open thread – November 16-17, 2018

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 1,373 comments… read them below }

  1. Etak

    How do you know when you should move on from a job?
    I’ve been in my role for about a year and a half and this is my first post grad job. I absolutely love the culture (casual dress, flex start and end times, plenty of work from home options) and my coworkers…but I think I’m either at or rapidly approaching the limit of what my job can grow into. About a month after I started, the director of my department was let go and a csuite executive was handling our department, and in that time, it seemed like a lot of the opportunities I was initially excited about died on the vine without getting anywhere. About 75% of my job is just data entry and I’m confident I could keep doing this job well without any real challenges or growth for a while. It’s comfortable and easy. For what it’s worth, a new department head was hired about a month ago. I work in nonprofit development and our development is largely focused on 2 programs (lets say national teams program focused on p2p fundraising and a large annual black tie fundraiser) that, while I do some of the support work for, I don’t directly do work on. Meanwhile, I’ve been interviewing at a University (my alma mater actually) for a role in a larger, more organized (I think) development role that directly works with the dean’s office, student groups, and alumni relations. I’m reasonably confident that I will get an offer from them, as they sought me out before the job was posted (I’m not actively job searching), have been assuring me from the beginning the salary range I’ve asked for is very much in line with the position and that this position offers direct growth opportunities. The trade off would be moving to a more corporate environment (not a huge deal but I would need a new professional wardrobe as mine no longer fits), and taking a chance on a new workplace culture. I guess my question boils down to two prongs: how do you know when you should move on and how much should you weigh workplace culture and comfort against professional growth?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think if you’re questioning it, you’re probably ready.

      And there’s no harm in applying/interviewing. You’re not obligated to accept any offers and being comfortable where you are means you can take the time to find the right fit.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        Also it took me a heck of a lot longer than I thought to get my last job! I wish I’d started looking when I first started getting the feeling it was time to move on, because ultimately it was another whole year before I actually got the right opportunity to leave.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      It’s time to move on is hugely a personal thing. Some aren’t interested in it and are happy, that’s a’ok! Others thrive on opportunity, so when it starts to feel stagnant, it’s time to search around.

      I’m the kind that shot up so quickly my head is only now not spinning after 15 years of the upward climb. I only leave when I’m moving out of town or ownership and I lock horns in a death fight.

      I would curl up and die before accepting a job in a corporate structure, it’s not me at all.

      It’s all about you’re own needs and cost-risk analysis!

      It sounds like you’re upgrading and that’s by far a popular reason to leave!!

    3. Blue Eagle

      The one thing I like in this scenario is that they asked you to apply. There is always a question about why did you leave a job – and being able to answer that the next employer reached out directly to you to apply is always a positive in my book.

    4. Karen from Finance

      I think that one always can and should have an open mind about applying/interviewing, like Detective Amy Santiago (love the username) said. But I think that deep down, when you know you know. From your post, it sounds like you know that you’re ready to move on, but you’re having very normal doubts and fears that come whenever one approaches such a big change.

      For your second one, it’s very very personal, there’s no right “should” answer. I do think that you can’t really grow in a culture that is not fertile for you, but there’s always a bit of a trade-off.

    5. AnonEMoose

      Ultimately, these are decisions you can only make for yourself.

      But there are some questions you can ask yourself that might help:

      Am I likely to regret NOT taking this new opportunity, if offered? Is this new opportunity where I want to go with my career? Will I be able to not only learn and do new things, but meet people who could be great contacts for me in the future?

      Do I really enjoy the work I’m doing now, or is it more that it is comfortable and easy?

      What do I really enjoy about the people and the culture here? What do I know about the culture at the new opportunity and the people I’d be working with and reporting to?

      Is my commute going to be radically different, and how will that affect my daily life if so? Or would I be willing and able to move to be closer to this workplace?

      I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that occur to me off the top of my head.

      1. Midwest writer

        These are such great questions! I use the question about regret a lot. I recently was asked about a new job, and while I wasn’t looking, I ultimately accepted it for that reason. It offered growth in a direction that leads to retirement (something still 20 years away, but a distinct path I hadn’t see before in my particular field) and I knew I would regret not doing it. Two other times in the past four years I’ve been approached and knew those weren’t the right opportunities/right time. I never regretted saying no to those.

    6. Alternative Person

      I think when you have reached the growth limit of a position is probably the point where you need to start working out what you want. Doubly so if there’s no promotion/training/workflow development opportunities. (Which isn’t to say you have to take them if you’re happy where you are, but a workplace that doesn’t keep even a cursory eye on current industry standards or simply making things better then well, there’s probably a workplace culture issue to consider).

      Workplace culture comes down to preference. Does the level of formality matter to you? What level of dysfunction is manageable for you? What conditions will you stick around long enough in to grow?

      For me, I’ll live with whatever level of formality is expected, I’ll tolerate a certain amount of dysfunction if the pay check is good enough, but I won’t feel much need to hang around a place longer than necessary if there is no way to grow/improve.

    7. Daughter of Ada and Grace

      The advice I was given is to ask yourself three questions:
      1. Do you like what you’re working on? (The tasks, the mission, all that)
      2. Do you like who you’re working with?
      3. Are you learning new things?

      If the answer to two or more of those questions is “no”, then it’s time to look for a new opportunity. If the question to one of those questions is “no”, then it might be time to move on. (As in: “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.”) But then again, it might not be, depending on which question you answered “no” to and what your personal needs and goals are.

      And just because it’s time to move on from your current job, it doesn’t mean you have to take the first job you’re offered. Being employed gives you the opportunity to be picky about your next job.

    8. sparty07

      Have you actively engaged your leadership team to discuss options for advancement? Before accepting a new job offer (if one comes), I would make sure to have that conversation so you can compare apples to apples.

    9. I Work on a Hellmouth

      When you interview, really take the opportunity to find out as much about the office culture/management style/opportunities as you can. Since it’s at your old alma mater, maybe hit the grapevine and see if you can connect with anyone who can tell you about their personal experiences there, how they like it, etc. If what you learn peaks your interest and you feel like you’d be enthusiastic about the move, you totally have your answer.

    10. Artemesia

      It would be different if the job had been what you expected and there were opportunities for growth. I would be careful about the next job — really get clear on the job and its opportunities — but if it looks good, take it without a qualm. You may when leaving if they ask want to say that while you have enjoyed the the wonderful people you work with and appreciate the opportunity to have served at this institution that many of the opportunities discussed during hire were not longer available after re-organization and so it is time for your professional development for you to move on. Or not.

    11. Bluebell

      It sounds like you’re being very thoughtful and there’s some good advice on this thread. 18 months for an entry level development position is absolutely fine; I expect 18-24 months for any position like yours. And if you move to more frontline development, you will need to dress up sooner or later!

    12. Nonprofiteer

      In general, larger American universities tend to be the more organized and best-practice-oriented fundraising teams. If that’s the case at your alma mater, it would be a great step early in your career to have that kind of experience. If you’re also going to have career growth and work with different units, all the better. That’s my take, having worked for a wide variety of sectors and organization sizes.

      1. Generalist

        Yes, if you want to stay in development for a career, or even think you might, a university setting is generally a very good place to learn best practices, standard systems, etc. You might end up moving back to a less formal/smaller organization, but even a couple years in this environment should give you valuable knowledge and a stronger position for the next job search.

        (Director of Development here for a small nonprofit, who would consider higher education experience a real plus in evaluating candidates)

    13. Existentialista

      You mentioned the difference in dress between the two cultures, and I realize it isn’t your biggest criterion on which you will base your decision, but I would recommend making that very a low priority, because it can change so quickly.

      I once took a corporate job at a big, global company, and was happy about the more professional standards of dress, but then, about six months after I started, the CEO expanded Casual Fridays to Casual Summer, and shortly thereafter to Casual Forever. With more and more organizations going this direction, you may end up wearing your current wardrobe after all!

    14. OhGee

      You’re in nonprofit fundraising, you’ve been there a year and a half, and you feel like you can’t get much more out of the job? It is absolutely worthwhile to move on. Speaking to the culture/comfort vs growth thing, last month I moved on from my first fundraising heavy job to a job in a fundraising department at a university. My old job was very casual in dress and manner, very comfortable (I absolutely would never have been fired), I had a positive relationship with my boss and liked my coworkers – but also kinda stagnant. I spent time evaluating what I wanted out of my life and my work life, and concluded that, while I *love* casual dress and knowing that my job was very protected, I was bored and frustrated. Even a promotion couldn’t have kept me around, because the organization’s way of doing things just wasn’t going to change. My new workplace is demanding, my boss is very focused on giving her staff opportunities to grow, and ‘casual Fridays’ are the only time it’s appropriate to wear jeans. I love it. I can wear jeans and t-shirts at home. How you value all the things you can get out of and enjoy in your job is a very personal balance, but having been there, I strongly encourage you to move on. University fundraising work in particular will open many doors for you, no matter what you want to do next, and you can do like I did for your more pro wardrobe – careful thrifting and outlet/discount store shopping. In a uni, nobody cares where your clothes came from as long as you dress the part. Good luck!!

    15. Etak

      Thank you all so much! This was exactly what I needed, I’ve been holding out on discussing this with my usual professional sounding board (my mom, because I wasn’t ready to discuss it before it looked like an offer was coming, and roommate, because she’s in a particularly miserable job search herself). Especially the questions people posed, I really really appreciate it!

    16. Development diva

      You’ll get a much better understanding of how development works at a university than just about anywhere else. You can parlay that experience into a number of other opportunities. Do the more corporate things for awhile..

  2. Less Bread More Taxes

    I’m writing this on behalf of my partner who is not a commenter but has given me the go-ahead to write this.

    He works for an employer who is very lax about workplace relationships, to put it concisely. His department has two big teams, hardware and software. He’s part of the software group. The hardware manager, Peter, started about eight years ago. He is engaged to Cate, who works on the software team with my partner.

    Recently, the software manager Emma went on maternity leave and Cate was made team lead. That meant that Cate and Peter had to interact more and work together as the two managers in this department. I think it’s worth knowing that everyone is aware of their relationship, including the manager above them who presumably made the decision to semi-promote Cate.

    Now to the current situation: there’s been a reorganisation, and now Peter is managing both hardware and software, and while Cate is still technically a team lead, she along with the whole software team are now reporting to Peter.

    I can think of a hundred situations that could come up in which this is an issue. If someone has an issue with Cate as a team lead, they can’t go to their manager Peter because of the bias. If they go directly to her about it, she could talk to Peter privately and introduce some weird bias Peter will have against them as a result. The grandboss above them is likely not someone to go to as well as he made these organisation decisions. Effectively, no one on the software team feels that they have anyone they can go to anymore.

    It’s worth mentioning that Cate is already proving to be a terrible team lead. My partner had a discussion with her about doing a certain process that she was against. Since then, she’s completely ignored him. He thinks she’s taking everything other than enthusiastic agreement very personally.

    So I have two questions: is there anything that can be done about this? It’s not illegal, but is going to HR worth it? And two, how can he manage this in the meantime? How is he meant to relate to Cate and Peter?

    Tl;dr: Team lead is engaged to her manager. How can this be managed day-to-day and what if anything can be done about it?

    1. Less Bread More Taxes

      Some extra context: there are a lot of weird workplace relationships going on that no one has done anything about. Peter and Emma started working at the same time, and are very good friends. Peter, Cate, and Emma socialise a lot out of work, which has meant that already a coworker and her manager are awfully close. When Cate was made team lead, it was a given that it was a nepotistic move, seeing as there were people on the team there longer and more qualified to take up that position.

      As another example, Peter actually lives with one of his direct reports, which introduced bias on his team as well.

      I guess this is important because it’s highly unlikely management sees any problem with relationships among the hierarchy.

      1. LurkieLoo

        From this additional context, it sounds like this just is how the company is and the only thing that will really change it is some kind of blow up that causes policy change. Which seems like it would remove half the staff.

        I think your partner’s only real recourse is to address issues as he can when thy happen (himself or with HR as needed) or find a new employer. Although, if this has pretty much been going on for years, it doesn’t seem like it’s been an issue for your partner until Peter became a direct manager of Cate. I guess one question is if this is just the final straw or if it just seems like there might be more issues with this dynamic. If it’s the latter, I think he has to wait and see.

        Is he in a position where he can give feedback on how bad Cate is as a team lead and get her replaced with someone more appropriate for the position?

      2. TechWorker

        They’ve got to realise that having someone manage their partner is open to issues, even if they don’t see it as currently causing issues. Would it help to have a separate 3rd party (another manager, say) as an impartial ‘ear’ for if any problems did come up? Your company may be open to that as a suggestion at least. (having a designated person to go to if you have problems with your management line seems generally good practice, and is done to some extent at my company, but I don’t know how common it is).

        (I’m team leading in a company where my partner is a – not my – manager – and I would be the first person to complain if put in that position – not because he’s a bad manager just because it would be incredibly weird! It’s not impossible they’re not that impressed with the situation either…)

    2. JokeyJules

      it seems like this is a short term problem. Err on the side of caution and just keep your partners manager and Cate’s manager in the loop on everything. Your partner could present it to their manager, but if it truly will only be a few weeks, then it might just be something to try to get through as painlessly as possible

      1. Less Bread More Taxes

        Well, Emma is out until next August. So he’s being managed by this couple until then. I should have mentioned that.

        1. hello hi hello

          This is actually pretty awesome that the maternity leave is that long, not that that is what you are asking about

          1. Steve

            I have no idea where LBMT is from, but parental leave of 9 months is reasonable for quite a few countries in the world (I was curious and looked it up: the US has by far the worst policy of almost every country in the world, as 12 weeks is about average at the low end and it is very rare to have it unpaid (is it bad when the program to support new parents is worse than North Korea’s and the Congo’s?)
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave )

            1. Less Bread More Taxes

              Yeah, we’re in Ireland, which has six months maternity leave. But this manager has a special arrangement. I’m from the US, and this is just one reason I don’t miss it!

    3. kittymommy

      Would HR legitimately do anything though? If the company already has a pretty lax culture on this topic, I wonder if it’s even worth bringing up?

      1. CmdrShepard4ever

        Unfortunately I don’t think this is worth bringing up, personally in this situation I would not. I highly doubt that this reorganization was done without input from HR, or if HR had no input they are at least aware of the changes and that a person is engaged to her direct supervisor. If they have not done anything about it at this point, I don’t think they will do anything if you bring it up. This could have severe repercussions on your partner if they bring it up and Cate or Peter find out. Based on what you have already said about Cate and how she handles disagreements I don’t think it would turn out well for your partner if she finds out they complained. If this is truly an unacceptable situation your partner might need to start job searching.

    4. Not Maeby but Surely

      My first thoughts, based on the context you provided, I don’t think it’s worth trying to say anything to HR. This seems normal for this company and it is not likely to change. If I were in his shoes, I would just try to steer clear of any disagreements and stay under the radar. I would also be job searching ASAP. That situation sounds like it sucks if you’re not one of the people on Peter’s favorites list.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree, get through this crisis and there will be another one of similar impact. Take everything and put it to one side except for the part about she stopped talking to your partner because Partner disagreed with her. That alone renders your partner ineffective as an employee. We cannot make contributions if the boss won’t listen or communicate with us.
        Now add back in all the other crap and this is starting to look like a pretty miserable place to work. For your partner’s health and well being it might very well be time to move on.

    5. Close Bracket

      > The grandboss above them is likely not someone to go to as well as he made these organisation decisions.

      I wouldn’t assume that. Sometimes these conflicts of interest are taken into account and measure are set up when the decision is made. For example, at a past job where a section lead had his girlfriend reporting to him (they were hired at the same time, no less), the grand boss did the girlfriend’s reviews. Obviously, I have no idea if measures were put in place at your partner’s work place, but it would be worth keeping an open mind about and maybe indirectly trying to find this out.

      Otherwise, I’m sorry. Nepotism sucks.

  3. AnonAnon

    My colleagues don’t show up to my meetings.

    I manage a cross-divisional project that involves staff from a number of different teams and programs. My project is a small part of each of their jobs (10% or less), and as a result it is generally their lowest priority. They all do their work and the project is successful… but they constantly no-show for our project team meetings.

    (The meetings are once a month for an hour and are well-designed and a good use of time. We debrief project activities, discuss upcoming challenges, plan for future growth, etc. – we’re not covering stuff that should or could be done over email.)

    What should I do? They’re not just blowing the meetings off; they’re making reasonable choices about how to spend their limited time. But the result is that either key people are out of the loop on the project (and we don’t get their important input into our discussions) or I spend an impossible amount of time having extra conversations with folks who don’t show up to the meetings.

    1. JokeyJules

      when in doubt, Meeting Recap emails.

      Half of my coworkers are too busy to attend the meetings, so we send out a meeting recap every time. Then, nobody should be missing anything. It might seem redundant, but so is having the same conversation repeatedly

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        This.

        Also ask for status updates in advance if they aren’t going to make it so you can report on it during the meeting and include it in the recap.

      2. AnonAnon

        We send meeting recap meetings to all participants, but that doesn’t help us get input from the folks who weren’t there. (We also invite input before meetings from the people we know won’t be there, when they give us enough notice to do so.)

    2. Anon From Here

      Two things come immediately to mind:

      Can you involve everybody else in nailing down the date-time-place of the meeting? Maybe if they felt more personal buy-in on planning and calendaring it, they would be more likely to attend.

      But also I’d communicate with everybody and straight-up ask, “Why aren’t these meetings fully attended? We need to meet in person, it’s only one hour once a month, so let’s get our act together.”

      1. Lily Rowan

        Following up on this and others’ comments, in my office, you’d want to have all of that communication one-on-one. Maybe not with every single person, but it might be worth your while to schedule 15-30 minutes with key stakeholders to discuss all of this stuff. Maybe they think an email would suffice! Maybe they would come at a different time, etc.

    3. Kathenus

      Maybe you can take a step back and ask the stakeholders their ideas on how to share needed information and updates. My thoughts when reading the post are that the meetings either aren’t a good use of time from their perspective, they are somehow timed inconveniently so that they have more pressing priorities that conflict, or the fact that you now spend ‘an impossible amount of time having extra conversations with folks who don’t shop up to the meetings’ means they have no incentive to attend.

      Lay out the problem, ask for help with solutions. And then if people still blow off whatever type of meeting or arrangement is agreed to don’t do all the extra work of following up with them individually. So first, incentivize people going by making sure the meetings or other arrangement is useful and as convenient as feasible, and second, there need to be consequences if they don’t participate or they’ll have no reason to consistently do so.

      Herding cats is fun, huh?

      1. AnonAnon

        Yes. The project is intentionally highly collaborative, which is reflective of my organization’s culture generally.

    4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      I’d argue that if they are still getting the work done and you’re not having any issues then the meetings may not be totally necessary.

      To keep people in the loop then send out the meeting updates. If you are lacking input they are ok with how the project is proceeding and they don’t really have any input.

      If you are doing the legwork outside of the meetings, then a general email to the group stating that you’ve noticed participation and attendance has been down, ask if they should still be included in the project or if they have a designee that should attend the meetings, but you will not be able to debrief individuals one on one.

    5. Trout 'Waver

      I don’t want to sound glib, but if they do their work and the project is successful, who cares? Take the W and focus on problems that are actually problems.

      I’ve managed cross-functional projects before and when the project met the success criteria, we stopped having meetings. That didn’t meet I stopped managing the project. But I did in infrequent one-on-ones rather than formal meetings.

      1. AnonAnon

        The project is successful because I spend a lot of time meeting with everyone individually, when they don’t attend the scheduled meetings. It’s not a sustainable solution.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Ah. Then loop your boss in and ask her what can be done here.
          It might be a case of bigger bosses need to clear these folks calendars a bit so they can afford a one hour meeting a month. Because time is so severely short, this sounds like a management problem, not your problem.

    6. Cinnamonroll

      If there are admins who handle calendars, talk to them. If say 70% of your group is meeting on Thursdays for something else, then having your meeting right after that in the same room may be more favorable for attendance. And maybe do it as a working lunch.

      1. AnonAnon

        The meetings are scheduled based on the calendars of the people involved, so they’re not at a regular time (which might actually be a part of the problem!). They’re scheduled several months in advance, and the admin who schedules them selects dates and times that are open on everyone’s calendar.

        (… and that’s reminding me that a problem may be that folks don’t all use their calendars in the same way, and time that looks open on someone’s calendar isn’t necessarily available.)

    7. Ms.Vader

      I’d ask how do you know the meetings are well designed? I run a lot of meetings as part of my job and I would like to think they are all well designed and necessary but that’s not always the case. Just wondering if perhaps while you may think they are, others aren’t feeling the same way.

      1. AnonAnon

        We evaluate each meeting (with a quick whip around at the end of each meeting; this is a standard practice at my organization).

        1. Darren

          Wouldn’t that quick whip around be biased to those that actually show up though? i.e. the people that don’t think it has value and are being “polite” about it will just not be showing up hence leading to a lean toward those that do find value in the meetings going “Yeah these meetings are valuable”.

          If they truly felt these meetings were important and a good use of time they’d be showing up to them. Treat this as them politely telling you that they don’t think these are a good use of their time (i.e. maybe 50 minutes of the hour is on information they don’t need and the 10 relevant minutes they can be caught up on in a quick email).

    8. Workerbee

      I’m going to go the route of technology (even as I’m not 100% sure “no-show” definitely means in person vs an online presence, so what I’m about to say may be unhelpful).

      If these meetings would make an already successful project even better–think changing B-grade work to A–can you move the format from in-person to online?

      My org uses Microsoft Yammer and we’re going to be rolling out Microsoft Teams either late this year or early next. Both are one-stop-shops for projects from meeting notes and conversations to file versions. I was thinking something like that, or another project management software/collaboration space, could keep everyone in the loop AND with far less running around by you with all those extra conversations.

      1. AnonAnon

        We have a Sharepoint site for the project (… which I find less than useful, but an org-wide policy) that is updated with all the information/files/etc. It includes a discussion forum, but that’s hardly used. I’d guess that we’d be far less likely to get meaningful engagement in discussion on the site than we do in the meetings.

      2. Emily K

        Yes, my team is spread across multiple office sites + plenty of remote workers, so we always have a vcon line set up, and it’s not uncommon for people to join vcons from their own office even if others are meeting in a conference room somewhere else in the same building.

        Letting folks join by vcon a double-edged sword: it makes the very busy people more likely to join if they don’t have to leave their desk – they don’t lose time task-switching or walking around the building, and they can more easily continue working on other projects with the multi-screen setup at their desk than by bringing their laptop to a conference room.

        Of course, the people who are working through the vcon often aren’t quite as engaged and will participate somewhat less than others, but it might still be an improvement if you can get them to join a vcon from their desk and the worst-case-scenario you might have to occasionally prompt them to respond to something when their attention has drifted, vs the alternative where they don’t come the meeting at all and you have to chase them down later for a one-to-one conversation.

    9. Close Bracket

      Once a month for an hour and they regularly can’t go? Good heavens.

      Is it possible to set up a conference call and have people be able to call in and stay at their desks? This was pretty common at a past job of mine. I found it weird, especially when I was the one organizing the meeting and was alone in the conference room, but that’s what worked for them.

      1. AnonAnon

        Interesting! We often have people calling in when they are working remotely/squeezing it in between other meetings/etc., but I hadn’t considered the idea of making that a more standard option and inviting folks who are in the building to call in rather than actually come to a meeting room. Thanks!

    10. AnonAnon

      Thank you, all!

      This conversation has helped to make clear that the problem is the overloaded workloads of the people involved in this project. So: the question shouldn’t be “how do I get people to come to my meetings?” but rather “how can we collaborate in the ways that we want to, given the overloaded workloads of the key participants?”

      1. Gumby

        Yes, but I also want to reiterate one thing which has been mentioned: right now they don’t have a problem w/ not attending the meetings. *You* have the problem, but they face no consequences. It shouldn’t be this way, and you wouldn’t want to endanger the project as a whole, but sometimes the only way to get people to do what they are supposed to be doing anyway is to drop a few of the balls that you are juggling. I know they are busy but you are making it too convenient for them to prioritize other things over the meetings or otherwise pulling their weight on the project.

    11. BluntBunny

      Having an action tracker where you can see the status of team members tasks. Getting people in put on the agenda and sharing it advance so people can prioritise. Also not sure if you are using outlooks but people should be RSVPing and not just no showing. You could ask to have a 10 min 1:1 catchup with people who are unable to attend.

  4. The Ginger Ginger

    This is a low stakes thing but – my company policy is 2 WFH days a month with 24 hour notice (though both the count and the notice period is not really enforced – in practice, it’s much more flexible than that). My “problem” is how I give notice.

    I (a woman) typically ask my boss (a man) – “Is it okay if I WFH on…”, “If it’s not’s a problem, I’d like to WFH on…”, etc. I don’t THINK I’m softening it as a gendered thing. In my mind, I’m asking because he’s my boss and ultimately can say no, and I don’t want to sound like I’m just assuming his agreement, though he’s always said yes. The thing is – he always seems bemused by my asking. Last time, he said something to the effect of, “it’s fine for you to WFH when you need to”, etc. But I can’t NOT let him know I’ll be remote, so….HOW DO I DO THAT WITHOUT ASKING? I mean clearly I can say, “I’m working from home Wednesday.” but to me, that sounds weird and presumptuous of me to say to my boss. I’ve tried in person, this time I did it over office IM (he hasn’t responded yet), but I still phrased it as a casual question (“cool if I wfh on…?). I know this is a minor thing and a nice problem to have. But what the heck? I’m a bit at a loss how to do this. And I’m concerned his bemusement may eventually escalate to exasperation, since last time he went so far as to throw that comment in the mix.

    And also, this is a lot of emotional labor to do around something as simple as a WFH request, and I’m getting annoyed about that too lol.

    1. ThatGirl

      “Hey boss, I’m planning to WFH on (date), please let me know if there are any conflicts”.

      It took me awhile to get out of “asking” and more into telling but trust me someone will tell you if there is a problem (and if they don’t, it’s on them).

      1. School Inclusion Specialist

        +1

        Basically your intent to signify that you are not making assumptions is having a different impact on your boss (given the bemused response, I’d guess he’s thinking “why is she asking, does she not understand the rule?”, or worse that you lack confidence). The phrasing from ThatGirl is perfect. You state what you are going to do, and your desire to signify you are not making assumptions is much more straightforward.

        Good luck–this is hard. Part of what helped me shift from questions to statements is realizing that it was passive aggressive to ask something that I was planning to do. I also realized it was making me look like I was lacking confidence when in reality I was trying to signal that I wanted collaboration. Once I was straightforward and upfront with what I wanted out of an interaction/meeting, I got better results and looked confident. Also asking also opened me up to push back that wasn’t really relevant. So I make statements but follow up with “let me know if you have questions” or a specific area I was looking for feedback in (For example, If I was sharing a support plan for a student, I might say “if you have a different system in your class that I’m not considering, please let me know” which makes any subsequent conversation more productive). I dropped “or concerns” after “let me know if you have questions” because I didn’t want to open pandora’s box and have a colleague unload their issues. I know my colleagues/supervisor see me as a supportive team member, so this shift wasn’t a big deal because I wasn’t suddenly becoming an irrationally demanding team member. I was just being more clear with my needs/requests, which helped everyone involved. This isn’t your specific problem, but hopefully this logic will help you find a phrasing you’re comfortable with.

      2. MonteCristo85

        This is what I say too. It carries the implication that you are willing to change if necessary, but without the “asking” part.

      3. Londoncallingwhentheratesarecheaper

        yeah. treat it as you would any other notification of time (Hey I’m going to run to the ladies room before the next meeting. Hey I’m going to grab lunch before our 3 o’clock)

      4. MissDisplaced

        Yes, “I plan to WFH on (date) and (date), let me know if there are any conflicts.”

        I recently had to “tell” my boss that I would be taking some time off for several medical appointments.
        “Hey boss, just wanted to let you know that I will be taking some time off for several medical appointments in preparation for a minor surgical procedure next month. I will put them on my calendar in case there are any conflicts.”

        In theory, I wouldn’t have to ask at all for a one-off medical appointment, but it ended up being quite a lot (!) of short appointments and I didn’t want him to think I was disappearing, unavailable or shrugging off work. Or that it was some ongoing long-term medical issue either.

    2. Boo

      How about an email just saying “Hi Bob. Just to let you know I’ll be wfh on Wednesday – trust ok, but let me know if any issues”.

    3. Catleesi

      Could you go somewhere in between two two examples, like “I plan on working from home Monday. Let me know if there are any conflicts I’m unaware of.”

      1. Artemesia

        How do the guys manage this? Do they bend over backwards to signal — let me know if it is okay, or do they just say ‘I plan to WFH on Friday’. I’d be doing the latter without the softening. The fact that you are announcing it, gives the boss the chance to not approve it because X; that is implied. So I’d drop the sniveling part and just say ‘I plan to work from home on Friday November 16’ and leave it at that — put it in the heading of the email too so he doesn’t even have to open it.

        1. The Ginger Ginger

          I did ask one of my male peers (close to my age, the other is older/more senior) on the team and he didn’t have a good answer either. So that didn’t give me the insight I was hoping for.

    4. Wild Bluebell

      In my last job what we did was sending an email saying something like this in the subject line: “FYI: I’m working from home today “.

      ( means “end of message”, in case not everyone uses that. That’s there to let people know they don’t need to read the body of the email)

      It sound like your boss doesn’t want to have to respond “yes, it’s ok” every time, he just wants to be aware that you’re working from home on this particular day.

      1. Wild Bluebell

        ugh… The comment ate the EOM tag that was supposed to be at the end of the sentence, and that means “end of message”

      2. londonedit

        I understand the overthinking too, but in my job we also just send an email to our immediate team (boss and colleagues) saying ‘Working from home tomorrow’ in the subject line and then something like ‘I’ll be on email or [phone number] all day’ or ‘I’m planning to do some reading, so I may put my out-of-office on for a few hours – text me on [phone number] if something urgent happens’. Working from home is expected and encouraged in my office, and most people work from home one day a week, maybe one day a fortnight, so even though my temptation would be to ask first (because I’ve had toxic bosses who have treated their employees with suspicion) I’ve learned that it’s really not necessary!

    5. Borgette

      If you can make your WFH schedule a regular pattern, it would give you less flexibility but could eliminate the awkward emotional labor. (i.e. I’m planning to WFH every second and fourth Wednesday next year and I’ve marked those days as remote on the calendar. Let me know if you need me to switch any of those dates around, thanks!)

    6. Namast'ay in Bed

      I think you’re overthinking things (I used to do this too so I TOTALLY get it). You can literally just say “I’m going to work from home next Tuesday” and leave it at that. If your boss treats you like adults and lets you manage your time, it shouldn’t require anything more than that. If there’s a reason to wfh and you feel like sharing it, you can include that too (“I have something after work Wednesday that I need to leave from home right at 5 for so I’ll be wfh that day”, “I need to let the repair person in Friday so I’ll be wfh”, etc), but that should be completely unnecessary, you don’t need a reason to want to wfh. Keep in mind that you aren’t asking permission to do something, you are keeping your boss informed of the situation – there’s nothing presumptuous about it.

      But I get it, it feels weird in the beginning to just state that you’re going to do something, especially if you’ve worked in places before where you did have to ask permission, or if you are early in your career and memories of being in school or at home where permission had to be granted for everything are still relatively fresh. Just try stating your plan and see how it goes – once you try it and see that it won’t make your boss hate you it gets waaay easier. Your boss’s bemused reaction makes me think you’ll have no problem.

    7. Laura H.

      You could say “I plan to WFH on Wednesday, is there anything that would throw a wrench into?”(or applicable rephrasing of the second half.)

      That’s clear explanation of your plans and also gives boss the clear opportunity to say “I really do need you in office on Wednesday.” if he needs to.

      As you imply your relationship with the boss is good, you might also ask “Do you have a preference on how I request WFH?” That also gives him an opportunity to alleviate your anxiety about this- either as a “nope keep doing what you’re doing” or giving you instructions on how he’d like it done.

    8. ThankYouRoman

      I can flex my schedule but need to be somewhat transparent so nobody needs to break a sweat looking for me only to realize I’m gone for the day due to an appointment or whatever.

      My go to is just saying “I’m starting around 7 instead of 9 tomorrow, I have plans for the afternoon!”

      As a boss, they’re always going to be able to say “Oh no…we need you here for XYZ….” and go from there.

      I err in favor of asking until you’re aware of how your boss handles these things. Honestly most aren’t like the post we had awhile back that was indigent over being “told” by staff when they’re taking PTO. PTO and WFH are really similar given the discretion and flexibility involved.

    9. Bubble Witch

      A lot of folks in my office just create WFH calendar appointments and invite their boss. That way, it’s clearly on a schedule you both can see so nobody forgets.

    10. Workerbee

      I came from a company that didn’t treat its people like adults to a company that did, so it took me a bit to shift my own gears. Imagine being trusted to do your work when not nailed to your desk! It’ll definitely be a criteria if I ever start job-searching.

      So I had to go from the “Mother May I” to “I’ll be WFH tomorrow” and eventually to “I am WFH today.”

      I do still find myself giving a reason. It’s hard to unpick ingrained habits. I don’t think it hurts, though. It’s usually along the lines of “Working around an appointment on my side of town” to “I seem to have the grippe and don’t want to infect anyone” to “I need to concentrate on X.”

      As others have suggested, as your boss seems to be more flexible than the actual policy, so framing it as an FYI will do nicely.

      1. Workerbee

        Should add that the WFH policy is up to each manager for their employees. Our call center, for example, is a bit more rigid, though we’re moving toward making sure employees are set up with equipment at home.

        I made sure to tell the employee I inherited that she can WFH whenever she needs to, and just give me an FYI in the morning. This is more for in case anyone asks me where she is so I won’t look dumb. :) I’d like to move entirely away from her having to tell me, actually, but don’t know if that would work with our overall business model.

      2. Existentialista

        Keep working on not giving a reason. I made it my personal policy some years ago to always put just “Appointment” on my calendar, whether it was to go to the Dentist or to meet a tradesperson at home or to meet a friend for lunch. This way, if it ever happens that my appointment is a job interview with another company, or something else that is none of my coworkers’ business, no one will be suspicious of my sudden lack of reason.

    11. Karen from Finance

      I would have asked the same way you are, but once he told you to not ask, I’d just make the switch to “I’m working from home Wednesday”. I take that comment on his side as permission to have the freedom to have your own schedule. If he has a problem with the date he’ll still let you know.

    12. Trout 'Waver

      As a manager, I hate the mother-may-I game also. Make sure your work gets done and you’re generally available to your coworkers, and I’ll treat you as an adult. But sometimes, it’s taken several corrections to break people out of the asking permission thing.

      In my mind, decent managers don’t want to make people ask permission to use their perks unless there is a business need that requires permission.

    13. Faith

      I will add my voice to the chorus of people who suggest saying “Hey, boss, I’m planning to WFH tomorrow. Please let me know if there are any issues/concerns with that”.

    14. Anonandanon

      Yup, I’ve changed my language around out of office requests as well, I inform not ask, but include the words “let me know of any conflicts”.

    15. TootsNYC

      How about “I’m planning to WFH”?
      Will that soften it enough for you to feel you’re being deferential enough, and yet also make you feel more confident, and him to feel less like you’re not being confident enough?

      (I do like bosses that indicate a subordinate should have some level of confidence and agency and empowerment in dealing with these sorts of things. I like for people who work for me to feel that they don’t need my permission for every little thing; I feel like I’ve succeeded as a boss when they act empowered.)

    16. It's Pronounced Bruce

      Think of it this way: Last time you had this conversation, he told you that you don’t need to ask. Not in those exact words, but he conveyed that there is essentially a standing approval for you to do this. I get why you feel it could be presumptuous, but it’s not presumptuous to give a flat notification when the person you’re notifying has told you that’s fine.

    17. LGC

      Okay so.

      Disclaimer: I’m a dude. And in fact I have a woman who reports to me that uses a lot of softening language in her requests. But…I think you’re overthinking this a bit.

      The most important thing is – is this the only thing you see that’s wrong? It sounds like you and your boss get along well, so if that’s the only issue…I wouldn’t tie myself in knots trying to fix it! And if there are other things wrong, I’d examine all of them (or at least the major issues).

      Plus, sexism is A Thing, but you can’t read his mind. Maybe he just thinks it’s a quirk of yours. Maybe he already knows what you’re going to say and just wants you to get to the point (like me). Maybe it’s something else. The fact is – you can’t really know.

      That said – I think the second phrasing is a bit flowery. I usually use that when I’m asking for something large that I’m not pretty sure I’ll get – like time off on short notice. I’d try to keep it as short as possible – like, “Hey, can I work from home tomorrow?”

      1. The Ginger Ginger

        Oh I for sure don’t think gender is coming into his side of this at all. I think it MIGHT be some societal training on MY part that is causing me to feel weird about not softening the request into question that may be in play here. I mean, my forebrain is thinking – “it’s rude to not ask this as a question”, but the subtext of that? It could be because as a woman I’ve been trained to be really concerned about being rude, especially to men. I hope not, because gross. But I consider myself a fairly confident, straightforward person, yet this very minor stupid thing has taken up way more of my time and brain space than it should, so WHO KNOWS.

        1. LGC

          I wouldn’t beat myself up if I were you. (…okay, I WOULD beat myself up. But you still shouldn’t!)

          Everyone else has provided really good advice for different ways to request it, so I’m not going to repeat that (except to say again that I don’t think you NEED to change what you’re doing much at all!). But…like, I’m just guessing, but it reads to me like you’re now aware of a relatively innocent verbal tic and trying to figure out where it comes from, and questioning a lot of stuff.

          I think that for whatever reason you picked it up…it’s not a bad reason per se (in that it doesn’t make you flawed). Like a lot of people smarter than I have said: he’s implicitly giving you permission to be more direct, take him up on it!

          Also, ask yourself – would you feel more comfortable being direct if your boss was a woman? My guess would be no (you’d feel about the same).

    18. Don't you be that kind of barn owl

      Why don’t you talk to him about it and find out how he would prefer you to address it?

    19. Lemon Lyman

      I send my boss an Outlook meeting invitation for the days I work from home. I set it as “all day” and “free” so it is just a bar at the top of her calendar that day. If there is a problem with me taking a particular day, she can decline the invitation, so it is still “asking permission,” just not as directly. It works well. Our department is tiny, though, so it isn’t like she has 15 people sending her notifications each week. I could see it becoming annoying with a bigger number.

    20. ag47

      My office has a similar process for requesting leave (technically limited days, but no one tracks PTO or cares about when you’re in the office, as long as work gets done).

      I used to do the same thing when I asked for leave (“would it be ok if ….”) , until one of my bosses told me to just tell management and put the onus of management to respond if there’s an objection. So now I say something like: “I’m planning on taking leave on [X]. If I don’t hear any objections by [date], I’ll assume this request is approved.”

      You probably don’t need all that for WFH notice and it’s a bit formal, but I think some of the suggestions made here do the trick. The key is putting the onus on him to raise concerns, not asking for permission.

  5. Technical Difficulties

    I have a question about accommodations for someone who is working from home. I’m not their boss, I’m the administrative support person for their team. This person, Sue, just started doing permanent work from home a couple weeks ago and is already driving me up the wall with her requests. We’re a meeting-heavy office and Sue has decided she needs to be video conferenced into all of her meetings. This is a huge pain in the butt because only a few of our conference rooms have webcams and the system is always breaking. Her requests require me to stop my crazy busy day and spend half an hour setting up the computers in the conference room for her, just because she wants to ‘see who she’s talking to’.

    There used to be someone else who worked from home on our team but they only called into meetings. Sue, on the other hand, wants the video. If she just wanted to screen share documents, anyone in the meeting could set that up and do a conference call with her but the demand of the video is the issue. And when other people have to conference call in, they can’t hear each other while she’s talking through the computer.

    What should I do? I think if I asked Sue to think more clearly about what she actually needs video for, she’d just say she needs it for every meeting. I think I’d have more luck going to the head of the team, who would want to know that this is eating up a lot of my time, but that feels like going over her head. And for the record, there was no consulting with me about adding this to my daily tasks; she just said she expected me to do this every day.

    1. Helpful

      Say no. Or, explain the situation to your boss and have her tell Sue no. Call-in only unless video is strictly necessary.

    2. Catleesi

      I think the fact that her request is making is difficult for other people to fully participate in the call when they need to (they can’t hear her), and that she is having you take all this time doing set up means you could ask your boss/the project lead. Something along the lines of whether it’s ok this is going to be permanent going forward, and working in how much time it is taking you might help too. They might not be away this is taking you away from responsibilities that may be more of a priority.

    3. Qwerty

      If the head of the team would want to know that this is eating up a lot of your time, then it sounds like they need to know that. Maybe Sue has actually been told to video conference in because no one realizes that it causes so much extra work for you. If Sue needs the video, then the system needs to be fixed/upgraded so that it doesn’t break all the time. If she doesn’t need the video, than her boss is the better person to tell her to stop adding to your workload.

    4. kittymommy

      Is your boss her boss as well? If so I would say you probably need to go to them, let them know about this request from Sue, inform the of how much extra work it is outside of your normal duties (and the fact that it sounds like the tech doesn’t work a lot of the time) and see if they still want you to do it or if they want to nix it. Especially if the need for video isn’t really there AND it’s taking up a significant part of your time, this probably needs to be a call for the higher-ups to make.

    5. Murphy

      Yeah, I’d talk to your boss. If it’s taking up that much of your time, they need to know about it, and tell you whether or not that’s appropriate and necessary.

    6. Susan K

      She’s being unreasonable. You have tried to discuss it with her, but she won’t budge, so there’s nothing wrong with going to the head to the team. If you feel bad about it, maybe you could tell her, “I’m having a lot of issues with setting up the video for these meetings, so I’m going to talk to Lucinda about whether it makes sense to continue doing this, because if the video is necessary, we may have to upgrade our video conference equipment.”

      1. CmdrShepard4ever

        While the amount of work that goes into setting up video calls seems to be unreasonable, I don’t know that Sue is necessarily being unreasonable. I have worked in support roles before and most often people making requests for things have no clue what the logistics of that request entails, how much time and work that entails. Especially for something that seems as simple and video calling into a meeting. With the widespread use of video chatting facetime, skype, FB etc… people can think the request is simple and easy.

        Also I don’t think TD has discussed this with her.
        “What should I do? I think if I asked Sue to think more clearly about what she actually needs video for, she’d just say she needs it for every meeting.”

        TD might be right in the response from Sue. But maybe if TD explains the details of video conference and how much time and effort it is Sue would back down a bit. This would be my first recommendation. But if TD thinks even with the extra info Sue would want video then I say go to the department supervisor/manager and mention this.

    7. animaniactoo

      Go to the head of team – but to ask how they want you to handle this *because* your company isn’t really well set up for it. Do they want to invest in the technology and make it easier to do, or tell Susan that she can’t video in or can only ask for video in if it’s for [X conditions]? (Tactfully phrased of course, just that this is the gist of the question you want to ask).

    8. LKW

      Talk to your boss and frame it as “This is taking up x hours of my day/week. To continue this, I will need to stop or reassign one of the following tasks. Please let me know your decision.”

      Frame it as – I can do this but this is the cost.

    9. LCL

      Tell Sue what she is asking isn’t compatible with the technology you have. That what you are able to set up is limited to phone conference or nothing. Tell her what would be needed to make the video conferencing work, if you know, or provide the number of the person in your company who is responsible for that kind of tech. You are putting yourself in a bad situation if you are expected to make broken tech work and not saying anything.

      1. TootsNYC

        also–speaking of “broken tech”–if this is a frequent request, maybe the tech needs to change, and if The Powers That Be don’t know, they can’t fix it.

        Bubble this up.

    10. Purple Jello

      Problem: she’s taking up your time for something you don’t think is necessary.
      Have you tracked how much time a day you’re spending on this support function? Is the problem solely the amount of time, or also when it’s requested (last minute), or the time of day that you’re requested to assist (during another project)? is there an alternative video option (Skype on someone’s laptop?) What about IT support?

      Then I’d talk to Sue: “I’m now spending an additional x amount of time a day providing support for setting up video for virtually every one of your conference calls – time I have to take away from other assigned projects that I still have to support. I’m not able to continue to keep this up and fulfill my assigned responsibilities. (if this is true) What other options do you have if the video conferencing is not working? Can you work with the IT department to fix the equipment?” -or- if you do have time, but it’s the timing of the requests: “I’ll need at least X notice to be able to support these requests – can you do this?”

    11. ThankYouRoman

      She’s above you in the sense that she’s on a team you support, right?

      To to the lead and let them know. You’re not going over her head. You’re going to a designated lead who gets to filter your work load as they see fit. It’s wasteful to dedicate 30 minutes of your labor to her whimsical desires. It’s not a need, it’s a want. You’re not HER assistant, you’re a team support agent! Nobody gets to hog your time without the boss knowing it’s happening and signing off.

    12. Linzava

      I’ve been there, remote employees and tend to be a lot worse with admin staff than the in house employees. When they used to push me to do their work, I’d hard-line them and tell them where they could learn how to do it. Stuff like what your dealing with, I’d give them the extension of the tech department. Remember, you have a job to do to and all these little things add up. If she wants video conferencing, I would suggest it’s not possible and she’ll need to request an equipment upgrade from her supervisor.

      1. Friday afternoon fever

        Agree on taking a hard stance on things that aren’t part of your job (you want me to … open this PDF you emailed me and … email it back? because you can’t get it to open? Sorry, I have … sooooo many other, more relevant things to do) but it sounds like this IS to some extent part of OP’s job and the problem isn’t the task itself so much as the time it is taking and the frequency they’re being asked to do it. That calls for a conversation with their manager.

    13. Rose Tyler

      I’m coming at this from a different perspective because I’m about to return to work after a long period of disability and being able to work from home is something my doctor has written out as an accommodation under the ADA. There could be more going on here than you know and I would not just assume that Sue is working from home or asking to video into the conferences just to be a pain. If it’s part of your job to set up conferencing I would not assume that you can just independently say no.

      Sue believes she needs video to effectively work from home, so try to meet her there. I would set up time to talk with her and in a neutral way explain that you want to support her and help her be effective in WFH but you’re having X, Y and Z issues (assuming it’s things she can control, like asking for video on too short a notice). Try to problem-solve together. If the issues are only tech related or if you and Sue can’t get to a solution together, then I’d go to your boss to explain the issue and what you’ve already tried, and ask for guidance.

      1. LurkieLoo

        I think this is a good approach. If it is the time, if she could even provide you with her calendar so you can easier schedule the setup or try to put all her meetings in the same room with the easiest setup or something like that. Or it might truly be that she just likes to see everyone. If it’s that, maybe you can reach a compromise where there are certain meetings where it is more important to see everyone’s reaction and others where it’s not.

        I also like the idea of trying to implement skype through a laptop or tablet so that it’s more portable and (possibly) less flaky.

        Maybe you can video conference with her and the team lead to come to a solution that keeps you from feeling overly burdened with one person’s requests and keeps her from feeling isolated from her team.

      2. char

        Yes, I was thinking along the same lines. To me this seems more like a tech problem than a Sue problem. It shouldn’t take half an hour to set up a video call in this day and age!

    14. Mama Bear

      I agree with those who say to bring it up to the team lead or whoever. I used to work remotely often, or otherwise be remote for a client’s meetings. If Skype wasn’t behaving that day, then it was a waste of time to not just dial in instead. I used whatever tech worked that day. If I needed materials for the meeting, I could get them emailed to me so that even if I wasn’t watching the presentation, I could follow along. And vice versa. For many meetings, materials in advance is required anyway. It’s not unreasonable or unheard of to only use a conference line.

      I wonder if she is someone who works from home because of circumstances and not really because that’s where she feels most comfortable, so the video thing is her trying to stay relevant to her office/she’s not sure how to interact with her staff without seeing them.

    15. BWooster

      “What should I do? I think if I asked Sue to think more clearly about what she actually needs video for, she’d just say she needs it for every meeting. I think I’d have more luck going to the head of the team, who would want to know that this is eating up a lot of my time, but that feels like going over her head. And for the record, there was no consulting with me about adding this to my daily tasks; she just said she expected me to do this every day.”

      Next time she asks explain that it’s taking a lot out of your day to sort this for her and add that if this is something she requires to do her job on a consistent basis, you’ll need to chat with the team lead to get her to reprioritize your tasking to allow time for this.

      In essence “I’m going to tell the boss if you do not cut this out” but in a nicer way.

    16. Londoncallingwhentheratesarecheaper

      Let the head of the meetings know, and tell the meeting head that they should request video rooms for the meetings they want Sue to video into. Otherwise it’s call in/chat only.

    17. ten-four

      This is a tech or a workflow problem, not a Sue problem. I vote for a multi-step process:

      1. Tell Sue that you want to make sure she has what she needs to work from home effectively, and you’re finding that setting up video calls is taking X hours a week, which isn’t sustainable for you. Then say you’d like to set up a time to meet with her and her team lead to talk about potential solutions, like changing the tech or ensuring that all meetings happen only in X, Y, Z rooms.

      2. Have that meeting and push the problem firmly into the team lead’s lap. Reiterate that you want to make sure Sue can effectively work from home and that you’ve run into a snag: this is eating up X hours and making it hard for you to do Y things. How would you like us to solve this, team lead?

      3. From there you should either have a re-prioritized work load, or someone pushing for a tech change, or some other workable solution.

      Key point: it’s NOT on Sue to solve this by not dialing in to meetings. This is a technical or workflow problem for remote workers that needs to be solved at the managerial level.

      1. JessicaTate

        THIS. If companies are committing to full-time work from home staff, the management needs to deal with what infrastructure needs to be in place to make that work effectively. I think this is spot-on framing to try to make that conversation happen. Good luck!

    18. Emily K

      Honestly, it sounds like the problem is your system is always breaking, not that Sue wants to take advantage of a system that is ostensibly available.

      My team has a lot of remote workers and video conferencing is vastly superior to audio conferencing. People participate noticeably more when they 1) know they’re visible to others and 2) can see others. On audio calls people in the room forget that anyone is even on the phone and the people on the phone often find it hard to find an opportunity to jump in with comments.

      You should ask your boss/IT/whoever to come up with a video conferencing solution that doesn’t need so much labor from you to work. In our video-enabled conference rooms, everything just works. The people attending the meeting can easily dial in to video on their own without any help, and our meetings are so much more productive thanks to that technology.

    19. Holly

      I think this is something you should definitely discuss with your supervisor on how to handle, especially if there is an admin supervisor, because it just doesn’t seem workable. It’s not going over her head, it’s trying to figure out from an admin perspective how to handle it.

    20. Not So NewReader

      I don’t see a real reason for the video. Since no one else uses this, it seems odd that she is constantly requesting it. Why is she the only one who needs it.
      If she has to see everyone then perhaps she could come to work? I know you can’t say that out loud but you can say that others do not seem to need the video.
      Ask your boss if she wants you losing a half hour for every one of Sue’s meetings. Also explain that others cannot hear each other when she is talking through the computer.

      While you are chatting with your boss perhaps you can set up a procedure for folks who want to add to your work load in substantial ways. If Sue thought of this then others can come up with time consuming activities also.

    21. Anon Anon Anon

      It sounds like she’s unaware of what her request requires on your end, and maybe also how unusual it is. It sounds like the kind of thing someone would ask for without thinking about all of that. I would point out to someone that it takes half an hour to set everything up. I think most people would agree that’s not a good use of time and resources. However, it could be a reason for the company to invest in a new and easier to use video conferencing system.

    22. Marion Ravenwood

      My first thought was can she be Skyped in? Where I work has quite a few remote workers and we use Skype (or Microsoft Teams) to allow them to join in via video chat in meetings if they want, although most just choose a phone call.

  6. Miss M

    Please help me. I moved for a new job, primarily to be closer to my partner and try something new. The new job seemed good, the team was nice, a little *too* enthusiastic about having me on board, but it paid much more than my current job and it would give me higher level experience.

    It is Day 3 on the job and I hate it. I dread going into work. I don’t hate it for the work, but my direct team has really made me uncomfortable. Can someone help me figure this out?

    Day 1 was fine, Day 2 we had our team meeting (boss and 5 coworkers.) everyone has been on the team at least 5+ years. This is a very small town I work in (but I do not live there, I commute an hour there.) the meeting started by someone calling the director a “stupid bitch.” My boss didn’t correct anyone, she went in on the director too! The next hour was my coworkers and boss saying everyone including our clients (low income students) was an idiot, a bitch, dumb as hell, etc. I was so uncomfortable and shocked, because I guess everyone was on their best behavior before. Someone saw I was uncomfortable, and said they should stop because they didn’t want to scare me off like the last person who stayed two weeks. They all laughed. My boss asked that what is discussed in meetings is kept private and expects I should have a good sense of humor. I didn’t laugh.

    On day 3, my coworkers told me they thought I was a lesbian, and was relieved to know that my partner is actually a man (but we do identify as queer, they don’t know that though.) A couple of people said they’d be so “grossed out” to work with a lesbian and the rest laughed. I didn’t laugh again. And now they think I’m standoffish (because I am SO uncomfortable.)

    It’s only been THREE days. I want to cry at work. I did not expect this. I even asked at the interview, and after the offer, numerous questions about team culture and boss’s supportiveness, and dynamics and they all sounded good. I am already stressed from moving across the country and unpacking and acclimating to the new culture and being away from home. It’s a small small town and company, the HR person is best friends with my boss. I don’t feel safe saying something. What do I do? I want to start looking for new jobs but I don’t know if that’s me being too hasty. I don’t expect the culture of my team to improve overnight and my boss does not seem open to talking about that because she’s protective of her “family.”

    So my questions are:
    1. would it be terrible to start looking for a new job?
    2. I’m connected to quite a few distant colleagues here. They know I started a new job. What is a tactful way to say “This job turned out to be very very uncomfortable and I’m looking for new opportunities?”
    3. If I do end up finding another job and leaving, what do I say to my boss and team? A friend said to just make up an excuse like a sick family member and leave as soon as possible before things start getting worse.

    Please help. I’m at least staying through the month in hopes that something gets better and to get paid. I am willing to leave this off my resume as I’m still early in my career, and I had a two year stint at my last job. Any advice or encouragement is so appreciated.

    1. Laura

      Oh, my gosh. PLEASE LOOK FOR A NEW JOB! This one seems toxic as hell. For your own well-being, start looking. And, I’m sure Alison would agree, leave this one off of your resume.

      1. Catleesi

        Wow. 1. Absolutely look for a new job. This place sounds like a nightmare, and you are 100% not terrible for looking. 2. Honestly I don’t think you need to be tactful about this, I would let them know what the issues are. Especially if you are working with low income students and your colleagues and boss are talking about them like this and are then openly homophobic? They should NOT be working with students and they deserve to be called out. 3. Tell these people exactly why you are leaving, when you do. They are awful and they deserve to be called out on it.
        Good luck on finding something better quickly!

        1. Decima Dewey

          You likely have a probationary period, while they decide whether or not to keep you. It works both ways: you can decide whether or not you want to stay. Starting looking now.

          1. Miss M

            Yep, I’m on a 365 day probationary period. I didn’t know it worked both ways, I just thought it worked where they could let me go at any time. Good to know.

            1. Artemesia

              You are not an indentured servant; you never have to continue to work someplace where you are uncomfortable. Your problem will be relocating in a small town under these circumstances.

            2. Zephy

              A *whole year* of probation??? I thought the 120-day probation I had at a previous job was a bit excessive – 90 days is the norm. Find a new job ASAP.

    2. the.kat

      Get out. There are bees in the house.

      Seriously, look for a new job. If you need to say something, say that this was not a cultural fit for you. That excuse works for everyone.

      1. Sapphire

        Sorry, I think I’m out of the loop on this. What’s the origin of the phrase “bees in the house”? I’ve seen it used to refer to toxic workplaces on AAM a lot recently.

        1. ElspethGC

          It’s from Captain Awkward. I’m not sure which post it was (I’m not a regular reader) but a commenter compared abusive relationships where the abuser persuades you to come back with a house that says it really wants you to live there but also fills the house with bees. Bottom line is, if the abuser really wanted you to stay, they wouldn’t full the house with bees.

          Or, as is said here, your workplace is full of bees.

        2. OperaArt

          It’s from Captain Awkward’s relationship advice blog. There’s a lot of overlap between the readership of AAM and CA.
          Look for “House of Evil Bees”.

            1. ESP

              Thank you for asking, I had quickly tried to google earlier and hadn’t come up with anything relevant…

    3. Justme, The OG

      1. Nope, not terrible at all.
      2. I don’t think you have to say that it’s terrible, but say that you’re looking because the job was not what you expected or that it’s not a good fit (technically not a lie because they’re terrible).
      3. Tell them it’s a new opportunity, and try not to set the place on fire on the way out. They’re terrible and I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

    4. Anon for this one comment

      Get out! If this is how they behave your first week, I’d hate to think what they’ll do later on. I think your suggestion of what to say to people who ask why you are job hunting again is actually fine.

      1. Sapphire

        Hell, they even admitted themselves that they scared someone else off two weeks in. This is a ridiculous and toxic situation.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      1. Nope! That sounds really toxic. Get out ASAP.
      2. Exactly that! Either a filtered post on Facebook or an email should suffice.
      3. That depends. I’m the type of person who would absolutely say exactly why I was leaving (at least to HR), but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you’re not obligated.

    6. Murphy

      WHOA. Day 2 was bad enough, but day 3 is HOLY HELL GET OUT OF THERE. No wonder someone stayed there only 2 weeks. That is not going to get better. “It turned out to not be a good fit.” I think vagueness is OK. White lies are OK. You’re not obligated to explain to anyone the full reason why you’re leaving.

    7. Doggies Everywhere

      I have to echo Laura’s comment and agree that you have to get out ASAP. My gawd, what a terrible place. It’s not going to get better down the road, and it will drain you mentally, emotionally, and likely physically too.

    8. Qwerty

      Get out ASAP!

      Are the distant colleagues associated with your new job? If not, feel free to skip tact and just say “my new job is a toxic environment which is why they can’t keep my role staffed”

      Document everything while you are there in case there is any retaliation. Post on GlassDoor after you leave (or whenever you feel safe doing so)

      If the last person left after two weeks and they think they might be scaring you off, don’t worry about what to say when you leave. Just give something vague about the job not being the right fit.

    9. Person from the Resume

      In the first couple of sentences, I thought you might be overreacting, but you are not. In three days they demonstrated that you need to run now.

      1. Start looking now.
      2. “This job turned out to be very very bad cultural fit and I’m looking for new opportunities?”
      3. Don’t make up an excuse. “This job turned out to be very bad cultural fit” is absolutely true. It’s obvious to your boss and co-workers that this is true already. It’ll be more obvious by the time you can leave for a new job.

    10. Antilles

      “Someone saw I was uncomfortable, and said they should stop because they didn’t want to scare me off like the last person who stayed two weeks. They all laughed. ”
      Re-read this. Now re-read it again.
      That joke? Jumped off the screen at me as a screaming red flag. See, because in a well-functioning workplace, it wouldn’t have even crossed someone’s mind to make a joke like that. The only reason someone could even think “haha, don’t scare her off like the last one!” is because that actually happened.

      1. LilySparrow

        Yes, this is important.

        They know they are horrible and drive decent people away.

        I’d start looking immediately. In the meantime (because I am a shit-stirrer at heart and have to keep it under control in normal situations) I’d start asking a lot of questions about my predecessor. What were they like? Why did they leave? Where did they go, what kind of work are they doing now? Does anyone have contact info?

        And I’d probably say “wow” and “really?” a lot.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Yep. They fully expect you to quit. This is a group of people who are very low on self-worth, therefore they can’t value others either. They are probably burned out to the nth degree and are not well supported by their management.
        They are showing you who they are and how they operate, it’s okay to believe them.

    11. LKW

      Nope, not too soon. I took a job and on day three cried in the bathroom. I was out three months later.

      Do not stay in a toxic environment. This may seem normal to them… it is not normal.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I quit a job on Day 3 after they 1) didn’t tell me I’d be doing accounting work (as a receptionist) and 2) the manager (owner’s wife) yelled at me for making a mistake. On my third day. Her husband tried to talk me into staying but nope.

        Get out get out get out.

        1. ThankYouRoman

          People who throw accounting work at receptionists or office assistants deserve to have someone quit on day 3. I bet their tax returns will go up in flames if the IRS starts sniffing those books. Woahzah.

        2. annakarina1

          I got let go from a job in the first week because they threw a lot of accounting work at me despite that I signed on as an admin assistant and told them I wasn’t good at math. I got about a half hour of training for the job, then was expected to log in all these sales orders with numbers and being pressured on the second job to get it out as if I was in the daily grind and not a total newbie at the place. They would both expect me to ask questions on the job, then act exasperated and bored when I did ask questions. I also got held up from doing my work because they decided they needed to do remote work on the office laptop I was using and I just sat there feeling bored and stuck.

          I got let go on Day 3 because they didn’t think I was moving fast enough, and it was infuriating. I had left a three-year part-time job for this full-time opportunity, couldn’t go back to my old job, and just did freelance and temp work, collecting unemployment benefits, for a year and a half until I got a more steady job.

    12. ThatGirl

      Definitely not terrible. At first I was thinking “give it time!” but that sounds pretty awful and I don’t blame you at all. I think you can just say “I realized quickly that it wasn’t a good fit” or even leave it off your resume altogether!

      1. LJay

        This.

        My initial thought before reading the whole thing was “3 days is way too soon to know!”

        But then after reading the post, “OMG that is terrible. Get out as soon as you can!”

    13. animaniactoo

      Get out now. Get out get out get out.

      What you say to both connections and the job: “The reality of the position and the environment was very different than what I understood it was going to be”.

      These are people who KNOW they have a problem – and only care enough to hide it in interviews, because as far as they’re concerned it’s actually not a problem. It’s only a perception problem. Most companies will not be aware enough of the issues to lie to you as deeply as this one did.

      1. Neosmom

        Once you are out and have another job – your posting to Glassdoor is an absolute must. Best of luck.

    14. Not an Expert

      This sounds so terrible, and I’m sorry you’re going through it. I would also be terribly uncomfortable. I’m no expert, my advice would be as follows:

      1. It is not terrible to start a job hunt ever. Your company would drop you in a second if it felt like it was the right thing to do. You’re allowed to make the same decision. I know this option isn’t open to everyone, but it sounds like it’s a real option for you. Start a stealth job hunt. The key word is stealth.

      2. I think a lot of professionals understand the term “toxic culture” these days. But if you wanted to avoid that, you could easily say that you discovered this wasn’t the right fit, or that the job was not as advertised because honestly, it isn’t. You were sold a good culture and got the opposite.

      3. Say whatever you want to them. Want to tell them the truth? Say it in your exit interview with HR. That probably won’t change anything, but I know several people who stand by their decision to be honest. Another option, one championed by thought leaders in HR like Liz Ryan, is to do what your friend suggested and say something general. After all, they’ve already proven they aren’t going to listen to you by their attitudes and choices about how they communicated so far. Your truth NOW is very unlikely to make a difference. I’d say whatever I had to in order to get out without speaking ill of anyone and then rake them over the coals on Glassdoor.

      I doubt this is going to get better. I would leave as fast as I could and leave this off my resume. As vicious as they seem to be in meetings, I would try and leave as “gracefully” as possible, because it sounds like they would leave bad references out of retaliation if you were truthful. I think this would be the simplest way of accomplishing your goals with the least possibility of blow-back. But if you DO decide to try and truth-bomb them and salt the earth…I support you, and I want to hear about it here.

    15. kittymommy

      Get out ASAP.

      1. No it would not be terrible, it would be smart – this’ll only get worse.
      2. I would say that the job didn’t quite end up what you thought and you are looking for new opportunities.
      3. “I have decided to pursue other endeavors thank you so much for the opportunity.” It’s probably complete bul****, but sounds better than telling them their homophobic asshats.

    16. Shark Whisperer

      Yikes.
      It is not terrible to start looking for a new job. In fact, it is a very good idea to look for a new job.

      I think you can say something along the lines of it being very obvious that you are not a good culture fit for this office and it isn’t going to get better so you are looking for new opportunities.

      As for what to say to the team, I’d be temped to be very honesty and say they all made you very uncomfortable with their sexism homophobia and hostility.

    17. Live & Learn

      Full support for looking for a new job and leaving this one off the resume. Moving is a perfect excuse as to why you’d need a new job in a new place when interviewing. No one should have to work in such a horrible place. If distant colleagues ask you can honestly say that you left the job after a brief stint due to the environment being toxic, it’s true!
      You could either tell your boss/team that truth, that they are losing good people because of their abusive, bullying, homophobic environment if you felt like it or just say you weren’t looking but something that was a perfect fit for your skills fell in your lap and you couldn’t pass it up. After working their for so little time it’s not like you need the reference.

    18. Blue Eagle

      +1 to getting out of there as soon as you can.
      also agree to not lie about the reason, saying the cultural fit wasn’t there sounds good to me.

    19. Karen from Finance

      1. RUN FOR THE HILLS
      2. Just say “This job turned out to be very very uncomfortable and I’m looking for new opportunities?”
      3. Honestly, just a variation of 2. “turned out to be [different than I expected]” and that’s it. Don’t soften it too much, you want them to get the message.

    20. LadyByTheLake

      Get out get out get out!
      1. Nope, do it, do it now.
      2. Just reach out and say something like “while I was excited to move to Town, my job at Acme has turned out to be quite a bit different than what was originally discussed and I think it best to begin looking for a different opportunity without delay.” Try to think of some other reason it is not a fit other than “the people are awful”
      3. No need to say anything other than “it was not a fit.”

      1. Lily Rowan

        For the next couple of months, you don’t even have to tell an interviewer you are at Acme now! “I moved to Town in November, and now I’m looking for a job.” Period!

    21. Not Maeby but Surely

      1. It is the opposite of terrible to start looking for a new job. This place sounds awful and nobody should have to put up with that. The fact that everyone is so tacit in their bigotry/rudeness/terribleness is gross beyond words.
      2. Your phrasing sounds fine to me. You could also say that it became clear you weren’t a long term culture fit.
      3. You don’t owe them any explanation. At all. If you feel like you need to give one, reconsider. And you can leave such a short term stint off your resume, so people don’t really even have to know you ever worked there.

      Is there any way to get the word around to all the decent people in your field that this place is a bastion of hate?

    22. Dr. Johnny Fever

      OMG there are so many bees! Please start job searching today. Let your contacts know that the job is not a good fit and network to see if you can find another opening. Tell your boss and HR that it’s not a good job fit and walk out the door guilt-free.

      I wouldn’t spend any time giving HR and the boss a true answer as to why you are leaving as that won’t change anything. They suck and aren’t going to change.

      Leave this job off your resume and at browse job openings as soon as you can. And lean on your supportive partner for emotional support while you go through this hell – I hope your partner will be there for you as you go through this.

    23. Bostonian

      Holy shit.

      1) NO. Do it NOW.
      3) Don’t tell them anything, just RUN. If there is an HR, tell them what is happening, using all the specifics you gave here.

    24. Doug Judy

      Agreeing with everyone. Holy hell get out ASAP. In addition to saying it was a bad culture fit you can always state the commute got to be too much, but only use that if the place you are interviewing is closer.

      Also have you talked to your partner? There isn’t many instances I would say quit without another job lined up but I would say this qualifies if financially it would be possible. A gap in employment when you just made a major move wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, taking time to settle in to your new city is expected.

    25. StarHunter

      If this is a non-profit, maybe after you leave (and I’m in agreement with the other posters that it will be too toxic to stay), it’s something that the BOD might want to know about? It’s sad the staff is especially making fun of low income students.

    26. ThankYouRoman

      These people are disgusting! When I started reading, I thought you were just having the new job jitters after 3 days. It always takes me a couple months to start liking any job. However this is a whole different level with homophobic Turd Fergesions running the show.

      You don’t owe these people a darn thing! Least of all a reason why you’re leaving. They’re vile and know it.

    27. Miss M

      Thank you all for making me feel like I’m not crazy or a quitter. I would never consider leaving a job so soon (and some friends are in the camp of “this maybe is an anomaly, just keep your head down and work” so I thought I was being rash.) But I dread the next thing that will be said today on day 4. Thankfully, I have already been iced out because I think most can tell I’m uncomfortable and not being super bubbly with them. I do say hello and good morning and thank you and smile at them though when I do those things.

      I will start my job hunt. My partner is supportive! But also broke, due to being in grad school. I must stay in this job until I’m employed elsewhere. Please send me some positive thoughts if you can!

      1. ThankYouRoman

        I hope you grow out of the fear of being labeled a quitter.

        I understand “finish what you start” and “buckle up and hold on!” mentality for things that you know are temporary or where you know the outcome is worth it! But wanting to be safe, comfortable, happy and respected are all perfect reasons to throw a towel in. This isn’t just a “Nancy likes to do yoga in the lobby at breaks!” or “Peggy has a collection of troll dolls on her divider, they’re so tacky.” It’s truly fundamental elements and detrimental atmosphere you’re dealing with!

        Best of luck finding something. Thankfully you found out immediately these jackholes weren’t your people!!!

      2. TootsNYC

        oh no, this is NOT an anomaly.

        Trust yourself. You are the one right there, seeing the faces and hearing the tones of voice and body language. You are right.

        Look, their hostility toward their very clients is bad enough. it would make me want out immediately, even if that were the only problem.

        If the homophobia were the only problem, I could see myself hunkering down for a little while in the face of it–while it bothers me a lot, it doesn’t make me personally feel unsafe, so I might tough it out for a little bit while I looked, hoping it doesn’t come up that often.

        But I’m sure you feel really, really unsafe–it’s not just that their homophobic or uncomfortable; they’re virulently vicious!

        I would say, take any job.

        And best of luck.

      3. Work Wardrobe

        Echoing what others said about not even needing to mention this to prospective employers.

        Also, could an option like Starbucks tide you over until find a career-job match? The benefits, I understand, are very good. Anything is better than that awful hell-hole.

        I hope you find something fast!

      4. LilySparrow

        Bear in mind, you don’t need them to like you. Indeed, I’d be worried about myself if people like that liked me.

        You have a big advantage here: they need you more than you need them. I base this on:
        1) They know they have a hard time finding & keeping people in your position – they said so openly.

        2) They deliberately worked to deceive you about the work culture and atmosphere – presumably because they can’t attract or retain qualified candidates locally who are familiar with them and their operation.

        Just do your job well, and do your best impression of Teflon. It’s good to be able to leave on your own schedule when you have the next job lined up, but knowing that you are going to erase these people from your life ASAP will help you cope in the meantime.

    28. Llellayena

      I know “hostile work environment” and its incorrect interpretations are discussed a lot around here, but this is sounding pretty textbook (someone with a better understanding, please weigh in). You’ve been told by most of the office (“the rest laughed”) that they are glad you aren’t a lesbian because they would be “grossed out”! Low-income students (who are their clients!) are being called idiots and worse! And they scared the last person off in 2 weeks! Document everything, especially if they disparage any other protected classes (any race or disability name calling yet?) and get the heck out of there, reporting to someone as you go.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor

        If OP lives in a state where there are protections for LGBTQ+ employees, I would think (IANAL) that would constitute a hostile work environment…

        1. Miss M

          Well, I live in one of the few states that does not have hate crime protections. I’m not sure if that would cover it…

      2. Holly

        Hostile work environment has a “severe and pervasive” standard (****state and municipal law may have broader protection****) – so while I’m not sure if three days of that talk qualifies, if they continue on that track with the derogatory language towards women and LGBT individuals, it very well could! As always with law the answer is “it depends.” So I agree it would be worth documenting, if she stays. I hope OP is not in a situation where she has to – as previous commenters said, this work place has many many bees.

    29. Nanc

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Don’t forget, probation periods (whether formal or informal) are a two-way street. They’re checking you out to see if you’ll fit in long term and you’re doing the same.
      As for why you’re already job hunting, you could say the role is quite different from what was represented (you excepted to work with angels and ended up in the harpy department) so you’re going to start looking for a better fit.
      As for dealing with it now–do your best work given the atmosphere, do what you can to minimize/absorb contact with the harpy crowd (in meetings I find it useful to start jotting a pseudo checklist as though something popped into my head or from the the meeting that I must remember later), and try to be as positive as you can. When you leave for the day–let it go and focus on taking care of yourself.
      Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    30. Londoncallingwhentheratesarecheaper

      Document the spit out of everything. And look for a new job immediately. You don’t owe them real reason you are leaving. Don’t try to stick it out – the faster you can leave, the better (and you won’t have a gap on your resume). You owe this company nothing.

    31. LurkieLoo

      1. It would be terrible NOT to look for a new job. For you, anyway.
      2. The only discretion I’d have here is if any of those colleagues are likely to be close enough to anyone where you’re at now to discuss it with them and out you before you’re ready. Other than that, I would just be completely honest about the place or state a poor cultural fit depending on the relationship. I would be slightly careful about outright badmouthing anyone, though.
      3. This place is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Peace out.

      If you’re up for the fight, you might try to get the culture changed or some sensitivity training going on or even consult a lawyer (for the outright discriminatory comments). This sounds incredibly beyond toxic and hostile.

    32. OhGee

      Oh good lord, this is awful. I am so sorry. Absolutely look for a new job. I think you can discreetly tell contacts that your new role is a bad culture fit and you’re looking. If you get another job, it was an offer you couldn’t refuse. You don’t need to say more than that. Good luck.

    33. Jaid_Diah

      I’m curious as HOW your company works with low income clients. Are they referred to your company by an agency?

      When you leave, you might want to drop a dime on these lovely folks.

  7. Blue Anne

    TLDR: My first time managing someone seemed good for a year but apparently wasn’t. I need to vent a little bit but I’d also appreciate recommendations on what to read to be a better manager.

    I’m a tax professional with some real estate investments. About a year ago, I hired a part time PA, Arya. We discussed at the start that it would be a mix of personal and real estate stuff.

    Well, my real estate took off and Arya’s duties became 95% rental admin. She sets her own schedule and logs 12-16 hours a week, communicating with me through the day by text. We’re both stressed, but it’s going to look great on Arya’s CV, I raised her hourly wage from $12 to $14 (reasonable admin wage in this LCOL town) to reflect the tougher work, and I figure I’m getting some management experience. Arya has been a SAHM for 13 years with only military experience in the past so this is a good way to get back into the workforce, too. Win-win.

    But recently things haven’t happened unless they’re emergencies or I remind her, and she isn’t being proactive. Recently, something major slipped. I told her it really needed to be a top priority. Checked in with her about it on Wednesday, and someone hadn’t gotten back to her on Tuesday… so she was planning to call them Thursday!

    I reminded her that this is urgent, and I need her to be proactive. I received a long text saying that she understands her job, telling me she has other things going on in her life (kids’ activities, health concerns, running her own household…life), and suggesting that she might just quit, with the comment “I’m really not trying to be an asshole here”.

    I told her that we need to meet up to discuss this in person. Also that it was my impression she was going to use this job to springboard into an office role at some point, and her response would be unacceptable in 95% of workplaces. I shouldn’t have said that part, I know. Ugh.

    She then quit effective immediately with a very long, ranty text message. Some of the things she ranted about were just part of the job (scheduling repairs, paying bills, letting contractors in, etc). Some of them were parts of the job that suck for everyone (unreasonably angry tenants). Some of them were things that I would have been happy to do something about if she’d raised them, like reimbursing her gas, or her feeling like she needed to put in more hours than she wanted to.

    I feel pretty blindsided and angry but also like I let her down. I’m not sure what the best way to avoid this situation would have been. I thought we were working pretty well together until she quit. Every few months I would take her out for food and beer and we would talk shop, maybe I should’ve done that when she started falling behind so I could figure out what was up.

    Argh. My immediate thought is to go read a bunch of books on people management before I try to hire a replacement. Anyone have suggestions?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      It sounds like you had different expectations for the job or that it shifted significantly over time and changed from what Arya was expecting/comfortable with.

      I’m not sure you could have really avoided this though, given that your needs changed after hiring her. To avoid it happening again, I’d suggest keeping open lines of communication, especially as priorities and duties shift.

      1. Former Retail Manager

        Seconding Detective Amy’s suggestions. Also, my personal belief is that anyone who is willing/wants to work only 12-16 hours a week, likely is just looking for something low stress and some additional funds. It sounds like you want/need a part-time property manager. Perhaps consider someone older/semi-retired with experience in property management and generate a set schedule from the beginning that works for both of you, such as 12-4, Monday-Friday. If this position could eventually turn into a full time position, as your real estate portfolio expands, you need to be up-front about that possibility, the time frame, and determine if your part-timer would be interested in full-time eventually. Again, clarity of expectations, both current and future.

        Also, one statement does concern me. You said you would have reimbursed her for gas if she asked. She shouldn’t need to ask. Anyone making $12-$14 an hour should not be routinely running errands unreimbursed, unless that expectation is outlined and agreed to from the beginning and parameters outlined (distance, frequency, etc.). You could ask yourself “would this fly at a Fortune 500 company/would they have this expectation or do things this way?” If not, change it. Good part-time employees are hard to come by and it’s worth it to treat them as well as you can to decrease turnover and the costs associated with turnover.

        1. Blue Anne

          Yeah, the mileage is a good point. It should have occurred to me. At the start, everything was within about two square miles – I buy rentals in the same town I live in, and made sure to hire someone super local. (Arya’s house is walking distance from mine.) So at the start mileage wasn’t really a thing. Then I took over a set of properties on the other side of the city and it didn’t occur to me to change anything. D’oh. Definitely something to be careful about in the future.

    2. Blue Eagle

      For some people the job is not a good fit and they quit, particularly if they have time pressures from personal issues. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your management style. But great idea to read some management books. Something to consider is to be proactive yourself by asking your staff how things are going, what challenges they are facing and any suggestions that they have regarding their job. Then the second step is to actually listen to what they say and make changes – because if you just listen and never make any changes, you will find that meaningful feedback dries up.

    3. animaniactoo

      It sounds like you never specifically sat down to do a touchbase with her not just on how the job was going but how SHE felt about the changes and the workload and if everything was still good on her side.

      I think she over-reached in telling you that she knew her job WHILE listing all the other things she was trying to keep up with, rather than acknowledging she was having problems – but people do that. So no, her response wasn’t professional, but it was honest and some days honesty goes a lot farther than professional. You didn’t “hear” her when she said she might quit and say back to her “Hmmm, I didn’t realize that you were feeling that tight. Let’s meet up to discuss that and see what makes the most sense and whether we can make some adjustments.”

      Mostly: You didn’t allow for the possibility that what she wanted and what she could handle might have changed over time, so you didn’t look for it specifically, and it locked you into a picture that meant that you didn’t react well when it did change.

      Awful boss? No. Easily correctable issue? Yes.

    4. Rose Tyler

      Previous posters have good advice on management. I’d also recommend you take a really close look at the job description and how it’s structured before you advertise for a new person. Arya’s job changed significantly after she was hired and I also question whether it was doable in just 12-16 hours/week (you seem to want someone to be working at least an hour or two every single day, which isn’t what everyone wants from a “part-time” schedule). Make sure everyone’s good at the start, do frequent check-ins and I think you’ll have a better experience next time.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        I’m confused about the gas reimbursement though. Not to make you feel bad but I feel like a good manager should be pro-active about anticipating expenses they’re asking their employees to incur?

    5. Natalie

      For what it’s worth, in my experience some of this just comes with the territory for being a very small business. I’m not actually sure if its a higher percentage of slightly difficult employees or if the impact is just more obvious because it’s (in this case) 100% of your workforce, but every small business owner I’ve worked with has run into this kind of problem quite a bit.

      One thing I would caution you about is losing focus on the big picture things you’re looking for by getting too deep in the weeds with preventing all the specific problems you had with her. But some general suggestions – maybe check in more proactively about how someone is feeling about hours, tenants, etc, particularly if they’re new to the workforce or returning after a long time. Plenty of people won’t be comfortable asking about something like mileage but you can just offer it, you don’t need to wait for them to ask. And maybe don’t have these conversations by text? YMMV, I find things can blow up faster over text based conversations.

      1. Blue Anne

        Yeah, I agree. We usually communicate by text because I’m at my day job during the day, but as soon as there was an issue I should have said let’s get together or get on the phone – and in a nicer way than I did, too. (At the time I was happy I managed to swallow my first response of “don’t tell me you understand your job when I’m telling you it’s not getting done!” Now I’m just kicking myself.)

        Definitely need to be checking in more regularly, and communicating by methods other than just text.

    6. Overeducated

      I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that you failed her as a boss, there may be stuff that is going on in her personal life too. I think something important to think about with this position is that only have 12-16 hours a week of actual paid work, but expecting to be able to respond to urgent issues right away, is tough kind of balance – it’s part time pay and full time availability. Basically, you’re asking this admin to be on call, and her ability to set her own hours decreased because of the nature of the work shifted, which may have made it a harder position to manage for her.

      Yeah, maybe you should have talked when she started falling behind, but if that really is the issue then it probably wouldn’t have worked out long term anyway, what’s done is done. I’m not sure what the solution is to that for your next admin, honestly – maybe a higher pay rate for “urgent” vs “routine” issues? Also, considering whether 12-16 hours is enough time to get all the stuff you need done?

    7. Trout 'Waver

      I’m speculating here, so please let me know if I’m way off base. But it sounds like resentment grew on both sides due to poor communication. She probably thought she was doing you a favor by taking on tougher and more complicated tasks. You thought you were doing her a favor by giving her a leg up on getting back into the work force.

      And also, maybe the pay raise was a jolt to her that it really is a property management job now. And $14/hour is pretty low for that kind of work, even in low COL area.

      1. Blue Anne

        > She probably thought she was doing you a favor by taking on tougher and more complicated tasks. You thought you were doing her a favor by giving her a leg up on getting back into the work force.

        I don’t think you’re off base at all, I think this is likely to be exactly what happened. Plus, I’m here thinking of her part as more of an admin job (since I’m still collecting the rent, doing showings and leases, spending evenings on the simpler repairs, etc.) and she’s thinking of it as more of a property management job. Hm.

        1. valentine

          If she was freelance, she needs 3x or 4x the hourly for taxes and does she even know she needs to pay her own taxes? You weren’t on the same page about urgency. Add that to the job description. Look over the job duties and see if you need a second employee and can separate out the admin duties and WFH versus mobile/onsite duties. That will make a difference in your hiring pool. There’s nothing wrong with text-/email-only, but decide how you want to communicate and the level of independence, focus, and prioritization of the job you require and hire accordingly. How are you going to deal with gas, take their word or have them log/photograph their mileage? Issue a phone to your next employee and tell them personal stuff needs to be separate. Take a glance at the call log/texts monthly for a while.

          Consider how many hours are needed to do the job and how that number changes depending on when the person’s working (making calls overnight is probably useless) and what else they’re doing. You want to be flexible, but the job can’t be an afterthought or convenience in between loads of laundry or childcare, or the hours will grow but the completed tasks will diminish.

    8. ThankYouRoman

      Sliding in as a micro-sized business minded and skilled professional. This is in my wheelhouse.
      You didn’t fail anyone. She didn’t behave great but she didn’t fail you either. Let’s keep that in perspective.

      As an assistant, there will always be those who will seethe until they pop like she did. You can do better by having more personal interactions. Being kind and open to suggestions and such. In this setup you’re not just a manager, you’re a business owner. You are in a different tier and you’re reasonable, understanding and generous. You’re everything I like in small business. But you’re new and inside your head way too deep!

      Part time PA is a crazy gig and it’s hard to find your perfect match. It’s a growing, live position that requires retooling all the time.

      Don’t ever put the “in other businesses this wouldn’t fly” saddle on someone. I know you know better but do want to drill down on that.

      I’m a brutally honest, rough neck and also goofy AF. I KNOW I don’t fit into those other jobs. That’s why I’m not interested in them. I don’t need anyone talking down to me about my career path unless I’m outrageously off base.

      The news is most decent owners of this size operation do put up with spunk and sass, it’s the price of finding someone willing to fly by the seat of their pants.

      You’ll find someone who will ride or die for you for this role. Hopefully you’ll be able to find someone who can grow into it and become more of a cohort than employee. Yes, I’m speaking from a position where that was me.

      I was an office manager for a guy with a 20yr business. He gave me the opportunity and free range to learn everything short of producing our product (only because I’m not interested in learning to manufacture tables!). When he got sick, I kept it afloat until almost a decade later when his family sold it. Now I’m this person spreading the gospel of micro business and how to be as successful and a good boss and be compliant with all regulations etc. So yeah, just giving background so you know my credentials in advice on this particular subject:)

    9. TootsNYC

      I would say don’t do the “every few months…food and beer,” and more of “meet every Monday to discuss priorities and tasks, and follow up on Wednesday.”

      you are going to need to have a closer sense of exactly what she’s working on, in terms of ACCOMPLISHING things.

      Work, not beer and talking shop.

      You need to be more involved so you can build a better sense of what exactly is getting done.

      1. LurkieLoo

        I agree with this. If once a week is too much, minimally twice a month. I think for the next person you put in the role, having some parameters such as a set schedule for the week (even if they are the ones creating it and it’s different every week) might help. If not a schedule of these are the days/hours I’ll be working, at least these are the day/hours I will be available to work. That way you know what their availability is and if there are things that are more urgent, you can either do them yourself or let them know X needs to be priority and you’ll handle Y this week if it comes up.

        I do think if you want someone to be basically on-call you might have to pay a minimum number of hours per week regardless of the work load.

        You live and you learn. Upward and onward. (And tell her you’ll give her a good reference if she needs one if her work was otherwise good until the last bit.)

      2. TootsNYC

        I think most people need a little more accountability. Sometimes you can let them establish the discipline themselves, but I think most people do better when there’s more.

        And also remember–it may just be her.

      3. Not So NewReader

        Yes, if you have an office area then the two of you should be sitting in the office discussing work matters. Go for a beer and food with holidays or something special. But she needs to see you in work mode.

    10. Hiring Mgr

      While I’m sure there were some things you could have done better (proactively reimbursing for gas for example), it sounds more like this was just alot of work and hassle for a part time job. She probably was looking for something much simpler/low-stress if it was only 12-14 hours or so per week..

    11. Not So NewReader

      Read Alison’s stuff. She has everything you need to know and it is in clear language.

      I have to say I having kind of been watching what all you are doing and I really admire you. This is typical of why I admire you right here, you had a problem so now you are just going to break it down and find out what went wrong where. Kudos to you.

      The first thing that went wrong was the job did not match the description she was hired for. Now you have had time to see this in real life so you can write a more accurate description. She tried to change with the job but at some point she lost you. It could be that you were a whirlwind of activity and her limited hours per week was not enough time to keep up with you.

      I suspect she may have had too much time on her own where she was handling problems that she did not even fully understand. Perhaps she had too many issues running at the same time. This leads to burn out, she sounds burned out. And it can also lead to people thinking they actually own the business. Which I kind of sense that in what she told you. A good thing to do here is to set boundaries. Limits of authority are one type of a boundary. But you can set other boundaries also, such as she can hang up on screaming tenants. Or screaming tenants are to be referred to you, she is not to deal with them. You can also set boundaries by saying “I prefer to make decisions regarding A, B and C. However, you are free to hand [the easier] D, E and F.

      I can see where business is picking up for you. One mistake many business people make is they add more business and they forget to add more employees to handle that work. Perhaps you could have increased her hours as well as her pay.

      Another thing that concerned me was her at home issues. Does her work day end? Why is she frazzled? Is she on stand-by or on-call? I feel that people who are on stand-by or on-call need to be compensated. I also know that very few employers can pay someone for 24 hour work days. The solution to me seems to have set hours. This goes back to a strong job description, as she would do the routine work and you would be freed up to handle the emergencies that seem to occur randomly.Or it could be that you hire a person or a business to handle certain types of recurring emergencies and those folks would be on stand-by.

      People do expect their leader to lead. It is okay to be business-like and it’s okay to be in charge. It’s important to have structure in most things, have set work times, set procedures, set methods of handling recurring situations, etc.
      I have an interesting situation here where I don’t see my boss that often. She leaves me piles of stuff to do. Which is fine, as this is my job. When she walks in often times she will say, “What do you need me to do?” I usually have a pile for her. She tackles that quickly and efficiently then I have my pile back and I can continue with that work as well as other work I have. Then it’s her turn because she has found ten more things in addition to my piles that she wants. It’s up to her to figure out where she wants me to go first. Always be thinking to yourself “Is this the best use of my assistant’s limited time?” It’s good to be able to clearly state, “A, B and C are the most important things you can do for us here.”

      Since you were new to this work and she was returning to work after an absence you were both starting from your own square one here. This is hard, when both the boss and subordinate are trying to learn the job. I walked in on this with my boss. The leg up we had was that my boss totally knows her field, she is rock solid. It was everything else- the job, the physical work place, paper flows, SOPs etc that needed to be developed.
      You won’t ever be that totally new boss again, ever. So your next hire is going to be different for that reason alone. It could be that you are busy enough that you should consider someone with more recent experience who will actually make improvements in your day-to-day efforts.

    12. ..Kat..

      Although you took her out for food and beer to talk shop (did you pay for her time?), next employee, I recommend directly asking “how is the job going? What is working well? What is not working well? What can we improve? What are you struggling with?” FWIW, I think she should have spoken up, but directly asking might prevent this from happening again.

      If this is more than just admin work, you might need to pay more for the hassles to be worth it.

      I don’t think you were a bad manager, but we can all improve. So good luck with your reading list.

    13. only acting normal

      Managing people is tough. I don’t think you did terribly, but part time working is especially difficult to balance expectation wise (and hard to get your head around when you’re full time – I’ve been on both sides of the equation).
      You say she set her own schedule, but then complain that she didn’t chase something on Wednesday, when she did say she planned to chase it on Thursday. Was she even planning to work on Wednesday?
      12ish hours is not much time spread over a week, especially if it includes travel time around town (15min drives here and there eats it up quickly). And it’s nowhere near enough time to do both routine tasks and be on call handling emergencies (even if you are the on call phone number, how much did you pass straight on to her to handle urgently?). If the work was taking more time than anticipated, was she free to “bill” you for 18-20-22 hours? What about your texts – if she was “off the clock” when those pinged her phone was she allowed to wait until her “work hours” to respond?

      When advertising for a replacement, consider:
      Do you want someone 2-3 hours every day, or 2 full days a week?
      Someone who truly sets their own hours, or someone available to respond to urgent timelines that you set?
      And either way: are you being ruthlessly realistic about what the workload actually is, and how much time it actually takes to get done? Especially appreciate that every contact with you is work time, whether that is a text back and fore, or a sitdown meeting each week or so.

  8. Meyla

    I’m having a hard time getting over something a coworker said which was intended to put my judgement in question. I need help letting it go.

    Two weeks ago, I made an emergency decision to get a client who was hard down (lost some servers) back up and running on a version of the software that was newer and not formally tested for this client’s workflow. It ended up working fine and I’ve since gotten many thank yous from managers throughout the company for helping get this client back up so quickly. However, I also overheard a conversation where someone was angry because we “didn’t consult the people who are most knowledgable about the subject” and he thought that we “got lucky this time” since nothing went wrong. I shouldn’t have taken this so personally, but I have been fuming about this ever since I heard it. This guy’s suggested solution was to do nothing and wait for the third party support group to solve the problem. That would have left the client down (down-down, at a complete stand-still) for 5 days. I know that he thinks I’m encroaching on his territory because he was promoted to architect and I’m now in his old position, but this is not his area of responsibility anymore. I was asked to help with this problem, not him. I made the right call at the time, and it’s still the right call in hind-sight! How can I get over this? Is there any reason for me to try to convince this guy that I was right? All the managers agree with me (his included), so should I just use that as my validation and pretend like I didn’t hear any of what he said?

    1. Blue Anne

      This might be a dumb answer, but it works really well for me. When I’m trying to get over something like this, where I was right, I know I’m right, ans someone is being a jerk, but I can’t be a jerk back to them… I write their name on a small piece of paper, put it in my shoe and walk around on them all day. Especially if I have to be around them. It makes me feel much better to be standing talking to this jerk, internally fuming, and just grind them into the ground a little. I don’t take the paper out until I’m not angry any more.

      1. Bostonian

        This is awesome. Knowing my luck, that piece of paper would fall out (or I’d forget about it while changing shoes) and somebody would see it and wonder WTH is wrong with me.

        1. Blue Anne

          I’ve been doing it for years and the only time this has ever happened to me was when I was putting my shoes back on in the gym changing room. This blonde lady clearly saw a bit of paper flutter out of my ratty Converse and did the thing where she was trying not to look but we ended up making eye contact anyway. I said “Witch”, packed up and left. I meant it like “ha ha isn’t this a weird witchy thing” but I realize she must’ve thought I was calling her a witch. I’ve felt awkward about it for years. -_-

          1. Anono-me

            I would have thought that you were explaining that you were an actual witch and assumed it was part of a spell.

    2. AnonEMoose

      Something I’ve had to learn both in my career and in the volunteer work that I do: You Will Never Make Everyone Happy. Literally no matter what you do (or don’t do), any time you make a decision, someone will armchair quarterback, criticize, or go on about how you should have done X or should not have done Y.

      Generally speaking, I think it’s best to consider the criticism on it’s merits (including consideration of the source of same), and whether there might be a valid point in there that you can keep in mind for next time. If so, then you have additional info for that next time, and if not, you have evidence that said person likes to flap their jaws, which is also worth considering for the next time.

      As you’ve presented the situation, this guy hasn’t let go of his old position yet, and is seeing what you did as some kind of challenge to his performance in it. Basically, he’s being territorial (and kind of jerk, in my opinion), and it’s really about him, not about you. I totally get the resentment and feel the same way in your shoes, but it sounds to me like the people who matter (the client and your managers) agree with what you did and are grateful. And, really, if something had gone wrong, what’s the worst that could have happened? The client would still be down?

      So when you think about it, just feel what you feel, and then remind yourself “This guy is chest-beating like a gorilla demonstrating dominance, it’s not about me…” and then distract yourself with work or something else worthwhile.

    3. Kathenus

      I see three main options – 1) talk to coworker to get their feedback directly, and have a conversation on what you did and why, and to really listen to them. May not resolve the fact you disagree, but a direct conversation is better than reacting to an overheard comment and stewing on it; 2) talk to your boss and say that you’ve been given positive feedback about your decision-making and resolution to this problem, but that you overheard comment xx and wanted to check in with them to see if they thought you should have handled the situation differently, or 3) let it go, and just move on (if you select #3 I suggest you make sure that you don’t keep letting it bother you, or you’re just negatively impacting yourself and a more proactive solution like #1 or 2 might be more productive).

      Separately, I also love Blue Anne’s idea and will put it in my personal stress-relieving toolbox :)

    4. Blue Eagle

      Do not try to convince the guy. It will be more difficult than trying to convince a cat that it wants to go swimming. His response indicates two things 1) he wants to protect his turf and 2) he wants to be dismissive of you. Just ignore the guy and remember this situation when you are the one whose toes are stepped on.

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Keep in mind that this isn’t really about you – it’s about him.

      I’m in IT. You made an excellent call for the client. You have been congratulated for your thinking. Your acumen was solid. You took a risk with the updated version but it was an appropriate one – should the attempt fail, you can revert and fall back on another plan or third-party support.

      Colleague would not have made the right call. You know this. It’s telling that he is trying to undermine you while you are in his old position, which shows more about his control and power issues and less about your skills. He’s complaining to people after the fact who know you made the right call. You wouldn’t necessarily see it, but I’m betting his complaints are falling on deaf ears. You’ve proven yourself in the role or else he wouldn’t be so intimidated to try to erode your support.

      Most of all – shake this off because in your RCA, you come back to this decision and it was the right one. Congrats! That makes you a good architect and one I’d like to work with, not the guy who’d rather sit on his ass and wait.

    6. Susan

      I do have to agree in some ways with the complainer. You were right – this time. Untested software comes with major risks and you landed luckily. As long as you aren’t planning on making a hail mary play the pattern going forward, though, I wouldn’t be saying anything.

      1. Trout 'Waver

        Yeah, I agree to some extent.

        For Meyla, you really can’t be results-orientated when working with incomplete information. Just because you were right one time doesn’t mean you’ll be right the next time. You should be assessing risk and clearly communicating all foreseeable outcomes along with likelihoods. And honestly, the client should be making a decision based on your risk assessment.

        I’m not saying you only succeeded due to luck. It took good, hard work to do the things you did. But there was an element of luck that should be scrutinized in the project post-mortem. It might be a good exercise for the team, including the curmudgeon, to walk through what would have happened if the new version bricked the remaining servers.

        1. AnonEMoose

          I don’t think we have enough information to assume that Meyla didn’t do the things you’re suggesting. Nor do we know exactly how the fix was implemented. We don’t know that they didn’t test it on, say, one server before rolling it out to the rest. And if I were the client, presented with the option of “we can roll the dice on the new software, or you’re likely going to be down for 5 days…” pretty sure I’d roll the dice.

          There is always some luck involved when new software is rolled out; tested or not. There’s a reason I cringe every time the IT department where I work says “upgrade,” because it’s pretty common for said upgrade to result in, at least for the first day or so, system slowdowns, software crashes, and random error messages. To their credit, they usually get it sorted quickly, but it’s annoying while it lasts.

          But…given that the complainer’s “solution” was to let the client be down for 5 days, I’m not placing a whole lot of value on his opinion. And I stand by my thought that this is more about his power/control issues than the actual solution.

          1. LurkieLoo

            I agree with Susan. I wouldn’t confront him and I would keep in mind that while it was the right decision in this case, he is likely right that it was a risky decision. However, it sounds like if it had failed, you’d just be back to waiting the 5 days for the team so the only thing that could have been done different was to call in/book the 3rd party support team and have them do a checkup when they were available. That way if it had only worked for a day, you’d be one day closer.

            As far as letting go, I think everyone has some great advice. You don’t really need him to be on your side on this one as long as you’re not making a pattern of rogue behavior.

            And as a client and as someone who has/knows clients, I 100% agree that I’d roll the dice vs being down for 5 days. Especially when the upside is being up now and the downside is being down for 5 days. Who wouldn’t take that risk?

        2. Meyla

          I totally agree that the result doesn’t make the action right. You’re completely correct in saying that there was a risk assessment that needed to be evaluated and, in general, doing a blind upgrade to prod without testing first is setting yourself up for disaster. That being said, this version hadn’t been formally tested and given the QA stamp of approval, but we had run samples through the upgraded system before without any issues. Also, as AnonEMoose mentioned in their previous comment, if it didn’t work then we’d be in the same situation we were before – they’d still be down.

          I do think it’s important to try to be objectively introspective and make sure that I’m not getting defensive/territorial in the same way I felt like he was. So maybe I do need to think it through again with more of the worst-case-scenarios in mind, instead of the actual result. And honestly, I may have been panicking a little because them being down for 1 day is a 6-figure penalty. That probably forced my decision a little.

          1. NW Mossy

            One of the best pieces of business advice I ever heard (in the context of managing people) is that someone’s decision-making can only be evaluated fairly by looking at both their results and what they considered in getting there. This is particularly true in situations where the outcome wasn’t good.

            When outcomes are bad, we tend to jump to criticizing the decision-making process because surely the bad outcome must have been caused by a bad decision. But the goal of a strong decision-making process isn’t perfect outcomes – that’s unattainable because we almost never have enough information ahead of time to be 100% confident all the time. Instead, the goal is a process that provides a thorough enough review of objectives and risks to make a clear, actionable decision within a timeframe that’s appropriate. If the way you make choices meets those parameters, it’s still a good process to use even if an outcome here or there wasn’t ideal.

            From my own experience, I find that people vary dramatically in their tolerance for something going wrong. Those with a low tolerance tend to be great at worst-case-scenario thinking, but far less adept at visualizing the potential benefits of a risky decision. Your colleague strikes me as one of these, and keep that in mind. The ability to clearly see one type of outcome (positive or negative) sometimes leads people into thinking those scenarios are more likely than they objectively are.

          2. ten-four

            Honestly, sounds to me like your thought processes are on target. You didn’t wildcat in and start flipping switches to see what happened; you made a considered analysis of the risks and and your decision paid off.

            You went through a retro with your client and management already; you don’t have any obligation to do it again just because this guy is salty. Sometimes you can just…put feedback down. Like a box. This is one of those times – even more so because he didn’t actually give you feedback; you just overheard his defensive grumbling.

          3. Drop Bear

            Ok. I’d decided not to comment on here again because of the growing number of comments that second guess, misinterpret and criticise the OPs but hey, one for the road maybe.
            What I know about IT you could write on the head of a pin so keep that in mind, but I feel I need to say that while it’s good to to do a post-crisis analysis, please don’t let your confidence in your abilities be undermined by comments like, ‘You were right – this time’ and, ‘you landed luckily’. We have zero information on your thought processes during the crisis, what risk analysis you did, what you did to minimise potential risks etc etc, so how can a commenter on here ‘know’ if you were lucky ? Answer is they can’t. Your solution worked, your client is happy, your manager(s) thanked you for your actions, so don’t let a territorial colleague get into your head and make you second guess yourself, and definitely don’t let undermining comments on here do that.

          4. Trout 'Waver

            Given the added information, I totally agree that you made the right call. Good job!

            But I do still think having a “worst-case” post-mortem is a good idea. You will run into it at some point in your career.

          5. rogue axolotl

            My take on this is that anytime you have to solve a difficult problem, or make a difficult decision, it’s kind of inevitable that someone will disagree with how you handled it. In this case, it sounds like everyone important agrees with you, so I’m wondering if you’re giving this guy’s opinion undue weight just because he used to have your job. I don’t know all the details, but it sounds to me like he’s just annoyed because you handled the situation differently than he would have and got good results anyway. Maybe he’s having a hard time letting go of that job.

    7. Not So NewReader

      How do you get over it?

      I know what I would do. I would dig down into the nuts and bolts of the situation and figure out WHY I got lucky.
      What went right here?

      See, attributing your success to good luck is a light weight, superficial explanation of why things went right. Try to figure out which stars were in alignment. You may never totally figure it out. But you might figure out some of it. If something like this happens again, you will be older and wiser and you will be better at guessing what is the safest thing to do.

      Remember Captain “Sully” landing on the Hudson? He did not get that genius, that skill in one month or even one decade. It was a life time of analyzing and figuring things out. He was able to process many variables at a scary fast clip and he decided on a course of action.
      And this is how we do it, we don’t just analyze the things that went wrong, we also analyze the things that went right. As the years roll by we develop an entire encyclopedia of experiences to draw on.

      Look at your cohort and smile. Then tell yourself, “It may take a bit but I am going to figure out why I got lucky here. And I am going to apply that answer in other ways to help me excel at my job.”

      Some situations I have analyzed one of the stars in alignment was a person or people. Sometimes part of the answer is that we are just working with the exact correct person for that situation, as they have X skill or Y understanding which is necessary. So eyes wide open, look around, see if you can figure out why you got lucky.

      If this does not resonate with you I have a shorter exercise. Tell yourself that you won. Some people have to take pot shots at winners. He took a cheap shot at you because he knew you won.

    8. restingbutchface

      Nahhh. I’ve been in your shoes and your co-workers shoes and this is totally normal in incident management. Everyone wants to be the hero who fixed it and I know I’ve been moany when it wasn’t me. You were the hero, don’t let someone negate that. He’s just sour.

      Way to go, hero!

  9. Boo Radley

    I don’t need to leave my job immediately and I’m hoping to transition into a new career. I’ve been told I shouldn’t hold out for my ideal job. And while I’m not being ridiculously picky — I’m also not eager to jump into positions just because they’re in the field I’m interested in. (That’s sort of how I ended up in the job I’m in now)

    So, what’s the best way to make a transition. Get your foot in the door anywhere or be more selective? (The industry I’m looking at is not niche, but it is specialized – think librarian)

    1. Boba Feta

      I think I’m in a similar place. I need to transition into regular, full-time work and get out of the perpetual part-time contracting I’m currently doing, and feel like I’m stuck choosing between “get foot in door anywhere just to get into someplace FT (even if it’s OUTSIDE my specialized niche)” vs. “be highly selective and hold out for a great fit job even if it might take the better part of the year, or lots more.”

      My current strategy has been to seek out niche posts on some specialized job boards, but also keep one eye on Indeed for the “whatever, just pay me more” complete career-shift options. I have to admit that it is depressing as hell, and I’m sorry if that’s not helpful. I just want to offer some commiseration/ support that it’s tough to do both, even while it feels like it’s important to do both so as not to miss out on a potentially great opportunity.

      If you feel like you can stay comfortably in your current role for a while, perhaps try to stay selective so you don’t leave an OK position for a bad one out of desperation?

    2. Elle

      There is so much more to job satisfaction than *what* you are doing. Finding the right fit is really, really important. My field is pretty broad, and I constantly hear “oh I hate such and such” and then you drill into why, and its because they had a bad experience with the specific role or company. For example, you could absolutely love writing fiction, but hate writing nonfiction. So don’t rule out writing all together just because you wanted to do fiction but took a nonfiction gig to ‘get your foot in the door’.
      What would be the benefit in taking a job just to get your foot in the door? Are you that unhappy where you are now? Are you underqualified for the dream job? Don’t hold out hope for years over a job you won’t be qualified for without additional experience in the field, but don’t take a job just to be adjacent to the job you actually wanted. This is especially true because its hard to get lateral moves so you may never get the job you really wanted.

      1. Boo Radley

        I’m not underqualified for the new job or completely miserable in the old one… therein lies the issue. I don’t HAVE to do anything. But I do want to. The advice I’m getting is that I’m being too picky, but I’m being picky not about the job I want, but about the field I want to work in with the concern that I would gain experience in a field that I would not help me get into the field I do want.

    3. meh meh

      So long as “getting your foot in the door” actually means something, that can be worth it. If it’s an organization you want to work for and there’s clear room for growth, that’s valuable even if the position you’d start at isn’t perfect. If it’s an org you feel iffy about, or promotional opportunities seem limited either in structure or practice, then you’ve not actually gotten anywhere.

      Not being miserable in your current job does not equal being happy, so don’t accept “I don’t dread going in everyday” as good enough and a reason to stay (if that’s where you’re at…).

  10. Susan K

    Last week, I was asked to work night shift for a special project. At the same time, there was a crisis regarding my normal job responsibilities, the resolution of which required me to get approval from several different people. All of these people work day shift only or work rotating shifts and I don’t know their schedules. I have never even met some of them, nor do I know where their desks are on the company’s large campus. I had a tight deadline to get all of their signatures on the approval form, so I figured the easiest thing to do would be to send everyone the form electronically and ask them to complete and return it electronically.

    The next day, my grand-boss sternly lectured me that the expectation was that I would hand-carry the form to everyone who needed to sign it. I was surprised because, first of all, I don’t know how he even knew about this, since he had no involvement in the approval process. Also, I don’t understand why he had a problem with me sending the form electronically. Isn’t that a fairly common thing these days? All but one recipient of the electronic form signed it and sent it back the same day. Nobody objected to me, but I wonder if someone complained to my grand-boss and that was why he knew about it (not that I was trying to hide anything, but he isn’t usually involved in such minutiae). My grand-boss acted like I was “cheating” by sending the form electronically instead of chasing down everyone in person, even though I couldn’t possibly have done that while I was working the opposite shift as most of them. He made one of my coworkers hand-carry the form to the rest of the people who needed to sign it (I needed a second batch of signatures after getting all the approvals from the first group).

    Is it just me, or was my grand-boss being weird about this?

    1. Snubble

      That seems odd. I wonder if there’sa concern about this form specifically requiring wet signatures? We have some specialist areas in my field where the execs need to physically sign things and we have to send the originals.
      But it might also be that your grand-boss is being weird about this being done their way,. Maybe talk to your direct manager about the requirements for that form and how they’d like you to handle it in future?

      1. Susan K

        There’s nothing special about this form or requirements for wet signatures. After all the signatures are obtained, the form is scanned in and the original is thrown away.

        1. Snubble

          Yeah, then it sounds like grand-boss is getting caught up on how they imagine the task being done, and possibly how hard they think it is – people can get very focused on how a particular task has a particular difficulty level, and they do exactly what you described of thinking it’s “cheating” if the task gets easier, regardless of outcomes. In your shoes I’d talk to my direct boss and see if I could get a better solution.

    2. Anonysand

      He could be getting weird about it, but depending on the rules in place it could be something that absolutely had to be done by hand. At LastJob most of our forms were approved to be electronically signed, but there were a select few that could ONLY have a wet ink signature and had to be taken from person to person (and sometimes mailed overseas). It was written that way in some of our procedures and even though it didn’t make sense to me personally, it had to be compliant.

      1. Anonysand

        Or he could just be really weird and “Old School” about it because that’s the way its always been done.

      2. Susan K

        There are no rules about this form needing to be signed in wet ink, and the original is thrown away after being scanned in. I am pretty sure his concern was less about the actual piece of paper and more about wanting me to physically go to each person to get a signature. It’s true that it is normally done this way, but it’s also normally done by someone on dayshift and with a few weeks to get all the signatures, while I only had a few days.

    3. LCL

      Grand boss doesn’t understand all of the logistics involved in working other than bankers’ hours. This is really common. What you could have done is said “I was at work from 6PM to 6AM. How was I supposed to get the signatures of people who don’t get in the office until 8AM?” The communication issues between different shifts is one of the eternal issues of having a 24/7 department. It’s nice when someone in management works to break down these barriers, but it is a constant. And the off hours shifts also have to cooperate.

      1. Jessi

        I would have done this too! Under the guise of “for the future”

        I understand that you want me to go round and get the document hand signed but I was working the night shift and none of them where here. In the future how should I handle this?”

        1. Susan K

          I did ask and he said I should have one of my coworkers on dayshift hand-carry the form to everyone, which I don’t think is fair to my coworkers, who were already covering stuff like meetings for me while I was on night shift, not to mention busy with their own work.

    4. Kathenus

      Grand-boss may not have had any idea you were working nights, so he may have just seen something done in a way that was out of the norm (whether or not that should be an issue aside) without any context. Maybe via your boss, or directly to grand-boss depending upon your culture, you could reach out and say ‘I routed this electronically because I’m working nights right now and had no way to see people face to face. If this occurs again, how would you like me to handle it?” – possibly with a suggestion like “should I ask xx person to route it since I am not able to” so that they don’t answer that you should just come in that day too.

    5. Brown Recluse

      He may have been concerned about the information on the document itself. Many people are concerned about information being shared electronically. I have many clients who will not accept documents in email form because they are afraid of the information being hacked.

      1. valentine

        With gumption? Who got his job by walking in and asking for same?

        What a waste of time. Your signatures minus one is an extraordinary accomplishment. Well done.

  11. Alternative Person

    I swear, my job would be a lot easier if my co-workers cared to include page numbers/text names in their notes.

    1. Alternative Person

      Sidenote: When my coworkers complain about clients not being able to do things in their reports, I want to scream at them, ‘maybe you should have the clients practice these things’.

    2. LuJessMin

      OH, things like that drove me crazy! I used to work at an oil & gas company, and I’d get asked all the time, “Can you look at this well?”, and I’d have to reply back, “I’m not psychic, you’re going to have to give me more information than that.”

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      You get notes? Lucky you. Sometimes I’ll get a proof back and all they’ve done is circle something and put a question mark. Dear clients, if you don’t know–I don’t know, that’s why I sent you the proof. I used to try to follow up with them and now I just ignore it. If they can’t articulate their question, I’m not going to play charades.

  12. AnotherAlincognito

    I am trying to decide how to approach a meeting with my boss next week and could use some advice. I took a temporary remote assignment last spring. Between the time I accepted and when I actually started (April), it was announced that I was getting a new boss. I had been discussing the new assignment with my grandboss for 5 months before that, and I had some pretty specific concerns about taking the job. I didn’t want to be doing my previous job remotely. Grandboss was very encouraging, and made me feel like taking this role would be important to the company and a good career step. When I first started, I made some good progress doing new things – meeting clients & even signing up some new work, interviewing candidates, etc.

    My boss fully took charge in late June, and everything has basically gone exactly the way I didn’t want things to go since then. I am now doing my old job remotely and am very busy with project work, with a few more selling responsibilities, but no input into some strategic things that were very important for me (hiring people, working with partners, locating the permanent office, setting the direction for a remote team). Not one person has been hired (3 offers, 1 accepted & repurposed by my boss to yet another remote office), and now my boss is hoarding the candidates and interviewing them himself, without my input, and he cuts me out of discussions with partners (like I can make the introduction, but he takes over). Back in July, I had landed an RFP opportunity through an SOQ that I led, and then he took that from me and assigned it to someone else. (Then gave it back to me a couple weeks later because the other guy had vacation scheduled, then gave it back to him, then back to me again so he could reassign him to a different project. OMG.)

    It seems like a huge waste of time and money for the company because I’m not doing the new duties and could be doing the rest of my work more effectively at the home office, and personally, it’s terrible because I work alone and live alone at the remote location, although I do get to travel back home a lot. I am not sure if my boss realizes I’m not doing my job as it was sold to me. (I said that to him last week, and that’s how we ended up scheduling this forthcoming meeting.)

    I am really angry, and I would love to just lay it all out there because I feel screwed over, but I am supposed to be done with this assignment in March, and maybe I just go with it, and ask nicely how I can make it better and more productive for the company and ride it out.

    I do have an open candidacy somewhere else, but I haven’t heard from them in a week & don’t want to let this fester much longer. It is actually the 3rd warm job prospect I have had since June, and each of the previous ones took about a month to run the course, which also set me back some on straightening out this mess. I figured why stir the pot if I may be gone soon, but I’m starting to think I will be stuck here and need to do something.

    1. AnotherAlincognito

      Haha, another thing just happened, tangentially related. I had started talks with an external recruiter for a specific position back around labor day. The company was allegedly interested, but the recruiter said they were putting it on hold till late October. I figured sure, okay, I will never hear from them again.

      The recruiter just called me, and he is meeting with the company today and wanted to check my status. He said he doesn’t think they plan to interview until December, but that’s fine with me. What a weird thing. I had really written that one off.

    2. Kathenus

      I may be missing something, but it sounds like your discussion about how you hoped your job would go were all with grandboss, not with new boss. He may have no idea about the content of these past discussions. Of course new boss may have his own way of doing things, but starting with an open discussion of your role and your past conversations with grandboss may help open the lines of communication. Maybe it could be a meeting with new boss and grandboss to plan things going forward. Maybe it won’t help, but likely couldn’t hurt if it was done in a productive way.

      1. AnotherAlincognito

        I actually did have discussions with my new boss before. Because he came into the picture late (last few weeks of a 5 month process) and was busy handing off management of his former department, he didn’t really get involved until later, but I had a conversation and explained everything I was told about what I was doing before I left. He knew, but I think for everyone involved it was still unknown how it would evolve because it was a new role in a new place. I think he’s pushing it to the direction he wants now, which doesn’t work for me. I thought about meeting with both the boss and the grandboss, but I landed on having the first meeting with just my boss. I figured he should know my issues before I raise them up the chain, but ultimately I think getting my grandboss looped in will need to happen.

    3. Jessi

      Yes, stir the pot! March is still three months away. No point in being miserable for the next three months if you can have a chat and get it sorted

  13. Ann Furthermore

    Two months ago, my company announced that we were being acquired by a very large software company. The deal was finalized on 10/31. And this past Monday, everyone finally found out what was happening with their jobs, one way or another. Having that date looming out there was horribly stressful, and it turned everyone – including me a time or 2 – into irrational a-holes. I have a job until 7/31/19, and if I stay that long I’ll get a retention bonus and a severance package that’s equivalent to about 6 months of pay, plus 2 months of COBRA and 2 months of free services with a placement firm. So, much more generous than I was expecting, and there is always the possibility that a permanent position may become available in the meantime. I’m lucky to know when my end-date will be because I will be able to plan accordingly. Other groups are getting laid off in December and January, so I’m really quite fortunate.

    But. I’ve only been with this company for about 6 months, and I really like it here. I had just started feeling like I had settled in and was getting a good handle on my job and all the systems I work with and support. With this acquisition happening I have felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. Plus, there was a huge effort to relocate jobs here from the Bay Area, which took months and months, and had to be very costly, with severance packages, building out office space here, hiring new people and getting them trained, and all the rest of it. So as soon as this was announced, I started wondering why they went to all that effort when this had to have been in the works for at least 6 months? It’s not like you just put an ad on Craigslist and then meet in a parking lot to pick up a check. There’s a little more to it than that. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just let the former employees keep their jobs for awhile longer if they were just going to lay them off anyway? So I just don’t get it, and many of the people here who are not being retained have the same questions.

    And to add to that, I’m going to be 51 in a couple weeks. All I really want to do is to find a job where I can put my head down, work my butt off for about 10 more years, and then hang it up and find a nice part-time job that will let me earn my “fun money” and enjoy retirement. I thought it was all planned out. Now in a few months I’m going to have to start from scratch someplace else. Ugh.

    1. Lily Rowan

      That all sounds really hard, I’m sorry. But I’m amazed that you’re going to get 6 months’ severance after working there for a year! I hope all of this gives you enough runway to find the next thing, and that it is great.

    2. Not another Liz

      Any chance you can apply for new jobs that will pop up at your company between now and August? Last time my company had a layoff they announced it well in advance so that we were able to reduce the actual number for people being laid off through attrition. 55% ended up finding new jobs within our company before the layoff date. 30% found new jobs prior to the layoff date, and 10% took early retirement.

    3. ThankYouRoman

      This is a whirlwind you’re all stuck in and my heart hurts for everyone.

      Honestly, you’ll never understand the business decision side. It’s not for you to understand. They have a vision and plan, it’s up in the big wigs office, it’ll never ever make sense on the outside looking in. I know that it’s stressful and painful to be so confused by the whole thing but you’re gonna be okay when the dust settles.

      Restructuring after a sale is usually to address flaws in the system you’re unaware of because that’s outside your job description and above your pay grade.

      Often it’s easier to deal with the temporary pains of releasing staff and rehiring because they’re now in charge of pay rates, benefits, job duties and dispersing them.

      They offer great retention and severance to not harm those who are not at fault for this acquisition. If they canned everyone without much more than a “goodbye sucka!!” they’d have bad PR first thing. Not a good way to start! You always inject money and as much rah-rah please don’t sabotage us from the inside as possible going into this kind of major buyout.

    4. LurkieLoo

      I’d definitely aim to stay through to the end. The retention bonus and severance pay sound pretty appealing. I’d probably start with a soft search now just to see what’s out there, brush up on resume, etc. and then start looking hard about May or June with an August – September start date in mind.

      I’m sure part of why they did this was to keep people who are trained in position during the transition so work still gets done. I am sure they will be bringing in some of their own people for certain positions and new managers want to hire their own team, etc.

      I was laid off after a buy out at one point and it is pretty sucky in a lot of ways, but the new ownership turned out to be horrible and the entire place closed down about a year later.

    5. Work Wardrobe

      I got two jobs at age 60+, and a friend just got a really good FT job with an association at age 68.

      I know it’s very industry-specific, but don’t think it can’t happen!

  14. AllyPally

    I missed out on a promotion this week, how do I get over the disappointment?
    I’m going to apply again when applications open up next half, but in the meantime I’m feeling dejected and unappreciated, which is daft, as the people I actually work with gave me fantastic reviews for the promotion.
    It’s also disappointing because I scored really well, and if I had applied in a different round I probably would have got the promotion.
    Any advice?

    1. AMPG

      Sorry you missed out on that. It’s OK to be disappointed right now. Moving forward, sometimes losing out in a very competitive round isn’t a terrible thing, because it positions you at the head of the pack for the next round. If you think that might be a possibility here, just try to maintain a positive attitude and keep your performance up in preparation for next time. You can also solicit feedback as long as you do it with an open mind and a genuine willingness to implement suggestions.

      1. Kathenus

        Agree 100%. Sounds like you are doing the right thing and your turn will come soon. I second asking for feedback on how you can continue to improve, and especially focusing on the positive attitude and continued good work. I know you know this, but don’t let your disappointment show in your work or attitude; or better said, disappointment is natural, but don’t let it turn into resentment.

    2. Dasein9

      Oh, that’s crummy. I’m sorry.

      Since you ask, I recommend feeling your feelings for a little bit, but also framing them in a realistic way. It sounds like this is a disappointment, not a catastrophe or a sign of actually being undervalued.

      Have a drink/ice cream/hike or whatever coping mechanism is healthy in your life, and then write up a plan for how to nail this promotion next time. Would it help to meet with your supervisor and ask how to make yourself really stand out? Make that appointment. Do you need some professional development? Schedule it. If possible, set aside an hour or two a week (maybe Friday afternoon or your workplace’s equivalent of wrapping-up time) to work on that plan. Worst case scenario, that cultivates a self-improvement habit.

      Good luck with the second try!

    3. restingbutchface

      Oh, man. That sucks, I’m sorry. Having had my own share of disappointments, my advice would be – wallow in it. For a set amount of time. If there is someone you trust, rant at them over wine. Be really, really unreasonable. Get the poison out and you’ll feel better, don’t just try to skip straight to fine.

      You’ve earned a period of wallowing, so set a time limit and enjoy being outrageously miserable and unreasonable. Then pick yourself up, remind yourself you’re awesome and carry on, head high.

  15. Snarkus Aurelius

    Now that middle management has eaten up a lot of my and my coworkers’ job duties, how do you guys deal with a dwindling job description? Of course I’m looking for a job, but they’re few and far between now. My coworkers and I have been encouraged to use this time for professional development instead, which we are. But it’s so demoralizing because we used to be so senior and working on high profile projects. There is nothing in our employment history to suggest we did anything wrong. Leadership wanted more middle management so fewer people would have to report to leadership.

    And I really wish someone would explain to me why middle management exists. It was one reason Microsoft went down the tubes, and I’m seeing it here too.

    1. Phoenix Programmer

      Speaking as someone working at a place with no middle management I can tell you it’s terrible.

      There is no career step between IC and Sr Leadership resulting in people with no management experience going into roles where they manage 30-150 direct reports.

      As a result turnover is high. Career developement isn’t really a thing. No surprise since even bi-weekly one on ones would take all the managers time.

      It’s awful. I wish we had middle management to consolidate direct reports into smaller manageable teams of 10-25.

    2. Qwerty

      There’s a limit to the number of people that one person can effectively manage. When senior leadership is focused on the big picture for the company, they don’t have time do deal with minutia of regular management. Conversely, if senior leadership is spending all their time on the day-to-day management, they don’t tackle the long-term plan or goals. Either way the company flounders.

      One of the main things that someone has to learn when transitioning to be a manager is to let go of doing the tasks themselves. There’s generally a period of confusion after a restructuring like this while everyone figures out what their duties are and what the new priorities are, but often more of your tasks will either come back to you or be replaced.

      The best thing I’ve found about middle management is that usually I have to spend less time in meetings. The managers get stuck in those, and then pass on relevant information during team meetings.

      1. TechWorker

        I work in a company with an average team size of ~5 – I literally can’t imagine being able to keep track of 25 peoples work and their development, let alone 100…

        1. NW Mossy

          I manage a team of twelve right now, which gets tough in terms of giving each person focused attention. Even what I consider the bare minimum (30 minute 1:1s weekly) gets to be a scramble in weeks like next week when we’re off for two days. I definitely felt like I had more balance between developing my people and larger strategic priorities with my previous team, which was half the size.

          Apparently our current High Poobah is a believer that 10-15 direct reports is the sweet spot, despite a significant body of research indicating that 6-8 is a lot more effective for both manager and direct.

  16. anon for this

    I’m looking for advice on returning from planned leave after a really awkward encounter with a coworker prior to going out. I’ll be going back in a couple of weeks, but right before I went out, a coworker came up to me, made a big deal of confirming it was my last day, and then proceeded to invade my personal space while I made multiple attempts to walk away. He eventually succeeded in obtaining a side hug on me (not from, because it wasn’t reciprocated) and I was able to get away, although he still followed and chatted with me for a few minutes after. It was an awful experience for me, and it made me sick that I didn’t do more to stop him (I’m in a senior position, and I’m not shy – I’ve spoken up on multiple occasions when this employee has made sexist comments, spoke over a female employee, or tried to take their credit). I did speak with our shared boss the day after. He took everything I said very seriously and intended to speak with him that week (I’ll get an update when I return), which was comforting and a huge relief. To get to the point though, I now have to go back to work with this person. We don’t work directly on a daily basis, but we do have to collaborate on company-wide initiatives and there are a few projects that meet that criteria. Assuming my boss addressed this appropriately with him, how do I go back to this and get my job done? I’m sure my boss will have my back in general, but we’re a tiny company and there isn’t someone else who can stand in on these projects for either me or my coworker.

    1. Four lights

      Ideally, your boss addressed this and your coworker will immediately apologize or say nothing and just act appropriately. If he does it again, you’d say something and address it with your boss again. So I don’t think that working with him is necessarily an issue.

      However, it seems like you have feelings on your end. Do you still feel violated? Do you want an apology? Are you afraid this guy is going to do it again? Are you mad at yourself for not handling it the way you with you would have? Are you just disgusted with his behavior overall and hate the thought of working with him? I guess I’m saying that the specific emotion you feel would dictate how you might need to approach working with him again. If you’re angry you might be able to confront him and say that what he did was unwelcome and inappropriate. If you’re afraid, you could talk with your boss and get more verbal reassurance that they have your back.

      Also, if this guy did this, and has make sexist comments, is his behavior overall fire-able? (I’m assuming there could be other things not mentioned.)

      I hope all this makes sense. Good luck

      1. anon for this

        Yeah, the last 2 definitely hit home for me. I’m definitely not happy about how I handled it in the moment. I’m situated as well as you can be for this type of thing (senior employee in a company of people I trust to have my back, including my boss), and it still threw me so hard that I froze up outside of body language. And it definitely disgusts me, so there’s an element of that as well. I think in a company with more resources, he’d be borderline on the way out. It’s possible that he’s “on notice” at this point as well, as my boss takes this kind of thing seriously. Most of his prior comments are those gross jokey “boys club” comments, which I call him out on all the time. So they’ve diminished (at least around me!)

        I did bring up my frustration with myself with I reported to my boss, so I might address that with him again. I think that him taking me so seriously was a huge step in making me more comfortable in the future at least.

        1. Four lights

          I think we’ve all had situations we wish we’d handled differently or more forcefully, so you’re not alone. This type of behavior is so unacceptable that the fact that someone is engaging in it can leave us stunned and speechless.

        2. JessicaTate

          As Four Lights said, know that you’re not alone in that feeling, if that helps at all. I think it’s particularly hard when you’re a strong woman that typically prides herself on speaking up and not taking BS. And, reading what you wrote: I’ve found that I’ve found it way easier to speak up on behalf of others – which sounds like a lot of what you’ve done previously with this guy. But when I need to directly confront him about something done to me personally, it is so much harder. Like, freezing in the moment and/or voice shaking when I actually call it out. Ugh! So mad at myself. I tried to 1) take it as a lesson in how ingrained the “don’t make waves” thing can be in all of us, 2) forgive myself, and 3) use it as a reminder the next time something happens.

    2. Laura H.

      Is there any way to ask your boss “the lay of the land”, so to speak, before you get back? (At the very least did he have that talk with buggy coworker?- does boss even know about the hug incident?!)

      That might put you more at ease…

      1. anon for this

        Yeah, I’ll be meeting with him prior to my actual return, so I’m looking forward to the update. He was very concerned when we spoke, so that makes me hopeful that I can avoid too much discomfort. This whole thing happened within about 5 minutes, including the hug, so he does know about that. The fact that the hug happened after I was repeatedly walking away from him was part of what was so disconcerting. That and he put so much effort into making certain it was my last day physically in the office (I finished up a few things remotely), which makes me believe he’d been planning the hug attempt, which is an extra layer of creepy for me.

    3. LadyByTheLake

      Remember whose problem this is — it’s his problem, not yours. You should go back and do your job like the professional you are, based on the assumption that he will also behave like a professional. If he doesn’t — time to escalate it (again)

      1. anon for this

        Thank you. As many times as I see this written out on this site, I still needed to see it as a direct comment. You’re absolutely right. I need to put this aside (after confirming it was addressed, that is) and move forward. He’ll either move forward as well or act out, which gives me the opportunity to further call him out and report him. If he’s smart, he’ll have learned already!

        1. valentine

          Make sure your supervisor explicitly told the fiend not to touch you and what steps there are between a further violation and his firing. Ask your supervisor to refresh the fiend’s memory prior to your return (so you feel slightly more at ease and he doesn’t get a free pass because he claims he forgot).

          You’re not obliged to prevent things people shouldn’t be doing to you.

          Come up with one or two lines you’ll broken-record him with in future, like “Stop” and “That’s not your concern.” Report him each time and include the timespan and how seemingly harsh you had to be before he stopped.

          Can he really not stay away from you? Can you communicate in writing only or via conference call with a witness (possibly unknown to him)? They should’ve fired him long ago. Really think about whether they just won’t really help you here.

    4. LurkieLoo

      I think I would assume boss has handled it and pretend it was resolved. I don’t think you need to try to interact with him and I think in future interactions, you can pretend the hug didn’t happen as long as he shows improvement in his behavior. I would not tolerate even one less than respectful interaction with him, though.

      I hope this will come up in your update meeting with your boss and you will have a better idea of how it needs to be handled. I would definitely keep an eye on the guy’s attitude and behavior around you, though.

      In the meantime, don’t spend the last couple weeks of your leave stressing about it too much. It’s going to be what it’s going to be and when you find out what that is, then you can come up with a plan of action.

      If you feel like you need to confront your coworker just for your own peace of mind or to be extra clear to him that you are not going to let him get away with that, I think some version of “I wanted to clear up our interaction when I left. You made me extremely uncomfortable by following me around and invading my personal space. I need to know that it will not happen again. I need our interactions to be 100% professional and work related going forward.” Or something similar.

  17. Former Expat

    Question for the commentariat, which generally accepted workplace norm, either from AAM or your general impression of life in 2018, secretly annoys you? For example, does the more casual dress code of the modern era irk you as you wish we still wore more formal clothes at work? Or do you think it is no big deal to ask for a doctor’s note for sick leave or think we should just get over it. For my pet peeve that I would absolutely never actually bring up at work, I think that people are a little too precious over microwave smells. If I have to listen to you talk about “just browning some ground up turkey meat for taco Tuesday (yuck!)” then you can smell my microwaved broccoli.

    **I mean this to be a somewhat light-hearted question. If you would like to go back to time when you could harass the receptionist, move along

    1. Nervous Accountant

      Hmmm I don’t know. I do feel that I love the things here that most of the commentariat hates—free lunches/dinners, holiday parties, Halloween parties, birthday events, happy hours, socialization etc.

      If I do get annoyed, its at seeing the same people walk around and socialize more than they work. One of our managers does this—he takes a lot of breaks and spends a lot of time talking with his friends. But he’s supposedly really quick and good at his job so he gets a slide.

    2. Nervous Accountant

      I’m sorry. Now that I reread the post and my comment it I realize I am way off base here. :-(

      1. Former Expat

        I don’t think you’re way off base! It seems like you got what I was asking. Yeah, on AAM, etc the consensus seems to be that office parties are uniformly terrible, but you really do enjoy them. Perfect example!

    3. Mama Bear

      I think that unless someone is out for a very long time, doctor’s notes are unnecessary. If I needed to change my work schedule for chemo, sure. If I got the flu from my kid, please don’t make me go to a germ factory (doctor’s office) to prove it. I am personally not a fan of very lax dress codes – exposed underwear, flip flops, ripped clothes, or just generally something that is only appropriate in a club. And I wish for the love of all that people would clean up after themselves. It’s an office, not a dorm. Don’t leave your dishes for 3 days.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I agree. Asking for a note for one or two days of illness is ridiculous. Some illnesses just need to run their course. I have a $25 copay for PCP visits, so to get a sick note for one day off would be really annoying. I’d have to pay $25 (or $50 if I couldn’t get in to the PCP’s office and had to go to urgent care), drive about 80 minutes round-trip in city traffic, sit in a waiting room full of other sick people, and then possibly make a trip to the pharmacy on the way home. I’d be better off lying in bed all afternoon and getting some rest.

        1. Decima Dewey

          Also, some people have what I call tame doctors. Their doctors will sign off on anything so they always have a sick note. People in one union local here (not mine) can just go to their union hall and get a note for the previous day, for example. So TPTB never catch the people who are really abusing the system.

    4. MonteCristo85

      Oh, the microwave smell is a good one. Also when people complain about bathroom smell. Get a hold of yourself!

      One that rather bugs me is people standing around in groups shooting the breeze, complaining that they are so busy. I mean if you are that busy, why aren’t you working? I know the whole “busy” thing is like “tired” part of being a working adult, but when you are really busy hearing blatherings from people who are clearly NOT busy is super annoying.

      1. CupcakeCounter

        The bathroom smells! We have someone here who will send an office wide email 2 or 3 times a year reminding people what the spray in the bathroom is for. Thanks for notifying the entire office that someone took a huge dump.

    5. Parenthetically

      I’m with you on microwave smells — fortunately absolutely no one was precious about that at my last job, to the point that no one batted an eyelash if you came in fifteen minutes early and used the electric griddle to make yourself some bacon and eggs while the coffee brewed. As long as you cleaned up after yourself, no one cared if you were broiling salmon in the toaster oven.

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, I work on a floor with about 100 people from all different countries and cultures, and normally the most controversial thing that’s said is, “Man, your lunch smells GOOD”. People are heating up all kinds of foods and sometimes it’s not my favorite smell, but I’m sure people aren’t always loving the smell of my heated-up frittatta, either. We can all just deal.

    6. Former Retail Manager

      Totally agree on microwave smells. And smells in general. I had to remove my tiny Scentsy, but another co-worker has lavender, mint, and chamomile that drifts throughout half of the building, literally. Not my favorite, but I deal and don’t say a word. Just as she could have dealt with a Scentsy scent of sugar cookie.

        1. Rainy

          Two coworkers on the same hall with rogue Scentsy scents sent me and another coworker home with ferocious migraines and respiratory distress about a year ago.

          I don’t mind scent in the workplace as long as the person is willing to work with the people with allergies or asthma, and management doesn’t mind that sometimes I have to just cancel my remaining appointments and go home to recover because that person thought “she won’t even notice a little frankincense” Spoiler alert: I can’t not notice my head immediately turning into a goo factory.

    7. Lisa B

      ARRGH– When I ask people to not e-mail or IM a client with 10 questions, but to SET UP A MEETING, and they look horrified. “But it’s so much more efficient this way! Technology!”

      1. Rocinante

        Honestly, my pet peeve is the other way around. I hate having to convene a meeting with a dozen people to come to a decision we’ve already made over phone calls and emails because it creates “buy-in.” To me it is very inefficient.

        But, I understand it’s a difference of personalities. Some people need face-to-face interaction while some people don’t. It’s knowing who you’re talking to that’s key.

      2. Purple Jello

        Right! more than two back-and-forth exchanges and I need a conversation. Start with a phone/conference call, or convene a meeting.

    8. ExcelJedi

      Do zero tolerance alcohol policies count? Because today would be so much easier with a Scotch, Mad Men style.

    9. LCL

      More and more, I am seeing people that want to do their work with the absolute minimum of social interaction. Where even good morning and how are you is considered rude and invasive. Please believe me that when I ask you how are you, it is a polite social interaction and you can answer however you wish, I am not trying to interrogate you about your personal business. To me, the loss of polite small talk at work and in public is a negative.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        Yes, definitely. I saw a comment here the other day that said someone would be annoyed if someone asked them a simple question (“How’s it going?” I think). Like, seriously? I wish I had so few problems that someone asking me how it’s going is a major annoyance in my life.

        1. valentine

          Because there’s no opt-out and there should be opt-in. We should have traffic lights or designated seating like someone suggested for planes (talking/silent).

          you can answer however you wish
          Why must I answer but no one’s obliged to leave me in peace?

      2. LJay

        This.

        Like, I’m pretty introverted. I need to stay at home at least one of my days off to recharge without doing anything social. After work, I go home more often than not.

        But I had a job where it was literally me in room with my computer all day alone and I didn’t like that, either. I needed some interaction.

        And if I were working around people all day and they didn’t want to respond back when I said hello or whatever, or got upset when I asked, “Got any fun plans for the weekend?” because it was invasive or whatever I would feel like it was a really unfriendly place to work. (Not that I would bother them by asking those things while they were clearly in the middle of work. But I’ve never had a job that didn’t have short bits of downtime here or there.)

        1. annakarina1

          I’m the same. I identity as introverted, and also like being social. It’s a mix of liking to be around a small group of people vs. going to receptions or bigger parties. I don’t like going to industry receptions if they are large because I find it hard to talk to people under the noise and crowds.

          At my job, I can have pleasant chat with my co-workers and get along well, and can also listen to music and podcasts on my headphones and work productively. I like both socializing lightly and having time to myself.

    10. Overeducated

      I agree on the microwave smells. Most of the leftovers I bring are “ethnic” foods that people think of as “smellier” so I resent the implied cultural judgments. And no, I don’t even mind when people heat up fish in my office microwave.

      Like a couple other commenters, I also think the number of people who resent work chit-chat and socialization opportunities because they just want to put their heads down and work are a bit…hard for me to understand. Yeah, I don’t want to chat all day either, but I’d go crazy if I spent 10-11 hours of my day (including commute) just starting at screens without talking to anyone. Why wouldn’t you want to have positive relationships and get to know the people you see more than your own family and friends?

    11. Washi

      Playing games during the interview/negotiating process to learn the salary band. I wish it were the norm to just post it in the job description.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        We just got a new governor. I’m considering asking him to consider a law banning asking potential employers about past salary. (He’s taking suggestions on his transition website.)

    12. Not Maeby but Surely

      In my office, it is apparently acceptable practice to leave your cell phone ringers on all the time. (On high volume, no less.) One of these days I’m bringing a hammer to work.

    13. Elizabeth West

      I’m not really bothered by microwave smells either, unless somebody has burned something. That’s really unpleasant and tends to linger more than plain food smell, even fish.

      This is kind of the opposite of your question, but I love potlucks. Many people hate them. I loooooove them. My contributions are typically uninspired–except for brownies and ice cream I took to Friendsgiving on Sunday. That was a big hit. ButI like having a plethora of food laid out that I can sample. It’s also fun to see what weird-as-shit stuff people bring, haha.

      The best one ever was a chili dog day at OldExjob. I ate so much I didn’t need any dinner.

    14. CTT

      Even though flexible time is a great innovation and punitive on-time policies (like the one from the letter this week) are awful, I do think people should generally be on time to work. I work with people who will come in at 9 one day and 11 the next and the unpredictability drives me crazy when I need to discuss something with them.

      1. Washi

        One place I worked that did this well had a strong culture of putting absolutely everything on your calendar. So people came and went at random times, but I could see by their calendar when they planned to arrive. Otherwise, yeah, if you have the kind of job where you need to talk to your coworkers about things, it’s a huge pain!

    15. BoB

      WFH without telling someone is one of my pet peeves. I’m totally good with people working remotely, but if we don’t know Jane is working from home, we don’t know to reserve a dial in for the morning meeting, rescue whatever congrats/going away/condolence card from her desk to keep circulating for signature, or report her as absent rather than missing in our fire drill. We ‘fail’ our fire drill muster if we can’t account for everyone, which means we get to do it again next week. :(

    16. Toys in the attic

      It secretly annoys me that there is so much judgement about coming in to work “sick”. I mean, if you have the flu, yes, stay home. But don’t side-eye me for coughing post-cold. I don’t have enough sick time to be out of work for 10 days with “runny nose and cough”.

      1. Former Expat

        Yes! There is so much side-eye out there for every sniffle. We are going to get yelled at about this, but I feel the need to talk about the pollen count every time I sneeze…

    17. Oxford Comma

      It’s a threeway tie: microwave smells, outrage over people who use the bathroom for its intended purpose, and the idea that you need to be dying before you can call in sick for more than 1 day.

      1. TechWorker

        My current pet peeve is people with completely unrealistic expectations of how much of my time I have to spend on *just their issues*. Send me an email, and I’ll get back to you, IM me and I’ll nearly always respond. IM me multiple times a day repeatedly to ask basic questions that really someone on your team should be answering, and follow up on emails via IM a couple of hours after they were sent… your issue is going as far down my mental queue as I can justify…

    18. NW Mossy

      Loathing meetings, particularly when accompanied by hyperbolic claims that they’re all a waste of time. They can be, but meetings are also a really powerful tool for getting people on the same page quickly and resolve any misunderstandings or hurdles with a minimum of fuss.

      Maybe meetings are like vegetables – when done poorly like they were in the school cafeterias of our youth, we decided they were awful, but when done well by thoughtful and experienced people, they make life better.

      1. This Daydreamer

        The meetings where I work usually include some training and information on updated policies. Plus we all talk about issues that have come up and we come up with solutions. We only have one meeting a quarter and it lasts an hour. I really can’t call it wasted time.

        At OldJob, there was at least one person who has an issue with everything we talked about. Everything. And she had to describe each issue and her feelings about each issue in great detail and with much scorn that we were being so stupid about it. This was retail and we were holding the meetings after the store closed, so it was late, we were tired, and we wanted to go home. I can’t be the only one who wanted to scream at her to shut the heck up and cram it. She added at least an hour to every meeting and it was torture to sit though her rants. We had meetings once a year and it was far too often. Oh, and we had to role play customer service interactions. And sit through a video from corporate. Now those meetings were massive wastes of time. Until the end of the meeting when we divvied up all of the swag that had been sent to the store over the year. It was a bookstore, so that meant FREE BOOKS and tote bags and random other things.

    19. Windchime

      Mine is confusion over the hatred of “Reply All”. If I get an email addressed to 5 people, I assume those people all need to be looped into any replies. Maybe I just have been lucky where I’ve worked, but I’ve never seen any of these endless chains of replies from hundreds of people.

      Actually, what bugs me is when I send an email to someone and CC others, and then they reply only to me. Dude, there was a REASON I cc’d Karen and Tom.

    20. Gumby

      It’s an “accepted workplace norm” because it’s pretty much required here – but my co-workers are seldom at their desks and could be in any one of 5 or 6 labs (most of which I don’t barge into because labs. and lasers.) If I could just lo-jack them all individually my job would be so much easier.

  18. MaryAnneSpier

    I tend to give off a “give me unsolicited advice” vibe. Trust me, I don’t mean to. I know how to do things. However, when I am matched with a Type A (in friendships, in a relationship, at work) I tend to get a lot of unsolicited advice thrown at me. “You should do it this way,” or “do this first, then that.” I have no problem asking for help when I need it but it’s not like I need it all that often. I don’t know how to push back and set a boundary without feeling like a jerk, but I also don’t like just taking it all the time. Case in point, this morning a coworker I’ve been working with for a few months greeted me with, “Oh, you missed something in this report.” Said report isn’t due yet and I’d already told her that I wasn’t done with it. I said, “I didn’t miss it. I just haven’t finished it yet.” She said, “Well, when I went in to do my part I saw that this part wasn’t complete yet.” I said, “Yes, I know. I’m not done with it yet.” (She doesn’t need me to be done with this in order to do her stuff.) She said, “It’s just that I noticed…” So I said, “Are you auditing my work or something?” She’s been here longer but we’re lateral to each other. She said, “Oh, no! I just… never mind.” I just need to know how to respond to people when they do this. I don’t want to be a jerk but I also am capable of completing things and meeting deadlines without being nagged. :/

    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      I think you did just fine. After the first “….I haven’t finished it yet” they should have said “ok!” and moved on. They kept doubling down and made it weird.

      Maybe instead of the auditing comment you could have said something more along the lines of “I’m confused, the report isn’t done yet, that piece will be included when I’m finished, is there something else that I’m missing?”

      But again I think you were fine.

    2. Kathenus

      Agree with Four lights and Namast’ay in Bed that you handled this one great – returned the awkward to sender.

      On the bigger issue, harder to say why it happens. Maybe look at situations where it happens and try to think of how you presented the information someone gives you advice on – did you do it in a way that invited it, unintentionally. Maybe changing how you present things, or deciding what to share with the A types, might reduce it.

      Once it occurs, you could come up with a stock phrase like “I’ve got it, thanks” and move on. Don’t engage further, don’t explain what you did more which could invite more feedback. Just “I’ve got it, thanks”, rinse and repeat. If someone won’t stop, drop the “thanks” part after the first time and handle it like you did with coworker above.

    3. Sabine the Very Mean

      I’m this person as well. I get stopped by strangers on the street offering me unsolicited advice. If I were a mom, I bet I would have to wear a shirt that says, “DO.NOT.SPEAK.TO.ME”. I have gotten a little better at heading off warned advice in advance. For example, someone says, “A little piece of advice….”, I immediately fire back with, “No thanks” before he can get the advice out. Or if someone just launches in to whatever the advice is, I say, “Oh I didn’t mean to give you the impression that I was looking for advice”.

    4. Close Bracket

      I’m really bad at this type of interaction. In my mind, you said something, I responded to it, the conversation is over and we can move on. It’s taken me a long time to figure this out, but when someone keeps repeating something, it means that your answer didn’t meet whatever answer they are looking for. Sometimes, you can head this conversational merry-go-round off by repeating their words back to them. This validates their words.

      Her: I noticed it wasn’t complete and I wanted to let you know.

      You: Oh, you noticed it wasn’t complete and wanted to let me know. I know it was incomplete bc it wasn’t finished yet.

      If that doesn’t work, move on to, “I heard you the first time.” :)

    5. LilySparrow

      She wanted you to thank her for “helping” you. You didn’t, and that’s the answer she was pushing for.

      So you could say something like, “Yep, I know, thanks!” Or “Thanks, it’s still in progress.”

      It’s not a true expression of gratitude because you didn’t need to be told. But if you check that box, it might help break the loop faster.

  19. Yikes

    How do you prepare for an interview for a job you’re underqualified for?

    I have no idea how I got to the interview stage to be honest. I didn’t exaggerate my experience or anything. I think I should just treat it as if they’re just making up the numbers or something (which they might well be…) to avoid getting too nervous.

    1. Four lights

      What I did for my interviews was I wrote down all the questions I thought the might ask and wrote down answers. (What’s your greatest weakness? Can you describe your experience with X? What do you do if you feel you have too much work to do? Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult person at work.)

      I would also come up with questions to ask them about the position. You say you’re underqualified- if that’s really the case you may not want this job. It could be miserable if you don’t know what you’re doing and can’t complete your tasks, so you should find out how underqualified you are and if you would have any training or support. You could ask them to describe the day to day tasks of the role, what big project it includes. If you know you need training in a certain area, ask them if they would train you. It might be best to be upfront with some areas you feel you’re underqualified in to see what they think. It may be they know that and they’re willing to train you in them.

    2. Boo Hoo

      I think a big thing is being honest about what you do and do not know as well as expressing a strong desire to learn, how you pick up things quickly and are skilled at researching the things you do not know to learn them. I have done just this and actually ended up with a job that was WAY beyond my level because I was motivated to learn what I didn’t know. They still may feel you just can’t do it but that dedication to developing your skills, quickly, and with a good amount of self teaching (because if they are looking for someone who already knows this they may not have the time to train someone from scratch) are key.

    3. Kathenus

      Be honest. Don’t try to sell yourself for the role in a way that overstates your current experience in certain aspects. They picked you for the interview for a reason. Maybe you’ll get it, maybe you won’t, but just be up front about what experiences and skills you do (and don’t) have, and sell yourself by highlighting your strengths, and if it’s the right fit for you both hopefully it’ll work out. If not, you might not have been happy or comfortable in the role anyway. But again, remember, they chose you for an interview, so they obviously think you have potential here. Good luck!

    4. AnotherLibrarian

      Clearly, they don’t think you’re under-qualified, or they wouldn’t be wasting their time.

      I would practice answers to the questions and be as honest as possible with them about your skills. You might be surprised.

    5. LurkieLoo

      From a hiring perspective, we’ve interviewed people who were probably under qualified for the position as we’d written the ad partly to try a thinking out of the box approach. Sometimes they have a bit of experience that makes them appealing. Such as working some kind of job since they were 16. Or staying at jobs for 5+ years (making the additional upfront training worth it) or a dabbling of experience in the Adobe Suite when we’re just hiring for a receptionist/admin person, but they very little actual office experience. Or as a teapot manufacturer I’ll give slight preference to someone who worked in a teapot retail location.

      Sometimes a position is being filled because someone else in house is already handling it, but it’s gotten to be too much work load. When that happens, to us, there might not be enough of the actual position to be full time, but there might be another area we also need help in where we can get a 2 for one kind of employee.

      I think you just prepare for the interview the same way you’d prepare for one you’re qualified for. The only extra I would prepare for is them asking why you applied when you’re under qualified. Be prepared to speak to why you thought you might be a stretch fit for the position.

      I would definitely ask what kind of training there will be for aspects you’re lacking in and the details of the day to day tasks. It could be that they’re trying to fill the position as they see it a year from now and you fit the qualifications for the position as it is now. It’s just hard to say until you’re there.

    6. Trouble

      Think how the skills you do have would help you pick up the things you don’t have for that job and be ready to explain how your current skills cross over.

      If you have the funds to allocate, buy Alison’s full ebook, it has helped me greatly for preparing. She recommends writing out your answers to the questions you think you might get asked and I would second that. I wrote out answers to everything I thought I might get asked and then read them out loud to make sure they worked and had flow. There is a lot of info on this blog if you search interview prep etc.

      That mindset you have that you won’t get the job so you don’t have to worry so much is a good one. It can help you be more natural in how you interview. But also remember if they didn’t see something in your cover letter and resume that interested them, they wouldn’t likely waste their time interviewing you.

      I also read all the info on the company I could find. I read all the blogs on their website and all the ones related to them and their industry so I could talk about their business and what was going on in their industry with current knowledge.

      Also, be sure if you got the job you could upskill and would enjoy learning what you’d need to learn. There’s no point talking your way into a job that wouldn’t be a good fit. But if you think you’re nearly there, or you have the skills and they just need tweaking to apply to this job, you have nothing to lose if you go talk to them well prepared. I like thinking of it as a mutual conversation to be sure we both want me in that job. I want to settle somewhere I’ll be happy and engaged for a long time.

      I have just gotten a new job (working my notice period now) and I’m completely changing industries. I have a technical background in the new industry but it was 20 years ago and times have really changed. I’ve been in a totally different industry for those 20 years, but it’s still a technicalish industry. Because of my soft skills in handling customers, and my clearly evidenced ability to learn technical skills and info, they were willing to take me on knowing they’d have to teach me the specifics of the technical things I need to learn to work there because I already have a strong pool of the soft skills they need in the role. Call handling, customer service, etc.

      Good Luck!

  20. career change

    Hi All…. I am currently job searching. I’ve realized that I’m not as passionate about the industry I work in as I used to be. So while for now, I will take a job that best suits my experience, in the future I will research a career switch. Here’s the thing, my company is having layoffs – while I love the company, my boss, the environment there are some toxic situations going on that I don’t see clearing up anytime soon – hence I am ok with potentially being let go; I am prepared. For additional background I am in my early 40s, have a masters. I am paralyzed with fear switching jobs. I’ve always been a confident person but for some reason I am (sorry to sound unprofessional) freaking out! How do I get over this. Whatever my next career step is will be a great new experience. I just am having trouble accepting that in the near future things will change for me dramatically.

    1. Ali G

      It’s OK to freak out! It’s scary!
      Try giving yourself a set amount of time to just have your freak out. All of it! But put an end date on it and tell yourself “after this date I will focus on the next job.”

    2. lobsterpot

      I went through something a bit similar recently but was in a position where I needed to take stock of my priorities and decide to change my life. So I’ve taken a job that’s a step out to a new area and a slight downshift in terms of pay – a big downshift in terms of responsibility – and while I’m nervous and constantly have a little voice that worries this is a mistake… I know I made the right decision and that this choice will open doors for me in other areas of my life. And help me continue to recover from some of the damage my current job did to my mental health and confidence.

  21. AnonEmu

    Today is last day at terrible job! My boss tried to really increase my workload for the last week and I got as much done as I could, but I cant do a month of work in a week so I did my best.

    Saturday I fly overseas for a week to visit the town I was offered a job in. Because it’s a big move I want to make sure I’m making the right choice. Besides usual stuff like how to get around, how to find apartments, what people do for fun, etc, what are other questions I should ask?

    Re the job itself like I’ve said I thought they’d pick someone more experienced and I emailed them and was up front about specific training I’d need but they have promised to provide it. My mentor from grad school says he trusts the group to do the right thing and they do have a good reputation so fingers crossed.

    Tips/suggestions appreciated and thanks for all the support in the past. So glad to be leaving this job!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Would they be paying to relocate you? If so, ask for specific details about what that includes and how it will work. Also, I would ask if there’s an expat community or resources for expats/new arrivals. Ask if there are things about the area they particular dislike; a lot of people will ask about what they like, but they won’t probe into the down side. If you’re moving overseas, you need to know the downside!

    2. Four lights

      Ask about community hours. Lots of places don’t have 24 hour supermarkets like America, for example, and close after lunch for a siesta. Or places are closed on Sunday.

      What about food? Where do you get it, what options are there, do you like it?

      What about medical care? How is that paid for, where would you have to go, do you have any specific medical needs you might need to look into.

      1. ElspethGC

        Ha, yes. Small-town France seems to completely shut down on Mondays. I was unaware of this before a holiday. Won’t make that mistake again.

        Here in the UK, weekends will almost always have shorter hours than weekdays, and *definitely* shorter hours on Sundays. 24hr shops exist, but they might have specific departments shut down (eg you probably won’t be able to get over-the-counter meds even in big supermarkets if the pharmacy is closed, so keep a stocked first aid kit).

    3. AcademiaNut

      Practical things – how is income tax handled, what is the health care arrangement (wait period for national insurance, private plans), is the pension plan applicable to non-citizens/portable if you leave, how much of you salary will be taken up by taxes and other fees, how easy is it for a non-citizen to do things like get a bank account, credit card, cell phone plan and so on. Do they cover relocation? Do you have to pay back relocation if you quit or are laid off? If the language is different, how much support do you get for things like setting up bank accounts, getting an apartment, talking to your landlord.

      For housing, how much can you expect to pay and what do you get for it? Do you need a car or is public transit/taxis good enough. How safe is it to walk home at night (for women in particular).

    4. AshK434

      How did you get a job overseas especially since it sounds like you’re not perfectly qualified? Not meant as a dig but I’ve been trying to get out of the US but it seems impossible if you’re not a doctor or other highly trained professional

  22. Murphy

    tl dr version: In the course of doing my job, following university procedures with my boss’s approval, I ended up getting a nasty angry email from someone* and found out later that this person is the wife of someone high up in my office (at the same level as my boss). This person in my office ended up meeting with my boss about this situation, even though it has absolutely zero to do with him, in a work sense. My boss isn’t unhappy with me, but he’s taken over communication with this person and her group after the way she spoke to me. I feel really uncomfortable that I had this interaction with the wife of a colleague and I think it was completely inappropriate for this colleague to get involved at all, since it doesn’t touch his work. Is there anything I can or should do to navigate this situation goping forward? (FWIW I won’t have to interact with nasty lady very much, if at all, and not in person unless she shows up to see her husband.)

    * This email prompted one of her colleagues to apologize to me saying “She’s a problem for all of us.”

    1. Meredith Brooks

      I totally get your anxiety. But I would view this as a weird political thing that is best for your boss to handle. It’s likely something that has nothing to do with you or what you did, but the entitlement of someone in a position of authority who is not going to take direction from someone who is not in a position of authority. Having dealt with this kind of nepotism before (also the spouse of someone high ranking), the best thing to do on your end is to provide the support needed to ease the situation.

    2. Mona Lisa

      I understand your frustration. I’ve worked at several universities, and these kind of political issues are not uncommon. I would let your boss run interference if that’s what he thinks will best help the situation and continue to be super polite to this woman if you need to contact her in the future. (Basically be above reproach.)

      Hopefully it’ll blow over soon!

    3. Blue

      It’s absolutely inappropriate, but this kind of thing happens in higher ed, unfortunately. I imagine your boss took over in order to shield you from the unpleasantness, so just let him deal with the crap and provide whatever background support he needs.

      I know it’s really unpleasant to have someone react so negatively you when you did nothing wrong. You just have to remind yourself that she/they are the issue here, not you. I once found myself attacked by a similarly high-ranking but obnoxious person at a university, and my superior who ended up stepping in to smooth things over told me directly, “Every reasonable person here knows you’re doing fantastic work and that she’s a pain in the a**. Don’t waste time stressing about this because no one who matters will take her complaints seriously. I’ll deal with her; you just keep doing what you’re doing.” Focusing on that made a world of difference. Good luck!

    4. Kama'aina Kitty

      Sorry you got caught up in this mess! I had a similar situation at my university job and it’s a painful lesson. It sounds like a weird political thing that you accidentally got caught in through no fault of your own. Wait for things to settle then go to your boss, thank him for stepping in, and then ask him (and other coworkers) if there are any other “land mines” to be aware of. Universities: great places to work but full of big egos.

  23. Trouble

    Just want to share my good news. I’ve been in an industry I’ve had enough of for a while now, I just wasn’t able to see that. I bought Alison’s book for my last job search and it helped me get a new job but in the same industry that was supposed to be my dream job, but was pretty horrible from the inside. I moved on one more time and while the team is better, I’m still not happy. I’ve done some soul searching and have come to understand it’s just not the industry I want to work in so no job in it will give me satisfaction.

    So I’ve used what I’ve learned here and from the book again and scored a fabulous new job in the IT industry, an industry I had some experience in about 15 years ago but moved away from when dial up was still a thing. I will have a better commute, better pay, much better hours, no weekends and can ride share with my other half, to save money on fuel as well. I’m working my notice and over the moon.

    Much positive karma to anyone trying to get out of a similar situation, I will think positive thoughts for you all.

    1. Trouble

      Thanks everyone. This is going to be the longest four weeks since weeks began for me. It’s a good thing for everyone as I’m sure to be fair to my current colleagues I haven’t totally been the colleague they deserve and half of it isn’t based on them it’s based on my patience for the whole industry being used up and that’s not fair to anyone involved. A fresh challenge in something totally new and different is exactly what feels right. :)

  24. Moonlight Doughnut

    I just encountered an online job application that required you to:
    1) Upload your resume (sure)
    2) Fill in an online form with all the information your resume already contains (not awesome, but common)
    3) Download an additional PDF form and fill it out WITH ALL THE INFORMATION YOU ALREADY PUT INTO THE ONLINE FORM! This was not optional.

    No thank you, I’ll apply elsewhere.

    1. Rocinante

      Everyone knows that the hiring manager only sees one of those (probably the resume) and the other ones are just extra paperwork that ends up in the trash or a filing cabinet somewhere never to see the light of day.

    2. Boba Feta

      Heh. I’d be surprised if this weren’t in Higher Ed. Many Unis, big and tiny, love this carp. I’m glad you could brush it off and move on to something else!

      1. Even Steven

        Don’t give up on them too fast. I have been bombarded with this rigamarole for months while looking to re-enter the workforce, and last week, my patience at its limit, one one application I simply entered, “please see attached resume for more details” in every space on the online form that required I do it all over again.

        Yesterday, got a call from the HR dept manager, who complimented me on my “timesaving ways” (WTF!!) and invited me to interview with them today. I am suited up and ready to go. So you never know!

        1. Boba Feta

          OOOH! This is so very interesting! I just submitted something in HigherEd admin last week or so and compromised by only entering the required fields for only the most relevant paid positions (instead of all the awesome other stuff my resume had on it), and then also only copy-pasting from the resume rather than re-typing the info that I normally would. I felt ridiculous and second-guessed myself with every field because *ZOMG what if they never look at the actual resume and this is how HR screens people and OMG I’m going to get pre-filtered out AGAIN!?!)!*

          This anecdote is super heartening, thank you!

          1. Even Steven

            You betcha, Boba Feta! And as a part two – I rocked the interview and was told that they will call with a decision on Monday with a probable start date of the following Monday right after Thanksgiving. WOOHOO!!!! And so you know, they didn’t address my shortcut approach at all during the interview. I don’t think it gave them even the slightest reason to pause. You be you – the right & sensible hiring folk will find you. :)

    3. GhostWriter

      I applied to a job last week where I had to upload a resume and cover letter, fill in an online form with all the info from my resume, and respond to a bunch of multiple-choice and short answer questions.

      Did a phone interview today (where they confirmed all the info from my resume), and they immediately wanted to set up an in-person interview. They sent me a form to to print out and fill out (by hand) to bring to the interview that includes all the info on my resume.

      I don’t understand needing a resume and also three other forms of my resume. -_-

    4. MissDisplaced

      #1 and #2 are common. #3 is also common, but usually you’re not given that formal application until you get to the interview or pre-hiring stage. However, I have seen it appear early on for a couple of larger companies or government/gov contractor jobs.

      It’s annoying, but If you really wanted that job, I’d do it. But if you weren’t enthused move on.

  25. Doggies Everywhere

    Has anybody fired their recruiter? I’m thinking of firing mine, but I’m not sure if I’m just overreacting.

    I got in contact with a recruiting team back in July. To this day, they have yet find me a potential job contact, not even one interview (I’m honestly not sure if that’s normal to wait 4+ months, so if that’s normal I’d like to know). I was laid off from my job last month, and since they all they have offered me are 1-3 day temp jobs (which are nice to help pay the bills).

    I’m currently dealing with a compressed nerve issue that runs from my neck to my hands, so I have numbness and pain my hands and pain in my neck/shoulders. I’m in physical therapy for it, and I have been on the road to recovery. Yes, the recruiter knows about my medical condition. Last week, the recruiters asked if I could take a 3 day temp driving job. At first I said I could but I had physical therapy one of those days. After asking me to reschedule my physical therapy (which is a huge no) they said that wouldn’t work because they needed someone for the whole day and decided I couldn’t do the job, which is fine. Then a few days later, at the last minute, they asked if I could do the job because they still needed one more person and said the employer will work around my physical therapy appointment. I should had said no (and should had known driving would cause a problem but I was dumb), but I said yes. Well, the next morning I woke up to a bad flare up in my hands and neck—I couldn’t even move my hands for awhile (I was fortunate to have physical therapy that day).

    I called the recruiter about my pain. She told me to still go to work and she would find someone to cover me. She never found anybody to replace me during those 3 days, even when she later asked me how I was feeling and I told her I was still hurting. All that driving actually caused more pain. The whole thing put a damper on my recovery, and my therapists had to extend my timeline with them.

    I feel really sour about the whole experience. I’m also feeling a little down that they have to find me anything full-time and permanent (or even tempt to hire), but maybe I’m being too impatient? Should I go find another recruiter? Or am I overreacting?

    1. Snubble

      You can work with multiple recruitment agencies at once, and you should. This recruiter doesn’t consider you a client to be placed. You are part of a stable of warm bodies they can call on when an employer needs a temp. That’s how a lot of recruiters operate and I’m not suggesting they’re behaving badly, but they don’t see “finding Doggies Everywhere a job” as their job. At the very least, you need to be on more recruiters’ lists so you get more temp work, but it will also increase your chances of being put foward for something substantive.

      1. Peachkins

        Yes, exactly. When my husband was job-searching not long ago, he spoke with a number of recruiters- a few of which worked for the same company. He’d go weeks without hearing back from some, others he never heard from again once he interviewed for the job they wanted him to. He’s been employed for well over a year now, and he still has recruiters occasionally calling him.

    2. LadyByTheLake

      What Snubble said — I think you might be misunderstanding the role of a recruiter. Their role is not to go out and find you a job/interviews etc — their role is to find people for employers, not employers for people.

    3. Dr. Johnny Fever

      Find a new recruiter. This one doesn’t have your best interests at heart and isn’t invested in finding you a long term job. Four months is way too long to wait for an interview – you should be getting bites within that first week with a recruiter worth his salt.

      You aren’t being impatient – maybe a bit too patient. You definitely aren’t overreacting. They cajoled you into a job that hurt you. That’s not someone you want to do business with.

    4. ceiswyn

      As others have pointed out, you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of recruiters. They don’t work for you.

      Recruiters work for the employers who are paying them to find staff. You aren’t their client, they don’t consider you their client, and there is no reason why they would work to find you, specifically, a job.

      Stay on their books, but reach out to some other recruiters as well. Eventually one of them will acquire a client who has the right sort of role for you.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever

        Some recruiters work with employers and with job seekers. I was working with two firms on the regular, and three others while I was out of work.

  26. Toxic waste

    My boss didn’t complete something, so he’s having me help him. Since Grandboss is breathing down his neck, I’m also getting yelled at. I went to the bathroom and boss said to me, “Remember where your priorities lie.” I said that I was just going to the bathroom. This isn’t right, is it? My boss is not wanting to do the work and then complains how he is in trouble… wtf?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      “Yes, my priorities lie with emptying my very full bladder so I can work comfortably.”

  27. Bee's Knees

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    Having trouble posting, this may come up twice.

    It’s that time of year that I start trying out Christmas cookie recipes. The cookie lady lied to me, and the recipe made significantly more than 36, so I took them to work. The boys have never been so well behaved.

    Our main file sharing system has been on the fritz. IT has stopped answering calls promptly, so it was down for a while one day. We’re all trying to figure out what to do, and talking about it. A good 10 to 15 minutes later, Wakeen pipes up that the system is down. Wow, I had no idea.

    A little later, we all had to use task manager to shut the program down. Fergus and Wakeen didn’t know how to do that. Fergus has a very basic understanding of the computer, but got started. Wakeen took a while, because he had trouble finding the delete key.

    Fergus comes in super early. Like 3 or 4 a.m. early. And then he leaves most days about noon or a little after. It’s sometimes hard to tell if he’s gone, or just outside on a smoke break. I try to keep a screen saver on his computer to tell how long he’s been gone. I went to put it back on the other day. I always drape a tissue over his mouse, cause it’s crusted with things. This time, I had to use the keyboard, which I hadn’t looked close at before. Oh my. Not only was it crusted with THINGS and most of the keys not only didn’t have the letters, but were literally worn down. Much of the germx was used. So much.

    My ongoing irritation with the advertising secretary continues. She left me a note that an obit I charged for was supposed to be free. I disagreed, and told her so. She said that it was, and with her nose up asked if I’d ever read policy and procedure. I received very little training when I started, and wouldn’t even know where to find such a thing. What she was telling me would mean that I have been doing it really, really wrong for over a year, but literally no one has bothered to bring it up. Unless I hear differently from Boss, I’m going to keep doing it the way I’ve been doing it.

    We have a regional publication scheduled to go out Monday that I do the edit and layout for. I don’t have the pages yet, nor do I have any content, and won’t have time to work on it today. So that will be fun.

  28. Cherry

    yoooooo tell me how a manager from our team emailed my boss and CC-d their boss to say “congratulate my GF on a job well done.”

    SMH SMH SMH.

    1. Cherry

      If anyone is wondering why this is all kinds of WTF:

      1. we praise our team members plenty
      2. Who are you to demand your bosses to do something?
      3. GF (good worker, and nice person) doesnt work on our team! This just bugs me a lot.

  29. Butting Heads

    All week I’ve been butting heads with a co-worker/supervisor – Carrie and I are both “Teapot Engineers”, but she has a few years more experience than me and was recently made “Lead Teapot Engineer” on a project where I am a Teapot Engineer.

    Carrie was a great Teapot Engineer – one of the best in our office – so initially I was looking forward to working with her and hopefully learning a lot.

    She’s done my job before (and probably done it better) so she knows what I need to be doing, but also knows EXACTLY how she would do it and pushes back on anything I do differently. She micromanages things, expects extremely quick turn around on tasks, is very curt when assigning tasks, and generally comes off as patronizing and honestly makes me feel stupid – I know I’m not perfect, and have made a few minor mistakes (nothing to ruin the project, just stuff that adds some time to my work flow) but her attitude seems excessive.

    I’m trying to chalk this up to Carrie being new to managing, but it’s really frustrating and stressing me out.
    There’s no chance for (and I wouldn’t want) either of us to leave the team, because I really do think working with Carrie will help me becoming a better Teapot Engineer but I need to figure out how to muscle through a few rough months before I get there.

    Any advice on toughing out something (or someone) that is really rough right now, but you know will be good in the long run?

    1. Sloan Kittering

      I had this exact same issue with a coworker. It was amazing how quickly I became demoralized – I need to feel respected and empowered to make decisions for myself in order to feel good about my job. I don’t really have any helpful suggestions other than perhaps you can have a level-set conversation and ask her to let you do certain specific things your way without inferring even if she disagrees with how you’re approaching something. Frame it as a personal morale issue maybe.

      My issue was resolved when my coworker left – suddenly my job became about 50% easier over night, and I stopped job searching.

    2. Kathenus

      I agree that a lot of it could be the new manager syndrome. I remember when I first became a supervisor. I had so many years, and so many bad managers who never took my input that I had a VERY hard time with wanting to do things my own way and not being open to others. It was like, I’ve been waiting years to have the authority to make these decisions, why would I give that power away as soon as I got it? It took me years to really evolve and grow to where I could do this more easily – so I think it’s a pretty common thing.

      My best advice would be to talk to Carrie directly, maybe not about the problems, but to discuss how to best work together. Ask how she likes things communicated, breakdown of responsibilities, what needs her involvement and what doesn’t etc. Set some ground rules and clear expectations between you. And during this, you could ask if you could take on xx or yy as a more independent project and do it with less oversight as a growth opportunity. That might reduce some micromanaging on these projects, but get her buy-in on doing it on your own overtly. Best of luck.

    3. Incessant Owlbears

      I witnessed this dynamic at work with two engineers on my team. There was a senior engineer who had been there forever and had built the system from the ground up. There was a newer engineer who was hired for her expertise.

      Newer Engineer felt that Senior Engineer was constantly micromanaging how she did her work. She spoke with the team manager multiple times over the course of months, and the manager spoke Senior Engineer about it. But Senior Engineer continued to say how HE would have done things slightly differently.

      Finally, Newer Engineer was fed up. She raised her voice and told him in no uncertain terms that letting other people do the work their way was a matter of basic respect. She said she didn’t want to work at a place where she wasn’t allowed even a scrap of freedom to make her own coding decisions.

      Senior Engineer was really abashed — and it’s been several months since she pushed back, and he stopped micromanaging! I checked in with her recently and she said the micromanaging had all stopped. The team seems to be working together better than ever.

      So sometimes, raising your voice out of pure exasperation can actually work!

  30. AvonLady Barksdale

    I’ve been noticing some behavior in my office that I don’t like; I think it’s dismissive and sexist. This is my first time working in a male-dominated field, so I feel like I’m getting a bucket of ice on my head every time these things happen. But something occurred yesterday that actually infuriated me, and it seems so small, but I’m pretty upset. I don’t know if I should say anything.

    Here’s what happened: a colleague of mine got promoted, which she absolutely deserves because she works her butt off. There was an announcement in a trade magazine and the quote given by her boss was really lame, basically praising her for getting things done on time. Not, “She is essential to our business” or “her work has allowed us to grow exponentially in her short tenure” or something else that praises her business acumen, not her freaking punctuality. This is part of a pattern; I sometimes feel dismissed around here, and I often chalk that up to my lack of direct experience in the industry I serve, but then, I have a TON of experience in our general field that just gets ignored. I also have a peer who has been given a ton of opportunities that have not been offered to me and another co-worker, even though we are technically equals, and I often think they think of him first because he’s a man. (They have other excuses, such as some different job responsibilities, but it still rankles.)

    I usually feel comfortable saying something–I have zero problem speaking my mind about such things– but I’m in a rough spot. I’m likely moving to a new state (which one, I have no idea) in a few months and would like to take my job with me when I do, so I’m trying to play a politically neutral game until I know what my future holds. The chances of going somewhere with great career prospects for me are pretty slim. Add to that the fact the options for me here are slim too, and I also do enjoy many parts of my job and my company. So basically, I don’t want to make too many waves and I can’t leave– and besides, I think this would be worth a conversation before starting a job search anyway. How should I approach this, if at all?

    1. CTT

      Looking at it from the outside, I have to wonder if her boss really thought that was a good compliment; I work with a few people where that would be the best thing I could say about them, and not in a back-handed way, but in a “a lot of other people on our team are soft about deadlines and that she isn’t really makes us better” way.

    2. LadyByTheLake

      Probably not worth escalating, but I agree that your take is probably right. Perhaps a comment in passing if the opportunity arises that it seemed strange that Sansa was praised only for punctuality.

    3. rogue axolotl

      Ugh, yeah, sometimes it’s the pattern of little things that’s most annoying. One thing that bugs me about my company is that the very few men in an office of mostly women get away with massive amounts of learned incompetence–basically if they don’t want to do something or think it’s “beneath them,” they just do a crappy job at it until management reassigns it to a woman (or they just announce that they don’t want to do it). Over time, this translates into women doing all of the grunt work and men doing all of the high-profile, glamorous work.

  31. The Other Dawn

    There’s a company that my department uses for a software application. I’m the one who does all the parameter reviews for this system, recommends changes to make it work better for us, figures out all the ins and outs, etc. My job will be ending in a few months and I’m thinking I’d like to apply to this company for a job. They’re a company that clearly posts on their website that even if there isn’t an open position, people are more than welcome to apply since they may have something in the future. Great!

    Something I’m stuck is this: describe your dream job.

    For some background, I’m generally aware of their culture: things change A LOT (like you log in on Monday and then when you log in the following Monday, something has changed), it’s fast-paced, they are fun (I’ve been to their annual conferences and they’re definitely fun, plus I’ve seen their online video showcasing their culture), and they’re young (“young” doesn’t matter to me, just saying most people I’ve dealt with there are 20-something to 40-something; I’m 44).
    Anyway, I’m not sure how I should describe my dream job. I can’t really say outright, “I don’t want to work for a micromanaging a$$hole that cares about butt-in-seat time—been there, done that!” I want to be challenged, I want to be given the time and space to figure stuff out, how to make it work better, be allowed to take a project or idea and just run with it, be treated like an adult, stuff like that. I prefer to dig into things to find and fix problems, but I don’t want to be an auditor of sorts (I’m in banking). I enjoy writing procedures/documentation, researching, and disseminating information. Training people, although I’ve never been a trainer in the formal sense.

    Also, since I know this is a “fun”, driven, fast-paced, and somewhat casual culture, should I opt for being more conversational in my description? Instinct says yes.

    I’ve never had to describe my dream job before, and I don’t want to come off as if I’m in some fantasy land but also want to convey what I’d be most passionate about.

    (Sorry if I’m all over the place.)

    1. Anon in Boston

      If you’re in Boston, I’m pretty sure I know what company you’re talking about because my husband works for them. I think conversational is the way to go and I also think they’d respond well to the type of job you’re describing.

    2. Perse's Mom

      IMO, you’re good with conversational. Conversational is more suited to a casual/fun culture. Enthusiasm is more suited to conversational than formal language, and where is enthusiasm more appropriate than when discussing your dreams?

    3. BRR

      “I enjoy writing procedures/documentation, researching, and disseminating information.” I think this tone is perfect tone for describing your dream job.

      1. Peachkins

        I agree! I was reading that entire paragraph thinking why doesn’t she just say most of those things? Maybe “I enjoy working independently” could be a substitute for some of the other things.

  32. ToosensitivePt2

    So, for those of you who were wondering what happened with the kitchen situation last week, here’s part two.
    After overhearing a staffer asking another if she had baby photos to use for the kitchen, I went to a senior manager to share the feedback, but for anonymity didn’t say the person was a direct report. SM used this as an opportunity to tell me that they are offended by many things, that keeping the kitchen clean was a struggle and the photos had helped, and that they thought our workplace was one of the most sensitive ones they had been at. Besides, “people’s offices here are full of baby photos.”
    I decided not to try and make this a right/wrong thing and thanked SM for letting me come to them. They agreed they wouldn’t put up any new kitchen baby photos just yet, and would share this with HR. A few days ago I heard back via SM that HR thought that taking down the photos would send the wrong message. If the one person wanted to come to HR they were welcome to, and there could be coaching about what to do if a staff member feels triggered.
    I did propose a cute animal photo when they are ready for a change and they said they would check back in January. Thanks everyone for the useful discussion last week.

    1. AtheistReader

      -and that they thought our workplace was one of the most sensitive ones they had been at. Besides, “people’s offices here are full of baby photos.”
      -If the one person wanted to come to HR they were welcome to, and there could be coaching about what to do if a staff member feels triggered.

      AHH! Person sounds like a bit of a jerk – as if they have ANY idea how to counsel someone dealing with infertility?! I advised against mentioning it directly because I figured there might be some pushback, but wow, with a result like that, I don’t think anything you would’ve helped.

      I think even just saying they didn’t want to take the pictures down would be fine… but the notion that they can coach staff who feel triggered at work!? That’s outrageous. As in I am outraged.

      1. Polly Pocket

        I think it sounds more like offering to coach managers on supporting direct reports who are triggered, no?

        1. Toosensitivept2

          Actually that’s correct. I was trying to be concise but blended two things. Hr said they would coach managers who came to them with issues like this. And they would be fine if an employee came to share their viewpoint, but explain why the baby photos wouldn’t come down. I was very clear that I didn’t want a larger discussion which had the potential to turn into gossip. The hard part about this is that people want their privacy. But if someone came out and said “excuse me I’ve had x miscarriages and one was last month” I think most everyone would probably say “very sorry, let’s make the kitchen baby photo free for a while.” And to be clear this staff member just didn’t use the word triggered, never said anything about baby photos on people’s desks and has been nothing but polite and kind to pregnant coworkers.

          1. AtheistReader

            Ah, okay! I misunderstood. It still seems like not the best response, but it’s not as bad as I imagined (which I suppose is good!)

          2. valentine

            This is why I hate the overuse of “Silence is consent.” People double down. They just want to keep doing what they’re doing, regardless of who it hurts, and they’ll blow it out of all proportion and pretend that letting people do hurtful things they enjoy is fair, while harshing their hurtfulness is, well, harsh. Two pictures, even here in the comments, turns into “You can’t tell people not to display their baby pix in their own space/talk about children at all, ever.”

            Here you have a simple matter with a simple solution, but extra pictures are more important than giving a grieving colleague the space where the pictures don’t need to be. And she’s not even asking, probably because she knows what the rabid response will be.

      2. Holly

        I don’t really understand the outrage here. Requiring everyone to take down baby pictures of their children is something management decided they are not comfortable doing. Instead, they are considering coaching on what to do if someone comes to them with the concern that they are triggered in some way. What more can they reasonably do?

    2. Rhymes with Mitochondria

      Something tells me that their “coaching about what to do if you feel triggered” will just be:
      Don’t let it get to you!

      1. ML205

        Ridiculous for someone to complain about a baby photo. The world is full of babies, everywhere you go. I would like to eliminate “trigger’ from the English language. Like the manager said, the whole office is full of baby photos. And what is going to happen when someone is pregnant? The pregnant people should work from home during their entire pregnancy so they will not ‘trigger’ any snowflakes? Don’t get me wrong, I have enormous empathy for people with infertility issues and I can actually relate a lot, but I would never make an issue over my coworkers baby photos.

        1. AtheistReader

          >I have enormous empathy for people with infertility issues

          Your comment makes it clear that is not the case.

          1. Holly

            I don’t think that’s fair (except for the snowflake comment, I think that was unnecessary). I think anyone can have enormous empathy for someone going through a difficult circumstance like dealing with infertility. But to expect baby photos to be eliminated from the office for that reason is a bit out of touch with professional norms.

            1. Toosensitivept2

              To clarify –and repeat from last week–this wasn’t about baby photos in everyone’s office. It was two 8×11 blow up photos with caption over the sink in the shared kitchen urging people to keep the kitchen clean. They were sort of meme like but an actual baby of one of our managers.

              1. Holly

                I understand, I still think it’s unreasonable to ask that photos of babies in an office area be taken down.

        2. Rhymes with Mitochondria

          “enormous empathy”?!?!? Really? You show ZERO empathy. You can claim it all the live long day, but your words show your true colors.

          1. ML205

            So your response is to attack and insult me without addressing any of the extremely valid points I made. Very mature.

    3. Why can’t we just adult

      I am responding late so this may not be seen, but what a disappointing response. I don’t think a workplace needs to cater to everyone’s pain and insecurities if it I terferes with normal business functions. But this sounds like unnecessary photos, not placed by management, in order to chide people into being responsible humans who clean up after themselves. Which shouldn’t be necessary in the first place, would be annoying to some, and apparently painful to others. Doubling down because it (momentarily) seemed to work seems silly and insensitive. And if my experience with ‘humorous’ bathroom poems to get people to flush is any indication, the effectiveness (if any) will be short lived.

  33. RunnerGirl77

    Hola Amigos,

    I’ve been at my job for 10 months. It’s a small office with a few people in cubicles in an open area, and management has offices with doors.

    One person, a purchaser with 18 years tenure, has been very hard to deal with lately. They are slow to respond to e-mail requests, if they respond at all. After a few tries, I brought it up with their manager. I received support and was assured it would be dealt with. Which it was.

    This week the same employee received an e-mail from their boss. They have been very vocal about its contents and how they feel about it. I heave heard comments like “If I’m that broken, then terminate me!”, “I don’t need this ****!”, and “I’m going to put my resume out, just so I know I have options”. Since it’s in the open office area, and their voice carries, I have been stuck listening to it. Once again, I addressed it with management.

    Right now, I’m quietly updating my resume and looking at what other jobs are out there. Plus, with my supervisor’s approval, I have brought in an MP3 player. I keep only one ear bud in so I can hear if the phone rings or someone needs my attention.

    I am at the point where I am both baffled that the other employee is still here, and I want nothing to do with them. Especially after the latest tirade.

    Is it normal to feel this way?

    1. Four lights

      I think it’s normal. The guy’s being a bit of a jerk. You did everything right, bringing the problem to his supervisor, and it sounds like s/he did the right thing in dealing with it–the guy is just digging himself deeper by acting this way. I don’t know how long it’s been but it may take a little bit before/if they fire him. The fact that they let you use an MP3 player is also good.

      It’s hard to tell from this small picture, but it doesn’t sound like the worst work environment. Yes, there are issues, but it seems like management is taking concrete actions to deal with it. There are a lot worse situations to be in. But only you know if there are other issues or problems you have with the work.

    2. This Daydreamer

      Wow. Someone needs to learn how to handle criticism. I don’t have any advice but yeah, your reaction seems perfectly normal to me. I’m sure you’re glad you don’t have to be this person’s manager.

  34. Où est la bibliothèque

    I have a new coworker with a kinda gross tic–she’s always either sort of nuzzling the end of her hair to her mouth or actually nibbling on it. It’s super distracting and I really hate watching her do it. I’m not sure I can perpetually keep the grimace/flinch off my face for every conversation and meeting.

    She’s sort of clueless and weirdly childlike in other ways and I wouldn’t feel comfortable just asking her to stop. I’ve thought of a casual “so you really like that piece of hair, huh” but I’m afraid the answer might just be “yep.” Any advice?

    1. Clay on My Apron

      I used to do that, but I was 8. I trained myself out of it. But I may have other annoying tics that I’m not aware of :-/

    2. ATshirtAway

      This kind of stimming is actually pretty common! As an autistic adult (not in any way diagnosing this person, that’s just the reason I stim) I have worked really hard to redirect this kind of stimming to things that are less obvious/gross. I think it’s perfectly reasonable, if she does it in the middle of a conversation, to be like “Sorry, can you take your hair out of your mouth? I have a “thing” about hair and it’s really grossing me out.” You don’t have to say the second part of you don’t want to, but it might smooth things over.

    3. CheeryO

      Honestly, as someone with a few bad habits that some people would probably find mildly gross and distracting, I’d rather have it be brought it up directly. The casual approach seems a little condescending and might embarrass her more than if you addressed it kindly but directly. I’d bet she doesn’t realize that other people have picked up on it. At the same time, it can be super hard to break nervous habits, so I wouldn’t expect her to stop overnight.

    4. AtheistReader

      Honestly, I don’t think that’s that gross… or even gross at all? It’s odd, but I wouldn’t be grossed out. I know a lot of the commentariat here are very picky about bodily functions, but I’m not certain everyone would have your back if this became a bigger thing. But as a smaller thing: Have you tried simply saying, “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble focusing when you are touching your hair that much, could you please stop for a second?” You can’t bring up that it’s gross to you, and definitely don’t do something that’s more passive-aggressive like you suggested. IF you were her supervisor you could use it as a coaching experience, but since she’s a coworker, I think you have limited power here. But really, just be direct: Say it’s distracting.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque

        I’m a little more squeamish about saliva than most, I’ll admit. She’s also sick all the time, and can’t figure out why; I want to say “maybe it’s because you use public transit and have your fingers in your mouth all the time.”

        Given the other factors: baby talk, passive aggressiveness, personal-space invading, I know my cringing at the hair chewing in particular is probably bordering on BEC territory.

        1. AtheistReader

          Hey, no worries, it happens! Sometimes people drive us nuts. I didn’t say it to be critical, more so, it’s not so socially unacceptable that you can really ask her to stop for it’s own sake, but it is valid to say it’s distracting to you. I’m think that something more like Parenthetically said below would be the best way to tackle it. Focus on how it’s distracting to you instead of how you think it’s gross.

          Also she sounds pretty obnoxious otherwise, so I don’t blame you for being annoyed!

    5. Parenthetically

      Reframe it as YOUR quirk instead of HERS. “Hey, this is just a weird thing I have, but I find hair twirling and playing super distracting. Can I ask you not to do it around me, please?”

      1. ..Kat..

        If I were friendly with her, I would recommend a spinner ring or other quiet, unobtrusive fiddle toy.

  35. Nekussa

    Is anyone here familiar with “Renaissance Weekends”? I received a mailed invitation to attend them at my work address. At first I thought it was some fancy marketing thing (“Oh, you’re so special, here’s your exclusive invitation to spend lots of money on our stuff”), but it looks like this is a genuine event, a weekend full of speakers on various topics that attracts (or has attracted in the past) some real movers and shakers. It’s got me curious; in principle the idea of a weekend in a nice location with some good intellectual discussions interests me. I’m pretty sure there’s some Impostor Syndrome kicking in here — “If they’re inviting ME then surely the event has gone downhill and they’re just desperately inviting anyone they can find!” So I figured I’d ask the AAM hive mind.

    1. A B

      One of my colleagues at OldJob attended a few years ago — he was a professor who was frequently quoted in news media on foreign policy issues, so pretty legit. I think he was glad he went but it might have just been basically a vacation (he took his wife and kids) that he got to pay for with professional development funds.

  36. I'm not that person anymore

    My boss keeps using my old last name. How do I correct him now that it’s already happened several times?

    I got married about 6 months ago and started using my new, married name around 5 months ago (wanted to wait for SSN change to make it “official” from a work perspective). I changed my email signatures to reflect my new last name with the old last name following in parentheses to reduce confusion until people got used to the change.

    Since then, my boss has used my old last name only on 3 separate occasions where he was delegating authority to me. First time, I let it pass. Second time I was annoyed, saddened, and a little embarrassed on his behalf—my grandboss was quick to adopt my new name and I think everyone else copied was aware, too. Third time, I just sighed and moved on. He’s probably copying/pasting, and honestly, attention to detail isn’t a strength of his.

    In addition, our one-on-one meetings are all still titled to reflect my old last name, which irks me.

    1. Four lights

      I know you’ve changed your email, etc., but it doesn’t sound like you actually corrected your boss when he used it wrong. Maybe a quick word or email: “Just a reminder, it’s not Smith anymore, it’s Jones!” will eventually get the point across.

    2. Meredith Brooks

      Yep, gotta second and third why my fellow commenters said. You let it pass without comment each time. You also don’t mention how long you’ve been working with this boss. It’s possible that it’s a habit due to how long you’ve been working together. There’s no need to be embarrassed or saddened. Just let the man know.

    3. The Other Dawn

      Just tell the guy, “This is my new last name.” If you don’t speak up and correct him, he’s going to keep on doing it. I mean, he may keep doing anyway after that, either because he forgets or whatever, but at least you will have spoken up.

    4. Former Retail Manager

      How long did you work for him with the old name? If it was like 5 years, I can see a few slip ups on his part. I’d just keep reminding him or find some way to make a sort-of joke of it? Sally Smith…..there’s no Sally Smith here, but there is a Sally Walton, with a smile. Either way, I doubt it’s deliberate. Sounds like a habit that he’s having a hard time breaking.

    5. AtheistReader

      Did you ever actually tell him you were changing your name? Not everyone does, he might have missed the signature and assume you didn’t change it. Also, you didn’t mention if it was changed in Outlook/whatever your company uses – are you showing up with the correct name in emails? It’s possible you’ve still got the other last name in the email system. (sorry if you did do this, you just didn’t mention it so I figured I’d mention it).

      Either way, as everyone else says – just tell him! :) He either missed it or forgot, and I’d try reminding him a few times before assuming it’s a big problem.

  37. Clay on My Apron

    My husband works for a medium sized company owned by his boss (the founder of the company). They have an end of year dinner for staff and my husband and his colleagues have been told that they are expected to bring their partners / spouses – no excuses. I know this is weird, but my sense of how weird might be influenced by the fact that I’ve mostly worked in large corporates which throw staff only parties. So how weird is it?

    I don’t really want to go, but I will – to make my husband’s life easier. I don’t even really enjoy my own work functions never mind someone else’s. (I’m not looking for comments on my decision to attend, btw.)

    1. Liet-Kinda

      Pretty weird. I mean, “no excuses” puts quite a claim on the time and energy of people who don’t work for them.

      1. Moonlight Doughnut

        +10 Partners/spouses are not employees and should never be required to attend any work related function. That’s what’s weird.

    2. Former Retail Manager

      I don’t think it’s unusual for smaller companies (although you say mid-sized, I’m thinking it’s smaller if his boss is the founder of the company). Was the “no excuses” part done in a somewhat joking or sort of tongue-in-cheek way? If so, and you don’t want to attend, your husband could always claim you are ill at the last minute or had a conflict with another event/had to work late/ was attacked by a rabid unicorn/whatever. I really can’t imagine not showing up with you will be held against your husband unless his workplace is dysfunctional. I’ve had several friends who worked for smaller businesses and this was common. About half of the employees brought someone and half didn’t. It never seemed to matter really.

    3. ..Kat..

      What happens if someone or their spouse misses the event? I mean really, stuff happens. Is there a coworker who has been there a while your husband can ask? I would not ask his boss. Because then if you or he does not show up, boss will think it was planned.

  38. Meredith Brooks

    So, if you didn’t know — New Jersey roads were awful last night and this morning. My staffer who recently returned from a few days off on Wednesday, asked to work from home in the morning to avoid the rush hour slog. She’s not shy about taking sick days or being late because of bad transportation (and to be fair, NYC transport sucks and I don’t begrudge her taking a sick day — I only mention, because this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, though it’s not regular)

    I told her as long as she didn’t have anything to take care of at the office, it was fine. She didn’t reply . She arrived at work at 10:30. Soooo – does that mean she had something in the office that she was going to ignore or felt guilty about staying home and came in. The whole experience just strikes me as slightly off. I get the feeling she was hoping I would tell her to stay home.

    1. AMPG

      I mean, maybe she was, and that’s OK, but you handled it fine and everyone will move on. It sounds like she realized she was asking for too much and made the decision to come in on her own, which is really the best outcome here.

    2. Nervous Accountant

      That does sound a little vague, if I’d gotten that reply I’d be agonizing over whether I should go in or not. In cases like this, sometimes employees are looking for a straight yes or no answer.

      1. Meredith Brooks

        Is it vague though? I’m not a horrible micromanager. My thought was basically, if she doesn’t have to do anything specific in the office then go ahead.

        1. The Other Dawn

          I didn’t think it was vague at all. I’d take that at face value: if there’s something that needs to get done then come in. Otherwise, stay home. But it does seem like she’s someone who needs a yes or no, and anything other than that is just too vague and she doesn’t know what to do with it.

          1. Meredith Brooks

            I hear ya. She may need more direction, but I gotta be honest… is it wrong that I’m fully aware that I’m not going to police these kinds of questions? I need her to own her own ish and while I have no problem providing guidance and support, I don’t have time to assuage concern for a straightforward question like this.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale

              But it’s very possible she WAS owning “her own ish” by coming in. Maybe she thought better of staying home. Maybe she looked at her calendar and realized she forgot about something. Maybe she started a project and realized she needed a bigger screen. Maybe she did indeed get a later start and didn’t hit the problems she thought she would. Maybe she got bored of sitting around. I once emailed my boss to tell him I’d had an emergency that led to a late night and would be coming in late, then I got in before he did, simply because I couldn’t sleep and just decided to head into work. He was surprised to see me but I seriously doubt he thought I had done anything except change my mind.

              I think that if you want her to manage her own schedule like that, then you have to choose to believe that’s what she did. I don’t see anything wrong with what you said to her, but I also don’t see anything shady about her showing up at 10:30.

        2. Nervous Accountant

          No not horrible at all! I agree downthread that you don’t need to handhold. Just saying this is something that could happen. Maybe in the past she had experiences where it’s “use ur judgment” and when you do, it’s wrong. Which isn’t an effective management technique (not saying you did that but that may have been her exp)…Or maybe she did want to come in!

          Me personally, I hate to stay home. I would rather come in to the office. I’m in nyc too and last night was awful. The morning was better though.

    3. CheeryO

      You could say something casual in passing if the opportunity presents itself – “Hey! You decided to come in after all?” There could easily be another explanation – the roads weren’t as bad as she expected and she didn’t want to burn a sick day, something came up last-minute that she needed to come in for, she had forgotten about a meeting, etc.

      1. CheeryO

        And I think your initial response was totally fine – there are some things that require you to be in the office, even if the weather is crappy.

      2. Meredith Brooks

        Could be! I can guarantee you though if I said ““Hey! You decided to come in after all?” she would take it the wrong way. She is a sensitive one.

    4. WomanOfMystery

      Nahhh, don’t sweat it. I did basically the same thing yesterday—worked at home until 11, waiting until the roads got better, then came into the office, because I like doing work at work.

    5. Not an Expert

      So, YMMV, but I came from a very toxic work culture when I started my new position, and I STILL have extreme anxiety about either calling out or asking to WFH. I know this is not my boss’s responsibility to fix, but if I get any kind of response other than “Sure, take care of yourself!”, my brain goes to work on all the ways that my boss is clearly angry and disappointed in me, and how I’ll have to basically bend over backwards to get them to not hold this over my head. I would often come in sick or in dangerous conditions just to avoid the anxiety. None of that is true with my new boss, but I STILL go through it every single time.

      It’s not your job to police any anxiety your report may have, but it may be an explanation for her coming in. And it may be worth a conversation to get you both on the same page about your expectations and your communication style. I did recently sit down with my boss and ask if she was ok with the fact that I had worked from home last week. She was shocked I was even worried about it. I have felt so much better ever since.

      1. Meredith Brooks

        You’re absolutely right and I have no doubt this could be part of it. (I know her work history). But, I’ve worked with her for several years, so while I appreciate the anxiety, we’ve had discussions before about her anxieties and I’ve consistently told her these are not issues she needs to worry about. She remains sensitive to judgment despite praise or positivity. I’m also of the mindset now that at some point the training wheels have to come off. Anyway, as someone who experienced a toxic manager VERY early in my professional career, I understand how influential that kind of toxicity can be. But, I also know that constant validation is not helpful in mitigating the situation and only creates greater expectation for it.

    6. The Other Dawn

      Did she want to work from home in the morning and come in later? Or did she want to work from home all day?

      Seems to me like she wanted a straight yes or a no and/or felt guilty for working from home, but in my mind you basically told her yes, it’s fine; I didn’t think it was vague.

        1. Rhymes with Mitochondria

          Sounds like that’s not what she meant, and she came in mid morning instead. She asked to avoid rush hour, avoided rush hour and came in.
          The difference is YOUR interpretation.

          1. LurkieLoo

            This is kind of how I took it. I don’t know about NYC, but where I’m at, arriving at 10:30 avoids the morning rush.

            My other thought would be if she didn’t get a response from you quick enough and decided to slog in anyway arriving at 10:30.

    7. Peachkins

      You say she asked to work from home in the morning to avoid the worst of rush hour. Sounds like that’s what she did to be honest.

    8. Could be Anyone

      For context, I’m in southeast PA and this morning I went in an hour later than usual because it was still icy earlier in the morning, not to mention I checked google maps and there were several accidents blocking the main roads. Not much later, the sun was shining and melting the ice and everything was clearing up. So maybe a similar experience? If she had already been out sick a few days, she probably did have office work to catch up on. I don’t see anything weird here.

    9. LGC

      First of all, I hope you and your report were safe Thursday! I’m another New Jerseyan, and the stories I heard were wild. (Literally everyone I knew had multi-hour trips home. I seriously lucked out, but when I got home we had a TON of snow.)

      Adding on that it doesn’t sound too weird – she can feel whatever she wants in her heart, but she still showed up. I’m not sure what time you start, but I think it might just be a difference of interpretation – assuming you’re 9-5, you might have thought she’d have come in at 1 and she just wanted to leave her house at 9. If you normally start at like…7, though, that might make a little more sense.

  39. Dorothy Zbornak

    Just want to vent about irrational and childish thoughts for a second!

    My office is being remodeled and we have a new seating chart where we’re getting shuffled around. A guy I have a big crush on will be seated next to a very pretty woman about my age who I know is single, and I’m feeling so irrationally jealous about it. I like her very much too, and I don’t even know if the guy is single anyway! I know it’s absolutely ridiculous, but I needed to shout it out into the void so I can move on with my day.

    And, moving on!

    1. Meredith Brooks

      Friend, I feel you. Make friends with the very pretty woman and then you’ll have two reasons to hang out in their seating area. (I recommend this as you mention you like her as a person)

    2. Hannah

      Oh man. I have the biggest crush on a coworker and was so jealous when she was sent to a conference with my other coworker instead of meeeeeeee.

      I feel you.

      Crushes on coworkers are simultaneously the best and the worst.

  40. Nervous Accountant

    Not much to report this week. Kevin hasn’t been as ornery as before, but his phone still goes off *giant eye-roll*. But we’ve had a few conversations here and there so things seem to be calming down.

    My boss is out for the next 3 weeks, and the mood instantly feels lighter LOL. I’m going away next week and I’m kind of meh about it… we were going to have a potluck that I’ll be sad to miss.

    On a final note, we’ve been holding 1 on 1s with some staff regarding bookkeeping, year end, etc. My mgr had me schedule an hour for each person (8 ppl total) to go over things, so kind of a check in slash reminder. He had me start off on the 1 on 1s, and he’d come in 5-10 m later. I was nervous on the first few, and then I realized he was doing this on purpose so I’m more comfortable holding these conversations… so yeah.. but it’s a fun learning experience!

  41. BCWW

    Happy Friday! Can anyone share any successful stories about how they came back from having lowballed themselves in the initial salary requirement talk? I have an interview coming up and I did rudimentary research to get a sense of what was out there for roles I’m applying for, but unfortunately there’s not a whole lot out there to go off of and I really don’t think I did my due diligence. I ended up giving a lower range than I should have (nothing truly outrageous – but my maximum should really have been my minimum). How have people bounced back from this? Is it too late?

    1. Moonlight Doughnut

      I definitely low-balled myself the first time I had an interview for a full-time job–but hey, I was desperate for any paycheck and the amount I asked for was low but not absurd for a new graduate in my field. As the interview progressed, though, it became apparent that the position required a lot more autonomy and experience than I originally assumed based on the vacancy announcement. When they made me an offer at a pretty low salary, I told them that having learned more about what the job entailed, my initially stated salary requirement were actually way below industry standards for that kind of position. Would they be able to come up a little on salary? They were pretty nice about it and came up about $6-7000, if I remember right.

    2. CheeryO

      Not exactly a success story, sorry… I low-balled myself once a few years ago and then tried to negotiate once they made an offer, and they were clearly super annoyed and probably felt like I wasted their time. I was out-of-state, so it was an all-day interview with a bunch of people who really didn’t have time to chat with an entry-level engineer who wasn’t 100% serious about the position. They did offer me a few grand more (I still would have been underpaid, but it was above the high end of my initial range), but I ended up turning the offer down. I feel like I burned the bridge, but I think they were also looking for someone young and naive like me who they could underpay and overwork.

      So I guess you should be aware that they might not react well, but that might also be a good sign that you wouldn’t want to work there anyway. Still, if you’re reasonably sure that you wouldn’t accept an offer within the range you provided, it’s probably better to bring it up sooner rather than later.

    3. Anon nonprofit worker

      When I was first looking for a job after grad school I was looking for an entry-level admin position in an education organization with room to grow (larger nonprofits and colleges). I was looking for positions between $x and $x + $10K, I had determined that $x was the bare minimum I needed to survive in the expensive city I lived in. I spent eight months applying with only three interviews and my confidence was plummeting. I got an offer for a job at a salary of $x-$1K, I started to meekly inquire about the possibility to raise that and the soon-to-be boss quickly shot me down saying it was the final offer and that they did not negotiate.

      A few months later there was a reorg and the company realized that my position was not classified correctly and I got a title and pay bump by about $4K. I was then able to move up in that company relatively quickly so it ended up working out. I now feel much more comfortable negotiating pay.

    4. ..Kat..

      Tell them that as you have found out more about the job, you realize that your salary range is $X to $Y.

      And shame on them for not telling you their range!

    5. The New Wanderer

      I gave a relatively low range when I first applied to a company, but by the time I heard back from them I had completed a master’s degree and had a better understanding of what jobs in my field paid. During the phone screen, when they asked if $X salary was still my expected range, I said that my range had gone up due to the new degree (highly relevant for the job) to $Y. We proceeded with the interview and I was told I would have gotten an offer but the funding for that position was on hold, so I don’t know what the salary offer would have been. But adjusting my range upwards didn’t affect the process. I think it’s reasonable to adjust upwards based on your better understanding of the job (I remember reading advice on this somewhere on AAM).

  42. Emma

    Any tips on working during the holidays? My previous office would close for the entire week between christmas and new years (I know that’s super unusual). My new office does not, and since my last job was my first one after college, this will be my very first time working during that week. I just started a couple weeks ago, so I don’t have any vacation days to use, and even if I did it’s a pretty busy time for my team (year-end fundraising! Yay!) so it wouldn’t be cool for me to take time off unless I was traveling. My family is mostly local, and everyone who isn’t will be coming into town & hanging out & having fun together that week. I’m not sure how to not feel bummed that everyone else is out being #festive while I’m stuck at work…

    1. Liet-Kinda

      Same boat. I think this is just how it is when you’re new at a job and have no leave banked. I could take time off, but I want to hoard my leave so I can take a trip next year, soooo….

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Treat yourself to some new music or an audiobook or something that you can listen to while you work.

    3. Person from the Resume

      Can you make plans in advance to get together with the family in the evenings after work especially the ones you want to see?

      There’s not a lot you can do. I think its advantageous that it’s a busy time for your team so you can come into work and focus on work instead of being bored at places that get quiet during the holiday season.

    4. AMPG

      Just remember that it’s only for this year – you’ll have leave banked next year and will be able to be festive with everyone else.

      Also, I hear you on the office closure bit – my old company was the same, and I realized this week (approached my 3rd holiday season with the new company) that I really miss having that week where all the work just stops and I won’t be behind on anything when I come back.

    5. Mockingjay

      I usually enjoy being in the office when most of the staff are out. It’s a great time to do training videos, clean out your inbox, and reorganize your desk. It’s nice to have a week or so at a slower pace.

      It can also be a great time for in-depth interaction with team members that you wouldn’t normally get. Since you are new, maybe ask a coworker about what they think would be helpful for you to know in your role. Ask detailed questions about processes or policies so you get a better understanding of how the place works. And so on.

    6. Four lights

      I’ve usually found there’s a slower, relaxed pace that week, since things are quiet, but it sound like you might be busy.

      See who else is working-maybe you guys can all order Chinese and have a fun office lunch. Bring some cookies, play some tunes in your office/or earbuds.

    7. Lily Rowan

      That’s a fun week to be in the office, at least — so much money coming in! And most of the work to get it is done already.

    8. CTT

      Same! From experience, that it’s busy will actually help. It makes the day go faster and you aren’t staring at a clock waiting for the day to end so you can go out and be #festive. Spend time with your family when you can; if you don’t have the 24th off, can you ask that they hold off on the major festivities until you’re off work?

      Also, as crazy as it sounds, what helped me was to embrace it. Treat yourself to fancy coffee drinks before work (or seasonal drinks after), put Christmas music on your phone to listen to, suggest ordering in dinner if it looks like you’ll be working late and have a work-family meal. Finally, one thing to keep in mind is that this year may be crazy, but next year might not be. I don’t know about fundraising, but for me (transactional lawyer) year-end can be crazy because a lot of people want to close deals by 12/31. So one year, I was literally putting together documents at 5:30 so I could get to friends in another city on NYE. And then another year a bunch of deals fell apart and I was out of the office early or just took the day off. So expect to be busy, but know that things can change too!

    9. Bumblebee

      There is usually no traffic, so getting to and from work is a breeze. You can probably sleep in a little.

  43. Liet-Kinda

    So I have no real complaints with my new boss, who is generally professional and easy to work with. But she and the other new employee were friends before he started working here, socialize outside work, play the same fantasy football league, and will be (for example) having Thanskgiving dinner together. They are both from military or military-family backgrounds, and I am not part of that particular subculture at all, other than working as a civilian military employee, and there’s generally a little more banter and rapport between them. I have absolutely no indication of favoritism or anything else particularly troubling, at this point, other than the fact that they were and are friends outside work. I get the feeling this is a “it’s not a problem till it’s a problem” situation, but anybody got any suggestions or insights here?

    1. Boo Radley

      Joining this conversation, since I’m in a similar boat. (Also not a problem, though there are some problematic little tics that I’m starting to feel)

    2. CheeryO

      Wow, that’s pretty inappropriate. Even if there aren’t any signs of favoritism, how can you ever be objective when you’re that close with one of your employees? They should keep all of that on the super-DL at the very least.

      Honestly, I’m surprised that flies in your office – we’ve had situations in the past where people have been technically eligible for promotions in the same division as their spouse or close friend outside of work, and everyone involved is aware that it’s a non-starter and that they need to wait for a different opportunity. We’re state gov, though, with a strong union presence, so maybe it’s different.

      1. Liet-Kinda

        Honestly, I’m looking out for number one here, and if it doesn’t cramp me, anything else is between them. I just hope it doesn’t affect me in some way.

    3. Former Retail Manager

      I understand your concern, but maybe another perspective. Even if they had never known each other prior to working there, the same bond could have easily formed after the new person was hired. Whether or not it would have, we can’t say. I personally don’t understand why anyone would want to manage what appears to be a very close friend. Seems like a recipe for friendship demise.

      I’d just keep an eye on it and see if New Guy is getting better assignments or more developmental opportunities. And if you think he is, speak up for yourself. “Hey Boss, I see that New Guy is going to be working on X project. I’m also interested in X project. Would there be room on the team for me?” Or something along those lines. I’m sure other commenters can come up with better wording. Leave no room/opportunity for Boss to say that you (or anyone else) weren’t assigned certain things because he didn’t know you were interested/didn’t ask/weren’t available, etc.. This is common at my workplace, so you really have to advocate for yourself repeatedly, and ideally both verbally and in writing.

      1. Liet-Kinda

        I really appreciate your thoughts!

        Thankfully, we work different programs entirely, so there’s a natural firewall between his work and mine – say, I manage the llama pens and he’s in charge of alpaca waste disposal, and we are each master and commander of our little ships. He’s not going to poach anything of mine or vice versa.

    4. ..Kat..

      Alison has answered this question before with great advice. Is there any way to search for previous posts on this?

  44. I'm A Little Teapot

    This week has been horrible, and it mostly wasn’t because of work, but it’s impacting work a lot. Last weekend and Monday, I got bad news about my elderly kitty’s health (yes, I know she’s old, but I’ve had her since I was 12 for goodness sake, I’m reeling). This of course happened the same time that a project I’m on at work blew up. Totally foreseeable, but no one actually connected the dots. So now, I’m working overtime, I’ve got mgrs and my VP trying to figure out how to pull stuff off my plate, and what they’re offering as solutions really won’t actually help. Also: the store didn’t have my tea brand and I don’t like the replacement, I keep having computer issues, my cat is mad at me because she has to take medicine, I’ve got work going on at home (family member supervising), my hair is too long and it itching my neck, I keep missing my train, it snowed and is cold, etc. End result: my poker face is gone, my emotional resilience is shot, my managers think I’m way more stressed about work than I actually am, and I lost my temper last night and asked my manager and VP to please just let me work!

    On top of that, I’m having to do some work that I have some ethical queasiness about, which I’d found a solution I was ok with, then since everything blew up I can’t implement that solution. (It’s ok, just not sitting right with me because I’m pretty black and white on these things, really more than necessary. AICPA even agreed that it’s ok, cause YES I called their ethics hotline.)

    Can this week be over, please?

    1. Murphy

      I sympathize with your call for the week to be over! This week has been awful (all work related for me) and I cannot wait to walk out of here today.

    2. Nervous Accountant

      I’m curious to know what the ethically ambiguous project is. If this is out of line or against the rules to ask about this I apologize.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot

        I don’t mind. I’m an auditor, and there’s a rule that you can’t audit your own work. Well, what I’m auditing is something that my department does, but the people involved in the audit don’t. (I’m leaving out details obviously) The way everything shakes out, we’re technically ok. I just really don’t like it.

    3. Kathenus

      I’m sorry! So much happening at once can really knock you for a loop, especially when one thing involves a pet who is basically family. The one suggestion is maybe just tell your bosses that you have a lot going on inside and outside of work right now, so that they know that your current reactions aren’t influenced by work alone, and maybe this will give them a bit more empathy in dealing with you.

      And since it sounds like they are trying to help with workload, but you mention their solutions don’t really help, they might be open to ideas you have on the topic instead?

      And the week is almost over, so just hold on a little while longer :)

      1. I'm A Little Teapot

        They know about the cat stuff, but probably don’t realize the extent of the impact it’s had on me, and thus assume that the work is the problem. I’d be stressed just based on the work, but not nearly as much.

        Really, another project got put on hold for now, which helps, and otherwise I just need some dedicated time to get stuff done.

    4. This Daydreamer

      Ugh, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with all of that at the same time. Especially the bad news about your cat. I’ve got an older cat with some health problems that haven’t gotten out of control yet, but I know the day is coming when I’ll have to make a tough choice. I’ve had to do it before and it doesn’t get any easier.

  45. Ilikechocolate

    I was recently offered a Saturday job. I work full time but I tutor freelance on Saturdays for extra cash. I am a native English speaker fluent in a certain language which is spoken by many rich expats in my city (London).

    I was offered a job at a Saturday school for these kids (I am fluent in their language which would make it a lot easier for me to teach them). I accepted and went through the hiring process including a criminal record check (understandable and I believe mandatory for those working with kids in my country) I already have one (my monday to friday is a government job) and offered this but they insisted on doing their own. Fine.

    Now for the weird bit. I was asked for my social media passwords, apparently they tried to research me and couldn’t. I am in my twenties but rarely use social media. I have a facebook account but I only use it to contact friends I rarely post anything and my page is set to private. Aside from this I use pintrest to get craft ideas (but there is nothing personal or identifying on there and Linkedin which is essentially my cv online. I have little online presence. So when they looked me up all they found was my cv (which they already had) and my fb profile that they couldn’t access. I offered to add them as a friend so they could see my profile but said I wasn’t handing over my passwords.

    They got really sniffy about this but in the end I still got the job (they had already promised the rich parents a native English speaker that could speak their language so they kind of had to hire me).

    I suspect the answer is no but is there any reason why they may have asked for my passwords that isn’t super weird?

    1. RabbitRabbit

      Nope. Super-weird because they wanted to see if you were hiding a wild life; they probably assumed you locked down your social media because you’re a party gal/doing drugs/whatever.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque

        Or they’ve had bad past experiences with people posting pictures of the kids they’re taking care of. An acquaintance of mine who worked at a daycare would do this (“but they’re SO cute!”) somebody in her friend group reported it and she got in a lot of trouble.

        But yeah, asking for passwords is way too invasive.

      2. Ilikechocolate

        Wouldn’t this have been solved by my offer to add the hiring manager as friend though? Then she could have seen my profile. Why would she need my password so she could actually go into my account?

    2. Leslie Knope

      This is super invasive and creepy. I think your offer to add them as a friend was more than accommodating and that should have been sufficient.

    3. Murphy

      They wanted your passwords?? Hell no.

      The only reason I can see to look someone up on social media is to see if there’s anything out there that could damage the company. If it’s locked down and no one can see it…that’s good, right? Any other use is just an invasion of privacy.

    4. anon today and tomorrow

      I’ve received similar requests before. One was for a situation similar to yours in tutoring kids in English, and another was for a freelance translation / writing gig a family had hired me to do. Both situations involved a family or kids, and I chalked up the request to making sure I was “normal” and didn’t have a crazy lifestyle.

      I didn’t give them my social media passwords. If you search for me, you can see my LinkedIn and my locked Facebook account I maybe use once a year, but my Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are all under account names that can’t be linked to my actually name.

      It’s a weird request, and if they had pushed for it, I would have dropped the work. I do find that a lot of people become suspicious when they can’t find you on social media. I don’t have anything bad on my social media (instagram is mostly pictures of food and dogs, twitter is capslock yelling about TV shows and movies, etc.) but I don’t want randos reading it and judging me because I post too many food pictures or like TV shows they don’t.

    5. Namast'ay in Bed

      Oh god never ever give your passwords. Your offer to add them as a friend was waaay more generous than I would have been.

    6. Best cat in the world

      I can’t explain the passwords, that’s super weird, but I can explain the DBS (criminal record check) bit. Anywhere that needs one, you will likely get another done because they are barely worth the paper they’re printed on. If you get caught doing something 2 minutes after it’s printed, it will not show up. So unless both you and the place who’s doing it are signed up to the new system they’ve brought in where it will quickly check if anything has changed (or something along those lines), you will need another one. I had two done in about 4 months for my current company (two roles dealing with vulnerable people but in different ways), and held about 7 within a short period of time at one point.
      So that bit isn’t weird :)

      1. Ilikechocolate

        That actually makes sense. Its nice to know at least that check was reasonable. I think they are valid for three years? Or maybe its only recommended they are updated every three years. Though to be honest I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about that request if they hadn’t followed it with demanding my passwords.

        1. Best cat in the world

          They tend to be updated every 3 years so are kinda assumed to be valid for 3 years. But a lot of places prefer to do their own.
          I think a lot of places tightened up on checking the backgrounds of anyone working regularly with vulnerable people (including children) after the Soham murders in 2002 because the murderer had been allowed to work at a school despite multiple previous accusations and charges due to insufficient vetting, with devastating consequences.

      2. Bagpuss

        The DBS check is totally normal (I think that there is a subscription you can take out so you can get an updated check whenever you need one, if you are likely to be applying for other similar jobs in future, as it can speed up the process.)

        The password issue is weird, inappropriate, and I am pretty sure is against Facebook’s terms of service!

        1. TechWorker

          At one point (though I think not any more, in some cases at least) DBS checks went with the employer, not the employee. So if you work with children in 2 different places you would need a separate one for each.

    7. Asenath

      It’s very odd for them to want your passwords. Doing an online search to see if you’ve posted anything that might cause problems, that’s fairly common. I’m not on Facebook, and my online presence is pretty minimal. I suppose some people, like your new employers, might think I’m hiding something because there’s nothing much there to see.

      1. Ilikechocolate

        I can understand at least googleing my name. But all they would find is my linked in and my facebook, one is professional and one is locked down. And an article from where I was in the local paper as a kid due to something cute a pet of mine did (being vague to protect my anonymity) but it definitely isn’t negative.

    8. Traveling Teacher

      This is so far beyond the pale–as a native English speaker living in a non-English speaking country, for the many, many contract English teaching positions I’ve had, I have never encountered anything as strange and invasive as this!

      If you do take this job: watch the directors carefully, read your contract carefully, because this is a big red flag. I’ve had great positions for the most part, but the one job I had that was dreadful was working for a private kids center on Saturdays who wanted to expand their course offerings…entirely focused on their bottom line instead of what was best for the children, let’s put it that way.

      Before you make the switch, make sure it’s worth it for you! If you’re working a split Saturday with only a few hours paid, this is often more trouble than it’s worth, long-term (one job had me working two hours 8-10am, then one more from 3-4pm… So not worth it, as it was across town, blocked my entire day for only 3 hours’ pay, and forced me to spend many Saturdays idling around town instead of spending time with my husband!)

      I was so worried while reading your post that you’d given them your passwords–good on you for not giving them out! They’re hopefully just clueless/weirdly invested in face-stalking you, but identity theft is real…

      1. Ilikechocolate

        The only reason I didn’t walk away is the money.

        Previously I was running all over London which was inconvenient and time consuming. Now I need to go to one building 5 minutes bus ride or 15 minutes walk away teach for four hours and make three times the money.

        I can make an extra £600 per month (after taxes) than I did when tutoring for less time spent and the potential to make more if I got to some of their marketing events (many of the parents can’t speak English well but want their child to, a native English speaker they can communicate with a big selling point to them).

        I can live on my full time salary (pay rent, buy food, cover bills etc but I only have a small amount left over and I wanted more money to have fun, to put towards a holiday, to put in savings. It is a more convenient local and much more money.

        Given the culture involved I suspect they were just being invasive rather than trying to steal my identity but I will read my contract carefully but its not like I’ll be on the streets if this doesn’t work out I have my full time job still and that keeps a roof over my head.

    9. StarHunter

      Yup, super weird and glad you didn’t give them your passwords. I also made it a point to never be FB friends with anyone I work with.

    10. a heather

      There was a time relatively recently when companies started asking for that, but NO NO NO NEVER. I think it fell quickly out of favor; some US states actually passed laws that made it illegal for companies to ask. I haven’t heard of it again recently. Sharing passwords is a huge no no for security.

    11. ceiswyn

      I’m fairly sure that giving out your passwords is against the terms and conditions of most social media anyway.

    12. Square Root Of Minus One

      Just in case: the best answer I’ve found for this request is mentioning giving out your password goes against the terms of use of the social networks (which it does). You can say you don’t give it out because you go by the rules.
      It would be acting in bad faith to hold it against you. It’s actually AT LEAST a yellow flag.

  46. No name

    Update from last week, regarding abusive exec being walked out and gone but no formal announcement. Our department was recently told about it in email with not the expected “seeking other opportunities” but rather “has been away/will not be back.”

    So, it was handled much better than I guessed.

  47. Runner Up

    So I recently ran, unsuccessfully, for public office. I’m a community organizer and freelancer and most of my work is with NGOs, non-profits, and labour unions. As I return to my normal life and begin applying to jobs, is there any way I can convey this experience on my resume? For six months I organized teams of volunteers, fundraiser, gave speeches, wrote op-eds, and canvassed. It was a municipal election where I can a close 2nd of 13 candidates, and I feel like this experience has given me a lot of skills that are extremely relevant to my work. Any suggestions on how I can include this in my applications?

    1. Anon From Here

      It’s eminently reasonable include candidacy for public office on your resume. How about this:

      Title: Candidate for [Name of Office]

      Accomplishments: [achievement-oriented action list of things you did related to the campaign, including amounts of money raised]

  48. Labradoodle Daddy

    Can anyone think of a reasonable explanation for my my managers NEVER, EVERRRRRR tell the present team when a member is out of office/running late? This has caused a lot of problems for our team and we *cannot* begin to understand my new manager’s reasoning. I work as part of a reception team stationed across 8 floors and 3 buildings, so we really, REALLY need to know when someone isn’t here or is a few minutes behind. Thoughts?

    1. Name Change For This

      Well I can think of a reason and it’s that your manager is a useless communicator and I sympathise, because I have one of those. Apparently only some of us need to know if she’s WFH or running late.

    2. NaoNao

      My best guess is that if it’s not an Emergency Room or a NewsRoom or the like, she feels it’s actually not as important as y’all do. Either she doesn’t know what’s happening, or she does know and doesn’t feel it’s as important as it feels to the team. Perhaps she doesn’t want to “tattle” or throw someone under the bus. Is there an issue with gossip or backhanded/under-handed discussion in the work place?

      Probably she doesn’t understand why an 8.15 arrival of one of the partners or whatever is a big deal and what the impact is on the reception staff.

      My advice would be if someone is asking where “Pat” is and you don’t know, the answer is “I’m not sure, but I can send you to zir voicemail or give you zis email if you like!”

      Also go to the manager and point out specific, concrete things that are happening as a result of the communication lag.

      I’d also take matters into your own hands and ask for a shared calendar or a “heads up” if someone is out, late, whatever.

  49. Amber Rose

    I’m dooooone! 200 page report completed and submitted and I’ve double and triple checked everything and dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s and this three week disaster is finally OVER. Until the giant list of QA revisions comes back anyway. But next week my help starts! I could actually cry from relief.

    Ridiculous story of the week: Sales sent me an order and copied a bunch of the project managers and stuff. I sent back the confirmation reply-all. The additional emails looked like this, verbatim:
    Email 1 (PM): Quote.
    Email 2 (sales): huh?
    Email 3 (PM): nvm lol

    This is why it’s impossible to hit inbox zero. Email is not meant to be texting. Also my desk is six feet away, and sales and PM sit next to each other, so what the actual heck.

  50. Business Casual

    I recently accepted an offer for a position with a startup in the city where my fiance lives. I start my new job in just over a week and am very excited!

    I haven’t actually met my new boss or any of my coworkers yet, as all the interviews took place over the phone. I asked my boss about the dress code and he said it is business casual. My current job is casual – I wear jeans most days and since it has been cold I have been wearing a lot of sweaters. I’m thinking I need to buy a week’s worth of clothes to get me started. Does anyone have tips on what I should buy that won’t break the bank? Are cable knit sweaters appropriate, or should I stick to blouses and cardigans?

    1. Four lights

      I would start with slacks and something that’s not a t-shirt, they you can see what the others wear.

    2. CheeryO

      I think cable-knit sweaters are fine for business casual, as long as they fit well and are in decent shape. If you have a button-down you can layer under one, that would be a little dressier – maybe good for the first day at least, until you can get a better sense of things. For pants, I’d just do one or two pairs of black or gray dress pants for now. No one will care (or even notice, probably) if you re-wear them a lot, and you might find that people skew toward the casual side of business casual (things like stretchy knit pants as opposed to slacks, for example).

    3. Lily Rowan

      You can wear the same pair of black pants all week, and almost no one would ever notice. So you don’t necessarily need five whole outfits, for what that’s worth.

      Good luck!

    4. Belle of the Midwest

      Don’t forget scarves! They can help dress up basic t-shirts or plain sweaters. I often wear the same knit black top to work three times a week but change out the scarf I wear with it and no one’s the wiser.

    5. Elizabeth Proctor

      If you want to buy stuff in advance and you will have easy access to laundry (I believe in pre-washing new clothes…) I’d keep the tags on until after the first day so you’ll be able to return things if you think they won’t fit in. Old Navy tends to be a good cheap bet. Definitely the same black pants for at least a couple of days. IMO cable knit sweaters with slacks are appropriate.

    6. Ranon

      Sweaters should be fine for business casual. A few pairs of slacks and you should be all set. My go to anymore for not breaking the bank is Thred Up and poshmark but you might be too time constrained for that to work.

  51. shep

    Any folks here who went to law school in their thirties or later? Could you speak a little to your experience of switching careers and/or how you dealt with financing your education if you had to quit work for your law program?

    I’m thirty and have a master’s degree under my belt, but it’s one of those fluffy sorts of MFAs that I imagine most employers roll their eyes at (writing) and it also doesn’t lend itself to any hard skills (aside from writing, which I DEFINITELY think is a hard skill and widely undervalued, but whatever).

    Although I like what I do, I feel utterly stuck in my current career prospects, and while I know law school is a huge investment and a potential gamble, a confluence of life experiences and the current socio-political climate have really persuaded me to arrive at the conclusion that I would very much like to do this.

    I’m so excited about the programs I’m looking at and the potential ROI, particularly my alma mater’s law program, but I am terrified by the cost. It even occurred to me last night that it HADN’T occurred to me earlier that I’d need to get new health insurance if I were to be accepted and have to quit my job.

    So, I’m a bit panicked. I want this for myself, but I’m just as terrified of being accepted as being rejected. It’s not even a real crunch–I’ll be applying this time next year for admission in 2020–but I’m a chronic over-worrier.

    1. CM

      I went in my late 20s, graduated in early 30s. I was very pragmatic about it because it is a big risk when you have an established career. Potential ROI was a huge consideration for me — I calculated out the cost of law school, opportunity cost of lost salary, potential amounts I could make by working during summers and the likely jobs I’d be able to get after law school. I calculated a break-even point versus staying in my current job and also decided that if I didn’t get into a top law school, I wouldn’t go — the job prospects are pretty bleak the further down the rankings you go.

      You don’t have to be so money-focused, of course — depending on your life situation and other obligations, you can put more value on career satisfaction even if you ultimately end up with less money. But I do think it’s a good idea to be very realistic about your career prospects and salary potential as a lawyer.

      You might also consider moving into something law-adjacent and seeing how you like it, before applying to law school. Consulting or policy work (or journalism, again if you are not very money-driven) don’t necessarily require a JD.

      Also, I’m sure you’ve thought about this but part-time is an option in many places. I quit my job and went full-time and loved it, but was also able to afford it by paying about 1/3 with savings, 1/3 with summer job earnings, and 1/3 in student loans. Part-time is very difficult in terms of time management, but you get to hang on to your salary and health benefits.

      1. shep

        I appreciate your comments about considering the potential ROI, because that’s the same way I’m approaching it. I think it’s unfortunate that rankings are so important, but I admit that unless I get into a decently ranked program, I’m not going. (And, honestly, that would be just fine in terms of my financial health.)

    2. Lemon Ginger Tea

      I’m a legal assistant/paralegal so I can’t speak to financing law school in your 30’s or the career transition (although I’m gearing up to do the same). I’ve worked in this field for almost 7 years at several different firms and with different practice focuses.

      I hate to be a downer– but it’s a pretty dysfunctional work environment, across the board. I started this work because I was considering going to law school and immediately knew I didn’t want to do it. Attorneys these days work insane hours with little recognition, clients are constantly squeezing what’s “acceptable billable work”, and 90% of law firms have poor upper management because high ranking attorneys tend to fill those roles and either don’t know or don’t care what’s needed to run a company. Add to that the influx of young lawyers; the job market is saturated. Every single lawyer I’ve become friendly with has intimated that they wish they hadn’t gone down this career path.

      Of course, there are some who are well suited to the work and I assume there are some law firms out there that are mostly functional, but they are the exception to the rule. I’d definitely suggest some informational interviews with lawyers in your area who are doing the type of work you’re interested in before you go too far down this path. Good luck!

    3. Anon From Here

      Second-career attorney here. I went to law school in the second half of my 30s. It was a great decision and a terrible decision. Great because I prefer the projects and critical thinking over the office administration work I was doing before. Also, I won’t lie, I love the lifestyle I can live right now: I can make my own hours, work half-time or on short-term contracts, and still afford a very personally fulfilling lifestyle (as in, no Armani suits or expensive cars, but a frugal-ish life with travel and time off). Finally, personally it was very empowering to kick law school and the bar exam in its butt while I was a single mom.

      You will probably have less free time on your hands than your classmates. (I like to say that my J.D. was more of a Ph.D. in time management.) You will probably be shocked or at least very disappointed at some of the views your obviously sheltered kindergarten-to-law-school classmates bring to the table sometimes.

      Terrible because I graduated in 2009, in a city where the market was flooded with skilled and experienced lawyers. The first few years were very stressful employment-wise.

      Debt: I borrowed in the low 6 figures, because I had to also take out cost-of-living loans for all 3 years. I was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, because I had a mortgage and child-raising expenses. I deferred the loans for a little while, paid them for a little while, and then came into an unexpected windfall that allowed me to pay them off after just a few years. The debt payments are no f-cking joke. You must have a plan for managing it afterward. You really can’t assume that you’ll get a top Biglaw job or a job with loan forgiveness. We ate a lot of cheap spaghetti and I packed a sack lunch every day because I didn’t want to spend a borrowed $10 on lunch that would turn into $15 or more when I had to pay it back. But seriously, the only reason I have the lifestyle I have is because of my loan payment windfall, I can’t stress that enough.

      1. Another Lawyer

        I went to law school straight from college, so I can’t comment about that aspect, but there are a few considerations I always tell people considering applying to law school (regardless of age):

        First, figure out the type of law you might be interested in. There’s a lot you can do with a law degree, and it will make a difference both in terms of environment and pay. So while Lemon Ginger Tea is correct, her observations will apply only to a firm, and probably only to a certain type of firm.

        Then, figure out your finances. Law schools actually do give merit-based financial aid, so it’s possible to get out of law school with minimal debt. But you need to tie your debt to the type of work you want to do. Six-figure debt might be worth it to get into big law, but probably isn’t worth it to become a public defender. That can also affect the type of school you choose. If you have top grades/LSATs a top school might give you no financial aid, whereas a decent but non-prestigious school will give you a big aid package based on the same grades/LSATs. Again, for big law that top school is worth it, but it might be preferable to pick a middle-ranked school and graduate with no debt for something which won’t pay as well.

        Lastly, talk to practicing lawyers in the field you’re interested in. It’s much better to do so before applying than doing it a year or two in and discovering you’re not actually interested.

      2. shep

        This is incredibly helpful! I don’t have any kids, but I’ve been aggressively paying down my grad loans/car/etc., and don’t have a lot by way of savings, so I’m looking at the same sort of tuition and COL borrowing. My partner also works full time and is supportive, but we work in the public sector and don’t make a ton, and I don’t want to unduly burden him with a lot of financial asks and favors. I’m sure he’d be happy to, but I know it’s probably nerve-wracking on his end as well–it’s not going to be HIS debt, but it will absolutely affect us both. Big joint purchases would probably out of the question until I’m solvent again, etc.

        I’m applying for binding early admission, which would afford me a sizable yearly stipend, and I have a few hobbyist streams of income that could probably cover my share of the rent (although MAN that would be a lot to juggle), but yes, I think frugality is the name of the game.

        1. Anon From Here

          Now that I see you have a partner — know that law school is a full-time job with overtime work. You will be out of the house for class during the week, and you’ll also have a significant number of hours where you need to be unavailable to your partner because you’re studying or writing. The learning curve for doing the work efficiently is steep during the first few months, but, all jokes about how your 3L year is a breeze notwithstanding, you’ll still be working steadily. Adult relationships — friends, partners, family — can take a serious hit, so it’s something you and your partner should be on the same page about.

          I’m afraid I sound gloom-and-doom but I did see law school end two relationships just in my own cohort.

          1. shep

            Yeah, the finances scare me, but this also scares me, and I’ve thought about it quite a bit.

            He’s very supportive, and we’ve talked about it, but I do feel guilty imagining myself in school (and imagining our roles being reversed and HIM being in school) and being the absentee partner.

    4. StarHunter

      You might also want to research the kinds of orgs you would want to work for (for example EarthJustice) and I would bet they all have a need for writers (if that is something you would still want to do). You might be able to get involved for example, with researching and writing policy. At the environmental org I use to work for, their public lands advocate did a tremendous amount of writing as well as presenting testimony in front of the legislature, all without a law degree.

    5. ..Kat..

      I earned a masters degree myself to change careers. I recommend you do everything you can to make sure that this is the right career before you go into this kind of debt. And check out salaries for the kind of law you want to practice. And what kind of job market there is for the kind of law that you want to practice. Not saying don’t go for it.

  52. Wrangler of all the Llamas

    I’m in the final interview stage with an employer even though I started a new job two weeks ago. The interviewing company thinks I’m still at my old job. If I do get an offer from the employer, am I obligated to tell them that I’m no longer at old job, but at new job?

    1. Liet-Kinda

      I don’t think two weeks at a job need even be mentioned; if you’re not going to put it on a resume, and you wouldn’t, I think you just move along. If anyone asks, you could say, “My last day at OLD JOB was X,” and call it a day.

    2. Kathenus

      I don’t think you need to offer the information, but don’t lie. Liet-Kinda’s script is great for this.

      1. Wrangler of all the Llamas

        I don’t know. I’m thinking that if I do make it to the offer stage, then the state of my employment will come up during the background check. There I feel I’m obligated to say I don’t work there anymore, but I’m leaning towards not even mentioning current. I’m not afraid of them reaching out to my old employer as I left on really good terms. I’m more afraid of how it would it look that I didn’t mention I don’t work there anymore until it got to background check.

  53. Sabine the Very Mean

    I’d love advice on gracefully moving into the next phase of professional life. From worker-bee to executive-level. I don’t manage anyone but I manage a state program and will be interacting with legislative bodies, advisory councils, city administration, end-users and stakeholder groups.

    I don’t consider myself terribly polished but I never look disheveled either. In fact, I usually dress and appear just slightly more put together than my peers. I just can’t rock sweet curls in my hair or guarantee that my make-up will always look done. I’d like to start wearing blazers or full suits without looking like I’m playing dress-up.

    I’m looking for help with finding good clothing stores (I shop mostly New York and Company now), how my hair and nails should be, advice keeping up on all that, how to navigate finding time to work out, commute, shop for home goods, keep up with home tasks, etc. I don’t have children but I still find it difficult to do it all. Hacks, I guess. Hacks are what I need.

    1. CM

      Check out Corporette! Also You Look Fab and other fashion blogs that talk about work appearance. But Corporette has archives going back for years that answer all the questions you’re asking.

    2. Dance-y Reagan

      Corporette is good, with the caveat that it leans heavily towards lawyers who make major bank. So, suggestions are ultra-conservative and often seriously pricey. Even the “budget friendly” clothes are too rich for my blood.

      What I’ve found really helpful is commenters over there discussing the style bloggers/instagrammers they follow. Searching the site is a bit tedious, so I tend to search it through Google.

    3. First Time Caller

      I also find it incredibly hard to do all the expected things that one needs to look “polished” or “on” all the time. I do not at all feel like a real grown-up. Honestly, what helps me is: keeping my nails very short and unpolished, so all I have to remember to do is keep them clean; keeping my hair fairly neutral and medium-short so I do minimal daily stuff to it; and having way more clothes than I actually need, because inevitably I will get behind on laundry or dry cleaning and have to make a concerted effort to get my shit together. Fancy accessories (nice neutral real-leather bag, new-ish cloth coat) helps too.

      The reality is that keeping up with all of it is impossible. Something has to give; one of my former coworkers was a very polished Southern belle. She didn’t have kids, never cooked, had someone who cleaned her house and did her laundry, got expensive hair coloring every month or two, and had gotten the hair on her legs lasered off years before.

    4. catsaway

      Look at MM LaFleur and Of Mercer. Both have non-suit, but still very professional looking, work clothes for women. (Note: I haven’t purchased anything from either company, they are out of my price range/lifestyle, but I hope to have a job where I’d need the clothes they sell). MM LaFleur is more expensive but has a lot more clothing options, has some plus sized items and will send you a box of items for you to try on. Both companies do made in the USA clothes.

    5. LJay

      Some department stores have personal shoppers where you don’t pay for the appointment (I believe they probably get commission based on the clothes you buy). It might be worth it to see if one in the appropriate price-range for you offers this and to set up an appointment to find some suits that you feel comfortable in.

    6. Ranon

      Corporette and other work wear blogs can help you learn about brands, but when it comes to buying I totally recommend spending enough time in stores to learn how sizing works for you in those brands and then doing the majority of your shopping on Thredup and poshmark. I’ve seriously upgraded the quality of my wardrobe for New York & Co prices this year thanks to poshmark. Knowing your measurements and/ or the measurements of your favorite clothes helps, too.

  54. Mona Lisa

    How many hours would you be willing to spend on an interview process?

    I’m up to 5.5 hours over 3 interviews, personality tests, and a skills assessment. (Not counting the 3 hours I spent driving to and from the interview location in another city.) I’m starting to wonder if this is too much and combined with the flags of “family”/”traditional” company and the handwriting test I mentioned a couple of weeks ago should become a deal breaker even if they give me a seemingly good offer. I decided to see the hiring process through to the end because I’ve mostly stumbled my way into a potential career track job but had never interviewed for this type of role before, and I thought the practice would be good for me.

    I’d love to hear others’ thoughts!

    1. CM

      I would expect to spend about 1/2 hour for a phone screen, 1-2 hours for initial interviews, and 3-6 hours for followup interviews. 5.5 hours sounds pretty normal to me. (I’m skeptical about the handwriting test, though.)

    2. Bex

      For my current job, I did a phone screen with a recruiter’s assistant (30 mins), an phone interview with the recruiter (60 mins.) Then 6 video interviews with various people at the company (45-60 mins each), and a 60 min check-in with the recruiter. The final round was 5 hours onsite.

      So I think you’re well within a “normal” range, although the handwriting part is a bit odd.

      1. Mona Lisa

        Apparently the CEO is a bit of a…character. He requires every person to take this test from executives down to maintenance workers. Every person at my interview had a story about something strange he’d done during their interviews. (Apparently he used to interview almost every single person as the last step before they were hired. It’s a family-owned company, and I think he’s the third or fourth person to head the organization.)

    3. LJay

      It depends on the type of job. Entry level for a typical office position – I would expect maybe 2 hours.

      As the level of responsibility gets higher I would expect the time spent interviewing and the amount of interviews to get higher. 5.5 hours seems reasonable to me for high level management, but overkill for some other positions.

      1. Mona Lisa

        This is a database administrator position so not entry-level, but no management responsibilities (other than the system itself).

  55. Mediamaven

    I know there has been some discussion on this before, but wanted some collective opinions. A friend of mine, mature gentlemen, tends to book his staff in Airbnbs when they travel for long trips and there is quite a few people going. Pretty sure everyone gets their own rooms but I still wouldn’t be comfortable in that situation but I’m very introverted. He just had a brief trip and stayed in an apartment with his half his age, female employee when there were plenty of hotels available. I know Alison has mentioned that the gender dynamics shouldn’t be an issue but I think they are. Too me, this wasn’t a good look. I have no idea what the woman thinks about it. What do you all think?

    1. CM

      Noooo. I guess if everybody is comfortable with the group housing situation it’s OK. But two people in a rental, whether hotel room or apartment, if both don’t have the full ability to either consent or say no to this situation, raises all kinds of red flags for me. I (a woman) would be extremely uncomfortable if my male boss said we were going to share an apartment — not because I don’t trust him, but because that can be a pretty intimate situation where there’s the possibility of sharing a bathroom, walking around in pajamas, etc. I would push back but I’d feel uncomfortable pushing back too, because he’s my boss. And I don’t think people’s ability to push back should be based on gender identity. I don’t think anybody should be forced into a shared living situation they’re not comfortable with.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I have absolutely NOT said that gender dynamics shouldn’t be an issue in that situation! Of course they would/could be. (Y’all attribute the strangest things to me sometimes.)

    3. Four lights

      Yeah, it’s weird. I think there’s been enough discussion here that best practices is everyone gets their own hotel room, unless you work for a non-profit, in which case you may have to share with a same-gendered coworker.

    4. ..Kat..

      Also, AirBnBs do not have the quality standards, safety requirements, oversight, and inspections that hotels do.

      1. ..Kat..

        And, I want to take off my makeup, take off my bra, and wear comfortable sweats when I get to my hotel. I don’t want to have to be work-polished and “on” 24/7.

  56. officegrinch

    I work in the back office in a public facing government entity. It is a very small open office set up where they have crammed 15 employees. All of the challenges of having a lot of people in a small open office come into play. I’m usually very good at dealing with it but this week has been… challenging. This is my first holiday season at this job and from what I have heard from coworkers its the first year that management hasn’t outright banned Christmas music. I wish they did. It started last week and they have been playing it nonstop. I’m usually not that opposed to it but its the middle of November. I’ve tried to bring up listening to something else but I seem to be the only person phased by it. The multiple variations of “Frosty the Snowman” a day is making me very tense and I’m not sure how to last the next month. Head phones are not an option in my office and I received passive aggressive comments when I asked them to turn it down a bit. Feels good to vent, as I feel so weird being the only one thinking its too early for this.

    1. agmat

      I resent everyone who has decided that post-Halloween is an appropriate time for Christmas anything. Clearly it all should be held off until after Thanksgiving.

    2. CM

      I love Christmas music, but it would drive me crazy all day long!
      If your coworkers aren’t listening to you, maybe you could talk to management and ask that the ban be brought back?

    3. Asenath

      Well, as for being too early …. when my parents moved to the US, my mother insisted on following her Christmans traditions, which were somewhat unusually traditional even by Canadian standards. No decorations until Christmas Eve, and then you keep them up until Twelfth Night, to mention the most obvious to non-family. I think her neighbours must have all thought she was really weird because she was so out-of-sync with the decorating customs! Me, now, I mostly don’t decorate at all.

      I am generally very fond of Christmas music, but I think repeated playing of “Frosty the Snowman” would drive me around the bend – and having different versions wouldn’t improve matters. Well, maybe if there were some kind of competition for cheesiest version of “Frosty”? Or cheesiest song (I vote for “Grandma was run over by a reindeer”). Maybe not, on second thought. I am so glad I work in a place with no music on the PA system. Fire alarms (generally false) and warnings that the fire alarm system is out of service, yes. Music, no. I have my own, which I play through earphones. You have my sympathy.

    4. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      This is one of those situations I will admit to the following:

      Sometimes it’s great being the boss and getting to make rules.
      Sometimes the rules I make are truly down to my preference.

      I ran a small warehouse operation for a number of years. I arbitrarily declared no Christmas music shall be played until after Thanksgiving. In addition to that rule, I had an employee that showed up about 3 weeks before Christmas with sleigh bells tied into her shoelaces. I told her absolutely not. She could wear them 2 days before Christmas and she had to remove them if I got a complaint.

      Sometimes being the boss really sucks, but those times wasn’t one of them!

    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      The worst part about Christmas music is that there are only like 12 songs and they have all just been covered by 300 people each so you’re listening to the same thing over and over.

      I would definitely ask manager if they can be asked to wait a few more weeks.

      Though I also wonder if being a public facing government agency shouldn’t preclude playing anything remotely religious.

      1. Asenath

        There is a vast amount of Christmas music, but the types of places that start broadcasting it in November all seem to use the same few pieces. They aren’t necessarily remotely religious – I would say that “Frosty the Snowman” is about as religious as “Jingle Bells” – but of course the more they expanded their repertoire, the more likely it would be that they’d hit on a religious one, of which there are many. Depending on where you are, that could cause trouble.

        Anyway, I don’t see any reason to play Christmas music until the middle of December, and anyway there’s no need to replay the same songs over and over again, usually too loudly and over tinny speakers.

  57. anon today and tomorrow

    I need to vent!

    My former company kept paying me for three paychecks after I left. I contacted them and they said they didn’t have the right paperwork to process my resignation, and that it would take a few more payrolls to fix. Now they’re trying to charge me for overpayment for FIVE paychecks instead of three, and refusing to pay out my remaining vacation time (state law says they have to pay). They’re saying if I don’t pay the amount they listed in 14 days, they can charge me double the amount per IRS rules.

    I can’t find anything on the IRS about a company legally charging me double the amount they overpaid, only that if I don’t pay the overpayment back in 2018, that I’d have to pay the overpayment + taxes in 2019.

    I’m so annoyed. Worse, this is a big corporate company and the HR and payroll center operates out of Malaysia so it’s a struggle to get someone on the phone or understand what I’m trying to say. I’m so glad I left this company, but the incompetence is astounding.

    1. CM

      Depending on the amount of money involved, you might want to talk to a lawyer. State laws differ a lot on this.

      The double overpayment thing sounds made up to me. (I’m a lawyer, but don’t know much about this issue.)

      If you don’t want to talk to a lawyer, what I would do is probably write a letter saying, “I received your letter of [date] requesting $[A] in overpayment. I dispute this amount. As I have previously notified you, I received $[B] following termination, not $[A]. Your letter also stated that you would not pay out my vacation time. I remind you that state law requires you to pay me for my unused vacation time. According to my calculations, I am owed $[C] for vacation time. Therefore, I am willing to reimburse you for $[B-C]. Please confirm in writing and I will send a check for this amount in full satisfaction of any obligations I may have to MegaCorp.”

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        I have something similar written up with copies of all direct deposits to my account, the online payroll portal showing each paycheck and the amount, and I took a screenshot of my vacation accrual before I left the company.

        It’s a lot of money, but I don’t really want to pay for a lawyer if I can resolve this myself. I’ll probably contact a lawyer if they go through with making me pay more than I owe.

    2. Natalie

      You probably already suspect this, but as a TAX agency the IRS does not have rulemaking authority over pay/contract issues, since that is not a tax issue.

      You mentioned elsewhere that they paid you by direct deposit – you might want to contact your bank and see if there’s any kind of stop you can put on your account to prevent them from clawing the money out. A lot of direct deposit agreements allow the company to withdraw payments made in error, so you could end up with a tricky situation if they decide to go that route.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        I’ve already done that with my bank! I have all the overpayment in a separate savings account ready to transfer so I can write a check when it’s all figured out.

        But yes, I know the IRS can collect tax on the overpayment if I don’t pay the overage amount in 2018, but they have no say over my pay. I suspect my former company is trying to tell me this hoping that I’ll just pay out of fear than look up the actual laws/rules around it.

        1. AnonJ

          I think you are on the right track with all of this – especially isolating that over-payment. For your own sake, I’d handle the extra paychecks and the vacation pay separately due to the tax implications you are facing. I would get your bank to issue a bank check for the amount your employer paid you erroneously and send it to the ex-employer via certified mail, return receipt, with a letter stating what you are returning to them as over-payment on your salary, along with all of your documentation showing that is the limit of the over-payment. By using a bank check, the money is out of your account so there can be no question you were trying to hold on to it. BUT in the same letter I’d remind them of the state law on vacation time payout with your documentation on that…and in fact, I’d copy all of this to your state Department of Labor and make that clear in your letter to your ex-employer that you’re doing that (perhaps that involves filing a complaint with DOL about the vacation pay and including a copy of that).

          Basically, show them that you know the law better than they do and won’t bow to their bs incompetence.

          IF (and it’s a big if) you have a lawyer friend/could find a lawyer, to send the letter and check on a simple per-hour billing basis it would probably be even more effective. Basically, you’ve got all the documentation in order and just need them to put the issues on their letterhead. That is a big ask though and not the way most lawyers want to take on assignments.

  58. Jade

    Is there a way to work comfortably and ergonomically at a laptop for 8-9 hours a day?

    (Or is the only way to do so is with an external monitor and/or keyboard?)

    Thanks for any and all suggestions!

    1. fposte

      “Comfortably” is too personal to say. I’ve worked on a laptop for years, but what’s right for my screwed-up body isn’t going to be right for everybody. I do keep an external keyboard and trackpad on hand for when physical stuff is more fraught than usual.

    2. ..Kat..

      You may be able to do this for years without a problem. But if (when) it becomes a problem, it is really a problem. And it is very hard to undo all of the prolonged, repetitive stress. Much better to prevent.

    3. BluntBunny

      You should look up DSE it’s how to organise your work station to be comfortable. So having the middle of the screen eye level and arm length away. You may need things like a foot rest or a stand for you laptop.

  59. Kathenus

    Not a question, but wanted to share something that made me happy at work this week. Our office area has individual restrooms on each floor, which have always been one male and one female, although people tend to just use whichever one is free. This week, they changed the signs and now they are all gender neutral. Most people in my office didn’t seem to care one way or another, but it made me really happy to see us take this step. Possibly from the perspectives I’ve gained over being involved with AAM for the past few years, so thanks to you all for helping me to grow and see things with a new set of eyes.

    1. anon today and tomorrow

      My company is moving to a new office location and they have male, female, and gender neutral bathrooms on all ten floors! It’s really, really nice.

      My college had them back in 2004 and it was a big deal for some people because they had never seen them before, which made me happy.

    2. Sabine the Very Mean

      I know that the reason for the glee is for gender equity which I am happy for too. But mixed gendered bathrooms in my life have resulted in male urine EVERYWHERE. Now, I do know about hover-peeing women but that is so far less common than what I seem to experience here. Everyday I have to make sure the back of my pants are not about to touch a trail of urine down the front, sides and on the floor of the toilet.

      1. Anonandanon

        Yeah, while we have single Men/Women bathrooms here, I would never use the Men’s bathroom just for that purpose. Women can be gross too, but it’s been my experience that they usually don’t pee on the floor or the seat.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I would be totally fine with gender-neutral bathrooms having both a toilet AND a urinal. I mean, I’ve used a single-occupancy men’s room before at work when the other was taken.

        Not a dude, but I assume it’s easier for most guys to use a urinal? Correct me if I’m wrong (and of course this wouldn’t apply to anyone with physical limitations to using it).

    3. jack

      Ugh, I went to a training last week at another one of my company’s facilities. They had 2 single occupancy bathrooms in the office area, one men’s and one women’s. With 30+ extra people all having the same breaks during the training, you can guess what the line situation looked like. There were significantly more men, so when I finished I gestured to the bathroom and told the next guy waiting for the men’s room he should use it, as there was no one waiting for the women’s room after me. He looked at me like I was crazy.

  60. CanadianUniversityReader

    I’m going to be attending a networking lunch, very soon. How does one network? Also since, it’s a lunch meeting, should I have a light lunch before hand?

    1. Nekussa

      Having a light snack might not be a bad idea, especially if you don’t know the menu options or have dietary requirements. That way you aren’t trying to get through the meeting on an empty stomach. As for the networking, practice an introduction of yourself and what it is you do, and just open up a conversation about what the others do. It’s sort of like speed dating – who are you and do we have anything in common? :)

    2. CM

      Practice your elevator pitch, a 30-second summary of who you are and what interests you might have in common with the person you’re talking to.

      Think about what you want to get out of networking — new friends in your field, a future collaborator on a project, a new job or business?

      If you have a sense of who else will be there, pick out 2-3 people you’d like to meet and focus on talking to them.

      Bring business cards if you have them. If you have a good conversation with someone and want to keep in touch, hand them your card and ask for theirs. (If this is done in your field.)

      If you meet someone you like or want to keep in touch with, you can end the conversation by saying, “I’d love to keep in touch. Would you like to have coffee sometime?”

      Connect with people on LinkedIn as soon afterward as you can, while you still remember each other.

  61. Notasecurityguard

    More of a rant but here goes: can we end the tyranny of neckties? They’re stupid, they’re uncomfortable, they get in the way, and they do nothing but cover up my shirt buttons and lightly choke me (well not me because during the winter we wear clip on ties so nobody can choke us which I think further buoys my point). Seriously the only reason we wear neckties is because it’s considered a fashion faux pas to not.

    So let’s all band together and throw off the slave collars they make us tie to ourselves to remind ourselves that we are slaves to the almighty dollar. Viva la revolution! Liberte egalitae fraternitiae! And down with the goddamn neckties!

    1. Sabine the Very Mean

      Oh I agree. Women look great in a nice button down blouse. Why can’t men (or others who are required to wear ties) just wear a nice ironed shirt? I support you, kind sir.

    2. Moonlight Doughnut

      We can absolutely get rid of mandatory neckties if we can ensure that no crew-neck undershirts will be visible (get v-necks people)!

      1. Harvey P. Carr

        I don’t have a problem with crew-neck undershirts.

        My objection is to shirts that are buttoned all the way to the top, be they regular shirts or polo shirts. Can’t explain why, it’s just something that I’ve never liked.

        (The only exception, ironically enough, is if you’re wearing a necktie and the tie is not loose. If it’s loose, a la Rodney Dangerfield, the top button should be unbuttoned.)

    3. Laura H.

      All that’s in my head right now is the Codename: Kids Next Door episode that was all about evil neckties…. that’s not helpful.

      Thank you for the grin on my face right now.

      Why no clip on ties year round though?

    4. OperaArt

      “nobody can choke us”
      I’m very curious as to why people would try to choke you, and only in winter.

      1. Notasecurityguard

        Police officer hence the choking. Summer uniforms are short sleeves and no ties whatsoever. It’s glorious going into work wearing short sleeves

        1. Notasecurityguard

          Also low-key wondering if I can found a religion where one of the tenents is “no fucking ties” so penalizing me for not wearing one would be discriminating against me for my “sincerely held religious beliefs” without a BFOQ

        2. OperaArt

          Ahh. That makes perfect sense. I’m glad to hear that the tyranny of the necktie is balanced out in part by the gloriousness of short sleeves. :-)

        3. AnonJ

          Maybe this is something your union could take up – along the lines of if it’s okay in summer, why not winter? How does the community you serve feel about interacting with an officer in a tie vs an officer without one? If there’s any evidence to point to an increase in community engagement with non-tie wearing officers that could be a point. Or a community survey about how they feel about it (set up a free surveymonkey poll and post it to the police department’s website and social media to collect data).

          I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor. You cops have enough to deal with already when it comes to the gear you wear. *Caveat – when you have to go to court, wear the tie.*

    5. Canadian Natasha

      You would probably hate me. I’m a gal who likes wearing ties. But I’m all for freedom of choice in accessories so throw yours in my direction and we can all be happy!

    6. Bluebell

      Totally disagree here. It’s one of the bright spots in the bland and boring men’s fashion, at least in my office. The occasional purple or interesting green tie is a huge bright spot! (Of course I never wear ties myself but can’t I dictate dress codes for others? )

    7. This Daydreamer

      Hear hear! I have never understood how men can stand wearing the things.

      …says the woman who is currently wearing a choker-length necklace – but that’s by choice!

    8. ..Kat..

      While I think neckties are silly, if you have a shirt with the proper collar size, you should not be choking. As a woman, I think heels and pantyhose are invented by the devil.

  62. merp

    Something I’m idly curious about (since I wasn’t a reader when this actually happened months ago) – I was asked in a job interview what I would want to do that wasn’t in that particular job. I think I stumbled over some answer that sure, there were other things I liked, but I was interested in the focus of this job the way it was written. It must have been satisfactory enough since I got it, but I’m wondering about how a more candid response would have been received. Something like “well you can tell on my resume that I have experience in this other area, and that is because I liked it, and would probably kind of miss it.” Especially when said other area isn’t part of this job and never will be.

    Any thoughts?

    1. CM

      The candid response you mentioned sounds fine, and the answer you actually gave sounds fine too. I think this would be pretty job-dependent. I interpret the question as trying to ask whether you have other areas of interest or skills, and then the interviewer could see if those would help the company and fit into the role. If you say, “No, I just want to do this job,” that seems OK, and if you say, “I also enjoy doing / am good at X, but I don’t mind if it’s not part of my role,” that also seems OK. I think the only bad answer would be to imply that you would only be happy if you did extra duty X, which was not part of the role.

      1. merp

        See, I remember feeling nervous about giving the impression that I would leave this job for the other area I named. This is the library world – I have some experience in archives, and there are archivists where I work (university), but this isn’t a job where they could put me in that area sometimes or add similar work to mine. I didn’t want them to think that the second they were hiring an archivist, I would leave this job, like I thought of this as sort of a foot in the door. (Archives jobs are hard to come by.)

        (Maybe I felt this nervous because, frankly, for the right archives job, I would consider that. But I also like the job I have, so..)

        Anyway, thanks for your input!

    2. Kathenus

      Starting with saying “That’s a great question, let me think about that for a second” can both give you a moment to ponder it and reinforce them for what I think is a great question to ask. If you can think of something that is related to that job/industry but not specifically in that particular role’s purview that you would enjoy, that’s a great one to share because it could be something that they might be able to include you in for the future if you got the job. But otherwise sharing something unrelated is fine too, it tells them more about you and is an honest answer. I don’t think candidates are always comfortable saying this, but I see no reason someone can’t say “could I think this over while we talk and come back to it later?” for a question like this as well.

      Congrats on getting the job!

    3. LurkieLoo

      I’m totally asking this at our next interview. I think it gives great insight into where you might want to focus in the future. Maybe they need an archivist just 3 days a month. Or if they like you and your skill set is such that they think you could transition to another position because the one you’re in will be easier to fill. They might also be trying to feel out if you’re over the thing you did in the past and moving on or would still be interested in those aspects. I would be super excited if our next accounting person said they’d love to design marketing material.

  63. Cat

    Y’all, I think I’m going to apply for a couple of jobs I found, and I could use some words of wisdom or reassurance. First, I’ve been at my current job for nine years. It’s a small, quirky law firm and I’m a partner now. I feel a lot of loyalty to the firm and they’ve lost a lot of people lately so my departure would be noticed. I feel so guilty that I’m even contemplating it even though I know that’s irrational.

    But the other jobs are non-profit jobs more directly aligned with the mission I’m interested in. The money might be a deal breaker, I’d have to see, but it’d feel really good to be doing work that aligns with m yvalues. And I have been in a rut with work lately. I feel like I could use something to shake me up. But is that a reason to change jobs?

    Also, I’m trying to get pregnant. I’m about to do IVF and the transfer wouldn’t be till January for February, so it would be about a year efore I took maternity leave, but what does it mean taking mtaernity leave after starting a new job like that?

    I appreciate any words of advice! I know i”m getting ahead of myself but I’m kind of freaking out.

    1. Four lights

      Remind yourself that you don’t have to make any decisions until an offer is in hand. Don’t feel bad about leaving, even if you stayed you’d eventually have to leave if you retired and people would manage. I think working in a mission you like is a good reason to switch jobs.

      People do maternity leave all the time, and a year gives you a good amount of time to prove your worth. Reasonable people understand that pregnancy happens on its own timetable. Practically speaking, you would want to look at maternity benefits–I think FMLA doesn’t kick in unless you’ve been working at the job for a year, for example

    2. CM

      If you can afford it and would be happier, do it! Going to a nonprofit is way easier to explain than going to a competitor. You could spin it as wanting to do more to help the mission, even though you love the firm, which might leave a door open for you to return if you wanted to later.

      I wouldn’t worry about maternity leave at this point — of course, see if you can figure out what the potential new jobs’ attitudes and policies are, but I think that will be job-specific.

    3. fposte

      Go find something cool, Cat. 9 years is plenty. It’s nice to be valuable enough that people don’t want to lose you, but you don’t owe them that.

      1. Cat

        Thanks! I do feel like I’ve been in a rut in the last year, but I’m not sure if it’s me or the job.I have been distracted with this trying-to-concieve process. So I don’t know. Part of me thinks a new job would energize me; part of me worries I’d crash and burn.

    4. ..Kat..

      Losing maternity leave benefits could be a huge financial blow, especially if you are taking a pay cut as well. Just something to think about. Also, consider how many hours a week you would be expected to work at the new job versus your current job. With a baby, work hours become important.

  64. Karen from Finance

    Last week I posted about my boss being fired and becoming a one-woman department.

    With perspective, I was able to have a clearer view of his dismissal and I’m not angry anymore. I understand it had to be done, regardless of how much I liked him on a personal level. It is true that the last few months had been rough. The firing manager has been supportive of me, we are actually more aligned than I thought before.

    I did have to draw a few battle lines here and there, jump from a role in the background and be assertive with some of the leads. Compromises were made. But it was fine.

    I’m a bit less nervous now. I’m struggling with my anxiety a lot, which is causing me to make a bigger deal of things than they need to be, but I’m trying to slowly reassure myself. My colleague has been good at helping me with this. We’re not close but when he sees me freaking out he’s “Karen, it’s fine. And even if this turned out to be a big problem, it’d be fine too.” He’s the type of super calm person who balances my super anxious personality, so it helps.

    The thing I need to practice now is not jumping to the worst case scenario in every situation, but I think that it will come in time. I hope.

    1. Kathenus

      This is a great update. I think it helps everyone to see how someone else has dealt with a situation over time. Your experience here of having worked through a lot of the anger and stress is a helpful example. Thanks for taking the time to share.

      1. TechWorker

        I think I need to be more like your colleague! There’s a lot of things that ‘in the grand scheme of things’ aren’t really a big deal – but that doesn’t mean they’re not stressful to deal with in the moment!

  65. West Coast or Bust

    Any tips on how long I should expect a cross-country job hunt to take? I’d like to have something in my new city in March, when my lease is up and I’ll be moving. I wasn’t going to start applying to things until next month, but did a search last night and saw a position that looked great so now I’m tempted to start early.

    1. Four lights

      I think it can vary based on industry and the company. An important question would be how much overlap in rent could you afford? Also, it could be possible for you to delay your start date with the whomever hires you.

  66. My seatmate is a smoker :(

    We work in one of those open offices where everybody shares one big central table, but we do have assigned spaces. The guy who just started and who sits next to me is clearly a smoker. He ducks out several times a day and comes back smelling strongly of smoke.

    I actually worked up the nerve – rare for me – on his first day to tell him that unfortunately I am unusually sensitive to the smell, it gives me headaches, and asked him to do what he could to mitigate the impact. He was really nice about it. However, since then, there are several times I’ve been struck by how strong the smell is – my nose starts burning and I really do get a headache from it. I don’t want to be nagging him every time this happens, which would be once a week at least.

    Since I already brought it up once I’ve been struggling to work up the courage to go back to him again. I don’t even know what to suggest he do, since I understand he has the right to smoke as much as he wants. I was hoping he’d leave his coat away from the desk or have some other trick so that he doesn’t stink so bad, but it’s not working.

    1. OP

      Oh, and I love my spot – I have the best spot in the office due to seniority (right next to a window, not in the cold spot) and I don’t want to move. I’d like to ask if he could move but that is probably petty.

      1. ..Kat..

        A decent purifier costs a lot of money. I would ask the boss to pay for this.

        Also, since you have seniority, he should move. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask for.

    2. Workerbee

      Hmm…do you have an HR or office administrator person? Periodically, our HR sends out a “No fragrances!” email to all staff. Perhaps a line could be included for smokers, about leaving their smoking jacket/outerwear away from the common areas such as that big central table.

      You’ll still get the “But I didn’t think that meant ME” people that need more than one reminder, but it would give you something to point to and not make it like you’re the ONLY person who has an issue (not that one person shouldn’t be enough, but people do tend to respond more to group peer pressure).

      It’s not a perfect solution; if it’s high summer and there is no outerwear being worn, this won’t work, but perhaps this can help get something that will. Or yeah, you might have to do the “I appreciate your efforts” dance while stating firmly that you are still being affected by it to the point of pain.

    3. Moonlight Doughnut

      Would it be possible to get a small desk fan that’s capable of blowing stray smoke odors away from your face?

      1. OP

        Ooh, that could probably really work. It would be a little odd in our office, but at least it would be something I could do myself, versus something I’m asking him to do. Thanks for the idea!

      2. Kathenus

        I think they also make table-top size air purifiers, maybe you could look into that – in addition to some of the other suggestions.

  67. How often do you spend actively working in a workday?

    My previous job, there was a lot of slack time. I used to feel like I had maybe 2 hours of work out of the 8 I was there – but I also felt like it was part of my job just to be around in case something came up. I got used to that (even though I didn’t like it) and I thought that was just how butts-in-seats 9-5 white collar office jobs are.

    My new job has less staff and I get the sense that they want me to be being actively productive literally all eight hours that I’m here, but I’m having a hard time adjusting. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but – which experience is more common in the working world? How many hours are you being actively productive during the workday?

    1. Karen from Finance

      Heh. Honestly I’ve seen both. Usually it’s one of both extremes. I’ve seen both extremes in one workteam even. It really does depend and vary so widely in so many factors: industry, job description, work environment, workflow, team, supervisors…

    2. LadyByTheLake

      Since I have to actually track my billable time, I know that in a 10 hour day I usually have 8.5 “hard” billable hours and maybe an hour and a half of getting lunch, reading the internet, doing “soft” work like billing or writing reports. So yes, it is pretty common to work all day. After all, if you aren’t working, why are you even there?

      1. OP

        Are you a lawyer, maybe? It’s true, I do feel like it should be possible to put in this kind of disciplined work, I just really haven’t been asked to before. (I’m also not regularly putting in a ten hour day, yeesh. I’d want to be paid a lot more than I am to keep that kind of schedule).

    3. Eh whatever

      Totally varies! My last job it was about 4 hours work and then another leisurely 4 of working on and off. New job is an aggressive 8-10 hours of nonstop work. It really depends on the office.

    4. Never

      My job expects me to be actively working all day, but then they don’t give me enough work to do, so I’m in a perpetually state of confusion over what I should be doing. Some days I do work all day, but I also have days where I literally have nothing to do because none of the team has returned their parts of the project. On average I probably work 3-4 hours a day.

      1. OP

        This sounds like my last job. We sort of had to pretend to seem busy, and make sure that we weren’t flaunting it if we were wasting time (and I could have like, assigned myself a busywork project maybe, if I really wanted to) but there wasn’t really that much to do.

      2. Jennifer85

        I think it also makes a difference what the work is – I’m used to doing ~7-8 hours work but where some of it involves short periods (eg a couple of minutes) of waiting for something to finish (and I did my fair share of internet browsing in that time, but didn’t take many actual breaks except for lunch). Now I’m doing more meetings and high pressure things where I have to be 100% focussed and I’m finding I *need* to take actual breaks to stop myself feeling exhausted/headachey near the end of the day.

    5. Friday afternoon fever

      Client facing job was, to borrow Eh whatever’s term, aggressively 7-8 hours working in busy season and 5-8 hours a day slow season. Non-client-facing job is similar and often nonstop but there will be a slow day every so often. But I like to be busy

    6. marmalade

      Most of the workday, definitely. There are some times where I’ll chat with a coworker a bit, I’ll take the odd five-minute break to read the Guardian, etc, but I definitely actively work the vast majority of the workday, 7-7-7.5+ hours. I’m honestly surprised at the other responses in this thread that say otherwise – I’ve never had a full-time/professional job which involved so little actual work.

      1. Ron McDon

        Me too. This comes up on here from time to time, and i’m flabbergasted that there are so many offices where people spend at least a couple of hours a day doing no work.

        I’ve worked in four different offices in three very different industries, and have always had at least enough work to keep me busy for a full working day, and usually enough work left over that I could do overtime if I wanted!

        I’d love to have just a few 10 minute breaks a day…

      2. Someone Else

        Same here. It’s rare for me to spend more than 15-20 minutes kibitzing daily. Maybe once in a while 30 minutes. I’ve never had a job that didn’t expect people to be primarily working all day. Not chained to desks or anything, but definitely working. That said it sounds like one of OP’s jobs may have been a client-facing coverage situation? Sometimes the job is just to be physically present if a client shows up. Those often can feel like there isn’t work to do all day, but the whole point of the gig is to be present for coverage. I don’t usually describe that as “butts in seats” though. I usually associate that phrase with more of a corporate thing where they don’t care how productive you are, they think people who are seen at their desk are “productive” and people not at their desk (regardless of work output) are lollygagging. That’s a different thing than a job whose purpose is to be present, like reception or on-call support etc.

  68. CDM

    12 weeks of jury duty minor update:

    HR can’t tell him how many days he will be paid for until they get formal notification from the court of the number of days he is expected to serve.

    While I’m slightly annoyed at the non-answer, it also heavily implies that the answer isn’t 3 or 5, and that he’ll get paid for a decent chunk of the time. (I can hardly dare to hope he will be paid for all of it)

    And he also has a fair number of days off from court, holidays but also other random days, that he should be able to work at least one day per pay period through mid-January.

    Nothing’s certain yet, but I’m more optimistic that he might be able to pay his own bills, instead of his parents bailing him out.

    1. Sloan Kittering

      To be honest I think it would be okay to back off and let this be his problem to manage! He didn’t try to mitigate being on the jury (if I’m recalling your previous update correctly), so if it were my son I’d probably just let him know that I’m not planning on bailing him out financially and butt out. If he really gets stuck, mine certainly doesn’t have any problem coming to me and asking for money so I’m not worried he’ll end up living under a bridge. This is how they learn!

  69. Justin

    Awkward.

    Good news for me, but….

    So at my job we have long, complex projects that are usually structured such that one person is the lead, and works solo (with the help of the managers and in contact with our clients) for a long period of time. (We’re educational consultants for a government agency.) Towards the end, when a class is close to completion, a second person is brought on to support and eventually co-teach the class.

    Having just finished a very successful project (and gotten a raise), my boss told me what she wanted me to do for my next project. Okay.

    So she tells me I’ll be joining an ongoing project. This is normal, we aren’t always the lead on every project, so I figure, I’ll be supporting a colleague.

    But no, she tells me, explicitly, I’ll be the lead on this. (She will be sitting down with the colleague Monday.)

    Look, my colleague is… friendly, but, as my boss said (and I have no reason to think she’s wrong), she’s struggling, both with this project and overall at work here. I sat in on a class she taught (to learn a subject) and it was… not great. But she was new, I figured she’d get better. She hasn’t.

    So, this is good for me (to have a strong enough reputation to be thought of for this), and then if I do well, it’s another feather in the cap.

    And like I said my colleague is friendly. We’ve had lunch together before, and, along with a third person, we collectively are planning the holiday party, which is going well. Our personalities don’t really match, but I have no problems with her as a person. But any advice on how to work with her during a time when she will understandably be feeling a little down or out of sorts? I’m also an entire generation younger than she is, too.

    I just feel like it could be pretty awkward. Our boss will help, but I tend towards the anxious and I’m going to need to relax before I begin my work on this project (probably just after TG).

    Thanks.

    1. CM

      I would have a clearing-the-air conversation with her after your boss talks to her, and say you know the situation is unusual but you look forward to working together.

      1. Justin

        Yeah once she has the meeting (which I will try not to be present for, I sit in front of one of our main conference rooms, so I can see in but not hear…), I will reach out to her to set up a time to talk offsite.

    2. Mockingay

      I’d lay out a framework of who does what and when and get her concurrence. Due dates, prep of curricula and other artifacts, who teaches which module, etc. The schedule can include a couple of status meetings to ensure the ‘project’ is on track. Framing it this way focuses on what needs to be accomplished, not her failings.

      In the course of your work, do you ever do dry runs of the course presentations? That would allow you to critique each other (again, keeping the focus on the work, not the person). Present the project as a team effort (even though you are lead) and make sure her input (used or not) is heard and valued.

      1. Justin

        We rehearse extensively, so when it comes to that time, I will try to offer constructive criticism in a caring way. She really isn’t presenting in a way that works for our specific audience (she is fine with the material, which is hard and technical, and thus why she was hired, but she doesn’t relate to our clients very well).

    3. Kathenus

      In your first meeting, could you give her a chance to review the project to you before you give any suggestions, feedback, or forward actions? This might help her feel respected and empowered, to give you a report on what’s happening, what she’s done, what still needs to happen, etc. in her own words versus as a response to you. Then you could lead the discussion of forward planning from there, with her information as a basis.

      1. Justin

        That’s a good idea. Cede the floor to her in an initial meeting/coversation.

        She’s very…. she doesn’t really have an inside voice or take “I’m not super engaged/available right now” cues very well, which I empathize with (I had to learn this stuff too) but on the other hand, I learned all this in my first professional job/in my 20s, so I’m like, come on.

        But I think giving her ample time to share what she’s done will be useful. I hope she has an inkling of what they feel is going wrong (I can’t imagine she doesn’t, they are upfront with folks).

  70. Alexa

    Suggestions for resources for freelancing?
    I work in marketing and the bulk of my job is writing (press releases, newsletters, web content) and graphic design (catalog books, print ads, web ads, newsletters), and I’ve been doing this for 10 years for different companies.

    I really need to my supplement my income, but I have no idea how to find jobs. Are there any good websites or industry resources that anyone would suggest?

    Thanks for your help!!!

  71. Hummus

    Oh my goodness, I just received an accidental reply-all that reminded me of situations that come to this site. Alison’s general advice of, “Use this as useful information” has been really helpful.

    I was asked to prepare something for an interview. I looked at the instructions several times to find out basic information, such as a ballpark of how long it’s supposed to be. Not finding the answer, I shot the company an email. The hiring manager accidentally replied-all with, “Why can’t Hummus just read the instructions,” and an industry-specific, but I will assure you, inappropriate complaint.

    My reply was, “Thank you for that illuminating message. I am going to bow out of this interview in order to expend my efforts elsewhere.”

    I am disappointed that this opportunity isn’t going to pan out, but I’m glad I dodged the bullet of even preparing to meet with such a rude person, let alone working with them!

    1. Murphy

      Wow! I like your reply, I might have added something like “I don’t think you meant for me to see this. You must be really embarrassed!” (I actually wouldn’t have been able to come up with anything so snappy if this happened to me. Good for you!)

    2. OperaArt

      I’m sure you were professional and replied only to him, but a part of me wishes you had also used reply-all.

        1. Hummus

          I did reply-all. I needed the person coordinating to know that I had pulled out, so they could plan accordingly. The nature of the work also means that the person making hiring decisions for future contracts was also in this chain, and I wanted to plant the seed that perhaps the way this manager sees people affects the finished product.

          1. Bostonian

            YES.

            I hope someone also tells this guy that the question you were asking didn’t have an answer already in the directions.

    3. The Ginger Ginger

      OMG This is delicious. I’m sure they’re just going to go silent, but if they reply, I am dying to know what they say.

    4. Everything happens and so much happier

      I’m a little late replying so I’m not sure if you will see this message. I had an interview once, that I thought went amazing. I wrote a thank email to one of the people I interviewed with and she replied back to me and it was obvious it was meant for the other manager I interviewed it. It said “too bad she writes so nicely, but I could never stand working with her EVERY DAY. UGH!!” I was embarrassed and I wrote back to her, “I’m sorry you feel that way”. She wrote back super apologetic, wanted to speak with me. Long story short I have a much better job now with amazing people and a WAY better salary. Everything happens for a reason.

      1. Hummus

        Yes, so true! I’m so glad this happened. The job is in the performing arts, and I just know that if I had landed this gig, I would have been very frustrated and unhappy with the work. Rather than being able to ask questions, collaborate, and take risks during the rehearsal process, I would have been focused on being perfect at every moment.

  72. SandrineSmiles (France) [At Work]

    I wanted to vent a little.

    I’ve been tasked with reworking an employee list in Excel to divide it by teams/divisions so it can be useful quickly for other receptionists like me, but the original file has 458 lines and I’m tired, tired, tired. I’ve been at it for two days.

    First, sorting people out by division. Then, by team. Then, rework the presentation. Then, add presentation samples so I can validate it with my boss to complete later. But then I also have to check division names with her because apparently some team names have changed (it’s not like my RECEPTIONIST job would like to know that… nuh huh… ahem) .

    Soon enough I’ll hate Excel files, lemme tell ya!

    1. SandrineSmiles (France) [At Work]

      (Just wanted to mention, obviously, the “been at it for three days” is because the more important tasks are distracting me all the time sooooooooo o_o … )

  73. agmat

    Just wanted to vent about this work awkwardness.

    I am a remote worker and I breast pump on my way to and from in-person meetings. Usually I make a stop before my final destination to disassemble the pump so I arrive unconnected. For some reason I didn’t the other day and apparently coworkers are attracted to my car like a magnet. A coworker came to the side of my car so fast I only had time to disconnect the tubes. Luckily I had my cover on, so nothing was truly *seen*, but the pump was still out in full view. I didn’t say anything about it, just tried to cut the conversation short and pray they ignored it. I also managed to park in front of a giant window and surely in view of others inside the building.

    Ugh. It’s definitely worse because my coworker is an older man who is a gossip. Not like there’s much to gossip about (they all know I pump because I don’t join in on group lunches right now, I’m explicit that I’m performing “new mom duties”), but still…I’m cringing over the whole thing. I can’t quite figure out what it’s akin to. Maybe if a male coworker heard me peeing in the restroom or something?

    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      There is nothing shameful or awkward about your coworker seeing your breast pump. What would they gossip about that has you worried?

      1. CM

        +1. You need to pump. They need to deal with it.
        It’s so much easier if you can just be straightforward and matter-of-fact about pumping, rather than feeling you have to hide the equipment and the fact that you’re doing it. (For the record, somebody hearing you peeing in the restroom isn’t cringeworthy either! We have human bodies. It’s OK.)

      2. agmat

        I don’t feel ashamed, but I can’t pinpoint what exactly felt so awkward about it. I think it might be because it was this particularly coworker, who is superior to me, but not my boss. I mostly just don’t want him to share the story with others (“I inadvertently interrupted agmat pumping, haha oops!”).

        1. Namast'ay in Bed

          The awkwardness would be on them, they’d come across creepy and weird, not you.

          Also, my guess is that your cringe-iness about the situation was that it could have been worse – sure you had your cover on, but remember that one time you didn’t, what if this was that moment? That’s a fun trick our lizard-brains like to play on us, don’t let it get you down!

    2. Girl friday

      I think you should get security tint on your windows. I made sure I had that when I breastfed in the car because UV light isn’t good for you or the baby, and people walking by can startle everyone.

    3. Four lights

      If you want a laugh, watch last week’s episode of Superstore, involving someone pumping at work.

      1. LilySparrow

        This. When I was nursing, I had a couple of occasions when I was actually breastfeeding the baby and had someone come up and talk to me for 5-10 minutes before they realized and promptly lost their chill.

        It feels very exposed when it’s your boobs, but honestly most people just don’t notice.

  74. Anon for this

    I’ve read on here that one should not call a family member’s place of work unless the family member is hospitalized. Should this also hold true if a family member is missing or in need of health care but not yet receiving it? This family member has been on leave for a little over a week and is due back Monday. This person is careening into a mental health crisis. It is actually probably better if this person does not show up to work (paranoid delusions about the workplace have been manifesting). This person is missing at the moment (took off about 14 hours ago). I don’t know when the person will turn back up, or how cooperative they will be with getting psychiatric care. How can I help this person not lose their job because of this? If it is okay to call the workplace, what to say?

    1. CM

      The “hospitalized” rule of thumb is more to say that you shouldn’t call unless the family member is unable to do it for themselves but would otherwise be expected to do it. I think this qualifies. I would call up and say they are having serious health issues and are not able to come in, and give a time estimate if you can or say you will follow up in 3 (or whatever) days. I’d also try to call at off hours so you can leave a voicemail and not get into a conversation.

    2. Person from the Resume

      Umph! This is hard. The advice is don’t call unless the family member is incapacitated (i.e. if they’re awake in the hospital and can call work, they should).

      In the case, it sounds like your family member is incapable of realizing they should not be at work and the fact that they’re having paranoid delusions about work could maybe make it unsafe for co-workers and/or themselves. It could be a bad thing for their employer to find out about a mental illness, but it would worse for your family member to show up for work and display their paranoid delusion in the office and frighten or threaten co-workers.

      I’d recommend a discrete conversation with either your family member’s boss or HR about what can be done since it also sounds like you’d like to be notified if missing family member shows up at work. Unless you know boss personally or know that your family member trusts their boss, I’d recommend starting with HR. They probably have a better idea of how to deal with this sensitive issue.

      1. Colette

        I’m kind of torn. If the family member is likely to be a danger to coworkers or themselves, the police should be notified – I’m not sure if they would be likely to notify the business. I don’t think it’s Anon for this’s responsibility, but at the same time, I think she should use her judgement about whether to share or not. (Does the business know there is something wrong? Was the leave because of behavior at work? If so, I would go ahead and share.)

        If not, I’d go with “dealing with a medical issue and won’t be in, we will keep you posted as to when she’ll be back”.

        1. Anon for this

          Just to clarify, I do not have any reason to think this person is a danger to themselves or others.

          1. valentine

            Can you leave it for them to deal with? Do you have protocol where you call out for them in other circumstances? The business may deem your call-out a NCNS because their relationship is with the employee. The colleagues may imagine wild scenarios and act on them, only for your relative to show up on time or for their missing status not to impact on work.

  75. I Work on a Hellmouth

    So, I am trying to line up a new job (in a different field) so I can escape my weirdo Hellmouth, but also trying to make sure I am applying for things that are actually interesting/a good fit for me. I’m extremely interested in moving into HR, and so one of the things I have been doing is applying for every entry level coordinator position that doesn’t require an HR degree or 2-3 years of specific HR experience. Does anyone out there have any specific advice for making a career transition into HR?

    1. Jack Be Nimble

      I got into HR after a 8 month temp job at a firm administering pension benefits! My title there was Benefits Specialist, and was mostly data entry/mail work, but having that title on my resume opened up a lot of HR jobs to me!

      I’d look for jobs with a split HR/admin focus or see if you can find a job at a firm that handles benefits for other companies!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Great to hear! That jives with what I’ve been looking/applying for, so it’s good to know I might be on the right track!

  76. Flinty

    I get sick enough to need to stay home for 1-2 days about 4-5 times per year. (Whenever I get a cold I get a sinus infection with it. Also I’m working with my doctor to figure out what’s up with my immune system.)

    With a chronic illness, I would mention it when starting a new job and what accommodations I need, but this seems different. It feels weird to be like – by the way, I’m naturally sickly! I’m lucky that in my current job it’s not an issue, but I can imagine getting some side-eye in the future because I know how much I’m sick is really out of the norm. Is this something you’d bring up to a new manager, or just wait until it comes up?

    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      Needing a sick day or two every three-ish months isn’t that big of a deal, I don’t think you need to worry about anything!

    2. Friday Anon

      I wouldn’t worry. Taking 8 to 10 days a year doesn’t seem crazy. My company provides 10 sick days a year to every employee, and people definitely use them. As of today, I have used 7.

      1. AcademiaNut

        I would say that it depends on how much sick leave you get, and how much coverage your job needs, and the attitude of your employer. Because there are absolutely places that would penalize you for daring to use all your sick leave, or would consider 1-2 days every two or three months a problem. I know I’ve seen letters on this site with employers wanting to know how to deal with a subordinate who was unacceptably taking a sick day every month or two.

        But assuming that your job has enough sick leave, I wouldn’t make a formal request, but after the first incident, you could mention that colds tend to hit you particularly hard, so that this is something that happens occasionally.

        1. valentine

          Saying something is unlikely to help and this should be a nonstarter you don’t want to be known for, so, let it be.

  77. Sarah

    An employee who quit a year ago, with no notice and after only about ten weeks on the job, just texted me to see if I have any openings. I do, but, lol, no.

  78. Name Change For This

    Opinions sought from the assembled wisdom of the board please. Warning – it’s long

    I work in a small department of 12 people – I’m the eldest by 20-30 years, have been there nearly two years and have very good reviews and feedback. The job isn’t without its’ frustrations and it isn’t ideal but it’s well paid, I do it and I do it very well. That feedback comes from among other people, the top management.

    The problem is the department atmosphere. There is a little clique of 3-4 women and there seems to be a great deal of semi-ostracism of anyone who isn’t in the clique – which is me and a couple of others. They have jolly conversations, they sit together at meetings and they occasionally go to lunch together. They don’t deliberately exclude but given the layout of the office it’s a bit awkward to walk around and join them and they don’t make the conversation general – there’s a lot of heads together and whispering that the rest of us can’t hear. It doesn’t help that a couple of members of this clique act as if I’m something they have stepped in and don’t acknowledge I exist unless they have to.

    It is so bad that back in the spring the manager was told to deal with it by the department head. All well and good except she admitted to me at the time that she has no idea what to do – so she hasn’t done anything. An additional problem is that she is on the fringes of the clique and interacts noticeably differently with them than she does with those of us who are the outsiders.

    Work isn’t the problem. When I need to talk to them about that they are civil and helpful – barring the ones who routinely ignore me but I don’t need to talk to them anyway.

    What brought this to a head was yesterday – I might as well have been invisible the entire day. Any attempts at conversation were ignored or talked over and I was left out of a meeting – although knowing the person who did that I’m pretty sure that was an accident. I’ve examined my behaviour and I don’t think I’m being too sensitive or have done anything to warrant this treatment, but I have come to the conclusion that either it’s been decided that I don’t ‘fit’ and I’m being bullied out as they can’t get me on work, or I work with deeply unpleasant people who have no idea of the effect of their behaviour on other people. By four o’clock I was sitting in the ladies having a 10 minute cry (not for the first time) and frankly, any job that makes me cry doesn’t deserve me. Last night I was seriously considering just handing my notice in and going back to temping. I’ve had nearly a year of this and it isn’t getting better.

    For this and various reasons I made the decision long ago that it suited me for now but come New Year I’ll be seriously job hunting and I will not be hanging around once I have a decent offer. In the meantime, what do I do?

    1. Have an informal talk with HR and tell her this is a serious morale killer and issue for the department and that it’s forcing me out; knowing that she will speak to my manager who has already said she doesn’t know how to solve this, and who will only come out with what good job I do and how I’m valued to keep me on-side? I fully mean to leave anyway so any solution is a temporary fix for me.

    2. Ignore it and tell myself that with any luck it’s not much longer; that although it takes me right back to being 12 and at school I’m not 12 any more and I have options? I try not to let it get me down, bury myself in work and some days are better than others but you know, it’s hard. I never know at 8.30 what sort of day it is going to be.
    I don’t think the situation in this department is repairable. Management is piss weak. Part of me wants to tell them, but another part knows from experience that problems here get ignored and are allowed to fester until they can’t be ignored any more. The vengeful part of me just wants to keep quiet until I have a resignation letter to hand them, mention the problems that have driven me out in the exit interview and let them pick the bones out of that.

    Oh – and people outside the department have noticed the atmosphere, as well. Sorry for the essay.

    1. LCL

      Your manager doesn’t want to take them on, because she is a part of the group. What is within her power is to decide what type of communication is allowed, and tell all of the employees. She SHOULD tell the group that heads together whispered conversation isn’t allowed. She could possibly rearrange the seating to split up the cabal. She SHOULD tell the group that ignoring people in a business setting is unprofessional. But since the business culture is to ignore problems until a blow up, I don’t think she will do anything.

    2. I Work on a Hellmouth

      I’m so sorry that a jerky clique is making you feel so bad and that they are ruining an otherwise decent job for you. I know how upsetting it is to experience that.

      This is also something that happened at an otherwise great printing company that I once worked for, but before I got there. I can tell you what their solution was, though! The manager moved the people in question to completely new areas so they were no longer all clustered together. (I should probably note that the group was not told the reason for the move, I am not sure what they were told but some suitable excuse was given.) The worst of them actually wound up in a completely different room. The inconvenience of it apparently was so greatly offset by the immediate improvement in morale and productivity that it was considered one of the best things management ever did. Would your manager maybe be able to physically split the clique up?

      1. Name Change For This

        Splitting the group up would work as far as the clique goes, but not as far as work goes. Bottom line is as LCL says, these are people she’s comfortable with and gets on with, and I get the distinct impression that work apart, she doesn’t warm to me.

    3. Aggretsuko

      Been there, and frankly, there isn’t really anything you can do to break up a clique, especially if they are doing the bare minimum they have to so that you can deal with them at work. What could a manager do? What would you do?

      1. Name Change For This

        I have considered this and bar splitting everyone up, nothing comes to mind. Even if she did that there’s the other tactic they use of disappearing for ten or fifteen minutes so no-one can see what they are doing or hear what they are talking about. She can hardly say ‘Now all be nice to Name Change and make sure you talk to her,’ can she? not without sounding like a loon, anyway.

        1. WellRed

          But if they are split up, it’s possible rhe clique will die its deserved death and that at least one or two members will be nicer away from the clique mentality. Also, your manager sucks.

        2. valentine

          she admitted to me at the time that she has no idea what to do – so she hasn’t done anything
          I would’ve reported this. It’s managing 101.

          She can hardly say ‘Now all be nice to Name Change and make sure you talk to her,’ can she? not without sounding like a loon, anyway.
          She can and should because treating your colleagues well (if they do the same) is professionalism 101.

          Any improvement is worth it for your health. Can you talk to the director? Try HR just so you know for certain. If it just proves you right, fine. Also: if temping pays enough to fuel your job search, leave now and do it. The relief of escape will be amazing. Ideally, everyone would leave and the clique would eat each other.

    4. The New Wanderer

      I think the only thing that will work is pointing out the direct effect that being ignored has on your work – whether you discuss that with your manager or during the exit interview, stick with the work stuff. Document every instance of “I asked Louella for her input on Project X on Nov 3 and have to date received no response despite 3 attempted follow-ups” and “I attempted to discuss Project Y with Griselda, but she ignored me and initiated a clearly personal conversation with Louella instead of responding to me.” Just listing a few of these would look kind of petty, but if it’s a lot every day, then you’ve got a clear pattern to show.

      Other than splitting up the group (which frankly I don’t think would change much, since they disappear as a group for blocks of time anyway), the manager’s main strategy should be to tell them she should not be receiving reports that these women are blowing off work and insist that they cooperate with their colleagues…

      However, if she believed they saw her as a manager first, she probably wouldn’t be so weak-willed about this. She doesn’t know what to do because she’s thinking of this as a personality/lets-be-friends thing and she doesn’t want them to not like her, and that’s not the point of a manager. And she’s got a point – I can see where it will be ineffective coming from someone they see as on the fringes of their own group, and therefore less ‘powerful’ than the core group, manager-status notwithstanding. And really, all Louella has to say is “I didn’t know it was urgent/my input was necessary/etc” or Griselda just says “I didn’t see her/didn’t know she was trying to talk to me/don’t know what she’s talking about” and the manager will probably throw her hands up and say, well I tried. Because she sucks.

      Best of luck getting out!

    5. ..Kat..

      The department head who told the manager to deal with it? Tell the department head that nothing has been done and how it affects work. Good luck with your job search. And when you leave, let department head know that the manager’s inaction is why you are leaving.

    6. BluntBunny

      Could you not just socialise with the other 7 people in your department. If you think these people aren’t nice you shouldn’t want to socialise with them. You don’t need their approval I would be really friendly to the other people in your department ask them to lunch, if they wanna take a coffe break and how was their weekend. Also if you are petty like me you could be obnoxiously nice to the clique to annoy them, if they can’t upset you they can’t win.

      1. Name Change for This

        Generally I don’t socialise with them – we aren’t a hugely social office anyway. I use the weapon I read about here – impeccable professionalism and politeness and try my best to ignore their gross bad manners. It’s difficult some days, though, when I am the only one not in a conversation.

        Kat – that department head is leaving in a month’s time, otherwise I’d take a great deal of pleasure clueing him in when I leave. When I do quit I plan to ask him to be a reference because he’s a) very senior and b) has always rated my work highly.

        Thanks to everyone who read my vent and replied. I think I will not speak to HR – mostly because I can’t see it leading to any changes – and keep preparing for my job hunt. Let my resignation be a nice surprise for my manager :))

  79. selina kyle

    So my former boss just reached out to me and mentioned her current company might have an opening for me. I don’t know if it would be work I’d like as much as what I’m doing now, but I enjoyed what I did when I worked with her previously. Also, I think it’d give me more freedom/growth/responsibilities than I have now (I do a fair amount of grunt work in current job which is fine! But not what I want to do forever). It’s a job that would involve travel and would pay better but I’m very stuck on what to do. I like my current job well enough (it’s my first full-time out of college – the past one with the former boss was a part-time gig) – good co-workers, decent benefits, no commute. The downsides are I’m pretty tethered to my desk and some days I have very little to do. (I’ve taken on plenty of responsibilities in the office to help with that but it’s just…the nature of the office.)
    Any/all advice from you wonderful uninvolved third-party people would be great!

    1. Four lights

      So far she just mentioned there might be an opening. Realistically, you don’t need to make a decision until you have an offer in hand. I say go ahead and apply, find out more about what the day to day looks like and you’ll have a better idea about what you should do then.

    2. Kathenus

      Agree with Four lights that there’s no downside to applying. I also suggest doing a pros and cons list for each job. Spending the time thinking about and writing down what would be good and bad in each, and then having that to look at and evaluate, can help figure out which way the balance is swaying in your mind more objectively.

    3. pcake

      It couldn’t hurt to apply. But make sure the job is a good fit because at some point your former boss may leave the company for a variety of reasons, and you’d still be there but with a different boxx. There have been letters about this very thing on AAM before.

  80. Overeducated

    Someone I really admire in a different but related division at work just left and posted their resignation letter on social media. I was really sad to hear about the departure because this is a person whose work I really admire. I’ve even looked at them as a personal role model for how to get good work done on extremely complex , sometimes controversial challenges in a very large organization and do it with passion, tact, and excellent judgment. Part of the public resignation letter discussed larger issues in our organization that led to the resignation, and I guess those successes that I so admire came at a cost that was only visible behind the scenes.

    Anyway, my world is feeling a little rocked right now. I’m feeling this departure hit harder than you’d expect for someone I’ve only worked with tangentially (and think I need to write an email to their personal address expressing that).

    1. Anon for this

      Yes, send that email. I’ve been the one who resigned in (what I think were) a similar set of circumstances to what you describe. It wasn’t an easy time, and it was bolstering when I heard from colleagues like you that it hadn’t been futile or gone unnoticed.

      1. Overeducated

        Just sent. Thanks for the push. This person probably didn’t even know they were a role model for me…

  81. Bigintodogs

    I just saw this morning that data science is considered a relevant skill/course of study for user research. I have a Master’s in data science, and user research sounds really interesting. Anyone here do user research? What should I know? Should I take some classes in UX? Thanks!

    1. The New Wanderer

      I have a background and advanced degree in what is essentially user research, but not UX as it’s commonly used in the tech/software industry (where the application is almost exclusively an evaluation of a website, ad, app, or some other self-contained display feature). And coincidentally I’m almost done with a certification program in data science. It’s already proven to be incredibly useful to me as a lot of work in my field is headed toward machine learning and big data analytics. I think there’s a lot of overlap in the domains (in the area of statistics), and having a good understanding of both will get you pretty far. Data science teaches you how to manipulate, analyze, and interpret data, especially big data. UX (a subset of the field of human factors) teaches you what questions to ask in the first place.

      I think there are a ton of UX courses available online – I can’t recommend any specifically but I would recommend taking one just to see the general scope of what UX typically covers. If you really got into it, like wanted to get another master’s, I would highly recommend taking some perceptual and cognitive psych classes. The better UX programs would have those incorporated into their programs, but not all do (even highly rated ones, sadly). The reason for taking the psych classes is to better understand the human user and in particular, the limitations of information intake and processing of the human brain. The reason they are not often included in the curriculum is that the courses are designed by and geared towards engineers and software developers, so it doesn’t always occur that it would be useful (in fact, critical) information to have. My bias is clearly showing, but frankly without that knowledge, you end up with pretty terrible user interfaces and UX people with no idea why they are so unusable or how to actually fix them.

      1. Dreamboat Annie

        I’ve gotten the impression that some job listings for UX in the tech world will be strictly for User Experience Design – that is, the initial creation of the look and flow of the app – without the additional evaluation and research.
        The New Wanderer – I totally agree about the need for the non-engineer psychological viewpoint.

  82. Leaving Too Soon

    I have a tendency to think that a conversation is over before it apparently is. I’ll be in my boss’ office going over a report or task, and when it’s over, I stand up to leave. About 50% of the time I will get halfway to the door and the boss will ask another question. It’s not always about the topic; sometimes it’s smalltalk-type stuff. I started trying to use some sort of verbal marker, like “Is there anything else?” and that usually gets me a strange look. Maybe it’s too abrupt? FWIW, I’m a female in the south.

    How can I make sure we’re done…really done… before I leave?

    1. Sloan Kittering

      To be honest I’m not sure I’d interpret what you’re describing as a mistake that needs to be fixed. Sometimes you getting up to leave after the discussion is over prompts the other person to ask themselves if they need anything else from you before you go. It’s not uncommon. In the medical field I think they call it a “doorknob question.” But I wouldn’t say that you’re doing anything wrong or need to change anything.

    2. Kathenus

      Sloan Kettering has a great point. If this is a concern for you, maybe before you stand up ask your boss if there’s anything else or if you’re finished, so that you don’t keep overthinking and trying to interpret whether or not there’s a problem.

    3. Four lights

      Another way to close the conversation could be to sum up what was discussed: “Okay, so I will handle the report on file X, you’re going to get back to me on Y, and I’ll talk to Jane about Z.”

  83. LSP

    Today is my last day of work before maternity leave! I’m really excited, and I actually feel like my projects are in really good hands with the colleagues who will be taking over different pieces.

  84. Jessen

    Blah, already starting new job having to make up time. Apparently there’s some strict rules about having at least 40h a week accounted for (between work/holiday/leave/etc) because government. My role is supposed to be able to work from home, but because it’s only my third week I’m not set up yet. And then that big storm hit yesterday…I tried to make it in and got stuck.

    I get why it’s there, but it’s still annoying.

    1. Murphy

      Do you have any rules about making up the time due to weather events? I’m a state employee, and if we’re unable to work from home, we’re allowed to work extra in subsequent weeks in order to make up the missed time. I think we have to do it within 90 days of the missed time.

      1. Jessen

        We do – so I’ll be making the time up. I’m slightly annoyed because there’s really not much reason to have me make the time up other than that’s what the rules say. Given how much I’m not set up to do yet, I’m probably going to be getting up early so I can browse the web for an extra hour. But that’s how it goes.

  85. LargeHippo

    I’m very unhappy in my job and really want to move on. I’ve been here about a year but I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. I’ve certainly tried, but all of my ideas and projects never get approved (not because they’re bad but there’s some serious issues with spite and not wanting to change anything with this company). I’m in a sales based role so I do have some numbers I can put on my resume but improvements I’ve tried to implement have not been allowed to happen. What can I put on my resume when I really don’t have any changes, improvements, or projects that I’ve accomplished?

    1. Bigintodogs

      I’m in a similar situation. Been at my company about 6 months (consulting firm), but I do almost nothing on my project (insert long story about annoying team). Whenever I interview and am asked about my work, I give an overview of what my team does. If they ask for more technical specifics it gets a little trickier, but I can usually make out okay. You can maybe talk about what you can put on your resume and the projects you tried to implement. Maybe go through the steps you took, what you envisioned, etc. I’ve never done sales so I’m not exactly sure how it works. I wish you luck!

    2. Kathenus

      Building on what Bigintodogs said, put the improvement proposals on your resume – submitted proposal to update sales database to better track vendor contacts, or whatever. In an interview if they ask you can be honest that the proposal wasn’t implemented, but you can still show that you try to be creative and offer ideas and suggestions. If you do address this in an interview, just be sure to present the situation dispassionately, and not even subtly throwing shade at your employer for not taking your ideas. Love your username by the way.

      1. LargeHippo

        thank you! I like that term “improvement proposals” and thinking of it that way will certainly help when updating my resume.

  86. Jack Be Nimble

    Anyone have tips about managing guilt re: attendance?

    I was fired from my first post-university job in part for taking a sick day (it was a role where coverage was really important and I think my manager suspected that I had faked the doctor’s note I provided). It was over a year ago, but I’m still struggling with a lot of guilt and fear whenever I miss a day of work.

    I was out sick yesterday after an adverse reaction to a medication I’m on, and I feel very guilty and ashamed at work today. Logically, I know that I’m entitled to time off and that I need to take care of myself, but I feel awful. My coworkers are wonderful, and know that nobody thinks any less of me and my job isn’t at risk, but my brain won’t let this go!

    (I’m already being treated for generalized anxiety, but I’d love to hear about any specific coping mechanisms people have have used at work!)

    1. AMPG

      In general I’ve found that this sort of thing just fades with time. You’ll have to take a sick or unscheduled day again at some point, and it will be a little easier. Then the next time will be easier still. And continuing treatment for anxiety will help, too. It’s a process – good luck and glad you’re feeling better!

      1. Jack Be Nimble

        Thank you! I’m doing a lot better now than I have been, and the new medication regiment has helped a lot (I had a bad reaction because I ignored my doctor’s instructions and took it on an empty stomach, lesson learned).

        I hope I won’t be out sick again any time soon, but I’m sure I’ll have an easier time of it, next go-round.

    2. Washi

      Whaaaaat you were fired for taking one sick day because your manager thought you faked a doctor’s note? That’s really, really unusual and I would be very surprised if you ever had a job like that again. (I also think it’s dumb to ask for a doctor’s note for one day of illness and I think that’s also fairly unusual.)

      It is a reality that people get sick, and companies give sick time because it is in their own self interest for employees to stay home when they are ill. At any reasonable place, your coworkers do not want you to come in sick! (I realize that your reaction to a medication was not contagious, but I think this framing will help.) Sick time isn’t a favor the company is doing you, it is part of your compensation and you are entitled to use it.

      Maybe you could talk to your manager once about taking sick time and the expectations around it, and then you can just repeat to yourself “Sick time is one of my benefits. My manager will let me know if there is a problem” when you notice your brain spiraling?

      1. Jack Be Nimble

        To be entirely fair, the sick day wasn’t the sole factor. I had some performance issues (which I totally own, I had zero real-world work experience and was kind of a bonehead) but the manager seemed to dislike me personally, and I think she felt that the sick day and “fake” note were the straw that broke the camel’s back.

        Thank you for your kind words, I’ll definitely check in with my manager!

      2. Four lights

        I agree with the “Sick time is one of my benefits. My manager will let me know if there is a problem”

  87. Hello anonymous

    This feels like such a dumb problem to have, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. I’m a married woman in a management position at my company. For pretty much my entire working life I’ve developed occasional crushes on male coworkers. These are generally no big deal, I distance myself a bit from the coworker and (obviously) don’t act on them in any way, and they pass pretty quickly. My issue is that the last two crushes have been more intense than usual, AND they’ve been on coworkers that I work closely enough with that I can’t really distance myself. The result is that I’m using a lot of energy dealing with the crush when I need to be more focused on work. This is frustrating and annoying, but I can’t think of a good solution, so I thought I’d see if anyone has ideas about it.

    1. The Ginger Ginger

      One of the things you can do is not give the person real estate/time in your brain beyond a work capacity. Don’t think about them in the “crush” vein (no fantasizing, thinking about how nice they are, how attractive they are etc). Employ that revolving door metaphor. The thought comes into your brain and you revolve it right back out the door. Don’t allow yourself to indulge in any of those thoughts typical to crushing on someone. Starve the crush and eventually it’ll die. So even if you can’t physically distance yourself, you create a mental compartment and keep them there. Your still distancing yourself, but only in a way that’s impacting you and what you allow to take up space in your head. Good luck!

      1. Hello anonymous

        This is excellent advice, and the fact that I recoiled instantly on hearing it (because I really do enjoy living in that space in my head except when it interferes with my focus) tells me that it’s what I should be doing. Blah.

    2. Sloan Kittering

      Someone once told me that the thing you’re crushing on may represent what you’re wanting for yourself. Maybe not, but it’s worth checking in. Do you find yourself crushing people who you feel are super-competent, super-creative, or super-put-together? Maybe it’