new experience for me because in my previous jobs, I was always the “star employee,” but here, I feel like I could almost be the weak link on the team because everyone else is just really good at their jobs.

    1. Doug Judy*

      Give it time, it’s only 6 months in. You’re still learning, and I would take this time to observe and learn. As far as raises go, if you have a good manager, they will base it off of how well you are doing as someone with your level or experience, not comparing you to someone with 5+ years of experience. Don’t worry about it and I’m sure in another 6-12 months you’ll be as big of a contributor as the rest of the team.

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Are there any tasks that need an expert? I also work in a group of very high performers where I’m by no means the star, but I am our resident expert on a certain tool and process. I’m happy to teach others but I’m the go-to person on something that took a long time to learn and develop.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yes, yes, yes! I second this. I am also on a small team of awesome workers, but we each have our own area(s) of expertise. Depending on what’s going on in the department and/or the company, each person’s specialty has its chance in the spotlight with higher visibility and room for growth. Maybe talk with your manager and/or even your coworkers about what areas of focus need an SME.

    3. Bea*

      Other high performers can benefit you if they’re also willing to teach you new skills. Or even if you can study them from afar and farm their skills that way.

      My success and expertise can be attributed to the things I’ve learned from other high achievers who trusted me.

    4. CaitlinM*

      Also, you’re probably already doing this, but consider working with highly competent people part of your benefits package!

      1. CaitlinM*

        Actually I take this back. Not a reason to not be paid adequately for your performance. But it is something that’s nice to have.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Definitely an office perk though!

        I also second finding a niche for yourself to become the expert on/in. It might be a little early to identify one for yourself, but you could run the idea by your manager framed as “Is there any area you think I could be focusing on in order to become a resident go-to person?”

    5. Ranon*

      A team with consistently high performance across all their employees is likely a team that makes it worth the while of those employees to stick around- it’s probably early to borrow trouble about possible future compensation just yet!

    6. Voly*

      Volunteer to do menial tasks and organizational tasks that others shy away from (such as getting the cake for birthday person, getting food for work party or a meeting) because people appreciate those things.
      Keep learning new skills.
      Be nice to people.

      1. WWF*

        Unless Less Experienced is admin support, there’s no reason s/he should be volunteering for those types of menial tasks.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          Yeah, that might lead to people viewing LE as a support person who’s not equal to her peers.

          But I’m thinking there are similar ideas that could work better. Is anyone on your team being groomed to move up into a leadership position or taking on really high-level, complex tasks? Instead of volunteering for menial/organizational tasks, what about taking the smaller or more routine tasks from the coworker(s) getting ready to move up? Kinda like a position backfill, I guess? On my own team, when my most senior coworker was getting groomed for management, they started assigning her complex analysis and budgeting projects, but didn’t take any of the routine monthly projects off her list. She was getting crazy overworked so I hopped in and took a bunch of the routine projects from her (with her permission). It gave her enough free time to really dedicate herself to the newly expanded parts of her role and it gave me a reputation for being a dedicated team player. Before this she had been known as the expert on our team–now she’s actually my boss, and I’m the new go-to person on our team. :)

  21. Key lime pie*

    I’ve been serving in an interim director role for a while. I received a nice interim salary increase as well. I was not interested in the role permanently and won’t apply. When the new director comes on board, they’ll need to re-structure the organization and hire new positions, among other things. My question right now is, when they arrive, what’s the best way to raise the question of how my interim responsibilities and salary increase will be handled in the short term, while the bigger-picture issues about organizational structure are worked out?

    1. Waiting At The DMV*

      Key Lime, can you say more about what is driving you on this? Is it curiosity, uncertainty about your own future role, not wanting to lose your interim salary, etc? Hard to think about how to raise/have the conversation without a little more clarity around what you’re hoping to get out of it. :)

      1. Key Lime Pie*

        Fair question. What I want to know is: How might my responsibilities change starting Day 1 of the new director’s arrival? And will I keep all or part of my interim salary increase in proportion to those responsibilities?

  22. Myrin*

    Can someone give me an actual phrase to start the conversation when going to complain about a coworker to a supervisor? I can’t just go in and say “I want to complain about X”, right?
    Doesn’t have to be perfect since I’ll have to translate it anyway (although if any of the other Germans on here know some good wording, immer her damit!) but I’d like to have a starting point of some kind.

    1. Probably Paranoid*

      I guess it depends on what the complaint is?

      “I’m having an issue with [coworker]. Could I talk it over with you to figure out how to resolve it?”

      “I have some concerns about [coworker]. Could we schedule a short meeting to discuss it?”

      1. Myrin*

        That first one especially is so simple yet so great and somehow I couldn’t get down the phrasing myself. It’s perfect! Thanks!

      2. Lucky*

        I like to lead with “Can I get your advice on this situation?” People (esp. my boss) love to be asked for advice.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yes – you can get away with saying a lot if you frame it as “asking for advice and just want to give you all the context before you answer”.

    2. Murphy*

      It depends on what you want to complain about. But I think maybe a “I’m having an issue with Fergus I’d like to discuss with you/I wanted to let you know about/I wanted to get your opinion on” etc.

    3. irene adler*

      Start by stating how the work is adversely affected by the coworker.
      “I’m concerned about the missed deadlines we’ve experienced in the last two weeks. We missed them because Co-worker did not complete task X in time to get the data to Accounting. Can we discuss how we can meet future deadlines for Accounting?”

    4. sange*

      Depending on how German your workplace is – I’d start by thanking them for listening and noting that this is a sensitive comment. I used to work for a Swiss company, and that was a very important part of our managerial culture. We would start conversations like these very formally.

    5. mrs__peel*

      I like starting conversations with “I was wondering if you could help me with [x]”, as it seems to make people more kindly disposed.

    6. NoTurnover*

      I have actually started conversations with “Can I vent about X for a second?” when I needed to get something out but didn’t expect the person to be able to do anything about it. Have definitely done that with coworkers and probably my actual boss. Your mileage may definitely vary, that was in a small, pretty informal workplace where I had good relationships with the people I was complaining to.

  23. Meh*

    I have an annoying scenario I’d appreciate some advice on. I work as support staff at an academic institution and help out a lot of teachers. One teacher in particular who I work a lot with has developed this annoying “joke” where if he makes a mistake and I correct him, he laughs it off like I was the one who made the mistake instead of him (clearly meaning it as a joke with laughing emojis or a silly tone of voice). 
     
    At first it was amusing and I didn’t care, but now he’s continuing to make these jokes way too often and is saying them in front of other people who aren’t in on the joke, undermining my credibility. Any suggestions on what to say in a friendly tone the next time it happens to get him to stop? I’m having trouble finding the wording to say that I’m tired of this joke but not be so harsh as to ruin the relationship.

    1. Camellia*

      Maybe…”All kidding aside, I’m happy to help you when you make these kind of mistakes!” said with an understanding smile.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        This is good. Sincere and kind, but let’s people know the truth. (Though chances are they already know.)

    2. Wendy City*

      So you could, in the moment, sort of blink and play dumb and say, “well, no, it was you who made the mistake, it’s kind of weird that you keep making this joke” or “wait, what’s funny about that?” Tone is important, so keep it light.

      You could also shoot him a note or speak to him privately after the fact/before this next occurs: “So last week, when we were talking in front of Ferguson and you made the inside joke we have where you laugh off my corrections like I was the one who made the mistake, I was worried he wouldn’t understand because he was in on the joke. It’s becoming less funny to me as time goes on — do you mind stopping? I just don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.”

    3. Joielle*

      Could you act a little confused about the joke? Like, you tell him about a mistake he made, he jokes like it was your mistake, and you smile as though you don’t really get it and say “Ok, but you know you have to do X from now on, right? Haha just making sure”

    4. Apple Dumpling Gang*

      I would reply to the ‘joke’ with “George, I’m getting the feeling that you don’t care about the correct way to do this.
      Are you offended when I correct you? ”

      (If he says “no, I’m not offended” then follow that up with, “Well it is offensive to me the way you make jokes at my expense when I am trying to help you”)

    5. Meh*

      Thanks for the tips so far! Hopefully it won’t come up again, but if it does, I at least have some things to try and say.

    6. Rat in the Sugar*

      Personally I wouldn’t pretend to be confused–you say he’s been doing it for a long time, so I think it be pretty obviously deliberate if you suddenly acted like you didn’t understand him when you did before. To me that would come off pretty weird, and you did say that you want to keep things friendly with him.

      I would advise just saying something to him next time at work, and not even waiting til the next time he does it. Something like “Hey Teach, I wanted to talk to you about something. A lot of times when I give something back to you for a correction, you make a joke about me being the one who made the mistake–I know that you’re only joking but can I ask you to stop? Sometimes other people hear and I’m worried it sounds weird to them since they’re not in on it. Also, I’m not saying it’s a bad joke, but even the best joke in the world will get stale eventually, you know what I mean? Not trying to make you feel bad, just wanted to let you know–and if I’m ever telling a joke that gets old, please tell me too!”

      I added a lot of hedging/softening language in there since you said you didn’t want to be harsh, but I hope that’s a useful base template! Tweak to fit!

    7. Gumby*

      It’s weird that he’s doing it in front of other people. Are you making the corrections in public too? If so, and if it is logistically possible, try to keep the corrections private. If he’s bringing up a private correction in public when there is no reason for it I would assume he is, for some reason, embarrassed about his error (the whole making fun of yourself before other people can thing) so that is something else you might want to keep in mind in how you respond.

      My current job has surprised me a few times with their really open attitudes towards fixing errors. I always inform people privately (will take others off an email chain, etc.) so they can either fix it quietly or pretend they caught it or whatever. Basically “save face.” More than half the time they then email out the whole group again about what mistake they made, that I caught it, and what the fix is. It’s kind of refreshing that people don’t have their egos tied up in being right. But it is not what I generally expect everywhere.

  24. Probably Paranoid*

    Whenever I fill out job applications that ask for anything more personal than my phone number and address (like social security number, drivers license number, etc.), I enter fake information. I don’t think any company is entitled to have that information unless they are doing a background check on me because I accepted an offer from them.

    Does anyone else do this? Has it ever been a problem later?

    I’m wondering now because I had applied to a company through Indeed, and after doing a phone screening they set up an in-person interview and asked me to fill out an application on their website, which included a page asking for SSN, drivers license and my birthday. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to the interview stage for a company I gave fake information to, so I was a little worried.

    1. Fishsticks*

      I do the same, but I write available on request so they know that I do have an SSN or a driver’s license etc.

      1. Probably Paranoid*

        That’s a good idea. On this specific application there wasn’t room for any extra text (just the literal numbers, and it was an online application), so I’ll keep that in mind for future applications if possible. :)

        1. Fishsticks*

          For those, what I do is just put in a string of zeros just so they don’t think I’m providing a fake number and it’s obvious I’m not providing it! Good luck with your job hunting!

    2. Rey*

      I assume that these fields are forcing you to fill in numbers, or you could type Available upon request. If they force numbers, I would fill in something like 000-00-0000, so that it’s obvious that it’s fake, as opposed to typing in random numbers that could actually be someone’s social security number.

      1. Probably Paranoid*

        It wouldn’t let me type in all zeros so I typed in all 5’s. (Fives are in fake phone numbers for movies/TV, so I thought it was appropriate.)

    3. Bea*

      I respect the healthy fear of identity theft. But personally withholding the information means we toss it into the reject pile. It’s a red flag that it may be difficult to interact with someone.

      We secure all information gathered in the hiring process. I’ve passed extensive background checks myself. It’s not being sorted by a part time intern that may be farming details for nefarious acts.

      I’m a hawk on my credit reports to catch unscrupulous activity. I wouldn’t apply anywhere I don’t trust with basic personal information.

      1. WellRed*

        But how do you know from the outside whether they are trustworthy? How do your applicants know you are trustworthy? At any rate, I have a hard time seeing why SSN is required in the early stages of the process. I feel like that is an old fashioned holdover.

      2. catsaway*

        But why do you need to collect the SSN or DL number of every applicant? Wouldn’t it make more sense to collect that information after the interview stage, once you’re interested in hiring someone? Not to mention, no system is foolproof so it seems like your company is unnecessarily taking on risk by collecting so many superfluous SSN and DL numbers.

        1. Probably Paranoid*

          I used to work for a huge global company that I would have thought had a very secure system, but some sort of update didn’t get done that left them vulnerable and they were infected with malware. Some people lost everything on their computers and we couldn’t work for two weeks. They also had a separate incident where our personal information was compromised and we had to change our passwords and re-complete tax/payroll information.

          So I don’t think any systems are foolproof either.

          1. nonegiven*

            Also, several people in my family were compromised in the OPM breach. My husband was only in that database because he needed a security clearance to do utility work on base.

      3. Probably Paranoid*

        Social security numbers aren’t “basic” personal information.

        It’s a red flag that a company would think they’re entitled to ask every applicant for it.

        1. Confused*

          The company is probably going to do a basic background check before moving forward with an application. If they can’t look you, they’re not going to move forward. Why shoot yourself in the foot?

          1. Anonymosity*

            They don’t need that before they hire me, and certainly not before they interview me.
            If they intend to hire me contingent on a background check, then I will gladly fill out a form with that information but not until they make an offer.

          2. Natalie*

            Background checks aren’t free or fast. I’ve never worked for a company that conducted background checks before interviewing people.

            The kind of basic google/social media check you might do before interviewing people doesn’t require anyone’s social security number.

      4. Alice*

        One of the basic principles of risk management for PII is not collecting it without a good reason. By asking for the SSNs before you need them, your processes are increasing the organization’s potential liability without any countervailing benefit.

    4. Anonymosity*

      If it’s online, I put in 0’s if it will let me.

      If it’s on paper, I leave it blank. Yesterday, I had an interview and they asked me to fill out a paper app first (seriously, drag yourselves into the 21st century, folks). There was a space for driver’s licence number and I skipped it. They don’t need that for an admin job, and they especially don’t need it if I haven’t been hired yet. I mean, obviously I drove there because they were in the middle of nowhere.

      Any company who insists on that information before I’ve even been interviewed can go suck rocks.

    5. Someone Else*

      It’s a shitty practice to collect that from everyone, but it’s commonplace enough that you’ll probably rule out too many employers if you self-select out of those who request it at early stages. You’re probably better off using an “obviously not a real number” than something fake that might look possibly real, just so they can at least interpret it as you declining to provide rather than lying.
      FWIW, my company does have a standard “job application” form that asks for DL and SS#, but no one is even given that form until they’re at the offer stage. The process for actually applying for jobs does not involve the “application” at all. It’s one of the last pieces of paperwork. I’m mentioning this just so you know, reasonable companies are out there.

    6. Average Manager 47*

      Can anyone who works in HR confirm how they respond to the refusal to provide information?
      I refuse to provide references when applying to jobs that I have no way of knowing if I’ll even get an interview. Seems a bit pompous for an employer to ask this. I have no way of knowing if HR is weeding me out for “not following the rules”

  25. What's with Today, today?*

    I’ve posted some pretty crazy stories about my job during the past few weeks and I’m sure some have wondered why I stay. This. Notes like this trump all. A local grandmother sent my boss this note about her autistic grandson this week and he forwarded it to me. I’ve met them now on many occasions. They got custody of their grandson when he was 4, and he communicated very little. He’s in high school now, an honors student and class president. I changed his name for the post.

    “When we got custody of James we had to be in the car by 7:00 a.m. so he could hear Today’s newscast. He had never met her but immediately fell in love with her voice. You absolutely could not say anything except during commercials. He would be upset, and I’d get him in the car to listen to Today, and he’d be calm and mesmerized. He was almost completely non-verbal, but could say Today.”

    I love my job.

    1. AAA*

      I definitely understand having a frustrating job as well. I keep a folder at my desk (inside a cabinet of course) entitled “For When I Hate My Job” and inside I have a list of all of the good things that I have accomplished and times that I was able to help people. It definitely helps on the harder days.

    2. Reba*

      Today, that’s amazing!

      Also a great reminder to all to reach out to those that have had a positive impact on our lives, just to say thanks, that mattered to me.

  26. On Anon Anon*

    My boss recently went on a work trip with one of my colleagues. Male boss – 60, female colleague – 30. They travelled to and from the hotel together and as they were leaving the valet addressed them as Mr and Mrs Boss’ Last Name (assuming that they were married as they travelled together).

    My boss was retelling this story at a happy hour outside of work and I joked with the colleague saying “I’m not sure if that good news for Boss or bad news for you”. The implication was supposed to be that the concierge either though my boss was younger than he is or that my colleague was older than she is.

    Anyway my boss overheard and took great offence at the suggestion that it would be unfortunate for my young colleague to be seen as his trophy wife and he has been very off with me since the incident. Obviously the joke was not well thought out on my part but it just feels so awkward to bring it up again to apologise. I dunno if I should just wait for it to die down? Try to take it back?

    1. Lehigh*

      Ugh. I don’t have any advice, but–while yes, the joke was a bit off (probably overly familiar)–why oh why is it Surprising and Insulting that most 30-year-old women don’t fancy being with 60-year-old men?

      1. Lehigh*

        The more I think about it, the more I think your best bet is to let it die down. How would you even apologize? “Of course lots of young women are pleased to marry old guys! I don’t know what I was thinking!” Or, “I foolishly didn’t realize you were recounting the story for your ego, and no reply was necessary.”

        I mean, being charitable, perhaps he took the “good news” part of your comment as a slur on his actual wife. Even in that case, I’m not sure discussing it further will help.

        Probably easiest just to wait for the sting to fade.

        1. Friday*

          “I foolishly didn’t realize you were recounting the story for your ego, and no reply was necessary.”

          HAHAHAHAA it’s totally this.

    2. gecko*

      If you haven’t apologized, then apologize. “I wanted to say, I’m sorry for my joke the other day. It was inappropriate, and I’ll make sure that my jokes don’t get that off-color in the future.”

      I don’t think your boss is being very appropriate himself by retelling the story–now there’s a story I’d let die, if it happened to me–but it’s worth an apology.

      It was a small joke, so make it a small apology. But I think it’ll look good for you and give your boss a better opinion of you.

        1. gecko*

          …me? If you’re referring to “a story I’d let die”, I must have phrased it vaguely–I’d be kind of embarrassed by someone assuming I was married to my boss, so I wouldn’t tell it as a funny story. The boss telling it would embarrass me if I were the coworker.

          No need to apologize to me ;)

          1. Ender*

            No sorry this was a nesting fail! On Anon Anon was the one who made the ageist joke about how a marriage between a 60 year old and a 30year old is good for the older person and bad for the younger. Meaning the younger person is better than the older just for being younger. It’s blatant ageism and illegal in the workplace.

            Imagine making that joke about people of two different races or about a disabled and an abled person. Ageism may be a socially acceptable form of bigotry but it is bigotry nonetheless.

    3. Waiting At The DMV*

      How uncomfortable for the female colleague. Bad enough in the moment, much worse that he would be recounting it in the office. Given power dynamics I bet she felt uncomfortable doing anything other than politely laughing. If it was me, I’d have been grateful that you spoke up.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        Well, the joke also implied the hotel employee might think she was three decades older than she actually is. This whole situation is cringe worthy for the colleague, and I doubt she was grateful for the joke.

        1. marmalade*

          Huh, I didn’t read the joke that way at all. I wouldn’t really have perceived it as a joke about age – just the trophy wife thing. Or only about age indirectly – “James has done well because he’s with hot young Suzie – but Suzie is stuck with James!”
          That is a comment on age, but only about the age difference, not implying that James is actually an old-looking 30yo, or Suzie a young-looking 60yo.

          It’s beyond gross that the boss has retold this story in a work-related event. Ughhhh.

          1. Forking great username*

            The original commenter flat out says that the joke was meant to imply that either he looks young or she looks old.

            1. marmalade*

              Yes, I understand that – I read the OP’s post!
              I’m just saying that I didn’t perceive the joke that way at all. And potentially, the OP’s boss might have too.
              Not sure the confusion?

          2. What’s with Today, today?*

            The OP actually says he’s implying she could look older:

            “The implication was supposed to be that the concierge either though my boss was younger than he is or that my colleague was older than she is.”

            1. marmalade*

              See my post above – I read the OP’s post and understood that, I was simply pointing out a different way someone might interpret that joke.

  27. TotesMaGoats*

    Just kind of a yay moment. The class I’ve been teaching is going pretty well, I think. Lots of good laughter and shock over the things coming from AAM. Even the students who’ve been working a while are asking good questions to improve their resumes. I’ve already started making improvements on the course for next semester. Thank you all for the great ideas.

    I’m thinking next semester for in class activities I want to have people divide up in group and examine some of the best (i.e. worst) situations from AAM and give the employer and employee response. I’ll probably come back and ask for ideas on which ones.

    1. Waiting At The DMV*

      What a great idea! I run my office’s intern program, and manage a recent college graduate – the need for this sort of education is huge!!

    2. Combinatorialist*

      I think it is a great idea, but I would at least start with the more routine situations. The vast majority of people just don’t need to know how to handle an employee casting spells on their coworker’s but practicing giving feedback to people who aren’t great at receiving feedback, or going to your manager when you made a mistake, or whatever is something that is much more likely to be useful. And then maybe include one of the outrageous ones for entertainment value

  28. AdAgencyChick*

    If you’ve made the leap from working as a full-time employee to working for yourself, did you have a transition period in which you did both, or a transition in which you took some time to set up your business before you started making money? How long did it last and how did you manage?

    I ask because my day job pays very well, but if I were independently wealthy, I’d definitely be doing something else. Right now I spend about 10 hours a week doing the “something else,” for (very little) money. However, lately I’ve been getting more offers to do the something else for pay.

    If I could scare up A LOT more of these offers, I might be able to justify leaving advertising. But that could take many months if not years. For the moment I’m continuing to accept as many of these offers as I can while keeping my day job, but there will come a point at which that much work becomes unsustainable, and I’ll have to choose whether to make that leap or just keep my passion projects as my side work.

    Would love to hear from others on how they made it work and how long it took!

    1. Bea*

      When starting up, unless you have a huge nest egg and financial backing you’ll need a day job. Often you’ll over time scale that back to part time as your own business grows. Barring it being a business that requires in depth set up and more hours a week than you can sustain.

      It’s very uncommon to start your own business and tossing off your steady income. Many small business owners don’t take home salary until a couple years in and established.

      Right now you have the right idea. And think down the road about how you could do advertising part time as your client pool starts to fill up and pay the bills. You’ll want to remember that cost of business will increase as you get more work and such.

      Talk to a consultant prior to dissolving your day job completely!

    2. Owler*

      Husband did this by using the side job to build up a nest egg to cover six months of living expenses before he quit the full-time job and jumped to working for himself. It helped that my job coved health insurance.

      Keep in mind that about 25-30% of your time running your own business will be dedicated to overhead activities, like finding and connecting with new clients, maintaining your website or social media presence, paying bills, quarterly taxes, and dealing with other paperwork, etc. It’s the unsexy work of working for yourself (that I was never good at) but really necessary.

  29. anon today and tomorrow*

    After two years of searching, I just accepted a new job offer! I managed to negotiate myself a 40% salary increase.

    It’s a tech position and I’m super excited that when I interviewed, the senior leadership team was full of women and POC. I think it’s going to be the first company I work at where I feel comfortable being “out” about my sexuality, too (which is great because even though I’m in a super liberal area, I’ve always felt like I needed to hide being bisexual at work).

    Their benefits are AMAZING. Four weeks vacation, WFH flexibility, 20 holidays, unlimited “honor system” sick-time. And they offer an extra week of vacation (you can only use it once a year) if you have a big life event. AND best of all, that life event doesn’t discriminate against single and/or child-free people, so the life event can be a marriage or adopting/having kids, but also buying a house, graduating from school, adopting a pet, etc.

    They have a student loan program where they pay a set amount/year towards your loan as long as you stay with them for a year after they pay each amount, and they have stipends for people who get new pets. (They have a lot of great benefits for parents too, but that’s not relevant for me tbh).

    I’m super excited to start!!

      1. DrWombat*

        Same, my area is sort of tech (statistical modeling) and I’m hella bi. Sounds like a great place to work – they looking for any biologists who do statistical models/sustainability assessments?

        Also *bi high five*

  30. Nervous Accountant*

    We interviewed interns this week! I think I was more nervous than they were b/c I’ve never done an interview. It was a group interview, so each candidate was interviewed by 2 teams of 1 or 2 people (my cws & myself). We had met the afternoon before to go over a few things but that meeting was more about content (what NOT to ask, what to look for) than logistics of how 10 people were going to interview 15 people. The internship itself is more of an administrative/customer service oriented position (with possibility of being hired FT), so we weren’t looking for anything in depth, just anyone who could pick up on things. We were instructed to grade them on a scale of 1 to 4. They were meant to be casual 5-10 minute long conversations.

    I met about 10-12 people, all college students. Some had pretty good experience (previous internships, relevant volunteer & coursework), and some had a very barebones history, which we all agreed wasnt a deal breaker.

    The first few I met were very impressive, and one was very overqualified. A few others who I was neutral towards–nothing bad but nothing impressive.

    There was one candidate who was more experienced than the group. She had a good work history until 6 years ago but was changing fields/industry. When I asked her about a 6 year gap in her resume, she said “well if you read my resume, I was in school at that time.” For some reason the tone and content put me off. She also started saying that she’s been struggling for a job, and unfortunately her degree was in the wrong field and she can’t get jobs now even though she has a Masters. I felt REALLY bad for her and tbh I sympathized a lot but I automatically didn’t want to bring her on board :-/. Other interviewers said she was very entitled and had a negative attitude.

    There was one who I was lukewarm towards, very neutral. However, she made the effort to find my email address (we don’t have cards) and actually sent me a f/u email so that brought her “grade” up IMO.

    Majority of them were great candidates! they asked a lot of good questions and the one that followed up wrote exactly what I would have written lol.

    They all seemed very poised and confident and I was impressed until my cw pointed out to me that they’re coached on this at their college career center lol.

    It’s so interesting being on the other side!

    1. Murphy*

      I know that you mean follow-up, but for a second I thought “f/u” meant she went out of her way to send you a “F*ck you” email.

      That’s really cool. I’ve never been on the other side of that process.

      1. Liane*

        “I know that you mean follow-up, but for a second I thought “f/u” meant she went out of her way to send you a “F*ck you” email.”
        Me too! I was wondering how off a day I was having to make that mistake, until I saw your post.

    2. JJJJShabado*

      At some point, it was asked if I wanted to participate on the questioning side of the interview. I thought it might be good to talk to people. I was with my supervisor and mostly just asked technical question. For the most part now, I lead interview sessions with colleagues (I started this about 5 years in to the job, I’m 10½ into the job now). I try to make the interview conversation. I’m not that good at it, but we seem to do okay with it (amusingly, all three of us that conduct the interview have the same first name).

      I try to use what I remember from interviews (this is the only professional job I’ve had and I only had a handful of interviews before this, I got lucky). I don’t want to ask random things or put pressure on the interviewee because interviewing is hard enough and I didn’t like that. AAM has helped me with being a better professional in all aspects.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Her response about the 6-year gap was not the most diplomatic, but I can understand her being annoyed. Unfortunately for her, she really isn’t in the position to demonstrate her annoyance.

  31. KE*

    Highlights/lowlights of your workweek?

    Major highlight: I got an internal promotion! It’s ~13.5% raise, which I’m moderately happy with, and we’re adding a person to our team to back-fill my position which means we can spread out some of our workflow and I can get some of the lower-level projects off my plate.

    On the other side of the coin, I’m still trying to catch up after a cold and it feels like my office is a germ factory with how many people are sick. I’m spraying Lysol and sipping EmergenC like it’s my job.

    What are your work-related high and lows this week?

    1. De Minimis*

      Highlights—getting better at some of the weekly tasks.

      Lowlights–still have the new job jitters [only been here six weeks] and already trying to figure out when it’ll be okay to start looking again. This was far from my first choice during my job hunt, but it’s where I was hired after months of interviewing. Even if the job improves, the benefits are pretty weak and there’s no future for me here [it’s a federal contractor gig], so this is really just a job for right now.
      Still having a rough time with some of the training, too. Kind of felt like I was treated poorly by a coworker. She keeps CCing the supervisor on replies to me when I’m asking her questions. Really annoying.

    2. Murphy*

      Low: Had to work some on Sunday afternoon because several higher-ups didn’t meet my Thursday deadline so I could prepare for a Monday morning meeting. When I started working, I was still waiting on one person, but it needed to get done, so I went ahead and did it anyway. Monday morning rolls around, and that person finished Sunday evening and asked me to update my work accordingly, so I had to scramble to do extra work at the last minute to incorporate her feedback. Ugh.

      High: My boss said “Good job” after the meeting. He’s not big on feedback, so this is pretty high praise. Also I got my first paycheck with my raise in it today :)

    3. Rocky Mountain High*

      Highlight – I was called back for a 2nd interview for a part-time position with a small non-profit. I would love to partner my part-time contract w/ part-time in office work.

      Lowlight – I was caught in traffic for 2 hours, it rained – everyone freaks out, and missed an appointment with a community partner (for another contract I have with a different non-profit). I had to make my way off the highway and call to cancel (because I still had another hour to go- and I left home 2 hours early to get to the location that should have taken only 1 hour!) I’d been chasing the appointment for 2 mos (mostly because they’d been ignoring me). I was embarrassed and mad. But they seem to be working with me to find a new appointment date.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We finally have a new team lead which is overall good but it’s an adjustment. I have nothing against her, she seems very qualified and likeable. But I miss my old team lead, with whom I had a great working relationship. I still don’t know why she left (if she was let go, if she quit after being led to her breaking point, something else).

      And new TL seems eager to reassure me that she values feedback and pushback, which is great – I would hope so, considering she’s brand new and we have institutional knowledge she doesn’t. I mean I get it, it’s a good thing to hear from a manager, but like… there’s so much you don’t know yet, of course we need to fill in missing information.

    5. Alianora*

      Low: Was rejected for a job I interviewed for about a month ago.

      Highs:
      1) In the same rejection email, the hiring manager asked me to apply to a different, higher-level position than the one I had originally applied for.
      2) I also received a job offer from a different organization!

    6. AnonEmu*

      Highlight: New coworker started so we are less understaffed.

      Lowlight: Everyone got the flu because we are so understaffed no one could really stay home sick. Also the project I was hired to do, that I accepted a lower salary than I necessarily wanted on this job just so I could get experience doing, that my boss knows was the deciding factor in me picking this job….it’s not happening. I kept getting put off when asking about it and then she announced in front of everyone that it’s not happening, or if it is happening, it’s after funding ends for my position. So I’m getting out of here as soon as I can find a new job.

    7. SaraV*

      Highlight: Officially offered the job I mentioned in last week’s thread! Drug test completed, paperwork filled out, orientation and some training next week.

      Lowlight: They want me to work a customer-facing role for a week so I can learn the front end part of the process, because my job will be working with the back end of the process. I TOTALLY understand why they want me to do this, especially being an outside hire, and I welcome the training. It’s just my introverted, slightly comflict-aversion self is nervous about it. I keep telling myself it will only be a week…it will only be a week…

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      Highlight: I got my campaign director on a major national news channel (the UK equivalent of something like CNN). Granted it was their afternoon business show, so not that high-profile, but still – national TV! And I got to go to the newsroom/studio, which was very cool. I still get very nerdy/fangirly about things like that. It’s the first time I’ve done this for a campaign where I was doing all the work (we’ve had directors on these programmes before but it wasn’t me that secured the opportunity), so I feel very proud of that one.

      Lowlight: The big project I’ve been entrusted to look after for the whole organisation is slightly falling apart, because no-one can agree on who needs to review it when and everyone has lots of changes, and we’re getting close to the deadline for our big boss to sign off the structure of it and I’m worried that I’m doing a terrible job. It’s a project I really want to do well on, because it massively plays to the one thing I’m actually OK at, and now I’m nervous that it will collapse and it’ll all be my fault…

      1. Waiting At The DMV*

        You didn’t ask for advice, but sometimes in this situation I’ve sent out a broad status update email flagging open questions and timelines by which they must be resolved in order to stay on track. Done in a neutral way (hey team, we need to rally and solve this together) it can make you look super competent & on top of things. Just putting that out there in case it’s helpful…

    9. Jadelyn*

      Highlight: I wrapped up a big project (generating customized communications for all staff that meet certain criteria, about a major upcoming change that will affect them) that had gone through at least half a dozen iterations and had me ready to pull my hair out from frustration. But I hit the button on Wednesday, and yesterday I came in to probably two dozen thank-you emails from the staff, and many weren’t just the quick “thanks!” type but a “thank you so much for all the work that went into this, it looks great and it’ll be super helpful for us as we plan for this” type of response. So it felt nice to have that done and positively received.

      Lowlight: We’ve got our big annual staff event coming up and I’ve been SLAMMED with prep work for it – and several labor-intensive report/analysis requests came in from managers on other teams this week as well, so I’m having to carefully manage expectations on those without just saying “dude, I do not have time for you right now, hold your freaking horses and I’ll deal with you after the event.”

    10. Anon for this one*

      Low – Great-grandboss publicly talked about a project that a team of three people just wrapped up. I was one of those three people. Only the other two were mentioned. I know my supervisor’s email to great-grandboss announcing the completion of the project gave me credit. Oh well.

      High – Um. It’s Friday?

    11. Emily S.*

      Oh man. Monday, just after I left the office for lunch, I was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. It was such a massive bummer, and my car wasn’t driveable. It’s been a stressful week!

      Highlight – we had our company-paid yoga class today, and I really needed that. Felt good.

      BTW – congratulations on your promotion! Nice!

    12. 653-CXK*

      Highlight #1: One of the staffing agencies I’ve been waiting to hear back from has set me up for an interview for October 4. It’s contracted for four months, and it may be a permanent job.

      Highlight #2: I had an interview yesterday. After I left the interview, I felt lukewarm about it (because the last time I was excited about a joining company, the HR grandboss (according to their HR recruiter) gave me the ‘sorry, we’re not moving forward’ email after getting a hold of my references – I really would have liked to work for them. I’m warming up to the possibility of being hired, as my mother, aunt and uncle worked there, but then again, I’m expecting the same result.

      Lowlight #1: Three staffing agencies are on my phone and email block list for being ultra-aggressive in their job search – after reading their reviews on Glassdoor, I know why they’re not very popular!

      Lowlight #2: Another staffing agency (not as aggressive as above) contacted me excitedly about a new job and wanted to talk about it. We went back and forth, and I sent her the phone number…then radio silence until I asked what happened. “Oopsie…the position was filled and we forgot to tell you about it.” I don’t think I’ll be using that recruiter anymore.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Quick edit…
        I felt lukewarm about the position and the next steps (the last time, I had gotten to the point of references, and once that was done, the HR recruiter (via the HR grandboss) sent me the ‘sorry, we’re not moving forward’ email. The company was small, the people were great, and I really would have liked to work for them, but it wasn’t meant to be).

        Side note (neither a highlight or a lowlight): I was also sent to give my references on another job, but there was a tight timeframe (24 hours) for my references to respond. I received the link to the reference website on Friday, emailed my references, and then checked the website again on Monday – the same “sorry, we’re not moving forward with your application” message popped up.

    13. TheTallestOneEver*

      Highlight – We eliminated a position in July and no one in management would make a decision on who would take over the departing employee’s responsibilities. Lots of confusion for our staff and our customers. Six months after the cut was announced and three months after the person left, a decision has finally been made and communicated. No more confusion! And luckily, none of the work was assigned to me or my team.

      Lowlight – I just started a job search and a recruiter told me that I might be limited because I’ve spent too much time with my current employer. It’s probably an honest assessment and I was grateful for the candor, but just not what I wanted to hear so early in the search process.

    14. Nervous Newbie*

      Highlight – My new boss said I’ve been doing a great job and I was finally able to push some last minute ads out the door.

      Lowlight – I’ve been pulling ten hour days all week and more work keeps being piled on. Hoping for that intern we want to be approved!

  32. Anonymous PSL*

    This is a long one, so I really apologize!

    For anyone who has filed a sexual harassment complaint at work, what has been your experience? How quickly did things get resolved by HR?

    I’m currently waiting for HR to get back to me about a complaint I filed against a manager for making inappropriate sexual comments and touching me inappropriately. On Wednesday morning, after a meeting with the most recent sexual comment, I went back to my desk and felt like crying. I knew what I heard and the tone, but there was no “proof.” I felt like I was going crazy and didn’t know when I needed to be on guard around him. I was afraid to wear normal, business clothes, because I didn’t want him making comments on my body/physique again.

    I wrote down four recent incidents with as much detail that I could remember, and asked one of the HR reps if we could speak privately. I was so afraid I would cry, and that she wouldn’t believe me. I started by saying that I wasn’t even sure what I was asking for, but I knew I felt uncomfortable around this person, and that I wouldn’t feel safe alone in a room with them. After speaking about the four incidents, she took my paper, made a copy, and said she would meet with the director of HR the next morning to make a game plan.

    I came back to my desk, and met with someone who is kinda my boss but not technically. We’ve worked together in the past, and she’s a no nonsense kind of person. She was in the meeting with the most recent comment, and she also heard it in the manner it was intended and was absolutely shocked. She let me go home for the rest of the day to regroup and just have some alone time.

    Thursday afternoon, the same quasi-boss and I met. She had gone to HR, and backed up my complaint. Thursday evening, I received an email from the HR contact, saying that she hadn’t forgotten about me. She was looking into a couple of things, and HR would follow up with me by early next week. My guess (based on the knowledge that others have filed complaints against him) is that they’re deciding what level of disciplinary action to take.

    The crazy thing? We just went through harassment training at work. Everyone had to go through it. I’m dealing with a lot of emotions, and not sure how to feel. I’m proud of myself that I went to HR. It wasn’t ok what he did/said, and it’s not appropriate.

    1. dawbs*

      I”m sorry you’re dealing w this crap. (and I”m sorry that this week has been triggery as hell for a lot of us). Temember that he went through this training and chose how to act, land it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with jacka*es enjoying flexing their power.

      I’ve been unlucky enough not to have an HR when this directly affected me–but my current small employer recently allowed someone to resign. There had been sexual harassment complaints (that our single HR person took and that the bosses ‘handled’ by talking to him and changing his duties) but it wasn’t until he badmouthed a manager (dishonestly) that he was let go. (and frankly, it left a bad taste in my mouth that my liberal, progressive employer was unable to see the importance in getting rid of someone who was inappropriate with volunteers and staff, but thought it was super important when he lied about a boss.)
      HR is a crapshoot. I know a few awseome HR folks. they are, IME, not the majority of HR employees.
      BUT, employers are increasingly aware that they need to pay attention and, amny actually see that allowing jerks to drive away good employees has a real cost to them.

    2. The Nonniest Moose*

      I’m so sorry you had to deal with an inappropriate manager and that you’re currently feeling unsure about what’s going to come of it and when. I hope your organization handles it properly and quickly. Kudos to you for reporting it!

    3. KE*

      I don’t have any firsthand experience with this in the workplace, but there are a few things I know:

      You are very brave for coming forward.
      This is not your fault. It will never be your fault. Even if he is disciplined, fired, blackballed from the industry, whatever bad things happen to him. This is his doing, not yours.
      If anybody tells you it was your fault, dismiss all of their opinions for the rest of time because they are not a reliable person. If anybody at work harasses you for whatever happens to your boss because of his actions, go right back to HR and/or the quasi-boss who supports you (which, btw, good for her for standing up!).
      You are entitled to feel however you feel about this. Guilt, shame, anger, discomfort, shock, emptiness, fear, sadness, relief if he’s dismissed, pride for coming forward, anything. Don’t try to repress your feelings or let anyone tell you that you’re not reacting in the right way or that you don’t seem to be feeling xyz enough.
      This sort of thing can stick with you. Consider talking to a therapist or a counselor or some sort if you think you can. If your work has an EAP, consider using it.

      For what it’s worth, no matter what happens to him repercussion-wise, I am very proud of you for reporting this. Not only for standing up for yourself and standing against this creep, but because he might think twice about doing this to somebody else as well.

      Sending loads of support and strength.

      1. Doug Judy*

        This! Great job standing up to this. I am sure HR is just taking time to make sure they cross every “T” and dot every “I” before they act. You did an amazing thing Wednesday and you should be very proud!

    4. LKW*

      I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this. There are a couple of things to take away
      1. They listened
      2. They didn’t make you defend your position
      3. Your q- boss backed you up – validating your position (people are told they are oversensitive or imagining/misinterpreting)
      4. They are acting

      Sounds like they are taking swift action. Might not be a big satisfying action, but they are taking action.

      You did the right thing. You were brave. You were strong.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve never had to involve HR (mainly because my company didn’t have HR) but I did speak to my manager about getting one of the other staff members to stop wolf-whistling me every time I came in in the morning – he was in his 60s, I was in my early 20s. My manager listened and it was dealt with that very day. I didn’t hear anything else about it but I knew it had been dealt with because the wolf-whistling stopped.

      I think you’ve done everything you should have done. You should be proud that you’ve gone to HR. Well done. It takes women like you calling out this behaviour to really stamp it out. I know it’s scary – I was on the verge of tears when I spoke to my manager – but you’re doing the right thing. And I’m so glad that your quasi-boss also backed you up. It helps you know that you’re not crazy.

    6. The Rain In Spain*

      I am so glad HR appears to be taking this seriously and investigating for you. And I think it’s very brave of you to raise it to their attention. I hope they resolve this quickly.

      It’s not uncommon for HR to place the person being investigated on administrative leave- are you still having to interact with your harasser while they determine next steps? I hope not!

      1. Anonymous PSL*

        Unfortunately, I do. Because of what I’m working on, my team has almost daily standups. If he continues in his position, I’ll have to continue to be around him and work closely with him.

        1. The Rain In Spain*

          In that case I’d like to add this: it’s great that they are responsive and clearly actively working on this. I would certainly hope you don’t have to deal with any retaliatory behavior after they take whatever action they deem appropriate, but if you do, document and take it to quasi-boss and HR immediately.

          If you feel uncomfortable around him, perhaps it’s worth asking what accommodations can be made so you do not have to interact with him while they are investigating. And if the decision is made to discipline (rather than terminate his employment), consider asking to report to quasi-boss (or someone else) instead so you don’t have to continue to work so closely with him. Or if you really like your team, etc, see if they will consider moving *him* first.

          Again, so sorry you had this experience, and I hope it gets resolved quickly and to your satisfaction!